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4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9780692586211, $13.95, PB, 226pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Forced guardianship fraud runs unchecked throughout the nation's probate courts. Deemed incapacitated by the courts, elderly citizens are robbed of all decision-making rights and assigned professional guardians whose only interest lies in profiting from their vulnerable charges' estates.
"Guardianship: How Judges and Lawyers Steal Your Money" by Michael Larsen exposes a web of murderous profiteering, all sanctioned by a corrupt legal system. As guardians take everything they can, judges and attorneys turn a blind eye. Crooked cops harass family members into silence, while the very attorneys you hired won't help for fear of losing their licenses. These are the people who may one day control your loved one's health care, living arrangements, finances, and very life.
Ostensibly created to prevent financial abuse by caregivers and family members, professional guardianship instead gave the legal system carte blanche to destroy lives -- as Larsen himself discovered when family members tried to help a friend suffering under a corrupt guardian, attorney, and commissioner.
"Guardianship" is a guide for families to better understand a corrupt system, delineating what happens when a loved one falls victim to professional guardians, and offering suggestions to minimize your risk of what amounts to legally sanctioned abuse. "Guardianship" includes articles by journalists, attorneys, advocates, and others who have given their permission to be used in this book. The goal of "Guardianship" is to foster a public awareness of this serious and widespread crime.
Critique: Michael Larsen is a businessman whose family became embroiled in civil litigation regarding guardianship. In truth, the fraud, abuse, and court corruption should have made the matter a criminal case. After his family experienced the grief and fury professional guardianship fraud generates, Larsen realized tens of thousands of other families were experiencing the same heartache. "Guardianship: How Judges and Lawyers Steal Your Money" is impressively informed and informative. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Guardianship" is a critically important and unreservedly recommended addition personal reading lists for anyone involved in a guardianship situation, as well as for the instructional reference collections of both community and academic libraries.
The Caravan of Remembering
Heart's Way Press
PO Box 271396, Fort Collins, CO, USA, 80527
9781943222650, $20.00, PB, 283pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Caravan of Remembering" by Daniel Goodenough (who has worked as a scientist, professional musician, fine artist and designer, and has had a lifelong commitment to the mystical path) tells the story of a man who travels to an alternate universe in order to rediscover his true purpose and the life he was always meant to lead. Trapped in his life as a designer in Chicago, that is both safe and meaningless, the man hears a call he can t resist to enter Caravan, a timeless, mystical world where he travels with mentors and seekers to find his life's meaning. Tools for the journey, including journaling and immersion in life's story, are embedded in this rich tale which although fictional, is grounded in author Goodenought's own 30 years of working with life mission seekers. Of special note is the inclusion of a series of questions in the back of the book that will help readers apply what they've learned to their own lives.
Critique: Unique, exceptional, insightful, thought-provoking, entertaining, "The Caravan of Remembering" is one of those life-affirming, life-affecting novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Caravan of Remembering" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.95).
Hope Is a Decision: Selected Essays
9780977924585, $12.95, PB, 160pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: How do we remain optimistic when the world seems to be falling apart around us? In the intimate essays by Daisaku Ikeda that comprise "Hope Is a Decision" the author leads the reader on an inspirational journey to find answers and hope in troubled times. "Hope Is a Decision" includes incisive commentaries on terrorism, good and evil, and aging and death that provide a new perspective on approaching the world with hope. The lyrical reflections on poetry and friendship highlight how such spiritual pursuits are the wellsprings of hope in dark times. Each essay suggests ways in which anyone can connect their personal search for strength, wisdom, and hope to the collective desire to bring about a just, humane, and caring society.
Critique: Buddhist philosopher, educator, author, and anti-nuclear activist, Daisaku Ikeda (born 2 January 1928, Japan) is the founder and president of the Soka Gakkai International. He has written and lectured widely on Buddhism, humanism, and ethics, and he has published dialogues with global figures such as Arnold Toynbee, Linus Pauling, and Mikhail Gorbachev. "Hope Is a Decision: Selected Essays" is his latest contribution of timely, relevant, contemporary commentaries on the critically important issues of life in our world today. Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, inspired and inspiring, "Hope Is a Decision: Selected Essays" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hope Is a Decision: Selected Essays" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.99).
Three Rooms Press
9781941110515, $15.95, PB, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Simon, New York's top organic grocery store owner has a secret: his dad is the head of one of New York's biggest mob families. When his dad dies, Simon agrees to head the Family, provided that instead of murder, numbers and other rackets, the mob uses its muscle to enforce green regulations and promote healthy eating habits.
At first the mob's hit men and extortionists resent being pressed into green service, but they soon become Simon's biggest supporters. Seemingly overnight, the city becomes literally cleaned up. Simon, who had planned on succeeding his dad temporarily, now finds he likes his new position as the head of the Family. However, the green world doesn't accept him because he's running a crime family, and the crime world doesn't trust him because he's run afoul of the Feds.
Then Simon takes his wife, Marla, to his ancestral homeland in Italy, for a much-needed sabbatical - and gets even further into trouble.
Critique: Loosely based on Mario Puzo's runaway hit The Godfather, "The Greenfather" showcases author John Marshall's comic dialogue, which has been honed year after year in late night television. Packed with larger than life goons, right-hand men, Feds and green fanatics, "The Greenfather" satirizes the environmental movement, crime, families, and crime families. Original, entertainingly laugh out loud funny, and a simply fascinating read from cover to cover, "The Greenfather" is a truly exceptional and highly recommended addition to community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Greenfather" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.83).
The American History Shelf
Christopher Kelly & Stuart Laycock
History Invasions Press
9780692902400, $25.95, HC, 414pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil", by history buffs Christopher Kelly and Stuart Laycock answer such interesting questions as to why some towns in Texas have French names, why there's a statue of a Shawnee chief at the US Naval Academy, what coastal wildlife refuges have to do with American fears of invasion, what the Olive Oil Riot in Montana was really all about, and so many more.
Ever since they first set foot on the North American continent, humans have explored, discovered, established boundaries (and subsequently invaded) all across the North American territory we now call the United States. In "America Invaded", Kelly and Laycock have effectively and knowledgeably track some of the many explorations and invasions that founded or destroyed towns, that set and reset state lines, and that shaped the peoples and culture of our nation.
Critique: Unique, informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil" is an inherently fascinating read and will prove to be an extraordinary and highly prized addition to the personal reading lists of American history buffs, as well as an unusual and enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library American History collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
The Money/Finance Shelf
Roadway to Prosperity
Indie Books International
2424 Vista Way, #316, Oceanside, CA 92054
9781941870778, $20.00, PB, 214pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Roadway to Prosperity: A Practical Guide to Wealth Accumulation" embodies the heart of the author Al Jacobs' last ten years of newsletters, written monthly under the heading "On the Money Trail". Those articles prominently displayed in numerous publications, both in print and online, directed attention toward financial matters, normally with an emphasis on personal achievement in a variety of endeavors. Whatever the age or background of the reader, the revelations disclosed in "Roadway to Prosperity" will empower him or her to deal with the world in a more effective manner and employ the tool and techniques the book describes.
"Roadway to Prosperity" covers: How to avoid being victimized in a mercenary world; Where to seek the aid need in encounters; Sound approaches to investments of all sorts; Techniques to resist pervasive government; How to prevail over America's impervious institutions; and much, much more.
Critique: Impressively comprehensive, exceptionally informed and informative, thoroughly 'real world' practical, extraordinarily 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Roadway to Prosperity: A Practical Guide to Wealth Accumulation" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Money/Finance collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of economics studies and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject of money management and finance that "Roadway to Prosperity" is also available in a digital book format ($9.99).
The Self-Help Shelf
Work Less Live More
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781544901305, $7.00, PB, 102pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Work Less Live More" by Spencer Coffman was written for those men and women who want to live their lives freely in this modern age that threatens to overwhelm us all with information overload. With all the nonsense and junk out there, how do you stop all the distractions so you can finally have the freedom you deserve?
The answers turn out to be simple and direct: We need to be wiser with our time. We need to become productive. We need to read Spencer Coffman's extensive list of valuable productivity nuggets that can simply employed any time so we can get more done.
The techniques in "Work Less Live More" are designed to be specifically used before starting work so we can plan and prepare better, making the rest of the day easier and more efficient. Some techniques involve setting up reminders, using apps to organize tasks, and preparing everything the day after, and more!
Critique: Packed from cover to cover with practical, directly applicable 'how to' tips, suggestions and ideas, "Work Less Live More" is thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, making it an ideal and inspiring instructional guide for anyone seeking to emancipate themselves from the tyranny of our social media's overbearing intrusion into every moment of our daily lives. While very highly recommended for community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Work Less Live More" is also available in a Kindle format ($2.99). Also very highly recommended is Spencer Coffman's companion guide "Relax and Unwind: How to Organize and Declutter Your Life" (9781544264301, $7.00 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 120pp).
Finding Success in Balance
Apryl Zarate Schluter
The Cheerful Mind, Inc.
9780998320304, $12.99, PB, 164pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Apryl Zarate Schlueter, CPC, ELI-MP, is the Chief Energy! Officer of The Cheerful Mind, Inc. She earned her Certified Professional Coach credentials from the Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC).
In "Finding Success in Balance: My Journey to The Cheerful Mind" she wants her readers to think about their life right as it is now and determine if they are simply going through the motions. To ask themselves if they want more fun and less stress in their life. If they find that there is simply too much to do and never enough time to get it done. If they find their work depleting, their relationships strained, and their health neglected?
In response, "Finding Success in Balance" shares how Schluter regained control of her own life and the lessons she's learned along the way including how to: Find time for the things you love without sacrifice; Accomplish goals that are aligned with your priorities; Love your career and grow strong, healthy relationships; Manage stress and avoid burnout.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, impressively informative, remarkably insightful, refreshingly practical, as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inspired and inspiring, "Finding Success in Balance: My Journey to The Cheerful Mind" is very highly recommended, especially for community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Finding Success in Balance" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.99). This is a truly life-affirming, life-enhancing read.
Be the Architect of Your Life
9781608081769, $10.95, PB, 100pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In our modern world, so many people are battling unhappiness and dissatisfaction in their lives. Professional architect and now an author Karen Otis in "Be the Architect of Your Life: Design, Build, & Start Living a Life Inspired" delivers a groundbreaking new approach to designing and re-building your life with the creative ingenuity she has used in architecture for decades. By extending her "Architectural Method" model to life-building, she reveals a completely new way of thinking where the results are profound, unexpected, life-changing, and transformational. Otis shows you how to take the architectural method of creativity and decision making and project it onto your own life to find direction and fluidity to spiritually "awaken your soul" to a life rich in inspiration and joy. Whether you are unhappy or unfulfilled with your personal life, your relationships, or your career, this Method holds the answers to change all that. Her eight steps and thoughtful exercises unleash your power to take the mundane and make it meaningful; the expected, and make it memorable. Rather than r-e-a-c-t-i-n-g to life, you can begin c-r-e-a-t-i-n-g your life.
Critique: Unique, original, realistic, practical, impressively accessible, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Be the Architect of Your Life: Design, Build, & Start Living a Life Inspired" is one of those life-changing, life-enhancing instructional guides that is both inspired and inspiring. While very highly recommended for community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that Be the Architect of Your Life" is also available in a Kindle format ($6.99).
Rule #1 Don't Be #2
Gold Star Publishing
9781947165038, $19.99, HC, 248pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Rule #1 Don't Be #2" by Daniel Milstein (Founder and CEO of the Gold Star Family of Companies which specialize in financial services, sports management, publishing, and film production in over 40 offices worldwide) is specifically written to inspire the reader to dream big. Writing with his charismatic candor, Milstein presents a compelling glimpse into the reader's own limitless potential. In addition to riveting true accounts of overcoming adversity, "Rule #1 Don't Be #2" showcases examples of those who have dominated their respective fields against seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Critique: Written in a fast-paced, conversational style that is laced throughout inspiring quotes and life-changing lessons of the world's greatest achievers, "Rule #1 Don't Be #2" is a life-altering, life-enhancing, life-embracing read that offers a practical and thoroughly 'user friendly' instructional guide that is impressively well written, organized and presented. While very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Rule #1 Don't Be #2" is also available in a digital book format ($9.99).
The Fiction Shelf
Problems of Translation
Blue Mile Books
9780986238208, $15.95, PB, 396pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Charles Abel Baker is a short story writer and a "most unlikely middle-aged hero", as he sets off around the world on a quest to see one of his stories translated into ten different languages and back again into English. It's all a sort of literary version of the old party game "telephone". The result is a cloak-and-dagger adventure, a love story, and a bracing ride for the language buff.
Critique: Exceptional, original, deftly crafted from beginning to end, "Problems of Translation: or Charlie's Comic, Terrifying, Romantic, Loopy Round-the-World Journey in Search of Linguistic Happiness" is an inherently fascinating, unique, funny, and compelling read that is very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Problems of Translation" is also available in a Kindle format ($5.99).
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480836785, $37.95, HC, 304pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: American journalist Mary travels to Algeria to investigate the brutal death of her college roommate, also a journalist and colleague. Once there, she builds a family around her in a country unwelcoming of reporters to the point of criminal violence. When her plane explodes after leaving Algeria, it perhaps shouldn't come as a surprise.
The death of her twin sister throws Janet's life in the United States into upheaval as she prepares her own trip to Algeria to find answers. She's met with suspicion but soon finds a small group of global journalists who are willing to help her find the truth about Mary. To complicate things, it would seem Mary was involved, perhaps romantically, with a group member named Michel.
Together, they risk life and freedom to report on conditions in a country that, in the late twentieth century, many considered the most repressive and ruthlessly corrupt police state in the world -- one that seemed to do everything imaginable to silence the voices of those who tried to expose the terror. What began as Janet's search for closure becomes a much bigger adventure as she joins the ranks of Algerian journalists as a screaming voice in the foreign wilderness.
Critique: Original, compelling, and the kind of action/adventure novel that would make for a truly blockbuster of a movie, "Maryquest" reveals author Norm Minor as a novelist with a genuine flair for a deftly crafted and unfailingly entertaining read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Maryquest" is also available in a paperback edition (9781480836808, $19.99) and in a Kindle format ($3.99).
The Reluctant Trophy Wife
Judith Petres Balogh
9781520576602, $14.95, PB, 261pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Reluctant Trophy Wife" by Judith Petres Balogh is a tale about a decent, but mismatched couple. Clyde is rational and controlling; his much younger glamorous wife is romantic and consenting. A crime is committed in their summer home, and although not involved, Clyde fears that a possible scandal would damage his career. To prevent the news media from approaching her for information and perhaps fabricate a lurid story, he sends Lena away on a long vacation to Europe. In her "exile" she meets two very different personalities: a Protestant woman past middle age and a Catholic priest. Through their influence as well as through the experiences she encounters, Lena changes. She emerges from the role of a passive ornamental wife with ambiguous ideas and beliefs into a self-confident and independent woman.
Critique: "The Reluctant Trophy Wife" is a unique and absorbing novel that reveals author Judith Petres Balogh as having a genuine flair for original and multi-layered storytelling that deftly covers deeply human problems with a wry humor, an intimate warmth, and addresses the boundaries and the life-altering creative potential of unexpected friendship. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Reluctant Trophy Wife" is also available in a Kindle format ($4.99).
Western Edge Press
126 Candelario St. Santa Fe NM 87501
Mountain Press Publishing Company (distributor)
PO Box 2399, Missoula, MT 59806
9781889921549, $16.95, PB, 236pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: El Hermano takes place during the forty days of Lent in 1928 as Jose and his cousins conspire to spy on one of the brotherhood's secret rituals to see what lies ahead for them as novices. Jose knows his time to join the cofradias (of which his own father is Hermano Mayor) is near, but having seen Hermanos who appear to be in pain after a night spent at the morada, a meeting house and chapel, and having heard stories about those who even died in the past because of whatever went on within the sacred structure, his fear guides him to join his cousins in their clandestine scheme.
Little do they know, certain New Mexican legends conspire against them; La Muerte, Saint Death, warns Jose to leave his future unknown, a ball of fire thought to be a witch crosses their path, and even la Llorona, ghost of the Weeping Woman, and el Diablo, the Devil make an appearance. Age-old traditions and folklore cures and formal customs of the Hispanics of the mountain villages are interwoven in Jose's story.
Critique: Although a finely crafted work of fiction, El Hermano is a rare and authentic window into everyday Hispanic village life the way it once was, and to some extent, still persists down to this day. It is interesting to note the author, Carmen Baca, is the daughter of the real life Jose on which this novel is based. As the cofradia members died or moved away after the War, the morada was left unused on her family property. Carmen recovered artifacts from the morada, including her father's prayer book, from which, along with her memories, she based this story. An absorbing and inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "El Hermano" is an especially recommended addition both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections and personal reading lists.
9780990452881, $18.00, PB, 224pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: You can almost make just enough money to buy heroin every day by jacking off for people on the Internet. This is America. That makes you an entrepreneur. But how do you stop being human? Is it possible? What if you can't? What then?
Critique: "Getting Off" is author Jonathan Reiss' debut novel Jonathan Reiss reveals a genuine and impressive flair for deftly crafted a consistently riveting read that takes his readers on a Kind of 'insider's tour' of the nicest parts of a contemporary man-made hell, where giving up on everything is extremely hard work. Original, adult, and highly recommended reading, "Getting Off" is one of those novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after it has been finished and set back upon the shelf.
PO Box 730, St. Augustine, FL 32085
9780997433401, $17.29, PB, 264pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Cruising into retirement after years of chasing spies and bad guys, NCIS Special Agent Dan Lucas meets his match. Trapped in an airport with atheist professor Ben Chernick during a deadly storm, Dan is forced to reveal a secret. He believes in God but can he defend his faith?
Sensing blood in the water, Ben tries to destroy Dan's beliefs, only to find out that Dan is a walking case file full of evidence in support of Christianity. Sparks fly and people die. One man stands tall and one crumbles -- literally. Who is hiding some dark secrets? Who is trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered life?
"Final Departure: Death Is Never On Time", is a unique novel for people seeking answers to such metaphysical questions as: What will really happen when you die? Does God really exist? Is there really a heaven and a hell? Does secular science have all the answers? Ignore God or explore God? What should we do?
Critique: An absorbing and inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "Final Departure: Death Is Never On Time" reveals author Jeff Walton's genuine flair for raptly engaging his readers with deftly crafted characters embedded in an unpredictable plat of unsuspected twists and turns. While highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Final Departure" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.70).
A Rain of Night Birds
Hand to Hand Publishing
9780998344300, $18.95, PB, 284pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Deena Metzger is a writer, a healer, a radical thinker on behalf of the natural world and planetary survival, a teacher of writing and healing practices for 50 years, and an activist profoundly concerned with peacemaking, restoration and sanctuary for a beleaguered world. She has been convening ReVisioning Medicine bringing Indigenous medicine ways to heal the medical world since 2004, and is imagining a Literature of Restoration as foundations of a new viable culture. She has observed that perhaps never before in the history of humankind has the disparity between Indigenous mind and Western mind been more on the pulse of what we must pay attention to in order to insure our survival.
In service to this realization, Metzger has written a novel, "A Rain of Night Birds", in which two people, who are from each side of this polarity, begin a loving relationship. Sandra Birdswell is a student of climatology with an uncanny ability to sense weather events. Her mother, who died in childbirth, is a mystery to her. Her father, John, formerly a Reservation doctor, faithfully raises her despite his limitations and obligations.
Sandra first meets Terrence, a Native man and a professor of climatology, at her university classes. Years later, they are drawn together by the powerful forces of their love, for the Earth, for each other, and their mutual need to seek out the broken links of their family histories.
When the UN report on climate change is released in 2007, the reality of the effects of the Anthropocene era sends a shockwave through both their lives. Their relationship to each other and to the elementals they are so intimate with lightning, thunder, rain, mountain brings them deeply and violently into a quest to live their lives in ways that disengage from colonial mind, the same mind that brought devastation to the Native peoples, and now brings all of humanity to the brink of extinction. Through their love of and deeply felt intuitive connection to the Earth, they each go to the brink of death to find their truth, to gain strength and wisdom.
Critique: A deftly crafted, entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from cover to cover, "A Rain of Night Birds" offers a unique and memorable reading experience that will linger in the mind long after the novel itself is finished and set back upon the shelf. While very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library Contemporary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Rain of Night Birds" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).
What the River Wants
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781532008252, $28.95, HC, 318pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Most every morning now, Tom found his way outside to the rocker to watch the sun rise. The first piercings of morning amethyst and pink inevitably brought joy, as did the frogs and birds chirping in the distance, chatting the morning news of coming winter. And the old broken chinaberry tree stared at Tom. It had been hit by lightning years earlier but stood still against the backdrop of the oaks and willows stretching down the riverbank. In the blue fog, the deformed old tree took the shape of a looming giant, a dark presence draped in Spanish moss reaching down as if a dutiful matron tasked to lift the cabin from darkness. And each morning, Tom studied the daily mystery that helped dispel the ugly shape of thought he did not want to know.
Critique: Written with a kind of lyrical prose, "What the River Wants" is an extraordinary and original thriller by a genuinely gifted novelist with an impressive flair for deftly created characters and a memorable, unpredictable storytelling. While "What the River Wants" is very highly recommended, especially for community library Suspense/Thriller Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that it is also available in a paperback edition (9781532008238, $18.95) and in a Kindle format ($3.99).
The Fourth Vow
Richard T. Dolezal
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781540337122, $15.99, PB, 422pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: It was a chance discovery, but now the Catholic Church has irrefutable proof that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is executing a decades-long strategy to destroy Christianity in America. Pope John Paul II retains famed trial lawyer Carson Elliott to confront the ACLU. The ACLU responds by having Elliott killed. And so it begins.
Three years later, a tactical nuclear explosion vaporizes four hundred people at a holiday ACLU fundraiser in San Francisco. The private war escalates between those who want to keep America a Christian nation and those who do not. Hanging in the balance is the future of America.
When the president orders his attorney general, Tom Owens, to spearhead the investigation of the explosion, Tom asks his good friend Blake Elliott to assist him. As soon as Blake is involved, dead bodies pile up and casualties mount as the investigation takes bizarre and dangerous twists and turns, reaching all the way to the Supreme Court.
"The Fourth Vow" inventively imagines a world where people of faith and conviction strive to take back their country from a wicked infection of incremental evil. Written with precision and passion, "The Fourth Vow" holds up a mirror to current events, stirs the emotions, and excites readers all the way to its riveting conclusion.
Critique: An inherently fascinating and intrinsically compelling read from cover to cover, "The Fourth Vow" is a carefully crated and impressively original work that reveals author Richard T. Dolezal's genuine flair for creating a truly extraordinary novel -- one that will linger in the mind and memory long after it has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While very highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Fourth Vow" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.99).
Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child
S. Craig Zahler
9781946487001, $15.00, PB, 150pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Hug Chickenpenny is an anomalous child. Born from tragedy and unknown paternity, this asymmetrical and white-haired baby inspires both ire and pity at the orphanage, until the day that an elderly eccentric adopts him as a pet. The upbeat boy's spirit is challenged in his new home and as he is exposed to prejudiced members of society in various encounters. Will Hug and his astronautical dreams survive our cruel and judgmental world?
Critique: "Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child" is a kind of gothic, Dicksonian style take on the Elephant Man by Craig Zahler. An exceptional, original, and inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "Hug Chickenpenny" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, and would be an especially impressive addition to both community and academic library General Fiction/Literary Fiction collections.
Kathy Wilson Florence
9780998678108, $12.95, PB, 266pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Affectionately called "Jaybird" by the father she adores, Josie Flint's idyllic childhood in 1960s Atlanta is defined by her role as the oldest of the three Flint sisters and crowned with the presence of her grandmother, Annie Jo -- the maypole that centers the Flint family. Surrounding their world, however, is the turbulent South as Jim Crow laws come to an end. As Josie's school desegregates and the country meanders through new ideas brought about by the Civil Rights movement, a personal tragedy breaches Josie's world and shatters that perfect childhood. Josie's story is told from her early teenage years and 35 years later when her beloved grandmother dies. And when a long-kept secret unfolds for the Flint family, a new kind of heartache begins.
Critique: Impressively entertaining while at the same time thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Jaybird's Song" by Kathy Wilson Florence is a consistently absorbing read from beginning to end. Exceptional and with admirable attention to historical detail, "Jaybird's Song" is very highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Jaybird's Song" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).
There's More Than One Way Home
Chickadee Prince Books
9780991327461, $15.99, PB, 322pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Anna Kagen seems to have it all: She's young, beautiful, and married to a wealthy, prominent man. But within the walls of her San Francisco mansion, she spends her time dodging her husband's barbs and hunting down potential friends for her son, Jack, a 10-year-old on the autistic spectrum.
That old life suddenly seems idyllic when, on a school field trip, she makes the small error in judgment that sets in motion a chain of events that leads to another boy's death. Suddenly Jack is a suspect, her husband's career is in jeopardy, and Anna has to choose between loyalty to her son -- and what may be her one chance at happiness.
Critique: An extraordinary novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and deftly crafted storytelling, "There's More Than One Way Home" is an unfailingly entertaining read from cover to cover. While very highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "There's More Than One Way Home" is also available in a digital book format ($6.99).
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
The Inevitable Witness
Chickadee Prince Books
9780991327478, $14.99, PB, 282pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Bobby Earl is the guy you call when it's time to fix bayonets and go to trial. But when he's tapped to defend a notorious safecracker arrested for killing a decorated LAPD officer, Earl's own life is suddenly in danger, and Earl must dive into LA's dangerous underworld, and battle a court system in which the news media and politics corrupt the wheels of justice.
Critique: In his debut novel it is obvious that Ed Rucker draws upon his may years of experience and expertise as a criminal defense lawyer (trying over 200 jury trials, including 13 death penalty cases and several high profile publicity cases) to deftly craft a truly riveting read. With a genuine flair for creating memorable characters and offering an inherently compelling story, Rucker's "The Inevitable Witness" is very highly recommended, especially for community library Suspense/Thriller fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Inevitable Witness" is also available in a Kindle format ($6.99).
Show Me the Sinister Snowman
Cave Hollow Press
9780971349797, $14.95, PB, 279pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: North Missouri has seldom been snowier and the mysteries more perplexing. Was the ailing congressman's death an accident, suicide, or perhaps even murder? And if it was murder, could it be that he was the wrong victim and the murderer might be poised to strike again? The action in "Show Me the Sinister Snowman" zeroes in on a snow-bound estate to provide a new twist on the classic country house mystery. The questions and perils build up, but retired CIA operative Phoenix Smith (with help from her faithful canine assistant, Achilles) is on the case!
Critique: "Show Me the Sinister Snowman" is the fifth novel in Carolyn Mulford's 'Show Me' detective series, dedicated mystery buffs will appreciate the deftly crafted characters, as well as the unexpected plot-driven twists, turns and surprises. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Show Me the Sinister Snowman" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.99).
A Deadly Game
Gary M. Lepper
9780578186993, $10.99, PB, 384pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Professional baseball players in multiple cities have been injured inexplicably -- and two have died. When former police detective David Kenmuir tries to learn why, he becomes trapped in a collision between the make-believe world of fantasy baseball leagues and the very real world of crime-for-hire. In order to escape from it, he must end it -- and manage to stay alive in the midst of lethal conflicts between a mob boss and his maverick subordinate, and between himself and a nemesis from his past. It won't be easy.
Critique: An impressively crafted and inherently engaging read from cover to cover, "A Deadly Game" is an original and highly recommended addition to the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs and will prove to be an enduringly popular and appreciated addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted that "A Deadly Game" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.99).
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
The Vampire: Book Two
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781541100824 $TBA pbk / $6.99 ebook amazon.com
Synopsis: "It is time to drop any illusion of innocence..." A tumultuous year has passed and life for Jason Sterling has become a series of new discoveries about Augere's past and his Vampire nature, while learning fascinating and disturbing details regarding previous assistants. Just as it appears his relationship with Augere is stable, a seemingly simple request causes unforeseen problems between them, and sets in motion events which ultimately reveal both long-hidden and recent secrets. The drama plays out against a backdrop of family strife, betrayals, mistrust and uncertain futures for all those who are part of the Vampire's close realm.
As Jason learns more about advantages as well as dangers inherent in his role as assistant it appears that dire consequences await anyone who dares to go against the Vampire. But Jason suspects that when it comes to Augere, no one is truly safe. Matters become even more complicated when a tragedy occurs that resonates with Jason on a personal level and challenges his conscience, casting a shadow over his future with Augere. A character driven story about friendship, loyalty, obsession and its consequences within the context of life with a supernatural being.
Critique: The Vampire: Book Two is a character-driven odyssey of malevolent intent, betrayal, buried secrets, and the burden of bearing a conscience. Will the close relationship between Jason Sterling, a Vampire, and his beloved Augere break under the pressures of the midnight world? A web of rapturous yet deadly intrigue awaits connosseurs of the genre! It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Vampire: Book Two is additionally available as an ebook ($6.99). Also highly recommended is the first novel in the series, The Vampire: Book One ($TBA pbk / $4.99 ebook).
P. J. Fox
Evil Toad Press
9781942365631, $14.00, PB, 278pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In entrepreneur and billionaire heir Dane, Ani sees a man who is gorgeous, brilliant -- and intimidating. But in the equally perilous world in which they live, a world that rose from the ashes of the Third World War and that prizes dominance above almost all else, he's perfect. Ani, who's known her whole life that she doesn't belong in this world, is startled to discover that she's drawn to him. Against her better judgment, and even against her own will.
Dane, meanwhile, finds himself unable to resist Ani's independent spirit. Although he, as a product of the society that's given him so much, has long regarded such spirit as anything but a virtue. He likes his women like he likes everything else: on his own terms. Can he, he wonders, tame her?
And will Ani let herself be tamed? And can she, a pacifist in a world of violence, keep herself safe? Because, despite its veneer of civility, this brave new world is a violent place; no trappings of wealth, and privilege, can disguise that hard truth. Crimes of all kinds, up to and including murder, are more than tolerated; under the guise of keeping society stable, they're encouraged.
Particularly on one night of the year, a night that's fast approaching: the highlight of every loyal citizen's year, the night of the Purge.
Critique: An inherently compelling read from cover to cover, "Fallen" by P. J. Fox is a simply riveting novel by a master of the genre. While very highly recommended for community library Science Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated scifi buffs that "Fallen" is also available in a Kindle format ($2.99).
The Business Shelf
The Dance of the Business Mind
9780998779409, $19.99, PB, 170pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Dance of the Business Mind: Strategies to Thrive Anywhere, From the Ballroom to the Boardroom" by Valeh Nazemoff combines her passion for dance with her expertise in consulting Fortune 500 companies, and in this game-changing instructional guide, readers will discover: How freeing your mind to dance can help you make better decisions in the workplace and achieve desired results; Why positive thinking and visualization can help you perform at your highest level--in business and in dance; The Four I's, which will help you bring your passion and expertise to essential professional decisions; Successful business partnerships require you to get in sync with your colleagues--they take communication, rhythm, and a shared purpose; How to make sure that your "steps" (your business plan) match your "music" (your goal) so you can succeed in the best possible way. The underlying message throughout is underscoring the value of mapping a business strategy like a choreographer, creating a plan of action before taking to the stage.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, impressively informative, practical and insightful, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "The Dance of the Business Mind: Strategies to Thrive Anywhere, From the Ballroom to the Boardroom" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to personal, corporate, community and academic library Business Management collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
The Music Shelf
Garage Band Theory
Cowboy Heaven Publishing
PO Box 248, Gallatin Gateway, MT 59730
9780976642008, $50.00, PB, 595pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Garage Band Theory" by Duke Sharp (who draws upon his own 30 years of experience and expertise as a professional musician and a decade as a music teacher) is non-academic, practical, useful theory for living-room pickers and working musicians who want to be able to think coherently about music in order to ask questions and understand answers about the music they want to play.
While "Garage Band Theory" is about understanding The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Cole Porter and Duke Ellington, The Grateful Dead and Vampire Weekend. It is NOT about analyzing Bach Fugues -- but any aspiring music student will be able to if they would want to.
"Garage Band Theory" was specifically written for the 99% of musicians who are NOT music majors by a incorrigible honky-tonk guitar player who plays by ear -- but who understands the relevant vocabulary and what's sensible and useful for MOST players.
Critique: A full course of study under one cover, "Garage Band Theory" is impressively informed and informative, practical, insightful, and should be considered an essential resource for anyone who aspires to one day becoming a musician with a band performing live before an audience or recorded in a studio. Exceptionally 'user friendly' in organization and presentation "Garage Band Theory" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Music Theory & Instruction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Garage Band Theory" is also available in a Kindle format ($15.00).
The Health/Medicine Shelf
Finding the Way
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781494771119, $16.95, PB, 290pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Elizabeth DeRosa has earned a BSW and MSW degree in social work. She is the founder of Clifford's Gift, a nonprofit organization that helps provide material support and hope to individuals and families that are homeless.
She draws upon her experience and expertise in "Finding the Way" to bring awareness to individuals and families about the dangers of the overuse and continuous use of antibiotics, the problems with the country's food supply, the importance of nutritious food, and how to limit our daily exposure to toxic ingredients and chemicals. These toxic ingredients and chemicals are causing physical chaos and disease on a level never before seen.
"Finding the Way" will empower and educate readers on how to begin taking control of their own health.
This informed and informative study has its origins in DeRosa watching doctor after doctor prescribe for her son with more than 120 different doses of antibiotics, steroids, and inhalers with no physical improvement. Finally she had enough. In a desperate attempt to control his allergy and asthma symptoms, she began exploring alternative treatment options. What I found on his healing journey was shocking.
Harmful toxins and unsafe chemicals pervade the smallest aspects of our lives. "Finding the Way" encourages readers to eliminate these dangers by choosing healthy alternatives to chemical-laden foods, beauty products, cleaning supplies and more. "Finding the Way" offers practical solutions, suggestions, and resources for improving a family's general and overall health -- medication free.
Critique: Impressively informed and informative, exceptionally well written, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Finding the Way" is an extraordinary contribution that should be a part of every community and academic library Health/Medicine collections and supplemental studies reading list. It should be noted for medical students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Finding the Way" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.99).
The Coloring Book Shelf
Nola R. Hintzel
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781537465395, $7.95, PB, 80pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Planet Geometry: Symmetrical Patterns of Proportion and Balance" by Nola R. Hintzle is a geometry-themed coloring book featuring 38 original images, each of which is specifically designed to transport you into the wonderful world of symmetry and geometrical form while at the same time inspiring you to create beautiful color combinations. The art deco inspired patterns include a mixture of abstract architectural elements, sci-fi, and odd machinery. Images are printed on one side only.
Critique: With more images available on Nola Hintzel's author page at https://www.facebook.com/PlanetGeometry, "Planet Geometry: Symmetrical Patterns of Proportion and Balance" is an excellent adult coloring book, very highly recommended. "Planet Geometry" is a choice pick for calming the mind and fostering creativity, and will provide hours of meditative relaxation and entertainment.
The Biography Shelf
7 Hours to Sofia
Louise Mae Hoffmann
9780989724272, $29.95, PB, 360pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: After retiring from her career directing a college library, and serving as president of the New Mexico Library Association, Louise Mae Hoffman decided to volunteer for the Peace Corps. "7 Hours to Sofia: Challenges and Discoveries of a Peace Corps Volunteer" tells the story of her tour of duty.
Along the way, Hoffmann established a new public library in the city where she was teaching. She travels by train to many Bulgarian towns and cities. She visits the countries near Bulgaria with many friends, and shares letters from and to family members and friends in the U.S. She even shares 24 wonderful Bulgarian recipes, which she prepared for students and friends who came to visit.
"7 Hours to Sofia" reveals people and places most Americans know very little about. Hoffmann is richer for her experiences in the Peace Corps -- so are her readers.
Critique: In "7 Hours to Sofia: Challenges and Discoveries of a Peace Corps Volunteer", Louise MaeHoffmann makes a powerful and universal point about democracy. Those who are born and bred up in one tend not to truly appreciate it -- not like those who had to go through a revolution to create one for themselves and their children. An inherently fascinating, informative, and exceptionally well written read from cover to cover, "7 Hours to Sofia" is highly recommended, especially for both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "7 Hours to Sofia" is also available in a Kindle format.
Hot Pants in Hollywood: Sex, Secrets & Sitcoms
9781483595672, $17.95, PB, 280pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Susan Silver was one of the first female TV comedy writers with credits like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Maude, Bob Newhart, among others. "Hot Pants in Hollywood: Sex, Secrets & Sitcoms" is her own personal Show Biz memoir, and an extraordinary account of a Baby Boomer's life.
As the lyrics from the iconic Mary Tyler Moore Show said, "She made it after all!" From another Midwest town, Milwaukee, with all its Sixties' values and normalcy, Susan went on to fame and fortune in Hollywood, had a successful career as one of the first women in TV sitcoms, and reinvented herself in different prominent arenas in New York. Along the way, she "Searched for Mr. Adequate," her well received dating column, had many romantic adventures, loves and loss, and she's 'still here!'
Though her story is unique, due to the career she chose, her life is relatable to all women of her generation including Baby Boomers dealing with divorce, dating, aging parents. Based upon her life experiences there is a great deal of insightful advice for young women of today related to work and/or love.
Critique: An inherently fascinating, fully absorbing, deftly written, impressively candid memoir, "Hot Pants in Hollywood: Sex, Secrets & Sitcoms" will prove to be an extraordinarily popular addition to community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Hot Pants in Hollywood: Sex, Secrets & Sitcoms" is also available in a Kindle format ($6.99).
I Was There All Along: A Memoir
Margo T. Krasne
Simply Good Press
9780997965490, $15.95, PB, 246pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Trained as an actress under Sanford Meisner, Margo Krasne left the theater for the ad world, creating the Radio Department at Doyle Dane Bernbach in the 1960's. Her hands in clay from early days, she went from advertising to sculpting full time until, in her 50's, she reinvented herself once again becoming a highly successful communication coach. Also a successful writer, Margo is the author of "Say It With Confidence" and "Appearances". "I Was There All Along: A Memoir" is her life story told with an impressive candor and clarity.
Critique: Intrinsically absorbing, inherently fascinating, impressively informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "I Was There All Along: A Memoir" is a compelling read from beginning to end and very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "I Was There All Along: A Memoir" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.95).
The Poetry Shelf
Rock - Tree - Bird
Twyla M. Hansen
The Backwaters Press
1124 Pacific Street, #8392, Omaha, Nebraska, 68108
9781935218456, $16.00, PB, 102pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: From memories of the isolation and beauty of growing up on a farm, to a burgeoning awareness as a teenager of the economic and cultural forces waged against family farming, to coming to terms with the legacies of her parents after their passing, and, finally, arriving at an appreciation of nature and the environment wherever and whenever she finds it, Twyla M. Hansen offers poems that are alternately sad, sweet, funny, moving, human, and humane in the pages of "Rock - Tree - Bird".
Critique: Twyla M. Hansen was selected to a five-year term as Nebraska State Poet in 2013. Her poetry is carefully crafted and movingly memorable. Her "Rock - Tree - Bird" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal, community, and academic library Contemporary American Poetry collections. 'Late Fall Song': Not yet winter but new snow overnight, / and late sleep-in like the burrowed woodchuck. // We rise in half-light to end our sleep-night, / begin the all-consuming day. With luck // we'll make time to watch the bird feeder / and its lively, fluttered crew, the hungered // finches, chickadees, red-bellied woodpecker, / and nameless plentiful friends, brown-feathered. // Stand with me near the glass, see branches bare / waving in wind, the paths filled with leaves blown. // Is this world not enough for us to share / before we fly off into the unknown?
The Christian Studies Shelf
In Love: The Larger Story of Sex and Marriage
c/o Connor Court Publishing Pty Ltd
9781925501384, $24.95, PB, 165pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Dr. Ryan Messmor directs the Millis Institute, a Christ-centered, tertiary liberal arts program that he designed at Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Australia (www.millis.edu.au). He draws upon his years of study, research, experience and expertise to write "In Love: The Larger Story of Sex and Marriage" for the purpose of telling how one couple's lives and love story became swept up into an ancient, beautiful story much larger than themselves. The world of romantic love and sexual ethics looks different when seen through the lens of this narrative. "In Love" describes their attempt to live out this ancient story's wisdom in modern times.
Critique: Deftly crafted, informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, inspired and inspiring, "In Love: The Larger Story of Sex and Marriage" is a life-affecting, life-enhancing, life-renewing, life-affirming read that is especially recommended to the attention of all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliations.
The Political Science Shelf
The New Enlightenment
New Enlightenment Citizens Union
9780996706728, $39.95, HC, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Our contemporary political problems having created an intensely polarized country, has resulted in economic problems (largely caused and/or exacerbated by current political and economic professionals) are perpetuating great social, economic, and political injustices and unnecessary hardships for tens of millions of our fellow citizens presenting an existential on-going threat to the stability and even the survival of our nation.
"The New Enlightenment: A Twenty-First Century Peaceful American Revolution" by Robert Bivona is comprised of 34 detailed public policies that instituted on a national level will: Lift tens of millions of Americans out of poverty to a standard of living that now exists in the middle class; substantially improve the standard of living of tens of millions more; fundamentally improve our election, lobbying and media systems; enhance democracy with an innovative, new democratic system, and congressional rules reforms; create a $500 billion annual federal surplus; increase GDP by $1.8 trillion. Costs or revenue gains resulting from instituting each policy is included.
Critique: Robert Bivona has a degree in physics, did graduate work in physics and engineering, and has decades of professional experience in physics, math, and engineering. He applied his analytic skills to his lifelong interest in public policy because our nation urgently needs fresh policy solution ideas from outside professional political and economics orthodoxy. He writes with persuasively informed and informative insights and creatively practical ideas on how to heal, restore, and enhance our nation as a secure and working democracy for all of its citizens. Exceptionally 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "The New Enlightenment" is very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library Contemporary Political Science collections and supplemental studies lists. For the personal reading lists students, government policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, it should be noted that "The New Enlightenment" is also available in a paperback edition (9780996706704, $23.95) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).
The International Studies Shelf
Asia-literacy and Global Competence: Collections and Recollections
Alicia Su Lozeron
Asia-America Connection Society
9780998194158, $20.99, HC, 152pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Compiled and written by Alicia Su Lozeron, "Asia-literacy and Global Competence: Collections and Recollections" is a collection of vignettes and articles about Asia and the world. In bringing the Asian segment onto the western stage, Lozeron emphasizes the invaluable contributions of the Asian sector to the global village. An irresistible shift of global power renders awareness about global competence ever more important.
Her intention in "Asia-literacy and Global Competence" is to raise that awareness and connects the West to the East by researching and analyzing facts as well as describing experiences of cross-cultural nature. Her content is compelling, and her tales, beautifully narrated.
Alicia Su Lozeron's advocacy for mutual understanding and collaboration among cultures is vital for American companies seeking to do business there, as well as anyone seeking personal accomplishments, on a business, cultural, educational, or entertainment dimension.
Critique: Impressively informative, exceptionally well researched and written, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "Asia-literacy and Global Competence: Collections and Recollections" is a unique, practical, and highly recommended addition to professional, corporate, governmental, community, and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Asia-literacy and Global Competence: Collections and Recollections" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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