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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 21, Number 7 July 2022 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Business Shelf General Fiction Shelf
Historical Fiction Shelf Literary Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Poetry Shelf Biography Shelf
Metaphysical Studies Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Higher and Friendly Powers
Peg O'Connor
Wildhouse Publications
9781736075067, $19.99, PB, 216pp

Synopsis: An expansive alternative for those who have struggled with the "higher power" of AA's 12-step program, with the publication of "Higher and Friendly Powers: Transforming Addiction and Suffering", Peg O'Connor offers a sense of human decency, moral ideals, and even a better version of oneself.

In "Higher and Friendly Powers", O'Connor addresses an audience much like herself: those in recovery who have struggled with the Christian-centric God at the heart of Alcoholics Anonymous. She brings our attention to a little-known fact: the term "higher power," a touchstone in the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, was coined by William James, philosopher, psychologist, and intellectual giant of the early 20th century. By acting as our personal field guide through the world of William James, Peg shows that "higher power" as James conceived it is far more expansive than we might imagine.

"Higher and Friendly Powers" combines Peg's deep personal wisdom with James's adventurous intellect -- and has the power to transform the way we live.

Critique: Of special appeal and relevance to readers having to deal with substance abuse, alcohol addiction, and the kinds of physical and mental health issues that arise from those afflictions, "Higher and Friendly Powers: Transforming Addiction and Suffering" is unreservedly recommended as an addition to personal Self-Help/Self-Improvement reading lists, as well as professional, community, college, and university library Alcohol Recovery and Substance Abuse Recovery collections.

Editorial Note: Peg O'Connor, Ph.D., is a Professor of Philosophy at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, specializing in moral philosophy, feminist philosophy, and addiction studies. She is also the author of "Life on the Rocks: Finding Meaning in Addiction and Recovery" (Central Recovery Press, 2016), and is herself a recovering alcoholic who maintains that philosophy has helped her to stay sober. Peg is regularly published in trade journals and writes a column, Philosophy Stirred, Not Shaken, for Psychology Today, which has nearly two million total views online, with select columns appearing in the print publication.

The Business Shelf

From the Ground Up
Leo MacLeod
Pie House Publishing
9798985682205, $29.99, HC, 208pp

Synopsis: You're one of the firm's go-to people for fixing problems and making clients happy. But you question if you want to take on the tough work of being a leader at the same time as being a doer: the heavier workload, managing performance of other people, the longer hours and stress. Do you really want to take the more challenging path to make a difference in your life and the firm?

Based on twenty-five years of successfully coaching emerging leaders, Leo MacLeod has developed and now published "From the Ground Up: Stories and Lessons from Architects and Engineers Who Learned to Be Leaders", a simple-to-follow program to help you get there -- the place where you are respected as a professional, influence others to do their best work, and maintain sanity.

"From the Ground Up" reveals how to: Organize your day for success; Distinguish between important tasks and urgent tasks; Manage emails and meeting so they don't take over your day; Delegate tasks and manage interruptions; Negotiate new demands on your time; Mentor your team so they don't feel overmanaged; Advocate for what's important to you at the office and in your life.

Comprised of lessons learned and stories from those who have come before you, "From the Ground Up" is an effective DIY guidebook to stepping into your new role as a business manager or corporate executive without leaving yourself behind.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "From the Ground Up: Stories and Lessons from Architects and Engineers Who Learned to Be Leaders" will have a very special and relevant appeal to anyone engaged in Business Mentoring & Coaching. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, corporate, college, and university library Human Resources & Personnel Management and Business Management collections and supplemental curriculum syllabus, it should be noted for MBA students, academia, business professionals, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "From the Ground Up" is also available in a paperback edition (9798985682212, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: As owner of Training. Coaching. Pie., Leo MacLeod has guided thousands of new leaders in the AEC industry. A national expert on leadership development and succession planning, he regularly presents for the American Council of Engineering Companies and helped develop the Oregon chapter's popular leadership program. He has an informative website at

Adapt or Die
Thomas H. Douglas, author
THD Press
9798985811926, $19.99, HC, 276pp

Synopsis: What if small businesses could save the world?

With the publication of "Adapt or Die: How to Create Innovation, Solve People Puzzles, and Win in Business" Thomas H. Douglas (CEO of JMARK Business Solutions Inc.) examines the extreme challenges, shifts, demands, and vast opportunities for today's American businesses.

Told through the story of one bold company (People First IT), "Adapt or Die" takes readers through the unparalleled business system known as The Algorithm of Success that has the potential to inspire, ignite, and affect change for all aspects of an organization.

Each individual chapter reveals more of the winning formula that all small and midsize businesses absolutely must have to succeed. Through real examples, research, and practical tools, Adapt or Die unpacks exactly how to create innovation, solve people puzzles, and win in business.

Not your average business management book, "Adapt of Die" is powerfully grounded in key insights, lessons, and the exact strategies learned from Douglas's own experience of building JMARK to become one of the fastest-growing businesses in America, hitting the Inc. Magazine list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies nine different times.

Inspiring, tactical, and deeply insightful, "Adapt or Die" is quite arguably the ultimate guide to embracing true leadership, adapting through change, and succeeding in business that every small and midsize business leader and entrepreneur needs.

Critique: Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Adapt or Die: How to Create Innovation, Solve People Puzzles, and Win in Business" is exceptionally well written and an invaluably 'real world practical' instruction guide that is a critically important, informative, and thought-provoking read for anyone engaged in any kind of small business enterprise. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, and academic library Entrepreneurship and Business Decision Making/Problem Solving collection and MBA supplemental curriculum MBA studies syllabus, it should be noted for personal reading lists of MBA students, academia, business managers, and freelance entrepreneurs that "Adapt or Die" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9798985811902, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

Editorial Note: Thomas H. Douglas joined JMARK in 1997 after serving in the Navy, where he was recognized with multiple awards. As a level-one engineer at JMARK, he worked his way up the ranks before purchasing the company in 2001. Tom had to make some hard decisions and downsize the company to only six people. Now, with over one hundred employees, JMARK is a leader in its space, having hit Inc. Magazine's list of the top 5,000 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America nine consecutive times. He is a trusted technology advisor to a global list of clients and often speaks on topics such as culture, people puzzles, technology efficiencies, and cyber security. He also has a website at

The General Fiction Shelf

Beneath the Polish Moon
Jake Kaminski
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781665714563, $35.95, HC, 270pp

Synopsis: It is 1960 as Luke Karpinski and his friend, Eugene, navigate life in a Polish neighborhood in Milwaukee. Every day is an adventure for the boys. It never occurs to them that one day they will grow up and go their separate ways.

After Luke becomes a hardened undercover cop working in Miami, he nearly forgets his childhood friends. Although he chose his career to make the world a better place, he realizes that life is never that simple. As Miami transforms into the drug capitol of the world, Luke finds himself caught in a life and death struggle with fierce Colombian cartels.

Finally when life comes full circle and Luke is old and alone, he returns to Milwaukee. As his memories roar back, he wonders why things changed. When he meets a black girl in front of his childhood home, Luke unsuccessfully tries to explain his presence, just as he hears voices from the past calling his name. Is a door opening and, if so, to where?

Critique: Along with his deftly crafted narrative storytelling style, "Beneath the Polish Moon" showcases author Jake Kaminski's genuine flair for originality and ability to create a truly memorable casts of characters. The result is an inherently interesting, entertaining, and compulsive page turner of a novel. While "Beneath the Polish Moon" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that it is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781665714587, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Editorial Note: Jake Kaminski is a pseudonym. He is a highly decorated undercover cop, having worked as an undercover agent and later supervising undercover operations in Miami, Latin America, the Caribbean and other parts of the world. His team spent six years combating both the Medellin and Cali cartels. Following his police career, he spent fourteen years as a senior adviser for the U.S. Department of Justice and the US Department of State, assigned to post-war countries in the Balkans. He is also the author of "Shadow Wolves" (9781684566235, $35.95 HC; $21.95 PB; $2.99 Kindle, 344pp).

The Man Who Came and Went
Joe Stillman
City Point Press
9781947951389, $23.99, 240pp

Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Belutha Mariah, the storyteller in "The Man Who Came And Went", is the oldest of three kids from three different fathers. Her life's goal is to keep her dysfunctional mom, Maybell, from procreating yet again and then to leave the coffin-sized town of Hadley, Arizona the second she graduates high school.

Along comes the new grill cook at Maybell's Diner, Bill Bill, a mysterious drifter with the ability to mind-read orders. As word spreads in Hadley and beyond, the curious and desperate pour into this small desert town to eat at Maybell's. Some believing that Bill knows the secrets of the universe.

But Belutha figures he's probably nuts. However, his cooking starts to transform the lives of locals and visitors, and Belutha finds her angry heart opening, as Bill begins to show her the porous boundary between this life and what comes after.

In a normal American town, something new and strange, and yet achingly familiar, begins to unfold.

Critique: A deftly crafted work of original fiction by an author with an established expertise in storytelling, "The Man Who Came And Went" is an original, compelling, and entertaining novel that will have a very special appeal to fans of metaphysical fiction, magic realism, and coming of age fantasies. While unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Man Who Came And Went" by Joe Stillman is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: Joe Stillman co-wrote Shrek for Dreamworks which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay and the Annie and BAFTA Awards. His other produced features are Beavis & Butthead Do America, Shrek 2, Gulliver's Travels, Planet 51 and Joseph King Of Dreams. In television, he was co-producer and writer on King of the Hill, for which he received two Emmy Award(R) nominations. He was a writer and story editor for Nickelodeon's The Adventures of Pete and Pete and a writer on MTV's Beavis and Butthead. More recently he worked on Nickelodeon's Sanjay and Craig and Kirby Buckets for Disney. Other TV credits include Albert for Nickelodeon, The War Next Door for the USA Network, Clueless, Doug and Danger and Eggs for Amazon.

And So We Dream
Linda Mahovec
9781647044992, $15.99, PB, 408pp

Synopsis: Its 1970 and twelve-year-old Joey Roland is sent away to family friends while his parents try to work things out. He's eager to leave sadness and secrets behind in Chicago and head downstate to the small town of Greenberry, where the Vitale family awaits him. He thinks of their town as boyland -- a world of bike riding, fishing, and going barefoot. Though initially shy of the beautiful teenage daughters (Anne, Vita, and Beth) they welcome him into their lives of adventure, beauty, and dreams.

Joey especially bonds with the middle sister, Vita, and her all-or-nothing pursuit of an acting career. Joey's "there must be more" merges with Vita's "I must make it happen" resulting in a magical summer where the town of Greenberrry becomes the crucible for two desperate dreamers.

Critique: A brilliantly engaging, entertaining, and at times poignant coming-of-age story, "And So We Dream" is a compelling read by author Linda Mahkovec showcasing her genuine flair as a novelist for the kind of literary experience that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book is finished and set back upon the shelf. From the author of the "Christmastime" series, "And So We Dream" is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "And So We Dream" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Linda Mahkovec has a PhD in English, specializing in Victorian literature. She has an informative website at, and can be followed on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Secret Waltz
Karen Lee Boren
Flexible Press
9781736403365, $18.00, PB, 374pp

Synopsis: In the mid-1960s, sex is dangerous. Having sex can ruin your family, ruin your future, or worse. Early 1960s Milwaukee, four best friends, Will, Kirstin, Leo, and Emelia, are growing up together, finding themselves and what it means to be a budding adult. They do all the things teens do -- hang out at the pool, bike everywhere, and discover their bodies.

But this growing up thing is hard. On her 16th birthday Emelia receives stunning news from her aunts who raised her. Seems they've been keeping a secret from her for her entire life, one that forces Emelia to re-evaluate everything she thought she know about her family and herself, sending her on a journey of discovery with few tools and no idea what she might find along the way.

Meanwhile, Leo is struggling with his abusive father, who leads a polka band, drinks too much, and cheats on Leo's mother. Leo plays the guitar. He's good, too. But his father wants Leo to stay away from that so-called music of rock and roll. Their relationship is complex: Leo both looks up to and hates his father for the control he has over his music and his life.

All that is hard enough, but then Leo and Emelia and their friends Will and Kirstin stumble across Sonya, someone they've seen at school but don't really know, doing what to them is an inexplicable and horrifying act. What should they do? What can they do? This begins a chain of actions that escalate and spiral out of their control.

In the end, "Secret Waltz" is a coming-of-age novel by Karen Lee Boren that asks, what does it mean to be a "good girl" or a "good boy"? If you have a secret, do you get to still be "good"?

Critique: Deftly written, as entertaining as it is thought-provoking, "Secret Waltz" demonstrates author Karen Lee Broen's genuine and impressive flair as a novelist for the kind of narrative driven storytelling that keeps and holds the reader's fascinated attention from cover to cover. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted that "Secret Waltz" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: A Professor of English and Creative Writing at Rhode Island College, Karen Lee Boren's novel, "Girls in Peril", was the premier publication for the Tin House New Voices series and a Barnes and Noble Discover selection. Her novel, "Month of Fire", was a finalist for the New American Press book contest, and her story collection, "Mother Tongue" was published by New Rivers Press in 2015. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and is the winner of the 2018 Wundor Editions Fiction Prize. Her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry has been featured in WomenArts Journal, Santa Fe Writer's Project, Flexible Persona, The Florida Review, New South, Hawai i Pacific Review, Epoch, Cream City Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Crack the Spine, The Offbeat, Fourth Genre. Her travel essays appear in BookForum, Gadling, Litro, Lonely Planet's anthology Rites of Passage: Backpacking 'Round Europe, and The Best of Lonely Planet's Travel Writing.

The Historical Fiction Shelf

Jesus: The Novel
A. A. Coleman
Dorrance Publishing Company
585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238
9781637642924, $25.00, PB, 418pp

Synopsis: Based on the four biographies of Jesus as recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, "Jesus: The Novel" by A. A. Coleman weaves all moments of the life and mission of Jesus into chronological order with the sounds, sights, and voices of those around him.

As the reader follows the life of Jesus, considers his perspective, or imagines his thoughts as an infant, a boy, a son, and a brother, there is a feeling of his loneliness in the wilderness, among the masses, despite his disciples, and being away from the only one who truly understood him: his cousin, John the Baptizer.

Also dramatized is his pain upon losing Joseph, losing his family's respect when they decided he was out of his mind.

Walking with Jesus, as portrayed in "Jesus: The Novel", we, too, learn we can ultimately trust no human. In this journey with God Incarnate, the reader will be able to relate with the humanity of Jesus and be stunned by his deity. Eventually, the reader will learn that for every emotional place in which any of us find ourselves, Jesus has fought through and blazed the trail before us. That ultimately, all we long for in our world-and cannot quite grasp -- Jesus through his life and mission fully embodies and offers eternally.

Critique: Enhanced for the reader with a series of quotes from Francis Chan to John F. Kennedy, "Jesus: The Novel" utilized the format of novelization to provide the reader with an inspiring, informative, and dramatic perspective on the life and mission of Jesus Christ as based upon the New Testament gospel accounts. While highly recommended for community library Historical Fiction and Religious Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Jesus: The Novel" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: A. A. Coleman is a Christian woman who writes a blog, articles, family histories, and other books of less weight.

The Literary Fiction Shelf

The Shawl of Midnight
Jacqueline St. Joan
Golden Antelope Press
9781952232718, $21.95, PB, 262pp

Synopsis: All the women in Nafeesa's family have been imprisoned, assassinated, scarred or exiled. Yes, every single one. Is it any wonder, then, that the surviving men in her family have kept those disturbing facts from her? But now Nafeesa wants to know the truth.

With the help of her beloved dying grandfather, Kulraj Singh, she receives clues to her past, and in return she pledges to bring his two daughters back to him before he dies.

From Pakistan, Nafeesa travels, first to Mumbai (where she meets her lesbian activist Aunt Faisah and Faisah's partner Lia) and then to Kashmir. She's on a journey to adulthood -- to learn who she is, who her people are and what she is made of. In the company of her heroic auntie, she travels the foothills of the Himalayas through a war zone, under a deadline, through snow lion country, only to question if this Baji Ulaja is truly so heroic after all.

The Shawl of Midnight explores the depths of family relationships, how people change over time and distance, how we might discover through our own pressures and actions what we are made of, and where home truly is.

Critique: An absorbing, inherently interesting, deftly crafted novel that will have a very special appeal and resonance with women readers, "The Shawl of Midnight" showcases author Jacqueline St. Joan's genuine flair for originality, eloquence, and the kind of memorable narrative storytelling style that fully engages the reader's rapt attention from first page to last. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Shawl of Midnight" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Jacqueline St. Joan has worked as a lawyer, county judge, child advocate, domestic violence activist, and the co-editor of an anthology on Women, Law, and Literature in the U.S., and founder of a feminist press. In the 1990s, she met a Pakistani teacher who helped rescue women from honor killings. The meeting led to extensive travel in Pakistan, enduring friendships, research and personal investigation, lobbying, political activism and fundraising. Her first novel, "My Sisters Made of Light" is the prequel to "The Shawl of Midnight" and developed directly out of those experiences. A lifelong feminist and longtime lawyer, she has done more than a hundred public and private readings and lectures all over the U.S., related to violence against women in Pakistan -- literature, law and honor crimes in particular. Those events led to sales and donations of $25,000 sent to Pakistan for the construction of a shelter for women and children escaping abuse, which opened in Punjab in 2016. She has also taught at the University of Colorado and Metropolitan University in Denver.

Estela Gonzalez
Cynren Press
9781947976313, $30.00, 236pp

Synopsis: Mariana Sanchez Celis has traveled the world as a pianist trained at the Juilliard School of Music. But when her mother has a stroke and her beloved uncle suddenly disappears, Mariana must put her life on hold to return to her home in Ayotlan, Mexico.

She soon discovers her town is no longer the place she remembers. Ayotlan's beaches, sea turtle colonies, and historic center are decimated under decades of neglect and abuse. What part did her late father have in this? And could it be related to her uncle's disappearance?

When Fernanda Lucero, a member of the indigenous Concaac people, convinces Mariana to join her sea turtle and architectural conservation projects, the deepening love between Mariana and Fernanda threatens to put them both further in harm's way. This, together with the web of secrets Mariana unravels, stands to radically transform her and her family's fate.

"Arribada" by Estela Gonzalez is the story of a well-to-do woman pushed to confront her role in environmental and social injustice. It is also the saga of a family faced with the realization that their comfortable position rests, beyond a strong work ethic, on crimes against what they hold dearest: the natural world, their town, and their loved ones.

Critique: If ever there were a novel for our times it is Estela Gonzalez "Arribada". Deftly crafted, emotionally impacting, truly memorable characters, and a reverberating theme of responsibility, "Arribada" showcases the author's genuine flair for originality and effective narrative driven storyteller style. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Arribada" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: Estela Gonzalez holds an MFA in creative writing and a PhD in Latin American literature. As a binational and bilingual writer, she tells stories in English and Spanish about race, class, gender, and environmental justice. Growing up in Mexico, Estela regularly visited her family in Mazatlan, where decades-long intensive development has led to the demise of beaches and sea turtle colonies. Her research and support of fishermen protecting sea turtles in the Sea of Cortes deepen her reflections on environmental justice, race relations, and sexuality. Her work is featured in the Barcelona Review, Best of Solstice Literary Magazine, Feminine Rising, Flash Frontier, Flyway Magazine, Latino Book Review, La Colmena, Luvina, and the Revista Mexicana de Literatura Contemporanea, and Under the Volcano. Arribada was a 2019 finalist for Feminist Press's Louise Meriwether Award.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Rat Trap
James Rutter
James Rutter Publishing
9781739635916, $7.47 (Amazon), PB, 159pp

Synopsis: July 2020, Simon Whitby was looking forward to his business re-opening after 3 months of lockdown. But no sooner had he welcomed his customers back in, thieves struck and virtually wiped out the business overnight. With his finances collapsing and little support from the police or insurance, Simon is forced to take matters into his own hands and deliver his own form of retribution on the person he believes was behind it. But Simon's carefully constructed trap doesn't go as smoothly as he had planned.

Seen through Simon's eyes and that of his partner Georgia, "Rat Trap" is a fast-paced revenge drama that re-traces the dramatic twists and turns of a perilous and desperate plan to recover his business, his life and his self-respect.

Critique: Although a work of fiction and all the more impressive considering that it is the author's debut as a novelist, "Rat Trap" is based upon and Inspired by James Rutter's own true crime experience and showcases his impressive flair as a novelist with a full mastery of the art of crafting a gritty suspense thriller of a read from first page to last. While highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Rat Trap" is also available in a digital format (Kindle, $2.99).

Bond of Brothers: Danger Close
Robert J. Saniscalchi
Independently Published
9798525127210, $11.99, PB, 280pp

Synopsis: Now in a newly expanded second edition, "Bond of Brothers: Danger Close" by novelist Robert Saniscalchi is an impressively entertaining and original military thriller about American men and women in uniform with a compelling story that ranges from boots on the ground to fighter jet pilots in the air.

A victory over ISIS and the control of norther Iraq and much more is a stake. Readers will find out what happens in the action-packed story that comprises "Bond of Brothers: Danger Close" which is set in the ever-volatile Middle East.

With a nightmare about to unfold in Iran, the world is on edge. From the office of the President to the sands of Iraq, and Iran, "Bond of Brothers: Danger Close" showcases the men and women who fight for our freedom with everyone involved in an action-packed, military thriller of a novel.

Critique: While a work of expertly crafted action/adventure fiction, "Bond of Brothers: Danger Close" accurately reflects the spirit and ethos the men and women of today's American military services working and fighting abroad today. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Military Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bond of Brothers: Danger Close" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99).

Editorial Note: Robert J Saniscalchi, is the author of four earlier published novels: "My Life for Her"; "Bullets and Bandages"; "Freedom's Light"; "Butterfly Lake". Robert is grateful for the positive feedback on his writing because he feels that it helps keeps him motivated as a novelist. He maintains an informative website at

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Songs of Fate
K. W. Hall
Independently Published
9798442489613, $25.00, HC, 423pp

Synopsis: Charlie, a widowed doctoral student, has been struggling with dark dreams of a gray-eyed warrior. For the past three years she's felt a power growing inside her, the strange sparks of light are painful -- but brutally intoxicating.

After being attacked by an unknown creature while hiking, Charlie is aided by a friendly stranger, Logan. But Logan is not who he pretends to be... and nothing will be the same again, including Charle herself. Because when she discovers her dark dreams are not just fantasies, but linked to missing men in San Diego, she delves into a world beyond her own with a very complicated secret.

Critique: Some authors just seem to have an innate gift for originality and an inherent flair for narrative driven storytelling. With the publication of "The Songs of Fate", novelist K. W. Hall has demonstrated herself to be one of those impressively talented storytellers. With a very special appear to those who enjoy a blending of fantasy and romance, "The Songs of Fate" is an especially recommended addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Songs of Fate" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9798442488869, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

The Poetry Shelf

Earth Rejoicing
Kathie Trujillo Nye
Rosedog Books
c/o Dorrance Publishing Company
9781638674511, $9.00, PB, 32pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Earth Rejoicing", Kathie Trujillo Nye demonstrates and documents her genuine flair for articulating in simple poetic terms common, everyday situations that her readers will relate to with respect to their own encounters with nature and diverse life experiences. With so much turmoil on the earth, this impressive collection of original poetry clearly showcases the emotional and cognitive role of life's memories in our variable and uncertain world.

Critique: The poems comprising "Earth Rejoicing" are deftly crafted with a buoyant and vivid imagery that is truly memorable. Indeed, "Earth Rejoicing" features the kind of poetry that will linger in the mind and memory long after this little volume is finished and set back upon the shelf. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, college, and university library Contemporary American Poetry collections, it should be noted that "Earth Rejoicing" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.00).

The Biography Shelf

Sister in a Brotherhood
Cindie Schooner-Ball
CK Books
9798985688108, $16.00, PB, 214pp

Synopsis: A groundbreaking female firefighter, Cindie Schooner-Ball lived for the thrill of riding backwards on a fire truck, code 3 with lights flashing, sirens wailing, heading toward an ominous cloud of black smoke. "Sister in a Brotherhood: Stories from My Life as a Female Firefighter" is her captivating memoir in which she vividly describes these high-adrenaline experiences and the stunned look on people's faces when she climbed off the truck and they realized she was a woman.

Hired in 1987 by a large urban Fire-Rescue Department in South Florida, Cindie rose through the ranks as a firefighter, driver-engineer, paramedic, and lieutenant. She retired as a captain after 28 years on the force. Throughout her career, she was often asked how she managed to thrive in this male-dominated profession, so she decided to write "Sister in a Brotherhood" to share her story of perseverance, grit, and commanding respect.

Through the stirring tales Cindie shares about grueling training, hard-as-nails leaders, and calls that ran the gamut from traumatic to humorous, you'll understand why firefighting is a calling and passion. She shares memorable moments working and living with people who are dedicated to helping others in crisis. Anyone who is fascinated by the work of first responders or who wants to serve will be enthralled, informed, and inspired by "Sister in a Brotherhood".

Critique: An inherently fascinating and candid memoir, "Sister in a Brotherhood: Stories from My Life as a Female Firefighter" by Cindie Schooner-Ball is a true life autobiographical account that reads with all the dramatic flair of a finely honed novel. As informative as it is inspirational, "Sister in a Brotherhood: Stories from My Life as a Female Firefighter" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary American Biography collections. With a special appeal for anyone with an interest in firefighting, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Sister in a Brotherhood: Stories from My Life as a Female Firefighter" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Cindie Schooner-Ball began her 28-year career as a first responder with the fire service and as a paramedic in the mid-80s. To succeed as both a firefighter and a woman in a mostly male workplace required perseverance, grit, and the ability to command respect. When she finally achieved the rank of captain, she was the only woman at the induction ceremony. Now retired, she loves speaking to people about the important work of first responders.

Loose Cannons
Diana Cannon Ragsdale
Legacy Launch Pad Publishing
9781956955231, $30.95, HC, 408pp

Synopsis: Diana Cannon-Ragsdale was born into a Mormon dynasty. Her father Ted Cannon was a local celebrity in Salt Lake City, and her family's ancestors were contemporaries of Brigham Young -- and they had many dark secrets to keep.

Growing up at the mercy of her mother's depression and father's undiagnosed schizophrenia, Diana and her five siblings were left to fend for themselves as their mom and dad rotated in and out of psychiatric hospitals and police custody.

Finally, in 1966, Diana's mother left her family and the Mormon Church to start a new relationship with a woman, sending Diana's father into a tailspin.

With the publication of "Loose Cannons: A Memoir of Mania and Mayhem in a Mormon Family", Diana traces her rebellious 1970s girlhood-amidst her father's multiple suicide attempts and remarriage to her mother's sister. As she and her siblings barreled into adulthoods they weren't ready for, they tried to rely on each other while reproducing broken relationships of their own.

Eventually, after several divorces and while raising three children of her own, Diana reconnected with her estranged mother and inherited a lifetime's worth of her journals. After decades spent searching for answers, her mother's writing about swingers' parties, sexual abuse, ancient wounds and broken attempts at happiness -- reframing everything Diana thought she knew about her family and herself.

"Loose Cannons" is a harrowing and hilarious saga of a memoir spanning more than 60 years of multigenerational trauma and dysfunction-and the spiritual power it took to overcome it all.

Critique: Candid, informative, thought-provoking, compelling, fascinating, "Loose Cannons: A Memoir of Mania and Mayhem in a Mormon Family" will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in Mormonism, Child Abuse, and overcoming family trauma. While highly recommended for community library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Loose Cannons: A Memoir of Mania and Mayhem in a Mormon Family" is also available in a paperback edition (9781956955217, $17.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Diana Cannon-Ragsdale is an author, retired physical therapist and mental health advocate for survivors of abusive and dysfunctional families. Diana attended Utah State University on a dance scholarship and later graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor's degree in Health Sciences. In retirement, she has dedicated herself to travel and creativity.

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

The Paranormal Christian
Richard D. Lewis
Zoran Press
9781735626444, $19.99, PB, 406pp

Synopsis: Can a Christian be possessed? Do God's angels and Satan's demons dwell unseen among us, engaged in spiritual warfare? Are ghosts and spirit manifestations real? How about aliens and UFOs?

If you believe in the Bible, you already have faith in the unseen. Unusual experiences are a testimony of sacred Scripture and the gateway to understanding the power of God in your life. Just like in biblical times, mysterious forces are still at work today. The paranormal world isn't merely scary hauntings and occult legends.

With the publication of "The Paranormal Christian: Bridging the Gap Between Unusual Experiences and the Biblical Worldview", journalist Richard D. Lewis explores his own true spiritual journey and real stories of others to correlate supernatural phenomena and the biblical worldview-without compromising either.

"The Paranormal Christian: Bridging the Gap Between Unusual Experiences and the Biblical Worldview" includes: How to trust your intuition and consciously tune into The Voice every day; A mystical examination of the Bible and the history of paranormal and psychic phenomena and prophecy within Christianity; A guide to discerning between the presence of positive and negative entities; True stories of hauntings, spiritual healing and miracles performed by the Holy Spirit; How to protect yourself against the horror of The Swarming - even in your most vulnerable state.

You can believe in the Holy Bible as the word of God orchestrated by divine intention and trust the wisdom of the supernatural worldview of the Bible writers and the fact that the mystical never left us. It's time to bring paranormal back into the light where it belongs. If you are searching out real answers for the Christian church and community, you will find them in the pages of "The Paranormal Christian: Bridging the Gap Between Unusual Experiences and the Biblical Worldview".

Critique: Of special appeal to readers with an interest in metaphysical Christianity, prophecies, angels and demons, science and religion, "The Paranormal Christian: Bridging the Gap Between Unusual Experiences and the Biblical Worldview" is a unique and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, seminary, and academic library Paranormal Christianity collections. It should be noted that "The Paranormal Christian: Bridging the Gap Between Unusual Experiences and the Biblical Worldview" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.00).

Editorial Note: Richard D. Lewis is an author, journalist, and veteran of the U.S. Air Force, where he began his career in broadcasting. Creator of the award-winning Pentagon Channel TV news magazine Air Force Space Today, he has won multiple Telly and Thomas Jefferson Awards. In 2003, Richard became a certified spiritual counselor by the California Board of Hypnotherapy. He is also a communicant member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in good standing.

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

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