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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 22, Number 6 June 2023 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Education Shelf Cookbook Shelf
American History Shelf Biography Shelf General Fiction Shelf
Historical Fiction Shelf Literary Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Christian Studies Shelf Interior Design Shelf
Art Shelf Business Shelf Humor Shelf
Self-Help Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

My Two Centuries In Africa
Carl William Henn
CWH Publishing
9781088123805, $24.99, PB, 200pp

Synopsis: "My Two Centuries in Africa (Book One): Epic fights. Long flights. Mosquito Bites" by Carl William Henn is a humorous, affectionate, intimate book about Africa. It's a personal memoir about how a guy from Indiana accidentally spent almost 40 years working in (or on) public health in Africa and lived to tell about it.

In "My Two Centuries in Africa", Henn covers the 20th Century from 1980 to 2000. The countries where he worked and visited are primarily in North Africa (Morocco) and in West Africa (Burkina Faso, as well as Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, and Togo)

On a deeper level, "My Two Centuries in Africa" is a call to action urging Americans and other Westerners to recognize and reject outdated, negative stereotypes often seen in the media and in Hollywood movies about Africa and African people.

Is Africa really all poverty, war, disease, and corruption, as Western news media tends to portray it? No. Or is it just a big wildlife safari as the travel industry would have you believe? No. It is a lot more!

"My Two Centuries in Africa" is a combination travel book and a memoir that offers insights into the daily lives, struggles, and successes of over a billion African people living on the second-largest continent.

It also reveals the emotional roller-coaster life of one lost and lonely man who found love, experienced loss, overcame adversity, and gained a measure of wisdom in the process.

Critique: "My Two Centuries in Africa (Book One): Epic fights. Long flights. Mosquito Bites" is a large-format book (8" X 10" or 20 x 25 cm.) that is enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of more than 100 color pictures of 27 African countries in which Carl William Henn has lived and worked. As a bonus, he has also included five extensive Spotify playlists of music from different regions of Africa. As fascinating as it is informative, "My Two Centuries in Africa" will hold a special value for readers with an interest in the history, culture, and music of contemporary African nations (especially Zimbabwe) and is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Biography/Memoir collections and supplemental curriculum African Studies lists.

Editorial Note: Carol William Henn ( began his African sojourn as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco, and later worked in West, Southern, and East Africa as a staffer for NGOs and USAID, fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic, malaria, and Ebola, and on famine and drought relief as well as children's education and agricultural productivity. In my spare time. He also: Kissed a man with a knife in Morocco to protect two defenseless women; Learned how to grill sheep's heads on the Muslim holiday; Witnessed many chickens falling from the sky in Burkino Faso; Found a lizard in my underwear (hiding in them, not wearing them), and so much more!

The Education Shelf

Transforming Social Work Field Education
Julie L. Drolet, et al.
LCR Publishing Services
c/o University of Calgary Press
9781773854380, $94.99, HC, 408pp

Synopsis: Social work field education in Canada is in crisis. New understanding and approaches are urgently needed. Innovative and sustainable models need to be explored and adopted. As professionals, social workers are expected to use research to inform their practice and to contribute to the production of research. Yet many social workers are reluctant to integrate research into their practice and into field education.

Collaborative compiled and co-edited by the team of Julie L. Drolet, Grant Charles, Sheri M. McConnell, and Marion Bogo,"Transforming Social Work Field Education: New Insights from Practice Research and Scholarship" encourages the adoption of research and scholarship into the practice of social work, especially field education. It offers current theoretical concepts and perspectives that shape social work field education and provides case studies of practice research grounded in the experiences of diverse communities and countries. Highlighting cutting-edge research and scholarship, each chapter addresses critical issues in social work practice and their implications for field education.

Bringing together scholars at various stages of their careers, "Transforming Social Work Field Education" fosters a meaningful dialogue on the dynamic, complex, and multi-faceted nature of social work practice, research, and innovation in the critical area of field education. A vivid and original work, "Transforming Social Work Field Education" stimulates interest and discussion on the integration of research and scholarship in social work field education in Canada and around the world.

Critique: A seminal and groundbreaking body of work, "Transforming Social Work Field Education: New Insights from Practice Research and Scholarship" is informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of Figures, Tabes, and Introduction (Field Research Scholarship in Social Work Education), a Conclusion by Sherri McConnell, Julie Drolet, and Grant Charles, a ten page listing of the contributors and their credentials, and a thirteen page Index. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, active social workers, and social work supervisors/trainers that "Transforming Social Work Field Education" is also available in a paperback edition (9781773854397, $44.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $29.55).

Editorial Note: The contributors include: Wasif Ali, Helen Asrate Awoke, Kelemua Zenebe Ayele, Afework Eyasu Aynalem, Nicole Balbuena, Morgan Jean Banister, Natalie Beck Aguilera, Sheila Bell, Heather M. Boynton, Janice Chaplin Mailing, Emmanuel Chinlanga, Jill Ciesielski, Alise de Bie, Emma De Vynck, Cyerra Gage, Anita R. Gooding, Zipporah Greenslade, Annelise Hutchinson, Christine Anne Jenkins, Vibha Kausik, Ermias Kebede, Edward King, Kaltrina Kusari, William Lamar Medley, Karen Lok Yi Wong, Alexandra Katherine Mack, The Ottawa Adult Autism Initiative, Endalkachew Taye Shiferaw, Richardio Diego Suarez Rojas, Margaret Janse van Rensburg, Jennie Vengris, and Courtney Larissa Weaver.

The Cookbook Shelf

The Buslife Kitchen Cookbook
A. J. Forget
Buslife Publishing
9798985708301, $22.00, PB, 160pp

Synopsis: From steak au poivre, mapo tofu, chicken tinga, and stovetop nachos, to watermelon gazpacho, mango sticky rice, and pumpkin creme brulee the recipes in this book are designed for travelers: people who love to try new things. Rather than being specific to one cuisine or style of cooking, this cookbook features a diverse collection of recipes from all over the world. Every recipe in this book is designed to be cooked on a two or three-burner stovetop. "The Buslife Kitchen Cookbook" was produced entirely on the road while A. J. Forget was living full-time in the bus.

Critique: Comprised of more than 100 recipes drawn from some 14 cuisines (French, Mexican, Vietnamese, Italian, Thai, Chinese, and many more), as well as stories and tips gathered from A. J. Forget and his family having converting their bus and learning to cook and live in less than 100 square feet., "The Buslife Kitchen Cookbook" features beautiful, full-color photos showcasing the food and our life on the road. Specifically intended for individuals and families traveling in vans, buses, and RVs "The Buslife Kitchen Cookbook" is the ideal culinary instructional guide and menu planning reference. Exceptionally 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Buslife Kitchen Cookbook" is highly recommended for personal, family, or community library cookbook collection.

Editorial Note: A. J. Forget ( is a modern nomad, living out of a 90-square-foot bus named Sweet Bea and traveling across the United States full time. He is a self-taught chef, creating gourmet fare in his tiny kitchen with a three-burner stove and no oven. Forget's goal is to empower others to realize that cooking international cuisine in a tiny kitchen is easy and anyone can do it, whether in a bus, van, RV, or boat.He can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok

The American History Shelf

Pilgrims and Puritans in Colonial America
Lievin Kambamba Mboma
Lievin K. Mboma Press
9780998971698, $39.25, HC, 196pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Pilgrims and Puritans in Colonial America: Regulatory Laws in the New England Colonies, 1630-1686", Lievin Mboma gives a detailed history and account of the regulatory laws promulgated in the New England colonies by the general courts for the organization of schools, price control, military training, employment, and wage control.

In addition, Mboma recounts the duties of lawmakers and the methods utilized for the promulgation of these many laws. Examples of these include examinations of colonial laws such as the Massachusetts Body of Liberties, the Connecticut Code of 1650, and the Rhode Island code law of 1663. Furthermore, this work investigates the demographic history of the founders of the New England colonies like John Winthrop, John Cotton, Roger Williams, Rev. John White, Roger Ludlow, Thomas Hooker, John Haynes, Rev. John Davenport, and Theophilus Eaton. The data regarding the founders of New England is significant because it correlates with the laws they enacted for the regulation of the economy, religions, courts, employment, and schools.

Moreover, data pertaining to New England colonists reveal pertinent information on their governing styles, as well as the maintenance of law and order. In this book, the academic institutions that the colonists attended in England and Scotland are attentively examined. Historically, many New England colonists were alumni from Cambridge and Oxford. With those academic degrees, they established civilized colonies in accordance with Christian values they acquired from universities in England. This largely shared culture has been subsequently observed by Anglo-Americans.

"Pilgrims and Puritans In Colonial America" also covers the discovery missions conducted by English subjects in North America. The work of explorers such as Captain John Smith, Sebastian Cabot, and his children is pieced together. In a like manner, the impacts made by English explorers such as Sir Francis Drake, Sir John Hawkins, and Plymouth and Bristol merchants are noted. This work also points out the contributions made by the crowns of England for the completion of discovery missions in the same region. The impacts made by King Henry VII, King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth, King Edward VI, King James I, and King Charles I were investigated. Equally, the formation of the Plymouth Company and the Council for New England, which served as catalysts for the founding of the New England colonies, are analyzed. Similarly, the incorporation of the same organizations is elucidated. The Council of New England was a body that had the legal power to sell land to the architects of the planting of colonies in New England.

School regulations in the New England colonies are also examined and the establishment of domestic, dame, elementary, grammar, and private schools is detailed in this history. The schools in the colonies followed the same model as the English schools. The contributions of monks and religious leaders in the building of schools in England are stated. Additionally, "Pilgrims and Puritans In Colonial America" explores the history of Harvard University, pointing out the duties of the overseers of the college, the corporation of the institution, and the assistance of poor scholars. Moreover, the judiciary jurisdiction of Harvard College is briefly detailed.

Critique: A seminal and detailed history of Colonial America, "Pilgrims and Puritans in Colonial America: Regulatory Laws in the New England Colonies, 1630-1686" is exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented. An impressive informative work of original scholarship, "Pilgrims and Puritans in Colonial America" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library 17th Century American History collections and will have a special value for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Colonial Legal/Governmental History curriculum studies lists.

The Biography Shelf

I Hate You, Mary Sullivan: A Memoir of Inherited Trauma
Barbara J. Williams
Cape House Books
9781939129154, $18.95, PB, 204pp

Synopsis: Only in Ireland can Barbara Williams unlock the secrets of her late grandmother's troubled personality -- and of her own anxiety. Their Kenny ancestors were farm laborers who had endured famines, violent uprisings, and forced eviction threats. Her Nana, Mary Sullivan, had never breathed a word of it. As Williams uncovers this painful past, she calls forth a love that heals her relationship with Nana fifty years after her death. Their intertwined stories, infused with Celtic spirituality and scientific insight, help unravel the mysteries that bind us all to our ancestors.

Critique: A deftly written, compelling, and inherently fascinating memoir, "I Hate You, Mary Sullivan: A Memoir of Inherited Trauma" by Barbara J. Williams will have a particular interest for readers of culturally reflective biographies. One of those intensely personal life stories that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf, "I Hate You, Mary Sullivan: A Memoir of Inherited Trauma" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Contemporary Biography/Memoir collections.

Light Come Out of the Closet
Roger Leslie
Paradise Publishing
9781941680087, $19.95, PB, 350pp

Synopsis: "How do we live with a God, or ourselves, if who we are dooms us to Hell? In the dark night of our soul, we find our own light!"

"Light Come Out of the Closet: A Memoir for a Gay Soul" by Dr. Roger Leslie is a memoir of a gay man's struggle to reconcile his sexuality with his faith. In an impressively candid account, Dr. Leslie explores his journey of rediscovering the God of love he learned about as a child and how being gay became a gift that helped him find his soul.

Critique: A powerful testament to hope, healing, and self-discovery in the face of prejudice and adversity, biographies and memoirs of LGBTQ men and women like "Light Come Out of the Closet: A Memoir for a Gay Soul" is a timely and much appreciated contribution to helping the broader community understand that being gay or lesbian or trans is how we are fashioned by God in the womb of our mothers. An inherently interesting, exceptionally well written, impressively presented and contemporary life story of a religious gay man, "Light Come Out of the Closet:" is a memorable and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library Contemporary American Biography and LGBTQ Memoir collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists of (to quote Dr. Leslie) anyone seeking to 'live the life they dream and soar toward their own ideal of success' that "Light Come Out of the Closet" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

Editorial Note: Dr. Roger Leslie ( is a scholar in the fields of success and education. Through major literary houses, medium and small presses, and his own publishing house, Leslie has published fiction and nonfiction books in multiple genres: historical fiction, inspirational self-help, spirituality, writing and publishing, movie reference, teaching and librarianship, biography, history, and memoir. Leslie has won numerous national awards including ForeWord Book of the Year, The Ben Franklin Award, and Writer's Digest's #1 Inspirational Book of the Year. At its inaugural event, Leslie received the Houston Literary Award for his body of work.

The General Fiction Shelf

The Walk-On
Richard Podkowski
Acorn Publising
9798885280341, $27.00, HC, 316pp

Synopsis: In the twilight of his NFL career as a middle linebacker for the Chicago Storm, Mike "the Steelman" Stalowski masks his physical pain and mental anguish with alcohol and painkillers. The fan favorite has a rebel image and a notorious reputation, and he plays a violent gridiron game fueled by inner rage.

While estranged from his wife and living in the fishbowl environment of professional sports, he unexpectedly meets the fresh-out-of-college Kim Richardson. She sees through Mike's star persona to who he really is-a kind guy from the Southeast Side of Chicago who has never forgotten his humble blue-collar roots. The lives of the star-crossed, seemingly mismatched couple collide during a whirlwind romance that culminates in a tragic series of events.

Critique: Original, deftly crafted, memorable, inspired by professional athletes who have lived in a media fishbowl under constant tabloid scrutiny showcasing any life-altering mistakes, and of special appeal to readers with an interest in sports fiction, "The Walk-On" by novelist Richard Podkowski is a timeless and engaging story of love and loss, the consequences of personal decisions, and the rewards of faith, redemption, and hope. While particularly recommended for community library Contemporary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Walk-On" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9798885280334, $17.00), and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Richard Podkowski ( began writing fiction while studying criminal justice at Loyola University Chicago. As a United States Secret Service special agent, Richard protected U.S. Presidents and foreign dignitaries and investigated major domestic and international financial crimes. After retiring from the Secret Service in 2003 as a supervisory special agent, he became a management member of a Fortune 100 company's global security group. For the last several years, Richard has been a private sector strategic security consultant. Inspired by professional athletes who lived in a fishbowl under constant media scrutiny and made life-altering mistakes, Richard wrote The Walk-On. Other projects include a Christmas romantic comedy screenplay and a crime story.

The Historical Fiction Shelf

Coyote Weather
Amanda Cockrell
Northampton House Press
9781950668168, $19.95, PB, 374pp

Synopsis: Coyote weather is the feral, hungry season in California, when everything is drought-stricken and ready to catch fire. It's 1967 and the American culture is violently remaking itself while the country is forcing its young men to fight in a deeply unpopular war in Vietnam.

Jerry has stubbornly made no plans for the future because he believes that, in the shadow of Vietnam, the Cold War and atomic bomb drills, there won't be one. Ellen's determined to have a plan, because nothing else can keep the world from tilting. And the Ghost just wants to go home to a place that won't let him in: the small California town where they all grew up.

Critique: Original, deftly crafted, and against a expertly re-created background of what it was like to be young adults in the American social, cultural, political, and economic turmoil back in the day. The characters are inherently interesting, the plot has more twists and turns than a Disney Land roller coaster, and the narrative storytelling style of novelist Amanda Cockrell will keep the reader's rapt and compulsive page turning attention from cover to cover. While available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99), "Coyote Weather" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition for community and academic library Literary Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Amanda Cockrell ( is the former director of the MFA program in children's and adolescent literature at Hollins University. She's received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

Reclaiming Mni Sota
Colin Mustful
History Through Fiction
9781736499092, $29.95, HC, 316pp

Synopsis: Samuel Copeland was just a teenager in 1859 when he and his family left Vermont for the promise of a new life in Minnesota. But life is harder and more dangerous than he expected. Devastated by the loss of his father at the hands of Indians and seeking to protect his brother, Samuel joins the Union army believing he'd be safe on the frontier.

WaabiskiMakwa was still a boy in 1850 when his father perished at Sandy Lake because of the negligence of U.S. government officials. Seeing his way of life crumbling around him, WaabiskiMakwa leaves his home to mourn his father and seek a new way, one that includes his lost-love, Agnes.

Seeking their own solutions, neither Waabi or Samuel could see the collision course their paths had been set upon by a world in conflict. War was in their future and it was inevitable. But when war breaks out, and their cultures collide, so do their individual paths. Though they can't stop the war, maybe they can help each other.

Fueled by years of mistreatment and seeing the opportunity provided by the War with the South, Dakota spokesman Little Crow and Ojibwe leader Bagone-giizhig, join forces in an effort to reclaim their Native lands. Spurred by early victories over Fort Ridgley and New Ulm, the Dakota-Ojibwe Alliance heads north to Fort Snelling, the beacon of American strength in the region. Once thought impenetrable, the fort and its small group of volunteer militia fights to hang on when a new enemy arrives from the West.

With the publication of "Reclaiming Mni Sota: An Alternate History of the U.S. - Dakota War of 1862" by novelist Colin Mustful the true and lasting results of history are challenged. Acting as individuals, striving to protect ourselves and our families, it's impossible to understand our role and impact in the much larger march of time. The United States is an abundant, beautiful land filled with wealth and opportunity, but its history is scarred by inequity and loss. What if the defeated became the victors? What would that mean for the world today and how would that illuminate the wrongs of the past?

Critique: Simply stated, "Reclaiming Mni Sota: An Alternate History of the U.S. - Dakota War of 1862" is an inherently fascinating read from first page to last. One of those unusual novels that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book has been finished and set back upon the shelf, "Reclaiming Mni Sota" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library Historical Fiction, Native American Fiction, and Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Reclaiming Mni Sota" is also available in a paperback edition (9781736499085, $17.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).

Editorial Note: Colin Mustful ( is an independent historian, author, and publisher. His work, which includes five historical novels, focuses on the tumultuous and complicated periods of settler-colonialism and Native displacement in American history. He has a Master of Arts degree in history and a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. He is the founder and editor of History Through Fiction, an independent press that publishes compelling historical novels that are based on real events and people. As a traditional publisher, he works with authors who want to share important historical stories with the world.

The Literary Fiction Shelf

Home Bodies: Stories
Amy LeBlanc
Great Plains Publications
9781773371016, $17.95, PB, 168pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Homebodies", author Amy LeBlanc showcases a compendium of her uncanny and ghostly stories that provoke dread, abjection, and horror. The tales are intertwined and linked like a chain of dried daisies or butterfly legs: someone you used to know is on trial for murder. You work at a funeral home. Your dead grandmother calls you on the phone. You pin and preserve butterflies on a corkboard as a strange girl knocks on your door. You put a bike lock on the fridge. You sleepwalk. You attend a party. You get sick. You get an IV infusion. You don't get better. The stories in Homebodies show that you don't need a house to be haunted because the body can do that all on its own.

Critique: Original, inherently fascinating, and with a narrative storytelling style that is ideal for Gothic fiction and the short story format, "Home Bodies" by Amy LeBlanc is comprised of sixteen memorable tales organized into three major sections: The Fox; The Fever Dream; The Body. While a highly recommended pick for community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction & Short Story Anthology collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Home Bodies" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Amy LeBlanc is a PhD student in English and creative writing at the University of Calgary. She is the author of the poetry collection, "I know something you don't know" and the novella, "Unlocking". Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Room, Arc, CV2, Canadian Literature, and the Literary Review of Canada among others. Homebodies is Amy's first short story collection.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Bring the Night
J. R. Sanders
Level Best Books
9781685122447, $16.95, PB, 172pp

Synopsis: When an oddball sister and brother duo hire him to find out if their father's suicide was in fact a suicide, private investigator Nate Ross figures he's in for an easy job. That is, until he discovers that the evidence doesn't add up and the cops (who are strangely cooperative) have rubber-stamped the case and filed it away.

Soon Nate finds himself dealing with crooks on the lam, dodging local bigwigs and shady lawyers, and chasing a clear-cut case of murder. Meanwhile, he wrestles with a conflict of interest as he's forced to investigate his own client.

The more threads he pulls, the more things threaten to unravel completely. But with the help of old sidekicks, and a couple of new ones, Nate may get to the truth first. If he doesn't die trying!

Critique: "Bring the Night" is a fun read for any and all dedicated mystery buffs and showcases author J. R. Sanders' genuine flair for originality, his complete mastery of the genre, and effective knack for the kind of narrative driven storytelling that keeps the reader rapt and compulsive page turning attention from cover to cover. While highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bring the Night" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: J. R. Sanders ( has been a private investigator and police officer in Southern California. He regularly contributes nonfiction articles to a variety of periodicals, among them Law & Order and Wild West magazine. A former living historian, he has portrayed 19th-century soldiers, cowboys, lawmen, and Gold Rush prospectors in presentations to schools, colleges, and historical societies all over Southern California, as well as for institutions including the Autry Museum of the American West and the Huntington Library. He has also written public service spots for local cable television broadcast and has worked both on-camera and behind the scenes on A&E/History Channel's documentary series Dangerous Missions. His books have been used in educational programs by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center.

See President McKinley or Die Trying
Fedora Amis
Mardon Moore Books
9781955983013, $19.95, PB, 355pp

Synopsis: It's 1898 and eighteen-year-old Jemima McBustle stands at the crossroads of life. She can marry a "Man of Substance" and float through life in luxury as her family wishes. Or she can follow her idol (the infamous Nelly Bly) and forge her own way in a man's world as a stunt reporter. After finessing a job at a St. Louis newspaper, she must deliver stories that will sell papers. Time is running out on her six-months' trial. The only idea she has is to follow Nellie's example and go undercover in a "Madhouse."

Jemmy reaps a story much bigger than she imagined. A possible murder to solve (and something more sinister, secret, terrifying) about the devilishly handsome Dr. Lyman himself. Confusion reigns not just in the asylum but also in Jemmy's life as new puzzles pop up like dandelions in spring.

Worse yet, her newspaper editor Suetonius Hamm saddled her with gangly red-haired photographer Hal and his chartreuse tandem bike. Adding to the chaos, Aunt Delilah McBustle has demanded that Jemmy make her grand debut into society at the elegant Oracle Ball that selfsame week.

Piling horror upon horror, her escort turned out to be her young cousin Horrible Heathcliff the Hellion, the piss alley boy of Laclede's Landing. What's a girl to do?

Critique: An original, cleverly crafted, and fun read from cover to cover, "See President McKinley or Die Trying" is a wonderfully entertaining Jemmy McBustle Mystery by Fedora Amis. With a particular appeal for fans of amateur woman sleuth and historical 'whodunnit' thrillers, "See President McKinley or Die Trying" is highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, and is readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99) as well.

Editorial Note: Fedora Amis ( won the Mayhaven Fiction Prize for her Victorian whodunit, Jack the Ripper in St. Louis. She dons corset and hoop skirts to perform as real historical people and imagined characters from the 1800s.

Death Watch
Stona Fitch
Arrow Editions
c/o Concord Free Press
9780990805953, $18.95, PB, 250pp

Synopsis: Coe Vessel, son of a legendary adman, lands the much-anticipated ad campaign of artist-provocateur Watanabe's latest creation, a mysterious watch called Cassius Seven. The enigmatic Watanabe claims the watch can kill its wearer.

Convinced it's a high-art hoax, Coe and his team of renegade creatives work furiously to land the campaign and persuade the world that the watch (rebranded as Death Watch) is the must-have accessory for end-time capitalism.

Thanks to the team's inventive launch, Death Watch finds eager buyers among the brazenly cocky, thoroughly disillusioned, and silently suicidal. Death Watch soon becomes a cultural phenomenon, harbinger of a new nihilism, and a target for moral outrage. Exactly what Watanabe envisioned.

But his hoax turns horrific when the watches start going off, killing their wearers. Appalled, Coe and his team reverse course and work feverishly to alert would-be customers. But can they stop the juggernaut they set in motion?

Critique: Impressively original, fully engaging, exceptionally entertaining, and a compulsive page-turner of a read from cover to cover, "Death Watch" by author Stona Fitch is the stuff of which intense and satire laced thriller movies are made. While available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99), and with an inherently fascinating science fiction element at its base, "Death Watch" is a deftly crafted and unreservedly recommended addition to community library collections.

Editorial Note: Stona Fitch ( is the author of seven novels, including Give + Take and Senseless. He is also the founder of Concord Free Press, a revolutionary non-profit publisher that inspires generosity among readers.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Shadow Regent
Chad Corrie
Dark Horse Books
c/o Dark Horse Comics
10956 SE Main Street, Milwaukie, OR 97222
9781506734033, $19.99, PB, 320pp

Synopsis: The battle has ended, but the pantheon has survived at a terrible cost. Bereft of both Gurthghol and Vkar's throne, they're now weaker and more defenseless than ever. Yet even as the pantheon seek their footing, three new gods will be added to the family, further disrupting the former order.

And then there are the others (both inside the pantheon and out) who are ager for more power, who will make their moves for greater glory and dominion in this time of divine recovery and realignment.

Plots and plotters, schemers and plans -- all will have their day and way. And the cosmos shall never be the same. To the victor shall go the spoils. To the pantheon comes a new order. And for Tralodren, a new age shall arise.

Welcome to Tralodren, a world rich in history, faith, and tales of adventure -- of which this story is but one of many.

Critique: A god has fallen. A throne sits empty. And ambitious schemers plot in the shadows. Continuing in the aftermath of events of The Wizard King Trilogy, novelist Chad Corrie's latest sword & sorcery epic, "The Shadow Regent" is a standalone story that delves deeper into the Tralodren cosmos and the gods who call it home, revealing the formation of a new era for both god and mortal alike. Original, imaginative, and a master of the Heroic Fantasy genre, author Chad Corrie has genuine flair for the kind of narrative driven storytelling style that engages the reader's full and rapt attention for beginning to end. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists for dedicated epic fantasy fans that "The Shadow Regent" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Chad Corrie ( has long enjoyed creating things but it wasn't until he was twelve he began writing. Since then he's written comics, graphic novels, prose fiction of varying lengths, and an assortment of other odds and ends. This sundry collection of works echoes part of his background in which he's been an editor and writer for an online magazine, owned his own publishing company; -- and has worked as a pawn broker, bookseller, pizza cook, toy company rep, and magazine/book merchandiser, among other vocational exploits.

Legacy of Seven
P. J. Flie
Book Forge
9781777733919, $18.99, PB, 480pp

Synopsis: Zairoc, a dark wizard. Sir Francis, a benevolent wizard. Trick Mark, captain of the guard, and the construction robot CD-45. Their destinies will collide at the city of Bastion. But concealed from everyone, a young woman holds the key to each of their fates.

Ondreeal has lived her whole life on the farm with her callous adoptive father. She longs to see the world and witness for herself the magical wonders that fill it-and she'll soon get her wish, thrust into an adventure that carries her to heights she never dreamed possible, and to the depths of despair and loneliness. Ondreeal can never become the hero the world wants her to be, but can she become the hero it needs?

Critique: A saga of a novel that will have a special appeal for readers with an interest in the blending of a coming of age story with a fantasy action/adventure story, "Legacy of Seven: A Guardian Rises" by novelist P. J. Flie is an original, deftly crafted, and thoroughly fun read from first page to last. While highly recommended, especially for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy fans that "Legacy of Seven: A Guardian Rises" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

Editorial Note: P. J. Flie is an author and educator passionate about working with the next generation of artists. He holds a BFA in theatre and social science, and works in all aspects of theatre production from acting coach to director, set builder, lighting designer, and stage manager. He started writing at the age of 10, focusing on honing this craft throughout school and at college. Hailing from Canada, where he currently resides, he continues to create stories.

Lee Schneider
9798987246627, $29.99, HC, 374pp

Synopsis: The year is 2050 and Kat Keeper, grieving the death of her husband, hires a young artificial intelligence savant to recreate her beloved partner in software form.

A rising startup founder brought low by a crushing business failure, Kat is drawn into a love triangle with the artificial mind of her husband and the man who created it. She learns that the software savant, Bradley Power, leads a mysterious tech company planning to capture all human thought without consent. The company will use the stolen, unspoken thoughts of humans to train a machine intelligence to control the weather, all technology and learning, and even human will.

Kat knows she must stop this, but doesn't know how. She is pursued by a secret circle of women who say they have the answer, and want her to lead them.

With the fate of human thought in the balance, and her safety at risk, Kat must choose to lead the secret circle before it is too late, and humanity is under machine control.

Surrender takes place in a future world that struggles to contain climate disaster using global machine governance, a world run by computers and the humans who are both empowered and controlled by them, and where a small band of resisters fight to keep human thought safe and free.

Critique: A timely novel given the new attention being made about the possibilities and perils of artificial intelligence (AI), "Surrender" by Lee Schneider is a masterpiece of science fiction. A riveting plot, deftly crafted characters, reasoned expansions from what we are currently experiencing with AI becoming a force in human society, politics, economics, technology, and even the waging of war, "Surrender" offers up a vision of a world that those being born today will spend their last decades living in it. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Science Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction fans and readers with a particular interest in the possibilities, potentials, and perils of AI that "Surrender" is also available in a paperback edition (9798987246603, $18.99).

Editorial Note: Lee Schneider ( is the author of screenplays, teleplays, stage plays, short stories, and audio drama podcasts. He is the founder of Red Cup Agency, a podcast production agency, and an adjunct lecturer on the faculty of the USC School of Architecture.

The Christian Studies Shelf

An Orphan In The House of God
Craig Daliessio
Independently Published
9798355458911, $14.99, PB, 232pp

Synopsis: "Jesus said: "Unless you become childlike, you cannot grasp the kingdom of God..."

With the publication of "An Orphan in the House of God", author Craig Daliessio shares the intimate details of growing up in a dysfunctional, chaotic family and his desperate attempt to reach out to a God he didn't understand. As he entered adulthood, he came to realize that a spirit of orphanage was keeping him trapped and unable to experience the childlike faith and joy that Jesus taught.

After years of hurtful relationships with his parents and others close to him, Craig came to understand that God's love is beyond what even the best mom or dad has ever shown their child.

Critique: Part memoir, part treatise on the healing a faith in Jesus can provide, "An Orphan in the House of God" is an inherently fascinating and ultimately inspiring life story that will be of particular and special interest to all members of the Christian community regardless of the reader's denominational affiliation. It should be noted for clergy, seminary students, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject tht "An Orphan in the House of God" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Editorial Note: Craig Daliessia ( is the author of six previous books including "The Ragamuffin's Christmas," "Nowhere to Lay My Head," and "Sometimes Daddies Cry: What a Dad Really Feels about Divorce".

The Interior Design Shelf

Interior Motives
Debbe Daley
Advantage Media
9781642256499, $16.99, PB, 146pp

Synopsis: "Interior Motives: Designing a Career With Passion" takes the reader on a journey through Debbe Daley's attempt to establish a career as an interior designer in the New England area. Along the way, Daley offers readers insight into the role that negativity plays in keeping people from doing what they love.

"Focusing on the monetary costs of the change we want to make is one of the most convincing ways that we set up obstacles for ourselves", Daley writes, before offering readers a hearty dose of encouragement. " If you want to do something that's going to make you happy, there will always be alternative paths than the first ones (or the easiest or fastest or most expensive ones) you imagine. There are always other avenues to take. The important thing is committing to taking the journey, believing that it's worthwhile, getting on that path in some way or other, and seeing where it goes. "

Daley's career narrative is intricately interwoven with stories of family, friends, and love, and even offers readers a unique take on design industry challenges. She tracks a field undergoing its own major transitions from the 1980s, "...when a room full of traditionally trained designers gasped at the suggestion that there would be a major shift within the profession away from a more formal aesthetic," to the 2020s, where she joins, "a room full of relaxed and talented young people dancing and celebrating everything that was new and different about the design world."

Having made her way in life and career by laying claim to the value of hard work and independence, Daley leaves readers with an equally convincing message about the need for entrepreneurs to be surrounded by people who can push them forward, keep them learning and engaged, and cheer on their successes. "In the end, there's no going it alone," she writes, reminding her readers that answering the question, "What is going to make me happy?" always involves and reflects our relationships to the people closest to us.

Critique: Nicely illustrated and inherently interesting, "Interior Motives: Designing a Career With Passion" is exceptionally well written and fascinating read as it showcases a wealth of positive insights into what it was like for Debbe Daley to launch a career in the field of interior design and how she discovered what was required for not only success but self- fulfillment and personal happiness. While a highly recommended pick for community library Contemporary American Biography/Memoir collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists (especially for those with an interest in becoming an interior designer themselves) that "Interior Motives: Designing a Career With Passion" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Debbe Daley ( is an award-winning interior designer with more than thirty-five years' experience. She started her career as a self-taught designer making custom window treatments. Today, she is known for the extraordinary service she provides to homeowners in New England and around the country. She is an associate member of the American Society of Interior Designers, and a member of the National Speakers Association and the International Furnishings and Design Association.

The Art Shelf

Making Art in Prison: Survival and Resistance
Janie Paul
Hat & Beard Press
9781955125277, $40.00, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: The United States is the most incarcerating nation in the world. More than two million people are locked behind bars, where they endure the degradation and violence of a dehumanizing system. But in prisons and penitentiaries around the country, incarcerated people have regained their dignity by creating objects of beauty, meaning, and value. These powerful stories and images upend the manufactured stereotypes of those living in prison, imparting a real human dimension -- a critical step in the movement to reform incarceration.

For 27 years, Professor Janie Paul has traveled throughout Michigan to meet artists and select work for the project she co-founded: The Annual Exhibitions of Artists in Michigan Prisons, an initiative of the Prison Creative Arts Project at the University of Michigan. Pedagogical as well as curatorial, the project has provided crucial validation for the artists. The result is the publication of "Making Art in Prison: Survival and Resistance" which features more than 200 images of the prisoner's extraordinary work.

Delving deeply into the ways in which incarcerated artists create meaning through their artistic practice, Professor Paul explains how the making, sharing, and formation of artistic friendships within prisons can constitute acts of resistance against the violence and banality of prison life. Most of the artists did not make art before coming to prison. Their accomplishments show that art making need not be a privilege of the few, but is rather a basic human need, and in these circumstances, a necessary means of survival.

"Making Art in Prison: Survival and Resistance" reveals (through the eyes of the artists who have lived through it) what mass incarceration looks and feels like in the United States. It reveals the ways in which they keep their humanity intact; it invites us to reflect on our own humanity and the problem of living in a country that incarcerates more of its population than any other nation in the world. This unique volume also invites us to look closely at the images and appreciate the richness of life and luminosity emerging from the darkest corner of our country.

Critique: Singular, seminal, original, fascinating, informative, memorable, "Making Art in Prison: Survival and Resistance" is an impressive large format style hardcover volume (11.34 x 1.26 x 8.66 inches, 4.2 pounds) is especially recommended for personal, professional, community, governmental, and academic library Contemporary Art History, Criminology, and Penology collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Janie Paul ( is a painter, curator, and writer. She is the senior curator and co-founder, with her husband Buzz Alexander, of the Exhibitions of Artists in Michigan Prisons (founded in 1996), a project of the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP), which Buzz founded in 1990 at the University of Michigan. She is an Arthur F. Thurnau professor emerita of the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan.

The Business Shelf

Irma Parone
WINX Publishing
9798986196923, $24.99, HC, 182pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "WINX: The Problem-Solving Model to Win Exponentially with Customers, Employees and Your Bottom Line", author and leadership consultant Irma Parone presents an ultimate 4-X award-winning business guide and reveals a proven action plan for leveling up your organization and applying WINX to your business challenges.

With a practical and down-to-earth approach, this book helps aspiring and established business owners develop a thriving WINX-based culture and maximize their bottom line through easy-to-implement strategies.

"WINX" offers: The revolutionary 8-Step WINX process to transform your organization; Illuminates new ways to look at problem-solving (and how to tackle challenges big and small);
Presents: 'The Art of Evaluation' (How to know if your solution will just make things worse.); and showcases tips and tricks for managing your team and surrounding yourself with those who want you to succeed -- and so much more!

Critique: Exceptionally well written, and informatively organized and presented, "WINX: The Problem-Solving Model to Win Exponentially with Customers, Employees, & Your Bottom Line" is a compendium pertinent real-life stories and as well as tried-and-tested strategies, offering a framework that is particularly ideal for both small and medium sized businesses, as well as national and international companies. Simply stated, "WINX" is essential reading for entrepreneurs, managers, business leaders, CEOs. While highly recommended for personal, professional, community, corporate, and academic library Business/Personnel Management collections, it should be noted for MBA students, academia, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "WINX" is also available in a paperback edition ($18.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Editorial Note: Irma Parone ( is the CEO of the Parone Group and a seasoned businesswoman with over 20 years of experience, Irma knows first-hand how challenging it can be to build and maintain a successful business. She aims to provide actionable advice that will radically reshape the way you tackle problems within your organization, so you can win more customers, empower happy employees, and scale your income.

The Humor Shelf

You're not a real parent until...
Scott Dooley, author
Jason Chatfield, illustrator
Libra Press
9781955858229, $19.99, HC, 120pp

Synopsis: "You're not a real parent until..." by the team of author/humorist Scott Dooley and artist/illustrator Jason Chatfield is a laugh out loud collection of delightful cartoons based upon observations will of near universal parental experiences and will reassure all parents that everything's going to be totally fine.

Whether it's accepting dried vomit as a constant presence in their infancy or helping them move into their first apartment, "You're not a real parent until..." joyfully delves into what makes parenting the most rewarding, frustrating, hilarious, gross, and wouldn't-change-it-for-the-world experience.

Critique: Original, delightful, and fun,"You're not a real parent until..." is a lovely hardcover compendium comprised of more than 100 pages of full-color cartoons. An ideal gift for parents with children of all ages, "You're not a real parent until..." is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, family, and community library Parenting and Humor collections.

Editorial Note #1: Scott Dooley ( is an Australian comedian and writer based in New York. He has toured the world as a comedian, released a critically acclaimed stand-up special and performed alongside the world's biggest comics. Scott regularly contributes to The New Yorker, appears on television, radio and podcasts around the globe.

Editorial Note #2: Jason Chatfield ( is an Australian cartoonist and comedian based in New York. He is Australia's most widely-syndicated cartoonist, producing the iconic comic strip Ginger Meggs which is syndicated daily in over 30 countries through Andrews McMeel Syndication. Chatfield is the current President of the National Cartoonists' Society (Est. 1946) and is a past President of the Australian Cartoonists Association (Est. 1924). His cartoons appear regularly in The New Yorker, Wired, Esquire, Airmail, Variety and MAD Magazine along with other international publications. His illustration work has been published through Harper Collins, Penguin Random House, Humorist Books and Scribe Media.

Stuff & Nonsense
Dale Andrew White
Independently Published
9798392693030, $9.00, PB, 174pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Stuff & Nonsense", humor writer and author Dale Andrew White returns presents a fresh collection of outlandishly humorous short stories and other delights.

Critique: Of particular and special appeal to readers with an interest in short stories of 'fantasy, whimsy, satire, a fevered imagination and ribald humor', "Stuff & Nonsense" by Dale Andrew White is a fun and memorable read from cover to cover -- making it unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended for personal and community library Contemporary Humor collections. It should be noted that "Stuff & Nonsense" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Editorial Note: Dale Andrew White is the author of the interview collection "Encounters with Authors" and the short story collections "Moe Howard Died For Our Sins" and "Return of the Dittos," which are available in paperback and on Amazon Kindle. His Kindle books also include "Disaster on the Sunshine Skyway," "'Psycho' Analysis: an interpretation of Alfred Hitchcock's cinematic masterpiece," "A Field Guide to Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds,'" "Diagnosing 'Rosemary's Baby,'" "Walt Disney, Urban Planner," "Tales of Old Florida" and "A Florida Anthology." White's humorous short stories have appeared in Modern Short Stories, Comic Relief, The MacGuffin, Nuthouse, Beyond Science Fiction & Fantasy and numerous other magazines and journals.

The Self-Help Shelf

Mentors and Tormentors: On the Journey to Self-Respect
Tim Jones, MD
Christian Faith Publishing
9781639032587, $18.95, PB, 232pp

Synopsis: Don't be fooled. At first glance, Wendall is just another middle-class fourteen-year-old. But on closer inspection, he is so much more.

Wendall is naive, sheltered, and insecure. But fortunately, he discovers a cure for his youthful shortcomings. He cannot control his curiosity. No matter how embarrassing, Wendall must know why people think, feel, say, and do sometimes-crazy things.

During a span of four inquisitive years, his view of the world is transformed by a colorful cast of small-town characters. Some are mentors; others are tormentors. However, each is a specialist who thoroughly comprehends a specific facet of human nature: happiness, manipulation, and saying no, to list only a few.

But Wendall isn't just a passive student. He gets his hands dirty when his father transplants the family to a rundown farm. Our nosey hero then battles a sadistic psychopath, gets cheated by a con man, and talks a best friend back from a botched suicide attempt.

Mentors and Tormentors is not just another predictable, coming-of-age story. Rather, it is an instruction manual detailing how to handle yourself and other people. Wendall's adventures add some fun and entertainment, which balance and reinforce the seriousness of the lessons.

Think of "Mentors and Tormentors" as a collection of modern fables with each chapter having a specific, applicable message. But unlike Aesop's fables, these truths don't stand alone. They coalesce and reveal the secret to enjoying life with complete peace of mind.

Critique: Although "Mentors and Tormentors" is a work of compelling fiction, it is based upon author Tim Jones personal experiences, with the lessons and characters being loosely based those of thousands of emergency room patients he has treated as a physician for more than thirty years. A fascinating, informative, insightful, and memorable read from first page to last, "Mentors and Tormentors" will prove to be a welcome addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mentors and Tormentors" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49).

Editorial Note: Tim Jones is an emergency room physician. The greatest tragedy that he sees in that capacity is when a young person who attempts or commits suicide. What went wrong? How did this happen? How did they get overwhelmed and how could they have been helped? I have learned that a person's self-respect determines the quality of every aspect of their life. Many of the patients he treats in the ER are manipulated, unable to say no, overloaded by the demands of others, bullied, conned, or beaten down physically and emotionally. Over the past thirty years, he have given the same advice to thousands of people to help them build their self-respect and take control of their lives. "Mentors and Tormentors" is the summary of that advice told by remarkable people who teach their lessons to a young teenager. To learn more his readers are well advised to visit

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

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