Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / Small Press Bookwatch

Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 17, Number 11 November 2018 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice World History Shelf Political Science Shelf
Biography Shelf Photography Shelf Fiction Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Self-Help Shelf
Parenting Shelf Relationship Shelf Business Shelf
Health/Medicine Shelf Theatre/Cinema Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Monsters and Creatures
Gabiann Marin
Rockpool Publishing
9781925017458, $18.95, HC, 176pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Monsters and Creatures: Discover Beasts from Lore and Legends" author, screenwriter, editor, academic, and lover of all things supernatural Gabiann Marin delves into the legends of some of the world's best-known and most bizarre magical beasts and ghastly creations, revealing the facts and the fictions.

Marin explores the real-life origins of some of the strangest creatures ever encountered in the murky depths and enchanted forests -- including those lurking under our bed! Readers will discover the real werewolves of medieval Europe, glimpse the magical history of the famed unicorn, and encounter the terrifying bloodsucking dogs of Mexico.

More than a just another bestiary, "Monsters and Creatures" is a carefully researched volume of lore that documents the mythologies, sightings, and origins of over 100 weird and wonderful beasties from every continent and every time period, including modern monsters stalking us today. All of these creatures have inspired films, books, scientific research, poems, and music, as well as our collective dreams and nightmares.

Critique: Showcasing a wealth of information that is expertly and accessibly presented, "Monsters and Creatures: Discover Beasts from Lore and Legends" is an extraordinary read from beginning to end and will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Monsters and Creatures" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Thrown Upon the World: A True Story
George Kolber & Charles Kolber
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480862623, $44.95, HC, 558pp,

Synopsis: In 1938 the Kolbers, affluent Viennese Jews, flee their country for Shanghai after its annexation by the Nazis. Eva and her daughter take the Trans-Siberian Railroad through war zones where they must confront border guards and Japanese imprisonment. Meanwhile, her husband, Josef, and their twin sons travel by ocean liner, hiding valuables in crates.

Similarly in China, the politically powerful Gan Chen family finds their lives upended by Japanese invaders. Forced to abandon their estate, the family seeks refuge in Shanghai. While the families adapt to their new lifestyles during the war, their children meet. Walter Kolber is a handsome violinist; Chao Chen is a gifted pianist.

After a forbidden romance blossoms, Chao Chen discovers she is pregnant. Without familial blessings, the lovers marry in December 1946 and head with their newborn to a refugee camp in Austria. As Chao Chen grapples with language and cultural barriers, the family is met with turmoil and tragedy. Now only time will tell if they will survive their troubles to start a new life in the United States.

A remarkable true story, "Thrown upon the World" tells the tale of two families brought together during World War II in Shanghai and the twist of fate that split them apart.

Critique: An incredible and simply fascinating account, "Thrown Upon the World: A True Story" is one of those real life tales the stuff of which block-buster television mini-series are made. A simply riveting and memorable read from beginning to end, "Thrown Upon the World: A True Story" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Thrown Upon the World: A True Story" is also available in a paperback edition (978-1480862616, $33.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

The World History Shelf

The Great Cactus War
Terry Domico
Green Flash Books
c/o Turtleback Books Publishing
9781883385170 $34.95

Synopsis: THE GREAT CACTUS WAR is the true story of the greatest plant invasion in human history.

Perhaps humanity's most enduring legacy is our ability to move plants and animals around the planet. These organisms soon merge with the local ecology, often changing it forever. Sometimes they are so successful that they become a plague.

Imagine a sea of prickly-pear cactus up to 30 feet high that covered a region larger than Italy and was still spreading at the alarming rate of more than one million acres a year. Thousands of people were being driven out of their homes and off the land. Digging, burning, smashing, and poisoning the "green monster" was having little real effect.

This was the desperate scene that many rural Australians were faced with during the first part of the 20th century.

Then, in the mid-1920s, a self-taught group of scientists discovered a little moth in Argentina whose larvae ate the pear into submission. Rural Australia was thus saved, but today that little hero may be poised to create a plague of its own...

Critique: A handful of color plates illustrate this extensively researched account of an ecological disaster that made swaths of land in Australia literally uninhabitable during the early 20th century. The prickly-pear cactus, imported originally for gardens, natural fencing, and to create a cochineal dye industry, quickly became an invasive species. Cactus growth was so rampant and widespread that it overwhelmed homes, and human efforts to counter it by mechanical removal or poisonous chemicals failed. The discovery of a moth whose larvae consumed the prickly-pear finally turned the tide... but could the moth itself cause the next invasive species disaster? A captivating, true-life cautionary tale of environmental missteps and consequences, The Great Cactus War is highly recommended especially for public and college library collections.

The Political Science Shelf

Congressional Procedure
Richard A. Arenberg
PO Box 25706, Alexandria, VA 22313-5706
9781587332999, $37.00, HC, 240pp,

Synopsis: "Congressional Procedure: A Practical Guide to the Legislative Process in the U.S. Congress: The House of Representatives and Senate Explained" by Richard A. Arenberg (Clarence Adams and Rachel Adams Visiting Professor of the Practice of Political Science and a Senior Fellow in International and Public Affairs at Brown University) explains the legislative and congressional budget processes along with all aspects of Congress.

A fully comprehensive guide to Congress, "Congressional Procedure" is an ideal instructional reference for anyone who wants to know how Congress really works, including federal executives, attorneys, lobbyists, media and public affairs staff, government affairs, policy and budget analysts, congressional office staff and students.

"Congressional Procedure" offers a clear explanation of the legislative process, budget process, and House and Senate business; a legislative process flowchart; an explanation of the electoral college and votes by states; the relationship between budget resolutions and appropriation and authorization bills; amendment tree and amendment procedures; how members are assigned to committees; a glossary of legislative terms. Each individual chapter concludes with Review Questions.

Critique; Impressively informative, exceptionally well organized and accessibly presented, "Congressional Procedure" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Political Science collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for students, academia, political activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Congressional Procedure" is also available in a paperback edition (9781587332821, $29.00) and in a digital book format (9781587332838, $15.00).

The Biography Shelf

Ralph Gibson
Heni Publishing
9781912122103, $49.95, PB, 396pp,

Synopsis: "Self-Exposure" is the autobiography of celebrated American art photographer Ralph Gibson. With his 80th birthday on the horizon in January 2019 and a career spanning over 50 years, Gibson is at a point of reflection in his life and work and decided to put pen to paper.

Writing in candid prose, Gibson takes the reader through his life and career from his earliest memories of growing up in California (the son of a Hollywood director, Gibson's childhood is touched by the old glamour of the silver screen: the likes of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth make appearances) to his time in the navy and his continuous love affair with photography.

Gibson's memories are filled with rich characters and period details. Often moving, the narratives of his at times troublesome childhood provide a rich background to the charismatic artist Gibson has become. Gibson covers a range of topics such as music, Catholicism, his wife, Mary Jane, and a long line of fellow artists and photographers such as Dorothea Lange and Robert Frank. His ruminations on his life so far display a deep, thoughtful understanding and self-awareness that make this book a fascinating read in itself as well as an illuminating companion to his work.

What emerges is an insight into the mind of an incredible, highly decorated artist whose images have been widely exhibited and held in public collections around the world, such as the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and the New York Museum of Modern Art. Evocatively illustrated, "Self-Exposure" presents Gibson's life story alongside his photographic work. Designed and produced in close collaboration with Gibson, this large-format publication (as much a biography as it is an artist's book) is Gibson's most personal book to date.

Critique: A truly impressive and representative compendium of Ralph Gibson's photographic work over the past 50 years, "Self-Exposure" is an extraordinary and inherently interesting account of an extraordinary and inherently interesting life. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Self-Exposure" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library American Biography and History of Photography collections in general, and Ralph Gibson supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

A Jazzman's Tale
Annette Johnson
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781544648910, $24.99, PB, 178pp,

Synopsis: "A Jazzman's Tale" by Annette Johnson is a screenplay memoir of bebop trumpeter and pianist Charles Freeman Lee.

Freeman (as he was better known), was one of the jazzmen who joined the jazz revolution called bebop at Minton's Playhouse and the Paradise Club in Harlem, New York City in the 1950s.

Freeman came out of Wilberforce Collegians, an important band in jazz history formed in 1926 at Wilberforce University in Ohio, with famous alumni like Benny Carter, Frank Foster and Ben Webster. He played with Thelonious Monk, James Moody, Sonny Stitt and others in the bebop era and made two albums with bebop pianist, Elmo Hope, and ex Wilberforce Collegians bandmate, saxophonist, Frank Foster.

"A Jazzman's Tale" had its origin in an interview with Freeman in Paris in 1993 and contains verbatim excerpts from the interview and is full of jazzitude (a trademarked term meaning jazz slang and improvisational storytelling) adding another layer of texture to the narrative of this screenplay memoir.

As a bonus, "A Jazzman's Tale" includes an interview with Freeman by his sister, Professor Jane Lee Ball where he shares his ideas on bebop, jazz and musicians like Charley Parker, Thelonious Monk, Elmo Hope, Bud Powell and Billie Holiday with humor and wit.

Several beautiful vintage photographs show Freeman as a young jazzman and students at Wilberforce University between 1895 and 1965.

Critique: Uniquely informed and informative, "A Jazzman's Tale" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library American Music History and American Biography collections -- and a 'must' read for all dedicated jazz fans!

The Photography Shelf

No Cameras Allowed
Julian David Stone
For the Duration Press
PO Box 46-1724, Los Angeles, CA 90046
9780989831512, $60.00, HC, 252pp,

Synopsis: "No Cameras Allowed: My Career as an Outlaw Rock and Roll Photographer" is a coffee table style volume that tells the story, in words and photos, of how Julian David Stone, entirely by sneaking his equipment into concerts, amassed an incredible archive of over ten thousand rock and roll photos.

Starting by simply stashing a camera in his socks, then taping equipment all over his body, to finally customizing a jacket to hide equipment from security guards, he shot dozens of the 1980s greatest acts: Prince, U2, the Police, David Bowie, R.E.M., the Ramones, Elvis Costello, the Talking Heads, the Grateful Dead, Joan Jett, and many, many more.

Culled from this incredible, never-before-seen archive, this unique volume contains over 250 of his best photos, along with some stories of the craziest adventures he had as he evaded oversized roadies, aggressive security, and more than a few drunken fans!

Critique: An amazing, one-of-a-kind collections of rock-and-roll celebrity photos, "No Cameras Allowed: My Career as an Outlaw Rock and Roll Photographer" is a fascinating browse and a blend of images and stories that is as memorable as the music and the musicians they showcase! An uncommon and rare treat for rock music fans, ""No Cameras Allowed: My Career as an Outlaw Rock and Roll Photographer" is an especially recommended addition to community and academic library Contemporary American Photography and Contemporary Popular Music History collections.

The Fiction Shelf

Child of the Dust
Tom Wascoe
Bookstand Publishing
9781634987004 $16.95 pbk / $7.99 Kindle

Synopsis: An American soldier (Richie) and a Vietnamese woman (Linh) fall in love and have a baby during the war in Vietnam. He attempts to marry Linh but fails to get permission from the Army and is then pulled out of Vietnam. Linh and her son make an incredible journey to potential safety and security in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Richie builds his career and raises a family in the United States. They meet again in Hong Kong two decades later and achieve their ultimate destiny.

Critique: Child of the Dust is a tale of star-cursed love between an American soldier and a Vietnamese woman during the Vietnam war, and the woman's determination to survive and provide for her baby. Emotionally moving and poignant, Child of the Dust stays in the mind long after the last page is turned, and is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Child of the Dust is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Dancing on Horses
Tony J. Stafford
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781532046391 $13.99 pbk / $3.99 Kindle

Synopsis: It is 1947 in Belhaven, North Carolina, a small cotton textile mill town on the outer shoulders of Charlotte. While growing up within a strict Baptist working-class family and a segregated South, twelve-year-old Tobe Stanhope never sees a single colored student in school. But little does he know that the old South is on the verge of a civil rights movement that will change everything.

Tobes journey from childhood into adulthood is a perilous one as he struggles with fundamental questions about his religion and male-female relationships. As he wrestles with his identity, independence, intellectual growth, social conscience, a spiritual crisis, and the search for truth and meaning, Toby encounters the greatest shock of his young life. Now he must draw upon his years of overcoming a variety of struggles as he clings to his beliefs about love and attempts to understand who is really in charge of his life and his future.

In this poignant tale, a young man embarks on a journey of self-discovery as he grows into adulthood, faces challenges, falls in love, and searches for his true potential amid an ever-changing South.

Critique: A coming-of-age novel set in the segregated American South of 1947, Dancing on Horses is the story of a young man's experience witnessing the struggles of a civil rights movement, and how he adapts to striking changes both without and within. A poignant tale of love, challenges, and the quest to find one's purpose, Dancing on Horses lingers long in the mind after the last page is turned. Highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Dancing on Horses is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Gentleman of Misfortune
Sarah Angleton
Bright Button Press
9780998785332 $13.85 pbk / $6.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Spring 1833: Gentleman swindler Lyman Moreau is accustomed to changing his identity to suit his schemes. A new opportunity arrives when a collection of eleven mummies and several papyri covered in indecipherable hieroglyphs are due to arrive in New York's South Street Seaport direct from the Valley of the Kings. Enlisting the help of a crooked customs agent and a black market antiquities dealer, he assumes the identity of Michael Chandler, nephew of deceased Egyptologist Antonio Lebolo, and lays claim to the shipment.

The showman's plan to amass his fortune displaying the stolen artifacts across the country becomes more complicated when one of his accomplices dies a suspicious death, causing Lyman and the man's beautiful widow to make a hasty escape from the city. Through four states, along the Erie Canal, and eventually to the doorstep of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, Lyman exhibits his dusty companions before a curious public. Rarely more than a few breaths ahead of his enemies, Lyman struggles to keep his prize from slipping away as he tangles with grief, love, betrayal, and a growing sense of his own mortality.

Critique: Gentleman of Misfortune is an intricately constructed historical novel inspired by a lesser-known part of Mormon scripture ("The Book of Abraham"). Mormon prophet and founder Joseph Smith appears as an black market buyer of Egyptian goods, in this suspenseful, ominous, and captivating saga, enhanced with nine thoughtful discussion questions. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Gentleman of Misfortune is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).

Patrick Langley
Fitzcarraldo Editions
978191065517 $16.95 pbk / $3.22 Kindle

Synopsis: Brothers Jackson and Frank live on the margins of a big urban sprawl. From abandoned tower blocks to gleaming skyscrapers, their city is brutal, beautiful and divided. As anti-government protests erupt across the teeming metropolis, the brothers sail in search of the Red Citadel and its promise of a radical new way of life. A striking portrait of the precarity of modern urban living, and of the fierce bonds that grow between brothers, Patrick Langley's debut Arkady is a brilliant coming-of-age novel, as brimming with vitality as the city itself.

Critique: A heart-wrenching tale of the bond between brothers, and the struggle to survive amid disintegrating, wretched urban sprawl, Arkady is tautly written, fascinating, and unforgettable. When an anti-government protest erupts into destructive violence, two brothers set sail in search of the promised Red Citadel - but is the Red Citadel a haven, or a lost hope? It should be noted for personal reading lists that Arkady is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.22).

Fabulous! An Opera Buffa
Laury A. Egan
Tiny Fox Press
9781946501080 $14.95 pbk / $7.95 Kindle

Synopsis: Gil is a talented singer who moonlights as a drag queen to pay his rent. Like others, he's dying to become famous. To his dismay, he might get that wish.

As fate would have it, his two newest gigs are fronts for opposite sides of a mob war, and the crime lords involved are more than happy to use Gil as a pawn to do their bidding - or as a target for hitmen when he refuses to do their dirty work.

To avoid a swan song, happy-go-lucky Gil needs to win a game of cat and mouse in the middle of Mobster Boulevard, aflutter in heels, dresses, and wigs, with only his wits for protection and a new romance for inspiration.

If you love fabulous characters, fast-paced plots, and hilarious books that only get better as the pages turn, then this is the book for you!

Critique: Flagrantly funny, ticklishly tongue-in-cheek, and dastardly delightful, Fabulous! is a wild gender-bender, mobster-evasion ride, with a dash of romance for good measure. Fabulous! is a beautiful browse from cover to cover, sure to please LGBTQ fiction fans looking for something uproariously unique. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Fabulous! is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.95).

The Cards Don't Lie
Sue Ingalls Finan
She Writes Press
9781631524516, $16.95, PB, 355pp,

Synopsis: 1814 is the third year of the United States second War of Independence. The British are on the verge of capturing the strategically important port of New Orleans. In the midst of the Americans' chaotic preparations for battle, three women play key roles in the defense of the city: Catherine, a free woman of color, voodoo priestess, and noted healer personally summoned by General Andrew Jackson; Marguerite, a pampered Creole plantation mistress prone to out-of-body experiences; and Millie, a plucky, patriotic prostitute inspired by her pirate lover to serve in the most dangerous capacity of all. These three women's lives and fates become intertwined as they join forces to defend their country. Inspired by the contributions of real-life women during the Battle of New Orleans, "The Cards Don't Lie" by Sue Ingalls Finan is a deftly crafted novel of love, rebellion, intimacy, betrayal, and heroism in the face of terror and barbaric brutality.

Critique: An inherently riveting and memorable read from beginning to end, "The Cards Don't Lie" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Historical Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Cards Don't Lie" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

All in My Head: A Tale of Betrayal
Sonja Senhouse
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781532040283, $10.95, PB, 108pp,

Synopsis: Sacha has just enjoyed a lovely birthday celebration, courtesy of her devoted husband, Steven. After he falls asleep, she opens an envelope attached to a gift. Inside is an unsigned love poem. The box holds a King James Bible and a heart pendant. After Sacha realizes the gifts are from Steven, she knows that if he will give her another chance, she can love him again. But what he does not know is that Sacha has already committed the ultimate betrayal behind his back.

As she travels back in time through her memories, Sacha begins a poignant journey to understand love. While revisiting the moment she first met Vince Monroe and began a complex affair shortly after celebrating her tenth wedding anniversary, Sacha realizes that her world has always been a perilous place where love struggles to thrive. As she reconciles past issues related to abandonment, abuse, and disillusionment, Sacha learns how to separate truth from lies while searching for new ways to view herself, true love, and others. Now only time will tell if Sacha will finally recognize what matters most in life.

Critique: An introspective and deftly crafted tale of a woman's struggle to overcome a moral dilemma and move forward into a future devoid of self-loathing, "All in My Head" is an extraordinary and memorable read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "All in My Head" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Lights on the Sea
Miquel Reina, author
Catherine E. Nelson, translator
9781503903203, $14.95, PB, 272pp,

Synopsis: On the highest point of an island, in a house clinging to the edge of a cliff, live Mary Rose and Harold Grapes, a retired couple still mourning the death of their son thirty-five years before. Weighed down by decades of grief and memories, the Grapeses have never moved past the tragedy.

Then, on the eve of eviction from the most beautiful and dangerously unstable perch in the area, they're uprooted by a violent storm. The disbelieving Grapeses and their home take a free-fall slide into the white-capped sea and float away.

As the past that once moored them recedes and disappears, Mary Rose and Harold are delivered from decades of sorrow by the ebb and flow of the waves. Ahead of them, a light shimmers on the horizon, guiding them toward a revelatory and cathartic new engagement with life, and all its wonder.

Wildly imaginative, deeply poignant, and entirely unexpected, Lights on the Sea sweeps readers away on a journey of fate, acceptance, redemption, and survival against the most rewarding of odds.

Critique: A deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and reader engagement from first page to last, "Lights on the Sea" by Miquel Reina is expertly translated into English by Catherine e. Nelson. Absorbing, entertaining, and thought provoking, "Lights on the Sea" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lights on the Sea" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781978643918, $14.99, MP3 CD).

Winter Loon
Susan Bernhard
Little A
9781503902985, $24.95, HC, 325pp,

Synopsis: Abandoned by his father after his mother drowns in a frozen Minnesota lake, fifteen-year-old Wes Ballot is stranded with coldhearted grandparents and holed up in his mother's old bedroom, surrounded by her remnants and memories. As the wait for his father stretches unforgivably into months, a local girl, whose own mother died a brutal death, captures his heart and imagination, giving Wes fresh air to breathe in the suffocating small town.

When buried truths come to light in the spring thaw, wounds are exposed and violence erupts, forcing Wes to embark on a search for his missing father, the truth about his mother, and a future he must claim for himself -- a quest that begins back at that frozen lake.

"Winter Loon" fully captures the resilience of a boy determined to become a worthy man by confronting family demons, clawing his way out of the darkness, and forging a life from the shambles of a broken past.

Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "Winter Loon" is author Susan Bernhard's debut as a novelist, this deftly crafted and skillfully presented 'coming of age' story is an inherently compelling, thoughtfully presented, and fully entertaining read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Winter Loon" is also available in a paperback edition (9781503902978, $14.95), in unabridged audiobook format (9781978631380, $34.99, Brilliance Audio) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Honor's Banner
Charlsie Russell
Loblolly Writer's House
9780989430227, $16.95, PB, 578pp,

Synopsis: As of January 1866, Major Seth Parker, United States Marine Corps, has been in war-ravaged Mississippi for two months on orders to General T. J. Wood, commander, Department of Mississippi.

Colonel Malcolm Byrnes, United States Army and head of General Wood's special operations department, handpicked Parker to investigate the case of Alan Guthrie, a Treasury operative murdered in the fall of 1865.

Guthrie had been in Mississippi only a short time when person or persons unknown shot him down on the Natchez Trace. More interesting still was that Guthrie's reason for being in the area was a mystery. Initial inquiries indicate Guthrie had been involved, in some capacity, with the theft of confiscated Confederate cotton, but if Guthrie's seniors at the Treasury Department knew what he'd been up to in Mississippi, they denied it.

Being an old military operative and discouraged by civilian usurpation of the army's intelligence assets in the face of looming Southern intransigence, Malcolm Byrnes has questions. Somewhat disingenuously, he sends Seth Parker into the wilds of Mississippi to find answers.

This foray is not Seth Parker's first into Mississippi's hinterland. He had been here during the war - in the spring of '63, before Grand Gulf, before Bruinsburg...before Vicksburg, but his covert operations at that time had realized only momentary success followed by a precipitate departure with a bullet in his upper chest and desperate struggle for his life, followed by a long and difficult recovery back home in Kentucky.

A Southerner by blood and breeding, Seth Parker had kept faith with his people, who believed Kentucky's interests were best served by remaining in the Union. But despite the duty binding him, the South has his empathy, and though hesitant to admit it, the beautiful woman who saved his life that fateful spring day back in '63 owns his heart.

Widowed Rebecca Mackey lost not only her young husband and unborn son to the war, but her father, a brother, and a sister. Now her sole surviving sibling is fighting for his life, the victim of a lunatic's bullet. But the attack on Eli Calhoon and his bride, Alice, soon proves to be only a clue to a mystery that will evolve from a simple case of domestic violence to a tangled web of national intrigue that involves theft and murder in the once hallowed halls of the U. S. Treasury building in Washington.

At a time when treason is synonymous with the South, and her people are convenient scapegoats to disguise the misdeeds of ruthless and unprincipled men drunk on power, Becky learns her brother is a suspect Guthrie's death, and the man who set his sights on Eli Calhoon two months prior is Major Seth Parker.

Three years earlier, at a time when some modicum of peace and humanity still held sway over southwest Mississippi, Rebecca Mackey had saved Seth Parker's life. As evidence mounts, Seth realizes it was the unexplained actions of the murdered man himself that had led him to suspect Calhoon. Worse yet, the on-going investigation is leading him, reluctantly, to Rebecca Mackey, the woman whose scent and touch, and reassuring voice have haunted his nights for the past three years.

Overwhelmed by passion for the woman he loves and anxious over her role in the increasingly bizarre mystery surrounding the murdered agent, he is willing to risk anything to prove her innocent. Locked in a struggle against unprincipled men protected by a corrupt government, Parker needs answers, and Rebecca Mackey has, at least, some of those answers.

Personal experience has proven to Becky the kind of people she's up against in this matter of the dead agent, and she's equally aware of their threat to her critically wounded brother. Determined to protect him and all she holds dear against the ruthless forces gathering against her, she is loath to trust a self-proclaimed ally garbed in despicable blue.

Critique: An inherently fascinating saga that combines an historical mystery with political intrigue against the backdrop of post-Civil War reconstruction era Mississippi, Charlsie Russell's "Honor's Banner" is an impressively and deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and character driven narrative storytelling. The stuff of which television block-buster mini-series are made, "Honor's Banner" is very highly recommended, especially for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Honor's Banner" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Too Good For The Hood
Michael & Danny D'Agostino
Independently Published
9781724105752, $9.99, PB, 246pp,

Synopsis: "Too Good For The Hood" is a contemporary comedy set 1994 in a close-knit, multi-ethnic neighborhood located in Staten Island, New York. The neighborhood is the home of many of America's newer immigrants living along side lower income Caucasians, and modest income Black Americans like Lenny's family, the Kravitzes.

Little Lenny Kravitz excels in elementary school and continues his academic success in high school, and then in college, where he graduates with a B.A. degree in two majors: accounting and math. However, by 2009 Lenny finds himself trapped and out of work by the unrelenting, cruel recession. The promise of success for the gifted Lenny, evaporates.

As the recession drags on, young Leonard Kravitz is forced to survive by hustling for any freelance accounting jobs he can drum up in the neighborhood. As if this hardship isn't enough, he is informed by his doctor that he has acquired a serious medical condition that threatens his already fragile body.

Rather than give up and throw in the towel, this diminutive man with a big heart decides to fight on courageously, and turn misfortune into opportunity. It's a tough road. So what does he do? He decides to throw caution to the wind and challenge all wrong doers in the hood, regardless of the consequences, the danger involved.

By will power, incredible guts and a lot of luck, he creates a new chapter in his life, and ends up becoming a hero in the hood. It's a story of love, courage, and the power of one's will to overcome adversity.

Critique: A deftly written collaboration by authors Michael and Danny D'Agostino, "Too Good For The Hood" is another of their truly unique, extraordinary, unfailingly entertaining and memorable novels. Very highly recommended reading and a 'must' for all Michael and Danny D'Agostino fans, "Too Good For The Hood" is certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections.

Tom Bentley
The Write Word Publishing
9781773420394, $14.99, PB, 318pp,

Synopsis: Wisecracking, ineptly lustful Hayden is the disgruntled proofreading coordinator at a large San Francisco leasing company. His big secret is that he's writing a novel that he hopes will change his fortunes.

Megan, his prim, overachiever boss, a former editor at a publishing house, has a secret too: she's a closet alcoholic. Jacob, the homeless vet who begs outside their office, once a hopeless drunk himself, wouldn't know and wouldn't care about any office intrigues.

That is, until the 1989 earthquake throws all their fates together in unexpected and life-altering ways.

The interplay of the irreverent schemer, the guarded alcoholic and the stoic veteran makes for an at times rollicking, at times sad collision of lives, where romances backfire and family secrets are revealed.

Sometimes hilarious, sometimes harrowing, the book's themes touch on the AIDS crisis, corporate vacuity, family dramas, awkward sex -- and even the Bronte sisters. Through the fragile fault lines of these rocky relationships runs loss, humor, and the longing for connection

Critique: A deftly written and inherently riveting novel by an author who has a genuine flair for a fully entertaining originality, and impressively presented narrative driven storytelling, Tom Bentley's "Aftershock" is unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Aftershock" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

The Cutter's Widow
Mary DesJarlais
Calumet Editions
9781939548979 $16.99 / $2.99 Kindle

Synopsis: "The Cutter's Widow" is a heartrending novel, set in Saint Paul, Minnesota, against the backdrop of 1915 urban poverty. Ella Byrne is a young widow, gripped by grief and struggling to support herself. She becomes a milliner's apprentice, a baby broker and partners with a local pickpocket. Ultimately, she becomes the focus of attention in a murder investigation by one of Saint Paul's first female police officers. This is story of the devastations of grief and poverty and the quest to make a difference in the world.

Critique: A powerful, heartrending novel about the harsh struggle to survive, The Cutter's Widow is a fascinating story that forces the reader to think long and hard about moral dilemmas. A page-turner to the end with a complex female protagonist, The Cutter's Widow is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Cutter's Widow is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Impossible Girl
Lydia Kang
Lake Union Publishing
9781503903388 $14.95 pbk / $4.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Manhattan, 1850. Born out of wedlock to a wealthy socialite and a nameless immigrant, Cora Lee can mingle with the rich just as easily as she can slip unnoticed into the slums and graveyards of the city. As the only female resurrectionist in New York, she's carved out a niche procuring bodies afflicted with the strangest of anomalies. Anatomists will pay exorbitant sums for such specimens - dissecting and displaying them for the eager public.

Cora's specialty is not only profitable, it's a means to keep a finger on the pulse of those searching for her. She's the girl born with two hearts - a legend among grave robbers and anatomists - sought after as an endangered prize.

Now, as a series of murders unfolds closer and closer to Cora, she can no longer trust those she holds dear, including the young medical student she's fallen for. Because someone has no intention of waiting for Cora to die a natural death.

Critique: A cat-and-mouse story of intrigue, set in 1850 and featuring a strong-willed female protagonist striving to stay one step ahead of an unknown foe who would murder her for profit, The Impossible Girl is captivating through and through. Highly recommended, especially for connoisseurs of historical murder mysteries! It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Impossible Girl is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

Ghost Next Door
Helen Currie Foster
Stuart's Creek Press
PO Box 501, Dripping Springs, TX 78620
9780692168271, $14.99, PB, 276pp,

Synopsis: During night-time fireworks at Coffee Creek's first official barbecue cook-off, deep in Texas Hill Country, lawyer Alice MacDonald Greer trips over the murdered body of a sharp-tongued food writer. The hotly competitive grill-masters all possess sharp knives and stout alibis. With local law enforcement baffled, the mystery darkens when a malevolent stalker pursues Alice and her engaging but secretive client using arson, assault and highway terror. Alice finds herself needing far more than her legal skills to survive.

Critique: The fifth title in Helen Currie Foster's simply outstanding 'Alice MacDonald Greer' series, "Ghost Next Door" is a deftly crafted legal thriller with many an unexpected twist and turn from first page to last. An impressively entertaining and inherently riveting read, "Ghost Next Door" is especially recommended for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. For those new to the mystery novels of Helen Currie Foster it should be noted that the other titles featuring Alice MacDonald Greer include "Ghost Dog"; "Ghost Dagger"; "Ghost Letter"; and "Ghost Cave".

Until Proven Innocent
Laura Stewart Schmidt
Black Rose Writing
PO Box 1540, Castroville, TX 78009
9781684331277, $18.95, PB, 248pp,

Synopsis: When fifteen-year-old Alison's grandfather hints their family was involved in the fiery deaths of a woman and her daughter fifty years ago, her grandmother acts like it's his Alzheimer's talking. Alison doesn't believe her and decides to investigate.

She is stunned to learn her grandmother was accused of starting the fatal blaze. Even though she wasn't convicted, she was ostracized by the community and has lived her life under a cloud of suspicion.

Alison is determined to find out the real cause of the fire and clear her grandmother's name. But the house in which the family died is slated for demolition in two weeks, so she's running out of time. And the more clues she uncovers, the closer she gets to unmasking a killer-who may make Alison the next victim.

Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently riveting read from first page to last, "Until Proven Innocent" by Laura Stewart Schmidt is a compelling and entertaining novel by an author with a genuine flair for character and narrative driven storytelling complete with unexpected twists and turns making it an ideal and highly recommended addition to personal reading lists and community library collections.

Diane Wing
Modern History Press
c/o Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781615993970, $27.95, HC, 186pp,

Synopsis: Autumn Clarke survived the car crash that killed her parents. To help her cope with PTSD, she adopts Chrissy, a Shih Tzu with a remarkable secret. Chrissy is also the only witness to the mysterious death of her pet parent.

Autumn vows to find the truth behind his death with the help of Chrissy, the neighbors and an attractive detective. Can Autumn unravel the clues while trying to heal Chrissy's trauma and overcome her own devastating emotional wounds in the midst of a dangerous murder investigation?

Critique: A wonderfully entertaining and deftly written mystery, "Attorney-At-Paw" is the first of what will hopefully be a long term series starring one of mystery's most unique canine sleuths! Certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "Attorney-At-Paw" is also available in a paperback edition (9781615993963, $18.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.95).

Only the Good
Rosemary Reeve
Independently Published
9781982989217, $12.99, PB, 285pp,

Synopsis: Seattle attorney Jack Hart is cleaning up the mess his long-lost father left behind. As he juggles his dad's polluting Bellingham paper mill, his dad's grand, empty house on Orcas Island, and his dad's other family, who may not be what they seem, Jack begins to suspect that his father may still be alive -- but may want Jack dead!

Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently riveting mystery in author Rosemary Reeve's outstanding 'Jack Hart' mystery series, "Only the Good" has more plot twists and turns that a carnival roller coaster. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "Only the Good" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Karda: Adalta
Sherrill Nilson
9781732272903, $14.95, PB, 406pp,

Synopsis: Secretly sent to the planet Adalta from the hidden orbiting trade space ship to assess its resources and trade potential, Marta knows she can't get attached because she's not staying. But then she meets her Karda, the wondrous flying creature she grows to love. And Altan, the arrogant aristocrat with strange elemental powers. It can't be magic, can it?

When Altan rescues Marta from a blood magician's murder attempt, suddenly she can speak telepathically with her Karda, and she hears Altan in her head. Is she going crazy or -- It can't be magic, can it?

However hard she fights it, and however often she repeats her mantra, "Don't get attached," she does. Forced to be together they face bandits, treachery, revolt, blood-sex-and-death magic -- and their growing relationship.

Then Marta is captured by the blood magician. Will Altan rescue her? Or will she rescue herself?

Critique: Now in a newly revised edition featuring simply amazing illustrations, "Karda: Adalta" by Sherrill Nilson is the first volume of what promises to be a unique and simply outstanding science fiction series with more plot twists and cliffhanger turns than a Coney Island roller coaster. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction fans that "Karda: Adalta" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

The Unexpected
Clinton Coy
Austin Macauley Publishers, LLC.
9781641823067, $25.95, HC, 198pp,

Synopsis: Taking place in the year 2025, an invasion of alien creatures called Instinctive Outside Beings (IOBs) have taken over the world. With the world nearly destroyed, a man named Clay Treston finds himself struggling within a reality he has long lost.

Tortured and beaten from the impact of the IOBs, Clay continues to fight and protect a city full of survivors in order to hang onto a past that holds him together. But when suspicious events begin to appear, he soon learns a bigger plot beginning to unfold around him as he tries to hold himself together to fight.

On the verge of losing himself and the city, Clay is then forced to not only learn what his true path is in the world, but to put aside his feelings to finally see a new reality before him.

Critique: A deftly crafted science fiction novel by a master of the genre with a genuine flair for originality and narrative driven storytelling, "The Unexpected" by Clinton Coy is unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction fans that "The Unexpected" is also available in a paperback edition (9781641823050, $12.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Norton S. Beckerman
9781978212657, $17.95, PB, 310pp,



Barnes & Noble:


Synopsis: Rachel Cummings, the young Chair of a university biology department is confronted with a problem that modern science says can't exist, but it does exist and may be deadly. Rachel is accused of being an alarmist, but she won't be pushed aside.

Rachel knows that the situation could be disastrous if not resolved. She recruits Barry Protoc, a highly credentialed neuroscientist and microbiologist to help her find the truth. What they find puts them in the middle of a horrible nightmare that could possibly destroy civilization if left unchecked.

The problem confronting Rachel and Barry actually started with the beginning of life on earth. The first life on earth existed in the form of cells. But there was a group of cells that could absorb new information, make decisions, take a directed action and multiply. They came together as "The Council" and they dominated the other cells. "The Council" wanted to control the surface of the planet, but they knew that was impossible in their current form. They had to evolve on the surface as a dominant species. They set evolution in motion.

One among them, a renegade cell called VIRUS didn't agree. VIRUS felt they were dominant enough and could control the surface as they were. "The Council" tried to talk him out of it, but he wouldn't listen. VIRUS breaks away from "The Council" and threatens to destroy everything they create, regardless of how long it takes.

"The Council" has monitored and defeated VIRUS at every turn over the ages. They have become complacent, and VIRUS has taken advantage of that complacency by taking a host and building a following. VIRUS' host is a small boy by the name of Barry Protoc.

If "The Council" allows VIRUS and his followers to continue, all life as we know it will be destroyed along with the future. They must stop VIRUS.

"The Council" sends Traveler, their best agent, to the present to confront and defeat VIRUS. But Traveler doesn't exist in the present. He can't accomplish anything on his own. To defeat VIRUS traveler must work through a surrogate. That surrogate is Professor Barry Protoc.

Critique: Written by an author with a genuine flair for unique and inherently engaging, narrative based storytelling, "VIRUS" by Norton S. Beckerman is a intrinsically riveting saga of a novel with more plot twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction fans that "VIRUS" is also available in a digital book format on Kindle ($2.99) and Smashwords.

The Peithosian Gift
Cristina Archer
Rowanvale Books Ltd.
9781911569848, $14.69, PB, 420pp,

Synopsis: Since ancient times, the Morgans and the Kanes have violently disputed the right to use their gift.

The present-day Morgans are outnumbered and persecuted by the Kanes for using their gift; most are in hiding, while others avenge the slaughter of their kin. The Kanes hunt and assassinate Morgans to prevent a mind-controlled world.

While one clan seeks a 'saviour' to restore the imbalance, the other fears the birth of a too-gifted child.

Radha, born of a third, lost clan, has superior powers that she is scarcely able to control. Events lead to a clash of clan leaders and key players, forcing Radha on the run with both sides hunting her.

Critique: About two warring clans with the power to control the minds of others, "The Peithosian Gift" is a deftly crafted and inherently riveting work of speculative fantasy fiction by novelist Cristina Archer, an author with a genuine flair for originality and narrative driven storytelling. While "The Peithosian Gift" is very highly recommended, especially for community library Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Peithosian Gift" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

The Self-Help Shelf

50 Ways to Get Your Way
Juliet Huck
The Huck Group
9780989919517, $14.95, PB, 128pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "50 Ways to Get Your Way", Juliet Huck shares the lessons she learned while growing up on her family's farm in rural Ohio. "50 Ways to Get Your Way" is about values for living a successful life, personally and professional, like being grateful, nurturing relationships, and listening intently.

In "50 Ways to Get Your Way" Juliet shows provides illustrated 'real world practical' instruction and commentary on how to be persuasive in a manner that is honorable, respectful, and effective.

Critique: "50 Ways to Get Your Way" is essentially a do-it-yourself guide to making genuine human connections regardless of the setting or circumstance. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "50 Ways to Get Your Way" is a life enhancing, life changing, life affirming, 'user friendly' little book that is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections.

A Glass Half Empty? ...or Half Full?
Dan Schuck
Glass Half Question
9781543929980, $24.33, HC, 48pp,

Synopsis: The question of Pessimism vs. Optimism is often misunderstood, or worse yet, misinterpreted. But by taking the childlike and playful approach in "A Glass Half Empty? ...or Half Full?: A Children's Book for Grown-Ups" we can explore one of humankind's most ancient riddles and learn some of the deeper lessons that The Question can teach each of us.

The Question exists, in some form, in every language across the globe, and its origins are as ancient as the human spirit. But does this simple question really tell us if one is a Pessimist or an Optimist? Doesn't it matter what's in our Glass? Can we use The Question to help us with finding balance, managing stress, and enjoying life?

Using humor and innocence, "A Glass Half Empty? ...or Half Full?: A Children's Book for Grown-Ups" provides an opportunity to determine the fullness of our own glass, and how to apply it to our daily lives.

Critique: Inherently as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is engaging and entertaining, "A Glass Half Empty? ...or Half Full?: A Children's Book for Grown-Ups" is a unique and extraordinary book by Dan Schuck that is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Glass Half Empty? ...or Half Full?: A Children's Book for Grown-Ups" is also available in a paperback edition (9781543929980, $12.33) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

The Parenting Shelf

10 Powerful Things to Say to Your Kids, second edition
Paul Axtell
Jackson Creek Press
9780943097183 $16.00 pbk

Synopsis: The key to success in any field is the ability to create and maintain good relationships. Conversation is how relationships get built, Axtell argues, and parents play a vital role in developing and nurturing this essential skill.

In his work with executives and organizations, he often uses families as an analogy to clarify his ideas about the relationships people have at work. His book often turns those analogies around, using the lessons learned teaching adults to communicate effectively at work to show parents how these ideas can help build more meaningful relationships at home.

This book will help parents:

*Learn to listen to their children so they feel heard and understood
*Understand the human hardwiring behind many relationship problems
*Use their conversations to help kids gain the confidence
*Create safety and trust . . . and a remarkable relationship that will last forever

Updated with the latest research and stories from parents who ve put these tips to the test, the new edition of this award-winning book provides new material on creating resilience, establishing family agreements about technology use, and building healthy self-esteem, as well as the special role grandparents can play in a child's life. With practical, ready-to-use advice for fostering remarkable relationships, Axtell helps you think about your conversations in a new light and guides you toward deeper, more meaningful connections.

Critique: Communication is an invaluable skill to teach one's children. Now in an updated second edition, 10 Powerful Things to Say to Your Kids is essential reading for anyone who works with children - parents, grandparents, family members, or counselors. Chapters explore in-depth the power and value behind simple verbal expressions such as "We all make mistakes", "How about we agree to..." "Tell me more", and "What do you think?". Winner of a gold Independent Publisher Book Award, 10 Powerful Things to Say to Your Kids is highly recommended for both public library parenting collections and personal reading lists.

Attachment Fathering
Neena Roumell
9780692960615, $13.95, PB, 52pp,

Synopsis: In "Attachment Fathering", Neena Roumell (a psychologist who has worked more than 30 years in Metro Detroit, Michigan, hospitals with infants, toddlers and their parents) reaches out to expectant and new parents to help strengthen the bond between the fathers and their babies, and to reinforce the opportunity for strong attachments and sensitive parenting.

Neena's photographs primarily show fathers and their infants interacting following birth, during comforting, caretaking and during play. The emotional connections made in the intimacy of nurturing their infant has enduring effects on both the father and his child.

Fully captured by Neena in pictures and words, are the multicultural images showing how babies bring out the father's sensitivity in reading and responding to their infant's, attachment promoting, facial emotional signals.

"Attachment Fathering" provides touch points for sensitive paternal responding that will build the foundation for his infant's secure attachment and independence. These important touch points are the mutual exchanges which take place following birth, during comforting, caretaking and play.

"Attachment Fathering" also highlights how sensitive paternal responsiveness to his baby's cues during the opening months of infancy is the single most important influence on the infant-father relationship. It also underscores how paternal sensitivity and the baby's emotion of interest lays the foundation for infant security, exploration and learning.

"Attachment Fathering" deftly reveals the important role that fathers have in providing comfort and nurturant caregiving from the moment their child is born. The text and photo images support nurturant paternal involvement including intimacy and empathy, emotional availability and attunement to their baby's cues and sensitivities.

The text is drawn from the developmental psychology and pediatric literature which documents the positive effects of nurturant father involvement on child development and is for the new father audience but may also be a useful teaching tool for psychology, pediatric and family practice students.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Attachment Fathering" is a unique and truly extraordinary and inspiring instructional guide that is unreservedly recommended reading for all new fathers. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Parenting collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Attachment Fathering" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Relationship Shelf

Let's Make a Contract
Ann Schiebert
Andrew Benzie Books
9781941713754, $16.95, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: Psychologist Ann Schiebert teaches about relationship challenges at the medical center of one of the country's most respected major HMOs. With "Let's Make a Contract: Getting Through Unhappy Romantic Relationships" she draws upon her years of experience and expertise to provide insights in the causes of unhappiness romantic relationship; gaining a better understanding of why we stay in unhappy romantic relationship; boost our chances of finally finding a fulfilling romance.

People all over the world find themselves trapped in the same self-destructive patterns in their lives. Fortunately, there's a way out, and in the pages of "Let's Make a Contract: Getting Through Unhappy Romantic Relationships" Dr. Schiebert shows how to pull yourselves out of our unhappy romantic relationship patterns.

"Let's Make a Contract: Getting Through Unhappy Romantic Relationships" includes: How to do an inventory that will help explain the reason we get ourselves into unhappy romantic relationships and why we stay in them; Provides tools, advice and wisdom that can help us navigate our unhappy romantic relationship patterns; Reveals how people "fall in love" chemically and obsessively and how we can become "intoxicated" by the "rush" to love.; Explains why many of us tend to disregard our values in favor of someone else's and why we allow value violations.

"Let's Make a Contract: Getting Through Unhappy Romantic Relationships" also includes contract template examples that will enable anyone to create structure, establish boundaries, and address their expectations in potential romantic relationships. As well as discovering how to begin a new pattern of healthy relationships for that fresh start.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Let's Make a Contract: Getting Through Unhappy Romantic Relationships" is a thoroughly 'real world practical' compendium of insights, information, and encouragement, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended read and an enduringly useful and welcome addition to personal and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections.

The Business Shelf

Engage to Win
Steve Lucas
Greenleaf Book Group Press
9781626344983 $23.95 hc / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Engagement is the key to success for today's businesses.

The world we live in is radically different today from what it was even just five years ago. It is hyperdigital and becoming more so every day. Ironically, we use connected to describe this new world, yet we are asked to interact increasingly through apps and browsers instead of via face-to-face contact with customers and clients. Even with all the incredible advances, it's worth pondering whether organizations actually feel more connected to the people and the companies they do business with.

In Engage to Win, author Steve Lucas introduces a new model for marketing to address this new hyper-digital world - one founded on engagement. He introduces the idea that embracing and driving engagement throughout organizations and using it with customers, prospects, employees, and partners is what will set companies apart. This digital era demands that marketers understand the science of marketing in order to scale and succeed. But if we embrace mathematics alone, while abandoning feeling, meaning, and authenticity, we will fail to deliver on the desires of our clients: to feel listened to and understood.

So how do we win the heart and mind of the buyer in this new world? Develop a real strategy around engagement by practicing these simple steps: listen, learn, and engage. Listening creates insights, insights drive engagement, and engagement drives revenue. Truly engaging with customers will allow businesses to see, in real-time, when customers' wants and needs are changing, so businesses will be able to adapt, survive, and ultimately thrive!

Critique: Author Steve Lucas, CEO of Marketo, presents Engage to Win: A Blueprint for Success in the Engagement Economy, a guide for business and marketing professionals in the competitive digital age. Chapters emphasize the importance of making connections, and earning the loyalty of customers through engaging with them, especially in a world that has become increasingly impersonal and automated. Here are tips, tricks, techniques, and tools for marketing in a world where digital data, social media connections, and interactions in cyberspace are more important than ever. Highly recommended, especially for marketing professionals and entrepreneurs. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Engage to Win is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Health/Medicine Shelf

Healing Happens
Avital Miller
APG Publishing
9780999678527 $24.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Imagine healing a chronic condition or terminal illness against all odds by making one simple change. Healing Happens brings you insight and inspiration from health and healing experts who cured themselves and others despite dire medical prognoses from over twenty illnesses ranging from cancer, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis to Hashimoto's, hypothyroidism, bipolar personality disorder, stroke, musculoskeletal pain, blindness, ADHD, obesity, fibromyalgia, hepatitis C, cerebral palsy, and anxiety. Enhance the power to heal yourself through natural healing techniques and awareness in order to comfortably, energetically, and joyfully live your passions.

Some of the people in the stories in this book were in wheelchairs or expecting to undergo major surgery, while others had been on medication most of their lives or in hospice expecting to die. Through attitude, willpower, belief, food, sound, light, or simple physical exercises, all returned to full health medication-free, able to walk, work, engage in hobbies, and enjoy time with their families.

The stories in Healing Happens emerge from enlightening interviews with seventeen health and healing experts: Bernie Siegel, MD, Brooke Goldner, MD, Meir Schneider, PhD, Ruben J. Guzman, MPH, Nicole DeAvilla, Michael Platt, MD, K. P. Stoller, MD, Tara Gesling, Tryshe Dhevney, Maureen Belle, Gail Lynn, Connie Hernandez, ND, Mamie Lamley, Bhavna Srivastava, Sam Shelley, Mary Wutz, and Peter Leach. They have repeatedly helped others heal through knowledge attained from personal experiences, studies, and the latest scientific research. Their specialties range from Western medicine to naturopathy, yoga therapy, physical therapy, nutrition, herbal medicine, sound healing, energy healing, meditation, and spirituality. They reveal there are more possibilities for healing than are commonly known.

Critique: Healing Happens: Winner of a Bronze Medal for Non-fiction in the Global EBook Awards, Stories of Healing Against All Odds gathers uplifting, inspirational stories from people who recovered from dire medical prognoses for illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders. Emphasizing that the human body carries a greater potential to recover from chronic conditions than one might suspect, Healing Happens reminds the reader not to automatically believe everything they are told, and to keep in mind the power of remedies other than pills (such as physical therapy, meditation, or improving one's diet for wellness). Highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Healing Happens is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Theatre/Cinema Shelf

Two Movies
Richard G. Patterson
Royal Garden Press
9781720572367 $59.95

Synopsis: An exploration of the art of cinema by means of a detailed analysis of Godard's Contempt and Figgis's The Browning Version as well as Moravia's novel, Rattigan's play and Asquith's earlier adaptation of the play.

Two Movies adapted from literary works with roots going back to ancient Greece. Two Movies about a marriage coming apart at the seams. Two Movies about the conflict between idealism and reality. Two Movies with completely different styles - one a remake of a classic of English cinema, the other a classic of the French New Wave. Two Movies - one about teaching, the other about filmmaking, both about the death of a tradition.

Two Movies - one based on a play by a phenomenally successful English playwright, the other based on a novel by one of the greatest Italian writers of the 20th century.

Critique: Peppered with black-and-white and some color screenshots from the titular two movies, Two Movies closely analyzes Godard's "Contempt" and Figgis' "The Browning Version", as well as the works these movies derived from. In the process, author and film industry professional Richard Patterson reviews the art of cinema itself in depth, and the power that movies have to elicit thought and emotion in viewers - at least, when scripted, directed, and performed with the utmost skill. Insightful and enlightening, Two Movies is especially recommended to readers aspiring to a career in any aspect of film production.

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design