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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 20, Number 11 November 2021 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Cookbook Shelf Art Shelf
Music Shelf Sports Shelf Money/Finance Shelf
Business Shelf General Fiction Shelf Historical Fiction Shelf
Literary Fiction Shelf Romantic Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Religion/Spirituality Shelf Philosophy Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Butterfly Awakens: A Memoir of Transformation Through Grief
Meg Nocero
She Writes Press
9781647421755 $18.95 pbk / $8.69 Kindle

Synopsis: Butterfly Awakens depicts the story of the extraordinary transformation of a forty-something Italian American attorney as she moves through unimaginable grief and sadness watching her beloved mother lose her battle to breast cancer. This tumultuous life experience shifts her world, causing her to question her life choices and opening her up to her soul's calling. Nocero brings readers along on her journey through a dark night of the soul as she deals with the grieving process, a toxic work environment, and intense stress that results in depression, anxiety, and an acquired somatic nervous disorder called tinnitus. Through it all, she never gives up, instead looking for the help she needs to start to heal and find her light. In the end, like the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly, this story is a beautiful love letter that honors Nocero's mother's legacy while detailing the awakening of her own.

There are many stories about breast cancer and grief, but none are quite like this one. Throughout her tale, Nocero pulls the reader deep into her story through the intensity of her emotions; and in the end, after resigning from her career as a federal prosecutor due to a toxic administration, she searches for the lighthouse she saw in a vision when her mother died. Embarking on a spiritual pilgrimage on El Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain to get to the lighthouse at Cap Finisterre, she sets out to wake up and live again; the butterfly connection and stark honesty of her writing offers readers important lessons learned from moving through grief so that each person can shine their light again.

Critique: Butterfly Awakens: A Memoir of Transformation Through Grief is an emotionally compelling memoir of losing a parent, and re-examining one's place in the world. Author Meg Nocero was an attorney in her 40's when her mother died from breast cancer. The harrowing experience of being parted from her beloved mother led her to rethink her choices in life. Realizing that her current work environment was horrendously toxic, and struggling to cope with an acquired somatic nervous disorder known as tinnitus, Meg Nocero sought to reshape her path and transform herself. She embarked on a spiritual pilgrimage, but her ultimate goal was far more than a journey to a physical place. Butterfly Awakens is a true story of inner metamorphosis, learning, transitions, grieving, and seeking a truly meaningful life. Highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Butterfly Awakens is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.69).

The Cookbook Shelf

Changing the Game
Craig J. Tomsky
Izzard Ink
9781642280470, $37.95, HC, 290pp

Synopsis: "Changing the Game: Your Guide for Transforming Wild Game into Game-Changing Meals" will provide sportsmen with detailed guidance and techniques that will up their food game and the enjoyment of their harvests when taking it directly from field to fork. Author and culinary expert Craig Tomsky has coupled his uncompromising love of great food with his passion for hunting, and has identified key factors that will reduce or eliminate the undesirable "gamey" flavors that result from inadequately processed and prepared game. He has also developed and refined many recipes to complement each game's most desirable flavors that will transform your game meat into delicious finished dishes.

"Changing the Game" is a complete playbook that takes the reader from caring for the game after the harvest, through Craig's "keys to changing the game"-specific techniques used during the butchering and preservation processes that will positively impact the flavor and tenderness of the meat. It lays out a roadmap and recommends equipment that will expediently and efficiently process various types of game. Explanations that support the reasoning behind the preparation techniques are provided via relatable terminology and anecdotes that are sprinkled throughout the book.

"Changing the Game" finishes with presenting a multitude of delicious recipes that have been enhanced by game meat and Craig's use of complementary ingredients to achieve complex yet delicate flavor profiles for each dish. It also contains recipes for side dishes and desserts, along with wine pairing recommendations, to provide the reader with a complete game plan for an enjoyable evening that will leave dinner guests asking, "Is this really wild game?"

Critique: A unique and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library cookbook collections, "Changing the Game: Your Guide for Transforming Wild Game into Game-Changing Meals" is extraordinarily informative and exceptionally well written, organized and presented -- making it an ideal instructional reference for anyone wanting to create memorable meals with wild game based dishes.

Editorial Note: Craig J. Tomsky is a degreed, environmental, health and safety professional who is certified in the comprehensive practice of industrial hygiene. He has combined his scientific knowledge with his love of food and his sustainability efforts to create delicious meals at home for over 30years. He is sharing the learnings from his experiences in Changing the Game, so that those who hunt or want to enjoy wild game can optimize their enjoyment of our natural resources.

The Art Shelf

Harmonics: Sixty Years of Life in Art
Paul Gruhler
Mandel Vilar Press
c/o Dryad Press
9781942134794, $35.00, PB, 128pp

Synopsis: Paul Gruhler opened his first studio in 1962 at the age of 21 - a year later he had a solo show at the DeMena Gallery in lower Manhattan. From the beginning, Gruhler, a self-taught artist, was compelled by what came to be known as geometric abstraction, in which the deliberative arrangement of color, line, texture, and scale, in paintings and collage, evoke from these disparate elements a sense of meditative harmony. For sixty years, he has continued to explore the subtle differences that can be made from color and line.

Gruhler was fortunate in the early years to have met and become good friends with three older artists who were also important teachers and mentors - first Michael Lekakis, then Harold Weston and Herb Aach. Lekakis, a celebrated sculptor, who already had had exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition Americans 1963, took Gruhler under his wing, navigating him through New York's thriving avant-garde art scene.

Michael Lekakis was also instrumental in Gruhler's first show, giving titles to his paintings and writing catalog copy that drew upon his own abstract poetics. "These canvases," he wrote, are "multi colored fire densely cascades to suspension hanging a counterpoint of rhythmic patterns in space covering it like a shroud united by a golden fragmentation."

Over these years Gruhler has had numerous solo and group shows in the U.S. in New York and Vermont, in Mexico, and abroad in Finland, Germany, Sweden, and The Netherlands. HARMONICS is both a retrospective and a current view of Paul Gruhler's intensive art.

Critique: A beautifully reproduced compendium of Paul Gruhler's painting, enhanced by an informative commentary, "Harmonics: Sixty Years of Life in Art" is an extraordinary introduction to an extraordinary artist -- making it an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Contemporary Artist biography and American Art History collections.

The Music Shelf

Meet Nashville's Rising Stars
Karina Michel Feld
Authority Magazine Press
9780578924304, $45.00, HC, 180pp

Synopsis: Every artist's career starts with a dream. A dream to create, to entertain and to fall in love with over and over again. It typically doesn't happen overnight, but as a journey over many months or years. Your career will take many twists and lapses, and to stay the course can be a grind. The entertainment business has more unpredictability and excitement than any other, and once you're in it's tough to leave. But why ever would you?

Over the past year Karina Michel Feld has enjoyed every minute of interviewing artists from all around the world, but there's something about Music City that had her coming back. The electricity in the air, the kindness and small town feel that you belong and it's just been there waiting for you.

Having been an actress, writer and film producer, music has long been the spark to Karina's earliest memories and a way to connect and reminisce. In reading the articles comprising "Meet Nashville's Rising Stars : A Collection of Inspirational Interviews from 25 of Nashville's Rising Stars" listening to their stories and ups and downs will bring you joy and help you live in the moment. Each artist's story is unique, but all join a place of following their passion and living authentically.

Nashville has long been the birthplace of country music and legendary music careers. "Meet Nashville's Rising Stars : A Collection of Inspirational Interviews from 25 of Nashville's Rising Stars" will help the readers to find joy in the journey, take small steps every day, stay true to themselves and more than anything, stay humble. The underlying message is that everyone makes mistakes, but by doing what you love you will have the time of your life. Put on your best, get out there and enjoy the ride!

Critique: Inherently fascinating, impressively informative, inspired and inspiring, "Meet Nashville's Rising Stars : A Collection of Inspirational Interviews from 25 of Nashville's Rising Stars" is a unique and extraordinary read and one that will be especially appreciated by aspiring artists. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary American Music history collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Meet Nashville's Rising Stars : A Collection of Inspirational Interviews from 25 of Nashville's Rising Stars" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

The Sports Shelf

The Long Way Home
Pete Ripmaster
Rand-Smith Books
9781950544325, $29.50, HC, 198pp

Synopsis: Pete Ripmaster developed a love of nature at a young age, first through the fantastic adventures he had read about in classic adventure books, and then thanks to frequent trips to Telluride. He immediately fell in love with the fresh air and majestic mountains.

Pete eventually decided to move to Alaska, "the final frontier," by himself to try his hand at dog mushing, and it almost got him killed. When his mother passed away, Pete decided to honor her legacy by running 50 marathons in 50 states and raising over $60,000 for cancer research in the process. That experience fueled his hunger to accomplish even more and served as a springboard for his cause-driven running journey.

Then he heard that the famed Iditarod had another component, one that didn't involve dogs, and he wanted to learn more. He discovered that the Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI) is the longest running winter ultra-marathon in the world. Athletes face extreme physical and mental challenges to compete in the race on foot, bike, or skis.

Pete took on the challenge and devoted years of his life to training and competing, while dealing with his own inner demons. In 2018, after several attempts, he became one of the few people in history to win the grueling 1000-mile journey through the harsh Alaskan wilderness, but the journey to get there almost cost him his life.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and engagingly informative, "The Long Way Home" is the remarkable sports autobiography of an equally remarkable man. Of special interest to all dedicated marathon runners and sports enthusiasts, "The Long Way Home" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Sports Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Long Way Home" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

The Money/Finance Shelf

The Ingredients to Better Credit
Tomeka Lynch Purcell
Independently Published
9781541355033, $19.99, PB, 130pp

Synopsis: "The Ingredients to Better Credit" by Tomeka lynch Purcell is a DIY instructional guide to taking back control of your financial future. It includes some real estate attorney approved letters that can be easily utilized to remove derogatory accounts and keep them off your record. If you had the answer to a 700 credit score would you want to hear it? "The Ingredients to Better Credit" features easy and effective steps to take that will save the reader a lifetime of money.

Critique: Written to be a kind of DIY manual for non-specialist general readers with no previous experience in the subject and wanting to improve or repair their credit scores, "The Ingredients to Better Credit" is exceptionally well organized and presented -- making it especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, college, and university library Financial Management collections. Also very highly recommended on the subject of credit is"Why Pay Cash? Credit Is Better" (9780692793947, $12.99, PB, $7.99 Kindle, 78pp), by Tomeka Lynch Purcell.

Editorial Note: Tomeka Purcell has achieved remarkable success in Real Estate, financial portfolio management, and debt management. With a Degree in Finance, she has a passion for financial education that will become the building blocks for first generation wealth development for many families who otherwise would not have access to techniques that work. As a Financial Coach, Speaker, and author, Tomeka is changing the landscape surrounding the way minorities and under-served members of society view money and credit.

The Business Shelf

The Visionary Brand
Bryan Smeltzer
Liquidmind Pres
9781737188100, $24.99, HC, 210pp

Synopsis: Bryan Smeltzer's "The Visionary Brand" reveals the foundational principles that create iconic visionary brands, along with the formula for their long-term success.

Just because you have a Vision does not mean you are a Visionary; this is the Paradox faced by many brands. How does one brand lose its premium status while others thrive from generation to generation?

The Visionary Brand takes this insight and provides a clear, definitive outline of "Why" and "How" these brands interact both inside and outside the company and what it takes to achieve this status.We explore these generational brands and the revolutionary products that have sustained their Vision and allowed them to maintain their industry lead.

What magical formula has built Iconic brands such as; Apple, Nike, Adidas and allowed them to sustain their Vision and maintain their brand vision for generations. In The Visionary Brand, we explore what is at the core of these generational brands, what it takes to become a Visionary, and the foundational pillars needed to achieve visionary status-defining the origins around creating this Masterpiece and why having all these attributes is so elusive.

"The Visionary Brand" outlines the strategic elements to implementing this formula including: efining your Vision, and following your path; Foundational pillars of success; Creating a continual flow of innovative ideas and products; Developing a breakaway design strategy; Maintaining premium positioning; Building a passionate culture; Market driving vs market-driven strategy; Becoming a leader vs. a follower; Having the courage to be great.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Visionary Brand" must be considered essential reading for all aspiring entrepreneurs and corporate executives seeking to expand their market share. While unreservedly recommended for community, corporate, college, and university library Business Management instructional reference collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lilsts of entrepreneurs, MBA students, and corporate executives that "The Visionary Brand" is also readily available in the digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: A seasoned executive and authentic entrepreneur, Bryan Smeltzer started his career in aerospace, quickly moving into the consumer products industry, founding his own apparel company, and eventually selling to a VC firm after ten years of profitable growth. He has held executive-level roles in business development, product, marketing for some of the world's most iconic brands, such as Oakley, K-Swiss, TaylorMade, Adidas, and Schutt Sports, along with International brands Arena, Skins, and Zamst. Currently, Bryan is leading LiquidMind Inc., a global brand strategy firm located in Southern California.

The General Fiction Shelf

Mission: Repair
Stacy Eaton
Nitewolf Novels
9781737317319, $24.95, HC, 344pp

Synopsis: Technical Sergeant Brady Vanover had a solid career in the United States Air Force, along with a loving wife, and two young children. Everything was his for the taking, but after a non-life-threatening injury on deployment, Brady is for the first time unsure of his future.

Brady continues to struggle with his pain, fight the system, and figure out where his life will go now. With anger issues growing and his need to self-medicate with alcohol and pain medication, Brady finds himself teetering on the edge of losing himself and his family.

With the help of the Rise Again Warrior organization, Brady will have to work hard to repair what he has damaged, both mentally and physically.

Critique: An original, intense and riveting novel by an author with a genuine flair for the kind of vivid narrative storytelling style that does full justice to the subject matter of a fiction that so acutely and accurately reflects a reality of contemporary military life, "Mission: Repair" by Stcy Eaton is an especially recommended addition to community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mission: Repair" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781737317302, $17.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Author Staton Eaton's "The Rise Again Warrior Series" is an intense and emotional journey through the lives of many service members, their families, and their friends. Focusing on the trials that they face after wartime is over, and they have returned home to a nation that sometimes seems to have forgotten what they were fighting for, and what all of these people sacrificed in the name of Honor & Duty.

The Boy Who Took Marilyn to the Prom
Henry Massie
Archway Publishing
9781665703642, $19.99 pbk / $2.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Hardly any relationship is more fraught with unspoken feelings and words than one between a male psychiatrist and a sad female patient. It is even more so when the patient takes the therapist back to tormenting memories of a woman from his youth. In 1961, a year before her death, Marilyn Monroe's last psychiatrist invited her into his family in a desperate attempt to save the actress by giving her a family she never had.

One evening over dinner the doctor suggests that his son take the actress to his senior prom at Hollywood High School, an experience Marilyn missed because she never finished school. She was 35-looking no older than a college coed-and the boy was 17. That night haunts him until 2007 when that youth, now a psychiatrist himself, takes on a patient who reminds him of Marilyn.

Critique: The Boy Who Took Marilyn to the Prom is an alternate history novel involving a real-world celebrity. A seventeen-year-old boy, the son of Marilyn Monroe's last psychiatrist, takes the legendary star to his senior prom as part of an effort to give her an experience she never had in her youth. Marilyn's tragic death happens a year later. Decades after that, the boy has grown up and become a psychiatrist himself; his newest patient reminds him of the former prom date his father couldn't save. A thought-provoking reflection on the dark side of glamour and the hidden recesses of the psyche, The Boy Who Took Marilyn to the Prom is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Boy Who Took Marilyn to the Prom is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

Editorial Note: Henry Massie is a writer and psychiatrist who lives in Berkeley, California. He is the author of the biography Art of a Jewish Woman: Felice's Worlds, and coauthor of Lives Across Time, a study of emotional health and illness. He is also coauthor of "My Life is a Longing", the classic 2006 International Journal of Psychoanalysis article on child abuse, and author of many other articles in professional journals. This is his second novel.

The Historical Fiction Shelf

Bitter Magic
Nancy Hayes Kilgore
Milford House Press
c/o Sunbury Press
9781620068427, $19.95, PB, 278

Synopsis: An original nove by Nancy Hayes Kilgore, "Bitter Magic", was inspired by the true story of Isobel Gowdie and her witchcraft confession, reveals a little-known corner of history -- the lives of both pagan and Protestant women in the Scottish Reformation of the 1600s as witch trials and executions threatened their lives, values, and beliefs.

The story is told by Isobel herself and also by Margaret Hay, a fictionalized seventeen-year-old noble woman. When Margaret stumbles across Isobel one day, it seems as though Isobel is commanding the dolphins in the ocean to dance. Margaret is enchanted. She becomes interested in Isobel's magic, in fairies, and in herbal remedies; Isobel freely shares her knowledge. While Margaret worries that being around Isobel could be dangerous, she also respects Isobel's medical successes and comes to believe that acknowledging the efficacy of herbal remedies or believing in fairies does not challenge her Christianity.

But Isobel believes in more than cheery fairies and herbal medicine. She has dark wishes as well, unknown to most people. Isobel seeks vengeance against the local lord who executed her mother for witchcraft. More important, Isobel's trance experiences (or are they dreams?) lead her to confess to a wide range of sins, including consorting with the devil. Then, during her trial, Isobel names thirteen others, calling them all witches. To her great shock, Margaret hears her own name. Can her tutor, a Christian mystic named Katharine, save them?

Critique: A carefully crafted historical novel that is made even more compelling by the author's adherence to the culture and beliefs of 17th century Scotland, "Bitter Magic" is an inherently fascinating read from cover to cover and will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to community library Historical Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bitter Magic" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: Currently residing in Vermont, Nancy Hayes Kilgore is a psychotherapist and former parish pastor, as well ass the author of two other novels, Wild Mountain and Sea Level, a winner of the Vermont Writers Prize, a ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

The Literary Fiction Shelf

Wake Up the Night
Kenneth A. Silver
Privately Published
9798458823548 $15.99 pbk / $5.99 Kindle

Synopsis: This is a collection of stories, of words and ideas that flow like a dream, but is there anything less predictable or quite so fickle as a dream? Ken Silver creates narratives that are decidedly daring, and he is never afraid to reach, but never beyond the point at which (with lawyerly precision) he is unable to support his conclusions, scientifically or otherwise. Make no mistake though, it is hardly a tame piece of writing, but a rich harvest of beautifully imagined and thoroughly engrossing tales conceived by an original thinker who refuses to be shackled to curatorial conventions. Accordingly, each and every story, and the novel that follows, has a mind of their own.

The novel itself could only have been written by someone who had actually been there. It took more than research. It took a fashion designer, lawyer, and rainforest radical, but, most of all, it took a poet. Sip it slowly. It is a bold and complex selection and wants to be savored.

Critique: Wake Up the Night is an anthology of original short stories connected closely by thematic threads. Racism in America and environmental issues thread through the complex, interwoven tales. Wake Up the Night is thought-provoking, inspired and inspiring, and a choice pick for connoisseurs of nuanced literary fiction. Highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Wake Up the Night is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

The Romantic Fiction Shelf

The Name Curse
Brooke Burroughs
9781542029322, $12.95 pbk / $3.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Ever since her father died, Bernie's life has been stagnant. When concerned friends and family suggest she join a hike through Alaska to gain new perspective, Bernie reluctantly agrees to go, even though she's never been the adventurous type, unlike her namesake, Great-Aunt Bernice.

Matthew is a struggling screenwriter who needs a week off the grid to gain some inspiration for a new project and to process the reappearance of his absent father.

When the two meet at the trailhead, it's annoyance at first sight. He's dismayed to discover that he'll have to share a tent with Bernie, who doesn't know the first thing about camping, while she finds he's a little too into "roughing it" to be a reasonable human being. But as they're forced to hike through the wilderness together, their relationship becomes a surprising source of empathy and inspiration... and maybe other feelings too. Can the two adversaries find the path to breaking the curse of family expectations - and each other?

Critique: Award-winning author Brooke Burroughs presents The Name Curse, a delightful romantic novel about a young woman grieving the loss of her father and a struggling screenwriter in search of inspiration, who meet while hiking an Alaska trail. Each of them have issues with being pressured by their family, and while they have striking differences (for one, she is far less knowledgeable about camping outdoors than he is) they may also have more in common than either of them could have guessed. A warm-hearted, cheerful, and sometimes tongue-in-cheek cozy camping read, The Name Curse is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Name Curse is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Publisher's Dilemma
Darius Myers
Fero Scitus Publishing
9781087872629 $24.95 hc
9781087878263 $17.95 pbk / $5.01 Kindle

Synopsis: Donald Alexander, president of the Harris Simmons media company, is an African-American business superstar. With the company on fire and reporting record-breaking revenue, he puts his power on the line. Alexander had an uncomfortable race discussion with the company's CEO Gill Harris. His plan? Add more talented, black, brown and Asian executives to the lily-white executive ranks of Harris-Simmons.

Despite long simmering tensions roiling behind the scenes of the family-owned business, Harris is onboard and agrees to back Alexander. Shortly afterwards, Alexander hired star executive Kwame Mills. What they did not expect was a murderous response.

Ambushed in their offices by an unknown killer, Harris is shot dead and Alexander is in a fight for his life. Mills was summoned to the scene of the crime and became a central figure in the murder mystery, a contingent of hungry gossip reporters turned into talk of the city.

Top cop and Chief of Detectives Teddy Walker needs to nail the killer. His investigation reveals Harris Simmons as a company full of secrets, predatory actors, and master abusers of power and privilege. Walker will solve the case and change the media company of Harris Simmons forever.

The Publisher's Dilemma is an attention-grabbing, suspense and crime thriller that will have you riveted to your seat from the first page to the last. It's perfect for lovers of racially motivated mysteries, big city dramas and business conspiracy takeover thrillers.

Critique: The Publisher's Dilemma: A Big City Tale of Privilege, Power & Murder lives up to its title as a sensational crime thriller. The mystery begins with a murderous attack on the executives of a prestigious media company, immediately after the company had taken steps toward more racial diversity. Unraveling the tangled threads of motives, sordid secrets, greed and corruption is a deadly undertaking, in this edge-of-seat saga of violence and conspiracy. The Publisher's Dilemma is enthusiastically recommended for connoisseurs of the genre! It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Publisher's Dilemma is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.01).

Black Camelot's Dawn
Darius Myers
Fero Scitus Publishing
9781087906645 $27.95 hc
9781638483960 $17.95 pbk / $5.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Black Camelot's Dawn is the sequel to The Publisher's Dilemma and the second novel in the Black Camelot series.

Donald Alexander, Kwame Mills, and Samantha Rivers after the solving of The Harris Simmons Murders have become darlings of the city. They also have become extremely wealthy after Alexander's successful sale of the company for 75 billion dollars. The dramatic stories of Alexander, Mills and Samantha Rivers, the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of deceased company CEO Cornwall Harris, have captivated the city and led the city's leading gossip press team, the Celebrity Hack Patrol, to name this period of adulation and fascination, the city's Black Camelot.

A new enemy emerges as century-old white supremacist groups decide that there is no place in the city or American society for black royals, and they become targets of groups intent on their assassination. Unbeknownst to the hate groups, the Black Camelot crew of Alexander, Mills and Rivers are admitted as members of the country's most secret and exclusive society, an organization that gives them protection against deadly and dark forces. The Society also gives them power held only by top world leaders.

Black Camelot's Dawn also marks the return of Dawn Davis Stuart, who left the city in disgrace after she murdered her husband, the real estate tycoon and randy man about town, Yancey Stuart Jr. The shooting death at her hands earned her the notorious nickname of Madame Hot Temper. The backstory that drove her to rage and murder was not as simple as the scandal was reported. She has returned to the City with vengeance on her mind and a powerful accomplice to help her with her plan.

In Black Camelot's Dawn, the city's gossip and drama are at an all-time high. The city is excited about the summer, as the Black Camelot's are all engaged to be married. And when Madame Hot Temper returns, it takes only days before there are more gunshots, murder, and scandal.

Critique: The sequel to The Publisher's Dilemma, Black Camelot's Dawn is a high-octane mystery-thriller, set in a city infested with centuries old white supremacist groups. The survivors of The Publisher's Dilemma have become so wealthy from the sale of their media company that they are dubbed "Black Camelot" - and marked for death by fanatics who abhor the metaphorical concept of black royalty. Dawn Davis Stuart, nicknamed "Madame Hot Temper" over the killing of her husband (a situation that was more complex than the scandal reported by tabloids) returns to the city just as news of upcoming marriages and threats of murder surface. Packed with excitement and twisted plots, Black Camelot's Dawn keeps the reader captivated to the last page and is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Black Camelot's Dawn is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

West Texas Dead
Frances Hight
Independently Published
9781735532714, $13.99, PB, 299pp

Synopsis: Partners Kailey Carmichael and Shinto Elliot police the streets of Midland, Texas, but with very different approaches. Nevertheless, they share an identical passion for justice in whatever form it takes.

Kailey is fresh out of the FBI forensics class and has an analytical mind. Focused on the job, she uses it as a relief from the demons of her daughter's horrific death.

Shinto shatters every gay stereotype as an ex-Army MP with an edge. Physical and with a no-nonsense attitude, she stands her ground no matter what.

When a retired professor is savagely murdered, the duo catches the case and a just-released ex-con looks good for the crime. For Shinto, it's a slam dunk, but Kailey isn't convinced. It just looks too clean and easy. Digging deeper, the pair learn hard lessons about faith, friendship, and trusting your instincts as they fend off the Mexican cartel, a meddling DEA, and police department politics on the way to meting out justice.

Critique: A complete master of the hardboiled detective style combined with the whodunnit mystery genre, author Frances Hight's new novel, "West Texas Dead" is a deftly crafted and inherently riveting read of unexpected plot twists and turns. While unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery fans that "West Texas Dead" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Aftermath: Sequel to the Pleiadian Trilogy
William Guillory
The Center for Creativity and Inquiry
9780933241312 $15.95 pbk / $2.99 Kindle

Synopsis: The Aftermath is the beginning of a new era for the remaining inhabitants of planet Earth who survived two global pandemics. The total population has been selectively reduced to 3.6 billion, and no one was left untouched by these cataclysms. While the trauma of the two Great Tragedies led to a transformation of human consciousness, the Consortium still retains control of human thinking through the extensive use of IT systems, Wi-Fi devices and communications. The Chairman of the Consortium, a rogue Pleiadian, has designed the ideal organization for the future of Earth into three categories - the Androids, Techies, and Others - using advanced artificial intelligence. Dr. Bill Bradley, who had led the quest for Earth's transformation, and the President are assisted by a highly advanced team from Pleiades to prevent the Chairman's plan from succeeding.

This timely, thought-provoking novel poses this provocative question: Will future descendants of Earth choose to retain their empathy, compassion, humility, and love, or will they choose scientifically engineered AI-programmed versions of these authentic human traits?

Critique: The Aftermath: Sequel to the Pleiadian Trilogy is a captivating, sci-fi novel set in the aftermath of global pandemics that have drastically culled the Earth's population. Human consciousness has been transformed through information technology, and artificial intelligence has advanced to become virtually indistinguishable from human thought. Will empathy, compassion, and love be lost amid the relentless march of refined programming? A captivating novel with deep philosophical roots at heart, The Aftermath is highly recommended especially for connoisseurs of quality science fiction. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Aftermath is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

Trine Fallacy: The Kinderra Saga: Book 2
C.K. Donnelly
Kibbe Creative Media
9781735051857, $16.95 pbk / $9.49 Kindle

Synopsis: As the Dark Trine's noose tightens around Kinderra, young Trine Mirana Pinal and her mentor, the Trine hero Tetric Garis, embark on a quest to learn how the enigmatic watchtower of Jasal's Keep once saved the land. Teague Beltran, Mirana's beloved and an Unaspected herbsman's apprentice, wants nothing more than to kill the Dark Trine himself. As one born without magical powers, however, he is forbidden to take up arms in battle. His confrontation with the Dark Trine's forces may force him to sacrifice his healing oath.

Mirana fears using her Aspects with the Light from Within will not be enough to save her people. The strength of her Aspects through the Power from Without, however, will lead her down a path she must not follow. Both must answer their true calling but each choice may leave them - and Kinderra - without hope.

Critique: The second fantasy novel in The Kinderra Saga by C.K. Donnelly, Trine Fallacy continues the saga of a magical world menaced by the Dark Trine. A young woman blessed with the mysterious power of Aspects with the Light from Within sets out on a quest to save her beloved land and people, along with her lauded mentor. At the same time, the young man in love with her may be forced to choose between his desire to destroy the Dark Trine and his oath as a healer. An emotional saga of both internal and external tests of fortitude, Trine Fallacy is a treasure for connoisseurs of high fantasy. Also highly recommended is the first novel The Kinderra Saga, "Trine Rising".

Editorial Note: While other kids read comic books under the covers with a flashlight at bedtime, C.K. Donnelly wrote fan fiction and fantasy stories. She used her love of writing to pursue a career in journalism and was honored with several press awards for business and economic reporting. She has also held careers in healthcare, and currently runs a freelance writing and marketing support firm.

The Religion/Spirituality Shelf

A Logical Approach to Spirituality
Randy Kleinman
Starseed Media Inc.
9781736713419, $33.99, HC, 228pp

Synopsis: "A Logical Approach to Spirituality: Shattering the Religious Paradigm and Finding Your Inner Truth" by Randy Kleinman takes up the question of is there a practical approach to being a "spiritual" person?

Maybe organized religion doesn't really sit well with a growing number of people. Maybe their beliefs have changed as they have moved through the years. Maybe they are still curious about the spiritual side of life and looking for a guide for normal people.

"A Practical Approach to Spirituality" is fundamentally a guide that will empower the readers' personal journey by offering a new take on spiritual concepts so that they can decide what they want to explore next in their own spiritual practice.

In "A Practical Approach to Spirituality" Randy breaks down the complex components of spirituality to help you discover: Why we might not feel comfortable with any one religion or spiritual practice; How a simple principle, "Law of One," can create incredible change in our life; Why spirituality works with science and not against it; How to reframe a mindset around spirituality to achieve an inner peace, even with all the uncertainty of today; What a spiritual practice can do to help heal today's societal divides, locally and globally.

Critique: Thoughtful and thought-provoking, inspired and inspiring, 'real world practical' and thoroughly reader friendly in organization and presentation, "A Logical Approach to Spirituality: Shattering the Religious Paradigm and Finding Your Inner Truth" is an inherently interesting and potentially life changing read from cover to cover. While especially recommended for community, seminary, college, and university library Contemporary Religion & Spirituality collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Logical Approach to Spirituality: Shattering the Religious Paradigm and Finding Your Inner Truth" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781736713402, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

The Philosophy Shelf

Kabbalistic Panpsychism
Hyman M. Schipper
Iff Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing
9781789045178, $20.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: From a scientific and philosophical point of view, there is arguably no phenomenon as intractable as the origin and nature of consciousness. This volume provides a comprehensive account of the Kabbalistic understanding of consciousness adduced from ancient Jewish mystical texts and the writings of key sixteenth-twentieth century Kabbalistic and Chassidic luminaries.

Critique: Kabbalistic Panpsychism: The Enigma of Consciousness in Jewish Mystical Thought is a philosophical monograph on the origin and nature of consciousness, from a Kabbalistic perspective (Kabbalah is an esoteric school of thought in Jewish mysticism, and Panpsychism proposes that mind-like aspects are an ubiquitous feature of reality - that some form of mentality exists within all natural bodies). Chapters contemplate the intersection of quantum mechanics, consciousness, and the Kabbalah; principles of the Kabbalah; the hierarchy of consciousness in panpsychism; female intuition; clinical models of Kabbalistic panpsychism; and much more. An extensive bibliography and an index round out this welcome addition to personal and public library Philosophy collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Kabbalistic Panpsychism is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Editorial Note: Dr. Schipper is a clinical neurologist and neuroscientist at the Jewish General Hospital (McGill University) in Montreal. His research activities are in the fields of Oxidative Stress, Brain Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases. He has a long-term interest in the interface between contemporary science and the Jewish mystical tradition (Kabbalah).

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

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