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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 20, Number 9 September 2021 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Education Shelf Art Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Biography Shelf General Fiction Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Real Estate Shelf Parenting Shelf
Health/Medicine Shelf Self-Help Shelf Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

The Unraveling
Meredith Keller
Gatekeeper Press
9781662905452 $12.95 pbk / $10.95 Kindle

Synopsis: A hand scripted letter arrives in a rural mailbox on a vineyard in Northern California saying, "I think you may be my grandmother." This shocking statement instantly dredges up shattering memories, flashbacks at blinding speed of sexual assault, isolation, pain, severance, and shame. There was the promise of closure to a nightmare that also held the pain of reliving each and every episode of a tragic drama with secrets well hidden for 52 years. Will she respond to the letter?

Critique: The Unraveling: The Price of Silence is author Meredith Keller's true-life testimony of personally experienced pain and suffering. She was raped in college, by a classmate she barely knew and did not like, and became pregnant. The year was 1962; women in her position were commonly shamed, sometimes sought illegal and dangerous abortions. Meredith was even put in a difficult situation when she was encouraged to marry her rapist! She gave up her child for adoption, but the pain of her trauma lingered for years after she tried to put it behind her. An unexpected letter 52 years later, with the statement "I think you may be my grandmother" brought back the entire ordeal. The Unraveling is a vivid, unforgettable story of coping with trauma and loss, a microcosm of injustices that are perpetrated against women far too often, and a transformative catharsis. Highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Unraveling is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.95).

The Education Shelf

The Pros and Cons of Online Learning in Higher Education
Dr. John G. Turner
Privately Published
9798715783417 $10.00 pbk / $8.00 Kindle

Synopsis: The book walks readers through the benefits of online education while comparing it to the in-class experience. The book talks about the impacts of online learning on students before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. It enlightens readers about the effects of online education in securing jobs for fresh talents. The book weighs the pros and cons of online education. It educates students to make a wise and better decision for their future.

Critique: The Pros and Cons of Online Learning in Higher Education is a straightforward rundown of a dilemma faced by modern-day college students in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic: is paying tuition for online higher learning worth the investment? Chapters present educational options, degree completion rates, the online experience, ramifications of the loss of a campus experience, how college credits are transferred to other institutions, and much more. The Pros and Cons of Online Learning in Higher Education is a thoroughly invaluable browse while planning one's higher education, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Pros and Cons of Online Learning in Higher Education is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.00).

The Art Shelf

The Bumbling Traveller: Sketching the World
Tom Schmidt
Kakibubu Media Limited
9789881806642, $39.95, PB, 156pp

Synopsis: With over 250 hand-drawn illustrations in a variety of media, "The Bumbling Traveller: Sketching the World" is comprised of more than three decades of Tom Schmidt's highly detailed architectural sketches and analyses of various destinations around the world. From subjects of architecture and the built environment to local people and handicrafts, readers will experience the age-old tradition of putting pen to paper to remember the world around them, capture moments in time, tell stories and daydream.

"The Bumbling Traveller: Sketching the World" is the fourth installment in the Bumbling Traveller Adventure Series, a series that seeks to promote environmental and cultural awareness through entertaining mysteries and adventures. Schmidt hopes that this volume will inspire younger generations of travelers, artists, and architecture students to sketch the world around them, and better appreciate the place they are visiting.

Critique: Inherently fascinating, impressively informative, uniquely inspired and inspiring, "The Bumbling Traveller: Sketching the World" is a unique, extraordinary, and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library contemporary art instructional reference collections.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

The Way of the Rabbit
Mark Hawthorne
Changemakers Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing Ltd.
National Book Network (distribution)
9781789047936 $17.95 pbk / $11.49 Kindle

Synopsis: Independent and resourceful, rabbits represent balance, rebirth, speed, fertility, resurrection, abundance, creativity, magic, and harmony. Yet they are much more than symbols, they are unique individuals with complex inner lives. In The Way of the Rabbit, Mark Hawthorne immerses himself in their world, exploring their habitats and evolution, their role in legend and literature, their place in popular culture, their fascinating biology, and, of course, their significance as household companions. It's an entertaining journey through myth and history that celebrates the rabbit's spirit, courage, friendships, and playfulness.

Critique: The Way of the Rabbit is an extraordinary, educational book about this ubiquitous mammal that is a popular pet, a recurring figure in mythology and folklore, and an important component of ecosystems. Written to be thoroughly accessible to lay readers and scholars alike, The Way of the Rabbit examines rabbits in literature, art, and popular culture as well as rabbit biology and the history of rabbits as pets. (The Way of the Rabbit is not intended to be a pet owner's care manual, though it does warn prospective rabbit adopters that domestic rabbits deserve better than to be cooped up in small hutches, and can live up to ten years.) The Way of the Rabbit is a fascinating browse for anyone intrigued by this resilient animal, and highly recommended for both personal and public library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Way of the Rabbit is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.49).

The Biography Shelf

Call Me Freedom
Tasha Keeble
Bronzeville Books
9781952427275, $18.99, PB, 164pp

Synopsis: Tasha Keeble's memoir, "Call Me Freedom: A Black American Woman Breaks from Empire", tracks parallel journeys: one explores her life and family relationships, and the second gauges and evaluates her interior life relative to the outside world (i.e., Empire) to free herself from a stultifying duty handed her as a middle-class Black woman-to piously attend to everyone's needs before her own.

The triggering event-learning of her father's death months later from her ultra-religious aunt (who rejects Tasha's claim to her father) is a stab wound resulting in Tasha's fourteen years' distance to confront. Tasha's epistle to the deceased father she barely knew takes the reader on her voyage towards "true emancipation".

Cycling through time and record, the narrator does not blink-vulnerably linking her life to myths that sustain the status quo and perpetuate Black disinheritance.

"Call Me Freedom" invites the reader to excavate ground and history from the noise of Oakland's Fruitvale District to the complicated 1980s neighborhood surrounding Spelman College. Vectoring from the family homestead in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Tasha venerates ancestors, including her two brothers lost violently within the last quarter century.

In Call Me Freedom Tasha discovers hard truths, sheds useless beliefs, and claims her right to what she and her ancestors earned as members of "an ordered state".

Critique: One of those intensely personal memoirs with a universal resonance, "Call Me Freedom: A Black American Woman Breaks from Empire" by Tasha Keeble is an inherently compelling and impressively thoughtful and thought-provoking reads from first page to last. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, ""Call Me Freedom: A Black American Woman Breaks from Empire" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library, college, and university library Contemporary American Biography & Black Studies collections.

The General Fiction Shelf

Wilderness Spa
Jim Halverson
Gail Force Publishing
9781732619425, $12.99 pbk / $0.99 Kindle

Synopsis: When disaster strikes in the wilderness, survival requires understanding.

Tom, the backwoods expert who lost everything.
Eric and Connor, wealthy brothers on a hunting trip.
A group of tourists, stranded by the same earthquake.

Wilderness Spa brings these travelers together to survive catastrophe in the Alaskan wilderness. They amaze themselves in their ability to coalesce and work cohesively in the face of hunger, injury, insecurity, and possible death. With that on their minds, they explore statistics, logic, social justice, and challenges to philosophies and social norms.

After rocky starts when new members enter the group, they learn to find the best in their fellow travelers, how to help, follow, and lead when necessary. Nothing is ever easy. Without attacking each other, they dig deep to reconcile their differences.

Join the group as they make the best of what they have. Struggle along with them and reconcile your own philosophical belief systems with logic and science.

Critique: Wilderness Spa: Where Physical Survival Meets Psychological Survival is a novel about an unexpected disaster in the Alaskan wilderness, which forces a group of disparate people from dramatically different backgrounds to work together, in spite of their differences. The risks of starvation, injury, and death far from civilization loom, forcing the group to reconcile their disparate concepts of social justice and expected behavioral norms; their very survival hinges on their ability to cooperate! Wilderness Spa is captivating, thought-provoking, insightful, and will keep the reader riveted to the very end. Highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Wilderness Spa is also available in a Kindle edition ($0.99).

Editorial Note: Jim Halverson grew up in the rural, gold-mining town of Mokelumne Hill, CA and received his MBA from Golden Gate University. He spent part of his life on a ranch and is an avid student of psychology. He recognizes the struggles of all men and women seeking equality and respect.

Continue Breathing
Josh Greenfield
Adelaide Books
9781954351295, $19.60, PB, 288pp

Synopsis: Jordan Fineman perseveres. Even when his original diagnosis of bipolar disorder and severe obsessive-compulsive disorder takes on psychotic dimensions after a harrowing psychotic episode, he holds the faith. With an ever-present sense of humor and the guidance of a remarkably skilled psychiatrist, he continues to make his way forward. In the end, it is his growing awareness of how the twelve-step program can be of help, even to a man without a drinking problem, that has the power to bring him all the way home.

Critique: A deftly crafted work of psychological fiction with its theme of a difficult but ultimately successful recovery from mental illness and alcoholism, "Continue Breathing" showcases author Josh Greenfield's genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven storytelling the readers will find inherently compelling from first page to last. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Continue Breathing" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

The Third Mrs. Galway
Deirdre Sinnott
Kaylie Jones Books
9781636140438, $41.95, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: It's 1835 in Utica, New York, and newlywed Helen Galway discovers a secret: two people who have escaped enslavement are hiding in the shack behind her husband's house. Suddenly, she is at the center of the era's greatest moral dilemma: Should she be a "good wife" and report the fugitives? Or will she defy convention and come to their aid?

Within her home, Helen is haunted by the previous Mrs. Galway, recently deceased but still an oppressive presence. Her husband, injured by a drunken tumble off his horse, is assisted by a doctor of questionable ambitions who keeps a close eye on Helen. In charge of all things domestic is Maggie who was formerly enslaved by the Galway family and then freed when emancipation came to New York eight years earlier.

Abolitionists arriving in Utica to found the New York State Anti-Slavery Society are accused by the local papers of being traitors to the Constitution. Everyone faces dangerous choices as they navigate this intensely heated personal and political landscape.

Critique: With it's impressive attention to historical detail, "The Third Mrs. Galway" showcases novelist, researcher, and social activist Deirdre Sinnott exceptional flair for an inherently entertaining and narrative driven storytelling style. While "The Third Mrs. Galway" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that it is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781617758423, $17.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Give Place To Wrath
Steven C. Harms
Suspense Publishing
9781939961723, $12.99 pbk / $4.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Detective Roger Viceroy, divisional head of the Midwest Region Special Crimes Unit, awakes one morning to a bombing in a wealthy suburb of Milwaukee. As he and his team dive into the investigation, a mysterious clue launches a manhunt with scant other evidence to point them in the right direction. Over the coming weeks, the related murders unfold, each with a unique twist and the same clue left behind. Viceroy uncovers one other common thread - a seemingly random association with the small north woods town of Curwood, Wisconsin. As the death toll mounts, Viceroy has to connect the dots and stop the carnage before it reaches the final target, Governor Kay Spurgeon. Within a crowd of tens of thousands on a clear October day, one man hides. Viceroy must find him.

Critique: The debut novel of author Steven Harms and the first book in the "Roger Viceroy" crime thriller series featuring a determined Midwestern detective, Give Place to Wrath begins with a bombing that devastates a wealthy suburb in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and escalates into a murder spree. Detective Viceroy and his team must decipher what few clues they have quickly - including a mysterious connection to a small north woods town - when the governor and a gathered crowd of thousands could be the next target! The suspenseful, edge-of-seat writing is captivating to the very last page, in this choice pick for connoisseurs of the genre. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Give Place to Wrath is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

Editorial Note: Steven C. Harms is an accomplished playwright, having written and produced a wildly successful theatrical production which led him to tackling his debut novel, Give Place to Wrath, the first in the Roger Viceroy detective series. Give Place to Wrath has already garnered two awards including Finalist of the 2018 American Fiction Awards, and been named a 2018 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award finalist. The second book, The Counsel of the Cunning, is due out in fall of 2021.

We Are 100
Nathan Timmel
Independently Published
9798749990232, $17.99, HC, 259pp

Synopsis: After losing his wife, Evan Francart is depressed. He has an axe to grind with the pharmaceutical company that jacked up the price of her medications, but feels powerless against a billion-dollar corporation. Then he meets Cassandra. She shows Evan a way to both end his life and become a hero. With her guidance, Evan interrupts a company board meeting and blows the building sky-high.

As FBI agents Susan Chamberlain and Michael Godwin discover, Evan is the first of many. Ninety-nine more like him wait anonymously in the wings, their targets just as personal as Evan's: the prosecutor who lets rapists walk free, the inept surgeon who maims patients yet keeps operating, the phony evangelist preying on those seeking solace -- and that's just the beginning.

Will the FBI unearth Cassandra's identity before all 100 have carried out their plans?

Critique: A deftly written and simply riveting thriller of a read from first page to last, "We Are 100" by novelist Nathan Timmel showcases this author's genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven, plot twist and turning story telling that keeps the readers rapt attention throughout. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense/Thriller collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "We Are 100" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9798561728617, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

The Real Estate Shelf

Rental Property Investing QuickStart Guide
Symon He, MBA
ClydeBank Media LLC
9781636100081, $24.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Do you want to learn how to leverage rental property investment to produce lasting passive income, achieve financial freedom, create freedom of time, and build true wealth?

Have you purchased rental property investment 'training' with so-called 'gurus' and come away with a lighter bank account and no clear path to rental property investing success?

If so, look no further than Rental Property Investing QuickStart Guide, the most comprehensive, practical, beginner-friendly rental property investing book ever written.

Owning rental property is the best way to generate a passive income stream, period.

While other investment vehicles may come and go, rental property investing has stood the test of time. Direct real estate investments - and the income generated by rental properties - play a major part in minting millionaires on a regular basis.

Not only do rental property owners enjoy positive cash flow in the form of rents paid, but each of the properties they own appreciates in value. With tax-advantaged profits and a high degree of control over your investments, rental property investing is an attractive and streamlined approach to wealth creation.

In Rental Property Investing QuickStart Guide, bestselling author, course instructor, real estate investor, and veteran consultant Symon He breaks down everything that aspiring real estate investors need to know to build a thriving rental property portfolio.

Critique: Rental Property Investing QuickStart Guide lives up to its title as an introductory guide to owning and renting property as a means for generating wealth. Thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds, Rental Property Investing QuickStart Guide discusses how to finance one's real estate investment, where to find property deals, the basics of being a landlord, and much more. Rental Property Investing QuickStart Guide is an excellent, reader-friendly resource enthusiastically recommended to anyone interested in becoming a landlord, and certainly a far better value than alarmingly expensive instructional courses on the subject! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Renal Property Investing QuickStart Guide is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Editorial Note: Symon He, MBA, is a bestselling author, real estate investing instructor, licensed real estate broker, investor, and consultant. His training courses have reached more than 300,000 students in nearly 180 countries and his first book, Real Estate Investing QuickStart Guide, is a wildly popular bestseller. Connect with Symon at, a boutique consultancy that specializes in the home-sharing economy, or at his blog,

The Parenting Shelf

How Many Kids Do You Have?
Jamie Murray
YGTMedia Co. Publishing
9781989716168 $17.95 pbk / $10.49 Nook

Synopsis: Nothing is easy in a blended family, and now more than ever, the world needs our blended families to succeed.

The modern blended family is rapidly evolving. While more and more families are being created from the ashes of first marriages, they are often regulated to the shadows, regarded as second rate or "less than." But blended families are a critical component to the overall health and well-being of future generations.

Blended families by virtue carry more conflict, more resentments, more jealousy, and more anxiety. If we are to create more understanding for how hard it is to blend two families into one, we must first be willing to speak our truths out loud without shame or fear of judgment.

Jamie Murray provides a candid account of what it means to navigate through what is rapidly becoming the new norm-families built after loss and divorce. Filled with real-life stories, heartfelt emotion, and frank honesty, How Many Kids Do You Have? brings to the forefront the unique circumstances blended families face and fights for their rightful place in our shifting understanding of what makes up a family.

Critique: How Many Kids Do You Have? is a plain-spoken testimony about the challenges of being a parent in a blended family - that is, a family where one or both parents has children from a previous relationship. This can lead to all sorts of complicated and difficult situations between stepparents and stepchildren, between stepsiblings, or during children's visits when one parent has joint custody with a former spouse. Author Jamie Murry draws upon her personal life experience as the mother of blended family, with a wealth of anecdotes and hard-learned lessons for maintaining sanity - as well as lessons on what not to do. "You likely do not walk away from a venting session with a heart that is more open or looking to forgive and compromise. We walk away from a venting session armed and dangerous, looking to prove some shit. I did it for years, and I still find myself getting caught up in the trap of venting." How Many Kids Do You Have? is a must read for anyone creating or parenting a blended family, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that How Many Kids Do You Have? is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.49).

The Health/Medicine Shelf

Let's Talk Shit
Sabine Hazan, MD, Sheli Ellsworth, and Thomas Borody, MD
Progenabiome Press
9780578684703 $14.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Let's Talk Shit is a humorous, easy to digest explanation of gastrointestinal disorders, their current treatments, as well as next generation hope for heart disease, obesity, autism, Alzheimer's, and more. From constipation to cancer, research indicates that our unique microbiomes may be the basis for future advances in health and wellness.

Let's Talk Shit examines the human microbiome - the dynamic world of bacteria, fungus, and viruses that comprises more than 50% of our mortal selves.

Dr. Sabine Hazan and Dr. Thomas Borody, leaders in microbiome research, explore the reason therapies may not be working for many and why fecal transplants may be part of the solution. They also share nutritional tips to avoid illness, improve digestion, and support our own microbiomes.

Critique: Even though Let's Talk Shit invokes a fair share of humor from the title onward, it's essentially a serious, informative discussion of gastrointestinal disorders and current medical treatments. Microbiome experts Dr. Sabine Hazan and Dr. Thomas Borody discuss troublesome medical problems in plain terms, thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds, and explain why fecal transplants to adjust the balance of bacteria in the recipient's gut can be a helpful procedure. Let's Talk Shit directly addresses a vital health topic that many people are unfortunately too embarrassed to speak openly about, and is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Let's Talk Shit is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Self-Help Shelf

You're Not Crazy: Living with Anxiety, Obsessions and Fetishes
Laurie Singer
Laurie Singer Behavioral Services
9781735944814, $24.95 hc
9781735944821, $12.95 pbk / $2.99 Kindle

You're Not Crazy: Living with Anxiety, Obsessions and Fetishes is designed to help those who suffer deeply from anxiety and its manifestations, especially in these times of escalating mental health concerns exacerbated by the devastating pandemic.

You're Not Crazy is especially for people troubled by any of the following:

Anxiety (a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome)

Agoraphobia (an extreme or irrational fear of entering open or crowded places, of leaving one's own home or of being in places from which escape is difficult)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (a disorder in which a person feels compelled to perform certain actions repeatedly to alleviate persistent fears or intrusive thoughts, typically resulting in severe disruption of daily life)

Excoriation (a compulsion to damage or remove part of the surface of the skin)

Fetishism (a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree with a particular object, item of clothing or part of the body)

Conversion Disorder (exhibiting psychosomatic symptoms including blindness, the inability to speak, numbness and paralysis).

This illuminating workbook is filled with stories of humanity at its neurotic quirkiest who find life-altering transformation and offers readers a methodical solution that can liberate them from similar anxiety-based maladies.

Those who either suffer from such afflictions or who are family members of someone in desperate need of help will find hope in these pages as they read the stories of patients who discover empowerment, newfound confidence and, most importantly, the burst of freedom that comes with a rapid correction of maladaptive behaviors.

Critique: A disclaimer in You're Not Crazy warns the reader that its information is intended for educational purposes only, and emphasizes "Please consult your healthcare practitioner for questions related to your personal health concerns." Essentially, no book can replace the care of a trained and licensed mental health care professional. That being said, You're Not Crazy: Living with Anxiety, Obsessions and Fetishes is an invaluable resource for learning more about certain psychological problems, with the positive message that issues such as anxiety, agoraphobia, or fetishism do not have to ruin one's life. Chapters describe techniques for personal empowerment, including behavior-modification therapy, in plain terms thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds. You're Not Crazy is especially recommended as preparation reading before or during professional therapy, in order to better understand some of the techniques used by professionals in the field. It should be noted for personal reading lists that You're Not Crazy is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

Editorial Note: Laurie Singer is a licensed marriage and family therapist, board-certified in applied behavior analysis. Motivated by the tragic death of her son in the late 80s, she devoted her life to the field of mental health, starting her own company, Laurie Singer Behavioral Services, with a clear vision in mind: to create a team approach for helping individuals resolve behavioral and other mental health issues by applying a combination of behavioral and cognitive behavioral therapy. In 2010, Laurie was recognized by the Autism Society of Ventura County with the Service Provider of the Year Award. Laurie continues to serve families and individuals in her thriving practice today. In memory of her son, Jacob, she founded the Child Life Program at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Secrets of Angels on Earth
Allan J. Sweeney
O Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing Ltd.
National Book Network (distribution)
9781789041354 $24.95 pbk / $10.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Secrets of Angels on Earth is the first book to describe an earth angel's journey from past lives, reincarnation, and pregnancy, through child and adulthood, to life after death. It answers questions on what is love, what is a soul mate, deja vu, how to meditate, how to succeed with true love, and how to be happy. A new definition of love can inspire belief and faith for seekers, mystic teachers, and physicians alike. Highlights include how love improves anger management and relieves depression, anxiety, sadness, fear, and emotions. Learn how love creates vitality and health in your mind, body and spirit.

Critique: Secrets of Angels on Earth: Life-Changing Clues to Liberate and Inspire is a metaphysical self-help book written both for those who are Angels-on-Earth and those who are not. Chapters discuss the stages of life, the importance of accepting and loving imperfections, impediments to free will including being too anxious, passive or rebellious, and more. Understanding the significance of angels is presented as an important key to pursuing happiness and positive relationships, in this compassionate, positive-minded guide. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Secrets of Angels on Earth is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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