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Wisconsin Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 8 August 2021 Home | WBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Social Issues Shelf Cookbook Shelf
American History Shelf Business Shelf General Fiction Shelf
Literary Fiction Shelf Romantic Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Christian Studies Shelf Judaic Studies Shelf
Needlecraft Shelf Crafts Shelf Automotive Shelf
Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf
Travel Shelf Beer/Wine/Spirits Shelf Metaphysical Studies Shelf
Self-Help Shelf Interior Design Shelf Sports Shelf
Political Science Shelf Criminology Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

The Longest Story
Richard Girling
Oneworld Publications
9780861540563, $30.00 hardcover
B08QJQFYB4, $12.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Without animals there would be no us. We are all fellow travellers on the same evolutionary journey. By charting the love - hate story of people and animals, from their first acquaintance in deep prehistory to the present and beyond, Richard Girling reveals how and where our attitudes towards animals began - and how they have persisted, been warped and become magnified ever since.

In dazzling prose, The Longest Story tells of the cumulative influence of theologians, writers, artists, warriors, philosophers, farmers, activists and scientists across the centuries, now locking us into debates on farming, extinction, animal rights, pets, experiments and religion.

Critique: The Longest Story: How Humans Have Loved, Hated and Misunderstood Other Species blends natural history, philosophy, and narrative artistry to explore the connections between humans and animals, from prehistory to the present and the future. Written in descriptive, almost lyrical prose, The Longest Story does not shy away from history's horrors - from condemning women to torture and death as "witches" in part because of their association with cats, to experimentations on animals and outright extinctions of whole species. Here also are writings on agriculture, and how humanity made raising animals for consumption efficient with industrial precision. Here also are stories of love for animals, from welcoming pets into homes to appreciation for beasts of burden. The Longest Story is brimming cover to cover with fascinating facts, and sure to prove an edifying browse for lay readers and scholars alike. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Longest Story is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

Editorial Note: Richard Girling is an award-winning writer and the author of eight critically acclaimed books, including The Man Who Ate the Zoo. He has been centrally involved in environmental journalism since the mid 1970s, pioneering writing about climate change and species loss in national newspapers.

The Social Issues Shelf

Dear White Peacemakers: Dismantling Racism with Grit and Grace
Osheta Moore
Herald Press
9781513807669, $18.99 paperback
9781513807676, $29.99 hardback
B08F9JMF9V, $8.69 Kindle

Synopsis: Dear White Peacemakers is a breakup letter to division, a love letter to God's beloved community, and an eviction notice to the violent powers that have sustained racism for centuries.

Race is one of the hardest topics to discuss in America. Many white Christians avoid talking about it altogether. But a commitment to peacemaking requires white people to step out of their comfort and privilege and into the work of anti-racism. Dear White Peacemakers is an invitation to white Christians to come to the table and join this hard work and holy calling. Rooted in the life, ministry, and teachings of Jesus, this book is a challenging call to transform white shame, fragility, saviorism, and privilege, in order to work together to build the Beloved Community as anti-racism peacemakers.

Written in the wake of George Floyd's death, Dear White Peacemakers draws on the Sermon on the Mount, Spirituals, and personal stories from author Osheta Moore's work as a pastor in St. Paul, Minnesota. Enter into this story of shalom and join in the urgent work of anti-racism peacemaking.

Critique: Pastor Osheta Moore presents Dear White Peacemakers, a call to all Americans and especially white Christians to take action against racism. Chapters discuss the importance of rejecting white apathy to injustice, disarming white fragility (the instinctively defensive reactions that white people commonly have when informed that their race gives them social advantages and privileges denied to people of color), and "Forgiving While Black". Dear White Peacemakers is ultimately a manifesto of love for all of God's children, that calls readers to come together and build a society with justice for all. Highly recommended.

Editorial Note: Osheta Moore is a writer, pastor, speaker, and podcaster in Saint Paul, Minnesota, as well as a mother of three and economic justice advocate for women in developing countries. She is the outreach and teaching pastor at Woodland Hills Church and the pastor of community life at Roots Covenant Church alongside her husband. Moore has consistently been a voice for peacemaking, justice, anti-racism, and community development in the urban core. Her work has been featured on numerous websites and blogs, including Sojourners, SheLoves Magazine, A Deeper Story, The Art of Simple, ReKnew, and Rachel Held Evans' blog. She is the author of Shalom Sistas: Living Wholeheartedly in a Broken-Hearted World, published by Herald Press in 2017. Connect with her at and follow her on Instagram @oshetamoore for encouragements to practice everyday peacemaking and invitations for White Peacemakers on their anti-racism journey.

The Cookbook Shelf

Quick & Easy Dinner Solutions
Jenny Warsen, author
Ulrika Pousette, photographer
Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781510746275, $19.99, HC, 160pp

Synopsis: What's for dinner? is a daily question posed by family members to who ever is responsible feeding them dinner seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.

Compiled by Jenny Warsen (one of Scandinavia's most popular food and baking blogs -- and the author of Baking with Candy) and beautifully illustrated throughout with the full color photography of Ulrika Pousette, "Quick & Easy Dinner Solutions: Simple Meal Plans for Your Family throughout the Week" was especially and particular intended for the busy homemaker or time stressed home cook who has run out of ideas for yummy, creative menus and in dire need of easy-to-make recipes for those weekly dinners that the whole family will love, while saving both time and money.

Critique: Showcasing step-by-step recipes for seventy simple and tasty dishes, and making life even easier by following a four-week menu plan, "Quick & Easy Dinner Solutions: Simple Meal Plans for Your Family throughout the Week" with its meat, seafood, vegetarian, and dessert dishes for weeknight dinner tables makes this an enduringly welcome addition to personal, family, and community library cookbook collections. It should be noted that "Quick & Easy Dinner Solutions: Simple Meal Plans for Your Family throughout the Week" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Cooking for Two
Marie W. Lawrence
Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781510751187, $19.99, PB, 304pp

Synopsis: Just because many of us live the life of singles or doubles doesn't mean we should deny ourselves one of life's finer pleasures in the form of delicious, home-cooked meals! "Cooking for Two: Comfort Food Recipes for Couples, Roommates, or Friends" by culinary expert Marie Lawrence (who is the author of The Farmer's Cookbook, Farmer's Kitchen Handbook, and The Organic Lunchbox) showcases a number of palate pleasing, appetite satisfying, quick and easy recipes for soups, salads, entrees, baked goods, and desserts ranging from Caramel Banana French Toast, Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken, Beef Stew for Two, and Broccoli Mac & Cheese, to Overnight Mini Baguettes, Boston Cream Pie, Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce; Chilled Cantaloupe Soup; Roast Cornish Hen with cranberry-Orange Stuffing and Glaze, and so many more!

College students will especially appreciate that virtually every recipe in this illustrated culinary collection can be prepared using either a microwave or toaster oven or a hot plate. Couples learning to cook together will particularly appreciate the shopping tips, suggestions for appropriate cooking utensils, and easy-to-follow instructions. Of special note is that each invidual recipe includes an approximate calorie count.

Critique: A mouth-watering pleasure to browse through and ideal for planning memorable menus with, "Cooking for Two: Comfort Food Recipes for Couples, Roommates, or Friends" is especially recommended for personal, family and community library cookbook collections. It should be noted that "Cooking for Two: Comfort Food Recipes for Couples, Roommates, or Friends" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Nomaste: The Mindful Plant-Based Kitchen
Miranda Moore
c/o Octopus Publishing
9781787838192 $17.99 hc / $7.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Combining the popularity of mindfulness and spirituality, this beautifully illustrated lifestyle book celebrates mindful cooking and mindful eating. With tips on bringing the principles of mindfulness and yoga into your kitchen and 60 plant-based recipes.

Looking after our well-being and eating tasty, nourishing food go hand in hand. This beautifully illustrated book celebrates mindful cooking and eating, teaching you how to bring the principles of yoga and mindfulness into your kitchen. From ahimsa (non-violence) and Ayurveda (food as medicine) to the art of making your own bread, you'll learn how to give your body what it really needs in order to flourish, and how to nurture a healthy, positive attitude toward food. The 60 wholesome, plant-based recipes inside will add vitality to your daily life and leave you filled with good food and gratitude

Critique: Nomaste: The Mindful Plant-Based Kitchen is a vegetarian cookbook inspired by Ayurvedic traditions. 80 plant-based recipes, simple home remedies, and suggested exercises to promote mindfulness fill this user-friendly kitchen guide, enhanced with full-color photographs, nutrition advice, and simple tips for appreciating unique culinary delights. From Vietnamese Almond Curry to No-Knead Ciabatta, Rice Paper Rolls with Alfalfa Sprouts and more, Nomaste is a treasure for vegetarians and connoisseurs of international cuisine, and also makes an excellent giftbook! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Nomaste is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Chetna's 30 Minute Indian: Quick and Easy Everyday Meals
Chetna Makan
Mitchell Beazley
9781784727505, $29.99 hardcover
B08MFR7TZG, $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Chetna Makan's bestselling cookbooks combine her creative flavour twists with a love of simple Indian home cooking. Taking inspiration from the eclectic tastes of Indian cuisine, these tempting recipes can all be on the table and ready to eat in less than 30 minutes.

Featuring fabulous salads, traditional fast snacks, imaginative toppings for toasts, delicious dals, comforting veggie, fish and meat curries, all-in-one rice dishes, surprising raitas and dips as well as indulgent desserts, there are speedy options for every occasion.

With brilliantly useful meal plans included, dishes can be enjoyed on their own or paired together and cooked quickly for an easy feast to enjoy with friends. No complicated methods, just delicious, vibrant and varied food that the whole family can enjoy every single night of the week and in little to no time at all.

Critique: Chetna's 30 Minute Indian: Quick and Easy Everyday Meals lives up to its title as a showcase of healthy, delicious meal recipes drawn from East Indian cuisine. Each dish also requires no more than thirty minutes of preparation time, making 30 Minute Indian ideal for busy cooks! Striking full-color photography, user-friendly step-by-step instructions, a brief paragraph reflecting upon the meal in the context of Indian culture, and an index enhance this wonderful addition to multicultural cookbook collections. Highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that 30 Minute Indian is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Editorial Note: Chetna Makan was born in Jabalpur, an ancient city in central India. She has a degree in fashion and worked in Mumbai as a fashion designer before moving to the UK in 2003. Chetna reached the semi-final of The Great British Bake Off in 2014, and her first book, The Cardamom Trail, is a celebration of baking with Indian flavors. She has a very popular YouTube channel 'Food with Chetna' where she shares her creative flair for food. Her other books, also published by Mitchell Beazley, include Chai, Chaat & Chutney, Chetna's Healthy Indian, and Chetna's Healthy Indian Vegetarian.

Makan: Recipes from the Heart of Singapore
Elizabeth Haigh
Bloomsbury USA
9781472976505, $35.00 Hardcover
B08YD72X62, $14.46 Kindle

Synopsis: It's impossible to pinpoint a certain specific cuisine to one region, so when people ask me what type of food is Singaporean, I simply reply with "the delicious type". Southeast Asian cuisine is a proud mix of migrants and influences from all across Asia, which fuses together to create something even greater than the original.'

Meaning 'to eat' or 'dinner time' in Malay, in Makan, rising star Elizabeth Haigh draws together recipes that have been handed down through many generations of her family, from Nonya to Nonya, creating a time-capsule of a cuisine. Growing up, it was through food that Elizabeth's mum demonstrated her affection, and the passion and love poured into each recipe is all collated here; a love letter to family cooking and traditions. Recipes include:

Nonya-spiced braised duck stew
pickled watermelon and radish salad
beef rendang
Singapore chilli crab
fried tofu with spicy peanut sauce
spicy noodle soup
nasi goreng (spicy fried rice)
Miso apple pie
...and many more!

Adapting these traditional recipes to ensure ingredients are easily sourced in the West, Elizabeth brings a taste of Singapore to your own kitchen.

Critique: Makan: Recipes from the Heart of Singapore is a rich, extraordinary compendium of traditional family recipes from Singapore, offering ingredient adaptations that are easily found in the West. Each dish is illustrated with a full-color photograph, and features both highly detailed preparation instructions and a paragraph describing how the food is cherished in Singaporean culture. Makan is a treasure for international cookbook collections, highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Makan is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.46).

Editorial Note: Elizabeth Haigh was the founding head chef at Pidgin in East London, where she guided the popular neighbourhood restaurant to a Michelin star barely a year after opening. Her dishes have been described as bold and exciting, and she fuses her Singaporean-British heritage and fine dining cooking experience with a passion for wood-fire cooking. Elizabeth originally studied architecture, but after a stint on Masterchef UK in 2011 she realised that cooking was her true calling. Since the show, Elizabeth has studied and worked with some of London's top chefs such as Neil Rankin at Smokehouse and Bubbledog's, The Kitchen Table. In 2017 Elizabeth was awarded 'Chef to Watch' by the National Restaurant Awards and listed in Observer Food Monthly's '50 of Observer Food Monthly's favourite things'.

The American History Shelf

400 Years of New York History
Sasha Vosk
Pictorial History Press
9781735164304, $22.95, PB, 88pp

Synopsis: "400 Years of New York History: A Pictorial Guide: Book 1, New York as New Amsterdam in the 1600s" is the first book in the new Vosk Time Travel Guide series which is designed by Sasha Vosk as a one-of-a-kind illustrated guide offering readers an opportunity to view the city's history in a manner that has not been possible until now with the benefit of 21st century art technology.

This beautifully and profusely illustrated history showcases: How Manhattan looked 400 years ago; The way of life of Native Americans and the first Dutch settlers; New Netherland becoming New York when the English take over.

Sasha Vosk is an expert in photo-realistic imagery with over 30 years of experience. He created this book for everyone who wants to know much more about New York's history than meets the eye on the streets of Manhattan.

Critique: Impressively informative, memorably delightful, inherently fascinating to browse through one page at a time, "400 Years of New York History: A Pictorial Guide: Book 1, New York as New Amsterdam in the 1600s" is a unique, extraordinary, and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library 17th Century American History collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

The Business Shelf

Content Inc., second edition
Joe Pulizzi
9781264257546 $27.00 hc / $14.34 Kindle

Synopsis: Do you create digital content? Well, this is the business model you've been looking for! In these pages, Joe Pulizzi provides a lower-risk, more effective way to create a path to success by re-engineering the process that so often leads to failure: You'll learn how to develop valuable content, build an audience around that content and then create a product for that audience. Content Inc. walks you through the entire process, showing how to:

Choose a topic
Unearth an area where little competition exists (break through the clutter)
Choose your best channel to build your platform
Build long-term customer loyalty (an audience)
Start making money from your content
Expand your content into multiple channels/platforms
Sell your content asset or scale it into a successful business

This updated edition includes new and enhanced coverage of platforms like TikTok, SnapChat, and Instagram, a new section about the exit strategy for the model, more practical how-tos, and current examples of companies that have successfully implemented these strategies.

Content Inc. provides an ingenious approach to business based on a profoundly simple concept: Having a singular focus on audience, and building a loyal audience directly, provide the best, most nuanced understanding of what products ultimately make the most sense to sell.

Critique: Now in an updated second edition with more information about platforms such as TikTok, SnapChat, and Instagram, among other newly added tips, tricks and techniques, Content Inc. is a business guide that spins around the traditional business model. Chapters discuss how to attract an audience by creating valuable digital content (videos, live streams, articles on a website, etc.) and then offer that audience a product they will desire, rather than usual path of inventing a product and then searching for the product's audience. Chapters discuss the metrics that drive a content-based business model, making the most of social media, how to apply "survival monetization", evaluating options for a successful exit plan, and much more. In today's digital media-driven world, Content Inc. is an invaluable reference and resource for entrepreneurs everywhere. Highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Content Inc. is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.34).

When Bad Teams Happen to Good People
Valerie Patrick PhD
Career Press
c/o Red Wheel Weiser
9781632651822, $19.95 paperback
B08HQKCKCP, $9.99 Kindle
9781713588801, $19.99 audio CD

Synopsis: Why do some team members not get along? What is the best way to get new teams and ad-hoc teams to maximize their performance in the least amount of time? How can meetings be designed to achieve useful outcomes?

Teams are the source of problem-solving and innovation that today's organizations need to survive and thrive in an increasingly complex and challenging marketplace.

Teamwork is hard because there is no magic formula or step-by-step procedure to ensure results. Think of a programmer asked to develop new features for a cell phone: they write new code, test the code, troubleshoot problems encountered, revise the code, and repeat the testing process until the new features work without problems. Similarly, a team leader asked to deliver specified outcomes develops a plan, runs team meetings, troubleshoots problems encountered, revises the plan, and repeats until the team outcomes are achieved. The difference is that a programmer has tools to help streamline troubleshooting, while team leaders do not until now.

Critique: When Bad Teams Happen to Good People: Your Complete Repair Guide for Successful Teamwork lives up to its title as a no-nonsense guide to troubleshooting subpar teams. Chapters address how to deal with difficulties related to team membership and obstacles to inclusion, operational tactics to counter or manage disruption, the principles of good meeting design, and much more. "I use the rule of thumb to dedicate at least half of the meeting time to interaction, which means content presentations and instructions take up less than half the total time. This step can cause changes in other parts of the design, such as revising the meeting purpose, objectives, and outcomes." When Bad Teams Happen to Good People is a "must-read" for anyone aspiring to a managerial position in business, or a collaboration-based career path. It should be noted for personal reading lists that When Bad Teams Happen to Good People is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Editorial Note: Dr. Valerie Patrick, President of Fulcrum Connection LLC, is a facilitator, leadership trainer, and professional speaker. Dr. Patrick is a PhD chemical engineer with 25 years of corporate experience leading technical and strategic initiatives to identify and deliver new sources of organizational value at Bayer and Monsanto. Dr. Patrick has over 10,000 hours of corporate experience as a team leader and is a Certified Creative Problem Solving Facilitator through the Creative Problem Solving Group.

Talent, Strategy, Risk
Bill McNabb, Ram Charan, and Dennis Carey
Harvard Business Review Press
9781633698321, $35.00 hardcover
B08CGT7HXG, $16.99 Kindle

Synopsis: A big shift in public ownership has created a new set of challenges for boards. Much of the $14 trillion of assets that firms like Vanguard, BlackRock, and State Street manage is now held in index funds, creating a huge class of permanent institutional investors who own almost 60 percent of the Fortune 500. These investors are stating in no uncertain terms that simply managing for short-term shareholder profit is not acceptable.

Bill McNabb, Ram Charan, and Dennis Carey have been on the front lines of these changes with the investment community, corporate boards, and top-level management teams. Since TSR (total shareholder return) cannot keep the short and long term in balance, the authors argue, boards should focus on a different kind of TSR - talent, strategy, and risk - because decisions and actions around these factors, more than any others, determine whether or not a company creates long-term value. This book redefines the board's agenda and explains how to:

Build and incentivize the right leadership team
Help leaders take a longer view and communicate it to investors
Refresh board composition and create diversity to meet the new challenges
Keep major risks, such as cyberattacks and sexual harassment allegations, front and center
Analyze the business through the eyes of a shareholder activist
With the new realities of corporate ownership, boards need to lead for the long term. This authoritative book shows them how.

Critique: The title of Talent, Strategy, Risk: How Investors and Boards Are Redefining TSR is a play on the acronym TSR, which traditionally stands for "Total Shareholder Return". Chapters show how the qualities of talent, strategy, and risk can be applied as major factors to build company value. Wise risk management (such as establishing policies to minimize potential damage from cyberattacks, or prevent sexual harassment), skillful strategy (such as applying a longer viewpoint focused on stability as much as share values), and balanced talent recruitment (including suggestions for keeping a diversity of backgrounds and opinions in board compositions) are all invaluable for sustaining company investments. Talent, Strategy, Risk is highly recommended especially for company board members and executive business leaders. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Talent, Strategy, Risk is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.99).

Editorial Note: Bill McNabb is former Chairman and CEO of Vanguard, the world's second-largest mutual fund manager, with over $5 trillion in assets.

Ram Charan is a world-renowned business adviser, author, teacher, and speaker who has spent the past forty years working with the CEOs, boards, and executives of the world's top companies. He is the author or coauthor of more than thirty books that together have sold over four million copies, including Boards That Lead and Talent Wins (both coauthored with Dennis Carey).

Dennis Carey is Vice Chairman of Korn Ferry. He has recruited and assessed board directors and CEOs for some of the world's best-performing companies. He has coauthored seven books on talent, strategy, CEO succession, and corporate governance, including Boards That Lead and Talent Wins.

The General Fiction Shelf

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot: A Novel
Marianne Cronin
Harper Perennial
9780063017504, $17.00 paperback
B08F7SS35N, $11.99 Kindle

Synopsis: An extraordinary friendship. A lifetime of stories.

Seventeen-year-old Lenni Pettersson lives on the Terminal Ward at the Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital. Though the teenager has been told she's dying, she still has plenty of living to do. Joining the hospital's arts and crafts class, she meets the magnificent Margot, an 83-year-old, purple-pajama-wearing, fruitcake-eating rebel, who transforms Lenni in ways she never imagined.

As their friendship blooms, a world of stories opens for these unlikely companions who, between them, have been alive for one hundred years. Though their days are dwindling, both are determined to leave their mark on the world. With the help of Lenni's doting palliative care nurse and Father Arthur, the hospital's patient chaplain, Lenni and Margot devise a plan to create one hundred paintings showcasing the stories of the century they have lived - stories of love and loss, of courage and kindness, of unexpected tenderness and pure joy.

Though the end is near, life isn't quite done with these unforgettable women just yet.

Delightfully funny and bittersweet, heartbreaking yet ultimately uplifting, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot reminds us of the preciousness of life as it considers the legacy we choose to leave, how we influence the lives of others even after we're gone, and the wonder of a friendship that transcends time.

Critique: The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is a heartwarming novel about an intergenerational friendship between an ill teenager and an elderly woman. Though both of them are close to the end of their lives, they decide to celebrate their years by creating an outstanding showcase of one hundred paintings, each connected to the one hundred years of their combined lifespan. The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is poignant, thoughtful, and a highly recommended addition to both personal and public library General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

Editorial Note: Marianne Cronin was born in 1990 and grew up in Warwickshire, England. She studied English at Lancaster University before earning a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Birmingham. She now spends most of her time writing, with her newly-adopted rescue cat sleeping under her desk. When she's not writing, Marianne can be found performing improv in the West Midlands, where she now lives. Her debut novel, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot, is to be translated into over 20 languages and is being adapted into a feature film by a major Hollywood studio.

A Theater for Dreamers
Polly Samson
Algonquin Books
9781643751498, $26.95, Hardcover
B08GFTQB8W, $19.95 digital

Synopsis: It's 1960, and the world teeters on the edge of cultural, political, sexual, and artistic revolution. On the Greek island of Hydra, a proto-commune of poets, painters, and musicians revel in dreams at the feet of their unofficial leaders, the writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston, troubled queen and king of bohemia. At the center of this circle of misfit artists are the captivating and inscrutable Axel Jensen, his magnetic wife Marianne Ihlen, and a young Canadian ingenue poet named Leonard Cohen.

When eighteen-year-old Erica stumbles into their world, she's fresh off the boat from London with nothing but a bundle of blank notebooks and a burning desire to leave home in the wake of her mother's death. Among these artists, she will find an unraveling utopia where everything is tested - the nature of art, relationships, and her own innocence.

Intoxicating and immersive, A Theater for Dreamers is a spellbinding tour-de-force about the beauty between naivete and cruelty, chaos and utopia, artist and muse - and about the wars waged between men and women on the battlegrounds of genius. Roiling with the heat of a Grecian summer, A Theater for Dreamers is, according to the Guardian, "a blissful piece of escapism" and "a surefire summer hit."

Critique: Set amid a colony of poets, painters, musicians, and writers living on a Greek island in 1960, A Theater for Dreamers is a novel about the churning problems beneath what appears to be a utopia on the surface. When an eighteen- year-old woman from London joins the colony, she must navigate a complex and tangled web of relationships, confrontations, and accusations. A Theater for Dreamers is a thought-provoking page-turner, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that A Theater for Dreamers is also available in a digital edition ($19.95).

Editorial Note: Polly Samson is a writer of fiction and a lyricist. Her words have appeared on four number one albums, including Pink Floyd's The Division Bell and David Gilmour's On an Island. She has also worked as a journalist and in publishing, including two years as a columnist for the Sunday Times. Samson was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018. Her first novel, Out of the Picture, was shortlisted for the Author's Club Award, and many of her stories, including those from her first collection Lying in Bed, have been read on Radio 4. A second collection of short stories, Perfect Lives, was a Book at Bedtime. She has written an introduction to a collection of Daphne du Maurier's earliest stories and has been a judge for the Costa Book Awards. Her 2015 novel The Kindness was named a Book of the Year by both the Times and the Observer.

TWICE: A Novel
Susanna Kleeman
John Hunt Publishing
c/o National Book Network (distribution)
9781789046212, $18.95 Paperback
B095B24NFG, $7.49 Kindle

Synopsis: TWICE is a speculative thriller about false fronts and coercive control on a global and personal scale. It tells the story of Nim, who discovers that her childhood games taught her dangerous secrets she must now keep from her first love - and his doubles. Nim's ex-love returns from Silicon Valley, wanting a book from their childhood. She chucks him out. Moments later, he's back again, one fingertip missing, claiming he's the real Chris and that Nim's first visitor was an imposter. Nim doesn't believe him, so he abducts her, forcing her on a journey where nothing is as it seems.

Critique: TWICE: A Novel keeps the reader guessing with its twists and turns. A woman named Nim finds herself at the center of an intrigue between Chris, a man she used to love, and his doubles. The man who claims to be the real Chris forces her to come with him on a trip where illusion and reality overlap. Nim must figure out who and what she can trust - including among her own memories! An absorbing page-turner that balances psychological suspense, duplicity, and the human need for trust, TWICE is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that TWICE is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.49).

Editorial Note: Susanna Kleeman is a writer from London who works in digital tech. Her first book, MY REJECTIONS (2020) is a short memoir of hubris, humiliation and triumph against the odds.

The Way of the Saints
Elizabeth Engelman
Southeast Missouri State University Press
9781733015332, $18.00, Paperback

Synopsis: The Way of the Saints is a multi-generational, historical collection of short stories, based on the author's family and her personal experiences as the daughter of a Santeria priestess. The linked stories in the collection tell of three generations of Puerto Rican women: Paula, Isabel, and Esther as they navigate Puerto Rico's Independence movement of the 1930's, life in the 1950's tenements of New York, and the opulence of 1980's Westchester.

Critique: The Way of the Saints is a unique novel composed of linked short stories following three generations of Puerto Rican women as they live among Puerto Rico's independence movement of the 1930's, the challenges of 1950's New York, and the lavish surroundings of 1980's Westchester. The profound impacts of religion and growing up as the child of a very dominant mother are reflected from story to story with repercussions that transcend eras, in this unforgettable saga grounded in the author's own life experience as the daughter of a Santeria priestess. Highly recommended!

Editorial Note: Elizabeth Engelman is a recipient of the Marianne Russo Award and a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar Grant to Ireland. She was a 2019 top-ten finalist for the University of New Orleans Publishing Lab Prize, and her essays have appeared in The New York Times and Endeavor Magazine. She holds an MFA from the University of Tampa, an M.A. in Poetry from Lancaster University, and a B.A. from Carson-Newman University. Her poems have been published in Yale's literary & art journal LETTERS, as well as the Riverside Center's Anthology of Poetry. She lives with her family in St. Augustine, Florida, where she works at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.

Hillwilla: A Novel
Melanie Forde
Mountain Lake Press
9780988591974, $25.00 hardcover
9781728617688, $16.95 paperback
B094HSP8TJ, $5.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Beatrice Desmond, 55, lives on a remote farm nestled in a deep hollow in southern West Virginia. A native of Boston and a graduate of an Ivy League college, Beatrice is a fish out of water in Seneca County; although she maintains contact with certain friends and family, too often, Beatrice retreats into her work as a translator and editor, or into the bottle of Jack Daniels she maintains nearby. Fate finally intervenes, requiring Beatrice to befriend and shelter Clara, an abused teenager, and accept the job of ghostwriting the memoir of her dashing but enigmatic neighbor, Tanner Fordyce.

Gradually, Beatrice finds her resolute independence and crusty reserve soften, her carefully constructed barriers fall, and her guarded and self-protective nature moderates, as she explores the renewed pleasures of emotional involvement. At times sad, at times hilarious, and always quirky, Hillwilla celebrates the glories of nature, the resilience of the human spirit, the healing power derived from genuine connections with others, and the potential for reinventing ourselves at any age.

Critique: First in a trilogy, Hillwilla: A Novel is the story of Beatrice, a middle-aged woman whose college education sets her apart from her from her Seneca County neighbors. Beatrice's solitary life as a translator and editor is upended when fate brings her to shelter an abused teenager, and when she accepts a ghostwriting job for her handsome yet very private neighbor. Heartwarming and thoughtful, Hillwilla is an emotional story with a strong positive message. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Hillwilla is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

Editorial Note: For most of her writing career, Melanie Forde ghosted on international security issues. She published her first novel, Hillwilla, in 2014, followed by On the Hillwilla Road in 2015. Her West Virginia trilogy culminates in Reinventing Hillwilla, 2018. Twenty years in the making, her Irish-American family saga, Decanted Truths, was also released in 2018.

On the Hillwilla Road: A Novel
Melanie Forde
Mountain Lake Press
9780990808930, hardcover $24.95
9781728618081, $16.95 pbk / $5.99 Kindle

Synopsis: This follow-up novel to Hillwilla explores how disparate characters can grow to need and depend on one another In Hillwilla, Beatrice Desmond, a former Bostonian Ivy Leaguer, found herself in midlife on a llama farm in remote West Virginia. Clara Buckhalter, a troubled young girl, drew Beatrice out of her lonely existence.

Now, Clara attends a different school at Beatrice's urging, and finds herself involved with two new friends who are confusing and intimidating yet caring. Beatrice's tantalizing friendship and romance with the dashing, wealthy, and extremely handsome Tanner Fordyce discover new and deeper connections though they continue to spar and infuriate each other. And Beatrice's farm is replete with temperamental llamas; Ralph, her loyal English setter; and the occasional wild critter further serves as an oasis of refuge and healing. This sequel explores how such disparate individuals can grow to need and depend on one another, even as Beatrice finds herself confronted with a new, life-altering choice.

Critique: The second novel in a trilogy, On the Hillwilla Road continues the life-affirming story of a middle-aged woman who has taken in a troubled young girl, and who maintains a complex, sometimes raucous relationship with her exceptionally attractive neighbor. The three-dimensional character portraits make On the Hillwilla Road an absorbing and memorable read, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that On the Hillwilla Road is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

Editorial Note: For most of her writing career, Melanie Forde ghosted on international security issues. She published her first novel, Hillwilla, in 2014, followed by On the Hillwilla Road in 2015. Her West Virginia trilogy culminates in Reinventing Hillwilla, 2018. Twenty years in the making, her Irish-American family saga, Decanted Truths, was also released in 2018.

Reinventing Hillwilla: A Novel
Melanie Forde
Mountain Lake Press
9781730785498, $16.95 paperback
9798748237529, $21.95 hardcover
B07K6TQC3R, $5.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Life on a llama farm, set in remote "Seneca County," West Virginia, transitions from contented to chaotic in this final novel in the Hillwilla trilogy -- all under the watchful eye of canine guardian Ralph. Five years after we first met northern urban transplant Beatrice Desmond, she is finally adapting to her mountain hollow among the wary "born-heres" and is more open to the blessings in her life. She has developed a rewarding mother-daughter relationship with troubled local teenager Clara Buckhalter and is inching toward marriage with dashing, but complicated entrepreneur Tanner Fordyce. Meanwhile, Clara sets off on a productive new path, one that would have been unthinkable had Beatrice never come into her life.

All of that progress is suddenly jeopardized by Clara's scheming mother Charyce. Ultimately, the upheaval touched off by Charyce's schemes serves as the catalyst for new beginnings for the Seneca County misfits (even Ralph).

Critique: The third and final novel of a trilogy, Reinventing Hillwilla concludes the story of the middle-aged woman Beatrice, a young girl named Clara with whom Beatrice has forged a parental connection; and the handsome if somewhat difficult entrepreneur with whom Beatrice has cultivated a relationship gradually approaching marriage. Yet when Clara's double-dealing mother appears and starts spinning machinations, Beatrice's new family risks being pulled apart! A dramatic, poignant saga about the enduring power of bonds and the priceless treasure of love, Reinventing Hillwilla is captivating, thoughtful, and highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Reinventing Hillwilla is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

Editorial Note: For most of her writing career, Melanie Forde ghosted on international security issues. She published her first novel, Hillwilla, in 2014, followed by On the Hillwilla Road in 2015. Her West Virginia trilogy culminates in Reinventing Hillwilla, 2018. Twenty years in the making, her Irish-American family saga, Decanted Truths, was also released in 2018.

The Rules of Arrangement: A Novel
Anisha Bhatia
Alcove Press
9781643856926, $16.99 paperback
B08L5TBVVD, $13.99 Kindle
9781666502312, $22.95 audio CD

Synopsis: Zoya Sahni has a great education, a fulfilling job and a loving family (for the most part). But she is not the perfect Indian girl. She's overweight, spunky and dark-skinned in a world that prizes the slim, obedient and fair. At 26 she is hurtling toward her expiration date in Mumbai's arranged marriage super-mart, but when her auntie's matchmaking radar hones in on the Holy Grail of suitors--just as Zoya gets a dream job offer in New York City--the girl who once accepted her path as almost option-less must now make a choice of a lifetime.

Big-hearted with piercing social commentary, The Rules of Arrangement tells a powerful, irresistibly charming and oh-so relatable tale of a progressive life that won't be hemmed in by outdated rules. But not without a few cultural casualties, and of course, an accidental love story along the way.

Critique: The Rules of Arrangement is a novel laced with severe social commentary. The story follows an East Indian young woman named Zoya Sahni, whose plump figure, outspoken tongue, and darker than average skin makes her less- than-desirable in the arranged-marriage market. At age twenty-six, she is about to be declared un-arrangeable... until a seemingly miracle suitor solicits interest. At the same time, Zoya gets a dream job offer in New York City! Now she must choose which path her life will follow - although there just might be some cultural debris (or an unexpected bloom of love?) in the process. Insightful, character-driven, and utterly unrestrained, The Rules of Arrangement is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Rules of Arrangement is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).

Editorial Note: Born and brought up in Mumbai, India, Anisha Bhatia now lives in San Diego, California with her husband and their two children. She loves tea, biryani, books and beaches, not necessarily in that order. The Rules of Arrangement is her first novel.

Business: A Novel
J.P. Meyboom
Dundurn Press
9781459747050, $18.99 pbk / $9.49 Kindle

Synopsis: A dark coming-of-age comedy set in a world of scoundrels and misfits at the end of their tether.

Paul Wint quits his dead-end gig composing greeting cards and falls in with Hornsmith, an ailing con on his last score. Hornsmith is running a scam on Dr. Courtney, a cosmetic surgeon, and Simon Trang, a shadowy narc. He says it's business, but it's really more of a blackmail job.

And it's not working out. While Hornsmith's distracted by his intestinal cancer, Courtney's gangsters plot to kill the deal. Soon, Paul can't see his way for the complications in the swindle. His obsession with Marla, a singer with The Raging Socket, doesn't help.

After a mysterious fire destroys his apartment building, Paul sets out on a road trip that is both terrifying and ridiculous, a trip through America that brings together immigrants, crooks, and seekers in the vast, unforgiving, inspiring spaces of the desert.

Critique: Business: A Novel is a crime thriller with blackmail, drug trafficking, and a desperate cross-country desert trip to escape deadly consequences. Knife-edge suspense laced with shocking violence and ruthless treachery make Business: A Novel an edge-of-seat page-turner to the very end. Highly recommended, especially for connoisseurs of the genre! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Business: A Novel is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.49).

The Queer Principles of Kit Webb: A Novel
Cat Sebastian
9780063026216, $15.99 paperback
B08HZ4R7XP, $10.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Kit Webb has left his stand-and-deliver days behind him. But dreary days at his coffee shop have begun to make him pine for the heady rush of thievery. When a handsome yet arrogant aristocrat storms into his shop, Kit quickly realizes he may be unable to deny whatever this highborn man desires.

In order to save himself and a beloved friend, Percy, Lord Holland must go against every gentlemanly behavior he holds dear to gain what he needs most: a book that once belonged to his mother, a book his father never lets out of his sight and could be Percy's savior. More comfortable in silk-filled ballrooms than coffee shops frequented by criminals, his attempts to hire the roughly hewn highwayman, formerly known as Gladhand Jack, proves equal parts frustrating and electrifying.

Kit refuses to participate in the robbery but agrees to teach Percy how to do the deed. Percy knows he has little choice but to submit and as the lessons in thievery begin, he discovers thievery isn't the only crime he's desperate to commit with Kit.

But when their careful plan goes dangerously wrong and shocking revelations threaten to tear them apart, can these stolen hearts overcome the impediments in their path?

Critique: A lighthearted historical novel featuring a spark of passion between two sharp-minded men, The Queer Principles of Kit Webb is set during the 1700's and comes to life with a remarkable wealth of information about stagecoach robberies and other dangerous realities of nearly three centuries ago. Kit Webb resists the desire to return to his former life of thievery, yet crosses paths with an attractive nobleman with a less-than-transparent agenda. Kit agrees to teach the persistent aristocrat all about robbery, while refusing to personally participate. When best-laid plans go awry, the fallout could destroy them both - or at the very least, tear apart any chance of shared happiness! Witty, vivacious, and crafted with unquenchable flourish, The Queer Principles of Kit Webb is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Queer Principles of Kit Webb is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Editorial Note: Cat Sebastian lives in a swampy part of the South with her husband, three kids, and two dogs. Before her kids were born, she practiced law and taught high school and college writing. When she isn't reading or writing, she's doing crossword puzzles, bird-watching, and wondering where she put her coffee cup.

The Rebellious Tide
Eddy Boudel Tan
Dundurn Press
9781459746879 $17.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Sebastien's search for his father leads him to a ship harbouring a dangerous secret.

Sebastien has heard only stories about his father, a mysterious sailor who abandoned his pregnant mother thirty years ago. But when his mother dies after a lifetime of struggle, he becomes obsessed with finding an explanation - perhaps even revenge.

The father he's never met is Kostas, the commanding officer of a luxury liner sailing the Mediterranean. Posing as a member of the ship's crew, Sebastien stalks his unwitting father in search of answers as to why he disappeared so many years ago.

After a public assault triggers outrage among the ship's crew, Sebastien finds himself entangled in a revolt against the oppressive ruling class of officers. As the clash escalates between the powerful and the powerless, Sebastien uncovers something his father has hidden deep within the belly of the ship - a disturbing secret that will force him to confront everything he's always wondered and feared about his own identity.

Critique: The Rebellious Tide is an intense novel about buried family secrets. The protagonist Sebastien searches for the sailor father he never knew, and who abandoned Sebastien's pregnant mother to a life of hardship and ultimately an untimely death. Sebastien's quest leads him to pose as a crew member of a luxury liner, and develop an unexpected gay romance. Yet Sebastien's father knows more dangerous secrets than those of Sebastien's origin, and when violence erupts, Sebastien is swept into a revolt against the oppression of the ship's ruling officers. A tautly written, thoroughly compelling saga of identity and survival, The Rebellious Tide will keep the reader hooked to the very last page. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Rebellious Tide is also available in a Kindle edition ($17.99).

The Literary Fiction Shelf

The Year of Our Love: A Novel
Caterina Bonvicini, author
Translated from the Italian by Antony Shugaar
Other Press
9781635420623, $17.99 Paperback
B08GJSS339, $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Valerio and Olivia grow up together in the Morganti family's opulent villa in Bologna, inseparable friends even though they come from vastly different worlds: Olivia, the Morgantis' daughter, is the heir to a large industrial fortune, while Valerio is the son of their gardener and maid. Largely sheltered from the dangers rampant in the unstable Italy of the 1970s, the two share their first innocent kiss at five years old, which heralds the start of a decades-long relationship.

From Valerio having to move to a poor neighborhood in Rome and Olivia making her entrance in high society, life tries to separate them at every turn, but without success, so strong is the bond between them. Year after year they meet only for a few moments, which feel like they're eternal, and their friendship turns into something more intense, and scary. They take different paths: Olivia travels the world looking for herself, while Valerio devotes himself to a prestigious career that doesn't satisfy him, in a country that is quickly losing its identity in the political crises of the Berlusconi era. Still, they keep meeting again and again at crossroads in life.

Critique: Superbly translated from Italian into English by Antony Shugaar, The Year of Our Love is a novel by Caterina Bonvicini about the bond connecting two people from dramatically different social strata, in twentieth-century Italy. Olivia is a wealthy heiress, while Valerio is the working-class son of her family's gardener and maid; the two have been close as young children, and their decades-long relationship extends despite the vastly different paths each takes through life. Part coming of age saga, part love story, and part reflection upon the political crises that beset Italy's Berlusconi era, The Year of Our Love is a compelling work of literary fiction, highly recommended especially for public library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Year of Our Love is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Editorial Note: Caterina Bonvicini lives between Rome and Milan and holds a degree in Modern Literature from the University of Bologna. Her novel L'equilibrio degli squali (2008) was hugely acclaimed and won the Premio Rapallo, Premio Fregene, and Premio Frignano in Italy, and the Grand Prix de l'Heroine Madame Figaro in France. It was followed by Il sorriso lento (2010), Correva l'anno del nostro amore (2014), Tutte le donne di (2016), and Fancy Red (2018). Her books have been translated in several countries.

The Romantic Fiction Shelf

Dusk's Darkest Shores
Carolyn Miller
Kregel Publications
9780825446535, $15.99 paperback
B08RZ8NQWW, $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Mary Bloomfield has no illusions. Her chances for matrimony have long since passed her by. Still, her circumstances are pleasant enough, especially now that she has found purpose in assisting her father with his medical practice in England's beautiful Lake District. Even without love, it's a peaceful life.

That is until Adam Edgerton returns to the sleepy district. This decorated war hero did not arrive home to acclaim and rest, but to a new battle against the repercussions of an insidious disease. Mary's caring nature cannot stand to see someone suffer--but how can she help this man see any brightness in his future when he's plunged into melancholic darkness, his dreams laid waste by his condition?

Adam wants no charity, but he's also no coward. If this gentle woman can work hard, how can he do less? Together they struggle to find a way forward for him. Frustration and antipathy slowly develop into friendship and esteem. Then a summer storm atop a mountain peak leads to scandal--and both Mary and Adam must search the depths of their closed hearts for answers if they hope to find any future path with happiness at its end.

Best-selling author Carolyn Miller is back with a fresh series that will not only thrill readers eager for more of her work, but bring in new fans looking for beautiful writing, fascinating research, deftly woven love stories, and real faith lived out in the Regency period.

Critique: A historical romance set during England's Regency era (the early 1800's), Dusk's Darkest Shores is a thoughtful novel about the love that develops between a medical practitioner who has accepted that she is beyond her marriageable years, and a decorated war veteran suffering from the long-term effects of a ravaging disease. Along with his physical affliction, the veteran must grapple with pressure from melancholy of the mind. Descriptive prose and emotional passion characterize this absorbing historical romance, highly recommended for connoisseurs of the genre. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Dusk's Darkest Shores is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Editorial Note: Award-winning author Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia. A longtime lover of Regency romance, Carolyn's novels have won a number of Romance Writers of American (RWA) and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) contests as well as the Australian Omega Christian Writers Award. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers.

Jane of Battery Park
Jaye Viner
Red Hen Press
P.O. Box 40820 Pasadena, CA 91114
9781597091176, $16.95, PB, 248pp

Synopsis: Eight years after a romantic meet-cute in Battery Park, Daniel and Jane both search for someone to fill the gap they imagine the other could've filled if given the chance. Jane compulsively goes on dates with every self-professed expert in art, music, and food hoping they will teach her the nuances of the culture she couldn't access in her youth. Daniel looks for a girlfriend who will accept the disabilities left from the cult attack. A loving woman will prove to Daniel's blockbuster star brother, Steve, that he's capable of a supporting role in Steve's upcoming movie and relaunching Daniel's career.

When a chance encounter unexpectedly reunites them, Jane and Daniel not only see another chance at the love they lost, but an opportunity to create the lives they've always wanted. The only question is whether their families will let them.

Critique: A deftly crafted and contemporary novel of a troubled romance in a kind of Romeo & Juliet scenario, and all the more impressive when considering it is author Jaye Vinter's debut as a published novelist, "Jane of Battery Park" is a truly compelling page turner of a read from cover to cover and will prove to be an a highly recommended and enduringly welcome addition for community library Romance Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Jane of Battery Park" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Sing the Dead Man's Songs
Arthur Burke
Camel Press
9781942078302, $14.95 Paperback
B08YH11B1G, $5.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Eddie Jackson is one of the biggest rock stars in the world. When he dies in a car crash, a lot of people stand to lose money, so his death is hushed up. Eddie's bandmate, Clem, is determined the truth must come out. As pressure is put on Clem to play along, he suspects he's part of a bigger conspiracy and that Eddie's death was no accident.

Critique: Sing the Dead Man's Songs is a suspenseful novel about a con game run to hide the death of Eddie, a famous rockstar. Eddie's bandmate Clem hates being conscripted to perpetuate a lie, and worse, fears that Eddie may have been murdered! A riveting saga of intrigue, greed, and show business, Sing the Dead Man's Songs is enthusiastically recommended for connoisseurs of quality suspense. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Sing the Dead Man's Songs is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

Editorial Note: Arthur Burke read philosophy at university so can spot the holes in most conspiracy theories, but that doesn't stop him from devouring them and turning them into fiction.

The Art of Betrayal: A Kate Hamilton Mystery
Connie Berry
Crooked Lane Books
9781643855943, $26.99 Hardcover
B08HY2PSPD, $13.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Spring is a magical time in England--bluebells massing along the woodland paths, primrose and wild thyme dotting the meadows. Antiques dealer Kate Hamilton is spending the month of May in the Suffolk village of Long Barston, enjoying precious time with Detective Inspector Tom Mallory. While attending the May Fair, the annual pageant based on a well-known Anglo-Saxon folktale, a body turns up in the middle of the festivities.

Kate is even more shocked when she learns the murder took place in antiquity shop owner Ivor Tweedy's stockroom and a valuable Chinese pottery jar that she had been tasked with finding a buyer for has been stolen. Ivor may be ruined. Insurance won't cover a fraction of the loss.

As Tom leads the investigation, Kate begins to see puzzling parallels between the murder and local legends. The more she learns, the more convinced she is that the solution to both crimes lies in the misty depths of Anglo-Saxon history and a generations-old pattern of betrayal. It's up to Kate to unravel this Celtic knot of lies and deception to save Ivor's business.

Critique: Part of a series of mysteries featuring antiques dealer and amateur sleuth Kate Hamilton, The Art of Betrayal is a mystery that begins with the discovery of a body during the May Fair celebration at a Suffolk village. As Kate becomes more deeply involved, she draws connections between the murder and local legends. Is the crime rooted in a pattern of betrayal dating back through generations of Anglo-Saxon history? A smartly written, cozy mystery that will especially appeal to history buffs, The Art of Betrayal is highly recommended especially for connoisseurs of the genre, and sure to prove a popular lending library pick. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Art of Betrayal is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).

Editorial Note: Connie Berry is the author of the Kate Hamilton Mysteries, set in the UK and featuring an American antiques dealer with a gift for solving crimes. Like her protagonist, Connie was raised by antiques dealers who instilled in her a passion for history, fine art, and travel. During college she studied at the University of Freiburg in Germany and St. Clare's College, Oxford, where she fell under the spell of the British Isles. In 2019 Connie won the IPPY Gold Medal for Mystery and was a finalist for the Agatha Award's Best Debut. She's a member of Mystery Writers of America and is on the board of the Guppies and her local Sisters in Crime chapter.

The Kobalt Dossier: An Evan Ryder Novel
Eric Van Lustbader
Forge Books
9781250751218, $27.99 Hardcover
B08GJQ12C9, $14.99 Kindle

Synopsis: After thwarting the violent, international, fascist syndicate known as Nemesis, Evan Ryder returns to Washington, D.C., to find her secret division of the DOD shut down and her deceased sister's children missing. Now the target of a cabal of American billionaires who were among Nemesis's supporters, Evan and her former boss, Ben Butler, must learn to work together as partners - and navigate their intricate past.

Their search will take them from Istanbul to Odessa to an ancient church deep within the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. And all along the way, an unimaginable enemy stalks in the shadows, an adversary whose secretive past will upend Evan's entire world and everything she holds dear.

Critique: A novel of the Evan Ryder series featuring a female field agent for a black-ops element of the Department of Defense, The Kobalt Dossier begins with a troubling, intensely personal crisis for Evan. She discovers that her division has been shut down, and her deceased sister's children are missing! Can Evan and her former boss (with whom she has a complicated relationship) withstand the ire of a billionaire cabal? A thriller balancing suspense, intrigue, and action, The Kobalt Dossier is highly recommended especially for connoisseurs of the genre. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Kobalt Dossier is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.99).

Editorial Note: Eric Van Lustbader is the author of many New York Times bestselling thrillers, including The Testament, First Daughter, Last Snow, and Blood Trust. Lustbader was chosen by Robert Ludlum's estate to continue the Jason Bourne series. He and his wife live on the South Fork of Long Island.

Murder in the Family
Lesley A. Diehl
Camel Press
9781603817639, $15.95 Paperback
B08TFDNN14, $5.99 Kindle

Synopsis: The past comes back seeking vengeance. To save her family and friends, Novice PI Eve Appel, pregnant with her second child, must outwit the bad guys in a final act of desperation, risking her life and that of the man she's asked to help her, her mob boss friend, Nappi.

Critique: Part of the Eve Appel Mystery series featuring part-time private investigator Eve Appel, Murder in the Family puts Eve and her closest associates under dire threat. Someone from Eve's past desires vengeance on Eve and anyone who considers her a friend... even the mob boss Nappi. Now pregnant with her second child, Eve must set a trap to catch her enemy, all the while knowing that he could easily bring reinforcements. Murder in the Family is a riveting page- turner with a strong-willed, sharp-thinking heroine, highly recommended for mystery connoisseurs. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Murder in the Family is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

Editorial Note: Lesley Diehl retired from her life as a professor of psychology, and is author of several mystery series, all featuring country gals with attitude: the microbrewing mystery series set in the Butternut Valley of upstate New York - A Deadly Draught and Poisoned Pairings; the Big Lake Murder Mystery series - Dumpster Dying and Grilled, Chilled and Killed; and the Eve Appel Mysteries Series,A Secondhand Murder and Dead in the Water. Untreedreads publishes her short stories as well as a novel length mystery, Angel Sleuth.

Palm Springs Noir
Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, editor
Akashic Books
9781617759284, $16.95 paperback
9781636140421, $39.95 hardcover
B08LHBFQ6T, $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct location within the geographic area of the book.

Palm Springs Noir features brand-new stories by: T. Jefferson Parker, Janet Fitch, Eric Beetner, Kelly Shire, Tod Goldberg, Michael Craft, Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Rob Roberge, J.D. Horn, Eduardo Santiago, Rob Bowman, Chris J. Bahnsen, Ken Layne, and Alex Espinoza.

From the introduction: The best noir writers make us feel the heat of the sun, the touch of a lover. Setting can be gritty but can also be sublime, no longer relegated to urban locales and seedy hotel rooms but also mansions and swimming pools. Hence, Palm Springs, which may seem like an odd setting for a collection of dark short stories--it's so sunny and bright here. The quality of light is unlike anywhere else, and with an average of three hundred sunny days a year, what could go wrong?...

The stories in this collection come on like the wicked dust storms common to the area. More than half are by writers who live here full-time; all have homes in Southern California. They know this place in ways visitors and outsiders never will. These are not stories you'll read in the glossy coffee-table books that feature Palm Springs's good life. There is indeed a lush life to be found here, but for the characters in these stories, it's often just out of reach.

Critique: Part of an award-winning series of noir anthologies, Palm Springs Noir presents noir stories written by a diversity of authors, all set in the general region of Palm Springs, California. These mysteries will captivate the imagination and draw the reader into the darkest corners of the human heart, while reflecting the wicked, the saintly, and the everyday elements daily life of Palm Springs. A treasure for connoisseurs of the genre, Palm Springs Noir is packed with hidden surprises and is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Palm Springs Noir is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Editorial Note: Barbara DeMarco-Barrett spends time in the desert whenever she can. She hosts Writers on Writing on KUCI-FM, and her book Pen on Fire was a Los Angeles Times best seller. Her short story "Crazy for You" was published in USA Noir: Best of the Akashic Noir Series. She has also published in the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Inlandia, Shotgun Honey, Crossing Borders, and The Literary Hatchet.

Dog Eat Dog
David Rosenfelt
Minotaur Books
9781250257123, $27.99 hardcover
B08FZ8RV1W, $14.99 Kindle
9781250804075, $24.98 Audio CD

Synopsis: Lawyer Andy Carpenter and his wife, Laurie, enjoy walking their dogs, Tara and Sebastian. By this point in their marriage, it's routine. When out for one of their strolls, their simple ritual isn't so simple anymore. Across the street, a man is mistreating his dog. Three things happen at once: Andy yells, Laurie runs to stop the abuse, and so does a closer passerby, who so thoroughly beats the owner that both are arrested when the cops arrive.

Andy scoops up the dog and takes him to the Tara Foundation, the dog rescue organization that's always been his true passion. Meanwhile, at the police station, the passerby is identified as Matthew Jantzen, and he's wanted for murder. Andy and Laurie are struck by the fact that Jantzen, a man on the run, would nevertheless intervene to help a dog, and decide to find out more.

Dog Eat Dog, the twenty-second installment in the Andy Carpenter series, features the charming cast of characters - old and new - that David Rosenfelt is known for and the dogs that accompany them.

Critique: The twenty-third mystery of the Andy Carpenter series, featuring a retired lawyer who cherishes his four-legged friends, Dog Eat Dog begins when Andy and his wife Laurie stumble across a violent incident and take in a mistreated pug. As the founder of a dog rescue organization, Andy is experienced with caring for animals, yet somewhat perplexed when he learns that the violent man who demanded a promise to look after the pug is wanted for murder. Why would a fugitive on the run care so deeply about a dog? A sharply-written sleuth tale that will appeal to dog lovers and mystery aficionados alike, Dog Eat Dog is enthusiastically recommended for both personal and public library collections. It should be noted that Dog Eat Dog is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.99) and as an audiobook read by Grover Gardner (Macmillan Audio, 9781250804075, $29.99)

Editorial Note: DAVID ROSENFELT is the Edgar-nominated and Shamus Award-winning author of more than twenty Andy Carpenter novels, including One Dog Night, Collared, and Deck the Hounds; its spinoff series, The K-Team; the Doug Brock thriller series, which starts with Fade to Black; and stand-alone thrillers including Heart of a Killer and On Borrowed Time. Rosenfelt and his wife live in Maine with an ever-changing pack of rescue dogs. Their epic cross-country move with 25 of these dogs, culminating in the creation of the Tara Foundation, is chronicled in Dogtripping.

The Weaver's Revenge
Kathleen Ernst
HenschelHAUS Publishing
9781595988102, $16.95, Paperback
B09471KLGN, $9.98 Kindle

Synopsis: When offered a rare opportunity to help develop a fledgling historic site dedicated to Finnish American history and heritage, curator Chloe Ellefson journeys to the remote Northwoods of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. In addition to the consultant job, she's on a personal quest to learn about the enduring tradition of rag rug weaving. Encountering a dead body upon arrival, however, immediately puts that goal in jeopardy. Although suspicion soon falls on her new colleagues, Chloe is determined to persevere even if it means ignoring the advice of her new husband, police officer Roelke McKenna. Can she identify the killer and complete her mission, or will all her dreams unravel?

Critique: A Chloe Ellefson Mystery featuring a plucky, sharp-minded curator, The Weaver's Revenge brings Chloe to the Northwoods of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, as a consultant on the development of a historic site celebrating Finnish- American heritage. When she discovers a dead body on the premises, her police officer husband advises her to withdraw, but Chloe decides to persevere! Can she identify the killer before she becomes the next target? A cozy mystery that brings the rustic charm of the Midwest to life, even incorporating the tradition of rag rug weaving, The Weaver's Revenge will delight connoisseurs of the genre. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Weaver's Revenge is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.98).

Editorial Note: Kathleen Ernst is an award-winning author, educator, and social historian. She has published thirty-seven novels and two nonfiction books. Her books for young readers include the Caroline Abbott series and other titles for American Girl. In addition to the Chloe Ellefson Mysteries, she has started the Hanneke Bauer Mysteries.

The Other Passenger
Louise Candlish
Atria Books
9781982174101, $17.00 paperback
B08LDVHZSQ, $11.99 Kindle

Synopsis: It all happens so quickly. One day you're living the dream, commuting to work by ferry with your charismatic neighbor Kit in the seat beside you. The next, Kit hasn't turned up for the boat and his wife, Melia, has reported him missing.

When you get off at your stop, the police are waiting. Another passenger saw you and Kit arguing on the boat home the night before and the police say that you had a reason to want him dead. You protest. You and Kit are friends - ask Melia, she'll vouch for you. And who exactly is this other passenger pointing the finger? What do they know about your lives?

No, whatever danger followed you home last night, you are innocent, totally innocent.

Aren't you?

Critique: The Other Passenger is a psychological thriller written from the first person viewpoint of a narrator who may or may not be unreliable. The vivid descriptions draw the reader into a surreal sense of furtive-glance-over-the-shoulder unease, as the mystery of a man's sudden disappearance broadens into a possible murder inquiry where no one is beyond suspicion. A shockingly intense page-turner, Other Passenger is highly recommended especially for connoisseurs of tautly written suspense. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Other Passenger is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

Editorial Note: Louise Candlish is the Sunday Times (London) bestselling author of fourteen novels. Our House, a #1 bestseller, won the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards, was longlisted for the 2019 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and was shortlisted for the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award. It is now in development for a major TV series with Red Planet Pictures, producers of Death in Paradise. Louise lives in London with her husband and daughter. Visit her at or connect with her on Twitter @Louise_Candlish.

A Hex for Danger: An Enchanted Bay Mystery
Esme Addison
Crooked Lane Books
9781643855868, $26.99 hardcover
B08FZL44DH, $13.99 Kindle
9781666502220, $22.99 audio CD

Synopsis: The small town of Bellamy Bay has its share of skeletons in its closet, but it isn't used to bodies turning up in the local history museum. After all, this Coastal North Carolina town is much like any other...except, of course, for the mermaids.

Helping to run the family business, an herbal apothecary, while keeping her supernatural secret hidden is no easy feat for water witch Aleksandra Daniels. But somehow she's still found time to help her friend Celeste, who has her own Caribbean mermaid heritage, plan the annual Mermaid Festival. As fun-seekers throng the beaches, Alex gets to know and is intrigued by renowned artist Neve Ryland, who's in town to decorate the local park with a mermaid-themed mural. Celeste, however, is less enamored with the artist, as Neve has been spending entirely too much one-on-one time with her boyfriend, Jasper, the director of Bellamy Bay's history museum. Then, a reception for Neve ends abruptly when the artist is found dead in his office.

The police investigation nets Celeste who asks Alex to find the true culprit. With the help of her magically inclined aunt and cousins, Alex dives in to clear her friend's name. But there was more to Neve Ryland than met the eye, and Alex fears she may be in way too deep. Will she catch the crook or be next on the hook?

Critique: Part of the "Enchanted Bay Mystery" series, A Hex for Danger is a cozy fantasy-mystery set in a small, coastal North Carolina town known for its local legends about mermaids. Legends are family reality for local water witch Aleksandra Daniels, who quietly conceals her supermatural secrets beneath her herbal apothecary family business. When an artist is found dead during the annual Mermaid Festival, Aleksandra's friend Celeste falls under police suspicion, and Aleksandra decided to apply her powers in the pursuit justice - her way! A deftly crafted saga featuring canny characters, mysterious magic, and shocking twists, A Hex for Danger is highly recommended especially for cross-genre literary connoisseurs, and sure to be a popular lending library pick! It should be noted for personal reading lists that a Hex for Danger is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).

Editorial Note: Ever since Esme discovered Nancy Drew, she's wanted to solve mysteries. As a mystery author, she's finally found a way to make that dream come true. Esme lives in Raleigh, NC with her family. When she's not writing or dreaming up new mysteries for her sleuths to stumble upon, you can find her dancing her calories away in Zumba, patronizing her local bookstores or visiting the beach, the mountains and all historical sites in between. Learn more about Esme at and follow her on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @EsmeAddison. Subscribe to her newsletter at

Dogged by Death: A Furry Friends Mystery
Laura Scott
Crooked Lane Books
9781643856575, $26.99 hardcover
B08L5TPW4C, $13.99 Kindle
9781666502190, $22.99 audio CD

Synopsis: Ally Winter is going through a ruff patch. The thirty-something veterinarian lost her fiance, her clinic, and her savings in rapid succession. So when Ally's grandfather undergoes hip replacement surgery, she moves back to Willow Bluff, Wisconsin, to care for him. She arrives home, tail between her legs, only to find sleazy lawyer Marty Shawlin murdered in his home office. And the only witness was Marty's faithful boxer, Roxy.

Quick as a greyhound, Noah Jorgensen is on the case. The good news is, he's the best detective around. The bad news, at least the way Ally sees it, is that Noah is still just as fetching as he was back in high school. He also just happens to have witnessed every embarrassing incident that befell accident-prone Ally--including the fire-ant attack that set tongues wagging and won her the unshakable nickname Hot Pants.

Meanwhile, true-crime aficionado Gramps fancies himself a sleuth, and he is doggedly determined to sniff out the culprit himself...with Ally's reluctant help, of course. Ally has no choice but to team up with Noah--and the irrepressible Roxy--to solve the case while keeping Gramps on a short leash.

Ally had better learn some new tricks, lickety-split. Because if she can't bring the killer to heel, she won't just be playing dead.

Critique: Part of the "Furry Friends Mystery" series of cozy sleuth tales especially for animal aficionados, Dogged by Death follows a down-on-her-luck veterinarian Ally and a strikingly handsome detective Noah as they investigate the murder of a sleazy lawyer, who is survived by his faithful boxer Roxy. As Ally and Noah work to track down the culprit, Ally must also keep her true-crime enthusiast grandfather (who is recovering from hip replacement surgery) from causing trouble through his own efforts to find the killer! Dogged by Death is delightfully witty and snazzy, and sure to prove a popular lending library pick. Highly recommended, especially for genre connoisseurs. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Dogged by Death is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).

Editorial Note: Laura Scott is a registered nurse by day and an author by night. She has written over 60 books and has more ideas than time to write! Laura lives in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin with her husband of 35 years and takes care of a variety of pets, including a beautiful chocolate lab named Moose.

Autumn Leaves, 1922: A Kiki Button Mystery
Tessa Lunney
Pegasus Books
9781643137124 $25.95 hc / $16.99 Kindle

Synopsis: October 1922. Kiki Button has had a rough year at home in Australia after her mother's sudden death. As the leaves turn gold on the Parisian boulevards, Kiki returns to Europe, more desperately in need of Paris and all its liveliness than ever. As soon as she arrives back in Montparnasse, Kiki takes up her life again, drinking with artists at the Cafe Rotonde, gossiping with her friends, and finding lovers among the enormous expatriate community. Even her summertime lover from the year before, handsome Russian exile Prince Theo Romanov, is waiting for her.

But it's not all champagne and moonlit trysts. Theo is worried that his brother-in-law is being led astray by political fanatics. Kiki's boy from home, Tom, is still hiding under a false name. Her friends are in trouble - Maisie has been blackmailed and looks for revenge, Bertie is still lovesick and lonely, and Harry has important information about her mother. And to top it off, she is found by Dr. Fox, her former spymaster, who insists that she work for him once more.

Amidst the gaiety of 1920s Paris, Kiki stalks the haunted, the hunted, and people still heartsore from the war. She parties with princes and Communist comrades, she wears ballgowns with Chanel and the Marchesa Casati, she talks politics with Hemingway and poetry with Sylvia Beach, and sips tea with Gertrude Stein. She confronts the men who would bring Europe into another war. And as she uses her gossip columnist connections for her mission, she also meets people who knew her mother, and can help to answer her burning question: why did her mother leave England all those years ago?

Critique: Part of the Kiki Button series of mysteries featuring a seductive, sharp-minded French heroine of the roaring 1920's, Autumn Leaves, 1922 has Kiki walk a perilous balance between high-class socialite life and shadowy espionage. Her former spymaster wants her to work for him again; her friends desperately need help; and powerful men are colluding to drag Europe into another war! A salaciously rapturous intrigue, Autumn Leaves, 1922 is a treasure for connoisseurs of historical mysteries and sure to prove a popular lending library pick! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Autumn Leaves, 1922 is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.99).

Suspension of the Rules: A Washington Statehouse Mystery
Don Stuart
Northwest Corner Books
c/o Epicenter Press
9781603812740, $15.95, paper
9781603812757, $5.99 ebook
B08WRJ69GN, $5.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Politically active Yakima Valley dairy farmer, Fortis Henry, is found floating face down in his brand-new livestock waste lagoon. All six of the visitors present at the Henry Dairy on the day of the man's death had intensely disliked him. All of them had powerful motives to see him dead. Any of them could have killed him.

At the time, however, everyone, including the police, believes that the dairyman's ghastly death was a horrible accident. The Yakima County Sheriff's file on the matter is quickly closed.

Several weeks later, professional lobbyist Sandy Dalton becomes suspicious as new information comes to light - information that takes on significance given who was there that day. Those present included a farmer-activist whose big plans were threatened, a state Representative facing a closely-contested election, a Federal employee whose job was at risk, the legislative advocate for a powerful agriculture trade association whose authority was challenged, and another for a nonprofit environmental group whose behind-the-scenes finagling was catching up with her. And there was Dalton himself, whose recent contract to lobby for an association of conservation-minded farmers had been bitterly contested by the deceased dairyman.

Dalton's quiet investigation is as subtle and clever as is his simultaneous balancing of the complex policy and political challenges entrusted to him by his clients in conservation farming and in commercial fisheries. The investigation draws upon his well-tuned natural intuition for reading people and a deep understanding of the complexities of legislative politics. When he finally grasps the hidden motivations that unmask the killer, he also unexpectedly discovers a yet deeper plot which places him and those close to him in peril - a plot that threatens very welfare of the people of the State of Washington.

Critique: Part of the "Washington Statehouse Mystery" series, Suspension of the Rules is set amid systemic corruption in politics and agribusiness. When a politically active dairy farmer dies a gruesome death, six people at his dairy are all suspects; each suspect stood to lose money, power, or more, if the victim's pro-environmental efforts gained momentum. Professional lobbyist Sandy Dalton dares to investigate the case that the police have all too quickly closed, and soon uncovers a much greater plot that could imperil the entire state of Washington! Suspension of the Rules is a captivating page-turner, suspenseful to the end, and highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Suspension of the Rules is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

Editorial Note: Don Stuart is an attorney and a former commercial fisherman who, in 1990, became Executive Director and a lobbyist for the Washington commercial salmon fishing industry. In 1995 he served as Campaign Manager in the successful defense against a Washington statewide anti-commercial fishing ballot initiative (I-640). In 1996, he ran for the U.S. Congress in Washington's First Congressional District. He took up lobbying again in 1997 as Executive Director for the Washington Association of Conservation Districts and in 2000 as Northwest Regional Director for the American Farmland Trust. He fought to protect agricultural land from development and to assure its responsible environmental management. Don's recent book, Final Adjournment, A Washington Statehouse Mystery, takes the reader on a quest for the truth inside the complex, chaotic, and sometimes unprincipled world of state legislative policy. Don is also the author of Barnyards and Birkenstocks: Why Farmers and Environmentalists Need Each Other and of the Small Claims Court Guide for Washington: How To Win Your Case. Don's website is

Sleeping Bear: A Thriller
Connor Sullivan
Atria/Emily Bestler Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781982166397, $27.00 hc / $12.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Perfect for fans of Brad Thor and Vince Flynn, this white-knuckled debut thriller follows a former Army veteran seeking solitude in the Alaskan wilderness after her husband's death - only to find herself a pawn in a deadly game with Russia.

After her young husband's untimely death, Army veteran Cassie Gale decides to take a few days of solitude in the Alaska wilderness before she starts her new job. But when she fails to show up on her first day and her dog is discovered injured at her wrecked campsite, her father knows that this is much more than a camping trip gone awry.

As it turns out, Cassie's not the first person to disappear without a trace in Alaska's northern interior. Bears. Wolves. Avalanches. Frostbite. Starvation. There are many ways to die in here. But not all disappearances can be explained. Cassie's is one of them, along with a number of other outdoor enthusiasts who have vanished in recent years.

Regaining consciousness in a Russian prison, Cassie finds herself trapped in a system designed to ensure that no one ever escapes alive. It will require all her grit and skills to survive. Meanwhile, her father rushes to outrun the clock, scouring thousands of acres, only to realize she's been taken by a far more nefarious adversary - one with the power of the Eastern Bloc behind it. Ties to his past life, one full of secrets, threaten to surface. He knows there's a price to be paid, but he's determined it won't be his daughter.

Critique: Sleeping Bear: A Thriller is an intense novel of a covert, Russian kidnapping network that has been making outdoor enthusiasts in Alaska's remote wilderness "disappear". Their latest victim is Army veteran Cassie Gale, who sought solitude while grieving her young husband's death, and awakens incarcerated in a Russian prison. Meanwhile, her father suspects foul play connected to his own dark past, but his efforts to locate and rescue his daughter run counter to the clout of a hostile nation! Riveting to the very end, Sleeping Bear is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Sleeping Bear is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

When the Sparrow Falls
Neil Sharpson
Tor Books
9781250784216, $26.99 hc / $13.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Here, in the last sanctuary for the dying embers of the human race in a world run by artificial intelligence, if you stray from the path - your life is forfeit. But when a Party propagandist is killed - and is discovered as a "machine" - he's given a new mission: chaperone the widow, Lily, who has arrived to claim her husband's remains.

But when South sees that she, the first "machine" ever allowed into the country, bears an uncanny resemblance to his late wife, he's thrown into a maelstrom of betrayal, murder, and conspiracy that may bring down the Republic for good.

Critique: When the Sparrow Falls is a dystopian novel set in a terrifying potential future where humanity's last survivors cling to life in a realm governed by artificial intelligence. The sudden death of a government figure revealed to be "machine" sparks a cascading crisis when the widow of "machine" - who is herself a "machine" - bears a striking similarity to the deceased wife of the man assigned to chaperone her. Lies, betrayal, and treachery abound in this escalating saga of what may be the last throes of a totalitarian state - or of humanity itself. Highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that When the Sparrow Falls is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).

Editorial Note: Neil Sharpson lives in Dublin with his wife and their two children. Having written for theatre since his teens, Neil transitioned to writing novels in 2017, adapting his own play The Caspian Sea into When The Sparrow Falls. A huge fan of animation, Neil writes Unshaved Mouse, a comedic review blog mostly focusing on animated film and comic book movies.

The Library of the Dead
T. L. Huchu
9781250767769, $27.99 Hardcover
B08HKX3CCJ, $14.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker - and she now speaks to Edinburgh's dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl's gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone's bewitching children - leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It's on Ropa's patch, so she feels honour bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.

She'll dice with death (not part of her life plan . . .) as she calls on Zimbabwean magic and Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets. And in the process, she discovers an occult library and some unexpected allies. Yet as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

Critique: A dark blend of contemporary fantasy and suspense, The Library of the Dead follows Ropa, a teenage girl with a gift for speaking with deceased. She uses her ability to earn a humble living, until the dead warn her that someone is bewitching children. Ropa will have to draw upon both magic and unexpected allies to track down the source of the curse - at the risk of becoming the mysterious threat's next target! An engagingly written supernatural saga, The Library of the Dead is an utterly mesmerizing page-turner, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Library of the Dead is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.99).

Editorial Note: T. L. Huchu (he/him) has been published previously (as Tendai Huchu) in the adult market, but The Library of the Dead is his genre fiction debut. His previous books (The Hairdresser of Harare and The Maestro, The Magistrate and the Mathematician) have been translated into multiple languages and his short fiction has won awards. Tendai grew in up Zimbabwe but has lived in Edinburgh for most of his adult life.

Broken Web
Lori M. Lee
Page Street Publishing
9781645672104 $18.99 hc / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: The Soulless is free from his centuries-long imprisonment. Now, he lurks in the Dead Wood recovering his strength, while Sirscha and her allies journey east to the shaman empire of Nuvalyn. Everyone believes she is a soulguide a savior but Sirscha knows the truth. She's a monster, a soulrender like the Soulless, and if anyone discovers the truth, she'll be executed.

But there's nothing Sirscha won't risk to stop the shaman responsible for the rot that's killing her best friend. While the Soulless is formidable, like all shamans, his magic must be channeled through a familiar. If Sirscha can discover what or who that is, she might be able to cut him off from his power.

With Queen Meilyr bent on destroying the magical kingdoms, Sirscha finds herself caught between a war brewing in the east and the Soulless waiting in the west. She should be trying to unite what peoples she can to face their common enemies, but instead, her hunt for clues about the Soulless leads to a grim discovery, forcing Sirscha to question who her enemies really are.

Critique: The sequel to "Forest of Souls", Broken Web continues a dark saga set amid magical kingdoms where shamans wield terrifying power. One shaman in particular is using his power to slowly kill the best friend of Sirscha, a woman who herself possesses a terrifying secret. Sirscha's quest to save her friend's life embroils her in the stirrings of a potential war, in this captivating dark fantasy adventure. Highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Broken Web is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Out of the Shadows (Star Wars: The High Republic)
Justina Ireland
Disney Press
9781368060653, $17.99 hardcover
B091M4WKVQ, $10.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Sylvestri Yarrow is on a streak of bad luck with no end of sight. She's been doing her best to keep the family cargo business going after her mom's death, but between mounting debt and increasing attacks by the Nihil on unsuspecting ships, Syl is in danger of losing all she has left of her mother. She heads to the galactic capital of Coruscant for help, but gets sidetracked when she's drawn into a squabble between two of the Republic's most powerful families over a patch of space on the frontier. Tangled up in familial politics is the last place Syl wants to be, but the promise of a big payoff is enough to keep her interested

Meanwhile, Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh has been summoned to Coruscant, but with no idea of why or by whom. She and her Padawan Imri Cantaros arrive at the capital along with Jedi Master Cohmac Vitus and his Padawan, Reath Silas and are asked to assist with the property dispute on the frontier. But why? What is so important about an empty patch of space? The answer will lead Vernestra to a new understanding of her abilities, and take Syl back to the past... and to truths that will finally come out of the shadows.

Critique: A novel of the "Star Wars: The High Republic" series set roughly 200 years before the epic "Star Wars" science fiction movies, Out of the Shadows is an original saga written for Star Wars fans ages 12 to 120. A young woman struggling to keep the cargo business she inherited from her mother solvent becomes drawn into the feud of powerful families over a mysterious, little-known patch of space on the frontier. A female Jedi Knight and her Padawan are also tasked with settling the dispute, but the seemingly empty area of space may hold a secret far more ominous than any clash of clans! An enthralling blend of mystery, heroism, and spacefaring adventure, Out of the Shadows is sure be a popular lending library pick, and is especially recommended for connoisseurs of the Star Wars franchise and its rich, extended lore. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Out of the Shadows is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Editorial Note: Justina Ireland enjoys dark chocolate, dark humor, and is not too proud to admit that she's still afraid of the dark. She lives with her husband, kid, and dog in Pennsylvania. She is the author of Dread Nation (a New York Times bestseller), Deathless Divide,Vengeance Bound and Promise of Shadows. Her Star Wars books are Lando's Luck, Spark of the Resistance, and The High Republic: A Test of Courage.

The Ming Storm: An Assassin's Creed Novel
Yan Leisheng
Aconyte Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781839080883, $16.95 paperback
B08TB14L4H, $9.95 Kindle

Synopsis: China, 16th century. The Assassins are gone. Zhang Yong, the relentless leader of the Eight Tigers, took advantage of the emperor's death to eliminate all his opponents, and now the Templars hold all the power. Shao Jun, the last representative of her clan, barely escapes death and has no choice but to flee her homeland. Vowing to avenge her former brothers in arms, she travels to Europe to train with the legendary Ezio Auditore. When she returns to the Middle Kingdom, her saber and her determination alone will not be enough to eliminate Zhang Yong: she will have to surround herself with allies and walk in the shadows to defeat the Eight Tigers.

Critique: An original novel connected to the popular "Assassin's Creed" video game series, Assassin's Creed: The Ming Storm is set in 16th century China, where the ruthlessly principled Assassins have been all but wiped out. Zhang Yong, the leader of the Eight Tigers, consolidated his power after the Emperor's death and eliminated all his opponents; now the Templars pull the strings of the Middle Kingdom. Shao Jun, the last survivor of the Assassin clan, is forced to flee her homeland. She seeks training from the legendary Ezio Auditore, then returns to avenge her former comrades - but she will need allies and more to bring down the Eight Tigers! An intense, action-packed historical novel, Assassin's Creed: The Ming Story will appeal to aficionados of video games and sword-crossed intrigue alike! It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Ming Storm is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.95).

Editorial Note: Yan Leisheng has had a special interest in science fiction since an early age, but it wasn't until his thirties that he was first published. Since then, he has published twenty books, including novels, short story collections, essays, and poetry. His most famous trilogy "Heaven Prevails" has sold over 500,000 copies in Chinese.

The Godel Operation
James L. Cambias
9781982125561, $16.00 Paperback
B093F1Y9T2, $8.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Daslakh is an AI with a problem. Its favorite human, a young man named Zee, is in love with a woman who never existed - and he will scour the Solar System to find her. But in the Tenth Millennium a billion worlds circle the Sun - everything from terraformed planets to artificial habitats, home to a quadrillion beings.

Daslakh's nicely settled life gets more complicated when Zee helps a woman named Adya escape a gang of crooks. This gets the pair caught up in the hunt for the Godel Trigger, a legendary weapon left over from an ancient war between humans and machines - which could spell the end of civilization.

In their search, they face a criminal cat and her henchmen, a paranoid supermind with a giant laser, the greatest thief in history, and a woman who might actually be Zee's lost love.

It's up to Daslakh to save civilization, keep Zee's love life on the right track - and make sure that nobody discovers the real secret of the Godel Trigger.

Critique: The Godel Operation is a sci-fi adventure, set in a far-flung future where a quadrillion beings live on a billion worlds circle the Sun. A loyal artificial intelligence named Daslakh is concerned about its favorite human, a young man who is apparently in love with a dream girl who doesn't exist. The unlikely pair crosses paths with a definitely-existing, definitely-not-a-dream girl, run afoul of criminals, and join the ongoing hunt for the Godel Trigger, a dangerous relic of an ancient war between humans and machines. Daslakh must apply every system his thought processes can manifest to keep his favorite human alive, at least partially focused on the real world, and away from the world-destroying threat that is the true secret of the Godel Trigger! The Godel Operation is a rousing sci-fi romp, with a character-driven plot marked by unexpected twists and turns, and keeps the reader's rapt attention to the very end! Highly recommended, especially for connoisseurs of the genre. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Godel Operation is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

Editorial Note: James L. Cambias is a writer and game designer, and the cofounder of Zygote Games. He has been nominated for the James Tiptree Jr. Award and the 2001 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He lives in western Massachusetts.

The Christian Studies Shelf

Christian Minimalism
Becca Ehrlich
Morehouse Publishing
9781640653887, $16.95 pbk / $10.49 Kindle

Synopsis: Logically, we all know our purpose in life is not wrapped up in accumulating possessions, wealth, power, and prestige Jesus is very clear about that but society tells us otherwise. Christian Minimalism attempts to cut through our assumptions and society's lies about what life should look like and invites readers into a life that Jesus calls us to live: one lived intentionally, free of physical, spiritual, and emotional clutter.

Written by a woman who simplified her own life and practices these principles daily, this book gives readers a fresh perspective on how to live out God's grace for us in new and exciting ways and live out our faith in a way that is deeply satisfying.

Critique: Ordained pastor Becca Ehrlich presents Christian Minimalism: Simple Steps for Abundant Living is a spiritual self-help book about de-cluttering distractions in one's life in order to focus on higher values - love for one another, working for the betterment of oneself and others, and the grace that comes from faith. "Our economy thrives on our dissatisfaction. If we are constantly dissatisfied and continuously looking for happiness in material goods, we will continue to buy more and more stuff [...] But God offers us another way to live. [...] Throughout the Bible, we hear that we cannot find ultimate satisfaction in wealth or material stuff. Only God can fill our deepest needs and desires." Christian Minimalism is a deeply reverent testimony, offering profound wisdom to readers of all faiths, and highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Christian Minimalism is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.49).

Editorial Note: Becca Ehrlich is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA); she also holds a doctorate in Christian Spirituality. As a Christian minimalist in a consumer society, she got rid of sixty percent of her personal possessions in six months, took part in a year-long shopping fast, and moved into a smaller home.

Stumbling into Grace
Mary Pezzulo
Ave Maria Press
9781646800636, $15.95 paperback
B08TBBG3BM, $11.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Mary Pezzulo intended to learn all about God through graduate studies in philosophy and Christian ethics, but serious illness ruined those plans and landed her young family in desperate straits. Despite chronic illness, deep poverty, blatant discrimination, and the cruelty she encountered, Pezzulo began tripping over God in the tiny works of mercy she offered to others and received herself. With striking candor and gritty faith she shows us how we also can meet God in the smallest acts of love.

When Pezzulo began her blog Steel Magnificat in 2016, she never imagined she would be writing so much about poverty, discrimination, abuse, or the loneliness of chronic illness. Nor did she realize that the corporal and spiritual works of mercy would bring stark clarity and unflinching hope to her life. She had moved to Steubenville, Ohio, to study philosophy and ethics so that she could teach people about Jesus and make the world a better place. She expected to find God in beautiful churches, inspiring books, and the spoken words of brilliant scholars. But when her life and professional ambitions crumbled around her, she entered a terrible darkness and floundered in desperate poverty, illness, and the lingering trauma of abuse.

In that dark time, Pezzulo began to know mercy, finding God in countless tiny acts. In Stumbling into Grace she shows how the works of mercy have become her anchor in turbulence and calm, piercing sorrow and ridiculous joy, overcoming despair and bringing enduring hope. Now she shares with you how to live the works of mercy in your own life.

Critique: Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy is a work of Catholic spirituality about the profound transformations brought about by enacting good works for people who are in need. Individual chapters reflect on the incalculable value of instructing the ignorant, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, comforting the afflicted, praying for the living and the dead, and more. These timeless, biblical virtues are reexamined in the context of modern day life. "It's a good idea to patronize charities such as Habitat for Humanity, which builds houses for people who need them, with financial donations and with volunteer work depending on your time and skills." Stumbling into Grace is uplifting, potentially life-changing, and highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Stumbling Into Grace is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

Editorial Note: Mary E. Pezzulo is the creator of the Steel Magnificat blog on the Patheos Catholic channel, where she writes about everything from current events to movies to poverty in the Ohio Valley to the kindness of strangers. Pezzulo earned a bachelor's degree in English from Otterbein University and studied philosophy at Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross.

God's Great Story and You
William A. Barry SJ
Loyola Press
9780829454307, $14.99 Paperback
B096L627WZ, $7.95 Audiobook

Synopsis: The Divine Narrative Begins with the Creation of the Universe and continues through humanity's fall and struggle, the promises of the prophets, and the coming of Jesus. The story unfolds to reveal God's mercy for us over our history of sin and redemption, and the plot includes us as partners in God's great dream for the world. In this parting message to us, Fr. William A. Barry offers a lifetime of wisdom and compassion as he leads the reader through the overarching story of God's relationship with us, the beloved creation.

With his characteristic warm and personal style, Fr. Barry invites us to ponder how the events and characters of Scripture relate to us in real time and daily experience. His theme, so prominent in his life's work as author and spiritual director, is simply this: God desires our friendships and participation in the grand story of grace.

Critique: God's Great Story and You is the final book of Jesuit spiritual leader William A. Barry, SJ, who passed on in 2020 at age ninety. His final testimony speaks of God's love for all creation, including us. Crafted around the frame of human history as a story, with sections titled "God Responds to Our Messed-Up Plot", "Jesus Breaks the Hero Mold", "We Are Key Characters in a Divine Plot" and more, God's Great Story and You is a testimony of grace, that draws upon the verses of Scripture and applies them directly to present-day quandaries. A work of hope, reverence, and abiding faith, God's Great Story and You is a welcome addition to Christian and spirituality collections.

Editorial Note: William A. Barry, SJ, is a veteran spiritual director who served as tertian director for the New England Province of the Society of Jesus. He died in December of 2020, leaving a legacy that will long influence spiritual directors and seekers.

Letters to My Students, Volume 2: On Pastoring
Jason K. Allen
B&H Publishing Group
9781087725895, $17.99 Hardcover
B095WDYSDC, $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Few books have more influenced those called to gospel ministry than Charles Spurgeon's Lectures to My Students. This influence of this book, like the Prince of Preachers himself, reverberates to our present age.

Carrying forward this tradition is Jason Allen's Letters to My Students. Dr. Allen serves as president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Spurgeon College, the former ranking as one of the largest and fastest growing seminaries in North American. Dr. Allen has also served in multiple pastorates. His passion to serve the church by equipping a generation of pastors, missionaries, and ministers for faithful service is reflected in Letters to My Students.

Letters to My Students is a biblical, accessible guide for ministers and ministers-in-training. It brings both biblical and practical wisdom to bear on the minister's three main responsibilities: preaching, leading, and shepherding the flock of God.

Martin Lloyd-Jones famously described the call to ministry as the highest, greatest, and most glorious calling to which one can be called. If this assessment resonates with you, you'll want every available tool to strengthen your ministry. Letters to My Students is one such resource.

Critique: Written by a gospel minister, expressly for those called to ministry, Letters to My Students, Volume 2: On Pastoring is the second title in a three-volume series. Writings reflect on both practical and spiritual duties of the ministry, from sermons, baptisms, and church membership to cultivating requisite leadership qualities. Letters to My Students, Volume 2: On Pastoring is an absolute "must-read" for practicing and aspiring ministers alike. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Letters to My Students, Volume 2 is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Editorial Note: Dr. Jason Allen is the fifth and youngest president of Midwestern Baptist Seminary. He has served as pastor and interim pastor of Southern Baptist churches in Alabama and Kentucky over the past fifteen years. He currently serves the church more broadly through writing and preaching ministries, including his own website, where he writes on various topics including higher education, theology, preaching, and cultural and local church issues.

The Judaic Studies Shelf

Lamentations: Faith in a Turbulent World
Yael Ziegler
Maggid / The Toby Press
c/o Koren Publishers Jerusalem Ltd.
PO Box 8531, New Milford, CT 06776-8531
9781592645558, $29.95, HC, 556pp

Synopsis: How do people progress from despair to hope? How does one maintain faith in God's justice in a world that seems cruel and unfair? What is the nature of Israel's culpability and to what degree does sinfulness factor in Israel's calamities? What is the nation's relationship to its land, to Jerusalem, and to the outside world?

Artfully combining traditional and academic scholarship, Dr. Yael Ziegler weaves together close readings of the book of Lamentations (Eikha) with an integrated reading of each chapter and examinations of larger themes. To the reader's surprise, Lamentations emerges as a coherent discourse on the way that people - as individuals and as nations - contend with adversity.

Independent essays at the beginning and end of the book, as well as in appendices at the conclusion of the chapters, cover topics such as Eikha's historical background, poetic techniques, theology, structure, and linguistic and thematic connections to other biblical books, most notably the chapters of consolation in Isaiah.

Wide-ranging biblical and religious themes emerge, a veritable journey through the Bible's most profound questions. Interweaving careful literary analysis with attention to religious themes, "Lamentations: Faith in a Turbulent World" illustrates that Eikha is a testimony to the resilient faith of humans, who can persevere through adversity, emerging with a more meaningful relationship with God, with the nation, and with themselves.

Critique: Impressively erudite in presentation, thoughtful and thought-provoking in context, inspired and inspiring in content, "Lamentations: Faith in a Turbulent World" is an extraordinary and extensive treatise and one that is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Contemporary Judaic Studies & Biblical Studies collections. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Lamentations: Faith in a Turbulent World" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

The Needlecraft Shelf

Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in an English Village
Kaffe Fassett
The Taunton Press
63 South Main Street, Newtown, CT 06470
9781641551502, $29.99, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: 'Quilts in an English Village' superbly showcases Kaffe Fassett's exquisite collection of quilts, featuring both his scintillating new fabric designs and his classics, all in his unique color palette. This location chosen for this display is the medieval English village of Lavenham in Suffolk, where the 19 quilts are set off against the ancient half-timbered Tudor houses. They are displayed in all their glory in a sumptuous eye-catching quilt gallery.

Included in this set of new designs are many very special ones by Kaffe, and several by his long-time friend and co-designer, Liza Prior Lucy. Kaffe's Starry Night, featured on the cover, fussy cuts some of his brilliant floral fabrics in deep rich colors to great effect, setting them off by surrounding stars in his Shot Cottons. Shards translates the traditional Broken Dishes design into deliciously soft and subtle blends of pastel fabrics, shown off to perfection against the pale plaster and weathered timbers of the Lavenham houses. In a quite different vein, the boldly contrasting background stripes in black and white fabric in Blooming Columns make a dramatic contrast to the huge fussy-cut flowers appliqued onto it.

Featured are a range of quilts for all skill levels, from beginners to advanced. Shaded Squares is one such lovely quilt for first timers, with its cleverly shaded squares each made up from two large triangles, one plain and one striped in Kaffe's Shot Cotton and Wide Stripe fabrics. Flat shots, a practical know-how section and glossary, back up the fully illustrated, step-by-step instructions for each quilt.

Critique: A quilt maker's pure delight, "Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in an English Village" is informative and inspiring to simply browse through one beautifully illustrated and descriptive page at a time. Simply stated, "Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in an English Village" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Contemporary Needlecraft & Quilting collections.

Editorial Note: San Francisco-born artist Kaffe Fassett is a name every quilter knows. His work has been commissioned by the British monarchy, American fashion designers, and the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has written numerous best-sellers including Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in Italy, Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in Morocco, and Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in the Cotswold's.

The Crafts Shelf

Conscious Crafts: Pottery
Lucy Davidson
Leaping Hare Press
c/o The Quarto Group
9780711257436 $18.00 hc / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Making is mindfulness made practical, and pottery is a popular meditative craft. Drawing on the traditions of hand making, Lucy has created 20 modern makes with air dry and polymer clay - all without the need for a wheel or kiln: imperfect pots; coasters; necklace beads; abstract earrings; terrazzo-style bracelets; bird brooches; pinch pot tea holders; light pull; incense holder; botanical & feather wall hangings; festive decorations; potted herb markers; clay 'leaf' bowls; plant hanger pots; indoor planters; miniature bunting; serving dishes; and seaside vases. She shares the basic techniques to pottery and shows how these can be explored and personalized for different projects, as well as making your own clay and memories.

Clean photography, contemporary illustration and heart-affirming text are beautifully mixed together to celebrate art of making for a handmade future. Packed with inspiring ideas and practical guidance, Conscious Crafts: Pottery gives you the raw skills to get started with this fulfilling craft, and shows how the pottery experience and the satisfaction of creating your own unique makes can create happiness.

The Conscious Crafts series places mindfulness and well-being at the heart of making. Picking out proven meditative crafts and bespoke authors, these practical, contemporary guides are an inviting introduction to reconnecting head, heart, and hands.

Critique: Part of the "Conscious Crafts" series designed to guide readers to meditative crafting as a spiritually enriching activity to promote well-being, Conscious Crafts: Pottery features full-color illustrations and step-by-step instructions for a variety of simple claw projects. Plans for creating pots, coasters, jewelry, containers for plants, delightful decorations and much more fill this wonderful, easy-to-use treasury of "hands-on" projects for clay shapers of all skill and experience levels. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Conscious Crafts: Pottery is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Automotive Shelf

Volkswagen Type 4: 411 and 412
Marc Cranswick
Veloce Publishing
9781787115224 $60.00

Synopsis: What kind of car is that? It looks like a big Beetle! If ever there was a car in search of a context and market, it was the VW Type 4. Volkswagen's first foray into the upscale sector brought engineering innovation to Wolfsburg. It also tried to convince worldwide buyers that VW still had the right stuff. With design origins in the Porsche consultancy, the signs were hopeful. However, globally, the automarket was rapidly changing.

The VW Type 4's portfolio ran to unitary construction and fuel injection, but had to face fancy competition from Detroit's European subsidiaries. All the while, VW was searching for its future road, and faced challenging developments. The fuel crisis and Japanese competition in North America kept the pressure on at Wolfsburg.

Could the VW 411 and 412's solid traditional virtues carry the day? Then and now the Type 4's unbreakable VW quality, and flat out sustainability, appealed to air cooled devotees. The 411 and 412 brought a new dimension in comfort to VW, and its hardware design was utilized by the air cooled clan both on and off road. The Type 4 even had a sports car connection, and never lost the power to surprise.

Critique: Lavishly illustrated with full-color photography on almost every page, Volkswagen Type 4: 411 and 412 - The Final Rear-Engined VW Cars is a tribute and showcase to a line of cars that Volkswagen produced in the late 1960's and the 1970's. These were the final rear-engined, air-cooled passenger cars, created with an emphasis on comfort and marketed as "A luxury you can afford." Chapters describe the rise and fade of these automobiles in terms accessible to car enthusiasts of all backgrounds; appendices provide more technical specifications to interested specialists. A bibliography and an index round out this coffee-table treasury, highly recommended especially for Volkswagen connoisseurs.

The Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf

Marvel Monsters
Kelly Knox
c/o Penguin Random House
9780744028621 $25.00 hc / $10.99 Kindle

Synopsis: This comprehensive field guide to Marvel flora, fauna, and beasts great and small shows off claws, teeth, tails, and wings in sumptuous, never-seen-before detail.

From tyrannosaurus rexes from alternative worlds and genetically modified deinonychuses from the future to purple cat-sized dragons and swamp monsters, the Marvel multiverse is brimming with creatures both heroic and villainous. Explore swamps and the Savage Lands and more. Discover aerial beasts, artificially created creatures, and even monster team-ups. This anthology is a beautifully curated guide to the best and the worst and ensures you will never get Fin Fang Foom and Tim Boom Ba mixed up again!

Critique: Marvel Monsters: Creatures of the Marvel Universe Explored is a coffee-table book showcasing extraordinary, sometimes awe-inspiring, sometimes grotesque monsters from the Marvel comic book universe. Not all of the monsters are a dire menace; some are themselves heroes, while others are beings whose motives are not easily classified as good or evil. Here are aliens, intimidating myths come to life, unfortunate humans transformed into something beastly, and more. Marvel Monsters is a thoroughly enjoyable browse, and makes an excellent gift book for Marvel comic connoisseurs. Highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Marvel Monsters is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Old Gods & New: A Companion To Jack Kirby's Fourth World
John Morrow with Jon B. Cooke
TwoMorrows Publishing
10407 Bedfordtown Dr., Raleigh, NC 27614
9781605490984, $26.95 paperback

Synopsis: For its 80th issue, the Jack Kirby Collector magazine presents a double-sized 50th anniversary examination of Kirby's magnum opus! Spanning the pages of four different comics starting in 1970 (New Gods, Forever People, Mister Miracle, and Jimmy Olsen), the sprawling "Epic for our times" was cut short mid-stream, leaving fans wondering how Jack would've resolved the confrontation between evil Darkseid of Apokolips, and his son Orion of New Genesis.

This companion to that "Fourth World" series looks back at Jack Kirby's own words, as well as those of assistants Mark Evanier and Steve Sherman, inker Mike Royer, and publisher Carmine Infantino, to determine how it came about, where it was going, and how Kirby would've ended it before it was prematurely cancelled by DC Comics! It also examines Kirby's use of gods in Thor and other strips prior to the Fourth World, how they influenced his DC epic, and affected later series like The Eternals and Captain Victory. With an overview of hundreds of Kirby's creations like Big Barda, Boom Tubes and Granny Goodness, and post-Kirby uses of his concepts, no Fourth World fan will want to miss it! Compiled, researched, and edited by John Morrow, with contributions by Jon B. Cooke.

Critique: Old Gods & New is an absolute "must-have" for connoisseurs of Jack Kirby's work in comics, and especially his series-spanning "Fourth World" saga representing a modern-mythic clash between the cruel, tyrannical Darkseid of Apokolips, and Darkseid's son Orion of New Genesis. Peppered with colorful illustrations and photographs, Old Gods & New features full-page character artwork by Kirby himself, a balanced evaluation of Kirby's own words about the series, and testimony from Kirby's assistants. Old Gods & New draws upon interviews, testimonies, and overviews of Kirby's many previous creations to logically deduce how Kirby would have concluded the "Fourth World" saga, if DC Comics had not prematurely cancelled it. Old Gods & New is a fascinating browse for comic book hobbyists, a treasure for collectors, and highly recommended.

The Audiobook Shelf

Linda Castillo
Read by Kathleen McInerney
Macmillan Audiobooks
9781250804334 $39.99, 8 CDs

Synopsis: When a young woman is found murdered in a Painters Mill motel, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is shocked to discover she once knew the victim. Rachael Schwartz was a charming but troubled Amish girl who left the fold years ago and fled Painters Mill. Why was she back in town? And who would kill her so brutally?

Kate remembers Rachael as the only girl who was as bad at being Amish as Kate was and those parallels dog her. But the more Kate learns about Rachael's life, the more she's convinced that her dubious reputation was deserved. As a child, Rachael was a rowdy rulebreaker whose decision to leave devastated her parents and best friend. As an adult, she was charismatic and beautiful, a rabble-rouser with a keen eye for opportunity no matter who got in her way. Her no-holds-barred lifestyle earned her a lot of love and enemies aplenty both English and Amish.

As the case heats to a fever pitch and long-buried secrets resurface, a killer haunts Painters Mill. Someone doesn't want Rachael's past or the mysteries she took with her to the grave coming to light. As Kate digs deeper, violence strikes again, this time hitting close to home. Will Kate uncover the truth and bring a murderer to justice? Or will a killer bent on protecting a terrible past stop her once and for all and let the fallen be forgotten?

Critique: Fallen is a suspenseful audiobook written by Linda Castillo and superbly performed by Kathleen McInerney. Chief of Police Kate Burkholder, formerly a member of the Amish community, must investigate the murder of a young woman who also rejected the Amish way of life. The deeper Burkholder digs, the greater the victim's list of enemies both among the Amish and the English seems to grow. Intensely riveting to the end, Fallen is sure to prove a popular lending library pick for connoisseurs of mystery audiobooks. 8 CDs, 10 hours. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Fallen is also available in hardcover format (Minotaur Books, $27.99) and in a Kindle edition ($14.99).

The Music CD Shelf

Change Is in the Wind
Ann Sweeten
Orange Band Records
$15.99 CD

Change Is in the Wind is an album of original, instrumental music by pianist and composer Ann Sweeten. Guest contributions from musicians Nancy Rumbel (English Horn), Eugene Friesen (Cello), and Charlie Bisharat (Violin) enhance the extraordinary soundscape, created out of the drive to share light and hope. Soul-stirringly beautiful, Change Is in the Wind is a treasure for both personal and public library instrumental music collections. The tracks are Arctic Dance, What Blooms Beneath the Snow, May 24 (42 Years Ago), Turning the Page, What My Eyes Can't See, One Last October, Forever Sunday, Emergence, Change Is in the Wind, and Silver Lining.

The Travel Shelf

Lonely Planet's Best Places to Eat in Every Country
Lonely Planet Food
Lonely Planet
9781838690472 $29.99 hc

Synopsis: For the first time ever, Lonely Planet has compiled the best dining spots in every country of the world. Our writers know how to sniff out the best food around and our picks favour local, authentic and atmospheric experiences - whether that means tucking into tasty oysters at a seafood shack in southeast England or gorging on the best jerk chicken in Jamaica.

Throughout the book's 600-plus pages, we also profile the must-try delicacies unique to each country, as well as advice on how much to tip. Full-colour photographs and illustrations showcase lip-smackingly good cuisine, such as Mexican pork-belly tacos and fresh Icelandic seafood, and accompanying text gives you the lowdown on the best restaurants to wine and dine in, as well as where to drink craft beer, eat quesadillas and much more.

With over 2000 expert recommendations, this is the ultimate companion to help foodie travellers make the most of every meal, wherever they are in the world.

Critique: Lonely Planet's Best Places to Eat in Every Country lives up to its title with over 2000 restaurant recommendations around the world. Some pages features full-color photographs of selected eateries or choice dishes; others have black-and-white images. Every suggested restaurant has a paragraph of description along with an address, phone number, website, and typical price range for a meal. An index rounds out this choice pick for culinary armchair travelers. Lonely Planet's Best Places to Eat in Every Country is highly recommended especially for anyone who travels widely and desires to sample the best of the best!

Cool Recipes & Camping Hacks for VW Campers
Dave Richards
Veloce Publishing
9781787117457 $25.00 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Combining his love of vintage Volkswagens and good food, Dave Richards has produced a book which will enable campers to improve their experience.

Cool Recipes & Camping Hacks for VW Campers is packed with nearly 120 recipes, tips and tales to make even the most devoted city dweller want to camp. There's advice on VW Campervan ownership, ways to make your camping easier and better, and a few tales which will simply make you laugh out loud. It's a book like no other, one minute a reference book, the next a great coffee table browser. Camping has finally become cool again!

Recent events have brought a whole new selection of players to the camping game: people who've been holidaying abroad for years may have been forced to look closer to home. Their experiences might have been mixed, but for anyone who plans to continue camping and who may be looking for help and guidance, this volume provides valuable tips and many inspired ideas. Seasoned campers alike will also find some pearls of wisdom, interesting recipe ideas, and enjoy reading about the author's experiences.

Critique: Cool Recipes & Camping Hacks for VW Campers lives up to its title with almost 120 recipes, hot tips, and exciting tales about the joys of camping in a VW Campervan. Camping enthusiasts and armchair travelers alike will find Cool Recipes & Camping Hacks for VW Campers a joy to browse, and the practical advice is invaluable for first-time road travelers. Even stay-at-home cooks will find the savory recipes a palate-pleasing delight! Highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Cool Recipes & Camping Hacks for VW Campers is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Best Buena Vista and Salida Hikes
Penelope Purdy
The Colorado Mountain Club Press
c/o Mountaineers Books (distribution)
9781733332132 $16.95

Synopsis: The soaring mountains near Buena Vista and Salida are among the most popular hiking destinations in Colorado, offering so many trails, lakes, and peaks that the choices can seem overwhelming. The Best Buena Vista and Salida Hikes solves that problem for you, as lifelong hiker and author Penelope Purdy curates 25 of the region's most classic hikes in an easy-to-carry pack guide. The routes range from easy lake walks suitable for families to challenging multiday mountain scrambles. It includes segments of the Continental Divide Trail and the Colorado Trail, both of which pass through the area.

The book also provides information about where to find wildflowers, go bird watching, and catch trout. No matter your skill level, the national forests, wilderness areas, and other public lands in the upper Arkansas River Valley offer something for everyone. The Best Buena Vista and Salida Hikes is your guide to the best places in a truly beautiful part of central Colorado.

Critique: Printed on durable laminated paper and featuring full-color photographs on almost every page, The Best Buena Vista and Salida Hikes is a pocket-sized travel guide to the beautiful hiking trails near Buena Vista and Salida, approximately 150 miles southwest of Denver, Colorado. Each of the twenty-five showcased trails has detailed descriptions, maps, notes on where to spot wildflowers or birds, information about fishing spots, mileage listings and suggested hikes to suit a wide range of endurance levels, and much more. The Best Buena Vista and Salida Hikes is a "must-have" for anyone who wants to make the most of their experience on these gorgeous Colorado trails!

Otaku Japan
Gianni Simone
9784805315149 $18.99 pbk / $16.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Are you crazy about Japanese manga, anime, video games, cosplay, toys and idols? If so, this book is for you! Whether you're planning a trip to Japan, have a severe case of wanderlust, or are just fascinated by its culture, let Otaku Japan transport you to the capital of cool.

In this practical travel guide, over 450 iconic shops, restaurants, cafes, clubs and events are presented in loving detail with precise directions on how to find them. More than 20 maps, websites and over 400 color photos take you the length and breadth of Japan to all the centers of Otaku culture - from snowy Hokkaido to sunny Kyushu.

Highlights include:
Interviews with Game Developers
Cosplay and Halloween Events in Japan
Dojinshi: Self-published Comics
A Visit to the Ghibli Museum
Interview with famous Japanese idols
Anime-themed Trains
A Glossary of Otaku Terms
And much, much more!

The book covers all major regions in Japan - Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nagoya, Sapporo and Fukuoka - as well as lesser-known areas like Tohoku, Chugoku and Shikoku.

Critique: Featuring colorful photographs throughout, Otaku Japan is a travel and tourism guide created especially for "otaku" connoisseurs of Japanese popular culture - including but not limited to manga (Japanese graphic novels), anime (Japanese animation), video games, teen idols, cosplay (dressing up as fictional characters), and much more. Chapters cover Japanese pop culture centers all over Japan, from the capital of Tokyo to various regions; highlighted museums and tourist attractions each have a thumbnail summery with information about their hours, how to access them, and their associated website or social media site. A selection of travel tips and a few pages about what to expect when visiting an attraction such as a game center round out this treasury, ideal for armchair travelers as well as prospective visitors. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Otaku Japan is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.99).

The Beer/Wine/Spirits Shelf

Beer Fest USA: Celebrating American Craft Brews
M. B. Mooney
Red Lightning Books
9781684351411, $18.00 Paperback
B08DLQW278, $16.43 Kindle

Synopsis: While beer has always been an important part of American culture, the last three decades have seen an explosion in the popularity of craft brews and microbrews, and, along with them, beer festivals. Modeled on their German counterparts such as Munich's Oktoberfest, beer festivals allow brewers to introduce customers to their creations, to educate the public about the differences between various craft beers, to learn from beer drinkers, and to promote friendship.

Beer Fest USA introduces beer enthusiasts novices and seasoned beer geeks alike to thirteen of the biggest and best beer festivals in the US, giving you a taste of the unique history and flavor of each. So get ready to drink up, laugh with friends, and start planning your next beer festival vacation.

Critique: A wealth of black-and-white photographs enhance Beer Fest USA: Celebrating American Craft Brews, a tour of thirteen of the biggest beer festivals in the United States. Inspired by German occasions such as Munich's Oktoberfest, these venues are choice picks for craft beer connoisseurs and vacationers enjoy! Beer Fest USA is highly recommended for American travelers who are also connoisseurs of craft brew. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Beer Fest USA is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.43).

Editorial Note: M. B. Mooney was in the 2nd grade when his teacher, Mrs. Green, tried to keep him out of trouble by saying, "Why don't you write me a story?" He thought that was the best idea ever, and it's kept him out of trouble ever since. Mooney writes fiction and nonfiction and loves a good brew while he works, whether that be specialty coffee or craft beer, which is the basis for his writing podcast, Brew & Ink. He lives with his amazing wife, three creative kids, and a dog in Suwanee, Georgia.

The Atlas of Bourbon and American Whiskey
Eric Zandona
Mitchell Beazley
9781784727406, $19.99 hardcover
B0928JT9X3, $8.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Take a region-by-region journey through the unique flavors of American whiskey, with spirits expert Eric Zandona. From Kentucky's bourbon heartland to New York's Empire Rye revolution, learn all there is to know about the only true American spirit.

Critique: The Atlas of Bourbon and American Whiskey: A Journey Through the Spirit of America lives up to its title as an information-packed repository filled cover to cover with maps, facts, history, regional bourbon guides, cocktail recipes, profiles of notable distilleries and their whiskey, and more. Full color photographs on almost every page and an index enhance this "must-have" for hard liquor connoisseurs! It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Atlas of Bourbon and American Whiskey is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

Editorial Note: Eric Zandona is Director of Spirits Information at the American Distilling Institute, a spirits judge at the prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition, staff writer at Distiller magazine and author of two previous books, The Bourbon Bible and The Tequila Dictionary. He lives in Vancouver, Washington.

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Symbols of the Occult
Eric Chaline
Thames & Hudson
9780500024034, $24.95 hardcover

Synopsis: This expansive illustrated directory showcases the key signs and symbols of the occult. Each entry has been carefully selected for its powerful symbolism, and the stylish illustrations span from the myths and legends of the ancient world to the icons used in modern science.

Award-winning author Eric Chaline introduces each topic with a short overview before featuring the key signs and symbols and exploring similar and related entries. Including signs from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, as well as Aztec, Celtic, Slavic, Native American, and Hindu societies, Symbols of the Occult examines more than 500 symbols from history, art, and culture by decoding their iconography and exploring their historical significance. Arranged by topic, this volume collects the key areas of astrology and cosmology; witchcraft and mysticism; satanism and demonology; science and alchemy; math and sacred geometry; the natural world; and symbols of ancient and secret societies.

This guide is the ultimate resource for the modern occultist.

Critique: Symbols of the Occult is a compiled directory of over five hundred signs, symbols, and icons, categorized primarily by their origin (The Natural World, Sacred Writings, Occult Sciences, White Magic & Cartomancy, Black Magic & Demonology, and Western Esoteric Tradition). In addition to black-and-white illustrations of the symbols themselves, a wealth of color photographs complement the descriptive text concerning the history and uses of the symbols. An inset cloth bookmark and an index further enhance this excellent reference and resource, highly recommended especially for metaphysical enthusiasts.

Editorial Note: Eric Chaline is an author and editor based in London. He has a special interest in religion and philosophy and has written books on a range of subjects, such as history, travel, and health and fitness. His published works include The Book of Zen, The Book of Gods and Goddesses, 101 Dilemmas for the Armchair Philosopher, Lost Treasures, Ancient Greece, and Strokes of Genius, which won the Lord Aberdare Literary Prize for the best book on the history of sport in 2018.

The Last Ecstasy of Life: Celtic Mysteries of Death and Dying
Phyllida Anam-Aire
Findhorn Press
9781644112656, $14.99 Paperback
B08KQKRF1V, $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: In the Celtic tradition dying is considered an act of birthing, of our consciousness passing from this life to the next. Informed by an early near-death experience, spiritual midwife and former nun Phyllida Anam- ire offers an intimate overview of the sacred stages of the dying process seen through the lens of her Celtic heritage. Compassionately describing the final dissolution of the elements, she emphasizes how important it is to resolve and integrate our psycho-spiritual shadows and wounds in this lifetime. What truly heals is our capacity for authentic compassionate love--in life, in death, and after. Healing our ancestry before leaving the body eases not only our transition but sets future generations free from old stories held in our family systems.

Sharing her insights into God consciousness, our earth/ego mind, and the soul's journey through the Aite or bardos, Phyllida's poetic words guide us toward the final ecstasy as the soul leaves its material form and enters the vast Universal Heart of cosmic energy. Providing a deep spiritual understanding of the mysteries of death and the afterlife, this courageous book combines Celtic and Christian wisdom to dispel the fear of dying and invites us to live consciously and with love to our very last breath.

Critique: Drawing upon both Celtic and Christian traditions, The Last Ecstasy of Life: Celtic Mysteries of Death and Dying is a metaphysical exploration of death as a transition of the soul's boundaries. Thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds, The Last Ecstasy of Life offers insights on how to help those who are dying, learning to accept death as preparation for what lies beyond, sample Celtic blessings and poems, and much more. The Last Ecstasy of Life is a comforting browse and resource for anyone going through the difficult process of saying goodbye to a loved one, or confronting their own final days. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Last Ecstasy of Life is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Editorial Note: Phyllida Anam-Aire, a former Irish nun and therapist, who trained with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, has worked extensively with the sick and dying. She offers talks and Conscious Living, Conscious Dying retreats, and teaches Celtic Gutha, Irish mourning songs.

Animal Medicine
Erika Buenaflor M.A., J.D.
Inner Traditions
9781591434115, $18.00 paperback
B08KQLR7XY, $12.99 Kindle

Synopsis: In this guide, Erika Buena or explores the animal mythologies, spirit journeying techniques, and shapeshifting practices of ancient shamanic traditions and modern-day curanderismo. She examines how indigenous Mesoamerican peoples used animals in their ceremonial healing and divination rites and explains the innate gifts and powers that different animals embody. She explores why certain animals are associated with and provide access to the nonordinary realms--the Underworld, Middleworld, and Upperworld--wherein deities, ancestors, supernatural beings, and medicine can be connected with or obtained. The author explores shapeshifting practices in detail and the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual benefits we can gain by engaging in shapeshifting practices. She also explores how to strengthen our connections with our spirit animal guides.

Offering an alphabetical guide to 76 animals most prevalent in ancient Mesoamerican legends, ceremonies, and medicinal rites, the author details each animal's spiritual gifts, shapeshifting medicine, the realm they are associated with, and their symbolic meaning when they appear in a dream or vision. Providing multiple methods to connect with animals for spiritual guidance, self-empowerment, and healing, Buena or reveals how each of us can enrich our lives with ancient Mesoamerican wisdom for working with animal guides.

Critique: Animal Medicine: A Curanderismo Guide to Shapeshifting, Journeying, and Connecting with Animal Allies is an extraordinary, in-depth guide into Mesoamerican lore about animal spirit guides. Chapters explore the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits that ancient wisdom and animal guides can bring to everyday life. The shapeshifting discussed transcends the physical realm to include etheric or astral shapeshifting, which can provide greater insight into time-space connections. Animal Medicine is fascinating to browse, and highly recommended a welcome addition to metatphysical studies collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Animal Medicine is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

Editorial Note: Erika Buenaflor, M.A., J.D., has a master's degree in religious studies with a focus on Mesoamerican shamanism from the University of California at Riverside. A practicing curandera for more than 20 years, descended from a long line of grandmother curanderas, she has studied with curanders/os in Mexico, Peru, and Los Angeles and gives presentations on curanderismo in many settings, including at UCLA. She lives in Tujunga, California.

The Infinite Staircase
Geoffrey A. Moore
BenBella Books
9781950665983, $26.95 Hardcover
B0936NR667, $12.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Two questions fundamental to human existence have always been the metaphysical "where do I fit in the grand scheme of things?" and the ethical "how should I behave?" Religion is no longer a source of answers for many people, and nothing has replaced it.

Moore uses his signature framework-based approach to answer these questions, taking us on an intellectual roller coaster ride through physics, chemistry, biology, the social sciences and the humanities. Along the way, he builds a metaphorical ladder that leads from the big bang to the need for ethical action in our daily lives.

Combining an extraordinary range of scholarship with an accessible and entertaining writing style, The Infinite Staircase: What the Universe Tells Us About Life, Ethics, and Mortality provides a coherent and unified platform for a full human life.

Critique: The Infinite Staircase: What the Universe Tells Us About Life, Ethics, and Mortality is a blend of ethical philosophy, social science, and metaphysics. Chapters discuss metaphysical elements amid the hard sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology, the metaphysics of memes (ideas expressed in language that especially attractive and therefore frequently spread and repeated), the essence of philosophical concepts such as morality or justice, and much more. Written for both scholars and lay readers alike, The Infinite Staircase is a welcome contribution to personal and public library Metaphysical Studies collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Infinite Staircase is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

Editorial Note: Geoffrey Moore is an author, speaker, and high-tech business advisor best known for his seminal book, Crossing the Chasm, first published in 1990, still in print, having sold over a million copies, translated into over a dozen languages, and still being required reading in most business schools. Since then he has published six other bestselling business books and advised leading high-tech enterprises including Salesforce, Microsoft, Intel, Adobe, Autodesk, Box, Airbnb, and Splunk. Moore has a bachelors degree in American literature from Stanford University and a PhD in English literature from the University of Washington, where his dissertation was on strategies for living in Spenser's The Faerie Queene. Subsequently, he taught literature, conceptual models, and writing for four years at Olivet College before returning to the Bay Area to take up a career in business.

The Self-Help Shelf

How to Make Feeling Good Your Priority
Holly Rouillard Johnson
Balboa Press
9781982263195, $30.95 Hardcover
B08X6L4P8B, $5.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Holly Rouillard Johnson's path to make feeling good a priority manifested in her childhood and high school years. She discovered running, which led her on a twenty-seven-time marathon journey starting at age thirty-four. She credits her accomplishments in racing and life to her feel-good mentality, including a proven formula on sustaining a feel-good state for as long as possible both along marathon courses and life's paths.

Throughout the years, her commitment to feeling good led her to coaching and helping others adapt more positive mindsets and helping her heal and overcome injuries and balance the demands of professional and running careers along with family and other interests. It also fueled her courage to deal with adversity as an athlete and in life. This feel-good commitment enables her to embrace every setback as an opportunity to learn, grow, and evolve, principles and practices she shares in How to Make Feeling Good Your Priority.

Shifting the law of attraction in a positive direction, Johnson gives practical advice, guiding you in making the right choices and shifting how you approach your day by thinking and focusing on what will make you feel good and happy. Johnson insists you can choose how you want to feel around your kids, your spouse, at work, at the gym, on a run, or simply how you approach each day. When you feel good, the world seems like a better place.

Critique: How to Make Feeling Good Your Priority: A Marathoner's Journey to a Feel-Good State is a self-help and self- improvement guide that emphasizes the power of achieving and maintaining a positive emotional state. Anecdotes and psychological exercises (as well as reminders of the uplifting emotional benefits of physical exercise) illuminate the practical-minded wisdom of How to Make Feeling Good Your Priority. Highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that How To Make Feeling Good Your Priority is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

Editorial Note: Holly Rouillard Johnson has worked in the marketing and public relations field for more than thirty years as a consultant; co-owner of two successful PR, marketing, design, and photography firms; and founder of her own running and fit life coaching business, Runner's Mindset. Johnson has run twenty-seven marathons starting at age thirty-four. She qualified for the Boston Marathon twenty times and ran six. This is her first book.

Permission Granted
Regina Louise
New World Library
9781608687268, $16.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Get ready to discover and implement practical, fierce, and fun ways to manifest your desires in every personal and professional sphere. With verve and heart, Permission Granted illustrates proven paths from "you couldn't possibly" to "just watch me!" You'll begin to deeply understand who you are and what you have been through, moving toward self-compassion and learning to give yourself the care and support you may have lacked.

Critique: Permission Granted: Kick-Ass Strategies to Bootstrap Your Way to Unconditional Self-Love lives up to its title as a self-help guide to giving oneself compassion, care, and support. Chapters discuss positive strategies such as composing a "permission statement", getting to know one's "inner child", cognitive behavior therapies oriented toward cultivating courage, and more. An index rounds out this inspirational and emotionally uplifting resource. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Permission Granted is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Editorial Note: Regina Louise is a sought-after speaker, teacher, coach, and author. Her writing and advocacy work have been recognized with numerous awards. The Lifetime movie I Am Somebody's Child was based on her bestselling memoirs. Currently a Hoffman Process teacher, she leads workshops and speaks frequently throughout the country. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Old?
Richard J. Leider and David Shapiro
Berrett-Koehler Publishers
9781523092451, $19.95 hardcover
B08N9M24LN, $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Everyone is getting old; not everyone is growing old. But the path of purposeful aging is accessible to all - and it's fundamental to health, happiness, and longevity.

With a focus on growing whole through developing a sense of purpose in later life, Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Old? celebrates the experience of aging with inspiring stories, real-world practices, and provocative questions. Framed by a long conversation between two old friends, the book reconceives aging as a liberating experience that enables us to become more authentically the person we always meant to be with each passing year.

In their bestseller Repacking Your Bags, Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro defined the good life as "living in the place you belong, with people you love, doing the right work, on purpose." This book builds on that definition to offer a purposeful path for living well while aging well.

Critique: Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Old?: The Path of Purposeful Aging lives up to its title as a candid and thoughtful reflection on aging as a positive an liberating experience. Chapters address both practical and spiritual matters related to aging. Framed in the form of a conversation between two old friends, The Path of Purposeful Aging provides a positive, inspirational, much-needed message, and is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Old? is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Editorial Note: Richard J. Leider is the founder of Inventure - The Purpose Company, whose mission is to help people unlock the power of purpose. Widely viewed as a pioneer of the global purpose movement, Leider has written or cowritten eleven books, including three bestsellers, which have sold over one million copies.

David A. Shapiro is a philosopher, educator, and writer whose work consistently explores matters of meaning, purpose, and equity in the lives of young people and adults. He is a tenured philosophy professor at Cascadia College, a community college in the Seattle area.

The Interior Design Shelf

A Century of Color in Design
David Harrison
Thames & Hudson
9781760761288 $34.95

Synopsis: Discover the dazzling history of color in design, from Bauhaus to Memphis and beyond. This collection of furniture, fabric, and decorative objects shows how color has defined design over the last century.

The allure of color is time honored and undeniable, but its inspired use in product design is a relatively new development.

More than a century ago the Bauhaus movement changed the use of color in design. After World War II, pigment-imbued molded fiberglass Eames chairs allowed buyers to express their individuality through colorful seating, altering the way we think about furniture. The Eames chairs of the 1950s symbolize the cultural intersection of design, technology, and color that continues to influence designers to this day.

From the pale blue Anglepoise lamp to Marimekko's hot-red poppy print and the wine-red Bookworm Bookshelf, this book includes classics, future classics, and equally exciting contemporary pieces. A Century of Color in Design delivers a snapshot of twentieth-century history through the lens of design, exploring the origins and rationale behind the design and colorization of some of the century's most iconic furniture and objects.

Critique: Showcasing full-color photography on virtually every page, A Century of Color in Design is an extraordinary gallery of designs with an emphasis on how color influenced the creative philosophy shaping iconic decorations and furniture. From the stylized "Bofinger Chair" to the irregularly patterned "Tropical Rug" to the eye-catching "Color Fall Shelving", these interior design pieces by a wide variety of creators are featuring extraordinarily distinctive forms, only sometimes at the expense of function. Every spotlighted item also has a descriptive paragraph about its aesthetics and purpose, with particular emphasis on its color scheme. A Century of Color in Design is striking, inspirational browse, especially recommended for aspiring and practicing interior designers.

The Sports Shelf

Foul Ball
Jim Bouton
Turner Publishing Company
9781684426416, $42.99 Hardcover

Synopsis: For the first time in two decades, enjoy Foul Ball as never before with freshly edited content and a new foreword from Jim Bouton's wife, Paula.

With his trademark wit and distinctive voice, Bouton recounts his battle against the local elites' efforts to replace one of the oldest parks in the United States against the wishes and votes of local citizens. But Foul Ball is more than just a lively romp about saving an old ballpark near Bouton's home in Massachusetts.

In a detailed diary - his first since Ball Four - Bouton takes us along on his wild ride, into the teeth of corporate malfeasance, anti-democratic processes, the tyranny of a one-newspaper town, and the real reason why the good old boys wanted to build a new stadium.

Critique: Now in a new edition with freshly edited content and a brand new foreword by the author's wife, Foul Ball: My Life and Hard Times Trying to Save an Old Ballpark is the memoir of a major league pitcher and his efforts to preserve a local Massachusetts ballpark, in tandem with the desires and votes of local citizens. Foul Ball reveals how this one, contested issue is a window into corporate wrongdoing, and the tyranny of monied elites who seek to exert their will on the backs of taxpayers. An index rounds out this sobering look at the dark intersection between sports and crony capitalism, highly recommended for both personal and public library collections.

Editorial Note: Jim Bouton was a major league pitcher for the New York Yankees, Seattle Pilots, Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves. His book, Ball Four, was entered into evidence at the decisive arbitration hearing that led to free-agency in baseball, and the New York Public Library included it as one of its Books of the Century.

The Political Science Shelf

The Dignity of Labour
Jon Cruddas
9781509540792, $19.95

Synopsis: Does work give our lives purpose, meaning and status? Or is it a tedious necessity that will soon be abolished by automation, leaving humans free to enjoy a life of leisure and basic income?

In this erudite and highly readable book, Jon Cruddas MP argues that it is imperative that the Left rejects the siren call of technological determinism and roots it politics firmly in the workplace. Drawing from his experience of his own Dagenham and Rainham constituency, he examines the history of Marxist and social democratic thinking about work in order to critique the fatalism of both Blairism and radical left techno-utopianism, which, he contends, have more in common than either would like to admit. He argues that, especially in the context of COVID-19, socialists must embrace an ethical socialist politics based on the dignity and agency of the labour interest.

This timely book is a brilliant intervention in the highly contentious debate on the future of work, as well as an ambitious account of how the left must rediscover its animating purpose or risk irrelevance.

Critique: What do Blairism (a reference to policies resembling those of Britain's former prime minister Tony Blair, who emphasized privatization, deregulation, and continued anti-union laws) and radical left techno-utopianism have in common? Both take a fatalistic approach against proposals to benefit the working class, argues author and politician Jon Cruddas. The Dignity of Labour is Cruddas' treatise arguing that Britain's Labour Party must lead the way to improved well-being for the nation's workers. Cruddas studies the history of Marxist and social democratic philosophy about work, as well as the modern-day context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and emphasizes the importance of crafting socialist policies grounded in moral ethics and the innate dignity of work itself. The Dignity of Labour is thought-provoking, critical, candid, grounded in real-life experiences drawn from Cruddas' working-class constituents, and highly recommended.

Editorial Note: Jon Cruddas is the Labour Member of Parliament for Dagenham and Rainham.

The Criminology Shelf

The Chicago Cub Shot For Love
Jack Bales
Arcadia Publishing
9781467148481, $21.99 paper
B094X2TFYQ, $12.99 Kindle

Synopsis: In the summer of 1932, with the Cubs in the thick of the pennant race, Billy Jurges broke off his relationship with Violet Popovich to focus on baseball. The famously beautiful showgirl took it poorly, marching into his hotel room with a revolver in her purse. Both were wounded in the ensuing struggle, but Jurges refused to press charges. Even without their star shortstop, Chicago made it to the World Series, only to be on the wrong end of Babe Ruth's legendary Called Shot. Using hundreds of original sources, Jack Bales profiles the lives of the ill-fated couple and traces the ripple effects of the shooting on the Cubs' tumultuous season.

Critique: The Chicago Cub Shot For Love: A Showgirl's Crime of Passion and the 1932 World Series is the true story of a violent incident that impacted the Chicago Cubs baseball team close to a century ago. While the Cubs were competing to enter the World Series, Cubs player Billy Jurges abruptly ended his relationship with the beautiful showgirl Violet Popovich. She reacted bitterly to the rejection, and brought a revolver to Jurges' hotel room. Both Popovich and Jurges were wounded in the resulting altercation; Jurges refused to press charged. The Chicago Cub Shot for Love examines the repercussions of the crime on the Cubs, which made it to the World Series that year but did not win. A handful of vintage black-and-white photographs and extensive notes enrich this historical analysis, meticulously researched yet written to be thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds. Highly recommended to baseball history and true crime enthusiasts alike! It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Chicago Cub Shot For Love is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

Editorial Note: Jack Bales' lengthy career in librarianship included more than forty years at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He has published books as well as numerous articles and essays for books, journals, magazines, literary encyclopedias and newspapers. He is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, and his initial research on the 1932 shooting of Chicago Cub Billy Jurges appeared in the fall 2016 issue of the Baseball Research Journal. "The Show Girl and the Shortstop: The Strange Saga of Violet Popovich and Her Shooting of Cub Billy Jurges" won the McFarland-SABR Baseball Research Award in 2017. His in-depth history of the early Chicago Cubs, titled Before They Were the Cubs: The Early Years of Chicago's First Professional Baseball Team, was published in 2019 by McFarland. Bales retired in 2020 as Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus at UMW.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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