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Wisconsin Bookwatch

Volume 17, Number 12 December 2022 Home | WBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Christmas Shelf Education Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf Business Shelf
Historical Fiction Shelf Literary Fiction Shelf Romantic Fiction Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Wine/Beer/Spirits Shelf
Biography Shelf Christian Studies Shelf Metaphysical Studies Shelf
Travel Shelf Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf
Self-Help Shelf Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf Art Shelf
World History Shelf Civil War Shelf Sports Shelf
Architecture Shelf Photography Shelf Music Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Paul Berton
Douglas & McIntyre
9781771623346 $28.95

Synopsis: Sassy and satirical, Shopomania is an economic, environmental and social study. This light-hearted, dark-souled dictionary of coined words, or "shoponyms," takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of avaricious antics and outrageous profligacy.

Shopping in one form or another has existed for millennia but, aside from a few slumps, each generation has outdone the previous one. In the past fifty years, shopping - and its associated carbon footprint - has grown exponentially.

Berton argues that if we invented today's consumer culture, then we can invent something to replace it. We can do a better job of making the cycle of stuff truly circular rather than linear. We can be more environmentally, socially and politically conscious of what we buy and how it comes to us - and where it will go after we are finished with it. A species that has made shopping ubiquitous can figure all these things out with little more than co-operation and creativity, and by asking if it is really necessary to "own it now" as we have been told - endlessly - since childhood. Must we possess a thing to enjoy it? Do we really need all that stuff?

Critique: Shopomania examines the modern first world's obsession with shopping and consumerism. Although author and award-winning journalist Paul Berton has engaged in extensive research, cited in a substantial section of notes, Shopomania is expressly for lay readers of all backgrounds; indeed, any shopper may see themselves described in the anecdotes and unique examination of today's shopping-centric society. Shopomania does not follow a typical chapter structure, but rather describes the many different aspects of retail consumption in its own unique vocabulary of newly created words derived from the verb "shop". Each definition is itself a brief "chapter". For example, one chapter is devoted to the word "unshop", which Berton uses to describe either returning a purchase or selling it at a profit; another is devoted to "deshop", which Berton uses to describe selling or discarding a purchase at a loss; "convershopping", which Berton uses to describe socializing about purchases; and much more. Amid all these definitions are countless insights into human impulses; stories of both celebrities and commoners shopping; and serious philosophical ponderings. At its heart, Shopomania poses questions worth every reader's time - why are our lives so shopping-centric? Are there ways to tame endless shopping- incitements in our lives? Do we really need to buy so much stuff? Shopomania is highly recommended, and since it encourages the reader to carefully reconsider their own consumption habits, it's one shop purchase that effectively pays for itself!

The Christmas Shelf

Santa Claus Worldwide
Tom A. Jerman
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9781476680934, $29.95, PB, 248pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Santa Claus Worldwide: A History of St. Nicholas and Other Holiday Gift-Bringers", author and Christmas historian Tom A. Jerman presents a comprehensive history of the world's midwinter gift-givers, showcasing the extreme diversity in their depictions as well as the many traits and functions these characters share.

"Santa Claus Worldwide" tracks the evolution of these figures from the tribal priests who presided over winter solstice celebrations thousands of years before the birth of Christ, to Christian notables like St. Martin and St. Nicholas, to a variety of secular figures who emerged throughout Europe following the Protestant Reformation.

Finally, "Santa Claus Worldwide" explains how the popularity of a poem about a "miniature sleigh" and "eight tiny reindeer" helped consolidate the diverse European gift-givers into an enduring tradition in which American children awake early on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought.

Although the names, appearance, attire and gift-giving practices of the world's winter solstice gift-givers differ greatly, they are all recognizable as Santa, the personification of the Christmas and Midwinter festivals. Despite efforts to eliminate him by groups as diverse as the Puritans of seventeenth century New England, the Communist Party of the twentieth century Soviet Union and the government of Nazi Germany, Santa has survived and prospered, becoming one of the best known and most beloved figures in the world.

Critique: Enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of b/w illustrations, an informative three page Epilogue (the Santas of Christmas Future), twenty-two pages of Notes, a six page Bibliography, and a three page Index, "Santa Claus Worldwide: A History of St. Nicholas and Other Holiday Gift-Bringers" is a fascinating, informative, and exceptional history that is exceptionally comprehensive and highly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Folklore/Mythology collections in general, and Christmas Traditions/History reading lists in particular. It should be noted that "Santa Claus Worldwide" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.49).

Editorial Note: After collecting Santa Claus figurines for thirty-five years while practicing law in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., Tom A. Jerman retired at the end of 2015 and moved to Asheville, N.C., where he began writing a book on the history of Santa Claus. (

The Education Shelf

Create an Emotion-Rich Classroom
Lindsay N. Giroux, M.Ed
Free Spirit Publishing
6325 Sandburg Road, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55427-3674
9781631986567, $34.99, PB, 200pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Create an Emotion-Rich Classroom: Helping Young Children Build Their Social Emotional Skills", education specialist Lindsay Giroux provides frameworks for planning and implementing strategies to support emotional development in children.

This practical and easy-to-use resource helps early childhood educators develop the emotional literacy of the young children in their classrooms. Readers learn how to: Increase children's emotional vocabulary; Model how to recognize and cope with various emotions; Support self-regulation and reduce challenging behaviors; Discuss emotions in others and in storybook characters; Support and engage families in fostering emotional skills at home.

Experienced in emotional development in children and early childhood education, author Lindsay N. Giroux, M.Ed., shows readers how to effectively weave social and emotional instruction into the fabric of the school day. "Create an Emotion-Rich Classroom" focuses on individual skills, making social and emotional instruction specific and measurable. With consistently structured chapters, this book is easy to use and rich in ideas and strategies.

Of special note is that the digital content includes checklists, planning sheets, and other materials to support educators as they build an emotion-rich classroom. A free downloadable PLC/Book Study Guide is also available.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and thoroughly 'teacher friendly' in presentation, "Create an Emotion-Rich Classroom: Helping Young Children Build Their Social Emotional Skills" is unreservedly recommended as an in-service textbook for school district, daycare center, preschool, and academic library Teacher Education collections and supplemental Early Education curriculum lists.

Editorial Note: Lindsay N. Giroux ( specializes in coaching preschool teachers on implementing the Pyramid Model to promote social-emotional development and prevent challenging behavior. She is a contributing author of Connect4Learning, a PreK curriculum and the ChooseFi Pre-Kindergarten financial literacy curriculum. Her professional interests include teacher training, social skill instruction, and inclusion of preschoolers with special needs. Lindsay received a B.A. from Wellesley College and an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. She is currently the Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (SEFEL) Coordinator for the Wake County Public School District and a North Carolina Preschool Pyramid Model Expert Coach.

The Cookbook Shelf

50 Things to Bake Before You Die
Allyson Reedy
Ulysses Press
PO Box 3440, Berkeley CA 94703-3440
9781646043316, $24.95, HC, 144pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "50 Things to Bake Before You Die" by Allyson Reedy, even the most novice of kitchen cooks can turn their home-baking skills into professional-grade desserts with this DIY illustrated compendium featuring recipes from some of the most incredible bakers and bakeries -- including Tieghan Gerard, Joanne Chang (Flour Bakery), Chelsey White, Christina Tosi (Milk Bar), Daniel Boulud, and more!

Written with a fun and friendly tone and featuring easy, step-by-step instructions, "50 Things to Bake Before You Die" offers world-class desserts including: Brown Butter Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Chelsey White); Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes (from Georgetown Cupcake); Brown Sugar Peach Cobbler (from Tieghan Gerard); and Chocolate Cheesecake Mochi Muffins (from Sam Butarbutar); to Chocolate Babka (from Duff Goldman); Cookies and Cream Macarons (from Cambrea Gordon); Ultimate S'mores Cake (from Courtney Rich) -- and more!

Critique: An accurate alternative title would be "50 Things to Eat before You Die!". With its impressive full page color photographs of finished treats, this magnificent culinary collection of world class baked goods is a mouth-watering pleasure to page through and an ideal DIY resource for truly memorable desserts for any and all occasions. While also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99), "50 Things to Bake Before You Die: The World's Best Cakes, Pies, Brownies, Cookies, and More from Your Favorite Bakers, Including Christina Tosi, Joanne Chang, and Dominique Ansel" is an elegant and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, family, and community library cookbook collections.

Editorial Note: Allyson Reedy ( is a dessert-obsessed food writer and restaurant critic in Denver, Colorado. When she's not taste-testing or checking out new restaurants for a story, she's trying out cookie recipes. Oh, and eating batter and dough by the fistful before her kids ask to lick the bowl; there's a lot of that happening, too.

Ciao Italia: Plant, Harvest, Cook!
Mary Ann Esposito
Mary Ann Esposito Inc.
9781942155485, $39.95, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Ciao Italia: Plant, Harvest, Cook!", Mary Ann Esposito takes the reader on a seasonal home garden vegetable journey focusing on simple growing tips for anyone interested in growing their own vegetables and how to cook them Italian style. In simple language, anyone interested in growing their own vegetables whether on a grand or small scale will find this book filled with helpful gardening advice. No former green thumb necessary!

Over 30 years of trial and error and getting down and dirty, have been the foundation for this culinary compendium, as well as a love for fresh homegrown food. "Ciao Italia: Plant, Harvest, Cook!" highlights what's growing in the early spring garden, featuring such cool weather crops as lettuce, radishes and peas and as the pages turn, progresses to what's growing during the hot summer months with crops like tomatoes, eggplant and peppers.

Critique: Showcasing more than 100 healthy, palate pleasing, appetite satisfying, kitchen cook friendly recipes for memorable dishes for all dining occasions, and which are strikingly accompanied by beautiful full color food photography (and photos from Mary Ann Espositos' personal collection), "Ciao Italia: Plant, Harvest, Cook!" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library cookbook collections.

Editorial Note: Mary Ann Esposito ( is the creator and host of the nationally televised PBS series Ciao Italia with Mary Ann Esposito.
The author of fourteen cookbooks, Mary has worked beside world-renowned chefs Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Martin Yan, Jasper White, and countless others. In 2013 she received the Order of the Star of Italy Cavaliere from the President of the Italian Republic, as well as the Premio Artusi award for her work promoting Italian food. Johnson and Wales University presented her with the Distinguished Author Award. St. Anselm College conferred an honorary doctorate, and the Italian Trade Commission named her a 2010 Hall of Fame honoree.

A Return to Ireland
Judith McLoughlin
Hatherleigh Press
c/o The Hatherleigh Foundation
62545 State Highway 10, Hobart, NY 13788
9781578269358, $30.00, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: An exceptional cookbook featuring over 100 authentic recipes celebrating Irish-American heritage, "A Return to Ireland: A Culinary Journey from America to Ireland" showcases fresh, innovative food and drink recipes which celebrate Irish-American heritage as it weaves the culinary and cultural journey of these two places that the author have come to call home.

From the lush green fields of Gilford in County Armagh now settled in Atlanta, Georgia, culinary author Judith McLoughlin shares her love of whole, fresh Irish ingredients with readers, sending them, one plate at a time, back to a simpler time. With the publication of "A Return to Ireland" she also highlights stories and Irish food to celebrate the relationship between Ireland and America.

The 'kitchen cook friendly' recipes reange from: Paddy's Potato and Leek Soup with Chive Puree; Beef and Oyster Pie; Connemara Mountain Lamb with Mixed Carrots and Rosemary Jus; to Loin of Bacon with Crispy Cabbage; Irish Stout and Onion Soup with Blue Cheese Croutons; Dublin Lawyer Lobster, and Marmalade Bread Pudding with Irish Whiskey Sauce.

Critique: Beautifully illustrated throughout with full color photography of finished dishes, "A Return to Ireland: A Culinary Journey from America to Ireland" is an extraordinarily impressive compilation of DIY recipes showcasing authentic Irish cuisine. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99), "A Return to Ireland" is a pleasure to browse, inspiring to plan menus with, and unreservedly recommended as a core addition to personal, professional, and community library ethnic cookbook collections.

Editorial Note: Judith McLoughlin ( is a professional Irish chef based in Georgia, an author, a tour guide and the owner of a gourmet food business called The Shamrock and Peach, specializing in Irish cuisine, in which she has created her own unique food fusion by blending the techniques of her homeland with the newfound flavors of the South. She has worked with Whole Foods, Cooks Warehouse, Aprons Cooking School, Tourism Ireland, and Kerrygold. She has also previously published a cookbook entitled "The Shamrock and Peach".

Is This A Cookbook?: Adventures in the Kitchen
Heston Blumenthal
Bloomsbury Press
9781526621504, $35.00, HC, 368pp

Synopsis: A culinary adventure from - but is it a cookbook?

With the publication of "Is This A Cookbook?: Adventures in the Kitchen", three-time James Beard Award-winning, Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal showcases a fascinating compendium of amazing recipes like pea and ham soup-in-a-sandwich and bacon and egg porridge, popcorn popcorn chicken and (r)ice cream. But in Heston's kitchen, to cook is to embark on a journey of quantum gastronomy: exploring the palate, feeding the inner child, and plunging headfirst through the plate and into the soul.

Each of the 70 simple, straightforward recipes comprising "Is This A Cookbook?: Adventures in the Kitchen" is accompanied by Heston's stories, insights, and hacks, turning each cooking session into a journey - and revealing a whole world of culinary possibilities and fresh perspectives. Brought to life by the incredible illustrations by Dave McKean, Heston's long-term collaborator and one of the greatest illustrators at work today, Is This A Cookbook? is the next best thing to having Heston as your sous-chef.

Critique: Far more than just an incredible cookbook, "Is This A Cookbook?: Adventures in the Kitchen" is an inherently fascinating read offering all manner of anecdotes and insights from a world class chef that will have immense appeal and interest for all dedicated Foodies and culinary connoisseurs. Certain to be a unique and prized addition to personal, professional, and community library cookbook collections, it should be noted for the reading lists that "Is This A Cookbook?: Adventures in the Kitchen" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.46).

Editorial Note: Heston Blumenthal ( is entirely self-taught and one of the most progressive chefs of his generation. He's worked with food historians, perfumists, food physiologists, and biochemists the world over in a bid to change our perceptions and open our eyes to the food we eat, by engaging all of our senses. In 2004 he won the coveted three Michelin-stars in near-record time for his restaurant, The Fat Duck, which has twice been voted the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant Magazine's panel of experts. He also owns Dinner, a two-Michelin star restaurant in London, and two pubs in Bray, Berkshire. Heston has won a number of awards for his restaurants, tv shows, and books, and in 2006 he was awarded an OBE for his contributions to British gastronomy. He lives in Berkshire in the UK and can be followed on Twitter: @thehestonblumenthalteam

The Princess Bride: The Official Cookbook
Jenn Fujikawa
Smart Pop Books
c/o BenBella Books
9781637741689, $35.00, HC, 192pp

Synopsis: As a fantasy/adventure film, "The Princess Bride" captured the hearts and imaginations of its audiences. Based on the book by William Goldman, the 1987 film, directed by Rob Reiner and starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal, Andre the Giant, Carol Kane, Chris Sarandon, Wallace Shawn, Christopher Guest, Fred Savage, and Peter Falk is as universally beloved as it is quotable.

Now, for the first time, "The Princess Bride: The Official Cookbook" by Jenn Fukikawa is an amazingly impressive compendium showcasing 50 recipes for dishes seen in, and inspired by, the film, including: Buttercup Buttermilk Scones; Hash You Wish; Six-Fingered Sandwiches; Vizzini's Sicilian Meatballs; Fezzik's Stew; Bread Pirate Roberts; Twu Wove's Kiss Cookies; Iocane Powder Punch; Inigo Montoya's Taste of Revenge, and more!

"The Princes Bride: The Official Cookbook" is the ultimate way to plate up the culinary aspects of the adventure, comedy, and romance as played out on screen.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated with full color photos of finished dishes and scenes from the film, "The Princess Bride: The Official Cookbook" is a pleasure to browse through and fun to plan menus with. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.99), "The Princess Bride: The Official Cookbook" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to personal, professional, family, and community library cookbook collections.

Editorial Note: Jenn Fujikawa ( is an author and content creator specializing in lifestyle and pop culture. She has created content for Disney, Lucasfilm, Marvel, Amy Poehler's Smart Girls, and more. Her recipes have been featured on Buzzfeed, LA Times, Food & Wine Magazine, and the cover of Food Network Magazine. Jenn was recently profiled in The New York Times, and is the author of The Official Parks and Recreation Cookbook, The Gudetama Cookbook, The I Love Lucy Cookbook: Classic Recipes Inspired by the Iconic TV Show, I Love Lucy: The Joys of Friendship, and the co-author of The Goldbergs Cookbook.

Bliss on Toast: 75 Simple Recipes
Prue Leith
Bloomsbury Press
9781639730711, $26.00, HC, 192pp

Synopsis: There is nothing more comforting and delicious than toast. And when you top it with a few cleverly paired ingredients, it becomes a full meal -- not to mention pure bliss. With the publication of "Bliss on Toast: 75 Simple Recipes", Great British Baking Show judge Prue Leith toasts sourdoughs, focaccias, baguettes, flatbreads and more, then pairs them with everything from seasonal vegetables to meat and fish.

This collection toast inspired recipes spans healthy, hearty, salty, and sometimes sweet. Ideal for a busy home cook who loves a full and balanced plate, the recipes are incredibly versatile and perfect for any time of the day: tomatoes, shallots, and oregano on black olive toast; grilled chicken tikka with yogurt on naan; smoked salmon, wasabi, and avocado on multigrain bread; and bananas and ice cream with brandy syrup on panettone.

"Bliss on Toast" is as much a toolkit for quick fridge-raids as it is inspiration for seasonal delights. With 82 years' experience of good eating and 60 years of cooking, writing about and judging food, there is no one who better knows what makes a meal bliss than Prue Leith.

Critique: A compendium of pure comfort food ideas, each involving a different toast topping combination, "Bliss on Toast: 75 Simple Recipes" is enhanced by the profuse and impressively full color photographs of finished dishes. The result is a beautiful and inspiring culinary collection to simply browse through and then plan menus with. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Bliss on Toast: 75 Simple Recipes" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library cookbook collections.

Editorial Note: Prue Leith ( is internationally known for revolutionizing food and restaurants in London early in her career. She now serves as a judge on The Great British Baking Show. She is the published author of eight novels, an autobiography and fifteen cookbooks. She can be followed at @prueleith

Pasta Night
Deborah Kaloper
Smith Street Books
c/o Rizzoli
300 Park Avenue South, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10010
9781922417879, $19.95, HC, 136pp

Synopsis: Explore the delicious world of pasta "Pasta Night: 60+ Recipes for Date Nights, Lazy Nights, and Party Nights" from Deborah Kaloper provides over 60 incredible recipes ranging from rustic Italian classics to New World fusions, along with instructions for making your own fresh pasta. 

With "Pasta Night" even the most novice of kitche cooks can now satisfy their whole family with recipes for Spaghetti and Meatballs or Traditional Macaroni and Cheese. Then experiment with the really long and fun-sounding Italian words: Penne Arrabbiata, Mussels with Fregola, Gorgonzola Gnocchi al Forno, and many more.

With pasta dishes to suit any night (whether you're cooking to impress friends or to curl up with a comfort food bowl on the couch) "Pasta Night" is a cookbook with a pasta based recipe for every occasion and every dedicated pasta enthusiast.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout with full page color photographs of finished dishes, and 'kitchen cook friendly' step-by-step recipe instructions, "Pasta Night: 60+ Recipes for Date Nights, Lazy Nights, and Party Nights" is a compendium of palate-pleasing, appetite satisfying dishes that will produce memorable menus for any and all dining occasions -- making it a very special and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, family, professional, and community library cookbook collections.

Editorial Note: Deborah Kaloper ( is a California-raised, Melbourne-based food writer, chef, former pastry chef, and now sought-after food stylist. Deb works daily with the best photographers, chefs, and writers. She has previously authored Ramen-topia and Taco-topia, both cookbooks published by Smith Street Books.

Rice Is Life
Caryl Levine, author
Ken Lee, author
Kristin Donnelly, author
Chronicle Books
680 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
9781797214900, $29.95, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: Rice is so much more than just a pantry staple. It is the foundation of cuisines across the world, a grain that sustains half the world's people, and the start of a delicious meal at home.

With the publication of "Rice Is Life: Recipes and Stories Celebrating the World's Most Essential Grain", the visionaries and founders of Lotus Foods, Caryl Levine and Ken Lee, share 65 recipes that showcase the grain in easy-to-cook meals from around the world. From Arroz Con Pollo to Hainanese-Inspired Chicken and Rice, to Ramen "Carbonara" and Soba Noodles with Green Tea Broth and Smoked Salmon, this cookbook captures the diversity of flavors and helps transform simple, gluten-free pantry staples into flavorful and nourishing dishes.

Along the way, "Rice Is Life" also offers essays on rice culture and sustainable rice agriculture, showing how rice plays a part in uplifting people across the globe. With its bright and colorful interior, RICE IS LIFE finds the joy and freshness in the everyday beauty of rice not just as a pantry staple, but a staple of life.

Rice is central to global cooking: As the staple food for more than half the world's population, rice is ubiquitous and is the foundation of so many cultures, including Japan, Korea, China, India, the Persian Empire, Italy, Finland, West Africa, the Caribbean, Thailand, Vietnam, the American South, and many more.

Naturally gluten-free: Rice and rice noodle - based recipes are naturally gluten free. That makes this pantry staple a core component in the diet of people with celiac disease, are sensitive to gluten, or are trying to incorporate less gluten into their diet for other reasons. "Rice is Life" is cookbook helps home cooks prepare rice with confidence and explore all its glorious possibilities.

Critique: Rice is one of the oldest food grains know to human beings and dates from the very beginning of the discover of agriculture. Profusely and beautifully illustrated throughout with full page, full color photographs of finished dishes, "Rice Is Life: Recipes and Stories Celebrating the World's Most Essential Grain" is an informative, inspiring, welcome and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, family, and community library cookbook collections.

Editorial Note #1: Caryl Levine and Ken Lee are rice visionaries. Their pioneering introduction of Forbidden Rice(R), Bhutanese Red Rice, and other specialty rices has fundamentally changed how Americans think about, cook, and eat rice, transforming it from a starchy white side dish to a center-of-the-plate ingredient. They also introduced a new paradigm, using market incentives for social change. By paying farmers premium prices to conserve rice biodiversity, they help improve incomes, protect the environment, and provide consumers with healthier rice. ( on-hall-of-fame)

Editorial Note #2: Kristin Donnelly ( is the author of Modern Potluck (Clarkson Potter, 2016) and Cauliflower (Short Stack Editions, 2018).

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Amphibians and Reptiles of Wisconsin
M. Joshua Kapfer, editor
Donald J. Brown, editor
University of Wisconsin Press
728 State Street, Suite 443, Madison, WI 53706-1418
9780299335205, $74.95, HC, 1176pp

Synopsis: Amphibians and reptiles represent an essential and interesting component of Wisconsin's wildlife. Eighteen species of amphibian and thirty-six species of reptile occupy landscapes across the state. They live in aquatic habitats that range from small streams to large lakes, and from open prairies to mature forests on land.

These species are vital members of the biological communities in which they occur, acting as important predators, prey, and competitors, while also providing a wide variety of additional ecological functions. However, many amphibians and reptiles have experienced drastic population declines and even local extinctions in Wisconsin due to habitat loss and degradation, overharvesting, the introduction of invasive species, pollution, and other factors.

"Amphibians and Reptiles of Wisconsin" is comprehensive volume, by an expert team of editors and contributors, consolidates the current state of scientific knowledge, aims to expand public knowledge and appreciation of Wisconsin's natural legacy, and brings out the herpetologist in all of us.

This long-awaited, state-of-the-field synthesis also includes hundreds of color photographs and illustrations, state-level and North American range maps, dichotomous keys, and research and conservation anecdotes that will entertain and inform even the most dedicated nature lover. Amphibians and Reptiles of Wisconsin is set to become a lasting resource and armchair companion for anyone in the Midwest interested in the state's natural history and amphibian and reptile fauna.

Critique: With its special appeal to students, academicians, biologists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in amphibians and reptiles, "Amphibians and Reptiles of Wisconsin", collaboratively compiled and co-edited by certified wildlife biologists Joshua M. Kapfer and Donald J. Brown is this impressively comprehensive, expertly illustrated, exceptionally informative, accessibly organized and presented compendium, making it an absolutely essential and core addition for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Wisconsin Wildlife collections.

Editorial Note #1: Joshua M. Kapfer is a Certified Wildlife Biologist and a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater.

Editorial Note #2: Donald J. Brown ( is a Certified Wildlife Biologist and a research assistant professor of wildlife resources in the school of natural resources at West Virginia University. (

The Business Shelf

Digital Talent
Matt Alder, author
Mervyn Dinnen, author
Kogan Page Inc.
8 W 38th Street, Ste 902, New York, NY 10018
9781789660197, $80.00, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Digital Talent: Find, Recruit and Retain the People your Business Needs in a World of Digital Transformation", co-authors Mat Alder and Mervyn Dinnen equip HR personnel with the tools they need to assess what these critical skills are, how to attract the people who have them, keep these people engaged, productive and performing to the best of their abilities. It also provides crucial guidance on how to continuously develop employees, including leaders, to ensure that the organization has the skills it needs both for today and the future.

"Digital Talent" also provides advice on how to create new processes that are fit for purpose in the age of digital transformation, build inclusion when digital culture is becoming more prominent and use digital abilities effectively to maximise productivity while maintaining employee wellbeing. "Digital Talent" is the ideal instructional guide on the acquisition and retention of talent that HR, talent acquisition professionals and business leaders need to make sure that their people, and the business as a whole, stay ahead of the competition.

Critique: An ideal instructional guide and 'how to' manual, "Digital Talent: Find, Recruit and Retain the People your Business Needs in a World of Digital Transformation" is especially recommended as a core addition to personal, professional, corporate, community, college, and academic library Business/Corporate Management collections and supplemental curriculum Human Resources, Business Education, and Economics studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of MBA students, academia, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Digital Talent" is also available in a paperback edition (9780749490959, $25.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $24.65).

Editorial Note #1: Matt Alder ( is a strategic consultant focusing on innovation and technology in HR and Talent Acquisition. He is the host of Recruiting Future, one of the world's most popular talent acquisition podcasts and over the last 20 years has built a reputation as a global thought leader, working with employers to optimize their digital strategies. He is based in Edinburgh, UK.

Editorial Note #1: Mervyn Dinnen ( is a researcher, writer, analyst and influencer on HR, Talent and WorkTech trends. Based in London, UK, he partners with HR and Recruitment technology businesses to create thought leadership reports that document the emerging trends impacting the hiring, retention, development and engagement of talent. He was recognized as a Top 100 Global Influencer in HR Technology in 2019, 2020 and 2021, and has also been identified as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Talent & HR Professionals in the UK for 2022.

The Entrepreneurs
Derek Lidow
Columbia Business School Publishing
c/o Columbia University Press
61 West 62nd Street, New York, NY 10023-7015
9780231199148, $35.00, HC, 440pp

Synopsis: Entrepreneurs are among the primary shapers of our modern culture, yet their role in driving progress and influencing society has often been overlooked. As far back as we can trace human history, there have been entrepreneurs.

Almost five millennia ago, copper tool manufacturers set up a factory in what today is southwest Spain, profiting for hundreds of years from trade around the Mediterranean. Papyri document the diverse investments of an ancient Egyptian businessperson, from grain-yielding land to flax for linen cloth.

What do these figures have in common with renowned modern entrepreneurs, and how do their similarities help us achieve a deeper understanding of entrepreneurship as well as the potential for a healthier, wealthier, and more equitable and sustainable future?

With the publication of "The Entrepreneurs: The Relentless Quest for Value", Professor Derek Lidow delves into the deep history of innovation to deliver essential new insights into how entrepreneurs create value and bring about change. Telling the captivating stories of people from many different cultures over thousands of years, he shows how entrepreneurs transform the world through relentless innovation.

Professor Lidow also demonstrates that far from being heroic lone individuals, entrepreneurs copy and then add to the inventions of others. The cumulative innovations of swarms of entrepreneurs expand the scale, scope, and range of products and services. Lidow emphasizes how entrepreneurship can harm society as well as benefit it, and he underscores ways to mitigate its harmful side and harness its positive effects.

By highlighting the fundamental qualities of innovation throughout history, "The Entrepreneurs: The Relentless Quest for Value" provides indispensable new perspective on how it is shaping our present and future.

Critique: A fascinating, informative, impressively well written, exceptionally well organized and impressively insightful history, "The Entrepreneurs: The Relentless Quest for Value" by Professor Derek Lidow will have a special appeal to readers with an interest in the history of entrepreneurship, economic history, and environmental economics. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Entrepreneurship, Economics, and Capitalism History collections and supplemental studies curriculum lists, it should be noted for students, academia, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Entrepreneurs: The Relentless Quest for Value" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99).

Editorial Note: Derek Lidow ( is a Professor at the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education at Princeton University. He is also the author of Startup Leadership: How Savvy Entrepreneurs Turn Their Ideas Into Successful Enterprises (2014) and Building on Bedrock: What Sam Walton, Walt Disney, and Other Great Self-Made Entrepreneurs Can Teach Us About Building Valuable Companies (2018) as well as more than a hundred articles on innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership. Lidow also has practical experience as the founder of a leading market-research firm and CEO of a global semiconductor company, and was a Hertz Foundation Fellow.

Jeremy Utley and Perry Klebahn
c/o Penguin Group USA
9780593420584, $29.00, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: Ideaflow is the number of ideas you or your team can generate in a set amount of time We all want great ideas, but few of us actually understand how they're born. Innovation doesn't come from a sprint or a hackathon -- it's a result of maximizing ideaflow.
With the publication of "Ideaflow: The Only Business Metric That Matters", Jeremy Utley and Perry Klebahn (of Stanford's renowned Hasso Plattner Institute of Design) offers a proven strategy for coming up with great ideas by yourself or with your team, and quickly determining which are worthy. Drawing upon their combined decades of experience leading Stanford's premier Launchpad accelerator and advising some of the world's most innovative organizations, like Microsoft, Michelin, Keller Williams Realty, and Hyatt, they'll teach you how to:
Overcome dangerous thinking traps
Find inspiration in unexpected places
Trick your own brain to be more creative
Design and deploy affordable experiments
Fill your innovation pipeline
Unleash your own creative potential, as well as the potential of others
Perhaps you have experienced low ideaflow. Have you been in that quiet conference room, with a half-filled whiteboard, and an unmet business target?. With the proven system laid out in "Ideaflow: The Only Business Metric That Matters", entrepreneurs, managers, and leaders will learn how to tap into surprising and valuable ideas on demand and fill the creative pipeline with breakthrough ideas.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Ideaflow: The Only Business Metric That Matters" combines inspiration and aspiration with 'real world' practicality. The result is a study that is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Business Management/Decisions Making collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of MBA students, academia, corporate executives, business managers, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Ideaflow: The Only Business Metric That Matters" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.99).

Editorial Note #1: Jeremy Utley ( is the director of executive education at Stanford's and an adjunct professor at Stanford's School of Engineering. He is the host of the's widely popular program "Stanford's Masters of Creativity."

Editorial Note #2: Perry Klebahn ( is a cofounding member of Stanford's faculty. He is an adjunct professor and director of executive education at Stanford's He has served as COO for Patagonia and as CEO of Timbuk2.

The Prepared Leader
Erika H. James, author
Lynn Perry Wooten, author
Wharton School Press
9781613631652, $28.99, HC, 170pp

Synopsis: The next economic crisis might be here now, or it might be around the corner. With the publication of "The Prepared Leader: Emerge from Any Crisis More Resilient Than Before", two history-making experts in crisis leadership (James, dean of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and Wooten, president of Simmons University) forcefully argue that the time to prepare is always.

In no other time in recent history have leaders in every industry and on every continent grappled with so many changes that have independently and simultaneously undermined their ability to lead. "The Prepared Leader" encapsulates more than two decades of the co-authors' research to convey how it has positioned them to navigate through the distinct challenges of today and tomorrow. Their insights have implications for every leader in every industry and every worker at every level.

In their fast-reading and actionable study, James and Wooten provide tools and frameworks for addressing and learning from crises, and they provide insight into what you need to know to become a Prepared Leader, including:

The five phases of crisis management and the skills you need for each phase. They examine how the National Basketball Association and its commissioner, Adam Silver, responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Making the right decisions under pressure and how to avoid common mistakes. They reveal how Burger King CEO Jose Cil began planning for the aftermath of a crisis right in the middle of one.
Building a crisis leadership team and how to lead one that you've inherited. They detail how Wonya Lucas, CEO and President of the Crown Media Family Networks, aligned and mobilized an executive team during a time of crisis.

In "The Prepared Leader, both James and Wooten argue that in addition to people, profit, and the planet, prepared leadership should be the fourth "P" in a company's bottom line. They bring decades of world-renowned research on crisis leadership, diversity and inclusion, management strategy, and positive leadership to the table to help leaders better prepare themselves to lead through crises - and for whatever lies around the corner.

Critique: The only certainty in a capitalist economy is that there are no enduring certainties. There are inevitable cycles of boom and bust, of Bull & Bear markets, of technology driven changes to social, cultural, and political forces that will have impact (for good or ill) on market driven businesses and corporate affairs. "The Prepared Leader: Emerge from Any Crisis More Resilient Than Before" is an ideal instruction guide and manual for corporate leaders at all levels to prepare to deal successfully with the unanticipated but inevitable fluctuations of the market place. While highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Business Leadership & Management collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of MBA studies, academia, corporate executives, business managers, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers that "The Prepared Leader: Emerge from Any Crisis More Resilient Than Before" is also available in a paperback edition (9781613631638, $18.99), and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.50).

Editorial Note #1: Erika H. James ( became the dean of the Wharton School on July 1, 2020. Trained as an organizational psychologist, James is an expert on crisis leadership, workplace diversity and management strategy. Prior to her appointment at Wharton, James was the John H. Harland Dean at Emory University's Goizueta Business School from 2014 to 2020. An award-winning educator, accomplished consultant, and researcher, she is the first woman and first person of color to be appointed dean in Wharton's 141-year history. As such she has paved the way for women in leadership both in education and corporate America.

Editorial Note #2: Lynn Perry Wooten, a seasoned academic and an expert on organizational development and transformation, is the ninth president of Simmons University and the first African American to lead the institution. Before coming to Simmons, she served as the David J. Nolan Dean and Professor of Management and Organizations at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. Prior to that, she served on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business for nearly 20 years.

The Historical Fiction Shelf

Anywhere You Run
Wanda M. Morris
William Morrow
c/o HarperCollins
9780063082502 $17.99 pbk / $11.99 Kindle

Synopsis: From the award-winning author of All Her Little Secrets comes yet another gripping, suspenseful novel where, after the murder of a white man in Jim Crow Mississippi, two Black sisters run away to different parts of the country... but can they escape the secrets they left behind?

It's the summer of 1964 and three innocent men are brutally murdered for trying to help Black Mississippians secure the right to vote. Against this backdrop, twenty-one year old Violet Richards finds herself in more trouble than she's ever been in her life. Suffering a brutal attack of her own, she kills the man responsible. But with the color of Violet's skin, there is no way she can escape Jim Crow justice in Jackson, Mississippi. Before anyone can find the body or finger her as the killer, she decides to run. With the help of her white beau, Violet escapes. But desperation and fear leads her to hide out in the small rural town of Chillicothe, Georgia, unaware that danger may be closer than she thinks.

Back in Jackson, Marigold, Violet's older sister, has dreams of attending law school. Working for the Mississippi Summer Project, she has been trying to use her smarts to further the cause of the Black vote. But Marigold is in a different kind of trouble: she's pregnant and unmarried. After news of the murder brings the police to her door, Marigold sees no choice but to flee Jackson too. She heads North seeking the promise of a better life and no more segregation. But has she made a terrible choice that threatens her life and that of her unborn child?

Two sisters on the run - one from the law, the other from social shame. What they don't realize is that there's a man hot on their trail. This man has his own brand of dark secrets and a disturbing motive for finding the sisters that is unknown to everyone but him...

Critique: Award-winning author Wanda M. Morris presents Anywhere You Run, a suspenseful historical fiction novel set in 1960s Mississippi. Two African-American sisters are each forced to run - one had kill a man in self-defense, and fears retaliation; the other is pregnant and unmarried, and fears that social shame will consign her to lifelong poverty and misery. But both sisters are being relentlessly pursued! An unforgettable period piece of crime, racial discrimination, and resistance, Anywhere You Run keeps the reader's attention riveted to the final page. Highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Anywhere You Run is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

The Opera Sisters
Marianne Monson
Shadow Mountain Publishing
P.O. Box 30178, Salt Lake City, Utah 84130-0178
9781639930463, $26.99, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: British sisters Ida and Louise Cook enjoy their quiet, unassuming lives in south London. Ida writes romance novels, and Louise works as a secretary. In the evenings, the sisters indulge in their shared love for opera, saving their money to buy records and attend performances throughout England and Europe, becoming well-known by both performers and fellow opera lovers.

But when Hitler seizes power in 1933, he begins targeting and persecuting German Jews, passing laws that restrict their rights and their lives. The sisters continue their trips to the German opera houses, but soon, Jewish members of the opera community covertly approach the sisters, worried that they will be stripped of their wealth and forced to leave their homes and the country. Danger looms on the horizon, threatening to spill across all of Europe's borders.

Ida and Louise vow to help, but how can two ordinary working-class women with limited means make a difference?

Together with their beloved opera community, the sisters devise a plan to personally escort Jewish refugees from Germany to England. The success of the plan hinges on Ida and Louise's ability to smuggle contraband jewelry and furs beneath the watchful eyes of the SS soldiers guarding various checkpoints. But how many trips can they make before someone blows a whistle? Or before the final curtain falls on Germany's borders?

Critique: Although a work of fiction, "The Opera Sisters" by Marianne Monson is based on the true story of the Cook sisters, two women who smuggled valuables out of 1930s Nazi Germany to finance a daring and secret operation to help German Jews find hope for a new life in England. Inspiring, inherently fascinating, and deftly crafted page turner of a read from cover to cover, "The Opera Sisters" will be an enduringly appreciated and valued addition to community and academic Historical Fiction library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Opera Sisters" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212013956, $31.95, CD).

Editorial Note: Marianne Monson ( received her MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and primarily writes on topics related to women's history. She has taught English and Creative Writing at the community college and university levels and is the author of twelve books for children and adults, including the novel Her Quiet Revolution and her nonfiction works Frontier Grit and Women of the Blue and Gray. She is the founder of The Writer's Guild, a literary nonprofit.

The Literary Fiction Shelf

This Time, That Place: Selected Stories
Clark Blaise
9781771964890, $19.99, PB, 416pp

Synopsis: "This Time, That Place: Selected Stories" draws together twenty-four short stories that span the entirety of Canadian/American author Clark Blaise's career -- including one never previously published.

The stories move swiftly across place and time, through and between languages ranging from Florida's Confederate swamps, to working-class Pittsburgh, to Montreal and abroad. They each demonstrate Blaise's impressive mastery of the short story format and reveal the range of his lifelong preoccupation with identity as fallacy, fable, and dream.

Critique: With the publication of "This Time, That Place: Selected Stories confirms", author Clark Blaise is clearly documented as being one of the best and most enduring masters of the short story literary form. While very highly recommended, especially for community, college, and university library short story anthology and literary fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "This Time, That Place: Selected Stories" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49).

Editorial Note: Clark Blaise ( is the author of 20 books of fiction and nonfiction. A longtime advocate for the literary arts in North America, Blaise has taught writing and literature at Emory, Skidmore, Columbia, NYU, Sir George Williams, UC-Berkeley, SUNY-Stony Brook, and the David Thompson University Centre. In 1968, he founded the postgraduate Creative Writing Program at Concordia University; he after went on to serve as the Director of the International Writing Program at Iowa (1990-1998), and as President of the Society for the Study of the Short Story (2002-present). Internationally recognized for his contributions to the field, Blaise has received an Arts and Letters Award for Literature from the American Academy (2003), and in 2010 was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

The Easy Life
Marguerite Duras, author
Emma Ramadan & Olivia Baes, translators
Bloomsbury Press
9781635578515, $18.00, PB, 208pp

Synopsis: Francine Veyrenattes is a twenty-five-year-old woman who already feels like life is passing her by. After witnessing a series of tragedies on her family farm, she alternates between intense grief and staggering boredom as she discovers a curious detachment in herself, an inability to navigate the world as others do.

Hoping to be cleansed of whatever ails her, she travels to the coast to visit the sea. But there she finds herself unraveling, uncertain of what is inside her. Lying in the sun with her toes in the sand by day while psychologically dissolving in her hotel room by night, she soon reaches the peak of her inner crisis and must grapple with whether and how she can take hold of her own existence.

Critique: "The Easy Life" by Marguerite Duras is a compelling examination of a young woman's estrangement from the world and offers a memorable exploration of the depths of what it means to be human. With a special appeal to readers with an interest in deftly crafted, eloquent, and original storytelling, and ably translated into English by the linguistic team of Emma Ramadan and Olivia Baes, "The Easy Life" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library French/English Literary Fiction collections.

Editorial Note #1: Marguerite Duras ( was one of France's most important and prolific writers. Born Marguerite Donnadieu in 1914 in what was then French Indochina, she went to Paris in 1931 to study at the Sorbonne. During WWII she was active in the Resistance, and in 1945 she joined the Communist Party. Duras wrote many novels, plays, films, and essays during her lifetime. She is perhaps best known for her internationally bestselling novel The Lover, which won the Prix Goncourt in 1984. She died in Paris in 1996.

Editorial Note #2: Emma Ramadan ( is a literary translator of poetry and prose from France, North Africa, and the Middle East. She is the recipient of a Fulbright, an NEA Translation Fellowship, the 2018 Albertine Prize, and the 2021 PEN Translation Prize.

Editorial Note #3: Olivia Baes ( is a Franco-American multidisciplinary artist who grew up between France, Catalonia, and the United States. She holds a Master of the Arts in Cultural Translation from the American University of Paris.

The Romantic Fiction Shelf

Christmas at the Amish Market
Shelley Shepard Gray
Hallmark Publishing
9781952210778, $15.95, PB, 288pp

Synopsis: Wesley is so busy running his family's Amish market at the holidays, he barely has time for Liesl, the young woman he's been courting for years. When she suggests her aunt Jenny could help Wesley out, he agrees to the plan. But Liesl neglected to mention her aunt is only twenty-six years old -- and as charming as she is hard-working.

Jenny, still healing after a painful breakup, welcomes the distraction of working at the market. She soon realizes Wesley is everything she ever dreamed a man could be. But how can Jenny even think about romance with the man Liesl expects to marry?

But Liesl's own feelings are more complicated than she's willing to admit. With humor, faith, and a little help from their friends in the community, everyone might just find what their hearts are looking for this Christmas at the Amish market.

Critique: The stuff of which Hallmark movies are made, and with a very special appeal to readers with an interest in Amish/Mennonite themed romance novels, "Christmas at the Amish Market" by novelist Shelley Shepard Gray will prove to be an immediate and enduringly welcome addition to community library Romance Fiction collections. A fun and fascinating read from first page to last, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Christmas at the Amish Market" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (9781666617436, $24.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Shelley Shepard Gray ( is a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner.

Twelve Days of Christmas
Debbie Macomber
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
9780425286937, $24.99, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she's tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that's the last straw. She's going to break through Cain's Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.

To track her progress, Julia starts a blog called The Twelve Days of Christmas. Her first attempts to humanize Cain are far from successful. Julia brings him homemade Christmas treats and the disagreeable grinch won't even accept them. Meanwhile, Julie's blog becomes an online sensation, as an astonishing number of people start following her adventures. Julia continues to find ways to express kindness and, little by little, chips away at Cain's gruff fa‡ade to reveal the caring man underneath.

Unbelievably, Julia feels herself falling for Cain -- and she suspects that he may be falling for her as well. But as the popularity of her blog continues to grow, Julia must decide if telling Cain the truth about having chronicled their relationship to the rest of the world is worth risking their chance at love.

Critique: Novelist Debbie Macomber at her very best, "Twelve Days of Christmas" is a 'must read' for her legions of fans and will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in deftly crafted holiday romance stories. While unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Romance collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Twelve Days of Christmas" is also available in a paperback edition (9780553391756, $5.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99). Librarians note that there is also a large print paperback edition for "Twelve Days of Christmas" (Random House Large Print, 9781524708344, $20.00, 400pp).

Editorial Note: Debbie Macomber ( is also the author of Sweet Tomorrows, A Girl's Guide to Moving On, Last One Home, Silver Linings, Love Letters, Mr. Miracle, Blossom Street Brides, and Rose Harbor in Bloom. Five of her beloved Christmas novels have been hit movies on the Hallmark Channel, including Mrs. Miracle and Mr. Miracle. Hallmark Channel also produced the original series Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove, based on Macomber's Cedar Cove books.

Never Cross a Highlander
Lisa Rayne
Entangled: Amara
9781649370952, $8.99, PB, 448pp

Synopsis: Ailsa Connery has waited three long years to finally escape her enslavement at Stirling Castle and reunite with her clan. But her carefully laid plans are completely destroyed by the arrival of the infamous Highland warrior known as Dubh Mahoun, the Black Devil -- a man who has plans of his own.

Kallum MacNeill's fearsome reputation has long allowed him to keep hidden his secret double life of freeing enslaved captives across the land. It's only when he kidnaps a servant lass (quite by accident!) that he finds himself facing a wee predicament. He must accompany the lass home or risk her exposing his true identity. It'd be easy enough, that is if the feisty hellion didn't fight him at every turn.

As they make their way to the Highlands, the perils the two must face are surpassed only by their constant sparring. Soon, their heated sniping sparks heat of a totally different kind. The kind that ignites a hunger that could consume them both. Yet the difficult journey is no match for the dangerous secrets they're about to uncover.

Critique: A delightful and original blend of action/adventure with historical Scottish romance, "Never Cross A Highlander" effectively showcases the impressive narrative storytelling talents of novelist Lisa Rayne. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99), "Never Cross A Highlander" is a very special and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Historical Romance collections.

Editorial Note: Lisa Rayne ( a four-time Emma Award Winner and writes sexy contemporary and banter-laden historical romance. For all the latest news on her books, giveaways, and appearances, fans can follow her @AuthorRayne on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Cinderella and the Duke
Lydia Drake
Entangled: Amara
9781649373144, $8.99, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: The Weatherford Ball is the last chance Julia Beaumont has to escape the clutches of her horrid stepmother. Any potential husband will do be he rich, poor, and even a reasonably well-groomed walrus. But all of Julia's matrimonial chances are completely obliterated -- thanks to the actions of an infuriating and utterly rakish duke.

Gregory Carter, Duke of Ashworth, would never risk his cherished bachelorhood by flirting with marriage-starved debutantes. But one look at the luscious and refreshingly clever Julia, and he simply can't resist a stolen kiss -- scandal be damned. Then just as things start getting deliciously interesting as the lady flees leaving only a slipper behind.

And it must have been one dandy of a kiss. Because now Julia has proposed to him. After all, the lady needs a husband, and this roguish duke will certainly do. It's simply a matter of making him the perfect scandalous offer!

Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "Cinderella and the Duke" is author Lydia Drake's debut as a novelist. Of special appeal to fans of the Regency Romance genre, "Cinderella and the Duke" is a fun read from cover to cover. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Romance Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated Regency Romance (and Cinderella) fans that "Cinderella and the Duke" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: Lydia Drake ( is a reader of all things romance and a drinker of all the tea. A New Jersey resident, her favorite activities include taking the train to New York City, scouring used bookstores, spending time with her family, and wrangling her hyperactive cockapoo puppy. She loves talking romance with her fans. She can be followed on Instagram: the_lydia_drake

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Doomed Legacy
Matt Coyle
Oceanview Publishing
1620 Main Street, Suite 11, Sarasota, FL 34236
9781608094790, $27.95, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: Private investigator Rick Cahill has been running from his past and chasing the truth his whole life. But his past is relentless -- and so is his CTE, a disease caused by repeated head traumas that has attacked his body and his mind. As his CTE progresses, he realizes that the disease not only threatens his life but also endangers his family's wellbeing.

As Rick struggles to keep his family together, he does a favor for Sara Bhandari, a business contact. Then, Sara is murdered, and the police believe her to be yet another victim of a serial rapist who has been terrorizing greater San Diego. But Rick has reason to question their theory. Determined to find the truth at any cost, and against his wife's warnings, he investigates on his own.

Along the way, he bumps up against a sinister private investigative agency and a shady shell corporation that may be hiding more than company secrets. As Rick digs for the truth about Sara's death, he risks his own life and the lives of countless innocents caught in his relentless crusade. Ultimately, Rick must decide if his quest is worth the risk of losing his family forever.

Critique: Another deftly crafted suspense thriller of a private eye novel by Matt Coyle, "Doomed Legacy is the ninth in the author's Rick Cahill series and a simply riveting read from first page to last. While also available for the legions of Matt Coyle fans in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49), "Doomed Legacy" is an especially recommended and welcome addition to community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: While all of the novels in the Rick Cahill PI Crime Series stand on their own and can be read in any order, the publication sequence is: Yesterday's Echo; Night Tremors; Dark Fissures; Blood Truth; Wrong Light; Lost Tomorrows; Blind Vigil; Last Redemption; Doomed Legacy.

Bleeding Heart Yard
Elly Griffiths
Mariner Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
9780063289277, $27.99, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: When Cassie Fitzgerald was at school in the late 90s, she and her friends killed a fellow student. Almost twenty years later, Cassie is a happily married mother who loves her job -- as a police officer. She closely guards the secret she has all but erased from her memory.

One day her husband finally persuades her to go to a school reunion. Cassie catches up with her high-achieving old friends from the Manor Park School -- among them two politicians, a rock star, and a famous actress. But then, shockingly, one of them, Garfield Rice, is found dead in the school bathroom, supposedly from a drug overdose. As Garfield was an eminent (and controversial) MP and the investigation is high profile, it's headed by Cassie's new boss, DI Harbinder Kaur, freshly promoted and newly arrived in London. The trouble is, Cassie can't shake the feeling that one of them has killed again.

Is Cassie right, or was Garfield murdered by one of his political cronies? It's in Cassie's interest to skew the investigation so that it looks like it has nothing to do with Manor Park and she seems to be succeeding. Until someone else from the reunion is found dead in Bleeding Heart Yard!

Critique: Of special appeal to fans of police procedurals, "Bleeding Heart Yard" by Elly Griffith is a riveting read from cover to cover and will prove to be a prized addition to the personal reading lists of dedicated suspense/thriller fans and community library Contemporary British Mystery collections. It should be noted that "Bleeding Heart Yard" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212222587, $41.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Elly Griffiths ( is the author of the Ruth Galloway and Brighton mystery series, as well as the standalone novels The Stranger Diaries, winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel, and The Postscript Murders. She is also the recipient of the CWA Dagger in the Library Award and the Mary Higgins Clark Award.

A Streetcar Named Murder
T. G. Herren
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781639101320, $28.99, HC, 296pp

Synopsis: When the mysterious letter arrives by courier, Valerie Cooper doesn't know what to make of it. She's become the beneficiary of her late husband's estranged uncle's will (a man she never knew) and inherited a majority partnership in the family's company, New Orleans Fine Antiques. Valerie knows nothing about antiques, but she decides to learn the business and become an active partner. She's also got her hands full fending off Collette, a woman who wants to sell the huge old house in the Irish Channel neighborhood that Valerie and her husband had painstakingly renovated.

Valerie isn't interested in selling -- but when her best friend Lauren, drags her to a costume party for the women's Mardi Gras club, the Krewe of Athena, she stumbles over Collette's body, a jeweled dagger sticking out of her chest. In a rush of panic, Valerie recognizes the dagger from her shop -- and before she knows it, she's become murder suspect number one.

Egged on by Lauren, she starts digging into Collette's business dealings, and the deeper she digs, the dirtier it gets. Now all fingers are pointing at Valerie. In a desperate bid to clear her name, Valerie frantically tries to find who could have gotten hold of the dagger. But among a cadre of guests in full costume, it could be impossible to find the thief -- and unmask the real killer.

Critique: A skilled veteran of the cozy mystery genre, T. G. Herren once again demonstrates her originality anf flair for writing 'whodunnit' novels featuring an amateur sleuth caught up in a web of circumstances. The result is an original and fun read from first page to last. While also available for the personal reading lists of dedicated cozy mystery fans in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666622102, $22.99, CD), "A Streetcar Named Murder" is a strongly recommended addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: T.G. Herren ( is the pen name of an award-winning author who has published over thirty-five books and over fifty short stories under various names. A long-time resident of New Orleans, where every day is an Anything Can Happen Day, he has also worked as a sports and fitness journalist and an editor and has spent far too many years working in the airline industry.

Death in the Margins
Victoria Gilbert
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781639101306, $28.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: It's early summer, and while Richard Muir and his dance partner, Karla, are preparing their new choreographic piece, Richard's wife, Amy, is gathering the dance's source materials. Based on folktales and the music of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the production is set to premiere at an old cinema that has been converted to a theater. But when dancer Meredith Fox (Richard's former fiance) is found dead backstage, Amy is once again propelled into a murder case that threatens the careers and lives of those she loves.

After Amy teams up with Chief Deputy Brad Tucker and the sheriff's department to discover the killer, they find that there's no shortage of suspects: Meredith's wealthy ex-husband, several fellow dancers, a romantically spurned accompanist, and others whom the talented but haughty dancer dismissed or betrayed over the years.

With Richard and Karla's help, and information gleaned from locals who know a wealth of small-town secrets, Amy desperately tries to unveil the killer before the premiere. But she's pursuing a ruthless murderer who's willing to kill again - and who might just be waiting for Amy in the wings.

Critique: Another fully entertaining cozy mystery by an expert in the genre, "Death in the Margins" showcases author Victoria Gilbert's enviable expertise as a novelist who has a genuine flair for originality, deftly crafted characters, and a narrative driven storytelling style that keeps her readers fully engaged from first page to last. Of special attraction to fans of 'whodunnit' novels feature amateur women sleuths, "Death in the Margins" is strongly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted that "Death in the Margins" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).

Editorial Note: Victoria Gilbert ( turned her early obsession with reading into a dual career as an author and librarian. Victoria has worked as a reference librarian, research librarian, and library director. he is a also member of Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers.

Peril in Paris
Rhys Bowen
Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
9780593437858, $27.00, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: A pregnant Lady Georgiana Rannoch and her dashing husband, Darcy, are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their bundle of joy, but an unexpected trip to Paris thrusts them straight into a tangled web of international intrigue in "Peril In Paris", an all-new mystery in the 'Royal Spyness Mystery' series from accomplished novelist Rhys Bowen.

Critique: With her usual flair for originality and the kind of storytelling skill set that continues to distinguish novelist Rhys Bowne, "Peril In Paris" is a deftly crafted and inherently riveting read for her legions of fans. While also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99), "Peril In Paris" is an exceptional and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Rhys Bowen ( is the New York Times bestselling author of two historical mystery series, "In Farleigh Field" and "The Tuscan Child", as well as three other historical novels.

Sinister Graves
Marcie R. Rendon
Soho Crime
c/o Soho Press
853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
9781641293839, $27.95, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: A snowmelt has sent floodwaters down to the fields of the Red River Valley, dragging the body of an unidentified Native woman into the town of Ada. The only evidence the medical examiner recovers is a torn piece of paper inside her bra: a hymnal written in English and Ojibwe.

Cash Blackbear, a 19-year-old Ojibwe woman, sometimes helps Sheriff Wheaton, her guardian, on his investigations. Now she knows her search for justice for this anonymous victim will take her to the White Earth Reservation, a place she once called home.

When Cash happens upon two small graves in the yard of a rural, "speak-in-tongues kinda church", Cash is pulled into the lives of the malevolent pastor and his troubled wife while yet another Native woman dies in a mysterious manner.

Critique: A deftly crafted 'whodunnit' novel, "Sinister Graves" by Marcie R. Rendon will have a special and particular appeal to readers with an interest in a Native American murder mystery. A riveting read from start to finish, "Sinister Graves" is an especially recommended addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "Sinister Graves" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Marcie R. Rendon ( is an enrolled member of the White Earth Nation, a Pinckley Prize-winning author, playwright, poet, freelance writer, and a community arts activist. Rendon was awarded the McKnight Distinguished Artist Award for 2020. She is also a speaker on Native issues, leadership, and writing. Her second novel in her Cash Blackbear mystery series, "Girl Gone Missing", was nominated for the Sue Grafton Memorial Award. Rendon was recognized as a 50 over 50 Change-maker by Minneapolis AARP and Pollen in 2018.

The Body Falls
Andrea Carter
Oceanview Publishing
1620 Main Street, Suite 11, Sarasota, FL 34236
9781608094301, $27.95, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: It's April in Florida and Benedicta (Ben) O'Keeffe is enjoying balmy temperatures during the last few days of a six month stint with a U.S. law firm. A week later, she returns to Glendara, Inishowen, where a charity cycle event is taking place. The town is abuzz with excitement, but it starts to rain, causing the cyclists to postpone the start of their event and stay overnight in the town. The rain doesn't stop -- it becomes increasingly relentless, torrential.

In the middle of the night, Police Sergeant Tom Molloy is called out to Mamore Gap, where a body, dislodged from a high bank by the heavy rain, has fallen onto a passing vehicle. It is identified as Bob Jameson, a well-known charities boss and the organizer of the cycling event. Stunned, the local doctor finds evidence of a recent snakebite. Terrible weather persists and soon bridges are down and roads are impassable. Glendara is completely cut off and since there are no native snakes in Ireland, could there be a killer trapped in the community? With no help from the outside world, it's left to Molloy (with Ben's assistance) to find out who is responsible for Bob Jameson's bizarre death.

Critique: A classic 'whodunnit' of a mystery read by novelist Andrea Carter, "The Body Falls" is the fifth title in the author's simply outstanding 'Inishowen Mystery' series. Original, entertaining, and a compulsive page turner of a read from cover to cover, "The Body Falls" is enthusiastically recommended for personal reading lists and community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted that "The Body Falls" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781472131126, $14.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49)

Editorial Note: Andrea Carter ( grew up in Laois and studied law at Trinity College Dublin, before moving to the Inishowen peninsula in County Donegal, Ireland, where she ran the most northerly solicitors' practice in the country. In 2006 she returned to Dublin to work as a barrister before turning to write crime novels. Carter is the author of the Inishowen Mysteries, most recently The Well of Ice and Murder at Greysbridge. Her books are published by Little, Brown in the UK, Goldmann Verlag in Germany, Oceanview in the US and will be adapted for television next summer.

Shawn Wilson
Oceanview Publishing
1620 Main Street, Suite 11, Sarasota, FL 34236
9781608095100, $27.95, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: After the trauma of his last case, and after three months spent recovering in Ireland, life is looking up for newly retired homicide detective Brian (Brick) Kavanagh. Back home in Washington, D.C., a new job shows promise when he's asked to train criminology students in cold case techniques.

Then he's off to a whirlwind weekend in Chicago with Nora, an Aer Lingus flight attendant he'd met in Ireland. There he receives shocking news that his former partner's wife and twin infants have been kidnapped. Brick rushes to D.C. to support Ron, the man who's always had his back -- but as days pass, Brick questions how well he really knows this man.

Brick's cold case (the unsolved hit-and-run death of a college student) is heating up. Brick finds gaping holes in the original investigation. Is it possible diplomatic immunity granted someone a "get-out-of-jail-free card"?

Meanwhile, Ron's family tragedy unfolds in a most bizarre manner, and the escalating cold case points to D.C. corruption at the highest level. Things are getting very complicated and increasingly dangerous!

Critique: A deftly crafted and thoroughly fun read from cover to cover for any and all mystery fans, "Duplicity", the second title in author Shawn Wilson's 'Brick Kavanagh Mystery' series, is unreservedly recommended addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Duplicity" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49).

Editorial Note: Shawn Wilson ( is a produced playwright and the author of the Brick Kavanagh Mystery series. "Duplicity" is her second novel following Relentless, the first of that series.

The Poison Machine
Robert J. Lloyd
Melville House
46 John Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
9781612199757, $29.99, HC, 464pp

Synopsis: London, 1679 -- A year has passed since the sensational attempt to murder King Charles II, but London is still a viper's nest of rumored Catholic conspiracies, and of plots against them in turn. When Harry Hunt (estranged from his mentor Robert Hooke) is summoned to the remote and windswept marshes of Norfolk, he is at first relieved to get away from the place.

But in Norfolk, he finds that some Royal workers shoring up a riverbank have made a grim discovery -- the skeleton of a dwarf. Harry is able to confirm that the skeleton is that of Captain Jeffrey Hudson, a prominent member of the court once famously given to the Queen in a pie. Except no one knew Hudson was dead, because another man had been impersonating him.

The hunt for the impersonator, clearly working as a spy, will take Harry to Paris, another city bedeviled by conspiracies and intrigues, and back, with encounters along the way with a flying man and a cross-dressing swordswoman -- and to the uncovering of a plot to kill the Queen and all the Catholic members of her court. But where? When?

Critique: "The Poison Machine" is the sequel to author Robert J. Floyd's novel "The Bloodless Boy" and is an incandescent historical suspense thriller and compulsive page turner of a read. While especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated historical mystery fans that "The Poison Machine" is also available in a paperback edition (9781685890407, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Robert Lloyd ( studied for a Fine Art degree, starting as a landscape painter, but while studying for MA degree in The History of Ideas that he first read Robert Hooke's diary, detailing the life and experiments of this extraordinary man. After a 20-year career as a secondary school teacher, he has returned to painting and writing. He is also the author of "The Bloodless Boy", which was selected by Publishers Weekly as a Mystery Book of the Year and The New York Times as a Best New Historical Novel of 2021.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Prisoner of Tartarus
Richard Lee Byers
Aconyte Books
9781839081576, $16.95, PB, 336pp

Synopsis: A hero has fallen: Deprived of the mystical Gjallarhorn, his enchanted sword Holfund, his winged steed, and even his memory, Heimdall flees across the underworld of Tartarus with the minions of the dark god Pluto in pursuit. Aided only by his friend Kamorr, Heimdall must piece together the mystery of his memory loss and escape the realm of the dead. For his amnesia masks a far greater threat: The dark elf Malekith's infernal machinations have corrupted the newly created Bifrost. Racing against the clock and his own memories, Heimdall must defeat Malekith and his allies before they can use the Rainbow Bridge to destroy both Midgard and Asgard.

Critique: A part of the simply outstanding 'Legends of Asgard' series from Aconyte Books, "The Prisoner of Tartarus" by Richard lee Byers is an original, fun and exciting read from first page to last. A 'must' for the legions of Marvel Universe fans, and also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95), "The Prisoner of Tartarus" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal and community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections.

Editorial Note: Richard Lee Byers ( is the author of over fifty fantasy and horror novels, including a dozen set in the Forgotten Realms universe.

The Wine/Beer/Spirits Shelf

The Little Book of Whiskey Cocktails
Bryan Paiement
The University Press of Kentucky
663 South Limestone Street, Lexington, KY 40508-4008
9780813195469, $14.95 hc / $14.20 Kindle, 136pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Little Book of Whiskey Cocktails", professional bar tender Bryan Paiement shares the stories of the whiskey-making world and recipes suitable for whiskey enthusiasts of all expertise levels.

Paiement takes a practical approach to exploring the various ways in which the spirit can be mixed and enjoyed. Beginning with a brief history of whiskey, he answers many questions that even aficionados can't help but stumble over: What is the difference between "whiskey" and "whisky"? Does bourbon have to come from Kentucky? How many times does Irish whiskey need to be distilled?

Forty classic whiskey cocktail recipes and ten original recipes are showcased in this pocket-sized gift book. Each carefully curated recipe is introduced with details on the cocktail's origins and concludes with bartenders' tips for mixing the perfect concoction. Paiement also includes award-winning recipes like the Paper Plane, time-tested classics like the Old Fashioned and the Rusty Nail, and handcrafted originals like the Scotch Smash.

Adorned with a key to whiskey ware and bar tools and an extensive repertoire of jokes, Paiement brings whiskey's terminology and mixology to any home bar.

Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Little Book of Whiskey Cocktails" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Wines/Spirits/Beer collections. It should be noted for whiskey cocktail fans, party planners, amateur and professional bar tenders that "The Little Book of Whiskey Cocktails" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.92).

Editorial Note: Bryan Paiement ( is a professional bartender at the Dunraven restaurant in Estes Park, Colorado. He is also the author of "Sports Bar: Cocktails and Sports Trivia".

The Biography Shelf

In the Heart of It All
Richard F. Celeste
The Kent State University Press
1118 Library, P.O. Box 5190, Kent OH 44242
9781606354452, $29.95, HC, 350pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "In the Heart of It All: An Unvarnished Account of My Life in Public Service", former Ohio governor Richard F. Celeste recounts his childhood in Lakewood, Ohio, where his politically ambitious father eventually served as mayor. Awarded a scholarship to attend Yale University, Celeste studied history and later became a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford; while living overseas, he met and quickly married his first wife, Dagmar Braun. Upon returning from Oxford, Celeste expected to begin a teaching career but was recruited to serve as a liaison for Peace Corps volunteers in Latin America, and the young couple relocated to Washington, DC, where they became friendly with Chet and Steb Bowles. When President Kennedy appointed Chet Bowles US ambassador to India, he invited Dick to work as his personal assistant. There, under Bowles's tutelage, Dick began to consider a political career of his own.

Celeste returned to Ohio and successfully ran for the Ohio House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1970. After serving two terms, he was elected lieutenant governor in 1974 but lost the 1978 governor's race by a slim margin. Celeste worked in DC as director of the Peace Corps while plotting his next move, and in 1982, his gubernatorial campaign resulted in a landslide victory. He served two terms as Ohio's governor, tackling an epic savings and loan crisis along with mental health reform and job creation.

Celeste describes candidly why he considered and dismissed a presidential campaign in 1988. He went on to serve as ambassador to India under President Clinton, traveling there with his second wife, Jacqueline Lundquist, and bringing his career full circle. Shortly after that position ended, Celeste became president of Colorado College, serving from 2002 to 2011.

In each position, Celeste has used his grandmothers' wisdom to guide his decision making, putting the needs of his various constituents - Ohio citizens, Peace Corps volunteers, diplomatic colleagues, and college students - above his ego and popularity ratings, and, as he poignantly reflects, sometimes even before his family. In the Heart of It All offers a remarkably frank and expansive account of Celeste's personal and professional life, including his disappointing defeats and thrilling victories.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "In the Heart of It All: An Unvarnished Account of My Life in Public Service" will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in political biographies and memoirs. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $22.49), "In the Heart of It All: An Unvarnished Account of My Life in Public Service" will prove a welcome and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library American Biography & Memoir collections.

Editorial Note: Richard F. Celeste ( was the governor of Ohio from 1983 to 1991. He has held a variety of positions in government and public service, most recently serving as president of Colorado College. He is currently a trustee of the Gates Family Foundation and Global Communities. The father of seven children, Celeste resides in Colorado with his wife, Jacqueline, and is involved with numerous charities.

At First Light
Walt Larimore
Knox Press
Recorded Books
8400 Corporate Drive, Landover, MD 20785
9781642939590, $35.00, HC, 480pp

Synopsis: Growing up in the 1930s in Memphis, Tennessee, Phil Larimore was the ultimate Boy Scout -- able to read maps, put a compass to good use, and traverse wild swamps and desolate canyons. His other great skill was riding horses.

Phil does poorly in school, however, leading his parents send to him to a military academy. After Pearl Harbor, Phil realizes he is destined for war. Three weeks before his eighteenth birthday, he becomes the youngest candidate to ever graduate from Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Landing on the Anzio beachhead in February 1944, Phil is put in charge of an Ammunition Pioneer Platoon in the 3rd Infantry Division. Their job: deliver ammunition to the frontline foxholes - a dangerous assignment involving regular forays into No Man's Land.

As Phil fights his way up the Italian boot, into Southern France and across the Rhine River into Germany, he is caught up in some of the most intense combat ever. But it's what happens in the final stages of the war and his homecoming that makes Phil's story incredibly special and heartwarming.

Critique: An impressive and memorable story of genuine courage, daring, and heroism, "At First Light: A True World War II Story of a Hero, His Bravery, and an Amazing Horse" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library World War II History & Memoir collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "At First Light" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Recorded Books, 9798212050531, $41.95, CD).

Number One Is Walking
Steve Martin, author
Harry Bliss, illustrator
Celadon Books
120 Broadway, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10271
9781250815293, $30.00, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: Steve Martin has never written about his career in the movies before. With the publication of "Number One Is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions", he shares anecdotes from the sets of his beloved films (Father of the Bride, Roxanne, The Jerk, Three Amigos, and many more) bringing his readers directly into his world.

He also shares charming tales of antics, moments of inspiration, and exploits with the likes of Paul McCartney, Diane Keaton, Robin Williams, and Chevy Chase. Martin details his forty years in the movie biz, as well as his stand-up comedy, banjo playing, writing, and cartooning, all with his unparalleled wit.

With gorgeously illustrated cartoons and single-panel "diversions" combining the talents of entertainer Steve Martin and artist/illustrator Harry Bliss, "Number One Is Walking" is a compendium of the everyday moments that make up a movie star's life, capturing Steve Martin's singular humor and acclaimed career in film.

Critique: An absolute 'must' for the legions of Steve Martin fans, "Number One Is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions" will also introduce readers to the whimsical cartooning style of Harry Bliss as he gives a visual emphasis to Martin's wit, wisdom and life story. Simply stated, "Number One Is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community/academic library American Biography/Memoir/Humor collections.

Editorial Note #1: Steve Martin ( is one of the most well-known talents in entertainment. His work has earned him an Academy Award , five Grammy awards, an Emmy, the Mark Twain Award, and the Kennedy Center Honors. As an author, Martin's work includes the novel An Object of Beauty, the play Picasso at the Lapin Agile, a collection of comic pieces, Pure Drivel, a bestselling novella, Shopgirl, and his memoir Born Standing Up. Martin's films include The Jerk, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Roxanne, Parenthood, L.A. Story, Father of the Bride, and Bowfinger.

Editorial Note #2: Harry Bliss ( is a cartoonist and cover artist for the New Yorker magazine. His syndicated single-panel comic 'Bliss' appears in newspapers internationally. He has written and illustrated over 20 books for children and is the founder of the Cornish CCS Fellowship for Graphic Novelists in Cornish, New Hampshire.

The Scandalous Hamiltons
Bill Shaffer
Citadel Press
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9780806542256, $26.00, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Scandalous Hamiltons: A Gilded Age Grifter, a Founding Fathers Disgraced Descendant, and a Trial at the Dawn of Tabloid Journalism", author Bill Shaffer presents a historical story of true crime that almost too tawdry to be true -- a con woman prostitute who met the descendant of a Founding Father in a brothel, duped him into marriage using an infant purchased from a baby farm, then went to prison for stabbing the couple's baby nurse -- all while in a common-law marriage with another man.

The scandal surrounding Evangeline and Robert Ray Hamilton, though little known today, was one of the sensations of the Gilded Age, a sordid, gripping tale involving bigamy, bribery, sex, and violence.

When the salacious Hamilton story emerged in during Eva's trial for the August 1889 stabbing, it commanded unprecedented national and international newspaper coverage thanks to the telegraph and the recently founded Associated Press. For the New York dailies, eager to capture readers through provocative headlines, Ray and Eva were a godsend.

As lurid details emerged, the public's fascination grew -- how did a man of Hamilton's stature become entangled with such an adventuress? Nellie Bly, the world-famous investigative reporter, finagled an exclusive interview with Eva after her conviction. Hamilton's death under mysterious circumstances, a year after the stabbing, added to the intrigue.

Through personal correspondence, court records, and sensational newspaper accounts, "The Scandalous Hamiltons" explores not only the full, riveting saga of ill-fated Ray and Eva, but the rise of tabloid journalism and celebrity in a story that is both a fascinating slice of pop culture history and a timeless tale of ambition, greed, and obsession.

Critique: An exceptionally well written and riveting read -- and with an extraordinary appeal to dedicated fans of historical true crime stories, "The Scandalous Hamiltons: A Gilded Age Grifter, a Founding Fathers Disgraced Descendant, and a Trial at the Dawn of Tabloid Journalism" is a highly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library 19th Century American History & Biography and American 'Yellow Journalism' history collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all true crime fans that "The Scandalous Hamiltons" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99).

Editorial Note: Bill Shaffer ( is the author of Emotion In Motion: 55 Baranger Displays (Vitra Design Museum 2021). He has been published on and the online site of Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, where he was a Smithsonian Fellow. Shaffer also holds an M.A., History of Design and Curatorial Studies from Parsons, The New School.

Save the Last Bullet: Memoir of a Boy Soldier in Hitler's Army
Wilhelm Langbein, author
Heidi Langbein-Allen, author
Pen & Sword Books
c/o Casemate (US distribution)
9781399072397, $32.95, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: Willi Langbein was just thirteen when the Nazis took him away from his parents under the pretense of protecting him. Their real reason was to turn him into cannon-fodder for use against Hitler's enemies. Deployed to the collapsing Eastern Front in the last days of the war, Willi, now aged fourteen, and his schoolmates were ordered to stave off the relentless Russian advance. None were expected to return alive from the final battles of the Third Reich.

Yet, against all odds, Willi did survive but his ordeal was far from over. He returns home to find everything he knows destroyed. Numb and confused, he is mandated to serve one year of forced farm labor. After his release, he gradually realizes that all he was taught to believe in was a lie and he sinks into depression. Eventually, thanks to his friendship with a kind British soldier, he begins to heal. It begins to dawn on him that he can play a part to ensure that the evil he witnessed is never repeated. Ultimately, he succeeds by earning the Medal of European Merit in 1979 for his contribution to the advancement of European democracy.

Willi's graphic and moving story, told from a Nazi child soldier's perspective, is an inspiring memoir of lost innocence and despair, but also of determination and hope restored.

Critique: Given the current rise in anti-democratic influences in Europe (and America), "Save the Last Bullet: Memoir of a Boy Soldier in Hitler's Army" is a timely and timeless expose of what happens (especially to children) when democracy gives way to authoritarianism. A riveting personal memoir of Willhelm Langbein's daughter, Heidi Langbein-Allen drawing upon her father's records and accounts, "Save the Last Bullet: Memoir of a Boy Soldier in Hitler's Army" is a highly recommended and valued addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library World War II History/Biography/Memoir collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Save the Last Bullet: Memoir of a Boy Soldier in Hitler's Army" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49).

Editorial Note #1: Having lost two school years as a child soldier in Hitler's Army, Wilhelm Langbein graduated from high school in 1951, aged 21. In 1959, he married his Spanish pen pal, Teresa Vives. They had two daughters, Heidi and Graziella. After gaining a degree in law and philology from the University of Cologne, he joined the German Department of Defense in 1962. In 1979, he was awarded the medal of European Merit for his contribution to the advancement of democracy in Europe. He spent his final assignment as head of the Legal Division of the NATO EFA Development, Production and Logistic Management Agency before retiring in 1992. He passed away in 2018.

Editorial Note #2: Heidi Langbein-Allen was raised in Germany, France and Spain and lives in the USA with her husband, a retired US Navy veteran. She wrote her Father's memoirs from his taped recollections and records of interviews. An excerpt aired in the top-rated World War Two podcast in May 2021 and a chapter appeared in the San Diego Writer's Association 2021 Anthology A Year In Ink.

The Christian Studies Shelf

Be Healed
Bob Schuchts
Ave Maria Press
PO Box 428, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Blackstone Audiobooks
9781646801664, $24.95, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: Based on retired Catholic therapist Bob Schuchts's popular program at the John Paul II Healing Center, "Be Healed: A Guide to Encountering the Powerful Love of Jesus in Your Life" offers hope in the healing power of God through the Holy Spirit and the sacraments and incorporates elements of charismatic spirituality while being steeped in scripture and the wisdom of the Church.

Schuchts's trusted process for finding inner peace and healing is boldly Christ-centered, maintaining focus on the person of Jesus as "the life-giving and ever-present physician of our souls." Schuchts will help you recognize your brokenness and find your hope and healing in the risen Christ. Schuchts shares his own journey of healing after enduring a series of betrayals in high school including his father's infidelity, his parents' divorce, his older brother's drug addiction, and his own subsequent periods of struggle with God and faith.

"Be Healed" also includes helpful tools such as charts, tables, lists, reflection questions, and personal challenges to guide you on your own healing.

Critique: Originally published almost ten years ago and now available in a hardcover edition for a new generation of readers, "Be Healed: A Guide to Encountering the Powerful Love of Jesus in Your Life" by Bob Schuchts has established itself as the classic guide to spiritual healing. This durable hardcover edition includes a new preface from the author and is ideal for use by group leaders, individuals, and therapists. Highly recommended for personal, professional, community, church, and academic library Christian Self-Help collections, it should be noted that "Be Healed" is also available in a paperback edition (9781594714764, $16.95), in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798200475612, $34.99, CD).

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Chibi Tarot
Editorial Staff
Ulysses Press
PO Box 3440, Berkeley CA 94703-3440
9781646043637, $14.95, Card Deck, 144pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Chibi Tarot", we can now celebrate our love of all things kawaii and fortune-telling with this charming take on the classic 78-card tarot card deck and guidebook.

The invitation of "Chibi Tarot" is to make the next step into any spiritual journey a fun one as tarot users learn how to divine the future with adorable chibi versions of traditional tarot archetypes. From the Empress to the Fool, each of the favorite Major and Minor Arcana cards get a mangafied treatment to reveal the past, future, and present.

Inspired by the classic Rider-Waite illustrations, these vibrant, beautifully designed cards and their step-by-by step guidebook will reveal a delightful tarot reading that's as cute as it is divine. Whether you're a beginner to tarot readings or a collector of fun decks like Cat Tarot and Kawaii Tarot, "Chibi Tarot" is here to make divination an entertaining experience for everyone!

Critique: Fun, whimsical, inspiring, unique, and thoroughly 'user friendly', "Chibi" is an impressively entertaining, delightfully effective, and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library Tarot Fortune Telling collections.

The Witch's Book of Numbers
Rebecca Scolnick
Hierophant Publishing
Hampton Roads Publishing Company
65 Parker St., Ste. 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781950253272, $23.99, PB, 256pp

Synopsis: Numerology (also known as arithmancy) is the belief in an occult, divine or mystical relationship between a number and one or more coinciding events. It is also the study of the numerical value, via an alphanumeric system, of the letters in words and names. When numerology is applied to a person's name, it is a form of onomancy. It is often associated with the paranormal, alongside astrology and similar to divinatory arts. (Wikipedia)

With the publication of "The Witch's Book of Numbers: Enhance Your Magic with Numerology", numerology expert Rebecca Scolnick reveals how you too can apply the incredible power of numerology to amplify your magic using only pen, paper, and a simple calculator (no complex mathematics required)!

"The Witch's Book of Numbers" reveals: How to find your Significant Six (the six important numbers that reveal powerful clues to your unique path in this lifetime); How to use the ancient Magic Square technique; How to use the power of numerology to amplify and enhance your spellwork.

Whether you're a beginner witch or have years of experience, "The Witch's Book of Numbers" will deftly guide you through the history and relevance of numerology for today's practitioner, offering exercises, spellwork, correspondences, and activities all designed to help boost your practice and enrich and empower your journey as a witch.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, comprehensive, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Witch's Book of Numbers: Enhance Your Magic with Numerology" is the ideal introduction to a major Metaphysical Studies subject. Essential reading for aspiring and novice numerologists, and also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99), "The Witch's Book of Numbers: Enhance Your Magic with Numerology" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library collections.

Editorial Note: Rebecca Scolnick ( is an emotional witch, forever seeker, queer human lady (she/her), and professional numerologist. Her passion is helping others learn how they can harness the universal language of numbers to uncover their deepest purpose and grasp the greater themes steering our days, weeks, and years on earth.

King Solomon the Magus
Claude Lecouteux
Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781644112434, $35.00, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: Looking at the Solomonic magical tradition and Solomon's profound influence on esoteric traditions around the world, with the publication of "King Solomon the Magus: Master of the Djinns and Occult Traditions of East and West", Professor Claude Lecouteux reveals King Solomon not only as one of the great kings of prehistory but also as the ancient world's foremost magician and magus.

Examining the primary sources on Solomon, such as the Bible, the Koran, and the writings of Flavius Josephus, "King Solomon the Magus" explores Solomon's judgments, his explorations, his literary and scientific works (including an herbal), and his constructions beyond the eponymous temple, such as the copper city in Andalus built by the djinns and the baths of Sulayman.

"King Solomon the Magus" also covers Solomon's magical possessions, such as his famous ring and the Philosopher's Stone. Of special note is the examination of the supernatural powers granted to Solomon by his ring, which he received from the angel Gabriel, including command over animals, weather, and demons, and explores in detail Solomon's power over genies and djinns.

Following the esoteric threads hidden within the primary sources on Solomon, "King Solomon the Magus" reveals the work of Solomon the Magician, exploring his amulets, remedies, exorcisms, charms, and his influence on Arab and Western magic.

Providing illustrations of sigils, talismans, and other magic symbols related to Solomon, "King Solomon the Magus" examines the schools of Solomonic Folklore magic and works such as The Greater and Lesser Keys of Solomon the King and The Hygromancy of Solomon. Also covered is the extensive presence of Solomon in folklore worldwide, including in Armenia, Israel, Malaysia, Eastern Europe, Russia, Morocco, India, Mongolia, and among the Abyssinians of Ethiopia and the Copts in Egypt -- as well as Solomon's role within the Bulgarian tradition from which the Cathars derived.

Painting an in-depth portrait of Solomon the Magician-King, "King Solomon the Magus" reveals how this legendary magus left a deep impression upon the occult, magical traditions, and philosophies of the ancient world that can still be felt to this day.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, informative, and thought-provoking read from cover to cover, "King Solomon the Magus: Master of the Djinns and Occult Traditions of East and West" by Professor Claude Lecouteux is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections, and Occult/Magic Studies supplemental curriculum studies lists. A truly seminal work of research and scholarship, "King Solomon the Magus: Master of the Djinns and Occult Traditions of East and West" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $22.99).

Editorial Note: Claude Lecouteux ( is a Professor Emeritus of Medieval Literature and Civilization at the Sorbonne. He is the author of numerous books on medieval beliefs and magic, including The Pagan Book of the Dead and Dictionary of Ancient Magic Words and Spells.

The Travel Shelf

The Serpent Coiled in Naples
Marius Kociejowski
Haus Publishing
c/o The University of Chicago Press (dist.)
9781909961807, $27.95, HC, 464pp

Synopsis: In recent years the city of Naples has become, for better or worse, the new destination in Italy. While many of its more unusual features are on display for all to see, the stories behind them remain largely hidden.

"The Serpent Coiled in Nables" is author Marius Kociejowski's travelogue portrait of this baffling city where the serpent can be many things: Vesuvius, the mafia-like Camorra, the outlying Phlegrean Fields (which, geologically speaking, constitute the second most dangerous area on the planet). It is all these things that have, at one time or another, put paid to the higher aspirations of Neapolitans themselves.

Naples is simultaneously the city of light, sometimes blindingly so, and the city of darkness, although often the stuff of cliche. The boundary that separates death from life is porous in the extreme: the dead inhabit the world of the living and vice versa. "The Serpent Coiled in Naples" is a travelogue, a meditation on mortality, a tribute to an ancient community in modern times, and so much else besides.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Serpent Coiled in Naples" will have a very strong appeal to readers with an interest in Italian travel and history. While highly recommended for both community and academic library Travel Guide & Travelogue collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Serpent Coiled in Naples" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.99).

Editorial Note: Marius Kociejowski ( is a poet, essayist and travel writer. He is the author of several books, including The Street Philosopher and the Holy Fool: A Syrian Journey and The Pigeon Wars of Damascus.

The Audiobook Shelf

The Wrong Bridesmaid
Lauren Landish, author
C.J. Bloom & Teddy Hamilton, narrators
Brilliance Audio
9781799798897, $14.99, MP3-CD

Synopsis: Wyatt Ford hightailed it out of Cold Springs to get away from his influential family and the unwanted privilege that came with it. Returning for his brother's wedding dredges up every reason he left. One unexpected bright spot: a curvy knockout who slings burgers, hustles pool -- and hates the last name Ford.

Hazel Sullivan is fiercely independent and happy to be maid of honor for her best friend's wedding, but she isn't looking for romance. Especially not with a man whose family is dividing her town into a battleground with their development plans. Fighting the family is easy. Fighting Wyatt? Not so much. Why does the enemy have to be so drop-dead gorgeous?

The sparks that fly between Hazel and Wyatt might start out as combat, but one kiss and it's total surrender. How is a happy ever after even possible for two people with so little in common? Except, of course, for an overwhelming attraction and that growing temptation to say "I do" themselves.

Critique: Complete and unabridged, this audio book production of "The Wrong Brides Maid" from Brilliance Audio features romance author Lauren Landish's fun and funny novel to life thorough the dual (and dueling) narrative skills of C.J. Bloom and Teddy Hamilton. Providing 9 Hours and 29 Minutes of pure entertainment in a 1 disc MP3-CD format, "The Wrong Brides Maid" will be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to personal and community library audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Lauren Landish ( writes books that have garnered praise from her legion of readers and is the author of the Truth or Dare series, the Irresistible Bachelors series, and the Bennett Boys Ranch books. She can be found on Facebook at

Editorial Note #2: C.J. Bloom ( is an actress and voice-over artist. She can be heard on commercials, video games, and promos. She comes to narration with a passion for performance along with the capability to span several genres, from romance to children's literature and thrillers.

Editorial Note #3: Teddy Hamilton ( is a seasoned and highly skilled romantic audio book narrator with a dreamy and the steamy -- and swoon worthy.

Murder at Black Oaks
Phillip Margolin, author
Therese Plummer, narrator
Macmillan Audio
9781250867100, $29.99, CD

Synopsis: Defense Attorney Robin Lockwood is summoned by retired District Attorney Francis Melville to meet with him at Black Oaks, the manor he owns up in the Oregon mountains. The manor has an interesting history -- originally built in 1628 in England, there's a murderous legend and curse attached to the mansion. Melville, however, wants Lockwood's help in a legal matter - righting a wrongful conviction from his days as a DA.

A young man, Jose Alvarez, was convicted of murdering his girlfriend only for Melville, years later when in private practice, to have a client of his admit to the murder and to framing the man Melville convicted. Unable to reveal what he knew due to attorney client confidence, Melville now wants Lockwood's help in getting that conviction overturned.

Successful in their efforts, Melville invites Lockwood up to Black Oaks for a celebration. Lockwood finds herself among an odd group of invitees -- including the bitter, newly released, Alvarez. When Melville is found murdered, with a knife connected to the original curse, Lockwood finds herself faced with a conundrum -- who is the murder among them and how to stop them before there's another victim!

Critique: Philip Margolin is a true master of the suspense thriller genre and the impressive narrative skills of storyteller Therese Plummer does full justice in bringing to life all of the deftly crafted characters embedded in the this fascinating 'whodunnit' mystery. Complete and unabridged on 5 CDs, "Murder at Black Oaks" is an especially recommended addition to personal and community library audio book and mystery/suspense collections.

Santa's Little Yelpers
David Rosenfelt, author
Grover Gardner, narrator
Macmillan Audio
9781250867087, $29.99, CD

Synopsis: 'Tis the season in Paterson, New Jersey: Lawyer Andy Carpenter and his golden retriever, Tara, are surrounded by holiday cheer. It's even spread to the Tara Foundation. The dog rescue organization, not used to having puppies, has their hands full with a recent litter. Eight puppies are a lot to handle, and Andy is relieved when his co-worker Chris Myers agrees to foster them.

Myers, a newer employee at the Tara Foundation, did time for a crime he swears he didn't commit. When Myers discovers a key witness against him lied on the stand, he goes to Andy to ask for representation in getting the conviction overturned. Myers thinks they can have this wrapped up by Christmas, no problem.

But when the witness is murdered, and Myers is arrested for the crime, things go from bad to worse. Suddenly, it's all elves on deck to make a list and check it twice, so they can prove Myers is innocent.

Critique: Another brilliantly plotted 'whodunnit' addition to author David Rosenfelt's 'Andy Carpenter Mystery' series, "Santa's Little Yelpers" is superbly narrated by vocal performance artist Grover Gardner. A compelling 'theatre of the mind' experience for any and all dedicated mystery buffs, this complete and unabridged audio book edition of "Santa's Little Yelpers" from Macmillan Audio is an especially recommended addition to both personal and community library audio book collections. (6 CDs).

The Brilliance of Stars
J'nell Ciesielsky, author
Areil Hanson & Callan Friesen, narrators
Brilliance Audio
9781978694941, $16.99, MP3-CD

Synopsis: Washington, DC, 1914. Ivy Olwen knows how to survive on the streets without two coins to rub together. But when destiny thrusts her into the nest of a covert agency of assassins sworn to drive back the world's darkness, she acquires a new set of lethal skills. Her education (from explosives to etiquette, sharpshooting to sabotage) is as far-reaching as the organization's missions. But it's the hours she spends among the towering bookshelves in the library and stargazing on the roof with Agent Jack Vale that make her heart fly.

Jack knew plenty of hardship before the agency refined his rough edges, transforming him into the man who never misses. But he didn't know the feeling of home until Ivy entered his world. Now, Jack's heart drums with a singular purpose: he will fight for her, fight alongside her. No matter the cost.

When the pair is sent on a seemingly simple mission to take down Russia's newest and most dangerous arms dealer (a soulless man using the Great War as an opportunity to further his own depraved agenda) they discover that no amount of training could have prepared them for a manhunt that takes them across the frozen tundra, to the Crimean Peninsula, and along the Trans-Siberian Railway -- only to discover that there is evil in the world they are just beginning to understand.

Critique: Brilliantly narrated by the vocal storytelling talents of Ariel Hansen and Callan Friesen, "The Brilliance of Stars" is the first book of an epic duology by novelist J'nell Ciesielski and fully incorporates her signature blending of thrilling adventure, glamorous espionage, and sweeping romance. With a special appeal for readers who appreciate wholesome historical war time romance, this complete and unabridged audio book edition of "The Brilliance of Stars" is strongly commended for inclusion into personal and community library collections. (12 Hours, 24 Minutes).

Editorial Note #1: An author with a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J'nell Ciesielski ( weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. She can be followed on Instagram: @jnellciesielski and Facebook: @J'nellCiesielski

Editorial Note #2: Ariel Hanson ( and Callan Friesen ( are experienced and professional voice actors.

You Were Made for This Moment
Max Lucado
Brilliance Audio
9781713637332, $26.99, MP3-CD

Synopsis: Queen Esther concealed her Jewish identity. As far as anyone knew, she was pure Persian. But then came the royal decree that would annihilate her people. She had to make some tough choices. Would she remain silent or would she speak up? Would she blend in or would she stand out? Esther could have refused. She could have cowered in fear. But she spoke up. She stood out. And God used her to save the nation. It's not hyperbole to say that her courage changed the course of history. Nor is it an overstatement to say that God can do the same with you.

Like Esther, you may be staring down a seemingly impossible situation. And what's true for Esther is true for you: deliverance will come. God will have his victory. He will rescue his people. He will right the wrongs of this world. The question is not, Will God prevail? The question is, Will you be part of the team?

With the publication of "You Were Made for This Moment: Courage for Today and Hope", pastor and author Max Lucado will help you: Reclaim your eternal identity as a citizen of heaven; Put your hope in the God of grand reversals; Cultivate courage for your challenging times; Discover your role in God's story. You don't need to become undone by tough times, you can become unleashed by our triumphant God because we were all 'made for this moment'.

Critique: Superbly performed by voice actor Ben Holland, this complete and unabridged audio book edition of "You Were Made for This Moment: Courage for Today and Hope" by Pastor Max Lucado is especially and unreservedly recommended listening for all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliations. (4 Hours, 4 Minutes).

Editorial Note: Max Lucado ( is a pastor, speaker, and bestselling author who, in his own words, "writes books for people who don't read books." He serves the people of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, and his message is for the hurting, the guilty, the lonely, and the discouraged: God loves you; let him. Known for combining poetic storytelling and homespun humor with the heart of a pastor, all of his trade books began as sermon series at Oak Hills Church, and his sermons all begin with Max asking himself this question: "What can I say on Sunday that will still matter on Monday?" He's been dubbed "America's Pastor" by Christianity Today, and "The Best Preacher in America" by Reader's Digest.

The Music CD Shelf

Avi Granite's In Good Hands
Avi Granite, composer
Pet Mantis Records
$TBA CD / $9.49 MP3

Avi Granite's In Good Hands is a unique album in which Canadian composer and guitarist Avi Granite collaborates with eleven different instrumental musicians. Each of the eleven contributes a solo performance interpreting one of Granite's unique compositions. The result is a jazz showcase spotlighting a divergence of styles with the unifying theme of Granite's musical creativity. Highly recommended, especially for instrumental jazz connoisseurs! The tracks are Like a Magazine (Pat LaBarbera - tenor saxophone), 19 Seconds or Less (Ted Warren - drums), Wayne Winks at the Radio (Scott Peterson - bass), Rigar Breaks the Cage (Jim Lewis - trumpet), Like John (Ted Quinlan - electric guitar), My Sunken Ship (Brian Kobayakawa - bass), Y Not (Peter Lutek - bassoon), Basho (Neal Davis - bass), Tricycle Dreams (Brian Dickinson - piano), Boston (Tom Richards - trombone/prepared room), and Critical Eddie (Nick Fraser - drums).

RJ LeBlanc
Bent River Records
$TBA CD / $8.99 MP3

Heyday is a jazz album featuring Remi-Jean LeBlanc on bass and keyboards, supported by a host of additional talented performers on piano, keyboards, guitar, drums, and some vocals. All compositions are by Remi-Jean LeBlanc, except for two songs that LeBlanc co-created with Erika Angell. Heyday spans a wide gamut of inspirations and styles; different tracks draw upon elements of 90's rock, groove, R&B, and dubstep. Heyday is a fresh, eclectic listening experience, highly recommended especially for adventurous jazz connoisseurs. The tracks are Flamme, Casa Perdida, Chanson pour Marguerite, Into The Sun, Saturnales, EZ Drummers, Heyday, and Childlike (pour Roland).

Lush Life
Heather Ferguson
Privately Published
$TBA CD / $9.49 MP3

Resonant jazz singer Heather Ferguson presents her debut album Lush Life, featuring her evocative performances of arranged jazz classics. Her intense, passionate performances offer a grand and beautiful re-experience of beloved songs. Lush Life is a welcome addition to personal and public library jazz music collections, and also makes an excellent gift for connoisseurs of the genre. The tracks are Lush Life (Strayhorn), Bewitched (Rogers/Hart), Body & Soul (Green Heyman), At Last (Gordon/Warren), The Look of Love (Bacharach/David), All The Things You Are (Kern/Hammerstein III), Stardust (Carmichael/Parish), Cry Me a River (Hamilton), Lover Man (Davis/Ramirez/Sherman), and Round Midnight (Monk/Hanighen).

A Little Louder Now
Lauren Falls
Privately Published
$17.55 CD / $7.92 MP3

Toronto bassist and composer Lauren Falls presents A Little Louder Now, an album of seven original creations plus a classic song by Victor Youmans. A Little Louder Now features Lauren Falls on bass, David French on tenor saxophone, Trevor Giancola on guitar, Todd Pentney on piano, and Trevor Falls on drums. Together, they create a vibrant performance inspired by the highs and lows of everyday life, and the personal growth that comes from confronting each day of one's journey. A Little Louder Now is an inspirational and thoroughly satisfying listening experience, highly recommended. The tracks are New View, A Little Louder, Jupiter, Disagree to Disagree, TTB, Take Me, Labyrinth, and I Want to Be Happy (V. Youmans).

Songs of the Doomed: Some Jaded, Atavistic Freakout
Dan McCarthy
TPR Records
$TBA CD / $9.49 MP3

Songs of the Doomed: Some Jaded, Atavistic Freakout is a music album inspired by the writings of American political journalist Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005), well-known for his writings on the (arguably doomed) counterculture movement. Dan McCarthy on vibraphone, Don Scott and Luan Phung on guitars, Daniel Fortin on Bass, and Ernesto Cervini on drums have applied their talents to original music created through a unique cypher process applied to Hunter Thompson's own words. Songs of the Doomed is adventurous, weird, wild, and unforgettable, an album for listeners craving something as unique, unexpected, and standout as American counterculture itself! The tracks are Morning in Woody Creek; Hell's Angels; Some Jaded, Atavistic Freakout; Irresponsible Gibberish; We Were Somewhere Around Barstow; Kingdom of Fear; What Limes?; Strange Rumblings in Aztlan; The High-Water Mark; Owl Farm; Gonzo Journalism Article; White Rabbit (featuring Jenn McCarthy); and Evening in Woody Creek.

Tito Carrillo
Origin Records
$15.98 CD / $9.49 MP3

Trumpeter, composer, and educator Tito Carrillo presents Urbanessence, an original music album that balances elements of Afro-Caribbean musical traditions and modern jazz. All compositions are by Tito Carrillo; the music surges in an exuberant performance with Tito Carrillo on trumpet, Troy Roberts on saxophones, Ben Lewis on piano, Clark Sommers on bass, Jay Sawyer on drums, and Victor Gonzalez on congas. Passionate, exciting, and overflowing with vivacious energy, Urbanessence is a "must-have" for connoisseurs of genre-bending jazz. Highly recommended! The tracks are Momentum; Fire & Ice; Bliss Point; Urbanessence; Crazy, Stupid Fine (bass intro); Crazy, Stupid, Fine; Poor to Rico; Up the Down Staircase; Justice & Mercy (for Bryan Stevenson); Fly By Night; and Sublime (for Roy Hargrove).

The Self-Help Shelf

The Anxiety Audit
Lynn Lyons
Health Communications, Inc.
3201 S.W. 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442-8190
9780757324253, $16.95, PB, 224pp

Synopsis: Ask people to describe anxiety and they'll start with the familiar physical symptoms: racing heart, sweaty palms, difficulty breathing. Anxiety, they might add, is "freaking out", a panic attack, or a frightening loss of control. But anxiety isn't always what we think it is, especially now. Anxiety has become the new normal, constant and simmering, disguising itself in patterns and responses we don't even recognize as anxiety.

These anxiety patterns include: Ruminating and worrying (and mistaking it for problem solving); Going global, or seeing the world through an overwhelming, all-or-nothing lens; Isolating and disconnecting, all too common in our "new normal"; Creating chaos and "busy-ness", for example, over-scheduling and multitasking; Embracing irritability; Confusing self-medication with self-care.

With the publication of "The Anxiety Audit: Seven Sneaky Ways Anxiety Takes Hold and How to Escape Them", psychotherapist Lynn Lyons provides a guide for us all and lays it out with no overly scientific or diagnostic language -- just real talk and time-tested tactics from a respected therapist.

"The Anxiety Audio" is a relatable and practical guide to untangling yourself from the grips of worry and fear that uses stories, real-world examples, and helpful dialogues to retrain the way you think and react. It helps its readers to recognize the sneaky ways these anxious patterns and cycles of worry take hold in their life. By making small and consistent adjustments, we can learn to reverse their negative impacts and move forward with renewed clarity and confidence.

Critique: An ideal choice for a DIY instructional guide to dealing with the manifold stresses and uncertainties of daily life in the world today, "The Anxiety Audit: Seven Sneaky Ways Anxiety Takes Hold and How to Escape Them" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in dealing with anxiety and chronic worrying. While also available in a digital book format ($12.99), "The Anxiety Audit" is highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Anxiety Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, Self- Help/Self-Improvement collections and reading lists.

Editorial Note: Lynn Lyons, LICSW, is psychotherapist in Concord, New Hampshire. She has been in practice for 30 years specializing in the treatment of anxiety in adults and children. She travels internationally as a speaker and trainer on the subject of anxiety, its role in families, and the need for a preventative approach at home and in schools. With a special interest in breaking the generational cycle of worry in families, she has authored several books and articles on anxiety, including  (with co-author Reid Wilson) "Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous & Independent Children", and the companion book for kids, "Playing with Anxiety: Casey's Guide for Teens and Kids".

The Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf

The Cinema of Stephanie Rothman: Radical Acts in Filmmaking
Alicia Kozma
University Press of Mississippi
3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson, MS 39211
9781496840998, $99.00, HC, 280pp

Synopsis: The rare woman director working in second-wave exploitation, Stephanie Rothman (b. 1936) directed seven successful feature films, served as the vice president of an independent film company, and was the first woman to win the Directors Guild of America's student filmmaking prize. Despite these career accomplishments, Rothman retired into relative obscurity.

With the publication of "The Cinema of Stephanie Rothman: Radical Acts in Filmmaking", author and cinema historian Alicia Kozma uses Rothman's career to create an in-depth case study that intertwines historical, archival, industrial, and filmic analysis to grapple with the past, present, and future of women's filmmaking labor in Hollywood.

Understanding second-wave exploitation filmmaking as a transitory space for the industrial development of contemporary Hollywood that also opened up opportunities for women practitioners, Kozma argues that understudied film production cycles provide untapped spaces for discovering women's directorial work. The professional career and filmography of Rothman exemplify this claim. Rothman also serves as an apt example for connecting the structure of film histories to the persistent strictures of rhetorical language used to mark women filmmakers and their labor. Kozma traces these imbrications across historical archives.

Adopting a diverse methodological approach, "The Cinema of Stephanie Rothman" reveals the problems and successes of the memorialization of women's directorial labor, connecting historical and contemporary patterns of gendered labor disparity in the film industry. This detailed biographical and historical study is simultaneously the first in-depth scholarly consideration of Rothman, the debut of the most substantive archival materials collected on Rothman, and a feminist political intervention into the construction of film histories.

Critique: A valued and substantial contribution to the growing library of literature concerning the role of women in filmmaking, "The Cinema of Stephanie Rothman: Radical Acts in Filmmaking" is informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a twelve page Bibliography, twenty-seven pages of Notes, and seven page Index. While also available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9781496841001, $30.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $28.50), "The Cinema of Stephanie Rothman: Radical Acts in Filmmaking" is a significant and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, film school, and academic library Cinematic History & Biography collections.

Editorial Note: Alicia Kozma ( is director of the Indiana University Cinema. She holds a PhD from the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is co-editor of ReFocus: The Films of Doris Wishman and Mobilized Identities: Mediated Subjectivity and Cultural Crisis in the Neoliberal Era, and her work has been published in Media Industries, Film Comment, Camera Obscura, Television and New Media, and other publications.

Suspense with a Camera
Jeffrey Michael Bays
Michael Wiese Productions
12400 Ventura Blvd., #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
9781615932733, $29.95, PB, 220pp

Synopsis; In today's prolific and competitive world of film making, preventing cinematic audience boredom is more important than ever. With the publication of "Suspense with a Camera: A Filmmaker's Guide to Hitchcock's Techniques" screenwriters and directors have an easy DIY guidebook for making their films more captivating, spine tingling, and suspenseful.

"Hitchcock Whisperer" Jeffrey Michael Bays brings the secrets of suspense out of the shadows. It should be noted that bonus material are included: Q&A with 'Bourne' director Paul Greengrass, 'Bourne Identity' editor Saar Klein, '10 Cloverfield Lane' director Dan Trachtenberg, and a foreword by Film Riot's Ryan Connolly.

Critique: Expertly organized and presented, "Suspense with a Camera: A Filmmaker's Guide to Hitchcock's Techniques" by Jeffrey Michael Bays is essential reading, especially for independent film makers working on tight budgets and wanting to successfully compete for movie audience success. Alfred Hitchcock is an acknowledged master of film making and with this informed and informative combination of DIY instructional guide and 'how to' manual drawing upon his expertise by Hitchcock expert Jeffrey Bays, "Suspense with a Camera: A Filmmaker's Guide to Hitchcock's Techniques" is unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Screenwriting and Video/Movie Direction & Production collections.

Editorial Note: Jeffrey Michael Bays ( is author of "Between the Scenes: What Every Director, Writer, and Editor Should Know about Scene Transitions", and was producer of the award-winning Not from Space on XM Satellite Radio. He holds a Master of Arts in Cinema from La Trobe University. Jeffrey's productions have earned the prestigious Mark Time Award, the Communicator Award of Excellence, and have been listed in Time Out magazine. Jeffrey is a frequent speaker and panelist at film festivals, and contributor to MovieMaker Magazine, No Film School, and Peter D. Marshall's Director's Chair. He is producer of the docuseries Hitch20, a four-hour examination of Hitchcock's twenty works of television, and author of the experimental eBook How to Turn Your Boring Movie into a Hitchcock Thriller, written in the voice of Hitchcock himself. Jeffrey also directed the Australian film Offing David, a Hitchcock homage.

The Art Shelf

How I Draw: Scott McKowen Sketchbooks
Scott McKowen
Firefly Books Ltd.
9780228103660, $29.95, HC, 232pp

Synopsis: For many artists, drawing is both vocation and avocation. Drawing for pleasure keeps our skills sharp and allows us to expand our horizons by trying new materials and media -- to say nothing of providing countless hours of enjoyment.

As an artist, Scott McKowen has enjoyed a successful four-decade career as an award-winning illustrator and designer known across North America. Drawing is his livelihood, but he also makes a constant practice of observational drawing from life. He always travels with a sketchbook, drawing everywhere from museums, restaurants, theaters and zoos, to cities, parks and on holiday.

"How I Draw: Scott McKowen Sketchbooks" provides an overview of Scott's draftsmanship in various media, with insights and tips guaranteed to help anyone who shares his love of drawing.

"How I Draw: Scott McKowen Sketchbooks" features Some Basics, Travel Sketchbooks, Cabinet of Curiosities, and Life Drawing, to Portraiture, Animals/Vegetables/Minerals, Lucid Drawing, and Ephemera.

Critique: Offering a delightful and inspiring tour through highlights of Scott McKowen's impressive drawing portfolio, "How I Draw: Scott McKowen Sketchbooks" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and art school library collections -- and will have a very special appeal and value for readers with an interest in creating personal and professional art through sketching.

Editorial Note: Scott McKowen ( is a renowned and prolific artist, chiefly known for his scratchboard illustrations, which have been featured in hundreds of books, magazines, theater posters and comic books. He may be best known for illustrating Neil Gaiman's Marvel Comics series 1602 and for several titles in the Sterling Unabridged Classics children's book series, as well as theater posters that capture the essence of plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Moliere and other great playwrights. He was selected as one of the jurors for the 53rd Communication Arts Illustration Annual.

The Art of Louis Shabner
Stuart Webb
Telos Publishing Ltd
9781845832001, $44.13, PB, 240pp

Synopsis: As an artist, Louis Shabner began his career producing shop window advertising for brands such as Every Ready, Ovaltine and Chivers jams, amongst others, but is best known for his paintings of sultry sirens. During the 1960s and 1970s his prints, which were available through shops such as Boots chemists and by post through Freemans catalogues, adorned lounge walls up and down the UK. Many of his women made it onto hugely popular calendars during the same period.

Under the pseudonym Sheldon, Shabner also produced numerous book cover paintings for Pan and other publishers. At the time, mass-produced art of this kind was viewed as having only 'throw away' value, but now Shabner's work (often mentioned in the same breath as that of contemporaries Vladimir Tretchikoff and J H Lynch) is highly sought-after by collectors, with copies of his original prints and calendars being snapped up for high prices.

With the publication of "The Art of Louis Shabner", researcher Stuart Webb presents the most comprehensive account ever published of Shabner's life and work, lavishly illustrated with beautiful color images of a wealth of his paintings.

Critique: Of particular appeal to aficionados of vintage art and book cover illustration, "The Art of Louis Shabner" is a coffee-table style (8.5 x 0.57 x 11 inches) volume that showcases the memorable and distinctive artwork and style of a memorably gifted artist whose work was especially appreciated as cover art for paperback books in a number of genres as well as dramatic portraits of attractive women. A pure pleasure to browse through and supported by the descriptive commentary of author, researcher, and Louis Shabner expert Stuart Web, "The Art of Louis Shabner" will be of special interest as an addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library 20th Century Pop Culture Art collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Stuart Webb has written for a number of magazines, including a two year stint with the now sadly defunct Book and Magazine Collector. An award winning short story author, Stuart has also penned three novels for children, Aurora's Tears, Lyme Hall and Time Traveller Jenny at Chatsworth. The first print of his debut novel sold out on the day of publication. More recently, his passion for all things vintage, and particularly kitsch art, has resulted in Stuart writing a number of articles on this subject for Vintage Explorer magazine. He has also contributed to a writer's handbook titled A Seriously Useful Author's Guide to Marketing and Publicising Books. His Instagram is @stuart_webb_

Cover Me: The Vintage Art of Pan Books: 1950-1965
Colin Lurkin
Telos Publishing Ltd
9781845839888, $30.69, HC, 264pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Cover Me: The Vintage Art of Pan Books: 1950-1965" author Colin Larkin presents an affectionate and thoroughly-researched celebration of the classic Pan Books paperbacks published between 1950 and 1965 in a coffee-table style (8.5 x 0.62 x 11 inches) volume that is beautifully illustrated with sumptuous full-color reproductions of over 300 of the original cover artworks.

Pan books represented a cultural beacon as Britain recovered from World War II and slowly moved from the harsh austerity and rationing of the 1950s into the more upbeat 1960s. While in many respects the public of that period had to endure a life in monochrome (black-and-white TV, low-budget B-movies and grainy holiday snaps) Pan books presented escapist images in glorious color. They perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the era, as people sought out cheap reading material that astutely reflected contemporary tastes: crime novels, westerns, historical fiction, movie tie-ins, true-life war memoirs and early science fiction.

"Cover Me: The Vintage Art of Pan Books: 1950-1965" also presents the highlights of a unique archive of original Pan cover paintings, many of them iconic images of the era. Larkin has owned this major art collection since 1990, and has lovingly researched the Pan Books history, the many superb artists who worked with the company, and the fascinating production process. His own experience makes him ideally qualified to chronicle a subject that has been a passion of his since childhood.

Critique: A 'must' for the personal collections of all dedicated bibliophiles, "Cover Me: The Vintage Art of Pan Books: 1950-1965" demonstrates the old cliche that 'covers sell books' and for some of us is a wonderfully nostalgic trip down memory lane. An entertaining and informative volume to simply page throughout one page at a time, still another benefit for the current generation of bibliophiles is its being a wonderful source for identifying literary and pulp fiction classics in a variety of genres to at to a personal reading list. While also readily available in a paperback edition (9781845832032, $36.30), "Cover Me: The Vintage Art of Pan Books: 1950-1965" is a very special and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Literary Studies, Pop Culture, Art History, and Book Design collections.

The World History Shelf

In the Shadow of a Queen
Heather B. Moore
Shadow Mountain Publishing
P.O. Box 30178, Salt Lake City, Utah 84130-0178
9781639930500, $26.99, HC, 384pp

Synopsis: Princess Louise's life is upended after her father's untimely death. Captive to the queen's overwhelming mourning, Louise is forbidden to leave her mother's tight circle of control and is eventually relegated to the position of personal secretary to her mother -- the same position each of her sisters held until they were married.

Already an accomplished painter, Louise risks the queen's wrath by exploring the art of sculpting, an activity viewed as unbefitting a woman. When Louise involves herself in the day's political matters, including championing the career of a female doctor and communicating with suffragettes, the queen lays down the law to stop her and devotes her full energy to finding an acceptable match for her defiant daughter.

Louise is considered the most beautiful and talented daughter of Queen Victoria, but finding a match for the princess is no easy feat. Protocols are broken, and Louise exerts her own will as she tries to find an open-minded husband who will support her free spirit.

"In the Shadow of a Queen" by Heather B. Moore is the story of a battle of wills between two women: a daughter determined to forge her own life beyond the shadow of her mother, and a queen resolved to keep the Crown's reputation unsullied no matter the cost.

Critique: Compelling, eloquent, original, featuring a roster of deftly crafted characters and a fully engaging, narrative driven storytelling style, Heather Moore's latest novel, "In the Shadow of a Queen" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Historical Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of Heather Moore fans that "In the Shadow of a Queen" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212014359, $31.95, CD).

Editorial Note: Heather B. Moore ( is the author of more than seventy publications, including The Paper Daughters of Chinatown. She has lived on both the East and West Coasts of the United States, as well as Hawaii, and attended school abroad at the Cairo American Collage in Egypt and the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel. She loves to learn about history and is passionate about historical research.

The Civil War Shelf

Civil War Monuments and Memory
Jon Tracey, editor
Chris Mackowski, editor
Savas Beatie
PO Box 4527, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
9781611216332. $29.95, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: The American Civil War left indelible physical and emotional marks on the country. In the century and a half since the war, Americans have remembered the war in different ways. Veterans placed monuments to commemorate their deeds on the battlefield. In doing so, they often set in stone and bronze specific images in specific places that may have conflicted with the factual historical record.

Erecting monuments and memorials became a way to commemorate the past, but they also became important tools for remembering that past in particular ways. Monuments honor, but they also embody the very real tension between history and the way we remember that history - what we now today call "memory".

Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by historians Ion Tracey and Chris Mackowski, "Civil War Monuments and Memory: Favorite Stories and Fresh Perspectives from the Historians at Emerging Civil War" explores some of the ways people monumented and memorialized the war -- and how those markers have impacted our understanding of it.

This collection of essays brings together the best scholarship from Emerging Civil War's blog, symposia, and podcast (all of it revised and updated) coupled with original pieces, designed to shed new light and insight on the monuments and memorials that give us some of our most iconic and powerful connections to the battlefields and the men who fought there.

Critique: Unique, special, and unreservedly recommended compendium of erudite, informative, and insightful articles by experts in their fields, "Civil War Monuments and Memory: Favorite Stories and Fresh Perspectives from the Historians at Emerging Civil War" must be considered a core addition to professional, community, and academic library American Civil War collections. It should also be noted that "Civil War Monuments and Memory" is also readily available for students, academia, and American Civil War buffs in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.49).

Editorial Note #1: Jon Tracey is a public historian focused on soldier experience, memory, and veteran life in the Civil War era. He holds a BA in History from Gettysburg College and an MA from West Virginia University in Public History with a Certificate in Cultural Resource Management. He currently serves as the chair of Emerging Civil War's Editorial Board, and works in historic preservation.

Editorial Note #2: Chris Mackowski, Ph.D., is the editor in chief of Emerging Civil War. He is a writing professor in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University and the historian-in-residence at Stevenson Ridge, a historic property on the Spotsylvania battlefield. He has authored or coauthored more than a dozen books on the Civil War.

The Sports Shelf

The Black Athlete as Hero
Joseph Dorinson
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9781476678863, $39.95, PB, 307pp

Synopsis: Part history, part biography, "The Black Athlete as Hero: American Barrier Breakers from Nine Sports" is an informative and seminal study by Joseph Dorinson (who is a retired history professor from Long Island University) that examines the Black athlete's search to unify what W.E.B. DuBois called the "two unreconciled strivings" of African Americans -- the struggle to survive in black society while adapting to white society.

Black athletes have served as vanguards of change, challenging the dominant culture, crossing social boundaries and raising political awareness. Champions like Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Wilma Rudolph, Roberto Clemente, Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe, Serena Williams, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James make a difference, even as many in the Black community question the idea of athletes as role models.

Professor Dorinson deftly argues the importance of sports heroes in a panic-plagued era beset with class division and racial privilege.

Critique: A fascinating, ground-breaking sports history, "The Black Athlete as Hero: American Barrier Breakers from Nine Sports" is a seminal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library American Sports History collections in general, and African-American Sports Biography reading lists in particular.

The Architecture Shelf

Uncrating the Japanese House
Yuka Yokoyama, editor
William Whitaker, editor
Elizabeth Felicella, photographer
August Editions
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
9781947359093, $45.00, HC, 144pp

Synopsis: In 1953, Japanese architect Junzo Yoshimura designed a now-classic Japanese house and garden that he called Shofuso. It was built in Nagoya, Japan, and shipped to New York in 1954, where it was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and then relocated to Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. The curators of MoMA's House in the Garden exhibition highlighted its synthesis of historic Japanese architecture with modern architecture: the clarity of the house's post and beam structure, its flexibility of use and the close relationship of indoor and outdoor spaces.

"Uncrating the Japanese House: Junzo Yoshimura, Antonin and Noemi Raymond, and George Nakashima" is an extensively illustrated volume that centers on Yoshimura's design for Shofuso and two allied sites located in New Hope, Bucks County, Pennsylvania: Raymond Farm (1939-41), a live-work residence built by Antonin and Noemi Raymond within the fabric of an existing 18th-century Quaker farmhouse; and Nakashima Studios, a complex of structures designed by George Nakashima over three decades (1947 - 77) to serve his furniture-making business and as his family's home. Each site, in its own way, is the embodiment of the personal relationships and cross-cultural collaborations among this group of architects and designers.

The Raymonds, along with Yoshimura, Nakashima and others, came to understand Japan's changing environment through the act of building, through collaboration and travel. Together, they extended these lessons into the furniture and furnishings of modern living in both Japan and the United States.

"Uncrating the Japanese House: Junzo Yoshimura, Antonin and Noemi Raymond, and George Nakashima" documents an exhibition of objects and ephemera mounted at Shofuso. New York - based architectural photographer Elizabeth Felicella captures each site in a portfolio of newly commissioned images. Essays by Ken Tadashi Oshima and William Whitaker, illustrated with historical photographs, family snapshots and architectural drawings, further elucidate this important chapter in the history of modern architecture and design.

Critique: Collaborative compiled and co-edited by the team of Yukoyama and William Whitaker, and profusely illustrated throughout with the full color photography of Elizabeth Felicella, "Uncrating the Japanese House: Junzo Yoshimura, Antonin and Noemi Raymond, and George Nakashima" is a unique, informative, and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Architectural Studies collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

The Photography Shelf

Pools From Above
Brad Walls
Smith Street Books
c/o Rizzoli
300 Park Avenue South, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10010
9781925811971, $40.00, HC, 176pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Pools From Above", aerial photographer Brad Walls showcases his photographic images that capture the unexpected beauty, curves, hues, and textures of unique aquatic architecture from around the world. Produced over a span of three years in four countries, this photo collection is the culmination of Walls' long journey to discover the beauty in commonplace landscapes seen from unexpected vantages.

Critique: A simply fascinating coffee-table style (9.18 x 0.81 x 10.99 inches, 2.6 pounds) volume, "Pools From Above" by expert aerial photographer Brad Walls will have a very special appeal to anyone with an interest in aerial photography and photography equipment/techniques. "Pools From Above" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Contemporary Photography collections.

Editorial Note: Brad Walls ( is an aerial photographer based in Sydney, Australia. His work has garnered prestigious awards and international acclaim and been published by The Washington Post, The Guardian, CNN, and The New York Times.

The Music Shelf

Riders Of The Purple Sage: The Making Of A Western Opera
Zane Grey, author
Craig Bohmler, composer
Kristin Atwell Ford, director
First Run Features
630 Ninth Avenue, Suite 1213, New York, NY 10036
B0BDVSXJ87, $17.99, DVD, 1 disc (1 Hour, 22 Minutes)

Synopsis: "Riders of the Purple Sage: The Making of a Western Opera" follows a classically trained composer as he adapts a dime novel masterpiece into a grand opera. In 1912, Zane Grey's 'Riders of the Purple Sage' flew off bookshelves around the world and today is recognized by the Library of Congress as "One Hundred Books that Shaped America."

A century later, composer Craig Bohmler takes shelter in Zane Grey's cabin during a rainstorm. There, amidst posters from Grey's Hollywood Westerns, Bohmler discovers a story with the grand dimensions of opera; he decides then and there to mount the legendary frontier novel for the operatic stage.

Alongside a team of designers, musicians, singers, and fine art painter Ed Mell, Bohmler translates America's cowboy culture and sprawling beauty of the West into the realm of Puccini and Verdi.

Critique: "Riders of the Purple Sage: The Making of a Western Opera" is a DVD that will have special appeal to fans of musicals, westerns, and behind the scenes production insights into the making of a musical adaptation of one of a legendary western novel by one of the best known western and enduringly popular authors of westerns. Simply stated, this DVD edition of "Riders of the Purple Sage: The Making of a Western Opera" from First Run Features is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Music Documentary collections.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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