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Wisconsin Bookwatch

Volume 18, Number 12 December 2023 Home | WBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Education Shelf Parenting Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Biography Shelf General Fiction Shelf
Historical Fiction Shelf Literary Fiction Shelf Romantic Fiction Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf DVD Shelf
Science Shelf Computer Shelf Business Shelf
Agriculture Shelf Christian Studies Shelf Art Shelf
Needlecraft Shelf Woodworking Shelf Gardening Shelf
Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf Fashion Shelf Photography Shelf
Travel Shelf Metaphysical Studies Shelf 2024 Calendar Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

The Gunner and the Grunt
Michael Kelley, author
Peter Burbank, author
Casemate Publishers
9781636243436, $34.95, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: Effectively co-authored by Michael Kelley and Peter Burbank, "The Gunner and the Grunt" is written in the voices of two soldiers who fought in the same battles as members of the same recon unit but from different angles. Michael Kelley, the "Gunner," was flying in an armed helicopter above the jungle providing suppressive fire support, while Peter Burbank, the "Grunt," was down in the jungle on foot patrol involved in fire fights with Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troops.

"The Gunner and the Grunt" follows these two Boston boys from army training through deployment to the Vietnam war zone and the shock of first combat missions, to helicopter air assault "Search and Destroy" operations from the Cambodian border to the sands of the South China Sea.

Critique: Enhanced for the reader's benefit with a section of photos, "The Gunner and the Grunt" is a riveting read and one that will be of special and particular interest and recommendation to personal, community, and college/university library Viet Nam War History/Biography/Memoir collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It is interesting to learn that Burbank and Kelley remained lifelong friends after meeting in Vietnam as members of Troop C, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Air Mobile). It should also be noted for student, academia, military history buffs, and non- specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Gunner and the Grunt" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.99).

Editorial Note #1: Michael L. Kelley served in the United States Army from 1964 to 1967, met his wife Ruth in late 1967, helped her raise three children while he participated in dual careers with the Federal Government and the United States Army Reserve. Kelley retired as a Master Sergeant from the 3rd Battalion, 18th Infantry in 1990 and from the Defense Logistics Agency, DPRO Raytheon Missile Division, in 1994.

Editorial Note #2: Peter Burbank grew up in Hull, Massachusetts, a city south of Boston, and as a young boy, ran a paper route and read about World War II history, especially small-unit actions on the battle fronts. He dreamed about being a soldier, but not just an ordinary soldier, an "Airborne Infantry" soldier, where he could be at the "Tip of the Spear" for combat action. He got to live his dream and was sent to Vietnam and served as an Infantry Rifleman at the forefront of the action. After two combat tours he joined the Portland Police Department and saw action once again as a city patrol officer. Alongside his police career, Burbank joined the US Army Reserve, retiring as a Sergeant First Class after serving for twenty years.

The Education Shelf

Leveling the Learning Curve
William B. Elmicke, et al.
Columbia University Press
9780231203845, $35.00, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: Will the years of the COVID-19 pandemic be remembered as a turning point in how universities deliver teaching and learning? How might the widespread use of digital tools change higher education?

"Leveling the Learning Curve: Creating a More Inclusive and Connected University" is a groundbreaking study that explores the role of digital education at this crucial crossroads. Built on interviews with more than fifty leading practitioners from major universities and ed-tech firms, "Leveling the Learning Curve" is an indispensable guide to the inner workings of digital education.

Written for university managers and leaders, "Leveling the Learning Curve" explores how new tools can allow universities to reach new audiences and address long-standing imbalances. The co-authors, William B. Eimicke, Soulaymane Kachani, and Adam Stepan, examine challenges to implementing digital education programs and provide insight into how universities have managed to balance the needs of faculty and on- and off-campus students.

"Leveling the Learning Curve" traces the history of digital education initiatives from Khan Academy, TED Talks, and MOOCs through the pandemic, examining both successes and failures. It offers compelling examples of what a "connected university" looks like in practice, sharing ways digital tools can bring in wider audiences, expand interdisciplinary teaching and learning, connect students to real-life issues, help meet equity goals, and open new revenue streams.

Critique: Specifically designed as both a DIY manual and an in-depth study of the subject, "Leveling the Learning Curve: Creating a More Inclusive and Connected University " must be considered as required reading for educational leaders and institutional policy makers seeking to navigate the ever evolving complexities of a post-pandemic digital education in our contemporary colleges and universities. A seminal and groundbreaking study, "Leveling the Learning Curve: Creating a More Inclusive and Connected University" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, and academic library Education Policy Planning and Application collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for education students, academia, college/university administrators and board members that "Leveling the Learning Curve: Creating a More Inclusive and Connected University" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99).

Editorial Note #1: William B. Eimicke is Professor of Practice in International and Public Affairs and the founding director of the Picker Center for Executive Education of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. He has published several books including Social Value Investing: A Management Framework for Effective Partnerships (Columbia University Press, 2018)

Editorial Note #2: Soulaymane Kachani is the senior vice provost of Columbia University. He oversees the university's teaching, learning, and innovation strategies and the expansion of its online and hybrid offerings. He also focuses on propelling Columbia's excellence as a global university, working to enhance existing international academic partnerships and develop new ones, and to make its campuses ever more welcoming to students and scholars from around the world.

Editorial Note: Adam Stepan is the director of Columbia's Picker Center Digital Education Group. He is also an Emmy Award - winning documentary filmmaker and the author of more than thirty Columbia and Open Society University Network Case studies, and he serves as a digital education consultant to universities in the United States and abroad.

The Parenting Shelf

Childhood Narcissism
Mary Ann Little, Ph.D
Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
9781538182161, $34.00, HC, 310pp

Synopsis: It is vital that parents notice the signs of narcissism in their child and act to curb them before it's too late. Raising empathetic and unselfish young people in today's "all about me" world might seem impossible, but parents can take meaningful action to protect children from these harmful influences.

Written by Mary Ann Little (a licensed psychologist with decades of clinical experience), "Childhood Narcissism: Strategies to Raise Unselfish, Unentitled, and Empathetic Children" explains how selfish, entitled behavior can take root in a child and shows parents how to stop it before it's too late. "Childhood Narcissism" identifies the early warning signs that can result in a full-blown narcissistic disorder in adulthood and explores what nurtures a child's healthy, realistic self-concept and provides a positive model of love and relationships.

Based on the latest research and theory, "Childhood Narcissism" also identifies four parent types that promote narcissistic development. By recognizing these traits in themselves, parents can work on their own shortcomings to build a stronger family and raise caring, empathetic children.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Childhood Narcissism: Strategies to Raise Unselfish, Unentitled, and Empathetic Children" is ideal and instructive reading for parents, non-specialist general reader with an interest in the subject, and professional family counselors. While strongly recommended for community and academic library Parenting and Child Psychology collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted for parents, caregivers, teachers, counselors, students, and academia that "Childhood Narcissism: Strategies to Raise Unselfish, Unentitled, and Empathetic Children" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $32.00).

Editorial Note: Mary Ann Little ( is a clinical psychologist who has been in private practice for over four decades. She is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and has served as an adjunct professor in the departments of psychology and special education at the University of Texas at Dallas. Little authored Loving Your Children Better: Matching Parenting Styles to the Age and Stage of Your Children, Cooperation Station, an educational toy for kids and families, and the Competent Kids Series. She has been a consultant to numerous educational and psychiatric facilities and frequently lectures to both lay and professional audiences.

The Cookbook Shelf

Wisconsin Field to Fork
Lori Fredrich
The Globe Pequot Press
9781493067695, $30.00, HC, 264pp

Synopsis: Farm-to-table dining has become best practice in restaurants across the nation, connecting consumers with those who make and grow their food. While farmers have diversified their crops to meet the needs of both creative chefs and increasingly adventurous home cooks, chefs have played a crucial role in bridging the gap between the field and the fork.

Although states with longer growing seasons tend to take the credit for their ability to heed the call for locally grown food, Wisconsin has earned its place at the forefront of the movement. Local chefs have capitalized on the state's bounty, offering increasingly localized seasonal menus and extending the harvest through active preservation.

With the publication of "Wisconsin Field to Fork: Farm-Fresh Recipes from the Dairy State", Wisconsin culinary expert Lori Fredrich tells the tale of Wisconsin agriculture, not only through stories about the farmers who provide the wealth of vegetables, dairy, and livestock needed to sustain local restaurants but also through the seventy chef-driven recipes that take those products and weave magic into them.

The recipes comprising "Wisconsin Field to Fork: Farm-Fresh Recipes from the Dairy State" range from drinks and appetizers to dessert include the summery Watermelon Cocktail Punch, Wild Mushroom and Mascarpone Tortelli, and Strawberry-Rhubarb Tres Leches Cake.

Critique: A compendium of palate pleasing, appetite satisfying, kitchen cook friendly, menu enhancing recipes with a distinctive Wisconsin ethos, "Wisconsin Field to Fork: Farm-Fresh Recipes from the Dairy State" is beautifully illustrated throughout and will prove to be an enduringly welcome and appreciated addition to personal, professional, and community library cookbook collections. It should be noted for the personal resource lists for dedicated Foodies in general, and all Wisconsin professional and family cooks in particular, that "Wisconsin Field to Fork: Farm-Fresh Recipes from the Dairy State" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.49).

Editorial Note: Lori Fredrich ( is the Senior Food Writer and Dining Editor for OnMilwaukee. She is also the author of Milwaukee Food: A History of Cream City Cuisine (History Press) and the co-host of FoodCrush, a podcast "for people who eat." An avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Over the years, her recipes and writing have also been featured in a variety of publications including Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Taste of Home Everyday Slow Cooker
Taste of Home, editor
Trusted Media Brands
9781621459828, $17.99, PB, 256pp

Synopsis: The slow cooker is the busy cook's best friend, and for good reason -- it delivers the perfect combination of comfort food and convenience. When managing hectic schedules, there's something magical about a device that lets you do your prep work in the morning and discover a ready-to-serve meal just a few hours later.

"Taste of Home Everyday Slow Cooker" is a compendium of some 250+ recipes, each of which will make the most that kitchen timesaver, the slow cooker. Here are to be bound a culinary wealth of recipes for hot breakfasts, savory main courses, satisfying sides, hearty soups and stews, and tempting desserts today's families crave most! These amazing recipes can all be made in the slow cooker so you can plan cooking around your schedule, instead of planning your schedule around cooking.

Shared by home cooks and approved in the Taste of Home Test Kitchen, these slow-cooked specialties are sure to turn out perfect every time. Between family dinners, weekend snacks, charity potlucks and game-day spreads, there's no reason to ever put your slow cooker in the cupboard... every day is a day for slow cooking!

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated with full color photos throughout, "Taste of Home Everyday Slow Cooker" from Taste of Home features 250+ recipes & tips so no matter the course, occasion or timeline, an ideal dish is always at your fingertips. "Taste of Home Everyday Slow Cooker" also includes a complete set of nutrition information and diabetic exchanges (when applicable) to make it easy to plan well-balanced family meals. Of special note is the Freeze-It Icon -- dishes marked with a special icon include full freezing and reheating instructions, so you can plan ahead for your busiest nights! Also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99), "Taste of Home Everyday Slow Cooker" is thoroughly DIY and 'user friendly' source for palate pleasing, appetite satisfying, kitchen cook friendly dishes that take full advantage of the family slow cooker and is a perfect pick for personal, family, and community library cookbook collections.

Editorial Note: Taste of Home is the leading multi-platform producer of information on food, cooking, baking and entertaining, serving home cooks engaging media that capture the joy and comfort received from food made with love. is a top online destination for engaging audiences with kitchen-tested recipes, how-to techniques, cooking videos and more.

CDMX: The Food of Mexico City
Rosa Cienfuegos
Smith Street Books
c/o Rizzoli
9781922754585, $40.00, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: "CDMX: The Food of Mexico City" is the follow-up cookbook to "Comida Mexicana: Snacks, Tacos, Tortas, Tamales & Desserts" by Rosa Cienfuegos. Her new cookbook is a continuing celebration of the food of Mexico City and the dishes that Rosa grew up eating and now recreates in her two Sydney restaurants: Tamaleria and Icatate.

It showcases the food that chilangos (residents of Mexico City) enjoy at home, on the streets, in markets, and in cafes and bars. Authentic and often unique to Ciudad de Mexico, as the locals call it, CDMX's colorful recipes reflect the vibrancy, history, and modern urban life of Mexico's liveliest city.

Filled with stunning food photography and on-the-scene shots of Mexico City, "CDMX" is substantially more than just another ethnic cookbook. In addition to the unique dishes found only in the capital, "CDMX" is also where the country's regional cuisines come together, giving you the opportunity to eat your way through Mexico without ever having to leave the city. "CDMX" is the Mexico City culinary guide for those who crave authenticity and who strive to accurately recreate their favorite food memories or head straight to the source, visiting Rosa's recommended bars, restaurants, street eats, and markets.

Critique: A compendium of palate pleasing, appetite satisfying, kitchen cook friendly, authentic Mexican dishes (featuring full page color photos of finished dishes), this large format (8.11 x 0.98 x 11.02 inches, 2.34 pounds) hardcover Smith Street Books edition of "CDMX: The Food of Mexico City" by chef and restauranteur Rosa Cienfuegos will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular pick for personal, professional, and community library cookbook collections.

Editorial Note: Rosa Cienfuegos ( was born in Azcapotzalco, a suburb of Mexico City. She grew up surrounded by friends and family in this vibrant suburb before eventually relocating to Sydney, Australia, to be close to her father. Once in Sydney, she missed the food of her home country and began importing Mexican ingredients as a small business. This ignited the local Mexican community in Sydney, which encouraged Cienfuegos to open her tamaleria and sell the street-food dishes she loved most in Mexico. Fast-forward several years and her second restaurant, and deli, Icatate, opened in popular Redfern, extending her food offerings and authentic ingredients from Mexico City. She regularly returns to Mexico to gain more knowledge and insight into her beloved cuisine.

The German Baking Book
Jurgen Krauss
Weldon Owen
c/o Insight Editions
9798886740615, $35.00, HC, 208pp

Synopsis: "The German Baking Book: Cakes, Tarts, Breads, and More from the Black Forest and Beyond" is a culinary celebration of German home baking from Jurgen Krauss, the man who won the hearts of viewers and three Star Baker honors from the judges of The Great British Baking Show. A self-taught baker, Jurgen has drawn on the flavors, techniques, and memories from his childhood, his European travels, and his wife's Jewish heritage, to create a collection of authentic German baking recipes from his home to yours.

Jurgen's gentle charm can be felt with each delightful recipe ranging rom German classics such as Black Forest gateau, and coffee cake, to festive bakes including lebkuchen and gingerbread, each of Jurgen's delicious recipes are crafted with care and simplicity.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout with full page color photography, "The German Baking Book: Cakes, Tarts, Breads, and More from the Black Forest and Beyond" is an essential, core addition to personal, professional, and community library cookbook collections. Of special and particular interest to fans of The Great British Baking Show and home bakers with a love for classic and festive German baking, it should be noted that "The German Baking Book" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).

Editorial Note: Jurgen Krauss is a former Database Administrator turned professional baker, and a former contestant of The Great British Baking Show. His love for baking began during his childhood in the Black Forest. His travels across Europe widened his culinary influences and instilled in him the desire to master German bread-making, the perfect showcase for his technical precision and creative flavors.

The Biography Shelf

Connery, Sean Connery
Herbie J. Pilato
BearManor Media
9798887712642, $32.00, PB, 416pp

Synopsis: Sir Thomas Sean Connery (25 August 1930 - 31 October 2020) was a Scottish actor. He was the first actor to portray fictional British secret agent James Bond on film, starring in seven Bond films between 1962 and 1983. Connery originated the role in Dr. No (1962) and continued starring as Bond in the Eon Productions From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967) and Diamonds Are Forever (1971). Connery made his final appearance in the franchise in Never Say Never Again (1983), a non-Eon-produced Bond film.

With an in-depth perspective, "Connery, Sean Connery", biographer Herbie J. Pilato defines and distinguishes the iconic star's life and career before, during, and after his most famous role. With a Foreword by Barbara Carrera (Sean Connery's co-star from Never Say Never Again, his final film as everyone's favorite British super secret agent), and an Introduction by Richard Demarco (Connery's lifelong friend), "Connery, Sean Connery" from BearManor Media also features exclusive commentary from actors like Brendan Lynch (another of Connery's lifelong friends), Luciana Paluzzi (Thunderball), Tippi Hedren (Marnie), and more.

Critique: Enhanced for the reader with the inclusion to two sections of B/W photos, chapter notes, a bibliography, a selected timeline, and a useful index, "Connery, Sean Connery" is an absolute 'must' for the legions of Sean Connery fans and unreservedly recommended for both community and college/university library Cinematic History/Biography collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Herbie J Pilato ( is a writer, producer, TV personality, singer/songwriter, actor, and the author of over 14 media tie-in/popular culture/celebrity biographies.

Mary Pratt: A Love Affair with Vision
Anne Koval
Goose Lane Editions
9781773101729, $45.00, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: As a Canadian artist, the work of Mary Pratt (March 15, 1935 - August 14, 2018) has captivated millions of Canadians. Her luminescent paintings capture reality in a way that few artists have been able to achieve -- the chip in a glass bowl, the play of light across a dish-strewn supper table, the vulnerability of a naked woman. Replete with symbolism, Pratt's work elevates the traditional still life by transforming the everyday into the iconic.

Art historian Anne Koval wrote "Mary Pratt: A Love Affair with Vision" in close consultation with Pratt before she passed away. Her biography is informed by extensive interviews with the artist, and her family, friends, and colleagues and by unprecedented access to Pratt's archival holdings at Mount Allison University. This in-depth study of Pratt's life and work explores the complex issues of gender, feminism, and realism in Canadian art, resulting in a richly layered biography of an artist who redefined the visual culture of her period and whose art and life intersect in varied and surprising ways.

Critique: Illustrated throughout with full color imagery, "Mary Pratt: A Love Affair with Vision" is an extraordinarily informative biography of an extraordinary artist and will be well received by her legions of fans. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university Canadian Artist Biography/Memoir collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mary Pratt: A Love Affair with Vision" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $24.95).

Editorial Note: Anne Koval ( is Professor of Art History, Museum and Curatorial Studies at Mount Allison University. She is the author of Whistler in His Time, and the co-author of James McNeill Whistler: Beyond the Myth. She has also written on Anna Torma for the Textile Museum of Canada and her writing on contemporary art has appeared in several edited volumes, including Stitching the Self: Identity and the Needle Arts, More Caught in the Act: An Anthology of Performance Art by Canadian Women, and The Radcliffe Line and Other Geographies: Sarindar Dhaliwal, which includes a series of ekphrastic poems by Koval. She has curated exhibitions at the Owens Art Gallery, the Mendel Art Gallery, the Banff Park Museum, and the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, which included the work of Ed Pien, Merle McMaster, D'Arcy Wilson, Diana Thorneycroft, Aganetha Dyck, Barb Hunt, Jeannie Thib, Janice Wright Cheney, Cindy Sherman, and Sylvia Plath.

Keith Urban
Jeff Apter
Citadel Press
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
9780806542737, $28.00, HC, 464pp

Synopsis: Keith Urban came from humble origins. His father worked at the local landfill and Keith was a high school dropout. But Keith had a plan: conquer Nashville. "It's my destiny," he said. And Keith was hell-bent on scaling that musical Everest. Whatever it took.

But it didn't come easy. Keith served his apprenticeship in the beer barns of Australia, and his early trips to America were disastrous. But he never gave up, settling in Nashville in the 1990s and forming The Ranch. When the band fell apart, so did Keith, ending up in rehab (not for the last time). But Keith did eventually reach the top, through a combination of talent, charisma, sex appeal, dogged perseverance -- and skin thick enough for a rhino. And along the way he married Nicole Kidman.

As Keith has said, "All those detours, the really dark ones, got me to where I am now. I would not want to change one leaf on any tree in the whole journey."

Critique: Exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented, "Keith Urban" by biographer Jeff Apter is the definitive biography of an international music superstar. Inherently fascinating and impressively informative, "Keith Urban" is a 'must' for the legions of his fans and an especially, unreservedly recommended pick for community and college/university library Contemporary American Biography & Contemporary Music collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Keith Urban" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).

Editorial Note: Jeff Apter ( is the author of more than thirty books about music and musicians. His subjects include AC/DC's Bon Scott and the Young brothers, Daniel Johns of Silverchair, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Cure, Dave Grohl, Jeff Buckley, and many others. As a ghostwriter and co-author, he's worked with Kasey Chambers, Mark Evans (of AC/DC) and Richard Clapton, and while on staff at Rolling Stone he wrote about legends such as Aretha Franklin, Patti Smith, Robbie Robertson, Bob Dylan, Chrissie Hynde and Lucinda Williams.

The General Fiction Shelf

Good Taste: A Novel in Search of Great Food
Caroline Scott
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
Blackstone Audiobooks
9780063325814, $19.99, PB, 432pp

Synopsis: England in 1932 is in the grip of the Great Depression. Stella Douglas, author of a much-loved but not very successful biography, is a bit depressed herself. When she's summoned to see her editor in London, she expects her writing career is over before it's even started.

But much to her surprise, she is being commissioned to write a history of English food. It's to be quintessentially English and intended to lift the sprits of the nation. There's just one problem: a lot of English food is actually quite terrible (and anything good is usually imported from elsewhere).

So Stella travels across England in hopes of discovering a hidden culinary gem. What she discovers is oatcakes and gravy and lots and lots of potatoes. But when her car breaks down midjourney and the dashing and charismatic antiques dealer Freddie springs to her rescue, she is led in a very different direction...

Full of wit, life, and (against all odds) delicious food, "Good Taste: A Novel in Search of Great Food" is a story of discovery and one woman's desire to make her own way as a modern woman.

Critique: Ably showcasing author Caroline Scott's genuine flair as a novelist for originality, creating memorable characters, and a narrative driven storytelling style that attracts and keeps the readers dedicated attention from start to finish, "Good Taste: A Novel in Search of Great Food " is a welcome and unreservedly recommended pick for community library Historical & Literary Fiction collections. it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Good Taste: A Novel in Search of Great Food" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212700054, $41.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Caroline Scott is a freelance writer and historian specializing in WWI and women's history, with a PhD from Durham University. Born in the UK, Caroline currently resides in France. Her novel, The Poppy Wife, is partially inspired by her family history.

The Historical Fiction Shelf

The Stratford Devil
Claude Clayton Smith
Shanti Arts
9781962082068, $19.95, PB, 182pp

Synopsis: In the spring of 1651, nearly half a century before the infamous witch trials of Salem, Massachusetts, a woman known as Goody Bassett was hanged for witchcraft in Stratford, Connecticut. In the spring of 2023, nearly four centuries later, the State of Connecticut absolved all those accused of witchcraft, removing the stigma that their families have needlessly borne.

Few facts are known about Goody Bassett and the events surrounding her persecution. "The Stratford Devil" by Claude Clayton Smith is a haunting and moving historical novel, deftly crafted from those few facts (as well as detailed accounts of Stratford's early history), is the story of young Ruth Paine (later known as Goodwife Bassett) and how her singular experience beyond the confines of her Puritan world ultimately leads to her demise.

Rich in historical insight, "The Stratford Devil" gives a touching look into the isolated world of an independent woman as she struggles to survive in circumstances beyond her control. With its focus on religion and terror, "The Stratford Devil" is a parable for our time.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, riveting, and compelling work of fiction that is essentially inspired by historical fact, "The Stratford Devil" will prove to be of immense attraction to readers with an interest in the 17th Century American history with respect to witches, witchcraft, the gender-based role of women, and the cultural/religious beliefs of the Puritans. While an especial and unreserved pick for community and college/university library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Stratford Devil" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note: Claude Clayton Smith, ( is Professor Emeritus of English, Ohio Northern University, and the author of eight books and co-editor/translator of four. His own work has been translated into five languages, including Russian and Chinese. This is his fourth book with Shanti Arts. He holds a DA from Carnegie-Mellon, an MFA in fiction from the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, an MAT from Yale, and a BA from Wesleyan. He was a finalist for the 2022 First Pages Prize and winner of the 2021 Great Midwest Fiction Contest.

The Literary Fiction Shelf

The Lost Archive: Stories
Lynn C. Miller
University of Wisconsin Press
9780299342241, $17.95, PB, 176pp

Synopsis: The various characters (young and old, queer and straight, contemporary and historical) who inhabit the Lynn C. Miller's stories that comprise her short story anthology "The Lost Archive" often find themselves in defining moments and crisis situations. As they search through the archives of memory, truth, and experience, they seek to understand not only the past and present but themselves.

Stretching the definition of "archive", Miller builds interconnected webs that surprise, much like the seemingly random papers collected in a box of materials. Fraught relationships, mistaken identities, mysterious disappearances, and the search for love play out in these stories. Friendships are celebrated, ex-husbands cross the line, and Gertrude Stein attempts to write her memoir.

Critique: "The Lost Archive" is a deftly crafted, uncommon. extraordinary, entertaining, and thought-provoking collection of original stories by an impressively talented author and that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf. While especially recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Lost Archive" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.68).

Editorial Note: Lynn C. Miller ( is an award-winning author who leads writing retreats and workshops, is the co-publisher of Bosque Press and the prose editor of the journal ABQ inPrint. She also co-hosts the podcast "The Unruly Muse" and her plays have been produced in Austin, Tulsa, Albuquerque, Provincetown, Yaddo, and elsewhere. She was a professor in theater and gender studies for 27 years.

The Custom of the Country
Edith Wharton
c/o Simon & Schuster
9780684825885, $19.99, Trade PB, 528pp

Synopsis: First published in 1913 and regarded by many critics as author Edith Wharton's most substantial novel, "The Custom of the Country" is a powerful saga about the beautiful, ruthless Undine Spragg. A woman of extraordinary ambition and exuberant vitality, Undine is consigned by virtue of her sex to the shadow world of the drawing room and boudoir. Marriage remains the one institution through which she can exercise her will as she entrances man after man, marrying one after the other with protean facility and almost monstrous avidity.

A novel that ranges from New York to Paris, from Apex City, Kansas, to Reno, Nevada, "The Custom of the Country" stands as a dark satire of American business, society, and the nouveau riche, and as Edith Wharton's contribution to the tradition of the American epic.

Critique: A classic of American literature and now available to a new generation of appreciative readers (and an ideal replacement for libraries with an aging, tattered, worn out edition of an earlier printing on their shelves), "The Custom of the Country" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and college/university library Literary Fiction collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Edith Wharton (January 24, 1862 - August 11, 1937) was an American writer and designer. Wharton drew upon her insider's knowledge of the upper-class New York "aristocracy" to portray realistically the lives and morals of the Gilded Age. In 1921, she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, for her novel The Age of Innocence. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1996. Among her other well known works are The House of Mirth, the novella Ethan Frome, and several notable ghost stories.

The Romantic Fiction Shelf

Christmas in Fortune's Cove
Victoria James
Alcove Press
9781639105038, $19.99, PB, 288pp

Synopsis: Annie Hamilton is a single mother of two and veterinarian whose family is on the verge of falling apart. Her husband has passed away, her teenage son is finding trouble at every turn, and she's desperately struggling to keep it all together. When she decides to leave the city for Fortune's Cove in a last-ditch search for peace and togetherness, she's welcomed by her late husband's best friend, Matt -- a friend who swore he'd always be there for them.

Surrounded by majestic ocean, the island's famous red sand dunes, and a glowing holiday spirit, Annie and her family are embraced by a warm community more than willing to welcome them. As she joins Matt's veterinary practice and her son begins to stabilize, Annie feels hopeful for the future, beginning to realize that true family is all about love and not just about blood. Annie could never have imagined that a thousand hundred miles from the city could feel the closest to home that she's ever been. But this cozy enclave harbors a trove of secrets that could undo the life of a vulnerable young woman.

When the past threatens the family Annie is rebuilding, she finds the courage to fiercely protect all of them -- and discovers just how far she'll go to save her family and herself.

Critique: As a novelist, Victoria James has a genuine flair for contemporary women's fiction and a distinctive, entertaining, narrative driven storytelling style that fully engages and entertains the reader from start to finish, While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99), "Christmas in Fortune's Cove" is highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular pick for community library collections.

Editorial Note: Victoria James ( is the author of several contemporary romance novels. Victoria always knew she wanted to be a writer and in grade five, she penned her first story, bound it (with staples and a cardboard cover), and illustrated it herself. Luckily, this book will never see the light of day. After graduating University with an English Literature degree, Victoria pursued a degree in Interior Design opening her own business. Victoria is a hopeless romantic who is living her dream, penning happily-ever-after's for her characters in between managing kids and the family business.

The Christmas Swap
Talia Samuels
Alcove Press
9781639106028, $18.99, PB, 328pp

Synopsis: Margot Murray is a newly single, successful businesswoman with no interest in a cutesy seasonal romance after her breakup with her long-term girlfriend.

Ben Gibson is an unlucky-in-love sweetheart in need of a woman to bring home for the holidays.

Together, they make a pact: Margot gets two blissful weeks away from London in a picture-perfect manor, and Ben gets a fake girlfriend for his holiday at home with his family.

Upon arriving to the manor, Margot meets Ben's sister, Ellie, who is suspicious of the supposed relationship right from the start. Ellie intends to get to the bottom of their relationship, not being able to see how the two of them work as a couple.

As Ellie and Margot grow closer, will Ben and Margot be able to keep the charade up, or will Margot and Ellie risk the chance at something real?

Critique: A fun read from start to finish, "The Christmas Swap" by Talia Samuels will hold a very special appeal to readers with an interest in contemporary romance, holiday themed romance, and LGBTQ romance novels. Memorable characters, compelling storylines, and an ultimate happy ending, "The Christmas Swap" is certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular choice for personal reading lists and community library collections. It should be noted that "The Christmas Swap" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).

Editorial Note: Talia Samuels entered the world of work at a busy London restaurant, before eventually starting her own vegan catering business. Her dream of writing a book never left her mind. At 2am after a late kitchen shift, Talia started writing and has hardly stopped since. She likes writing quirky modern rom-coms and laughing at her own jokes.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Death Washes Ashore
Patricia Skalka
University of Wisconsin Press
9780299328207, $24.95, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: In the wake of a brutal storm that lashed the Door County peninsula, Sheriff Dave Cubiak assesses the damage: broken windows, downed trees, and piles of mysterious debris along the shoreline. He leaves the comfort of his home and heads out into the aftermath, checking in with folks along the way to offer help. His assistant, marooned at the justice center overnight, calls with an ominous message about a body discovered on the beach. When the medical examiner discovers the man didn't simply drown during the storm, Cubiak searches for answers.

Chasing leads, the sheriff learns the victim directed a troupe of live-action role players living in an ersatz Camelot. In a setting where pretense in the norm, Cubiak must determine if suspects are who they say they are or if their made-up identities conceal a ruthless killer. As tensions escalate among neighbors unhappy about the noise and commotion, the sheriff discovers that more than one person on the peninsula has a motive for murder.

Critique: The newest title in the 'Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery' series by novelist Patricia Skalka, "Death Washes Ashore is another simply riveting read by an author with a complete master of the hard-boiled detective genre. Colorful characters, deftly crafted plot twists, a memorable reveal, "Death Washes Ashore" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "Death Washes Ashore" is also available in a paperback editions (9780299328245, $16.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.10).

Editorial Note: Patricia Skalka ( is the author of Death Stalks Door County, Death at Gills Rock, Death in Cold Water, Death Rides the Ferry, and Death by the Bay, the first five books in the popular Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery series.

'Twas the Bite Before Christmas
David Rosenfelt
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
Macmillan Audio
9781250828842, $26.00, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: Ever the reluctant lawyer, Andy Carpenter is at the Tara Foundation's annual Christmas party. The dog rescue organization has always been his true calling, and this is one holiday tradition he can get behind because every dog that's come through the rescue (and their families) are invited to celebrate.

This year's party is no exception. But before the stockings can be hung by the chimney with care, homicide detectives ruin the evening. Derek Moore, one of the foundation's best foster volunteers, is arrested for murder.

Andy discovers Derek (whose real name is Bobby) is in the witness protection program after giving evidence against his former gang. The police believe Bobby murdered a member. But Bobby swears to Andy he didn't do this. He's built a new life, a new business, has two new dogs after being a double foster-failure.

There isn't much Andy likes about this case, but he likes Bobby. If he's innocent, Andy wants to help. Before Andy can settle down for his long winter's nap, he has a client's name to clear, a murderer to catch, and two new dogs to look after: a golden and a Dalmatian. Andy's golden retriever, Tara, will have to adjust to not being the only golden at the house while Andy gets to the bottom of this one.

Critique: One of the hallmarks of an Andy Carpenter mystery by novelist David Rosenfelt is an extraordinary number of unexpected plot twists and turns. 'Twas The Bite Before Christmas is Rosenfelt at his storytelling best as the reader find this to be riveting read from start to finish. While especially and unreservedly recommended for all community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal lists of all dedicated 'whodunnit' murder mystery fans that 'Twas The Bite Before Christmas is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Macmillan Audio, 9781250909817, $29.99, CD).

Editorial Note: David Rosenfelt is the Edgar-nominated and Shamus Award-winning author of more than twenty Andy Carpenter novels, including One Dog Night, Collared, and Deck the Hounds; its spinoff series, The K-Team; the Doug Brock thriller series, which starts with Fade to Black; and stand-alone thrillers including Heart of a Killer and On Borrowed Time.

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord
Celeste Connally
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
9781250867551, $27.00, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: London, 1815. Lady Petra Forsyth, daughter of the Earl of Holbrook, has made a shocking proclamation. After losing her beloved fiance in an accident three years earlier, she announces in front of London's loosest lips that she will never marry. A woman of independent means (and rather independent ways) Petra sees no reason to cede her wealth and freedom to any man now that the love of her life is gone. Instead, she plans to continue enjoying the best of society without any expectations.

But when ballroom gossip suggests that a longtime friend has died of a fit due to her "melancholia" while in the care of a questionable physician, Petra vows to use her status to dig deeper -- uncovering a private asylum where men pay to have their wives and daughters locked away, or worse. Just as Petra has reason to believe her friend is alive, a shocking murder proves more danger is afoot than she thought. And the more determined Lady Petra becomes in uncovering the truth, the more her own headstrong actions and desire for independence are used against her, putting her own freedom (and possibly her life) in dire jeopardy.

Critique: What fans of the cozy mystery genre can only hope is the first in a long series of novels starring as an amateur female sleuth Lady Petra Forsyth, "Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Lord" by Celeste Connally is a fun read from cover to cover. Deftly crafted characters, unexpected plot twists, and set in the Regency era of early 19th Century London, "Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Lord" is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for personal reading lists and community library Historical Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for dedicated cozy mystery fans that "Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Lord" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).

Editorial Note: Celeste Connally ( is an Agatha Award nominee, and a former freelance writer and editor. A lifelong devotee of historical novels and adaptations fueled by her passion for history (plus weekly doses of PBS Masterpiece) Celeste loves reading and writing about women from the past who didn't always do as they were told.

The Lover of No Fixed Abode
Carlo Fruttero, author
Franco Lucentini, author
Gregory Dowling, translator
Bitter Lemon Press
9781913394905, $16.95, PB, 320pp

Synopsis: "The Lover of No Fixed Abode" is the story of a passionate affair set in Venice between a Roman princess searching for undervalued paintings and a mysterious tour guide. Art shenanigans become unavoidable, but the guide's true identity is the mystery that drives the story.

Their passion will last three days, long enough to be exposed to unscrupulous art dealers and scammers passing off worthless paintings as part of a famous collection. She goes to cosmopolitan parties given by Venetian social and art glitterati. Mr Silvera, a guide whose erudition and distinction sharply contrast with his beat-up suitcase and stain-spotted raincoat, drags his shabby tourists from monument to monument.

Of special note are the canals and lagoons of Venice which, as a city, becomes a character in the novel in its own right.

Critique: Co-authored by Carlo Fruttero and Franco Lucentini, and ably translated into English for an American readership by Gregory Dowling, "The Lover of No Fixed Abode" is a riveting read of particular interest to fans of psychological thrillers and romantic suspense novels. it is also an original work of mystery and intrigue that is raised to the level of true literary excellence. While especially recommended for both community and college/university library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Lover of No Fixed Abode" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Carlo Fruttero (19 September 1926 - 15 January 2012) was an Italian writer, journalist, translator and editor of anthologies. He is mostly known for his joint work with Franco Lucentini, especially as authors of crime novels. The duo were also editors of the science-fiction series Urania from the 1960s to the 1980s, and of the comic-strip magazine Il Mago.

Editorial Note #2: Franco Lucentini Franco Lucentini (24 December 1920 - 5 August 2002) was an Italian writer, journalist, translator and editor of anthologies.

Editorial Note #3: Gregory Dowling is an author, translator, literary critic and Professor of Anglo-American Literature at the Universita Ca' Foscari in Venice.

Bulletproof Barista
Cleo Coyle
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin/Random House
9780593197592, $28.00, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: Only Murders in Gotham, the smash-hit streaming program, is famous for filming in authentic New York locations and using real New Yorkers as extras. For its second season, they've chosen to spotlight the century-old Village Blend and its quirky crew of baristas. Shop manager and master roaster Clare Cosi is beyond thrilled, especially when her superb bulletproof coffee lands her a craft services contract for the production.

Madame, the eccentric octogenarian owner of the landmark shop, reveals an old kinship with the star of the show, comedian Jerry Sullivan. Now a Hollywood legend, Jerry frequented the Blend during his early years performing in Greenwich Village comedy clubs. But the past may hold more than nostalgia for Jerry. Suspicious accidents begin plaguing his shoot. Then a real bullet is fired from a stage gun, and Clare becomes convinced something sinister is afoot.

While Jerry's production moves to exciting new locations, Clare keeps the coffee flowing (and her investigation going) even as a murderer lurks in the wings. But can she root out the rotten player in this Big Apple production before the lights go out on her? Includes a stellar menu of surefire recipes.

Critique: A part of 'A Coffeehouse Mystery' series from Berkley, "Bulletproof Barista" by Cleo Coyle is another deftly crafted and fun read from start to finish for dedicated fans of the cosy mystery genre. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99), "Bulletproof Barista is a very special and unreservedly recommended introduction to this simply outstanding series and will prove a welcome and enduringly popular pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Cleo Coyle ( is the pseudonym of Alice Alfonsi who writes popular fiction in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. With more than one million books sold, Alice and Marc are the authors of two long-running, "relentlessly entertaining" (Criminal Element) mystery series: The Coffeehouse Mysteries and Haunted Bookshop Mysteries. Cleo Coyle has been awarded starred reviews by Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews and honored with Best of Year selections by multiple reviewers. In addition to their popular mysteries, Alice and Marc have written many works of fiction and nonfiction for adults and children. They are also accomplished tie-in writers who have created bestselling properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, Toho, and MGM.

Sniffing Out Murder
Kallie E. Benjamin
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin/Random House
9780593547359, $17.00, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: After deciding that life as a teacher wasn't right for her, Priscilla found inspiration for her first children's book in her three-year-old bloodhound's nose for truth, and so The Adventures of Bailey the Bloodhound was born. After the book's massively pawsitive response led Pris to move back to her hometown of Crosbyville, Indiana, to continue the series, she's surprised by how things have changed in the town, but even more so how they haven't.

Pris is frustrated to discover that newly elected school board trustee Whitney Kelley (a former high school mean girl) is intent on making Crosbyville more competitive by eliminating "frivolous spending" on the arts and social programs, including Pris and Bailey's beloved pet-assisted reading program. A minor altercation between them isn't anything unusual, but after Bailey sniffs out Whitney's body in a bed of begonias, locals start hounding Pris and Bailey as suspects for the crime.

With Bailey's sharp senses and Pris's hometown know-how, can they prove to the community that they're all barking up the wrong tree?

Critique: An original and fun read from cover to cover, "Sniffing Out Murder" is another cosy mystery from the pen of Kallie E. Benjamin and the newest addition to her 'A Bailey the Bloodhound Mystery Series'. Of very special interest to all dedicated cozy mystery fans, "Sniffing Out Murder" will prove a prized and memorable pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for persona reading lists that "Sniffing Out Murder" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Kallie E. Benjamin ( is the pseudonym of novelist Valerie Burns who is the author of three mystery series. She is also a mentor in the Master of Fine Arts program for writing popular fiction at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA, where she earned her own MFA degree.

Viviana Valentine and the Ticking Clock
Emily J. Edwards
Crooked Lane Books
9781639105229, $30.99, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: New York City, 1950. Viviana Valentine and Tommy Fortuna have a lot of resolutions for the new year -- whether it's continuing to build up their detective agency or planning their wedding, the two are looking forward to the future. On their way to Times Square to celebrate, the two witness a brutal stabbing. When Tommy tries to chase down the culprit, Viviana tries her best to save the man. She's unsuccessful, but Viviana hears his final words: a whispered apology to an unknown friend.

Clues are hard to come by, with the only leads being the fraught last words and a few nondescript matchbooks in the victim's overcoat. Their investigation is halted when Detective Jack Lawson of the New York Police Department arrives, immediately ruffling Viviana's feathers and bumping chests with Tommy, who he nearly arrested for murder just months earlier. The two know there's more to the story, but there are other pressing matters at hand.

Clients are clamoring to get the detectives to work on their cases: a man is being blackmailed by a criminal who only writes in code, Tommy's old friend needs his fiancee tailed, and an investment banker has mysteriously vanished. To add to their workload, Viviana knows something strange is happening at her boarding house. Will all of this (plus planning for a wedding) be too much for one Girl Friday?

Critique: The third novel in author Emily J. Edwards' A Girl Friday mystery series, "Viviana Valentine and the Ticking Clock" is a fun read from start to finish for fans of the cosy mystery genre featuring amateur female sleuths dealing with 'whodunnit' murder mysteries. Like in the two previous novels ("Viviana Valentine and the Ticking Clock" and "Viviana Valentine Goes Up the River", the action is near non-stop, replete with unexpected plot twists and unique storylines. "Viviana Valentine and the Ticking Clock" is a deftly scripted and highly recommended pick for personal and community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for all dedicated cozy mystery fans that "Viviana Valentine and the Ticking Clock" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.99).

Editorial Note: Emily J. Edwards ( earned her degree in writing, literature, and publishing from Emerson College and took the long road to becoming an author, working for over a decade as a wine and spirits journalist, radio producer, and podcaster. She currently resides in Connecticut with her husband and several quadrupeds.

Cry Wolf
Lark O. Jensen
Crooked Lane Books
9781639104550, $31.99, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: With boat tours off the coast of Alaska shut down for the winter, tour guide Stacie Calder is joining the dedicated team at the Juneau Wildlife World, a wild animal sanctuary. Along with Sasha, her husky companion, she's prepared to spend the long season in the scenic park. But not everyone is so chipper about the newcomers -- least of all, Stacie's new manager, Oliver Brownling. He constantly gives Stacie a hard time, specifically because she brought Sasha along with her. That is, until his mauled body is found in a remote part of the sanctuary containing wolves.

When it becomes clear that a human was responsible for the brutal murder, all eyes are on Stacie. Encouraged by her friend, Officer Liam Amaruq of the Alaskan State Troopers, Stacie is resolved to find the murderer but knows that her investigation will be difficult with the long suspect list she's made. Did the sanctuary director plot to get rid of Oliver? Or maybe it was one of Oliver's coworkers, upset over a missed promotion? Stacie wonders about some of the newer employees, especially since Oliver's personality made it easy to make enemies.

With the weather worsening, Stacie and Sasha are forced to stay at the sanctuary with the wolves -- and her colleagues. As the storm gets worse, it's clear that this killer has a taste for blood and may strike again. Will Stacie be able to find the murderer, or will the hunter become the hunted?

Critique: A deftly written and riveting read from first page to last, "Cry Wolf" is an Alaskan Untamed Mystery novel by Lark O. Jensen and will be of very special interest to dog story enthusiasts and dedicated fans of the cozy mystery genre. Engaging dialogue, memorable characters, unexpected plot twists, and a dramatic 'whodunnit' finale, all combine to a solidly entertaining novel that is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cry Wolf" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99).

Editorial Note: Lark O. Jensen, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, has published 53 books so far, including mysteries and romantic novels. She has written several cozy mystery series including the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries and Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink, and the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries and Pet Rescue Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. She also writes romances for Harlequin, including Harlequin Romantic Suspense. Her latest release is Colton First Responder, for Harlequin Romantic Suspense. Nearly all of Lark's current stories involve dogs!

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for My Retirement 1
Story by FUNA
Art by Touzai
Translated by Lukas Ruphys and revised by Kodansha USA
9781647292102, $19.95 pbk / $7.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Mitsuha is your average teenage orphan - until one day she falls off a cliff, and finds herself in another world strangely akin to medieval Europe! Beset by wolves, she discovers she has the ability to travel freely between the two worlds, and decides to make a life for herself in both. Now all she needs to do is save up 80,000 gold coins for a comfortable retirement... Piece of cake, right?!

No matter how out of control things get, Mitsuha keeps her cool, turning every hurdle into a business opportunity. From shopkeeper to war hero to viscountess, her meteoric rise seems unstoppable - but with each success comes new obligations and new costs. Does every step up just take her further from her goal?

Critique: Adroitly translated into English, Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for My Retirement 1 is the first volume in a Japanese fantasy series about Mitsuha, a teenaged orphan who discovers that she has the power to travel freely between two worlds - the modern-day present, and a mysterious land that resembles medieval Europe. Mitsuha decides to make a good life for herself in both worlds, and sets the goal of saving 80,000 gold coins for a comfortable retirement - but one challenge after another disrupts her plans! She steadily gains status as a shopkeeper, a war hero, and a viscountess, but each rise comes with greater obligations and expenses! Will Mitsuha ever achieve her dream of long-term financial stability? A lighthearted adventure enriched with a handful of black-and-white, manga-style illustrations, Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for My Retirement 1 is a tongue-in-cheek take on the "isekai" ("ordinary person in another world") genre and just plain fun to read. Highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for My Retirement 1 is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

The Bootlegger's Dance
Rosemary Jones
Aconyte Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781839082511, $16.95, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: Raquel Malone Gutierrez is running away, although she won't admit that to herself. Suffering from hearing loss after an illness, the former music teacher wants to find a way to retain her independence, but only a wealthy relative offers any hope of that.

Put to work in her aunt Nova's Kingsport dance hall, Raquel stumbles upon a mystery when her new hearing aids begin picking up conversations that no one else can hear. As Christmas draws closer, Raquel realizes the voice comes from a hunted man lost in time. Now she must do everything she can to free him before the monsters chasing him can catch up and break through.

Critique: A deftly blending of dark fantasy and historical mystery, "The Bootlegger's Dance" by Rosemary Jones is a simply riveting read from first page to last. A part of the Arkham Horror series from Aconyte Books, "The Bootlegger's Dance" is a welcome and recommended addition to personal and community library Fantasy/Horror collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Bootlegger's Dance" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Editorial Note: Rosemary Jones ( is an ardent collector of children's books, and a fan of talkies and silent movies. She is also the author of three bestselling novels in Dungeons & Dragons' Forgotten Realms setting, numerous novellas, short stories, and collaborations.

Assassin's Creed Mirage: Daughter of No One
Maria Lewis
Aconyte Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781839082801, $16.95, PB, 320pp

Synopsis: Cairo, 824 - In the bowels of prison, escape is out of the question. The best Roshan can hope for is a quick death. She certainly doesn't expect a second chance offered by a cloaked stranger who says Roshan is exactly what they need: Someone who can disappear, who will do what needs to be done, someone expendable.

Granted her freedom, Roshan joins a crew of shady figures assembled to steal a mysterious object being transported along the Silk Road towards Persia. Roshan's otherworldly intuition proves vital as she fights to stay one step ahead of her backstabbing gang and survive the mission. For her employer holds the key to a world she can't begin to fathom: a world she might have been destined for all along.

Critique: All of the Assassin's Creed novels feature a fabulous mix of historical and fantasy action adventure. The latest addition to this simply outstanding series from Aconyte Books is "Assassin's Creed Mirage: Daughter of No One" by Maria Lewis. When Master Assassin Roshan's past is revealed, she joins a hunt along the Silk Road for a powerful lost artifact. A 'must' for the growing legions of Assassin's Creed fans in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95), "Assassin's Creed Mirage: Daughter of No One"" will prove an immediate and enduringly popular pick for personal reading lists and community library collections.

Editorial Note: Maria Lewis is an award-winning screenwriter, best-selling author and pop culture etymologist. She is the author of the internationally published Supernatural Sisters series of eight novels, which includes the Aurealis Award-winning The Witch Who Courted Death (Best Fantasy Novel), along with titles for Marvel (Mockingbird: Strike Out), Angry Robot (The Graveyard Shift) and Assassin's Creed (Mirage: Daughter Of No One). As a screenwriter, she has worked on projects for Netflix, AMC, Ubisoft, DC Comics, SBS, Nickelodeon, ABC and many more. She's the producer, host and writer of audio AWGIE and Aurealis Award-winning documentaries The Phantom Never Dies (about the first superhero) and Josie and the Podcats - about the 2001 cult film. Her directorial debut The House That Hungers premiered in 2023, based on her award-winning short story of the same name.

A Market of Dreams and Destiny
Trip Galley
Titan Books
9781803363684, $16.95, PB, 432pp

Synopsis: Below Covent Garden lies the Untermarkt, where anything and everything has a price: a lover's first blush, a month of honesty, a wisp of fortune. As a child, Deri was sold to one of the Market's most powerful merchants. Now, after years of watchful servitude, Deri finally spots a chance to buy not only his freedom but also his place amongst the Market's elite when he stumbles into the path of a runaway princess desperate to sell her royal destiny.

But news of the missing princess and her wayward destiny spreads. Royal enforcers and Master Merchants alike are after it. Out maneuvering them all would all be hard enough had Deri not just also met the love of his life, a young man called Owain, whose employers are using the Market for their own nefarious schemes.

Deri soon finds that the price of selling the royal destiny, making a name for himself, and saving the man he loves is dear. The cost of it all might just change the destiny of London forever..

Critique: Original, deftly crafted, compelling, and a fun read from start to finish, "A Market of Dreams and Destiny" will prove to be of special interest to fans of LGBTQ romance fantasy, action and adventure. Appropriate and highly recommended for community library Fantasy & LGBTQ Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Market of Dreams and Destiny" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Trip Galey's interactive novel, Faerie's Bargain, was published in 2021 and is set in the same world as "A Market of Dreams and Desinty". Trip has degrees in English and Theatre, Shakespeare, Acting and Creative Writing. He works as a lecturer and was published in the Lambda, Ignyte and Locus award-nominated Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of A World That Wouldn't Die. He lives in London and can be found digitally at

The Graphic Novel Shelf

I'm Giving the Disgraced Noble Lady I Rescued a Crash Course in Naughtiness 1
Story by Fukada Sametarou
Art by Ichiho Katsura
Translated by Jan Cash
9781647292799, $12.95 pbk / $10.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Allen, a powerful sorcerer feared as the "Demon Lord" by all in town, wants nothing more than to enjoy his solitary existence deep in the forest - that is, until the day he discovers a young woman lying unconscious in his neck of the woods and saves her from a band of knights. He soon learns the girl, Charlotte, once betrothed to the prince of the neighboring kingdom, was framed by her fianc‚ for vicious crimes and forced to flee her home. Moved by her pitiful plight, Allen stakes his own life on a promise: to give Charlotte a crash course in all that is naughty, and make her the happiest woman in the world!

Critique: I'm Giving the Disgraced Noble Lady I Rescued a Crash Course in Naughtiness: I'll Spoil Her with Delicacies and Style to Make Her the Happiest Woman in the World 1 begins a lightly suggestive manga (Japanese graphic novel) series. The black-and-white artwork (read right-to-left in the style of the original manga) and superb English translation bring to life the tale of a powerful, reclusive sorcerer named Allen, who rescues a young noblewoman named Charlotte. When Allen learns that Charlotte has been unjustly framed, he resolves to take her in - and promises to give her a "crash course" in all that is "naughty"! (Despite occasional slightly lewd moments, this fantasy-romance-comedy-drama is not explicit, and is suitable for both teen and adult readers.) A deft balance of humor, heartthrob emotion, and serious moments as well as playful antics, I'm Giving the Disgraced Noble Lady I Rescued a Crash Course in Naughtiness 1 is a delightful read from cover to cover, enhanced with a very short bonus text story by the author. It should be noted for personal reading lists that I'm Giving the Disgraced Noble Lady I Rescued a Crash Course in Naughtiness 1 is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

40 Men and 12 Rifles: Indochina 1954
Marcelino Truong, author
David Hornel, translator
Arsenal Pulp Press
9781551529233, $29.95, PB, 295pp

Synopsis: "40 Men and 12 Rifles: Indochina 1954" is an expansive and gripping graphic novel set in Indochina in the year leading up to 1954, when the French-held garrison at Dien Bien Phu fell after a fifty-five-day battle, which lead to the end of the first Indochina war opposing both French and Nationalist Vietnamese forces to Ho Chi Minh's National-Communist underground state.

Minh (no relation to Ho) is a young man from Hanoi, an aspiring painter who dreams of experiencing la vie de boheme in Paris's Latin Quarter. To dissuade him from pursuing an artistic life, his father sends him into the countryside to tend to the family holdings. He is soon pressed into serving with the Ho Chi Minh People's Army, where he becomes a soldier, and is co-opted by his leaders to the Communist propaganda machine, despite repeatedly defying his cadres (ideological Communist commanders with whom he disagrees) becoming both hero and anti-hero in the process.

"40 Men and 12 Rifles: Indochina 1954" is a moving and beautifully illustrated book about the human and artistic spirit of the Indochinese people, who persevered in the face of warfare and suffering.

Critique: With the publication of "40 Men and 12 Rifles: Indochina 1954" by Arsenal Pulp Press, and ably translated into English by David Homel, author, storyteller and artist Marcelino Truong follows his original graphic novel style memoir "Such a Lovely Little War". Once again we are treated to an absolutely fascinating, thought-provoking, and memorable read from start to finish -- making "40 Men and 12 Rifles: Indochina 1954" yet another highly recommended acquisition for community and college/university library Graphic Novel collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "40 Men and 12 Rifles: Indochina 1954" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) as well.

Editorial Note: There is an informative interview with Marcelino Truong by Hilli Levin on-line at

The Audiobook Shelf

Flop Dead Gorgeous
David Rosenfelt, author
Grover Gardner, narrator
Macmillan Audio
9781250325303, $29.99, CD

Synopsis: Trying to be retired lawyer Andy Carpenter remembers every dog that's come through the Tara Foundation's doors, but the most well-known alum of the dog rescue organization that Andy founded in Paterson, New Jersey, may be Mamie. Adopted by famous actress Jenny Nichols (Andy's high school girlfriend) the miniature French poodle is now practically a starlet in her own right.

Andy doesn't hold it against his friend. In fact, he and his wife, Laurie, have dinner with Jenny while she's in town filming her next big hit. But after an eventful meal, there's a plot twist the next morning that none of them see coming: Jenny's costar is found dead, a knife in his back. It's not long before Jenny is arrested for the murder and finds herself in need of Andy's legal services.

While Mamie becomes reacquainted with Tara, Andy's golden retriever, Andy digs into the lives of the rich and famous.

Critique: A fun and funny cozy mystery written by one of the best in the business today, author David Rosenfelt's "Flop Dead Gorgeous" is brilliantly narrated by the impressive vocal storytelling talents of Grover Gardner. Still another in the extended 'Andy Carpenter Mystery series, the complete and unabridged CD audio book edition from Macmillan Audio is unreservedly recommended for both personal and community library Mystery/Suspense audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: David Rosenfelt is the Edgar-nominated and Shamus Award-winning author of more than twenty Andy Carpenter novels, including One Dog Night, Collared, and Deck the Hounds; its spinoff series, The K-Team; the Doug Brock thriller series, which starts with Fade to Black; and stand-alone thrillers including Heart of a Killer and On Borrowed Time.

Editorial Note #2: Grover Gardner ( is an American narrator of audiobooks. As of May 2018, he has narrated over 1,200 books. He was the Publishers Weekly "Audiobook Narrator of the Year" (2005) and is among AudioFile magazine's "Best Voices of the Century".

The Music CD Shelf

3AM Fish Records
$20.00 CAD CD / $35.00 CAD vinyl / $7.00 CAD digital

Distancia is an original tango album by the all-female group Solidaridad: Valeria Matzner on vocals, Aparna Halpe on violin, Suhashini Arulanandam on violin, Esme Allen-Creighton on viola, Sybil Shanahan on cello, Shannon Wojewoda on bass, Elizabeth Acker on piano, and Eva Wolff on bandoneon (a traditional tango instrument resembling an accordion). The songs refer to modern-day social issues including homelessness, anti-Indigenous discrimination, the dark toll of the COVID-19 pandemic (the title "Distancia" is the Spanish word for "distance") and more. Love, loss, and emotional connections are universal themes that resonate in this unforgettable treasure especially recommended for connoisseurs of tango music. The tracks are Winter's Coming, Deriva, Pompeya, Variacion, And I Have Been Looking, The Corner, Fujimos, If Not Today, YYZ, El Adios, Charrua, and The Dance.

Philippe Cote & Francois Bourassa
Odd Sound
$TBA CD / $11.49 MP3

Confluence is a two-man contemporary jazz album featuring Philippe Cote on tenor and soprano saxophones as well as piano, and Francois Bourassa on piano. The instrumental creations range from tributes to inspiration to emotional songs that evoke an air of mystery. Confluence is a jazz experience that defies expected norms and boundaries, at time eschewing the traditional piano-saxophone duo for duo piano or the use of prepared piano for the sake of timbral variation. Highly recommended for connoisseurs of standout original music! The tracks are Tour 1 (Bourassa), 1190 Chemin de la Montagne (Cote), Muted Song (Cote), The Forks (Cote), When Blue Meets White (Cote), Ganges-Purification (Cote), Rideau Falls (Cote), Archipel d'Hochelaga (Cote), Chire (Bourassa), Truc (Bourassa), On Duty (Bourassa), Hushed Song (Cote) and Tour 2 (Bourassa).

Fire Within
Rich Halley, Matthew Shipp, Michael Bisio, and Newman Taylor Baker
Pine Eagle Records
$20.00 CD / $9.00 digital

Fire Within is the latest instrumental jazz album by Rich Halley, featuring Rich Halley on tenor saxophone, Matthew Shipp on piano, Michael Bisio on bass and Newman Taylor Baker on drums. The quartet balances collaborative chemistry with captivating improvisations, in this exciting and adventurous performance. Although there are only five songs, Fire Within is a full-length album; individual songs take the listener on an extraordinary thrill ride that can last up to fifteen minutes! Fire Within lives up to its metaphorical title! Highly recommended, especially for jazz connoisseurs. The tracks are Fire Within (12:50), Inferred (14:12), Angular Logic (7:08), Through Still Air (4:33), and Following the Stream (15:48).

It Comes in Waves
Denin Slage-Koch
Slage-Koch Records
$15.00 CD / $12.00 digital

Guitarist and composer Denin Slage-Koch presents the jazz album It Comes in Waves. All songs are Denin's creations except for Denin's arrangement of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", a song originally by Tears for Fears. To transform his compositions into musical performance, Denin assembled the talented international team of Ryan Keberle on trombone, Jared Cathey on clarinet, Shane Endsley on trumpet and flugelhorn, Gavin Allen-Dunn on keyboards, Seth Lewis on bass, and Bobby Wiens on drums and percussion. Denin plays both acoustic and electric guitar in this resonant and inspirational album. It Comes in Waves was partially funded by the Pathways to Jazz grant, and the listening experience is thoroughly worthy of the patronage. The tracks are It Comes in Waves, The Road Home, One for Honey, The Cost of Apathy, Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Continue, Signal Fires, The Philosopher (for Wayne Shorter), and Quiet Year.

Scott Emmerman
Also featuring Marty Zevin
Privately Published
$TBA CD / $7.00 digital

Spheres is an instrumental jazz album featuring Scott Emmerman on guitar, keyboards, bass, and drum programming; Marty Zevin on drums and percussion; and Larry Nelson on piano (for "Roanoke"). All compositions are the original creations by Scott Emmerman, except for "Judgement Day" which was co-written by Scott Emmerman and Marty Zevin, and "Yearning for Your Love" which was written by Oliver Scott and Ronnie Wilson. Spheres experiments with a variety of jazz styles from funky grooves, to swing, to jazz fusion, and leads the listener on a grand tour of the genre at its finest. Highly recommended! The tracks are Spheres, Roanoke, Steppin in It, Kc Blues, Return to Rogers Park, Emerald Isle, California Roll, Judgement Day, Winning Time, and Yearning for Your Love.

Heart Mind and Soul
Randy Bernsen
Jericho Jams
$TBA CD / $5.94 MP3

Heart Mind and Soul is a new jazz album by fusion guitar icon Randy Bernsen, with bandmates saxophonist Bob Mintzer, saxophonist Bob Franceschini, bassist Jimmy Haslip, trumpeter Dan Davis, keyboardist George Whitty, keyboardist Uzi Nizri, and drummer David Nizri. Randy Bernsen composed the six tracks, which resonate with emotion. Randy Bernsen's devout Christian faith underpins Heart Mind and Soul; for example, the first track "With you Always" is inspired by Jesus Christ's biblical words "I am with you always". Heart Mind and Soul is highly recommended especially for connoisseurs of modern Christian music, and for church music library collections. The tracks are With you Always (4:58), Prodigal Son (4:37), Shepherd's Heart (5:27), Billy Gate Blues (6:43), Abba Father (3:11), and Chant 881 (7:50).

Trio San
Jazzdor Series
15 Euro CD / 10 Euro digital

Trio San consists of pianist/composer Satoko Fuji, vibraphonist/composer Taiko Saito, and drummer/composer Yuko Oshima. Hibiki is Trio San's debut jazz album, showcasing their collective talent - all three of them created and discussed musical compositions, before they had the opportunity to work together in person. Hibiki is from the third of four concerts the trio performed. An extraordinary, eye-opening journey into countless musical possibilities, Hibiki is a treasury of experimental jazz with a Japanese flair, highly recommended especially for connoisseurs! The tracks are Hibiki (12:53), Soba (9:47), Yozakura (10:24), What You See (10:04), Wa (4:29) and Ichigo (6:41).

The Depths of Memory
Kevin Sun
Endectomorph Music
$20.00 CD / $20.00 digital

Saxophonist and composer Kevin Sun presents The Depths of Memory, a 2-CD album of instrumental jazz music created and collaborated upon during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kevin Sun plays the tenor saxophone; the talented contributing musicians are trumpeter Adam O'Farrill, pianist Dana Saul, bassist Walter Stinson, drummer Matt Honor, bassist Simon Willson, and drummer Dayeon Seok. The Depths of Memory is an epic listening experience, with two long tracks on one disc and a musical odyssey upon the second disc. The Depths of Memory is extraordinary, inspiring, and highly recommended. The tracks are From All This Stillness (20:54) and Eponymous Cycle (24:28) on disc 1, and The Depths in Slow Motion (37:04) on disc 2.

The DVD Shelf

Aaron Eckhart, actor
Stephen Lang, actor
John Stalberg Jr., director
Image Entertainment
c/o RLJ Entertainment
B0CGMH1856, $12.96, DVD, (1 Hour 40 Minutes)

Synopsis: After his dog is killed in Skid Row, Jake Rosser (Aaron Eckhart) plummets deep into a sinister underworld to uncover the truth about who may be responsible.

Critique: An action-adventure suspense thriller at its entertaining best, this DVD edition of "Muzzle" also features a Director's Commentary and Deleted Scenes from the theatrical release making it an extraordinary and recommended addition to personal and community library DVD movie collections.

Sympathy for the Devil
Nicolas Cage, actor
Joel Kinnaman, actor
Yuval Adler, director
Image Entertainment
c/o RLJ Entertainment
B0C8VGQFMP, $32.96, DVD (1 Hour 30 Minutes)

Synopsis: After being forced to drive a mysterious passenger at gunpoint, a man finds himself in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse where it becomes clear that not everything is as it seems. Nicolas Cage is 'The Passenger', while Joel Kinnaman is "The Driver".

Critique: An inherently riveting movie from start to finish, "Sympathy for the Devil" is a 'must see' for the legions of Nicholas Cage fans. Highly recommended for personal and community library DVD Movie collections, it should be noted that "Sympathy for the Devil" is also available in a Blue-Ray format ($14.96, Amazon).

The Chelsea Detective: Series 2
Adrian Scarborough, actor
Sonita Henry, actor
Richard Signy, director
c/o RLJ Entertainment
B0CGMHQJF8, $24.98, DVD (3 Hours)

Synopsis: Even a suburb as posh and outwardly serene as London's Chelsea district has it's share of unsavory doings beneath the surface-and they were more than enough to keep DI Max Arnold (Adrian Scarborough) busy. When not working his caseload with DC Priya Shamsie (Sonita Henry), he'd be striving to get out of his Cheyne Walk houseboat and back in the good graces of estranged art dealer wife Astrid (Anamaria Marinca). Lucy Phelps, Peter Bankole, Sophie Stone also star.

Critique: The second year series of a terrifically entertaining and highly popular British television mystery series, "The Chelsea Detective" DVD from Acorn features 4 episodes on 2 discs and is certain to be a welcome addition to both personal and community library DVD collections.

The Science Shelf

The Incredible Bones of the Narrenturm
Robert W. Mann, author
Eduard Winter, author
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher
9780398094102, $59.95, HC, 508pp

Synopsis: "The Incredible Bones of the Narrenturm: A Photographic Comparative Atlas of the Pathological and Anatomical Collection of the Fool's Tower" is based on the perspective of two experienced scientists, Robert W. Mann and Eduard Winter. Their shared goal is to better understand the human skeleton and to compile an accurate photographic and historical document of a small portion of the vast osteological collection at the Narrenturm Museum.

This comparative and illustrated atlas records and shares some of the most incredible skeletal malformations and the wide range of variability and severity that can afflict the human skeleton, before and after the advent of antibiotics. It captures examples of disease, malformations, and trauma with little or no surgical or medical intervention and reveals their natural progression, often, without treatment.

This atlas will also assist practitioners in making more accurate interpretations and in making better differential diagnosis of human skeletal remains, whether ancient, modern, or contemporary. As well as serving as an invaluable resource for scientists, oftentimes paleopathologists, in the process of excavating, analyzing, interpreting, and accurately reconstructing skeletal remains in historical contexts.

"Incredible Bones" presents large, full color photographs augmented with diagnoses based on historical records and sometimes patient histories. Each description and interpretation (diagnosis as it were) in this book are based on medical diagnosis prior to or at the time they were received at the Narrenturm. Each photograph in Incredible Bones is intended to "show" the reader a level of detail and clarity usually only gleaned through physical examination.

The co-authors use high quality and sometimes larger than life photographs so that readers can interpret what they are seeing and perhaps even identify subtle details not provided by the authors. Incredible Bones, therefore, serves as a comparative and exploratory photographic atlas of skeletal conditions not usually seen in daily practice or even in most skeletal assemblages, collections, or museums.

"The Incredible Bones of the Narrenturm" provides medical students and forensic practitioners with a behind-the-scenes perspective of some of the most extreme and thought-provoking examples in the Narrenturm pathological-anatomical collection.

The format of Incredible Bones utilizes a regional approach to the human skeleton with each chapter beginning with the cranium and ending with the feet, a "head to toe" approach. Using a regional approach to the skeleton based on broad categories of conditions that include, for example, tumors and neoplasia, enables the reader to search for a skeletal condition without first having to know the name of the disease, anomaly, or other condition they are seeking to identify.

Critique: This large format (11 x 8.5 x 1.3 inches, 4.07 pounds) hardcover edition of "The Incredible Bones of the Narrenturm: A Photographic Comparative Atlas of the Pathological and Anatomical Collection of the Fool's Tower" is a seminal, exceptionally informative, impressively organized, and throughly 'reader friendly' in presentation. Ideal as a textbook and a professional reference, "The Incredible Bones of the Narrenturm" is especially and unreservedly recommended as a core addition to personal, professional, medical school, and college/university library Medical & Anatomy collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

The Computer Shelf

Practical Julia
Lee Phillips
No Starch Press
9781718502765, $59.99, PB, 528pp

Synopsis: Julia is a computer programming language that is currently acclaimed in scientific circles for its unparalleled ease, interactivity, and speed. "Practical Julia: A Hands-On Introduction for Scientific Minds" by Lee Phillips is a comprehensive introduction to the language, making it accessible even if you're new to programming.

Dive in with a thorough guide to Julia's syntax, data types, and best practices, then transition to craft solutions for challenges in physics, statistics, biology, mathematics, scientific machine learning, and more. Whether you are solving computational problems, visualizing data, writing simulations, or developing specialized tools, With the publication of "Practical Julia", Phillips will show you how to:

Use comprehensions and generators, higher-level functions, array initialization and manipulation, and perform operations on Unicode text

Create new syntax and generate code with metaprogramming and macros, and control the error system to manipulate program execution

Visualize everything from mathematical constructs and experimental designs to algorithm flowcharts

Elevate performance using Julia's unique type system with multiple dispatch

Delve into scientific packages tailored for diverse fields like fluid dynamics, agent-based modeling, and image processing

Whether your interest is in scientific research, statistics, mathematics, or just the fun of programming with Julia, "Practical Julia: will have you writing high-performance code that can do real work in no time.

Critique: Impressively comprehensive, exceptionally well written, thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Practical Julia: A Hands-On Introduction for Scientific Minds" is a complete course of DIY instruction for any programmer who is aspiring to take full advantage of Julia in developing algorithms. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Computer Programming Language collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted that this edition of "Practical Julia: A Hands-On Introduction for Scientific Minds" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $35.99).

Editorial Note: Lee Phillips was a theoretical and computational physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory for 21 years. He has presented his research in numerous scientific papers and international conferences. He has also written many popular articles on science and its history, and on the use of computers in research. He's involved with science education and outreach, including serving on the Board of Directors of the Friends of Arlington's Planetarium and maintaining their website.

The Business Shelf

Negotiation Made Simple
John Lowry
HarperCollins Leadership
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
9781400336326, $24.99, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: Business and organizational leaders spend well over half of their professional time engaged in the process of negotiation. It's the way they do deals, lead employees, and manage relationships. Most leaders learn to negotiate on the job through a long process of trial and error. In today's competitive marketplace, there is no time for experimentation, nor room to make mistakes.

The good news is by mastering negotiation, the next level of success is actually closer than it appears. The actionable advice and practical guidance offered in "Negotiation Made Simple: A Practical Guide for Solving Problems, Building Relationships, and Delivering the Deal" by John Lowry give a roadmap for every type of negotiation.

Through case studies, illustrations, exercises, and personal stories, Lowry shows how to: Make strategic decisions (move from doing what is comfortable to doing what is most strategic); Manage the process (carefully balance the urge to compete with the need to collaborate); Deliver the deal (fine-tune the negotiation process to achieve the desired outcome).

"Negotiation Made Simple" makes it easy to join the ranks of leaders who have experienced unprecedented success by making negotiation effectively simple.

Critique: With the publication of "Negotiation Made Simple: A Practical Guide for Solving Problems, Building Relationships, and Delivering the Deal" by John Lowry, the reader is provided with a useful and comprehensive approach to negotiation that can springboard a career or a company, one deal at a time. Exceptionally well written, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Negotiation Made Simple" is highly recommended as a core and fundamental addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Business Marketing/Selling collections and supplemental MBA curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for MBA students, academia, corporate executives, sales personnel, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Negotiation Made Simple" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Dr. John Lowry ( is a recognized authority on negotiation through his experience as a lawyer, business consultant, entrepreneur, negotiation coach, and university administrator. His results-focused, systematic approach to negotiation has been successfully implemented by thousands of professionals across the United States. Dr. Lowry teaches negotiation at the top-ranked Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law and in Vanderbilt University's Master's in Management in Health Care program. Dr. Lowry also serves as president of The Lowry Group, LLC ("TLG"). At TLG, he provides negotiation training and coaching for governmental entities, major insurance companies, health care organizations, and other businesses.

Rich Horwath
c/o Wiley Professional Trade Group
9781394215331, $27.99, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: There are four disciplines of strategic fitness essential to executive performance.

With the publication of "Strategic: The Skill to Set Direction, Create Advantage, and Achieve Executive Excellence" author Rich Horwath delivers an incisive roadmap to help leaders at all levels think, plan, and act strategically to navigate every business challenge they face.

"Strategic" offers business leaders a proven framework (the Strategic Fitness System) containing dozens of tools, techniques, and checklists to confidently master every area of the business, from designing market-winning strategies to shaping the organization's culture.

The practical content will help executives in any industry improve what research has shown to be the most important leadership factor to an organization's future success (strategic competence) and use this skill to transform complexity to clarity in charting their strategic direction.

"Strategic" features: A common language for strategy and business planning; Practical tools for developing the four dimensions of executive fitness key to advancing the company's growth: strategy, leadership, organization, and communication; Techniques for designing enduring competitive advantage and frameworks for creating innovative new value for customers; Methods for evolving the business model to transform the trajectory of the business; The Strategic Quotient (SQ) -- a validated assessment of an executive's strategic thinking, planning, and execution.

With practical tools and dozens of real-world examples, readers of "Strategic" will immediately be able to set direction, create advantage, and achieve executive excellence. Be more than tactical, be Strategic!

Critique: Extraordinary, eloquent, exceptional, impressive, comprehensive, "Strategic: The Skill to Set Direction, Create Advantage, and Achieve Executive Excellence" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, making it a very desirable, practical, and useful pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Business Planning and Leadership collections, and supplemental MBA curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and business managers that "Strategic" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.00).

Editorial Note: Rich Horwath is founder and CEO of the Strategic Thinking Institute where he is a strategy facilitator, advisor, and coach to executive leadership teams. He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of eight books on strategic thinking and rated the number one keynote speaker on strategy at national events such as the Society for Human Resource Management Strategy Conference. Rich has helped more than a quarter million people develop their strategic thinking and planning skills over the past two decades in pursuit of his vision to teach the world to be strategic. (

The Agriculture Shelf

The Lean Micro Farm
Ben Hartmann
Chelsea Green Publishing Company
9781645022046, $34.95, PB, 272pp

Synopsis: In the early 1970s, US Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz infamously commanded farmers to "get big or get out." But with the publication of "The Lean Micro Farm: How to Get Small, Embrace Local, Live Better, and Work Less", author and micro farmer Ben Hartman rejects that disastrous suggestion and instead takes up the charge of the late agrarian thinker Gene Logsdon: "Get small and stay in."

Taking inspiration from the groundbreaking ideas of E. F. Schumacher and Mahatma Gandhi, "The Lean Micro Farm" shows how small, hyperlocal farms can be both ecologically and economically superior to industrial-scale operations geared toward export and commodity markets.

"The Lean Micro Farm" also details the author's remarkable journey to downsize his farm from one acre to a third of an acre in an effort to prioritize family and community over work, all without taking a pay cut. In addition, Hartman profiles six innovative farmers from across the globe who embody this "get small" mindset. These pioneering farmers show all of us a path toward resilience in the face of supply chain disruption, globalization, and climate change. They model a gentler, more ecological approach to farming that produces less waste and uses less plastic, petroleum, and fertilizer.

Like his previous two books, "The Lean Farm" and "The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables", Hartman's "The Lean Micro Farm" doesn't just explain why smaller is better, it shows readers exactly how it can be done with step-by-step guides on how to turn a profit from a tiny, but productive, parcel of farmland.

Readers will find not just philosophical justifications for a minimalist approach to agriculture but also actionable information for starting your own profitable micro farm, including: A description of the "deep mulch" method for building fertility; Instructions on two-step bed flipping to increase production on a small footprint; A guide for choosing essential tools and technologies "with a human face"; An easy-to-follow process for making your micro farm lean and efficient; A detailed plan for selling $20,000 worth of produce from your backyard.

In "The Lean Micro Farm", Hartman makes clear how to pivot to a new kind of farming -- one that builds upon ancestral knowledge, nourishes communities, and puts human joy, and not just technology, at its center.

Critique: Profusely illustrated with full color photos throughout, "The Lean Micro Farm: How to Get Small, Embrace Local, Live Better, and Work Less" is thoroughly 'user friendly' in style, organization and presentation. An ideal and DIY 'how-to' instruction manual and guide, "The Lean Micro Farm" is a 'must' for anyone with a personal or professional interest in sustainable agriculture, organic gardening and horticulture. While a core addition for personal, professional, community, agricultural college, and university library Contemporary Agricultural Studies collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted that "The Lean Micro Farm" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $26.49).

Editorial Note: Ben Hartman ( grew up on a corn and soybean farm in Indiana and graduated college with degrees in English and philosophy. Ben and his wife, Rachel Hershberger, own and operate Clay Bottom Farm in Goshen, Indiana, where they make their living growing and selling specialty crops on less than one acre. The farm has twice won Edible Michiana's Reader's Choice award. The Lean Farm, Ben's first book, won the Shingo Institute's prestigious Publication Award. In 2017 Ben was named one of Grist's fifty emerging green leaders in the United States. Clay Bottom Farm has also developed an online course in lean farming.

The Christian Studies Shelf

Facing the Last Enemy: Death and the Christian
Guy Prentiss Waters
Ligonier Ministries
9781642894349, $18.00, HC, 157pp

Synopsis: When we're standing at the gravesite, death gives little closure and leaves many questions unanswered. Despite the common claim that "dying is just a natural part of life", people seem to avoid this unsettling subject more than ever. Yet the Bible doesn't shy away from the reality of death. God's Word has the answers we need to face the grave with confidence in our risen Redeemer.

With the publication of "Facing the Last Enemy: Death and the Christian" by Ligonier Ministries, Dr. Guy Waters provides the Bible's answers to essential questions about death, dying, and what comes after this life. Here is balm for the grieving, counsel for caretakers, and guidance to help God's people rest in Christ's victory as we come to life's final battle.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Facing the Last Enemy: Death and the Christian" is especially and unreservedly recommended reading for any member of the Christian community, regardless of their denominational affiliation, who is affected by and having to deal with the death of a loved one or of anyone else. While also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99), "Facing the Last Enemy: Death and the Christian" is appropriate for church, seminary, community, and college/university library Christian Theology and Death/Dying collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Dr. Guy Prentiss Waters ( is the James M. Baird Jr. Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in Jackson, Miss. Dr. Waters studied at the University of Pennsylvania (B.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia (M.Div.), and Duke University (Ph.D.). His research and writing particularly focus on the letters and theology of Paul, the use of Scripture in the New Testament, and the Synoptic Gospels. Before accepting the call to RTS, he taught at Duke Divinity School and Belhaven College.

A Different Kind of Fast: Feeding Our True Hungers in Lent
Christine Valters Paintner, author
Kreg Yingst, illustrator
Broadleaf Books
9781506492117, $19.99, PB, 237pp

Synopsis: Fasting is not just the physical practice of giving up food. Fasting can also be a way to combat our culture of endless distractions and busyness. Fasting is an act of letting go, of making more internal space to listen to the sacred whispers of our lives.

With the publication of "A Different Kind of Fast: Feeding Our True Hungers in Lent", the reader can join Christine Valters Paintner (online abbess of Abbey of the Arts), on a spiritual journey through seven different kinds of fasts, including fasting from control, from our attachments, from our grasping, and more. When we practice these fasts, we can discover unexpected spiritual gifts, as well as answers to deeper questions, leading us to ask: "What is my true hunger?"

Perfect for Lent, or any period when a deeper intention to clarify your true hunger is needed, "A Different Kind of Fast" helps us enter our hearts, stripping away old patterns and habits. Featuring striking woodcuts from artist Kreg Yingst, "A Different Kind of Fast" draws on the wisdom of the desert elders, while Christine Paintner offers practical contemplative practices like lectio divina, breath prayer, visio divina, meditation with desert wisdom, contemplative walks, and creative rituals.

As we fast from rushing, planning, being strong, holding it all together, seeking certainty, and control, we can softly reorient ourselves toward that which nourishes and fulfills us, for the reflective Lenten season and beyond.

Critique: Inherently interesting, inspired and inspiring, "A Different Kind of Fast: Feeding Our True Hungers in Lent" is an extraordinary contribution to the Christian community and an unreservedly recommended pick for church and seminary library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of clergy, seminary students, and lay members of the Christian community that "A Different Kind of Fast: Feeding Our True Hungers in Lent" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.99).

Editorial Note #1: Christine Valters Paintner ( is the online abbess at Abbey of the Arts, a virtual global monastery without walls, offering retreats, classes, books, and resources to nurture contemplative practice and creative expression. A writer, artist, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and teacher, she earned her PhD in Christian spirituality from the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley and is a Registered Expressive Arts Consultant and Educator (REACE). Paintner is the author of many books, including The Artist's Rule and Breath Prayer. She and her husband, John, live on the west coast of Ireland.

Editorial Note #2: Kreg Yingst ( is an illustrator with a focus on block printing, with original works created from carved blocks of wood, linoleum, or other materials, and printed onto paper or other media. He received his BA from Trinity University in San Antonio and his MA in painting from Eastern Illinois University. His work can be found in numerous international public and private collections, including Purdue University, Indiana and the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Charleston, South Carolina. He lives in Pensacola, Florida.

The Father's House: Discovering Our Home in the Trinity
James Dominic OP
Pauline Books & Media
9780819827593, $21.95, PB, 176pp

Synopsis: What is the purpose of life? Who am I? How do I find love?

With the publication of "The Father's House: Discovering Our Home in the Trinity", Father James Brent, O.P., shows how friendship with Jesus Christ answers these burning questions. This approachable guide to the spiritual life explains how to live a transformative friendship with Christ that leads us to the fullness of life "in the Father's house"

Readers of "The Father's House" will learn how to effectively navigate the conflicting thoughts and desires that afflict the human heart and discover their true selves in God.

Critique: Of particular and special interest to young adults struggling to deal with the most fundamental questions of identity, purpose, and their relationship to Jesus Christ and the Church, "The Father's House: Discovering Our Home in the Trinity" is as informative as it is inspiring. While highly recommended for church and seminary collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of clergy, seminary students, and all members of the Christian community that "The Father's House" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Father James Dominic Brent, O.P., teaches at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. He regularly lectures for the Thomistic Institute and Aquinas 101, contributes to, and preaches retreats to college students and young adults.

The Art Shelf

The Sporting Art of C. D. Clarke
C. D. Clarke, author
Stackpole Books
9780811772440, $85.00, HC, 232pp

Synopsis: C. D. Clarke maintains that he was born to paint and fish and hunt. He has done just that over the course of his lifetime, capturing images of memorable times on the water and in the field on canvas with an artist's eye -- and finessing that passion and pastime into a laudable career, inspired by the work of wildlife artists Ogden Pleissner, Chet Reneson, Thomas Aquinas Daly, and John Swan

"The Sporting Art of C. D. Clarke" is magnificently presented volume of his work and features nearly 200 paintings, tableaux of color, light, motion, and possibility, created over the course of forty years fishing and hunting in the world's most coveted destinations. Clarke prefers to work "en plein air" where he paints studies and fills sketchbooks with scenes that inspire the oils and watercolors he later refines in his New Jersey Highlands studio.

Clarke's work is frequently exhibited at the most prestigious wildlife art shows and festivals and is regularly featured in top wildlife and sporting publications.

Critique: Comprised of beautifully with rendered full page, fully colored copies of his work, "The Sporting Art of C. D. Clarke" offers an inherently fascinating and informatively captioned tour of truly memorable paintings that will hold intense interest for fans of landscape, seascape, plant and animal painted and museum quality art. Simply stated, a 'must' for the legions of C.D. Clarke fans, "The Sporting Art of C. D. Clarke" is a welcome and unreservedly recommended pick for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Contemporary American Art collections.

Editorial Note: C. D. Clarke has maintained a lifelong, continuous global sporting and painting tour - traveling the world with clients, friends, and alone to fish, hunt, and paint in destinations the rest of us dream about: Alaska, the Bahamas, Britain's chalk streams, Scotland, the Seychelles, Tierra del Fuego, the Andes, Labrador, Cuba, British Columbia, Iceland, and all over the U.S. from Georgia to Montana and Texas to New England. His work has been shown in the most prestigious galleries, shows, and museums, including the American Museum of Fly Fishing, the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Birds in Art Show, the Thomasville Wildlife Arts Festival (for twenty-three years), the Easton Waterfowl Festival, and the National Sporting Library and Museum.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Simply Knitted Socks
Christine Boggis
The GMC Group
9781784946708, $24.99, PB, 128pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Simply Knitted Socks: 25 Beautiful Patterns to Create", knitting expert Christine Boggis (who is also the editor of Knitting magazine and author of "JOMO Knits: 21 Projects to Celebrate the Joy" introduces needlecrafters to a dynamic assortment of DIY knitting styles from baby booties perfect for beginners, to twisty rib socks for more experienced knitters.

Whether your interest is in creating unique socks to wear or to present to friends and family "Simply Knitted Socks: 25 Beautiful Patterns to Create" promises hours of stress-free creative fun and relaxation for knitters everywhere.

Critique: Featuring beautiful color photography throughout, along with step-by-step illustrated guides, measurement diagrams and useful tips, easy-to-follow instructions, and an impressive variety of knitted sock styles, "Simply Knitted Socks: 25 Beautiful Patterns to Create" is enthusiastically recommended for personal, professional, and community library Needlecraft/Knitting instructional reference collections.

Adorable Houseplants to Crochet
Marie Clesse, author
Fabrice Besse, photographer
Dover Publications, Inc.
9780486851150, $14.95, PB, 64pp

Synopsis: "Adorable Houseplants to Crochet" by Marie Clesse (a knitting and crochet designer who specializes in original mini-designs) is a charming DIY needlecraft collection that showcases the perfect houseplants to crochet and display!

Suitable for chrocet enthusiasts at all skill levels, these 14 adorable projects include a eucalyptus wreath, a framed fern, creeping vines, stylish succulents, several kinds of flowering cacti, and other beautiful blooms.

Each individual pattern includes detailed instructions for crochet and assembly, a full-color photo of the finished project, and estimates for how long each takes to complete. Of special note is the introductory section that includes techniques and diagrams, as well as practical recommendations for yarns, stuffings, hooks, pots and planters, and other tools and materials.

Beginners and experts alike will have everything they need to "grow" their own unique indoor garden or create sweet and unique gifts for friends and family.

Critique: Impressively 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Adorable Houseplants to Crochet" from the 'Dover Crafts' series will prove a welcome and fun pick for personal, professional, and community library 'how-to' instructional guides for crochet based gift giving projects.

Quick & Easy Macrame
Tansy Wilson, author
Sian Hamilton, author
The GMC Group
9781784946722, $19.99, PB, 104pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Quick & Easy Macrame: Simple and Stylish Small Projects", macrame experts and co- authors Tansy Wilson and Sian Hamilton introduce the art of macrame with projects ranging from home decor to fashion items that make learning macrame quick and stress free!

The featured projects range from a cute and simple pencil case that's great for a beginner, to beautifully designed animal wall hangings, that are ideal for any children's bedroom for the more advanced crafter. "Quick & Easy Macrame: Simple and Stylish Small Projects" will provide hours of creative fun and relaxation.

Critique: The latest title in the popular GMC Group Macrame series, "Quick & Easy Macrame: Simple and Stylish Small Projects" features 12 macrame projects for the complete beginner; Illustrated techniques section explaining each type of knot; Along with step-by-step instructions and beautiful photography throughout. This large format paperback edition of "Quick & Easy Macrame: Simple and Stylish Small Projects" is an extraordinarily 'user friendly' and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library Needlecraft collections.

Editorial Note #1: Sian and Tansy met at University doing a BA in 3D design and they have both now been in the design industry for over 25 years. Sian and Tansy have worked together on many magazine and book projects for the craft sector. They like to combine their creative ideas to bring a range of simple craft skills to a wider audience. Tansy has written a number of jewellery and craft books, she lives in Somerset. Together they wrote Macrame: Techniques and Projects for the Complete Beginner & Macrame: Contemporary Projects for the Home (both published by GMC Publications).

The Woodworking Shelf

Turning Decorative Bowls
Richard Findley
The GMC Group
9781784946739, $29.99, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Turning Decorative Bowls", Richard Findley shows the reader how to master new and innovative bowl turning techniques. Richard also shares how he tackled each challenge from start to finish. His stories will inspire novice and experienced turners alike.

Some of the bowls are turned from constructed pieces such as one made from boards, open segmented turning and a staved bowl. Others showcase techniques such as thread chasing and turning a bowl with handles, as well the fun and unusual shapes of a Christmas star and a jigsaw of turned pieces.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Turning Decorative Bowls" is a compendium of 16 DIY projects in increasing complexity, is immensely suitable for both beginner and more experienced woodturners alike, with each individual project comprised of easy-to-follow instructions supported by step-by-step 'how-to' photography. "Turning Decorative Bowls" is a very special and recommended pick for personal, professional, community, art school, and college/university library DIY woodworking crafts/hobbies collections.

Editorial Note: Richard Findley ( is a full-time production turner based in Leicestershire in the UK. His background is in woodwork, having trained as a joiner and worked in the family joinery business. He comes from a long line of woodworkers going back at least five generations. While his work is mainly based in the UK, his reputation for making the highest quality turned work has earned him commissions for items that have gone to the US, Canada and Australia. He has written articles for 'Woodturning Magazine' in the UK since 2010 and has a large following on Instagram.

The Gardening Shelf

The Preserving Garden
Jo Turner
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
9781760763824, $29.95, HC, 208pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Preserving Garden", gardening expert Jo Turner has created a stylishly illustrated guide on how to create a garden that will provide food all year round. Featuring forty-three plant profiles with growing notes for starting or improving your garden, "The Preserving Garden" provides advice on where to begin, when to plant, and how to care for your garden.

Each plant profile is accompanied by easy-to-follow recipes that allow you to make the most of your homegrown produce throughout the year. Including scalable recipes and techniques for chutneys, relishes, jams, jellies, marmalades, bottling, and drying, preserve your garden bounty by pureeing tomatoes for sauces, fermenting your cabbage for sauerkraut, drying your cherries to use in muffins, and much more.

Growing a preserving garden is an investment in your food future. When you are using fruit or vegetables grown in your own yard you are reducing food miles, waste, and plastic use and reclaiming control over what goes into the food you eat. Offering a joyful reinterpretation of cooking illustration, this book is an inspiring and practical gift for the food enthusiast, whether they live in the northern or southern hemisphere.

Critique: Beautifully enhanced for the aspiring gardener with some 150 color illustrations, "The Preserving Garden" also features four pages of Notes and a three page Index. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, informative content, organization and presentation, "The Preserving Garden" is an invaluable and inspiring pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Vegetable Gardening, Canning and Preservation collections.

Editorial Note: Jo Turner is the great granddaughter of a gardener from East Sussex, U.K., the granddaughter of a woman who grew and preserved fruit and vegetables to feed her large family, and the daughter of a passionate flower gardener and jam maker. She lives on fifty acres of native bush in Australia and battles the heat of long summers growing fruit and vegetables.

The Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf

Classic TV Icons: Action & Drama
Edward Gross
BearManor Media
9798887712697, $42.00, HC, 386pp

Synopsis: " Classic TV Icons: Action & Drama" from BearManor Media is the first in a series of books profiling actors and shows making up our collective television nostalgia. It's written by veteran entertainment journalist Edward Gross, who has been on the editorial staff of a wide variety of film and TV magazines. He is also the author of more than a dozen books, including oral histories on Star Trek and Superman (the two-volume The Fifty-Year Mission and Voices from Krypton, respectively) and Above & Below: The Unofficial 35th Anniversary Beauty and the Beast Companion -- all of which are available from Bearmanor Media.

Critique: Illustrated with B/W photos, "Classic TV Icons: Action & Drama" will prove to be a highly prized addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Television History/Criticism collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. Impressively comprehensive, exceptionally 'reader friendly' in organization and presentaton, "Classic TV Icons: Action & Drama" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9798887712680, $32.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Editorial Note: Edward Gross ( is an entertainment journalist who has covered film and television for a wide variety of publications, including Geek, SciFi Now, CFQ, SFX, Starlog, Cinescape and many others. Additionally he's written a number of non-fiction "making of" books, including this year's two-volume Fifty-Year Mission: the Complete Oral History of Star Trek (co-written with Mark A. Altman) for St. Martin's Press.

Save Me a Seat!: A Life with Movies
Rick Winston
Rootstock Pubishing
9781578691289, $18.99, PB, 262pp

Synopsis: Rick Winston's lifelong love of movies led to the creation of one of Vermont's leading cultural institutions, the Savoy Theater in Montpelier, Vermont. With humor, heart, and the publication of "Save Me a Seat!: A Life with Movies" he takes us behind the scenes of the hard and rewarding work of building a film venue over decades in a grateful community.

"Save Me a Seat!" is the story of how a vibrant film culture took root in unlikely surroundings, as well as the story of how a boy from the New York City suburbs landed in Vermont and became a preeminent film programmer and historian in the Green Mountain State.

Critique: Illustrated throughout with B/W images, "Save Me a Seat!: A Life with Movies" is an inherently fascinating and impressively informative memoir that will prove to be of immense interest to readers concerned with cinema history, criticism, and movie theatres. An extraordinary memoir of an extraordinary man, "Save Me a Seat!: A Life with Movies" is an unreservedly recommended pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Contemporary American Biography/Memoir collections and supplemental Cinematic History curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Rick Winston ( grew up in Yonkers, New York, and became hooked watching old films on TV at a young age. He went to Columbia College and University of California, Berkeley, where there were many opportunities to catch up on films while putting off writing English Literature papers. He co-founded the Savoy Theater in Montpelier, Vermont in 1981, and was co-owner until he and his wife Andrea Serota sold it in 2009. Winston's previous book, "Red Scare in the Green Mountains" (Rootstock, 2018) won the 2019 Richard O. Hathaway Award from the Vermont Historical Society for "Outstanding Contribution to Vermont History." He currently teaches film history throughout Vermont.

Withnail and I: From Cult to Classic
Toby Benjamin
Titan Books
9781803362397, $50.00, HC, 144pp

Synopsis: Authorized by author and director Bruce Robinson, "Withnail & I: From Cult to Classic" by Toby Benjamin charts the extraordinary journey of a beloved cult film from being 'just thoughts really' to becoming a permanent feature in any list of the Best British Films ever made.

For the first time all of the surviving players have been interviewed for this definitive study about their parts in the making of the movie, and the lasting effect it had on their lives. Bruce Robinson offers detailed insights into his creative process and influences, while new interviews with the film's stars Richard E Grant and Paul McGann provide personal insights into the impact that making and living with Withnail & I had.

Illustrated throughout with never-before-seen photography and archive material, and featuring contributions from famous fans like Sam Bain, Margaret Cho and Charlie Higson, this is the definitive publication on the now legendary British film - - Withnail & I.

Critique: This large format (10.36 x 0.7 x 12.28 inches, 2.73 pounds) hardcover edition of "Withnail and I: From Cult to Classic" from Titan Books is a definitive, in-depth exploration of the creation and legacy of the cult classic British Film Withnail & I. The featured interviews, essays, photos, and fascinating archive materials are deftly organized and presented making this an ideal template for treating the histories of other seminal British films. As fascinating as it is informative, "Withnail and I: From Cult to Classic" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Cinematic History and Movie Direction/Production collections.

Editorial Note: Toby Benjamin has originated and co-authored The Spirit of Talk Talk (Rocket 88 Books, three editions 2012- 2020) and My Eyes Have Seen The Glory (Mooney and Lambert, 2021). Toby's writing focuses on his great passions: music, football and film, in the pursuit of anecdotes with a background of authenticity. He lives in Brighton, UK.

The Fashion Shelf

Field, Fork, Fashion
Alice V. Robinson
Chelsea Green Publishing Company
9780874411935, $34.95, HC, 160pp

Synopsis: As a fashion student, Alice Robinson started to question the material she worked with. Leather is universally acknowledged as a luxury material, from which desirable bags, shoes and clothing are made. But how much do we know about where it comes from?

Alice's questions led back to her childhood home in rural Shropshire, England, where she decided to buy Bullock 374 and follow its journey from a local farm to the abattoir, then to the butchery and finally to the tannery. The journey culminates with Alice's own design practice as she creates a collection based on this single hide.

In doing so, Alice would begin to see the bigger picture -- and connect farm, food and fashion for the first time to understand the true meaning of provenance, value and beauty.

Critique: Inherently fascinating, impressively informative, profusely illustrated, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Field, Fork, Fashion: Bullock 374 and a Designer's Journey to Find a Future for Leather" is further enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a two page listing of References, a one page listing of Resources, and a six page Index. While also available to readers in a digital book format (Kindle, $26.49), "Field, Fork, Fashion" is particularly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Leathercrafting & Fashion collections, as well as supplemental Textile curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Alice V. Robinson ( explores the relationship between food and fashion by connecting farming to the design of products and revealing the story behind leather. Alice was trained as an accessory designer and is an Alumna of the Royal College of Art. Her work has been shown at the London Design Festival, Victoria and Albert Museum and MAD, Brussels; her collection '11458' was acquired by the V&A in 2020. Alice co-founded Grady + Robinson in 2020 with collaborator Sara Grady to create British Pasture Leather, the first supply of leather made from animals raised on regenerative farms in the UK. Inspired by a belief that regenerative agricultural practices are a crucial solution in renewing soils, stewarding land and reforming food and fashion systems, Grady + Robinson are linking leather with exemplary agriculture and forging new connections between farming, food and material culture. Grady + Robinson were named Sustainability Thought Leaders for the Vogue Business 100 Innovators List - 2023.

Gary Cooper: Enduring Style
G. Bruce Boyer
powerHouse Books
9781648230356, $50.00, HC, 200pp

Synopsis: Dressed up like a million-dollar trouper
Tryin' hard to look like Gary Cooper
Super duper
- "Puttin' on the Ritz," Irving Berlin (revised lyrics, 1946)

1940s heartthrob Gary Cooper never goes out of style (just ask your mother or your grandmother). He's got that straightforward, honest, effortless handsomeness. No matter the costume he donned, he owned it. The camera loved him, and so did the box office.

Compiled by G. Bruce Boyer, "Gary Cooper: Enduring Style" is a collection of images, taken from his personal scrapbook, that confirms that the Gary Cooper we knew and loved on the silver screen was as much a style icon off the red carpet as he was on.

He perfected his own debonair style by combining a perfectly tailored European wardrobe with all-American casual sportswear to produce the first (and arguably still finest) example of elegant, international, masculine style of the "American Everyman" ideal. From the most laid-back activewear to the most ceremonious of coat and tails, Cooper carried himself with uncontrived conviction.

An inspiration to the likes of Ralph Lauren, Cooper was casual and put together, rugged and classic, and altogether timeless. And when you look at these photos, you can't even hate him for it, because what shines through more than any amount of star power is his unequivocal authenticity.

"Gary Cooper: Enduring Style" gives readers a look at a larger-than-life leading man and the real life he led. The photos you'll see were taken primarily by his wife, Rocky, and include snapshots of his home life, his easy style, and time spent with his friends (which, of course, include artist archetypes Cary Grant and Ernest Hemingway, among others).

Regardless of place or present company, Cooper had the model outfit for every occasion, embodying a type of refined masculinity rarely seen (though always in high demand) to this very day.

Critique: This large format (10 x 0.9 x 7.5 inches, 7.9 pounds) hardcover edition from PowerHouse Books is an astonishing and inherently fascinating compilation of historic photos supported by informative captions and commentary. With a unique appeal to readers with an interest in fashion design/history, photography, and a 'must' for the legions of Gary Cooper fans, "Gary Cooper: Enduring Style" is especially and unreservedly recommended contribution to personal, professional, community, and college/university library collections.

Editorial Note: G. Bruce Boyer ( has been a noted fashion writer and editor for more than 35 years. He was associated with Town & Country magazine as men's fashion editor for 15 years. His articles have also appeared in Esquire, Harper's Bazaar, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and many other publications. He is the author of multiple books on the subject of men's fashion and has also worked in advertising, PR, and media consulting for companies such as Nordstrom, Polo/Ralph Lauren, Southwick, Bergdorf Goodman, and Gant among others.

The Photography Shelf

Photo Camp Stories
National Geographic
National Geographic Press
9781426223679, $45.00, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: For 20 years, National Geographic Photo Camps have brought together teens and young adults to experience a week of photography while being mentored by some of the most celebrated National Geographic Explorers and photographers in the world. With coaching and community-building, students gain confidence in their individual voices, articulating their dreams for the future and the challenges they face in stunningly expressive photographs and deeply candid writing.

"Photo Camp Stories: Our World Through the Lens of Young Photographers" is an inspiring compendium of photography that unfolds as a series of topical chapters, organized around themes such as community, identity, growth, inspiration, and hope. With arresting visual content and poignant storytelling, it delivers an authentic portrait of how large numbers of young people around the world see themselves and what matters most to them.

Filled with more than 250 memorable images that span 20 years and more than 35 countries, as well as alumni profiles and essays, "Photo Camp Stories" is a compelling volume that conveys the raw yearnings of youth -- and imparts enduring lessons for the future.

Critique: This large format (10.16 x 0.98 x 10.16 inches, 3.21 pounds) hardcover edition of "Photo Camp Stories: Our World Through the Lens of Young Photographers" from the editorial staff of the National Geographic is a unique, fascinating, inspiring, and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Contemporary Photography collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education, and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 15,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories, and content.

The Travel Shelf

Spain: The Monocle Handbook
Tyler Brule, author
Andrew Tuck, author
Joe Pickard, author
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
9780500978672, $50.00, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: "Spain: The Monocle Handbook" by co-authors Tyler Brule (editorial director and chairman of Monocle), Andrew Tuck (Monocle's editor-in-chief), and Joe Pickard (head of book publishing for Monocle", has as its focus sunny Spain. A practical travel guide, "Spain: The Monocle Handbook" will steer you from the streets of Seville to the mountains of Mallorca, introducing favorite, exciting, and memorable places to stay, eat, shop, and visit across the country.

Armchair readers and on-site visitors will discover the sleekest beachside boltholes in the Costa Brava, the family-run restaurants plating up the tastiest tapas in Andalucia, and the buzziest bars in Barcelona before getting your cultural fix in Valencia, Bilbao, or Madrid. Visitikng travelers will meet the Spaniards making waves in the fashion industry, visit the artisans turning out beautiful contemporary designs, and hear from the chefs shaking up the country's food scene. And of course you'll find out about the finest stretches of sand on which to lay down your towel.

For those looking to put down roots in Spain, this information packed travel guide also profiles the cities, towns, and neighborhoods worth investing in, the architects and designers to commission, and even some interior design inspiration for your apartment or holiday home.

Critique: Whether putting together an itinerary for a sun-soaked weekend, or planning to stay a little longer (or indefinitely), "Spain: The Monocle Handbook" is the ideal resource for getting the most out of your vacation or business trip. Beautifully illustrated throughout with full color illustrations and images, "Spain: The Monocle Handbook" is an exceptional and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library Travel Guide collections.

National Geographic Traveler: Iceland
National Geographic
National Geographic Press
9788854419711, $21.99, PB, 336pp

Synopsis: "National Geographic Traveler: Iceland" is a compact paperback travel guide stuffed with useable information for on-site visitors who do not want to miss anything of the unique and incredible atmosphere, from the northern lights to the capital, Reykjavik, which comes to life in the long summer nights of the Arctic Circle.

"National Geographic Traveler: Iceland" is ideal for planning itineraries for enjoying the fishing ports of the southern peninsula; admiring the volcanoes, glaciers, and waterfalls of the south; exploring the mysterious eastern lands; being fascinated by the rich wild nature up north; or venturing among the spectacular bird-populated cliffs and glaciers of the Westfjords.

Critique: Compact, portable, 'user friendly' in organization/presentation, beautifully and profusely illustrated with color photography, offering a wealth of useable information with respect to routes and all the sectors that comprise Iceland, "National Geographic Traveler: Iceland" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library International Travel Guide collections in general, and Icelandic travel guide for armchair travelers and on-site visitors in particular.

Editorial Note: National Geographic Traveler guidebooks are focused on experiential travel. Each book provides inspiring photography, insider tips, and expert advice for a more authentic, enriching experience of the destination. These books serve a readership of active, discerning travelers and supply information, historical context, and cultural interpretation not available on the Internet.

Soul of Marrakesh
Zohar Benjelloun, author
Fabrice Nadjari, author
Jonglez Publishing
9782361954659, $14.95, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: Marrakesh is the fourth largest city in Morocco. Historically, it is one of the four imperial Islamic cities of Morocco and the capital of the Marrakesh - Safi region. It is west of the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.

With the publication of "Soul of Marrakesh: A guide to 30 exceptional experiences" by co-authors Zohar Benjelloun and Fabrice Nadjari, the armchair traveler and on-site visitor cn step inside Yves St Laurent's private library, drink the best orange juice in the legendary Jamaa el-Fna square, stay with some renowned traditional gnawa musicians, feast on the medina's most eco-friendly tagine, while away a few days in a hotel hidden in a palm grove that's also a rare bird sanctuary, discover the secret museum where everything is for sale, a a great deal more.

The co-authors of "Soul of Marrakesh", Zohar Benjelloun and Fabrice Nadjari, are passionate about Morocco. They have explored every corner of the fascinating city of Marrakesh to provide their readers with the most exciting and unexpected experiences.

Critique: A part of The 'Soul of' collection from Jonglez Publishing, "Soul of Marakesh offers a new approach to the art of travel that consists of vagabonding around, chance encounters and unforgettable experiences. Informatively illustrated and exceptionally 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Soul of Marakesh" is an ideal guidebooks for itinerary planning and one that unlock the hidden doors of a city, capture its essence and delve into every last nook and cranny to uncover its soul. While highly recommended for community and college/university library Travel Guide collections, it should be noted for personal use that "Soul of Marakesh" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.95).

Editorial Note: Each guide in the 'Soul of' series includes: The 30 best experiences a city has to offer; Interviews with those who give the city its spirit; and Original illustrations that capture the city's soul.

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Crow Tarot Pocket Edition
M. J. Cullinane
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
9781646711390, $22.95, Tarot Deck (78 Cards)

Synopsis: Paying homage to the mystical energy of crows and ravens, "Crow Tarot" by M. J. Cullinane invites us to fly through the veil and connect with our intuitive powers. This pocket- sized 78-card deck is infused with the familiar symbolism of the traditional Rider-Waite(R) Tarot, making it ideal for both beginners and professional readers alike. The 128-page guidebook presents upright and reversed meanings and includes a custom Crow Tarot Spread.

Critique: Comprised of a deck of 78 cards and a 128-page illustrated guidebook, this "Crow Tarot Pocket Edition from U. S. Games Systems is impressively portable and will prove a welcome addition to personal and professional tarot readers at all levels of ability and experience.

Editorial Note: Margaux Jones Cullinane ( is a Seattle-based artist, writer, mother, and lover of all things magical, especially crows. She attended Parson's School of Design yet her unique technique of telling stories through digital collage is self-taught and has been her passion for over 10 years. Nature and its creatures are a familiar theme in MJ's work, however, having grown up south of Boston her collages are heavily influenced by the energy of the city.

Black & White Rider-Waite(R) Tarot Deck
Jody Boginski Barbessi, author
Pamela Colman Smith, illustrator
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
9781646711604, $24.95, Tarot Deck (78 Cards)

Synopsis: :The Black & White Rider-Waite Tarot" is a very special tarot deck that features the B/W line artwork and hand-drawn titles originally created in 1909 by Pamela Colman Smith. The 78-card borderless deck has special black foil gilded edges, and is accompanied by a 54-page guidebook with upright and reversed meanings and ideas for tarot spreads.

Critique: A tarot art 'time lost' treasure has been brought back into print from U.S. Games Systems, this new edition of Jody Boginski Barbessi's "Black & White Rider-Waite(R) Tarot Deck" is a classic edition featuring the B/W images of artist Pamela Colman Smith. Simploy stated, "Black & White Rider-Waite(R) Tarot Deck" is especially and unreservedly recommended for both novice students and experienced practitioners of Taro.

Editorial Note #1: Jody Boginski Barbessi is an artist and graphic designer. She studied fine arts at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, the school Pamela Colman Smith attended before illustrating the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. Jody is also is the creator of Influence of the Angels Tarot.

Editorial Note #2: Pamela Colman Smith was born in Middlesex, England on February 16, 1878 to American parents. Her early years were spent in New York City and Kingston, Jamaica where she became proficient in folk storytelling. She studied for two years at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York.

Crystals & Chakeras
Luca Apicella, author
Alessandra De Cristofaro, illustrator
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
9781646711475, $23.95, Oracle Deck (50 Cards)

Synopsis: All dedicated metaphysical students know that crystals have been used since ancient times to heal physical and emotional problems. Working with gemstones restores a balanced frequency to our chakras, the wheels of energy in certain body parts, so they can return to healthy functioning. Based on the powers and vibrations of the crystals, the colorful cards and guidebook comprising "Crystals & Chakras: An Oracle Deck for Inner Balance" provide messages to help us address issues that come up on our healing journey.

Critique: Featuring the charming artwork of illustrator Alessandra De Cristofaro, "Crystals & Chakras: An Oracle Deck for Inner Balance" by naturopath Luca Apicella (and readily available from U.S. Games Systems) includes 37 crystal cards, 7 chakra cards, and 6 helper cards, along with a 64-page illustrated guidebook. The result is a festive, inspiring, and motivating oracle deck that is a highly commended addition for personal and professional collections.

Editorial Note #1: Luca Apicella is a naturopath with 20 years of experience in teaching Crystal Therapy (Crystallogy). He founded Le Porte di Atlantide and the cultural association ATLAS. He is an expert in chakra and psychophysical rebalancing, phytotherapy and flower therapy, Tarots, symbolic medicine, Chinese medicine, and foot reflexology. Currently, he organizes courses and seminars for both groups and individuals.

Editorial Note #2: Alessandra De Cristofaro ( is an Italian illustrator working for international magazines, publishing houses and advertising. Luca Apicella is a naturopath with 20 years of experience in teaching Crystal Therapy (Crystallogy). He founded Le Porte di Atlantide and the cultural association ATLAS. He is an expert in chakra and psychophysical rebalancing, phytotherapy and flower therapy, Tarots, symbolic medicine, Chinese medicine, and foot reflexology. Currently, he organizes courses and seminars for both groups and individuals.

Tree Keepers Oracle
Angi Sullins, author
Stephanie Law, illustrator
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
9781646711543, $26.95, Oracle Deck (44 Cards)

Synopsis: Long ago, before trees were used for their pulp and fiber to bind our stories, they were story protectors of a different kind. As legend and druids can tell you, there are places on the planet where the veil between worlds is thin, and the trees were guardians of these sacred spaces. During that age, if one was lucky, one might encounter a door in the trunk of a tree, known as a duirwaigh, a portal between magical worlds. The contents of this oracle were entrusted to Angi Sullins from a Tree Keeper in Lapland who guarded the ancient groves. The Tree Keeper gifted her a legacy book. The cards comprising "Tree Keepers Oracle" are derived from that tome.

Critique: The "Tree Keepers Oracle" is the collabortive work of author/storyteller Angi Sullins and artist/illustrated Stephanie Law and is comprised of 44 gold* gilt-edged cards, a 108-page lushly illustrated guidebook, and an organza drawstring pouch. Spiritual, metaphysical, beautiful, exquisite, "Tree Keepers Oracle" from U.S. Games Systems is an extraordinary and highly recommended pick for personal, professional, and community library Metaphysical Studies collections.

Editorial Note #1: Angi Sullins is the author of books, card decks, workshops, one-on-one mentorship, and on tours traveling around the world as she takes women on journeys of self-discovery.

Editorial Note #2: Stephanie Law ( is the creator of images that trace the boundary between dream and reality. She delves into the pictorial language of allegory, explores mythology in new contexts, chases tiny worlds of wonder from an insect's viewpoint, and highlights the beauty of growth and decay found in nature. She interweaves texture, watercolor, gold and silver leaf, ink, and creates intricate layered pieces with resin and custom designed frames. In a meld of organic patterns and familiar archetypes, her paintings pose a question on the nature of perception and beauty, and it is against this backdrop that the ephemeral guides and strange creatures dance and beckon the viewer to follow through her various series.

Unlocking The Secret Garden Oracle
Angi Sullins, author
Jena DellaGrottaglia, illustrator
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
9781646711499, $26.95, Oracle Deck (44 Cards)

Synopsis: There is a secret garden inside you, fortified by stone walls old enough to remember the moon's first name. In this magic garden, every plant, flower, insect and animal is a portal, a passageway to secret knowledge and illuminated wisdom. You already have the keys to open each portal.

"Unlocking The Secret Garden Oracle" is intended to accompany your own intuition as you navigate your way through the garden. Question-keys and answer-locks, when fitted together, open ancient passageways and doorways of opportunity, where you will discover wisdom treasure. Visit the garden to unlock the secrets still tucked away in your own potential.

"Unlocking The Secret Garden Oracle" includes 44 gold gilt-edged cards, 108-page lushly illustrated guidebook and organza drawstring pouch. It is packaged in a foil accented, magnetic hinged box.

Critique: Inherently fascinating, exotic in its truly exceptional artwork, and the collaborative efforts of author Angi Sullins and illustrator Jena DellaGrottaglia "Unlocking The Secret Garden Oracle" from U.S. Games Systems will prove a high value and prized addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Metaphysical/Oracle Studies collections.

Editorial Note #1: Angi Sullins is the author of books, card decks, workshops, one-on-one mentorship, and on tours traveling around the world as she takes women on journeys of self-discovery.

Editorial Note #2: Jena DellaGrottaglia ( never had any formal art training besides your basic high school art classes. After working in many, many mediums, Jena found that she especially loved creating digital art. -- Her words: I find in the world of Photoshop there is very little you can do wrong and when you do.. the medium is very forgiving!

Tarot Of A Moon Garden
Karen Marie Sweikhardt, illustrator
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
9781646711383, $31.95, Tarot Deck, (78 Cards/192pp Booklet)

Synopsis: With hauntingly beautiful artwork, "Tarot of a Moon Garden" delivers its arcane secrets on the wings of dragonflies, butterflies, angels and fairies. Unicorns and dolphins bring insightful messages in this borderless tarot deck that deftly weaves together tarot symbolism, mythic expression, elemental magic, and the reflective phases of lunar energy.

In the 192-page full-color illustrated companion book, Karen Marie Sweikhardt presents meditations, readings, and rituals along with descriptions of each tarot card to augment their symbolic meanings. "Tarot of a Moon Garden is comprised of 78 purple gilt-edged cards, and a 192-page, full-color illustrated guidebook, and a custom spreadsheet.

Critique: Featuring the museum quality artwork and imageries of Karen Marie Sweikhardt, "Tarot of a Moon Garden" from U.S. Games Systems is a truly ethereal, unique, and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Tarot collections.

The 2024 Calendar Shelf

Workman Publishing Company

A premier publisher of calendars, the Workman Publishing Company now has a new and impressive roster of both desk calendars and wall calendars for 2024.

"Route 66 Wall Calendar 2024: Get Your Kicks on America's Greatest Road Trip" (9781523520350, $15.99, Wall Calendar, 28pp) Known as America's main street, with this calendar you can imagine packing up the car and take a road trip down Route 66. Once dubbed the "Mother Road" by John Steinbeck, the iconic highway still looms large as a mythic route traveled by pioneers, risk-takers, and wandering spirits. This calendar celebrates classic Americana and scenery all along the route, with a dozen destinations beautifully photographed in full color. From where it all begins, in Chicago, to its terminus at the Santa Monica Pier (the perfect spot to look out over the ocean and dream of future adventures) 2024 will be a year of pure nostalgia and inspiration.

"Maia Toll's Wild Wisdom Wall Calendar 2024: Connect to the Mystical Rhythms of the Natural World" (9781523518951, $15.99, Wall Calendar 2024, 28pp) Cultivate the sacred every day, looking to nature and the seasons to be your guides. Adapted from Maia Toll's series of books on the occult, nature, and personal transformation, this calendar celebrates the powerful wisdom that's found when we open ourselves to the cycles of life. Reflect on the Womb, floating in the void of deep winter, itself a kind of cosmic crossroads where anything and everything can come into being. Or the Traveler, in the height of summer, discovering new ideas that disrupt the ordinary. Then take comfort in the Hearth, drawing you back to the center of your life and home. Kate O'Hara's beautiful, intricate illustrations complement the rich and spiritual text.

"Audubon Arctic Wall Calendar 2024: A Year of Stunning Polar Nature" (9781523519163, $15.99, Wall Calendar, 28pp) The subject is the Arctic: The aurora borealis infusing a white snowscape with brilliant color. Dall Sheep resting on a rocky mountainside. A Tufted Puffin coming in for a watery landing. Featuring a year of exquisite, full-color photographs, this calendar showcases one of the most beautiful, fascinating, and fragile ecosystems in the world. Each image is accompanied by a detailed caption with information about the region and its wildlife.

"Hawai'i Dreaming Wall Calendar 2024: A Year of Natural Wonders" (9781523521791, $15.99, Wall Calendar, 28pp) A necklace of verdant jewels in the middle of the Pacific, Hawai'i enchants with its sun, water, and cooling breezes, lush forests and endless beaches. Pictorial scenes beauty at every turn: Towering emerald cliffs over the Napali coastline in Kauai. The raw evidence of its volcanic origins, like a crimson river of lava on the Big Island or the otherworldly Haleakala Crater in Maui, red and vast as a desert. And that magical glow of a sunset over Po'olenalena Beach. It's a paragon of beauty.

"Extreme Weather Page-A-Day Calendar 2024: A Year of Fire Tornadoes, Atmospheric Rivers, and Other Wild Weather Events" (9781523520886, $16.99, Desk Calendar, 640pp) For amateur forecasters and causal climatologists, 2024 will be a year for fascinating facts, unforgettable storms, and the science behind them. The Extreme Events include Tropical Storm Denise deluged Reunion Island with 71.85 inches of rain in 24 hours, or the 8 inches of snow that fell in Laramie, Wyoming, in the middle of the summer. Extreme Places: Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is considered the hottest city on Earth, with average June high temps of 111 degrees. Plus the strongest tornadoes in history and Did You Know facts and terms such as a "bolt from the blue" -- when lightning strikes as far as 20 miles or more from the actual storm.

"365 Cats Page-A-Day Calendar 2024: The World's Favorite Cat Calendar" (9781523518685, $16.99, Desk Calendar, 640pp) For cat lovers, there's no such thing as too many cats. And this is the calendar that proves the point, starring the hundreds of winners of the 2023 Cat Calendar Contest showing off their sweet and adorable antics. Like a fluffy Maine Coon perched on a snowbank. A tabby studying herself in a mirror. A sassy black cat tickling the ivories with gusto. Plus personable Siamese, distinctively patterned calicos, elegant Abyssinians, and innocent yet mischievous little kittens. The beautiful full-color photographs are accompanied by relatable cat quotes, care tips, and surprising cat facts. Did you know that not all cats have the same number of bones? (The number can vary depending on the length of the tail.)

"365 Dogs Page-A-Day Calendar 2024: The World's Favorite Dog Calendar" (9781523519293, $16.99, Desk Calendar, 640pp) An athletic Golden posing on a snowy mountaintop. A sweet mixed-breed pooch snuggling with the cat of the house. Plus, energetic Border Collies, playful puppies of all stripes, and a stout Dogue de Bordeaux -- originally bred to guard the vineyards of France. These are the lovable and huggable contest winners, celebrated with full-color photographs and text that highlights everything we love about man's best friend. Featuring doggy profiles, Funny Bones, quotes, Pawverbs to live by (Those who wander with dogs are never lost), and fascinating facts: Dogs may be able to perceive time of day with their sense of smell.

All of these Workman Publishing Company calendars are printed on responsibly sourced paper and are unreservedly recommended for personal, family, and library calender needs.

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

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