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Wisconsin Bookwatch

Volume 19, Number 1 January 2024 Home | WBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Writing/Publishing Shelf Science Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf Audiobook Shelf
Music CD Shelf General Fiction Shelf Literary Fiction Shelf
Romantic Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Business Shelf Christian Studies Shelf Buddhist Studies Shelf
Music Shelf Parenting Shelf Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf
Art Shelf Needlecraft Shelf Gardening Shelf
Wine/Beer/Spirits Shelf Self-Help Shelf Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience
Ron Faiola
Agate Publishing
9781572843318, $38.00, HC, 248pp

Synopsis: Now in a newly updated and expanded second edition, "Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience " by Ron Faiola is an indispensable and comprehensive resource for and about the supper clubs of Wisconsin and includes charming photographs of their unique supper club interiors, proprietors, and customers, as well as fascinating archival materials. Also recorded in this new edition of "Wisconsin Supper Clubs" are the regional specialties served at these clubs, ranging from popovers and fried pickles in the northern part of the state to Shrimp de Jonghe in the south. One Northwoods supper club even features fry bread, a traditional Native American dish uncommon to most restaurants.

In this updated second edition of "Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience ", Faiola revisits many of the clubs across the Dairy State that starred in his first edition, recording their struggles and triumphs in the years following widespread pandemic shutdowns. New to this edition are fifteen extra clubs that have entered the scene in the past decade, striving to be a part of this custom that is hugely popular with Wisconsin locals and regularly frequented by all midwestern foodies in the know.

The "supper club experience" is a tradition embodied by many long-standing restaurants scattered throughout the small towns of Wisconsin. It is based around a bygone idea that going out to dinner should be an experience that lasts an entire evening, emphasizing food made from scratch, slow-paced dining, and family-run businesses. Combine this with stately dark-panel decor, complimentary relish trays, and the best brandy old-fashioned sweet you'll ever have, and you have barely scratched the surface of the Wisconsin supper club's appeal.

Critique: This large format (8.5 x 0.75 x 11 inches, 2.8 pounds) hardcover edition of the newly published second edition of "Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience" is profusely illustrated throughout with full color photos and informatively descriptive commentaries making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended pick for personal, community library, and college/university library Midwestern Culinary History collections in general, and Wisconsin Supper Club collections in particular. Impressively informative, exceptionally well written, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in both organization and presentation, "Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience: 2nd Edition is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99).

Editorial Note: Ron Faiola ( is an author and filmmaker who has produced and directed numerous critically acclaimed documentaries. He is the president and founder of Push Button Gadget Inc., which has been specializing in audio visual and business theater production for nearly 20 years. He is the author of "Wisconsin Supper Clubs", "Wisconsin Supper Clubs: Another Round", and "The Wisconsin Supper Clubs Story" -- all of which are published by Agate. He currently resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Rise of the Reader
Nick Hutchison
The Reading Revolution Publishing
9798988090922, $19.99, HC, 287pp

Synopsis: Are you devouring every personal development bestseller out there but still finding it hard to apply what you're learning to everyday life? Reading for self-improvement can be powerful as long as you're effectively implementing the right information. You can become a more successful problem solver and transform your life in as little as 15 minutes a day!

Nick Hutchison, founder of the popular book review site BookThinkers, read over 400 personal development books, but implementing their valuable lessons was tougher than just finishing the next chapter. Nick knew self-help books could help him do things like master his social anxiety and fear of public speaking, opening the doors to a successful career in business. Through trial and error, he developed an easy-to-follow framework to retain the knowledge needed to transform his life completely. Now with the publication of "Rise of the Reader: Strategies For Mastering Your Reading Habits and Applying What You Learn" he is giving you over 100 habits to implement into your own reading journey and fulfill your dreams.

With "Rise of the Reader" you will learn:

How swapping 15 minutes of social media scrolling for 15 minutes of reading can dramatically impact 20 different areas of your life.

The power of intention when it comes to choosing the right books for you and how much you retain from their knowledge.

How to avoid bias and situational advice in the self-help industry.

Methods for note-taking and information implementation.

More than 100 new habits to improve your health, wealth, and happiness.

With relatable anecdotes and engaging stories, "Rise of the Reader" will inspire and motivate you to take action and embrace the power of reading. Whether you are a student, a professional, or someone who just wants to reach their full potential, "Rise of the Reader" is your guide to self-actualization and embracing change through reading.

Critique: Original, fascinating, inspirationally motivating, "Rise of the Reader: Strategies For Mastering Your Reading Habits and Applying What You Learn" is of special interest to anyone concerned with reading as a means of memory improvement and personal transformation, While also available for in a paperback edition (9798988090908, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Rise of the Reader" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as professional, community, and college/university library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections.

Editorial Note: Nick Hutchison ( is the visionary force behind BookThinkers, a company dedicated to bridging the gap between authors and readers. He hosts the popular book podcast, BookThinkers: Life Changing Books, where he chats with the authors of his favorite self-help and business publications. As a speaker and coach, he's helped thousands of people achieve their personal and professional goals through the power of positive reading. He can also be followed on Instagram: @BookThinkers

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Self-Promote & Succeed
Julie Broad
Stick Horse Publishing
9781736031513, $17.95, PB, 300pp

Synopsis: Every nonfiction author dreams of being a bestselling author, having their book flourish in the hands of eager readers. This dream hinges on a well-positioned book and a savvy understanding of marketing. Many authors feel like they have tried everything in the world of self-publishing -- launching mass press releases, designing attractive bookmarks, and attempting to run ads on Amazon. Yet the numbers crawl, the dream stalls, and the frustration mounts.

With the publication of "Self-Promote & Succeed: The No Boring Books Way to Build Your Brand, Attract Your Audience, and Market Your Non-Fiction Book", Julie Broad (the founder of Book Launchers and specialist in promoting/marketing the work of self-published authors) brings her high-energy approach and hold-nothing-back attitude in the form of a comprehensive and compelling guide to successfully self-publish. Julie champions independent authors to achieve book marketing success, revealing that the secret to success goes beyond a narrow focus on book sales. She presents a map to use your book to become an industry thought leader, bolster your personal brand, and leverage your book as a tool for business growth.

"Self-Promote & Succeed" shows how to: Architect a layered marketing strategy, optimizing every aspect of your book production and marketing, for success; Position your author brand to appeal directly to your target audience; Choose your book launch strategy from four proven methods; Enhance your book's visibility with the right pricing and keywords on platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing; Leverage speaking engagements to personally connect with readers and boost book sales.

Critique: Simply stated, if you are (or want to become) a self-published author, then "Self-Promote & Succeed: The No Boring Books Way to Build Your Brand, Attract Your Audience, and Market Your Non-Fiction Book" by seasoned and successful book marketing professional Julie Broad is the 'how-to' book for you. A compendium of information, tips, and technique, "Self-Promote & Succeed" is extraordinarily well written and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Writing/Publishing collections, it should be noted for aspiring and newly self-published authors that "Self-Promote & Succeed" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Julie Broad ( is the founder of self-publishing services firm Book Launchers and an Amazon Overall #1 Best Selling Author. Her popular YouTube channel BookLaunchers.TV teaches nonfiction authors how to write and market books people will want to read. An expert on writing with marketing in mind, Julie has been speaking on stages across Canada and the US since 2009, providing the best approaches to get results, make an impact, and ultimately, make more money.

Editorial Note #2: As the editor-in-chief of the Midwest Book Review I can attest personally and professionally that Julie Broad is an expert in the field of book promotions/marketing and self-published authors (and anyone who aspires to become one), should add a copy of "Self-Promote & Succeed: The No Boring Books Way to Build Your Brand, Attract Your Audience, and Market Your Non-Fiction Book" to their personal reading and instructional reference list. - Jim Cox, Midwest Book Review

The Science Shelf

Roadside Geology of Kansas
James S. Aber, et al.
Mountain Press Publishing Company
9780878427154, $26.00, PB, 318pp

Synopsis: Fossils, badlands, and caprocks are scattered through the prairie -- all there to be found with the help of the "Roadside Geology of Kansas" as your guide.

Featured is a billion years of geologic history that left zinc and lead deposits, salt beds, and oil buried beneath layers of limestone and shale, deposited in the many seas that inundated the continent.

Finally, glaciers reconfigured stream drainages, left enormous boulders scattered about, and provided the windblown silt for excellent cropland.

Nineteenth-century paleontologists flocked to the chalk outcrops of western Kansas to collect fossils of dinosaurs, mosasaurs, giant turtles, and more. Settlers used the rock they found at the surface to build houses, bridges, water towers, and churches, as well as stone fence posts that wouldn't burn during prairie wildfires.

"Roadside Geology for Kansas features sixteen roads (including all the state's scenic, historic, and national byways) that point out prominent landmarks such as Mushroom Rock, Pawnee Rock, Coronado Heights, and Mount Mitchell, along with more hidden geologic delights, such as kimberlite pipes, Rock City, and the source for Kansas amber.

Critique: Of immenst value for professional and non-professional readers with an interest in Midwestern geology in general, and the state of Kansas in particular, "Roadside Geology of Kansas" by co-authors James S. Aber, Susan E. W. Aber, and Michael J. Everhart, (and profusely illustrated throughout with full color photos), is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Geology Science collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: James S. Aber was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and Susan E. W. Aber is a native of Halstead, Kansas. Since meeting as students at the University of Kansas, they have resided most of their adult years in Emporia. Jim received a PhD in geology from the University of Kansas and is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Emporia State University. His specialties include glaciation, wetlands, tectonics, and remote sensing.

Editorial Note #2: Susan E. W. Aber received her undergraduate degree in geology from the University of Kansas and a PhD in Library and Information Management from Emporia State University. She taught formerly at San Jose State University, North Carolina Central University, and Emporia State University. She has expertise in mineralogy, gemstones, maps, and GIS for librarians. Jim and Susie have wide-ranging international research experiences in North and South America, Europe, and southeastern Asia.

Editorial Note #3: Michael Everhart is an Adjunct Curator of Paleontology at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, Kansas. He specializes in the study of marine reptiles and other fossils from the Late Cretaceous in western Kansas and has written two books, Oceans of Kansas (Indiana University Press) and Sea Monsters (National Geographic). He is the author and coauthor of many scientific papers on Kansas fossils, including the naming of six new species.

The Cookbook Shelf

Sabrina Ghayour
c/o Octopus Books
9781783255955, $34.99, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: "Flavor" is culinary expert Sabrina Ghayour's new collection of more than 100 simple, delicious, flavorful, and crowd-pleasing recipes with a very special Middle-Eastern twist.

Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout with full page, full color photos of finished dishes reader to serve, the recipes range from Zaatar onion, tomato & Eggplant tartines with labneh; Chicken shawarma salad; Herb koftas with warm yoghurt, mint & pul biber; and Ras el Hanout and orange lamb cutlet platter; to Mama ghanoush; Pan-fried salmon with barbary butter
Nut butter noodles; Lime, coconut & cardamom loaf cake; Tea, cranberry, orange & macadamia shortbreads -- and so much more!

Critique: An impressive and thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly" compendium of palate pleasing, appetite satisfying recipes for memorable dishes to enhance any and all dining experiences, "Flavorful" is certain to be a prized pick for personal, professional, family, and community library Middle Eastern and Ethnic Cuisine cookbook collections. It should be noted that "Flavorful" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.99).

Editorial Note: Sabrina Ghayour ( is an Iranian-born, self-taught home cook turned chef, cookery teacher and food writer. She made her name hosting the hugely popular 'Sabrina's Kitchen' supper club in London, specializing in Persian and Middle Eastern flavors, and went on to be named the Observer's Rising Star in Food. Her award-winning debut, Persiana, is a worldwide bestseller, and her follow-ups Sirocco, Feasts, Bazaar, Simply and Persiana Everyday were Sunday Times bestsellers.

We Cook Filipino
Jacqueline Chio-Lauri
Tuttle Publishing
9780804854665, $24.99, HC, 176pp

Synopsis: A beautifully and profusely illustrated compendium of food and people, the 51 delicious recipes comprising "We Cook Filipino: Heart-Healthy Recipes and Inspiring Stories from 36 Filipino Food Personalities and Award-Winning Chefs" are not just "from the heart" -- they are also "good for the heart" with specifically included information about their health benefits. The result is a cookbook presenting food as something central to Filipino culture and emotional well-being as well as being nutritious and amazingly tasty!

Critique: Along with insightful stories and 51 different recipes, interested readers will learn many Filipino tips and techniques to infuse an impressive array of ethnic flavors into truly memorable and authentic cultural dishes. Fascinating to browse through and inspiring to plan menus with, "We Cook Filipino: Heart-Healthy Recipes and Inspiring Stories from 36 Filipino Food Personalities and Award-Winning Chefs" is a prized and recommended pick for personal, professional, and community library Ethnic Cookbook collections. It should be noted that "We Cook Filipino" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.37).

Editorial Note: Jacqueline Chio-Lauri (@myfoodbeginnings) is the editor and lead author of this compilation of stories and recipes, as well as the highly acclaimed The New Filipino Kitchen. Her upcoming picture books are based on the lives of Filipino food icons Maria Orosa and Ma Mon Luk.

Instant Pot Indian
Anupy Singla
Agate Surrey
c/o Agate Publishing
9781572843172, $21.95, PB, 184pp

Synopsis: Taking full advantage of the ease and convenience of the Instant Pot, with the publication of "Instant Pot Indian: 70 Full-Flavor, Authentic Recipes for Any Sized Instant Pot", cookbook author Anupy Singla presents 70 Indian favorites you can make in minutes.

Singla experimented with every size of Instant Pot to ensure that home cooks would get the full, delicious flavor in every recipe, every time. These no-guesswork recipes are simpler than their traditional counterparts and healthier than restaurant favorites, as they don't require extra oil and fat.

The "Indian Spices 101" chapter introduces readers to the mainstay spices of an Indian kitchen, as well as how to store, prepare, and combine them in different ways. Among these 70 recipes are all the classics (specialties like dal, palak paneer, and aloo gobi), as well as dishes like butter chicken, keema, and much more.

Singla's clear, detailed instructions walk even the most novice of family cooks through the process of using an electric pressure cooker. The result is a successful and enticing introduction to healthful, flavorful Indian food made using the simplicity and convenience of the Instant Pot.

Critique: Illustrated throughout with full color, full page photos of finished dishes, the large format (9 x 0.5 x 8 inches, 1.25 pounds) paperback edition of Anupy Singla's "Instant Pot Indian: 70 Full-Flavor, Authentic Recipes for Any Sized Instant Pot" from Agate Surrey will prove a welcome source for planning memorable menus featuring palate pleasing, appetite satisfying dishes suitable for both formal and informal dining occasions. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99), "Instant Pot Indian" is a unique and highly recommended pick for personal, professional, family, and community library Ethnic cookbook collections.

Editorial Note: Anupy Singla ( is the author of the The Indian Slow Cooker (Agate Surrey, 2010), Vegan Indian Cooking (Agate Surrey, 2012), and Indian for Everyone (Agate Surrey, 2014), all of which have been among the top-selling Indian cookbooks since their release. She is the founder and CEO of Indian As Apple Pie, a company that creates and sells custom spice blends as well as unique home goods. Singla also blogs at Indian As Apple Pie, and her writing has been featured in many print and online outlets. Her books have been praised in Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, and Entrepreneur magazine.

Coffee Art Masterclass
Dhan Tamang
c/o Octopus Books
9781788404648, $14.99, HC, 128pp

Synopsis: A beginners guide to taking your coffee designs to the next level, with the publication of "Coffee Art Masterclass: 50 Incredible Coffee Designs for the Home Barista" will enable true coffee lovers to take their DIY designer coffee to the next level with author and coffee expert Dhan Tamang's simple to follow and incredible designs.

With "Coffee Art Masterclass" you can Impress your partner, your friends and your family by making them a cup with a design for every pastime and hobby. You will learn how to recreate famous paintings, paint mythical creatures and sculpt stunning artworks all on the surface of your morning coffee.

There's no special equipment needed, and Dhan explains the basics, so that you can craft incredible designs from the outset. There are even templates for quick results and tips for ensuring your art stays in place for as long as possible.

"Coffee Art Masterclass" includes next-level latte designs that everyone and anyone can achieve.

Critique: A compendium of profusely and effectively illustrated DIY step-by-step directions, "Coffee Art Masterclass: 50 Incredible Coffee Designs for the Home Barista" is a very special and unique addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Coffee & Tea collections. This simple fabulous and thoroughly 'user friendly' instructional 'how-to" guide to the art of coffee decoration and presentation is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note: Dhan Tamang is the UK Latte Art Champion for 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, as well as a finalist at the 2016 World Latte Art Championship. He is renowned in the coffee art world for his use of color and the precision of his designs. Originally from Nepal, Dhan has been demonstrating his techniques the world over and training would-be baristas from his coffee lab in the UK. (

Wok for Less
Ching-He Huang
Kyle Books
c/o Octopus Books
9781804191590, $29.99, HC, 208pp

Synopsis: A wok is a deep round-bottomed cooking pan of Chinese origin. It is common in Greater China, and similar pans are found in parts of East, South and Southeast Asia, as well as being popular in other parts of the world, including the United States. That's because the traditional wok is an incredibly quick, heat-efficient cooking method -- and a lot less expensive (and bulky) than an air fryer.

Chinese and Asian cuisines have also always featured recipes that use cheaper ingredients. With the publication of "Wok for Less: Budget-Friendly Asian Meals in 30 Minutes or Less", Chinese culinary authority and author Ching-He Huang focuses on traditional, clever ways to reduce costs without scrimping on taste.

From creative ways to make fish, seafood and meat go further, to inventive veg-packed dishes that will satisfy the most committed carnivore, and ideas for using storecupboard ingredients to make multiple meals, the DIY recipes are not only delicious but will save on both time and money.

Critique: Presenting dishes that range from Smoked Tofu x Veggie Stir-Fry x Cashew Nuts; Prawn x Edamame Fried Rice; Honey Soy Chicken x Mangetout x Walnuts; and Soy Egg & Broccoli Scramble; to Chinese-Style Oyster Sauce Beef Egg Omelette; Soy Braised Sweet Potato & Chickpea Ramen; Bang Bang Chicken Peanut Noodles, "Wok For Less: Budget-Friendly Asian Meals in 30 Minutes or Less" features full color, full page photos of finished dishes. Simply stated, "Wok for Less: Budget-Friendly Asian Meals in 30 Minutes or Less" is an extraordinary and thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' compendium of wok created, palate pleasing, appetite satisfying, and memorable dishes for any formal or informal dining experience.

Editorial Note: Ching-He Huang ( was born in Taipei, Taiwan. An Emmy-nominated TV chef, her culinary ethos is to use fresh, organic, ethically sourced ingredients to create modern dishes that fuse Chinese tradition with innovation. Her TV series include Chinese Food Made Easy, Chinese Food in Minutes, Exploring China and Ching's Amazing Asia. She is the author of ten cookbooks including Stir Crazy, Eat Clean: Wok Yourself to Health, Exploring China, Ching's Fast Food, Everyday Easy Chinese, Everyday Easy Asian, Ching's Chinese Food in Minutes, Chinese Food Made Easy and China Modern. She appears regularly on TV in both the UK and US, including on BBC Saturday Kitchen and ITV's Lorraine.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Iron Maiden: Piece of Mind
Bruce Dickinson, et al.
Z2 Comics
9781954928268, $39.99, HC, 120pp

Synopsis: 40 years have passed since the release of "Piece of Mind" by the heavy metal rock band Iron Maiden. More than just an album, it was a thunderous statement of intent by a band whose meteoric rise from the East End of London would propel them to the world stage, thrusting them into the realms of legend.

In the format of a graphic novel, "Iron Maiden: Piece of Mind" is commemorative tome, containing comics, art, and remembrances from acclaimed writers, artists, musicians and storytellers, is a powerful celebration of the unparalleled vision which inspired them -- the living legend that is IRON MAIDEN.

Critique: An absolute 'must' for the legions of heavy metal fans in general, and Iron Maiden fans in particular, "Iron Maiden: Piece of Mind" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and college/university Rock Music graphic novel collections.

Editorial Note: Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. Although fluid in the early years of the band, the line-up for most of the band's history has consisted of Harris, lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson, drummer Nicko McBrain, and guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers. As pioneers of the new wave of British heavy metal movement, Iron Maiden released a series of UK and US Platinum and Gold albums, including 1980's debut album, 1981's Killers, and 1982's The Number of the Beast - its first album with Bruce Dickinson, who replaced Paul Di'Anno as lead singer. The addition of Dickinson was a turning point in their career, establishing them as one of heavy metal's most important bands. The Number of the Beast is among the most popular heavy metal albums of all time, having sold almost 20 million copies worldwide.

Zombillenium, Vols. 5-6: Black Friday/Sabbath Grand Derby
Arthur de Pins, author
NBM Publishing
9781681123172, $24.99, HC, 96pp

Synopsis: The day after "Black Friday" at Zombillenium, the employees have carte blanche to devour the visitors, encouraged by management who intends to profit from these gains in new souls.

To thwart Charlotte and Aurelian's sinister plans with her resistance network, Gretchen must first settle accounts with her past. And in the last culminating episode, The Zombillenium amusement park, which still keeps dozens of visitors prisoner, is coveted by many demons, each eager to become a majority shareholder.

The only method of arbitration accepted by all: the Sabbath Grand Derby, a sporting event as violent as it is inventive in which five witches compete against each other and will be fed to visitors to the park... Among the candidates, a certain Gretchen, determined to play her best...

The spectators of the Sabbath Grand Derby, broadcast like an ordinary reality TV program, will get an eyeful! As for Gretchen, she is facing a handful! The most spectacular of the Zombillenium volumes "Zombillenium, Vols. 5-6: Black Friday/Sabbath Grand Derby" for an true apotheosis of a finale!

Critique: This large format (9 x 0.5 x 12 inches, 1.53 pounds) hardcover edition of Arthur de Pins' superbly original graphic novel series from NBM Publishing, "Zombillenium, Vols. 5-6: Black Friday/Sabbath Grand Derby" is a fun read from start to finish and will prove to be of particular interest to fans of humor laced fantasy fiction. While highly recommended for personal and community library Graphic Novel collections, it should be noted that "Zombillenium, Vols. 5-6: Black Friday/Sabbath Grand Derby" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) as well.

Editorial Note: French artist and author Arthur de Pins was born in Brittany in 1977. He got his start as a professional comics creator with the magazine Fluide Glacial, and the series P‚ch‚s mignons (published by Fluide Glamour), starting in 2006. In 2010, de Pins debuted a new series, the black comedy Zombillenium (Dupuis; NBM/Europe Comics in English). The success of the series led to the release of a feature-length animated film in 2017, and which was co-written and co-directed by de Pins.

The Audiobook Shelf

The Wrong Guy
Lauren Landish, author
CJ Bloom, narrator
Ryan West, narrator
Brilliance Audio
9781501208898, $19.99, MP3-CD (10 Hours 10 Minutes)

Synopsis: Wren Ford is the city attorney for Cold Springs -- a job she takes seriously. Good thing she has a great form of stress relief: a friends-with-benefits arrangement with the well-muscled and very attentive construction worker Jesse Sullivan. Wren's heart secretly craves more, but how can she fess up her feelings to a man who doesn't want to get tied down?

Jesse is head over heels in love with Wren, but he can't picture a happily ever after. What would an attorney and out-of-his-league goddess want with him? Especially when a flirty, cocky lawyer who screams money and power shows an interest in Wren.

As a scandalous high-profile split escalates from name-calling to corporate takeovers, Wren and Jesse must team up to find a way to protect the people and the town they love. And everyone in Cold Springs is rooting for them to figure out that maybe, against all odds, they're made for each other.

Critique: A 'must' for the legions of dedicated rom-com fans, this complete and unabridged audio book edition of Lauren Landish new novel, "The Wrong Guy" is astutely narrated by the combined vocal storytelling skills of co-narrators CJ Boom and Bryan West. The result is a complete and unabridged audio book that is especially and unreservedly recommended to the attention of the growing legions of Lauren Landish fans and community library Comedy/Romance audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Lauren Landish ( specializes in sexy contemporary romances which includes her wildly successful Bennett Boys Ranch books, the Truth or Dare series, and the Big Fat Fake series. When Lauren isn't plotting ways to introduce readers to their next sexy-as-hell book boyfriend, she's deep in her writing cave and furiously tapping away on her keyboard, crafting scenes that would make even a hardened sailor blush.

Editorial Note #2: CJ Blooms ( is the professional nome de plume of Carly Robins who is an actor and voiceover artist based in NYC. She has narrated close to 1000 audiobooks and has completely fallen in love with the medium. Her voice can also be heard on video games, promos, commercials, animation and ESL. She has written and produced her own work for both stage and screen.

Editorial Note #3: Ryan West ( is the narrator of nearly 200 titles.

The Snow Angel
Anki Edvinsson, author
Paul Norlan, translator
Stina Nielsen, narrator
Brilliance Audio
9781491594599, $19.99, MP3-CD (9 Hours 48 Minutes)

Synopsis: When a suicidal teenage boy leaps to his death from a bridge in the northern town of Ume†, Sweden, police discover drugs scattered in the snow near his body. The town has seen a dramatic increase in narcotic use among its youth, but nobody knows where the pills are coming from.

Relocating from Stockholm with her teenage daughter, Detective Charlotte von Klint expected Ume† to be a quiet backwater, a snow-covered change of pace from fighting the criminal underworld of the capital. But when a pharmacist is found brutally murdered in her apartment, and a young girl and her dealer boyfriend vanish without a trace after a party, suddenly Ume† doesn't seem so benign. And the boy on the bridge doesn't feel like an isolated incident.

Is the dealer the perpetrator? Or just another victim? And can it be a coincidence that a shadow from Charlotte's past, Syndicates boss Tony Israelsson, has recently been released from prison and is reportedly headed for Ume†?

As the snow deepens and the body count rises, Charlotte and her boss, local cop Per Berg, find themselves in a deadly pursuit, with time rapidly running out.

Critique: An inherently compelling mystery of suspense and unexpected plot twists, Anki Edvinsson's deftly crafted novel, "The Snow Angel" is brought vividly to life in a true 'theatre of the mind" experience in this complete and unabridged Brilliance Audio edition. Of very special interest to and highly recommended lists for individual crime novel fans, "The Snow Angel" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular pick for community library Mystery/Suspense audio book collections.

Editorial Note: Anki Edvinsson is a familiar face to many Swedes from her former career as a television host, journalist and weather forecaster. Edvinsson more or less grew up at a police station, spending her time with her father and his police colleagues. Her older brother also made a career within the police force. Edvinsson moved from Stockholm to Ume† in the north of Sweden and joined the local news team. Following her dream to become an author, she signed up for a writing course and began writing the crime novel that later became her debut. After eight years in the town and with valuable insights from her years as a reporter, the setting of the book of course became Ume†. -- "The Snow Angel" is her first book to be published in English.

Editorial Note #2: Paul Norlen ( is a literary translator with over 20 years of experience, including over 30 published books, numerous samples (partial or complete) for literary agents, and reader reports for publishers. Fiction and nonfiction. He also translates from Danish and Norwegian. He holds a PhD in Scandinavian Languages & Literature from the University of Washington and is the winner of the American Scandinavian Foundation Translation Prize in 2004. He is the co-founder and president of Swedish Translators in North America (STiNA).

Editorial Note #3: Stina Nielsen ( is a New York based actress who has performed in Film, TV, Broadway, London's West End, and at many American Regional Theaters. She has recorded over 250 audiobooks and her work has been recognized with numerous awards.

Salt & Broom
Sharon Lynn Fisher, author
Elizabeth Bower, narrator
Tim Bruce, narrator
Brilliance Audio
9781491594650, $19.99, MP3-CD (9 Hours 32 Minutes)

Synopsis: Trunks packed with potions and cures, Jane Aire sets out on a crisp, clear morning in October to face the greatest challenge of her sheltered girls'-school existence. A shadow lies over Thornfield Hall and its reclusive master, Edward Rochester. And he's hired her only as a last resort.

Jane stumbles again and again as she tries to establish a rapport with her prickly new employer, but he becomes the least of her worries as a mysterious force seems to work against her. The threats mount around both Jane and Rochester - who's becoming more intriguing and appealing to her by the day.

Jane begins to fear her herb healing and protective charms may not be enough to save the man she's growing to love from a threat darker and more dangerous than either of them imagined!

Critique: Deftly narrated by the talented team of Tim Bruce and Elizabeth Bower, this complete and unabridged Brilliace Audio production of "Salts & Broom" by gifted storyteller Sharon Lynn Fisher is original, memorable, and unreservedly recommended for community library Fantasy audio book collections and the personal lists of historical and romantic fantasy novels fans.

Editorial Note #1: Sharon Lynn Fisher ( writes smart, twisty, passionate tales that are blendings of fantasy, sci-fi, and slow-burn romance set in lush and atmospheric worlds, including The Faery Rehistory series.

Editorial Note #2: Elizabeth Bower is an audiobook narrator. Books she has narrated include Eeny Meeny, One Plus One, and Pop Goes the Weasel.

Editorial Note #3: Tim Bruce ( is a British RP actor-narrator,

Jaguar Prophecies
Jeff Wheeler, author
Kate Budd, narrator
Brilliance Audio
9798400141751, $19.99, MP3-CD (8 Hours 18 Minutes)

Synopsis: If an ancient indigenous 'end-of-the-world' prophecy is true, a vengeful descendant will reign with blood and fury. The planets are already aligning.

For Jonathon Roth and his family, a vacation in Cozumel became a nightmare. Pawns in a deadly ritual, Roth and his children barely escaped with their lives, and with the secrets of mastermind Jacob Calakmul. Calakmul's endgame: to fulfill the Jaguar Prophecies -- the foretelling of an inevitable Armageddon, one that will destroy entire nations. The key to stopping it is to retrieve an ancient codex -- if Roth can decipher it.

From a museum in Dresden where the mysterious codex is on display to the Roths' Montana home in the dead of winter, no place is safe from Calakmul's reach. Obsessed with the legends of the magic of the Maya, Roth knows Calakmul's powers are real. Roth's own daughter possesses them too. As Calakmul and his henchmen close in, Roth and his children are running for their lives.

In a prepper's lair in the Montana mountains, Roth must piece together a terrifying puzzle to stop an apocalyptic vision from coming true. If it's not already too late. Because the countdown to the end-time has already begun!

Critique: Brilliance Audio is a premier publisher of complete and unabridged audio books in an MP3-CD format. Their audio book edition of "Jaguar Prophecies" by Jeff wheeler and which is expertly narrated by Kate Rudd, will be of special and particular interest to fans of Native American infused science fiction stories replete with non-stop action and high adventure. A fun listening experience from start to finish, "Jaguar Prophecies" is commended for both personal lists and community library Audio Book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Jeff Wheeler ( is the author of over thirty epic fantasy novels. Doomsday Match in the Dresden Codex series was the first thriller he's written since his early years as a budding author, but his many fans think his fantasy novels are thrillers in their own way. Jeff is a husband, father of five, and devout member of his church. On trips to the jungles of Cozumel and the Yucatan Peninsula, he has explored Maya ruins and cenotes, leading him to dive even further into the history of ancient America and the Spanish conquistadors..

Editorial Note #2: Kate Budd ( is the winner of the 2013 Audie and Odyssey Awards for her narration of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. She has been performing audiobooks for nearly a decade. A ten time Audiofile Magazine Earphones Award recipient, Kate's performances have garnered inclusion in Audiofile's Best Audiobooks of the Year 2012/2017/2018 and Best Voices of the Year 2012. She has narrated more than 450 titles across a variety of genres.

Tracy Clark, author
Chante McCormick, narrator
Brilliance Audio
9798400125256, $19.99, MP3-CD (11 Hours 19 Minutes)

Synopsis: The Chicago PD is on high alert when two city aldermen are found dead: one by apparent suicide, one brutally stabbed in his office, and both with thirty dimes left on their bodies - a betrayer's payment. With no other clues, the question is, Who else has a debt to pay?

Detective Harriet Foster is on the case before the killer can strike again. But even with the help of her partner, Detective Vera Li, and the rest of their team, Harriet has little to go on and a lot at risk. There's no telling who the killer's next target is or how many will come next.

To stop another murder, Harriet and her officers will have to examine what the victims had going on behind the scenes to determine who could be tangled up in this web of betrayal -- and who could be out for revenge!

Critique: Adroitly narrated by the vocal performance skills of Chante McCormick, this complete and unabridged audio book addition of "Fall" by mystery novelist Tracy Clark is especially and unreservedly recommended to the attention of dedicated mystery buffs and a welcome addition to community library Mystery/Suspense audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Tracy Clark ( is the author of the acclaimed Cass Raines Chicago Mystery series featuring Cassandra Raines, a hard-driving African American PI who works the mean streets of the Windy City dodging cops, cons, and killers. Clark received Anthony Award and Lefty Award nominations for series debut Broken Places, which was shortlisted for the American Library Association's RUSA Reading List and named a CrimeReads Best New PI Book of 2018, a Midwest Connections Pick, and a Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Broken Places has since been optioned by Sony Pictures Television. Tracy is a member of Crime Writers of Color, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime and sits on the boards of Bouchercon National and the Midwest Mystery Conference.

Editorial Note #2: Chante McCormick ( is an Audie and Earphones Award-winning narrator who holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Speech from Northwestern University's famed theatre department. She is a proud member of the professional acting unions: SAG-AFTRA and Actors Equity Association.

The Music CD Shelf

Douce France Sweet France
Margot Sergent
Zoho Music
$16.99 CD / $9.49 MP3

New York-based French jazz singer Margot Sergent presents Douce France Sweet France, a beautiful mix of classic French chansons and American jazz. Margot sings dulcet vocals while playing the harp, and various songs also feature Patrick Brennan on guitar, Alec Safy on bass, Linus Wyrsch on clarinet, Ben Silashi on drums, and Vitor Goncalves on accordion. Douce France Sweet France is a treasure for connoisseurs of jazz music and French culture, highly recommended. The tracks are Keep the Moon In Mind, Douce France, The Apartment Next Door, I Wish You Love, Little Miracle, La Boheme, Dans Tes Bras Mon Ange, La Rua Madureira, Silent Steps, L'Hymne a l'Amour, and Saudade.

Miguel Espinoza Fusion with Howard Levy
Privately Published
$TBA CD / $18.00 digital

Miguel Espinoza on guitar, Dianne Betkowski on cello, and Randy Hoepker on bass form the core of Miguel Espinoza Fusion, a band that draws upon the traditions of flamenco, classical music, jazz, North African rhythms, and more. Their fourth full-length album is Gabriella, a collection of ten original songs with world-spanning influences from Afro-Cuban to Moroccan and Celtic traditions. Collaborations with Grammy winners Howard Levy and David Balakrishnan round out this extraordinary, eclectic work highly recommended especially for world music collections. The tracks are Gabriella, Joy, Howard's Tune, Rune, Whistlin' Down The Street, Buleria Esta Antiqua, Mermaid, Hudson Avenue, La Lluvia, and Barrio Latino.

Susan Alcorn and Septeto del Sur
Relative Pitch Records
$TBA CD / $12.00 digital

Pedal steel guitar virtuoso Susan Alcon and Chilean folk music ensemble Septeto del Sur present Canto, a "nuevo cancion" (socially aware folk) collection. The Spanish-language lyrics speak of deadly serious violations of human rights, including how Pinochet's security forces notoriously made people "disappear" without a trace. Other tracks honor Chilean improviser and former political prisoner Lukax Santana, and the late Argentine folk singer known as "La Negra". Canto is beautiful, serious, soulful, and ultimately an album of hope for a better tomorrow in spite of the tragedies and horrors of the past. Highly recommended. The tracks are Suite Para Todos, Canto I. Donde Estan?, Canto II. Presente: Sueno de Luna Azul, Mercedes Sosa, and El Derecho de Vivir en Paz.

It's Not Over
Kelly Garner
Kelly Garner Endeavors
$22.00 CD / $8.99 MP3

Kelly Garner presents It's Not Over, a resonant gospel album showcasing her faith and her extraordinary talent. Themes of love, forgiveness, worship and reverence for God and Jesus Christ make It's Not Over a choice pick for both personal and church music collections. Highly recommended! The tracks are Good Ole Gospel Sing, Waymaker, It's Not Over, My God Is Still Good, It's My Desire, The Day I Get Home, Testimony, The Risen Lamb, Precious Lord, I Will Not Hope in Something Less, Revelation Song, When I Call On The Name of the Lord, The Goodness of God, and Forgive Myself.

The General Fiction Shelf

Swanna in Love
Jennifer Beale
Akashic Books
9781636141633, $29.95, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: It's the summer of 1982 and fourteen-year-old Swanna Swain is the only one left at camp. The place is a ghost town by the time her mother Val finally shows up six hours late (stoned and radiant) in a Ford pickup driven by Borislav, her new young Russian lover. Assuming she is headed home to her air-conditioned Upper West Side apartment, Swanna and her lovable younger brother Madding are instead dragged to Vermont -- to an artist colony where kids are not welcome and they are forced to sleep in the back of the truck, while Val is cozy inside the house with the Russian.

Then Swanna meets Dennis, a handsome married father of two, at a bowling alley, and, knowing a thing or two about seduction from Judy Blume, her best friend at camp, and her own parents' many affairs -- she sets out to convince Dennis to help her. But love seldom obeys rules, and even a tough, smart, city girl like Swanna might not be able to handle falling in love.

Critique: With the publication of "Swanna In Love" from Akashic Books, author Jennifer Belle presents a kind of inverse Lolita that deftly explores adolescent desire from the girl's point of view. Original, hilarious, wildly shocking and iconoclastic, "Swanna in Love" is an inherently fascinating, compulsive page turner of a novel that is highly recommended for community and college/university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Swanna In Love" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781636141640, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Jennifer Belle is the author of four novels, Going Down (which was named best debut novel by Entertainment Weekly and optioned for the screen twenty-seven times), High Maintenance, Little Stalker, The Seven Year Bitch, and Animal Stackers, a picture book for children (illustrated by David McPhail). Her stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Independent (London), Harper's Bazaar, Ms., BlackBook, the New York Observer, Post Road, and many anthologies.

The Devil Comes to Bonn
Jennifer Harris
9781803137629, $12.99, PB, 328pp

Synopsis: It's Germany 1941 and Hildegard needs a job. Interviewing for a hotel post, she does not realise she is about to collide with the sinister Fuhrer. She is thrust into the role of maid to Hitler in the infamous Room 106 in a hotel he visited more than 70 times.

In 2015. Stella, an historian, comes to Bonn, Germany for a World Heritage conference. Life at home is tense, but she pretends all is well until she is assaulted over a trivial matter by another delegate. Bewildered, Stella descends into obsessed stalking.

When she meets the now elderly Hildegard, she is drawn into her wartime story, little seeing the similarities to her own.

In this dual-timeline story, Stella and Hildegard face questions of survival, identity, love and meaning as they juggle moral ambiguities.

Critique: Unique, expertly crafted, fascinating, entertaining, memorable, "The Devil Comes to Bonn" is a literary treasure of masterful storytelling by Jennifer Harris and will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in 'Women's Friendship' fiction. While an exceptional and eloquent work of immense literary merit, and in addition to being unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Devil Comes to Bonn" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note: Jennifer Harris writes literary fiction inspired by the historic environment -- not historical fiction, but fiction set in the contemporary era that responds to the past, remembered either publicly in museums, monuments and heritage sites, or through subtle, private memorial acts. Her PhD is in Cultural Heritage theory and she has lectured in, and researched, cultural heritage and museums for many years. She has run a small social history museum, and worked as a journalist in Australia and London.

The Literary Fiction Shelf

Little Rabbit
Alyssa Songsiridej
Bloomsbury Press
9781639731657, $17.95, PB, 256pp

Synopsis: When the unnamed narrator of Little Rabbit first meets the choreographer at an artists' residency in Maine, it's not a match. She finds him loud, conceited, domineering. But when he reappears in her life in Boston and invites her to his dance company's performance, their interaction at the show sets off a summer of expanding her own body's boundaries. Her body learns to obediently follow his, and his desires quickly become inextricable from her pleasure. This must be happiness, right?

But what does it mean for a queer young woman to partner with an older man, for a fledgling artist to partner with an established one? Does falling in love mean eviscerating yourself? Combining the sticky sexual politics of Luster with the dizzying, perceptive intimacy of Cleanness, "Little Rabbit" is a wholly new kind of coming-of-age story about lust, punishment, artistic drive, and desires that defy the hard-won boundaries of the self.

Critique: Vivid, iconoclastic, sensuous, electrifying, memorable, "Little Rabbit" by Alyssa Songsiridej raises a coming-of- age story to the rarified levels of fine literature. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Little Rabbit" is a truly extraordinary and highly recommended pick for personal and community library contemporary literary erotica collections.

Editorial Note: Alyssa Songsiridej ( is an editor at Electric Literature. Little Rabbit is her first novel. A 2022 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honoree.

The Romantic Fiction Shelf

Brighter Dawn
Leslie Gould
Bethany House Publishers
c/o Baker Publishing Group
9780764241352, $29.99, HC, 421pp

Synopsis: Ivy Zimmerman is successfully navigating her life as a young Mennonite woman, one generation removed from her parents' Old Order Amish upbringing. But when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, Ivy's way of life is upended. As she deals with her grief, her sisters' needs, and her Dawdi and Mammi's strict rules, Ivy finds solace in both an upcoming trip to Germany for an international Mennonite youth gathering and in her great-aunt's story about Ivy's great-grandmother's visit to Germany in the late 1930s.

As Ivy grows suspicious that her parents' deaths weren't, in fact, an accident, she gains courage from what she learns of her great-grandmother's time in World War II Germany. With her great-aunt's encouragement and the inspiration of her great-grandmother, Ivy seeks justice for her parents, her sisters, and herself.

Critique: From the talented pen of novelist Leslie Gould comes "A Brighter Dawn", a powerful, deftly scripted, and evocative dual-time story partly set during World War II. Exceptional, fascinating, entertaining, "A Brighter Dawn" will prove a welcome addition to community library Amish/Mennonite Romance collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists of Christian Romance fans that "A Brighter Dawn" is also available in a paperback edition (9780764240249, $17.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.44), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Recorded Books, 9798212412421, $123.75, CD).

Editorial Note: Leslie Gould ( is a Christy Award-winning and a bestselling author of over 35 novels, including four Lancaster County Amish series. She holds an MFA in creative writing and enjoys church history, research trips, and hiking in the Pacific Northwest.

Julia Monroe Begins Again
Rebekah Millet
Bethany House Publishers
c/o Baker Publishing Group
9780764242182, $22.99, HC, 384pp

Synopsis: Julia Monroe has just turned forty and has high hopes for a fresh start after the last decade of her life abruptly left her a young widow and a single mom. With both her boys off to college, she can finally focus on expanding her New Orleans-based cleaning business. Julia is ready for new beginnings -- but it seems that God has other plans.

Samuel Reed, the ruggedly handsome Green Beret who shattered her heart over twenty years ago, has returned to town and is the kind of distraction she never saw coming.

After their first interaction in years leaves her mind spinning and her emotions out of control, Julia knows she needs to avoid him if she wants any chance of preventing history from repeating itself, but her meddling best friend keeps throwing them together. And now it seems inevitable that the man who was hard to forget might just be impossible to resist.

Critique: A fun and original romance story from start to finish, "Julia Monroe Begins Again" by novelist Rebekah Millet will be of particular value and interest to fans of Contemporary Christian Romance Fiction and is unreservedly for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Julia Monroe Begins Again" is also available in a paperback edition (9780764240959, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Rebekah Millet ( is a Cascade Award and ACFW First Impressions Award-winning author of contemporary Christian romance novels. A New Orleans native, she grew up on beignets and cafe au lait, and she loves infusing her colorful culture into her stories.

Ruth's Ginger Snap Surprise
Anne Blackburne
Barbour Publishing
Oasis Audio
9781636096896, $14.99, PB, 256pp

Synopsis: Ruth Helmuth has never been rude in her life; trust her to choose the bishop of her Amish community for her first time!

Ruth has worked hard to keep body and soul together since her husband, Levi's, death. She tends her herd of goats, making her living from the milk and fiber she gets from them, all while running a farm and household by herself - and very competently, thank you! How could she imagine the bishop suggesting she should give it all up to another family, who will "make better use of the space"?

Enter widower Jonas Hershberger, owner of a pair of adorable dimples and father of a charming 4-year-old daughter. Jonas is in need of a larger place to house his growing business. Ruth's big red barn may be just the ticket. Little Abigail is in need of a new mother. Ruth might be just the ticket there, too!

Can two independent souls learn to work together for their mutual good? And will they be willing to explore what grows between them? Or will Ruth's fear over her "big secret" and Jonas's caution about allowing someone new to get close to his young daughter, kill their love before it has a chance to grow?

Luckily for both of them, God's plan involves the stubborn pair getting a little help in the form of a wise, elderly friend; a quirky orange kitten; and a smart little girl who takes one look at Ruth and decides she would make her the perfect new mother!

Critique: An absolute 'must' for fans of Amish romance novels, "Ruth's Ginger Snap Surprise" by Anne Blackburne is part of Barbour Publishing's the 'Heart of the Amish' series. Fully original and inherently riveting read from start to finish, "Ruth's Ginger Snap Surprise" is impressively and memorably entertaining, making it especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Romance Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Ruth's Ginger Snap Surprise" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49). Librarians should note that there is a large print library binding edition of "Ruth's Ginger Snap Surprise" (Thorndike Press, 9798885795241, $31.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Oasis Audio, 9781685924836, $32.36, CD).

Editorial Note #1: Anne Blackburne ( lives and works in Southeast Ohio as a newspaper editor and writer. For fun, when she isn't working on Amish romance or sweet mysteries, Anne directs and acts in community theater productions and writes and directs original plays.

Editorial Note #2: The Heart of the Amish series from Barbour Publishing also includes:
The Flower Quilter by Mindy Steele; The Quilt Room Secret by Lisa Jones Baker; Courting the Amish Bishop by Mindy Steele; and Mary's Calico Hope by Anne Blackburne.

Second Duke's the Charm
Kate Bateman
St. Martin's Paperback
c/o St. Martin's Press
9781250907363, $8.99, 320pp

Synopsis: The wedding-night death of her much older husband left Tess Townsend the Dowager Duchess of Wansford -- and still a virgin. Now she and her two best friends investigate London's most scandalous crimes, and while Tess longs to experience physical pleasure for herself, she can't risk losing her treasured independence...

Cynical shipping magnate Justin Thornton never expected to inherit a dukedom, but he'll do his duty. When the ravishing woman he kissed at a party turns out to be the Dowager Duchess, Justin sees an obvious solution: a marriage of convenience that will suit them both.

But the passion that sparks between them is anything but convenient. As Tess works on a new case at the request of Queen Charlotte, her increasingly suspicious behavior makes Justin question her motives -- and her past. The infuriating woman clearly can't be trusted, but Justin doesn't believe in love, so there's absolutely no danger of him falling for his own there?

Critique: A master of the Regency Romance genre, "Second Duke's the Charm" by author Kate Bateman is unusual story of three brilliant women who run King & Co., London's most exclusive investigative agency. A fun read from start to finish, "Second Duke's the Charm" is unreservedly recommended for community library Historical Romance collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated Reg4ency Romance fans that "Second Duke's the Charm" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Kate Bateman, (also writing as K. C. Bateman), is a bestselling author of historical romances, including her RITA(R) nominated Renaissance romp, The Devil To Pay, the Bow Street Bachelors series (This Earl of Mine, To Catch an Earl, and The Princess and the Rogue), along with the novels in the Secrets & Spies series (To Steal a Heart, A Raven's Heart, and A Counterfeit Heart). When not writing novels that feature feisty, intelligent heroines and sexy, snarky heroes you want to both strangle and kiss, Kate works as a fine art appraiser and on-screen antiques expert for several popular TV shows in the UK. She splits her time between Illinois and her native England. (

The Stage Kiss
Amelia Jones
Alcove Press
9781639105847, $19.99, PB, 336pp

Synopsis: Actress Eden Blake's biggest claim to fame is a mortifying pharmaceutical commercial for male enhancement pills. That is, until the female lead on the nationwide tour of Broadway's hit Pride & Prejudice musical abruptly quits, and Eden is called up to fill the role.

The cast of Liz and Darcy: The Musical has just settled into a three-week run in Washington, DC, and Broadway royalty Brennon Thorne is set to play Darcy. Despite Brennon's reputation as being "a dream to work with", Eden's first impression of him is more like a nightmare. Now, she'll have to kiss the pompous jerk eight shows per week.

Brennon can't disguise his disdain for understudies like Eden. But New York is filled with reminders of his most recent failed relationship, and this American tour is a much-needed distraction from his loneliness. As Eden and Brennon take the stage playing Jane Austen's most memorable characters, their reality begins to mirror Elizabeth and Darcy's explosive chemistry and all. Together, they power through press performances and curtain calls, even as rumors of Brennon's checkered romantic past resurface and prove to Eden that he can't be trusted.

But with each choreographed stage kiss, Eden and Brennon's passion for the stage (and each other) ignites. Maybe, just maybe, not all rumors are to be believed -- and not all showmances are doomed to fail.

Critique: A cleverly crafted and fun read from start to finish, "The Stage Kiss" by Amelia Jones is rom-com storytelling at its very best. Certain to be a popular pick for community library Contemporary Romantic Comedy Fiction collections, it should also be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated romance fans that "The Stage Kiss" is easily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) as well.

Editorial Note: Amelia Jones ( is a die-hard fan of happily ever afters, striking heroes, complex leading ladies, and heart-stopping swoons. The first romance she ever read was Austen's Pride and Prejudice for high school English, and she's never been the same. Her hobbies include reading spicy romance, bingeing reality television, obsessive cross-stitching when necessary, and cooking meals while dancing to Taylor Swift.

Against the Wind
Amanda Cabot
Fleming H. Revell Company
c/o Baker Publishing Group
9780800745035, $29.99, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: Doctor-in-training Louisa Vaughn has no intention of remaining in Sweetwater Crossing. She's just there for a few days to help a friend. But she can't abandon the injured man she finds at the side of the road. Until his broken leg heals, she'll serve as the town's doctor and midwife. She may not be fully qualified yet, but surely she's better than nothing.

Josh Porter's plans to win his grandfather's challenge and fulfill his father's final wish to gain full control of the family business hit a roadblock when he breaks his leg. But his enforced stay in Sweetwater Crossing gives him new ideas about the expansion of the company into new territory -- ideas Louisa could help turn into reality.

If only the town were more accepting of Louisa's talents! Someone is determined to convince her to abandon her dream of healing others. Can Josh help her uncover the person behind the threats before it's too late? And is there any future for them together when neither of them plans to stay?

Critique: Simply stated, "Against the Wind" by novelist Amanda Cabot is historical Christian romance at its very best. Original, fascinating, replete with interesting characters and reader surprising plot twists, "Against the Wind" is a fun and deftly crafted read from start to finish. While a highly recommended pick for personal and community library Historical Romance collections, it should be noted that "Against the Wind" is also available in a paperback edition (9780800740658, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Amanda Cabot ( is the author of After the Shadows, as well as several historical and contemporary romance series, including Mesquite Springs, Cimarron Creek Trilogy, Texas Crossroads, Texas Dreams, and Westward Winds. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers' Best.

Second Chances in New Port Stephen
TJ Alexander
Atria/Emily Bestler Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
Blackstone Audiobooks
9781668021965, $17.99, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: Eli Ward hasn't been back to his suffocating hometown of New Port Stephen, Florida, in ages. Post-transition and sober, he's a completely different person from the one who left years ago. But when a scandal threatens his career as a TV writer and comedian, he has no choice but to return home for the holidays. He can only hope he'll survive his boisterous, loving, but often misguided family and hide the fact that his dream of comedy success has become a nightmare.

Just when he thinks this trip couldn't get any worse, Eli bumps into his high school ex, Nick Wu, who's somehow hotter than ever. Divorced and in his forties, Nick's world revolves around his father, his daughter, and his job. But even a busy life can't keep him from being intrigued by the reappearance of Eli.

Against the backdrop of one weird Floridian Christmas, the two must decide whether to leave the past in the past... or move on together.

Critique: A deftly crafted and original novel that will be of special interest to fans of LGBTQ romance novels, "Second Chances in New Port Stephen" by TJ Alexander is a fun read from start to finish. While highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Second Chances in New Port Stephen" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781797169514, $39.99, CD).

Editorial Note: TJ Alexander is an amateur baker and author who writes about queer love. Originally from Florida, he received their MA in writing and publishing from Emerson College in Boston.

Marshaling Her Heart
Mary Connealy
Bethany House Publishers
c/o Baker Publishing Group
9780764242205, $29.99, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: Becky Pruitt has always prided herself on knowing everything that's happening on her successful ranch, so an unexpected admission from her foreman, Nate Paxton, comes as quite a surprise. With the notorious Deadeye Gang on the loose, Nate (a former U.S. Marshal) believes Becky's ranch is the best spot for a group of Marshals to use as a base to hunt them down.

The timing couldn't be more crucial for the town of Pine Valley, and Becky feels obligated to help. But after escaping the grasp of her harsh father, she's never liked giving up control, of her life or her ranch. If there's anyone she can trust with her ranch, and her heart, it might be Nate. But the outlaws won't go away quietly, and as danger draws ever nearer, Becky and Nate are faced with impossible choices that will test their growing bond.

Critique: A fun and deftly crafted read from cover to cover, "Marshaling Her Heart" by novelist Mary Connealy will prove an immediately welcome and enduringly popular pick for community library Western Frontier Romance collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Marshaling Her Heart" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Mary Connealy ( writes "romantic comedies with cowboys" and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has sold more than 1.5 million books and is the author of the popular series Wyoming Sunrise, The Lumber Baron's Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.

Silver Lady
Mary Jo Putney
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
9781496739216, $27.95, HC, 257pp

Synopsis: A sense of duty sends Bran Tremayne to Cornwall to confront his heritage of British nobility. Abandoned at birth, Bran wants nothing to do with the embittered remains of his family. But as a special agent for the Home Office, he senses trouble brewing along the coast.

He also cannot turn away from the vulnerable woman he encounters in the Cornish countryside. Merryn's amnesia makes her past a mystery to them both, but with her life in danger, the only thing Bran knows for sure is that the beautiful stranger needs his protection -- but would they share a future?

Leaning into Bran is difficult enough, but can Merryn trust the strong bond (and the powerful passion) she feels for her rugged rescuer? She has no choice once Bran uncovers that she is at the center of a plot between French agents and Cornish smugglers. From misty woodlands to stormy shores, the two join forces with a band of loyal Cornishmen to bring down a common enemy. Yet will their growing love survive the coming peril?

Critique: A brilliant combination of Regency Romance and historical action adventure, "Silver Lady" by Mary Jo Putney is a carefully crafted, original, and inherently entertaining novel from first page to last. With its many an unexpected plot twist, deftly created characters, and the author's narrative driven storytelling style, "Silver Lady" will be an immediately and enduringly popular addition to community library Regency Romance collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of enthusiastic romance fans that "Silver Lady" is also now available in a paperback edition (9781496746634, $16.95) and in digital book format (Kindle, $8.91).

Editorial Note: Mary Jo Putney ( is a novelist known for her historical and contemporary romance, fantasy, and young adult fantasy novels. Winner of numerous writing awards, including two RITAs and two Romantic Times Career Achievement awards, she has five times had books listed among the Library Journal's top five romances of the year, and three times had books among the top ten romances of Booklist, the magazine of the American Library Association.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Juliet Code
Pepper Basham
Barbour Publishing
Oasis Audio
9781636096940, $15.99, PB, 315pp

Synopsis: Frederick and Grace Percy finally make it to Italy to enjoy a delayed honeymoon and explore the beauties of the historic city of Venice. To their surprise, their friend, Detective Jack Miracle, is also in the city, investigating a series of art heists starting at the house of eccentric millionaire, Laraby Covington.

Drawn into a world of boat races, mysterious houses, and parties of the rich and unusual in Venice, Frederick and Grace learn of the existence of the Juliet paintings, (Renaissance paintings feature Shakespeare's tragic heroine) rumored to hold a secret code to an underground vault of similarly treasured artwork assumed lost over the centuries.

As Freddie and Grace are pulled deeper into the mystery and their beloved Detective Jack disappears, can they use their wits and work as a team to find the thieves and Jack before it's too late?

Critique: A fun and original read from start to finish, "The Juliet Code" by Pepper Basham is the sequel to "The Mistletoe Countess" and "The Cairo Curse" in her 'Freddie and Grace Mystery' series. Of particular int4erest to fans of Christian mystery and romance, "The Juliet Code" is a firmly recommended pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Juliet Code" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99). Librarians should note that "The Juliet Code" is additionally available in a large print hardcover edition (Thorndike Press, 9798885797139, $31.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Oasis Audio, 9781685924829, $31.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Pepper Basham ( ) is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her historical romance novels, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge and The Red Ribbon, and her contemporary novels, the Mitchell's Crossroads and Pleasant Gap series, showcase her Appalachian heritage, as well as her love for humor and family.

Murder Checks Out
Victoria Gilbert
Crooked Lane Books
9781639105205, $30.99, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: Returning to her role as an amateur detective is the last thing library director Amy Muir wants. She's already buried under an avalanche of responsibilities, including sharing the directorship of the local public library, parenting her holiday-obsessed five-year-old twins, and helping her choreographer husband, Richard, present The Nutcracker as part of the town's festivities. With her frosty mother-in-law, Fiona, visiting for the holidays, Amy definitely has enough on her Christmas cookie plate.

But when the chair of the festival committee is found as dead as Dickens's proverbial doornail at the town's ice rink, Amy is determined to uncover the real perpetrator to protect her brother-in-law, Ethan Payne, who was placed at the scene. The clock is ticking down as Sheriff Brad Tucker is equally sure that Ethan is guilty.

It's beginning to look a lot like the murderer hasn't wrapped up his killing spree, and now, it might just be "lights out" on the holiday festivities -- and on Amy's life!

Critique: A cozy mystery at its very best, "Murder Checks Out" is a part of author Victoria Gilbert's 'A Blue Ridge Library Mystery' series and once again features librarian Amy Muir as she finds she must become an amateur female sleuth needing to find out 'whodunnit' in a very cleverly written murder mystery. An unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended pick for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated cozy mystery fans that "Murder Checks Out" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.99) from Crooked Lane Books.

Editorial Note: Victoria Gilbert ( her early obsession with books into a dual career as an author and librarian. Now retired after over 30 years in the library field, she's worked as a reference librarian, research librarian, and university library director. Victoria writes the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series, the Booklover's B&B Mystery series, and the Hunter and Clewe traditional mystery series for Crooked Lane Books. She is also a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime.

Trotting into Trouble
Amber Camp
Crooked Lane Books
9781639105182, $30.99, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: It's business as usual when horse rescue owner Mallory Martin gets a call from Sheriff Grady Sullivan that a loose horse has been found in a popular hunting area. While trying to catch the horse, Mallory stumbles upon the body of his unfortunate rider, Hillspring's star basketball coach, Douglas Griggs. All signs point to a tragic hunting accident.

Despite her better instincts, Mallory finds herself in the middle of another murder investigation when the coach's widow begs her to look into the case. Mrs. Griggs believes the sheriff is ignoring any evidence that doesn't point to an accident.

But Mallory's troubles are only beginning. As she juggles a blossoming romance, tensions with her best friend Lanie, and responsibilities at the rescue, she discovers that Coach Griggs's enemies had ample motive to murder him. And now, Mallory may be in the killer's sights.

Critique: "Trotting Into Trouble" is one of novelist Amber Camp's new cozy mystery 'A Horse Rescue Mystery' series and fully showcases the author's genuine flair for originality and the creation of a simply riveting plot with many an expected twist and turn. A throughly fun read that will have a very special interest for fans of cozy animal mysteries featuring amateur female sleuths trying to find out 'whodunnit'. While especially and particularly recommended for community library Contempoary Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for cozy mystery fans that "Trotting Into Trouble" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99).

Editorial Note: Amber Camp ( writes cozy mysteries that reflect her love of animals and quirky small towns. A lifelong lover of books, she started writing her own stories as a teenager and found she loves to write as much as she loves to read. Amber is also a member of Sisters in Crime.

Barbacoa, Bomba, and Betrayal
Raquel V. Reyers, author
Crooked Lane Books
9781639105243, $30.99, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: A surprise trip to Miriam's parents in Punta Cana, which should be filled with arroz con pollo and breezy days under the tamarind tree, quickly becomes a hunt for a possible property saboteur. But before Miriam can begin to uncover the person damaging the vacation rentals her parents manage, she's called away to Puerto Rico to film a Three Kings Day special. She's welcomed to the blue ballast-stone streets of Old San Juan by crime scene tape, and things only get worse from there.

An anonymous personal gift on Miriam's doorstep on New Year's Eve screams stalker, and the 400-year-old guesthouse creaks and moans like there is something trapped in its walls. Luckily, her BFF, Alma, and their mutual friend Jorge are in town to keep her distracted between filming cultural segments for the network. But private chef tables and spa days come to an abrupt halt when Jorge's telenovela heartthrob novio goes missing. And there is something worrisome about Alma's too-perfect boyfriend -- specifically, his duffle bag full of cash.

Will demon masks, African drumbeats, and dark alleys lead to Miriam's demise? Or will the mysterious events come together like the delicious layers of a pastelon?

Critique: Of particular appeal and interest to fans of cozy culinary mysteries, and featuring a Hispanic amateur woman sleuth, "Barbacoa, Bomba, and Betrayal" by novelist Raquel V. Reyes is a stellar pick for personal reading lists and community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the growing legions of cozy mystery fans that "Barbacoa, Bomba, and Betrayal" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.99).

Editorial Note: Raquel V. Reyes ( writes Latina protagonists. Her Cuban American heritage, Miami, and Spanglish feature prominently in her work. Mango, Mambo, and Murder, the first in the Caribbean Kitchen Mystery series, won a Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery. It was nominated for an Agatha Award and optioned for film. Raquel's short stories appear in various anthologies, including The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2022.

Shot With Crimson
Nicola Upson
Crooked Lane Books
Blackstone Audiobooks
9781639102662, $31.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: September 1939, and the worries of war follow Josephine Tey to Hollywood, where a different sort of battle is raging on the set of Hitchcock's Rebecca.

Then a shocking act of violence reawakens the shadows of the past, with consequences on both sides of the Atlantic, and Josephine and DCI Archie Penrose find themselves on a trail leading back to the house that inspired a young Daphne du Maurier -- a trail that echoes Rebecca's timeless themes of obsession, jealousy, and murder.

Critique: The eleventh 'Josephine Trey' mystery novel series by Nicola Upson, "Shot With Crimson" will prove to be of immense interest for readers with an interest in historical and compelling murder mysteries starring amateur female sleuths. A fun, original, deftly crafted, and compelling read from start to finish, "Shot With Crimson" is unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense & Cozy Mystery collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Shot With Crimson" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212880664, $39.95, CD).

Editorial Note: Nicola Upson ( was born in Suffolk and read English at Downing College, Cambridge. She has worked in theatre and as a freelance journalist, and is the author of two non-fiction works and the recipient of an Escalator Award from the Arts Council England.

The Lace Widow
Mollie Ann Gox
Crooked Lane Books
9781639105281, $29.99, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: New York, 1804. America's beloved Alexander Hamilton lies dead after a duel with Aaron Burr. Meanwhile, Eliza Hamilton's eighteen-year-old son, Alexander Jr., was seen fighting with a man in a tavern the night before his father's duel and quickly comes under suspicion for murder when the man turns up dead.

Eliza searches for ways to clear her son's name, even as she is grieving, but as she combs through her late husband's papers, she finds evidence of a plot to steal money from the government during his tenure as secretary of state. Hamilton was accused of stealing that money, and it was a scandal that almost broke the family -- but is Eliza now holding proof of Alexander's innocence?

Deep in debt and despair, with eight children to support, Eliza turns to selling her handmade lace and finds herself drawn into a mysterious network of widow lacemakers who are intimately connected to New York's high-society families. They know their dead husbands' secrets -- and soon, Eliza begins to piece together the truth.

There's a dark plot connected with the duel, as one by one, witnesses to the bout are being killed. Now, Eliza must not only clear her husband's and son's names but keep herself out of the killer's sights.

Critique: A first class and deftly crafted historical cozy mystery, "The Lace Widow" by Mollie Ann Cox will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in 'whodunnit' murder mysteries featuring an armature female sleuth. Offering a fun read with many an unexpected plot twist and turn, "The Lace Widow" is a welcome and unreservedly recommended pick for community library Historical Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated cozy mystery fans that "The Lace Widow" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note: Mollie Ann Cox ( is the author of several popular mystery series, also writing under the pen name Maggie Blackburn. Her books have been selected as finalists for an Agatha Award and a Daphne du Maurier Award and as a Top 10 Beach Reads by Woman's World. The Lace Widow is the first time she's combined her passion for history and mystery.

The Problem of the Wire Cage
John Dickson Carr
American Mystery Classics
c/o Penzler Publishers
9781613164860, $25.95, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: John Dickson Carr is famous for his puzzling "impossible crime" plots, in which corpses are discovered in scenarios that seem to lack any logical explanation, concealing clues as to how the murder was committed and how the body arrived in its current setting.

Among all of Carr's ingenious crime scenes, "The Problem of the Wire Cage" is one of his best known murder mysteries. A dead man is found strangled in the middle of a clay tennis court, just after a storm. In the damp dirt, there is one set of footsteps (his own) leading back to the grass; the court is otherwise untouched. There are no trees above from which the body may have fallen and no other visible means by which it may have been transported to its final resting place.

Before being able to determine the perpetrator of the strangulation, the local authorities are first confronted by the utter implausibility of the location -- two interlocking questions puzzling enough to stump even the most seasoned inspector.

The bafflement is reaching a harried volley by the time amateur sleuth Dr. Gideon Fell gets involved, but he soon shows that the knotted plot is no match for his deductive powers. Before he can serve up a dazzling explanation of whodunnit, though, Fell will have to sort through a confounding set of clues in search of a diabolical killer and a bizarre murder method.

Critique: Reissued for the first time this century, "The Problem of the Wire Cage" is a formerly time-lost treasure of a mystery novel. An atmospheric and amusing Golden Age mystery with a memorable puzzle at its center, "The Problem of the Wire Cage" will be of particular interest to a new general of fans of traditional 'whodunnit' detective stories replete with plot twists and conundrums. It is certain create new and appreciative fans of John Dickson Carr and is also a great entry point into his series of beloved Gideon Fell mysteries. Highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Problem of the Wire Cage" is also available in a paperback edition (9781613164877, $15.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.95).

Editorial Note #1: John Dickson Carr (November 30, 1906 - February 27, 1977) was arguably one of the greatest writers of the American Golden Age mystery, and one of the only American authors to be included in England's legendary Detection Club. Though he was born and died in the United States, Carr began his writing career while living in England, where he remained for nearly twenty years. Under his own name and various pseudonyms, he wrote more than seventy novels and numerous short stories, and is best known today for his locked-room mysteries. His beloved series character, Dr. Gideon Fell, was based on author G. K. Chesterton and appeared in twenty-four novels.

Editorial Note #2: Rian Johnson is an American film director, writer, and producer. His mystery film Knives Out (2019), starring Daniel Craig as private detective Benoit Blanc, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and its sequel Glass Onion (2022) was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. Johnson has also created the television crime drama Poker Face for the streaming service Peacock.

The Great Mistake
Mary Roberts Rinehart
American Mystery Classics
c/o Penzler Publishers
9781613164600, $15.95, PB, 450pp

Synopsis: In an elaborate house known as the Cloisters, Maud Wainwright rules supreme. The queen of society in the small town of Beverly, she has a table long enough to seat one hundred, and she keeps an iron grip on the guest list. Her right-hand woman is Pat Abbott, a local girl who is beautiful, innocent, and kind. Pat has no idea how cutthroat high society can be, but she's about to get a deadly first lesson.

Pat has fallen head over heels in love with Maud's son, Tony, a clever young rake with a single flaw: his vicious, gold-digging wife. At the same time that she is dangerously infatuated with a married man, Pat's world is turned upside down by a series of attacks on the estate - and a truly shocking murder. To save Tony and Maud, Pat must find the killer. But the list of suspects is as long as one of Maud's guest lists: When a woman has room at her table for one hundred friends, she'll have more than her share of enemies.

Critique: Mary Roberts Rinehart was America's answer to Agatha Christie. She had an impressive gift for atmospheric writing, period detail, and characters caught in an intriguing murder plot. Originally published in 1940 and brought back as a time-lost treasure for a new generation of appreciated mystery fans by American Mystery Classics, this paperback edition of "The Great Mistake" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876-1958) was the most beloved and best-selling mystery writer in America in the first half of the twentieth century. Born in Pittsburgh to the owner of a sewing machine factory, she wrote fiction in her spare time until a stock market crash sent her and her husband into debt, forcing her to lean on her writing to pay the bills. Her first two novels, The Circular Staircase (1908) and The Man in Lower Ten (1909), established her as a bright young talent, and it wasn't long before she was a regular on bestseller lists.Among her dozens of novels were The Amazing Adventures of Letitia Carberry (1911) and The Bat (1932), which was among the inspirations for Bob Kane's Batman.

Twilight Falls
Juneau Black
Vintage Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
9780593470510, $16.00, PB, 272pp

Synopsis: It's spring in Shady Hollow, and romance is in the air. Even reporter Vera Vixen is caught up in the season as her relationship with new police chief Orville Braun blossoms. But true love is not always smooth sailing, as two of the hollow's young residents come to find. Jonah Atwater and Stasia von Beaverpelt find themselves battling their families in order to be together. And when Jonah's father, Shelby, goes over the top of Twilight Falls, all signs point to Stasia being the murderer.

The evidence against Stasia appears overwhelming, and Orville arrests her. It looks like the case is closed, but Vera isn't so sure. There are almost too many clues indicating Stasia is the killer, leading her to suspect someone is setting Stasia up. Besides, what about the mysterious ghostly creature skulking around town at night? Maybe he or she was involved? As Vera investigates further, her sleuthing puts her in direct opposition to Orville, and soon she's stirred up a hornet's nest of trouble!

Critique: "Twilight Falls" by Juneau Black is the fourth book in the author's 'Shady Hollow Mystery' series sees and features Vera again becoming embroiled, this time in a case involving star-crossed lovers whose affair may have turned deadly. Cozy animal mystery at its very best, "Shady Hollow" is a fun read from start to finish and will have immense and entertaining appeal for fans of amateur women sleuths having to find the 'whodunnit' solution to a deftly crafted murder mystery. Highly recommended, especially for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Shady Hollow" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Juneau Black ( is the pen name of authors Jocelyn Cole and Sharon Nagel. They share a love of excellent bookshops, fine cheeses, and good murders (in fictional form only). Though they are two separate people, if you ask either of them a question about their childhood, you are likely to get the same answer. This can be a little unnerving for any number of reasons.

Death by Demo
Callie Carpenter
Crooked Lane Books
9781639105625, $29.99, HC, 229pp

Synopsis: Jaime and Henry were the perfect couple with the perfect life; together, they ran one of the most successful construction and interior design companies in all of Charlotte, North Carolina. But when Jaime catches her charismatic husband in an affair, she realizes her husband is not the man she thought she married. The divorce is equally gutting (due to an ironclad prenuptial agreement), Jaime receives only one thing: a historical house in disrepair. Knowing that any renovation she attempts will be tedious and costly, Jaime starts to believe that things can't get much worse -- until she finds a dead body in the house.

The body is found behind a recently renovated wall -- and this leaves Jaime with more questions than answers. Who killed this person and why? Could it have been the previous owners, someone who snuck in while nobody was looking, or Henry? Furious that the house is now a crime scene, which further delays all renovations, Jaime decides to investigate the murder herself, DIY-style. Together with the new resident cat she calls Demo and the handsome and friendly hardware store owner who happens to be her neighbor, Jaime is ready to use all the tools in her toolbox to catch the killer.

Jaime needs to renovate this house if she wants to move forward with her life, but will this murder investigation leave her in ruins -- or worse?

Critique: Original, clever, entertaining, "Death by Demo" introduces us to Home Renovation Mystery'. This is the first of a new cozy mystery series by Callie Carpenter who provides her readers with a fun read -- and one that will have them looking eagerly toward her next title in this simply outstanding series with a them home demolition and renovation as the background for an amateur female sleuth trying to solve a complicated 'whodunnit' murder mystery. A fun and original read from cover to cover, "Death by Demo" is certain to be a welcome and popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of the now legions of dedicated cozy mystery fans that "Death by Demo" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note: Callie Carpenter grew up with an architect father who was more than happy to share his love of woodworking with his daughter. She has a (mostly unused) bachelor of science degree in geology, one husband, and two cats. When Callie isn't writing, she's working at her day job, reading, yanking weeds out of her garden, or planning her next home renovation project.

Murder of an Amish Bridegroom
Patricia Johns
Crooked Lane Books
9781639105328, $29.99, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: Petunia Yoder is Blueberry, Pennsylvania's youngest old maid, at twenty-two years of age, and completely unmarriageable. But she's determined to celebrate her friends' weddings with joy and a full heart. Unfortunately, Petunia's best friend, Eden Beiler, is playing a dangerous game with a man who is ruining her reputation.

Ike Smoker is the community's iceman (the one who cuts, stores, and sells the ice) and when Petunia discovers him dead with an ice pick in his chest, Eden is found on the scene with blood on her hands. Homicide detective Asher Nate is new to the area, and he has a challenge on his hands. The Amish community sticks close together, and he doesn't understand the subtleties and nuances of the clues he uncovers. He needs an Amish interpreter, and he asks Petunia if she'll help. In a bid to keep her best friend out of prison, she agrees.

The community is filled with people who had good reason to hate Ike Smoker, especially as Petunia and Asher begin to uncover his secrets. Was someone trying to protect their family's reputation? Or to exact revenge for a sin buried deep in the past?

There's a litany of damning clues that litters the ground -- and if Petunia and Asher can't come up with the truth, they could end up as the next ones on the killer's list!

Critique: The newest volume in author Patricia Jones' An Amish Seamstress Mystery series of cozy mysteries featuring an amateur female sleuth trying to help the authorities solve a murder mystery and clear a friend, "Murder of an Amish Bridegroom" enriches the story line into a fun read from start to finish with elements peculiar and special to the Amish/Mennonit community. Solidly entertaining from first page to last, "Murder of an amish Bridgegroom" will prove an enduringly welcome and popular pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated cozy mystery fans that "Murder of an Amish Bridegroom" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note: Patricia Johns ( was born in Alberta, Canada, and moved with her family all over the country, as well as some parts of the US. She attended college at the University of Toronto, where she obtained her Hon. BA in English literature. She began pursuing her writing career then while working part-time jobs in Toronto. She met her husband when she was twenty-five and got married shortly afterward. They moved together to Alberta, Canada, and their son was born a few years later.

The Ice Cream Man
Big Boy Pete, author
Stark House Press
9798886010282, $15.95, PB, 258pp

Synopsis: Kala, the 17-year-old daughter of Max's housekeeper, is now living with Max and his wife Jade since the return of her war-damaged father. Max and Jade live in a mansion, and Kala quickly becomes aware that she is becoming part of an uneasy triangle between Max and his barren and needy wife. Kala is also more than curious about the forbidden Garden behind Max's home. Surely Max couldn't have amassed his fortune with just his ice cream business alone.

Kala soon figures that the Garden is a front for something illegal. And as she gently weaves her way into becoming Jade's replacement and Max's confidant, Kala realizes she is being groomed as Max's business partner. Then she meets Eddie, a renegade CIA operative attempting to penetrate Max's cartel while posing as road manager for touring musicians. While war is being waged in nearby Vietnam, it's Eddie's job to guide English singer Duke DeLuxe around the various US Air Force bases and clubs in Thailand.

Each of them has their own agenda here in the land of smiles. But what will triumph -- business, or pleasure?

Critique: Impressively original, deftly crafted, immensely compelling, and thoroughly entertaining read from start to finish, "The Ice Cream Man" will hold a very special interest and appeal for dedicated fans of crime thriller fiction. While available and highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense/Crime Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists that "The Ice Cream Man" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99) as well.

Editorial Note: Peter Miller is better known as Big Boy Pete, a pioneer of psychedelic rock and roll music. He toured extensively with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones during the Sixties, and took his English band to play for the GIs throughout Southeast Asia from 1969-72 (providing the basis for The Ice Cream Man). Miller has written three screenplays and over 500 songs, including some that have charted, and has also written and published a 500-page training manual for Recording Engineers and Music Producers that is being used in 175 countries. (

A Bean to Die For
Tara Lush
Crooked Lane Books
9781639105458, $29.99, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: Lana Lewis is brewing up new concoctions at Perkatory, a popular cafe in Devil's Beach, when she decides she wants to try her hand at growing her own coffee. She secures a gardening plot in the community garden, thanks to her father and the garden's owner, Darla. Darla's list of rules is long, but that doesn't stop someone from leaving Jack Daggett's body amongst the gardening plots.

Jack, an environmental activist, had been banned from the garden previously, because of his many fights with Darla about organic produce. Lana promises her boyfriend, police chief Noah, that she's going to stay out of this case, having been too involved in previous cases. But when she learns that Jack died from an accidental overdose, and Darla is the top suspect because of her shady past, Lana can't help but poke around in an attempt to clear Darla's name.

As Lana dives deeper into the case, she learns that Jack had more enemies than she realized. When Darla turns up dead, Lana has to turn up the heat on her investigation. With Lana on the case, it won't be long before someone spills the beans to crack this case wide open. But will she able to find the killer before they strike again?

Critique: "A Bean to Die For" is a part of author Tara Lush's 'A Coffee Lover's Mystery' series and will have a very special appeal for cozy mystery fans. Original, impressively well written, featuring a memorable amateur female sleuth, and a 'whodunnit' murder mystery with more unexpected turns and twists than an Oklahoma twister, "A Beat to Die For" is readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99) and will prove to be a welcome addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Tara Lush ( is a Rita Award finalist, an Amtrak writing fellow, and a George C. Polk Award winning journalist. For the past decade, she's been a reporter with the Associated Press, covering crime, alligators, natural disasters, and politics. She also writes contemporary romance set in tropical locations.

Deadly to the Core
Joyce Tremel
Crooked Lane Books
9781639105434, $29.99, HC, 231pp

Synopsis: After losing her husband in a terrible car crash, thirty-five-year-old Kate is left to pick up the pieces of her life alone. Although she has physically recovered, she worries her spirit never will. But when she learns that she has inherited a fruit orchard in a small town just outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, from her great uncle Stan, she takes this as an opportunity ripe for the picking. Kate knew immediately what to do with it: open a cider house. Her hopeful plans fall far from the tree when she finds the body of the orchard manager, Carl Randolph, leaving her to figure out who is at the core of this murder.

She had been in correspondence with Carl, who had agreed with her brilliant idea of opening a cider house. But not everyone is so quick to buy what she was selling - Uncle Stan's lawyer, Robert Larabee, paints a less rosy financial outlook of the orchard's past, present, and future.

Kate discovers that Carl had large, unexplained deposits to his bank account and it becomes clear that either he was blackmailing someone, or someone was paying him to keep quiet. Meanwhile, Kate and her neighbors receive offers to buy their property from a mysterious buyer. And there's more than meets the eye with the neighboring orchard owner, Daniel Martinez, although Kate can't quite put her finger on if it's sweet or sour.

Will she be able to pick out the bad apple among the bunch before it's too late?

Critique: A 'Cider House Mystery' from the imagination and impressive storytelling abilities of novelist Joyce Tremel, "Deadly to the Core" is an original and deftly scripted cozy mystery that has all the trimmings -- an amateur female sleuth finding herself caught up in a dangerous 'whodunnit' murder mystery. A fun read from start to finish, "Deadly to the Core" is a culinary mystery that will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It is also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note: Joyce Tremel ( was a police secretary for ten years and more than once envisioned the demise of certain co-workers, but settled on writing as a way to keep herself out of jail. In addition to the Cider House mysteries, she wrote the Brewing Trouble mysteries.

The Sign of Four Spirits
Vicki Delany
Crooked Lane Books
9781639105397, $29.99, HC, 279pp

Synopsis: When a psychic fair arrives in West London, Gemma Doyle, owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium, wants nothing to do with it. But somehow, at the urging of Donald Morris, an enthusiastic Sherlockian, she finds herself talked into attending a seance, along with baker and best friend Jayne Wilson, store assistant, Ashleigh, and former pop star Bunny Leigh.

But to her surprise, Gemma finds herself banned from the seance and shown the door. Curious, she listens in from outside the room. The medium informs a disappointed Donald that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will not be able to make it tonight. Then, Gemma hears a voice cut off, a cry for help, a scream. Gemma bursts into the library to see that someone has collapsed on the table -- dead. The windows are all locked, and Gemma was guarding the only door. Someone in this room is a murderer. But who?

The game is once again afoot for Gemma Doyle, as she hunts a killer. But, this time, is the killer of flesh and blood or had the medium summoned doom from beyond the veil?

Critique: Simply stated, as a novelist, Vicki Delany is a master of the mystery genre in general, and the cozy mystery format in particular. Here newest title, "The Sign of Four Spirits" is a part of her outstanding 'A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery' series and will prove to be a welcome and enduringly popular pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should also be noted for personal reading lists of the growing legions of cozy mystery fans that "The Sign of Four Spirits" is a fun read that is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note: Vicki Delany ( is the Canadian author of more than thirty novels/novellas in several of mystery's subgenres. Born in Manitoba and raised in Ontario, she is the former president of the Crime Writers of Canada, a member of Capital Crime Writers, and a member of Sisters in Crime.

Hammers and Homicide
Paula Charles
Crooked Lane Books
9781639105991, $29.99, HC, 280pp

Synopsis: Recent sexagenarian widow Dawna Carpenter thought running her own hardware store after the death of her husband was hard enough. With her adult daughter, April, moving back into town, and Darlene, the annoying boutique owner next door to her shop poking around, Dawna has her hands full. But when she finds a dead man in the bathroom of her store, with a framing hammer by his side, she's in way over her head.

The victim, Warren Highcastle, was a land developer who was looking to purchase the old theater in town to build a new hotel. Dawna and April, worried about the implications of the crime scene at the hardware store, put themselves on the case. They soon learn that Warren had made quite a few enemies in his short amount of time in town. As the suspect list starts growing, so too do the threats against Dawna and April. Can Dawna and April nail the killer before they strike again?

Critique: A deftly crafted and fun read from first page to last, "Hammers and Homicide" by novelist Paula Charles is part of her 'A Hometown Hardware Mystery' series and a true delight for all dedicated cozy mystery fans. While very highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated 'whodunit' mystery buffs that "Hammers and Homicide" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note: Paula Charles ( is a member of Sisters in Crime. There is an extensive listing of her novels at

Death at a Scottish Wedding
Lucy Connelly
Crooked Lane Books
9781639105410, $29.99, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: Finally feeling like Sea Isle, Scotland is becoming her new home, American doctor Emilia McRoy is delighted when she is invited to a wedding at Morrigan's Castle. Her friends have warned her that it's a three-day party and it's bound to get wild, not to mention the impending snowstorm. Constable Ewan Campbell, owner of the castle, ensures their safety with the blizzard. What he didn't ensure, is that all of his guests would survive the night alive. When Emilia explores the impressive castle, she finds a dead man in one of the turrets.

The snowstorm hits and the local police can't reach the castle until it lets up. With no one able to leave, the family insists they carry on with the wedding, which makes Emilia's job as the coroner a bit easier (the suspects are in one place) and complicated because the killer has Emilia in his sights. The fact no one claims to know the victim isn't helping. Why would someone no one knows be murdered at a castle in the middle of nowhere?

It's up to Emilia to uncover the mystery who the victim is, so the killer doesn't get away Scot free.

Critique: A compulsively entertaining read from start to finish, "Death at a Scottish Wedding" has all the elements dear to the hearts of dedicated cozy mystery fans -- an amateur female sleuth compelled by circumstance to identify and bring to justice a killer -- before she herself can become a victim. A simply riveting read, "Death at a Scottish Wedding" is author Lucy Konnelly's second novel in her 'A Scottish Isle Mystery' series and unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Death at a Scottish Wedding" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note: Lucy Connelly ( has a master's degree in humanities and enjoys learning all the things. And she's been published under many other pen names.

City of Betrayal
Victoria Thompson
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin/Random House
9780593440605, $28.00, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: A year has passed since Elizabeth Bates ran her last con. Life has been simpler, although not nearly as exciting, but she has thrown herself into working to get the 19th Amendment ratified by thirty-six states to become the law of the land. Since every other Southern state has already rejected the amendment, it seems unlikely Tennessee will be an exception -- but it is their only hope, so the suffragists descend on Tennessee for the final battle.

Elizabeth's ability to interact with difficult men and to persuasively explain all the advantages of allowing women to vote (all skills she perfected as a grifter) have made her a valuable member of the team. But she would never have expected the lengths to which some would go to keep the vote out of women's hands. She'll need to devise the perfect con or the suffragists' life's work could all be for nothing.

Critique: An unusual and inherently fascinating take on the cozy mystery genre, "City of Betrayal" by Victoria Thompson is part of the author's 'A Counterfeit Lady' series of novels. Of immense interest to fans of historical mysteries starring female sleuths, "City of Betrayal" is an original and fun read from start to finish. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format, "City of Betrayal" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Victoria Thompson ( writes the Edgar and Agatha Award nominated Gaslight Mystery Series, set in turn-of-the-century New York City and featuring midwife Sarah Brandt, and the Sue Grafton Award nominated Counterfeit Lady Series set in early twentieth century New York City and featuring con artist Elizabeth Miles. Victoria also teaches in the Seton Hill University master's program in writing popular fiction.

Coaching Fire
Victoria Laurie
Kensington Cozies
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
9781496742469, $27.00, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: Gilley's whirlwind romance with creative director Stuart Jacobs began in Paris, where Stuart was sourcing fabric for the world-renowned Texas Rose Festival, which he is heading up for the first time. The festival is nothing short of spectacular, bringing in half a million people (and their wallets) to see the artistic displays, and exquisite gowns and jewels worn by the Rose Queen and her court. Stuart and his crew seem to have it all under control. But the night Cat arrives in Texas, someone is shot dead in cold blood, and a member of Stuart's staff is named the prime suspect!

The Rose Festival is too important to the city's economy to cancel, so while Stuart scrambles to prevent the festival from derailing, Cat and Gilley launch their own investigation into the murder. With a parade of potential suspects to parse, and an even longer list of motives, they bring in East Hampton Police Detective Steve Shepherd to help. As rumors of arson, burglary, and professional sabotage swirl around the already fraught festival planning, Cat and her team immerse themselves in the cutthroat pageantry to identify the killer, who has already picked their next victim!

Critique: "Coaching Fire" by Victoria Laurie has everything a cozy mystery fan could want in the form an amateur female sleuth having to solve a perplexing 'whodunnit' murder mystery at the risk of her life and the lives of her friends. With more unexpected plot twists and turns than Kansas tornado, "Coaching Fire" is a fun read from start to finish and one that is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated cozy mystery fans that "Coaching Fire" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.77).

Editorial Note: Victoria Laurie ( identifies herself as a real-life psychic and is the author of the Psychic Eye Mysteries, the Ghost Hunter Mysteries, and the Life Coach Mysteries.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Words of Kings and Prophets
Shauna Lawless
Head of Zeus
9781803282671, $29.99, HC, 415pp

Synopsis: Ireland, 1000 AD. Gormflaith is unhappily married to Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, and although a queen she struggles with her limited position. As an immortal Fomorian with the secret gift of magic, Gormflaith has a burning desire: to find and destroy the hidden fortress of her sworn enemies, the Descendants, who seek to kill her kind at all costs. She begins to use her magical powers, and discovers she is more skilled than she ever realized -- but can she control what she will become?

Meanwhile Fodla, the Descendants' healer, mourns her banished sister but clings to life as the guardian of her young nephew. She seeks a place of safety for them both, but he has secrets of his own that could threaten everything -- and Fodla must do all in her power to keep him hidden away from those who would use him for evil.

When a mysterious man comes to King Brian's court, his presence could spell disaster or deliverance for both Gormflaith and Fodla -- and for Ireland herself. For he is Tomas, an ambitious immortal with few scruples who will do anything to see his plans become reality.

Soon, mortals and immortals alike are drawn towards a bitter conflict that could decide the future of Ireland and all her people.

Critique: "The Words of Kings and Prophets" is the sequel to author Shauna Lawless' novel "The Children of Gods and Fighting Men" and part of her Gael Song Irish mythology/fantasy series. Of special and particular interest to fans of historical fantasy and Irish folklore, "The Words of Kings and Prophets" is a fun read from start to finish and fully showcase Shauna Lawless' impressive flair for originality and her mastery of the historical action/adventure fantasy genre. While especially recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated heroic fantasy fiction fans that "The Words of Kings and Prophets" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Shauna Lawless is an avid reader of Irish mythology and folklore. As an Irish woman, she loves that Irish mythology has inspired so many stories over the years, however, she wanted to explore the history and mythology of Ireland in a more authentic way. Her debut novel, The Children of Gods and Fighting Men, has been critically acclaimed. The Words of Kings and Prophets is the second volume in the Gael Song trilogy. She can be followed on @shaunaLwrites

Kelly Ann Jacobson
Livingston Press
9781604893632, $19.95, PB, 278pp

Synopsis: "Weaver" by author Kelly Ann Jacobson is a 'Cloud Atlas' style speculative science fiction novel in which it's the humans who are the alien invaders.

The reader learns through many documents (police reports, legal depositions, speech transcripts, and diary entries) that a human company named HealthCorp has attempted to enslave two alien species: the Laffians stranded on a planet-wide ocean and the feline HoFe living on a bed of hofellium. Now, those same aliens have come to Earth in the hopes of using the planet to safely repopulate.

The overriding question becomes whether these three groups can reconcile on Earth without killing each other first!

Critique: An original, entertaining, and thought-provoking novel by an author with a genuine flair for narrative style storytelling, "Weaver" will be of particular interest to fans of LGBTQ fiction, First Contact and Alien Invasion science fiction. While an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended pick for community and college/university library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Weaver" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Editorial Note: Kelly Ann Jacobson ( is the author or editor of many published books, including her contest-winning chapbook An Inventory of Abandoned Things (Split/Lip Press), her award-winning young adult novel Tink and Wendy (Three Rooms Press), and her new young adult novel Robin and Her Misfits (Three Rooms Press). Kelly received her PhD in fiction from Florida State University and teaches creative writing full time as an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Lynchburg and as an instructor for Southern New Hampshire University's online MFA and Johns Hopkins University's MA in Writing. Kelly's short works have been published in such places as Best Small Fictions, Boulevard, Southern Humanities Review, Daily Science Fiction, and Gargoyle.

Do or Die: A Zombicide Novel
Josh Reynolds
Aconyte Books
9781839082610, $16.95, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: Being undead isn't anything new for Westlake (who is a former thief and a currently deteriorating Zombivor) until he realizes there's not enough formaldehyde in the world to keep him together. He decides to embark on one last mission into the zombie apocalypse to find a long-lost drug cartel cache which will set his friends up for life. The hitch? It's in Florida. By the time they land in the Everglades, not only is the wildlife a lot wilder and more murderous than usual, but a hurricane looms on the horizon, ready to wipe them from the face of the earth. For Westlake, there is no other choice but to DO OR DIE.

Critique: Impressively original, deftly crafted, and a 'must' read pick for the legions of zombie fans, "Do or Die" by novelist Josh Reynolds is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Do or Die" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Editorial Note: Josh Reynolds ( is the author of over thirty novels and numerous short stories, including the wildly popular Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000. He grew up in South Carolina and now lives in the UK.

Empire Falling
Robbie MacNiven
Aconyte Books
9781839082375, $16.95, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: Millennia ago the great empire of the Lazax brought the galaxy to heel, but now their ancient doctrine of strength and peace is failing. In the shadows, other factions begin to move against each other and their authoritarian masters. To rule themselves they must first tear down the crumbling regime they are forced to serve. When the Barony of Letnev, supplier of the Lazax's grand fleet, blockades a crucial wormhole to force the empire to listen to its demands, the spark of war is ignited and Zara Hail, an official for the Federation of Sol, is caught in the middle. As the threat of conflict continues to escalate, every faction must choose: Bend beneath the yoke of despots, or break the chains that bind them.

Critique: A novel of the Twilight Imperium by Robbie MacNiven, "Empire Falling" is an impressively original 'space opera' and thoroughly fun read from start to finish. Deftly crafted and with many an unexpected plot twise, "Empire Falling" is a welcome and highly recommended pick for personal reading lists and community library Science Fiction collections. It should be noted that "Empire Falling" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95) for any and all dedicated Sci-Fi fans.

Editorial Note: Robbie MacNiven is a Highlands-native History graduate from the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of several novels and many short stories for the New York Times-bestselling Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Age of Sigmar universe, and the narrative for HiRez Studio's Smite Blitz RPG.

The Business Shelf

The Digital Transformation Roadmap
David L. Rogers
Columbia Business School Publishing
c/o Columbia University Press
9780231196581, $32.95, HC, 328pp

Synopsis: Today, every business is talking about digital transformation. With the acceleration of new technologies, every organization knows it must adapt to survive. But by their own admission, 70 percent of businesses are failing to transform. Across industries, established companies are held back by bureaucracy, inertia, and old ways of working. How can businesses break through to drive real change in what has become known as the digital age?

With the publication of "The Digital Transformation Roadmap: Rebuild Your Organization for Continuous Change" author and C-suite advisor David L. Rogers provides every leader with the answer and persuasively argues that businesses must transform not just products and business models -- they must transform the organization itself.

Based on two decades of research and advising companies around the world, Rogers identifies the five biggest barriers to digital transformation: vision, priorities, experimentation, governance, and capabilities. He then shows how any business can evolve by heeding the lessons of companies such as Disney, Walmart, Mastercard, Air Liquide, and the New York Times Company.

"The Digital Transformation Roadmap" provides a practical DIY blueprint for organizational change, illustrated with real-world case studies and step-by-step planning tools. Rogers also shows every leader how to think beyond the churn of new technologies and rebuild their organization for a world of constant change.

Critique: Informative, comprehensive, motivational, inspiring, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Digital Transformation Roadmap: Rebuild Your Organization for Continuous Change" is an extraordinary and straightforwardly recommended core addition for personal, professional, community, corporate, and college/university library Business Organizational Structure Adjustment/Management collections and supplemental MBA curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for MBA students, academia, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and non- specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Digital Transformation Roadmap: Rebuild Your Organization for Continuous Change" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.27).

Editorial Note: David L. Rogers ( is an acclaimed expert on digital transformation, a member of the faculty at Columbia Business School, and the author of five books. His international best-seller The Digital Transformation Playbook (Columbia, 2016) has been published in more than a dozen languages. He has helped global companies transform their business for the digital age, advising senior leaders at Google, Microsoft, Citigroup, Visa, HSBC, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Merck, GE, Toyota, and many more.

The Enterprise Big Data Framework
Jan-Willem Middleburg
Kogan Page Inc.
9781398601741, $229.00, HC, 496pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Enterprise Big Data Framework: Building Critical Capabilities to Win in the Data Economy", Jan-Willem Middleburg presents a comprehensive guide that covers all the aspects of transforming enterprise data into value, from the initial set-up of a big data strategy, towards algorithms, architecture and data governance processes.

Using a vendor-independent approach, "The Enterprise Big Data Framework" also offers practical advice on how to develop data-driven decision making, detailed data analysis and data engineering techniques.

With a focus on business implementation, "The Enterprise Big Data Framework" includes sections on analysis, engineering, algorithm design and big data architecture, and covers topics such as data preparation and presentation, data modelling, data science, programming languages and machine learning algorithms.

Endorsed by leading accreditation and examination institute AMPG International, "The Enterprise Big Data Framework" from Kogan Page must be considered as required reading for the Enterprise Big Data Certifications, which aim to develop excellence in big data practices across the globe. Of special note is that online resources also include sample data for practice purposes.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "The Enterprise Big Data Framework: Building Critical Capabilities to Win in the Data Economy" is a comprehensive and completely recommended choice for personal, professional, corporate, and college/university library Business/Entrepreneurship instructional reference collections and essential reading for anyone charged with the responsibilities of warehouse management, data modeling/design, and designing/implementing/operating data programing algorithms. It should be noted for in-service training programs and academic curriculum studies lists that "The Enterprise Big Data Framework" is also available in a paperback edition (9781398601710, $59.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $47.99).

Editorial Note: Jan-Willem Middelburg is the CEO and co-founder of Cybiant, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. With Cybiant he helps to create a more sustainable world through analytics, big data and automation, developing algorithms and employing data scientists to unearth patterns and information. He is also President and Chief Examiner of the Enterprise Big Data Framework, an independent organization dedicated to upskilling individuals with expertise in Big Data. In partnership with APMG-International, the Enterprise Big Data Framework offers vendor-neutral certifications for individuals. (

Systems Thinking for Business and Management
Umit S. Bititci, author
Agnessa Spanellis, author
Kogan Page Inc.
9781398611689, $159.00, HC, 296pp

Synopsis: Blending theory and practice, "Systems Thinking for Business and Management: Principles and Practice" by co- authors Umit S. Bitici and Agnessa Spanellis reviews the fundamentals and includes a wide range of global cases and examples from business, showing how systems thinking can be applied to real-world organizational contexts. MBA students will learn to apply their knowledge to solve business system problems, carry out systemic organizational analysis and design solutions to address complex organizational problems. They will also build valuable skills in systems analysis, business process modelling, problem solving and decision making.

"Systems Thinking for Business and Management: Principles and Practice" includes:

An evaluation of the different models, theories and frameworks for generic systems, system properties and system classifications

An overview of the different methods used for modelling and analysing different systems, specifically hard systems, soft systems and complex systems

Discussion of how system thinkers can imagine and model future systems

Experiential, engaging pedagogy, such as practical activities and reflective exercises in each chapter

Online resources to support teaching and learning, such as a customizable set of PowerPoint slides and video links

The approach taken by "Systems Thinking for Business and Management: Principles and Practice" to the subject has been tried and tested over ten years of teaching. It will be an essential text for introductory modules on systems thinking at undergraduate, postgraduate and MBA levels. It will also be of interest to practitioners looking to apply systems thinking to improve their organizations.

Critique: A core textbook for supplemental MBA curriculum studies lists, "Systems Thinking for Business and Management: Principles and Practice" is impressively comprehensive, exceptionally well written, thoroughly 'student friendly' in organization and presentation, and will invaluable to any corporate officer responsible for the business and management of their company whether local, national, or international. While highly recommended as an essential addition to corporate and college/university library Strategic Business Planning/Management collections and MBA curriculum studies lists, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Systems Thinking for Business and Management: Principles and Practice" is also available in a paperback edition (9781398611665, $47.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $38.39).

Editorial Note #1: Umit S Bititci is the Acting Executive Dean of Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University and Professor of Business Performance. He has a blend of industrial and academic experience spanning 35 years. He has worked with an international portfolio of companies and public sector organisations and has led several international research and development projects with a research portfolio c.œ20m. He has published 200 papers and regularly appears at international conferences and workshops as guest and keynote speaker.

Editorial Note #2: Agnessa Spanellis is a Senior Lecturer at The University of Edinburgh, UK, where she teaches modules on Systemic Approach to Sustainability and Thinking about Business. She has been published in peer-reviewed journals, books and outlets such as The Conversation.

Supply Chain Risk Management: 4th Edition
John Manners-Bell
Kogan Page Inc.
9781398613232, $229.00, HC, 448pp

Synopsis: Implementing robust supply chain strategies has never been so essential in today's ever-changing world. From geo-political risks to the continued effects of global crises, Supply Chain Risk Management is an essential resource for those wanting to mitigate risk and ensure supply chain resilience. Offering crucial insight from a management perspective, this updated 4th edition of "Supply Chain Risk Management: How to Design and Manage Resilient Supply Chains" by John Manners-Bell offers new guidance on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, supply-chain bottlenecks and evolving geo-political risks.

With new global case studies including disruption to the supply chain due to the Suez Canal blockage and global tensions like the US-China trade war, this newly revised and expanded fourth edition explores a variety of real-world risks. "Supply Chain Risk Management" details ongoing threats like climate change, corruption and technological risks while providing crucial detail on how to implement robust systems and safeguard supply chain operations. Combining theoretical and practical learning, "Supply Chain Risk Management" is essential for those needing to understand risk and how it can be approached.

Critique: The recent global pandemic and the on-going Russia/Ukraine war underscore how fragile, vulnerable, and essential supple chains are to maintaining economic prosperity for the Unites States and all the other countries of the world. This newly updated fourth edition of "Supply Chain Risk Management: How to Design and Manage Resilient Supply Chains" is a vital addition to personal, professional, corporate, community, and college/university library Industrial/Manufacturing Risk Management collections, and supplemental Business/Economics curriculum studies lists. Exceptionally well written, organized, updated, and presented, it should be noted that this new fourth edition of "Supply Chain Risk Management: How to Design and Manage Resilient Supply Chains" is also available for personal and professional reading lists in a paperback edition (9781398613218, $59.990 and in a digital book format (Kindle, $47.99).

Editorial Note: John Manners-Bell is the CEO of Transport Intelligence, a leading supplier of market solutions to the global logistics industry. He is also Visiting Professor at the London Guildhall Faculty of Business and Law, London Metropolitan University. He holds an MSc in Transport Planning and Management from the University of Westminster, a BA (Hons) in Classics from King's College London where he was also awarded an Associateship (AKC). John Manners-Bell is a Fellow of the UK Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and former Chair of the Supply Chain, Logistics Global Advisory Council of the World Economic Forum. (

Armstrong's Handbook of Reward Management Practice, 7th Edition
Michael Armstrong, author
Duncan Brown, author
Kogan Page Inc.
9781398611146, $215.00, HC, 448pp

Synopsis: "Armstrong's Handbook of Reward Management Practice: Improving Performance Through Reward" by co- authors Michael Armstrong and Duncan Brown is the essential guide to comprehending, developing and implementing effective reward strategies. The new edition incorporates the latest research and developments within reward management, including the reward implications of Covid and the 'great resignation' and rewarding remote and hybrid workers. This new revisions also contain updates on reward structures, equal pay, employee benefits including wellbeing benefits, total rewards and smart rewards.

"Armstrong's Handbook of Reward Management Practice: Improving Performance Through Reward" now covers all the crucial aspects of improving organizational, team and individual performance through reward processes, including financial and non-financial rewards, job evaluation, grade and pay structures, rewarding specific employee groups and ethical considerations.

The reader will find that "Armstrong's Handbook of Reward Management Practice" now bridges the gap between the academic and practitioner and is ideally suited to both HR professionals and those studying for HR qualifications, including master's degrees and the CIPD's intermediate and advanced level qualifications. Tips and checklists and can be found throughout, alongside case studies from organizations including General Motors, and the UK National Health Service. Online supporting resources include lecture slides and comprehensive handbooks for both lecturers and students, which include learning summaries, discussion questions, literature reviews and glossaries.

Critique: An ideal textbook for Business Management curriculum studies lists, and also readily available in a complete and unabridged paperback edition (9781398611122, $57.99), this seventh edition of "Armstrong's Handbook of Reward Management Practice: Improving Performance Through Reward" from Kogan Page is an essential pick for personal, professional, corporate, and college/university library Human Resources and Personnel Management collections.

Editorial Note #1: Michael Armstrong is a Companion and former Chief Examiner of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), a managing partner of E-Reward and an independent management consultant. Prior to this he was an HR director of a publishing company. (

Editorial Note #2: Duncan Brown is an independent rewards adviser and researcher. He has more than 30 years' experience with employers including IES, Aon Hewitt, PwC and Willis Towers Watson. He also spent five years as Assistant Director General and head of research and policy at the CIPD. (

The Christian Studies Shelf

Hard Sayings: Understanding Difficult Passages of Scripture
R. C. Sproul
Ligonier Ministries
9781642894615, $18.00, HC, 167pp

Synopsis: God gave us His Word so that we may know Him and live by His truth. So, what should we do when we're reading the Bible and a difficult passage stops us in our tracks? Sometimes the solution is right there on the page (if we know where to look) while other passages gain clarity in light of the rest of the Bible or its historical background. With the help of an experienced guide, we can overcome the obstacles to our progress and know God's Word more deeply.

With the publication of "Hard Sayings: Understanding Difficult Passages of Scripture", Dr. R.C. Sproul applies his wisdom as a theologian and Bible teacher to some of the most challenging verses in Scripture. By showing us how to navigate tough texts in the Old and New Testaments, he outlines key principles to help us grow in our knowledge of God.

Critique: Erudite, eloquent, informative, insightful, inspired and inspiring, "Hard Sayings: Understanding Difficult Passages of Scripture" is a seminal work of theological scholarship and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, seminary, and college/university library Christian Theology & Biblical Studies collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for seminary students, academia, clergy, and non-specialist general readers within the Christian community that "Hard Sayings: Understanding Difficult Passages of Scripture" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Dr. R.C. Sproul (1939 - 2017) was founder of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also first minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew's Chapel in Sanford, Fla., first president of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. His radio program, Renewing Your Mind, is still broadcast daily on hundreds of radio stations around the world and can also be heard online. Dr. Sproul contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, spoke at conferences, churches, colleges, and seminaries around the world, and wrote more than one hundred books, including The Holiness of God, Chosen by God, and Everyone's a Theologian. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.

The Buddhist Studies Shelf

Your Heart Was Made for This
Oren Jay Sofer
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
9781645472001, $23.99, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Your Heart Was Made for This: Contemplative Practices for Meeting a World in Crisis with Courage, Integrity, and Love " Buddhist and meditation teacher Oren Jay Sofer shares a pragmatic guide to living a life of meaning and purpose in a time of great social, environmental, and spiritual upheaval.

Through touching stories, insightful reflections, and concrete instructions, Sofer offers powerful tools to strengthen our hearts and nourish the qualities that can transform our world. Each individual chapter guides you to cultivate a quality essential to personal and social transformation like mindfulness, resolve, wonder, and empathy.

"Your Heart Was Made for This" reveals how to: Find more choice and freedom in life; Strengthen focus, sustain energy, and accomplish goals; Identify burnout and take steps to renew yourself; Imbue your daily activities with clarity and vitality; Respond more effectively to collective challenges.

Critique: Of particular and very special value to readers with an interest in Buddhism Philosophy & Meditation, and its relevance in achieving a state of personal happiness, as well as with dealing with the inevitable stresses of life in the troubled world of today, "Your Heart Was Made for This: Contemplative Practices for Meeting a World in Crisis with Courage, Integrity, and Love" is an extraordinary and straightforwardly recommended addition to community and college/university library Buddhism and Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Your Heart Was Made for This" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Oren Jay Sofer ( teaches Buddhist meditation, mindfulness, and communication internationally. He holds a degree in comparative religion from Columbia University and is a Certified Trainer of Nonviolent Communication and a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner for the healing of trauma. Born and raised in New Jersey, he is the author of several books, including the bestselling title Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication. His teachings have reached people around the world through his online communication courses and guided meditations.

Embodying Tara
Chandra Easton
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
9781645471141, $22.95, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: Tara is the Buddhist goddess of compassion. She can manifest within all of us. "Embodying Tara: Twenty-One Manifestations to Awaken Your Innate Wisdom" is an illustrated introduction to Tara's twenty-one forms by respected female Buddhist teacher and practitioner Dorje Lopon Chandra Easton.

"Embodying Tara" shows how to invite Tara's awakened energy to come alive in yourself through: Insights into core Buddhist concepts and teachings; Meditations; Mantra recitations; and journal exercises.

The relatable stories are taken from Buddhist history combined with the author's personal reflections in order to provide you with the tools to live a more compassionate life, befriend your fears, and overcome everyday challenges.

"Embodying Tara" reveals how important women and movements in modern history have achieved this through their own embodiment of Tara's enlightened activities and include the stories of Jane Goodall, Nawal El Saadawi, Oprah Winfrey, Vandana Shiva, Black Lives Matter, Me Too, and others -- which will collectively inspire you to bring these aspects of Tara into the world in creative and socially conscious ways for the benefit of all.

Critique: Eloquent, exceptional, impressively well written, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in style, organization and presentation, "Embodying Tara: Twenty-One Manifestations to Awaken Your Innate Wisdom" is a singularly gifted and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Buddhism collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and all members of the Buddhist community that "Embodying Tara: Twenty-One Manifestations to Awaken Your Innate Wisdom" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99) from Shambhala Publications.

Editorial Note: Chandra Easton is a Dharma teacher, author, and translator of Tibetan Buddhist texts. In 2015 she was given the title of senior lead teacher, Dorje Lopon (Vajracharya), for Tara Mandala Retreat Center by Lama Tsultrim Allione and H.E. Gochen Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche. Her training is rooted in Tibetan Buddhism (Mahayana and Vajrayana), and the Great Perfection (Dzogchen) in particular, and her primary interest is in finding ways to make these traditional teachings relevant and accessible for our modern experience. She offers meditation courses in the San Francisco Bay Area at the Berkeley Alembic and San Francisco Dharma Collective. She also offers retreats in the US and Europe at venues such as Tibet House US, Esalen, Kripalu, Kamalashila, Center for Mindful Living, Maitreya Institute, and Tara Ling Retreat Center. Her talks, writings, guided meditations, and teaching schedule can be found at

The Music Shelf

Anatomy of 55 More Songs
Marc Myers
Grove Press
c/o Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
9780802160201, $27.00, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: Songs that sell the most copies become hits, but some of those hits become something more -- iconic recordings that not only inspire a generation but also change the direction of music. "Anatomy of 55 More Songs: The Oral History of Top Hits That Changed Rock, Pop and Soul" is based on music journalist and historian Marc Myers column for the Wall Street Journal, and tells the story behind fifty-five rock, pop, R&B, country, and soul-gospel hits through intimate interviews with the artists who wrote and recorded them.

Part oral history, part musical analysis, "Anatomy of 55 More Songs" ranges from Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising" to Dionne Warwick's "Walk On By," The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations," and Black Sabbath's "Paranoid." Bernie Taupin recalls how he wrote the lyrics to Elton John's "Rocket Man;" Joan Jett remembers channeling her rage against how she had been unfairly labeled and treated as a female rocker into "Bad Reputation;" and Ozzy Osbourne, Elvis Costello, Bob Weir, Sheryl Crow, Alice Cooper, Roberta Flack, John Mellencamp, Keith Richards, Carly Simon, and many others reveal the emotions and technique behind their major works.

Through an absorbing chronological, song-by-song analysis of the most memorable post-war hits, "Anatomy of 55 More Songs" also provides a sweeping look at the evolution of pop music between 1964 and today. Simply stated, "Anatomy of 55 More Songs" will change how you listen to music and evaluate the artists who create it.

Critique: Informative, insightful, and inherently fascinating, "Anatomy of 55 More Songs" by Marc Myers is a fun read and of very special interest to American Pop Culture & Music fans. Eloquent, thoughtful and thought-provoking commentaries, "Anatomy of 55 More Songs" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library American Music History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialists with an interest in the subject that "Anatomy of 55 More Songs" is also available in a paperback edition (9780802161260, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.09).

Editorial Note: Marc Myers ( is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal, where he writes about music and the arts. He is the author of the critically acclaimed books Anatomy of a Song, Why Jazz Happened, and Rock Concert, and posts daily at, a three-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's award for Jazz Blog of the Year.

The Parenting Shelf

Doing It All
Whitney Casares, MD
Fair Winds Press
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780760386996, $19.99, PB, 224pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Doing It All: Stop Over-Functioning and Become the Mom and Person You're Meant to Be", Dr. Whitney Casares (author, pediatrician, and mother of two girls), shares the step-by-step plan she developed as a modern working mom to help her stop over-functioning at work and home, stop blaming herself for everything that went wrong, and start living a balanced and intentional life.

Today's working moms are burned-out, overwhelmed, and just plain stuck. Caught amid the endless, conflicting demands of motherhood, work, household management, and a million-and-one everyday tasks, chores, and responsibilities, they truly are doing it all -- but getting nowhere. They think they're out of options -- but they are wrong!

Dr. Whitney tried to do it all for years, until one particularly bad week brought her to knees, and then, to a revelation: It wasn't her that was broken, it was her system. She needed a new system, a plan of action that would look squarely at all the common problems of working mom life (over-scheduling, inequitable partnerships, lack of boundaries, lack of support), recognize the social and cultural causes behind them, and give her the tools and structure she needed to tackle the chaos, find her work-life balance, and start living a life that worked for her.

In the pages of "Doing It All", she shares that system with you, a system that will help you prioritize what really matters and where everything (even laundry!) has its place. Work calls? Yep. Time with your kids? Absolutely. Time for yourself? A top priority.

Doing It All features Dr. Whitney's complete step-by-step plan to achieving your Centered Life, that is, a life centered on you, as well as over forty targeted exercises, prompts, and activities to help you to: Create a vision of your life that aligns with your values and goals and then break that vision into actionable priorities so you can start making it a reality; Implement systems to deal with the annoying-but-necessary "have-tos" in your life quickly and efficiently; Develop equity in your relationship with your parenting partner; Create and maintain boundaries around emotionally laden calls on your attention; Give your kids what they need to be healthy, happy, and successful - without giving away too much of yourself; Prioritize your own mental health and emotional well-being with intentional scheduling and rest -- And more!

Featuring powerful personal stories from real working moms, as well as quotes and interview excerpts from parenting experts, medical professionals, and mental health advocates, Doing It All meets working moms where they are, recognizes the personal and systemic challenges they face, and offers solutions that really work. It's time to stop merely "surviving" motherhood. Join Dr. Whitney and thousands of other working moms across the country and discover the tools, systems, and support you need to parent, work, and thrive in your daily life.

Critique: An effective, comprehensive, and thoroughly 'user friendly' combination of instructional guide and 'how-to' manual for stressed out moms, "Doing It All: Stop Over-Functioning and Become the Mom and Person You're Meant to Be" by pediatrician and mother-of-two. Dr. Whitney Casares must be considered essential reading for all mothers (and most especially to those new to motherhood) and a core acquisition for personal, professional, community, and college/university library collections on parenting. Impressively well written, organized and presented, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Doing It All" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Whitney Casares ( is a practicing, board-certified pediatrician, author, speaker, podcaster, and full-time working mom, as well as the CEO and founder of Modern Mommy Doc and The Modern Mamas Club App. She is a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), for whom she has authored two books, The New Baby Blueprint: Caring for You and Your Little One and The Working Mom Blueprint: Winning at Parenting Without Losing Yourself. Dr. Whitney practices pediatrics in Portland, Oregon. You can find her on Instagram @modernmommydoc

The Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf

Welcome to the O.C.: The Oral History
Josh Schwartz, author
Stephanie Savage, author
Alan Sepinwall, author
Mariner Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
9780063342798, $28.99, HC, 368pp

Synopsis: The O.C. is an American teen drama television series created by Josh Schwartz that originally aired on the Fox network in the United States from August 5, 2003, to February 22, 2007, running a total of four seasons. "O.C." is an initialism of Orange County, the location in Southern California in which the series is set.

On August 5th, 2003, Ryan Atwood found himself a long way from his home in Chino -- he was in The O.C., an exclusive suburb full of beautiful girls, wealthy bullies, corrupt real-estate tycoons, and a new family helmed by his public defender, Sandy Cohen. Ryan soon warms up to his nerdy, indie band-loving new best friend Seth, and quickly falls for Marissa, the stunning girl next door who has secrets of her own. Completing the group is Summer, Seth's dream girl and Marissa's loyal (and fearless) best friend. Together, the friends fall in and out of love, support each other amidst family strife, and capture the hearts of audiences across the country.

"Welcome to the O.C.: The Oral History" is just in time for the show's twentieth anniversary, The O.C.'s creator Josh Schwartz and executive producer Stephanie Savage are dive into how the show was made, the ups and downs over its four seasons, and its legacy today. With Rolling Stone's chief TV critic Alan Sepinwall conducting interviews with the key cast members, writers, and producers who were there when it all happened, "Welcome to the O.C: An Oral History". will offer the definitive inside look at the beloved show -- making it a nostalgic delight for audiences who watched when it aired, and a rich companion to viewers currently discovering the show while it streams on HBO Max and Hulu.

The O.C. paved the way for a new generation of iconic teen soaps, launched the careers of young stars, and even gave us the gift of Chrismukkah. Now, it's time to go back where we started from and experience it all over again.

Critique: A fun and fascinating read from start to finish, "Welcome to the O.C.: The Oral History" is a 'must' for the growing legions of fans for this iconic and now legendary television series which includes exclusive interviews with: Ben McKenzie; Mischa Barton; Adam Brody; Rachel Bilson; Peter Gallagher; Kelly Rowan; Melinda Clarke; Tate Donovan; Chris Carmack; Autumn Reeser; Willa Holland; Samaire Armstrong; Alan Dale; Colin Hanks; Amanda Righetti; Navi Rawat; Shannon Lucio; Michael Cassidy; McG; Imogen Heap; Alex Greenwald; Ben Gibbard; Paul Scheer; Doug Liman - - and so many more! . Highly recommended for community and college/university library TV History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted that "Welcome to the O.C.: The Oral History" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note #1: Josh Schwarts ( is the youngest person in network television history to create and run a network drama when The O.C. premiered on Fox in 2003. He subsequently launched the original Gossip Girl for the CW with frequent collaborator Stephanie Savage. Over the next twenty years, Schwartz and Savage produced over five hundred hours of television via their Fake Empire Productions including Chuck, Looking for Alaska, Marvel's Runaways, Nancy Drew, Dynasty, Hart of Dixie, The Carrie Diaries, Gossip Girl and, most recently, City on Fire.

Editorial Note #2: Stephanie Savage (v started her career as an executive at Drew Barrymore's Flower Films, then formed Wonderland Sound and Vision with Director McG. It was here she met Josh Schwartz, and transitioned to writing and producing full time. She co-created the original Gossip Girl with Schwartz, where she served as showrunner for all six seasons. Together they formed Fake Empire and have since put over a dozen shows on the air, including six with first time creators.

Editorial Note #3: Alan Sepinwall ( is an American television reviewer and writer. He spent 14 years as a columnist with The Star-Ledger in Newark until leaving the newspaper in 2010 to work for the entertainment news website HitFix. He then wrote for Uproxx, where he worked for two years. Since 2018, he has been the chief TV critic for Rolling Stone.

Magic Time: The Films and Scripts of Billy Wilder
J. R. Jordan
BearManor Media
9798887712512, $44.00, HC, 438pp

Synopsis: Billy Wilder (born Samuel Wilder; June 22, 1906 - March 27, 2002) was an Austrian-born filmmaker. His career in Hollywood spanned five decades, and he is regarded as one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of Classic Hollywood cinema. He received seven Academy Awards (among 21 nominations), a BAFTA Award, the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or and two Golden Globe Awards.

Critique: Illustrated with black-and-white historical photographs, "Magic Time: The Films and Scripts of Billy Wilder" by J. R. Jordan is an inherently fascinating and comprehensive study of his life and work. Featuring an informative Foreword by Austin Pendelton, '101 Motifs, Catchphrases, and More (From A to Z), and a three page Bibliography of books, articles, and on-line resources. While a core pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Cinematic History & Biography collections, it should be noted that "Magic Time" is also available in a paperback edition (9798887712505, $34.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Editorial Note: J. R. Jordan has been writing about motion pictures for several years. He is also the author of Showmanship: The Cinema of William Castle and Robert Wise: The Motion Pictures.

The Art Shelf

Manga Art Fashion Secrets
Dalia Sharawna
Search Press Ltd.
9781800921573, $19.95, PB, 128pp

Synopsis: Clothes and accessories are the perfect way to give your manga characters energy and develop their unique identities. From on-trend streetwear to traditional and formal clothing, the way that your character is dressed is an instant way to tell a story.

With the publication of "Manga Art Fashion Secrets: The Ultimate Guide to Making Stylish Artwork in the Manga Style" aspiring manga artists can join with manga art expert Dalia Sharawna and her thousands of fans and learn how to draw fashionable manga clothes that show personality, character, and mood. Packed with everything you need to know to draw a huge variety of cool clothes and accessories in the manga style, this detailed guide covers a range of styles and looks to take your manga characters to the next level.

"Manga Art Fashion Secrets" is packed from cover to cover with step-by-step drawings for formal and casual outfits, sportswear, and accessories. Learn how to give your work personality and style with Dalia Sharawna's tutorials for a huge variety of on-trend looks to dress your characters in. At the end of each chapter is a series of practice exercises where you're encouraged to trace or freehand draw subjects from earlier on. You'll end up with a portfolio of sketches charting your artistic development. Five contemporary artists take up residence on these pages, sharing their manga fashion secrets and showcasing their own art.

With clear step-by-step instructions and insider secrets that manga artist Dalia Sharawna has learned on her drawing journey, all that is needed is a pencil and paper to draw any clothing style you desire.

Critique: An extraordinary, comprehensive, and unique DIY course of Manga Art instruction, "Manga Art Fashion Secrets: The Ultimate Guide to Making Stylish Artwork in the Manga Style" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, art school, and college/university library Manga Art instruction collections. It should be noted for art students and Manga art enthusiasts that "Manga Art Fashion Secrets: The Ultimate Guide to Making Stylish Artwork in the Manga Style" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note: Based in Hebron in Palestine, Dalia Sharawna has been drawing manga for 10 years, fired by her passion for watching anime since she was a kid. Find more of her art and join her 171k followers on Instagram @drawing_dalia

Kawaii Doodle Cafe
Faith Varvara
Rock Point
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9781631069598, $19.99, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: "Kawaii Doodle Cafe: Learn to Draw Adorable Desserts, Snacks, Drinks & More" is an ideal 'how to' guide in which popular kawaii artist Faith Varvara shows how to draw over 100 cute and tasty foods from around the world in an easy-to-follow, simple style, including breakfast, lunch, snacks, a la carte items, pastries, desserts, and drinks, along with tableware.

With "Kawaii Doodle Cafe", even the most novice of artists can create mouthwatering foods, such as the Eclair; Macaron; Lemon Meringue Pie; Tiramisu; Creme Brulee; Strawberry Parfait; Avocado Toast; Breakfast Burrito; Japanese Omurice; Bubble Tea -- and so much more!

Along with the step-by-step tutorials, Faith shares tips for drawing and coloring drawings of foods, along with a fun introduction about the cozy cafe and its talented staff, and pages to color. And once you have the basic shapes down, the options to customize the foods are endless to create your own feast for the eyes.

Critique: Published in a large (8 x 0.36 x 10 inches, 1.25 pounds) paperback format) "Kawaii Doodle Cafe: Learn to Draw Adorable Desserts, Snacks, Drinks & More" is specially recommended for art students of all ages. It should be noted that "Kawaii Doodle Cafe: Learn to Draw Adorable Desserts, Snacks, Drinks & More" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note 1: Faith Varvara ( is a full-time kawaii artist based in Calgary, Canada, and is the creator of the whimsical world of Bumbleberry Hollows. Her work has been featured on food packaging and displayed in a gallery in Japan. She has launched multiple successful Kickstarter campaigns for a tarot deck, plushies, and clothing.

Editorial Note #2: The fun 'how-to' art instruction books comprising the Kawaii Doodle series includes: Kawaii Doodle Class, Mini Kawaii Doodle Class, Kawaii Doodle Cuties, Mini Kawaii Doodle Cuties, Kawaii Doodle World, Kawaii Kitties, and Kawaii Doggies.

Loose and Lively Animals in Watercolour, Inks & Mixed Media
Jo Allsopp
Search Press Ltd.
9781782219958, $25.95, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: Animals are a perennial favorite amongst artists, but many struggle with capturing their form and character in a way that reflects the true spirit of the animal. Jo's genuine passion for wildlife is reflected in her art, and her skill at painting animals in a loose, lively and dynamic style is one that many wish to emulate.

Including a broad range of animals from around the world: red squirrels, to peacocks, lions and housecats; water voles and red squirrels, to Atlantic puffins -- "Loose and Lively Animals in Watercolour, Inks & Mixed Media" by Jo Allsoop will appeal to both hobby artists and more advanced artists who wish to loosen up their style and take a more experimental approach to their watercolor painting.

Jo uses an exciting range of art media and techniques in her work, and this will be fully explored in a structured way through "Loose and Lively Animals in Watercolour, Inks & Mixed Media", beginning with pure watercolor and progressing through various other media to show the effects that can be achieved, and when and how to use them.

Jo's main medium is watercolor, but to this she adds ink plus other media, including: Alcohol;
Water-soluble and permanent pens; Gold, silver and bronze leaf; Daler-Rowney acrylic inks.

Her technique is very wet into wet, with lots of blooms, vivid colors, and striking contrasts and texture achieved by the addition of wax resist, salt, spatter and scratching out. Jo's animal paintings are stunning, and "Loose and Lively Animals in Watercolour, Inks & Mixed Media" will both inspire and instruct artists on how to recreate Jo's style and her stunning animal paintings in a loose, fresh style.

Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in style, organization and presentation, "Loose and Lively Animals in Watercolour, Inks & Mixed Media" is an ideal DIY 'how-to' instructional guide that will prove to be an immediately and enduringly valued addition to personal, professional, community, art school, and college/university library Watercolor and Mixed Media Plant/Animal art instruction collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for art students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Loose and Lively Animals in Watercolour, Inks & Mixed Media" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $24.65).

Editorial Note: Jo Allsopp set up Sable Studio Gallery in the grounds of Moira Furnace Museum. From her gallery space she sells her watercolor paintings, mosaics, cards, jewelry and gift ware. Her spacious studio enables her to teach regular painting and drawing classes plus weekend workshops in a variety of media. Jo is an experienced demonstrator and teacher and her worhsops are extremely popular. Jo also regularly features in the Society of All Artist's magazine Paint. In 2019 Jo was chosen to appear on the UK's BBC One on the TV series Home Is Where The Art Is with presenter Nick Knowles.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Build a Bag Book: Tote Bags
Debbie Shore
Search Press Ltd.
9781800921092, $19.95, PB, 96pp

Synopsis: The 15 tote bag designs comprising "Build a Bag Book: Tote Bags" by Debbie Shore are created using the DIY templates contained within this constructive 'how-to' guide. By using two templates, you can create 15 very different bags; each made using different techniques, pockets, straps and fastenings, to create 15 very different results.

The templates can also be used for your own further design variations, as you mix and match the techniques covered within "Build a Bag Book: Tote Bags" as Debbie gives advice on how to adapt and create your own unique designs. Each project comprising "Build a Bag Book: Tote Bags" is explained using Debbie's trademark style and step-by-step photography, and there is also a comprehensive techniques section and a guide to using the templates.

Critique: Unique and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Build a Bag Book: Tote Bags" will prove an impressive and welcome addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Needlecraft instructional reference fashion, sewing, and fashion design collections.

Editorial Note: Debbie Shore ( began her career as a children's television presenter and since then has appeared regularly as an actress in various popular dramas and as a TV presenter. Debbie has developed her own range of fabrics, designed her own patterns, writes for several popular sewing magazines and has written over 25 books for Search Press with several more underway, of which she has sold 650,000 copies worldwide. She is the winner of Craft Influencer of the Year 2020 in the Craft Business Awards and Social Media Influencer of the Year 2019 in the British Sewing Awards. Debbie has over 250,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel, which has over 30 million views. In 2018, Debbie launched her Half Yard Sewing Club, a monthly subscription service based on the mega-selling Half Yard series, and won the 2019 IPG Digital Publishing Award.

The Gardening Shelf

A Field Guide to Succulents
Misa Matsuyama
Tuttle Publishing
9780804855976, $19.99, HC, 112pp

Synopsis: Each individual chapter comprising "A Field Guide to Succulents: for Colors, Shapes and Characteristics for Over 200 Amazing Varieties" by gardening expert Misa Matsuyama serves as an illustrated field guide that covers the characteristics and needs of a particular succulent family, then zooms in to show you their attributes in detail and from angles that let you truly see what makes these varieties different from one another.

"A Field Guide to Succulents" covers all the basics on how to grow succulents and cacti successfully - tools, soils, watering, placement, propagating, pest and disease prevention, and how to see them through seasonal changes so that your plants will keep growing and thriving

It is also a stunning photo guide to over 200 plants both popular and exotic with inspirational ideas for group plantings that are attractive to the eye and congenial to the plants. Of special note is the inclusion of tips from experienced growers on ways to approach succulent gardening

The simple instructions are geared toward beginners; the interesting mix of plants shown and explained here will appeal to succulent collectors. Fans at every level will enjoy this up-close exploration into the infinitely diverse and surprising world of succulents.

Critique: This large format (7.75 x 0.75 x 10 inches, 1.5 pounds) hardcover edition from Tuttle Publishing of Misa Matsuyama's "A Field Guide to Succulents: for Colors, Shapes and Characteristics for Over 200 Amazing Varieties" is profusely illustration in full color throughout and is an exceptionally well organized and presented instructional reference guide that is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Gardening/Horticultural collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that "A Field Guide to Succulents" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.99) as well.

Editorial Note: Misa Matsuyama ( is a horticulturist specializing in succulents, as well as a teacher and author of books on raising and displaying them. She is the creative director of sol x sol, a Japanese company selling succulent plants, pots and tools and offering inspiration to home gardeners. She is the author of "The Gardener's Guide to Succulents and Succulents for Beginners" (Tuttle, 2020).

The Wine/Beer/Spirits Shelf

Juniperlooza: Gin-soaked Cocktails and Concoctions
Elouise Anders, author
Anna Manolatos, illustrator
Smith Street Books
c/o Rizzoli
9781922754486, $19.95, HC, 152pp

Synopsis: Simply stated, "Juniperlooza" is the ideal 'how to' instructional resource for dedicate fans of gin and great cocktails.

Whether you prefer the humble Gin and Tonic, the iconic French 75, or more modern creations like the Honeysuckle Sour, gin is the foundation to some truly great libations. Without it, we wouldn't have the Martini, the Tom Collins, or the Negroni.

"Juniperlooza" distills the best of gin cocktails, showcasing 60 recipes of drinks suitable for any mood, whether you'd like to get effervescent with a Rosewater Fizz, sip on an Aviation, or infuse gin with botanicals. With recipes for every palette, get ready to shake, mix, and stir your way through the world of juniper with "Juniperlooza".

Critique: The collaborative work of author and cocktail expert Elouise Anders and artist/illustrator Anna Manolatos, "Juniperlooza" is a pleasure to browse through and be inspired by. "Juniperlooze" will prove to be a welcome and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Alcohol & Spirits collections.

Editorial Note #1: Elouise Anders is a mixologist-turned-culture-writer based in Melbourne. She consults the city's finest bars and restaurants on how to best curate drinks lists. Previously, she has published Cocktail Botanica, Spritz Fever!,and Drinks on the Lanai with Smith Street Books.

Editorial Note #2: Anna Manolatos ( is a Brisbane artist and illustrator, based in Abu Dhabi, who has been creating playful illustrations working with paint, wood, and mixed media since her hands could pick up a pencil. Her work has been exhibited internationally and draws from her keen eye for color.

The Self-Help Shelf

Coach Yourself!
Antonia Bowring
Blackstone Audiobooks
9781119931454, $27.00, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: "Coach Yourself!: Increase Awareness, Change Behavior, and Thrive" by Antonia Bowring is a self-help guide for people who are committed to increasing their awareness about behaviors that aren't serving them at work or in the rest of their lives, and then taking the necessary actions to move forward.

If you are ready to explore changing habits and behaviors to improve how you show up in work and life, "Coach Yourself!" is specifically intended for you. With practical and accessible frameworks exploring the power of performance coaching, Top NYC Executive Coach Antonia Bowring teaches readers to use her performance coaching formula: increased awareness + changed behavior = flourishing individual and thriving work performance.

Bowring also offers recipes, frameworks, and tools you can use to navigate the exhilarating, and inevitably bumpy, journey through your professional life. Within the pages of "Coach Yourself! you will discover:

Foundational definitions and concepts, including discussions about the different kinds of coaching, the benefits they bring to the table, and the processes they use

The importance of your values, and how they anchor your progress through your coaching journey

Communication strategies used by the world's most effective problem-solvers and decision-makers in the world

While "Coach Yourself!" will be an essential guide for professionals and leaders, anyone can pick up 'how-to' self help manual and apply the frameworks to all the various aspects of their life. That's because the essence of coaching is that we have the answers inside ourselves, and the role of the coach is to help us access our own answers.

Critique: Insightfully informative, life enhancing, impressively well written, and exceptionally 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Coach Yourself!: Increase Awareness, Change Behavior, and Thrive" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to personal, community, and college/university library Self-Help/Self- Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Coach Yourself!" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.00) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, $42.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Antonia Bowring ( is a highly credentialed, top New York executive coach. She works primarily with founders, C-Suite executives, and leadership teams. One of Antonia's areas of expertise is helping neurodiverse leaders create the necessary scaffolding to leverage their gifts and maintain their focus. She is a frequent speaker to companies and groups on topics ranging from the leadership mindset, ADHD in the workplace, and communication best practices. Her articles through the Forbes Coaches Council are widely read and The American Reporter named her one of the 10 leadership coaches to watch in 2022.

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Self-Love Crystals
Katie Huang
Leaping Hare Press
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780711290792, $22.00, HC, 144pp

Synopsis: Written by crystal expert and modern mystic, Katie Huang (Love By Luna), and filled with rituals and recipes to help you boost your everyday wellbeing, "Self-Love Crystals: Crystal Spells and Rituals for Magical Self-Care" will teach you how to harness the mystical powers of 30 crystals, and incorporate them into your daily self-care practice.

"Self-Love Crystals" will enable you to embrace the art of cleansing, charging, and connecting with your crystals, and unearth their heart-warming energies with: A rose quartz spell jar for self-love; A clear quartz renewal shower ritual; A black tourmaline cord-cutting ritual; An amethyst crystal elixir for breaking bad habits; A moonstone serenity crystal grid; A hematite healthy boundaries spell; A colorful crystal chakra healing ceremony; A carnelian crystal elixir for boosting confidence -- and more!

Revealing tips and tricks to help you on your self-care and crystal healing journey, "Self-Love Crystals" is a sparkling guide to crystal magic is truly essential reading for every modern mystic.

Critique: Nicely illustrated throughout, "Self-Love Crystals: Crystal Spells and Rituals for Magical Self-Care" by crystal expert Katie Huang is impressively 'reader friendly' and quite comprehensive on the use and utilization of crystals for self- help/self-improvement rituals and practices. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99) from Leaping Hare Press, "Self-Love Crystals" is a primary and highly recommended core addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Metaphysical Studies and Crystal Magic collections.

Editorial Note: Katie Huang is the founder of Love By Luna (, a leading astrological lifestyle brand. She is also the author of Crystal Zodiac and Luminous Dreams. Katie's expertise and insights on living with crystals and the cosmos make her an authority for modern mystics. Her insightful work has been featured in numerous publications such as Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue, and Marie Claire. One of her ventures, MoonBox, is a spiritual subscription box that follows the lunar cycle.

The Language of Lenormand
Erika Robinson
Weiser Publishers
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari
9781578638055, $18.95, PB, 208pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Language of Lenormand: A Practical Guide for Everyday Divination", Erika Robinson has created one of the clearest guides ever written for this beloved divination system. Popular in Europe for centuries, the Lenormand deck, consisting of thirty-six numbered and named cards, has now been embraced in North America by cartomancers, tarot enthusiasts, oracle readers, and many others. Each card depicts an archetype (a fox, a snake, a coffin, or whip, for example) rather than tarot's somewhat more involved symbology. This makes the Lenormand system an easy entry point to divination.

Widely respected divination authority Erika Robinson believes that Lenormand is not just a deck of cards but also a language that, if mastered, can help you achieve self-empowerment and the ability to attain the life you desire. A longtime English teacher, she helps readers become fluent in the language of Lenormand. This clearly written, accessible guide to the meanings of each card requires no prior knowledge of Lenormand, but is simultaneously a sophisticated book that takes Lenormand to the next level, providing greater insights and elucidation for those already familiar with it.

Critique: A complete and comprehensive course of study that will have an immense appeal and value to metaphysical students and readers with an interest in divination, "The Language of Lenormand: A Practical Guide for Everyday Divination" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented so as to be of maximum value to the novice user and will have significant worth to even the more experienced practitioner. Highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Metaphysical Studies collections. It should be noted that "The Language of Lenormand: A Practical Guide for Everyday Divination" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Erika Robinson, an African-American Lenormandist, is also an award-winning blogger. She is a frequent presenter at divination conferences in the United States and internationally, and she has contributed to The Cartomancer Magazine as well as other publications. Robinson lives and writes in Southern California. She has two websites: and, and can be followed on Instagram @divine_withme

Card of the Day Tarot
Kerry Ward
Fair Winds Press
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780760385630, $19.99, HC, 160pp

Synopsis: The practice of tarot can be a great source for advice, insight, and spiritual connection, but doing tarot readings is sometimes complicated and frustrating. Multi-card spreads can be impractical, tedious, and full of opaque and contradictory messages that take time and practice to tease out. Enter the one-card draw or "card of the day" -- simple readings in which just one card is pulled and interpreted.

In "Card of the Day Tarot: Quick and Easy One-Card Tarot Readings For Love, Work, and Everyday Life, long-time tarot reader and the resident tarot columnist for Cosmopolitan magazine, Kerry Ward, offers 12 everyday one-card tarot rituals for a variety of questions and situations, along with simplified interpretations of all 78 cards, to help you hone your intuition, reconnect with the cards, and breathe new life into your tarot practice.

Incorporating other popular spiritual practices such as meditation, aromatherapy, crystal work, breathwork, and more, "Card of the Day Tarot" includes a range of one-card draws, readings, and rituals that demonstrate the adaptability and flexibility of the one-card draw.

"Card of the Day Tarot" also includes revamped interpretations for all 78 cards, offering simplified messages for each one depending on the type of question being asked. Each card includes a life lesson, an affirmation, a reassurance, a yes/no designation, a direct call to action, and more, making this an easy reference guide that will work with any tarot deck.

Whether a beginner reader still learning the meanings of the cards or an experienced practitioner looking for an easy way to bring more tarot into your life, "Card of the Day Tarot" is a practical, visually stunning guide to conducting meaningful tarot readings in your everyday life -- without frustration, confusion, or hours of interpretation.

Critique: A unique and singularly recommended addition to tarot collections, "Card of the Day Tarot: Quick and Easy One-Card Tarot Readings For Love, Work, and Everyday Life" is impressively presented and ideal for the novice tarot reader and with great value for even the more experienced tarot users with reference to personal lives and conditions -- be it their own or a client. It should be noted that "Card of the Day Tarot: Quick and Easy One-Card Tarot Readings For Love, Work, and Everyday Life" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Kerry Ward is the creator of the best-selling tarot deck and book Good Karma Tarot as well as Crystal Magic Tarot. She is the resident tarot columnist for Cosmopolitan US and UK, as well as Metro UK and supports a global tarot client list of 500+, to whom she sends a monthly email newsletter. She can be found on Instagram at @mytarotbella

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

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