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Wisconsin Bookwatch

Volume 17, Number 5 May 2022 Home | WBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Education Shelf American History Shelf
World History Shelf Cookbook Shelf Business Shelf
Graphic Novel Shelf Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf
DVD Shelf General Fiction Shelf Historical Fiction Shelf
Literary Fiction Shelf Romantic Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Christian Studies Shelf Automotive Shelf
Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf Gardening Shelf Needlecraft Shelf
Crafts Shelf Fashion Shelf Architecture Shelf
Metaphysical Studies Shelf Biography Shelf Jobs/Careers Shelf
Travel Shelf Photography Shelf Health/Medicine Shelf
Art Shelf Wine/Beer/Spirits Shelf Antiques/Collectibles Shelf
Wisconsin Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Well Aged
Ralph Milton
Douglas & McIntyre
c/o Harbour Publishing
9781771623100, $18.95, PB, 256pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Well Aged: Making the Most of Your Platinum Years", author and octogenarian Ralph Milton wants his readers to know that old age is not a disease circling the world ready to pounce on anyone over eighty. Many (maybe even most) old people say they are happier and more contented than they have ever been. And that's good news because we are living much, much longer than we used to. In fact, seniors are North America's fastest growing demographic. To quote Milton, "Society has never had to deal with such a huge bunch of old people."

To address this societal shift, "Well Aged" offers a candid, useful and entertaining insider's take on life among the old-old. Not the recently retired who are enjoying Arizona winters and unlimited golf, but those in their last years, usually in the eighty- to one-hundred-year-old bracket. "Well Aged" is a lively and candid look at what it's really like to be old, written by someone living the experience, and sprinkled liberally with humor.

The topics addressed with great practicality and insight in the pages of "Well Aged" include: Identity and independence; Choosing where to live; Personal health needs and priorities; Community support, friendships and recreation; Spirituality and religion; Intimacy, companionship and sexuality; Loneliness, depression and frailty; Leaving a legacy and end-of-life arrangements.

When the subject of the elderly does get public attention, as it has during the Covid-19 pandemic, the focus is usually on what can go wrong. "Well Aged" expands this conversation around aging, and it is essential reading for anyone who needs to put out their birthday cake with a fire extinguisher -- as well as those who love and care for them.

Critique: An impressive compendium of information, observation, insight and advice, "Well Aged: Making the Most of Your Platinum Years" is an exceptionally timely and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, senior citizen center, community, college, and university library Self-Help/Self-Improvement and Longevity/Geriatric collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Well Aged: Making the Most of Your Platinum Years" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99) where the print size can be readily adjusted into a larger sized font.

Editorial Note: Currently residing in Kelowna, BC, Canada with Beverley, his wife of 63 years, Ralph Milton was the publisher of Wood Lake Books from 1980 to 2000. He has written hundreds of magazine articles and is the author of over twenty books. He holds two honorary doctorates (Doctor of Divinity and Doctor of Sacred Letters).

The Green Hour: A Natural History of Home
Alison Townsend
University of Wisconsin Press
728 State Street, Suite 443, Madison, WI 53706-1418
9780299334604, $28.95, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: When Alison Townsend purchased her first house, in south-central Wisconsin, she put down roots where she never imagined settling. To understand how she came to live in the Midwest, with the publication of "The Green Hour: A Natural History of Home" she takes the reader on a journey through personal landscapes, considering the impact of geography at pivotal moments in her life, vividly illuminating the role of mourning, homesickness, and relocations.

With sparkling, lyrical prose, "The Green Hour" undulates effortlessly through time like a red-winged blackbird. Inspired by five beloved settings (eastern Pennsylvania, Vermont, California, western Oregon, and the spot atop the Wisconsin hill where she now resides) Townsend considers the role that place plays in shaping the self. She reveals the ways that a fresh perspective or new experience in any environment can incite wonder, build unexpected connections, and provide solace or salvation.

Mesmerizingly attentive to nature in terms of its beauty, its fragility, and its redeeming powers, Alison asks what it means to live in community with wilderness and to allow our identities to be shaped by our interactions with it: our story as its story.

Critique: Eloquent, elegant, inherently engaging, impressively informative, exceptionally thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Green Hour: A Natural History of Home" is a truly memorable and entertaining read which will prove to be an exceptional and appreciated addition to both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography & Memoir collections. Of special interest to academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in nature writing, local history, and the art of the essay, it should be noted that "The Green Hour: A Natural History of Home" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $27.50).

Editorial Note: A professor emerita of English at the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, Alison Townsend is the award-winning author of two poetry collections, "The Blue Dress" and "Persephone in America", as well as a volume of prose, "The Persistence of Rivers".

The Education Shelf

School Choice and the Betrayal of Democracy
Robert Asen
Penn State University Press
820 North University Drive, University Park, PA 16802-1003
9780271091396, $34.00, HC, 248pp

Synopsis: Research evidence shows that the increasing privatization of K-12 education siphons resources away from public schools, resulting in poorer learning conditions, underpaid teachers, and greater inequality. But, as Professor Robert Asen reveals with the publication of "School Choice and the Betrayal of Democracy: How Market-Based Education Reform Fails Our Communities", the damage that market-based education reform inflicts on society runs much deeper. At their core, these efforts are anti-democratic.

Arguing that democratic communities and public education need one another, Professor Asen examines the theory driving privatization, popularized in the neoliberalism of Milton and Rose Friedman, as well as the case for school choice promoted by former secretary of education Betsy DeVos and the controversial voucher program of former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.

What Professor Asen finds is that a market-based approach holds not just a different view of distributing education but a different vision of society. When the values of the market (choice, competition, and self-interest) shape national education, that policy produces individuals, Professor Asen contends, with no connections to community and no obligations to one another.

The result is a society at odds with democracy.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "School Choice and the Betrayal of Democracy" also features interviews with local, on-the-ground advocates for public education and offers a countering vision of democratic education -- one which is oriented toward civic relationships, community, and equality, making this study is essential reading for governmental and education policymakers, advocates of public education, education researchers, school administrators, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject. While "School Choice and the Betrayal of Democracy" is a truly exceptional, timely, and invaluable contribution to professional, governmental, community, college, and university library Educational Philosophy, Economic Theory, and Contemporary Political Science collections and supplemental curriculum studies. A work of meticulous research and scholarship, it should be noted that "School Choice and the Betrayal of Democracy" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $27.99).

Editorial Note: Robert Asen is the Stephen E. Lucas Professor of Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. He is also the author of numerous books, including "Democracy, Deliberation, and Education" which is also published by Penn State University Press.

Talent Zones
Lee Hancock
Free Spirit Publishing
6325 Sandburg Road, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55427-3674
9781631986239, $34.99, PB, 152pp

Synopsis: Many believe that talent is inherent, that a person either has it or doesn't. But research shows that a student's environment is a critical determinant for developing talents. With the publication of "Talent Zones: 10 Tools to Help Kids Develop Their Talents", Professor Lee Hancock redefines talent so that parents, teachers, and coaches of kids can create environments rich in opportunities for all kids to boost their confidence and for developing talents in multiple areas, from academics to arts to athletics.

Professor Hancock presents ten evidence-based, developmentally appropriate strategies called Talent Development Zones (TDZs). These TDZs transform talent concepts and research into practical strategies adults can use to create environments for developing talents.

The strategies provided by "Talent Zones" include: Providing opportunities for deep, deliberate practice; Developing and inspiring creativity; Building "I can" kids; Helping kids manage pressure.

For more than 20 years, the author has worked with athletes from youth to professional and with classroom teachers, students, and parents of awesome kids. He's translated research and experience into approachable strategies for equitably developing talents in kids now and as they grow up.

Critique: In "Talent Zones: 10 Tools to Help Kids Develop Their Talents", Professor Lee Hancock draws upon his more than twenty years of experience and expertise to create a thoroughly 'user friendly' combination of DIY instructional guide and 'how to' manual that will help educators and parents to employ inclusive and effective education methods for getting the best out of a curriculum for gifted students. An ideal in-service training programs, "Talent Zones: 10 Tools to Help Kids Develop Their Talents" is an especially recommended addition to personal, professional, school district, college, and university library Teacher Education & Education Theory collections and studies lists.

Editorial Note: Dr. Lee Hancock is a professor, performance psychology coach, and program creator who works with students, athletes, coaches, educators, parents, organizations, and other high-level performers. Dr. Hancock earned his Master's and Ph.D. from Arizona State University and is a tenured professor in kinesiology at California State University Dominguez Hills. He has had a private practice for more than 20 years, where he has worked with athletes from youth to professional and with classroom teachers, students, and parents of awesome kids.

The American History Shelf

The Creole Rebellion
Bruce Chadwick
University of New Mexico Press
1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM 87131-0001
9780826363473, $27.95, HC, 264pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Creole Rebellion: The Most Successful Slave Revolt in American History", historian and academician Bruce Chadwick tells the suspenseful story of a successful mutiny on board the slave ship Creole. En route for a New Orleans slave-auction block in November 1841, nineteen captives mutinied, killing one man and injuring several others. After taking control of the vessel, mutineer Madison Washington forced the crewmen to sail to the Bahamas. Despite much local hysteria upon their arrival, all of the 135 slaves aboard the ship won their freedom there.

The revolt significantly fueled and amplified the slave debate within a divided nation that was already hurtling toward a Civil War. While "The Creole Rebellion: The Most Successful Slave Revolt in American History" is about the United States confronting the ugly and tumultuous issue of slavery, it is also about the 135 enslaved men and women who were unwilling to take their oppression any longer and rose up to free themselves in a bloody fight. Part history, part adventure, and part legal drama, "The Creole Rebellion: The Most Successful Slave Revolt in American History" chronicles what is arguably the most successful slave revolt in American history.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of an informative Preface and Epiloge, sixteen pages of Notes, a six page Bibliography, and a six page Index, "The Creole Rebellion: The Most Successful Slave Revolt in American History" is a deftly crafted work of original and inherently engaging scholarship. While highly recommended, especially for community, college, and university library African American History collections and supplemental studies curriculum syllabus, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Creole Rebellion: The Most Successful Slave Revolt in American History" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $27.95).

Editorial Note: Bruce Chadwick is a history professor at New Jersey City University and a retired part-time lecturer at Rutgers University. He is also the author of thirty books, including several books on the Antebellum and Civil War periods. His most recent book is "Law & Disorder: The Chaotic Birth of the NYPD".

The World History Shelf

The Crusades in 100 Objects
James Waterson
Frontline Books
c/o Pen & Sword Books
9781526795304, $49.95, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: For half a millennium and throughout almost the entire medieval period, the Catholic church sanctioned military campaigns (called crusades) against what it perceived as its enemies. The rise of Islam and its spread across large parts of the Middle East, Asia, North Africa, and even the peripheries of Europe, saw Muslim warriors seize the Holy Land, occupy Jerusalem, and threaten Constantinople. In response, Pope Urban II advocated a crusade to retake the Holy Land -- the first of nine military campaigns that stretched over the succeeding 200 years.

Other, lesser-known crusades were subsequently mounted with the aim of Christianizing the more remote regions of northern and north-eastern Europe, as well as against the Cathars in southern France. The advance of the Ottomans into the Balkans saw further crusades to halt the Muslims in Bosnia and Serbia, and the re-conquest of Spain from the Muslim Moors.

Such diverse theaters of conflict have resulted in an equally diverse number of relics still to be found in a score of countries. From magnificent castles, swords, artillery and coats of arms, to Crusader-struck coins and even the brass pen box used by Muslim writers to spread the word of Islam, this remarkable collection of artifacts and structures tells the story, much of it largely forgotten, of the conflicts which shaped the nature of the Western World known today, both in spiritual and geographical terms.

Beautifully and profusely illustrated and informatively written by the acknowledged period expert James Waterson, "The Crusades in 100 Objects: The Great Campaigns of the Medieval World" opens a window into the past as never seen before.

Critique: An impressive volume to simply browse through (and enjoying each full color photography of showcased crusade-related objects of all kinds), "The Crusades in 100 Objects: The Great Campaigns of the Medieval World" is an extraordinary and informative approach to obtaining an overview of the age of the European crusades. A meticulous and articulate history that is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Medieval European Military History collections in general and a Crusades history supplemental curriculum syllabus in particular, it should be noted for students, academia, military history buffs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Crusades in 100 Objects: The Great Campaigns of the Medieval World" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $22.49).

Editorial Note: James Waterson is a graduate of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and received his Masters degree from Dundee University. He worked and taught in the United States and China for a number of years and now divides his time between the Middle East and Italy. He is also the author of "The Ismaili Assassins"and "The Knights of Islam" which is a history of the slave soldiers of Islam (2007, Greenhill Books). He continues to work at producing a life of the Crusader Bohemond of Taranto.

Ladies of Magna Carta
Sharon Bennett Connolly
Pen & Sword Books
c/o Casemate
9781526745255, $49.95, HC, 280pp

Synopsis: Magna Carta clause 39: No man shall be taken, imprisoned, outlawed, banished or in any way destroyed, nor will we proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.

This clause in Magna Carta was in response to the appalling imprisonment and starvation of Matilda de Braose, the wife of one of King John's barons. Matilda was not the only woman who influenced, or was influenced by, the 1215 Charter of Liberties, now known as Magna Carta. Women from many of the great families of England were affected by the far-reaching legacy of Magna Carta, from their experiences in the civil war, and as hostages, to calling on its use to protect their property and rights as widows.

With the publication of "Ladies of Magna Carta: Women of Influence in Thirteenth Century England", historian and author Sharon Bennett Connolly reveals the relationships (through marriage and blood) of the various noble families and how they were affected by the Barons' Wars, the Magna Carta and its aftermath; the bonds that were formed and those that were broken.

Including the royal families of England and Scotland, the Marshals, the Warennes, the Braoses and more, "Ladies of Magna Carta" focuses on the roles played by the women of the great families whose influences and experiences have reached far beyond the thirteenth century.

Critique: Impressively detailed and researched, "Ladies of Magna Carta: Women of Influence in Thirteenth Century England" is an extraordinary and valued contribution to an often overlooked aspect of medieval 13th century English history. Enhanced with the inclusion of a section devoted to full color and thematically relevant photographs, an informative Epilogue (The Enduring Legacy of Magna Carta), three Appendices (The 1215 Magna Carta; Enforcers of Magna Carta - The Twenty-Five; The Charter of the Fore4st 1217); seventeen pages of Notes; an eleven page Bibliography, and a four page Index, "Ladies of Magna Carta: Women of Influence in Thirteenth Century England" is an inherently fascinating and exceptionally well written study that is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Medieval English History and Women's History collections and a supplemental curriculum studies syllabus. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Ladies of Magna Carta: Women of Influence in Thirteenth Century England" is also available in a paperback edition (9781399019620, $32.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Sharon Bennett Connolly is also the author of "Heroines of the Medieval World", (2017) and "Silk and the Sword: The Women of the Norman Conquest" (2018). She also gives talks on women's history and her TV work includes Australian television's 'Who Do You Think You Are?'.

The Cookbook Shelf

Cooking with Japanese Pickles
Takako Yokoyama
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9784805316634, $17.99, HC, 112pp

Synopsis: Homemade Japanese pickles are incredibly tasty and easy to make, and have numerous gut health and digestion benefits. "Cooking with Japanese Pickles: 97 Quick, Classic and Seasonal Recipes" is an amazing and thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' instructional guide and 'how to' culinary manual that shows how to make Japanese-style pickles at home using fresh vegetables from the garden or a local farmers' market -- and how to incorporate them into delicious Japanese homestyle meals.

With the publication of "Cooking with Japanese Pickles: 97 Quick, Classic and Seasonal Recipes", author and Japanese pickling expert Takako Yokoyama showcases 97 pickling recipes grouped into three major sections: Quick pickles that are ready to eat immediately (like Spicy Eggplant Pickles, Cabbage and Garlic Pickled in Soy Sauce, and Tomatoes Seasoned in Sake Rice Wine); Classic Japanese pickling recipes (such as Umeboshi Preserved Plums, Napa Cabbage Kimchi, and Daikon Radish Pickled in Miso); Seasonal pickles (including Spring Parsley and Butterbur Pickles, Mixed Summer Vegetable Pickles and Winter Beets Pickled in Honey).

Yokoyama also includes specific recipes for meals that incorporate Japanese pickles like Sushi Rolls with Pickled Cabbage, Tofu Hotpot and Onion Salad with Fermented Soybean Dressing, and Sa Shi Su Umebaski Rice.

With commonly asked questions, clear step-by-step instructions, beautiful color photos, and information about the health benefits of pickles, "Cooking with Japanese Pickles: 97 Quick, Classic and Seasonal Recipes" is an ideal resource for home cooks who want to try their hand at pickling, plant-based eating, or expanding their go-to recipe list.

Critique: Eloquent, 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, showcasing step-by-step instructions for making Japanese style pickles from a variety of different vegetables, "Cooking with Japanese Pickles: 97 Quick, Classic and Seasonal Recipes" is a unique compendium of palate pleasing, appetite satisfying recipes that is especially recommended for personal, professional, and community library Ethnic Cookbook collections. It should be noted that "Cooking with Japanese Pickles: 97 Quick, Classic and Seasonal Recipes" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.09).

Editorial Note: Takako Yokoyama lives in Japan's mountainous Nagano prefecture. Specializing in her traditional regional cuisine as well as creating original recipes inspired by this tradition, she conducts regular classes and seminars about the tastes and techniques of Nagano cooking, and is a regular on Japanese TV cooking shows. She is also the author of many books in her native Japan with a focus on eating seasonal food, pickling, and preserving.

Fresh Bento
Wendy Thorpe Copley
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9784805315347, $15.99, PB, 120pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Fresh Bento: Affordable, Healthy Box Lunches Your Kids Will Adore", parents seeking alternatives to unhealthy snacks and school cafeteria lunches for their children will find a culinary treasure trove of healthy and delicious ideas.

Showcasing more than 46 themed bento box options to choose from, "Fresh Bento" allows you to create lunch with a selection of food that you know your kid likes to eat. Substitutions and other suggestions are included to accommodate picky eaters and allergies. Not only will your child eat better, but you'll save money with this economical alternative to school lunch or kids getting their meals out of vending machines!

The bentos in the book are packed with whimsical and innovative ideas including: An out-of-this-world Astronaut Bento featuring apples, avocado "aliens", almonds, dried apricots and an almond butter and apricot jam sandwich; An abominably delicious Yeti Bento with yams, yellow bell peppers, yeti-shaped rice balls and yaki onigiri; Four-season treats like daisy-, sun-, leaf- and snowflake-shaped cheese and a quartet of sandwich quarters, cherry tomatoes, strawberries and chocolate-covered raisins; Spidery eight-legged Bento containing figure-eight pastries, eight-shaped tomato skewers and a blackberry spider with eight icing eyes; A Rainbow Bento with grapes, raspberries, blueberries and orange, yellow and green bell peppers; and a bento for each letter of the alphabet, number or color!

Each bento takes only minutes to assemble when the components are prepped in advance. Plus, picking a theme, cutting out fun shapes and arranging the food makes a great family activity that kids will love to be a part of!

Critique: Drawn directly from Japanese culinary culture, "Fresh Bento: Affordable, Healthy Box Lunches Your Kids Will Adore" is a unique and 'real world practical' alternative to traditional American lunch fair for kids (and adults!). A welcome and unusual addition to family and community library cookbook collections, it should be noted that "Fresh Bento: Affordable, Healthy Box Lunches Your Kids Will Adore" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.83).

Editorial Note: Wendy Thorpe Copley was introduced to the art of bento when her husband gave her a bento box for Christmas. Since then, she has packed thousands of bento boxes for her family and written extensively about these adorable lunches. She is also the author of Tuttle's Everyday Bento and has had her work featured in Martha Stewart, The Washington Post, Huffington Post and dozens of other publications.

Tokyo Up Late
Brendan Liew
Street Smith Books
c/o Rizzoli (distribution)
9781922417596, $35.00, HC, 252pp

Synopsis: As the sun sets over Japan, the neon lights of Tokyo flicker to life: the hidden restaurants and bars come alive; rounds of beer, highballs, and sake are ordered, and the scent of yakitori and sounds of nightlife fill the air.

Tokyo's night scene is always fun, boisterous, and lively. This is where locals shake off the day, eating and drinking, and often staying out until the last trains leave the city.

Comprised of iconic recipes drawn from the city that never sleeps, "Tokyo Up Late" is Brendan Liew's inherently fascinating food guide through the night, ranging from noisy izakayas, ramen joints, and tempura bars, to gyoza pit-stops, curry restaurants, and the iconic convenience stores that stitch the city together.

Critique: Beautifully illustrated with full color photography throughout, "Tokyo Up Late" is an impressive blending of city history with palate-pleasing, appetite-satisfying, and culinarily authentic recipes that are so well organized and presented that any family cook can create true Japanese dishes that will grace any and all dining occasions. A treat to simply browse through one delicious dish at a time, the coffee-table style (8.16 x 1.15 x 9.71 inches, 2.5 pounds) edition of "Tokyo Up Late" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library ethnic cookbook collections.

Editorial Note: Brendan Liew spent time at the three-Michelin-starred Nihonryori Ryugin in Roppongi, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, and studied the art of ramen-making in Japan before delving into kappo and modern kaiseki cuisine. In Melbourne, he has worked at Kappo and Supernormal, had a pop-up cafe, Chotto, and is currently at Minamishima. He has traveled extensively through Japan's countryside and major cities to explore, learn, and live Japan's culture and cuisine.

The Brownie Diaries
Leah Hyslop
Bloomsbury Press
9781472982780, $22.00, HC, 176pp

Synopsis: Fun and kitchen cook friendly, "The Brownie Diaries: My recipes for happy times, heartbreak and everything in between" by Leah Hyslop offers brownie-based solutions to all life's challenges, big and small.

From brownies for comfort, like the "Feeling Lonesome Tonight" brownie (an indulgent concoction made from pantry staples such as peanut butter and crumbled cookies), to brownies for celebration, such as the "I Think I Love You" Brownie (with raspberry cheesecake swirl), you'll find the perfect brownie for every occasion among these pages.

Stuck indoors on a rainy Sunday afternoon? There's a brownie for that, too, along with brownie-inspired twists on classic recipes for cookies and ice-cream sundaes. Complete with a cocoa-dusted smattering of brownie trivia and quick-fixes to stop your brownies from sinking,

"The Brownie Diaries" is the perfect book for brownie lovers everywhere.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated in full color throughout, just paging through "The Brownie Diaries" is a mouth-watering, brownie-hungering experience. An inspiring compilation of palate-pleasing, appetite-satisfying brownie recipes for any and all occasions, "The Brownie Diaries" is guaranteed to be a welcome addition to personal, family, professional, and community library cookbook collections. It should also be noted for dedicated brownie enthusiasts that "The Brownie Diaries" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Leah Hyslop is a food writer and editor. She was a lifestyle editor at The Telegraph and then Food Director of Sainsbury's Magazine before becoming Deputy Editor at Waitrose and Partners Food Magazine. Her first book, "Made in London", was published in 2018. Leah can be found on Twitter @LeahHyslop

The Business Shelf

Arrive and Thrive
Susan MacKenty Brady, author
Janet Foutty, author
Lynn Perry Wooten, author
McGraw Hill Professional
1221 Avenue of the Americas, 45th Floor, New York, NY 10020
9781264286355, $28.00, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: Women who arrive at the top should be able to thrive at the top. Instead they're judged lucky to survive -- even more so with the current pandemic-era pressures overwhelming their already busy family and professional lives.

What if there was a way you, as a female executive, could flourish in a senior leadership role as your best self, inspire excellence in your team channeling your own wellbeing and, at the same time, lead a highly fulfilled life? There is -- and with the publication of "Arrive and Thrive: 7 Impactful Practices for Women Navigating Leadership", the team of successful business women, Susan Brady, Janet Foutty, and Lynn Wooten shows you how.

An especially timely and practice-driven DIY guide, "Arrive and Thrive" reveals 7 practices you can use to thrive as you rise to positions of greater responsibility, risk, and reward -- and empower others along the way. Powered by the latest research, boots-on-the-ground experience, and advice from 24 of the world's most successful leaders, "Arrive and Thrive" effectively presents the seven practices that will help you understand and leverage your own unique personal powers so you can thrive in leadership.

Critique: Exceptionally 'real world practical' and effective, "Arrive and Thrive: 7 Impactful Practices for Women Navigating Leadership" is a compendium of sage information, advice, strategies, tactics, ideas, presented in a thoroughly 'user friendly' approach that will prove to be of impressive value for women new to or already experienced with corporate or entrepreneurial responsibilities. While highly recommended for community, corporate, college, and university library Women in Business, Workplace Culture, and HR/Personal Management collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted for MBA students, academia, female corporate executives/entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Arrive and Thrive: 7 Impactful Practices for Women Navigating Leadership" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note #1: Susan MacKenty Brady is the Deloitte Ellen Gabriel Chair for Women and Leadership and CEO of Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership. A highly sought-after author and expert on self-aware leadership, Susan has keynoted or consulted at over 500 organizations worldwide.

Editorial Note #2: Janet Foutty is the Executive Chair of the Board of Deloitte US, the largest professional services organization in the U.S. Previously, she was the chair and CEO of Deloitte Consulting LLP. Janet is committed to purposeful leadership and recognizes that business can and should make a broader societal impact that matters.

Editorial Note #3: Dr. Lynn Perry Wooten is President of Simmons University. Her academic research focuses on everyday leadership, crisis management, and workforce. She also maintains a robust clinical practice devoted to leadership development.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Hen Kai Pan
Eldo Yoshimizu
Titan Comics
9781787738379 $14.99

Synopsis: Dismayed by the havoc wreaked on the Earth by humankind, its five guardian spirits decide to act. But as they argue amongst themselves on what the judgement should be, one enraged spirit, Nila, becomes determined to take matters into her own hands, forcing the remaining four to unite in a desperate final battle to prevent her from wiping not just humans, but all life from the face of the planet.

Critique: A complete saga suggested for mature readers, Hen Kai Pan is a manga (Japanese graphic novel) exploring themes of Cosmotheism. Earth's five guardian spirits are unthinkably distraught by the harm that humankind has inflicted upon their own world, yet they quarrel about how they should respond. One of the five, Nila, decides to act in the most extreme manner possible; can the other four prevent her from eradicating not only humans, but all life on the planet? The sweeping, black-and-white artwork is an astonishing highlight to this tale of ecology, philosophy, ethics, and spirituality. Highly recommended.

The Junction
Norm Konyu
Titan Comics
9781787738300 $29.99

Synopsis: When a missing child, Lucas Jones, reappears on his Uncle's doorstep in his hometown of Medford after an absence of 12 years, the brief moment of joy is clouded by mystery. Where has he been? Where is his father who disappeared at the same time? And how is it possible that Lucas is still 11 years old?

As Lucas is uncommunicative, it is left to Detective Sergeant David King and child psychologist Jean Symonds to attempt to find some answers from the few belongings Lucas returned with; little more than four Polaroids and a personal journal which speaks of his time in a place called 'The Junction'.

The story unravels through interviews, medical and police reports, and ultimately, through visits to The Junction via the pages of Lucas' diary, jumping back and forth in time, revealing pieces of the puzzle in a mystery that keeps the reader guessing right up until the end.

Critique: The Junction is a full-color graphic novel featuring stylized, almost surreal art that perfectly captures the mysterious essence of the premise and setting. When a child that was missing for twelve years suddenly returns, the occasion should be one of joy - but why does the uncommunicative young man still appear only eleven years old? Snippets of insight from interviews, medical examinations, and police reports gradually piece together a picture of the young man's time in a place called "The Junction", and the ramifications of his return home. The Junction is a thoroughly captivating read from cover to cover, enthralling in its depiction of the unknown. Highly recommended.

The Forest
Thomas Ott
Fantagraphics Books
9781683965169, $16.99, 32pp

Synopsis: "The Forest" by storyteller and artist Thomas Ott is a graphic novella told via twenty-five singular illustrations, without words. It's the story of a young boy who sneaks away from a family funeral and sinks into the forest depths, where he confronts man's greatest fear and must choose his path.

Drawing with a technique called scratchboard, where a white surface is covered with a black layer and scratched away, Ott creates images out of negative space to harrowing effect. In Ott's hands, the medium becomes the perfect vessel for his eerie, horror-imbued morality tales. This gorgeous volume is printed on heavy art paper with Pantone Black ink to best showcase every exquisite detail of Ott's virtuosic talent in his story comprised of black-and-white illustrations throughout.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and intriguing story told without words in one page of deftly crafted art at a time, "The Forest" by Thomas Ott will prove to be a unique and appreciated addition to personal and community library graphic novel collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of graphic novel fans and artists that "The Forest" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle/Comixology, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Thomas Ott is a Swiss artist who received training as a graphic artist at the Kunstgewerbeschule School of Design in Zürich and has been a freelance comics artist and illustrator since 1987, as well as an animator, musician, and political cartoonist. His books include The Number 73304-23-4153-6-96-8, Cinema Panopticum, T. Ott's Tales of Error, Dead End, Greetings from Hellville, and R.I.P.: Best of 1985-2004.

The Audiobook Shelf

A Silent Way to Die
N. R. Daws
Brilliance Audio
9781713647607, $14.99, MP3-CD

Synopsis: December 1940. With the Blitz devastating Britain's cities, Lizzie Hayes and the women pilots of the Air Transport Authority are more crucial to the war effort than ever before. But when the relative peace of the village of Scotney is shattered by the disappearance of the Chief Inspector's niece, it's Lizzie's training as a psychologist that draws her into another disturbing police case alongside DI Jonathan Kember.

Events threaten to overtake the pair when a local shepherdess is found murdered -- and there's something strange missing at the scene of the crime. As more bodies turn up, each bearing the same hallmark, Kember realises the campaign of terror will only escalate unless they can use Lizzie's training to get into the killer's mind.

With Kember's superiors set against Lizzie's involvement, he risks his reputation and his career -- but it's Lizzie who risks everything by putting her own life on the line in a desperate effort to unmask the murderer. With war raging around them, can they halt the killer before it's too late?

Critique: A riveting 'whodunnit' by an impressively imaginative author with a flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven storytelling that is impressively effective throughout, this complete and unabridged MP3-CD audio book edition of "A Silent Way To Die" by N. R. Daws will prove a particularly appreciated and enduringly popular addition to personal and community library Mystery/Suspense audio book collections. It should be noted by librarians that there is also a Library CD edition (9781713647591, $25.99, 9 discs, 31 hours 33 minutes) available from Brilliance Audio.

Cleopatra's Dagger
Carole Lawrence
Brilliance Audio
9781713646778, $14.99, MP3-CD

Synopsis: New York, 1880. Elizabeth van den Broek is the only female reporter at the Herald, the city's most popular newspaper. Then she and her bohemian friend Carlotta Ackerman find a woman's body wrapped like a mummy in a freshly dug hole in Central Park -- the intended site of an obelisk called Cleopatra's Needle. The macabre discovery takes Elizabeth away from the society pages to follow an investigation into New York City's darkest shadows.

When more bodies turn up, each tied to Egyptian lore, Elizabeth is onto a headline-making scoop more sinister than she could have imagined. Her reporting has readers spellbound, and each new clue implicates New York's richest and most powerful citizens. And a serial killer is watching every headline.

Now a madman with an indecipherable motive is coming after Elizabeth and everyone she loves. She wants a good story? She may have to die to get it!

Critique: Exceptionally and effectively narrated by the vocal skills of Kate Rudd, the Brilliance Audio complete and unabridged, one disc, 10 hour 15 minute, MP3-CD edition offers the listener a true 'theatre of the mind' experience for fans of historical mysteries. Highly recommended for audio book collections, it should be noted for librarians that there is also an unabridged Library CD edition of Carole Lawrence' "Cleopatra's Dagger" (9781713646761, $25.99, 8 discs).

Editorial Note: Award-winning novelist, poet, composer, and playwright Carole Lawrence is the author of eleven novels, six novellas, and dozens of short stories, articles, and poems -- many of which appear in translation internationally. She is also a two-time Pushcart Poetry Prize nominee and winner of the Euphoria Poetry Prize, the Eve of St. Agnes Poetry Award, the Maxim Mazumdar playwriting prize, the Jerry Jazz Musician award for short fiction, and the Chronogram Literary Fiction Award. Her plays and musicals have been produced in several countries as well as on NPR; nominated for an Innovative Theatre Award her physics play Strings was recently produced at the Kennedy Center. A Hawthornden Fellow, she is on the faculty of NYU and Gotham Writers, as well as the Cape Cod and San Miguel Writers' Conferences.

Citizen K-9
David Rosenfelt, author
Fred Berman, narrator
Macmillan Audio
9781250836649, $22.99, CD

Synopsis: The Paterson Police Department has created a cold case division, and they want to hire the private investigators known as the K Team to look into the crimes. After all, Corey Douglas and his K-9 partner, German shepherd Simon Garfunkel, recently retired from the force. Plus, another K Team member, Laurie Collins, used to be a cop as well.

Their first cold case hits home for the K Team. A decade ago, at Laurie's tenth high school reunion, two of their friends had simply vanished! At the time Laurie had just left the force, and Corey was in a different department, so they had no choice but to watch from the sidelines. With no leads, the case went cold.

As the team starts to delve deeper into the events leading up to that night (reopening old wounds along the way) the pieces start to come together. But someone wants to stop them from uncovering the truth behind the disappearance, by any means necessary.

Critique: The latest addition to author David Rosenfelt's K-Team series of mysteries, "Citizen K-9" is vividly performed by narrator Fred Berman who does full justice to Rosenfelt's distinctive characters and simply riveting plot with its unexpected twists and turns. With its complete and unabridged CD format from Macmillan Audio, "Citizen K-9" will be a highly prized and enduringly appreciated addition to the personal and community library Mystery/Suspense audio book collections.

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

Editorial Note #2: An accomplished actor of both the stage, screen, and television, Fred Berman is a five-time winner of the AudioFile Earphone Award for Audiobook Narration and the recipient of the 2013 Audie Award for narration in Spy the Lie. He has read a number of audiobooks for young listeners, including Judy Blume's Soupy Saturdays with The Pain & The Great One and Andrew Clements's The Last Holiday Concert. He has also narrated the audiobooks for Robert Kirkman's popular series, The Walking Dead.

Bloomsbury Girls
Natalie Jenner, author
Juliet Stevenson, narrator
Macmillan Audio
9781250852311, $39.99, CD

Synopsis: Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare book store that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager's unbreakable fifty-one rules. But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:

Vivien Lowry: Single since her aristocratic fiance was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances -- most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.

Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she's been working to support her family following her husband's breakdown in the aftermath of the war. She is torn between duty to the family and dreams of her own.

Evie Stone: In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she's working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.

As they interact with various literary figures of the time, including Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others -- these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow.

Critique: With the publication of "Bloomsbury Girls" in a complete and unabridged CD audio book edition, the truly impressive skills as a narrator of professional actress Juliet Stevenson is able to vividly bring to life author Natalie Jenner's novel in a true 'theatre of the mind' experience for the listener. This edition from Macmillan Audio is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal and community library audio book collections and will have a very special attraction for bookstore bibliophiles and fans of British/Irish historical literature and fiction.

The Music CD Shelf

Click Right Here
Ori Dagan
Privately Published
$TBA CD / $9.49 MP3

Toronto-based vocalist and jazz singer-songwriter Ori Dagan presents Click Right Here, an album of wry, witty music touching on the ironic sensibilities of life in the digital age. An extraordinary array of talented musicians on tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar, piano, bass, drums, and performing additional vocals enrich this multilayered reflection of online life in the twenty-first century. Click Right Here is a superbly crafted tour de force, and also makes an excellent gift! Highly recommended. The tracks are Viruses, Clicked on Romance, My Finger Slipped, Would You Swing My Way, The Social Media Tango, Hashtag World, Going That Counts, Rebirth of the Cool, 21st Century Blues, Googleable, and Video Killed the Radio Star.

Chasing Light
Lion Songs Records
$20.52 CD / $9.49 MP3

The debut album of acoustic trio Voyagers, Chasing Light is an album that blends traditional African music with original compositions inspired by both jazz and African-themed improvisations. Kora maestro Yacouba Sissoko from Mali, Austrian saxophonist Edith Lettner, and American guitarist Banning Eyre combine their skills into a resonant, vibrant whole. Chasing Light is a choice pick for connoisseurs of international music, highly recommended. The tracks are Today is a New Day, Solole, Waiting for Spring, Raise Your Voice, Madagascar, Danama, Kinkiliba, Lamban, Yaa Amponsah, Fouta, and Cheri.

New Dreams, Old Stories
Way North
Roots2Boot Recordings

Available both as a physical CD and a digital download, New Dreams, Old Stories is the latest original creation of avant-folk-jazz quartet Way North: Rebecca Hennessy on trumpet, Petr Cancura on Tenor Saxophone, Michael herring on bass, Richie Barshay on drums, and all four on vocals. An extraordinary medley drawing upon not only jazz elements, but also the folk music of both South America and the American South, New Dreams, Old Stories is a standout album highly recommended. The tracks are Play, I'm Here to Stay, New Dreams Old Stories, Chateau Gonflable, Pajarillo Verde, If Charlie Haden Couldn't Write a Song to Bring World Peace, Dr. Good, Lonely Hearts, New Way Through, Come Over to Our House, Dig, and When You Say Goodnight to Me

Narrow Line
Mama's Broke
Privately Published
$14.98 CD / $8.99 MP3

Canadian folk duo Mama's Broke presents Narrow Line, an album showcasing elements of Americana and Eastern European fiddle tunes, balanced with a cappella ballad singing. The result is an extraordinary, harmonious, and memorable concert of songs themed about the cycles of life itself. Narrow Line is a standout listening experience, highly recommended. The tracks are Just Pick One, Oh Sun / Pale Night / Forgetting Reel, Between the Briar & the Rose, How It Ends, Narrow Line, October's Lament, Pick the Raisins from the Paska, God's Little Boy, The Wreckage Done, The Ones That I Love, and Windows.

The Alberta Lounge
Deanne Matley
Barbette Records
$TBA CD / $9.49 MP3

The Alberta Lounge is a sultry smooth jazz album showcasing talented vocalist Deanne Matley. Two songs ("Alberta Lounge" and "If You Were Here Today") are Matley's creations; two are originals by Canadian jazz legend Oscar Peterson; and the rest are selections from Peterson's jazz catalogue. Most song lyrics are in English; one song has original French lyrics, and another is sung in Portuguese. The Alberta Lounge is a treasury highly recommended especially for aficionados of Canadian jazz. The tracks are The Alberta Lounge, Mas Que Nada, I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You, Merci Pour Ca!, The Land Was White (When Summer Comes), How Come You Do Me Like You Do?, If You Were Here Today, Tristeza, and Hymn to Freedom.

Hard Times and a Woman
Justin Golden
Privately Published
$14.98 CD / $8.99 MP3

Guitarist and songwriter Justin Golden presents Hard Times and a Woman, an original blues album with lyrics that reflect love and loss, the difficulties of being a black person in America, the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, and much more. A modern-day creation grounded in timeless blues tradition, Hard Times and a Woman is a choice pick for connoisseurs of the genre, and highly recommended. The tracks are Can't Get Right, Ain't Just Luck, Lightning When She Smiles, The Gator, Must Be Honey, Moon Far Away, Why the Sun Goes Down, Call Me When the Bed Gets Cold, No Riches, Pulling Weight, If I Keep It Together, and Oh Lord, Oh Lord.

The DVD Shelf

How They Got Over
Robert Clem, director
First Run Features
630 Ninth Avenue, Suite 1213. New York, NY 10036

Synopsis: Developed over a dozen years beginning in 2006 and invited to film festivals all over the world, "How they Got Over" is a film by director Robert Clem that follows some of the most famous African American quartets of the twentieth century and tells how their music, rooted in spirituals from the slavery era, influenced secular music forms that came after.

The film also includes music performances from the early 1960s and interviews with many of gospel music's legendary singers -- most of whom have since passed away. Appearing in the film are Clarence Fountain and the original Blind Boys of Alabama; Ira Tucker and the Dixie Hummingbirds; legendary bass singer Isaac 'Dickie' Freeman and the Fairfield Four; JoJo Wallace and the Sensational Nightingales; Joe Ligon and Mighty Clouds of Joy; Spencer Taylor and Highway QC's, Willie Rogers and the Soul Stirrers.

We also hear from Dennis Edwards (originally a gospel singer) of the Temptations, Thomas Spann of the Brooklyn All-Stars and crossover singer Otis Clay.

Critique: A fitting memorial showcasing the undeniable talents of African American singers and musicians, "How They Got Over: Gospel Quartets and the Road to Rock & Roll" is a joy to watch and an important, unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library DVD American music history collections.

Editorial Note: "How They Got Over" was funded by the Southern Humanities Media Fund; the Alabama Humanities Foundation, South Carolina Humanities Council, North Carolina Humanities Council, Mississippi Humanities Council and Humanities Texas, state programs of the National Endowment for the Humanities; Alabama State Council for the Arts, Hugh Kaul Foundation, Alabama Law Foundation and individual contributors. There is a dedicated website at

The General Fiction Shelf

The Patron Saint of Second Chances
Christine Simon
Atria Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781982188771, $27.00, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: Vacuum repairman and self-appointed mayor of Prometto, Italy (population 212) Signor Speranza has a problem: unless he can come up with 70,000 euros to fix the town's pipes, the water commission will shut off the water to the village and all its residents will be forced to disperse. So in a bid to boost tourism (and revenue) he spreads a harmless rumor that movie star Dante Rinaldi will be filming his next project nearby.

Unfortunately, the plan works a little too well, and soon everyone in town wants to be a part of the fictional film -- the village butcher will throw in some money if Speranza can find roles for his fifteen enormous sons, Speranza's wistfully adrift daughter reveals an unexpected interest in stage makeup, and his hapless assistant Smilzo volunteers a screenplay that's not so secretly based on his undying love for the film's leading lady. To his surprise and considerable consternation, Speranza realizes that the only way to keep up the ruse is to make the movie for real.

As the entire town becomes involved (even the village priest invests!) Signor Speranza starts to think he might be able to pull this off. But what happens when Dante Rinaldi doesn't show up? Or worse, what if he does?

Critique: Some authors seem to have a natural flair for comedy and can infuse their novels with memorable characters and compulsive page turner plots. It's all the more remarkable that in her debut as a novelist, Christine Simon's "The Patron Saint of Second Chances" clearly reveals her inherent talent for humourous originality and will leave her fully entertained readers looking forward to her next novel. The stuff of which block-buster movies are made, and also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Simon & Schuster Audio, 9781797137865, $39.99, CD), "The Patron Saint of Second Chances" is guaranteed to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections.

Alex Pugsley
9781771964692, $16.95, PB, 224pp

Synopsis: "Shimmer" is a collection comprised of ten short stories by author Alex Pugsley For example, outside a 7-Eleven, teen boys Veeper and Wendell try to decide what to do with their night, though the thought of the rest of their lives doesn't seem to have occurred to them.

While in 'Laurel Canyon', two movie stars try to decide if the affair they're having might mean they like each other.

When Byron, trying to figure out the chords of a song he likes, posts a question on a guitar website, he ends up meeting Jessica as well, a woman with her own difficult music.

And when the snide and sharp-tongued Twyla agrees to try therapy, not even she would have imagined the results.

Critique: A deftly crafted, entertaining, and occasionally thought-provoking series of memorable short stories by an author with a genuine flair for the kind of character and narrative driven storytelling that keeps the reader fully engaged, "Shimmer" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, college, and university library Short Story Anthology collections. It should be noted that "Shimmer" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Alex Pugsley is a writer and filmmaker originally from Nova Scotia. His fiction has appeared in Brick, The Walrus, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and Best Canadian Stories, among other publications. His debut novel, "Aubrey McKee", was recently published by Biblioasis

Taylor Brown
St. Martin's Press
120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271
9781250274595, $27.99, 320pp

Synopsis: "Wingwalkers" is a deftly scripted blending of adventure and romance by novelist Taylor Brown. It follows the adventures of Della and Zeno Marigold, a pair of Great Depression barnstormers who are funding their journey west by performing death-defying aerial stunts from town to town, and braids them with the real-life exploits of author (and thwarted fighter pilot) William Faulkner. When their paths cross during a dramatic air show, there will be unexpected consequences for all.

As an accomplished storyteller, Brown has taken a tantalizing tidbit from Faulkner's real life in the form of an evening's chance encounter with two daredevils in New Orleans, and made it a core element in his latest novel.

Critique: Compelling originality combined with a solidly crafted action/adventure style plot and memorable characters, "Wingwalkers" is an inherently entertaining and unreservedly recommended read from first page to last. While especially appropriate acquisition selection for community library fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists for World War I historical fiction fans that "Wingwalkers" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Taylor Brown is the recipient of the Montana Prize in Fiction and a finalist for the Southern Book Prize. His novels include Fallen Land, The River of Kings, Gods of Howl Mountain, and Pride of Eden.

Home or Away
Kathleen West
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
9780593335505, $27.00, HC, 368pp

Synopsis: Once Leigh and Susy were close friends and teammates bound for Olympic hockey gold, but when Leigh's sure-fire plan to make the final roster backfired, she left everything behind to start over, including the one person who knew her secret.

Two decades later, Leigh is a successful investment banker, happily married, and the mom of a hockey prodigy, so when a career opportunity lands the family back in Minnesota, Leigh takes the shot for her kid. Back in the ultra-competitive world she left behind, the move puts her in Susy's orbit, a daily reminder of how Leigh watched from the sidelines as her former teammate went on to Olympic glory.

Despite the coldness between them, Susy can't help but hope that Leigh might lace up her skates and join her in the coaches' box -- after all Leigh knows better than anyone how hard it is to be a woman in this world. Susy knows soon her daughter, Georgie, will be seen as a "girl athlete," relegated to the B team, with less support and opportunity to advance.

But Leigh believes keeping Susy at arms' length is the only way to hide her history with her former coach Jeff Carlson. When he hints of new favors in exchange for her son's ice time, Leigh is caught in the ultimate bind: come clean about what happened when she was an Olympic hopeful and risk her marriage or play Jeff's game. In a moment of desperation, Leigh realizes the one person she thought was her biggest competitor (her former teammate) might turn out to be her biggest ally.

Critique: Some novelists seem to have a natural aptitude for the fine art of narrative driven storytelling and memorable character crafting that is the hallmark of literary success. Kathleen West is one of those author and her latest novel, "Home or Away" (a story about overcoming our pasts, confronting our futures, and the sustaining bonds of female friendship) is continuing evidence as to her undeniable talent as a writer. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Fiction collections, it should be noted for the growing legions of Kathleen West fans that for their personal reading lists, "Home or Away" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: The three previous novels by Katheen West include: "Art We There Yet?" (Berkley, 9780593098431, $26.00 HC, $15.99 PB, $11.99 Kindle, 352pp), "Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes" (Berkely, 9780593098400, $26.00 HC, $16.00 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 384pp), and a children's book version of "Art We There Yet?" (Demco Media, 9780606347297, Ages 7-9).

The Healing
Lynda Faye Schmidt
OC Publishing
9781989833063, $18.99, PB, 392pp

Synopsis: Based on true events, "The Healing" by novelist Lynda Faye Schmidt is the compelling story of Cate Henderson who, after twenty-six years in an abusive relationship, sets out on a quest to find healing. Cate packs up everything she owns and leaves Calgary on an odyssey westward, to Vancouver Island, where her ever-present journal and the abundance of nature become the foundation of her self-recovery.

She yearns for something deeper and then, when she isn't looking, she finds love with the solid and virtuous Ethan. Cate thinks his stead-fast love is what she is searching for, but soon realizes she needs to do her own work, that love for herself is the key.

Cate gets thrown off-course when Lyme Disease, an earthquake in Nepal, her daughter's mental health challenges, and her move with Ethan to the Middle East, cause her to lose her new-found awareness. Her heart calls her to endure the lows and enjoy the highs, to let go of the ties that bind and the fear that controls.

"The Healing" is a raw and vulnerable exploration of human resilience. At times both painful and uplifting, it is ultimately a story about love, examining motherhood, partnership, grief, expectation and optimism, and the journey inward to self-love.

Critique: Some writers just seem to have a natural flair for the kind of narrative driven storytelling style that the reader will find compelling, thought-provoking, and emotionally involving. The kind of book that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after it has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Lynda Faye Schmidt is just that kind of writer and "The Healing" just that kind of book. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading reading lists that "The Healing" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.35).

Editorial Note: Also very highly recommended reading is Lynda Faye Schmidt's novel "The Holding" ($18.99 PB, $0.99 Kindle) which is the prequel to her novel "The Healing".

The Historical Fiction Shelf

Sins of the Fathers
Herbert J. Stern, author
Alan A. Winter, author
Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781510769427, $29.99, HC, 432pp

Synopsis: History hinged on a call as the German high command waited for Hitler's order to invade Czechoslovakia. That was the signal that would launch their revolt to bring down the Reich.

Every detail of the coup was in place. Access roads to Berlin would be blocked. The city sealed. Communication centers taken. A commando squad of sixty hand-picked men were ready to storm the Chancellery and seize Hitler. The only open question: to try Hitler as a traitor or execute him on the spot.

Although a work of fiction, "Sins of the Fathers" is based on historical facts that included the efforts of German military leaders, career civil servants, and clergy to solicit England's assistance to bring down the tyrant in 1938.

When Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain refused to meet with them, they turned to Winston Churchill, who secretly supported their cause. Armed with a strongly worded letter from the future prime minister, they waited for Hitler's telephone call ordering German troops to invade Czechoslovakia -- the signal for their uprising. But the call did not come. Instead, Prime Minister Chamberlain went to Hitler's apartment in Munich only to bow to the dictator's will. The invasion was over before it began -- and with that, so was the coup.

Flying home, Chamberlain announced he had obtained "peace for our times".

"Sins of the Father" tells, in a biographical fiction format, the dramatic true story of the foolish prime minister that undermined the coup to topple the regime, delivered Czechoslovakia to Hitler, saved the Fu?hrer's life, and paved the road to World War II.

Critique: "Sins of the Fathers" by the writing team of Herbert J. Stern and Alan R. Winter is the sequel to their novel "Wolf" which is about Hitler's rise to power. It is a simply riveting read from first page to last and as a work of fiction nicely dramatizes the real people and the real event that has lapsed into historical history.

Editorial Note #1: Herbert J. Stern, was formerly the US attorney for the District of New Jersey who prosecuted the mayors of Newark, Jersey City and Atlantic City, and served as judge of the US District Court for the District of New Jersey. He also served as judge of the United States Court for Berlin. There he presided over a hijacking trial in the occupied American Sector of West Berlin. He is also the author of "Judgment in Berlin" and "Diary of a DA: The True Story of the Prosecutor Who Took on the Mob, Fought Corruption, and Won"

Editorial Note #2: Alan A. Winter is the award-winning author of four other novels, including "Island Bluffs", "Snowflakes in the Sahara", "Someone Else's Son", and "Savior's Day". Winter graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in history and has professional degrees from both New York University and Columbia, where he was an associate professor for many years. He edited an award-winning journal and has published more than twenty professional articles. Alan studied creative writing at Columbia's Graduate School of General Studies.

All the Lights Above Us
M. B. Henry
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781643859620, $26.99, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: June 6, 1944. Allied forces hit the beaches of Nazi-occupied France. Among the countless lives shattered are those of five spirited women with starkly different lives. As the war reaches its tipping point, each of the women fight for the survival of themselves, their countries, and their way of life during one of the most pivotal days in history.

American expatriate Mildred, better known as Axis Sally, has a thriving career as a Nazi radio propagandist, but her conscience haunts her. Meanwhile, across the English Channel, young medical volunteer Theda is pushed to her limit as shiploads of casualties dock in Portsmouth. Closer to the front, intrepid Flora aids the French resistance, while she seeks out her vanished parents. Iron-willed Emilia has climbed the Gestapo ranks, but she is now bent on betraying them. Finally, dignified Adelaide's faith is shaken when she is forced to quarter German soldiers.

Now, during the most perilous twenty-four hours of their lives, all five women must summon courage they never knew they had, as they confront the physical dangers of war, alongside treacherous family secrets, heartbreak, and the ability to trust themselves. For these women, their inner strength is their only hope. But is it enough? How far can one person go for the things they believe in?

Critique: Although a brilliantly crafted work of historical fiction, with the publication of "All The Lights Above Us" by novelist M. B. Henry is well grounded in historical facts and contexts. The result is a compelling and entertaining read from cover to cover. The stuff of which movies are made, "The lights Above Us" is certain to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of anyone with an interest in World War II military fiction that "All The Lights Above Us" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666581355, $22.99, CD).

Editorial Note: M.B. Henry is a lifelong student of history, especially military history, having visited battlefields and historical sites all over the world. She has a degree in Cinema and Comparative Literature, and has served as a historical consultant and researcher on films and television in Los Angeles.

The Literary Fiction Shelf

The Gods of Green County
Mary Elizabeth Pope
c/o Carolina Wren Press
9781949467710, $25.95, HC, 246pp

Synopsis: In 1926 in rural Green County, Arkansas, where cotton and poverty reign, young Coralee Harper hopes for a family and a place in her community, but when her brother Buddy is killed by a powerful sheriff, she can't recover from his death or the injustice of his loss. When she begins to spot her dead brother around town, she wonders -- is she clairvoyant, mistaken, or simply losing her mind?

What Coralee can't fathom is that there are forces at work that threaten her and the very fabric of the town: Leroy Harrison, a newly minted, ambitious lawyer who makes a horrible mistake, landing him a judgeship and a guilty conscience for life; an evangelical preacher and his flock of snake-handling parishioners; the women of the town who, along with Coralee's own mother, make up their own kind of jury for Coralee's behavior; Sheriff Wiley Slocum who rules the entire field, harboring dark secrets of his own; and finally, Coralee's husband Earl, who tries to balance his work at the cotton gin with his fight for family and Coralee's life.

When Coralee ends up in a sanity hearing before Judge Leroy Harrison, the judge must decide both Coralee's fate and his own. The chain of events following his decision draws him more deeply into the sheriff's far-reaching sphere of influence, and reveals the destructive nature of power, even (and especially) his own.

Critique: An inherently absorbing, intriguing, and fascinating read from first page to last, "The Gods of Green County" showcase author Mary Elizabeth Pope's genuine flair for originality and multi-layered narrative storytelling at its best. Compelling, entertaining, thought provoking, "The Gods of Green County" is highly recommended, especially for personal reading lists, as well as community, college and university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted that "The Gods of Green County" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49).

Editorial Note: Mary Elizabeth Pope is Professor of English at Emmanuel College in Boston and the author of Divining Venus: Stories. Her work has been featured in such literary magazines as Arkansas Review, Florida Review, Bellingham Review, Ascent, Passages North, and Fugue, among others. She holds a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing from the University of Iowa.

The Romantic Fiction Shelf

Wedding Season
Michelle Major
HQN Books
c/o Harlequin Books
9781335480002, 352pp

Synopsis: Mariella Jacob was one of the world's premier bridal designers, but one viral PR disaster later, she's trying to get her torpedoed career back on track in small-town Magnolia, North Carolina. With a secondhand store and a new business venture helping her friends turn the Wildflower Inn into a wedding venue, Mariella is finally putting at least one mistake behind her. Until that mistake (in the glowering, handsome form of Alex Ralsten) moves to Magnolia too.

Mariella ruined Alex's wedding by announcing that his starlet bride-to-be was sleeping with Mariella's fiance. While he's furious when they're forced to work together, there's no denying Mariella is hardworking, talented -- and gorgeous! In fact, though Alex keeps reminding himself that they're enemies, something deeper is growing, daring them to admit that a rocky past might lead to something unexpectedly wonderful.

"Wedding Season" also includes a bonus novella! "Springtime in Carolina" is the story of Josie Trumbull who has rebuilt her life after her dreams were crushed by a career-ending injury. Now she teaches ballet in Magnolia and has mostly made peace with her life and future. Until her best friend, and proprietor of the bookstore next door, Stuart Madison, takes her completely by surprise.

Critique: A fun and deftly crafted read from first to last, "Wedding Season" is the third book in romance novelist Michelle Major's 'The Carolina Girls Series'. Highly recommended for the personal reading lists of dedicated romance fans, as well as community library Contemporary Romance Fiction collections, satisfied readers should note that the first two books in this outstanding series are Book 1: Wildflower Season and Book 2: Mistletoe Season. The growing legions of Michelle Major fans should know that she maintains a website at

The Prince
Dinitia Smith
Arcade Publishing
c/o Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781950994199, $26.99, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: From their grand mansion on the Upper East Side to their magical private island in Long Island Sound, everything points to the Woodford family as being perfect and idyllic. Why, then, is there such tension in the air?

Enter Federico, a penniless Italian prince who is about to marry Emily Woodford, the only child of the family's widowed patriarch, Henry. When Emily's beautiful, enigmatic childhood friend, Christina, appears on the scene as a guest at their wedding, trouble begins, for she and the Prince once had a passionate affair. Henry, however, is also enchanted by Christina.

Now both Emily and her father must face a new reality, and learn whom they can, or cannot, trust.

Critique: An elegant, eloquent, and fully entertaining novel by a writer with an impressive and reader engaging narrative driven storytelling style, "The Prince" by author Dinitia Smith is unabashedly recommended addition to community library Romance Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated romance fans that "The Prince" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note: Dinitia Smith is the author of four novels, and was for eleven years a reporter at the New York Times covering the arts. She maintains a website at

It Takes A Villa
Kilby Blades
c/o Entangled Publishing
9781649372086, $8.99, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: For the reasonable price of $1, Natalie Malone just bought herself an abandoned villa on the Amalfi Coast. With a detailed spreadsheet and an ancient key, she's arrived in Italy ready to renovate -- and only six months to do it. Which seemed reasonable until architect Pietro Indelicato began critically watching her every move.

From the sweeping ocean views to the scent of the lemon trees, there's nothing Pietro loves more than his hometown. And after seeing too many botched jobs and garish design choices, he's done watching from the sidelines. As far as he's concerned, Natalie should quit before the project drains her entire bank account and her ridiculously sunny optimism.

With Natalie determined to move forward, the gorgeous architect reluctantly agrees to pitch in, giving her a real chance to succeed. But when the fine print on Natalie's contract is brought to light, she might have no choice but to leave her dream, and Pietro, behind.

Critique: A simply fun and memorable read from cover to cover, "It Takes A Villa" by Kilby Blades will have immense appeal for fans of contemporary romance and comedy. With a genuine flair for deftly crafted characters and many an entertaining plot twist and turn, "It Takes A Villa" will prove to be a welcome addition to community library Multicultural and Romantic Comedy fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "It Takes A Villa" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Kilby Blades is also the author of the novel, "Snapdragon", which was a HOLT Medallion finalist and a Publishers Weekly BookLife Prize semifinalist. She has been lauded by critics for "writing characters who complement each other like a fine wine does a good meal" (PW).

That Cowboy of Mine
Donna Grant
St. Martin's Press
120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271
9781250820280, $8.99, PB, 304pp

Synopsis: Dillon Young is proud that she inherited her aunt's ranch. The problem: someone is trying to run her off and is willing to do whatever it takes. Strange, dangerous things keep happening. Dillon suspects her no-good neighbor and wealthy fellow rancher Hank Stephens. Never a man to get his hands dirty, he sends others to get the job done. So, when the irresistible Cal Bennett is found passed out drunk on her property, Dillon is on high alert. Until someone takes a shot at her and Cal springs to her rescue. When the hard-bodied, no-nonsense-talking cowboy points out that she may need some help, Dillon is inclined to reluctantly agree.

Waking up on a stranger's property with a shotgun in his face is not Cal Bennett's idea of a good time. Never mind that the person on the other end of the barrel is one of the most fiercely beautiful women he has ever seen. Things get more interesting when he finds himself shielding her from flying bullets. It's clear that this smart, savvy woman could use a hand and Cal is all too happy to lend any part of his body she requires. His proposal: pose as lovers until they find out who is after her ranch. As the danger rises and secrets are revealed, the passion explodes between them and there is no turning back.

Critique: With its deftly blended elements of mystery and romance, "That Cowboy of Mine" showcases author Donna Grant's impressive flair for the kind of western novel that will have immense appeal to a wide range of readers. The stuff of which Hallmark movies are made, as well as readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99), "That Cowboy of Mine" is an especially recommended addition to community library Contemporary & Western Romance collections.

Editorial Note: Novelist Donna Grant's latest acclaimed series, Dark Kings, features a thrilling combination of dragons, Fae, and immortal Highlanders who are dark, dangerous, and irresistible. Donna maintains two websites: and She can also be followed on Facebook at

Rules for Engaging the Earl
Janna MacGregor
St. Martin's Press
120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271
9781250761613, $8.99, PB, 384pp

Synopsis: Constance Lysander needs a husband. Or, so society says. She's about to give birth to her late husband's child -- a man who left her with zero money, and two other wives she didn't know about. Thankfully, she has her Aunt by her side, and the two other wives have become close friends. But still -- with a baby on the way, her shipping business to run, and an enemy skulking about, she has no time to find the perfect match.

Enter Jonathan, Earl of Sykeston. Returned war hero and Constance's childhood best friend, his reentry into society has been harsh. Maligned for an injury he received in the line of duty, Jonathan prefers to stay out of sight. It's the only way to keep his heart from completely crumbling. But when a missive from Constance requests his presence to their marriage ceremony, Jonathan is on board. His feelings for Constance run deep, and he'll do anything to make her happy, though it means risking his already bruised heart.

With Constance, Jonathan, and the new baby all together, it's clear the wounds (both on the surface and in their relationship) run deep. But when the nights come, their wounds begin to heal, and both come to realize that their marriage of convenience is so much more than just a bargain.

Critique: As an author, Janna MacGregor has a particular flair for writing Regency Romance novels. Case in point -- "Rules for Engaging the Earl", part of her 'The Widow Rules' series. A fun read from cover to cover, it has everything a regency romance requires for any dedicated romance story enthusiast. The stuff of which Hallmark Movies are made, "Rules for Engaging the Earl" is highly recommended for community library collections and is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Murder on Madison Square
Victoria Thompson
Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
9780593337066, $26.00, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: Former policeman Frank Malloy is frustrated when a woman requests his private detective services to implicate her wealthy husband in adultery, the only legal grounds for divorce in New York state. Although Mrs. Bing seems genuinely distressed about her marriage and desperate to end it, she refuses to tell Frank the reason she absolutely must divorce her husband and admits she has no legal grounds. Frank explains he won't manufacture evidence for her and sends her on her way.

The following week, Frank and Sarah happen to be attending the first ever auto show in Madison Square Garden when they meet the woman's husband, Alfred Bing, who has invested in a company that produces one of the electric motorcars on display. A few days later, the newspapers report that millionaire Alvin Bing has been found dead, pinned beneath one of the wheels of his very own motorcar. But who was driving it? The obvious suspect is Mrs. Bing, but Frank and Sarah find that nothing is as it seems in their puzzling, dangerous search for truth.

Critique: Some writers just seem to have a natural talent for deftly crafting a riveting 'whodunnit' style of mystery novel that keeps satisfied mystery buffs looking eagerly toward their next book. Award winning mystery novelist Victoria Thompson is just such a writer. Her latest novel, "Murder on Madison Square", is part of her simply outstanding 'A Gaslight Mystery' series and will prove to be an enthusiastically popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should also be noted for their personal reading lists by the growing legions of Victoria Thompson fans that "Murder on Madison Square" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

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

Bear Witness
Lark O. Jensen
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781643858968, $26.99, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: No nine-to-five cubicle career will suit Stacie Calder -- as a naturalist, she much prefers working in the great outdoors. Specifically, the spacious and spectacular Alaskan wilderness, whose rugged charms she shares with sightseers on the top deck of the tour boat where she works. But one May afternoon, Stacie's passengers see more than glittering glaciers, frolicking harbor seals, climbing bears and soaring seabirds -- they also witness a man lying dead in the frigid Alaskan waters. And it seems quite likely that someone gave him a fatal push.

Stacie didn't know the unfortunate victim, but he sure wanted to know a lot about her. He spent most of his final afternoon bombarding her with questions quite awkward to answer. And when he wasn't in her hair, he was arguing incessantly with the boat's beleaguered crew. Which makes for a suspect list about as long as the passenger manifest. Furthermore, as police helicopters relentlessly circle her boat in search of any clues, Stacie is shaken to find herself on that suspect list.

Before the tour boat reaches shore Stacie (accompanied by her beautiful blue-eyed husky, Sasha) must deduce just who sent the testy tourist tumbling into the turgid waters and have the authorities take custody. Because if she can't, then the killer might aim a fatal ice-cold stare at Stacie!

Critique: An impressively crafted 'whodunnit' mystery with more unexpected plot twists and turns that a Coney Island roller coaster, "Bear Witness" by Lark O. Jensen is a mystery buffs delight from first page to last. Original, compelling, entertaining throughout, "Bear Witness" is a very highly recommended and certain to be enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery fans that "Bear Witness" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).

Editorial Note: Lark O. Jensen has published 53 books so far, including mysteries and romantic novels. She has written several cozy mystery series including the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries and Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink, and the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries and Pet Rescue Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. She also writes romances for Harlequin, including Harlequin Romantic Suspense. Her latest romance ficton release is Colton First Responder, for Harlequin Romantic Suspense.

Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies
Misha Popp
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781643859958, $26.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: The first time Daisy Ellery killed a man with a pie, it was an accident. Now, it's her calling. Daisy bakes sweet vengeance into her pastries, which she and her dog Zoe deliver to the men who've done dirty deeds to the town's women. But if she can't solve the one crime that's not of her own baking, she'll be out of the pie pan and into the oven.

Parking her Pies Before Guys mobile bakery van outside the local diner, Daisy is informed by Frank, the crusty diner owner, that someone's been prowling around the van -- and not just to inhale the delectable aroma. Already on thin icing with Frank, she finds a letter on her door, threatening to reveal her unsavory secret sideline of pie a la murder.

Blackmail? But who whipped up this half-baked plot to cut a slice out of Daisy's business? Purple-haired campus do-gooder Melly? Noel, the tender (if flaky) farm boy? Or one of the abusive men who prefer their pie without a deadly scoop of payback?

The upcoming statewide pie contest could be Daisy's big chance to help wronged women everywhere -- that is, if she doesn't meet a sticky end first. Because Daisy knows the blackmailer won't stop until her business is in crumbles.

Critique: Introducing unique and original protagonist in a unique and original mystery, "Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies" by new novelist Misha Popp is unabashed fun on the printed page and will have a wide appeal, not only for veteran mystery buffs, but for anyone that appreciates irony, whimsey, and lethal pastries! While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape, 9781666581331, $22.99, CD), "Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies" is highly recommended for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Misha Popp enjoys writing about murdery women and over-the-top baked goods. She has launched a personal website at

The Shadow of Memory
Connie Berry
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781643859088, $26.99, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: As Kate Hamilton plans her upcoming wedding to Detective Inspector Tom Mallory, she is also assisting her colleague Ivor Tweedy with a project at the Netherfield Sanatorium, which is being converted into luxury townhouses. Kate and Ivor must appraise a fifteenth-century painting and verify that its provenance is the Dutch master Jan Van Eyck. But when retired criminal inspector Will Parker is found dead, Kate learns that the halls of the sanatorium housed much more than priceless art.

Kate is surprised to learn that Will had been the first boyfriend of her friend Vivian Bunn, who hasn't seen him in fifty-eight years. At a seaside holiday camp over sixty years ago, Will, Vivian, and three other teens broke into an abandoned house where a doctor and his wife had died under bizarre circumstances two years earlier. Now, when a second member of the childhood gang dies unexpectedly, and then a third, it becomes clear that the teens had discovered more in the house than they had realized.

Had Will returned to warn his old love? When Kate makes a shocking connection between a sixty-year-old murder and the long-buried secrets of the sanatorium, she suddenly understands that time is running out for Vivian -- and anyone connected to her!

Critique: The stuff of which television's Hallmark Chanel Mystery Movies are made, "The Shadow of Memory" by veteran mystery writer Connie Berry is the latest volume in the author's Kate Hamilton Mystery series. Deftly crafted, inherently compelling, a real page turner of a read from cover to cover, "The Shadow of Memory" is unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the growing legions of Connie Berry fans that "The Shadow of Memory" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).

Editorial Note: Connie Berry is the author of the Kate Hamilton Mysteries, set in the UK and featuring an American antiques dealer with a gift for solving crimes. Like her protagonist, Connie was raised by antiques dealers who instilled in her a passion for history, fine art, and travel. In 2019 Connie won the IPPY Gold Medal for Mystery and was a finalist for the Agatha Award's Best Debut. She's a member of Mystery Writers of America and is on the board of the Guppies and her local Sisters in Crime chapter. She also maintains a personal and professional website

One of Us Is Dead
Jeneva Rose
Blackstone Publishing
31 Mistletoe Road, Ashland, OR 97520
9798200706846, $28.99, HC, 318pp

Synopsis: With the publication of her latest novel, author Jeneva Rose would like you to eet the women of Buckhead -- a community of expensive cars, huge houses, and competitive friendships.

Shannon was once the queen bee of Buckhead. But she's been unceremoniously dumped by Bryce, her politician husband. When Bryce replaces her with a much younger woman, Shannon sets out to take revenge...

Crystal has stepped into Shannon's old shoes. A young, innocent Texan girl, she simply has no idea what she's up against...

Olivia has waited years to take Shannon's crown as the unofficial queen of Buckhead. Finally, her moment has come. But to take her rightful place, she will need to use every backstabbing, manipulative, underhand trick in the book...

Jenny owns Glow, the most exclusive salon in town. Jenny knows all her clients' secrets and darkest desires. But will she ever tell?

Who amongst these women will be clever enough to survive Buckhead -- and who will wind up dead? They say that friendships can be complex, but no one said it could ever be this deadly.

Critique: A deftly crafted blend of women's friendships, rivalries, ambitions, and suspense, "One of Us is Dead" is a riveting and entertaining read from first page to last. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.69) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (9798200705955, $31.95, MP3-CD), "One of Us is Dead" will prove to be a welcome and popular addition to community library Contemprorary Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Jeneva Rose is also the author of The Perfect Marriage, which has been published in nearly a dozen languages and optioned for film. She maintains a website at

The Echoes
Jess Montgomery
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
9781250623423, $27.99, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: As July 4, 1928 approaches, Sheriff Lily Ross and her family look forward to the opening of an amusement park in a nearby town, created by World War I military veteran and lumber mill owner Chalmer Fitzpatrick. When Lily is alerted to the possible drowning of a girl, she goes to investigate, and discovers schisms going back several generations, in an ongoing dispute over the land on which Fitzpatrick has built the park.

Lily's family life is soon rattled, too, with the revelation that before he died, her brother had a daughter, Esme, with a woman in France, and arrangements have been made for Esme to immigrate to the U.S. to live with them. But Esme never makes it to Kinship, and soon Lily discovers that she has been kidnaped. Not only that, but a young woman is indeed found murdered in the fishing pond on Fitzpatrick's property, at the same time that a baby is left on his doorstep.

As the two crimes interweave, Lily must confront the question of what makes family: can we trust those we love? And what do we share, and what do we keep secret?

Critique: Original, deftly crafted, inherently engaging, populated with memorable characters and more plot twists and turns than a carnival roller coaster, "The Echoes" by Jess Montgomery is a simply riveting read by an accomplished novelist and will prove to be a particularly welcome addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all crime fiction fans that "The Echoes" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Jess Montgomery writes the Writer's Digest magazine column, "Level Up Your Writing (Life)" and was formerly the "Literary Life" columnist for the Dayton Daily News. Based on early chapters of the first book in the Kinship Series, The Widows, Jess was awarded an Ohio Arts Council individual artist's grant for literary arts and named the John E. Nance Writer-in-Residence at Thurber House in Columbus. She also hosts the podcast, "Tea with Jess: Chatting with Authors & Artists."

Wild Creek Whispers
Cindy Keen Reynders
Camel Press
6524 NE 181st Street, STE #2, Kenmore, WA 98028
9781942078524, $16.95, PB, 256pp

Synopsis: Wyoming private investigator Reese Golden has been hired by a distraught mother to find her missing 4-year-old daughter. This is no small task, considering that the child has been missing for weeks and has seemingly vanished into thin air.

Unfortunately, the police and the FBI haven't been able to come up with any leads. Reese, a former police detective, was shot on the job, which led to her departure from the force. She is still rebuilding confidence in her abilities, and hesitates to take on the case, but she cannot in good conscience deny the woman's plea for help.

Reese uses her gut instincts to research and follow leads that point to the missing girl's whereabouts. Despite the threats against her life, she travels into the backcountry wilderness and the heights of mountain passes to try and locate the child.

Although Reese's attempts to bring the missing girl home to her family prove to be a major challenge, one that is fraught with danger and intrigue, she fights against the odds to stay on her course. With a child's life at stake, she refuses to back down.

Not only does Reese discover the truth about herself, she discovers the lengths to which human nature will drive individuals who are desperate to have what they want, no matter the cost.

Critique: Some mystery authors seem to have a natural flair for originality combined with the kind of narrative driven storytelling that simply and fully engage the reader's total attention from cover to cover. Novelist Cindy Keen Reynders is just such an author and her latest novel, "Wild Creek Whipsers" is a masterpiece of suspense and 'whodunnit' fiction. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery fans that "Wild Creek Whispers" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: Cindy Keen Reynders is the author of the Saucy Lucy series books (The Saucy Lucy Murders, Paws-itively Guilty and A Killer Slice). Solstice Publishing recently released her paranormal romance The Seven-Year Witch, A Witch at Midnight and Witch Tease. Over the years, Cindy has won or placed in different writing contests. She has also written for and edited many newsletters. Additionally, she has sold several non-fiction magazine articles to "True West" and "Wild West." She maintains a website at

B. A. Shapiro
Algonquin Books
PO Box 2225, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2225
9781616209582, $27.95, HC, 368pp

Synopsis: Was it really an accident? Was it suicide? A murder? Six mysterious characters, who rent units in, or are connected to, the self-storage facility, must now reevaluate their lives.

Serge is an unstable but brilliant street photographer who lives in his unit, which overflows with thousands of undeveloped pictures; Zach is the building's owner who develops Serge's photos as he searches for clues to the accident; Marta is an undocumented immigrant who is finishing her dissertation and hiding from ICE; Liddy is an abused wife and mother who recreates her children's bedroom in her unit; Jason has left his corporate firm and now practices law from his storage unit; and Rose is the office manager who takes kickbacks to let renters live in the building and has her own complicated family history.

All six of these characters have a variety of backgrounds: they are different races; they practice different religions; they're young and they're not so young; they are rich, poor, and somewhere in the middle. As they dip in and out of one another's lives, fight circumstances that are within and also beyond their control, and try to discover the details of the accident, in his new novel, "Meteropolis", author B. A. Shapiro both dismantles the myth of the American dream and builds tension to an exciting climax.

Critique: Skillfully crafted with memorable characters, "Metropolis" is a riveting psychological thriller of a read from cover to cover. Raising crime fiction to an impressively high literary level, "Metropolis" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Metropolis" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.17) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798200880874, $41.99, CD).

Margaret Truman's Murder at the CDC
Margaret Truman, author
Jon Land, author
c/o Tor/Forge Books
9781250238894, $27.99, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: 2017: A military transport on a secret run to dispose of its deadly contents vanishes without a trace. A mass shooting on the steps of the Capitol nearly claims the life of Robert Brixton's grandson. No stranger to high-stakes investigations, Brixton embarks on a trail to uncover the motive behind the shooting. On the way he finds himself probing the attempted murder of the daughter his best friend, who works at the Washington offices of the CDC.

The connection between the mass shooting and Alexandra's poisoning lies in that long-lost military transport that has been recovered by forces determined to change America forever. Those forces are led by radical separatist leader Deacon Frank Wilhyte, whose goal is nothing short of bringing on a second Civil War.

Brixton joins forces with Kelly Lofton, a former Baltimore homicide detective. She has her own reasons for wanting to find the truth behind the shooting on the Capitol steps, and is the only person with the direct knowledge Brixton needs. But chasing the truth places them in the cross-hairs of both Wilhyte's legions and his Washington enablers.

Critique: Building on the literary legacy of Margaret Truman, author Jon Land has added a new and much appreciated addition to the Capital Crimes mystery series with the publication of "Margaret Truman's Murder at the CDC". While very highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of political thriller fiction that "Margaret Truman's Murder at the CDC" is also available in a digital book format ($14.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781662068270, $59.99, CD).

Editorial Note #1: Margaret Truman (February 17, 1924 - January 29, 2008) won faithful readers with her works of biography and fiction, particularly her Capital Crimes mysteries. Her novels let readers into the corridors of power and privilege, and poverty and pageantry, in the nation's capital. She was the author of many nonfiction books, including The President's House, in which she shared some of the secrets and history of the White House, where, as the daughter of President Harry Truman, she once resided.

Editorial Note #2: Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty books, over ten of which feature Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong. The critically acclaimed series has won more than a dozen awards, including the 2019 International Book Award for Best Thriller for Strong as Steel. He is also the author of Chasing the Dragon, a detailed account of the War on Drugs written with one of the most celebrated DEA agents of all time. A graduate of Brown University, Land lives in Providence, Rhode Island and received the 2019 Rhode Island Authors Legacy Award for his lifetime of literary achievements.

The Walled Garden
Robin Marrar Maass
9781684631315, $16.95, PB, 344pp

Synopsis: American grad student Lucy Silver arrives in England hoping to solve a longstanding literary mystery, write her dissertation, and finish her graduate studies in a blaze of academic glory. But as Lucy starts to piece together the correspondence between her late grandmother and Elizabeth Blackspear, the famous poet and garden writer who's the subject of Lucy's dissertation, she discovers puzzling coded references in the letters -- and when an elderly English aristocrat with a secret connection to Elizabeth offers Lucy access to a neglected walled garden on his estate, the mystery deepens.

As spring turns to summer in Bolton Lacey, Lucy finds herself fighting the Blackspear Gardens' director's attempt to deny her access to vital documents in the archives -- and trying not to fall in love with an attractive Scottish contractor.

In the midst of this turmoil, she stumbles upon an illicit plot to turn the historic gardens into a theme park, and becomes determined to stop it. As she races against time to save the gardens, Lucy's search for the truth about Elizabeth's life leads her to a French convent where she uncovers explosive evidence that will change her life and the lives of everyone around her, ultimately revealing a home (and an inheritance) more incredible than anything she could ever have imagined!

Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "The Walled Garden" is author Robin Farrar Maass' debut as a novelist, this remarkably well crafted and fully engaging story that deftly combines an historical mystery with elements of a coming of age saga and of college romance. A perfect choice for a summer recreational novel, and also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49), "The Walled Garden" is an original, entertaining, and unreservedly recommended addition to community library collections.

Kingdom of Bones
James Rollins
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
9780062892980, $28.99, HC, 464pp

Synopsis: It all begins in Africa. A United Nations relief team in a small village in the Congo makes an alarming discovery. An unknown force is leveling the evolutionary playing field. Men, women, and children have been reduced to a dull, catatonic state. The environment surrounding them (plants and animals) has grown more cunning and predatory, evolving at an exponential pace. The insidious phenomenon is spreading from a cursed site in the jungle (known to locals as the Kingdom of Bones) and is now sweeping across Africa, threatening the rest of the world.

What has made the biosphere run amok? Is it a natural event? Or more terrifyingly, did someone engineer it?

Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma Force are prepared for the extraordinary and have kept the world safe, vigilance for which they have paid a tragic personal price. Yet, even these brilliant and seasoned scientific warriors do not understand what is behind this frightening development -- or know how to stop it. As they race to find answers, the members of Sigma quickly realize they have become the prey.

To head off global catastrophe, Sigma Force must risk their lives to uncover the shattering secret at the heart of the African continent -- a truth that will illuminate who we are as a species and where we may be headed sooner than we know because Mother Nature (red in tooth and claw) is turning against humankind, propelling the entire world into the Kingdom of Bones.

Critique: A simply riveting combination of suspense thriller, action-adventure, and near future science fiction, "Kingdom of Bones" is an absolute 'must read' for the legions of James Rollins fans. The stuff of which block-buster movies are made, "Kingdom of Bones" is especially recommended for community library Contemporary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Kingdom of Bones" is also available in a mass market paperback edition (9780062892997, $9.99), and in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99). Librarians should be aware that there is a large print paperback edition of "Kingdom of Bones" (HarperLuxe, 9780062893000, $30.99, 704pp).

Editorial Note: James Rollins is the author of several international thriller novels that have been translated into more than forty languages. In each novel, acclaimed for its originality, Rollins unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets -- and he does it all at breakneck speed and with stunning insight.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Discord of Gods
Jenn Lyons
Tor Books
c/o Tor/Forge Books
120 Broadway, 22nd Floor, w York, NY 10271
9781250175687, $29.99, HC, 528pp

Synopsis: Relos Var's final plans to enslave the universe are on the cusp of fruition. He believes there's only one being in existence that might be able to stop him: the demon Xaltorath.

As these two masterminds circle each other, neither is paying attention to the third player on the board, Kihrin. Unfortunately, keeping himself classified in the 'pawn' category means Kihrin must pretend to be everything the prophecies threatened he'd become: the destroyer of all, the sun eater, a mindless, remorseless plague upon the land. It also means finding an excuse to not destroy the people he loves (or any of the remaining Immortals) without arousing suspicion.

Kihrin's goals are complicated by the fact that not all of his 'act' is one. His intentions may be sincere, but he's still being forced to grapple with the aftereffects of the corrupted magic ritual that twisted both him and the dragons. Worse, he's now tied to a body that is the literal avatar of a star -- a form that is becoming increasingly, catastrophically unstable. All of which means he's running out of time.

After all, some stars fade -- but others explode!

Critique: The fifth and concluding volume in author Jenn Lyons outstanding 'Chorus of Dragons' fantasy series, "The Discord of Gods" is an inherently engaging, impressively original, detailed and solidly entertaining read from cover to cover. While also available for the personal reading lists of the growing legions of Jenn Lyons fans in a paperback edition (9781250175700, $20.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99), "The Discord of Gods" is unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted that the other four volumes comprising the 'Chorus of Dragons' series by Jenn Lyons includes "The Ruin of Kings", "The Name of All Things", The Memory of Souls", and "The House of Always.

Editorial Note: Jenn Lyons is a video game producer by day, and spends her evenings world building and writing fantasy.

Tear Down the Throne
Jennifer Estep
Harper Voyager
HarperCollins Publishers
195 Broadway, New York, NY, 10007
9780063023093, $16.99, PB, 464pp

Synopsis: Crown princess. Clever spy. Powerful mind magier. Gemma Ripley of Andvari is all those things -- and she is determined to stop an enemy from using magical tearstone weapons to conquer her kingdom.

Gemma's quest for answers leads her to a trade Summit between the various kingdoms. Among the other royals in attendance is Queen Maeven Morricone of Morta and her son, Prince Leonidas -- who is Gemma's ever charming and dangerous nemesis.

Gemma knows that Maeven always has a long game in motion, and sure enough, the cunning queen invokes an arcane tradition that threatens the fragile truce between Andvari and the other kingdoms. Despite her best intentions, Gemma once again finds herself thrown together with Leo and battling her growing feelings for the enemy prince.

When a series of deadly attacks shatters the Summit's peaceful negotiations, Gemma realizes that someone wants to tear the royals down from their thrones -- and that this enemy just might succeed!

Critique: The second volume in author Jennifer Estep's 'A Gargoyle Queen' series, "Tear Down the Throne" is a simply riveting and deftly crafted read that will have tremendous and special interest to fans of action/adventure fantasy fiction framed in a dystopian society. While highly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Tear Down the Throne" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (9798200969951, $49.99).

Editorial Note: Jennifer Estep is the author of the Crown of Shards, Gargoyle Queen, Elemental Assassin, and other fantasy series. She has written more than 40 books, along with numerous novellas and stories. She has a website at, a blog at, and a newsletter at

The Great Clans of Rokugan
Robert Denton III, et al.
Aconyte Books
9781839081200, $19.95, PB, 544pp

Synopsis: "The Great Clans of Rokugan: Legend of the Five Rings" is an impressive anthology of four novellas that share the theme of warring Japanese samurai clans who fight with swords and magic for the Emperor's favor.

Ice and Snow by Katrina Ostrander features a surprise attack and courtly machinations challenge the untested heir to the Crane Clan to keep the peace and prove her value to her family.

The Sword and the Spirits by Robert Denton III is the story of the female champion of the Phoenix Clan who must save her lost love from the darkness consuming him -- and from the menace of a desecrated shrine.

Whispers of Shadow and Steel by Mari Murdock takes place in the Scorpion City of Lies, where the "only honest Scorpion" magistrate is caught between family and finding justice in a murder case.

Across the Burning Sands by Daniel Lovat Clark is the tale of the future heir to the mighty Unicorn Clan who must face duplicity, assassins, betrayal, and even sorcery as he seeks peace with the caliph of al-Zawira.

Critique: Set in the political-intrigue laden realm of the "Legend of the Five Rings" collectible card game and tabletop roleplaying game, The Great Clans of Rokugan consists of four novellas; each is a simply riveting read and a 'must' for fans of samurai stories of action, adventure, and dark fantasy. While certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of sword & sorcery/Japanese samurai fans that "The Great Clans of Rokugan: Legend of the Five Rings" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.95).

Shadow Avengers
Carrie Harris
Aconyte Books
9781839081026, $16.95, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: Doctor Strange created the Shadow Avengers to save the world from Dormammu, but instead they're on the verge of dissolution. When sudden weather anomalies across the world correspond with Asgardian heroes emerging from portals ripe with Dormammu's magical signature, the Shadow Avengers realize the "Master" is making his move. Loki, Venom, and Green Goblin are behind a ceremony plotting to open a portal big enough to encompass Dormammu's presence. From the Sanctum Sanctorum to the streets of NYC to beautiful Wakanda, the Shadow Avengers must stop Dormammu at any cost - but the Master, in all his cunning wisdom, has something greater in store that will doom the world once and for all.

Critique: An absolute 'must read' for the legions of Marvel Universe fans, "Shadow Avengers" by Carrie Harris is a Marvel Crisis Protocol Novel and certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. The stuff of which block-buster Marvel movies are made, this action/packed Marvel adventure is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Editorial Note: Carrie Harris writes licensed books (including Marvel novels), as well as her own weird stuff. She likes monsters, superheroes, and things that explode in slow motion. A full time author living in New York, she has her own website at

Valhalla: Sword of the White Horse
Elsa Sjunneson
Aconyte Books
9781839081408, $16.95, PB, 320pp

Synopsis: Mercia, 878. Witch-warrior Niamh discovers a new order called the Hidden Ones is seeking to establish a foothold in Lunden. Her land is already scarred by Viking raiders, bloody wars, and clashing cultures. Determined to protect what remains of her homeland, she infiltrates this new group to discover whether they stand with her or against her. Yet when Niamh learns the Hidden Ones have stolen an artifact sacred to her people, her own loyalties are challenged. Casting aside newfound alliances and friendships, Niamh soon discovers that betrayal comes with a heavy price and it will take everything in her power (her gods willing) to survive.

Critique: A Celtic warrior defending her people, her land, and herself against a Viking onslaught, "Valhalla: Sword of the White Horse" is a particularly enjoyed addition to the ever expanding Assassin's Creed action/adventure science fiction and fantasy universe. An original and fun read from cover to cover, "Valhalla: Sword of the White Horse" will have a particular attraction for the growing legions of Assassin's Creed fans. While available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95), "Valhalla: Sword of the White Horse" is particularly and unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections.

Editorial Note: Hugo, Aurora and British Fantasy Award winning editor, the work of Elsa Sjunneson has appeared in CNN Opinion, The Boston Globe,, and many other venues. Her debut memoir "Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman's Fight to End Ableism" releases in Autumn of 2021. She has a website at

Zachareth: A Descent
Robbie MacNiven
Aconyte Books
9781839081446, $16.95, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: Zachareth, Baron of Carthridge, is a driven, ruthless and obsessive man - a man who could be a hero, but he wants so much more. Having watched his father fall under the sway of a sorceress, Zachareth grows up craving knowledge and power. When his tutor at Greyhaven introduces him to forbidden magics, Zachareth discovers there is more to power than meets the eye. As he returns home to a barony on the verge of rebellion and beset by necromantic foes, Zachareth must choose his true path - the path of virtue and heroism, or that of darkness and villainy; the line between the two is finer than most imagine.

Critique: The first volume in the 'Legends of the Dark Novel", a new and original action/adventure fantasy series by Robbie MacNiven, "Legends of the Dark Novel: Descent" is a compulsive page turner of a read for all dedicated Sword & Sorcery fans. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95), is highly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections.

Editorial Note: Robbie Macniven the author of several novels and many short stories for the series Warhammer 40,000 and Age of Sigmar universe, as well as the narrative for HiRez Studio's Smite Blitz RPG.

The Christian Studies Shelf

James: An Exegetical Guide for Preaching and Teaching
Herbert W. Bateman IV, author
William C. Varner, author
Kregel Publications
2450 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780825445422, $39.99, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: To read the Greek text of James is to face a rugged style and brief phrasing that match the fervency of the letter's meaning. The book of James powerfully exhorts the earliest Christian believers to faithful living. Biblical Greek experts Herbert W. Bateman IV and William C. Varner lay out the linguistic and grammatical features unique to James (such as his specialized vocabulary and prolific use of imperatives) to show how the book's many strong statements connect to one another in this masterwork on living according to the teachings of Jesus.

"James: An Exegetical Guide for Preaching and Teaching" features: Helpful charts, tables, and diagrams illustrate key points; Numerous callouts provide deeper insights into word meanings and theological issues; Visual cues highlight important information; An introduction to the grammar, style, and vocabulary that includes reminders and explanations of key terms.

Critique: An ideal curriculum textbook for New Testament Studies in general, and James in particular, "James: An Exegetical Guide for Preaching and Teaching" is a part of the Kregel Publications simply outstanding 'Big Greek Idea' series and unreservedly recommended for personal, church, clerical, seminary, community, college, and university library Biblical & Christian Theology Studies collections and for a supplemental curriculum studies syllabus.

Editorial Note #1: Herbert W. Bateman IV (PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary) has taught Greek language and exegesis for more than twenty years. He is the author or editor of many works on the General Epistles, including Charts on the Book of Hebrews, Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews, and Interpreting the General Letters .

Editorial Note #2: William C. Varner (MDiv, ThM, Biblical Theological Seminary; EdD, Temple University) is professor of biblical studies and Greek at The Master's University. He is the author of thirteen books, including four on the letter of James.

Reconciliation, Healing, and Hope
Jan Naylor Cope, editor
Morehouse Publishing
c/o Church Publishing Incorporated
9781640654846, $24.95, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: Through their sermons, Cathedral clergy and guest preachers such as Jon Meacham, Kelly Brown Douglas, and Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry share inspiring words. Collectively, they offer lasting guidance for difficult times, reinforcing that even in the midst of loss and chaos, God is at work among us, lifting us up and giving us hope for the future.

"Reconciliation, Healing, and Hope: Sermons from Washington National Cathedral" is a compendium of these sermons. The topics featured in these representative selections include hope, faith during times of distress, love, grief, and the presence of God.

Of special note is the Foreword by Jon Meacham.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Reconciliation, Healing, and Hope: Sermons from Washington National Cathedral" is an impressive compendium of sermons is especially and unreservedly recommended to the attention of clergy, seminary students, and all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliations. While especially appropriate for Church, Seminary, Community, College, and University library Christian Studies collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Reconciliation, Healing, and Hope: Sermons from Washington National Cathedral" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note: Jan Naylor Cope is the Provost of Washington National Cathedral. Prior to ordination, she served on the senior staff of the White House and later led her nationally recognized executive search firm. She is a frequent guest preacher and speaker nationally and internationally.

Stand Still
Terry Hershey
Franciscan Media
9781632534002, $16.99, PB, 128pp

Synopsis: What do you do when life makes a sharp left turn? When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Terry Hershey found himself unexpectedly asking that question; and as a popular speaker and author, he was inundated with other people asking it too.

With the publication of "Stand Still: Finding Balance When the World Turns Upside Down", Hershey lays out the answer: that in every unforeseen challenge there is an invitation to pause, re-evaluate the status quo, and welcome the change of heart that is knocking on your door. "Transformative events will be hard," he writes. "So, whatever love is in your heart... Nurture it. Develop it. Grow it. Spread it."

Through real-life stories, thoughtful reflections, and questions to meditate on, "Stand Still: Finding Balance When the World Turns Upside Down" offers a renewed perspective for a mindful approach to the present moment that can get you through any hardship. Writing in his trademark lighthearted and friendly style, Hershey will encourage you to embrace the challenges of life with hope, curiosity, and a relentless optimism that goodness can be found anywhere --yes, even right where you are today.

Critique: Exceptionally timely in this current era of pandemic, war, economic stress, and fiercely hostile political/cultural/social division, "Stand Still: Finding Balance When the World Turns Upside Down" is a tremendous source of comfort, inspiration, and 'real world' practical advice from a Christian perspective on dealing with the unexpected events that will inevitably afflict our ordinary lives. While highly recommended for community, church, and seminary library Christian Self-Help & Inspirational collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of clergy, seminary students, and non-specialist general readers throughout the Christian community, that "Stand Still: Finding Balance When the World Turns Upside Down" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49).

Editorial Note: Terry Hershey is an author, humorist, inspirational speaker, dad, ordained minister, golf addict, and smitten by French wine. He is also the author of "This Is the Life: Mindfulness, Finding Grace, and the Power of the Present Moment", "Soul Gardening", "Sanctuary", and "The Power of Pause". He divides his time between designing sanctuary gardens and sharing his practice of mindfulness and savoring this life.

Teresa of Jesus - Woman, Prophet, Mystic
Maria Rosaura Gonzalez Casas, S.T.J., author
Judy Roxborough, S.T.J., translator
ICS Publications
2131 Lincoln Road, NE, Washington, DC 20002-1199
9781939272508, $17.95, PB, 240pp

Synopsis: St. Teresa of Avila (March 28, 1515 - October 15, 1582),was, above all, a woman who searched for an encounter with God, and her search was not in vain. Once she encountered God, she wanted nothing more than to put him at the center of her life and proclaim his greatness. Teresa's objective in writing was to teach her nuns the way of prayer utilizing her own systematized experience.

As a woman writer, Teresa had to confront misogynistic forces by unmasking them down to their very roots. As a skilled teacher of the spiritual life, Teresa knew how to spot inner resistances and movements to listen to and follow God's call. At the same time, she considered the inner dynamics that generate the process of relationship with God, making her writing a sixteenth-century treatment of psychology. In her feminine humanity, Teresa supports a relational perspective.

"Teresa of Jesus - Woman, Prophet, Mystic: A Woman's Transformation Through Her Relationship With Christ" considers how relationships can act as a point of encounter and dialogue between the spiritual life and psychology.

In the first part, Sister Maria Rosaura reveals St. Teresa's feminine humanity by studying her life within her sixteenth-century historical context. The second part turns to Teresa's masterwork, The Interior Castle, and analyzes the union between the soul and God from Teresa's feminine relational perspective established in the first part.

By drawing close to Teresa's life, "Teresa of Jesus - Woman, Prophet, Mystic: A Woman's Transformation Through Her Relationship With Christ" enables readers to drink from a spiritual fount that always yields fresh water.

Critique: As inspired and inspiring as it is informed and informative, (and also available in a digital book format - Kindle, $9.99) "Teresa of Jesus - Woman, Prophet, Mystic: A Woman's Transformation Through Her Relationship With Christ" is ably translated into English by Judy Roxborough, S.T.J. and will prove to be an enduringly welcome addition to personal, community, church, seminary, college, and university library Christian Saint collections in general and St. Teresa of Avia supplemental studies lists in particular.

Editorial Note #1: Maria Rosaura Gonzalez Casas, S.T.J., a native of Mexico, is a member of the Society of St. Teresa of Jesus. She studied chemistry, theology, and psychology, and received her doctorate in psychology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome on the subject of Gender and Relationships. Sister Rosaura currently works full time for the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, teaching at the Institute of Psychology and at the Center for Child Protection. She also serves on several commissions responsible for the care and protection of minors in Latin America and Rome. She is the author of various books and articles in Spanish and Italian.

Editorial Note #1: Judy Roxborough, S.T.J., has helped to translate works for the Society of St. Teresa of Jesus, but has spent most of her life as a teacher. Currently Sister Judy teaches math to Spanish-speaking students in Texas.

Synodality: A New Way of Proceeding in the Church
Rafael Luciani
Paulist Press
997 MacArthur Boulevard, Mahwah, NJ 07430
9780809156115, $18.95, PB, 208pp

Synopsis: During the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Institution of the Synod of Bishops, Francis described synodality as the new model of Church. He said that "a synodal Church is a Church that listens... in which everyone has something to learn." Listening reconfigures the whole process of interaction among all ecclesial subjects in a reciprocal and horizontal dynamics founded on the ecclesiology of the People of God.

In this model, bishops should not only listen to the People of God but listen as part of the People of God. And what is heard should then find ecclesial channels and structures (or as Francis said, "concrete mediations") that link it to ecclesial reforms. Synodality represents a deepening of the ecclesiology of the People of God by which Francis opens a new phase in the reception of the Council.

Essentially, "Synodality: A New Way of Proceeding in the Church" explores a new way of proceeding in the Church at all levels, and as "a constitutive dimension of the Church." This path calls for a reconfiguration in the relations, communicative dynamics, and structures of the current institutional model of the Church. We have the challenge to contribute to the building of this new way of being Church.

Critique: An extraordinary and informative contribution to Ecclesiology Christian Theology, "Synodality: A New Way of Proceeding in the Church" by Professor Rafael Luciani should be considered an essential and invaluable addition to the personal reading lists of clergy, seminary students, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, as well as church, seminary, college, and university library Christian Studies and Contemporary Catholic Studies collections.

Editorial Note: Rafael Luciani is a professor at the Andres Bello Catholic University of Caracas and extraordinary professor at the Ecclesiastical Faculty of Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

The Automotive Shelf

16,000 Miles to Mexico City
Robert Connor
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9781476669670, $49.95, PB, 371pp

Synopsis: Imagine driving 16,000 miles in 25 days over some of the roughest terrain in the world, at altitudes up to 16,000 feet, where engines and lungs gasp for air. Imagine 500-mile speed trials over rocky mountain tracks, racing against the clock and 95 other cars.

Then imagine attempting this more than 50 years ago, without GPS or cell phones or modern safety equipment.

"16,000 Miles to Mexico City: The 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally" by automotive history enthusiast Robert Connor is the story of how, in April 1970, 241 men and women from more than 20 nations did just that, setting out from London in cars ranging from a dune buggy to family sedans to Porsches, Rolls-Royces, camper vans and a Jeep Wagoneer, determined to get to Mexico City.

Illustrated throughout with black-and-white historical photos, and drawing on personal recollections of competitors, organizers, marshals and mechanics, "16,000 Miles to Mexico City: The 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally" recounts the ecstasies and agonies of perhaps the toughest endurance motorsports event ever -- the London to Mexico World Cup Rally.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "16,000 Miles to Mexico City: The 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally" is a truly extraordinary, detailed and documented account that will be of special and intense interests to car rally racing fans. While also available for the personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $22.49), "16,000 Miles to Mexico City: The 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally" is a prized and especially recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Motor Sports & Automotive History collections, as well as a supplemental curriculum studies syllabus.

Fast on the Sand
Aldo Zana
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9781476680873, $39.95, PB, 204pp

Synopsis: The 1928 quest for the Land Speed Record on the sands of Daytona Beach was a first for America, with its singular mix of technology, thrills and tragedy. Tens of thousands of people lined the dunes along the beach, a crowd larger than any yet seen at Indianapolis 500.

Three contenders (two Americans and a Briton), raced for the ultimate distance-averaged top speed, in magnificent machines built by different schools of design. The top American driver, Frank Lockhart, 25, survived a spectacular accident and rebuilt his Stutz Black Hawk, only to meet his fate in the new runs. The facts and myths behind the competition are examined in depth for the first time, along with the innovations and fatal mistakes of vehicle design.

Critique: With the publication of "Fast on the Sand: The Daytona Beach Land Speed Record Runs of 1928", journalist and automotive historian Aldo Zana chronicles the high-speed drama. Illustrated with black-and-white historical photo images, "Fast on the Sand" is an extraordinary automotive racing history and an unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading list of car racing history fans that "Fast on the Sand" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note: Currently residing in Milano, Italy, Aldo Zana is an Italian motor historian and journalist. He began writing articles for motor magazines in the 1960s as a freelance editor of Autosprint and Rombo magazines developing an inclination towards history and historic cars and races. Since the late 1980s, he has become a regular contributor to Italian and foreign historic car publications. He is a member of SAH, Speed Record Club (UK), Aisa (Italian Association of Motor Historians), the Museum and History Commission of ASI (Italian National Historic Car and Bike Association), and Ugis (Italian Science Journalist Guild).

The Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf

Popeye The Sailor
Fred M. Grandinetti
BearManor Media
PO Box 71426, Albany, GA 31708
9781629338514, $35.00, HC, 230pp

Synopsis: Following the surprising popularity of the theatrical Popeye cartoons on television in the mid-1950s, King Features Syndicate quickly went into production on new made-for-TV cartoons to capitalize on that success. Under the supervision of Producer Al Brodax, 220 new cartoons were created by six different animation studios, including one overseen by former Disney animator Jack Kinney, and Paramount Cartoon Studios (whose staff had worked on the theatrical Popeye cartoons). They appeared on television beginning in 1960.

Many of these cartoons featured excellent (though limited) animation, imaginative storytelling, and even occasional self-referential humor. Several stories were adapted from E.C. Segar's Thimble Theatre newspaper comics, and characters that had first appeared there (such as The Sea Hag, and Alice the Goon) would make their animation debut. The best-known voice artists from the theatrical Popeye cartoons - Jack Mercer, Mae Questel, and Jackson Beck (now playing Brutus, instead of Bluto) - each reprised their roles.

However, several of these cartoons were poorly animated, with errors and inconsistent character designs, and too reliant on reused animation. This has given the series a reputation (perhaps unfairly) of poor quality. While casting a critical eye, "Popeye the Sailor: The 1960s TV Cartoons" will encourage appreciation of the better films of the series.

These new made-for-TV Popeye cartoons were a terrific success and continued to appear on television for more than 30 years. They remain a beloved memory of childhood TV viewing.

Critique: An absolute 'must read' for the legions of Popeye the Sailor fans, "Popeye the Sailor: The 1960s TV Cartoons" is impressively informed and informative -- and 'behind the scenes' fascinating from cover to cover. This iconic cartoon character and his beloved (and constantly endangered) Olive Oil, and of course, the pals, villains, nephews, and an endless supply of just-in-time cans of spinach, is a part of boomer era popular culture and one that still continues in popularity today with Popeye the Sailor cartoons being a regular feature on TCM cable television channels Saturday morning line-up. Also available in a paperback edition (9781629338507, $25.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95), "Popeye the Sailor: The 1960s TV Cartoons" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university American Popular Culture and Theatre/Cinema/Television History collections.

The Gardening Shelf

Inside Your Japanese Garden
Sadao Yasumoro, author
Joseph Cali, author
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9784805316146, $24.99, HC, 160pp

Synopsis: With instructive drawings and step-by-step techniques, "Inside Your Japanese Garden: A Guide to Creating a Unique Japanese Garden for Your Home" walks aspiring gardeners through designing and creating their very own Japanese garden. From small projects like benches and gates, to larger undertakings like bridges and mud walls, "Inside Your Japanese Garden" provides a wide variety of ways to enhance the space around your home, no matter the size. Instructions on how to work with stone, mud and bamboo (as well as a catalogue of the 94 plant varieties used in the gardens shown in the book) round out this complete guide.

"Inside Your Japanese Garden" showcases 20 gardens that author Sadao Yasumoro has designed and built in Japan, and some (like those at Visvim shop in Tokyo and at Yushima Tenjin in Tokyo) are open to the public. From small tsuboniwa courtyard gardens to a large backyard stroll garden with water features, stairs and walls, these real-life inspirations will help spark your own garden plan.

The inspirational garden projects comprising "Inside Your Japanese Garden" include: A Tea Garden for an Urban Farmhouse featuring a clay wall with a split-bamboo frame and a stone base; The Landslide That Became a Garden with a terraced slope, trees, bushes, long grasses and moss; A Buddha's Mountain Retreat of Moss and Stone with vertical-split bamboo and brushwood fencing; Paradise in an Urban Jungle with a pond, Japanese-style bridge, and stone lanterns.

Each individual garden is beautifully photographed in full color by Hironori Tomino and many of them also have diagrams and drawings to show the essential elements used in their planning and construction.

Critique: A visually beautiful book to simply browse through one garden at a time, "Inside Your Japanese Garden: A Guide to Creating a Unique Japanese Garden for Your Home" is impressively written, organized and presented. A source of inspiration, ideas, and practical instruction, "Inside Your Japanese Garden: A Guide to Creating a Unique Japanese Garden for Your Home" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.27) and is an especially recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Gardening/Horticulture instructional reference collections.

Editorial Note #1: Sadao Yasumoro, now in his eighties, has been a Japanese garden designer and builder for over 60 years. After high school he traveled all around Japan to study nature and visit the country's great gardens, and was deeply moved by the beauty of garden landscapes made by unknown masters. He went on to study under some of Japan's most famous garden designers, including Katsuo Saito. Yasumuro's work has appeared in many publications in Japan. This is his first book in English.

Editorial Note #2: Joseph Cali was born and raised in New York City and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a degree in Fine Art and Painting. He has lived and worked in Japan as an interior designer, graphic designer, copywriter and illustrator for over 30 years. His work has appeared in numerous books and publications. He is the coauthor, with Azby Brown, of The Japanese Dream House. His other books include The New Zen Garden and Create Your Own Japanese Garden.

The Needlecraft Shelf

100 Mini Cross Stitch Designs
Rosemary Drysdale
The GMC Group
9781784946272, $24.99, PB, 160pp

Synopsis: Cross-stitch is a form of sewing and a popular form of counted-thread embroidery in which X-shaped stitches in a tiled, raster-like pattern are used to form a picture. The stitcher counts the threads on a piece of evenweave fabric (such as linen) in each direction so that the stitches are of uniform size and appearance. This form of cross-stitch is also called counted cross-stitch in order to distinguish it from other forms of cross-stitch. Sometimes cross-stitch is done on designs printed on the fabric (stamped cross-stitch); the stitcher simply stitches over the printed pattern. Cross-stitch is often executed on easily countable fabric called aida cloth whose weave creates a plainly visible grid of squares with holes for the needle at each corner. (Wikipedia)

Cross stitch is making a big comeback with modern crafters and it's easy to see why. Providing the perfect introduction for beginners, "100 Mini Cross Stitch Design" by needlecraft expert Rosemary Drysdale will also appeal to intermediate and advanced cross stitchers looking for inspiration. "100 Mini Cross Stitch Design" provides a detailed section on tools and materials, instructions on getting started, reading cross stitch charts, essential stitches and finishing touches.

The wonderful designs comprising "100 Mini Cross Stitch Design" ranges from bees to bicycles, caravans to cupcakes, and rockets to rainbows. There are contemporary subjects and styles to suit every taste. Needlecrafters can display their stitches in an embroidery hoop, frame or greeting cards or choose a pattern that adorns clothing, home furnishings or other decorative items. There are useful tips on how to add your own personality to projects and ways to incorporate leftover thread or fabric.

Critique: Profusely illustrated in full color throughout, "100 Mini Cross Stitch Design" is exceptionally 'user friendly' in organization and presentation. Whether a beginning novice or an experienced expert, "100 Mini Cross Stitch Design" will prove to be a welcome addition to personal, professional, and community library needlecraft instructional reference collections and a 'must' for all dedicated cross stitch enthusiasts.

Editorial Note: Rosemary Drysdale grew up in the north of England near Newcastle, and learned to knit as a small child. She was at the forefront of the cross stitch craze in the 1990s, traveling the world teaching workshops and giving demonstrations. She is recognized as a global expert on black work embroidery, as well as a teacher of many other advanced stitching techniques. Drysdale joined Vogue Knitting in the late 1990s and has consulted to some of the top yarn brands in the industry. A prolific designer, she has had over 1000 designs published. She can be followed on Instagram @rosemary_drysdale

The Crafts Shelf

Nature Crafts
Yukinobu Fujino, Yuji Miura, et al.
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9780804854115, $16.99, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Nature Crafts: Japanese Style Plant & Leaf Projects", anyone can now learn how to harness the beauty of plants, leaves and foliage (green decor) in this unique instructional guide comprised of 40 nature projects that are fun, easy and inexpensive to make.

In "Nature Crafts", six of Japan's leading floral and plant designers offer a range of ideas to turn found and foraged materials into stunning arrangements and displays. With these visionary stylists as your guides, a few materials you already have at home and easy-to-obtain tools, you will be able to: Create charming glass-encased air plants and spoon-based succulents; Weave, bend and stack leaves and fronds into eye-catching arrangements; Style your own one-of-a-kind leaf fashion accessories, from corsages to bracelets; Create living jewelry and one-of-a-kind plant handbags; Make a signature leaf tapestry and leaf wrapping paper -- and so much more!

"Nature Craft" features over 250 gorgeous photographs and straightforward, step-by-step instructions that show how to turn personal surroundings into a verdant showcase for nature's beauty.

Critique: Offering a wealth of inspiring examples and also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.71), "Nature Crafts: Japanese Style Plant & Leaf Projects" is an ideal DIY guide to creating interior enhancing, plant based creations drawn from traditional Japanese home and office decorating traditions. Exceptional and 'user friendly' in commentary, organization and presentation, "Nature Crafts: Japanese Style Plant & Leaf Projects" is highly recommended for personal, professional, and community library Interior Design and DIY Crafting collections.

Editorial Note #1: Takaya Yamamura is representative director of Hana Noshou and representative of Deuxieme, the flower shop he opened in Nishi-ku, Hiroshima City in 1999. The store's concept is to bring together flowers that are modern yet natural, and Yamamura's wide and varied work includes private lessons, bridal designs and finding new ways of incorporating flowers and greenery into businesses and private homes. Deuxieme opened its Furueshinmachi branch in fall 2015. Yamamura was a finalist in the inaugural Florist Review. He won the Hanaike Battle Spin-Off edition at Daishoin temple in Miyajima in 2014 and in 2015 launched an event called "Connected by Coffee: A Journey with Flowers and Sound" (

Editorial Note #2: Masahiro Yoshizaki studied interior design in his student days, going on to join a spatial design company. As his interest in the connection between plants and interior design grew, he left the company and began working in a flower shop. In 2003 he began studying under Inaba, opening his shop, Asebi, in 2009 in Hatanodai, Shinagawa. The business moved to Ebisu in April 2015. Yoshizaki currently works mainly on bridal-related projects such as displays and decorations for photo shoots.

Modern Dried Flowers
Angela Maynard
White Lion Publishing
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9780711257030, $25.00, HC, 160pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Modern Dried Flowers", professional florist Angela Maynard offers nature-led inspiration and step-by-step instructions to gain all of the basic skills, tools and techniques necessary to grow, cut, dry and style your stems to perfection.

A founding leader of the classic flower arranging craft's revival, Angela reveals her secrets and dispenses expert advice so that even the most novice of flower arranges can master the art of everlasting beauty and wow-worthy decor, no matter what their style might be.

A practical and visually stunning instructional guide, "Modern Dried Flowers" is includes: 20 beautifully photographed projects, from wearable keepsakes to majestic seasonal centrepieces; Tips to get creative with the leftover materials; A handy index of suitable flowers which outlines characteristics, symbols and best combinations.

Drawing upon the ideas, examples, and instructive guide lines, "Modern Dried Flowers" will enable anyone to use texture and color, discover unusual blooms and botanicals, and create something truly original that can last a lifetime.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout in full color, "Modern Dried Flowers" by Angela Maynard is inspirational pleasure to simply browse through one page at a time. Impressively 'user friendly' in style, organization, and presentation, "Modern Dried Flowers" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.00) and will prove a very welcome and enduringly appreciated addition to personal, professional, and community library Flower Crafting collections.

Editorial Note: Angela Maynard is the creative director of Botany, a floral shop and design studio in East London. Angela also runs workshops on floristry and dried flowers and heads seasonal wild flower walks. She has been featured in the The Independent, Financial Times, Evening Standard, Time Out, Elle Decor, Le Monde, Vogue, World of Interiors, House Beautiful, Homes & Gardens. Her clients include Adidas, L'Oreal, & Other Stories, and Toast. She maintains a website at and can be found on Instagram @botanyshope5

The Fashion Shelf

Dior: New Looks
Jerome Gautier
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue. New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500025048, $60.00, HC, 312pp

Synopsis: Lavishly illustrated in full color throughout, "Dior: New Looks" by Jerome Gautier is an exceptional collection of the outstanding elements of Dior's style for every generation since 1947, pairing classic and contemporary photographs together with some exquisite rarities.

Christian Dior's "New Look" amazed the world as it emerged after wartime austerity, and reset the boundaries of modern elegance. Dior's search for the perfect line and the ideal silhouette continues with couturiers of the first rank: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre, John Galliano, Raf Simons, and Maria Grazia Chiuri have all made their distinctive contribution.

In these pages of this coffee-table style volume (8.9 x 1.3 x 11.7 inches, 4.23 pounds), the most beautiful fashion plates from Dior's own time sit beside examples of the house's creations from each decade. An impressively beautiful volume, "Dior: New Looks" honors and celebrates Dior past and present with undisputed elegance and panache.

Critique: Expertly organized and presented, exceptionally well informed and informative, and of particular and special interest to the legions of Dior fans in general and fashion students in particular, "Dior: New Looks" is a spectacular presented and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Fashion History & Design collections.

Editorial Note: Jerome Gautier is an expert on fashion photography and the history of fashion. His book "Chanel: The Vocabulary of Style" was published to critical acclaim in 2011.

The Architecture Shelf

Emergence of a Modern Dwelling
Suzanne Singletary, editor
Suzanna Barucco, editor
ORO Editions
31 Commerical Blvd., Suite F, Novato, CA 94949
9781954081178, $25.00, HC, 80pp

Synopsis: In the East Falls neighborhood of Philadelphia, just beyond the northern boundary of the Thomas Jefferson University's East Falls campus, stands the Hassrick House (1958 - 61), designed by celebrated architect Richard Neutra, an icon of mid-century modern style. Often described as an East Coast interpretation of California Modernism, the Hassrick House is one of only three buildings designed by Neutra within the city limits.

Thomas Jefferson University's relationship with the house began in the summer of 2015 when Andrew Hart, assistant professor of Architecture in the College of Architecture & the Built Environment initiated a series of summer courses to study the house. The first multidisciplinary group of students engaged in architectural survey, drawing, and photography. Subsequent summer courses refined the architectural drawings, following the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and Historic American Landscape Survey (HALS) standards. Yet another student cohort undertook documentary research to uncover the history of the house and its occupants. Then owners George Acosta and John Hauser were supportive collaborators with students in this process.

Neutra's architecture and his relationship with the Hassricks (particularly Barbara who emerged as the primary client voice while the house was being designed) captured the hearts, minds, and imaginations of everyone who engaged with the house. As one student recalled, "We have all gotten swept away in the stories unfolding from our research." In 2018, Hauser and Acosta sold the property to the university with the understanding that the house would continue to be used for educational purposes. In George's words, "I had come to realize that the students can be the future custodians of that home. They can be the eyes. They can be the archives. In a way, it becomes all of ours to share."

Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Suzanne Singletary and Suzanna Barucco, "Emergence of a Modern Dwelling: Richard Neutra's Hassrick House" chronicles the students' findings that shed light on Neutra's design process, his collaboration with his clients, as well as the unsung role of Thaddeus Longstreth as Neutra's proxy negotiator throughout the design and construction stages. During its approximately sixty-three-year lifespan, the Hassrick House tells a saga of design, dwelling, neglect, restoration, and reinvention today as a laboratory for learning. In many respects, the history of the Hassrick House tells an important story of the modernist movement in the US, both regionally and nationally.

Critique: Profusely and beautifully illustrated throughout, "Emergence of a Modern Dwelling: Richard Neutra's Hassrick House" is an informative gem of a study and could well serve as a template for similar architectural studies of other iconic buildings. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Emergence of a Modern Dwelling: Richard Neutra's Hassrick House" will prove to be a prized and appreciated addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Contemporary Architecture, Restoration, & Preservation collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Suzanna Barucco is an adjunct professor, historic preservationist, and principal of sbk + partners, LLC, a historic preservation consulting practice providing professional services for the assessment, preservation, restoration, rehabilitation, and adaptive reuse of historic buildings, sites, and landscapes.

Editorial Note #2: Suzanne Singletary is a professor at the College of Architecture & the Built Environment at TJU, teaches history and theory of historic preservation, architecture and design. As director of the Master of Science in Historic Preservation and the Center for the Preservation of Modernism, Dr. Singletary teaches courses on critical issues in preservation and the restoration and rehabilitation of modern and mid-century modern buildings and sites.

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Origins of the Gods
Andrew Collins, author
Gregory L. Little, author
Bear & Company
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781591434092, $24.00, PB, 400pp

Synopsis: From Gobekli Tepe in Turkey to the Egyptian pyramids, from the stone circles of Europe to the mound complexes of the Americas, with the publication of "Origins of the Gods: Qesem Cave, Skinwalkers, and Contact with Transdimensional Intelligences", co-authors Andrew Collins and Gregory L. Little show how, again and again, our ancestors built permanent sites of ceremonial activity where geomagnetic and gravitational anomalies have been recorded.

In this original study, the authors investigate how the earliest forms of animism and shamanism began at sites like the Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia and Qesem Cave in Israel more than 400,000 years ago. They explain how shamanic rituals and altered states of consciousness combine with the natural forces of the earth to create portals for contact with otherworldly realms -- in other words, the gods of our ancestors were the result of an interaction between human consciousness and transdimensional intelligence.

"Origins of the Gods" also shows how the spiritual and shamanic beliefs of more than 100 Native American tribes align with the authors theory as they reveal how some of these shamanic transdimensional portals are still active, sharing vivid examples from Skinwalker Ranch in Utah and Bempton in Northern England.

Ultimately, "Origins of the Gods" show how our modern disconnection from nature and lack of a fully visible night sky makes the manifestations from these ultraterrestrial intelligences seem random. If we can restore our spiritual connections, perhaps we can once again communicate with the higher dimensional beings who triggered the advancements of our earliest ancestors.

Critique: Enhanced with an informative introduction by Erich Von Daniken (author of the iconic and ground breaking book "Chariots of the Gods", "Origins of the Gods: Qesem Cave, Skinwalkers, and Contact with Transdimensional Intelligences" is essential reading for all students of ancient mysteries, ancient astronaut theories, shamanic beliefs, and metaphysical studies collections. While highly recommended as a unique and impressively informative addition to personal, professional, community, college, and academic library collections, it should be noted that "Origins of the Gods: Qesem Cave, Skinwalkers, and Contact with Transdimensional Intelligences" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99).

Editorial Note #1: Andrew Collins is a science and history writer, and the author of over fifteen books that challenge the way we think about the past. Among those books are From the Ashes of Angels (1996), The Cygnus Mystery (2006), Gobekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods (2014), and The Cygnus Key: The Denisovan Legacy, Gobekli Tepe and the Birth of Egypt (2018). In 2008 Andrew and Egyptological researcher Nigel Skinner Simpson discovered a previously unrecorded cave system beneath the shadow of the Great Pyramid at Giza. It is a story that has brought Andrew acclaim across the world, the caverns even becoming known as Collins' Cave. The story is told in his book Beneath the Pyramids (2009). His new book, Denisovan Origins: Hybrid Humans, Gobekli Tepe and the Genesis of the Giants of Ancient America is also co-authored with Greg L. Little.

Editorial Note #2: Gregory L. Little has a Master's Degree in Experimental Psychology and a Doctorate in Counseling & Educational Psychology from Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis). He is a retired Nationally Certified Psychologist (NAMP) and a retired LPC. He is the author of several books on Native American beliefs and history. He has been featured in documentaries on History, National Geographic, The Learning Channel, MSNBC, and other networks. He is also part Seneca.

Witch Please
Victoria Maxwell
Red Wheel/Weiser
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781590035320, $18.95, PB, 208pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Witch, Please: Empowerment and Enlightenment for the Modern Mystic", which is now readily available in paperback or Kindle, aspiring witches and metaphysical studies students can learn to take control of their lives and reconnect with their purposes by using a modern magic that is soundly based upon ancient spirituality.

"Witch, Please" is a modern mystic's practical guide to life, love, and creating a fulfilling existence, ranging from turning a home into a sacred sanctuary, to manifesting magical relationships, to loving a career, to money magic!

A compendium of inspiration, practical advice and rituals, "Witch, Please" will guide novice witches and metaphysical studies through the process of tapping into their intuition, intention, and self-empowerment to discover and harness the magic within them.

Critique: A compact compendium of information, instruction, lore, advice, insight, and practice, "Witch, Please: Empowerment and Enlightenment for the Modern Mystic" is impressively 'reader friendly' in composition, commentary, organization and presentation. While strongly recommended as an introduction to magical practices, it should be noted for personal, professional, and community library collections that "Witch, Please: Empowerment and Enlightenment for the Modern Mystic" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Victoria 'Vix' Maxwell is the creator of New Age Hipster, an online spiritual home for good witches, lightworkers, starseeds, and spiritual seekers. A Priestess for present times, modern mystic, and spiritual teacher in Converse sneakers, Vix supports her worldwide community in reconnecting to their own light, inner guidance, and power through soul readings, courses, an online spiritual development circle, spiritual business coven, podcast, blog, and social media channels. She can be followed on Instagram at @newagehipster333

Consorting With Spirits
Jason Miller
Weiser Publishers
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781578637546, $18.95, PB, 240pp

Synopsis: Throughout recorded history, humans have sought power and knowledge from spirits. Learning how to conjure, communicate, and negotiate with these unseen powers is one of the keys to success in magic.

Withe the publication of "Consorting with Spirits: Your Guide to Working with Invisible Allies", Jason Miller presents a detailed explanation of what spirits are, their different classifications, and how they exist in relation to the world we normally perceive. The reader will then learn a system of practices that will cultivate three main skills: The capacity to perceive spirits clearly, the ability to interact with them effectively, and the tools to deepen your relationships. It is this focus on deepening relationships and increasing clarity in communications that has been missing from much of the material about spirits.

"Consorting with Spirits" will teach you different ways of interacting with spirits, from offerings and invitations to forceful conjurations. With these tools in hand, you can work with your spirit allies to achieve any goal, from protection, to wealth, to vast knowledge.

"Consorting with Spirits" covers such topics as: Proper training necessary for calling and conversing with spirits; How to evaluate the messages you receive; A full view of different modes of contact and what situations each mode lends itself to; Why the best sorcery is local; The tools to establish and maintain a long-term relationship with spirits (consorting); The 6 different manifestations of spirits and their corresponding magickal operations, qualities, benefits, and drawbacks; The 4 methods of interacting with spirits: prayer, conjuring, compelling, and evocation.

Critique: Enhanced for the reader with an informative introduction by Mat Auryn (the author of "Psychic Witch", "Consorting with Spirits: Your Guide to Working with Invisible Allies" is an exceptionally well written, organized, and presented DIY instruction manual and guide that is unreservedly recommended for anyone with an interest in occultism, spirit guides, and white magic. Certain to be an interesting addition to personal and professional collections, it should be noted that "Consorting with Spirits: Your Guide to Working with Invisible Allies" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Jason Miller has devoted 35 years to studying practical magic in its many forms. He is the author of six books, including the now classic "Protection & Reversal Magick". He teaches several courses online including the Strategic Sorcery One Year Course, the Sorcery of Hekate Training, and the Black School of Saint Cyprian. He maintains an informative website at

Create Your Own Tarot Cards
Theresa Reed, author
Adrianne Hawthorne, author
Walter Foster Publishing
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9780760375952, $22.99, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: With painting lessons from Adrianne Hawthorne of Ponnopozz, (an artist with a vibrant, contemporary style), "Create Your Own Tarot Cards" is a step-by-step guide to designing a unique and personalized tarot deck that will inspire you to make your own beautifully expressive tarot cards in a variety of colors.

In addition to learning how to create a personalized deck, Theresa Reed, (The Tarot Lady), situates you in the world of tarot with a thorough introduction to this ancient art, as well as an overview of tarot reading. It's a perfect primer for novice (and even experienced) tarot enthusiasts!

Acrylic and gouache painting projects are presented in a step-by-step format with easy-to-follow instructions. All projects are accompanied by beautiful photography and a clean, contemporary design. The included card stock with 80 blank, one-sided cards (2.25" × 4.25") allows you to jump right in to painting.

"Create Your Own Tarot Cards" encourages you to craft your own personal colorful style. Connect with your creativity and intuition with this fresh and fun take on this timeless tradition.

Critique: Impressively organized and thoroughly 'user friendly in instruction and presentation, "Create Your Own Tarot Cards" is the ideal DIY instruction guide and 'how to' manual for creating a distinctive and uniquely personal tarot deck. A beautifully illustrated and consumable workbook, "Creat Your Own Tarot Cards" is a unique and highly recommended addition to the personal and professional collections of any and all dedicated tarot users from novice to expert.

Editorial Note #1: Adrianne Hawthorne runs the Chicago art studio called Ponnopozz, where she sells her own art along with works by other artists. A self-taught artist, Adrianne has a background in graphic design and supports small businesses, particularly those that are women-led and/or Black-owned. Adrianne uses tarot as a means for looking inside herself and for providing clarity on life situations, and she seeks to pass this curiosity and exploration on to others. She maintains and informative website at

Editorial Note #2: Theresa Reed is known as 'The Tarot Lady'. She is also the author of The Tarot Coloring Book (Sounds True, 2016), Tarot for Troubled Times (Weiser Books, 2019), and Tarot: No Questions Asked (Weiser Books, 2020). Theresa works full time with tarot and runs a successful Patreon community. She has an informative website at, and can be followed on on Instagram @thetarotlady

The Biography Shelf

Bet My Soul on Rock 'n' Roll
Jean Beauvoir
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781641604765, $27.99, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: Jean Beauvoir joined the Plasmatics in 1979, playing bass and keyboards for the most notorious band to emerge out of the New York City punk scene. By 1982, he was a member of Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, a retro-rock revival act headed by Steven Van Zandt. The Disciples of Soul videos played on MTV during the network's earliest years, making Beauvoir one of the first Black recording artists to cross the start-up music channel's "color line."

Beauvoir went on to become a multi-platinum artist, producer, and songwriter. written with the assistance of John Ostrosky, "Bet My Soul on Rock 'n' Roll: Diary of a Black Punk Icon follows Beauvoir's ride through the American music industry, detailing his encounters with rock stars such as Bruce Springsteen, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, and Lita Ford, as well as the actor Sylvester Stallone, the billionaire executive Richard Branson, and even Donald Trump.

With the publication of "Bet My Soul on Rock 'n' Roll: Diary of a Black Punk Icon", Beauvoir also considers the manner in which his Haitian heritage has shaped his public image, his music, and his role as an activist for the dispossessed and the poor.

Critique: An impressively informative, organized and presented memoir, "Bet My Soul on Rock 'n' Roll: Diary of a Black Punk Icon" will be of immense interest to the legions of Jean Beauvoir fans. While also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49), "Bet My Soul on Rock 'n' Roll: Diary of a Black Punk Icon" is an especially recommended acquisition choice for community, college, and university library American Music History and African-American Biography/Memoir collections.

Editorial Note #1: Jean Beauvoir is an American singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and songwriter of Haitian descent. Guitar World featured him on its list of the fifty "Most Influential Black Rockers" of all time. Beauvoir's worldwide music catalogue, currently administered by Universal Music Publishing, contains over 600 published titles. As an artist, producer, and songwriter, he has sold in excess of 40 million records.

Editorial Note #2: John Ostrosky, is the co-author of Ace Frehley's No Regrets. He is also the co-host of Talking Metal and a Berklee alumnus who has performed with musicians including members of the Ramones and Twisted Sister.

The Jobs/Careers Shelf

Love + Work
Marcus Buckingham
Harvard Business Review Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
9781647821234, $28.00, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: We have all been given the advice that we should "Do what you love." It sounds simple, but the real challenge is how to do this in a world not set up to help you. Most of us actually don't know the real truth of what we love (i.e. what engages us and makes us thrive) and our workplaces, jobs, schools, even our parents, are focused instead on making us conform. Sadly, no person or system is dedicated to discovering the crucial intersection between what you love to do and how you contribute it to others.

With the publications of "Love + Work: How to Find What You Love, Love What You Do, and Do It for the Rest of Your Life", Marcus Buckingham shows you how to break free from this conformity -- how to decode your own loves, turn them into their most powerful expression, and do the same for those you lead and those you love.

How can you use love to reveal your unique gifts? How can you pinpoint what makes you stand out from anyone else? How can you choose roles in which you'll excel? Love and Work unlocks answers to these questions and others, so you can: Choose the right role on the team; Describe yourself compellingly in job interviews; Mold your existing role so that it calls upon the very best of you; Position yourself as a leader in such a way that your followers quickly come to trust in you; Make lasting change for your team, your company, your family, or your students.

Love, the most powerful of human emotions, the source of all creativity, collaboration, insight, and excellence, has been systematically drained from our lives, our work, our teams, and our classrooms. It's time we brought love back in. "Love + Work" will show you how.

Critique: A 'real world practical' compendium of experience based insights, advice, commentaries, and information, "Love and Work: How to Find What You Love, Love What You Do, and Do It for the Rest of Your Life" is a kind of DIY self-help with respect to discovering what the world of work can be shaped to offer in terms of satisfaction, success, personal and professional fulfillment. Basically an instruction manual for making that old truism "If you do what you enjoy you will never work a day in your life.", "Love + Work" is especially recommended for personal, professional, corporate, college, and university library Jobs/Careers and Business Management collections. It should be noted that "Love + Work" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.80).

Editorial Note: For over twenty-five years, Marcus Buckingham has been the world's leading researcher on strengths and human performance, as well as an entrepreneur, founding the strengths-based leadership development firm The Marcus Buckingham Company. He began his career at Gallup and was the co-creator, with Donald O. Clifton, of StrengthsFinder. He is also the author or co-author of ten books, including First, Break All the Rules; Now, Discover Your Strengths; StandOut 2.0; and Nine Lies About Work. He is currently Head of People + Performance Research at the ADP Research Institute. He has two websites: and

The Travel Shelf

Adventure Ready
Katie Gerber, author
Heather Anderson, author
Mountaineers Books
1001 SW Klickitat Way, Suite 201, Seattle, WA 98134-1161
9781680515442, $24.95, PB, 208pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Adventure Ready: A Hiker's Guide to Planning, Training, and Resiliency", renowned hikers Katie "Salty" Gerber and Heather "Anish" Anderson take what they've learned both on the trail and through teaching their online classes to a new level: preparing long-distance hikers for all the challenges--physical, emotional, and mental--they may encounter while on the trail for weeks or months.

This clear and comprehensive DIY guide and manual sets backpackers up for success with detailed information about everything from the basics of gear selection, navigation, safety, and trip planning to nutritional and physical preparation and body resiliency to how to readjust after returning home.

Included are worksheets and checklists that make it easy to stay on top of all the planning a long-distance hike requires, while thoughtful prompts to address the "Why" of your adventure help to keep you motivated.

"Adventure Ready" empowers both men and women to create goals, face challenges, and be stronger and smarter on the trail.

Critique: As impressively organized and presented as it is informed and 'user friendly' and nicely illustrated with color photography throughout, "Adventure Ready: A Hiker's Guide to Planning, Training, and Resiliency" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library Backpacking, Hiking, Running, Jogging, Mountain Climbing, and Outdoors Camping/Survival collections. Of special note is that "Adventure Ready: A Hiker's Guide to Planning, Training, and Resiliency" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note #1: Katie Gerber is a certified holistic health and nutrition coach, wilderness instructor, guide, and writer. She is a seasoned long-distance hiker who has logged thousands of miles on trails and routes including the Continental Divide Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Colorado Trail, and the Oregon Desert Trail. She lives and adventures in the mountains of Colorado. She can be found online at or on Instagram @katiegerber_wellness

Editorial Note #2: Heather Anderson is a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, avid mountaineer, professional speaker, and author. She holds several Fastest Known Times and was the first woman to complete the Triple Crown of thru-hiking in a calendar year. She can be followed at and on Instagram @_wordsfromthewild_

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Walking Tours of Historic Philadelphia
Edward Colimore
Camino Books, Inc.
PO Box 59026, Philadelphia, PA 19102
9781680980318, $19.95, PB, 264pp

Synopsis: Philadelphia (a metropolitan city where more than three centuries of history come alive) is not one but several cities and you can experience all of them if you know where to look. Tucked amid the glass and steel skyscrapers stand the brick and mortar buildings of the colonial and Federal periods as well as blocks of homes from the Civil War Era and the Age of Victoria.

Now in an newly updated and expanded fourth edition, "The Philadelphia Inquirer's Walking Tours of Historic Philadelphia" by Colin Colimore takes history buffs on twelve walking tours through different city neighborhoods, visiting venerable buildings, quaint cobblestone streets, tiny courtyard gardens, magnificent parks, and out-of-the-way places that were part of the city's storied past. Arranged to help readers follow a logical path from site to site, on-site travel guide includes maps, information about which sites can be toured, and tips on parking, public transportation, and nearby restaurants.

"The Philadelphia Inquirer's Walking Tours of Historic Philadelphia" is the definitive resource for visitors who want to stand in the spot where William Penn first set foot in his new city, follow in the footsteps of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin, and explore grand Victorian-era buildings that remain a vibrant part of life here.

Also included are tours of the Independence Hall area, Society Hill, Penn's Landing, Rittenhouse Square, Fairmount Park, Germantown, and much more.

Critique: Enhanced with black/white photography, thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Philadelphia Inquirer's Walking Tours of Historic Philadelphia" is a simply indispensable guide for visitors to Philadelphia, as well as those Philadelphia residents who want to know more about their city's past, and an ideal resource for non-specialist general readers who iare interested in the history of one of our country's oldest and greatest cities. Simply stated, "The Philadelphia Inquirer's Walking Tours of Historic Philadelphia" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Regional American Travel Guide collections.

Editorial Note: Edward Colimore was a staff writer and editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer for 34 years, during which he wrote hundreds of articles on historic sites in and around Philadelphia.

Your Guide to the National Parks, third edition
Michael Joseph Oswald
Stone Road Press
9781621280767, $28.00, PB, 724pp

Synopsis: "Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 63 National Parks" by Michael Joseph Oswald is a comprehensive and full-color travel guidebook and the ultimate instructional reference to simplify travel planning to any of America's national parks.

"Your Guide to the National Parks" is comprised of detailed maps highlighting popular attractions and trailheads that will help visualize any itinerary. Also included are lodging, camping, and hiking tables to make choosing where to stay and what trails to hike easy. Hiking is explored in depth, but there are also an abundance of details, including outfitter essentials, on all the most popular activities. Whether looking to raft the Grand Canyon, see Old Faithful erupt, climb Mount Rainier, or simply select the perfect place to lay back and stare at the stars, those details are also featured.

Hundreds of lists put the best of America's Best Idea at your fingertips. A dozen suggested road trips, including hundreds of noteworthy stops beyond the parks, provide the building blocks for a trip of a lifetime.

Of special note are the tips and recommendations from Michael Oswald for when to visit and how to avoid crowds.

The completely and newly updated third edition of "Your Guide to the National Parks" features more than 150 large maps and 100 easy-to-read tables. 550 new photos showcase our most scenic treasures before you set foot in them.

Critique: Comprehensive, instructive, illustrated, exceptionally well organized and impressively presented, "Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 63 National Parks" is an ideal resource for getting the most out a visit to any or all of America's national parks. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, and community library American Travel Guide collections, it should be noted for both on-site visitors and armchair travelers alike that "Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 63 National Parks" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.00).

Editorial Note: Home based in Whitelaw, Wisconsin, Michael Joseph Oswald is an award-winning American travel writer who's spent more than a decade exploring America's most scenic treasures -- our National Parks. Oswald learned much over the course of hundreds of trips and thousands of miles hiking, biking, and paddling across these one-of-a-kind wilderness areas. There's much to see and do in our parklands and his goal is to help his readers make the most of their National Park adventures.

The Photography Shelf

What I See
Glen E. Friedman
Akashic Books
232 Third Street, #A115, Brooklyn, NY 11215
9781636140360, $40.00, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: "What I See: The Black Flag Photographs of Glen E. Friedman" is an incredible compilation of all of Friedman's most iconic and recognizable images (from 1980 to 1983), of this seminal American punk band, as well as over one hundred never-before-seen photos made during those phenomenal peak years in the group's history.

"What I See" includes a foreword by Chuck Dukowski, a cofounder and bass player of Black Flag. Friedman's own introduction to the book takes readers through his journey with the group, from the very first time he heard their music, to his perspectives on the music of the era, to the how, why, and what Black Flag were doing at the time. His words provide additional context to the imagery, explaining what drove him to create his art alongside the band.

From the streets around Black Flag's single-room home base/office, rehearsing for their first album, handing out flyers, wheat-pasting posters, driving for hours to a show and returning the same night, house parties, clubs, to the big stage and the beach, Glen E. Friedman was there with his heart, soul, and most importantly his camera.

With the publication of "What I See", he shares with us and inspires us with these images that were made over an incredibly volatile four-year time span.

Critique: A coffee-table style volume (8.8 x 1 x 10.8 inches), "What I See: The Black Flag Photographs of Glen E. Friedman" is a truly memorable and thought-provoking compendium of both black/white and color full page photos that will be of particular interest to fans of Punk Rock in general, and the group Black Flag in particular. Simply stated, "What I See: The Black Flag Photographs of Glen E. Friedman" is an especially recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library American Music History and Photography collections.

Editorial Note: Glen E. Friedman, one of the most important photographers of his generation, is known for his influential and iconic images of rebellious artists from classic skateboarding, punk, and hip-hop cultures. As a true artist his process was much more incendiary than it was documentary. Friedman, first published at the age of fourteen, has produced over one hundred record covers, countless magazine pages, and almost a dozen books, including DogTown: The Legend of the Z-Boys, Keep Your Eyes Open, The Idealist, Recognize, My Rules, and Together Forever: The Run-DMC and Beastie Boys Photographs. His work is now included in a number of notable international collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution

Our Selves: Photographs by Women Artists
Roxana Marcoci, editor
The Museum of Modern Art
9781633451339, $45.00, HC, 152pp

Synopsis: Spanning more than 100 years of photography, the works comprising "Our Selves: Photographs by Women Artists" range from a turn-of-the-century photograph of racially segregated education in the United States, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, to a contemporary portrait celebrating Indigenous art forms, by the Chemehuevi artist Cara Romero.

"Our Selves: Photographs by Women Artists" affirms the creative and political agency of women artists. Included is a critical essay by curator Roxana Marcoci asks the question "What is a Feminist Picture?" and reconsiders the art-historical canon through works by Claude Cahun, Tina Modotti, Carrie Mae Weems, Catherine Opie and Hulleah J. Tsinhnahjinnie, among others.

Additionally, twelve focused essays by emerging scholars explore themes such as identity and gender, the relationship between educational systems and power, and the ways in which women artists have reframed our received ideas about womanhood.

Published in conjunction with a groundbreaking exhibition of photographs by women artists (drawn exclusively from MoMA's collection, thanks to a transformative gift of photographs from Helen Kornblum in 2021), "Our Selves: Photographs by Women Artists" is a richly illustrated catalog that features more than 100 color and black-and-white plates.

As we continue to aspire to equity and diversity, "Our Selves: Photographs by Women Artists" contributes vital insights into figures too often relegated to the margins of our cultural imagination.

Critique: Knowledgeably compiled and edited by Roxana Marcoci, "Our Selves: Photographs by Women Artists" is a coffee-table style (9.2 x 0.7 x 10.8 inches) volume the is especially and unreservedly recommended as a core addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Photography collections in general, and the history of women in photography reading lists in particular.

Editorial Note: Roxana Marcoci is MoMA's David Dechman Senior Curator of Photography. She holds a PhD in art history, theory, and criticism from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. The recipient of the Center for Curatorial Leadership Fellowship in 2011, Marcoci also chairs the Central and Eastern European group of MoMA's Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives (C-MAP) program.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

Mental Health Survival Kit and Withdrawal from Psychiatric Drugs
Peter C. Gotzsche
Institute for Scientific Freedom
c/o Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781615996209, $37.95, HC, 222pp

Synopsis: "Mental Health Survival Kit and Withdrawal from Psychiatric Drugs: A User's Guide" by Professor Peter C. Gotzsche can help people with mental health issues to survive and return to a normal life. Citizens believe, and the science shows, that medications for depression and psychosis and admission to a psychiatric ward are more often harmful than beneficial. Yet most patients take psychiatric drugs for years. Doctors have made hundreds of millions of patients dependent on psychiatric drugs without knowing how to help them taper off the drugs safely, which can be very difficult.

"Mental Health Survival Kit and Withdrawal from Psychiatric Drugs: A User's Guide" explains in detail how harmful psychiatric drugs are and gives detailed advice about how to come off them including: Why you should not see a psychiatrist if you have a mental health issue; That psychiatric drugs are addictive; That the biggest lie in psychiatry is the one about a chemical imbalance being the cause of psychiatric disorders; That psychiatric diagnoses are unscientific and that doctors disagree widely when making diagnoses; That psychiatric drugs can lead to permanent brain damage; That psychiatric drugs should never be stopped abruptly because withdrawal reactions can be dangerous; Why psychotherapy and other psychosocial interventions should be preferred over drugs; Why you should generally not believe what doctors tell you about psychiatric disorders and their treatment; Why volunteers have found the book so important that they have translated it into French, Portuguese and Spanish

Critique: A combination of iconoclastic information about mental health drugs and their role in psychology, psychiatry, and instructional advice on their usage and withdrawal, "Mental Health Survival Kit and Withdrawal from Psychiatric Drugs: A User's Guide" by internal medicine and drug trials expert Peter C. Gotzsche is a critically important contribution to the field of mental health medicine and treatment. While especially and unreservedly recommended for mental health clinic, college, university, and medical school Psychopharmacology collections, it should be note for the personal reading lists of medical students, academic, doctors, mental health workers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in drug dependance and recovery that "Mental Health Survival Kit and Withdrawal from Psychiatric Drugs: A User's Guide" is also available in a paperback edition (9781615996193, $24.95).

Editorial Note: Professor Peter C. Gotzsche is a specialist in internal medicine; worked with clinical trials and regulatory affairs in the drug industry 1975-83, and at hospitals in Copenhagen 1984-95. With about 80 others, he co-founded the Cochrane Collaboration in 1993 (the founder is Sir Iain Chalmers), and established the Nordic Cochrane Centre the same year. He became professor of Clinical Research Design and Analysis in 2010 at the University of Copenhagen and has been a member of the Cochrane Governing Board twice. He became visiting Professor, Institute of Health & Society, Newcastle University in 2019. Professor Gotzsche has published more than 75 papers in the big five (BMJ, Lancet, JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine and New England Journal of Medicine) and his scientific works have been cited over 150,000 times.

The Art Shelf

Alessandra Mattanza, author
John Brandler, contributor
Prestel Publishing
9783791388243, $40.00, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based street artist, political activist and film director whose real name and identity remain unconfirmed and the subject of speculation. Active since the 1990s, his satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humor with graffiti executed in a distinctive stenciling technique. His works of political and social commentary have appeared on streets, walls and bridges throughout the world. Banksy's work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians. Banksy says that he was inspired by 3D, a graffiti artist and founding member of the musical group Massive Attack. (Wikipedia)

Accompanied by stunning full-page, full-color reproductions and photographs of works in situ (including many that have been lost to time) photographer and street art expert Alessandra Mattanza's impassioned and informed text comprising "Banksy" follows this graffiti artist's career trajectory from creator of message-laden stencils on London's city walls to a sought-after champion of human and environmental rights.

Alessandra investigates many of the key images that populate Banksy's work, including animals, children, historic figures, balloons, cartoon characters, police officers, and others. She shows how Banksy's oeuvre has expanded beyond graffiti and stenciling and how his art has helped support his activism in a variety of causes -- from calls for peace in the Middle East to the preservation of the natural environment.

Best of all Alessandra helps readers make sense of the rather unusual path Banksy has chosen as an artist who uses his global platform to raise awareness about the underserved, rather than to his own celebrity. Readers will come away with a new understanding of how Banksy helped transform an illegal act of criminal damage into a high art form, and how, by ridiculing institutionalized art, he has achieved enormous fame within those very institutions.

Critique: A coffee-table style volume (9.38 x 0.98 x 12.13 inches), "Banksky" is an extraordinary and impressively comprehensive study and presentation of the art and artistry of the man known only as Banksky -- arguably the most well known of the graffiti artists to become recognized (and appreciated) by the art world for their talent. Inherently fascinating, "Banksky" is especially recommended as a core addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Contemporary Pop Culture Art & Artists collections.

Editorial Note: Alessandra Mattanza is an author, screenwriter, and photographer. She currently works as a foreign correspondent, contributor, and editor for several publishers in Italy and Germany, and is the author of Street Art: Famous Artists Talk About Their Vision.

The Wine/Beer/Spirits Shelf

Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake
Nancy Matsumoto, author
Michael Tremblay, author
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9784805316511, $19.99, PB, 256pp

Synopsis: Sake (also referred to as Japanese rice wine) is an alcoholic beverage of Japanese origin made by fermenting rice that has been polished to remove the bran. Whether you're a sake novice or an experienced connoisseur, "Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake: Rice, Water, Earth" offers fascinating insights, practical tips, and rich stories about this popular beverage.

Authors and sake experts Nancy Matsumoto and Michael Tremblay personally undertook the challenge of visiting 35 artisanal sake breweries in Japan, the US, and Canada to interview makers and document every stage of the sake brewing process. Nancy's celebrated journalistic background combined with Michael's sake sommelier experience have led to an engaging and informative look at the world of sake.

With over 300 color photos and a lively narrative, "Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake" is fascinating volume that includes: A comprehensive introduction to the science and history of sake brewing in Japan; A look at how fine craft sakes are brewed today using traditional methods and no additives -- only rice, water, koji, and yeast; Histories of Japan's venerable breweries, some of them over 300 years old!; An answer to why some breweries are able to turn out a superior quality of sake; A discussion of rice varieties and the contentious topic of terroir in the context of sake making; Current trends in the world of sake, including the fine sakes now brewed outside Japan; Tasting notes and recommendations for top craft sakes you have not heard about yet.

"Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake" also includes personal recipes from several top Japanese sake-brewing families along with food-pairing tips and a chapter on the authors' own Japanese sake-bar-going adventures.

Critique: A sake lover's informative delight to simply browse through, and an essential read for anyone wanting to become a sake connoisseur, "Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake: Rice, Water, Earth" is the definitive instructional guide and history. While also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99), "Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake: Rice, Water, Earth" is especially recommended for professional, community, college, and university library Wine/Spirits/Beer collections.

Editorial Note #1: Nancy Matsumoto is a writer and editor who covers sake, food, agroecology, and Japanese arts and culture. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Time, The Los Angeles Times, The Toronto Globe and Mail, Food and Wine, and She is also the editor of By the Shore of Lake Michigan, an English-language translation of Japanese tanka poems, and a contributor to a number of other books and publications. The holder of three sake certifications, she divides her time between Toronto and New York City. She has a website at and can be followed at @NancyMatsumoto

Editorial Note #2: Michael Tremblay is a Sake Samurai and Wine Spirit Education Trust (WSET) certified Educator residing in Toronto. He is the Sommelier at ki modern Japanese + bar, a Japanese restaurant with one of Canada's largest sake programs. He is also the Founder of the Sake Scholar Course, a certification course that explores the regionality of sake. @mtrsake

The Antiques/Collectibles Shelf

Miller's Antiques Handbook & Price Guide 2022-2023
Judith Miller
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Books
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781784728304, $47.99, HC, 600pp

Synopsis: Comprised of over 5,000 color photographs and enhanced with the inclusion of some 5,000 price ranges, the "Miller's Antiques Handbook & Price Guide 2022-2023" continues to be the essential and most trusted guide to the antiques market. It has earned the reputation of being antique reference guide that no dealer, collector or auctioneer should be without.

Compiled by Judith Miller, world-renowned antiques expert and co-founder of this annual reference resource, this new edition of "Miller's Antiques Handbook & Price Guide 2022-2023" features more than 8,000 antiques. The price ranges are based on actual prices, either what a dealer will take or the full auction price, giving you a ball park figure of what you should pay for a similar item.

Comprehensive sections cover Ceramics, Asian Antiques, Furniture, Glass, Silver and Metalwares, Jewellery and objets de vertu, Clocks and Watches, Books, Textiles, Toys, Decorative Arts and Modern Classics. Special features explain why one piece is worth more than another, show how to value an item and teach you to be your own valuer. Biographies of designers and factories give the background information you need to help date and value objects, while special 'Judith Picks' sections give fascinating background and valuation details for particularly interesting or unusual objects.

Critique: Beautifully illustrated with color photography on every page, thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Miller's Antiques Handbook & Price Guide 2022-2023" is an essential and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Antiques/Collectibles reference collections. It should be noted that this edition of "Miller's Antiques Handbook & Price Guide 2022-2023" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.99).

Editorial Note: Judith Miller began collecting in the 1960s while a student at Edinburgh University in Scotland. She has since extended and reinforced her knowledge of antiques through international research, becoming one of the world's leading experts in the field. In 1979 she co-founded the international best-seller Miller's Antiques Price Guide and has since written more than 100 books which are held in high regard by collectors and dealers. She is an expert on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow and has co-hosted the popular BBC series The House Detectives, ITV's Antiques Trail, and Discovery's It's Your Bid. She has appeared on The Martha Stewart Show and CNN. She is a regular lecturer and contributor to numerous newspapers and magazines, including the Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph, BBC Homes & Antiques and House & Garden. She has lectured extensively, including at the V&A in London and the Smithsonian in Washington.

The Wisconsin Shelf

The Geography of Wisconsin
John A. Cross, author
Kazimierz J. Zaniewski, author
University of Wisconsin Press
728 State Street, Suite 443, Madison, WI 53706-1418
9780299335502, $39.95, HC, 472pp

Synopsis: Co-authored by tow University of Wisconsin emeritus professors of geography, John A. Corss and Kazimierz J. Zaniewski, "The Geography of Wisconsin" is an accessible survey of Wisconsin geography is sure to delight scholars, students, and enthusiasts alike. A beautiful array of nearly 250 photographs and easy-to-read maps illustrate key geographical concepts and structures, such as: Physical features including bedrock geology, glaciation, landforms, soils, climate, and vegetation; Cultural landscapes including population density, ethnic populations, demographics, and political affiliations; Economic activity including agriculture, forestry, mining, manufacturing, transportation, recreation, and tourism.

Aware that geography is shaped as much by settlement patterns and people as by geology and weather, Professors John A. Cross and Kazimierz J. Zaniewski have created an up-to-date and authoritative overview of the Dairy State's lands and life. It is clear that "The Geography of Wisconsin" will remain a valuable personal, professional, and academic reference for decades to come.

Critique: Profusely and beautifully illustrated throughout, "The Geography of Wisconsin" is enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of numerous Tables and Figures, making it impressively comprehensive, exhaustively informative, exceptionally well organized, and throughly 'reader friendly' in presentation. Simply stated, "The Geography of Wisconsin" is an absolutely essential, unique, and unreservedly addition to community, college, and university library Wisconsin geography and history collections.

Editorial Note #1: The recipient of a National Science Foundation grant, John A. Cross is emeritus professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He is also the author of "Ethnic Landscapes of America" and has published widely on topics related to the geography of Wisconsin.

Editorial Note #2: Kazimierz J. Zaniewski is emeritus professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. His co-authored books include "World Regional Geography", "The Internationalization of European Sports Teams and the Issue of National Citizenship", and "Atlas of Ethnic of Diversity in Wisconsin".

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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