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Wisconsin Bookwatch

Volume 18, Number 5 May 2023 Home | WBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Writing/Publishing Shelf Health/Medicine Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Architecture Shelf Biography Shelf
General Fiction Shelf Historical Fiction Shelf Literary Fiction Shelf
Romantic Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Christian Studies Shelf Judaic Studies Shelf Buddhist Studies Shelf
Graphic Novel Shelf Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf
DVD Shelf Business Shelf Art Shelf
Computer Shelf Self-Help Shelf Travel Shelf
Music Shelf Parenting Shelf Dance Shelf
American History Shelf Needlecraft Shelf Crafts Shelf
Woodworking Shelf Gardening Shelf Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

A Child of the Indian Race: A Story of Return
Sandy White Hawk
Minnesota Historical Society Press
9781681342412, $18.95, PB, 232pp

Synopsis: In the 1950s, when Sandy White Hawk was a toddler, she was taken from her Lakota family on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Her adoption papers identify her as "a child of the Indian race," and her adoptive mother never let her forget it, telling her she was unwanted and shaming her for being "Indian."

White Hawk medicated her traumas with drugs and alcohol. At age twenty-eight, she gained sobriety and reconnected with her birth relatives. As she learned what it means to be Lakota, she also learned that thousands of Native adoptees shared her experience as they were left to navigate racial and cultural complexities as children, with no way to understand what was happening to them.

Mentored by a respected elder, White Hawk began to work with relatives who also had been separated by adoption and foster care, taken away from their families and communities. Fighting through her feelings of inadequacy, she accepted that she could use her voice to advocate. Ultimately, White Hawk founded the First Nations Repatriation Institute, an organization that addresses the post-adoption issues of Native American individuals, families, and communities.

White Hawk lectures and presents widely on the issues around adoption. She exposes the myth that adoption is a path to protecting "unwanted children" from "unfit mothers", offering a child a "better chance at life". Rather, adoption, particularly transracial adoption, is layered in complexities.

"A Child of the Indian Race" is Sandy White Hawk's intensely personal story. It is also the story of her life work helping other adoptees and tribal communities to reconcile the enormous harms caused by widespread removals.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and deeply personal, "A Child of the Indian Race: A Story of Return", now published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, is informatively enhanced for the reader with an impressively informative Introduction by Terry Cross and an insightful Foreword by Gene Thin Elk. An impressive and welcome addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Native American Biography/Memoir collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Child of the Indian Race: A Story of Return" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note #1: Sandy White Hawk is a Sicangu Lakota adoptee from the Rosebud Reservation, South Dakota. She is the founder and director of First Nations Repatriation Institute, which offers resources for First Nations people impacted by foster care or adoption to return home, reconnect, and reclaim their identity. White Hawk is Director of Healing Programs at the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition and was elder-in-residence at the Indian Child Welfare Law Office in Minneapolis. She is the subject of several documentaries, including Blood Memory: A Story of Removal and Return.

Editorial Note #2: Gene Thin Elk (Sicangu Nation) is an internationally known consultant in the area of Indigenous healing methods.

Editorial Note #3: Terry Cross (Seneca Nation) is the founding executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association. He is the author of the Heritage and Helping and Positive Indian Parenting curriculum, as well as Cross-Cultural Skills in Indian Child Welfare.

Gauntlet in the Gulf
Claude Clayton Smith, editor
Shanti Arts
9781956056730, $18.95, HC, 160pp

Synopsis: Lorenz Hall at the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison, Wisconsin, is named for William F. Lorenz, the man who first observed, in 1916, that chemistry could treat the mentally ill. Professor of neuropsychiatry at the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Lorenz developed the fledgling Psychiatry Department while engaged in his ground-breaking research.

In 1925, seeking a much-needed respite, he signed on with the Ruth, a fishing smack out of Pensacola, Florida, for a working vacation in the Gulf of Mexico. The Ruth struck a reef, the ship was abandoned, and the crew was rescued from perilous seas by a Mexican Navy vessel, only to be imprisoned as spies, smugglers, gun-runners, and for fishing in illegal waters. Dr. Lorenz's diary details their ordeal.

Critique: Deftly edited by Claude Clayton Smith (who also provides an informative Foreword), "Gauntlet in the Gulf: The 1925 Marine Log and Mexican Prison Journal of William F. Lorenz, MD" will prove to be of immense appeal to readers with an interest in maritime histories and memoirs. A fascinating account, "Gauntlet in the Gulf" is a very highly recommended pick for community and academic library 19th Century American History/Biography collections and personal reading lists.

Editorial Note: Professor Emeritus of English, Ohio Northern University and the author of eight books and co-editor/translator of four, Claude Clayton Smith's own work has been translated into five languages, including Russian and Chinese. Gauntlet in the Gulf, his third book with Shanti Arts, is his first solo editing adventure. He holds a DA from Carnegie-Mellon, an MFA from the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, an MAT from Yale, and a BA from Wesleyan. (

A Brave and Lovely Woman
Mark Borthwick
University of Wisconsin Press
728 State Street, Suite 443, Madison, WI 53706-1418
9780299342906, $34.95, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: Mamah Borthwick (June 19, 1869 - August 15, 1914) was an energetic, intelligent, and charismatic woman who earned a master's degree at a time when few women even attended college, translated writings by a key figure of the early feminist movement, and taught at one of Germany's best schools for boys.

She is best known, however, as the mistress of the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and for her shocking murder at the renowned Wisconsin home he had built for her and called Taliesin.

"A Brave and Lovely Woman: Mamah Borthwick and Frank Lloyd Wright" by Mark Borthwick offers an important corrective to the narrative of Wright and Borthwick. It is a love story as American in character as it is Shakespearean in conclusion.

Little of Wright's life and work has been left untouched by his many admirers, critics, and biographers. And yet the woman who stood at the center of his emotional life, Mamah Borthwick, has fallen into near obscurity. With the publication of "A Brave and Lovely Woman, Mark Borthwick (himself a distant relative) recenters Mamah Borthwick in her own life, presenting a detailed portrait of a truly fascinating woman, a complicated figure who was at once a dedicated mother and a faithless spouse, a feminist and a member of a conservative sorority, a vivacious extrovert and a social pariah.

Careful research and engaging prose at last give Borthwick, an obscure but crucial character in one of America's most famous tragedies, center stage.

Critique: A compelling read from first page to last, "A Brave and Lovely Woman: Mamah Borthwick and Frank Lloyd Wright" will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in 19th Century Feminism, Frank Lloyd Wright's life and career, and the dramatic impact his mistress had on his emotions and creativity. Fascinating, informative, sensational, memorable, and enhanced with black/white historical photos and illustrations, "A Brave and Lovely Woman: Mamah Borthwick and Frank Lloyd Wright" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library American Biography collections and supplemental curriculum Frank Lloyd Wright studies lists.

Editorial Note: Mark Borthwick ( served as the director of the U.S. Asia Pacific Council at the East-West Center. He is also the author of "Pacific Century: The Emergence of Modern Pacific Asia".

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Once Upon a Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller
Oliver Darkshire
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9781324092070, $27.95, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: Some years ago, Oliver Darkshire stepped into the hushed interior of Henry Sotheran Ltd (est. 1761) to apply for a job. Allured by the smell of old books and the temptation of a management approved afternoon nap, Darkshire was soon unteetering stacks of first editions and placating the store's resident ghost (the late Mr. Sotheran, hit by a tram).

A novice in this ancient, potentially haunted establishment, Darkshire describes Sotheran's brushes with history (Dickens, the Titanic), its joyous disorganization, and the unspoken rules of its gleefully old-fashioned staff, whose mere glance may cause the computer to burst into flames. As Darkshire gains confidence and experience, he shares trivia about ancient editions and explores the strange space that books occupy in our lives -- where old books often have strong sentimental value, but rarely a commercial one.

By turns unhinged and earnest, "Once Upon a Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller" is the colorful story of life in one of the world's oldest bookshops and a love letter to the benign, unruly, fascinating, and frustrating world of antiquarian bookselling, where to be uncommon or strange is the best possible compliment.

Critique: Simply stated, "Once Upon a Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller" is a fun and memorable read from first page to last. Written with insight, humor, and authenticity, "Once Upon a Tome" is a 'must read' selection for all dedicated bibliophiles and anyone else who has ever spent time browsing through an old bookstore not really knowing what they want but certain to recognize it when the see it. Certain to be a treasured addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Biography/Memoir collections, it should be noted for readers with an interest in Booksellers and Bookselling -- along with the wonderfully arcane world of antiquarian bookstores, that "Once Upon a Tome" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.66).

Editorial Note: Oliver Darkshire (@DeathByBadger) is an antiquarian bookseller at Henry Sotheran Ltd, and the voice of @Sotherans twitter account. He lives in Manchester, England, with his husband and his neglectfully curated collection of books. There is an informative online essay by Oliver Darkshnire of considerable interest to booksellers, writers, and bibliophiles at

How to Create Crowdfunding Success for Authors and Writers
Dr. Judith Briles
Mile High Press
9781885331922, $20.00, PB, 114pp

Synopsis: "How to Create Crowdfunding Success for Authors and Writers" by Dr. Judith Briles is the ideal 'how-to' manual for aspiring self published authors who need money for design and printing; money for marketing; money to develop a website; even money for a PR campaign.

The principle promise of Dr. Briles is that if your financial resources are low, there are ways to increase it. You want the odds to be on your side. You want to be in the 35 percent minority that succeeds if you are an author or authortobe. Not the 65 percent that don't.

It's the power of OPM (Other People's Money!).

"How to Create Crowdfunding Success for Authors and Writers" shows how to:

Create rewards that your donors want.

Identify timelines: pre, during and post a crowdfunding campaign.

Determine which crowdfunding sites are best for authors and writers.

Pinpoint the essentials that every successful crowdfunding campaign has.

Get hot tips for creating momentum and the final push.

Structure a social media checklist that's ideal for your project.

Here is the perfect step-by-step instructional guide on the subject of how to set budgets and limit costs.

Does crowdfunding work for financing authors and writers? Yes it is. Can you as an author or writer succeed at it? Absolutely -- Start with a careful reading of "How to Create Crowdfunding Success for Authors and Writers"

Critique: It costs money to turn a manuscript into a book. It costs money to persuasively bring a book to the attention of its intended readership. Over the years, Dr. Judith Briles has earned her nickname of 'The Book Shepherd' and is one of the most respected and knowledgeable book marketing and promotion experts in the publishing industry today. Simply stated, anyone and everyone that aspires to becoming a successfully self-published author needs to give a careful 'note-taking' read of "How to Create Crowdfunding Success for Authors and Writers". While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing instructional reference collections, it should be noted that "How to Create Crowdfunding Success for Authors and Writers" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.67).

Editorial Note: Dr. Judith Briles ( is the author of 43 books and known as The Book Shepherd, working with authors globally to create and publish books in all subject categories and genres. ( A number of her titles have been previously reviewed and archived by the Midwest Book Review at

The Health/Medicine Shelf

Eat Everything
Dawn Harris Sherling
BenBella Books
9781637742594, $21.95, PB, 312pp

Synopsis: Carbs aren't causing your weight gain. Dairy may not be the reason for your upset stomach. And your liver isn't fatty because of the occasional hamburger. It's time to enjoy eating everything again -- and to reclaim our health along the way.

With the publication of "Eat Everything: How to Ditch Additives and Emulsifiers, Heal Your Body, and Reclaim the Joy of Food" offers a better alternative to complicated, minimally effective, and highly restrictive diets as physician Dawn Harris Sherling lays out compelling new evidence implicating food additives as the real culprits behind diet-related diseases and shares simple, actionable advice to heal.

We're constantly told to fear carbs, gluten, and dairy, and we turn to strict diets to solve our health problems. Yet Americans still have one of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the world, and millions suffer from digestive ailments like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Digging into emerging research, Dr. Sherling realized it's not the foods but the food additives, especially emulsifiers, that are at the root of our problems. Our bodies can't digest them, but they feed our microbiomes and they're everywhere in the ultra-processed foods that make up about half of our daily diets.

In this refreshing and accessible guide, readers will learn: How to lose weight without a restrictive diet; Why so many popular ultra-processed foods are actively harmful to our bodies; How to navigate eating at restaurants -- for any meal or occasion; Tips for filling our grocery bags with real food; Why avoiding food additives is beneficial for our bodies and minds; How to embrace healthful cooking at home, with 25 delicious recipes

Dr. Sherling lays out the research on food additives and offers a straightforward guide to eating just about everything (yes, even bread, pasta, and ice cream!) without pain, worry, or guilt. This isn't just another restrictive diet in disguise; it's a call to rediscover our love of real food.

Critique: Highly recommended to the attention of any reader that has tried and failed to improve their health through trying out various dieting fads, "Eat Everything: How to Ditch Additives and Emulsifiers, Heal Your Body, and Reclaim the Joy of Food" is impressively informative, especially well written, accessibly organized, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in presentation. While readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99), "Eat Everything: How to Ditch Additives and Emulsifiers, Heal Your Body, and Reclaim the Joy of Food" is an essential and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library Health/Medicine collections.

Editorial Note: After struggling with IBS herself, Dr. Dawn Harris Sherling's symptoms seemingly disappeared while in Italy. In an effort to help her patients and herself, Dawn began learning more about how food additives such as emulsifiers, thickeners, and stabilizers are wreaking havoc on our microbiomes and how eliminating them can reverse several diet-related diseases. Dawn currently sees patients at a clinic for the underserved in South Florida and teaches at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University where she is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine. (

The Cookbook Shelf

Bold Beans: Recipes To Get Your Pulse Racing
Amelia Christie-Miller
Kyle Books
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781804190821, $26.99, HC, 192pp

Synopsis: For too long in the United Kingdom beans were thought of as dreary hippy fodder, but lately they have undergone a radical image makeover. At long last they are being recognized for their brilliant versatility as well as for being truly delicious and nutritious -- something that has been known in Europe and the Americas for years. One of the healthiest and most sustainable of foods, they help with meat reduction by providing a cheap source of plant protein and at the same time aid soil health, one of the most pressing issues in farming today.

"Bold Beans: Recipes To Get Your Pulse Racing" showcases 80 specialized recipes divided into the following chapters: Beans on Toast; Bean Snacks and Share Plates; Hearty Salads; Bean Bowls; Soup Beans; and Bean Feasts.

The majority of these recipes are written by the Bold Bean team, but in keeping with their community-driven growth they also include some 20+ recipes from guest writers, the influencers who've been their greatest supporters so far -- including Ben Lebus of MOB and Melissa Hemsley. Appealing to vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians, they are recipes offering guaranteed heartiness, protein and satisfaction -- with reduced carbs too.

Critique: Enhanced for the family cook with full color, full page photographs of finished dishes, "Bold Beans: Recipes To Get Your Pulse Racing" is a delight to simply browse through and inspiring to plan menus with. With its thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' recipes for palate pleasing, appetite satisfying dishes that would grace any and all dining occasions, and also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99), "Bold Beans: Recipes To Get Your Pulse Racing" is an original and highly recommended addition to personal, family, professional, and community library cookbook collections.

Editorial Note: Established a year ago, Bold Bean Co was set up by Amelia Christie-Miller who, following a bean epiphany in Spain, decided that the UK both needed and deserved to have a better understanding of beans and how brilliant they can be. Now listed in Selfridges, Waitrose and Planet Organic (as well as numerous independent shops and online outlets), Bold Beans are taking the food world by storm. (

True North Cabin Cookbook
Stephanie Hansen
Minnesota Historical Society Press
345 Kellogg Boulevard, West, St. Paul, MN 55102-1906
9781681342351, $29.95, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: Rural cabins provide an ideal getaway from the demands of everyday life, with adventuresome days of hiking or boating or lounging fueled by hearty, home-cooked meals. The rhythms of cabin life are familiar to food writer and blogger Stephanie Hansen, who relishes the opportunity to create memorable and delicious meals for friends and loved ones using simple ingredients from pantry and garden.

From her family cabin on picturesque True North Island near Ely, Minnesota, and with the publication of "True North Cabin Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a North Woods Table", Hansen shares favorite recipes for the summer months.

In May, she presents cozy dishes like Beef Bourguignon and Drunken Cowboy Beans followed by a sweet and tart Rhubarb Skillet Cake, while June might call for Molasses Pork Chops accompanied by Roasted Carrots with Scallion-Ginger Sauce. For the lazy summer days of July and August, the classic Fried Walleye with Lemony Tartar Sauce might hit the spot, and a Grilled Ratatouille with Herb Vinaigrette takes advantage of fresh seasonal vegetables. As autumn starts to creep in, Grilled Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki Feta Sauce and Warm Bacon Potato Salad keep the summer vibe going.

Throughout the months, Hansen shares recipes for desserts both simple and adventurous - from a No-Bake Layered Lemon Loaf with Blueberries to Molten Chocolate Cakes -- and refreshing cocktails to meet your every mood.

Hansen's creative dishes will nourish and delight those who gather at your table whether at the cabin or at home. "True North Cabin Cookbook" offers ample opportunity to savor north woods living and cuisine at its very best.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely enhanced with full color photography throughout, "True North Cabin Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a North Woods Table" is a delight to simply browse through and exciting to plan out menus with. Thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' in organization and presentation, "True North Cabin Cookbook" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, family, professional, and community library cookbook collections.

Editorial Note: Stephanie Hansen ( is a Minnesota food writer and blogger. From chatting about local dining on FM 107.1's Weekly Dish to sharing recipes on The Jason Show to highlighting local entrepreneurs and craftspeople through the Makers of Minnesota podcast.

The Architecture Shelf

Designing-Women's Lives: Transforming Place and Self
Toby Israel
ORO Editions
31 Commerical Blvd., Suite F, Novato, CA 94949
9781954081116, $29.95, PB, 200pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Designing-Women's Lives: Transforming Place and Self ", Toby Israel calls for a place-making revolution based on women's culturally nurtured "feeling" sensibility.

Women too often have had to repress that sensibility in order to become designers. Now, rather than struggle to fit-in, women can break new ground by using "Design Psychology" as the foundation for creating emotionally satisfying place. To encourage such a heart/mind shift, the author discusses how she took architecture Gold Medalist Denise Scott Brown and interior design legend Margo Grant Walsh through a series of Design Psychology exercises.

The process revealed ways these renowned women unconsciously embedded their heroic struggles as minority females in their designs: Grant Walsh's journey from her Chippewa childhood home with only one green couch to her plush NYC residence reflected her embrace of her Native American + designing-woman's identity. Scott Brown grew up in a more privileged South African household, yet she translated the oppression she witnessed during Apartheid and the bias she experienced as a Jewish woman into the inclusive approach to architecture that made her famous.

Interweaving such designing-women's stories, feminist design thinking and her personal vignettes, Toby Israel inspires her readers to "design from within" their personal psychology as a form of personal liberation. Project case studies further demonstrate how Design Psychology helped women create a nurturing (even transformative) home during life-passages such as partnering or grieving. Such case studies provide inspiring examples of how color, shape, texture, space layout, and special objects can be catalysts for such personal evolution.

Critique: A unique and seminal architectural study, "Designing-Women's Lives: Transforming Place and Self " is exceptionally well presented and informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of an eight page Bibliography, twelve pages of Endnote, and interviews with Julia Morgan, Margo Grant Walsh, Denise Scott Brown, Gloria Steinem, and Esther Sternberg. Nicely illustrated throughout, "Designing Women's Lives" must be considered as a core and invaluable addition to personal, professional, corporate, college, and university library Contemporary Architecture collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Toby Israel ( is the founder of Design Psychology, a field that's gained international attention in the LA, NY and Financial Times, CBS Sunday Morning, and NPR's "Talk of the Nation". Trained as an environmental psychologist, she is a multi-disciplinary design, psychology, arts, and education professional who applies scholarship to the "real-world" practice of place-making.

The ReView: How & What For
Andrea Bardon de Tena, editor
Tulane School of Architecture
c/o Actar Publishers
440 Park Avenue S, 17th FL, New York, NY 10016
9781638400707, $39.95, PB, 400pp

Synopsis: This edition of "The ReView: How & What For" tries to communicate the pedagogical project and some of the lines of research of the Tulane School of Architecture (TuSA) through the work, mostly visual, of its students and professors. As in any educational project, the essential questions are "what for?" and "how?".

Deftly edited by Andrea Bardon de Tena, "The Review: How & What For", presents the pedagogical project of the Tulane School of Architecture through the work (mostly visual) of both students and faculty over the past few years. "The Review: How & What For" is organized into two main blocks, "how" and "what for".

On the one hand, "how" exposes the sequence of studies and theoretical courses with exceptional pedagogical methodologies. On the other hand, "what for" shows the connection of the TuSA's academic work with the social, economic, and environmental reality we face today.

The conceptual link that connects the "How?" and the "What for?" is the idea of innovation. In a time of global crisis, the Architecture (and our educational systems) needs to be revised. This revision of academic programs is crucial to educate new architects to address social and environmental challenges from an innovative perspective.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout, "The Review: How & What For" showcases the work being done at the Tulane School of Architecture. Exceptionally well organized and presented, "The Review: How & What For" is an ideal architectural studies textbook and especially recommended for professional and academic library Architectural Studies collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Andrea Bardon de Tena is a Spanish architect who develops her PhD in Advanced Architectural Projects at the Polytechnic University of Madrid. Her research focuses on the impact of cultural hybrization on local architecture and spatial transformations. (

Editorial Note #2: The Tulane School of Architecture is the school of architecture at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. The school has a student body of approximately 442 students. (

Folio 2: The Elements of Design
Clare Jacobson
ORO Editions
31 Commerical Blvd., Suite F, Novato, CA 94949
9781957183206, $40.00, PB, 100pp

Synopsis: From antiquity to the present day, the Brick has long been a trusted material, used worldwide by builders who appreciate its strength and versatility. It offers proven value to both traditional works and contemporary designs. The venerable material has even become a trendsetter; as the New York Times recently reported, "Bricks Return with Style in New High-End Buildings."

Following the popular first volume of Folio, "Folio 2: The Elements of Design, A Publication by Glen-Gery " features the most inspiring new brick buildings in North America and Australia. Here single-family homes, university buildings, cultural centers, showroom interiors, and more show the possibilities of brick.

Each project uses material manufactured by Glen-Gery in a variety of shapes, colors, and textures, from conventional brick to glass brick to custom-designed brick for unique implementations. The buildings are thoroughly documented in photos and drawings, and with texts based on new interviews with their designers -- a veritable who's who of both up-and-coming and established architecture firms.

Critique: "Folio 2: The Elements of Design, A Publication by Glen-Gery" by Clare Jacobson is a coffee-table style (9.5 x 0.4 x 12.3 inches, 1.29 pounds) paperback volume that will have a very special value for readers with an interest in architectural materials and criticism. Profusely illustrated with full color photography and black/white schematic drawings, "Folio 2" is a significant and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, corporate, college, and university library Architectural Studies collections and supplemental curriculum Contemporary Architecture reading lists.

Editorial Note: Clare Jacobson ( is a San Francisco-based writer and editor on architecture and design. She is author of the books Folio and New Museums in China and co-author of Jigsaw City and Karlssonwilker Inc.'s Tell Me Why. Jacobson was a contributing editor to Architectural Record, and her articles have also appeared in Interior Design, Engineering News Record, Landscape Architecture, and other magazines.

The Biography Shelf

Truth or Consequences
Daniel Asa Rose
High Road Books
c/o University of New Mexico Press
1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM 87131-0001
9780826364784, $27.95, HC, 264pp

Synopsis: Daniel Asa Rose was a successful novelist, memoirist, book critic, and columnist for the New York Times Magazine, Esquire, and others, when the top blew off his domestic life. His wife of sixteen years wanted out. Before he could slip into depression, doubt, and self-loathing, Dan's lifelong friend Tony made an irresistible proposition: go back to the place where, forty years earlier, their college road trip had come to a crashing halt, T-boned by a woman in the decidedly oddball little town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

Dan and Tony return to the scene of the crash in an effort to make sense of that fateful moment. He's certain that if he can locate the woman in whose arms he almost died, he will find the self he lost and make peace with his life choices since. Dan moves into a single-wide trailer four blocks from the crash. Over the next eight months, inexplicable encounters make him fall in love with the New Mexico desert and the wiggy place that embraces him.

Critique: A deeply personal memoir that readers with all the literary flair of a deftly crafted novel, "Truth or Consequences: Improbable Adventures, a Near-Death Experience, and Unexpected Redemption in the New Mexico Desert" by Daniel Asa Rose is an inherently fascinating and ultimately inspiring read. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary American Biography/Memoir collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Truth or Consequences" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $27.95).

Editorial Note: Daniel Asa Rose ( won an O. Henry Prize and two PEN Fiction Awards for the stories in his first collection, Small Family with Rooster. His first novel, Flipping for It, a black comedy about divorce, was a New York Times New and Noteworthy Paperback. Daniel is also the author of Hiding Places, the story of how he took his young sons to Belgium to retrace their family's escape from the Holocaust. His book, Larry's Kidney: Being the True Story of How I Found Myself in China with My Black Sheep Cousin and His Mail-Order Bride, Skirting the Law to Get Him a Transplant--and Save His Life, was named one of the Top Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly.

Your Heroes, My Grandparents: A Granddaughter's Love
Julie Rogers Pomilia
Briton Publishing
9781956216110, $22.99, PB, 262pp

Synopsis: Singing cowboy film star Roy Rogers (November 5, 1911 - July 6, 1998) and his third wife, actress, singer and songwriter Dale Evans (October 31, 1912 - February 7, 2001) were particularly famous nation-wide in the 1940s, 50s. and 60s.

"Your Heroes, My Grandparents: A Granddaughter's Love" by Julie Rogers Pomilia is their biography and life story filled with an abundance of candid pictures, many of them never seen by the public.

"Your Heroes, My Grandparents" is a charming read, and the first book ever to chronicle the lives of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, one of the most famous couples in western film and television history from the distinctive perspective of their grandchild. We knew them as our heroes, but she knew them as simply, Grandma and Grandpa.

Having lived through the '50s and '60s at the height of their popularity, and on into these current times when few people under the age of 50 remember who they were and the impact they had on American culture, the author shares unique insights about what it was like living with her famous grandparents. Still relatable, these heartwarming experiences transcend time and generational differences.

Being the youngest daughter of Dale Evans' only biological son, Julie shares from personal experience, the love, and acceptance her grandparents exuded as they adopted five children from different walks of life and cultures. Combining "yours, mine, and ours, step, adopted and foster" making nine total, they were the Brad and Angelina of the '50s before it was in vogue.

Each chapter stands alone, one short story after another, as she recalls with humor and tenderness, the perception of fame, the tragedies they endured, and the rollicking times they experienced being part of this multicultural brood. Spanning from her earliest memories until the time of their passing, this is a must-read for anyone longing for an intimate, positive encounter with two of the most beloved heroes in American history.

Critique: An absolutely 'must read' for the still remaining legions of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans fans, "Your Heroes, My Grandparents: A Granddaughter's Love" is a fascinating, informative, and a little nostalgic trip down memory lane. A welcome and recommended addition to personal and community library 20th Century American Biography/Memoir collections, librarians should note that there is a large print hardcover edition of (9781956216097, $29.95) available from Briton Publishing LLC,

Editorial Note: Julie Rogers Pomilia. being the granddaughter of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, her life from childhood on, has been colored with the deep familial love born out of the most famous on-screen (and off-screen) western couples of all time The King of Cowboys, Roy Rogers, and The Queen of the West, Dale Evans. Her book "Your Heroes, My Grandparents", is a collection of short stories and family photos of Roy and Dale, that was originally written for her three sons. Because this couple played such a vital role in the formation of American culture, as well as much encouragement from people along the way, she decide to widen her audience to the public.

In Search of the Blonde Tigress
Silvia Pettem
The Lyons Press
c/o The Globe Pequot Press
9781493068630, $29.95, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: Beginning in 1933, Eleanor Jarman was sensationalized by the press as the "blonde tigress" and "the most dangerous woman alive." But a closer look at her life shows that she was an otherwise ordinary woman who got caught up in a Chicago crime spree, then was convicted as an accomplice to murder and sent to prison. In 1940, Eleanor escaped and managed to live out her life as, perhaps, America's longest-running female fugitive.

Following the murder of an elderly shopkeeper, readers are given a front-row seat for Eleanor's arrest, trial, conviction, and sentencing (all documented with recently unearthed primary-source police records, court transcripts, and prison files) and her subsequent prison years. Woven in are comparisons and contrasts between Eleanor's and her escape partner's criminal histories, as well as speculation on their lives on the lam. Whether Eleanor deserved her sentence, or whether it was too harsh, is left for the reader to decide.

With the publication of "In Search of the Blonde Tigress: The Untold Story of Eleanor Jarman", author Silvia Pettem sets the mystery and intrigue of this wanted woman into an historic context. It also includes her family's plea, in 1993, for Eleanor to come forward and apply for clemency. Most revealing at the time was Eleanor's alias. With that information (and considering that Eleanor, born in 1901, is certainly now deceased), "In Search of the Blonde Tigress" documents her search for Eleanor's remains -- right up to a visit to her likely grave.

Critique: Rescuing from obscurity one of the most unusual stories in the annals of American Criminology, "In Search of the Blonde Tigress: The Untold Story of Eleanor Jarman" is an extraordinary, exceptionally well researched, and simply fascinating study that is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as professional, community, and academic library 20th Century American Biography collections and supplemental curriculum Criminology studies lists.

Editorial Note: Silvia Pettem ( is a Colorado-based historical researcher, writer, and author. After local history research led her to the identification of a decades-old murder victim, Pettem switched from writing about history to the genre of true crime. Pettem's other books that relate to cold case investigations include Someone's Daughter: In Search of Justice for Jane Doe (2009); Cold Case Research: Resources for Unidentified, Missing, and Cold Homicide Cases (2013); The Long Term Missing: Hope and Help for Families (2017); and Cold Case Chronicles: Mysteries, Murders, and the Missing (2021).

The General Fiction Shelf

Willa's Pursuit
Jim Bastian
Bower House
9781942280682, $17.95, PB, 248pp

Synopsis: In the winter of 1971, graduate student Willa immerses herself in a sensory deprivation tank for a routine psychological experiment. The hallucinations and delusions she experiences in the tank are considered normal side effects, but the sudden ability to speak fluent French is not!

Each time she enters the tank, she becomes more convinced the hallucinations are actually someone else's memories. Her boyfriend dismisses her delusions and resulting anxiety and depression as proof that she is having a psychotic break. But what if her new abilities mean something more?

Set in Wisconsin during the social turmoil and budding psychological science of the early 1970s, and inspired by actual events, Willa's pursuit of the source of her visions and fluency in French (a condition called xenoglossia) unearths an unlikely archaeological discovery and a shocking truth that changes her life forever.

Critique: A compelling and inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, "Willa's Pursuit" by Jim Bastian is a unique and deftly crafted novel that showcases the author's impressive and narrative driven storytelling skills. Especially and unreservedly recommended for community library fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Willa's Pursuit" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: James Bastian ( earned an MBA and then proceeded to have a 35-year career in business, most recently providing corporate organizational and human resource assessments. He is also the author of "Wisconsin Logging Camp, 1921" (

Dinner Party
Sarah Gilmartin
Pushkin Press
9781911590583, $16.95 PB, 272pp

Synopsis: Kate is a young woman who has taught herself to be careful, to be meticulous.

To mark the anniversary of a death in the family, she plans a dinner party ranging from the fancy table settings to the perfect Baked Alaska waiting in the freezer. Yet by the end of the night, old tensions have flared, the guests have fled, and Kate is spinning out of control.

But all we have is ourselves, her father once said, all we have is family.

Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "Dinner Party" is author Sarah Gimartin's debut as a novelist, the story is et between the 1990s and the present day, and ranges from a farmhouse in Carlow to Trinity College, Dublin. An inherently fascinating, deftly crafted, and memorably entertaining coming-of-age story replete with the complications of sibling relationships and the trauma of family secrets, "Dinner Party" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Dinner Party" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Sarah Gilmartin ( is a critic who reviews fiction for the Irish Times. She is co-editor of the anthology Stinging Fly Stories and has an MFA from University College Dublin. She won Best Playwright at the inaugural Short+Sweet Dublin festival. Her short stories have been published in The Dublin Review, New Irish Writing and shortlisted for the RTE Francis MacManus Short Story Award. Her story "The Wife" won the 2020 Mairtin Crawford Award at BelfastBook Festival. Sarah recently received a bursary for her novel-in-progress from the Arts Council of Ireland.

Shelf Life
Martin Sneider
Forefront Books
9781637631683, $26.00, HC, 432pp

Synopsis: As the son of Max Feldman, the self-proclaimed "sodbuster from Omaha" and brilliant founder of the successful fashion shoe store chain Fratelli Massimo, Josh Feldman has always known his destiny -- working alongside his father and one day succeeding him, a career path promised to him by Max.

Starting with one store in the 1950s financed by his mother's trust fund, his father has taken advantage of the heyday of shopping malls to grow the St. Louis-based business to hundreds of locations across the United States. At industry events, he's not just some Midwestern family business boss but a rock star courted by suppliers, shopping center developers, and the media.

Josh is eager to step into his father's role. Unlike his charismatic brother and his sophisticated New York-born and -bred mother, who inherited her powerful father's cunning but is more interested in literature and raising her sons,

Josh is passionate about the family business. He is his father's son and presumed successor. But as he comes of age, starts a family of his own, and works his way up in the business, Josh slowly begins to understand his father's penchant for treachery. With Max's ruthless ambition and his drive to be celebrated for his success, will Josh ever be allowed to succeed him?

When the family is divided over the future of the business, Josh must face the fact that his father's pledge to him may have exceeded its shelf life.

Critique: At the distinguished age of 80 years old, author Martin Sneider presents his debut novel "Shelf Life", the first of a projected series of four novels about fashion and family. Fascinating, original, and fun, "Shelf Life" is an extraordinary debut effort and will prove a welcome addition to community library Contemporary Literary and Jewish Fiction collections. A deftly crafted Jewish-American family saga about the rise of its fashion retailing empire and how it splits and ultimately devastates the family, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Shelf Life" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).

Editorial Note: A fashion retailing legend, Martin Sneider has been a leader in the shoe and clothing industries for more than five decades and has served as a multi-award-winning adjunct professor of retailing at the Olin School of Business at Washington University since 1992. At the Olin School of Business, Martin created and taught a course devoted to luxury goods merchandising and marketing that included trips with students to Milan, Paris, and London to visit the showrooms of Armani, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Burberry, and Cartier. He also served on the Alumni Board of Directors of Harvard Business School, was chairman of St. Louis Children's Hospital, and received the Distinguished Alumni award from Washington University. He is the author of a highly acclaimed nonfiction book on the shoe industry.

Outer Sunset
Mark Ernest Pothier
University of Iowa Press
Dreamscape Media
9781609388836, $17.00, PB, 266pp

Synopsis: Jim Finley is a recently retired English teacher living alone on the shifting edge of San Francisco who has been set, unwittingly, on the back porch of life. Trying to harmonize the voices in his head, he sits most days by his stack of "to-do" books until, one day, his daughter comes home with the worst news of her life.

Everything changes. As his broken heart re-engages, he steps back into a new world. He sees his ex-wife has launched into a larger life than the one they'd shared. He is surprised to find it easier to talk to his son's immigrant girlfriend, or even the remains of a Russian saint, than to the young man he's raised. He misconnects with Carol (his first date in decades) a woman he enjoys talking with but doesn't quite hear.

Set in the pre-tech calm before the turn of this century, "Outer Sunset" is a deeply felt story about the intimate place where long-lasting growth occurs in our lives; how we revise, or live without, our dreams; how to love the flaws of those closest to you and watch a child grow away into someone better than you'd imagined; and how to be shaken by beauty amidst unimaginable loss and remain standing.

Critique: Deftly scripted from beginning to end, "Outer Sunset" is an original, compelling, memorable read by Mark Ernest Pothier, an exceptionally gifted novelist with a genuine flair for the kind of narrative driven storytelling and impressively crafted characters that keeps his readers raptly engaged and fully involved. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Outer Sunset" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.15) and as a complete and unabridged audiobook (Dreamscape Media, 9781666637571, $22.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Mark Ernest Pothier ( received a Nelson Algren Literary Award, and is the former public information officer for the California Council for the Humanities.

The Bird Hotel
Joyce Maynard
Arcade Publishing
c/o Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
9781956763737, $29.99, HC, 432pp

Synopsis: After a childhood filled with heartbreak, Irene, a talented artist, finds herself in a small Central American village where she checks into a beautiful but decaying lakefront hotel called La Llorona at the base of a volcano.

A novel by Joyce Maynard, "The Bird Hotel" tells the story of this young American who, after suffering tragedy, restores and runs La Llorona. Along the way we meet a rich assortment of characters who live in the village or come to stay at the hotel. With a mystery at its center and filled with warmth, drama, romance, humor, pop culture, and a little magical realism, "The Bird Hotel" has all the hallmarks of a Joyce Maynard novel which have made her a leading literary voice of her generation.

Critique: A sweeping saga of a novel spanning four decades and offering both lyricism and whimsey, "The Bird Hotel" is impressively informed by the more than twenty years of which author Joyce Maynard has spent in the small Mayan indigenous village in Guatemala. With her deftly scripted and narrative driven storytelling style, "The Bird Hotel" will be of special interest to readers the enjoy Hispanic/American and Magical Realism stories. While highly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Bird Hotel" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99).

Editorial Note: Over her fifty-year career, author Joyce Maynard has published hundreds of essays as well as eighteen books, both fiction and non-fiction, including the memoir At Home in the World and the novels To Die For and Labor Day, both adapted for film. Her novel, Count the Ways, was recently awarded the Grand Prix Literaire in France. Every winter for over two decades, Maynard has led the Lake Atitlan Memoir workshop, Write by the Lake, in Guatemala. She has her own Wikipedia page at

Moorewood Family Rules
HelenKay Dimon
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
9780063297142, $30.00, HC, 384pp

Synopsis: One day a con man met an heiress, wooed her, married her, had two kids... and kept on conning. Jillian Moorewood is the oldest child from that meet-cute-gone-wrong marriage. The stable one. The sensible and dependable one. The one who protects and fixes. The one who went to prison to save their sorry butts. Now, thirty-nine months later, she's out and she's more than a little pissed.

Finally home she finds the scheming clan in full family fleecing mode. They all claim they didn't really agree to Jillian's previous go-legit-or-else ultimatum before she went away. They viewed it as a "suggestion" then ignored it. So, business as usual. But Jillian is done with the lies and fakery. She demands the whole messed-up crew clean up its act, and this time she's not kidding because she has the leverage to make it happen.

Problem is, her life is in shambles, but with the help of a great aunt (crooked but loveable), a bodyguard (who is a nice surprise after three years in prison), and a few allies (all working undercover), Jillian starts to put her life back together. She kicks out a few mooching relatives living under her roof, sets limits on everyone's access to the money, ducks from their various attacks, and sees if that bodyguard is maybe interested in sticking around for a while. For the first time, she's Jillian Moorewood, her own woman, and she's ready to figure out who she is.

Critique: A fun read from first page to last, "Moorewood Family Rules" by HelenKay Dimon is impressively original, brilliantly scripted, laced through with humorous idiosyncracies, and a truly memorable novel that will have a special appeal to readers with an interest in contemporary romantic comedy with a kick! While especially and unreservedly recommended community library Contemporary Women's Fiction & Romance collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Moorewood Family Rules" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780063240520, $18.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212217392, $41.99, CD).

Editorial Note: HelenKay Dimon ( is a former divorce lawyer with a dual writing personality. Her work has been optioned for television and featured in numerous venues, including The New York Times, The New York Post, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, The Toronto Star, Popsugar, Goodreads, The Skimm, and Huffington Post. In addition to writing thrillers as Darby Kane, she is now writing stories centered on family hijinks with a bit of suspense and humor.

The Sound of Rabbits
Janice Deal
Regal House Publishing
9781646033461, $18.95, PB, 252pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Sound of Rabbits", novelist Janice Deal tells the story of Ruby, a bright woman with a love of music who thought that leaving the small town where she grew up would ensure her happiness. But her life in Chicago is not going the way she'd planned.

At 41, she's drifted away from music, and a long-term relationship with a boyfriend has ended badly. Everything changes with one phone call from her sister, Val, who cares for their mother, Barbara, in the hardscrabble Midwestern town where Ruby grew up. Ruby returns to confront some harsh truths about her family and herself as she tries to find meaning in her mother's battle with Parkinson's disease.

Critique: The narrative driven storytelling style employed by Janice Deal in her "The Sound of Rabbits", (and all the more impressive considering that it is her debut as a novelist) relies on presenting different points of view in order to explore themes of change and death, and considers the role that the past (and the acceptance of that past) can play in our current and future happiness. Original, entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Sound of Rabbits" is an impressive work of literary fiction and highly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. Also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "The Sound of Rabbits" will have a special appeal for anyone with an interest in stories of Family Life and Small Towns.

Editorial Note: Janice Deal ( is the author of the short story collection The Decline of Pigeons, a finalist in the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction; and Strange Attractors, a cycle of linked stories. Her stories have won the Moth Short Story Prize and Cagibi Macaron Prize for fiction, and have appeared in publications including Fiction, Harvard Review Online, The Sun, Emrys Journal, Ontario Review, and Zone 3.

The Historical Fiction Shelf

The Tiffany Girls
Shelley Noble
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
9780063252448, $19.99, PB, 416pp

Synopsis: It's 1899, and Manhattan is abuzz. Louis Comfort Tiffany, famous for his stained-glass windows, is planning a unique installation at the Paris World's Fair, the largest in history. At their fifth-floor studio on Fourth Avenue, the artists of the Women's Division of the Tiffany Glass Company are already working longer shifts to finish the pieces that Tiffany hopes will prove that he is the world's finest artist in glass. Known as the "Tiffany Girls", these women are responsible for much of the design and construction of Tiffany's extraordinary glassworks, but none receive credit.

Emilie Pascal, daughter of an art forger, has been shunned in Paris art circles after the unmasking of her abusive father. Wanting nothing more than a chance to start a new life, she forges a letter of recommendation in hopes of fulfilling her destiny as an artist in the one place where she will finally be free to live her own life.

Grace Griffith is the best copyist in the studio, spending her days cutting glass into floral borders for Tiffany's religious stained-glass windows. But none of her coworkers know her secret: she is living a double life as a political cartoonist under the pseudonym of G.L. Griffith -- hiding her identity as a woman.

As manager of the women's division, Clara Driscoll is responsible for keeping everything on schedule and within budget. But in the lead-up to the most important exhibition of her career, not only are her girls becoming increasingly difficult to wrangle, she finds herself obsessed with a new design: a dragonfly lamp that she has no idea will one day become Tiffany's signature piece.

Brought together by chance, driven by their desire to be artists in one of the only ways acceptable for women in their time, these "Tiffany Girls" will break the glass ceiling of their era and for working women to come.

Critique: Original, deftly crafted characters, interesting storyline, "The Tiffany Girls" by novelist Shelley Noble is an absorbing, entertaining read from first page to last. With a special appeal to fans of women's historical fiction, "The Tiffany Girls" is especially commended for community library Historical Fiction collections and is available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) as well.

Editorial Note: Shelley Noble ( is the author of Whisper Beach and Beach Colors. Her other titles include Stargazey Point, Breakwater Bay, and Forever Beach (a story of foster adoption in New Jersey) and four spin-off novellas. Shelley is also a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the Women's Fiction Writers Association.

Like the Appearance of Horses
Andrew Krivak
Bellevue Literary Press
c/o NYU School of Medicine
9781954276130, $28.99, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: Rooted in the small, mountain town of Dardan, Pennsylvania, where patriarch Jozef Vinich settled after surviving World War I, "Like the Appearance of Horses", novelist Andrew Krivak immerses his readers in the intimate lives of a family whose fierce bonds have been shaped by the great conflicts of the past century.

After Bexhet Konar escapes fascist Hungary and crosses the ocean to find Jozef, the man who saved his life in 1919, he falls in love with Jozef's daughter, Hannah, enlists in World War II, and is drawn into a personal war of revenge. Many years later, their youngest son, Samuel, is taken prisoner in Vietnam and returns home with a heroin addiction and deep physical and psychological wounds. As Samuel travels his own path toward healing, his son will graduate from Annapolis as a Marine on his way to Iraq.

Critique: Featuring a spare, breathtaking prose by an author with a genuine flair for a distinctive and narrative driven storytelling flair, "Like the Appearance of Horses" is an original and freestanding, and concluding novel in Andrew Krivak's award-winning Dardan Trilogy, which began with "The Sojourn" and "The Signal Flame". This is a compelling and deftly crafted story about borders drawn within families as well as around nations, and redrawn by ethnicity, prejudice, and war. But it is also a tender story of love and how it is tested by duty, loyalty, and honor. While steadfastly recommended for community and academic library Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Like the Appearance of Horses" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Andrew Krivak ( is the author of The Bear, a Mountain Book Competition winner and NEA Big Read selection, and the novels of the Dardan Trilogy: The Sojourn, a National Book Award finalist and winner of both the Chautauqua Prize and Dayton Literary Peace Prize; The Signal Flame, a Chautauqua Prize finalist.

The Literary Fiction Shelf

Patricia Leavy
She Writes Press
9781647422967, $17.95, PB, 224pp

Synopsis: What happens when a seemingly ordinary woman with a passion for the arts falls in love with a Hollywood star known for his bachelor status and quick temper with the paparazzi?

Something extraordinary.

Dee Schwartz is a writer and arts researcher. Ryder Field is a famous actor descended from Hollywood royalty. On the night they meet outside a bar, their connection is palpable. Ryder's mother (legendary actress Rebecca Field, half of Hollywood's golden couple when she died) was kidnapped and murdered by a crazed fan in a shocking event that forever tarnished Tinseltown.

Dee's mother, too, died when she was young. Bonded by this loss, the two embark on a love story that explores their search for magic (or "gold dust") in their lives. Everything changes, however, when Dee mysteriously disappears after an awards ceremony. Is history repeating itself? Can there truly be a happily ever after in Hollywood?

Critique: Written with the kind of eloquence associated with award winning literary fiction, "Hollyland" by Patricia Leavy is told against the backdrop of contemporary Los Angeles, An impressively poignant, laudably original, and thoroughly entertaining novel that moves fluidly between romance, humor, suspense, and joy, "Hollyland" is one of those stories that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While highly recommended for personal reading lists and community/academic library Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for fans of contemporary romance and romantic suspense that "Hollyland" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).

Editorial Note: Patricia Leavy ( was formerly an Associate Professor of Sociology, Chairperson of Sociology & Criminology, and Founding Director of Gender Studies at Stonehill College. She has published more than forty books; her work has been translated into many languages, and she has received more than forty book honors. She has also received career awards from the New England Sociological Association, the American Creativity Association, the American Educational Research Association, the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, and the National Art Education Association. In 2018, she was honored by the National Women's Hall of Fame and SUNY-New Paltz established the "Patricia Leavy Award for Art and Social Justice".

The Romantic Fiction Shelf

To Swoon and to Spar
Martha Waters
Atria Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
Blackstone Audiobooks
9781668007907, $17.99, PB, 336pp

Synopsis: Viscount Penvale has been working for years to buy back his ancestral home, Trethwick Abbey, from his estranged uncle. And so he's thrilled when his uncle announces that he is ready to sell but with one major caveat -- Penvale must marry his uncle's ward, Jane Spencer.

When the two meet in London, neither is terribly impressed. Penvale finds Jane headstrong and sharp-tongued. Jane finds him cold and aloof. Nevertheless, they agree to a marriage in name only and return to the estate. There, Jane enlists her housekeeper for a scheme: to stage a haunting so that Penvale will return to London, leaving her to do as she pleases at Trethwick Abbey. But Penvale is not as easily scared as his uncle and as their time together increases, Jane realizes that she might not mind her husband's company all that much.

Critique: Author Martha Waters is a master of the Regency Era romance novel and with the publication of "To Swoon and to Spar" has once again demonstrated her decided and distinctive flair for writing humor laced period romance, While her newest novel is unreservedly recommended for community library Historical Romance Fiction collections, it should be noted for the growing legions of Martha Waters fans that "To Swoon and to Spar" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781797152240, $39.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Martha Waters ( is the author of the Regency Vows series, which also includes "To Have and to Hoax", "To Love and to Loathe", and "To Marry and to Meddle". She lives in coastal Maine, where she works as a children's librarian by day.

Windswept Way
Irene Hannon
Fleming H. Revell Company
c/o Baker Publishing Group
9780800742706, $29.99, HC, 340pp

Synopsis: Buying a haunted house was never in Ashley Scott's plans, but when an intriguing opportunity drops into her lap after a major setback, she finds herself trekking cross-country to Hope Harbor on the Oregon coast to launch a new life.

Wounded warrior Jonathan Gray isn't sure what to make of the attractive woman on his reclusive older neighbor's isolated property, but her presence is none of his business -- until she enlists his help with an ambitious project. When Jonathan finds his interest in the new arrival becoming more personal than professional, however, his defenses go up. There's no room in his life (or his heart) for romance.

Yet, as these hurting people join forces to restore life, laughter, and love to a historic estate that has known too much sadness, they may also find healing, hope, and happiness for themselves.

Critique: Another deftly crafted contemporary Christian romance novel from author Irene Hannon, "Windswept Way" is a wonderfully entertaining, impressively original, wholesome romance, making it an ideal addition to community library Contemporary Romance Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of the legions of Irene Hannon fans that "Windswept Way" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780800741914, $17.99), and in digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Irene Hannon ( is the author of more than 60 contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. In addition to her many other honors, she is a three-time winner of the prestigious RITA Award from Romance Writers of America. She is also a member of RWA's elite Hall of Fame and has received a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews for her entire body of work.

The Do-Over
Suzanne Park
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
Blackstone Audiobooks
9780063216051, $16.99, PB, 368pp

Synopsis: Bestselling author Lily Lee is on a short deadline to deliver her new career guide, "How to Land the Perfect Job", and she's been interviewing at all the top companies around town. But when she's offered a coveted position at her dream company, the employer's background check reveals she never actually finished her college degree. -- Unbelievably, her worst nightmare has come true.

Lily returns to her alma mater to relive her senior year of college, after walking across the stage at graduation a decade earlier. Just as she starts getting used to the idea of being a student again, things get even more weird and chaotic when she discovers her computer science TA is her old college boyfriend, Jake Cho.

As Lily and Jake reconnect, she sees that her late-blooming ex has done well for himself: the handsome, charming grad student appears to have his life together, while Lily's on the brink of losing her reputation and her book deal.

Critique: Told in present day with glimpses of the past, and a thoroughly fun read from beginning to end, "The Do-Over" by talented novelist Suzanne Park is a delightfully warm and hopeful story about second chances in life and love, and how the future might not be a straight line, but we still end up exactly where we're supposed to be. Especially commended to the attention of readers with an interest in multicultural and comedic romance, "The Do-Over" is unreservedly recommended for community library Romance Fiction collections. It should also be noted that "The Do-Over" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212212830, $41.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Suzanne Park ( is a Korean American writer who was born and raised in Tennessee. In her former life as a stand-up comedian, she appeared on BET, was the winner of the Seattle Sierra Mist Comedy Competition, and placed as a semi-finalist in NBC's "Stand Up For Diversity" showcase in San Francisco. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, female offspring, and a sneaky rat that creeps around on her back patio. In her spare time, she procrastinates.

When Tomorrow Came
Hannah Linder
Barbour Publishing
Oasis Audio
9781636094403, $15.99, PB, 320pp

Synopsis: Nan and Heath Duncan are siblings abandoned by their papa and abused by their guardian. They have no choice but to survive on the London streets. When a kind gentleman rescues Nan from such a life, the siblings are separated and raised in two vastly different social worlds.

Just when both are beginning to flourish and years have healed some of their wounds, their long-awaited papa returns and reunites them -- bringing demands with him. Nan is expected to marry a rich suitor she's never liked, and Heath is expected to forsake his gentle spirit and become the hardened man his father always was.

Dangers unfold, secret love develops, fights ensue, and murder upsets the worlds Heath and Nan have built for themselves. They've waited their whole lives for their papa to return, for tomorrow to come--but now that it has, will they be able to see through to the truth and end this whirlwind of a nightmare before it costs one of their lives?

Critique: Especially commended to the attention of readers who prefer clean and wholesome romance and historical novels written from a Christian perspective, "When Tomorrow Came" by novelist Hannah Linder is a fun and pleasant read with its memorably crafted characters and abundance of unexpected plot twists and turns. While unreservedly recommended for community library Historical Romance collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "When Tomorrow Came" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Oasis Audio, 9781685923419, $37.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Hannah Linder ( writes Regency romantic suspense novels. She is a two- time 2021 Selah Award winner, a 2022 Selah Award finalist, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Hannah is also a Graphic Design Associates Degree graduate who specializes in professional book cover design. She designs for both traditional publishing houses and individual authors, including New York Times, USA Today, and International bestsellers.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Mill House Murders
Yukito Ayatsuji, author
Ho-Ling Wong, translator
Pushkin Vertigo
c/o Pushkin Press
9781782278337, $15.95, PB, 288pp

Synopsis: As they do every year, a small group of acquaintances pay a visit to the remote, castle-like Water Mill House, home to the reclusive Fujinuma Kiichi, son of a famous artist, who has lived his life behind a rubber mask ever since a disfiguring car accident.

This year, however, the visit is disrupted by an impossible disappearance, the theft of a painting and a series of baffling murders.

The brilliant Kiyoshi Shimada arrives to investigate. But will he get to the truth, and will you too be able to solve the mystery of the Mill House Murders?

Critique: A fun read and a classic Japanese locked room mystery with an ingenious conclusion from Yukito Ayatsuji (the author of The Decagon House Murders), and translated into English for the first time by Ho-Ling Wong, dedicated mystery buffs will not want to miss "The Mill House Murders", a beautifully constructed, highly entertaining and atmospheric murder mystery with a propulsive plot. "The Mill House Murders" is a compelling, page-turning read from start to finish. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of traditional detective 'whodunnit' mysteries in a Japanese setting that "The Mill House Murders" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note #1: Yukito Ayatsuji ( is a Japanese writer of mystery and horror novels. He started writing as a member of the Kyoto University Mystery Club, a society dedicated to the writing of fair play mysteries inspired by the Golden Age greats. The Decagon House Murders was Ayatsuji's debut and is considered a landmark crime novel in Japan, where it revived the traditional puzzle mystery format and inspired a new generation of writers. The Mill House Murders is the sequel, again starring the great detective Kiyoshi Shimada.

Editorial Note #2: Ho-Ling Wong ( is a translator currently living in the Netherlands. Heis also both a Member of the Honkaku Mystery Writers Club of Japan and former member of the Kyoto University Mystery Club.

The Magistrate
Brian Klingborg
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
9781250855015, $28.00, HC, 320pp

Critique: A group of high-level civil servants has a tight grip on the extensive graft and corruption in Northern China's Harbin Cit. for years the members of this group (the so-called Nangang Benevolent Association) have raked in untold riches at the expense of ordinary citizens. But now they are being targeted by a shadowy figure who calls himself the Magistrate. Some of them have been boldly kidnapped off the streets, then threatened, beaten, and worse. Others are in hiding hoping to avoid the Magistrate's men, determined to find and eliminate their unseen foe. A brutal murder investigation with connections to corruption at the very highest level threatens not just the career but also the life of Inspector Lu Fei.

Critique: "The Magistrate" is author Brian Klingborg's latest mystery novel featuring the Chinese detective inspector Lu Fie. Original, deftly crafted, and with more plot twists and turns than a Chinese Dragon Dance, "The Magistrate" is unreservedly recommended as a top pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of mystery buffs with an interest in police procedurals and international crime novels that "The Magistrate" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Brian Klingborg ( has both a B.A. (University of California, Davis) and an M.A. (Harvard) in East Asian Studies and spent years living and working in Asia. He currently works in early childhood educational publishing and lives in New York City. Klingborg is also the author of Kill Devil Falls.

The Murder of Anton Livius
Hansjorg Schneider, author
Astrid Freuler, translator
Bitter Lemon Press
9781913394875, $15.95, PB, 208pp

Synopsis: Hunkeler must deal not only with the quarrelsome tenants of the garden but with the challenges of investigating a murder that has taken place outside his jurisdiction, across the French border in Alsace. The clues lead to the Emmental in Berne, and then to Alsace where wounds from the Second World War have never healed.

Series: Inspector Hunkeler is close to retirement age, gruff, intuitive, and endowed with a deep sense of psychology and a horror of social injustice. It feels like Hunkeler investigates mostly by spending time in the bars and inns of his beloved city of Basel and in neighboring Alsace where he shares a small farmhouse with his long-suffering 'girlfriend' Hedwig in a harsh winter with unusually heavy snowfall and persistent sub-zero temperatures.

A riveting crime thriller, it emphasizes that as an outsider, Hunkeler is alive to class differences and social milieux. The contrast between the xenophobia of the local police and the Swiss press and the desperate, often lonely, world of Balkan and other immigrants informs the story.

Critique: It is interesting to note that the neighboring cities of Basel and Alsace are evoked with great love by author and novelist Schneider -- who in real life lives on the same street and frequents the same bars and restaurants as his fictional detective, Inspector Hunkeler. "The Murder of Anton Livius" is the third title in the Inspector Hunkeler series published in English. The first was The Basel Killings published by Bitter Lemon in 2021, winner of the Friedrich Glauser Prize, Germany's most prestigious crime fiction award. The second was Silver Pebbles, a beautifully crafted thriller about stolen diamonds, drug couriers and people accidentally caught in a vortex of crime. A deftly crafted crime thriller ably translated into English by Astrid Freuler, "The Murder of Anton Livius" is an eloquent, compelling, and unreservedly recommended addition to personal reading lists and community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note #1: Hansjorg Schneider (born 1938) lives in Basel and began his professional career as a journalist and essayist. He is the author of a number of highly acclaimed plays and of the bestselling Hunkeler crime series, now with ten titles published. "The Basel Killings" was awarded The Friedrich Glauser Prize, Germany's most prestigious crime fiction prize. He has a website page at:

Editorial Note #2: Astrid Freuler ( lives in Lydney, Gloucestershire, England. She is a translator from German and has published translations of non-fiction and fiction, including the crime thriller A Shadow Falls by Andreas Pfluger, published by Head of Zeus.

The Way of the Bear
Anne Hillerman
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
9780062908391, $30.00, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: An unexpected death on a lonely road outside of Utah's Bears Ears National Monument raises questions for Navajo Tribal Police officers Jim Chee and Bernadette Manuelito. Why would a seasoned outdoorsman and well-known paleontologist freeze to death within walking distance of his car? A second death brings more turmoil. Who is the unidentified man killed during a home invasion where nothing much seems to have been taken? Why was he murdered?

The Bears Ears area, at the edge of the Navajo Nation, is celebrated for its abundance of early human habitation sites and the discovery of unique fossils which revolutionized the scientific view of how early animals dealt with their changing world. Chee and Manuelito appreciate the area's scenery and wealth of human and scientific resources, but their visit to this achingly beautiful place is disrupted by a current of unprecedented violence that sweeps them both into danger. Illicit romance, a fossilized jawbone, hints of witchcraft, and a mysterious disappearance during a blizzard add to the peril.

It takes all of Manuelito's and Chee's experience, skill, and intuition to navigate the threats that arise and see justice served.

Critique: Another original and riveting novel from the mind and imagination of Anne Hillerman, "The Way of the Bear" will prove to be a high demand addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs in general, and the legions of Hillerman fans in particular, that "The Way of the Bear" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99). Librarians should note for their collections that there is also a complete and unabridged audio book (Harper Audio, (9780063291898, $34.99, CD) and a special paperback edition (Harper Large Print, 9780063297814, $34.00, 416pp).

Editorial Note: Anne Hillerman ( is the author of the Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito series. The Way of the Bear is her eighth novel in this series, which was originally created by her father, Tony Hillerman.

Lay This Body Down
Charles Fergus
Arcade Publishing
c/o Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
9781956763447, $26.99, HC, 312pp

Synopsis: "Lay This Body Down" by Charles Fergus is the third title in his Gideon Stoltz Mystery series and takes place in 1837 during one of the most horrific periods in pre-Civil War America, when human beings were considered chattel and both northern and southern states grew rich from slave labor.

A Pennsylvania sheriff like Gideon could choose to uphold the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 or defy that racist law at great peril. Gideon and his wife True must solve a murder, bust a kidnaping ring, and help one unforgettable boy who has fled north from a Virginia plantation, courageously choosing his freedom above all else.

Critique: "Lay This Body Down" is written by novelist Charles Fergus with the vivid, atmospheric prose that has imbued the previous two novels ("A Stranger Here Below" and "Nighthawks Wings") comprising this superbly crafted series featuring the life and times of an early American backwoods town and its hardscrabble citizens. Of particular interest to fans of police procedurals, Civil War era novels, and suspense thriller reads, "Lay This Body Down" is especially commended for community library Historical Mystery collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lay This Body Down" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note: Charles Fergus ( is the author of twenty books. The Gideon Stoltz mysteries are set during the Age of Andrew Jackson, a time when the foundations of the modern United States were being laid. It was a tumultuous era with many echoes of our current day: controversy raged over foreign immigration, prison reform, free education, religion, gun violence, a growing inequality of wealth, who should have the right to vote, states' rights versus federal oversight, and that overarching and hugely incendiary issue, slavery.

Go Find Daddy
Steve Goble
Oceanview Publishing
1620 Main Street, Suite 11, Sarasota, FL 34236
9781608094479, $27.95, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: When a cop is murdered in rural Ohio on Donny Blackmon's property, the case seems open and shut. Donny must've done it -- after all, he's a known cop-hater, and he's already fled.

Believing her husband is innocent, Donny's wife calls Whiskey River Investigations, the new one-man PI agency run by former sheriff's deputy Ed Runyon, to see if Ed can find her husband.

Ed isn't sure he'll take the case until he visits the Blackmon family home and meets Donny's daughter, who has just been diagnosed with cancer -- and Donny doesn't know. When Donny's daughter asks Ed to "go find Daddy", Ed knows he has to find Donny before the police do, whether or not he's innocent.

Ed soon realizes finding Donny won't be an easy job: Donny trusts no one, and he's gone completely off the grid. But Ed finds something the police have missed and begins piecing the puzzle together. The closer he gets to the truth, the more danger he finds. But he took the job, so Ed is going to find Donny Blackmon -- or die trying!

Critique: Adeftly constructed crime thriller, "Go Find Daddy" by novelist Steve Goble will have a very special attraction to readers with an interest in Private Investigator mysteries. With more unexpected plot twists and turns than a Coney Island roller-coaster, and studded with memorably distinctive characters, "Go Find Daddy" will be a much appreciated acquisition for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of detective crime novel fans that "Go Find Daddy" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Steve Goble ( is a lifelong Ohio resident and a former journalist. He now works for an SEO company as he reinvents himself as a mystery novel writer. Go Find Daddy is the third novel in the Ed Runyon Mystery Series, following City Problems and Wayward Son.

Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man
Emily J. Edwards
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
Dreamscape Media
9781639101825, $28.99, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: New York City, 1950. Viviana Valentine is Girl Friday to the city's top private investigator, Tommy Fortuna. The clients can be frustrating, and none more maddening than fabulously wealthy Tallmadge Blackstone, who demands Tommy tail his daughter, Tallulah, and find out why she won't marry his business partner, a man forty years her senior. Sounds like an open-and-shut case for a P.I. known for busting up organized crime -- but the next day, Viviana opens the office to find Tommy missing and a lifeless body on the floor.

The cops swoop in and Detective Jake Lawson issues a warrant for Tommy's arrest. Desperate to clear Tommy's name, Viviana takes on the Blackstone case herself. When she goes out for a night on the town with the heiress, she begins to learn the secrets behind Tallulah's headline-grabbing life. Meanwhile, Lawson is itching to solve his murder case, and continues harassing Viviana for answers -- until she's the victim of a series of violent attacks.

But Tommy's still missing, and Viviana is scared. As she digs into the dirty history of the Blackstone empire, she suddenly realizes the true danger at hand. Now, it's up to her to find her missing boss and make sure he doesn't turn up D.O.A.

Critique: "Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man" is a fun read from beginning to end, and one that will be of particular interest to readers of Cozy Mysteries featuring an amateur female sleuth confronted with having to solve a murder mystery that has more plot twists and turns than a Disneyland roller-coaster. Novelist Emily J. Edwards is a master of the genre and "Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man" (part of the author's Girl Friday mysteries series) is a strongly recommended addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated Cosy Mystery fans that "Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man" is also available in a paperback edition (9781639104277, $18.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666620825, $22.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Emily J. Edwards ( earned her degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and took the long road to becoming an author, working for over a decade as a wine and spirits journalist, radio producer, and podcaster.

A Novel Disguise
Samantha Larsen
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781639103461, $19.99, PB, 320pp

Synopsis: Miss Tiffany Woodall didn't murder her half-brother, but she did bury him in the back garden so that she could keep her cottage. Now, the confirmed spinster has to pretend to be Uriah and fulfill his duties as the Duke of Beaufort's librarian while searching Astwell Palace for Uriah's missing diamond pin, the only thing of value they own. Her ruse is almost up when she is discovered by Mr. Samir Lathrop, the local bookseller, who tries to save her from drowning while she's actually just washing up in a lake after burying her brother.

Her plan is going by the book, until the rector proposes marriage and she starts to develop feelings for Mr. Lathrop. But when her childhood friend, Tess, comes to visit, Tiffany quickly realizes her secret isn't the only one hidden within these walls. The body of a servant is found, along with a collection of stolen items, and someone else grows mysteriously ill. Can Tiffany solve these mysteries without her own disguise being discovered? If not, she'll lose her cottage and possibly her life.

Critique: Set in 1784 London, "A Novel Disguise" by Samantha Larsen has everything a cozy mystery fan could want -- an historical mystery featuring an amateur female sleuth having to solve a murder mystery or suffer the most dire consequences if she fails. Memorable characters and deftly crafted (and surprising!) plot twists make "A Novel Disguise" a riveting read from cover to cover -- and will leave the reader looking eagerly toward Samantha Larsen's next murder mystery! While highly recommended as a popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs that "A Novel Disguise" is also available in a digital book format (Kidle, $13.99).

Editorial Note: Samantha Larsen ( has degrees from Brigham Young University, the University of Reading (Berkshire, England), and the University of North Texas.

Forgotten War
Don Bentley
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
9780593333563, $28.00, HC, 464pp

Synopsis: As a team, Matt Drake and his partner, Frodo, have watched each other's backs through some very dark days. But one thing they've never doubted was their commitment to each other -- until now!

Frodo has been accused of a war crime ten years after leaving Afghanistan. Matt is determined to prove his friend innocent, but what will he do when he finds that his closest friend has secrets he won't share?

Critique: As a an author of military and espionage thrillers, novelist Don Bentley is able to bring a vivid sense of realism to his stories because of his own military and FBI careers. "Forgotten War" is a compelling and compulsively page turner of a narrative driven story and highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library suspense thriller fiction collections. It should be noted that "Forgotten War" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Don Bentley ( is the author of the Matt Drake series (Forgotten War, Hostile Intent, The Outside Man, Without Sanction) and three Tom Clancy novels. Bentley spent a decade as an Army Apache helicopter pilot and deployed to Afghanistan as an air cavalry troop commander. Following his time in the military, Bentley worked as an FBI special agent and was a SWAT team member. Bentley is also a graduate of the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction MFA program.

Not So Perfect Strangers
L. S. Stratton
Union Square & Co.
9781454947431, $16.99, PB, 320pp

Synopsis: Tasha Jenkins has finally found the courage to leave her abusive husband. Taking her teenage son with her, Tasha checks into a hotel the night before their flight out of D.C. and out of Kordell Jenkins's life forever.

But escaping isn't so easy, and Tasha soon finds herself driving back to her own personal hell. As she is leaving, a white woman pounds on her car window, begging to be let in. Behind the woman, an angry man is in pursuit. Tasha makes a split-second decision that will alter the course of her life: she lets her in and takes off.

Tasha and Madison Gingell may have very different everyday realities, but what they have in common is marriages they need out of. The two women want to help each other, but they have very different ideas of what that means.

They are on a collision course that will end in the case files of the D.C. MPD homicide unit. Unraveling the truth of what really happened may be impossible and futile. Because what has the truth ever done for women like Tasha and Madison?

Critique: A deftly crafted combination of domestic thriller and a murder nail-biter of a read from first page to last, "Not So Perfect Strangers" by novelist L. S. Stratton is unreservedly recommended pick for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal lists of interested readers that "Not So Perfect Strangers" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49).

Editorial Note: L.S. Stratton ( is an NAACP Image Award-nominated author and former crime newspaper reporter who has written more than a dozen books under different pen names in just about every genre from thrillers to romance to historical fiction.

Tina, Mafia Soldier
Maria Rosa Cutrufelli, author
Robin Pickering-Iazzi, translator
Soho Crime
c/o Soho Press
853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
9781641294249, $24.95, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: Sicily, 1980s: When she was just eight years old, Tina watched as her father, a member of Cosa Nostra, was murdered in cold blood. Now a teenager, she terrorizes her hometown of Gela, having made it her mission to join the mafia, an organization traditionally forbidden to women as made members. Nicknamed a masculidda, or "the tomboy", Tina has taken charge of her own clan, and is notorious for her cruelty and reckless disregard for societal expectations.

When a news article is published about Tina's latest crimes, a teacher living in Rome feels compelled to write a novel about her -- even though it means returning to her native Sicily to gather material. She and Tina circle around each other in a dangerous dance of obsession and violence until their first, and last, explosive meeting.

Critique: Deftly translated into English for an American readership by Professor Robin Pickering-Iazzi and a simply riveting read from for page to last, "Tina, Mafia Soldier" is author and feminist icon Maria Rosa Cutrufelli's seminal exploration of gender identity, organized crime, and clear-eyed presentation of an unseen side of the mafia. While unreservedly recommended for community library Crime Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of readers with an interest in Mafia and organized crime thrillers that "Tina, Mafia Soldier" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note #1: Maria Rosa Cutrufelli ( was born in Messina, Sicily and raised shuttling back and forth between Sicily and Bologna; she now resides in Rome. A major figure in Italian feminist movements, she boasts a long, prolific career as a journalist, cultural critic, and novelist. After earning her degree in Literature from the University of Bologna, she founded and directed the journal Tuttestorie. She also authored several works of travel literature, largely devoted to Africa, where she lived for three years. Her works have been translated into some twenty languages.

Editorial Note #2: Robin Pickering-Iazzi is Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Among her published works in translation are the novel Suspicion by Laura Grimaldi, Unspeakable Women: Selected Short Stories Written by Italian Women during Fascism, and the widely acclaimed Mafia and Outlaw Stories from Italian Life and Literature. (

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Great Unmaking
Brian A. Nelson
Blackstone Audiobooks
9781538507841, $27.99, HC, 381pp

Synopsis: After usurping control of the world's most powerful military technology, General Chip Walden knows the endgame is near and tasks scientist Eric Hill with one final assignment. Helped by the love of his life, Jane Hunter, Hill is haunted by premonitions of a coming catastrophe as the technology he created takes on a life of its own.

As Hill attempts to avert disaster, FBI Special Agent Bud Brown seeks revenge for the murder of his fellow agents by eco-terrorist Riona Finley. But what no one realizes is that forces are at work that have already decided humanity's fate. With the clock ticking toward an irrevocable apocalypse, it's no longer a question of if the world can be saved, but who will be the chosen few that survive.

Critique: A propulsive, mind-expanding, and compulsive thriller of a read from first page to last, "The Great Unmaking" is the dramatic conclusion to author Brian Nelson's Course of Empire trilogy -- a series of SciFi novels about bold scientific dreams turning into nightmares, or perhaps new beginnings! A deftly crafted technothriller novel, "The Great Unmaking" is unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction fans that "The Great Unmaking" is also available in a paperback edition (9798212238397, $17.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99), as as a complete and unabridged audio book (9781538479360, $29.95, MP3-CD).

Editorial Note: Brian A. Nelson ( is a former Fulbright Scholar who holds degrees in international relations, economics, and creative writing (fiction). His first book, The Silence and the Scorpion: The Coup Against Chavez and the Making of Modern Venezuela, was named one of the Best Books of 2009 by The Economist. His work has appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Christian Science Monitor, and the Southern Humanities Review, among others.

Heroes of an Unknown World
Ayize Jama-Everett
Small Beer Press
9781618731975, $17.00, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: After traveling back in time to rescue his fostered daughter, Taggert has returned to the present and found himself in his favorite place: up against the wall. But the world they've returned to is not the one they left: everything is slightly grayer, the music is boring, joy is just out of reach.

The liminals' entropic enemies, the Alters, are trying to bring about the end of the world by sucking the life (literally) out of enough people to tip the balance their way.

Traveling from Jamaica to London to Indonesia to the heart of the whirlwind in the desert at the heart of all deserts, Taggert and his found family of liminals and supporters have to find a way to bring back the joy before they're all ground down into the gray dust!

Critique: The fourth and final novel in author Ayize Jama-Everett's African-American science fiction series 'The Liminal People', this paperback edition "Heroes of an Unknown World" from Small Beer Press is original, fun, fascinating, and leaves the science fiction fan looking eagerly toward his next science fiction project. While highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Science Fiction collections, it should be noted that "Heroes of an Unknown World" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).

Editorial Note: Ayize Jama-Everett ( holds a Masters degrees in Divinity, Clinical Psychology, in Fine Arts, Creative Writing. Jama-Everett's Liminal series began with The Liminal People and continued with The Liminal War and The Entropy of Bones. He has also written a graphic novel, Box of Bones with two-time Eisner Award winner John Jennings and has written for The Believer and the LA Review of Books, among others.

The Game of 100 Candles
Marie Brennan
Aconyte Books
9781839082153, $16.95, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: The demon-vanquishing samurai, Asako Sekken and Agasha no Isao Ryotora are summoned to Winter Court. Their exploits with the Spirit Realms have taken a toll on the pair and the cut and thrust of Rokugani politics proves challenging. After being urged to share their tales of adventure, the Winter Court guests begin to fall into a deep sleep from which they cannot wake. Fearing foul play, the Phoenix demand retribution, but Sekken and Ryotora uncover the hand of a supernatural trickster seeking entry to the mortal realm. The path to victory will risk their lives and the strange bond between them. But they must succeed, lest something awful escape into Rokugan.

Critique: An absolute 'must read' choice for fans of Samurai novels and Heroic Fantasy Fiction, "The Game of 100 Candles" is part of author Marie Brennan's ;A Legend of the Five Rings' series. Original, riveting, and a compulsive page turner of a read from cover to cover, "The Game of 100 Candles" is a very special and recommended addition to personal and community library Asian Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted that "The Game of 100 Candles" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Editorial Note: Marie Brennan ( is the author of the Hugo Award-nominated Victorian adventure series The Memoirs of Lady Trent along with several other series, over seventy short stories, and the New Worlds series of world building guides; as half of M.A. Carrick, she has written the epic Rook and Rose trilogy, beginning with The Mask of Mirrors.

Queen of Deception
Anna Stephens
Aconyte Books
9781839082030, $16.95, PB, 336pp

Synopsis: A burst of magic from Midgard attracts the attention of Hela, Queen of Hel. The Goddess of Death craves power to enable her ultimate conquest of the Realms, and this new sorcery from Earth is tantalizing.

Pursuing its source, Hela is appalled to find herself in Elizabethan England. From Asgard, Lady Sif and the valkyrie, Brunnhilde are also dispatched to Midgard, and neither of them have any love for Hela. Yet a still greater threat awaits: the Dark Elves see Midgard as the first battle in war of the Realms. Only a team-up between hated enemies can win the day, but how far can you really trust the Queen of Hel?

Critique: A pure delight for the legions of Marvel Universe fans, "Queen of Deception" by Anna Stephens is just the latest in the outstanding Legends of Asgard series from Marvel. An original story, a riveting read, and showcasing some of Marvel's most interesting heroes and villains, "Queen of Deception" is a deftly crafted and fun read from cover to cover and will be a welcome and popular addition to community library Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Queen of Deception" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Editorial Note: Anna Stephens ( is the author of the Godblind trilogy (Godblind, Darksoul, Bloodchild) and the Songs of the Drowned trilogy, which begins with The Stone Knife. Anna also writes for Black Library in their Age of Sigmar and Warhammer Horror worlds, and for Marvel through their tie-in publisher, Aconyte Books.

Dear Diary: Run Like Hell
James A. Moore
Cemetery Dance Publications
9781587678493, $14.99, PB, 136pp

Synopsis: Sooner or later even the best prepared hitman is going to run out of bullets. Buddy Fisk has two new jobs, bring back a few stolen books of sorcery, and then stop the unkillable man who wants to see him dead. There are problems even the deadliest assassins can't be prepared for, like supernatural entities looking for the same prizes he seeks, and mob bosses that refuse to die. The collateral damage adds up quickly and Fisk is looking to solve mysteries that border on the edge of madness!

Critique: A quick and fun read from first page to last, "Dear Diary: Run Like Hell" by dark fantasy author James A. Moore is impressively original, deftly crafted, and a compulsive page turner of a read. A recommended pick for readers with an interest in assassination and supernatural thrillers, "Dear Diary: Run Like Hell" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: James Arthur Moore ( is an American horror novelist and short story writer. In 2003, he was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for "Best Novel" for his book Serenity Falls. In 2006, the novella Bloodstained Oz (co-authored by Christopher Golden) was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for "Best Long Fiction". He wrote the novelization of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Chaos Bleeds (based on the video game written by Christopher Golden). He also has done a lot of Collectible card game and Role-playing game related work for White Wolf, Inc including writing manuals, storyteller's guides, short stories, modules, and novels.

The Christian Studies Shelf

Christianity and Critical Race Theory
Robert Chao Romero, author
Jeff M. Liou, author
Baker Academic
c/o Baker Publishing Group
9781540966148, $49.99, HC, 208pp

Synopsis: Critical race theory (CRT) is a cross-disciplinary examination by social and civil-rights scholars and activists of how laws, social and political movements, and media shape, and are shaped by, social conceptions of race and ethnicity. The word critical in the name is an academic reference to critical thinking, critical theory, and scholarly criticism, rather than criticizing or blaming people. (Wikipedia)

Critical race theory has become a lightning rod in contemporary American politics and evangelical Christianity. With the publication of "Christianity and Critical Race Theory: A Faithful and Constructive Conversation" co-authors Robert Chao Romero and Jeff M. Liou provide a critical but constructive and sympathetic introduction written from a perspective rooted in Scripture and Christian theology.

The authors take us beyond caricatures and misinformation to consider how critical race theory can be an analytical tool to help us understand persistent inequality and injustice--and to see how Christians and churches working for racial justice can engage it in faithful and constructive ways.

"Christianity and Critical Race Theory" explore aspects of critical race theory that resonate with well-trod Christian doctrine but also that challenge or are corrected by Christian theology. It also address the controversial connection that critics see between critical race theory and Marxism. The aim is to offer objective analysis and critique that go beyond the debates about social identity and the culture wars and aid those who are engaging the issues in Christian life and ministry.

Of special note is the inclusion of a helpful glossary of key terms.

Critique: A timely and invaluable contribution to our current national discussion on and about Critical Race Theory (and in view of the Maga Republican political attacks on CRT being all too often an ideological attempt to dress up simple racism with the veneer of intellectual legitimacy), "Christianity and Critical Race Theory: A Faithful and Constructive Conversation" deserves the widest readership possible and is unreservedly recommended reading for clergy, seminary students, academia, political activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject. While an essential and core addition to community, seminary, and academic library Religious Ethics, Social Issues, and Contemporary Race Relations collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Christianity and Critical Race Theory" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781540965196, $23.99) and in digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note #1: Robert Chao Romero (PhD, UCLA; JD, UC Berkeley) is associate professor in the UCLA departments of Chicana/o, Central American, and Asian American Studies in Los Angeles, California; director of the Brown Church Initiative at Fuller Theological Seminary; and an attorney. His award-winning books include The Chinese in Mexico, 1882-1940 and Brown Church.

Editorial Note: Jeff M. Liou (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is national director of theological formation for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA and adjunct assistant professor of Christian ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He cofounded the Asian American Christian Collaborative and writes on race and justice, Asian American Christianity, theological ethics, and political theology. Ordained in the Christian Reformed Church, Liou has served as a campus minister, pastor, and university chaplain.

Holy Habits from the Sacred Heart
Emily Jaminet
Ave Maria Press
PO Box 428, Notre Dame, IN 46556
9781646802180, $15.95, PB, 160pp

Synopsis: Jesus invites you to experience his love through devotion to his Sacred Heart, a powerful source of spiritual and personal healing that can also transform your relationships with family, friends, and others around you.

With the publication of "Holy Habits from the Sacred Heart: Ten Ways to Build Stronger, More Loving Relationships", Emily Jaminet (who is the Executive Director of the Sacred Heart Enthronement Network) identifies ten habits and virtues that come from the Sacred Heart. She also shows how you can intentionally practice these virtues in order to get closer to Jesus and strengthen the relationships that are most important to you.

Having Jesus at the center of family life isn't reserved for the pious; it's a form of practical spirituality that is open to everyone. "Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus" has been a cornerstone of Jaminet's life bolstering the faith of four generations of her family members. In this book she shares her own story as well as the real-life experiences of regular Catholics whose families have been changed for the better by the love and virtue that came from devotion to the Sacred Heart.

The habits and virtues include: Encounter the King (welcome Jesus into your home with the virtue of docility); Welcome the Light (have courage to rid your heart of shame); Let Go of the Need to Control (rediscover the liberating virtue of humility); Put Jesus at the Center of Relationships (experience the release of forgiveness); and Live in the Kingdom of Peace (experience the transforming power of prudence).

Each chapter includes a prayer, reflection questions, and wisdom from St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (who began the Sacred Heart devotion) and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Holy Habits from the Sacred Heart: Ten Ways to Build Stronger, More Loving Relationships" is especially and unreservedly recommended reading for clergy, seminary students, and all members of the Roman Catholic community. It should be noted for personal reading lists of those with an interest in Catholic Christian Devotionals, that "Holy Habits from the Sacred Heart" is also available in a a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Emily Jaminet ( is also the author of the "Secrets of the Sacred Heart" and the co-author of "Divine Mercy for Moms", "The Friendship Project", "Pray Fully", and "Our Friend Faustina". She is the co-host of Inspired by Faith on St. Gabriel Radio and the host of the Emily Jaminet Podcast. She is the director of adult faith formation and coordinates RCIA for her parish. Jaminet has appeared on EWTN's Women of Grace, Bookmark, and At Home with Jim and Joy. She is a monthly contributor on Spirit Catholic Radio, Relevant Radio, and She also writes for

The Judaic Studies Shelf

The Jewish Journey Haggadah: Connecting the Generations
Rabbanit Adena Berkowitz, author
Shira Hecht-Koller, photographer
Gefen Publishing House
255 Central Ave #B-206, Lawrence, NY 11559
9789652299123, $29.95, HC, 248pp

Synopsis: "The Jewish Journey Haggadah: Connecting the Generations" by Rabbanit Adena Berkowitz has the full Hebrew text accompanied by an easy-to-read English translation and transliteration showing the central role played by women in the Passover story. The Haggadah adds meaningful commentary, stories, questions for discussion, fun holiday parody songs, jokes, Seder recipes, and activities to delight both adults and children. When you use this Haggadah, your guests will be so engaged that they will forget to ask When do we eat?

Why the need for a new Haggadah? Because this Haggadah has been designed to: Foster a deeper connection to Passover to enable participants from all backgrounds, from generation to generation, to be comfortable using a Hebrew or transliterated text, together with an inclusive English translation; Provide a user-friendly format with suggestions for preparing for Passover and internalizing its messages afterwards; Show the central role played by women in the Passover story; Spark discussion and sharing of insights, teachings, anecdotes, and stories This Haggadah includes:

Critique: Of special note is the color coding for the different features comprising the Hebrew/English edition of "The Jewish Journey Haggadah: Connecting the Generations", along with fun songs, recipes and stories will liven up your seder. Furthermore there is a Kid's corner, along with tidbits and points for everyone to share. Simply stated, "The Jewish Journey Haggadah: Connecting the Generations" is a wonderfully extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, family, community, and synagogue library Judaic Studies collections.

Editorial Note: Rabbanit Dr. Adena K. Berkowitz ( is Scholar in Residence and co-founder of Kol HaNeshamah, NYC, an organization dedicated to reenergizing the spiritual lives of both not-yet-affiliated and affiliated Jews. With a background in law, Jewish studies, and psychotherapy. Rabbanit Berkowitz is the co-author, together with Rivka Haut, z l, of Shaarei Simcha: Gates of Joy, a mini prayer book and the first liturgical work in the modern era written by Orthodox women. A practicing therapist, she lives in New York with her husband Rabbi Zev Brenner and children Menachem Leib, Lizzy (and husband Sam Zakay), Pammy, Aderet, and Jessica Brenner. Shira Hecht-Koller, Esq., is the Director of Education for 929 English and the Director of Communal Engagement at Drisha. She teaches Talmud and Jewish identity to a wide variety of audiences, and writes and speaks on topics of education, creative living, and family life. (

Wounds into Wisdom
Tirzah Firestone
Monkfish Book Publishing Company
22 East Market Street, Suite 304, Rhinebeck NY 12572
9781948626828, $16.99, PB, 256pp

Synopsis: As members of the Jewish community, our past does not simply disappear. The painful history of our ancestors and their rich cultural wisdom intertwine within us to create the patterns of our future. Even when past trauma remains unspoken or has long been forgotten, it becomes part of us and our children -- a legacy of both strength and woundedness that shapes our lives.

With the publication of "Wounds into Wisdom: Healing Intergenerational Jewish Trauma", Rabbi Tirzah Firestone brings to life the profound impact of protracted historical trauma through the compelling narratives of Israeli terror victims, Holocaust survivors, and those whose lives were marred by racial persecution and displacement.

The tragic story of Firestone's own family lays the groundwork for these revealing testimonies of recovery, forgiveness, and moral leadership.

Throughout "Wounds into Wisdom", Rabbi Firestone interweaves their voices with neuroscientific and psychological findings, as well as relevant and inspiring Jewish teachings. Seven principles emerge from these wise narratives -- powerful prescriptive tools that speak to anyone dealing with the effects of past injury. At the broadest level, these principles are directives for staying morally awake in a world rife with terror.

Critique: Of especially relevant interest to readers concerned with coping with the physical, psychological, and cultural impact of anti-Semitism in our contemporary times upon our selves, our families, and all members of the Jewish community (especially in view of the current rise of fascist authoritarianism and increase in acts of hate crimes against Jews), "Wounds into Wisdom: Healing Intergenerational Jewish Trauma" by Rabbi Tirzah Firestone deserves as wide a readership as possible. Originally published in hardcover (2019), this new paperback edition from Monkfish Book Publishing Company features a new Preface by the author, a new Foreword by Gabor Mate, and a Reading Group Study Guide. While with the highest recommendation for personal, community, synagogue, college, and university library Judaic Studies/Issues collections, it should be noted that "Wounds into Wisdom" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: Rabbi Tirzah Firestone ( is an author, Jungian psychotherapist, and a leader in the international Jewish Renewal Movement. Ordained by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi in 1992, she is the founding rabbi of Congregation Nevei Kodesh in Boulder, Colorado. Rabbi Firestone served on the board of directors and as Co-Chair of T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

These Words: Poetic Midrash on the Language of Torah
Alden Solovy
Reform Judaism Publishing
c/o CCAR Press
355 Lexington Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10017
9780881236156, $19.95, PB, 196pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "These Words: Poetic Midrash on the Language of Torah", liturgist Alden Solovy distills the Torah into its very essence: the individual words it contains.

Echoing the midrash that the Torah has seventy faces, Solovy selects seventy of its Hebrew words that are pregnant with meaning. For each word, he delves into the etymology, translation, and usage, providing deeper insights into familiar texts. Then Solovy presents a beautiful poem (what he calls "poetic midrash") inspired by and interpreting each word.

From b'reishit ("in beginning") to shamayim ("heavens") to zachor ("remember"), "These Words" will change the way you look at the language of the Torah.

Critique: As informative as it is inspirational, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "These Words: Poetic Midrash on the Language of Torah" is a treasured addition to the growing body of Torah studies, as well as unreservedly recommended for personal, community, synagogue, and academic library Judaic Studies collections and supplemental curriculum lists, iIt should also be noted for rabbinical students, Rabbis, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "These Words: Poetic Midrash on the Language of Torah" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Alden Solovy ( is a liturgist, author, journalist, and educator. He has written more than 700 pieces of new liturgy, offering a fresh new Jewish voice, challenging the boundaries between poetry, meditation, personal growth, and prayer. Solovy's teaching spans from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem to Limmud and Leo Baeck College in the UK, and synagogues throughout North America. Solovy is a three-time winner of the Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism. He made aliyah to Israel in 2012.

The Buddhist Studies Shelf

Awakening Wisdom
Pema Wangyal
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115-4544
9781645471639, $21.95, PB, 176pp

Synopsis: For those new to Tibetan Buddhism, "Awakening Wisdom: Heart Advice on the Fundamental Practices of Vajrayana Buddhism" by Pema Wangyal is a short work will help them to get started with their practice. For those who are well steeped in these teachings, "Awakening Wisdom) will remind them of the essentials points. Framed as a commentary on the Tersar Ngondro by Dudjom Rinpoche.

"Awakening Wisdom" is geared toward connecting people with practice.

Part I covers motivation, posture and breathing, mantra practice, and the four reflections that turn the mind toward Buddhist practice.

Part II covers mantras and tonglen, the compassion practice that helps us connect to the suffering of others.

Part III provides guidance about the preliminary practices themselves: the practice of the threefold refuge; generating the altruistic mind, or bodhichitta; purification practice; mandala offering; and Guru Yoga, explaining how each practice is the antidote to a particular cause of suffering, or "poison". It also includes precious guidance about the Vajra Guru mantra and the transference of consciousness at the moment of death.

While these may seem like technical subjects (and this is indeed a traditional presentation) Pema Wangyal's writing is suffused with warmth and tenderness, making "Awakening Wisdom" quite accessible and inviting -- especially to beginners.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and thoroughly 'reader friendly in presentation, "Awakening Wisdom: Heart Advice on the Fundamental Practices of Vajrayana Buddhism" is exceptionally informative and highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Buddhism collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Buddhism that "Awakening Wisdom" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99).

Editorial Note: Pema Wangyal (b. 1945), the first son of Kangyur Rinpoche, is the main resident master of the three-year Nyingmapa retreats in Dordogne, France, director of the Association du Centre d'Etudes de Chanteloube, and founder of the Padmakara Translation Group. Under the guidance of Kyabje Kangyur Rinpoche, Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche, and other great masters of Tibetan Buddhism, Pema Wangyal Rinpoche has studied extensively, his learning confirmed by years of intensive practice. At the request of Dharma groups and institutions around the world, Rinpoche has been active as a teacher since 1975, giving public talks, leading seminars, and providing individual guidance. Since 1980, Rinpoche has personally supervised the traditional three-year retreat of intensive study and practice in Dordogne, France. In 1999, he inaugurated a series of retreats in parallel with the three-year retreat, thus enabling Buddhist practitioners with family responsibilities to engage in serious and sustained practice. (,_Pema)

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Queen in Comics!
Sophia Blitman, et al.
NBM Publishing
160 Broadway, Ste. 700, East Wing, New York, NY 10038
9781681123110, $27.99, HC, 176pp

Synopsis: Brian May, Roger Taylor, and Freddie Mercury form Queen, one of the greatest rock bands in the world. Under the leadership of its charismatic singer, Queen became a planetary success for each hit with its decadent shows, inimitable aesthetics, and style. "Bohemian Rhapsody," "We Are the Champions," "Don't Stop Me Now," or even "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" are just some of the hits!

With the publication of "Queen in Comics!" fans will discover a wealth of great stories and little secrets surrounding the band's legend!

Critique: The result of a team of collaborators including co-authors Sophia Blitman and Emanuel Marie, and contributions by seventeen talented artist/illustrators, this graphic novel style biography, "Queen in Comics!", is a 'must' for the legions of Queen fans. While highly recommended for community, college, and university library Composer/Musician and Pop Music History collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Queen in Comics!" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99).

Editorial Note #1: First a French teacher then a journalist specializing in education, Sophie Blitman ( has always loved transmitting and sharing knowledge, information, stories. Now based in Stockholm, she spends most of her time writing books, especially for children, but sometimes also for adults with always the same concern: to arouse the curiosity of its readers thanks to a creative and playful approach, and to take a citizen's look at the world with them.

Editorial Note #2: Emmanuel Marie ( has been a comics writer for nearly 5 years, with several books published in a rather documentary style. A sociologist by training, he enjoys giving humorous and romantic tints to stories rooted in social reality.

The Audiobook Shelf

Death in the Dark
Kitty Murphy, author
Ell Potter, narrator
Brilliance Audio
9781799788614, $19.99, MP3-CD (10 Hours 30 Minutes)

Synopsis: Sparkle McCavity is a young drag queen and employee of Miss Merkin -- and missing, presumed kidnapped or even worse.

Naturally, Merkin turns to reluctant sleuth and friend to the community Fi for help, but clues and suspects are worryingly thin on the ground -- and the drag king Stan the Man is proving somewhat distracting. When Merkin's niece is then found murdered, spiked on a light pole in nightclub TRASH, it becomes clear that Fi's friends are in danger. Again.

With the ever-inept Detective O'Hara becoming convinced that the most likely suspect is Miss Merkin herself, tensions begin to build among the friends. Could one of them really be responsible? Then after a strangely spooky seance, Fi's best friend Robyn disappears. Guilt-ridden and distraught, Fi and her friends must double their efforts to save Robyn and Sparkle before it's too late.

Just as long as her increasingly complicated and distracting love life doesn't get in the way!

Critique: With impressive vocal storytelling skills, Ell Potter does full justice into bringing to life author Kitty Murphy's "Death in the Dark". With a special interest for fans of amateur sleuth murder mysteries and suspense thriller novels, this complete and unabridged audio book edition of "Death in the Dark" is highly recommended for both personal and communitylibrary Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note #1: Kitty Murphy ( is bi/queer. From a well-spent youth divided equally between the library and the LGBTQ+ scene, it was only a matter of time until both worlds collided in a flurry of fictional sequins. She can be followed on Instagram @kitty_murphy_writes

Editorial Note #2: Ell Potter ( is an actor, writer, and award-winning narrator. While training at LAMDA, she was named Audible's 'Breakout Star' and her debut audiobook was subsequently nominated for an Audie. She has since recorded extensively with numerous publishers, winning multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards in the process. Her narrator credits include Hamnet, the Winter series, Dark, Salt, Clear (BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week), In At The Deep End, and little scratch.

Heir of Uncertain Magic
Charlie N. Holmberg, author
Amanda Lee Cobb & Graham Halstead, narrators
Brilliance Audio
9781978699441, $19.99, MP3-CD (9 Hours 54 Minutes)

Synopsis: Thanks to house tamer Hulda Larkin, the mischief infesting Whimbrel House has calmed. But if Hulda's job is done, what does that mean for Merritt Fernsby, inheritor of the remote Narragansett Bay estate, who's only now coming to terms with his enchanted place in the world?

Merritt has realized his own burgeoning powers, which draw the thoughts of every plant, insect, and dog. His nights are sleepless, with an uncontrollable cacophony of voices that compel a long-overdue search into his uncanny bloodline. It's not the only puzzle uniting Merritt and his ex-housekeeper, Hulda. Her friend and former employer at the Boston Institute for the Keeping of Enchanted Rooms has disappeared. Hulda herself is up for the now-vacant position of institute director, and her rival for the role is a stranger who's suspiciously curious about Whimbrel House -- and could have connections to an old foe.

As Merritt struggles to face his estranged family and Hulda dives into the institute's secrets, the two are brought intimately closer than ever into the mysteries of wizardry, chaos, and love.

Critique: With a special appeal to fans of historical romance fantasy fiction, the narrative team of Amanda Leigh Cobb and Grtaham Halstead presents novelist Cahrlie N. Homberg's "Heir of Uncertain Magic" in a kind of 'theatre of the mind' experience that is a treasured and unreservedly recommended addition to both personal and community library Fantasy Fiction collections.

Editorial Note #1: Charlie N. Holmberg ( is an author of fantasy and romance fiction, including the Paper Magician series, the Spellbreaker series, and the Whimbrel House series, as well as contemporary romance under C. N. Holmberg. She is published in more than twenty languages, has been a finalist for a RITA Award and multiple Whitney Awards, and won the 2020 Whitney Award for Novel of the Year: Adult Fiction.

Editorial Note #2: Amanda Lee Cobb ( is a multi-talented voice over actress and coach. Graham Halstead ( is an experienced actor and narrator with extensive experience with carttons, commercials, and audio books.

House of Gold
C. T. Rwizi, author
Susan Dalian & James Lincoln Smith, narrators
Brilliance Audio
9798400105043, $19.99, MP3-CD (13 Hours 52 Minutes)

Synopsis: A corporate aristocracy descended from Africa rules a colony on a distant planet. Life there is easy -- for the rarified and privileged few. The aristocrats enjoy a powerful cybernetic technology that extends their life spans and ensures their prosperity. Those who serve them suffer under a heavy hand.

But within this ruthless society are agents of hope and change. In a secret underwater laboratory, a separatist cult has created a threat to the aristocracy. The Primes are highly intelligent, manipulative products of genetic engineering, designed to lead a rebellion. Enabling their mission are the Proxies, the Primes' bodyguards and lifelong companions bound to their service.

When the cult's hideout is attacked, Proxies Nandipa and Hondo rush to the rescue. As they emerge with their Primes onto the surface, however, everything they'd been led to believe about their world is shattered.

Nandipa and Hondo will risk it all to honor their oath of absolute loyalty. But when the very people they're tasked to protect turn on each other, the Proxies must decide between those they were built to serve and the freedom to carve out their own destinies. The fate of their planet rests in their choice.

Critique: Complete and unabridged, this audio book edition of C. T. Rwizi's science fiction novel, "House of Gold", is vividly rendered by the vocal storytelling narrative talents of Susan Dalian and Jaime Lincoln Smith. Decidedly entertaining from start to finish, this Brilliance Audio edition of "House of Gold" will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to personal and community library Science Fiction audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: C. T. Rwizi ( was born in Zimbabwe, grew up in Swaziland, finished high school in Costa Rica, and received a BA in government from Dartmouth College in the United States. He currently lives in South Africa with his family and enjoys playing video games, taking long runs, and spending way too much time lurking on Reddit. He is a self-professed lover of synthwave.

Editorial Note #2: Susan Dalian ( is an American actress who is primarily known among anime fans as the voice of Haku in the first season of Naruto and the Screen Gems film The Brothers. Actor, coach, narrator Jaime Lincoln Smith has an informative website at

Something Spectacular
Alexis Hall, author
Robyn Holdaway, narrator
Brilliance Audio
9781713681922, $19.99, MP3-CD (11 Hours 13 Minutes)

Synopsis: Peggy Delancey's not at all ready to move on from her former flame, Arabella Tarleton. But Belle has her own plans for a love match, and she needs Peggy's help to make those plans a reality. Still hung up on her feelings and unable to deny Belle what she wants, Peggy reluctantly agrees to help her woo the famous and flamboyant opera singer Orfeo.

She certainly doesn't expect to find common ground with a celebrated soprano, but when Peggy and Orfeo meet, a whole new flame is ignited that she can't ignore. Peggy finds an immediate kinship with Orfeo, who's just as nonconforming as she is -- and just as affected by their instant connection.

They've never been able to find their place in the world, but as the pair walks the line between friendship, flirtation, and something more, they may just find their place with each other.

Critique: Of particular appeal to the LGBTQ community, narrator Robyn Holdaway's storytelling skills are perfectly suited to bringing "Something Spectacular" to life in an extended 'theatre of the mind' experience from start to finish. This complete and unabridged edition of "Something Spectacular" from Brilliance Audio is a welcome and recommended addition to personal and community library LGBTQ Historical Romance audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Alexis Hall ( writes with a particular flair and talent for humor and thought-provoking fun.

Editorial Note #2: An experienced and talented narrator, Robyn Holdaway's audio book productions are listed on

Beauty and the Baller: Strangers in Love
Ilsa Madden-Mills, author
Sebastian York & Savannah Peachwood, narrators
Brilliance Audio
9781713647515, $14.99, MP3-CD (10 Hours 11 Minutes)

Synopsis: Attractive, talented, and brilliant, NFL quarterback Ronan Smith has the world in his hands. But after losing his career and his fiancee in a car accident, he falls into a pit of grief and bad choices. When a mysterious girl shows up to his party, he feels drawn to her and makes her his -- for one night.

Former beauty queen Nova Morgan is on a mission. Scantily clad as a princess from a galaxy far, far away, she sneaks into a high-profile party to capture the attention of her favorite quarterback. But her hopes crash after an awful one-night stand.

Fast-forward two years. Broke and desperate, Nova returns home to Blue Belle, Texas, where, by a cosmic twist of fate, her broody neighbor is none other than Ronan, the shiny new football coach everyone adores. But he has no idea who she is.

The booster club keeps shoving women at Ronan to keep him in town. His solution? He proposes fake dating to Nova. But things heat up for real under these Friday-night lights when he realizes she's the one who slipped away. Has this jaded beauty found her forever baller, or will his past keep them apart?

Critique: With a tremendous appeal to fans of Contemporary Romance Comedies, Isa Madden-Mills' new novel, "Beauty and the Baller" is an impressively performed, complete and unabridged audio book by the narrative team of Sebastian York and Savannah Peachwood. A fun listening experience from beginning to end, this Brilliance Audio edition of "Beauty and the Baller" is a very special and recommended addition to personal and community library Romance Fiction audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Ilsa Madden-Mills ( pens angsty new adult and contemporary romances. She can be followed on Facebook: @authorilsamaddenmills; you can join her private reader group on Facebook:; and on Instagram: @Ilsamaddenmills

Editorial Note #2: There is a listing of Sebastian York's narrated audio books at There is a listing of Savannah Peachwood narrated audio books at

Damaged Intentions
Mike Omer, author
Jesse Vilinsky & Fajer Al-Kaisi, narrators
Brilliance Audio
9781713612230, $19.99, MP3-CD (12 Hours 36 Minutes)

Synopsis: As a child, Abby Mullen escaped the insidious Wilcox cult when it literally went down in flames. Years later, she's the NYPD's best hostage negotiator and a mother. She thought the worst part of her life was behind her. Until now. Armed conspiracy theorists called the Watchers have attacked the local high school -- and taken her daughter hostage.

With the delusional Watchers holding her child at gunpoint, the unflappable Abby might be at her breaking point. But the clock is ticking on her daughter's life, and she has no choice but to negotiate with the paranoid group and discover their leader's secret before it's too late.

As Abby peels back the layers of mystery surrounding the Watchers, there's always another puzzle underneath. And it seems to be leading back to the dark past she's spent her whole life trying to forget.

Critique: A riveting combination of suspense thriller and police procedural, "Damaged Intentions" by novelist Mike Omer is effectively rendered by the combined vocal talents of co-narrators Jesse Vilinsky and Fajer Al-Kaisi. This simply outstanding, complete and unabridged audio book edition from Brilliance Audio is highly recommended for both personal and community library Crime Fiction audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Mike Omer ( has been a journalist, a game developer, and the CEO of Loadingames, but he can currently be found penning his next thriller. Omer loves to write about two things: real people who could be the perpetrators or victims of crimes -- and funny stuff. He mixes these two loves quite passionately into his suspenseful and often-macabre mysteries.

Editorial Note #2: Jesse Vilinsky ( is an award-winning audiobook narrator and voice actor, and as a working narrator over the years she has honed workable and teachable techniques to not only get started in audiobooks. She is also a coach who works with narrators, new and seasoned, to guide them in creating tangible systems and solutions to optimize their current work, and to generate new work in their preferred areas.

Editorial Note #3: Fajer Al-Kaisi ( is an Iraqi-Canadian actor, best known for his recurring role as Osama bin Laden / OBL in the third season of Future Man, an atheist version of the real-life terrorist from an alternate reality where he was prevented from becoming one.

Just One Wish
Carly Phillips, author
Mackensie Cartwright & Alexander Cendese, narrators
Brilliance Audio
9781713645214, $9.99, MP3-CD (2 Hours 26 Minutes)

Synopsis: With the publication of "Just One Wish", author Carly Phillips returns to her sexy Kingston -- a world of rich billionaire heroes in her new Kingston Family series '1001 Dark Nights'.

He was her first love. She was his. They broke up to follow their dreams. Axel Forrester became a world famous drummer. Tara Stillman became a veterinarian. Years later, he's scrolling social media and sees they're both in East Hampton, NY.

Fate? Or Coincidence?

What's a rockstar to do other than borrow his friend's dog as an excuse to see the good doctor.
And -- show up at her office after all this time. Axel wants a second chance with the one who got away. He's not going to let Tara go this time.

Critique: Every 1001 Dark Nights novella by author Carly Phillips is a stand alone story. For new readers, it's an introduction to an author's world. And for fans, it's a bonus book in the author's series. "Just One Wish" is an original and fun story from start to finish. This complete and unabridged audio book edition from Brilliance Audio is deftly narrated by the truly exceptional team of Mackenzie Cartwright and Alexander Cendese, making it an ideal and recommended addition to personal and community library Contemporary Romance audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Carly Phillips ( gives her readers "Alphalicious" heroes to swoon for and romance to set your heart on fire. The author of 50 romance novels Carly's book, The Bachelor, was chosen by Kelly Ripa as a romance club pick and was the first romance on a nationally televised bookclub. Carly loves social media and interacting with her readers.

Editorial Note #2: Mackensie Cartwright ( was nominated for an Audie Award in Erotica for her narration of Vi Keeland's The Baller (with Sean Crisden), She's narrated the novels by some of the most talented authors in the business, among them Kristen Ashley, Evangeline Anderson, Tijan, Tessa Bailey and Alessandra Torre.

Editorial Note #3: Alexander Cendese has a personal and professional biographical website at

The Oceanography of the Moon
Glendy Vanderah, author
Brittany Pressley & Zachary Johnson, narrators
Brilliance Audio
9781713651864, $24.99, MP3-CD (10 Hours 31 Minutes)

Synopsis: After the untimely deaths of her aunt and mother, young Riley Mays moved from Chicago to her cousins' Wisconsin farm. Here she found solace in caring for her extraordinary adoptive brother, exploring the surrounding wild nature, and gazing at the mystical moon -- a private refuge in which she hides from her most painful memories.

But ten years later, now twenty-one, Riley feels too confined by the protective walls she's erected around herself. When a stranger enters her family's remote world, Riley senses something he's hiding, a desire to escape that she understands well.

Suffering from writer's block, bestselling novelist Vaughn Orr has taken to the country roads when he happens upon the accommodating, if somewhat unusual, Mays family. He's soon captivated by their eccentricities -- and especially by Riley and her quiet tenacity. In her, he recognizes a shared need to keep heartbreaking secrets buried.

As the worst moments of their lives threaten to surface, Riley and Vaughn must find the courage to confront them if they're to have any hope of a happy future. With the help of Riley's supportive family, a dash of everyday magic, and the healing power of nature, can the pair let go of the troubled pasts they've clung to so tightly for so long?

Critique: Of special appeal to readers with an interest magical realism and domestic family fiction, author Glendy Vanerah's novel "The Oceanography of the Moon" is also available in a complete and unabridged audio book that is brought to life with the combined narrative talents of Brittany Pressley and Zachary Johnson. This outstanding production from Brilliance Audio is especially recommended for both personal and community library Contemporary General Fiction audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Glendy Vanderah ( is also the author of Where the Forest Meets the Stars and The Light Through the Leaves.

Editorial Note #2: There is a complete listing of Brittany Pressley's narrated audio books at

Editorial Note #3: There is a complete listing of Zachary Johnson's narrated audio book at

Sea Storm
Andrew Mayne, author
Susanna Jones, narrator
Brilliance Audio
9781713605317, $14.99, MP3-CD (8 Hours 2 Minutes)

Synopsis: A distress call draws rescuers Sloan McPherson and the Underwater Investigation Unit to a cruise ship off the coast of Fort Lauderdale that's sinking from a mysterious explosion. When it appears to be the work of an ecoterrorist and other ships are threatened, it becomes a race against time. More clues are discovered, and evidence is in danger of being washed away by a coming tropical storm. Sloan grows concerned that key details are being ignored, and a strange lack of urgency by authorities sets off alarms.

As the troubling questions compound, Sloan is determined to chase down every lead she has. Her persistence is getting her closer to the truth: that there's something far more troubling at play than the official explanation. It's also putting Sloan on a collision course with an enemy more powerful than she realizes, in a case so complex and deadly it may be impossible to prove. Now cracking the case is a matter of staying one step ahead of someone with every resource imaginable to bury Sloan and everything she knows.

Critique: A riveting novel that will be of particular interest to fans of police procedurals and action/adventure suspense thrillers, this complete and unabridged audio book edition of novelist Andrew Mayne's "Sea Strom" is brilliantly performed by talented narrator Susannah Jones. Original, entertaining, flawless, this Brilliance Audio edition of "Sea Storm" is a solid recommendation as an addition to personal and community library Mystery/Suspense audio book collections.

Editorial Note: Andrew Mayne ( is the author of The Naturalist, Looking Glass, Murder Theory, Dark Pattern, and Angel Killer, as well as an Edgar Award nominee for Black Fall in his Jessica Blackwood series.

Editorial Note #2: Susannah Jones ( is an audiobook narrator, writer and actress with over 150 books under her own name and her pseudonym.

A Cat on the Case
Clea Simon, author
Hillary Humber, narrator
Dreamscape Media
9781662079825, $19.99, MP3-CD

Synopsis: When a panicked stranger shows up at Charm and Cherish, Becca Colwin feels compelled to help. But when that stranger then disappears, leaving behind her heirloom violin, the aspiring witch detective is drawn further into a web of deceit and intrigue complicated by a history only her three magical cats truly understand.

Critique: A master of the Cozy Mystery genre, this complete and unabridged audio book edition of Clea Simon's novel, "A Cat on the Case" is vividly enacted by the impressive storytelling talents of experienced and award-winning narrator Hillary Humber. With a deftly blending of occult fiction with a cozy animal murder mystery to be solved, this Dreamscape Media audio book edition of "A Cat on the Case" is confidently recommended addition to personal and community library Mystery/Suspense audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Clea Simon ( was a journalist who starting as a rock critic, and ended up writing about books and other arts. She is the author of three nonfiction books and seven mysteries.

Editorial Note #2: Hillary Huber ( is a multiple Audie Award finalist, an Earphones Award winner, and an AudioFile Best Voice. She has recorded over three hundred titles spanning many genres and holds a bachelor's degree in English literature.

An Unreliable Magic
Rin Chupeco, author
Cassie Simone, narrator
Dreamscape Media
9781666568769, $22.99, MP3-CD

Synopsis: Tala, Alex, and the rest of their friends are safe for now, but they know the Snow Queen is still out there. They have to be prepared for when she eventually attacks? -- and they all decide to do so in their own way. When Ryker comes out of the woodwork, showing himself when he starts attacking American detention facilities and freeing refugees, and the Nameless Sword, a legendary weapon that, according to Avalon legend, will make its wielder the most powerful warrior of their time, turns up with her name on it, Tala's life gets messier. But when the Snow Queen arrives with an unlikely ally, the group will have to work together -- or perish!

Critique: The second title in author Rin Chupeco's 'A Hundred Names for Magic' series, "An Unreliable Magic" is expertly narrated and brought to live in a true 'theatre of the mind' experience by Cassie Simone. With a very special appeal to fans of action/adventure fantasy, this complete and unabridged audio book edition from Dreamscape Media of "An Unreliable Magic" is specifically and especially recommended for personal and community library Fantasy Fiction audio book collections.

Editorial Note: Rin Chupeco offers a newsletter to receive updates on new books, author events, and giveaways at Rin Chupeco can also be followed on Twitter: @rinchupeco and on Instagram: @rinchupeco

The Music CD Shelf

Of What Remains
Melissa Pipe Sextet
Odd Sound
$TBA CD / $9.49 MP3

Of What Remains is the debut release by the Melissa Pipe sextet: leader Melissa Pipe on baritone sax and bassoon; Lex French on trumpet; Philippe Cote on tenor sax and bass clarinet; Geoff Lapp on piano; Solon McDade on bass; and Mili Hong on drums, with special guest Michael Sundell on contrabassoon in three songs. The result is an extraordinary showcase of original, instrumental jazz ensemble compositions, ranging from thoughtful pieces to minor blues. (Melissa Pipe created all the songs except for the final track, which she arranged.) Most songs have a strong introspective bent, making Of What Remains ideal for promoting reflection or quiet inspiration. Highly recommended! The tracks are Complainte du vent; La part des anges; In due time; Ici, ainsi; Fragment No. 2; Apothecium; Complainte due vent (reprise); Day; and Puudutus (Tonu Korvits, arranged by Melissa Pipe).

The Artie Roth Quartet
TPR Records
$TBA CD / $9.49 digital

Resonants is the third album by the Artie Roth Quartet (Artie Roth, Mike Filice, Sam Dickinson, and Anthony Michelli), who transform their mastery of bass, flute, sax, guitar, drums and more into adventurous modern cross-boundary jazz, with elements of rock funk, ambient and folk music. All compositions are the original creations of bandleader Artie Roth. The album's title is a neologism combining "Resonance" and "Tenants", referring to the complexities of individuals inhabiting a changing social venue. Resonants is an extraordinary musical creation, crafted with empathy and hope for building a better future. Highly recommended. The tracks are Sound and Sky, Sky Blues, Circle Maker, Second Moment, Flies with Butterflies, Refrain, Resonants - Chandelier Tears, Held, Out of the Abyss, and Resound and Ground.

Moonlighting - AstroJazz Vol. 1
Amelia Recordings
$TBA CD / $9.49 MP3

Grammy-winner Steve Christensen is the executive producer and mixer of Moonlighting - AstroJazz Vol. 1, an album that fuses aspects of jazz, psychedelia, and electronica into an experimental new genre called "AstroJazz". A medley of music artists on percussion, guitar, saxophone, bass, keyboards, synths, and flute combine their talents into this mind-expanding tour that envisions exploration into deep space. Most songs are instrumental; three have vocals. Moonlighting - AstroJazz Vol. 1 is beautiful in its cosmic serenity, inspired and inspiring, and highly recommended especially for connoisseurs of musical invention. The tracks are Star Swing; Spacewalk; Singularity; Nightflight; Dimension Four; Folding Time; Sea of Tranquility; Bender; Meteor Shower; and Coming Home.

Living in a Daydream
Miguel Espinoza Flamenco Fusion
Privately Published
$15.98 CD / $7.92 MP3

Living in a Daydream is the third full-length music album by Miguel Espinoza Flamenco Fusion, which consists of Miguel Espinoza on guitar, Dianne Betkowski on cello, and Randy Hoepker on bass. Elements of flamenco, classical, jazz, and world fusion (North African rhythms, Celtic inspiration, and Brazilian expressions) are woven into a creative soundscape of original songs. In addition to guitar, harmonica, piano, vocals, and bass, Living in a Daydream also incorporates more unusual instruments such as tabla, cajon, congas, timbales, and castanets. Living in a Daydream is unique, extraordinary, and highly recommended. The tracks are Nagi Yate; Bubble; Division; Zelda the Caterpillar; Sunrise; Falling Snow; Journey Home; and The Storm.

Jae Sinnett's Zero to 60 Quartet
With special guest Randy Brecker
J-Nett Music
$16.97 CD / $9.49 MP3

Commitment is the 19th recording led by award-winning music artist Jae Sinnett. Jae Sinnett's Zero to 60 Quartet consists of Jae Sinnett on drums; Allen Farnham on piano; Steve Wilson on alto and soprano saxophones; and Terry Burrell on acoustic and electric bass. Special guest Randy Brecker also lends his talent on the trumpet and fluegelhorn for Commitment, an extraordinary album of five original songs and five captivating arrangements. An emotional and transformative work, Commitment is highly recommended especially to connoisseurs of quality jazz. The tracks are Takin It There; Wait For Me; Morning; Simone; Skylark; Muhammara's Dance; Be It As It May; Everything Must Change; Guise; and No More Blues (Chega De Saudade).

Jeff Richman
Blue Canoe Records
$TBA CD / $8.91 MP3

Fusion guitarist Jeff Richman presents XYZ, an album of nine original songs (most but not all are composed by Richman himself), showcasing his guitar performances along with accompaniment on keyboards, drums, bass, and more by a variety of talented music artists. Imaginative and adventurous, XYZ encourages the listener to open their mind to limitless possibilities. Highly recommended! The tracks are XYZ; Be Cool; Optamystical; Ray Barretto; Left Right Here; Lost; Likewise; Bar; and She's Got To Be Somewhere.

The DVD Shelf

Doc Martin Series 10
Starring Martin Clunes
Acorn TV
$24.98 DVD

Doc Martin Series 10 presents the final season (including the feature-length series finale special) of the drama-comedy television series about a medical doctor and his family in a sleepy Cornish coastal town. In Series 10, a year has passed since Doc Martin (played by Martin Clunes) resigned his medical license, and now his wife Louisa (played by Caroline Catz) sees patients as a child counselor, while he takes care of their two young children. Mrs. Tishell (played by Selina Cadell) remains fervently obsessed with the Doc; Ruth (played by Eileen Atkins) tries to help the Doc fully overcome his fear of blood; and other residents tackle obstacles in their personal and professional lives. Then a prestigious opportunity arises for Martin - will it entice him and his family to move away from the quirky small town? A priceless treasure for connoisseurs of dry wit, Doc Martin Series 10 is a satisfying conclusion to a thoroughly engaging, long-running British television series, highly recommended. It should be noted that Doc Martin Series 10 is recommended for mature audiences due to some of its themes and subject matter. 9 episodes on 3 DVDs, 452 min., SDH subtitles.

The Business Shelf

Decision Sprint
Atif Rafiq
McGraw Hill
c/o McGraw Hill Professional
9781264609598, $28.00, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: It is well known that successfully operating a business has become dramatically more complex and uncertain in our modern era. Constant exploration of new territory by teams is the name of the game. Yet most companies are stuck with yesterday's approach to problem solving. Problem solving needs to be reinvented to meet today's challenges. The future of business depends on it.

Having reached the highest levels of the Fortune 500, digital disrupter Atif Rafiq has written "Decision Sprint: The New Way to Innovate into the Unknown and Move from Strategy to Action" to pull the curtain back on the hidden management systems within your organization that impact how people think, collaborate, and make decisions.

Talent is vital to any company's advancement, but it's the collaboration and problem solving systems that separate industry leaders from the rest. Systems designed to embrace unknowns are the quickest, most enduring way to foster growth, continuous innovation, and results. Learn how teams begin with upstream work (the phase of a promising idea or initiative where the unknowns predominate) to problem solve anything, thus unlocking downstream actions from alignment to decision making to execution.

With Rafiq's guidance in "Decision Sprint", corporate executives and entrepreneurs can overtake their competitors by moving upstream, embracing workflows that convert unknowns to clear recommendations, alignment, and action. In addition to receiving direct advice from the CEOs/presidents of H&R Block, Volvo, Peacock, Restaurant Brands, Orange Theory Fitness, among others -- and learn from in-depth case studies such as Amazon's disruption of publishing, the massive digital transformation of McDonald's, the secret of launch of Apple Pay, Volvo's push for sustainability, and so much more.

Critique: Impressively informative, insightful, and 'real world' practical, "Decision Sprint: The New Way to Innovate into the Unknown and Move from Strategy to Action" by Atif Rafiq is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, making it an ideal and motivationally inspiring addition to personal, professional, community, corporate, college, and university library Business Management & Entrepreneurship collections. It should be noted for MBA students, academia, corporate managers, and entrepreneurs that "Decision Sprint" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.49).

Editorial Note: Atif Rafiq ( has blazed trails in Silicon Valley and the Fortune 500 for over 25 years. After rising through digital native companies like Amazon, Yahoo!, and AOL, Atif held C-suite roles at McDonald's, Volvo, and MGM Resorts. Rafiq was the first Chief Digital Officer in the history of the Fortune 500, a pioneering role he held at McDonalds, and he rose to the president level in the Fortune 300. Atif is passionate about helping companies push boldly into the future. He accomplishes this through Ritual, a software app revolutionizing how teams innovate and problem-solve, and through his work as keynote speaker, Board member, and CEO advisor.

Strategic Risk and Crisis Management
David Rubens, author
Simon Ruegger, author
Kogan Page Inc.
8 W 38th Street, Ste 902, New York, NY 10018
9781398609778, $168.00, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: All corporate senior risk and crisis managers face a similar challenge: maximizing their organization's ability to prepare for a potential high-impact event. With the publication of "Strategic Risk and Crisis Management: A Handbook for Modelling and Managing Complex Risks", co-authors David Rubens and Simon Ruegger shows how implementing the right frameworks and capabilities means businesses will not only survive but respond and recover at a time of maximum chaos and confusion.

"Strategic Risk and Crisis Management" covers the integration of multiple stakeholders and the importance of information exchange and critical decision-making under pressure at strategic, tactical and operational levels. It also includes case studies with detailed analysis of organizational failures and the lessons learned, including COVID-19, the WannaCry Attack, the Texas Snowstorm, and the Gatwick Airport Drone Incident.

Blending rigorous research with practice, "Strategic Risk and Crisis Management" offers a range of realistic solutions for any operational environment. Authored by a recognized global authority on the strategic management of complex events, "Strategic Risk and Crisis Management" must be considered as an essential read for professionals working in risk, security and crisis management and emergency response. It will also be a core textbook for university students taking modules on risk, security, emergency and crisis management.

Critique: Also readily available for MBA students, academia, and corporate officers in a paperback edition (9781398609754, $56.24) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $38.39), "Strategic Risk and Crisis Management: A Handbook for Modelling and Managing Complex Risks" is a complete and comprehensive course in the art and science of Risk Management and confidently recommended for personal, professional, corporate, college, and university library Business Management collections and supplemental curriculum Business Systems & Planning studies lists.

Editorial Note: David Rubens is Executive Director of The Institute of Strategic Risk Management and the CEO of Deltar Training Solutions Ltd, based in London, UK. He is an Associate Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth and a Visiting Lecturer on Strategic Leadership at Cranfield University. He is a recognised authority on the strategic management of complex events. He is a member of the UK Critical Infrastructure Resilience Executive Steering Committee and has served twice as a Main Board Director of the UK Security Institute.

Editorial Note #2: Simon Ruegger is Assistant Director at Ernst and Young (EY) and is based in Zurich, Switzerland. At EY, he leads the corporate security functions for Switzerland and Austria and sits on the working groups for strategic global resilience and security initiatives. He is also a member of the Europe West CBS Young Leadership Board.

The Deal Paradox
Michel Driessen, author
Anna Faelten, author
Scott Moeller, author
Kogan Page Inc.
8 W 38th Street, Ste 902, New York, NY 10018
9781398608139, $154.00, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: Taking a dynamic storytelling approach, "The Deal Paradox: Mergers and Acquisitions Success in the Age of Digital Transformation" by co-authors Michel Driessen, Anna Faelten, and Scott Moeller navigates the transition from traditional and ingrained methods to new techniques, showing how AI, big data, and machine learning can be used to generate new opportunities and how technology can be used to enable diversity.

The reader is taken through the attributes and skills needed in this new landscape and how M&A professionals can build them into their approach, from finding and executing deals to making sure they deliver the desired outcomes.

"The Deal Paradox" draws on impressive industry knowledge: the three co-authors have more than 60 years' combined experience of cutting-edge deal making, built on landmark deals ranging from Morgan Stanley's IPO at the height of the 1980s banking boom and Kraft's takeover of Cadbury to key tech deals including the 1bn sale of financial data intelligence company Acuris to ION.

Of special note is that each chapter comprising "The Deal Paradox" is richly illustrated throughout with real-world examples featuring organizations such as Apple, Google, S&P Global and SoftBank Vision.

Critique: Expertly written, organized and presented, "The Deal Paradox: Mergers and Acquisitions Success in the Age of Digital Transformation" is an ideal MBA curriculum textbook and well suited for DIY on-the-job in-service training studies lists on the subject of corporate business/finance and consolidations/mergers, "The Deal Paradox" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, corporate, college, and university library Business Management collections. It should be noted for MBA students, academia, corporate training programs, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest inthe subject that "The Deal Paradox" is also available in a paperback edition (9781398608115, $49.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $39.99).

Editorial Note #1: Anna Faelten ( is an experienced corporate finance Partner at EY, based in London, UK. She leads EY's Technology, Media and Telecoms (TMT) Corporate Finance practice, working with high-growth companies and investors. She has more than 10 years of corporate finance and consulting experience, spanning public to private sector, private equity-backed, founder owned and corporate buy-side and sell-side transactions. Anna holds a PhD degree from Tilburg University.

Editorial Note #2: Michel Driessen ( is a Senior Partner in EY's Strategy and Transactions group, based in London, UK, and focuses on complex transactions in the fast-moving technology and consumer products and retail sectors. He has previously held senior executive positions at Accenture, Visa and Rabobank. During his 15 years at EY he has worked on and led over 100 multi-billion pound transactions with the world's largest corporations and private equity firms on some of the biggest and most complex cross-border engagements. He is an Honorary Visiting Fellow at Bayes Business School in London.

Editorial Note #3: Scott Moeller is a Professor in the Practice of Finance at the Bayes Business School in London, UK, and is the founder and Director of the M&A Research Centre. He teaches 'Mergers & Acquisitions' in the MBA and MSc programmes. Prior to joining academia, he had a highly successful banking career with Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan. (

Real-Time Leadership
David Noble, author
Carol Kauffman, author
Harvard Business Review Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
9781647823931, $30.00, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: The hardest part of corporate leadership is mastering the inevitable high-risk, high-stakes challenges you will face. Whether you're making a split-second decision when your business is knocked sideways or you're finding the best strategy to navigate business-critical long-term circumstances, how can you be in peak form in those most crucial moments?

With the publication of "Real-Time Leadership: Find Your Winning Moves When the Stakes Are High", leadership coaching legends David Noble and Carol Kauffman collaborate to show you how with their innovative new framework, MOVE, which equips you with the tactics you need to slow down high-stakes situations before they speed you up.

You will learn to master the moment, generate response options, and quickly evaluate those options before acting. As you get better and better at using the framework, you'll find you can recognize these moments as they arrive, like a great athlete who can read the field as a play unfolds or a great conductor who anticipates what's needed to deliver a great performance.

Noble and Kauffman bring decades of experience coaching thousands of leaders, along with a deep base of research, to show why their unique two-on-one coaching method works and how it's done. The MOVE framework comes to life in these pages through the personal stories of real leaders living through their own crucible moments.

"Real-Time Leadership" is a compelling and demystifying look at how the MOVE framework delivered positive results for them -- and how it can for you, too.

Critique: Expertly written, organized and presented, "Real-Time Leadership: Find Your Winning Moves When the Stakes Are High" is one of those critically important studies that will prove to be of enormous benefit to both novice and experienced business managers, corporate executives, and entrepreneurs. Featuring twelve pages of Notes and a ten page Index, "Real-Time Leadership" is unequivocally recommended for personal, professional, community, corporate, college, and university library Leadership/Motivation, Business Mentoring/Coaching, and Decision-Making/Problem Solving collections. It should be noted for MBA students, academia, corporate executives, and entrepreneurs that "Real-Time Leadership" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.90).

Editorial Note #1: David Noble ( is the founder of View Advisors, a consulting firm that works globally with CEOs, their teams, select C-suite leaders, boards of directors, investors, and star athletes on leadership and strategy. He also serves as a senior adviser to Egon Zehnder, the Institute of Coaching, and Oliver Wyman Group and was previously on the management advisory board of TowerBrook Capital Partners, the first B Corp private equity fund. In 2021 Noble was named by Thinkers50 as one of the world's top coaches. He is also a member of the Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches community of leaders and coaches.

Editorial Note #2: Carol Kauffman ( is an international leader in the field of coaching and has more than 40,000 hours of practice with C-level leaders and their teams, elite athletes, and creatives. She was short listed by Thinkers50 as one of the top eight coaches in the world. She is a founding member of Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches, where she was ranked as the number one leadership coach in the world. Carol is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, a visiting professor at Henley Business School, and a senior leadership adviser at Egon Zehnder. She is founder of the Institute of Coaching.

Purposeful Empathy
Anita Nowak
Broadleaf Books
510 Marquette Avenue N, Minneapolis, MN 55402
9781506485058, $28.99, HC, 253pp

Synopsis: Empathy has never been more important, yet we're living in an era of a massive empathy deficit. At the same time, workplace culture has changed dramatically. Leaders, who have already been stretched to the limit, are now being called on to create and nurture genuine connection, psychological safety, and well-being across their organizations -- all while adapting to the values of a new generation that won't compromise on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

With the publication of "Purposeful Empathy: Tapping Our Hidden Superpower for Personal, Organizational, and Social Change", author and educator Anita Nowak shows, human beings are wired to care, and we can become more empathic with practice. Empathy increases dopamine, reduces stress, boosts self-esteem, heightens the immune system, and enriches our relationships. Empathy also improves business key performance indicators. This means that leveraging empathy on purpose can lead to better health, happier and more productive workplaces, and a more meaningful life. That's why empathy is our superpower.

Through inspiring stories; interviews with experts, including business leaders, neuroscientists, activists, social entrepreneurs, and spiritual leaders; a new model rooted in positive psychology and coaching; and self-development exercises at the end of each chapter, "Purposeful Empathy" offers wisdom and practical advice to foster personal, organizational, and social transformation.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Purposeful Empathy: Tapping Our Hidden Superpower for Personal, Organizational, and Social Change" is a choice and unreservedly recommended addition to professional, corporate, community, and academic library Business Management/Leadership/Motivation collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of MBA students, academia, corporate executives, business managers, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Purposeful Empathy" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.49).

Editorial Note: Anita Nowak ( is an empathy expert, speaker, podcaster, award-winning educator, certified coach, and founder of Purposeful Empathy by Design, a boutique global advisory firm that helps purpose-driven organizations create cultures of empathy and social impact. Passionate about mentoring the next generation of changemakers, she teaches leadership, ethics in management, and social entrepreneurship and innovation at McGill University.

The Art Shelf

Art of the Lips
Vlada Haggerty
Smith Street Books
c/o Rizzoli
300 Park Avenue South, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10010
9781922754189, $29.95, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: From opulent to optical illusion, Haggerty's art is a blend of makeup and magic that transforms her lips into canvases. Makeup artist royalty, her work is washed across the Internet, lips dripping and bedazzled, transformed by talent and a vision that's helped shape the beauty industry.

Featuring over 200 photographs of Haggerty's work, "Art of the Lips" is a sumptuous tome to flip through one page at a time and marvel at the minute painted details on her lips in each photo. Gloss, lipstick, sequins, and jewels transform Haggerty's skin in hundreds of different images, with looks inspired by nature, jewelry, pop culture, and more.

Much more than just lipstick, Haggerty's art is a showcase of makeup's power and an artist's innovation.

Critique: Not since the opening scene of The Rocky Horror Picture Show" have a pair of lips been 'can't take your eyes off of it' focus of an artist's work. With the use of lipstick as her medium, "Art of the Lips: Shimmering, Liquified, Bejeweled and Adorned" by makeup artist and innovator Vlada Haggerty is a unique and ground-breaking art medium to be paged through one full page, full color, image at a time. Highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library art and fashion photography, history, and design collections, with human lips ranging from the curious to the grotesque, these are images that will imprint upon the mind of the observer for a long time to come.

Editorial Note: Vlada Haggerty ( is a Ukrainian cosmetic artist based in Los Angeles. She works as a makeup artist, beauty and cosmetic photographer, and lip artist. Her makeup and photography have been featured in publications internationally, including Harper's Bazaar Ukraine, Harper's Bazaar Kazakhstan, Vogue Mexico, Vogue India, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29, Make-Up Artist Magazine, and many, many more. She has worked with Smashbox Cosmetics as their Lip Editor in Chief and her worked has inspired makeup artists everywhere.

The Computer Shelf

Photoshop on the iPad
Rob De Winter
New Riders / Peachpit Press
c/o Pearson Technology Group
9780138084714, $39.99, PB, 256pp

Synopsis: Adobe Photoshop is arguably the world's most popular image-editing program, and it is now available on the iPad. So, wherever you are, you can use familiar Photoshop tools to retouch photos, create compositions, work with layers, add text and a whole lot more. Photoshop on the iPad helps you make the most of Photoshop's iPad-optimized interface, as well as combine Photoshop with other familiar Adobe iPad apps, from Lightroom to Fresco.

Packed with practical exercises, "Photoshop on the iPad" is a guide that also offers inspiring interviews with four world-renowned Photoshop artists, Ted Chin, Russell Brown, Frankie Cihi and Magdiel Lopez. You'll see how the pros use Photoshop on the iPad in their workflows, so they can do great work anywhere. And you can too!

"Photoshop on the iPad" cover: How Photoshop's interface on the iPad works and how it differs from the desktop version of Photoshop; What layers and adjustment layers are and how to use them; How to combine different types of images into an imaginative composition; How to work with the various selection tools and use them to create masks, make color corrections, select hair and remove backgrounds; How to remove blemishes and other distracting elements with Photoshop's retouching tools; How to design an image for social media; How to add text and adjust text settings; How to work with fi les, including how to use Adobe Creative; Cloud to share fi les between your iPad and desktop; How app integration works and what workflows to use with other Adobe apps.

Critique: The ideal DIY textbook on how to photoshop images on the iPad, Robe de Winter's "Photoshop on the iPad" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college and university library Computer Software collections and supplemental curriculum, Adobe Photoshop, Mobile App Development, Software Design/Testing/Engineering studies lists.

Editorial Note: Rob de Winter ( is an Adobe Certified Instructor, author, designer and photographer based in The Netherlands. Rob loves to share his passion for design and Adobe technology in energetic and passionate training sessions and has trained thousands of graphic designers both with his training company DWM Trainingen and on his YouTube channel. He's been a featured speaker at the world's largest design conferences, like Adobe MAX and CreativePro Week.

The Self-Help Shelf

The Art of Calm
Roger Hutchinson
Morehouse Publishing
c/o Church Publishing Incorporated
9781640656321, $24.95, PB, 224pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Art of Calm: Spiritual Exercises for the Anxious Soul". author Rogert Hutchinson proves nn invaluable resource for anyone struggling with anxiety, fear, or depression. A lifesaving and inspiring guidebook that empowers us to break free from the emotional bondage of mental illness, "The Art of Calm" is a compendium of deep personal insights and uplifting practical guidance.

It's a kind of therapeutic journey beginning by charting Roger's own devastating psychological descent -- which included panic attacks so severe they landed him in the emergency room. When the medical system proved unable to provide sustained help, however, a floundering Roger Hutchison turned to his faith for guidance. The healing path God led him on was nothing short of miraculous, offering not only authentic spiritual renewal but also a profound sense of belonging in a world where he once only felt like a stranger.

Weaving these personal stories with thoughtful questions, journaling prompts, and a wide range of inspirational practices, Hutchison has created a kind of self-help tapestry of compassion, vulnerability, and action. At the end of each chapter is a colorful variety of reflections and creative exercises ranging from photography, music, and meditation to cooking, hiking, and art that encourages the reader to get up and discover a more centered and peaceful life. The result is an essential tool for finding tranquility in the midst of both inner and outer turmoil.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, exceptionally well organized and thoroughly 'reader friendly' presentation, "The Art of Calm: Spiritual Exercises for the Anxious Soul" will be of special value for readers with an interest in a Christian approach to therapy and relaxation in dealing with the inevitable stresses and strains of daily life in these troubled times. Inspired and inspiring, "The Art of Calm" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.990 and is highly recommended for personal, professional, and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections and reading lists.

Editorial Note: Roger Hutchison ( is the author and illustrator of nine books for children and adults including, The Painting Table, My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes., Faces: A Love Story, and Sparrow's Prayer. There is prayerful poetry woven through Roger's work, a gentle reverence in his tone and posture toward the heartbroken. Roger's mission is to use art, color, and poetic language to communicate love and promote healing and hope in today's hurting world. Roger serves as the Director of Christian Formation and Parish Life at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, TX, and is a member of the National Alliance of Grieving Children and Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

The Inward Outlook: Conscious Choice as a Daily Practice
Laura Basha
She Writes Press
9781647424732, $16.95, PB, 152pp

Synopsis: Every day, we take in data from the world around us and store that data in our intellect. Then, without conscious awareness, we listen to that data (a process we call "thinking") and use what it tells us to inform our decisions. But living our lives this way means always living in the past, and it limits us more than we think.

With the publication of "The Inward Outlook: Conscious Choice as a Daily Practice", psychologist Laura Basha shares how to discern this habitual way of thinking from the innate wisdom and common sense that we all have available to us at all times. Once we can see this distinction between personal thinking from the past and in-the-moment, impersonal, diffuse thinking, we are awakened to the conscious choice point, which allows us to make choices with awareness and to release judgment of ourselves and of others. We then consciously create ourselves to be the best version of ourselves we can be: our authentic, powerfully creative, compassionate selves.

A powerful guide to accessing one's own innate health, well-being, and wisdom, "The Inward Outlook" is a fully accessible exploration of a principle-based paradigm that educates people in the role thought plays in creating their experience of reality, as well as a road map to cultivating inspired focus, accomplishment, and peace of mind in one's life.

Critique: Of special appeal to readers with an interest in personal, psychological, and spiritual self-help, "The Inward Outlook: Conscious Choice as a Daily Practice" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. Inspired and inspiring, "The Inward Outlook" is a very special life-enhancing, and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Inward Outlook' is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49).

Editorial Note: Laura Basha ( is a published author, professional artist, compelling and empowering speaker, and certified trainer. She holds a BA in Fine Arts, an MA in counseling psychology, and a combined doctorate in clinical and organizational psychology. Through the years, the focus of her work has always been personal and organizational transformation and leadership development, and she has been an international consultant, educator, and personal coach for thousands of clients since 1978.

Success on Your Own Terms
James B. Rosseau, Sr.
Career Press, Inc.
9781601633156, $15.99, PB, 224pp

Synopsis: Passion comes from inside. Stoke it. Setbacks happen. Find your way around, over, and through them. Be willing to receive, then give back. Pay it forward.

Many young people (perhaps four out of five or more) are dissatisfied with their jobs. Why bother to pursue a dream?

It's up to you to create your custom-tailored career and define success your way. How? Combine your burning passion with drive, determination, strategy, and commitment to pay it forward; and find and nurture mentor support, stay steady on your path, and see the fireworks. Success on Your Own Terms will show you exactly how to do it.

Living parallel lives as a business executive, Christian hip-hop media owner, and author, James Rosseau has merged the streams of his three passions to make a difference in his own life and the lives of countless others.

Learning to make and keep six promises during his diverse career, with the publication of "Success on Your Own Terms: 6 Promises to Fire Up Your Passion, Ignite Your Career, and Create an Amazing Life" Rosseau now shows young people how to develop a plan for themselves.

These stories, lessons, setbacks, and triumphs are drawn from the neighborhoods of North Philadelphia to executive leadership, revealing new possibilities in an inspiring blend of smart strategy, hard work, and willingness to connect to help others.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, "Success on Your Own Terms: 6 Promises to Fire Up Your Passion, Ignite Your Career, and Create an Amazing Life" is exceptionally well written and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation. While highly recommended for community, corporate, and academic library Jobs/Careers collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of anyone with an interest in entrepreneurship, motivational management, company leadership, and self-improvement that "Success on Your Own Terms: 6 Promises to Fire Up Your Passion, Ignite Your Career, and Create an Amazing Life" is also readily available in a Kindle edition.

Editorial Note: James B. Rosseau, Sr. ( is a senior business leader, author, hip-hop artist, producer, and media. He is also a team-builder, alliance-creator, mentor, teacher, coach, and master strategist. Rosseau redefines achieving success with passion. A former executive with Allstate and JPMorgan (both Fortune 100 companies) he is currently president of LegalShield Solutions, as well as co-owner of Christian Media Properties ( and overseer of, a 24/7 Christian urban music channel. He previously hosted one of the top five Christian hip-hop radio programs.

The Travel Shelf

Perfect Day Chicago
Wendy Altschuler
Reedy Press
PO Box 5131, St. Louis, MO 63139
9781681064352, $27.00, PB, 192pp

Synopsis: Chicago is a city of neighborhoods renowned for its skyscrapers, Lake Michigan beaches, parks, museums, sports teams, and live entertainment. And the food? Chicago is a non-stop buffet of gut-busting chow festivals celebrating everything from barbecue to deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs (layered with mustard, never ketchup), and jibarito sandwiches.

While it's easy to whittle away the day discovering the Art Institute of Chicago, Navy Pier's Centennial Wheel, and Cloud Gate at Millennium Park, it's also rewarding to experience the lesser-known charms, some that are completely free of charge. But with so many incredible options, how could you possibly make the most of just one day in town?

Allow "Perfect Day Chicago" Grab-and-Go Itineraries for Everyone" by Wendy Altschler to add the ideal daily itineraries to your next visit. Follow along for a day or string together a few for a well curated week in the Windy City. See tucked-away gems like Oz Park, the Chicago Cultural Center's Tiffany dome, the Violet Hour speakeasy, or Humboldt Park's 55-foot steel Puerto Rican flags. Hunt down the resting places of famous Chicagoans at Graceland or spend the day marveling at the street art in the Wabash Arts Corridor.

With over two decades residing and exploring in Chicagoland, travel author Wendy Altschuler has delved deep into Chicago's communities and laid it all out in "Perfect Day Chicago". Let her extensive knowledge of the city she loves be your guide to a unique day in a city with limitless potential for adventure.

Critique: Cram packed with information about things to do, see and experience in the great and diverse metropolitan city of Chicago, Illinois, "Perfect Day Chicago" is the perfect guide for memorable, enjoyable, and informative visits to the Windy City. Ideal for on-site visitors and with a great deal to offer native born residents as well, "Perfect Day Chicago" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, and community library American Travel Guide reference collections.

Editorial Note: Wendy Altschuler ( is a seasoned travel writer, focusing on adventure and the outdoors, with words published in print and web publications that include Forbes, TripSavvy, Fodor's Travel, Modern Luxury, Parents, Matador Network, Real Simple, Yoga Magazine, SheKnows, The Daily Meal, Chicago Sun-Times, and more. Her love of travel began with a year of volunteer service with Americorps, followed by study abroad in India and a position as an itinerary writer for a luxury travel company. She can be followed on Instagram: @wendyaltschuler

Islamic Cairo in Maps: Finding the Monuments
Yasser M. Ayad
American University in Cairo Press
200 Park Avenue, Suite 1700, New York, NY 10166
9781649031112, $12.95, PB, 104pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Islamic Cairo in Maps: Finding the Monuments", Yasser M. Ayad provides on-site visitors with a portable, easy-to-use map guide helps you locate over seven hundred Islamic-era monuments in Cairo's historic core, stretching from the city's northern walls all the way southward to the Mosque of Ibn Tulun and the Citadel, and beyond to Coptic Cairo, which includes monuments that pre-date Islamic rule

Clearly divided into six digestible main sections, the first five contain clusters of monuments, while the sixth covers structures scattered all around the old Cairene urban fabric.

The clear, uncluttered cartographic style of "Islamic Cairo in Maps: Finding the Monuments" makes finding where you want to go a pleasure, and the maps are accompanied by a comprehensive index of monuments that gives their dates where known, their location referenced to their corresponding map pages, and a timeline of key periods and dynasties.

Attractively designed in full color and including over twenty photographs of key monuments, "Islamic Cairo in Maps: Finding the Monuments" is guide that is conveniently packed into a slim 104 pages -- making it handy enough to take anywhere and great for planning and remembering excursions. It is not only an ideal companion for the city's visitors and residents but an invaluable resource for historians, writers, and students.

Critique: Easily portable, illustrated with beautiful full color photographs, and perfect for planning travel itineraries, "Islamic Cairo in Maps: Finding the Monuments" is exceptionally 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Egyptian Travel Guide collections.

Editorial Note: Yasser Ayad is a professor of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Born and raised in Egypt, he earned a BSc in architectural engineering and an MSc in environmental studies from Alexandria University. He started building an interest in digital mapping and geographic information during his studies in Egypt and continued this passion through his Environmental Planning Ph.D. work at University of Montreal, Canada, and his professional and academic career at Clarion University.

The Music Shelf

Keep It Old-Time
Howard Wight Marshall
University of Missouri Press
113 Heinkel Bldg., 201 S. 7th Street, Columbia, MO 65211
9780826222695, $39.95, HC, 504pp

Synopsis: Together with "Play Me Something Quick and Devilish" (2013) and "Fiddler's Dream" (2017), "Keep It Old-Time: Fiddle Music in Missouri from the 1960s Folk Music Revival to the Present" by Professor Howard Wight Marshall is the third volume on Missouri fiddling and represents a lifelong fascination with the world of music.

As in the previous two volumes, Professor Marshall seeks out the people, stories, and communities that make informal, traditional music for their own enjoyment, particularly folk-singing, bluegrass, old-time fiddling, and jazz.

While "Play Me Something Quick and Devilish" addressed what we know of fiddle and dance music from the early French settlements in the mid-1700s colonial period into the World War I era and the Jazz Age, "Fiddler's Dream" recounted the 1920s and moved through the Great Depression and World War II years and stopped in the 1960s. Keep It Old-Time picks up the saga in the complicated 1960s and winds down in the early twenty-first century.

Along the way, Professor Marshall presents historical and documentary discussions of music interwoven with ample quotes from musicians and, at certain points, his own personal reflections and experiences in the music scene. Some of the topics featured in this volume are the folk music revival of the 1960s, the emergence of folk and bluegrass festivals, the continuation of fiddle contests, the evolving education of musicians, and many profiles of musicians, famous both locally and nationally.

Of special note is the inclusion of oral history, archival photographs, and transcriptions of selected fiddle tunes complementing the text -- as does the companion CD of selected songs.

Critique: A seminal work of exhaustive, detailed, and documents scholarship that includes fifty-eight pages of Notes, a twenty-six page Selected Bibliography, a fourteen page Selected Discography, and a twenty-page Index, "Keep It Old-Time: Fiddle Music in Missouri from the 1960s Folk Music Revival to the Present" is exceptionally well organized and presented, making it an essential acquisition for personal, professional, community, and academic library American Music History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Howard Wight Marshall is Professor Emeritus and former chairman of Art History and Archaeology, and former director of the Missouri Cultural Heritage Center at the University of Missouri-Columbia. After working as a museum curator in Indiana and at the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress, Marshall returned to Columbia to establish the Missouri Cultural Heritage Center. While at Mizzou, he also taught material culture, vernacular architecture, and historic preservation in the Department of Art History and Archaeology. He has written several books on art and music, including Play Me Something Quick and Devilish: Old-Time Fiddlers in Missouri and Fiddler's Dream: Old-Time, Swing, and Bluegrass Fiddling in Twentieth-Century Missouri, which won the Missouri Conference on History's Best Book Award for 2018. Also in 2018, Marshall won the Missouri Humanities Council's 2018 Distinguished Literary Award.

The Inner Ear of Don Zientara
Antonia Tricarico, editor
Akashic Books
232 Third Street, #A115, Brooklyn, NY 11215
9781636140926, $35.00, HC, 164pp

Synopsis: In the late 1970s, Don Zientara (a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War) founded Inner Ear Studio in the basement of his home in Arlington, VA, using the electronics training he received from the army. Inner Ear remained in Don's basement until its 1990 relocation to a larger space on South Oakland Street. Along the way, Inner Ear became best known for recording iconic DC punk musicians including Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Bikini Kill, Rites of Spring, Mary Timony, and Fugazi.

Compiled and edited by Antonia Tricarico, "The Inner Ear of Don Zientara: A Half Century of Recording in One of America's Most Innovative Studios, through the Voices of Musicians" is an oral history of not just Inner Ear's recordings, but the role that Don played in creating one of the most welcoming and nurturing recording studios the world over.

Alongside 250 photographs, the impressive volume includes testimonials from members of Fugazi, Scream, Fire Party, Shudder to Think, Jawbox, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Dismemberment Plan, as well as musicians like Kathleen Hanna, Henry Rollins, among other notables.

In addition to DC punk bands, Don also recorded many other styles and genres, including Celtic folk tunes, harp music, Russian balalaika groups, political advertisers, and choral singers. The studio was also featured on Dave Grohl's Sonic Highways television mini-series. The Inner Ear of Don Zientara pays tribute to this iconic studio, celebrating the man at the heart of this remarkable space.

Critique: A unique and very special compendium of photos and commentaries, "The Inner Ear of Don Zientara: A Half Century of Recording in One of America's Most Innovative Studios, through the Voices of Musicians" is a coffee-table style (11.2 x 0.8 x 10.1 inches, 2.75 pounds) volume that will be a highly valued and enduringly appreciated contribution to personal, professional, community, and academic library American Music History and American Photography collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of anyone with an interest in music recording in general, and Punk Music History in particular, that "The Inner Ear of Don Zientara" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $26.49).

Editorial Note: Antonia Tricarico ( has been taking photos since 1997. She worked as a photo archivist for Lucian Perkins (a Washington Post Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer) and has collaborated with Tolotta Records, Dischord Records, Kill Rock Stars, and Youth Action Research Group. Her work can be found in private collections, in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, and in the permanent punk and go-go music exhibit and archive of the Special Collections Division of the District of Columbia, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Her photos have appeared in Photo Review, Guitar World, Kerrang!, Razorcake, and Fretboard Journal. She is the creator of two books, both published by Akashic Books: Frame of Mind: Punk Photos and Essay from Washington, DC, and Beyond, 1997-2017.

The Parenting Shelf

Shut Up, Your Kid Is Not That Great
Jason Cole
Viva Editions
221 River Street, FL 9, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030
9781632280831, $17.95, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: You love your kid. But, let's face it: no matter how much you praise them, your kid is most likely not the next child prodigy. Be that as it may, it's a fair certainty that the neighbors are tired of hearing about how the fruit of your loins got the lead in the school play or scored the most points in the last game when they are just trying to grab a burger at the barbecue.

With the publication of "Shut Up, Your Kid Is Not That Great", Jason Cole writes a cautionary warning about every parent who has ever tried to live vicariously through their child, or claim the title of "momager/dadager" at every possible extracurricular activity. Including parents who are serial social media boasters.

Filled with brief banter and featuring an inspiring introduction with Tom Brady Sr., "Shut Up, Your Kid Is Not That Great" is sure to add a much needed laugh or two to every parent's day!

Critique: Laced through with a sense of humor, of immense insightful value for parents (as well as beneficial to the children they parent), and absolutely appreciated by the unwilling recipients of parental boasting, "Shut Up, Your Kid Is Not That Great" is a unique, original, and highly recommended addition to community library Parenting collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all parents tempted to unrealistic assessments of their child that "Shut Up, Your Kid Is Not That Great" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Jason Cole has covered or written about pro football since 1992 and has been a selector for the Pro Football Hall of Fame since 2013. He has worked for publications such as Bleacher Report, Yahoo! Sports, The Miami Herald, and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Cole has authored Elway: a Relentless Life and co-authored six books, including Giant with Plaxico Burress, Heart for the Game with Simon Keith, and Ocho Cinco with Chad Johnson. Prior to covering the NFL, Cole covered the NBA, Major League Baseball, and high school sports in the San Francisco Bay Area. Cole teaches sports writing at the University of Florida and is the father of two Eagle Scouts.

The Dance Shelf

All Join Hands
Thomas S. Curren
Peter E. Randall Publisher
9781942155553, $25.00, PB, 202pp

Synopsis: "All Join Hands: Dudley Laufman & the New England Country Dance Tradition" by Thomas S. Curren is the story of what happened when a ten-thousand-year-old musical tradition was put into the hands of a seventeen-year-old Boston boy in 1947.

While in high school, Dudley Laufman apprenticed with fiddlers and callers throughout New England. Eventually, he squired the old country dance traditions through to their revival in the 1960s at the Newport Folk Festival, the Club 47, and Robert J. Lurtsema's Morning Pro Musica broadcasts. Decades of performances in famous venues and small villages led to his receiving the National Heritage Fellowship Award in 2009.

Critique: Of special interest to readers with respect to the history of American folk music and country dance, "All Join Hands: Dudley Laufman & the New England Country Dance Tradition" is as inherently fascinating a read as it is informed and informative. Enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a section of black/white historical photos, "All Join Hands" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library New England Biography, Folk & Music, and Country Dance History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Tom Curren ( is a writer, farmer, conservationist, and an historian who lives in New Hampshire with his wife, folklorist Kathy Neustadt. Since the 1970s, Tom has had an extensive career writing and speaking about New England culture, life and landscape. He has written four local town histories as well as the statewide account of Old Home Day. He gives presentations at local historical societies and similar gatherings throughout the region.

The American History Shelf

This Place of Promise
Gary R. Kremer
University of Missouri Press
113 Heinkel Bldg., 201 S. 7th Street, Columbia, MO 65211
9780826222480, $40.00, HC, 328pp

Synopsis: Conceived of as a way to commemorate Missouri's bicentennial of statehood, "This Place of Promise: A Historian's Perspective on 200 Years of Missouri History" is a unique work that presents the perspective of Professor Gary Kremer (one of the Show-Me State's foremost historians), as he ponders why history played out as it did over the course of the two centuries since Missouri's admittance to the Union.

In the writing of what is much more than a survey history, Professor Kremer, himself a fifth-generation Missourian, infuses the narrative with his vast knowledge and personal experiences, even as he considers what being a Missourian has meant across the many years and to this day, to all of the state's people, and how the forces of history (time, place, race, gender, religion, and class) shaped people and determined their opportunities and choices, in turn creating collective experiences that draw upon the past in an attempt to make sense of the present and plan for the future.

Key elements of "This Place of Promise: A Historian's Perspective on 200 Years of Missouri History" include the centrality of race to the Missouri experience from the time Missourians began to seek statehood in 1817 all the way up to the Black Lives Matter movement of the 21st century -- as well as ongoing tensions created by the urban-rural divide and struggle to define the proper role of government in society.

Critique: A fascinating and informative history of the state, "This Place of Promise: A Historian's Perspective on 200 Years of Missouri History" is an exceptionally well written, organized and presented study that is especially and unreservedly recommended as a key acquisition for personal, professional, community, and academic library American History collections in general and supplemental curriculum Missouri History studies lists in particular. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "This Place of Promise: A Historian's Perspective on 200 Years of Missouri History" is also available in a paperback edition (9780826222879, $27.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.99).

Editorial Note: Gary R. Kremer ( is a fifth-generation Missourian, born and raised in a small, homogenous German Catholic community in Osage County. Since 2004, he has served as the Executive Director of the State Historical Society of Missouri and a Senior Fellow in the Society's Center for Missouri Studies. Among his many publications are James Milton Turner and the Promise of America: The Public Life of a Post-Civil War Black Leader; George Washington Carver: In His Own Words; Women in Missouri History: In Search of Power and Influence; George Washington Carver: A Biography; and Race and Meaning: The African American Experience in Missouri. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Missouri Historical Review.

Left in the Midwest
Amanda L. Izzo, editor
Benjamin Looker, editor
University of Missouri Press
113 Heinkel Bldg., 201 S. 7th Street, Columbia, MO 65211
9780826222688, $50.00, HC, 554pp

Synopsis: Despite St. Louis's mid-twentieth-century reputation as a conservative and sleepy midwestern metropolis, the city and its surrounding region have long played host to dynamic forms of social-movement organizing. This was especially the case during the 1960s and 1970s, when a new generation of local activists lent their energies to the ongoing struggles for Black freedom, lesbian and gay liberation, feminist social transformations, environmental protection, an end to the Vietnam War, and more.

Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Amanda Izzo and Benjamin Looker, "Left in the Midwest: St. Louis Progressive Activism in the 1960s and 1970s" is a seminal and groundbreaking work that offers fifteen scholarly contributions that together bring into focus the exceptional range of progressive activist projects that took shape in a single midwestern city during these tumultuous decades.

In contrast to scholarship that seeks to interpret the era's social-movement initiatives in a primarily national context, the works presented in this expansive collection emphasize the importance of locality, neighborhood, community institutions, and rooted social networks. Documenting wrenching forces of metropolitan change as well as grassroots resilience,

"Left in the Midwest" also shows us how place powerfully shaped agendas, worldviews, and opportunities for the disparate groups that dedicated themselves to progressive visions for their city. By revising our sense of the region's past, this volume also expands our sense of the possibilities that the future may hold for activist movements seeking change in St. Louis and beyond.

Critique: Informatively enhanced for the reader with a listing of the contributors and their credentials, seventy pages of Notes, and a twenty page Index, "Left in the Midwest: St. Louis Progressive Activism in the 1960s and 1970s" is an extraordinary contribution to 20th century American Political History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. While unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Civil Rights, Gender Studies, and LGBTA Demographic Studies collections, it should be note for students, academia, political activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Left in the Midwest: St. Louis Progressive Activism in the 1960s and 1970s" is also available in a paperback edition (9780826222862, $35.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $35.00).

Editorial Note #1: Amanda L. Izzo is an associate professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Saint Louis University. A scholar of US women's history, she received her PhD from the American Studies program of Yale University. She is the author of Liberal Christianity and Women's Global Activism : The YWCA of the USA and the Maryknoll Sisters. (

Editorial Note #2: Benjamin Looker is an associate professor of American Studies at Saint Louis University, with a PhD in American Studies from Yale University. His most recent book, A Nation of Neighborhoods: Imagining Cities, Communities, and Democracy in Postwar America, was a recipient of "best-book" awards from organizations including the American Studies ( Association and the Urban History Association.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Knitted Menagerie
Sarah Keen
GMC Publications
9781784946166, $26.99, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Knitted Menagerie", Sarah Keen provides 30 easy-to-follow knitting patterns for an eclectic array of animals.

Within the pages of this bright and fun book, there are illustrated instructions for 30 adorable animals to knit, ranging from sealife to birds, insects to mammals. You'll find everyone's favorites, including a lion, an elephant, blue whale, meerkats and a llama.

The patterns vary in complexity, ensuring there's something for everyone. Complete beginners or more experienced knitters can be reassured by the comprehensive illustrated techniques section provided.

Critique: Packed from cover to cover with fun, instructive, and inspiring photography that shows each of the projects from different angles, "Knitted Menagerie" is a 'how to' manual that is certain to delight novice and experienced knitters -- as well as the lucky receiver of these gorgeous, knitted creatures. Simply stated, "Knitted Menagerie" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library Needlecraft/Knitting instructional reference collections.

Editorial Note: Sarah Keen ( lives in Ceredigion, Wales, UK, and works as a freelance pattern designer. Finding calculating rows and stitches challenging, but fascinating, she is experienced in designing knitted toys for children and also enjoys writing patterns for charity. This is Sarah's tenth book for GMC Publications.

100 Essential Embroidery Stitches
Susie Johns
GMC Publications
9781784946500, $24.99, PB, 136pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "100 Essential Embroidery Stitches", needlecraft expert Susie Johns has created a handy directory of 100 need-to-know freestyle embroidery stitches to refresh or add to the embroidery skills of novice and experienced needlecrafters alike.

Embroidery is like 'painting' with thread and this combination of 'how to' manual and instructional guide, "100 Essential Embroidery Stitches" gives you all the techniques you will need to create your own works of art.

Whether you are new to embroidery and want to widen your repertoire or just need a comprehensive reference guide to look things up, you'll find everything you need to improve your embroidery skills and feel confident tackling a wide range of projects.

Critique: As a coffee-table style (8.5 x 0.25 x 10.75 inches, 1.25 pounds) paperback volume, "100 Essential Embroidery Stitches" is impressively 'user friendly' in both organization and presentation -- making it a prized and valued addition to personal, professional, and community library DIY Needlecraft/Embroidery instructional reference collections.

Editorial Note: Susie Johns ( is an artist and designer. She has written dozens of instructional books on a range of different topics. She studied Fine Art at Ravensbourne College, went on complete an MA at the prestigious Slade School in London, and later gained a post-graduate teaching qualification (PGCE) at the University of Greenwich. As well as teaching drawing and painting at a local community college, Susie has years of experience running life-drawing classes and leading workshops focussing on pen and ink, mixed media, artists' sketchbooks, drawing for health and wellbeing, and family art. She also teaches classes online on various platforms including YouTube.

The Crafts Shelf

Wreaths: 22 Festive Creations to Make
Sian Hamilton, author
Tansy Wilson, author
GMC Publications
9781784946593, $14.99, PB, 96pp

Synopsis: There is nothing quite like seeing a beautiful Christmas wreath hanging on a front door to set the magic of the season alight! Whether you are a fan of the simple and modern style or love the more traditional and ornate look, there is a wreath making project to suit everyone!

This beautiful DIY instructional guide includes 22 wreath making projects to make different styles of wreaths using a wide range of materials ranging from a Christmas wreath made with wool and felt, through gorgeous white feathers adorned with copper leaf to a ribbon Christmas tree. Whatever you decide, you'll find hours of relaxing creativity within these pages!

Critique: Beautifully and profuse illustrated throughout, "Wreaths: 22 Festive Creations to Make" by co-authors Sian Hamilton and Tansy Wilson is fun, informative, and amazingly 'user friendly' in organization and instructive presentation. This coffee-table style (8.25 x 0.25 x 10.75 inches, 10.6 ounces) paperback volume is especially recommended for personal, professional, and community library Folkcraft and Seasonal Handicraft collections.

Editorial Note #1: Sian Hamilton ( has been a designer for over twenty years and has a BA (Hons) in 3D Design. Sian has always loved to sew. Introduced to sewing by her grandmother, who was a seamstress, she started sewing clothes for herself in her teenage years and then progressed to making custom wedding dresses for clients in her early career. These days, sewing is her hobby as she is the editor of Making Jewellery magazine and the author of several books on jewelry making, including Flowers and Cats, available from GMC Publications.

Editorial Note #2: Tansy Wilson ( has been a designer and maker ever since graduating from a 3D design mixed media degree course in Brighton, working on collaborative design projects as well as making for her own customer base. She has written many magazine articles as well as producing several project books.

The Woodworking Shelf

The Art of Chip Carving
Tatiana Baldina
GMC Publications
9781784946623, $29.99, PB, 176pp

Synopsis: Chip carving is that art of forming intricate geometric patterns by carefully cutting away small triangles of wood to slowly create the full project. With the publication of "The Art of Chip Carving", woodworking specialist Tatiana Baldina provides incredibly detailed DIY instructions, with photographs accompanying every step, thereby allowing even a complete beginner to succeed in the process of recreating her patterns. More experienced carvers will truly relish the opportunity to try out new designs.

These projects can be used to decorate all manner of objects, from boxes to plates and wall panels to furniture. "The Art of Chip Carving" also contains a comprehensive introduction to the art, including choosing the appropriate tools and materials and instructions for all the different cutting techniques you'll need.

Critique: A coffee-table style (0.8 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches, 1.56 pounds) illustrated paperback volume, "The Art of Chip Carving" is exceptionally 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, making it an ideal 'how to' manual and an unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library Woodworking instructional reference collections.

Editorial Note: Tatiana Baldina is a professional woodcarving artist who lives and works in Russia. She specializes in chip carving and chose to study the subject as part of her Applied Fine Arts degree at the Volga Regional State University. After graduating, Tatiana went on to create many of her own original pieces, she also worked for several companies producing carved boxes and other items for the home. Tatiana is a Laureate of The International Association of the Creative Professions, Vatikam, France. She has worked as a freelance woodcarver since 2014. (

The Gardening Shelf

A Northern Gardener's Guide to Native Plants and Pollinators
Lorraine Johnson & Sheila Colla, authors
Anne Sanderson, illustrator
Island Press
2000 M St NW Suite 650, Washington, DC 20036
9781642832990, $32.00, PB, 264pp

Synopsis: Few sights are as charming as a hummingbird hovering over cardinal flowers in your backyard or a butterfly lighting on the black-eyed Susans potted on your balcony. Yet pollinators do more than beguile us: they are key to a healthy environment. With many pollinators threatened and their habitats disappearing, gardeners can make a real difference by planting native species that support these amazing creatures. The trick is knowing what species to plant and how to help them thrive.

If you're a gardener (or an aspiring gardener) in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, or Great Lakes region, this beautiful 4-color guide will become your go-to reference to the most beneficial plants in your area. It includes profiles of more than 300 native plants, featuring lovely illustrations and photos, information on blooming periods, exposure, soil moisture, and good plant companions, as well as how each species supports specific pollinators.

You'll learn more about common plants you thought you knew and be introduced to species you may have never encountered before. Blooming flowers, native grasses, trees, shrubs, vines, and plants for rain and pond gardens are all included. White Baneberry, Woodland Strawberry, Boneset, Virginia Mountain Mint, Smooth Aster, and many others may find their way from the pages of "A Northern Gardener's Guide to Native Plants and Pollinators" to your soil.

Critique: Informatively illustrated on every page, "A Northern Gardener's Guide to Native Plants and Pollinators" is an ideal and comprehensive compendium that is throughly 'gardener friendly' in organization and presentation. An essential horticultural and gardening reference for both novice and experienced gardeners alike, "A Northern Gardener's Guide to Native Plants and Pollinators" must be considered a core and essential addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Gardening/Horticulture reference and identification collections.

Editorial Note #1: Lorraine Johnson has been researching and writing about environmental issues for three decades. Johnson is the author or editor of fourteen books, including 100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants for American Gardens in Temperate Zones and Grow Wild!

Editorial Note #2: Sheila Colla is a Conservation Scientist working to conserve wildlife including native pollinators. She is part of York University's Bee Research Organization BeeC, which aims to address pollinator health and sustainable agriculture from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Editorial Note #3: Ann Sanderson has an undergraduate degree in zoology and biology from the University of Toronto and attended the Science Illustration program at the University of California in Santa Cruz. She is now a freelance illustrator in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

The Astrology Guide
Claudia Trivelas
Visible Ink Press
43311 Joy Rd., #414, Canton, MI 48187-2075
9781578598199, $54.95, HC, 400pp

Synopsis: How does each planetary sign, each house, and the relationships between planetary bodies influence your life? "The Astrology Guide: Understanding Your Signs, Your Gifts, and Yourself" by Claudia Trivelas is an essential guide that lets you harness the energy of your unique astrological influences and gifts as it answers each of these questions and so much more!

Building on the basics of traditional astrology with an in-depth understanding of the 12 signs, 12 houses, the planets, and the planetary combinations, "The Astrology Guide" includes interpretations of the asteroid Chiron and the recently discovered dwarf planets Ceres, Eris, and Sedna. Beginner and advanced practitioners will benefit from its mastery of chart interpretation and its understanding of the gifts (and challenges) of planetary energies.

Rather than interpreting planetary influences as "good" or "bad," thereby putting the individual in a box, "The Astrology Guide" looks at the "gift" and the corresponding "shadow" each planet, sign, house placement, and planetary combination in the astrology chart offers. The "shadow" is a concept first coined by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung that describes those aspects of the personality that we choose to reject or repress, and embracing the planetary shadow creates personal empowerment.

The planets are not doing something to you; instead, you can learn to interact with them, dance with their energy, and exist in harmony with them. "The Astrology Guide informative and instructive manual that aids in self-discovery and furthers self-empowerment by helping you answer questions such as: Is there a story you are reflecting that is influenced by a prominent planet, asteroid, or a newly discovered dwarf planet in your chart?; How do you relate to the Moon's Nodal influences in your birth chart?; Is there an archetypal story that resonates with you?; How do the minor aspects to your Personal Planets enrich your understanding of your talents and abilities? -- and, much, much more!

"The Astrology Guide" will develop your resilience to life's cycles and outer influences and show you the unconscious parts of yourself that subtly influence your behavior. Numerous photographs and illustrations, a helpful bibliography, and an extensive index add to its usefulness. Learn about your innate, unique gifts and gain satisfaction, fulfillment, and confidence!

Critique: A comprehensive and exceptionally well organized and presented compendium of information that will be of special interest to readers with respect to Astrology, "The Astrology Guide: Understanding Your Signs, Your Gifts, and Yourself" is highly recommended as a core addition to personal, professional, and community library collections. It should be noted for students and practitioners that "The Astrology Guide: Understanding Your Signs, Your Gifts, and Yourself" is also available in a paperback edition (9781578597383, $24.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Claudia Trivelas ( graduated from Boston University with a degree in psychology and mathematics, which prepared her well to become an astrologer. She was mentored by astrology luminaries including Isabel Hickey and Charles Emerson, a cosmobiologist and founder of the Uranian Society. You can find her New Moon and Full Moon updates on social media and online at Her monthly predictions, an eclectic synthesis of spiritual, esoteric, and metaphysical traditions, can be found on the High Road to Humanity channel.

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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