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Wisconsin Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 11 November 2021 Home | WBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Writing/Publishing Shelf Social Issues Shelf
Education Shelf Money/Finance Shelf Business Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Needlecraft Shelf Automotive Shelf
General Fiction Shelf Romantic Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf Multimedia Shelf
Beer Shelf Metaphysical Studies Shelf Gardening Shelf
Poetry Shelf Self-Help Shelf Travel Shelf
Christian Studies Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Marjorie Lin Kyriopoulos
Epigraph Publishing
9781954744158, $18.95, PB, 266pp

Synopsis: "HeartStrings" by Marjorie Lin Kyriopoulos is a deeply personal and compassionate memoir that chronicles the history and lives of her Greek-American family in Marjorie's own creative way. Based upon actual events and interviews with family members, Marjorie explores how tragic events can have a ripple effect on past, present, and future generations in surprising and unexpected ways. From stories about immigrant experiences in the early 1900s to Marjorie's personal journey of growth through the tumultuous and radical changes of the 1960s up to now, "HeartStrings" is a reminder that the past is deeply rooted in the present. Through stories, poetry, and photographs, Marjorie illustrates how trauma is often carried unconsciously from parent to child, and into the future.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read from first page to last, "HeartStrings" is a deftly crafted and deeply personal life story and one that is compelling thoughtful and thought-provoking. Showcasing author Marjorie Lin Kyriopoulos (mother, grandmother, teacher, writer, freelance photographer) genuine flair for narrative drive storytelling that deftly presents the times, the tragedies, and the people that shaped her understanding of the world and of herself, "HeartStrings" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Contemporary American Memoir/Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "HeartStrings" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Memory into Memoir: A Writer's Handbook
Laura Kalpakian
University of New Mexico Press
1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM 87131-0001
9780826363114, $19.95, PB, 208pp

Synopsis: A memoir is any nonfiction narrative writing based in the author's personal memories. The assertions made in the work are thus understood to be factual. While the memoir has historically been defined as a subcategory of biography or autobiography since the late 20th century, the genre has become differentiated in form, presenting a narrowed focus. A biography or autobiography tells the story "of a life", while a memoir often tells the story of a particular event or time, such as touchstone moments and turning points from the author's life. The author of a memoir may be referred to as a memoirist or a memorialist. (Wikipedia)

"Memory into Memoir: A Writer's Handbook" provides a lively instructional guide and DIY manual for anyone looking to wrestle the unruly past onto the page. In thirteen chapters, Laura Kalpakian provides tools to develop narrative form, scenic depiction, character development, and dialogue. There are chapters devoted to excavating the Family Story and the slippery Truth, especially when telling stories not solely your own.

In "Memory into Memoir: A Writer's Handbook" Kalpakian also explores the use of letters, diaries, and photographs, and she offers tips for research, publishing choices, and the uses of music. With a broad exploration of technique and development, and a range of reference, Memory into Memoir includes examples, extensive resources, and animating prompts.

Critique: An exceptional comprehensive and thoroughly 'user friendly' in style, organization and presentation, "Memory into Memoir: A Writer's Handbook" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to community library, college, and university library Writing/Publishing collections. For aspiring and experienced writers alike, "Memory into Memoir" it should be noted that "Memory into Memoir: A Writer's Handbook" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Laura Kalpakian is the author of thirteen novels and four collections of short fiction. Kalpakian is also the winner of an NEA Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers' Award, the Anahid Award for an American writer of Armenian descent, the PEN West Award, and the Stand International Short Fiction Competition.

The Social Issues Shelf

The End of Bias: A Beginning
Jessica Nordell
Metropolitan Books
c/o Henry Holt
9781250186188 $28.99 hc / $14.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Unconscious bias: persistent, unintentional prejudiced behavior that clashes with our consciously held beliefs. We know that it exists, to corrosive and even lethal effect. We see it in medicine, the workplace, education, policing, and beyond. But when it comes to uprooting our prejudices, we still have far to go.

With nuance, compassion, and ten years' immersion in the topic, Jessica Nordell weaves gripping stories with scientific research to reveal how minds, hearts, and behaviors change. She scrutinizes diversity training, deployed across the land as a corrective but with inconsistent results. She explores what works and why: the diagnostic checklist used by doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital that eliminated disparate treatment of men and women; the preschool in Sweden where teachers found ingenious ways to uproot gender stereotyping; the police unit in Oregon where the practice of mindfulness and specialized training has coincided with a startling drop in the use of force.

Captivating, direct, and transformative, The End of Bias: A Beginning brings good news. Biased behavior can change; the approaches outlined here show how we can begin to remake ourselves and our world.

Critique: The End of Bias: A Beginning draws upon both the science of the brain and social sciences to examine how human hearts and minds can change for the better. In particular, the End of Bias is about finding ways to counter unconscious bias - the prejudices that are so deeply ingrained or entrenched that those who hold them may be unaware of their own actions. What are the most effective ways to combat racial, gender-based, or other stereotypes? Chapters show case studies of successful practices, as well as offering general principles to promote inclusion and avoid excessive homogeneity. The End of Bias: A Beginning is a welcome addition to public and college library Social Issues collections, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The End of Bias is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.99).

Editor's Note: Jessica Nordell is a science and culture journalist whose writing has appeared in the Atlantic, the New York Times, the New Republic, and many other publications. A former writer for public radio and producer for American Public Media, she graduated from Harvard University and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The End of Bias: A Beginning is her first book.

A White Catholic's Guide to Racism and Privilege
Daniel P. Horan
Ave Maria Press
9781646800766, $17.95 pbk / $13.49 Kindle

Synopsis: Growing up, Fr. Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M., never thought much about race, racism, or racial justice except for what he read in history books. His upbringing as a white, middle-class Catholic shielded him from seeing the persistent, pervasive racism all around him. Horan shares what he has since learned about uncovering and combating racial inequity in our nation and in our Church, urging us to join the fight.

In the spring and summer of 2020, US cities erupted in protests and racial tensions ran high following several high-profile killings of Black women and men at the hands of white police officers. As America watched and listened, many of us became dislodged from our comfortable assumptions about race. Horan recognized this unnerving dynamic as a doorway to the awakening and spiritual conversion he has been undergoing for much of his adult life. In A White Catholic's Guide to Racism and Privilege, Horan speaks prophetically to what has become a gnawing unease for so many.

As a white man, Horan shows his fellow white Catholics how to become actively anti-racist and better allies to our Black brothers and sisters as we work against racism in our culture and in the Church. He offers us the hope and surety of the Gospel, the wisdom of Catholic tradition, and some practical ways to educate ourselves and advocate for justice.

Critique: Professor of theology, philosophy, and religious studies Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M. presents A White Catholic's Guide to Racism and Privilege, a thoughtful examination of how Catholics - especially white Catholics - can better advocate for justice and equality, in a society harmed by systemic racism. A White Catholic's Guide to Racism and Privilege cross-examines the difficult problem of systemic racism, perpetrated discrimination enacted by society as a whole, evidenced by such horrifying statistics as the substantially higher risk of death for black women from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth (primarily due to reduced access to health care, and discrimination within the health care system). One of the first steps an individual can take to combat racism is to learn how to listen, and not reflexively dismiss the experiences and testimonies of nonwhite people (no matter how uncomfortable hearing them out may be). Though written from a Catholic perspective, A White Catholic's Guide to Racism and Privilege is highly recommended for readers of all faiths. It should be noted for personal reading lists that A White Catholic's Guide to Racism and Privilege is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.49).

Editorial Note: Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M., is director of the Center for Spirituality and professor of philosophy, religious studies, and theology at Saint Mary's College. He previously served as the Duns Scotus professor of spirituality at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He is a columnist for National Catholic Reporter and the author of thirteen books, including A White Catholic's Guide to Racism and Privilege, The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton and Catholicity and Emerging Personhood, which received a 2020 Excellence in Publishing Award from the Association of Catholic Publishers.

The Education Shelf

The College Wellness Guide
Casey Rowley Barneson
Princeton Review
9780593450390, $15.99 pbk / $11.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Every year, nearly two million students arrive at college campuses, ready to embark on the best four years of their lives. Yet the reality is that the current cohort of students is one of the most stressed, anxious, and depressed ever. These stressors have real effects on students' grades, social life, and physical health. And the stakes are high! Students with the right community and support services have better outcomes, from increased chances of on-time graduation, to greater ability to take on head-start opportunities (like internships) that have deep impact on post-college life.

The Princeton Review is proud to introduce The Campus Wellness Guide, an innovative new book that provides a mix of information, resources, and self-assessment activities to help students reach and maintain their overall health. The book includes:

Information on how to assess your college fit academically and socio-emotionally
Self-assessment activities that students can use to ID their specific stressors and ways to alleviate those issues
Sections on physical, mental, and social wellness, each with data-backed insights and research to help define the issues and strategies for handling
Proactive activities for student use, with reflection prompts to help develop roadmaps toward a healthier status quo
Wellness highlights, e.g., information on colleges with exceptional track records in specific wellness issues
Resources for national and college-specific help

Critique: The College Wellness Guide: A Student's Guide to Managing Mental, Physical, and Social Health on Campus lives up to its title as an easy-to-use reference and resource for college students. Chapters offer self-assessment quizzes to help one identify stressors, practical strategies for looking after one's own well-being, recommendations for making the most of school resources including counselors and support staff, tips for maintaining a social network, and much more. The College Wellness Guide is designed for personal use, encouraging its reader to fill out plans, checklists, and questionnaires. Thoroughly user-friendly from cover to cover, The College Wellness Guide is a superb supplement for any prospective student, and also makes an excellent back-to-school gift! It should be noted for personal reading lists that The College Wellness Guide is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

The Money/Finance Shelf

Activate Your Money
Janine Firpo
c/o Wiley Professional Trade Group
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
9781119777083, $29.95, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: "Activate Your Money: Invest to Grow Your Wealth and Build a Better World" by Janine Firpo provides the foundational support women need to talk to each other about their money, invest to grow their wealth, and to take the actions required to shift their assets into alignment with their values. Written for smart, savvy women who want to feel financially empowered, "Activate Your Money" delivers the depth of information needed to make informed decisions across your entire portfolio. Starting with checking and savings accounts and proceeding asset class by asset class, this book provides you with core knowledge, as well as concrete examples about how and where you can invest your money in the things you care about.

"Activate Your Money" is specifically designed to help you use that strength to attain better financial outcomes for yourself and your family. "Activate Your Money" will also help you to find communities of support and position you to share your knowledge with other women and enable the next generation of smart, confident values-aligned investors.

Of special note is that "Activate Your Money" has a companion website that contains downloadable tools you can use to take action and a curriculum that guides women through the process of starting and running their own values-aligned investment clubs.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented for the financial planning benefit of the non-specialist general reader, "Activate Your Money: Invest to Grow Your Wealth and Build a Better World" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Financial Management & Planning collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Activate Your Money: Invest to Grow Your Wealth and Build a Better World" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.00).

Editorial Note: Janine Firpo is a seasoned values-aligned investor and social innovator, with a long history of working at the intersection of women and their money. In 2017, she left a 35-year career in technology and international development to focus on helping women find the confidence to take control of their money and use it to change the world. During her career, Janine held senior positions at Hewlett-Packard, the World Bank, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Today, she supports women-led businesses through her role as lead investor in the Next Wave Impact Fund and board chair of Zebras Unite.

The Business Shelf

Harvard Business Review Project Management Handbook
Antonio Nieto Rodriguez
Harvard Business Review Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
9781647821258, $29.99, $49.50, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: We're now living in the project economy. The number of projects initiated in all sectors has skyrocketed, and project management skills have become essential for every leader and manager. Still, project failure rates remain extremely high. Why? Leaders oversee too many projects and have too little visibility into them. Project managers struggle to translate their hands-on, technical knowledge up to senior management. The result? Worthy projects are starved of time and resources and fail to deliver benefits, while too much investment goes into the wrong projects. To compete in the project economy, you need to close this gap. In the pages of "Harvard Business Review Project Management Handbook: How to Launch, Lead, and Sponsor Successful Projects", project management expert Antonio Nieto Rodriguez shows you how.

A comprehensive guide, "Harvard Business Review Project Management Handbook: How to Launch, Lead, and Sponsor Successful Projects" presents a new and simple framework that will increase any project's likelihood of success. Packed with case studies from many industries worldwide, it will teach you how to manage your organization's projects, strategic programs, and agile initiatives more effectively and push the best ones ahead to completion.

Critique: Timely and timeless, "Harvard Business Review Project Management Handbook: How to Launch, Lead, and Sponsor Successful Projects" is exceptionally well organized and presented, making it an ideal DIY instructional guide and manual for novice entrepreneurs and seasoned corporate executives alike. While highly recommended for community, corporate, college, and university library Contemporary Business Management collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Harvard Business Review Project Management Handbook: How to Launch, Lead, and Sponsor Successful Projects" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781647821258, $29.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $29.99).

From Impressed to Obsessed
Jon Picoult
McGraw-Hill Education
9781264258789 $28.00 hc / $26.60 Kindle

Synopsis: If you're aspiring to satisfy your customers, then you're aspiring to mediocrity. That's the fascinating premise of From Impressed to Obsessed, a book that will fundamentally change how you think about creating a successful, beloved business.

Acclaimed customer experience expert Jon Picoult explains why building customer loyalty requires leaving indelible positive impressions on everyone you work with - not just shaping their experiences, but also shaping their memories.

Picoult explores the cognitive science behind great customer experiences, pinpointing the breakthrough, psychology-based strategies that both industry leaders (like Apple, Disney, and Southwest Airlines) as well as fast-growing startups (like BILT and Framebridge) use to shape people's perceptions and sculpt unforgettable impressions - thereby turning more sales prospects into customers, and more customers into obsessed brand ambassadors.

No matter what kind of constituency you serve - customers or colleagues, individuals or institutions, employees or employment candidates - this book will help you do it with distinction. Picoult's message is particularly relevant for managers, as he shows the parallels between how great companies cultivate engagement with customers, and how great leaders accomplish the same with their workforce.

Critique: From Impressed to Obsessed: 12 Principles for Turning Customers and Employees into Lifelong Fans is a guide for business professionals, team leaders, supervisors, and much more. Author Jon Picoult draws upon cognitive science to examine precisely what makes a customer's experience (or an employee's experience) so resoundingly positive as to build lifelong loyalty. Especially happy customers may transform themselves into "brand ambassadors", who promote their experience to others via word-of-mouth (or social media in today's digital age)! From Impressed to Obsessed is an incalculably valuable resource, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that From Impressed to Obsessed is also available in a Kindle edition ($26.60).

Equity: How to Design Organizations Where Everyone Thrives
Minal Bopaiah
Berrett-Koehler Publishers
9781523090259, $19.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Even the most passionate advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion have been known to treat equity as the middle child - the concept they skip over to get to the warm, fuzzy feelings of inclusion. But Minal Bopaiah shows throughout this book that equity is critical if organizations really want to leverage differences for greater impact.

Equity allows leaders to create organizations where employees can contribute their unique strengths and collaborate better with peers. Bopaiah explains how leaders can effectively raise awareness of systemic bias and craft new policies that lead to better outcomes and lasting behavioral changes. This book is rich in real-world examples, such as managing partners at a consulting firm who learn to retell their personal stories of success by crediting their systemic advantages and news managers at NPR who redesign their processes to support greater diversity among news sources. This slender book expands DEI past human resources initiatives and shows how leaders can embed equity into core business functions like marketing and communications.

Filled with humor, heart, and pragmatism, Equity is a guidebook for change, answering the question of how that so many leaders are asking today.

Critique: Equity: How to Design Organizations Where Everyone Thrives lives up to its title as a practical-minded guide to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion within one's organization. Chapters address how leadership can engage more effectively, the role of media and marketing in creating equity, countering bias in entrenched systems, and much more. "Observable behaviors are critical in designing organizations where everyone can thrive, but they are not enough. You must make sure that the organization's system and processes reinforce desired behaviors and, if possible, do so invisibly." Equity is a welcome addition to the college library Business and Leadership shelves, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Equity is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Editorial Note: Minal Bopaiah is the founder of Brevity & Wit, a strategy and design firm that helps organizations achieve the change they wish to see in the world through a unique approach that combines human-centered design, behavior change science, and the principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility. Bopaiah has written for the Stanford Social Innovation Review and and has been a featured guest on numerous podcasts and shows, including the Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU. She has also been a keynote speaker for many conferences, inspiring thousands with her credible, authentic, and engaging talks.

The Cookbook Shelf

One Tin Bakes Easy
Edd Kimber
Kyle Books
c/o Octopus Books
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9780857839787, $22.99, HC, 176pp

Synopsis: Whether the family want cookies or cakes, pastries or desserts, something fruity, chocolatey or nutty, baking just got even easier for the kitchen cook with Edd Kimber's "One Tin Bakes Easy"! Beautifully illustrated throughout, this is the ideal 'go-to' cookbook for easy to make cakes, traybakes, bars and bites the range from gluten-free to vegan and beyond!

Every individual baked good showcases in "One Tin Bakes Easy" can be made in the 23 x 33cm (9 x 13in) tin. "One Tin Bakes Easy" also offer guidance on baking in an 20 x 20cm (8 x 8in) square tin as well as a loaf tin, making these perfectly simple bakes for even the most novice of bakers to try -- whatever equipment is on hand.

Only a minimal skill is needed to whip up something sensational with this compendium of culinary ideas for bakes made in one-bowl or with 5-ingredients, as well as popular options for vegan and gluten-free treats. "One Tin Bakes Easy" is packed cover to cover with versatile, achievable and indulgent recipes that will be called upon time after time again.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "One Tin Bakes Easy" will prove to be an immensely popular addition to personal, professional, and community library cookbook collections. It should be noted the "One Tin Bakes Easy" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Edd Kimber won the first series of The Great British Bake Off in 2010. He is the author of The Boy who Bakes (2011), Say it with Cake (2012), Patisserie Made Simple (2014) and the best-selling One Tin Bakes (2020). He has appeared on Sunday Brunch, Market Kitchen and Perfect, as well as the BBC Good Food Show and other shows around the country. He is a contributing editor to Bake from Scratch magazine, a go-to baking writer for Olive magazine, a baking teacher at Leith's School of Food and Wine, as well as a QVC presenter and a brand ambassador for KitchenAid and Nordicware. Edd has a popular blog at, where he shares his innovative baking recipes, which are always loved by his loyal following.

Pennsylvania Good Eats
Brian Yarvin
The Globe Pequot Press
246 Goose Lane, Suite 200, Guilford, CT 06437
9781493055715, $21.95, PB, 240pp

Synopsis: Pennsylvania is filled with all sorts of unique and delicious foods. Historic dishes like scrapple and buckwheat cakes form part of an edible record. Smoked sausages, fried noodles, and the component parts of a pizza are all history on a plate.

A unique approach to creating a culinary treasury of palate-pleasing, appetite-satisfying recipes "Pennsylvania Good Eats: Exploring the State's Favorite, Unique, Historic, and Delicious Foods" by Brain Yarvin visits food landmarks across the state ranging from farmer's markets, artisan shops, and roadside restaurants.

"Pennsulvania Good Eats" also covers old dairymen selling off to young organic growers, ethnic areas popping up around college campuses, trained chefs seeking out new locations for fine dining restaurants, and new artisans reaching back to recreate foods that we used to think were dead and gone.

Critique: Thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' in organization and presentation with full color illustrations throughout, and also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.50), "From farmer's markets, artisan shops, and roadside restaurants" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, family, and community library cookbook collections.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Embroidery for Everyone
Kelly Fletcher
becker&mayer! Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9780760372234, $19.99, PB, 128pp

Synopsis: In the pages of "Embroidery for Everyone: Easy to Learn Techniques with 50 Patterns!" author and embroidery expert Kelly Fletcher brings enthusiasm and joy for the needlecrafts through both traditional techniques and innovation. With easy-to-follow instructions, "Embroidery for Everyone" guides the reader through an array of stitching techniques and decoration ideas.

The patterns offer a wide range of subjects to choose from: Cute animal patterns; Boho chic borders and motifs; Winter snowflakes and snowmen; Thanksgiving turkey; Springtime bunnies and flowers.

"Embrodery for Everyone" also covers how to embellish clothing, create beautiful needlecraft art with nature and folk images, and make handmade heirloom seasonal decorations. With a plenitude of patterns to choose from, "Embroidery for Everyone" features something for everyone!

Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in style, organization and presentation, "Embroidery for Everyone: Easy to Learn Techniques with 50 Patterns!" is ideal for the beginning novice and will prove to be a welcome and enduringly popular instructional guide for personal and community library needlecraft collections.

Critique: Kelly Fletcher is a professional needlework designer and the founder of Kelly Fletcher Needlework Design. She is the author of the internationally published Embroidered Home, contributing artist to Margaret Rowan's Handsewn and Petra Harms' Stitch it Yourself, and the designer, writer, and stitcher behind the Embroidery Designs range of hand embroidery kits. Kelly is based in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she creates content for magazine, book, and kit publishers worldwide, and creates ebooks and hand embroidery patterns for her online shop. She favors creative surface embroidery, with its many stitches, and puts a contemporary spin on traditional stitches and techniques to create fresh designs that appeal to modern embroiderers. She maintains an informative website at

The Automotive Shelf

Muscle Car Special Editions
Duncan Brown
CarTech Inc.
838 Lake Street South, Forest Lake, MN 55025
9781613255797, $42.95, HC, 192pp

Synopsis: In the late 1960s. Special edition muscle cars were essential to keep pace for dedicated car buffs. Joel Rosen and other independent car builders (such as Carroll Shelby, George Hurst, Dick Harrell, Mr. Norm, and Jim Wangers) did what the factories couldn't do: take the muscle car and turn it into a tire-burning monster.

Although the Pontiac GTO established the muscle car category in 1964, a host of corporate safety restrictions restrained factories from offering turn-key race cars off the showroom floor. Independent car builders enhanced appearance and amplified performance in an attempt to do what the manufacturers wouldn't. Motion Performance issued a written guarantee: Phase III cars would run 11.5 at 120 mph down the quarter-mile!

Some of the most iconic nameplates in automotive history were applied in this era with names that included Cheetah, Black Panther, Royal Bobcat, Super Hugger, Manta Ray, Super Snake, Deuce, Fast Track, and The Machine. How did manufacturers stealthily promote these special edition muscle cars as "halo cars" while pretending not to endorse them? What happened to these innovators when factories assimilated their ideas? "Muscle Car Special Editions" by muscle car historian Duncan Brown covers them all.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout, Duncan Brown's "Muscle Car Special Editions" is a visual treat and an extraordinarily well presented history. While very highly recommended for community, college, and university library American Automotive History collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated muscle car fans that "Muscle Car Special Editions" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $40.80).

Editorial Note: Duncan Scott Brown's desire to preserve car history inspired his website: The site profiles people who kept their classic domestic 1960s and 1970s cars with a technical examination of the patterns of wear on original vehicles. The website quickly expanded to quirky areas that caught on with readers, such as the Gas Logs section and, of course, The Dealerships. Readers have generously contributed their memories and photos of long-lost dealerships from the Big Three plus AMC to the website.

The General Fiction Shelf

Beneficence: A Novel
Meredith Hall
David R. Godine, Publisher
9781567927092, $16.95 pbk / $11.99 Kindle

Synopsis: In the midst of a nearly perfect life, Doris Senter is thankful but wary. "We can't ever know what will come," she says. When an unimaginable tragedy turns the family of five into a family of four, everything the Senters held faith in is shattered. The family is consumed by sorrow and guilt. Slowly, the surviving family members find their way to forgiveness - of themselves and of each other.

Few writers know the human heart and the burden of grief as New York Times bestselling author Meredith Hall (Without a Map). This is a radiant novel of goodness and love - both its gifts and its obligations - that will stay with readers long after the last page. With a rare tenderness and compassion, Beneficence shows broken hearts becoming whole as this family reclaims their love and peace.

Critique: Beneficence: A Novel is a story about a family of five that suffers heartrending loss, leaving them a family of four. Grief and devastation break their faith in everything about their lives. Beneficence is about the difficult journey to find forgiveness for themselves and each other. Thoughtful and poignant, Beneficence is a profoundly moving read, and highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Beneficence is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

The Running Trees: Stories
Amber McMillan
Goose Lane Editions
9781773101699, $19.95 pbk / $15.44 Kindle

Synopsis: A fervently comic debut, The Running Trees leads readers into a series of conversations - through phone lines, acts in a play, and a rewound recording of a police interrogation - to reveal characters in fumbling bouts of brutality, reflection, isolation, and love.

The relationship between two siblings disintegrates after one asks the other for the pen; a professor and his former student get drinks years after a "romantic" encounter; a book club meets only to find that they have wildly different opinions about a new memoir about their town; and a long-haired feline contemplates existence and consciousness while his cohabitant licks his own butthole.

Whimsical, unconventional, humorous, and always pitch-perfect, The Running Trees explores how we desperately try to communicate with each other amid the gaps in meaning we create.

Critique: The Running Trees: Stories is an anthology of unique stories that are almost entirely dialogue-based. Some are presented like short stage plays; others resemble telephone conversations, and all delve into the chaotic, tangled aspects of imperfect yet quintessentially human characters. A brisk read that lingers long in the memory, The Running Trees: Stories is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Running Trees: Stories is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.44).

Editorial Note: Amber McMillan is the author of the memoir The Woods: A Year on Protection Island and the poetry collection We Can't Ever Do This Again. Her work has also appeared in PRISM international, Arc Poetry Magazine, and the Walrus.

Beyond the Tides
Liz Johnson
c/o Baker Publishing Group
9780800737375 $15.99 pbk / $10.99 Kindle

Synopsis: When Meg Whitaker's father decides to sell the family's lobster-fishing business to her high school nemesis, she sets out to prove she should inherit it instead. Though she's never had any interest in running the small fleet--or even getting on a boat due to her persistent seasickness--she can't stand to see Oliver Ross take over. Not when he ruined her dreams for a science scholarship and an Ivy League education ten years ago.

Oliver isn't proud of what he did back then. Angry and broken by his father walking out on his family, he lashed out at Meg--an innocent bystander. But owning a respected fishing fleet on Prince Edward Island is the opportunity of a lifetime, and he's not about to walk away just because Meg wants him to.

Meg's father has the perfect solution: Oliver and Meg must work the business together, and at the end of the season, he'll decide who gets it. Along the way, they may discover that their stories are more similar than they thought... and their dreams aren't what they expected.

Bestselling author Liz Johnson invites you back to Prince Edward Island for a brand-new series about family, forgiveness, and the kind of love that heals all wounds.

Critique: Part of the Prince Edward Island shores series set in a beautiful island and its sunlit waters, Beyond the Tides is the story of a bitter rift, with the possible promise of reconciliation. Ten years ago, Oliver ruined Meg's chance for a science scholarship at an Ivy League school - not out of malice against her, but in a moment of anger over mistreatment from his own father. In the present day, Meg's father has to decide what will become of his fishing fleet business. Oliver has the drive and aptitude to run the operation; Meg has no interest in fishing, but her sense of outrage will not let her stand by and let the man who took away her dreams be rewarded. When Meg's father decides that the two of them must run the business together for a trial period, will it be a recipe for disaster - or will each of them learn from the other? An emotional and witty story, featuring flawed characters who must learn to reconcile their own shortcomings, Beyond the Tides is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Beyond the Tides is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Editorial Note: Liz Johnson is the author of more than a dozen novels, including A Sparkle of Silver, A Glitter of Gold, The Red Door Inn, Where Two Hearts Meet, and On Love's Gentle Shore, as well as a New York Times bestselling novella and a handful of short stories.

The Walnut Creek Wish
Wanda E. Brunstetter
Barbour Publishing
9781643527413, $16.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Welcome to Walnut Creek, Ohio, where Orley and Lois Troyer own an antique store they call "Memory Keepers." Though knowledgeable in antiques and their repair, their real talent is in mentoring folks who are hurting and don't even know it. Enter Jeff, a restaurateur, and Rhonda, a hotel manager, who recently moved to Amish country for the slow pace, but the change of scenery puts even more stress on their already strained marriage. Will an antique sled be the last straw, or will it lead to unexpected revelations and the fulfillment of dreams?

Critique: The first volume of the Creektown Discoveries series set in a quiet Ohio small town, home to an antique store with owners who have a talent for promoting emotional healing. The Walnut Creek Wish is a thoughtful novel about married couple looking for a slower-paced life. Yet their restful environment does not alleviate the strains on their marriage. Rhonda, a hotel manager, feels pressured both by her work and her infertility, while Jeff, a restauranteur, doesn't understand why his wife is so troubled and spends his spare time outfitting the garage with antiques. An emotional story about connections and understanding, The Walnut Creek Wish is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Walnut Creek Wish is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Editorial Note: New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written more than 100 books translated in four languages. With over 11 million copies sold, Wanda's stories consistently earn spots on the nation's most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards.

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery
Amanda Cox
9780800737412, $15.99 pbk / $10.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Present Day. After tragedy plunges her into grief and unresolved anger, Sarah Ashby returns to her childhood home determined to finally follow her long-denied dream of running Old Depot Grocery alongside her mother and grandmother. But when she arrives, her mother, Rosemary, announces to her that the store is closing. Sarah and her grandmother, Glory Ann, make a pact to save the store, but Rosemary has worked her entire life to make sure her daughter never follows in her footsteps. She has her reasons--but she'll certainly never reveal the real one.

1965. Glory Ann confesses to her family that she's pregnant with her deceased fiance's baby. Pressured into a marriage of convenience with a shopkeeper to preserve the family reputation, Glory Ann vows never to love again. But some promises are not as easily kept as she imagined.

This dual-timeline story from Amanda Cox deftly explores the complexity of a mother-daughter dynamic, the way the secrets we keep shape our lives and the lives of others, and the healing power of telling the truth.

Critique: The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery is novel that recounts stories of two times in parallel. In the present, Sarah Ashby and her grandmother Glory Ann make a plan to save Old Depot Grocery; in the 60's, Glory Ann is pregnant with the child of her deceased fiancee and pressured into a marriage of convenience with a shopkeeper. Powerful themes of love, the relationships between mothers and daughters, and the importance of bringing hidden secrets to light rather than allowing them to fester form the core of this emotionally moving novel, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Editorial Note: Amanda Cox is the author of The Edge of Belonging. A blogger and a curriculum developer for a national nonprofit youth leadership organization, she holds a bachelor's degree in Bible and theology and a master's degree in professional counseling, but her first love is communicating through story. Her studies and her interactions with hurting families over a decade have allowed her to create multidimensional characters that connect emotionally with readers.

The Singing Forest
Judith McCormack
9781771964319, $16.95, PB, 302pp

Synopsis: In a quiet forest in Belarus, two boys stumble across a long-kept secret: the mass grave where Stalin's police secretly murdered thousands in the 1930s. The results of the subsequent investigation have far-reaching effects, and across the Atlantic in Toronto, Leah Jarvis, a lively, curious young lawyer, finds herself tasked with an impossible case: the deportation of elderly Stefan Drozd, who fled his crimes in Kurapaty for a new identity in Canada.

Leah is convinced of Drozd's guilt, but she needs hard facts. She travels to Belarus in search of witnesses only to find herself asking increasingly complex questions. What is the relationship between chance, inheritance, and justice? Between her own history (her mother's death, her father's absence, and the shadows of her Jewish heritage) and the challenges that now confront her?

Critique: Beautiful and wrenching by turns, and showcasing author Judith McCormack's genuine flair for creating a deftly crafted and memorably original novel, "The Singing Forest" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Singing Forest" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Boundaries of Their Dwelling
Blake Sanz
University of Iowa Press
119 West Park Road. Iowa City, IA 52242-1000
9781609388072, $16.00, PB, 210pp

Synopsis: Moving between the American South and Mexico, the award-winning short stories comprising "The Boundaries of Their Dwelling" by Blake Sanz explore how immigrant and native characters are shaped by absent family and geography. A Chilanga teen wins a trip to Miami to film a reality show about family while pining for the American brother she's never met. A Louisiana carpenter tends to his drug-addicted son while rebuilding his house after a slew of hurricanes. A New Orleans ne'er-do-well opens a Catholic-themed bar in the wake of his devout mother's death. A village girl from Chiapas baptizes her infant on a trek toward the U.S. border.

In the collection's second half, we follow a Veracruzan-born drifter, Manuel, and his estranged American son, Tommy. Over decades, they negotiate separate nations and personal tragicomedies on their journeys from innocence to experience. As Manuel participates in student protests in Mexico City in 1968, he drops out to pursue his art. In the 1970s, he immigrates to Louisiana, but soon leaves his wife and infant son behind after his art shop fails. Meanwhile, Tommy grows up in 1980s Louisiana, sometimes escaping his mother's watchful eye to play basketball at a park filled with the threat of violence. In college, he seeks acceptance from teammates by writing their term papers. Years later, as Manuel nears death and Tommy reaches middle age, they reconnect, embarking on a mission to jointly interview a former riot policeman about his military days; in the process, father and son discover what it has meant to carry each other's stories and memories from afar.

Critique: Elegant, original, engaging, entertaining, thoughtful and thought provoking, "The Boundaries of Their Dwelling" showcases author Blake Sanz's genuine flair for the kind of narrative driven storytelling that holds the reader's rapt attention from cover to cover. "The Boundaries of Their Dwelling" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community, college, and university library Short Story & General Fictions collections.

Editorial Note: Blake Sanz has published fiction in Ecotone, Puerto del Sol, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and elsewhere. He teaches writing at the University of Denver.

The Romantic Fiction Shelf

The Christmas House
Victoria James
Alcove Press
9781643857725, $16.99 pbk / $13.99 Kindle

Synopsis: It's Christmas in the small town of Silver Springs which is bursting with holiday spirit. The downtown shops boast twinkling lights, and the town square features an enormous Christmas tree. Every Christmas Eve for the past fifty years, Ruby Harris, the owner of the historic B&B, The Christmas House, has opened her doors to strangers in need, showing them the compassion once denied to her.

When Ruby invites her family home for the holidays, including her two adult grandchildren, Charlotte and Olivia, she hopes they will be able to put the past behind them. However, her plans for reconciliation implode as the women unravel secrets from the past that force them to confront the impact they've had on their dysfunctional family. As Charlotte grows closer to Wyatt, the neighbor next door and a friend from the past, old memories resurface that the women would rather forget. They're reminded of a man they want to forget.

As the clock inches closer to the New Year, can the magic of the season bring the family closer? Or will a surprise guest threaten their tentative truce and test newly formed bonds?

This light-hearted Christmas tale draws inspiration from Victoria James's own historical fixer-upper, offering plenty of warmth and holiday cheer.

Critique: The Christmas House is a heartwarming, holiday-themed romance novel. When Ruby Harris, owner of the historic bed-and-breakfast The Christmas House, invites her family home for the Christmas season, she hopes that they will be able to mend their disgruntled rifts. But hurtful family secrets threaten to push the family apart again, even as the New Year approaches, and then a surprise guest throws all their plans into disarray. The Christmas House is delightful, thought-provoking, cheery and cozy, perfect for curling up to read with a thick blanket and hot cocoa. Highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Christmas House is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).

Editorial Note: Victoria James is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. Victoria always knew she wanted to be a writer and in grade five, she penned her first story, bound it (with staples and a cardboard cover), and illustrated it herself. Luckily, this book will never see the light of day. After graduating University with an English Literature degree, Victoria pursued a degree in Interior Design opening her own business.

Home For a Cowboy Christmas
Donna Grant
St. Martin's Press
9781250820266, $8.99, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: Christmas 'tis the season' -- for everyone except Emmy Garrett. She's on the run after witnessing a crime. But when it becomes clear that trouble will continue following her, the US Marshal in charge takes her somewhere no one will think to look -- Montana. Not only is Emmy in a new place for her protection, but now, she's stuck with a handsome cowboy as her bodyguard -- and she wants to do more than kiss him under the mistletoe.

Dwight Reynolds left behind his old career, but it's still in his blood. When an old friend calls in a favor, Dwight opens his home to a woman on the run. He tries to keep his distance, but there's something about Emmy he can't resist. She stokes his passion and turns his cold nights into warm ones. When danger shows up looking for Emmy, Dwight risks everything to keep her safe!

Critique: With all the elements of a truly steamy romance by a master of the genre, "Home for a Cowboy Christmas" wonderfully showcases author Donna Grant's genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling. Very highly recommended for community library Romance Fiction collections, "Home for a Cowboy Christmas" is a compelling read from cover to cover for all dedicated romance fans.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Driftless Gold
Sue Berg
Little Creek Press
9781942586968 $18.95

Synopsis: A migrant worker is discovered buried in a local quarry with an antique gold coin in his pocket near La Crosse, Wisconsin. Lt. Jim Higgins begins to unravel a murder that will take him back into Wisconsin's early history. During the investigation, Higgins meets a local archaeological savant and treasure hunter who tells him a wild tale about a U.S. Army payroll that was stolen on the way to Fort Crawford in Prairie du Chien in 1866. The payroll has never been recovered. Is the coin on the dead man part of the stolen treasure?

Critique: The debut detective mystery of author Sue Berg, Driftless Gold is set near La Crosse, Wisconsin, with roots reaching back to a stolen U.S. Army payroll. A murder, with an old coin found on the victim, draws Lt. Jim Higgins into a race against time before the killer strikes again. A page-turner that keeps the reader guessing to the very end, Driftless Gold is enthusiastically recommended especially for connoisseurs of the genre.

Shoot the Moonlight Out
William Boyle
Pegasus Books
9781643138251, $25.95, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: Southern Brooklyn, July 1996. Fire hydrants are open and spraying water on the sizzling blacktop. Punk kids have to make their own fun. Bobby Santovasco and his pal Zeke like to throw rocks at cars getting off the Belt Parkway. They think it's dumb and harmless until it's too late to think otherwise. Then there's Jack Cornacchia, a widower who lives with his high school age daughter Amelia and reads meters for Con Ed but also has a secret life as a vigilante, righting neighborhood wrongs through acts of violence. A simple mission to strong-arm a Bay Ridge con man, Max Berry, leads him to cross paths with a tragedy that hits close to home.

Fast forward five years: June 2001. The summer before New York City and the world changed for good. Charlie French is a low-level gangster-wannabe trying to make a name for himself. When he stumbles onto a bowling alley locker stuffed with a bag full of cash, he brings it to his only pal, Max Berry, for safekeeping while he cleans up the mess surrounding it. Bobby Santovasco - with no real future mapped out and the big sin of his past shining brightly in his rearview mirror - has taken a job working as an errand boy for Max Berry. On a recruiting run for Max's Ponzi scheme, Bobby meets Francesca Clarke, born in the neighborhood but an outsider nonetheless. They hit it off. Bobby gets the idea to knock off Max's safe so he and Francesca can escape Brooklyn forever. Little does he know what Charlie French has stashed there.

Meanwhile, Bobby's former stepsister, Lily Murphy, is back home in the neighborhood after college, teaching a writing class in the basement of St. Mary's church. She's also being stalked by her college boyfriend. One of her students is Jack Cornacchia. When she opens up to him about her stalker, Jack decides to take matters into his own hands.

Critique: A simply riveting and original crime novel featuring a roster of deftly crafted and memorable characters, as well as more unexpected plot twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster, "Shoot the Moonlight Out" by William Boyle is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Shoot the Moonlight Out" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99).

The Audiobook Shelf

Night Court
Ashley Fontainne, author
Rebecca Roberts, narrator
Blackstone Audiobooks
31 Mistletoe Road, Ashland, OR 97520
9781504692960, $29.95, MP3

Synopsis: Judge -- Merry watches, her presence cloaked by the shroud of nightfall. Nothing moves except her eyes which focus on her target. No remorse. No regret. No second guessing the decision to end the lives of the monsters who turned her into a killer.

Jury -- The peddlers of death from potent chemicals are found guilty. Death is the punishment for their crimes. All appeals denied. Sentencing to commence immediately. The leeches who sucked out the life of addicts with each snort, puff, swallow, and injection will now pay the ultimate price.

Executioner -- The idyllic world of Merry Marie Hall, once the loving wife of Harold and mother to their only child, Joshua, is over. Extinguished when Joshua overdosed and Harold died of a heart attack at the funeral. Now Merry hunts down the guilty parties, and one by one, carries out her personal vigilante court's orders.

Critique: A non-stop thriller of a read written by Ashley Fontainne and ably narrated by Rebecca Roberts, "Night Court" is a full throated 'theatre of the mind' experience. A complete and unabridged MP3 edition from Blackstone Audiobooks (6 hours, 5 CDS), "Night Court" is a truly exceptional and unreservedly recommended addition to personal and community library audio book collections.

The Music CD Shelf

Full Bloom
Nancy Shoop-Wu
Privately Published
$TBA CD / $9.49 MP3

Full Bloom is a new-age violin and vocal album by Nancy Shoop-Wu, who composed, arranged, performed and sang, with support Derek Nakamoto on piano and Cello (Qiele) Guo on cello. Adventurous, expressive, and far-reaching, these songs are brimming with a longing for adventure, and ignite an internal sense of discovery. Full Bloom is highly recommended for personal enrichment, and also makes an excellent gift. The tracks are Full Bloom, Night Rainbow, Dreams, Flying Away, Beautiful, Olinda Winds, Angel Above Me, Serenade, Golden Leaves, and Morning Paradise.

Hiding in Plain Sight
Dino Govoni
Whaling City Sound
c/o Naxos (distribution)
$TBA CD / $8.91 MP3

Hiding in Plain Sight is a jazz album featuring Dino Govoni on tenor saxophone, Alex Sipiagin on trumpet and flugelhorn, Henry Hey on piano, Michael Pope on acoustic and electric bass, and Jeff 'Tain' Watts on drums. The smooth, versatile, evocative music takes the listener on an auditory pleasure cruise. Hiding in Plain Sight is a treasure for jazz connoisseurs, highly recommended. The tracks are Stories Passed, Cobalt, Falling Ahead, Thinkers Anonymous, Ask Again, Sublimate, Point Turn, Appels to Apples, and Edge Walker.

Small Town Dreamer
Daryl Mosley
Pinecastle Holdings, LLC
$TBA CD / $11.49 MP3

Small Town Dreamer is an album of twelve original songs by folk music artist Daryl Mosley, offering portraits of small town life in America. Soul-stirring guitar and Daryl's memorable vocals distinguish these nostalgic, empathetic, and evocative songs. A treasure for connoisseurs of Americana, Small Town Dreamer is highly recommended. The track list is "Transistor Radio", "Hillbilly Dust", "The Last of His Kind", "Bringing Simple Back", "He's With Me", "The Waverly Train Disaster", "You Are the Reason", "I Can't Go Home Anymore", "The Way I Was Raised", "Mama's Bible", "Here's to the Dreamers", and "Sing Me a Song About a Train".

The Multimedia Shelf

WoodSongs 5: A Folksinger's Compendium & van Gogh Reader
Michael Johnathon
Privately Published
9780578952499 $20.00 pbk / $4.99 digital

Synopsis: WoodSongs 5 is the fifth volume in a series about art, music & rural living from Michael Johnathon, one of America's most popular folksingers, songwriters and host of the radio & TV broadcast the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. WoodSongs 5 is a celebration of Vincent van Gogh's passion, vision, and his struggle to push forward even though rejected by the art world of his time.

WoodSongs 5 (176 pages, full color) explores the world of Vincent van Gogh, Pete Seeger, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Hank Williams, John Denver, Billie Holiday and many other "creatives," the poets, painters, dreamers and time travelers, world-wanderers and highway vagabonds, rail riders and drifters who dream what is unseen so others can appreciate what has been created. They are 5-string politicians, 6-string therapists, banjo barristers, acoustic lovers and penny-pinching peacemakers... because those who sing together can not fight. They are still there. Still writing, searching, singing, trying to get this world in tune.

A beautiful gift for every artist, painter, songwriter and lover of art.

Critique: The fifth in a creative and expressive series celebrating art, music, and the joys of rural life, WoodSongs 5 is a delight to browse. Like all books in the series, WoodSongs5 includes The Painter CD album and a free gift of the Songs of Rural America symphony album on CD. WoodSongs 5 is awash with creativity, color, and passion as it brings the reader on a journey through the timeless works of Vincent van Gogh, Pete Seeger, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Billie Holiday and more. WoodSongs 5 is highly recommended, and makes an excellent gift for anyone who loves art or music. It should be noted for personal reading lists that WoodSongs 5 is also available in as an ebook ($4.99).

The Beer Shelf

World Atlas of Beer
Tim Webb, author
Stephen Beaumont, author
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Books
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781784726270, $39.99, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: As craft brewing continues to go from strength to strength across the world, and now in a newly updated and expanded third edition, "World Atlas of Beer: The Essential Guide to the Beers of the World" by the team of Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont continues to be the definitive and essential guide to beer for the true connoisseur.

A coffee table style volume (9.3 x 1.15 x 11.8 inches), "World Atlas of Beer" covers the rich, multi-faceted traditions of Belgium, the Nordic legend that is Finnish Sahti, the relatively new phenomenon of the New England hazy IPA, why Australia's lower-strength beers are one of its great successes, and so much more! With thousands of breweries now operating around the globe, and more opening every day, "World Atlas of Beer" is the expert guide to what is really worth drinking.

Country by country "World Atlas of Beer" considers a vast range of brewing techniques, beer styles and traditions. Detailed maps describe crucial trends in major territories and features such as matching beer with food and how to pour different kinds of beer complete the picture.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated in full color, this impressively comprehensive and exceptionally organized and presented third edition of the award winning "World Atlas of Beer: The Essential Guide to the Beers of the World" is a 'must' for all dedicated beer drinkers and will be an enduringly popular and welcome addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library collections.

Editorial Note #1: Tim Webb began writing about better types of beer when most of what could be said had to be reported in the past tense. During six years on the board of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) he ran Britain's national beer festival and co-founded CAMRA's publishing company. He has written Good Beer GuideBelgium continuously since 1992 and has won awards for beer writing in four countries. In a career spanning over 40 years he has witnessed and chronicled the return of the craft of beer brewing, perhaps the most extraordinary consumer-led revolution of modern times.

Editorial Note #2: Stephen Beaumont is recognized internationally as one of the leading writers on beer in the world today. He is the author or co-author of ten additional books about beer, including The Beer & Food Companion, and two editions of The Pocket Beer Book, and a contributor to many others. Through his 26 years of covering the global beer scene, Stephen has written literally hundreds of articles and columns for publications as diverse as Whisky Advocate, Playboy and the Celebrator, and hosted tastings, dinners and educational events around the globe, from Mexico City to Burton-on-Trent and Philadelphia to Beijing. He may be found online at and on Twitter at @BeaumontDrinks.

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Our Spiritual DNA
Carmel Niland
Findhorn Press
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781644112632, $18.99, PB, 272pp

Synopsis: Guided by renowned mystics, in the pages of her new book, "Our Spiritual DNA: Twelve Ascended Masters and the Evidence for Our Divine Ancestry", author Carmel Niland suggests that, just as we carry physical DNA that shapes us across generations, we also carry an energetic code or spiritual DNA that links us back to the very source of our origins (God) a divine ancestry that throughout the centuries conveys itself in patterns of behavior, character traits, and life purpose, connecting each individual to a specific Ascended Master.

The God essence expresses itself through archetypal energies in us, represented by 12 Ascended Masters who hold the 12 strands of our spiritual DNA. Thus, every person on this earth, no matter how ordinary or extraordinary, is an aspect of one of these Masters. Focusing on Mother Mary and St. Germain, Our Spiritual DNA explores the role, energies, and essence of these 12 Masters by examining some of history's most important figures who have been instrumental in shaping our world. Hitherto unknown details about the lives of personalities like Queen Nefertiti, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Merlin, Isabelle of Castile, and Dante emerge in channeled conversations with the author's spiritual guide, The Gatekeeper.

Revolutionizing the Western view of reincarnation, "Our Spiritual DNA: Twelve Ascended Masters and the Evidence for Our Divine Ancestry" is astounding and unique book allows you to trace your own spiritual DNA through the reincarnations of the Ascended Masters, understand your spiritual and genetic connection to God, and realize that we are all divinely connected across gender, race, and time.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Our Spiritual DNA: Twelve Ascended Masters and the Evidence for Our Divine Ancestry" is a singularly impressive study that will be of special interest for all students of the metaphysical sciences. While highly recommended for community, college, and university library New Age Channeling, Angels & Spirit Guides, and Spiritual Self-Help collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Our Spiritual DNA: Twelve Ascended Masters and the Evidence for Our Divine Ancestry" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Conversations with the Goddess
Dorothy Atalla
Pharos Press
9780984447305, $17.95, PB, 292pp

Synopsis: On a January day in the depths of mid-western winter Dorothy Atalla expected more of the same: snow, ice and gray skies. But when she lay down on her living room carpet to relax with music, she had an experience which changed her life. Inexplicably, a vision of a radiant and beneficent female presence appeared to her. This astonishing event was only the beginning of a journey she could never have imagined in her wildest dreams. That vision foreshadowed the dialogue with a deity which is the essence of "Conversations with the Goddess: Encounter at Petra, Place of Power".

"Conversations with the Goddess" swiftly evolves from a personal story into a universal story in which a feminine Presence speaks about the role of the sacred Feminine in the future. She also speaks of the past, revealing a panoramic view of a time in which the Goddess was revered not only at Petra but also throughout the ancient world.

Her story is a multiplicity of strands which she deftly weaves together, creating a tapestry that spans immense time frames in earth's evolution. As her tale progresses, people from the deep past step forward to tell about their lives and their relationship with the Goddess. And a fascinating group of characters they are from Zillah, slave woman, to Hayyan al-Shubri, high priest who serves the chief goddess of Petra.

Woven into the dialogues are lively commentaries about Petra as a cosmic power point, women as agents for planetary evolution, and restoration of ancient Goddess knowledge and women's mysteries. Other threads in this weaving are also relevant to modern women: woman's innate spiritual power, earth's powers and the powers of woman, symbolism in female artifacts and the consciousness which created them, what the dark Feminine really is, correction of misperceptions about the nature of the Great Goddess, and a path toward balance of the divine Feminine and the divine Masculine.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, memorably unique, thoughtful and thought-provoking read throughout, While "Conversations with the Goddess: Encounter at Petra, Place of Power" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Metaphysical Studies collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Conversations with the Goddess: Encounter at Petra, Place of Power" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: A Phi Beta Kappa graduate from the University of Delaware, Dorothy Atalla received an endowed fellowship for a Master's degree in English Literature. Her studies led to ancient history, archaeology, depth psychology, quantum physics, transpersonal psychology and the evolution of consciousness, and the study of ancient religion and mythology.

The Gardening Shelf

The Living Soil Handbook
Jesse Frost
Chelsea Green Publishing Company
85 North Main Street, Suite 120, White River Junction, VT 05001
9781645020264, $29.95, PB, 304pp

Synopsis: Discovering how to meet the soil's needs is the key task for every market gardener where a home gardening amateur or a professional farmer. "The Living Soil Handbook: The No-Till Grower's Guide to Ecological Market Gardening" by Jesse Frost is comprehensive guide, in which he shares all that he has learned through years of experience and experimentation with no-till practices on his home farm in Kentucky and from interviews and visits with highly successful market gardeners in his role as host of The No-Till Market Garden Podcast.

The Living Soil Handbook is centered around the three basic principles of no-till market gardening: Disturb the soil as little as possible: Keep it covered as much as possible; Keep it planted as much as possible.

"The Living Soil Handbook" then guides readers in applying those principles to their own garden environment, with their own materials, to meet their own goals. Beginning with an exploration of the importance of photosynthesis to living soil, Jesse provides in-depth information on: Turning over beds; Using compost and mulch; Path management; Incorporating biology, maintaining fertility; Cover cropping; Diversifying plantings through intercropping; Production methods for seven major crops

Throughout, "The Living Soil Handbook" emphasizes practical information on all the best tools and practices for growers who want to build their livelihood around maximizing the health of their soil.

Critique: Nicely illustrated throughout, "The Living Soil Handbook: The No-Till Grower's Guide to Ecological Market Gardening" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. A comprehensive and thoroughly 'user friendly' instructional manual and guide, "The Living Soil Handbook: The No-Till Grower's Guide to Ecological Market Gardening" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Gardening/Horticultural/Agricultural collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Living Soil Handbook: The No-Till Grower's Guide to Ecological Market Gardening" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.59).

Editorial Note: Jesse Frost, aka Farmer Jesse, is a certified organic market gardener, freelance journalist, and the host of The No-Till Market Garden Podcast. He is also a cofounder of, a website where he helps collect the best and latest no-till insights from growers in the United States, Canada, the UK, and Europe. He and his wife, Hannah Crabtree, practice no-till farming at Rough Draft Farmstead in central Kentucky.

The Poetry Shelf

Small Bibles for Bad Times: Selected Poems and Prose
Liliane Atlans
Dryad Press
9781942134688, $21.95, PB, 176pp

Synopsis: Very ably translated from French into English by Marguerite Feitliz, "Small Bibles for Bad Times: Selected Poems and Prose of Liliane Atlan" by the late Liliane Atlan is an inherent fascinating and compelling volume that showcases the poet's genuine flair for thoroughly originality and the kind of word smithing that invokes both an emotional and a cerebral response in a two language edition from Dryad Press with French on the left side and English on the right.

Critique: Erudite, compelling, memorable and unique, the poetry and prose of Liliane Atlans will prove to be welcome and appreciated addition to personal reading lists of all dedicated poetry fans, as well as community, college, and university library Poetry collections.

Editorial Note: Liliane Atlan (January 14, 1932 - February 15, 2011) was a French Jewish writer whose work often focused on the psychological effects of the Holocaust.

The Self-Help Shelf

Hear Yourself
Prem Rawat
c/o HarperCollins
9780063070745 $26.99 hc / $13.99 Kindle

Synopsis: The cacophony of modern life can be deafening, leaving us feeling frazzled and uneasy. In this warm, wise book, Prem Rawat teaches us how to turn down the noise to "hear ourselves"-to listen to the subtle song of peace that sings inside each of us. Once we learn to truly "hear ourselves" and the voice of peace within, then we can hold on to that as we face all the noise of the world.

The culmination of a lifetime of study, Hear Yourself lays out the crucial steps we can use to focus on the voice within. Take a walk in nature and listen for the sounds of harmony, Prem Rawat suggests, or set aside a few minutes each day to feel gratitude, which comes from the core of our being. He challenges us to embrace our thirst for peace and let go of expectations for how it should feel. With one straightforward yet deeply profound question, he helps us to focus - to be present: Am I conscious of where I am today and what I want to experience in this world?"

If we allow ourselves to listen, what we hear is the extraordinary miracle of existence - an experience that transforms our relationship to life and everything in it. Packed with powerful insights and compelling stories, Hear Yourself introduces readers to an ancient line of practical wisdom that enlightens us to a simple way to listen. By doing so, Prem Rawat reveals, we can "profoundly change our understanding of ourselves, those around us, and our lives."

Critique: Hear Yourself: How to Find Peace in a Noisy World is a self-help guide to listening within, and better understanding oneself. Listening to one's inner voice is a practice drawn upon ancient wisdom, yet as profoundly impactful today as it was millennia ago. Author Prem Rawat offers tips, tricks, and techniques to clear one's mind, focus, and truly listen when surrounded by raucous cacophony. Hear Yourself is an excellent, mind-expanding read, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Hear Yourself is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).

The Travel Shelf

Lonely Planet Florida
Fionn Davenport, Anthony Ham, Adam Karlin, Vesna Maric, and Trisha Ping
Lonely Planet
9781787015692 $24.99

Synopsis: Lonely Planet's Florida is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Snorkel in the Keys, explore the magic of Walt Disney World resort, and marvel at Miami's art deco masterpieces; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Florida and begin your journey now!
Inside Lonely Planet's Florida Travel Guide:

Up-to-date information - all businesses were rechecked before publication to ensure they are still open after 2020's COVID-19 outbreak

NEW pull-out, passport-size 'Just Landed' card with wi-fi, ATM and transport info - all you need for a smooth journey from airport to hotel

Planning tools for family travelers - where to go, how to save money, plus fun stuff just for kids

What's New feature taps into cultural trends and helps you find fresh ideas and cool new areas our writers have uncovered

NEW Accommodations feature gathers all the information you need to plan your accommodation

Color maps and images throughout

Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests

Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots

Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices

Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sightseeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss

Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, people, music, landscapes, wildlife, cuisine, politics

Over 65 maps

Covers Miami, The Everglades, the Florida Keys & Key West, Southeast Florida, Orlando & Walt Disney World, the Space Coast, Northeast Florida, Tampa Bay & Southwest Florida, the Panhandle

Critique: Up-to-date with information about businesses that are open (with reasonable precautions) during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Lonely Planet Florida is jam-packed cover to cover with recommended restaurants, tourist destinations, outdoor activities, hotels, and much more. Tips, advice, color maps, and a section on the Everglades round out this handy "must-have" for Florida vacationers and business travelers alike. Highly recommended!

Lonely Planet Best of Costa Rica
Jade Bremner, Ashley Harrell, Brian Kluepfel, and Mara Vorhees
Lonely Planet
9781787015340, $24.99

Synopsis: Lonely Planet's Best of Costa Rica is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Lounge on sugar-white beaches in Southern Nicoya, spot sea turtles in Tortuguero, and catch the surf off deserted beaches on the Costa Ballena; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Costa Rica and begin your journey now!

Up-to-date information - all businesses were rechecked before publication to ensure they are still open after 2020's COVID-19 outbreak

Color maps and images throughout

Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests

Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots

Essential infoat your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices

Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sightseeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss

Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, people, music, landscapes, wildlife, cuisine, politics

Covers San Jose, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Manuel Antonio, Volcan Arenal, Montezuma, Peninsula de Osa, Tortuguero, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Playa Samara, and more

Critique: Lonely Planet's Best of Costa Rica: Top Sights, Authentic Experiences lives up to its title as a treasury for anyone interested in visiting this beautiful nation filled with diverse species and natural wonders. This up-to-date guide showcases businesses that have remained open (with appropriate precautions) during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and includes extensive contact information, recommendations, full-color photography, suggested itineraries, budget- friendly options, and much more. Lonely Planet's Best of Costa Rica is a "must-have" for tourists and armchair travelers alike, highly recommended.

The Christian Studies Shelf

The Complete Encyclicals, Bulls, and Apostolic Exhortations: Volume 2
Pope Francis
Ave Maria Press
9781646801138, $27.95 pbk / $20.99 Kindle

Synopsis: When Pope Francis puts pen to paper, people around the world pay attention. Between 2017 and 2020, the Holy Father published six groundbreaking documents with topics ranging from the importance of scripture to Catholic social teaching, and from injustice in the Amazon to the role of religion in building world peace. These seven documents - letters, apostolic exhortations, an encyclical, and a statement cosigned by Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb - are gathered in one volume for the first time.

Volume 2 includes:

Gaudete et Exultate, March 19, 2018: In his apostolic exhortation Rejoice and Be Glad: On the Call to Holiness in Today's World, Pope Francis reissues the universal call to holiness, challenges us to recognize the "saints next door" we encounter in daily life, and provides a practical meditation on how we can respond to the Lord's invitation to become his disciples.

Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, February 4, 2019: This document emphasizes the important role of religion in building world peace and the rights of freedom, justice, and full citizenship for all people - including women. It was cosigned in Abu Dhabi by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, during Pope Francis's apostolic visit to the United Arab Emirates.

Apperuit Illis, September 30, 2019: This apostolic letter, Instituting the Sunday of the Word of God, reflects on Vatican II's teaching on the importance of the scriptures and encourages all Catholics to embrace the Bible as part of their rich spiritual heritage.

Christus Vivit, March 25, 2019: Christ is Alive is the post-synodal apostolic exhortation to young people framed on three key principles: God loves you, Jesus saves and suffers with you, and Jesus is alive.

Querida Amazonia, February 12, 2020: The 2020 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Beloved Amazon addresses injustice and exploitation in the Amazon region, outlines challenges to caring for creation and respecting the cultures of indigenous peoples, and renews consideration of how the Church's mission can and should take shape in the twenty-first century.

Fratelli Tutti, October 4, 2020: All Brothers and Sisters: On Fraternity and Social Friendship is Pope Francis's third encyclical and the only one written between 2017 and 2020. This seminal work challenges us to take a fresh look at the great ideals of the Church's social teaching and put them into practice on a new - and more personal - level.

Patris Corde, December 8, 2020: The apostolic letter With a Father's Heart declared 2021 the Year of St. Joseph, and provides an extended meditation on the various facets of Joseph's fatherhood.

Critique: The Complete Encyclicals, Bulls, and Apostolic Exhortations: Volume 2 is the second volume of Pope Francis' complete writings from 2017 to 2020. As the current leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis commands a singularly high level of attention from theological scholars and faithful Christians worldwide. This volume of his writings includes testimony on the role of religion in building world peace, freedom, and justice; encouragement for Catholics to study the Bible as part of their spiritual heritage; testimony about injustice and exploitation in the Amazon region; and much more. It is worth noting that Pope Francis' writing is thoroughly accessible to readers of all faiths and backgrounds. Volume 2 is an absolute "must-have" for Catholic church libraries and Religious Studies shelves. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Volume 2 is also available in a Kindle edition ($20.99).

Editorial Note: Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to parents of Italian descent. He was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1969, ordained auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992, installed as bishop in 1998, and elevated to cardinal in 2001. He was elected by the College of Cardinals in March 2013 as the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church and took the name Francis for St. Francis of Assisi. He is the first Jesuit pope, the first pope from the Americas, and the first non-European pope in more than twelve centuries.

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

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