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How Much Big Is the Sky
9781951307011, $27.99 HC, 310pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "How Much Big Is the Sky: A Memoir of a Mother's Love and Unfathomable Loss" is a mother's searingly melodic and eloquent love song to her teenage son, Ryan, following his sudden death resulting from a car crash. Sherry Chapman captures the intimacy and immediacy of her experience with a rare combination of profound tenderness, literary skill, and raw candor. This stunning account of love and loss is structured in five parts resembling the various stages of grief. From the sudden blow of an early morning phone call to a mother's frantic advocacy to her final reflections on what remains, "How Much Big Is the Sky is unforgettable.
Critique: So well written and so intimately candid, "How Much Big Is the Sky: A Memoir of a Mother's Love and Unfathomable Loss" is one of those memoirs that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "How Much Big Is the Sky" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781951307028, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: Sherry Chapman became an advocate for safe teen driving following the death of her nineteen-year-old son Ryan resulting from a car crash. Sherry received national recognition in 2014 from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety in Washington, D.C. as a Highway Safety Hero for her contributions to saving lives, preventing injuries and making roads safer. In 2017 Sherry was named as Connecticut's Safety Champion in recognition of her years of exceptional advocacy and leadership on teen driving issues. The sponsoring agencies and organizations included Connecticut Children's Medical Center, Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital, Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles, Connecticut Department of Transportation, Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate, Connecticut Hezekiah Beardsley Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Safe Kids Connecticut, and AAA.
The Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf
The No B.S. Guide to the Acting Biz
9781710220742, $14.95, PB, 116pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The acting business (and opportunities for aspiring actors) has changed dramatically over the past couple of decades. There are now over 538 scripted shows on television. Amazon, Hulu and Netflix have changed the game for television, giving actors more opportunities than ever before. There are over 60 shows currently casting or filming out of New York, many more in Los Angeles, as well as in other emerging markets.
Casting directors are hiring actors from self-tapes more than ever before, and actors need to be ready to turn around an amazing audition on a dime. It's ultra-competitive, and actors need to stay on their toes and keep up to date on current trends and expectations in an ever-changing world.
"The No. B.S. Guide to the Acting Biz" by Matt Newton is a true insider's look into the business of acting, with a humorous, refreshingly candid, shoot from the hip approach by one of our top industry experts. Newton is a professional actor and an acclaimed acting coach and in his instruction manual gives aspiring actors clear-cut, unfailingly honest lessons from what he's learned through his decades in the business.
With relevant, provocative and often hilarious stories Newton guides the reader to a greater awareness of how the modern industry works and what that means for an actor. With an inspiring foreword from the successful actor Michael Urie ("Ugly Betty," "Younger," "Partners"), "The No. B.S. Guide to the Acting Biz" deftly presents current, first-hand experience and professional insight into the actual business of acting today.
Critique: Impressively informative, unrelentingly candid, exceptionally 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "The No. B.S. Guide to the Acting Biz" should be considered essential reading for anyone wanting to establish themselves in an acting career whether it is in community theatre, on Broadway, in films, on television, or through the new streaming technologies. Simply stated, "The No. B.S. Guide to the Acting Biz" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Performing Arts collections in general, and Acting/Auditioning supplemental studies reading lists in particular.
Editorial Note: Matt Newton is an actor, acting coach, author, Backstage contributor, film director, as well as the founder of the acclaimed MN Acting Studio in New York City and Connecticut. Matt is also the author of the successful book "10 Steps to Breaking Into Acting" (available on Amazon, with a foreword by his sister Becki Newton, star of "Ugly Betty" and "How I Met Your Mother"), and writes a weekly advice column for Backstage Magazine. He also won Best Actor at the Philadelphia First Glance Film Festival for his role in Nathan Crooker's Peace of Mind. Matt maintains a website at www.mnactingstudio.com and can be followed @mnactingstudio on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Hollywood's Victory Lap: The Films of 1940
Anthony G. Puzzilla
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432734008, $36.95, PB, 280pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: It is the general consensus that in the history of motion pictures, the year 1939 was undoubtedly Hollywood's greatest triumph during its Golden Era. However, much of the same winning confluence of circumstances and events that made 1939 such a monumental and productive year for Hollywood continued into 1940. Despite this fact, the overwhelming and enduring popularity of the movies of 1939 have often overshadowed the importance of cinema's superlative productions, creative strides and technical advances realized in 1940.
The viewing public, as in earlier years, were given the opportunity to experience "the total movie experience" which meant that the bill consisted of at least one full length feature motion picture, and if not, than a short feature film, but always a cartoon and a serial along with upcoming attractions.
Not only did the same seismic synergy of talent, artistic vision, opportunity, risk and pure luck that made 1939 such a prolific year for Hollywood continue mightily into 1940, but in a good number of instances, 1940's harvest of remarkable cinematic triumphs surpassed 1939's fabled cornucopia of celluloid treasures.
As America freed itself from the shackles of economic misery that was the Great Depression, the rest of the world was struggling against the brutality and inhumanity of a world war raging in Europe, Asia and the Pacific. With this as a backdrop, millions of movie goers across the country looked for any form of escapism in their never-ending quest to forget the harsh realities of their dismal and disheartened existence.
Hollywood was more than willing to satisfy this hunger, at least for a brief moment in time, by providing them with a stream of uplifting, spirited and entertaining films.
Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout, "Hollywood's Victory Lap: The Films of 1940" is an impressively informative compendium of descriptive information on the movies of one of the most important decades of the American film industry. An absolute 'must' for all dedicated movie buffs and historians, "Hollywood's Victory Lap: The Films of 1940" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library American Cinematic History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated film buffs that "Hollywood's Victory Lap: The Films of 1940" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).
Editorial Note: Anthony Puzzilla is an avid movie lover and supporter. He is both a member and supporter of the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Los Angeles, California and the Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study in Beverly Hills, California. He is a Charter member of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. He is a member of the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and supporter of the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The Biography Shelf
9781733378208, $19.95, PB, 352pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Clifford Browder's new autobiography, "New Yorkers: A Feisty People Who Will Unsettle, Madden, Amuse and Astonish You" is the quirky memoir of a longtime resident who loves his city, a selective glance at that city's amazing history, and a bit of a travel book, all rolled into one. Specifically written for those who love (or hate) the city, and people who live there, and people who have visited or want to visit it, the reader will learn: Who New Yorkers are and how they live and die; How many languages are spoken there (you'd be surprised!); How many witches there are (you'd be surprised again!); Whose funeral caused an all-day riot; Why a cemetery offers trolley-car tours and whiskey tastings; Which flashy modern hotel would-be suicides should avoid at all costs, and why; How Clifford Browder learned the Charleston on YouTube -- proof that geezers rock!
Critique: New York is the most exciting city in the world. Everyone should know it, at least a little. It's unique and reading "New Yorkers: A Feisty People Who Will Unsettle, Madden, Amuse and Astonish You" is the next best thing to actually living there! While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "New Yorkers: A Feisty People Who Will Unsettle, Madden, Amuse and Astonish You" is also readily available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).
Editorial Note: Clifford Browder is a longtime resident of New York, living in the West Village high above the Magnolia Bakery of "Sex and the City" fame. He has published two biographies; two nonfiction titles about New York and New Yorkers; and four historical novels in his ongoing Metropolis series of historical fiction set in nineteenth-century New York. "New Yorkers: A Feisty People Who Will Unsettle, Madden, Amuse and Astonish You" is his third nonfiction work inspired by posts from his blog, "No Place for Normal: New York." His blog and all his fiction and nonfiction deal with the wild, crazy, and profoundly creative city of New York. His poetry has appeared in numerous small reviews, both online and in print.
Flawed and (Still) Worthy
9781544506098, $21.99, HC, 186pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The first time Allie Brazas was sexually assaulted, she was seventeen. Three years later, after joining the Navy, she became the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of her acting Command Master Chief. Life seemed to be turning around for Allie when she got married to an active duty K9 handler. Two months later, he was killed in action in Afghanistan and came home to Allie in a flag-draped box. The perfect life Allie had envisioned was forever altered.
Alone, confused, and overwhelmed with grief, Allie wasn't sure if she'd ever escape the hole that life kept pushing her into. It wasn't until she embraced her journey with all the heartbreak and horror she'd endured that Allie was able to climb out of that hole.
Critique: In "Flawed and (Still) Worthy: Owning Your Journey and Embracing Your Flaws", Allie candidly shares how she learned to use her challenges to her advantage and transform a state of victimhood into a state of empowerment. An inherently fascinating and ultimately inspiring read, "Flawed and (Still) Worthy" is an extraordinary memoir and one that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal self-help/self-improvement reading lists that "Flawed and (Still) Worthy" is also readily available in a paperback edition (978-1544506074, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).
Editorial Note: Allie Brazas is the COO of Pinnacle Peak Recovery, a drug and alcohol treatment center in Scottsdale, Arizona. During her days as a Sailor, Allie co-founded the Women's Symposium, an empowering event for active duty females in the area.
Richard James Kerr
9781950544103 $20.00 pbk / $8.69 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: In the pages of "Unclassified: My Life Before, During, and After the CIA", Richard James Kerr, a former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, recounts how he joined the Agency fresh out of college as a GS7 analyst/clerk. During his more than 30 years, Kerr rose through the ranks quickly, serving in all four directories -- Intelligence, Operations, Administration, and Science/Technology (reaching Director level in both Intelligence and Administration)--before eventually becoming Deputy Director of the CIA (DDCI).
Kerr was responsible for many highly visible tasks such as providing the U.S. President with a daily briefing of CIA intelligence. He was known for his stabilizing influence during his tenure and his ability to address countless "hot button" issues. He also established a reputation for his integrity and objectivity when presenting CIA findings to high-ranking officials.
Now retired, Kerr has the opportunity to reflect on his many experiences and he even shares his thoughts on how someone working in the intelligence community should consider approaching an administration that does not understand how useful agencies like the CIA can be when managing world issues.
Critique: An extraordinary and impressively informative combination of personal memoir and descriptive analysis of America's key intelligence agencies, "Unclassified: My Life Before, During, and After the CIA" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. An inherently fascinating read throughout, "Unclassified: My Life Before, During, and After the CIA" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections in general, and American Political Intelligence supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Unclassified: My Life Before, During, and After the CIA" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.69).
The Health/Medicine Shelf
Change Your Story Despite the Diagnosis
Brenda Mary Love
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781982233204, $22.99, HC, 164pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Change Your Story Despite the Diagnosis: Living Well With Fibromyalgia and Other Mental Health Illness" is author Brenda Mary Love's personal memoir is about living with fibromyalgia and other mental health illnesses that are commonly encountered on our spiritual path on earth or lack of it.
After many years of counseling and introspection Brenda Mary Love learned to love herself more now than ever and to take time for her physical and spiritual needs. Even when sometimes compromising intimacy seems elusive to personal desires and dreams. Like millions of people out there, Brenda Mary Love has been dealing with mental health issues such as addictions and depressions. "Change Your Story Despite the Diagnosis: Living Well With Fibromyalgia and Other Mental Health Illness" the story of how she was able to overcome them and provides a kind of roadmap on how others can do the same.
Critique: Candid, informative thoughtful, and ultimately inspiring, "Change Your Story Despite the Diagnosis: Living Well With Fibromyalgia and Other Mental Health Illness" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement and Health/Medicine collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Change Your Story Despite the Diagnosis: Living Well With Fibromyalgia and Other Mental Health Illness" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781982233181, $12.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Political Science Shelf
The 2020 American Revolution
B083L7V69R, $4.99 Kindle, 92pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: It's time for citizen common sense if America is to restore "truth, justice, and the American way." The November 2020 presidential and congressional elections will be the most ferociously contested, costly, and consequential in memory. Yet it is uncertain how voters, in an era of fake news, compromised social media, and information overload will sort through it all to allow a well-informed vote.
"The 2020 American Revolution" by Mac Regan is the essential voter "app' for the coming elections. It addresses two fundamental problems with American democracy (voter apathy and the corrupting influence of campaign financing). In addition, "The 2020 American Revolution" provides a comprehensive methodology designed to ferret out voters' and candidates' positions on the major issues for anyone concerned about job creation, health care, social cohesion, information privacy, media standards, environmental degradation, wealth and income inequality, national financial responsibility, or infrastructure investments?
"The 2020 American Revolution" is the easy-to-read, one source, non-partisan guide to those issues and more. On November 3, 2020, Americans again need to demand "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." This revolution will be decided by voter turnout and the selection of moderate candidates committed to retaking our democracy and remaking it in accordance with the Founder's intentions. Citizens, it is our time. If we fail to improve our democracy, we will get something else.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The 2020 American Revolution" is impressively nonpartisan. An ideal and unreservedly recommended informational/instructional resource, "The 2020 American Revolution" should be considered essential reading by political activists and non-specialist general readers alike. "The 2020 American Revolution" offers a foundational approach for creating an informed citizenry -- and only that can maintain a democracy against the siren calls of an authoritarian rule.
Presidential Power and the American Political System
Frank M. Sorrentino
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480872646, $35.95, HC, 246pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The most significant and dynamic struggles for power in the United States of America occur between presidents and the federal bureaucracies, and these struggles often overshadow those between Congress and the courts. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with other agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security, all wield significant political power.
In "Presidential Power and the American Political System", author Frank M. Sorrentino analyzes the president's ability to influence and prevail over these powerful bureaus. He eloquently evaluates how effective presidents have been in this regard, since these agencies have great expertise and control over crucial national and international security information. In addition, presidents must effectively navigate the unique American political system that includes separation of powers, federalism, and decentralized and undisciplined political parties, all of which serve to dilute executive power.
Using the case study of the FBI, Sorrentino shows how bureaus can inject their interests and political values into their work and goals. Presidential Power and the American Political System demonstrates the power of the FBI in particular to be a bureau that pursues its own interests and can have a significant impact on limiting presidential power and other actors in the wider American political system.
Critique: A timely and valued contribution to our current and on-going national dialog with respect to the role of the presidency and its relationship to the congress and the courts, "Presidential Power and the American Political System" is an impressively informative and thought-provoking study that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library American Political Science and Constitutional History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, political activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Presidential Power and the American Political System" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781480872622, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
The General Fiction Shelf
Annie Russo: Tenacity Born
J. L. Baumann
Post Mortem Publications
9781941880135, $29.95, HC, 530pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Entertained readers will experience the passion of the sixties as Annie Russo tenaciously takes on the love of life in the changing world around her. For everyone who had gone off to fight in Viet Name, more than a hundred more were still at home, struggling with its effects. Misnomered as 'rebels without a cause', the entire generation was rebellious all right, but lacked no shortage of causes. Portrayed as living fast and dying young was also false. They were dying young without even getting a chance to live fast. And so, faced with no escape, the entire society rose up in anger while Annie Russo was the face of it all.
Critique: A fascinating read by an author with an impressive attention to cultural detail, "Annie Russo: Tenacity Born" showcases novelist James Baumann's genuine flair for the kind of narrative storytelling style that compels his readers complete and dedicated attention from beginning to end. While especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Annie Russo: Tenacity Born" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781941880142, $19.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.95).
The Thirteen Trials of Dr. Marion Bailey
Felicity St. John
Tiny Boar Books
9781734483321, $29.99, HC, 1096pp, www.tinyboarbooks.com
Synopsis: Dr. Marion Bailey has had a checkered career, from the moment she washed up in 1927, a failed scholar blindsided by the brutality of the British Mandate in Iraq to her final adventure in 1938, persecuted by a demonic gibbon conjured up out of a medieval Arabic bestiary. But throughout her tribulations, she's dragged along with her the same traits and wounds: a tortured genius for decoding obscure dead languages, a fragile psyche increasingly battered by each of her exploits, and a tormented responsiveness to the medieval detritus churned up in her wake -- and then gobbled up by the British Museum.
Now, in 1967, her forty-year-old son has discovered among this detritus the five hundred year old Ottoman Book of Kings, the eleventh-century Fatimid pearl of enormous size, the thirteenth-century Ilkhanid celestial globe, and the amorous golem cobbled together by an illegitimate French Queen and a Nabatean magician of ill repute, and a manuscript that even his mother refused to touch. As he decides whether to take up the silent challenge posed by the sealed book, he slips backward in time, appraising, finally, his mother's troubled history.
Critique: Showcasing author Felicity St. John's genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling style that will linger in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf, "The Thirteen Trials of Dr. Marion Bailey" is an inherently fascinating and compelling read from cover to cover. While especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Thirteen Trials of Dr. Marion Bailey" is readily available in a paperback edition (9781734483307, $14.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Sapphire Books Publishing
9781948232838, $16.95, PB, 360pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Legends aren't built overnight. In fact, they take decades of hard work, long days, and selfless sacrifice -- if one is lucky. Huerta Cigars is a result of the combined passion of patriarch Alejandro Huerta, who emigrated from pre-Castro Cuba to Nicaragua, and his sons Roberto and Manuel. Their unwavering dedication to their dream of producing the best cigars made for a success.
Upon Alejandro's passing he left the cigar empire to his only daughter, Sofia, who took over the family business. Sofia Huerta is Don Roberto's daughter, and she is making a name for herself with her own line of fine, boutique cigars.
One late night phone call will change Sofia's life forever. Rushing to Nicaragua from San Francisco, her only hope is that it isn't too late to save her father. Roberto Huerta, Jr. might be a Huerta in name, but his womanizing, drinking, and carefree lifestyle have kept him at arm's length from his father. RJ think's his father's freak accident will leave him as the rightful heir of the family empire. He couldn't have been more wrong.
A turn of events will pit brother against sister as they fight for control of the Huerta empire. Sometimes secrets and lies aren't the only thing living in the closet, and there is only one Huerta that can continue the family legacy of excellence in this romantic mystery with a twist. In Cigar Barons, blood isn't thicker than water -- it's war!
Critique: An impressively and deftly crafted novel by an author and novelist with a distinctive and effective reader engagement storytelling style, "Cigar Barons" by Isabella is an especially recommended addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cigar Barons" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Bullets and Bandages: Bond of Brothers
Robert J. Saniscalchi
9798609831347, $10.99, PB, 284pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: An impressively crafted suspense thriller of a novel, "Bullets and Bandages" by Robert J. Saniscalchi was inspired by the true stories of a US Army Field Medic, Vietnam 68-69. Through those stories, Rob was given the unique war based insights that he seamless wove into his narrative driven story.
It is interesting to note that parts of Bullets and Bandages: Bond of Brothers" derives Saniscalchi's own experiences, and that time period in our history of conflict in Vietnam. The trials and victories of Rob and his comrades pull the reader into a world of survival through willpower, tenacity, and wit.
"Bullets and Bandages: Bond of Brothers" is ultimately a story of love, faith, friendship and humanity in a time of war and deals with what was it like for our military men as they fought together to survive in the jungles of Vietnam.
Critique: The kind of riveting read that will linger in the mind and memory long after the novel itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf, "Bullets and Bandages: Bond of Brothers" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bullets and Bandages: Bond of Brothers" is also readily available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).
The Light from the Dark Side of the Moon
Norman G. Gautreau
Blank Slate Press
9781943075614, $12.99, HC, 300pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: 92-year-old Henry Budge defies most of his family by escaping a rehab hospital to make his way to France for the ceremonies of the 70th observance of D-Day. Before he dies, he hopes to at last address a grief he has allowed to simmer for decades and to rekindle memories of Elodie Bedier, the French Resistance fighter with whom he fell in love 70 years earlier, as a way of confronting his grief at losing her.
During his return journey, he relives events of 1944: being wounded as he parachutes into Normandy; falling in love with Elodie who nurses him back to health; fighting the Germans alongside her and her resistance companions; and finally abandoning the war to rescue a group of children from the Holocaust, choices that leave Henry at risk of a firing squad for desertion and Elodie vulnerable to fatal condemnation from her compatriots.
When he arrives back in France, Henry makes several shocking discoveries that shake the very foundations of the memories he's had of Elodie all these years and he is left to wonder about the love he has had for Elodie: what rests on true memory vs. what is based on countless imagined conversations over the decades?
Critique: An exceptionally well crafted novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling style that grips the reader's total attention from cover to cover, "The Light from the Dark Side of the Moon" by Norman G. Gautreau is the kind of novel that will linger in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Light from the Dark Side of the Moon" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).
No Place That Far
9781951122058, $17.95, PB, 370pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Leaving behind a marked trail of evil deeds and havoc as an enforcer for powerful men, J.D. seeks refuge in the American Southwest in 1908. Hounded by the law and haunted by his own memories and his fear of getting caught, he discovers a flaw which smolders at the core of his being. Can a man run away from trouble, from himself? There ain't no place that far!
Critique: A deftly scripted and fully absorbing read from cover to cover, "No Place That Far" showcases author Bruce Wilson's genuine flair for originality and a particularly effective narrative storytelling style. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "No Place That Far" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Other Family
Lake Union Publishing
9781542006439, $14.95, PB, 287pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: With a dissolving marriage, strained finances, and her life in flux, Ally Anderson longs for normal. Her greatest concerns, though, are the health problems of her young daughter, Kylie. Symptoms point to a compromised immune system, but every doctor they've seen has a different theory. Then comes hope for some clarity.
It's possible that Kylie's illness is genetic, but Ally is adopted. A DNA test opens up an entirely new path. And where it leads is a surprise: to an aunt Ally never knew existed. She's a little wild, very welcoming, and ready to share more of the family history than Ally ever imagined.
Coping with a skeptical soon-to-be-ex husband, weathering the cautions of her own resistant mother, and getting maddeningly close to the healing Kylie needs, Ally is determined to regain control of her life. This is her chance to embrace uncertainty and the beauty of family -- both the one she was born into and the one she chose.
Critique: An exceptionally well written and thoroughly absorbing novel by an author with a genuinely impressive and distinctly effective narrative driven storytelling style, "The Other Family" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to any and all community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Other Family" is readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781799744375, $14.99, CD).
This Is Not How It Ends
Rochelle B. Weinstein
Lake Union Publishing
PO Box 887, Grand Haven, MI 49417
9781542007672, $14.95, PB, 351pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When Charlotte and Philip meet, the pair form a deep and instant connection. Soon they're settled in the Florida Keys with plans to marry. But just as they should be getting closer, Charlotte feels Philip slipping away.
Second-guessing their love is something Charlotte never imagined, but with Philip's excessive absences, she finds herself yearning for more. When she meets Ben, she ignores the pull, but the supportive single dad is there for her in ways she never knew she desired. Soon Charlotte finds herself torn between the love she thought she wanted and the one she knows she needs.
As a hurricane passes through Islamorada, stunning revelations challenge Charlotte's loyalties and upend her life. Forced to reexamine the choices she's made, and has yet to make, Charlotte embarks on an emotional journey of friendship, love, and sacrifice -- knowing that forgiveness is a gift, and the best-laid plans can change in a heartbeat.
"This Is Not How It Ends" is a tender, moving story of heartbreak and healing that asks the question: Which takes more courage -- holding on or letting go?
Critique: An immediately and exceptionally engaging novel by a writer with an impressive knack for the kind of narrative storytelling style that rewards the reader with a story that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book is finished and set back upon the shelf, "This Is Not How It Ends" by Rochelle B. Weinstein is unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "This Is Not How It Ends" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781978676138, $14.99, CD).
Eyes for the Allies
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781684702152, $37.92, HC, 398pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Alphonse DeBoy and his three grandchildren (Aurelie, Josette, and Luc) have been supplying food to their American visitor, Maj. Mark Dornier, for close to a year from their farm just outside Les Petites Islettes east of Verdun. Dornier had parachuted into the Foret Domaniale de Lachalade in October 1943, and he's been hiding from the Germans by living at a World War I French artillery camp. He's waiting for a second British officer, Lt. Alex Ryder, to join him.
Ryder is in love with a secretary, Polly Berson, who is really a captain in the SOE. She also happens to be the cousin of Aurelie, Josette and Luc. To complicate things further, Josette and Aurelie develop feelings for Dornier. As Dornier gathers information on German defensive positions, the Nazis have developed several weapons to slow down the Allies when they invade, leaving it to the SOE and its operatives to gather intelligence on the weapons.
Critique: Set in the rural French farmland and forest west of Verdun during World War II, "Eyes for the Allies" is a a deftly written and inherently compelling novel by author Chris Santer that is filled with intrigue, action, and romance. While especially recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Eyes for the Allies" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781684702145, $21.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Romantic Fiction Shelf
A Slow Leap into the Sky
9781633388802, $21.95, HC, 356pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Fredrick saw Alexandra as a rare and beautiful bird. For Isabella, Alex was competition for the affections of Isabella's husband and her children, and yet Isabella couldn't help loving Alex. For Samantha, Alex was, in turns, a hero and a monster and sister in the struggle. The world can be a rough place for brilliant women to live in, but surviving is the ultimate triumph.
Set in Silicon Valley in a time when everything seemed possible and a single idea could change the world, "A Slow Leap into the Sky" by Jenna Macswain is a smart, steamy love story about love as obsession, as a brutal destructive force, but what keeps us living when nothing else can.
Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "A Slow Leap into the Sky" is author Jenna MacSwain's debut as a novelist, this deftly crafted and inherently fascinating read will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary Romance Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated romance enthusiasts that "A Slow Leap into the Sky" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
9781950305124, $17.95, PB, 248pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Homicide detective David Moore has never had a case quite like this: a series of savage murders targeting the family of Frank Ballaro, a mafia kingpin with half the city of Niagara Falls in his pocket. The killer strikes with inhuman violence, and always on the night of a full moon.
Meanwhile, grad student Iman Al-Qadari reads about the murders with growing dismay. Her boss, a prominent professor, has been acting strange over the last few months -- wearing disheveled clothes, lashing out with uncharacteristic anger, and obsessing over a growing pile of occult literature. When Iman spots a red stain on his coat sleeve (one that looks and smells suspiciously like blood) the night after a grisly murder, the unthinkable starts to seem all too possible.
As David and Iman wrestle with an impossible enemy whose existence grows harder and harder to deny, a strange and sinister evil sinks its fangs ever deeper into Niagara's throat. Can David and Iman find one another in time to pool their knowledge, solve the mystery, and stop the killings? Or will the creature feasting on their city swallow them as well?
Critique: A picture-perfect suspense thriller of a novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven storytelling that keeps the reader's rapt attention from a riveting beginning to cliff-hanger end, "Whitetooth Falls" by Justin Joschko will prove to be an especially welcome and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Whitetooth Falls" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.95).
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
B. R. Flores
9781733162302, $15.99, PB, 392pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A war of genocidal proportion is raging in the galaxy. It is a diversion, a means of keeping beings from several planets from realizing the deceit in which their leaders are cooperatively engaged. Genocide is taking place, threatening to wipe out an entire species, and the only hope for these gentle beings requires that one of them have the courage to make a dangerous and lonely journey through space and merge with a creature from another world.
Quizan Azah braves the journey, merging with the human, Cole, creating a powerful new species, the Trekachaw, setting in motion the events that might ultimately allow for the restoration of peace.
Critique: "Trekachaw " is the first volume of a compelling and thought-provoking new science fiction action/adventure series by B.R. Flores. A deftly crafted novel of impressive complexity and depth, "Trekachaw" is an inherently fascinating read and showcases author B.R. Flores' especially effective narrative storytelling style. "Trekachaw" is an especially recommended addition to community library Science Fiction collections. It should also be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated science fiction fans that "Trekachaw" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).
Joy of the Widow's Tears
Geoff Habiger & Coy Kissee
9781951122010, $17.95, PB, 340pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Reva and Ansee face fresh threats as a new evil is imported into Tenyl and threatens the city with an undead plague even as Constable Inspector Reva Lunaria's life is looking up.
Reva has managed to put two groups of unruly adventurers in jail and she gets word that her boyfriend, Aavril, has just arrived in port. She is looking forward to a relaxing dinner, a present, and maybe some time getting reacquainted after Aavril's long absence. But Aavril's ship has delivered more than a cargo of spices and exotic merchandise and a new evil begins to take root within Tenyl.
Then Reva's romantic evening is spoiled by news of a double murder. It should be a simple case, except that the victims have disappeared. Reva's investigation barely gets started before Lord Constable Inspector Betulla contrives a way to get Reva suspended.
With Reva temporarily off the force, the murder investigation is given to Constable Inspector Pflamtael, who is looking to find the fastest resolution to the case. Meanwhile, Seeker Ansee Carya investigates what appears to be a simple missing person case, until he discovers that the missing people (including the two murder victims) have become zombies!
Now, Reva, with the aid of a halpbloed cleric, must work from outside the constabulary to figure out who is creating the undead, and how to stop the creatures before all of Tenyl becomes infected.
Critique: A deftly crafted combination of police procedural and action/adventure fantasy novel, "Joy of the Widow's Tears" effectively showcases the collaborative writing talents of Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee. An extraordinary and inherently fascinating read from first page to last, "Joy of the Widow's Tears" is unreservedly recommended for all community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated fantasy fans that "Joy of the Widow's Tears" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Angelic Wars: First Rebellion
Rick E. Norris
9781643882192, $26.95, HC, 294pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Angelic Wars: First Rebellion" is an original and musical novel where the characters sing when the reader activates QR Codes. It is the epic story of the internal struggles and external battles among the angels for the control of Heaven during Satan's rebellion.
Azarias and six other angels are commissioned as the Septemviri by God's guardian cherub to seek out and conquer a rebellion. They are commanded to offer the rebellious ones the choice of mercy or spiritual warfare. Little do they know that they are up against the most powerful angel of all -- Satan and his army consisting of a third of Heaven's population.
"Angelic Wars: First Rebellion" is the first book in a series that is unlike any other action-adventure fantasy because its setting is in Heaven and guided by Biblical passages. A simply riveting and thoroughly entertaining read from beginning to end, "Angelic Wars: First Rebellion" will have a very special appeal for fans of Christian oriented fantasy fiction. While very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Angelic Wars: First Rebellion" is also readily available in a paperback edition (Luminare Press, 9781643882185, $14.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
The Business Shelf
Association for Talent Development
9781950496235, $29.99, PB, 216pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Sales quotas aren't all about the numbers. "Quotas! Using Design Thinking to Solve Your Biggest Sales Challenge" by Mark Donnolo sheds new light on quota challenges, the story behind them, and the methods to solve them.
Many organizations struggle to reach effective, market-driven sales quotas, with more than half reporting quota setting as one of their top sales dilemmas. Instead of wrestling over the number, Donnolo contends that organizations can better achieve effective sales quotas by applying a problem-solving approach.
With decades of experience working with major organizations on successful sales strategies, Donnolo offers engaging stories embedded with business problems and poses challenge questions to prompt a creative, five-step design-thinking process.
"Quotas!: Design Thinking to Solve Your Biggest Sales Challenge" features quota design frameworks and a range of applicable, scalable methods. Readers will also find rare, expert guidance through the candid perspectives and advice of CEOs and other senior leaders.
Critique: "Quotas!: Design Thinking to Solve Your Biggest Sales Challenge" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, making it an ideal DIY instructional guide and reference for entrepreneurs, business marketing managers and corporate executives. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, corporate, and academic library Business Management & Marketing collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of MBA students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Quotas!: Design Thinking to Solve Your Biggest Sales Challenge" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $29.99).
Editorial Note: Mark Donnolo is a founder and managing partner of SalesGlobe, a sales effectiveness consulting firm that works with major sales organizations on sales strategies to grow revenue. He has worked for over 25 years with the sales and marketing organizations of major companies, including Comcast, LexisNexis, UPS, Harland Clarke, Radian, and Robert Half. Mark is also the author of The Innovative Sale: Unleash Your Creativity for Better Customer Solutions and Extraordinary Results, What Your CEO Needs to Know About Sales Compensation: Connecting the Corner Office to the Front Line, and Essential Account Planning: 5 Keys for Helping Your Sales Team Drive Revenue.
The Parenting Shelf
Building Love Together in Blended Families
Gary Chapman & Ron L. Deal
c/o Moody Publishers
820 N. LaSalle Blvd., Chicago, IL 60610
9780802419057, $15.99, PB, 192pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Blended families face unique challenges, and sadly, good intentions aren't always enough. With so many complex relationships involved, all the normal rules for family life change, even how you apply something as simple as the five love languages.
That's why Gary Chapman and Ron Deal, collaborated in "Building Love Together in Blended Families: The 5 Love Languages and Becoming Stepfamily Smart" in order to parents how the five love languages can help their blended family by covering: The unique dynamics of stepfamilies; How to overcome fear and trust issues in marriage; How to develop healthy parenting and step-parenting practices; How the love languages should (and should not) be applied.
The underlying message throughout is that parents of blended families are going to face many challenges, but with the right strategies and smart work, their families can be stronger and healthier together.
Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "Building Love Together in Blended Families: The 5 Love Languages and Becoming Stepfamily Smart" is an ideal introduction to parenting blended families. An exceptional instruction guide and manual that is as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is insightful and inspiring, "Building Love Together in Blended Families: The 5 Love Languages and Becoming Stepfamily Smart" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Parenting collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Building Love Together in Blended Families: The 5 Love Languages and Becoming Stepfamily Smart" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.98).
The Travel Shelf
Route 36: Ohio to Colorado
Allan McAllister Ferguson
WF Enterprises LLC
9780971032668, $27.95, PB, 264pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Tracing a path from the foothills of the Appalachians to the soaring Rocky Mountains, Route 36 was once America's way west from the Heartland to the Rockies. Route 36, America's Heartland Highway is a love Letter to the Midwest. It's also a heart-warming tour through the villages, towns, and small cities of the Heartland with stops at two of the country's most exciting big cities - Indianapolis and Denver.
With "Route 36: Ohio to Colorado - America's Heartland Highway", travelers on Route 36 can experience an astonishing swath of American history - Annie Oakley's Ohio, Cy Young baseball great, Abraham Lincoln's Illinois, Mark Twain's Missouri, Walt Disney's Hometown USA, The Pony Express, General John J. Pershing's boyhood home, the Unsinkable Molly Brown, the High Plains of Kansas and Colorado and so much more!
Critique: Nicely illustrated with black-and-white photography throughout, "Route 36: Ohio to Colorado - America's Heartland Highway" is as impressively informative as it is expertly organized and presented -- making it an ideal addition to personal and community library American Travel Guide and Travelog collections and reading lists.
Editorial Note: Allan Ferguson grew up in Decatur, Illinois, where Route 36 bisects the city. He graduated from Millikin University in Decatur before migrating westward on Route 36 for graduate school at the University of Denver. Ferguson became known as the leading American expert on budget golf travel to Scotland with his guidebook, Golf in Scotland: A Travel-Planning Guide with Profiles of 74 Great Courses.
The Poetry Shelf
Before the Fevered Snow
9780996981651, $17.00, PB, 110pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Before the Fevered Snow" is the fourth collection of celebrated poet and author Megan Merchant. This time she uses the natural world as her canvas, mapping the abstract shape of the American social consciousness onto a wintry landscape of marriage, motherhood, and grief.
Suffused with autumnal decay and the silent promise of snow, Merchant's collection of verse serves as a powerful distillation of the ageless themes of memory and loss.
Critique: A compendium of original and deftly crafted verse, Megan Merchant's poetry will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Simply stated, "Before the Fevered Snow" by Megan Merchant is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary American Poetry collections.
Poems from the Edge of Extinction
c/o Nicholas Brealey Publishing
53 State Street, Suite 9, Boston, MA 02109-3106
9781473692992, $21.33, HC, 253pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Compiled by Chris McCabe and featuring award-winning poets from cultures as diverse as the Ainu people of Japan to the Zoque of Mexico, with languages that range from the indigenous Ahtna of Alaska to the Shetlandic dialect of Scots, "Poems from the Edge of Extinction: An Anthology of Poetry in Endangered Languages" is an evocative collection that gathers together 50 of the finest poems in endangered, or vulnerable, languages from across the continents.
With poems by influential, award-winning poets such as US poet laureate Joy Harjo, Hawad, Valzhyna Mort, and Jackie Kay, this collection offers a unique insight into both languages and poetry, taking the reader on an emotional, life-affirming journey into the cultures of these beautiful languages, celebrating our linguistic diversity and highlighting our commonalities and the fundamental role verbal art plays in human life.
Each individual poem appears in its original form, alongside an English translation, and is accompanied by a commentary about the language, the poet and the poem - in a vibrant celebration of life, diversity, language, and the enduring power of poetry.
Across the world, one language is falling silent every two weeks. Half of the 7,000 languages spoken in the world today will be lost by the end of this century. With the loss of these languages, we also lose the unique poetic traditions of their speakers and writers.
"Poems from the Edge of Extinction" is a timely anthology is passionately edited by widely published poet and UK National Poetry Librarian, Chris McCabe, who is also the founder of the Endangered Poetry Project, a major project launched by London's Southbank Centre to collect poetry written in the world's disappearing languages, and introduced by Dr Mandana Seyfeddinipur, Director of the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme and the Endangered Languages Archive at SOAS University of London, and Dr Martin Orwin, Senior Lecturer in Somali and Amharic, SOAS University of London.
Languages included in the book: Assyrian; Belarusian; Chimiini; Irish Gaelic; Maori; Navajo; Patua; Rotuman; Saami; Scottish Gaelic; Welsh; Yiddish; Zoque
Poets included in the book: Joy Harjo; Hawad; Jackie Kay; Aurelia Lassaque; Nineb Lamassu; Gearoid Mac Lochlainn; Valzhyna Mort; Laura Tohe; Taniel Varoujan; Avrom Sutzkever.
Critique: A unique, extraordinary, and simply outstanding literary project of impressively meticulous scholarship, "Poems from the Edge of Extinction: An Anthology of Poetry in Endangered Languages" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library Linguistic Studies collections in general, and World Poetry supplemental curriculum studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Poems from the Edge of Extinction: An Anthology of Poetry in Endangered Languages" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).
Editorial Note: An established and respected poet in his own right, Chris McCabe works as the Head of the National Poetry Library and launched the Endangered Poetry Project in 2017, a major project to collect poetry written in the world's dying languages.
James A. Cox
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