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Quest for Eternal Sunshine
Mendek Rubin & Myra Goodman
She Writes Press
9781631528781 $16.95 pbk / $8.69 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: Born into a Hassidic Jewish family in Poland in 1924, Mendek Rubin grew up surrounded by extreme anti-Semitism. Armed with an ingenious mind, he survived three horrific years in Nazi slave-labor concentration camps while virtually his entire family was murdered in Auschwitz. After arriving in America in 1946 (despite having no money or professional skills) his inventions helped revolutionize both the jewelry and packaged-salad industries. Remarkably, Mendek also applied his ingenuity to his own psyche, developing innovative ways to heal his heart and end his emotional suffering.
After Mendek died in 2012, his daughter, Myra Goodman, found an unfinished manuscript in which he'd revealed the intimate details of his healing journey.
"Quest for Eternal Sunshine: A Holocaust Survivor's Journey from Darkness to Light" is the extraordinary result of a posthumous father-daughter collaboration and tells Mendek's whole story and is filled with eye-opening revelations, effective self-healing techniques, and profound wisdom that have the power to transform the way we live our lives.
Critique: A valued addition to the growing library of Holocaust histories and memoirs, "Quest for Eternal Sunshine: A Holocaust Survivor's Journey from Darkness to Light" is an inherently fascinating, impressively informative, and ultimately inspiring read. While an especially recommended addition to community and academic library biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Quest for Eternal Sunshine: A Holocaust Survivor's Journey from Darkness to Light" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.69).
Civilization's Quotations: Life's Ideal
Richard Alan Krieger
9781892941763, $22.95, 344pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Deftly compiled by Richard Alan Krieger, "Civilization's Quotations: Life's Ideal" is comprise of some 8000 clever and insightful sayings that are expertly organized by theme, and for the purpose of enriching the prose of writers, public speakers, and anyone seeking to lead or persuade.
"Civilization's Quotations: Life's Ideal" also provides a wealth of inspirational affirmations to guide us in our lives and includes Chinese proverbs, Roman maxims and the wisdom of writers from William Penn to Kahlil Gibran covering themes ranging from humility and patience to courage, will and action.
The individual topics are accessibly arranged in a sequence that begins with birth and progresses through the seasons of the "Ideal Life." When possible, each quotation flows into the next one so that the whole section reads almost like a speech given by one person. In other sections, one quotation plays off another, creating a lively discussion amongst the authors.
Critique: A simply wonderful book to browse through, paging through "Civilization's Quotations: Life's Ideal" is an extraordinary and life-affirming experience and is unreservedly recommended as a reference resource for any aspiring writer or speech maker. This is an outstanding compendium distilling wisdom, inspiration and insight into the human condition, and is especially recommended for highschool, community, college, and university library collections, as well as the personal reading lists of students, academia, writers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.
The Environmental Studies Shelf
Urban Planning in Planet Earth's Tragedy of the Commons
Richard S. Bolan
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781532079108, $49.99, PB, 226pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Richard Bolan has been an urban planner for over 60 years. Graduating from Yale, MIT and NYU, he was a practitioner before joining the Boston College faculty in 1967. In 1985, he became a faculty member at the Humphrey School of the University of Minnesota and remains as Professor Emeritus.
In "Urban Planning in Planet Earth's 'Tragedy of the Commons", Professor Bolan explores the immediate challenges from climate change and environmental destruction. The critical problems lie in (1) the rapid growth of urban population throughout the globe, (2) the global dominance of today's corporatist-oligopolistic economy including its power over governmental and social institutions, and (3) the challenges arising from new technology, including artificial intelligence, robotics, agriculture and warfare.
These contemporary forces require a new approach to the problems of urban growth and development if we are to adequately address Planet Earth's 'Tragedy of the Commons.' The final chapters recommend a broader scope of transdisciplinary education for urban planning along with improvements in other forms of education to provide greater social responsibility from both corporate and political leaders.
Critique: Expertly written, organized and presented, "Urban Planning in Planet Earth's Tragedy of the Commons" is an informative and thought-provoking work of meticulous scholarship and will prove to be an extraordinarily valued resource for both professional and non-professional readers with an interest in contemporary environmental, demographic, economic, and international political issues. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, activists, governmental policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Urban Planning in Planet Earth's Tragedy of the Commons" is also readily available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).
The Health/Medicine Shelf
9798600377530, $11.99, PB, 81pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: An emerging consensus of nutritional experts advocate a high-fiber, whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet for protection against heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, many cancers and many other deadly diseases. Only a WFPB diet has successfully reversed atherosclerotic plaque in coronary arteries in humans.
Why doesn't everyone eat a WFPB diet? The federal and state governments of the United States (and other industrialized democracies) do not allow health insurance companies to charge unhealthy people more based on risk. This prohibition has become widespread since the adoption of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. The unintended results have been skyrocketing healthcare costs and epidemics of obesity, type 2 diabetes and chronic disease.
Now with a carefully reading of "Get Healthy: An easy way to eat satisfying, high-fiber meals and stay motivated" by Christopher Crennen, anyone can protect themselves and their loved ones from many chronic diseases by adopting a WFPB diet. An amazing 60% of American calories are from added fats and oils, refined grains and added sugars. Processed foods and animal foods have little or no fiber. Whole plant foods (vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds) are high in fiber. The secret of healthy, permanent weight loss is simple: Eat more fiber.
"Get Healthy" offers a motivational program and a radically simple way to prepare healthy meals. These make adopting a WFPB diet much easier.
Critique: Expertly written, organized and presented, "Get Healthy: An easy way to eat satisfying, high-fiber meals and stay motivated" is an extraordinarily informative and thoroughly 'user friendly' instructional guide and DIY manual that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Health & Nutrition collections. It should be noted for personal and professional reading lists that "Get Healthy: An easy way to eat satisfying, high-fiber meals and stay motivated" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
The Self-Help Shelf
Glad to Be Human: Adventures in Optimism
The Tiny Press
9781642502466, $16.95, PB, 236pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In a world so often filled with distressing news and bewildering violence, being "human" often gets a bad rap. In "Glad to Be Human: Adventures in Optimism", author Irene O'Garden's message is that we should rejoice in everyday reasons to smile, think positively, and enjoy the gift of life.
"Glad To Be Human: Adventures in Optimism" reminds us of the radiance of human existence. From kitchens to gardens to busy city streets, all around, in our everyday life, we can find plenty of reasons to feel gratitude and hope, peace and joy.
Comprised of a collection of essays, "Glad to Be Human: Adventures in Optimism" explores a wide range of practical reasons to celebrate life. In one essay, Irene describes the simple pleasure that comes from clearing clutter off a desk and in another, the thrill of visiting the Statue of Liberty. As a kind of grand finale is her Pushcart Prize-winning essay, "Glad To Be Human."
One simple message. Through contemplation, meditation and with literary style, "Glad to Be Human: Adventures in Optimism" invites readers to view life through a positive lens. From small, daily activities to journeys overseas, Irene has a knack for finding beauty and meaning in all life's adventures (even in our deepest pain and suffering) helping all of us feel glad to be human.
Critique: If ever there was a time for "Glad to Be Human: Adventures in Optimism" it is in these dark days of pandemic. Blending observational wisdom with joyous insight and inspiration, "Glad to Be Human: Adventures in Optimism" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Glad to Be Human: Adventures in Optimism" is readily available in a digital book format as well (Kindle, $14.99).
Editorial Note: Irene O'Garden has won (or been nominated for) prizes in nearly every writing category from stage to e-screen, hardcovers, children's books, as well as literary magazines and anthologies. Her critically acclaimed play Women on Fire (Samuel French), starring Judith Ivey, played to sold-out houses at Off-Broadway's Cherry Lane Theatre, and was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award. O'Garden's new memoir, Risking the Rapids: How My Wilderness Adventure Healed My Childhood was published by Mango Press in January 2019.
Stand Up to Depression
Kathi Fairbend, MS RPT
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781977217608, $14.95, PB, 106pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Stand Up to Depression: How To Activate The Body Mind Miracle and Defeat Depression" is a revolutionary guide to using one's musculature (harnessing the power of proper posture) to heal one's mind. Complete with patient vignettes and simple-to-follow exercises, "Stand Up to Depression" gives non-specialist general readers all they need to reverse the hobbling effects of depression on the body, which can simultaneously revolutionize one's outlook and energy.
The underlying message is that "Stand Up to Depression" offers a gentle, reassuring, yet transformational program that can help transform both the posture and mood of a depressed person to those of a non-depressed person.
Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "Stand Up to Depression" is an extraordinary and effective DIY style instructional guide that is unreservedly recommended reading for anyone having to deal with depression or other mood disorders -- especially in this troubled time of pandemic. While especially appropriate for community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Stand Up to Depression" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
The General Fiction Shelf
Knock on Wood
Leslie Tall Manning
9780960017737, $15.99, PB, 452pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In 1978 fourteen-year-old Billy Baker is the first into the pond that early summer day. Ten minutes later, his lifeless body is pulled from the chilly water, his lips like two slivers of blue ice. Billy Baker dies -- but only for a little while. Thirty-nine days later, he emerges from a coma. But he is not alone.
Twenty years later, in 1994, Billy (AKA William) is turning thirty. He forgets some letters in the alphabet. He can't set a table properly. He still believes it's the disco era. And he can't remember that day at the pond. But the young boy William used to be has never left his side.
A brain-damaged hero. An unrequited love. A lottery windfall. A jealous brother. A memory hidden just below the surface -- sharp contrasts of sunshiny music and life's dark periphery are delicately mingled in this extraordinary tale, putting a new twist on the age-old question: Is it possible to find the way home again when one's memory is nothing more than a blank slate?
Critique: A deftly written, original, and inherently fascinating novel that features elements of 'magical realism', "Knock On Wood" showcases author Leslie Tall Manning's impressive and narrative driven storytelling talents. A fully entertaining and thought-provoking read, "Knock On Wood" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Knock On Wood' is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Brunch and Other Obligations
She Writes Press
9781631528545, $16.95 pbk / $8.69 Kindle 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The only thing reclusive bookworm Nora, high-powered attorney Christina, and supermom-in-training Leanne ever had in common was their best friend, Molly. When Molly dies, she leaves mysterious gifts and cryptic notes for each of her grieving best friends, along with one final request: that these three mismatched "frenemies" have brunch together every month for a year.
Critique: Written by novelist Suzanne Nugent with many a heart wrenching scene and an especially witty prose, "Brunch and Other Obligations" deftly explores the intricate dynamics of girlhood acquaintances who are forced to reconnect as women. A thoroughly upbeat and fully entertaining novel from cover to cover, "Brunch and Other Obligations" will remind the reader that there is always hope for getting through the hard times in life with a lot of patience, humor -- and a standing brunch date. Certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Brunch and Other Obligations" is also readily available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $8.69).
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781684716449, $16.76, PB, 294pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Darcy and Danielle Coulter, the beautiful twin daughters of a wealthy New York power couple, had not spoken to each other in fifteen year, not since something despicable occurred at the boarding school they attended in Richmond, Virginia. It tore them apart, physically and emotionally.
As estranged sisters, they lived separate, but interesting lives -- one in Boston and the other in Washington D.C. The hurt and anger each felt weighed heavily on them but they made no attempt to reconcile.
The story follows the girls as adults, until after a series of strange coincidences, they are forced to meet face-to-face at their father's deathbed, There they confront the lies and deceptions that had caused their estrangement and had so negatively impacted their lives. They learn the convoluted details of their father's last Will & Testament that will change their lives forever.
Critique: In "Despicable Lies", novelist Peggy Chernow demonstrates a genuine flair for crafted characters that are memorable and relatable, then deftly embed them into a narrative driven story that fully engages the readers' rapt attention from cover to cover. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Despicable Lies" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).
The Indian Hero and the Old American Man
Partridge Publishing Singapore
9781543751239, $28.35, HC, 198pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Indian Hero and the Old American Man" by Joshua Cody is the story of a thirty-seven-year-old virgin, known as the Indian Hero. He is a man who has not consummated his marriage of twelve years. To top it off, he has a gold-digging girlfriend who has not slept with him in five years, an employer who owes him a year's salary, and a dream to produce his original screenplay.
But when the Hero's path crosses with that of an elderly American man living in Saudi Arabia, everything is about to change. After the old American invites the Hero on an eight-day vacation to Thailand to heal from his financial and emotional woes, the Hero looks forward to the respite away from his challenges in Abu Dhabi and India without any idea that the American's goal is to recruit a go-go bar girl to take his virginity.
Despite the American's warnings to the Hero to not fall in love with the beautiful bar girl in Bangkok, he does. But will she reciprocate his feelings or leave him a lonely man just like all the other women in his life?
Critique: Dealing with the coming-of-age themes of friendship and self-discovery, "The Indian Hero and the Old American Man" effectively showcases author Joshua Cody's genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven storytelling skills that fully engage the reader from beginning to end. While particularly commended for community and academic library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Indian Hero and the Old American Man" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781543751222, $16.08) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
9781937556129, $14.95, PB, 262pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Between being saddled with a goofy name, to the way she misquotes proverbs, to her quirky style of dress, Plum Tardy always feels out of synch with other people. But even if others do seem to move in lockstep toward successes Plum can't even imagine, while she erratically leaps through life as if it were some giant hopscotch court, that doesn't explain the startling way her life unravels.
Plum catches her fiance, Noah Rowle, in the act with sexy Claire Denton, his partner in a real estate deal designed to allow the soul-sucking Budget-Mart chain to gobble up blocks of land across the country. Thinking her life couldn't get any worse, she also learns he's cheated her financially. Desperate to flee, Plum stumbles on a bag of cash. Assuming that to be the booty Noah took from her, she runs off with it, toward a destination that's just a name on a map. There, Plum finds a quirky town that needs someone like her. In one crazy leap, she not only makes that place her home, she thinks she's hit on a way to stop to Noah and Claire's land score.
But while Plum tries to help her new town halt the steamroller of progress, even with her unconventional perspective, she could not have predicted the way her past would collide with her present. Will her offbeat approach save her, or land her in behind bars in hopscotch hell?
Critique: Showcasing a genuine flair for originality and the kind of deftly crafted narrative storytelling that keeps the fully engaged attention of the reader from first page to last, "Hopscotch Life" by novelist Kris Neri will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hopscotch Life" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480883680, $17.99, PB, 272pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Alison has been sober for seven years; she seems to be happily married, and in love with her husband, Dean. Then, a series of dramatic events reveal stunning secrets that take her spiraling back into the darkness of addiction.
When her husband's drinking exposes his infidelity, Alison's world crumbles. As Dean hits rock bottom, Alison is devastated, and she soon finds herself drawn back to alcohol and drugs. Her daily existence is filled with darkness and fear, and her marriage is rocked to its core. Alison finally looks to her Christian faith to help her fight for her own survival, and recovery, once more.
Althought a work of fiction, "Fractured" by Alison Pearce is based on a true story of love, addiction, betrayal, and forgiveness. This personal narrative tells the dramatic story of a woman dealing with her journey through her own personal hell, and back.
Critique: An inherently absorbing read from first page to last, "Fractured" showcases author Alison Pearce's genuine flair for the kind of 'pitch perfect' narrative storytelling that fully engages her readers. While very highly recommended for all community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Fractured" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
The Romantic Fiction Shelf
A Horse Called Bicycle
9780993130977, $17.00, PB, 258pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Roxy has found love -- but is it enough? In "A Horse Called Bicycle" (the second installment of the author Roxana Valea's 'Polo Diaries' series), polo player Roxy goes back to Argentina a year after the events in Single in Buenos Aires, filled with dreams of settling down with the man she loves.
This time, once again, Argentina is full of surprises and things are not what they appear to be. Or maybe they're exactly what they're meant to be, as a fortune-teller informs her. Roxy takes a leap of faith and follows her dreams once again. She spends time at glamorous party venues of Buenos Aires and travels to the rough and wild pampas.
Along the way, Roxy's friends support and champion her quest for love, but when things get out of hand, Roxy realizes she needs to listen to her own inner voice and must make a hard choice. Two paths open in front of her, each one with far-reaching consequences. Which will she choose?
Critique: As a novelist, author Roxana Valea is a master of the romance genre and "A Horse Called Bicycle" is another of her deftly crafted and fully entertaining stories and one which will be an immediate and enduringly popular additions to community library Contemporary Romance Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated romance fans that "A Horse Called Bicycle" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
The Rising Place
Wild Rose Press
9781509230655, $13.99, PB, 198pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis; When a young lawyer meets Emily Hodge (who is a 75-year-old spinster shunned by her hometown society), he cannot understand why she lives such a solitary and seemingly forgotten life. But the letters she wrote during World War II she leaves for him reveal how her choices caused her to be ostracized-but definitely not forgotten by those who loved her.
Critique: An original and inherently fascinating novel of unrequited love, betrayal, and murder in a small southern town, "The Rising Place" by novelist David Armstrong is the story of a unique historical romance that will prove to be an enduringly popular and appreciated addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Rising Place" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Helen Currie Foster
Stuart's Creek Press
9781732722903, $11.99, PB, 326pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Real estate's hot in once peaceful Coffee Creek, Texas -- hotter than lawyer Alice MacDonald Greer has ever seen. The Hill Country's beauty attracts both the good and the evil -- as an unscrupulous developer muscles in, abusing undocumented workers and menacing his neighbors.
Ignoring threats, Alice challenges him in court. When one of her clients is shot dead, and another nearly suffocated in a wine vat, Alice has a target on her back. A devious mastermind is intent on stopping her -- permanently. Is she snakebit? She'll need more than legal skills to foil a scheme that threatens her town, her clients, her life!
Critique: With her extraordinary and narrative driven storytelling style, author and novelist Helen Currie Foster once again exhibits her mastery of the mystery genre with the publication of "Ghost Cat", the newest addition to her consistently entertaining 'Alice MacDonald Greer' series of deftly crafted suspense/thriller novels. An inherently fascinating read filled with many an unexpected twist and turn, "Ghost Cat" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs that "Ghost Cat" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
La Vida Segunda: The Second Life
Esther Escott & Charles Escott
9781950562251, $12.95, PB, 239pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: New York surgeon Will McKeen is still recovering from a heart attack when he enters California's Santa Cruz Mountains to begin his early retirement. There he receives a shock. Demented killers are at work among the misty, fog-strewn redwood trees he has dreamed about for years.
Less than a mile from his cabin, a 12-year-old boy tramping in a dry creek bed comes across a corpse in a peculiar location. Will argues with the local Sheriff's Deputy over this strange location. How did the body get there?
Nearby, a metalsmithing student creates an elaborate funerary urn, which his landlady names "La Vida Segunda" for its purpose of storing human ashes for the afterlife. As Will sits beside the student, helping him to hand-finish the urn, he becomes drawn into a spell that hangs like wood smoke over the forest, involving the urn, the local murder, and more -- a wildflower painter who runs away at night sending a curse into the rainy darkness.
Who is the murderer? No one knows but the reader!
Critique: An unique and distinctive novel comprised of several converging storylines, "La Vida Segunda: The Second Life: An Idyllic Life in the Redwood Forest Begins with Murder" by Esther Escott (along with assistance from her husband Charles Escott) is an original, complex, deftly scripted, and thoroughly entertaining read from cover to cover. This is the kind of kind of novel 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 community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs that "La Vida Segunda: The Second Life" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.95).
The Grottos of Barigoule
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480881600, $25.95, HC, 310pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: It is an historical and documented fact that on April of 1545 a horrific massacre of more than 3,000 "heretics" in southern France occurred. In one small village, twenty-five women and children hid in a secret grotto in the hills above town. But they were betrayed. Royal and papal troops built a fire in the mouth of the grotto and murdered them all by suffocation.
Two American couples living in the present village of Barigoule and enjoying the peace and pleasures of Provence discover the history of the local atrocity. They resolve to unearth the secrets still hidden in the deadly grotto, now forgotten after four and a half centuries. But they are frustrated at every turn by the stubborn silence of the locals. Worse, the few who offer to help are murdered.
Finally, they are aided by a French police inspector and his partner, a lovely Muslim woman (and a deadly shot). When an ancient document is discovered that exposes the fantastic outcome of the killings at the grotto, all concerned are forced to flee for their lives until they take refuge in the cave itself, where the savage conclusion to their quest takes place.
Critique: "The Grottos Of Barigoule" is an impressively crafted and simply riveting novel by an author with an extraordinary flair for the kind of narrative driven storytelling that compels the reader's total attention from first page to last. Original, entertaining, and an extraordinary literary accomplishment by novelist Frank Frost, "The Grottos Of Barigoule" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections.
An Improbable Spy
David Paul Collins
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781532080104, $20.99, PB, 262pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Tehran was well known to American businessman Jack Devlin until the day everything changed. When radical Islamic students stormed the US embassy on November 4, 1979, Jack narrowly escaped the revolutionary chaos, leaving behind 80 percent of his business and 100 percent of his heart.
To get his beautiful girlfriend, Farideh, out of Iran, Jack accepts a devil's bargain with the CIA and MI6. He must slip back into Tehran, where the militant students are holding dozens of Americans hostage in their own embassy. His part of the bargain is to steal the coveted client ledger of the world's most powerful arms dealer, Mustafa Khaki, Farideh's father.
Surprised by an additional assignment, Jack is also ordered to strip a KGB defector of details on Russian collusion with Iran and their plan to eliminate the American hostages while infiltrating the highest levels of Ayatollah Khomeini's government.
From the damp cellars of KGB headquarters to the cold chill of British espionage to the blistering heat of the Kuwaiti desert, and in an erroneous twist, it seems that not all the turncoats are Russians!
Critique: A simply riveting read from cover to cover, in "An Improbable Spy", author David Paul Collins reveals himself as a master of suspense with many an unexpected plot twist and unanticipated turn in the deftly crafted pages of his action/adventure novel. While certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated suspense thriller fans that "An Improbable Spy" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
The Friends of Eddy Relish
Paul Dalzell & Gerard Radley
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781728307930, $20.99, PB, 284pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When failed Hollywood actor Eddy Relish falls into the hands of bible-quoting gangster, Bill Blake, he is compelled to become a drug mule.
But Eddy is menaced not only by Bill Blake but also by Abdul Madbul, an Albanian superspy turned Islamist terrorist. A chance encounter in Paris makes Eddy the only person who can identify this terrorist.
Cynthia Tzin, whose Hollywood bar is a front for Chinese intelligence, rescues Eddy. and offers Eddy a Faustian pact: become a Chinese intelligence asset, and she will protect Eddy and help rebuild his Hollywood career.
Eddy's first assignment is simple -- become a star again and bait a trap set to catch Madbul. The trap is set at a Las Vegas party hosted by a Chinese billionaire. Madbul and Bill both appear at the party to collect their dues from Eddy. Cynthia's abilities are put to the test to ensure Eddy emerges alive and unscathed from this ordeal.
Critique: Comprised of one cliff hanger plot twist after another, "The Friends Of Eddy Relish" by the writing team of Paul Dalzell and Gerard Radley is a deftly crafted and compelling read from cover to cover. While certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Friends Of Eddy Relish" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
D. M. Borne
Aurora Book Co.
9781732928473, $10.00, PB, 214pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When the body of a New York senator's daughter is found floating atop a pond in rural Blackwater, Quebec, Canada, the Quebec Provincial Police, also known as the Surete du Quebec, assigns the Montreal born and U. S. citizen Inspector Jacqui Simon to the case, and just like Jacqui, this murder investigation is more complex than it appears.
Critique: "Borderline" is the debut crime novella in author Dawn Borner's 'Jacqui Simon novella crime series. A fully entertain, original, and deftly scripted suspense thriller mystery, "Borderline" is a simply riveting read from beginning to end and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs that "Borderline" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Aaron A. Reed
9798605947820, $19.95, PB, 229pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Insecure college senior Orion loves music, books, and his best friend Niko. When the two of them find a secret basement in their rambling old off-campus house, at first Orion's thrilled. It's another secret to share, an adventure to maybe, at last, bring them closer together. But something's wrong: the basement doesn't end.
Blandly decorated halls stretch on for miles past peeling wallpaper, empty bedrooms, and countless stairwells always leading down. Soon they realize Downstairs is a snarled tangle of possibilities. Something down there multiplies everything: architecture, emotions, even people. Together they must navigate an increasingly dangerous labyrinth filled with two-faced doppelgangers, treacherous architecture, and long-buried secrets.
Most dangerous of all is Orion's consuming obsession: somewhere down there, is there a Niko who loves him back?
Critique: An inherently interesting and original novel that plays with the concept of an inter-dimensional multiverse that will be of particular attraction to dedicated science fiction and horror fantasy fans, "Subcutanean 30287" is an unreservedly interesting and skillfully crafted read from first page to last. While especially recommended for community library LGBT and Horror Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Subcutanean 30287" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).
Gravity is Heartless
She Writes Press
9781631528729, $16.95, PB, 360pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The year is 2050: automated cities, vehicles, and homes are now standard, artificial Intelligence, CRISPR gene editing, and quantum computing have become a reality, and climate change is in full swing -- sea levels are rising, clouds have disappeared, and the planet is heating up.
Quinn Buyers is a climate scientist who'd rather be studying the clouds than getting ready for her wedding day. But when an unexpected tragedy causes her to lose everything, including her famous scientist mother, she embarks upon a quest for answers that takes her across the globe - and she uncovers friends, loss and love in the most unexpected of places along the way. Gravity Is Heartless is bold, speculative fiction that sheds a hard light on the treatment of our planet even as it offers a breathtaking sense of hope for the future.
What will the world look like in thirty years' time? How will humanity survive the oncoming effects of climate change? Set in the near future and inspired by the world around us, "Gravity Is Heartless" by Sarah Lahey is a romantic science fiction adventure that imagines a world on the cusp of climate catastrophe.
Critique: The first volume in a new 'The Heartless' series, "Gravity Is Heartless" is an inherently fascinating and fully entertaining read that showcases author Sarah Lahey's impressive flair for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling style that keeps the reader's attention fully focused from cover to cover. While especially recommended for community library Science Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated science fiction fans that "Gravity Is Heartless" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).
The Adventures of Dr. Ross A. Ling, Planetary Surveyor
Jason James Alan Green
9781678954208, $9.99, PB, 173pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: With the invention of the super-luminal tachyon impulse thruster, the dawn of interstellar space travel has arrived. Captain Felicia Maynard Wilhelm and the characteristically foolhardy Dr. Ross A. Ling set out to explore the galaxy and its habitable planets in one perilous adventure after another. Dr. Ross A. Ling and his handy, amusing side-kick wife-bots explore many planets with bizarre, surreal, surprising, mysterious, and captivating secrets that all together reveal a staggering human and galaxy origins discovery!
Critique: An original, entertaining, and deftly crafted novel, "The Adventures of Dr. Ross A. Ling, Planetary Surveyor" by novelist Jason Green is a fun read from cover to cover. While highly recommended, especially for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated SciFi fans that "The Adventures of Dr. Ross A. Ling, Planetary Surveyor" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
9781647040505, $14.99, PB, 362pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Tipsy is a gifted artist who cannot ignore her nutty friends or her vindictive ex-husband -- but as a lifelong reluctant clairvoyant, she's always avoided dead people. When Tipsy and her three children move into the house on Bennett Street, she realizes some ghosts won't be ignored.
Till death do us part didn't pan out for Jane and Henry Mott, who've haunted the house for nearly a century. Tipsy's marriage was downright felicitous when compared to Jane and Henry's ill-fated union. Jane believes Henry killed her and then himself, and Henry vehemently denies both accusations. Unfortunately, neither phantom remembers that afternoon in 1923.
Tipsy doesn't know whether to side with Jane, who seems to be hiding something under her southern belle charm, or Henry, a mercurial creative genius. Jane and Henry draw Tipsy into their conundrum, and she uncovers secrets long concealed under layers of good manners, broken promises and soupy Lowcountry air.
Living with ghosts, however, takes a toll on her health, and possibly even her sanity! As she struggles to forge a new path for herself and her children, Tipsy has a chance to set Jane and Henry free, and release the ghosts of her own past.
Critique: Impressively original and solidly entertaining from beginning to end, "Charleston Green" clearly showcases author Stephanie Alexander's genuine flair for deftly crafted fantasy fiction that will completely engage the reader's full and appreciative attention. Fully on par with the Thorne Smith "Topper" novels, "Charleston Green" is certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Charleston Green" is also readily available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).
Geoff Habiger & Coy Kissee
c/o Shadow Dragon Press
9781932926859, $14.95, PB, 220pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Saul works for Eliot Ness, who is trying to take down Chicago's most dangerous gangster. But only Saul, Ness, and Saul's new partner, Agent Christian Wright, know the true danger that Capone represents.
As a vampire, Saul is stronger, faster, and his wounds heal rapidly, but he is also exhausted, constantly fatigued, and has a million questions about his new "life". An offer from Al Capone to answer these questions comes with a price that Saul is unwilling to pay, and when the mysterious Mr. Brown reappears, Saul learns that there is a war brewing that will put any spat between human gangsters to shame.
While Saul struggles to keep himself from becoming a monster like Capone, he and Christian must work together, a task that is easier said than done. Christian sees Saul as an abomination, an affront to God, and would rather stake Saul than work with him, but understands that a war between vampires would be disastrous. This fledgling partnership must succeed, or Chicago may pay the price of its failure!
Critique: An inherently fascinating and impressively original fantasy novel that melds together a world of vampires and mobsters, "Untouchable" by the writing team Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee is a simply compelling and exceptionally entertaining read from cover to cover. Certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all vampire novel enthusiasts that "Untouchable" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
The Elite Way: Faces of Prophecy
9781734250503, $18.99, PB, 386pp, www.amazon.com
"The Elite Way: Faces of Prophecy" is the story of four martial artists, Rijo, Jake, Richard, and Kao who enter a world-class fight tournament. Each of them hope to prove their dominance in the fight world, win a half a million dollars and an endorsement deal with a well-known fight magazine. Each of them are anxious to be the last man standing.
But none of them had any idea a freak disaster would occur, abruptly ending the tournament and causing them to be transported to another planet and awakened in a place called Waywar's Gate. Here, these four martial artists will learn to adapt their fighting styles and personal motives to the Way. They are no longer fighting for personal gain, but rather as a team to protect the entire universe.
But how, when no one on the team wants to be here and two of their best fighters can't seem to get along? If they fail, they will return to Earth to be an outcasted disgrace from society, and forever overlooked. But if they succeed, they will be trained and prepped as one of the universe's greatest defense -- The Elites.
Critique: Impressively original and entertaining, "Faces of Prophecy" is the first book in author Vincent Bowe's new action/adventure science fiction series 'The Elite Way' and will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated science fiction fans that "faces of Prophecy" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
The Political Science Shelf
The GOP's Lost Decade
30 Point Press
9781732185517, $27.99, HC, 220pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When Jim Renacci lost his Chevrolet dealership in the federal government's orchestrated bankruptcy of General Motors, he decided to run for office. In 2010, he was elected to the House of Representatives from Ohio's 16th District, joining a wave of 107 newly elected congressmen, mostly Republicans, who vowed to change the way Washington works.
Yet almost from the day he arrived at the Capitol, Renacci encountered pervasive and entrenched dysfunction, perpetuated by both parties. During his next eight years in office, he became increasingly frustrated by the inability of Congress to get anything done.
What he saw was a system that wasn't working because no one has an incentive to make it work. Creating good policy, passing meaningful legislation, compromising with others in support of our democratic ideals -- these simply weren't priorities for most people working inside the Beltway.
As a successful businessman for more than 30 years, Renacci knew how to turn around struggling companies. He thought he could apply those same skills to ending runaway spending in Washington. Instead, he found many of his fellow congressmen unable or unwilling to understand the budgeting process and the long-term financial consequences of their actions.
Ten years after Renacci and his fellow lawmakers started down a path to change our government, many have left in frustration. And the situation in Washington has only gotten worse.
Now in the pages of "The GOP's Lost Decade: An Inside View of Why Washington Doesn't Work", Renacci takes his readers inside the halls of government, offering a firsthand look at why and how Congress fails to do its job. Calling out his fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, Renacci pulls back the curtain on politicians' inaction and offers some solutions for getting the federal government working for the people once again.
Critique: Offering experienced driven insights that go behind the scenes that only congressmen and investigative journalists usual know about, "The GOP's Lost Decade: An Inside View of Why Washington Doesn't Work" is an extraordinarily informed and informative expose of how Congress is collectively failing its in its mission. An inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, "The GOP's Lost Decade" should be considered a critically important addition to community, college, and university library Contemporary Political Science collections and supplemental curriculum reading lists. It should be noted for students, academia, political activists, non-specialist general readers, and all members of the Republican Party today, that "The GOP's Lost Decade" is also readily available in a digital format (Kindle, $8.69).
The Coloring Book Shelf
Colorful Chicago: Explore & Color
Laura Lahm, author
Retsu Takahashi, illustrator
9780989897242, $14.95, PB, 40pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The collaborative project of author Laura Lahm and illustrator Retsu Takahasi, "Colorful Chicago: Explore & Color: is a combination travel guide and coloring book featuring famous landmarks and hidden gems of this vibrant American midwest city. A map and location descriptions make itinerary planning a snap when in Chicago or for exploring from home with whimsical illustrations that will delight the most adventurous artist.
Adults and children will love to explore and color from Lincoln Park Zoo to the Garden of the Phoenix in Jackson Park and many places in between! The 33 black and white illustrations feature some of Chicago's most unique locations including Promontory Point, Crown Fountain, Sweet Mandy B's, DuSable Museum of African American History, The Newberry, National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, Wrigley Field, The 606, Robie House, Chinatown and Clarendon Bocce Court, and more!
Printing on one side of high-quality paper eliminates the next image peek through as well as reduces marker and gel pen bleed. Perforations at the top allow for seamless removal making the easy transition from book to art display.
Critique: Designed, illustrated and printed 100% in the USA, and very highly recommended for visitors and city residents alike, "Colorful Chicago: Explore & Color" is a fun and informative way to pass the time or plan a Chicago day trip or weekend adventure.
Editorial Note: Restu Takahashi is a free-lance illustrator with a masters in illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
After years of intrepid travel for both work and pleasure, Laura Lahm is the creator and publisher of the Colorful Cities - Explore & Color(R) travel guide and coloring book series which feature vibrant cities around the world.
The Philosophy Shelf
Michael J. Snow
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781546292388, $25.93, HC, 277pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Mindful Philosophy" by Michael J. Snow is a wholly life affirming and positive account of how spiritual evolution is the domain of all of us, whether we realize and accept it or not. It is very practical and down to earth.
"Mindful Philosophy" explains how the great spiritual traditions of the world agree to a surprisingly wide extent as to what, in essence, a human being is comprised, how the truth of really and truly what we are may be realized, and under what circumstances true and lasting happiness can be availed.
"Mindful Philosophy" shows how what is now known as mindfulness is in truth part of the essential make up of us all and how it comprises something of the utmost value if it is perceived as a path not just to therapeutic well-being but to spiritual realization.
"Mindful Philosophy" outlines just how accessible this subject is because it is essentially practical. It uses examples from across the globe and down the ages from many traditions, cultures, and religions but does so in a manner free of dogma and with a light touch.
The reader is encouraged to investigate and given various exercises and ideas to use. One is left with the feeling that the outcome and destiny of all of us is actually blissful and full of love and well-being, and that is entirely within reach of all of us if we are prepared to approach this vast subject with an open mind and an open heart.
Critique: Thoughtful and thought-provoking throughout, "Mindful Philosophy" is an deftly written and inherently interesting study that will prove to be a well appreciated addition to community and academic library Contemporary Philosophy collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Mindful Philosophy" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781546292371, $18.67) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Biography Shelf
Jennifer Juniper: A Journey Beyond The Muse
9781912666614, $24.95, HC, 300pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Jenny Boyd's extraordinary life is the stuff of movies and novels. It is a story of incredible people and places experienced at a pivotal time in the 20th century. As an up-and-coming young model, Jenny found herself at the heart of Carnaby Street in London, immersed in the fashion and pop culture of the Swinging 60s. With boyfriend Mick Fleetwood, sister Pattie, George Harrison and the rest of the Beatles, she lived the London scene. But as a natural Flower Child, Jenny soon became part of the counter-culture in San Francisco during the Flower Power era, witnessing the Summer of Love; she was the inspiration for Donovan's famous song, Jennifer Juniper, and her photograph was featured inside the box set of his eponymous album A Gift from a Flower to a Garden.
After working in The Beatles shop, Apple, the first of its kind, Jenny attended Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in India to study meditation with her sister and the Beatles, witnessing their creativity and the genesis of songs that would later appear on the White Album.
Despite being attuned to the spiritual bloom and innocence of the 60s, Jenny also experienced first-hand the turmoil and decadence of the 70s and 80s. Her two marriages to Mick Fleetwood, founder member of Fleetwood Mac, brought her to the forefront of the world of rock and roll - and its fame, money, drugs and heartache.
Struggling in the darkness to find and develop her own voice and identity, Jenny went to college, achieving a Masters in Counseling Psychology and a PhD in Humanities -- her dissertation on musicians and creativity became the critically-acclaimed book "Musicians in Tune".
Jenny has spent her life in the company of some of the greatest musical and cultural influencers of the last 50 years -- and the journey she takes to finding her own sense of self and creative ability makes her autobiography "Jennifer Juniper: A Journey Beyond The Muse" a truly captivating and inspiring story.
Critique: A deftly written and inherently fascinating read from first page to last, "Jennifer Juniper: A Journey Beyond The Muse" is an impressively informative and exceptionally candid account of an interesting life lived out in interesting times in the company of interesting people. While unreservedly recommended for community, college, and academic library Contemporary Biography collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of rock music fans in general and Beatles fans in particular that "Jennifer Juniper" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: Jenny Boyd continues to be a sought-after speaker on the subject of musicians, culture, and creativity. Jenny has lectured on musicians and creativity at Michigan State University and has appeared on radio and tv programs across the US and in the UK.
The Money/Finance Shelf
The Legacy Planning & Conversation Guide
9798628359631, $14.95, PB, 115pp, www.amazon.com
"The Legacy Planning & Conversation Guide: A Workbook for End-of-Life Planning" by Chris Bentley is a thorough and compassionate framework which gently guides couples through the discussion they would prefer to never have -- how to move forward in life after one of them passes away.
When a couple makes the courageous decision to have the end-of-life discussion, using this workbook, they jointly create a plan that creates clarity for the surviving partner. As the topics and questions are addressed, confusion and anxiety get replaced with clarity and confidence. For the surviving partner, that is a gift that is priceless.
Critique: Expertly written, organized and presented, "The Legacy Planning & Conversation Guide: A Workbook for End-of-Life Planning" is an ideal and comprehensive DIY planning guide that is thoroughly 'user friendly' and step-by-step from first page to last. "The Legacy Planning & Conversation Guide: A Workbook for End-of-Life Planning" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended instructional manual and guide for any senior citizen wanting to put their affairs in order for the benefit of their family and their legacy.
Editorial Note: Chris Bentley operates a full-service advisory and wealth management practice in Edina, Minnesota. Chris is a highly credentialed financial advisor having earned the following designations: Certified Financial Planner, Certified Life Underwriter Certified Retirement Planning Counselor and Behavioral Financial Analyst. As a financial advisor for more than a decade, Chris has helped many clients put their financial house in order after the loss of a loved one. He understands that widows and widowers need far more assistance after a devastating loss compared to his other clients. This hit home when his father died in 2007, leaving his mother a widow. In addition to his advisory practice, Chris serves as the Executive Director of Wings for Widows, a public charity that provides financial coaching and guidance to new widows in the Twin Cities. Over the years he has worked with many charities including Make-A-Wish Foundation of Minnesota, the Minnesota Chapter of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association, Fraser, Pinky Swear, Mobility Worldwide, Cornerstone, Feed My Starving Children and 360 Communities.
James A. Cox
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