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Letters Across The Pacific
April Martin Beltz
9781647190088, $18.99, PB, 212pp
Synopsis: Bob and Mariellen met at a USO dance in the summer of 1942. Mariellen was a college student at UCLA and Bob was a cadet, training in Santa Ana. They saw each other almost every weekend through the summer and fall and married that winter, before Bob was shipped overseas. "Letters Across The Pacific: A Love Story In The Time Of War" is a record about their life as a couple. A life they lived mostly through letters for the next ten years and through two wars.
Their letters are a series of time capsules. We glimpse into life lived in the States in the 40's as well as the South Pacific during WWII. We read the slang and the military jargon. We hear longing on both sides. We listen while they write of babies born and thunderstorms raging.
As time went on, Bob shares his feelings about phone calls, mail and the war. Mariellen continues to be supportive but is also dealing with the effects of staying home, pregnant, and terrified for her husbands safety.
Through WWII and the Korean War, they continue to navigate their lives through letters. More children arrive and their love endures, though there is visible pain on both sides of the pen.
Their letters were saved and treasured by both of them. The letters traveled the world and survived. "Letters Across The Pacific: A Love Story In The Time Of War " is the true account of their lives, told by them. It is a true testament to the greatest generation, and how their lives and love endured so much.
Critique: Illustrated with black/white photography, deftly compiled and edited by April Martin Beltz, and offering an inherently fascinating glimpse into the lives and times of a 'Greatest Generation' couple, "Letters Across The Pacific: A Love Story In The Time Of War" is an extraordinary and memorable read from first page to last. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library 20th Century American Biography and World War II History collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Letters Across The Pacific" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781647190088, $18.99).
The Health/Medicine Shelf
Andrew M. Faulk, M.D.
9781733429139, $24.95, HC, 300pp
Synopsis: When Dr. Andrew Faulk first learned he was HIV-positive, he was devastated for it certainly meant imminent death. Until then, he'd been an outstanding physician with years of intensive training. That day, facing the great divide of his life, he considered abandoning his medical career. But seeing the staggering needs of the gay community, he dedicated the remainder of his life to the fight against AIDS. Ultimately, Faulk participated in the care of approximately 50 patients who died, many his own peers -- including his partner.
Being HIV-positive, Dr. Faulk discovered something other doctors didn't experience -- in every patient he cared for, whatever the symptoms, he saw himself. As patients and friends died around him, at any time he, too, could have "stepped off the earth". Yet with intuition, insight and compassion, he brought peace and comfort whenever possible to those under his care. Now, after years of silence about his painful past, Faulk recounts those heroic years and tells this, his true story as doctor, patient and survivor in the pages of "My Epidemic: An AIDS Memoir of One Man's Struggle as Doctor, Patient and Survivor".
In a thoughtful epilogue, Faulk also compares the HIV and COVID-19 pandemics and explores the underlying deficiencies in the American healthcare system that left the nation vulnerable to the devastation of the coronavirus.
Critique: An absolutely essential and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library LGBTQ, AIDS/HIV, and Contemporary American Autobiography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "My Epidemic: An AIDS Memoir of One Man's Struggle as Doctor, Patient and Survivor" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781733429146, $16.95), and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: After training in San Francisco, an epicenter of the epidemic, in 1988 Andrew Faulk, M.D. moved to Los Angeles where he limited his practice to others with the disease. He now lives with his husband, Frank Jernigan, in San Francisco where he paints with shattered glass and is active in progressive politics.
The Music Shelf
I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie
Narrow Gate Books
9780998702315, $14.95, PB, 112pp
Synopsis: Compiled and written by "I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie: Old-school rock-and-roll like you've never read before" by Tamara Dever (who is the founder and creative director of TLC Book Design, a leading boutique book creation firm for publishers of all sizes with over 25 years of experience and 200+ awards) is a fun and informative compendium of entertaining, brain-teasing rock music trivia, puzzles, and games that combine a love of books with a love of classic rock and pop from the 1970s and 1980s.
Throughout, "I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie" are to be found re-imagined lyrics that appeal to the book lover and music lover alike and are certain to any music fan and bibliophile laugh out loud. Trivia pages link books with musicians and songs from the '70s and '80s. "I like big books and I cannot lie / You other authors can't deny / When a geek walks in with a giant tome / Or a textbook in your face / Then your tongue, gets tied in knots / And you know that text is hot..."
Critique: A great idea as a gift for music lovers, trivia buffs, authors, musicians, "I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie" will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to the personal reading lists of all dedicated rock music fans, as well as community, college, and university library Rock Music & Trivia collections.
The Psychology Shelf
Losing the Atmosphere, A Memoir
9781734674019, $20.00, PB, 470pp
Synopsis: Born in 1940s Brooklyn to a father prone to rages and an emotionally erratic mother, Vivian Conan grew up in two different worlds: Outside and Inside. Outside, she had friends, excelled in school, and was close to her cousins and brother. Inside, she saw faces that weren't hers in her bedroom mirror and was surrounded by an invisible Atmosphere that bathed her in the love and understanding she craved. Moving between these worlds enabled Vivian to survive her childhood but limited her ability to live fully as an adult. To others, her life seemed rich with work, friends, music, and boyfriends. But her mind and soul were filled with chaos and pain. Neither she nor her therapists could figure out why.
"Losing the Atmosphere, A Memoir: A Baffling Disorder, a Search for Help, and the Therapist Who Understood" is Vivian Conan's riveting account of her journey toward self-understanding and wholeness; her encounters with a string of more and less helpful therapists; and her unconventional relationship with the therapist who was finally able to guide her through the courageous, messy work healing required.
Told with honesty, humor, and grace, "Losing the Atmosphere" is essentially a never-too-late story about the growth possible for anyone with the courage to pursue it, and a testament to the redemptive power of love: not the perfect kind Vivian experienced in her imaginary world, but the imperfect kind that connects us, flawed human being to flawed human being, in the real world she lives in now.
Critique: Highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community, college, and university library Contemporary American Biography collections as an intensely personal, exceptionally informative, engagingly written, expressly thoughtful and thought-provoking memoir, "Losing the Atmosphere, A Memoir: A Baffling Disorder, a Search for Help, and the Therapist Who Understood" will be of particular and enduring interest to students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subjects of Dissociative Disorders and Popular Adolescent Psychology.
The General Fiction Shelf
A Rainbow Like You
9781775209133, $9.99, PB, 322pp
Synopsis: Adrian 'Jazzer' Johnson's gilded rock and roll career is the stuff of legend. From out of the dive bars of Long Beach, this high school dropout rocketed his band to the pinnacle of success. But after a whirlwind decade ended with him broken and questioning, Adrian disappeared.
Now back on tour after a year in exile, Adrian's still struggling and under pressure to deliver his next hit. The last thing he needs is to find a teen runaway hiding in his tour bus. As it turns out, Hastings Sinclair is a synesthete who can see music in color. But her offer to help color-blind Adrian unpack his creative block upends their lives in ways they never imagined.
Because Adrian's troubles run deep (beyond what any song can fix) and Hastings hasn't been up front about hers. When calamity strikes, a perfect storm of fates unleashes and caught in the crossfire are Adrian's band mates, a fame-shy beauty he falls hard for, and a scheming journalist with a vendetta. With everything he values suddenly on the line, can Adrian reconcile his own brash history? Or will he be forced to face the music in a way he never has before?
Critique: A deftly crafted and impressively original novel showcasing the narrative driven storytelling talents of novelist Andrea Fehsenfeld, "A Rainbow Like You" 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 "A Rainbow Like You" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
In the Shadow of Green Bamboos
C. L. Hoang
Willow Stream Publishing
9780989975629, $10.95, PB, 196pp
Synopsis: Comprised of stories of love, hope, resilience and survival drawn from the Vietnam War, "In the Shadow of Green Bamboos" by C. L. Hoang presents a series of snapshots in the lives of a cross-section of people, Vietnamese and American, whose worlds were torn asunder by that conflict. These captured moments, ordinary though they may seem, reveal the blessings of love and hope in the course of everyday life. The stories they tell also stand as testaments to the resilience and courage of survivors struggling to rebuild from the ashes of war.
Critique: Deftly crafted, thought-provoking, and inherently engaging, "In the Shadow of Green Bamboos" is a compelling literary experience that will be especially appreciated and recommended for community, college, and university library Asian American Literature & Fiction, Cultural Heritage Fiction, and War Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "In the Shadow of Green Bamboos" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Editorial Note: C. L. Hoang was born and raised in Vietnam during the war and came to the United States in the 1970's. Books, history, and travel are his hobbies. His first book, "Once upon a Mulberry Field", is a novel set in Vietnam at the height of the war. It is followed by "Rain Falling on Tamarind Trees:, an illustrated travelogue of his recent visit to the ancestral homeland.
Carlos Crosses The Line
Edward D. Webster
Casa de los Suenos Publishing
9780997032017, $24.95, HC, 308pp
Synopsis: Carlos Montoya crossed one line by forsaking his culture's unquestioning faith. He leapt past another, as he entered California illegally during the free-love, irreligious 1960s. There, three women tempted him to abandon more of his limits.
One sought to comfort him. One used him against her husband (his employer) in marital combat.
One demanded everything. That summer of 1968, he fled California, falsely accused, beaten, and terrified.
Twenty-six years later, in Michoacan Mexico, the beautiful Lilia Gomez arrives on Carlos's doorstep, challenging him to recall those days and to question his old transgressions. And lurking in his background, what must never be revealed, is the major crime that haunts his past.
Critique: An original and deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven storytelling that completely engages the reader's total attention from first page to last, "Carlos Crosses The Line: A Tale of Immigration, Temptation and Betrayal in the Sixties" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction and Hispanic American Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Carlos Crosses The Line: A Tale of Immigration, Temptation and Betrayal in the Sixties" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780997032024, $14.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
Katerina Tuckova, author
Veronique Firkusky, translator
9781542043151, $24.95, HC, 460pp
Synopsis: In 1945 the Allied forces liberate Nazi-occupied Brno, Moravia. For Gerta Schnirch, daughter of a Czech mother and a German father aligned with Hitler, it's not deliverance; it's a sentence. She has been branded an enemy of the state. Caught in the changing tides of a war that shattered her family (and her innocence) Gerta must obey the official order: she, along with all ethnic Germans, is to be expelled from Czechoslovakia.
With nothing but the clothes on her back and an infant daughter, she's herded among thousands, driven from the only home she's ever known. But the injustice only makes Gerta stronger, more empowered, and more resolved to seek justice. Her journey is a relentless quest for a seemingly impossible forgiveness. And one day, she will return.
Critique: Spanning decades and generations, and now translated into English for the first time by Veronique Firkusny, Katerina Tuckova's deftly crafted novel "Gerta" insightfully illuminates a long-neglected episode in Czech history. One of exclusion and prejudice, of collective shame versus personal guilt, all through the eyes of a charismatic woman whose courage will affect all the lives she's touched. Especially that of the daughter she loved, fought for, shielded, and would come to inspire. Simply stated, "Gerta" is the 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 highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Gerta" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781542043144, $14.95), in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781713525073, $24.99, MP3-CD).
9781952447525, $14.99, PB, 310pp
Synopsis: Juliette is a New Yorker transplanted to Portland, Oregon for a teaching job. She also journeys through single parenthood, orphanhood, widowhood, new love, neurotic parents, beloved students, and a life-altering bereavement group. Along the way, Juliette blends her acerbic wit with an admirable willingness to sit in her sadness and we gain entrance to what the other side of grief looks like.
Critique: Set over the course of several months, and alternating between Juliette's narration, a plot filled with surprises, and letters written to her deceased loved ones, author Fabienne Marsh (who has taught writing at Johns Hopkins University, Loyola Maryland, the University of Minnesota and the Chadwick School in California) underscores that while there might not be a cure for sorrow, there is at least a salve, -- and it's a novel called "Juliette, Rising". While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Juliette, Rising" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Radius Book Group
9781635766646, $25.99, HC, 312pp
Synopsis: Paul is a top business executive hoping to be the next CEO of Ascendant -- a New York-based tech giant. He neglects everything, both his family and himself, in the race to the top. But his fast-paced life is interrupted when he travels to Glastonbury, England, to visit friends in a village rich in history and mysticism.
Glastonbury represents a complete counterpoint to Paul's elite corporate day job. It compares to an amusement park, with shops and venues catering to spiritual seekers ranging from would-be witches, goddesses and druids, and burned-out hippies. Like many seekers before him, he is attracted to the energy of a nearby hill (called a Tor) that is said to be the mythical Isle of Avalon. Paul also meets a beautiful soul reader, Christine, who reads his soul and plants the seeds that turn his life upside down.
When he returns to New York, his wife, Mary, is skeptical. His journey both scares and intrigues her as she watches him struggle to navigate between the business and spiritual worlds. But a series of synchronistic events draws Paul closer to Glastonbury and Christine, compelling him and a reluctant Mary to return, unaware that their lives will never be the same.
Critique: A deftly crafted metaphysical novel, "Journey" is the first of a trilogy by author Andrew Zimmerman. Original, compelling, and with the kind of narrative storytelling style that immediately captures and retains the reader's full attention from cover to cover, "Journey" (which is also author Andrew Zimmerman's debut as a novelist) is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Journey" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).
Hit and Run
Wild Coyote Press
9781734450576, $12.99, PB, 304pp
Synopsis: Dani Pierce is a master of the dark web - but now trouble has arrived at her front door. The self-reliant, fiercely independent hacker knows she'll need help if she's going to survive her latest contract to build cutting-edge facial recognition software. And despite the fact the aggravating, yet handsome man hired to protect her makes it clear he's just there to do a job -- it doesn't stop her from appreciating how ruggedly sexy he is.
Gage Callahan knew his latest assignment for Callahan Security would be a disaster. He scoured all of Europe trying to locate the computer programmer he was hired to protect only to discover she's actually a hacker hiding in Alaska. It will take all his ingenuity to focus on the primary objective of getting her and the prototype software safely to New York -- especially with a growing fatal attraction he's developed for the spunky woman.
Dani's in deeper than she'll admit, but her answers don't explain why those who want her dead are always one step ahead. It will take Gage's military skills combined with Dani's hacking know-how to save their lives and the undeniable fire that's developed between them in the face of danger.
Critique: A riveting novel that, from first page to last, "Hit And Run" by author Lori Matthews showcases her impressively genuine flair for originality, narrative storytelling style, and deftly crafted and thoroughly entertaining plot twists and turns. While certain to be a welcome and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hit And Run" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Historical Fiction Shelf
The Thief Taker's Choice
9780578782782, $17.95, PB, 352pp
Synopsis: Michael Delaney is a thief taker, a bounty hunter, living in poverty in a slum of New York City called the Rubbles. He has been offered a substantial reward by a very wealthy man to retrieve his daughter, Winnie Wyatt. She has run away to be with her fiance?, a soldier who is fighting in the Seminole war in the Florida Territory.
This soldier, Edward Pierce, is the man who was responsible for Michael Delaney's expulsion from West Point for dueling and his current lowly residence in the Rubbles. Is it the reward or the thought of revenge that causes Michael to accept this perilous mission?
Winnie and her housemaid have changed identities to elude her father's detectives. After a frightening journey, Winnie meets Michael on Indian Key. This island is home to a fleet of wreckers created by Captain Jacob Housman to defeat the wrecking monopoly in Key West.
She is abducted during the Indian attack in 1840 and Michael must go into the Everglades to rescue her.
Critique: A deftly crafted and simply riveting adventure, Arthur Bivins new novel "The Thief Taker's Choice" is set during the second Seminole war and showcases to appreciative readers a fascinating yet obscure chapter of Florida history. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Thief Taker's Choice" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
I Jonathan, A Charleston Tale of the Rebellion
George W. B. Scott
Southern Rocket and Fountain City Publishing
9780976086758, $24.95, PB, 442pp
Synopsis: "I Jonathan, A Charleston Tale of the Rebellion" by author George W. B. Scott is the story of a stranger from Boston who is marooned in Charleston just as the Civil War begins. His relationships with working men and women, slaves, merchants, planters, spies, inventors, soldiers, sweethearts and musicians tell of a dynamic culture undergoing its greatest challenge.
Jonathan's adventures include the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the last great Charleston horse race, the Great Charleston Fire of 1861, the Battle of Secessionville, visits to the North Carolina mountain homes of wealthy Low Country planters, a run through the Federal Blockade, a visit to the raucous boomtowns of Nassau and Wilmington, battles of ironclads and monitors, the Battle of Battery Wagner (made famous in the movie, ''Glory,'') and an encounter with a Voo-Doo conjure man.
His story documents the hopes and struggles of a young man making a new life in a strange land in a time of war and change.
Critique: A deftly crafted, inherently engaging, and entertainingly riveting novel that clearly showcases author George W. B. Scott's impressive flair for originality combined with an informative attention to historical detail, "I Jonathan, A Charleston Tale of the Rebellion" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Historical Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "I Jonathan, A Charleston Tale of the Rebellion" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Literary Fiction Shelf
Notes for a Eulogy
Eric J. Matluck
New Exit Press
9780578739991, $22.95, HC, 246pp
Synopsis: In his new novel, "Notes for a Eulogy", author Eric J. Matluck deftly recounts a 23-year relationship between a man, Morley Peck, and a woman, Francine Tanzer, that is based on lying. They meet at work and although they go their separate ways after one year, they remain friends for the other 22. Morley, an inward, quiet man, tells Francine more about himself than he's ever told anyone, except that everything he tells her is a lie.
"Notes for a Eulogy" deals with the reasons people lie to one another, the satisfactions and difficulties that come from lying, and the way relationships change from one's late thirties to one's early sixties.
Critique: Eloquent, original, inherently engaging, thought-provoking, and a truly memorable read, "Notes for a Eulogy" is especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Notes for a Eulogy" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hebuterne
Serving House Books
9781947175303, $15.99, PB, 344pp
Synopsis: Amedeo Modigliani is an embittered and unrecognized genius who dies of meningitis on a cold January day in Montparnasse in 1920. Jeanne Hebuterne, his young wife and muse, follows 48 hours later, falling backwards through a window.
Now a ghost, Jeanne drifts about the studio she shared with Modigliani -- for she was not only his favorite model, but also an artist whose works were later shut away from public view after her demise. Enraged, she watches as her belongings are removed from the studio and her identity as an artist seemingly effaced for posterity, carried off in a suitcase by her brother. She then sets off to rejoin Modigliani in the underworld.
Thus begins "Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hebuterne", a novel by Linda Lappin that is a retelling the story of Jeanne Hebuterne's fate as a woman and an artist through three timelines and three precious objects stolen from the studio: a notebook, a bangle, and a self-portrait of Jeanne depicted together with Modi and their daughter.
Decades later, an art history student will discover Jeanne's diary and rescue her artwork from oblivion, after a search leading from Paris to Nice, Rome, and Venice, where Jeanne's own quest will find its joyful reward.
Critique: Eloquent, finely fashioned, deftly crafted, "Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hebuterne" is a unique, imaginative and compelling novel that showcases author Linda Lappin's genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling style that immediately grasps the readers total attention from first page to last. One of those novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf, "Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hebuterne" is an especially recommended addition to community, college, and university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hebuterne" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Romantic Fiction Shelf
Two in the Bush
Judith Hale Everett
9781736067505, $14.99, PB, 326pp
Synopsis: Sir Joshua Stiles wants nothing more than to fill the hole in his heart left by his wife's death, but it seems that women are more interested in his fortune than in himself. Cynical and ready to renounce all females, he is none too pleased when his sister invites her dear friend to visit for the Season.
Having survived a joyless marriage, Genevieve Breckinridge has no romantic expectations. In coming to London, she hopes only to cure her daughter's Gothic fantasies. But Sir Joshua seems always to be at hand, either to witness Genevieve's most mortifying moments, or to make himself so agreeable that she wishes she had not given up romance.
When her daughter develops a decided tendre for Sir Joshua, however, Genevieve suddenly realizes where her own heart lies, and must make a painful choice. For what loving mother could (or would) play rival to her own daughter?
Critique: An original, eloquently entertaining, and deftly crafted Regency Romance novel by an author with a clear mastery of the genre, "Two in the Bush" by Judith Hale Everett is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Historical Romance Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated romance fans that "Two in the Bush" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Ulysses 'Stretch' Garrett
DopeSince76 Media LLC
9781733350501, $15.95, PB, 254pp
Synopsis: Baltimore's prominent radio-personality and host of the number one, nightly relationship show, "The Love Supreme," Mason Blake, Jr., hasn't been in love in a mighty long time. Battling with past pain, he is unable to be vulnerable to women he dates, so he mows through them one fine body at a time.
Mason's world collides with Angela West at an awards gala, and he is instantly smitten with the woman who slowly breaks down his barriers. Mason and Angela's romance takes off until his world is rocked by the one person, whose love he has been seeking for a long time, mysteriously reappears after years of being absent.
Mason's life becomes an emotional roller coaster that causes him to spiral to places and persons that could jeopardize his budding relationship with Angela, and could cost him everything from his friends, job, and the woman he loves.
Critique: A deftly crafted and riveting romance novel by a novelist with an exceptionally entertaining and narrative driven storytelling style, "Last Request" by Ulysses 'Stretch' Garrett is certain 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 all dedicated romance fans that "Last Request" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.00).
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Matthew Langdon Cost
9781645990932, $16.99, PB, 300pp
Synopsis: Was Harold Dumphy killed to cover up something at the nuclear power plant where he was the head of security?
This is what Harold's widow asks Goff Langdon, private detective, to find out. Langdon is a laid back, slacker detective, happy with his work, friends, and way of life in the town of Brunswick, Maine. To compliment his income in small town Maine's scarce private detective market, Langdon also owns and operates a mystery bookstore named after his trusted companion, Coffee Dog.
Does Langdon stand a chance against corrupt cops, crooked politicians, greedy millionaires, radical environmentalists, and a deadly assassin named Shakespeare?
With the help of Bart, the bear of a cop; Jimmy 4 by Four, the hippie lawyer; the immigrants Jewell and Richam; and his true desire and employee, Chabal -- Langdon sets out to do just that. And then he is framed for not one, but two murders, and events become very complicated!
Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently riveting read from first page to last, in his novel "Mainely Power", author Matt Cost showcases his genuinely impressive flair for originality, entertaining plot twists, and narrative driven storytelling style. Certain to be a welcome addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated suspense/thriller fans that "Mainely Power" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Water Memory: A Thriller
Thomas & Mercer
9781542025027, $24.95, HC, 366pp
Synopsis: Black ops specialist Aubrey Sentro may be one concussion away from death. But when pirates seize the cargo ship she's on, she must decide whether to risk her life to save her fellow passengers. Sentro's training takes over, and she's able to elude her captors, leaving bodies in her wake. But her problems are just getting started. Her memory lapses are getting more frequent, symptoms of serial-concussion syndrome.
As she plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with the pirates, she pushes herself to survive by focusing on thoughts of her children. She's never told them what she really does for a living, and now she might not get the chance. While her memories make her vulnerable, motherhood makes her dangerous.
Critique: A deftly crafted and simply riveting read, "Water Memory: A Thriller" effectively showcases author Daniel Pyne's impressively entertaining narrative storytelling style as a novelist. While "Water Memory: A Thriller" is certain to be an enduringly popular and appreciated addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that it is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781542025034, $15.95), in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781713542995, $24.99, MP3-CD).
A Glint in Her Ice
9780998734217, $10.50, PB, 230pp
Synopsis: Professor Vlad Chomsky needs a break after saving the town of Crawford, Wisconsin from terrorists, and he knows exactly how to get the rest and relaxation he needs -- a romantic Rhine River cruise with the lovely librarian Beatrice Krup.
Vlad imagines sharing his passion for history with Beatrice as they tour the castles, museums, and cathedrals of Germany, while spending warm spring evenings together watching the river glide by -- without his ex-wife and kids, and especially without his elderly landlady Sandra Tooksbury, her friend and handyman Norm, and her feisty toy poodle, Gaston. Yes, Gaston helped Vlad save Crawford, but he doesn't need a crowd watching (and offering advice) as he takes his relationship to Beatrice "to the next level."
But Vlad has forgotten Norm and Sandra's ability to show up just when they aren't wanted and is dismayed when Sandra hoodwinks her way on board the cruise, Norm and Gaston in tow.
When Norm becomes the prime suspect in a diamond heist, Vlad's hopes for a quite, romantic cruise are shattered. Will Gaston and the gang discover the real thief in time? And will finally have a chance to "pop the question" to Beatrice?
Critique: The sequel to author Jan Detrie's novel "The Seven Ten Split" (9780998734200, $10.50 PB, $2.99 Kindle), "Glint In Her Ice" is another compelling mystery adventure that continues to showcase Detrie's impressive flair for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling talents that keep and hold the reader's rapt attention from first page to last. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs that "Glint In Her Ice" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
This is the second adventure of Vlad, Gaston the Poodle, and all of their friends. You can find out more about them in Jan Detrie's first book, The Seven Ten Split.
Murder in Devil's Cove
9780997866117, $14.99, PB, 312pp
Synopsis: The Lane women have the gift of bibliomancy (the use of books in the metaphysical art of divination). They can read both. But Cassie Lane doesn't see this as a gift. For her, it is a curse because the book magic comes with a price -- the Lane women die young and the men are lost to the sea.
As soon as she's able, Cassie leaves Laurel Point, Oregon, running from her past and her fate, ending up on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There she meets Leo Hawthorne and lives a perfect life with him in an old Sea Captain's house. Perfect, that is, until an old book foretells the future, and the curse that has plagued the Lane women comes true for Cassie.
Twenty years later, Cassie and Leo's children, twins Pippin and Grey, are back in Devil's Cove. Long forgotten secrets surface and an old crime comes to light. Now Pippin must learn how to be a bibliomancer if she is to discover the truth about her father and continue his effort to stop the curse
Critique: A combination of magic and mystery, "Murder In Devil's Cove" by Melissa Bourbon is a deftly crafted and impressively original novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality. While certain to be an unusual, immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of anyone who enjoys Women's Friendship Fiction, Cozy Animal Mysteries, or Supernatural Mysteries, that "Murder In Devil's Cove" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.49).
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
The Lords of the Summer Season
Peter W. Blaisdell
Blaisdell Literary Enterprises
9780999220504, $15.95, PB, 388pp
Synopsis: Bradan grew up in Camelot and grew famous during the Summer of Love. He's nearly immortal, a talented musician, but only a mediocre magician. That's unfortunate because he'll need more than pretty lyrics to confront a psychopathic Celtic warlord and a Welsh god hell-bent on collecting souls. They've also near-immortal and Bradan clashed with them 1500 years ago. They haven't forgotten.
Theirs is a duel through history with savage fights in Camelot and Renaissance Florence. Now it's 1967 and they've found him again, and they lead an army of specters intent on murder. Bradan's only friends are his haunted motorcycle, his lunatic band-mates, and a witch with uncertain loyalties. There won't be much love this summer unless Bradan defeats a warlord and a god. And his friends die too if he doesn't win this fight.
Criteria: Deftly combining elements of the 1960's hippie psychedelic subculture, legendary fantasy, and adventure, "The Lords of the Summer Season" (the third book in a series that includes "The Lords of Oblivion" and "The Lords of Powder") continues to showcase author Peter W. Blaisdell's eloquent mastery of the kind of narrative storytelling that swiftly engages his reader's total and rapt attention from cover to cover. While especially recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for the personal reading of all dedicated fantasy fans that "The Lords of the Summer Season" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.95).
The Brass Queen
9780744300093, $26.99, HC, 464pp
Synopsis: In a steam-powered world, Miss Constance Haltwhistle is the last in a line of blue-blooded rogues. Selling firearms under her alias, the "Brass Queen," she has kept her baronial estate's coffers full. But when US spy J. F. Trusdale saves her from assassins, she's pulled into a search for a scientist with an invisibility serum. As royal foes create an invisible army to start a global war, Constance and Trusdale must learn to trust each other. If they don't, the world as they know it will disappear before their eyes!
Critique: Original, riveting, and one that will leave fantasy fans eagerly looking toward author Elizabeth Chatsworth next novel, "The Brass Queen" is certain to be an immediately welcome and enduringly appreciated addition to community library fantasy collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated 'Gas Lamp' fantasy fiction that "The Brass Queen" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780744300109, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Business Shelf
Born To Do It
Rebekah Louisa Smith
Butterfly House Publishing
9780995684980, $19.99, PB, 180pp
Synopsis: "Born To Do It: Becoming the Leader of a Business Niche Using Powerful Spiritual Techniques" by Rebekah Louisa Smith was specifically written for entrepreneurs and business managers, and corporate executives who have asked themselves "What do I really want to do with my life?", "What is my dream job?", or "Why am I not enjoying what I do?"
Rebekah's response to anyone seeking an answer to those questions that it is to be found through discovering what she called their 'soul purpose'. A soul purpose is what gives us the drive and discipline to do what we are born to do. Once we know what that is, we can begin to build a profitable business that will help us to become the most sought-after leader of our particular business niche.
Through her own personal journey and experiences, Rebekah draws upon standard business practices and spiritual techniques and will teach her readers: How to tune into their soul purpose; How to find and grow a business niche; How to energetically brand a business; How to create a solid business infrastructure and craft a strong sales pitch; How to implement cosmic ordering, manifestation and Feng Shui techniques into any business enterprise.
Critique: Offering a unique but impressively effective approach to business management and personal fulfillment, "Born To Do It: Becoming the Leader of a Business Niche Using Powerful Spiritual Techniques" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, corporate, college, and university library Small Business Management & Entrepreneurship and Personal Transformation Self-Help Studies collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for business students, academia, entrepreneurs, business managers and corporate executives that "Born To Do It" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.49).
Editorial Note: Dr Rebekah Louisa Smith began her career working as a personal assistant at corporate companies, and working her way up to become an award-winning consultant and media personality who now has over 10 years of film festival strategy consulting experience, ultimately establishing her own company called The Film Festival Doctor.
The Parenting Shelf
Passports and Pacifiers
Kaitlyn Jain, author
Boston Bels Publishing
9781735960005, $17.99 pbk / $4.99 Kindle, 268pp
Synopsis: The true story of two crazy parents traveling with four small children (and on a budget), "Passports and Pacifiers: Traveling the World, One Tantrum at a Time" by Kaitlyn Jain follows a naive, baby-wearing family on eight memorable, affordable, and nap-centered trips.
It starts with two bumbling parents taking their Never-Sleep infant to child-loving Italy and ends six years later with an adventure across Scandinavia. Readers are regaled with honest, often hilarious, accounts of their misadventures, like losing the only pacifier of the trip, missing ferries, and soothing tantrums across the globe.
The Jains find deals-traveling just a tad off the prime season, finding buy one get two flights, and using credit card miles and free grandparent babysitters -- and save where they can. They stay cheap, shack up with in-laws, and visit generous family and friends. Part memoir, part guide, "Passports and Pacifiers" is a travelogue that serves an inspiration to both new and seasoned parents alike who are taking there kids along with them whether it's a day trip or an extended vacation.
Parents of small children receive hard-earned travel tips, including: Entertaining kids during long flights; Packing light (while bringing what you need!); Driving with a carsick-prone toddler; Keeping your Ever-Hungry spouse happy; and so much more! Traveling with kids is rewarding, entertaining, and memorable. After reading these adventures, parents will want to take that trip.
Critique: Impressively informed and informative, deftly written, having a wonderfully entertaining commentary throughout, and thoroughly 'parent friendly' in organization and presentation, "Passports and Pacifiers" is fully and unreservedly recommended for personal, family, and community library Parenting collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Passports and Pacifiers: Traveling the World, One Tantrum at a Time" is readily available in both paperback ($17.99) and a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Biography Shelf
The Life of a Maine Lobsterman: 82 Years on the Water
9780941238311, $37.95, PB, 196pp
Synopsis: Andrew Gove represents a disappearing American subculture. In 1937 at age 7, he started lobstering from Eagle Island, Maine, and didn't quit for 82 years. That hard-work ethic stemmed directly from his upbringing on Eagle Island, one that focused on family interdependence, self-sufficiency, trust and honesty -- concepts he exhibited throughout his entire life.
Andy was one of the hardest workers on the water in his lifetime, fishing for lobster, halibut and herring out of Stonington, Maine, and was always willing to lend a hand to those in distress, whether in his boat or his plane. But he also knew how to play and participated in the Maine Lobsterboat Races for many years, winning races a multitude of times.
"The Life of a Maine Lobsterman: 82 Years on the Water" is Andy's personal memoir is written with warmth, humor and humility. Told in his own words and unique voice, reading it will make you feel like you're sitting at his kitchen table, listening to his stories and feeling his love, compassion and commitment to family, friends, work and animals.
Critique: An inherently fascinating, exceptionally informative, and impressively crafted autobiography, "The Life of a Maine Lobsterman: 82 Years on the Water" will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to community, college, and university library American Biography collections, as well as the personal reading lists for anyone with an interest in the American lobster fishing industry and history.
The Moonshiner Popcorn Sutton
9780578654140, HC, $40.00, 240pp
Synopsis: Comprised of photos, essays, and interviews documenting the true story of a modern folk hero, "The Moonshiner Popcorn Sutton" by Neal Hutcheson is the inherently fascinating life story of Appalachian moonshiner Marvin 'Popcorn' Sutton.
Raised in a Southern Appalachian community steeped in tradition, Popcorn Sutton learned to make moonshine at an early age. Like his father and grandfather before him, and continued to pursue the perfection of the craft making moonshine liquor throughout his life. At the same time, he honed a natural talent for performance and came to fill not only the role but the appearance of the master moonshiners he had known as a child.
Ultimately appearing in documentaries, television shows, and heritage events, Popcorn Sutton brought the traditional craft of a secret brotherhood into the light. Yet, he never compromised and continued to make and distribute outlaw liquor in increasing quantities, forcing his story to its inevitable end. Now remembered as a folk hero who would literally live free or die, "The Moonshiner Popcorn Sutton" fully captures the true story of the man behind the myth in a celebration of craft, heritage, and irrepressible character.
Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of eighty-three photographs, "The Moonshiner Popcorn Sutton" is an inherently fascinating read and certain to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to personal reading lists of anyone with an interest in American moonshine history and traditions, as well as community, college, and university library Contemporary American Biography collections.
The Self-Help Shelf
The Triumph of the Man Who Acts
Edward Early Purinton
Triumph Book Press
9781735289717, $36.00, HC, 262pp
Synopsis: A collection of erudite and motivating essays originally published in 1916, "The Triumph of the Man Who Acts" by Edward Earle Purinton shows readers wanting to know what they most want to do and be in the world just how they can find the answer, act on it, and succeed. Now in a newly reprinted edition edited for the modern reader and published by Triumph Book Press a new general of readers can benefit from Purinton's simple, time-tested techniques.
"The Triumph of the Man Who Acts" covers such vital issues as: Maintaining the wellness of your body, heart, mind, and soul; Staying motivated and banishing procrastination; Meeting life's challenges with courage, conviction, and action; Living productively, efficiently, and happily. "The Triumph of the Man Who Acts" allows readers to uncover their greatest self by discovering an especially transformative wisdom.
Critique: A time lost volume of classic insights into the human condition, and deftly edited for a modern readership, "The Triumph of the Man Who Acts" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Triumph of the Man Who Acts" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9798696523002, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.09).
Editorial Note: Edward Earl Purinton (1878-1943) was a leading American health and efficiency expert during the early twentieth century. His books and manuals sold over 10 million copies in 20 countries. His work was endorsed by F.W. Woolworth, John D. Rockefeller Jr., the Archbishop of Canterbury, and countless others. Purinton used his methods to advise leading industrialists on optimal efficiency and teach the common person how to be productive, healthy, happy, and successful.
Lost in the Circle, Found on the Line
Maria C. Wheeler
Stillwater River Publications
9781952521478, $25.00, HC, 84pp
Synopsis: "Lost in the Circle, Found on the Line: A Collaborative Journal Experience" by Maria C. Wheeler was created specifically for anyone who feels lost in the circle of life, who is uncertain as to who they are and where they are headed in life. A self help journal that gives rise to the reader's life's story as a curated record of inspirational quotes poems and art, it is designed is an interactive format chronicling creativity into a keepsake of the reader's life - honoring themselfs, and ultimately bringing respect to them and those around them.
Based on ten Master values, "Lost in the Circle, Found on the Line" is deftly organized as prompts to encourage the reader to consider the precious moments and essence of each decade of life and how their hopes and dreams evolve into the person they want to be. Because the sundries of living often preempt our focus, the format jump starts procrastination, encouraging thinking through the reader's personal writings and artful additions.
Add to the poetry, include photographs, paintings, drawings and collages using the natural world as inspiration, the result is a personal gift and experience.
Critique: Exceptionally 'user friendly' as a self-help/self-improvement instructional manual, guide, and DIY curriculum of activities and projects, "Lost in the Circle, Found on the Line: A Collaborative Journal Experience" is especially and unreservedly recommended for anyone wanting to take a creative path to mental well-being.
Choose to Prevail
Book Baby Publishers
9781098327781, $10.28, PB, 100pp
Synopsis: "Choose to Prevail: Unexpected Insights to Help You Overcome Challenges" was specifically written to assistance readers who are plagued by worries, insecurities, or problems in general and find themselves in need learning effective ways to prevail over whatever is causing them grief.
Communications expert Sandy Rodriguez suggests reframing challenges, while taking practical measures to support your goals. In "Choose to Prevail" she covers: Benefits of letting others see unusual sides of your personality; Why extremely sad thoughts are the antidote to everyday annoyances; Reasons a tiny apartment helped tenants attract a spouse; A time-management technique that could save you money; How the author overcame fear of public speaking literally overnight; Why having haters could be flattering; Ideas to minimize existential angst and nagging thoughts; Why it's not necessarily vain or superficial to care about your appearance; How to reinvent yourself at any age using the power of words.
"Choose to Prevail" is not your average motivational book. Sandy's viewpoints come from the heart and are often out of the ordinary as she offers practical and insightful ideas that are different from what is to be found elsewhere.
Critique: Motivationally inspiring and with an experience based practicality, "Choose to Prevail: Unexpected Insights to Help You Overcome Challenges" is an exceptionally 'user friendly' self-help/self-improvement guide and manual in organization and presentation. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections, it should be noted for non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Choose to Prevail" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49).
Editorial Note: Bilingual communications expert Sandy Rodriguez writes on topics ranging from finance to entertainment for different media outlets in both the U.S. and Mexico. She appears as a host in videos for lifestyle website En Cinco and multimedia company Heart of Hollywood Motion Pictures. Sandy is a former editorial coordinator for Mexican newspaper Reforma, one of the most influential publications in Latin America, and has translated tens of books from English to Spanish for major publishing houses. These include medical, self-help, and business books, novels, and titles focused on spirituality or personal growth by popular authors such as Louise Hay, Nick Vujicic, and Neale Donald Walsch.
The Poetry Shelf
From Friend to Wife to Widow ~ Six Brief Years
9798699586585, $6.99, PB, 119pp
Synopsis: The poems in Diana Coogle's "From Friend to Wife to Widow ~ Six Brief Years" are about the growth of her and her husband's love from the time they were just friends, to their marriage, and then to his death over a period of just six years. It was a brief time, but they were beautiful years.
Critique: Nicely illustrated with black/white photography, this compendium of poems is a testament to the human condition and the power of love. It seems especially appropriate for this time of pandemic that has resulted in the loss of loved ones on what seems to be an ever increasing scale. Ultimately and inspiringly joyful, "From Friend to Wife to Widow ~ Six Brief Years" is very highly recommended reading and especially recommended for personal reading lists and community library Contemporary Poetry collections.
The Cookbook Shelf
The Beginning Baker
Kim Rietdorf Muratore
9798694871334, $21.99, PB, 150pp
Synopsis: "The Beginning Baker" is specifically designed for both beginning and experienced bakers and includes cookbook author Kim Muratore's all-time favorite recipes for the type of baked goods that her own friends and family beg her to bring to gatherings. "The Beginning Baker" is comprised of 52 different recipes -- one to keep aspiring family bakers baking each week of the year!
Kim feels that the most basic difference between novice and skilled bakers is that those with more experience understand most baking terms while beginning bakers may need to have these terms explained. Everybody has to start from "scratch" when learning how to bake. "The Beginning Baker" is intended to help the novice baker to not have to stop to search the internet to figure out what a baking term mean or how to carry them out.
All the recipes comprising "The Beginning Baker" are understandable, sequential, and easy to follow at all skill levels. Also, the recipes do not assume that the home baker will have all of the neat gadgets that experienced bakers might own, and so are provided with alternative ways of accomplishing the same ends.
Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of a list of common baking terms, addressing some humorous misconceptions, and featuring some hard-earned baking tips that might ease the way, "The Beginning Baker" is a beautifully illustrated and thoroughly 'user friendly' compendium of DIY baking recipes that for delicious treats that will please any palate and satisfy any appetite. Exceptionally well organized and presented, "The Beginning Baker" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal and community library cookbook collections.
The Money/Finance Shelf
Know Yourself, Know Your Money
9781942121312, $24.99, HC, 256pp
Synopsis: "Know Yourself, Know Your Money: Discover WHY you handle money the way you do, and WHAT to do about it!" is not just another money management handbook as personal finance expert Rachel Cruze brings an all-new approach to the traditional money rules, and it all starts with your mindset.
You may already know how to make the right money decisions, but still find yourself slipping into impulse purchases, dipping into savings, disagreeing on your budget with your spouse, and wondering "Why did I do that?!" If so, "Know Yourself, Know Your Money" is book is for you as Cruze explains the psychology, strengths, and challenges that come with each of her brand-new Seven Money Tendencies.
"Know Yourself, Know Your Money" also introduces new ways to understand how your parents, your fears, and your beliefs impact your money mindset. It also covers: Which of the Four Childhood Money Classrooms shaped your personality; How the Six Core Money Fears can drive your most common money mistakes; Why you handle money the way you do, and what to do about it.
The underlying messages of "Know Yourself, Know Your Money" is that you do not have to white-knuckle your way toward financial freedom. This DIY instructional guide and manual will show you how to make taking control of your money so much easier -- and fun!
Critique: Expertly written, deftly organized, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in presentation, "Know Yourself, Know Your Money: Discover WHY you handle money the way you do, and WHAT to do about it!" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Money Management collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Know Yourself, Know Your Money" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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