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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 19, Number 2 February 2020 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Jobs/Careers Shelf Business Shelf
Money/Finance Shelf General Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Biography Shelf Theatre/Cinema Shelf
Metaphysical Studies Shelf Christian Studies Shelf Health/Medicine Shelf
Technology Shelf    


Reviewer's Choice

Never Eat Stink Bait
Bryan Mellage
Flat Fish Publishing LLC
9781733230612, $18.95, PB, 156pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Anglers and hunters are world renowned for creating legends and telling tall tales. "Never Eat Stink Bait: Lessons Learned from the Creek Bank" by Bryan Mellage is an impressive compendium of tales from a small town man and rural life.

Bryan Mellage sharpened his wit and wisdom growing up in southeast Nebraska -- from the deeply rutted roads, to human nature, to fatherhood, and living off the land. In this collection of short stories, there are embedded nuggets of wisdom and insights into the deep thinking of a guy who really just wants to fish and tell funny stories about life. Indeed, Bryan Mellage is a native of Southeast Nebraska, where nearly all these stories take place.

Critique: As thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is insightful and entertaining, "Never Eat Stink Bait: Lessons Learned from the Creek Bank" is an extraordinary compendium of wit mixed with humor that will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library collections. Written with humor and a distinctive narrative storytelling flair, ot should be noted for personal reading lists that "Never Eat Stink Bait" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Excerpts from Panacea's Place
Pamela Paladin
CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
www.createspace.com
9781495345388, $13.00, PB, 189pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: As a young teenager, Pamela began exploring her subconscious mind through dream-work. She got into eating organic foods at age nineteen. This diet change caused a falling out with her mom. Pamela's lack of interest in attending church caused a falling out with her dad.

Pamela left her Minnesota home to live in Arizona where she fell under the influence of an older cousin who secretly practiced dark magic. Instead of becoming this cousin's adoring slave or turning up dead, Pamela has dedicated her life to freeing herself from evil influences and to helping others get free.

"Excerpts from Panacea's Place" by Pamela Paladin is comprised of information on the mysteries of life that support her hard won insights into human nature. "Excerpts from Panacea's Place" teaches ways to heal entrenched behavior patterns that block personal, cultural and biological evolution.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Excerpts from Panacea's Place" is a companion book to her first collection, "Stories from Pandora's Box" (9781448639151, $13.99, PB, 166), which made up of short stories, commentary and poetry that support the her theories about human history and future possibilities with a focus on understanding sexuality. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Excerpts from Panacea's Place" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).


The Jobs/Careers Shelf

5 Steps to Take Before Your Next Job Interview
Lawrence O'Leary
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
www.iuniverse.com
9781491762936, $26.95, HC, 190pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Lawrence O'Leary is an expert in the field of industrial and organizational consulting. He is also the director and founder of his own consulting corporation, the author of four previous books on employment, and a successful teacher of business themed seminars. In "5 Steps to Take Before Your Next Job Interview" he draws upon his years of experience and expertise to lay out a thoroughly 'user friendly' instruction guide and manual for becoming an informed job seeker and provides a five step plan to successfully apply for a currently advertised job.

Of special note is the chapters on 'Behaviors That Weaken Performance During An Interview' and 'Employment Tests and How to Do Your Best on Them'.

Critique: Comprehensive, exceptionally well organized and effectively presented, "5 Steps to Take Before Your Next Job Interview" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Jobs/Careers instructional reference collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "5 Steps to Take before Your Next Job Interview" is also available in a paperback edition (9781491762929, $16.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).


The Business Shelf

Work Your Assets Off
Allison S. Tabor, CPC
Coppia Advisory
http://coppiaadvisory.com
www.workyourassetsoff.com
9781947480674, $28.95, HC, 120pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The owner of Coppia Advisory, a successful executive coaching and consulting business, Allison Tabor helps business owners, executives, and their teams in the areas of leadership, interpersonal communication, and strategic planning.

Now she has written "Work Your Assets Off: Stop Working So Hard in Business and Life" for the practical benefit of business owners, executives, and other individuals who are simply ready to stop working harder and harder while seeking to leverage their natural talents, and start living their life with ease and continuing success in business and in life!

Critique: Expertly written and deftly presented, "Work Your Assets Off: Stop Working So Hard in Business and Life" is an extraordinary instructional guide and manual that is unreservedly recommended to the attention of all entrepreneurs, business managers and corporate executives. While a worthwhile and commended addition to community, corporate, and academic library Business Management collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Work Your Assets Off" is also available in a paperback edition (9781947480667, $18.95) and in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

Go Ahead!
Barry S. Farah
AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
www.authorhouse.com
9781728311968, $23.99, HC, 172pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The principle objective of "Go Ahead!: Unleash a Contagious Customer Success Culture" by Barry S. Farah is specifically written to provide entrepreneurs and business owners with the framework necessary to unleashing a contagious customer success culture. The underlying message is that customer success is a mind-set developed from years of observation and a passion for doing business. "Go Ahead!" provides new insights on deepening customer loyalty and increasing the company's value with an energetic, proactive team.

Critique: Impressively written, organized and presented, "Go Ahead!: Unleash a Contagious Customer Success Culture" is as motivationally inspiring as it is 'real world practical' and informative. While unreservedly recommended for community, corporate and academic library Business Management collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of entrepreneurs, business executives and managers, MBA students, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Go Ahead!" is also available in a paperback edition (9781728311975, $13.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.11).

Editorial Note: Barry S. Farah has a thirty-year track record of providing investors with double-digit and triple-digit ROI. As the CEO of technology consulting, IT staffing, and founder and CEO of commercial development, software engineering, and business-to-business services companies, he credits his business success to wise capital allocation strategies and the principles articulated in this book. His guiding business philosophy is to proactively take exceptional care of the customer and celebrate the success of his employees. His previous books include his 2017 The Magic "Wand: Creating Exceptional Customer Experience: A Leadership Fable and his 1998 classic Customer Success: The Spirit of Enterprise Throughout the Ranks.

Pitching the Big Top
Gene Moran & Caroline Gelinne
Light Hustle Publishing
9781951407049, $15.99, PB, 178pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Federal contracts can be worth millions. But most companies have no idea how to navigate, let alone understand, the complex process of federal sales. The federal government spends more than a Trillion (with a T) dollars annually on discretionary purchases. Yet most businesses rely on a business-to-business sales strategy complete with misplaced CRM tools.

Since the government can be a company's bedrock customer of a lifetime, there's no reason to approach it like just another sale. That's why Gene Moran wrote "Pitching the Big Top: How to Master the 3-Ring Circus of Federal Sales" as step-by-step guide through the 3 strategic rings of the federal funding and policy circus.

With "Pitching the Big Top" anyone dan learn to navigate the organized chaos of the government without making missteps that could end in failure.

Before founding his own government relations firm, Moran's decades as a Navy Captain, Congressional liaison and corporate lobbyist had given him unique perspectives. He now routinely helps those who sell to the government understand the many forces at work in the circus of federal sales. "Pitching the Big Top" is packed from cover to cover with insider tips.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Pitching the Big Top: How to Master the 3-Ring Circus of Federal Sales" is an impressively informative and thoroughly 'user friendly instructional guide that should be a part of every corporate, community, college, and university library Business Management instructional reference collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of business students, academia, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Pitching the Big Top" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The Money/Finance Shelf

Retire Before Mom and Dad
Rob Berger
Glenbrook Press
9781733914505, 16.95, PB, 268pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Personal finance and investing don't have to be complicated, intimidating or boring. In the pages of "Retire Before Mom and Dad: The Simple Numbers Behind A Lifetime of Financial Freedom", Forbes Deputy Editor Rob Berger has written an ideal guide adapted to today's economic conditions and realities..

Readers will find everything they need to get out of debt, control spending without painful budgets, manage multiple financial goals, and start investing for retirement -- and best of all learn how to retire early if that is their goal.

"Retire Before Mom and Dad" covers: Learning how to save money without sacrifice with a step-by-step plan on how to reduce spending without changing a lifestyle; Master the simple math behind early retirement by determining how daily, weekly and monthly decisions affect the journey to financial independence; Provides everything needed to build a simple but effective investment portfolio.

Of special note is the information on Retirement Accounts: From 401(k) and 403(b) accounts to a Roth IRA and HSA (Health Spending Account), you'll learn how these accounts work. You'll also get a simple plan you can follow to decide which accounts are best for you.

"Retire Before Mom and Dad" also presents a simple way to pay off debt in a sensible way while still saving, investing, and pursuing other financial goals -- as well as learning how our daily habits are affecting our finances and how anyone can master those habits by asking "what if" questions and running 21-day experiments.

Critique: Exceptionally well written with out specialized jargon, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Retire Before Mom and Dad: The Simple Numbers Behind A Lifetime of Financial Freedom" is an ideal instructional guide and manual that will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Personal Money Management & Finance collections. It should be noted that "Retire Before Mom and Dad" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Editorial Note: Forbes Deputy Editor Rob Berger is an investor, blogger, former lawyer, and self-proclaimed "Buckeye fanatic." Berger received his J.D. from Boston University in 1992, working as a litigation attorney and securities industry regulator. Berger's foray into financial blogging began in 2007 when he founded the popular website doughroller.net. Since its inception, doughroller.net has received tens of millions of visitors and has become an authority in the world of personal financial advice. Berger's work has been featured in a number of publications, including Forbes, MSN Money, U.S. News and World Report, and Yahoo! Finance. He is also the host of the "Dough Roller Money Podcast," where he shares his best money tips, tricks, and tools.


The General Fiction Shelf

We Of The Forsaken World
Kiran Bhat
Iguana Books
http://www.iguanabooks.ca
9781771803663, $17.99, PB, 216pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In a distant corner of the globe, a man journeys to the birthplace of his mother, a tourist town destroyed by an industrial spill. In a nameless remote tribe, the chief's second son is born, creating a scramble for succession as their jungles are being destroyed by loggers. In one of the world's sprawling metropolises, a homeless one-armed woman sets out to take revenge upon the men who trafficked her. And, in a small village of shanty shacks connected only by a mud-and-concrete road, a milkmaid watches the girls she calls friends destroy her reputation.

In "we of the forsaken world..." author Kiran Bhat tells the stories of four worlds falling apart, through the structure of four linguistic chains, comprised of the accounts of four people witnessing the decline of these worlds, in four acts. Like modern communication networks, these sixteen stories connect along subtle lines, dispersing at the moments where another story is about to take place. They flow together and disconnect. Each story is a parable of its own, into the mind of a distinct human being. These are the tales of not just sixteen strangers, but many different lives, who live on this planet, at every second, everywhere.

Critique: A deftly crafted work that showcases the author's impressive literary skills, flair for originality, and exceptional knack for the kind of narrative driven storytelling that keeps and holds the readers total engagement, "we of the forsaken world..." is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "we of the forsaken world..." is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Currently residing in Melbourne, Australia, Kiran Bhat is a global citizen formed in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, to parents from Southern Karnataka, in India. An avid world traveler, polyglot, and digital nomad, he has currently traveled to over 130 countries, lived in 18 different places, and speaks 12 languages. His list of homes is vast, but he considers Mumbai the only place of the moment worth settling down in.

Healing Star
Ian Blake Newhem
A Million Words Away
https://amillionwordsaway.com/product/healingstar
9781951681005, $25.99, HC, 315pp

Synopsis: Aric Hatch is a 16-year-old drummer for the British Army, and newly orphaned when we find him, in the middle of a battlefield during the bloodiest year of the American Revolution, running for his life amid canon fire, hiding, tending the friend who dies in his arms. He's only a drummer boy, forbidden from fighting, trapped in enemy land.

He's wandering among the dead, wondering what to do, when he encounters another boy. He seems to manifest of nothing. The boy appears in a moment of calm, inexplicably naked, without a speck of dirt on him, uninjured. He doesn't speak. Doesn't claim a side. He smiles, and shows affection. He displays a curiosity about his surroundings like somebody who's never seen this world: the insects, the wind, the stars. Is he a boy?

Aric gives a name to the entity out of nowhere: Orion. Orion trusts Aric entirely. He becomes Aric's only family in the world. The two of them, alone together, embark on a dangerous adventure toward the safety of base camp: dodging the enemy, suffering the elements -- and growing closer as they huddle together against the cold, night after night.

Aric teaches Orion more and more about the world. About nature and family and war. Love. Enough love to share with Ak'tadia, the young woman who's become chief of a local Native American tribe. Aric, Orion, and Ak'tadia form an solid triangle despite their inherent differences.

Aric wears clearly the traumas of war as he and Orion walk together. But it isn't long before this trauma becomes the catalyst for finally confronting another, deeper, more personal horror. Something to do with his past. The family friend who earned Aric's trust before luring him into the family's shed. A trauma just as visceral as what he's experienced in war, but harder to face.

Critique: "Healing Star" by Ian Blake Newhem is a deftly crafted coming-of-age story about the gateways we can find in our traumas if only we can muster the courage (and the company) to face them. With heavily-researched storylines exploring Native American customs and oppression during the Revolutionary War, and an empowered LGBT subtext, Healing Star is an inclusive, searching, life-affirming novel targeting wounded, reserved, questioning young readers who are themselves struggling to say the things that can't be spoken. Showcasing author Ian Blake Nehem's impressively reader engaging narrative storytelling style, "Healing Star" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community library LGBTQ fiction collections.

The Winter Sisters
Tim Westover
QW Publishers
http://www.qwpublishers.com
9780984974894, $16.20, PB, 332pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Georgia, 1822 and Dr. Aubrey Waycross puts his faith in science, not superstition. So when he moves to a remote mountain town, he's dismayed to see the townsfolk reject his scientific blood-letting methods in favor of potions and witchcraft. And with a rabid panther stalking the area, he's running out of time to convince the citizens of the error of their ways.

Confronting the trio of spell-peddling sisters, he's stunned to find their herbal remedies may contain the missing ingredient he needs for a cure. But with the local pastor hellbent on driving them out and the youngest sister unwilling to share her mysterious abilities, he worries he could lose the sick to madness and death. Can Dr. Waycross discover the right combination of science and sorcery to save the townspeople?

Critique: "The Winter Sisters" is a spellbinding frontier-America historical fantasy that showcases author Tim Westover's genuine flair for originality and a distinctively engaging narrative storytelling style. With its unique twists on history and deftly crafted characters, "The Winter Sisters" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of magical realism/folklore enthusiasts that "The Winter Sisters" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Blackbird Blues
Jean K. Carney
Bedazzled Ink Publishing Company
http://binkbooks.bedazzledink.com
9781949290226, $15.95, PB, 218pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: With the help of sixty-year-old black jazz man Lucius, Mary Kaye O'Donnell, an eighteen-year-old Irish-American woman and aspiring jazz singer in Chicago, finds her way toward dealing with an unwanted pregnancy and the death of Sister Michaeline, her voice coach, jazz mentor, and only guide through the bedlam of her childhood.

Mary Kaye's neighbor, Judge Engelmann, introduced her to the work of James Baldwin and the nuns exposed her to the burgeoning civil rights movement, but Lucius is the first black person Mary Kaye comes to really know. They bond over Sister Michaeline's untimely death. Over time, Lucius helps Mary Kaye launch her career as a singer in his jazz band. He also gives her Sister Michaeline's diary from her early cloistered years, saying it was the nun's wish. In reading the diary and in conversations with Lucius and Judge Engelmann, Mary Kaye discovers disillusioning aspects and secrets of her beloved mentor.

"Blackbird Blues" is Mary Kaye's coming-of-age story as she weighs her options based on the diary, her faith, and her music, set against the background of illegal abortion and child abandonment in the 1963 Chicago world of civil rights and interracial jazz. Although "Blackbird Blues" is entirely a work of fiction, in today's political climate one could well imagine something similar becoming real.

Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently interesting read from first page to last, "Blackbird Blues" nicely showcases author Jean K. Carney's genuine, distinctive, and reader engaging narrative storytelling style. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Blackbird Blues" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Before turning to writing fiction, Jean K. Carney spent eight years as an award-winning reporter and editorial writer at The Milwaukee Journal, covering Children's Court, City Hall, and Roe v. Wade. She earned a Ph.D. in Human Development at the University of Chicago and trained at a large Chicago inner-city psychiatric hospital. In full-time private practice as a psychologist for thirty years in the Chicago Loop, she saw patients from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds in psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

Bruised Purple Hearts: Ghosts of the USA
Jerry C. Blanton
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
www.iuniverse.com
9781532072093, $31.99, HC, 314pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: It is the early sixties as Matt Conklin and his twin brother, Max, graduate from high school amid interesting yet chaotic times that include the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, and the rise of feminism, gay rights, and the use of psychedelic drugs. Matt and Max could not be more different in their views of war, civil rights, and the part physical chemistry plays within relationships.

Matt is a romantic idealist who stands up to civil rights abuses and the atrocities of war. While pursuing his dream of becoming a writer, he crosses paths with bigots, women who want to marry him, antiwar radicals, drug dealers, and gay friends struggling for societal acceptance. After he becomes a teacher to the disadvantaged, Matt craves intellectual stimulation and experiments with drugs. But what no one knows is that the spiritually sensitive Matt is receiving visits from ghosts who ask things of him.

As the years pass, will Matt emerge from his struggles determined to live his truth or resigned to live a life he never wanted?

Critique: "Bruised Purple Hearts: Ghosts of the USA" is deftly crafted and thoroughly engaging novel in which a young man must deal with racial prejudice, homophobia, and the mindless acceptance of the war as he lives through the sixties and seventies in the swamps of Florida. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library LBGTQ fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bruised Purple Hearts: Ghosts of the USA" is also available in a paperback edition (9781532072079, $20.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Ella: Unmasking the Fairytale
Annabelle Blasse
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
www.balboapress.com
9781504317399, $17.99, PB, 254pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Ella Staines appears to live a happy, busy life in a leafy suburb; she has a husband in a good profession, grown-up kids who come and go, and fulfilling work. So why does she feel as if she's suffocating? Has she really forgotten who she is?

In "Ella: Unmasking the Fairytale" by Annabelle Blasse, she sets out on a journey that questions the very concept of marriage. Her quest for deeper meaning and a different understanding of spirituality leads to unexpected results that threaten to tip her over the edge. Along the way, she encounters some of her old demons (patterns, power trips, and egoistic ways) that had seemed so comfortable and that had once defined her existence. Now she must swim away from them to build a new life for herself, no matter where that may lead.

Critique: Deftly written and inherently compelling, and showcasing author Annabelle Glasse's genuinely distinctive engaging narrative storytelling style, "Ella: Unmasking the Fairytale" is the fascinating story of a woman leaving behind a life comprised of her thirty-year marriage, home, family, and friends, in order to search for a new meaning and purpose for herself. While especially recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Ella: Unmasking the Fairytale" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

From White Trash to White Coat
Tabatha Barber-Duell
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
www.archwaypublishing.com
9781480873681, $35.95, HC, 270pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Cathy Jansen is a small-town girl with big ideas. Strong-willed and stubborn, she grows up with too much independence and not enough guidance, enjoying the wilder side of life, which ends up leading her down unforeseen paths. While still in high school, Cathy gets pregnant, and although the school suggests she quit, she is determined to carry on with her education.

Despite her resolve, Cathy must learn lessons the hard way. She struggles with self-esteem and identity issues as she fights to survive the ridicule and stigma of being a teenage mother. Her difficulties lead her toward her life's purpose, teaching Cathy to trust the "little voice inside" and create a new path of success, selflessness, and meaning.

Cathy begins to understand the love of Jesus as she learns the rules and reasons leading her path. Despite heartbreak and frustration, she discovers ambition and appreciation, eventually finding a way to live without fear while living in love. Cathy's journey is one of trials and tribulations, but with tenacity, she unearths herself and happiness and recognizes God.

Critique: "From White Trash to White Coat: The Birth of Catherine's Purpose" is an inherently compelling and thought-provoking novel by an author with a unique and genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling talent that fully engages the reader from first page to last. While especially recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "From White Trash to White Coat" is also available in a paperback edition (9781480873674, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).


The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Safecracker
James Garrison
TouchPoint Press
https://touchpointpress.com
9781946920768, $16.99, PB, 300pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Idealistic young lawyer Patricia Egan has a housemate she doesn't like and a client she doesn't want -- a professional safecracker who seems far removed from the well-heeled civil clients her firm has been representing. But the safecracker and her former clients are closely linked in their respective criminal enterprises, something they want no one to discover, certainly not Patricia or her fellow lawyer and housemate, Jack Alexander. And there's a string of dead and maimed to prove it!

Critique: A deftly crafted and simply riveting suspense thriller of a novel by an author with an impressively effective narrative storytelling style, "The Safecracker" by James Garrison will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. Unreservedly recommended for the personal reading lists of all dedicated suspense/thriller enthusiasts, it should be noted that "The Safecracker" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

The Poison of War
Jennifer Leeper
Prensa Press
http://prensa.press
9781733240208, $7.99, PB, 117pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: When detective Frank Silva of the Tohono O'odham Nation arrived at the scene of the crime he immediately feared his investigation would require him to focus on his own people in search of the killer. Two maverick detectives must form a team trusting each other with not only their lives, but with the fate of the Tohono O'odham Nation in "The Poison of War". Of special note is the Native America reservation's evolving struggle against Mexican cartels and their friction with border agents who hold the line stretching across the middle of the reservation.

Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently riveting novel by an author with a distinctive narrative storytelling talent, "The Poison of War" backdrops timely and timeless issues of the U.S.-Mexico border including immigration, drug trafficking and the reservation culture of the Tohono O'odham tribe. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "The Poison of War" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).


The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Dragon Blood
Elana A. Mudgan
Shivnath Productions
9781532387968, $17.99, PB, 558pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Keriya Soulstar awakens on the other side of the world, far from Allentria, far from the dragon god Shivnath, far from everyone she's ever known and loved. She can't quite remember what happened during her final battle with Necrovar, and she doesn't want to. Besides, she's comfortable in Jidaeln, a foreign country where no one wields magic. She fits right in.

But Keriya knows she can't hide forever. With her sword (the only reminder of her troubled past) she ventures to a school where she can train with military masters to learn the arts of battle. Under the tutelage of Ansai Viran, the leader of the academy, she takes her first step in becoming a warrior who can finally defeat the Shadow. She will return to Allentria and finish what she started -- or she'll die trying!

Critique: The third book in the author's Shadow War Saga series, "Dragon Blood" is another deftly crafted and reader riveting action/adventure fantasy by skilled novelist Elan A. Mugdan. "Dragon Blood" is an exceptionally exciting and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, as well as the personal reading lists of all dedicated fantasy fans.


The Biography Shelf

Come on Along & Listen to My Life in Theatre
Martin Markinson
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
www.archwaypublishing.com
9781480876323, $35.95, HC, 260pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Come on Along & Listen to My Life in Theatre" is a rich memoir by Martin Markinson, a former Broadway theatre owner and producer who relays in his intimate, easy voice his journey from an outsider to a self-made successful player in a most competitive, but little understood business. We are treated to a truly remarkable American story of dreams fulfilled on Broadway and beyond.

Marty Markinson has lived an extraordinary life. Marty rose from modest means and obscurity to wealth, respectability and significant influence through a combination of laudable qualities - including honesty, courage, grit, creativity, high hopes, positive intentions plus a lot of hard work. And Marty had fun all the way to the top of his profession.

Markinson talks candidly about his involvement in both production of shows and operation of the houses in which they appear, concentrating on his ownership of the Helen Hayes Theatre (previously known as The Little Theatre) on Broadway from 1979 until the theatre's sale in 2015. "Come on Along & Listen to My Life in Theatre" is a fun, informative, personal telling of this extraordinary Broadway tale.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, impressively informative, exceptionally detailed, well written, organized and presented memoir, "Come on Along & Listen to My Life in Theatre" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Come on Along & Listen to My Life in Theatre" is also available in a paperback edition (9781480876316, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Editorial Note: Martin Markinson owned and operated the Helen Hayes Theatre on Broadway from 1979 until its sale in 2015. He also operated the Wadsworth and Brentwood theatres in Los Angeles and the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He produced and co-produced more than forty plays and musicals since 1975 for Broadway and throughout the United States, spending time in Hollywood producing two movies.

Anecdotes to Dote On
Barry Hansen
LifeRich Publishing
https://www.liferichpublishing.com
9781489723215, $11.99, PB, 118pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: For Barry Hansen, looking back in time shows him that success in life is the continuous collection of memories that make you smile. "Anecdotes to Dote On: Random Remembrances of Random Times" is an anecdotal biography that begins with Barry's recognition that he is only here because of a double dribble -- a memory that makes him smile, which he deftly shares with his readers.

"Anecdotes to Dote On" offers the reader a kind of window into Barry's memories from boyhood through adulthood. His boyhood during World War II was highlighted by sitting for many hours in the copilot's seat of a B-17, with occasional breaks to pretend as a bombardier, trying to focus on a Norden bombsight. Interspersed was his introduction to the making of Hollywood movies and a fascination with being in the audience of the biggest national radio shows -- like watching TV before there was TV.

Barry also shares his good times at college (often at the expense of his GPA) and the unexpected career path that propelled him to a fifty-year-or-so career in international cargo transport, mostly by air. Barry's anecdotes relate to events that he encountered, traveling to all of the world's continents -- except to the one where penguins outnumber people!

Critique: Pleasantly engaging and impressively presented, "Anecdotes to Dote On: Random Remembrances of Random Times" is a unique and extraordinary introduction to an interesting life lived out in interesting times. While very highly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Anecdotes to Dote On: Random Remembrances of Random Times" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

The Early Years: A Memoir
Rachel G. Carrington
Marketing Department
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
www.iuniverse.com
9781491765692, $28.95, HC, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In the pages of "The Early Years: A Memoir", Rachel G. Carrington lays no claim to lofty jobs, higher education, nor grand accomplishments except for a love-filled, multifaceted, family-oriented, poverty-to-plenty life.

In this first volume of a planned a series laying out her life story, Rachel shares her story beginning when she was a young teenager, just entering high school in the small town of Denton, Kentucky. She planned to attend college and become a teacher. With course work geared toward college attendance, she was offered a lucrative scholarship that would help her to attain her goal. However, it took only a single event to send her down a different path.

She met a returned World War II veteran who was attempting to pick up the pieces after finding his marriage in irreparable shambles and his children gone. As he struggled, Rachel was there, and they pulled together to clear the many hurdles before them.

In this memoir, she tells the story of their journey and how their love and dedication for each other kept moving them forward. Filled with the joys, disappointments, and struggles of a couple, The Early Years narrates how the love of the heavenly Father was the continuous thread that bound the Carringtons' lives together.

Critique: An inherently interesting and exceptionally well presented life story, "The Early Years: A Memoir" is especially recommended for community library Contemporary American Biography collections -- and will leave readers looking eagerly toward the next installment of Rachel Carrington's memoirs. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Early Years: A Memoir" is also available in a paperback edition (Author Reputation Press, 9781970081404, $10.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

At the Narrow Waist of the World: A Memoir
Marlena Maduro Baraf
She Writes Press
www.shewritespress.com
9781631525889, $16.95, PB, 184pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Raised by a lively family of Spanish Jews in tropical and Catholic Panama of the 1950s and 1960s, Marlena Maduro Baraf depends on her many tios and tias for refuge from the difficulties of life, including the frequent absences of her troubled mother. As a teenager, she pulls away from this centered world (crossing borders) and begins a life in the United States very different from the one she has known.

"At the Narrow Waist of the World: A Memoir" is lyrical coming-of-age story that explores the intense and profound relationship between mothers and daughters and highlights the importance of community and the beauty of a large Latin American family. As a part of her memoir, Marlena also explores the vital issues of mental illness and healing, forgiveness and acceptance.

"At the Narrow Waist of the World" insightfully examines the Marlena's gradual integration into a new culture, even as she understands that her home is still (and always will be) rooted in another place.

Critique: Deftly written, impressively candid, insightfully presented, "At the Narrow Waist of the World: A Memoir" is an extraordinary and memorable read -- and one that will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Contemporary Hispanic & Latino Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "At the Narrow Waist of the World: A Memoir" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.69).

Grabbing Lightning
Donald Marrs, author
Paige Marrs, author
James Finley, author
Barrington Sky Publishing
9780925887030, $16.00, PB, 312pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Donald Marrs was 20 years into his career as a powerful ad executive when in his early 40s he found himself in a crisis in both his professional and his personal live. His marriage was crumbling, he was working on client products that conflicted with his values, and he felt like he had reached the end of the road in himself.

Then the unimaginable happened in the form of a spiritually transformative epiphany, an out-of-body experience that turned his world upside down.

Now understanding why so many of his past choices backfired and old relationships failed, he vowed to let his new perceptions about the transcendent nature of love guide his choices moving forward. It was a turning point that would change his career and love life forever.

"Grabbing Lightning: A Messy Quest for an Extraordinary Love" is his personal account and reveals to his readers how to: Find lasting, true love in a beloved relationship; Move through uncertainty and disappointment with transcendent love as a form of guidance; Make a successful career that's aligned with their soul; Discern the language of their unique inner guidance system amid the noise and messiness of a chaotic world.

Critique: Part memoir, part self-help guide, "Grabbing Lightning: A Messy Quest for an Extraordinary Love" is a deftly written, extraordinarily insightful, thought-provoking, life-enhancing, life-changing read from first page to last. While an exceptional and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement and Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Grabbing Lightning" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).


The Theatre/Cinema Shelf

Around the World in 80 Movies
Robin Holabird
Ice Cube Press
www.IceCubePress.com
9781948509107 $22.95 amazon.com

Synopsis: In a highly imaginative blend of film locations, memories, and colorful travel essays, Robin Holabird offers an extensive and entertaining exploration of film locations far and wide, close to home, and everywhere in between. She explores heights at a summit of Machu Picchu and King Kong's adventures at the top of the Empire State Building. She examines film noir sites in San Francisco, romance in Paris, art in the Nevada desert for Burning Man, and Provence in the South of France. She takes her readers on epic journeys to Jordan, Scotland, and Egypt, among other exotic places, all the while providing insights and witty travel advice. Around the World in 80 Movies is the work of a film location mastermind and engaging travel companion who will delight and enlighten readers with her clever and piquant mixture of film lore and travel experiences.

Critique: Around the World in 80 Movies is a unique blend of travel memoir and cinema enthusiast testimony. Connoisseurs of perennial classic movies will find Around the World in 80 Movies the next best thing to embarking on a worldwide trip to see beloved film sites in person! Around the World in 80 Movies is pure fun to browse, and highly recommended.


The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Endless Incarnation Sorrows
Lucia Mann
http://www.luciamann.com
Grassroots Publishing Group
http://grassrootspublishing.com
9780997567731, $15.95, PB, 292pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: After the hospital staff resuscitated author Lucia Mann for the third time following a third surgery, she began to perceive and recognize a string of intimate memories of people and places from long ago. Although she was unable to control the arrival of these vivid flashbacks, she recognized their connection to her current life. Often paralyzed with fear from echoes and visionsof the past, Lucia eventually took pen to paper to make her peace with yesteryear.

As Lucia Mann constructs spellbinding memorials to past times, she threads certain themes throughout, such as the imprinted physical marks that symbolized unsanctioned deeds dating back to the author's first imprint on Earth, and a love so deep and full that it survived captivity, depravity, and more until it eventually achieved perfect purity.

Critique: "Endless Incarnation Sorrows: A Spiritual Odyssey of Mortal Imprints on Earth" is based on true events. A multi-generational story will trigger the introspective examination of the elements of our lives that we are puzzled by or take for granted, author Lucia Mann's underlying message is that there are ancient explanations to a certain act, or characteristic, or marks.

"Endless Incarnation Sorrows" is an invitation to contemplating the concept of reincarnation and to consider how it may be affecting our own personal and epic journey down the corridors of time. While unreservedly recommended for community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Endless Incarnation Sorrows" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.95).

Editorial Note: Humanitarian and activist Lucia Mann, was born in British colonial South Africa in the wake of World War II. She now resides in British Columbia, Canada. After retiring from freelance journalism in 1998, she wrote a four-book African series to give voice to those who have suffered and are suffering brutalities and captivity. "Endless Incarnation Sorrows" is a sequel to her previous book, "Addicted to Hate", which chronicles the author's experience with parent/elder abuse. Lucia has an informative website at http://www.luciamann.com

Have We Met?!
Gillian V. Harris
Independently Published
9780578462844, $19.99, PB, 422pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Have We Met?!: How To Identify Your Reincarnated Loved Ones! "is based on a true story of Soul Recognition. In August 2018, Gillian Harris added a post to her Facebook page: "A friend of mine died 1983-ish. He was born again in 1991. I met him again in 2016! "

Her readers wanted to know several things: 1. HOW did she recognize this person?'; 2. How did the person react to this news?' 3. How can others also recognize their reincarnated loved ones.

In "have We Met?!, Gillian cogently covers all of those points and in order to be effective and share as authentically as possible, steps into many vulnerable and controversial places.

A metaphysical consultant Gillian leaves no stone unturned as she reveals the full story of how it is she remembers this soul. She calls it an "Romantic Drama/Suspense Action Thriller "! She writes it as it unfolds over a five month period. Because she's a medium, much of what's being revealed is news to her, as well until it is shared from the Spirit World. Is it maybe just...wishful thinking that she's recognized this reincarnated loved one?

She eventually gets several visits from and has long talks with someone from across the veil who claims to have inspired this entire adventure. Gillian has no way of knowing this person was deceased. In fact, had no reason to think about this person until they surprisingly presented themselves. It was verified that this person had crossed over and the motivation for her actions from the spirit word became vibrantly clear. and beyond logical. In fact this part becomes the bitter sweet part of the story -- until the unthinkable happens.

Critique: Unique, deftly written, and inherently fascinating, "Have We Met?!: How To Identify Your Reincarnated Loved Ones!" is as compelling as it is thought-provoking. Certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Have We Met?!" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.90).

Editorial Note: Gillian Harris is a Black female Inspirational speaker, CEO, Author, and Reiki Master since 2012. She graduated from the University of Santa Monica with a Master's degree in Spiritual Psychology. She is also a Minister, ordained by the International Assembly of Spirit Healers and Earth Stewards. Harris' specialty is Metaphysics & Conscious Creation.


The Christian Studies Shelf

God Wants You to Get the Most out of Life Before It Gets the Most out of You!
Mary Ritzke
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
www.balboapress.com
9781982220303, $23.59, PB, 64pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Marty Ritzke overcame many challenges. She's legally blind in right eye and a three times cancer survivor. Despite this, she lives life to it's fullest. Her passion for sharing laughter and helping others prevails as she lives by her life's mission: "Do What It Takes To Make People Feel Better!"

In "God Wants You to Get the Most out of Life Before It Gets the Most out of You!: Conquering Life's Challenges" he draws upon his own personal experiences to convey the message that conquering life's challenges can be in its self quite life changing. That God can make your life better.

Written in a style that makes reading scriptures fun and inspirational, enhanced with photographs Marty has taken to match the passages in the scripture, the reader will feel being drawn closer to God -- and that the lessons and messages taught through the scriptures are simply tools we can use throughout life, inspiring and encouraging us to conquer life's challenges while living life to it's fullest.

Above all, whatever challenges currently being experienced, give them to God and let Him run circles around them.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "God Wants You to Get the Most out of Life Before It Gets the Most out of You!: Conquering Life's Challenges" is a life-changing, life-enhancing read and one that is unreservedly recommended -- especially to anyone struggling with the stresses life inevitably imposes upon us all. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "God Wants You to Get the Most out of Life Before It Gets the Most out of You!: Conquering Life's Challenges" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Growing in Christ
Gary E. Gilley
Green Acres Press
9781602650640, $8.95, PB, 76pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: While salvation is wholly a work of the Lord, requiring only faith and not our personal efforts, such is not true of sanctification, or spiritual growth. Rather, both God and the believer play vital, sometimes overlapping roles, in our progress toward a Christian's spiritual maturity.

Spiritual maturity is the result of human response to the enablement of God. It is initiated by God and requires a radical dependence upon the grace and power of the Spirit as we work out our salvation. "Growing in Christ: Laying the Foundations for Christian Maturity" by Pastor Gary Gilley is a manual specifically designed and intended to aid the children of God in the process of working out their salvation through the power and energy that God supplies.

Critique: Informatively insightful, biblically based, inspired and inspiring, "Growing in Christ: Laying the Foundations for Christian Maturity" is especially and unreservedly recommended for church, seminary, and community library Contemporary Christian Studies collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of parishioners, clergy, seminary students, and all other members of the Christian community that "Growing in Christ" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Editorial Note: Dr. Gary Gilley, who is the pastor of Southern View Chapel in Springfield, Illinois since 1975, is author of six books. He is a contributor to five other books: Reforming or Conforming, Biblical Sufficiency Applied, Practical Aspects of Pastoral Theology, Dispensationalism Tomorrow & Beyond: a Tribute to Charles Ryrie, and An Introduction to the New Covenant. Pastor Gilley is a frequent speaker at Bible conferences in America and internationally. He writes the study paper, Think on These Things, which examines important contemporary theological issues and trends. He is a board member of IFCA International, Brazil Gospel Fellowship Mission, and the Personal Freedom Outreach, and is the Book Review Editor for the Journal of Dispensational Theology.


The Health/Medicine Shelf

The How of Ow
Wanda Jean Swenson PT
Phoenix Century Press
http://phoenixcenturypress.com
9780960069101, $20.00, PB, 250pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The "The How of Ow: Everyday Self-Care and the Art of Pain Relief" is a self-care guide for aches and pains (both acute and chronic) based on mindful-body awareness. It provides simple exercises that can be done during work or play, while sitting or driving, in bed before sleep, and after waking.

The "art" of pain relief is the practice of creatively applying these skills as needed from moment to moment. Using personal and professional narratives "The How of Ow" gives the non-specialist general reader a better understanding of: The nature of pain; The timeline of healing; Why pain medication is ineffective for the treatment of chronic pain; What to do for effective early self-care of neuro-orthopedic aches and pains from head to toes (including body mechanics, tips on walking, and help with balance); and Basic anatomy.

Wanda Jean Swenson is a professional physical therapist with over 30 years of clinical experience and a lifetime of recovering from her own injuries, and who has seen the dramatically different outcomes from early versus delayed self-care.

Preventative care, early self-care, and education are seen as key to improving health care outcomes. Many people are without access to health care and even those with health insurance often have coverage that doesn't include physical therapy or are delayed in getting to physical therapy.

Critique: Written specifically for the benefit of the general public, and of immense practical value for the health professional, "The How of Ow: Everyday Self-Care and the Art of Pain Relief" has clear and illuminating illustrations and is packed from cover to cover with immediately useful, applicable, DIY information. With its humorous and compassionate style, it's an ideal reference book and instructional guide. While unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Health/Medicine collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The How of Ow" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The Technology Shelf

More Than Just Weather And Music: 200 Ways To Use Alexa
Bradley Metrock
Score Holidngs LLC
9780991141890, $31.12, PB, 228pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: For those who have an Alexa-enabled device, whether an Echo in the living room, an Echo Show in the kitchen, or an Echo Auto in the car, the technology is often under utilized. But that's because most Alexa owners don't knows that there is a whole lot more they can do with Alexa than just ask for the weather, or to play their favorite music.

"More Than Just Weather And Music: 200 Ways To Use Alexa", is a new instruction guide and manual by Bradley Metrock (who is the host of #1 tech podcast This Week In Voice and regular speaker on the impact voice technology is having in our world), in which he shares many of the 'best-in-class' Alexa skills and use case examples that will change the way Alexa owners will utilize this new technology.

Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "More Than Just Weather And Music: 200 Ways To Use Alexa" is a 'must' for any and all Alexa owners. Highly recommended!


James A. Cox
Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937
e-mail: mbr@execpc.com
e-mail: mwbookrevw@aol.com
http://www.midwestbookreview.com


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