The US Review of Books supports the Eric Hoffer Project by publishing the results of the annual Eric Hoffer Award for Books. The Eric Hoffer Award is judged by a separate panel, under direction of the Eric Hoffer Project, and is not influenced by The US Review of Books. We simply publish their results each year, and therefore the following commentary cannot be attributed as an official review from The US Review of Books. Instead, the Eric Hoffer Project respectfully requests that you give fair use when quoting their award winners. Please use "-The Eric Hoffer Award."
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The Eric Hoffer Award honors the memory of the great American philosopher Eric Hoffer. In addition to the grand prize, Hoffer honors are bestowed by press type and category, and also through the Montaigne Medal, da Vinci Eye, and First Horizon Award. Coverage of the the Hoffer is updated in May when the results are released to the public. You can view the Hoffer Award announcement schedule on their official website in the spring. They also post a grand prize short list of finalists. We publish their list of category finalists with links to the books we've reviewed in our pages.
2023 Eric Hoffer Book Award
Hoffer Grand Prize
The Eric Hoffer grand prize is the highest distinction awarded each year.
Unsheltered Love: Homelessness, Hunger, and Hope in a City Under Siege, Traci Medford-Rosow, Morgan James Publishing - Unsheltered Love: Homelessness, Hunger, and Hope in a City Under Siege, Traci Medford-Rosow, Morgan James Publishing - When COVID-19 struck, we told to shelter in place for a "couple of weeks" until the surge passed. Regardless of that miscalculation and government overreach, what if one didn't have a home to take cover from the virus? The oft out of sight became invisible, more isolated and vulnerable than ever before, but the plight of humanity did not disappear because we suddenly couldn't see it. Challenging and inspiring, this is the story of one couple that made a difference in the lives of the homeless in New York City during the darkest days of the pandemic. Medford-Rosow poignantly shares the daily struggle of those on the street and how their heartbreak and misery touched her heart in incredible ways. Choosing to make a difference in an impactful way, the author and her husband invested time, energy, finances, and love into the lives of the less fortunate and helped to lift several above their dire realities. Interspersed narratives from the homeless shape the humanity of those we often pass on the street without a glance, but it is hope and love that are the essence of this story, powering it through not the worst but the best humanity has to offer.
The Montaigne Medal is awarded to the most thought-provoking books. (The Eric Hoffer Award provides no specific commentary about Montaigne Medal finalists, but they are listed on their official website.)
Made for More, Lindsay Sealey, Wonderwell - This self-improvement book is a resource for young females who want to take actionable steps to enrich their lives through change. Sealey helps identify areas of one's life that introduces stressful, negative, or lacking feelings, and then provide solutions to pivot and encourage strength through transformation. Prompts help drill down to the root of why one might be feeling inadequate, self-conscious, and even overwhelmed in a world seemingly run by social media and the harm that too often accompanies it, where "compare and despair" are the watch words. The book offers steps to cultivate more positivity and happiness surrounding life, ultimately make it "more" by avoiding perfection and comparison, increasing confidence, and resulting in the most authentic version of one's self.
Manifesting Justice, Valena Beety, Kensington Books - Class divide, institutionalized abuse, and sexism exists in our judicial system, as the female population becomes the fastest growing segment of imprisonment. Beety works to restore the freedom and dignity of people imprisoned in the United States' prison system, which is rife with predatory treatment of innocents who are too often women. Achieving change in massive human rights violations caused by structural systems with severe dysfunctions is no easy undertaking. The US has the largest prison-centric system ever recorded in human history. It can be entrapment, and at times it resembles modern-day slavery with private coprorations reaping economic benefit. The jailed population is largely composed of grown children, not of middle class comfort, but raised through "food insecurity, abuses, transphobia, systemic racism, structural misogyny, and homophobia.” Injustice reigns, or as one inmate pits it: "Because the last time I tried to help someone, I ended up in prison for a crime I didn't commit." The book suggests a primary human question: Who are we really helping?
da Vinci Eye
The da Vinci Eye is awarded to books with superior cover artwork. (The Eric Hoffer Award provides no specific commentary about da Vinci Eye finalists, but they are listed on their official website.)
Horse Not Zebra, Eric Nelson, Terrapin Books (cover by Diane Lockward, painting by Laura Berendsen Hughes)
See additional award coverage in the Poetry Category.
How to Make Paper When the World is Ending, Dallas Woodburn, Koehler Books (cover by Skyler Kratofil)
See additional award coverage in the Short Story/Anthology Category.
Nepantla Familias, Sergio Troncoso, Texas A&M University Press (cover by Antonio Castro)
Rise, The Four Elementals, Nick Seneca Jankel, Switch On Books (cover by Tom Gravestock)
What Will I Wear to Your Funeral?, Kellie Curtain, Middle Page Publishing (cover by Karen Greenberg)
Year of the Murder Hornet, Tina Cane, Veliz Books (cover by Sylvana Aayla, photo by Cormac Crump)
First Horizon Award
The First Horizon Award is given to superior work by debut authors. (The Eric Hoffer Award provides no specific commentary about First Horizon Award finalists, but they are listed on their official website.)
Abundant Fruit, Casey Wayne, Amazon (See award coverage in the Spiritual Nonfiction category.)
Brewing Storms, A.M. Ramzy, Daybreak Press (See award coverage in the Legacy Nofiction category.)
Flavour with Benefits: France, Cathy Connally & Charley Best, Culture (See award coverage in the Home category.)
Hemlock Hollow, Culley Holderfield, Regal House Publishing (See award coverage in the Historical Fiction category.)
Lost and Found, Spencer Brewer and Esther Siegal (See award coverage in the Art category.)
Myracles in the Void, Wes Dyson, Wonderlove (See award coverage in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category.)
Obedient unto Death, Liisa Eyerly, Cross River Media (See award coverage in the Spiritual Fiction category.)
Queen Bee's Alphabet Cookbook, Mariah Ecker, RD and Teri Ecker, Archway Publishing (See award coverage in the Children's category)
Seen, Julie G. Delegal (See award coverage in the Young Adult category.)
The French House, Courtney Lochner, Calumet Editions (See award coverage in the Mystery/Crime category.)
The Lives of Diamond Bessie, Jody Hadlock, Spark Press (See award coverage in the Commercial Fiction category.)
The Music Therapy Studio, Rick Soshensky, Rowan and Littlefield (See award coverage in the Health category.)
The Young Terrorist, Nabil Khouri, Armin Lear Press (See award coverage in the Memoir category.)
When I Was the Wind, Hannah Lee Jones, June Road Press (See award coverage in the Poetry category.)
Wish Upon a Crawdad, Curtis W. Condon, Heart of Oak Books (See award coverage in the Middle Reader category.)
The Medal Provocateur is given to to the best on the frontier of poetry—the experimental, the innovative, the daring and stunning, the impromptu in technique and voice.. (The Eric Hoffer Award provides no specific commentary about Medal Provocateur finalists, but they are listed on their official website.)
Of the Florids, Shawn Hoo, Diode Editions - Hoo takes experimentation to an entirely new level. Fusing the sciences and history with the personal and familial, its language and structure transcend the collection's pages. The poems' unique structures, which ebb and flow across the page, elevate words and phrases which readers may otherwise not notice. The structures also correspond to the distance of history and the closeness of crisis—two common themes in the book. At times, the structures mimic the chaos of personal understanding and existence amid the immediate and historical crises that shape individuals. Its experimentation with both language and structure make it a memorable read.
Academic Press Award
The Academic Press Award is given to a book from a press with an educational institution affiliation, such as a college, library, or museum.
From Chernobyl with Love, Katya Cengel, Potomac Books - An American journalist leaves California to join the staff of The Baltic Times in Riga, Latvia, a tiny country in the Soviet Union, at a time when revived democratic values created opportunity for real journalism. The book, rather than focusing on the politics of a newly almost-free press, details the extraordinary experiences of the author and seemingly ordinary acts in an alien environment. She showers in rust-colored water, stands in line choosing an uncertain cultural cuisine on a small budget, and immerses herself in the heartbreak of Latvians whose family farms were cleared by the government and subsequently bombed... regularly. The focus on the people, land, and culture—wrought through viscerally tight reflections—sets it apart from the typical expatriate memoir. It's a stranger in a strange land brought to our hearts and tears.
Small Press Award
The Small Press Award is given to a book from a press producing twenty-five books or more per year.
Unmuted: How to Show Up, Speak Up and Inspire Action, Heather Hansen, Bloomsbury Business - Knowing when it is your turn to speak and when to keep quiet are often the difference in making an impact or being overlooked. The author melds research in organizational psychology, cultural studies, and linguistics into actionable steps that go beyond virtual meetings and breakout rooms to develop organizations where open communication is welcomed and every voice is heard. The book is divided into four parts, each focusing on a key aspect of effective communication: showing up, speaking up, inspiring action, and unmuting yourself and your organization. Using personal anecdotes and real-work examples along with humor, Hansen provides strategies for overcoming fear and self-doubt, embracing authenticity, using effective body language, and identifying values. A QR code at the end of the book provides access to additional resources, including a self-assessment, discussion guides, and an action guide.
Micro Press Award
The Micro Press Award is given to a book from a press producing twenty-four books or less per year.
The World Against Her Skin, John Thorndike, Beck & Branch - Ginny Thorndike is a married mother of two, and she has fallen deeply in love with a surgeon that is thirteen years younger. After a torrid love affair of four years, she finally leaves her marriage to join her lover, but he thereupon rejects her, and she begins drinking to cope. Her descent into alcoholism and drug abuse, its effect on her college-aged boys, and eventual divorce from their father is this book's subject, although thematically and intergenerationally this work cuts much deeper. Ginny, an anesthesiologist, has needs that many men have failed to provide. She struggles to forget the surgeon and instead unintentionally hurts those around. This void, this recompense, cannot be filled with pain-killers and booze. The book itself is her son's attempt to tell his mother's story through fiction. It's a heart-rending tale of a woman's losing battle with substance abuse, painted by the author as a surprisingly loving portrait of his mother.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
The Self-Published Award is given to a book that was financed by the author and/or not by the publisher, regardless of press size.
Abundant Fruit: Cultivating Fruit of the Spirit Through Spiritual Growth, Casey Wayne, Amazon - This twenty-eight-day devotional directed toward mothers encourages a healthy personal journey of spiritual enlightenment through God. Wayne relates to mothers with universal topics, yet elevates through concise and incisive talk: feelings of joy compared to happiness, finding patience when suffering, and adopting an overall child-like faith—full of innocence, trust, and love. These are core Christian beliefs that St. Paul himself would inspire in others. The author mirrors common traits of the mother—gentleness, patience, kindness, love—creating a devotional reflecting these aspects by filling each day with unique challenges, meditations, and strength-building suggestions. Faith-based, yes, but Wayne's is an inclusive approach to the motherhood and her impact as center of the family that anyone could relate to and absorb. This will help a mother affirm her role and supply the family with words of inspiration and gentleness, reminding them that their spiritual needs are important to nurture as well as other basic needs.
The Art category captures the experience, execution, or demonstration of the arts, including art, fine art, graphic art, architecture, design, photography, and coffee table books.
Lost and Found: Assemblage Artists of Northern California, Spencer Brewer and Esther Siegel (editors) - This compendium of assemblage art from Northern California proves true the old adage that one person's trash is another person’s treasure. From the playful to the poignant, the featured artworks demonstrate the wide range of creative expression eight assemblage artists have found in rescuing and repurposing various materials from the junk heap. Old typewriters, jewelry, dolls, and broken pieces of machinery combine to find new life as whimsical creatures, poetic set pieces, or thought-provoking sculptures. Each artist's unique vision is showcased in beautifully photographed examples of their work, making this rich survey of assemblage art both an enchanting and enlightening visual feast.
Dancing for Our Tribe: Potawatomi Tradition in the New Millennium, Sharon Hoogstraten, Shikaakwa Press - In a deeper sense, photographs can provide glimpses into lives past, long-ago events, and forgotten places. They can help shape our understanding of culture, history, and the identity of the people who appear in them. In some cases, photographs secure the memory of ancient cultures at risk of being lost. This book does just that, spawning a visual journey through the lives and experiences of the Potawatomi people. Organized in a functional layout with numerous photographs of cultural significance and handwritten letters, this is an heirloom to be enjoyed, shared, and cherished.
Bestiary, Chard deNiord (poems), Brian D. Cohen (etchings), Bridge Press - A collaboration between a printmaker and a poet, this hybrid art book and poetry collection examines the magic and mythology of animals. From the figurative to the abstract, the prints were etched and inked on copper plates, offer whimsical, haunting, and ethereal depictions of some thirty animals in their natural habitats. The accompanying poems explore encounters with such creatures as bison, bucks, cows, elephants, owls, squirrels, trout, and whales in ways that illuminate their mysterious and mythical qualities.
Dewees Cochran: The Artist and Her Dolls, Ann M. Leis, Redwood Publishing - Dewees Cochran was born into wealth and privilege more than a century ago, but the Great Depression and the death of her father all but wiped out the family fortune. Cochran and her husband found themselves virtually penniless—until Cochran discovered her talent for fashioning dolls. This fascinating biography of one of the world's most successful dollmakers traces her riches-to-rags-to-riches story, punctuated by hundreds of photographs of her creations. While the author readily acknowledges that what was once regarded as socially acceptable is different today, this coffee table-sized volume of Cochran's life and work traces the story of an accomplished artist who is little known outside the antique doll collecting community.
The Chapbook category contains books with 40 pages or less, with typically some form of saddle stitch binding and/or artistic assembly.
Of the Florids, Shawn Hoo, Diode Editions - Like the intricate sketches adorning its cover, this is an escape into environments both familiar and unfamiliar. Rooted in history and taxonomy, its poems challenge readers with both their forms and content. History clashes with the present and offers an intimate look at place and self, as the many spaces both wax, wane, merge, and separate, unearthing the histories that colonialism and imperialism have attempted to erase and its unfathomable effects on environments radically altered by the presence of humans. Sharp, radical, and poetically unorthodox, it is a collection for those who like the poetry as wild as the threatened landscapes its poems preserve.
Surrender Dorothy, Brett Salsbury, North Dakota State University Press - A hand-letter-pressed chapbook as individualistic as the landscape it captures, Salsbury evokes personal, intimate spaces where nature, myth, and family collide. Poems like "Tin Woodman" examine human interference in natural spaces. "Horse of a Different Color" is an encouragement to embrace one's individualism as a means of resilience against the world. "I Think I’ll Miss You Most of All" is filled with a longing of which even the likes of Auden would envy. Grounded in allusions to the groundbreaking film The Wizard of Oz, this chapbook offers readers of all backgrounds verses and sentiments they can appreciate.
between every bird, our bones, emet ezell, Newfound - Bold and dreamlike, the poems flood with vulnerability, tackling difficult subjects like overwhelming medical debt. Other poems balance a response to a military occupation with the pleasures of domesticity. Minimalism and sparse language deepen the collection's examination of a body on the edge of place and medical disaster. Balancing all of this is nature—a meditative, healing force recentering and realigning an individual in physical and geographic chaos. Its verses remind readers of the necessity of capturing the moment: "i can no longer wait for the harvest."
Blinded Birds, B. Fulton Jennes, Finishing Line Press - Beginning with the collection's eponymous poem, enter an existence where a creator allows the harm of one of its creations and a speaker asks, "For what?" This theme continues throughout the collection, but a resounding voice of survival and determination overshadow the looming horrors. Poems like "Return" celebrate the positive, yet difficult, transformations that existence offers. In "What It's Like to Be An Addict's Mother," the darkness of addiction intrudes on the joys of motherhood. Immensely painful and courageous, this collection is one of recollection and remembrance. It is a cautious examination of family and genetics, but more so, it is a light cast onto a dark path leading the way to healing.
She Has Dreamt Again of Water, Stephanie Niu, Diode Editions - Sleek and fluid, Niu’s brisk collection captures the generational differences between immigrant families and their American-born children. These poems are cleansing, refreshing, and as impactful as the waves and depths that the speaker reveres. Adept verses where enjambment is key to the speaker's voice capture the depth and distances of a daughter's family role. This is a careful examination of the places that shape the speaker and leave them searching for the origins. The poems exult nature, family, and one’s place within it.
The Children's category is for young children's books, including stories and picture books.
Queen Bee's Alphabet Cookbook: A Nutrition Guide for Families, Mariah Ecker, RD and Teri Ecker, ArchwayPublishing - With realistic depictions of food and surrounding elements, this well-illustrated cookbook is made interesting through poetry and an alphabet to teach valuable lessons. Fun exercises help children learn measurements and safety rules of food preparation, storage, and working in the kitchen, including the setting of the dinner table. A plethora of fabulous recipes focus on healthy balanced eating for optimal growth and development. There's even a place to log personal own recipes, thoughts, and revelations about kitchen discoveries.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
When I Feel at Home, Dia Mixon, El Mundo Mixon Books - In this beautifully illustrated book, Mixon tackles homesickness by reminding readers that they always carry home within them. Alucia, the narrator and a bilingual Colombian-American child, takes children on a sensory journey by describing the sights, sounds, tastes, and feelings that remind her of home no matter where she goes. It includes a glossary of Spanish words to help introduce readers to new words.
Armadillo Antics, Bill Martin Jr and Michael Sampson, Nathalie Beauvois (Illustrator), Brown Books Kids - When evening falls, most creatures fall asleep but not the armadillos who's antics begin at night. They prefer to run and play with each other and other animals. They like to dance, eat, and tease until morning when they finally rest. The nightlife of armadillos is told through delightful, rhythmic poetry and displayed through captivating illustrations full of shapes and colors to enhance the reading. The authors includes armadillo information at the end of the story.
Finding Freedom: A Ukrainian Tale of Home, Maryna Kariuk, Ksenia Markevych (Illustrator), Kohana Books - Inspired by the resilience of the Ukrainian people fighting against the invasion of their country, this book follows the journey of a young girl as she seeks to discover freedom through awe-inspiring landscapes and folklore of her homeland. A world of wanderlust and warmth is built through the author's lyrical prose, alongside the whimsical illustrations of Ukraine. The hopeful and moving imagery of Ukrainian custom, culture, and scenery proudly display the young protagonist’s homeland during a pivotal time in history. This book ends with a glossary of Ukrainian terminology.
The Lonely Daffodil, Emily Langhorne, Heather Heyworth (illustrator), Belle Isle Books - Before winter settles in, a farmer carefully plants her daffodil bulbs, but she does not notice when a single bulb rolls away from her land and settles at the edge of the forest. There, the single daffodil grows alone, isolated from the rest of the daffodils. Each night the daffodils sing, but they will not let the lonely daffodil at the edge of the forest join them in their song. However, through his kindness and gentle nature, the daffodil soon befriends a bee, a tree, a rain cloud, and a squirrel. With their support, the lonely daffodil thrives and is soon surrounded by more daffodils, who together bring music and harmony to the once lonely forest.
The Prickly Problem, Cheryl Da Veiga, Luis Peres (illustrator) - A porcupine doctor helps to cure all who come to him. No matter the problem, he gives them an elixir and then follows up with a hug. Eventually they ask for his help with a mean cactus that they encounter every time they come to his office. It turns out that all the cactus really needed was a hug and friendship. This book has whimsical yet relatable characters throughout. Vivid illustrations detail the emotions of all of the characters. The book also includes a fun facts page about porcupines.
The Who That I Am, Cynthia Carla, Stephen Aitken (Illustrator), C&C Enterprises - This book is full of fun rhymes and illustrations. A young elephant shares who they are by expressing their feelings, experiences, and dreams. The main message is to love yourself, embrace your uniqueness, and stay connected. We are all different and need to show the who that we are by sharing our feelings, experiences, and dreams. Through sharing, we learn that our experiences can be much like those of others.
Travels with Zozo…on the Reef, A.J. Atlas, Anne Zimanski (illustrator), ImaginOn Books - This creative and entertaining book tells the story of Zozo, a bunny who loves naps and her adventurous family. On this trip, Zozo and her family travel to Australia to visit the Great Barrier Reef. They fly to an island on the reef where they visit via glass-bottom boat. When Zozo gets seasick, she stays behind while her family swims. As the boat rocks in the waves, Zozo realizes that she is swimming as well. She meets Bonzer, a stingray, who takes her around the reef and to a race of the "heavyweights"—sharks, whales, and other large sea life. The winning whale jumps out of the ocean near the boat. Zozo then realizes that she is still in the boat and wonders if she really swam on the reef. This colorful book will encourage curiosity and a love of travel in young readers.
The Middle Reader category is aimed toward the pre-teen market, including chapter books.
Wish Upon a Crawdad, Curtis W. Condon, Heart of Oak Books - Ruby Ryan is a 12-year old girl living in the Depression Era, where many families struggle with poverty. Ruby, however, finds ways to saves money for a special purchase, a secret that is known only by her father and her best friend. Pennies are collected and saved however she can, from picking strawberries to becoming the number one crawdad provider in the area. However, sometimes you have to give up things in order to save for others. As her community gets electricity for the first time, Ruby learns valuable lessons about hard work, taking chances, and how in spite of tough times, you find a bit of magic and maybe even make wishes come true.
The Worry Knot: Untangling Middle School Life, Mary Bleckwehl, Immortal Works Press - For Rourke, middle school brings real world challenges—a new school with new requirements, challenging neighbors, and an older autistic brother who is difficult to guess what he'll do next. The story includes the importance of a best friend and how emerging adults cope with adversity. It's emotional resonance is realistic, wrapped inside a relatable coming-of-age story.
Finding Moon Rabbit, J.C. Kato & J.C.², CHB Books - On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which forced 120,000 people of Japanese descent from their homes and into ten internment camps. Half were Children. Told from a child's point of view, we experience a time in history that many grown-ups do not want to discuss. It is raw with emotion, exploring how prejudice and fear can affect our lives, while revealing cultural diversity in trying times. This is the story of one child's strong and continued belief in Hope.
The Last Green Dragon, Rud Verhagen, Your Nickel's Worth Publishing - Due to a prophecy, the grogs set out to kill the green dragons. So Gus's mother left him to be raised by owls. He receives magical letters to help him grow and get wings. He doesn't understand how holding his breath will help him get wings, but he continues to practice even after he's taken to live alone in the dragon cave. Meanwhile, Ev was left on Granny Jenkins' doorstep and raised by humans, until one day Granny shows her the magic doorway into another world. There, she discovers her true self. She meets Gus. They go on a quest to save Gus's mother and aunt, and during their mission, their friendship is tested.
The Secret Benefits of Invisibility, C.W. Allen, Cinnabar Moth Publishing - In this sequel to Relatively Normal Secrets, Zed, Tuesday and their hellhound Nyx are just getting used to life in the underground bunker at Falinnheim, when their world is once again turned upside down. On a rare outing, the kids and their teachers find themselves locked out of the bunker with the adults of the Resistance trapped inside. The adults keep the children from the plans, until they realize that youth is actually an asset. When Zed and Tuesdays are "kidnapped" by the evil dictator, Tyrren, Zed is finally able to channel the magic of slipsteel and help them escape. Will they finally overthrow the cruel regime and restore peace within their family and the kingdom?
The Poetry category contains poetry or highly stylized prose.
When I Was the Wind, Hannah Lee Jones, June Road Press - This debut collection of both mythical and meditative poems builds a remarkable journey. A new voice for these times, the poet encourages one's inner wildness to summon a power to call their own. This work has a fascinating rhythm—bright and flowing, creating its own dance. As these extraordinary poems walk along the rivers, explore the deserts and mountains, sail the seas, and rediscover history, we take notice of our own fragility and that of the world. These poems are mile markers for a new road, carrying along all who join Jones on the journey. With an undercurrent of grit, there is just enough magic here to intrigue all who still want to believe in the best within us all.
When I Drowned, Lauren Davis, Kelsay Books - This is a collection about loss, death, and yearning for voices of the dead—a longing that comes from souls of dead family, evoking depth and resonance. Carefully edited into three sections with connected themes, this collection provides a uniquely haunting experience that is rare in the reading of poetry. "We died on a Wednesday"’ is simply chilling. Water, lily, fern, all elements in nature speak to the dead and bring them back to life.
American Sycamore, Lisbeth White, Perugia Press - This is a love note to her ancestors, a map guide of the history of enslavement toward a "remembered song from the before-land." She calls our country and herself to "begin now the daily training of your breath around the gash," leading us all to wrestle with the seemingly impossible task of stitching the wounds left by the legacy of slavery in America while offering up questions about what pieces of this history are still embedded in our own hearts and minds. With lush language wielded with purposeful spareness, White takes our hand through "the geologies of all the dead/deposited to make land for/the living."
Ask The Brindled, N'ou Revilla, Milkweed Editions - Revilla’s collection is rousing and reflective. It's an unabashed celebration of indigenous Hawaiian culture, identity, and language—included without need for explanation as a way of experiencing a work that requires attention, care, and want. Revilla speaks with honor and reverence, amassing works that highlight her skill for the written word and a wonder at her people.
Horse Not Zebra, Eric Nelson, Terrapin Books - Flights of imagination characterize a poet shifting from a simple neighborhood setting, woods, or basement—another world or future similar but different to the version of the moment we thought we were having. This realization causes one to reel back the focus a little this way or another. Evolving, speculative poems arrive with rich visual detail, minute inspection, and contemplation of the very period itself. It's sometimes fun, sometimes weird, always thoughtful, reaching, seeing, doing the things good poetry does: taking leaps with the language.
I Wanna Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe, Susana H. Casa & Margo Taft Stever (editors), Milk & Cake Press - Any worries of chagrin—wrought by the size and presentation of the book itself—will be quickly replaced by joy after scanning the table of contents. There one discovers contemporaries of Ms. Monroe, luminaries like Sylvia Plath, Gwendolyn Brooks, Frank O'Hara, to name a few—plus an abundance of later 20th Century poets whose names and body of work will be familiar to many. The editors included an essential three-page introduction to the iconic actress, as well as two pages of author notes, to help elucidate many of the inclusions.
Muse Found in a Colonized Body, Yesenia Montilla, Four Way Books - In Montilla’s courageous collection, she asks how we might hit the reset button on nationhood, how we might break a new world open in order to include everyone, and how to do so without grandstanding or accusation. She moves through each moment of working to decolonize the worlds, our shared spaces, and our minds with lyrical, vulnerable, and historical truths. She takes notice of "how we muzzle the world—," saying "I imagine the only way to save humanity/ is to be a little less/ human." Montilla asks deep questions about how macro pain, inequity, and greed play themselves out inside of each of us, microscopically and ephemerally. No matter the deep gash of the world, she will find her muse, the muse that will set us all free from our memory.
Our Lively Kingdom, Julia Lisella, Bordighera Press - This is an expertly embroidered quilt, made from scraps of anecdote, lived experiences, relationship, and loss. These poems deftly but sometimes quietly move through time and explore the cost of living: the realities of friends and mothers dying, or the evolution of a long-term marriage that "Somewhat deep in the dream of each of our nights" houses "a small hurt that renders meaning." Mimicking the art-form of quilt making, the cloth of these poems is gathered from gardens and bursts of brightly colored flowers, walks in nature, or a shared moment of grief with a student. So too are they gathered from religious influence and social impact, for example a faculty development meeting serving as setting for the American debate about gun control. The collection ends with Covid-19’s emotional toll and lessons imparted on the speaker.
Talk Smack to a Hurricane, Lynne Jensen Lampe, Ice Floe Press - Through love, sorrow, and joy over multiple decades, the narrative follows a family's journey. The first poem, "Five Photographs Square with My Mother’s Truth," is an ekphrastic exploration into five moments of a mother's life. The title poem explores 1960's trauma, visiting a therapist, and stating in the present day that "Soap can’t wash away love-/burns." "Figures of Speech" confesses that they “went to five elementary schools" while "Mama went to five hospitals." In "Delivered," the poet addresses their mother posthumously in "I read the letter after your death." Later, through erasure poems that reflect on motherhood, the erased words reveals a dichotomy between the spoken and unspoken. Lastly, with bolded and unbolded letters or words, the last two poems can also be read multiple ways. After the pain of the mother's death, the book ends with a birth.
Territorial, Mira Rosenthal, University of Pittsburg Press - The power of this collection deals with the poet’s ability to craft original images. Language ignites our imagination, and the line breaks and turns that these poems take, propel us to read on. The writer observes places that have been defiled by humans which, in turn, reveals what perpetrators are capable of with their own kind. For example, "Mythology" begins by noting how a hatched insect begins chewing the lips of an Iris, before the moment switches to where she is riding a bus again, a bus where she is holding onto the strap and a man is cupping her breast. The word territorial is appropriate, for it represents conquering as well as boundaries one must psychologically and physically form to keep one safe.
To Love an Island, Ana Portnoy Brimmer, YesYes Books - This is a poetic memoir of the long aftermath of the devastation Hurricane Maria brought to Puerto Rico, as well as the resulting social upheaval and political awakening. The poems cover complex themes of trauma, colonization, racism, and especially the troubled relationship between Puerto Rico and the rest of the United States. Brimmer writes eloquently about the experience of watching her former home go through a major catastrophe from the safe vantage points of New York and New Jersey, and the pain and ambivalence of watching a place she loves cope with a major disaster. This is an examination of the personal side of major world events, and of the ways we remain connected to the places we come from.
Unsymmetrical Body, Jennifer R. Edwards, Finishing Line Press - A history of family across generations plus challenges of motherhood plus a body in flux add up to a turbulent world moment to moment. The poems in each of the collection's five parts come together in various forms and voices to portray a complex life of relationships with blood relatives and a relationship that the speaker faces with her own body. Some present a distant past with grandparents and parents, relying on memory to reveal truth. Others work in the immediate present, lending to sometimes startling emotion. In a chaotic life, each layer finds a way to continue on through each struggle with solemnity and also hope.
Where the Sea Kuniks the Land, Ashley Qilavaq-Savard, Inhabit Media - This collection widens the horizon and expands the world, transporting to places foreign, inhabiting its full complexity—to feel it deep within you, its joys, sorrows, and beauty. With a voice of sheer authenticity, the poet is clear-eyed sincere. She invites you to dance with her as the wind and snow dance in a blizzard, to feel the warm Arctic summer sun, to see her world through the eyes of her grandmother and great grandmother. The blue of her world, the sky and the ice and the sea will become yours.
The Young Adult category is aimed toward the juvenile and teen markets.
Seen, Julie G. Delegal - Set in Florida in 2001, it is the story of Jason Royal's walk to a job interview that ends up stealing almost three years of his life. Mistaken as a criminal merely because of the color of his pants and the color of his skin, he finds out that not only do the wheels of justice turn slowly, but that sometimes the system is broken. Told through the double narrative of both Jason and Detective Sergeant John Marshall, the inner workings of the detective’s mind is conveyed as he tries to make Jason the criminal needed to solve the case. This is a story about hope, inner strength, community, and staying true to your beliefs in yourself.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
Cult Girls, Natalie Grand, Comic Book Historians - In this graphic novel, Talia is a self-described "cult girl," a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. She and her girlfriends refer to themselves in this way because they see their lives caught in a lifestyle designed to oppress, humiliate, and destroy any dream beyond the pre-approved perimeters set by the council running their congregations. Their many rules seem strange and arbitrary to Talia. Women are expected to be meek, mild, and obedient to men. To the dismay of her family and her religious community, Talia slowly slips away from the confines of her church to discover a life outside, where she inevitably discovers love.
Dylan Dover: Into the Vortex, Lynne Howard, The Conrad Press - Twelve year-old Dylan’s world is turned upside-down when he unknowingly crosses into a new world while escaping neighborhood bullies. From that point on, everything he knew about his family and his childhood is contradicted. He isn’t, in fact, an only child but a twin to Remy, and meets his birth parents. In this new world, magic abilities are commonplace, children go to school to hone their abilities, and flying is the desired mode of transportation. As Dylan acclimates to his new surroundings, more and more information is revealed about why he and his twin were separated. Does their origin story play into a long-foretold prophecy? Could there be more to Dylan’s origin story than either he or his birth parents know?
See a full review in the US Review of Books
Friends and Heroes, Jackie Smith, Ph.D., Page Publishing - This book chronicles the stories of four young boys: Connor, Mark, Herbert, and Mike as they grow and learn about life together. Their adventures begin with our narrator getting locked inside a supermarket at closing time, and because of this unfortunate event, he prevents a store robbery and becomes a town hero. The boys' adventures culminate with a coming-of-age survival camp, which tests our characters' perseverance and grit and gives them stories to share for years to come. At the end, the author tells how these close-knit friends grew up, their chosen professions. and their family and friendship ties.
The Commercial Fiction category contains genre specific titles, including thriller, suspense, romance, and horror.
The Lives of Diamond Bessie, Jody Hadlock, SparkPress - Women in America in the mid-19th century had limited opportunities. Getting pregnant out of wedlock narrowed them even more. Thus begins the story of a teenage girl whose one such mistake tragically changes the course of her life. She is forced to enter a convent, convinced to give up her baby, and lands in even more trouble when she tries desperately to get her child back and find a man to marry. She wants a traditional family life, and to be made respectable in the eyes of society, even though she finds those societal demands too rigid and oppressive. When she has finally found a man who can make an honest woman of her, she realizes that she's a bad judge of character. Will he make her into something else entirely?
The Desecrated, John Gray, Ellysian Press - Straddling multiple genres, the book continuously transports the reader between the real and the fantastic. Jennifer struggles with her past and the haunting present. Things get complicated when a British superstar joins her at the NYC morgue. However, there are higher powers at work, and Jennifer must use her wit and prowess to overcome not only the otherworldly, but also the mere mortals. Gray delivers an excellent fast-paced thriller, exploring the depths of humanity.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
A Little Rain, Bill VanPatten - This is a family drama about the effects of trauma, silence, and hiding one's true self from the important people in life. This is the story of secrets and the story of Alex, an intelligent yet quiet adolescent who falls in love with another boy. Alex struggles with his sexual identity, while his parents have their own issues. After attempting to murder his boyfriend and another boy, Alex finds himself in court and his competency in question, leading to a suicide attempt and lingering despondency. Could life have been different for young Alex if his family had been more open and honest with each other?
Redeemed, Pollyanna Porter - David, a successful art broker with questionable morals, returns to his family's homestead in Vermont for his grandfather's funeral and ends up saving a 10-year-old boy who hit his head on the bottom of a lake. In gratitude, the family embraces David in a warm relationship, although it ends when a potential love affair with Rachel never takes form. He returns to New York and, dissatisfied, returns again to Vermont and becomes a painter. His painting is personal and emotional, and he slowly builds a reputation as an artist. When Rachel's husband dies of cancer, David's unrequited love is reignited, yet it is only through his paintings that he can express himself emotionally. Meanwhile, the boy he saved is now a man, and they reconnect. Together, they discover that David's grandfather had spent his life finding and returning art stolen by Hitler to the rightful owners.
River of Ashes, Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor, Vesuvian Books - Beau Devereaux, on the surface, is a high school golden boy. He's the quarterback with a prominent family—the kind of guy used to getting his way. But Beau is a dark, demented, and dangerous monster. He targets underprivileged people to feed his depravity. While his girlfriend, Dawn, is pretty and sure, but nothing compared to her twin, Leslie, who he really wants. Leslie sees right through Beau’s phony façade, and although she knows he is dangerous, she underestimates the depth of his depravity. Somehow, she needs to convince her sister, who is dazzled by his wealth and power, to dump him., but Beau has other plans, to punish Leslie for rejecting him in the first place.
The Healer of Wounded Hearts, Dave Elliott, KDP - Dr. Rob Garcia is a retired surgeon working for a medical humanitarian organization in South Sudan. In the medical compound there are other ex-pat doctors and local medical personnel, who help Dr. Rob adapt to his new surroundings. Living in the medical compound is a new experience for him. A routine day in the Operating Theatre might include multiple gunshot patients, a man with a wound from a spear, or a woman on the verge of giving birth. Dr. Rob makes friends due to his warm, funny, and enjoyable personality,and he becomes a hero after killing a Cobra snake and thus gets the nickname, Dr. Cobra Killer. After a raid on the hospital by opposing forces, Dr. Cobra along with the others find themselves hiding in the jungle from rebel forces. It is during this adventure that Dr. Rob finds love.
The General Fiction category contains non-genre specific fiction, including literary and mainstream.
The Hammerhead Chronicles, Scott Gould, University of North Georgia Press - This story unfolds deliciously across a medley of distinct voices in a small Southern town: Claude's almost-ex-wife who has just lost her battle with cancer, his prickly daughter, an intriguing sister-in-law, a confidant at the local bar, a close friend, and a pair of twins who own the local bookstore and who've been flirting with a clandestine business. Above all, but not quite beyond it, resides the voice of Claude’s almost-ex-wife, who sees all and knows all as the omniscient narrator. The effect is kaleidoscopic, shifting the perspectives while both imbuing the tale with richness and driving it forward. It draws us ever closer to grief, loss, and the ways we get each other wrong—transmuting instead into the gold of family, friendship, and community.
Look Unto the Land, George Rollie Adams, Barn Loft Press - Combining action, love, and mystery, this follows Henry, Marry and Otis and each of their troubles in the Arkansas oil boom during the 1920s. Masterfully told, this novel doesn't shy from racism and environmentalism in the same story. The characters are complex, endearing, frustrating, and multifaceted. Greed and hatred are thoroughly woven throughout the story—a passion filled mystery that propels until the very end.
A Kiss for Maggie Moore, Micki R. Pettit, Black Rose Writing - Maggie, Bucky, and Melinda form a close friendship as children. They support each other. When one got in trouble, the other would as well. Their adventures together seals a tight bond. As they move from junior high to high school, they continue their friendship. However, Maggie begins to feel a closer attachment than childhood friendship with Bucky and dreams of the future. She also thinks that Bucky might feel the same, but perhaps Melinda might have designs of her own. As with any love triangle, someone is a winner and another a loser. Will a kiss for Maggie Moore have the answer?
See a full review in the US Review of Books
Attribution: A Novel, Linda Moore, She Writes Press - Budding art historian Cate Adamson is struggling in her doctoral program in a New York City university. Stumbling across an old, unattributed painting in her department's basement, she is forced to confront all of her difficulties head-on: a sexist thesis advisor, rejected research proposals, a longing for her Midwest home and family, and the lack of direction in her life. In a rash decision, she smuggles the painting back to Spain, hoping new information will reveal its origins and give her the spark she needs to impress the art world. Along the way, she meets Antonio, a handsome Spanish man, himself struggling with his family's legacy and financial difficulties. They both work to do right by their families, their dreams, and, eventually, each other.
Deep Waters of Destiny, Pete Carlson, Calumet Editions - A cartel infiltrates the lovely islands of the Caribbean, bringing drugs and murder, which frankly interferes with Gunner's seemingly leisure lifestyle. When he is asked to help the cartel, he hires the crew he needs to help. Even though he enjoys sailing on his yacht—hopping from island to island, helping his friends, seeing to their happiness, keeping danger away—he feels an emptiness. Can he fill that void by helping the cartel? Beautiful island descriptions blend with deception and murder, while romance threads through the suspence.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
Furnace Creek, Joseph Allen Boone, Black Springs Press Group - Being pubescent, very bright, and a Southerner marks him immensely ready for whatever, including pleasuring himself with an escaped murderer watching. Expectations change, however, with a part-time summer job arranging the books in a private fabulous library. Its recluse owner begins taking a personal interest, and then our protagonist meets the super sophisticated twins from a private school in London. Initial snobbery gradually turns to mutual respect and learning, where they become their own version of the three Musketeers, all for one, one for all.
Loving the Dead and Gone, Judith Turner-Yamamoto, Regal House - Several generations of a Southern family are bound in a web of secrets: love, lust, and longing that shape relationships and tragedies. Deaths are either accidental or left to the imagination. The death of teenager's husband, Donald Ray, leaves Darlene longing, searching for a substitute to fill the void. Another woman's secret involves marriage based on rape and how it affected her life, family, and relationships. The plotlines are powerful, entangled, and surprising.
No Century for Apologies, Jack Remick, Quartet Global - The first words of this novel, "They said they'd call," make the reader want to know why. What follows is the tale of a hired killer who has been asked to complete an assignment in South America. But as he follows the lead of his original employer, whose early killing is the catalyst for Castle's "killing as he goes" method, he is propelled from one deadly and dangerous circumstance to another. Populated by many disturbing and richly drawn characters, it remains unclear as to whom the enemy really is: the evil corporation, the bloodthirsty and vengeful Nacionales, the interloping Communists, mother nature and the gods, or Castle himself.
The Historical Fiction category contains historical fiction books.
Hemlock Hollow, Culley Holderfield, Regal House Publishing - This is a southern fiction novel with an intriguing murder mystery that merges family storylines from the past and present in Northern Carolina. Professor Caroline McAlister is surprised when the family's summer cabin in Hemlock Hollow has been left to her. Mourning both the loss of her father and the end of her marriage, she escapes to Hemlock Hollow to oversee the renovation of the old cabin, when a tin box is discovered in the attic, with a century old journal of the young Carson Quinn. Secrets from the past emerge, provding clues to an unsolved murder mystery.
The Unsealing, Robert Brighton, Copper Nickel Press - Characters face moral decisions, internal struggles and complex relationships. Arthur Pendle and Terence Penrose are best friends since they were college roommates. They open a law practice in Buffalo, New York in 1901. The pair create a substantial living for themselves. Terrence is a go-getter who brings in clients. Arthur has a good legal mind. Terrence becomes district attorney for Erie County and is extremely successful in that role. When Arthur’s law practice slows down, Terrence offers a deal his colleague cannot refuse, but as his income increases, his commitment to the righteousness of the legal profession lessens. This intrigue is further heightened with difficult marriages and romantic yearnings.
Company of Women, Doug Villhard, Mabel Publishing - In 1898, E.G. "Eddie" Lewis is a successful traveling salesman. Short in stature but big in ideas, he needs every bit of his creativity and money when his young wife becomes ill. With his remaining $1.25, he parlays a scheme to solve their immediate fiscal challenges. Thus, begins the first of many enterprises that launch a rollercoaster ride, involving challenges from his past, a pesky but dedicated postal employee, high level political adversaries, and romantic intrigue. Most amazingly, Eddie’s schemes are based on the ideas and input of women, unheard of at the time. The character of Eddie is based on many the real E.G. Lewis.
Ellis River, Nicki Ehrlich, Bay Feather Books - A coming of age during one of history’s bleakest times, this is a glimpse into a season in the life of a teenage girl, Ellis River. As the Civil War drags on, Ellis decides she cannot wait for an unknown fate at the family homestead and heads out into the unknown, seeking her twin brother Earl and father. Faced with repeated heartbreak and loss, she clings to her only two constants: her horse Billie and her journal. Ellis writes letters to her loved ones, offering a glimpse into her feelings as she processes each. Providentially she joins a band of misfits as they trek from Tennessee to Missouri, where Ellis finds family and, most importantly, a safe place.
It's Alive!, Julian David Stone, Greenleaf - Junior Laemmle has just learned that his father has finally come to his senses and will make him Vice President of Universal Pictures. At 23, he felt he was finally being recognized for his hard work in bringing a different type of movie to the studio, like his upcoming Frankenstein. This multi-layered story is told from several points of view. The main thread involves Junior's progress, a story that must be told, and a struggling actor who desperately desires to play the lead in a film.
Mad King Robin, James Vella-Bardon, Tearaway Press - This compelling novel chronicles the life of Robert the Bruce's Scotland in the 14th century. It is a world where friends become enemies, family become foes, and foes become allies. Vella-Bardon follows the known history accurately and breaths life in these notable figures from Scotland's past with dialog and exposition. 14th century Scotland was a violent land, even more so than the rest of Europe. Bardon chronicles the treachery in an uplifting story of how a few dedicated men survived a vicious regime and eventually triumphed.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
The Mystery Crime category contains mystery, crime, and true crime books.
The French House, Courtney Lochner, Calumet Editions - The story centers on the French House, a quirky on-campus immersion into French culture where students seek to differentiate themselves from their peers. Simone, a freshman in college, joins the house to explore her own French heritage. Bonding with a group of similar French lineage misfits, Simone and her group discover this house to be the target of secret mind control experiments. The sudden death of one student compels them to confront their own role in the murder and discover how a French professor has manipulated their emotions, using mind-altering substances to change their personalities. In her struggle to deal with the death of her classmate, Simone discovers her memories were manipulated, in a similar way by her father to doubt what she saw as a child. In her quest for truth, she uncovers the shocking realities of her past.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
Blood Terminal, C.C. Edge, Two Books Publications - In 1931, the United States is under the oppression of Prohibition and Jim Crow. Trains are the main means of long-distance travel, and Pullman porters ensure white passengers have a comfortable ride. Late one night, porter Alcey Morgan gets called back to work in Car 39 of the Hummingbird Express by someone who identifies himself as T.J. Jackson. Trouble meets Alcey in the form of a murdered prostitute. The police arrest Alcey because of his skin color and union affiliation, but T.J. knows his friend is innocent. For one thing, he never made the call that brought Alcey to the crime scene. With the help of his wife, Emma, and white rail detective Earl Freeman, T.J. sets out to solve the mystery and restore Alcey's name, but can they get the job done before the murderer strikes again?
Devil's Night, Thomas Stacey, Outskirts Press - It's Devil’s Night, the night before Halloween, an evening of pranks and mischief, but the real story is not what anyone has suspected. A car crash leads to one twist after another, until the truth is revealed. Within the Devil's Night terror emerges a love story and a dog named Lucifer to add to the mix. Devil’s Night in Detroit in the 1960s will never be the same and always plague the memories of the authorities involved with the investigation.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
Justice for Loretta, LeeAnne James, Black Rose Writing - Broken into three parts, from the viewpoint of three different characters, the story begins with Loretta's early life where she meets her husband, raises a family, and the marriage falls apart. The second part occurs after her death, where police investigator, Mac, runs down anonymous tips involving the crime. The third part is filled with courtroom drama during the trial of the murder suspect. The narrative flows fast with believable and well-rounded characters, spiraling into a surprise ending.
Pandion, William Michael Ried, CKBooks Publishing - Twenty-year-old Atticus Forester appears to have it all. The son of a hedge fund billionaire, he lives a life of privilege in Manhattan's Upper Eastside, attending an elite Ivy Prep school, globetrotting in his father’s company jet, and spending summers in Maine at Pandion—the family compound his wealthy grandfather built. When Atticus misses the family Thanksgiving flight to Pandion, his lifestyle of status and security is obliterated with the crash of his father's Gulfstream jet. Suddenly alone and trying to survive, Atticus unravels a web of secrets, lies, and betrayal, as he struggles to save those he loves.
The Romance category contains romance books.
Operation Mom, Reenita M. Hora, GenZ Publishing - Set in present day Mumbai, seventeen year old Ila lives with her single mother. She wants to find love and obsesses over her rock star crush, much to her mother's disapproval. This lighthearted novel follows Ila and her friends as they try to find Ila's mother a new man in order to get her off Ila’s case. This timely exploration of love and parenting in the 21st Century depicts the familial clashing of the old and new and between mother and daughter, bringing both characters to an understanding through the differing romances of teen crushes and adulthood second chances.
Hello, I Love You, Kristine Somerville and Speer Mogain (editors), The Missouri Review Books - Composed of twelve different short stories, this book passes through many different facets of love and romance. Ranging from the supernatural to heart-wrenchingly honest, stories travel through love found and love lost, within life-spanning love and fleeting feelings. An entire relationship passes in recollections of moments within the various beds that a couple inhabit. Another story finds a woman's partner suddenly and quickly going through reverse evolution. In another, two teens, despite their differences, bond over their similar tragedies and love grows if only for a short time. While the genres, settings, and characters vary greatly, the themes of love and romance abound.
Air Boat, Jacek Waliszewski, KDP - Life in Montana is vividly drawn, as Luke, a single man, lives on his own terms in the wilderness, content to avoid others. When Luke meets Stella, a daring pilot, he is swept into adventure and love. Both animal lovers and adventurous, Stella teaches Luke how to pilot a plane, and when she gets into a flying accident, Luke realizes how much he loves her, but he's not just in love; he sees how much his life has changed in her presence.
Bellini's Mimosa, Annette G. Anders - A contemporary romance told from both sides, this feel good story follows Mimi and Jake as they meet, meet again, and work to figure out who they are and what they want. Mimi Albizia is on a mandatory break from work, traveling in Italy when she meets Jake Bellini, a handsome man reluctant to go into the family business. Their first encounter is brief, but they are still on each other's minds when they have an unexpected reunion on Martha's Vineyard. As they struggle with their personal dilemmas involving family, work, ambitions, and expectations, their romance blossoms despite the distance between them.
The Sci-Fi Fiction category contains science fiction books.
Myracles in the Void, Wes Dyson, Wonderlove - This book creates a magical world full of terrifying monsters, floating cities, and dangerous adventures, as a young pair of siblings learn how to use their powers and to forgive. They live in a desolate town trying to ignore their hunger and find happiness in the small things, until unexpected and unexplainable things begin to occur within them and around them. Isolated by their community, living in more family secrets than answers, they take it upon themselves to bring their family back together. With emerging abilities they cannot explain and emotions bursting to be free, the brother and sister team fight to rescue their absentee father, after the truth of his disappearance is made known.
The Bridge to Magic: The Sundered Web, Book 1, Alex Thornbury, Shadow Lore Publishing - For centuries the Blight has spread, destroying magic and leaving the land barren and inhospitable. Terren is desperate to rid itself of the last remnants of magic and stop the Blight from devouring what is left of humanity. The Bridge to Magic is a feared and cursed thing. The only two outcomes are to perish along the pathway or disappear into the void on the other side. To slow the Blight, people with unpurged magic are forced to cross. Fifteen-year-old street orphan, Elika, becomes infected with magic trying to destroy it. Aiming to purge the magic within, she seeks help from the priestesses at the Temple of Mercy. She discovers that she was not infected with magic, but was born of it.
CRISPR Evolution, Charis Jones - Geneticist Howard Wake has delved into the outlawed science of advancing human genes and succeeded. Now he's on the run from Federal authorities who would do unspeakable things to his genetically modified fraternal twins. Their DNA is changing radically and, unbeknownst to Howard, at a rapid pace. His former colleague Jacqueline Witt is also after Howard because he stole her genetically modified eggs, and she wants them back. She gets a shock when she discovers her eggs are now children—and not ordinary human children. As the twins’ transformations accelerate them into beings with never-before-seen powers. Their parents must keep them safe while dealing with unimaginable changes that could transform humankind.
Embracing the Darkness: The Darkness Trilogy 2, Cassie Sanchez - The Four Kingdoms are finally at peace between the Normals and the Spectral. Those with magical abilities, some Mental, some Physical, live in harmony. In the kingdom of Pandaren, Jasce Farone is the Commander of Queen Valeri's Paladin Guard, but his shadowy past as an assassin haunts him. He is obsessed with finding his sister, once his best friend and now a deadly enemy. With the Spectrals of the kingdom being attacked by mysterious beings immune to magic, the four kingdoms meet for The Gathering to discuss trade agreements, but there are ulterior motives. The four stones of the Heart—a legendary crystal that enhances magical abilities—may have resurfaced, luring all with its promise of ultimate power.
In the Shadow of Humanity, N. John Williams - Nearly everyone lives inside the virtual reality of the Metaverse, their bodies encased in sensors that let them feel everything they experience—almost. Data transfer has advanced to where Shades, digital copies of a person's consciousness, can be created after someone dies, allowing them to live on in the virtual world. Drones—digital beings created entirely in the Metaverse—are the lowest caste, with no rights at all. Nat is a unique Shade, created when an infant son dies. He has been raised by his parents in the Metaverse, where he has become his own person with dreams, desires, and fears. But when his parents die, his status changes to Drone, and his brother, Jon, with whom he grew up in the virtual world, is now his owner. Nat must contend with his new relationship in a world he once took for granted.
The Short Story/Anthology category contains short story collections and anthologies.
Stay With Me, Wisconsin, JoAnneh Nagler, Coyote Point Press - Focusing on every day heartache in the small towns and suburbs of the Midwest, these eleven stories resonate as they focus on the relationships between families, lovers, and friends, portraying the complexity of human relationships. One story focuses on parental loss as a daughter reminisces about her father fishing in a river and the challenges of memory. Unrequited love and the bitterness and anger of dissolving relationships thread through several stories, while the emotions portrayed throughout capture these complex challenges of life.
My Life of Crime, Tyler C. Gore, Sagging Meniscus Press - Each recollection lives up to the introduction's promise in this creative nonfiction book. The author doesn't shy away from profanity or tiptoe through delicate topics, while building an entertaining journey through life's trials and triumphs. Gore visits the beach, meets an interesting man on the subway, navigates through family problems, struggles with heartbreak, and recovers from surgery. Everyday life can be traumatic, but with the right mindset, tragedy can also be amusing or even hilarious at times. "These aren't journalistic pieces; they are personal essays. They are akin to the kind of stories a friend might tell you over a pint."
How to Make Paper When the World is Ending, Dallas Woodburn, Koehler Books - The stories in this collection render a spectrum of losses—from tiny to life-shattering—and the struggle to survive them. Facing the multiple tragedies of climate change in the face of a largely indifferent public, a young woman teaches children to recycle old paper into new. A lonely twelve-year-old "brimming with nervous hope" plunges into an ambivalent friendship with another misfit. The guilt she carries for a tragic accident prevents a woman from telling the truth to a man who treats her with love. An imaginary man takes residence in a writer's shower, evoking her fiancé who died by suicide. A man lies helpless in the dirt after a fall, dreaming of the beloved wife he carelessly, irretrievably hurt. Whether the protagonist stalls, takes a step forward, or finds joy, each story lands an emotional punch.
Silence to Strength: Writings and Reflections on the Sixties Scoop, Christine Miskonoodinkwe Smith (editor), Kegedonce Press - Editor Smith has gathered vital first-hand accounts of the abduction of First Nations children from their families and communities by the Canadian Children's Aid Society from the 1960s through the 1980s. These stolen children were given to non-Indigenous families more often than not without their families' consent. What followed were often lifetimes upended by that displacement. The are the stories of those survivors—courageous, straight-forward, often harrowing accounts, helping to erase the lingering silence toward an era of truth, reconciliation, and reclamation.
Raising Bean, W.S. Penn, Wayne State University Press - Penn records conversations he held with his granddaughter, Bean, as she grew up. Infused with warmth, humor, and insight, these essays include contemplations about love, nature, the advantages of being "nobody," history, gratitude, teaching, and how to navigate contemporary life with its mad mix of absurdity and uncertainty. Offered in the oral tradition of the Nez Perce, Penn shares observations and insights with humor and wit, at one point telling Bean that "unknowing is openness, an openness to discovery." This collection gives witness to great love, as well as forming a delightful compendium of wisdom.
The Book of Wanderers, Ryes Ramirez, University of Arizona Press - The stories in this wide-ranging collection span the elusive past, a hostile present, and a post-apocalyptic future. For the protagonists, common denominators are the burdens of prejudice, exploitation, and the struggle to exist as undocumented "wanderers" in the United States. Throughout, the nature of truth is discussed. A youth seeks the reality of history for his father and father figures. A young woman must relearn to sleep after her mother is killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, after which her very existence is denied because of her undocumented status. A waitress in a Mexican restaurant leads a double life as a curandera who saves others from hostile spirits, although she cannot cure her own broken relationship with her only child. After the collapse of society, a woman searches for people capable of saving themselves from a fascist white supremacist hell as it rewrites history.
The Spiritual Fiction category contains book within the religious and spiritial genres.
Obedient unto Death, Liisa Eyerly, Cross River Media - Eyerly crafts an intriguing murder/mystery set in an exotic location during dangerous times. The daughter of a Roman magistrate isn't sure if her friend's death during a forbidden Christian worship service is an accident or the will of God. The story is an interesting blend of faith and life in ancient times—Ephesus, specifically. Attempting to unmask the murderer, Sabina is a spunky heroine, and the setting is vividly drawn—both entertaining and illuminating. Numerous suspects keep the reader guessing.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
Joseph Imagines God: A Philosophical Novel, Roger Neumaier, Bratman Publishing - Joseph, a 60-year-old county government financial officer lives a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle. He has a wife, a charming home with a garden, and adult children who have left the nest. He watches baseball and football and appreciates fine art. One day, while at work, he gets a phone call from someone who wishes to set up an appointment to talk about "priorities." Figuring it to be someone who is looking for government funding, Joseph books a brief appointment with the visitor. During the meeting, the visitor hands him a letter and leaves. In it, he claims to be God and offers Joseph the chance to personally interview him over the next seven weeks. Joseph now needs to decide whether he will accept the offer, what questions he might ask, and if he can discern a fraud.
A Portion of Malice, Lloyd Jeffries, Buckminster Publishing - This biblical thriller follows an award-winning writer who's tasked with writing a book about a mysterious billionaire who is harboring dark secrets. This first book in the Ages of Malice series is an interesting journey from ancient to modern times. With a twist ending and unexpected humor sprinkled throughout, familiar biblical characters come and go. An intriguing new series has been launched.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
Not Just a Simple Chinese Girl, Kara Eng - Vanessa Jade Lee is a Chinese teenager living with her parents and grandparents in Chicago's Chinatown. She experiences a family tragedy at a young age for which she feels responsible and tries desperately to forget her pain by immersing herself in volunteer work and helping her grandparents at their restaurant. However, she and her family are unable to escape their sorrow and bitterness. Vanessa is unaware of another past tragedy that compounds the family's grief, and it is not long before circumstances and events begin to culminate, leading to a cataclysmic event that has the ability to either bring more misfortune or provide an opportunity to free three generations from emotional imprisonment.
The Business category involves applications to today's business environment and emerging trends, including general business, career, finance, computer, and the Internet.
Choosing Leadership: How to Create a Better Future by Building Your Courage, Capacity, and Wisdom, Dr. Linda Ginzel, Health Communications - A comprehensive book on leadership, this guide encourages future leaders through writing exercises, inspirational quotes, and activities. Through prompts and dialogue on leadership styles as well as management, Ginzel equips the well meaning leader with content to provide growth. This helps to build champions as leaders through positive relationship building, listening, and putting forth a comprehensive strategy for others to easily follow. The author writes in a smooth manner, employing colorful storytelling, practical tools, and usable knowledge that any professional can apply to their lives.
Leading Inclusion: Drive Change Your Employees Can See And Feel, Gena Cox, PhD, Page Two Books - Emphasizing the significance and pitfalls of building a culture of inclusivity within organizations, the introductory section of the book explores the historical facts that have led to the disparities in corporate America. Using personal anecdotes, the author argues that these disparities can be addressed by creating a more inclusive workplace culture. The rest of the book is dedicated to a three-step framework for workplace inclusion: Mindset, Boldness, and Action. The Mindset section helps readers to examine their own beliefs and biases, and provides practical advice on how to develop a more inclusive mindset. The Boldness section focuses on helping readers to understand their coworkers better and set clear expectations with them. The Action section provides evidence-based insights to help readers figure out what to do next in their specific situations.
Maximum Impact Potential: How to Own Your Value, Become a Wealth Circulator and Uplift Millions, Alok Appadurai, WorldChangers Media - The book is a personal journey with wide, general implications for readers inside and outside of the business world. Appadurai gradually realizes that sales can be a method of personal growth and a tool for greater community good—a compelling case for upside of America's brasher form of capitalism, even with downsides in full view along the way. Anecdotes that dot the journey include both the self-deprecating and the triumphant, giving the book convincing depth. The accessible writing hints at author's innate salesmanship, while the overall message is heartfelt and valuable.
The Future Normal: How We Will Live, Work, and Thrive in the Next Decade, Rohit Bhargava & Henry Coutinho-Mason, Ideapress Publishing - Two futurists explore the unknown in our lives with their own innovative organizational technique: easy to jump to relevant chapters via icons and arrangement. This book is built for right now and surprisingly fact-filled regarding our changing world—whether in the workplace with co-working spaces and a renewal of job sharing; in city design with micro-cities and all resources just minutes away by personal vehicle (bikes); perhaps engineered chicken drumsticks, shoes made from algae, or an interest in wearing pre-loved fashion; or even the intriguing accuracy of artificial intelligence that may replace the very authors who wrote this book.
The Culture category contains nonfiction books demonstrating the human or world experience, including multicultural, essay, women's issues, sexuality, gay, lesbian, aging, travel, recreation, true crime, social commentary, and current events.
Ships in the Desert, Jeff Fearnside, Santa Fe Writers Project - In these connected essays the author recounts his four years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan, which he found to be a microcosm of the greed, corruption and lack of concern for the environment that plagues countries everywhere. The titular essay recalls his learning about the Soviet decision to plant cotton in the area of the Aral Sea, thus causing it to dry up, ruining the surrounding environment and causing ships to remain stuck in the dirt. "The Missionary Position" explores the politics of religion and the perceived subversive role of missionaries, as both teachers and religious proselytizers along the Silk Road in Central Asia. "More Than Tenge and Tiyn" discusses the use of bribery and kickbacks to achieve success. The final essays are personal and nostalgic.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
Paddling Pathways: Reflections from a Changing Landscape, Bob Henderson & Sean Blenkinsop, Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing - The wilderness, and paddling into it, speaks to our longing for nature to restore our hearts and souls. One may not have the passion and courage to confront nature by taking expeditions into the wild. Here, unique voices share courageous journeys and extraordinary encounters facing nature in its untamed, challenging state, occasionally to uncharted territory at extreme personal risk. It's a stirring glimpse into serene and memorable adventures that might turn swiftly, swelling like one the two billion tons of water in the tidal currents in the Bay of Fundy.
Antisexist: Challenge Sexism, Champion Women's Rights, and Create Equality, Lynn Schmidt, PhD, Bobo Publishing - In this book, the author strives to have people from all backgrounds understand sexism on a macro and micro level. She invites the reader to see that sexism is alive and abundant in women's daily routines. The author guides the reader through various outcomes of sexism and, using anecdotal evidence, gives clear and concise instances in which sexism has an effect on women in different modern day situations. Schmidt encourages the reader to reflect on their own experiences and to analyze situations that are or could have been sexist. The author offers methods and strategies to become self-aware in their own sexist behaviors and how to be anti-sexist. She facilitates ways to begin conversations around sexism in today's society, and maybe a balance can be struck that doesn't keep pitting the sexes against each other.
I am Israel: Lions and Lambs of the Land, Jedwin Smith, Blue Room Books - Through research, interviews, and personal account the author gives us an in depth look at the conflict Israel conflict beyond political and media bias. Aided by a linear account of important dates, historical timeline, and photos, Smith introduces people who live amid true religious conflict; that which holds deadly consequences should one be found on the wrong side of any given border. Soldiers, clergy, clerks, converts, survivors, natives, and transplants relate their experience and dedication to defending that which they hold most precious: their faith, and the profound importance of preserving the Holy Land. What started out as a personal spiritual journey transforms into a valuable read for many, who wish to know why Israel has long been a hotbed of controversy and the people willing to sacrifice everything for her.
Making Global Sense: Grounded Hope for democracy inspired by Thomas Paine's Common Sense, Judah Freed, Hoku House - A fascinating take on climate change and global warming employing insights from history and the philosopher Thomas Paine. The book stands against the tradition of authority and patriarchy in favor of a democratic and participatory path to more responsible climate practices. Not only does the book serve as an important primer on the state of the planet, it provides deep insights into the evolution of human and humane thoughts and normative principles. It's a path toward greener and fairer treatment of our world and its inhabitants. At an era where democratic processes are under attack, Freed charts a thorough way to return us to our fundamental values.
The Health category promotes physical, mental, and emotional well-being, including psychology, fitness, and sex.
The Music Therapy Studio, Rick Soshensky, Rowman and Littlefield - The book covers Soshensky's experiences over thirty years in the treatment of individuals with a variety of psychological and neurological conditions. The musical interventions employed often accomplished breakthroughs that had previously proven resistant to standard medical models, doing so without any of the adverse effects that so often occur with pharmacologic therapies alone. It appears that there is no single musical genre that works better than others. The music chosen is individualized for each person. Perhaps the most important observations are that caregiving by itself is inadequate and that a respectful and even admiring attitude toward the client is required.
Health in Flame: A Doctor's Prescription for Living Beyond Diet and Exercises, V. Thomas George, Epsilon Publishing - This volume offers a sobering account of America's declining physical and mental health, and the enormous struggles our society faces on the road to betterment. An ever-increasing number of diseases of affluence are lowering our life expectancy. What then is the prescription to a healthier living, beyond diet and exercise? The answer lies in improving life satisfaction by achieving non-monetary goals and avoiding the endless cycle of consumerism. Financial security, not fabulous wealth, is what delivers happiness and enables well being. This intelligently written analysis of our nation's poor health that offers a logical solution out of this crisis.
Busting Free: How to Liberate Yourself from the Quest for Better Breasts Before, During, and Long After Explant, Amanda Savage Brown, Ph.D., LCSW, Open Up Books - Brown compassionately leads women through a journey of either replacing or removing aging, problematic, ruptured, or recalled breast implants. Our society has a reverence of breasts, which can spark an identity crisis for those without them. She focuses on the psychosocial (i.e. mental, emotional, and social) problems and the grief from feeling unfeminine, unattractive, or damage. This is socially reinforced both overtly and subliminally. Her six-step ACT therapy helps one to "prevail over the mental, emotional, and social challenges along the way," forming a companion through each part of the journey.
Finally: A Manual on How to Handle Cancer, Ruminations and Rooting Out Rubbish by a Cancer Columnist and Survivor, Shirley Ruedy - Ruedy shares her experience as a three-time cancer survivor and her gift as a newspaper columnist by providing thoughtful reflections and strategies to those who have been diagnosed with cancer or who are supporting a loved one with cancer. This book contains short chapters addressing topics from being diagnosed with cancer, encouraging the person with cancer to take the time to find the best physician and treatment, finding joy in each day, communicating with others, and handing the day to day fears of living and dying with cancer. Each chapter is written with compassion and truth. The book alleviates fears associated with the diagnosis by providing support and acknowledging real feelings and addressing questions that are often unexpressed by the person with cancer or their support person.
Run With It, Joe Drake - Running a marathon is hard. Running six of them is harder. Running them in a span of six weeks in 2021, a schedule compressed because of the pandemic, is extraordinary. Drake performed this incredible accomplishment at the age of sixty, three years after receiving a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. Consistent with his engineering training and experience, the author embarks on a meticulous plan of training, nutrition, and medical guidance to build himself both physically and mentally for this quest. Race by race, mile by mile. it's a tribute to the human spirit.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
The Home category has practical applications to home or home-related issues, including general home, gardening, cooking, parenting, family, interior design, animals, pets, and home-related crafts.
Flavour with Benefits: France, Cathy Connally & Charley Best, Collesano Publishing - This is a colorful and mouth-watering French cuisine cookbook, your passport to experiencing French cuisine without traveling thousands of miles. The 235-page book comes with the history of French cuisine, towns, foods, champagne, and more. The table of contents will help you navigate regions, shop for ingredients, and make scrumptious provincial foods. Recipes include breads, cakes, donuts, fruit and vegetable dishes, soups, salads, sauces, fish, and others. Each are organized with a section called flavours, followed by the benefits of the dish and/or dessert. The book includes a recipe index, alternative ingredients, and the science behind the cooking.
Campfires, Kids, and the Outdoors: Outdoor Lessons for the Real World, Geremy Olson, 241 INK Productions - Olson offers parents advice on how to engage their children with the great outdoors. Young peoples' experiences with both fishing and hunting can instill good character and good work ethics. The book is divided into four sections, including building relationships, teaching skills, demonstrating principles, and the future. Real life stories from the author's family offer concrete examples on how to enjoy the outdoors and make amazing memories while instilling valuable lessons. This book provides encouragement to parents who desire to parent intentionally, as well as tips for the finer details of enjoying outdoor experiences.
Summer Chillers: We Make Chilling Fun for Everyone, K. MacDonald, AuthorHouse - The book is a visual treat that celebrates concoctions best consumed on a hot summer day. The eighty recipes are short, clear, and tantalizing. The simple ingredients would be easily found at the local grocery store or in most pantries. The instructions for homemade ice cream makes the task look easy. The author combines unlikely ingredients to make new things, like a sparkling rosé margarita or a fresh peach rye julep. Lush, full-page photographs illustrate the promise of fun while creating chilled foods, drinks, and cocktails.
The Ups and Downs of Growing Older: Beyond Seventy Years of Living, Viola B. Mecke, Ph.D., ABPP, XlibrisUS - The book is a thoughtful guide for the very oldest people, seventy-five and up, who may face discrimination in our youth-focused society. The author gives examples of vibrancy in the "new old," who find a second career or hobby, like riding horses or brewing beer. The author explains the aging body, residential changes, loneliness and depression, independence and autonomy, and life's end. This is a warm hug from the ninety-two year old author, a psychologist, who realistically examines "old-old age" for its upside.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
Your First Home: The Proven Path to Homeownership, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, KellerINK - This walks through the process of buying a first home. Divided into ten chapters, the book contains a step-by-step guide to each part of the journey toward homeownership, including the topics of finding an agent, securing financing, making an offer, and closing on a home. Full of graphs, check lists, tables, and charts, the author provides readers with the comprehensive information, like the best of how-to manuals. In addition, the books contains stories from ten realtors who share their own memories and wisdom about buying their first homes.
The Memoir category captures specific personal experience.
The Young Terrorist, Nabil Khouri, Armin Lear Press - Beginning with a blood-curdling chant, Khouri details his life as a poor Christian in Jordan and Lebanon, often lacking enough to eat, amid so many civil wars and conflicts. We inhabit his shoes and understand why a child would sign up with a militia, otherwise known as a terrorist organization. His tenure there is short-lived however, and this young man manages to flee to Spain, where he works briefly, then a return to home before his academics get him a scholarship to the USA. There, he works, meets many Americans, including Jewish people, and eventually marries an American en route to his career as an engineer. We rejoice with the author as he matures into a loving and giving adult.
What They Couldn't Take: A Memoir of Survival from Familial Sex Trafficking, Adira James, Adira James Enterprises - One must prepare oneself before diving into a book covering such a serious topic as familial sex trafficking. The author begins her story of how her parents traded her infant body for money, promotions at work, and community favors. As she grows older, the situations grow far worse. Between her harrowing accounts, she interjects poems and artwork created while experiencing these horrific events, a constant reminder that these terrible things happened to a little girl. The book ends as the author grows into an adult. She thoughtfully covers several different resources and techniques to deal with trauma.
A Life Spent Listening, Dr. Hassan Khalili Ph.D, Breakwater Books Ltd. - Dr. Khalili describes a life dedicated to health, particularly mental health. Vignettes of patients illustrate his commitment and his heart for the community. Khalili loves to connect with people. Through the stories of patients and family, the passion that drives his work is clear. One might read this book as either a doctor's memoir or a self-help book. Khalili shares checklists and research guidance that assists with creating a stronger life.
Allegiance to Winds and Waters: Bicycling the Political Divides of the United States, Anne Winkler-Morey, Wise Ink - Travel the perimeter of America on a bicycle with the barely fit and somewhat unprepared author and her husband, as they build both muscle and insight into what does and doesn't work in America. During fourteen months, necessary interactions with diverse strangers for food, shelter, directions, and advice show that people can move mountains. Conversations with strangers flow as seamlessly as the swish of the bikes' wheels, with some miles and dialog harder won than others. An Oberlin drop out, raped in her twenties, this 53-year-old, recently unemployed history professor teaches thoughtful lessons about radical hospitality and the necessity of connecting one-on-one.
Catching Rain, Sandi Paris, BalboaPress - Cancer and Alzheimer's are among the most dreaded medical conditions. With Alzheimer's or other serious memory loss, the condition often waits until a person enters old age, but some develop the disease far earlier. At fifty-two, the author’s husband—a scientist, deep thinker, and athlete—is diagnosed with dementia. The couple's journey covers funny, sad, and confusing moments. Ultimately, this is a love story, which should interest those facing long-term and end-of-life care giving.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
Hashman, Alex Grand & Joshua S. Berman, Comic Book Historians - From an abusive childhood to lashing out by bullying, then on to hipster hustling, our protagonist finds ways to not only survive, but have an adventurous life where he is in control of his own destiny. Whether it's dealing drugs to upscale clients, laundering money, or later becoming a groundbreaking therapist, he nearly always finds ways to beat the system to find fulfillment. Presented in comic book form, the themes of cultural trauma and family dysfunction reach deep into the warped psyche of our culture. Yet most gripping—and most inspiring—is the tale of transformation, accomplished by utilizing innate talents and the drive to create a better life than the one we are born into.
Lost in China: A Memoir of World War II, Jennifer Dobbs, Peach Pit Publications - This is the story of two Anglo-American children caught in the tumult of World War II in China. The siblings are in China when Pearl Harbor is attacked, and their parents are in Hong Kong. The separation lasts years, and the author provides readers with a picture of China during the war through all the senses. Dobbs and her brother don't know that the Japanese have taken their mother and interned her in a POW civilian internment camp and that their father has been killed. They assume their parents will return. The children are shuttled among many adults, until finally being reunited with their mother in Washington, DC.
Midnight Calling: A Memoir of a Drug Smuggler’s Daughter, Lynn Walker, MZW Publishing - Raw, real, and so wonderfully written, Walker exposes the truth about her father's fall from undercover agent to drug smuggler and user, and the way it shaped her own life, unapologetically. This truth did not come quickly or easily. With poignant honesty, she navigates her parents' divorce, her father's remarriage, a move north, teenage years fueled by drugs and alcohol, and then finally facing her own demons.
Moon in Full, Marpheen Chann, Islandport Press - The story begins when Chann is both a Cambodian refugee and a small child. We experience his emotional roller coaster ride of family, separation, abuse, the foster care system and being a child of color, thrust into a white community in Maine, far from his first home and friends in California. Facing not only all of those challenges and the normal pitfalls of growing into adulthood, he desperately tries to find his place in the world. A journey of self discovery, he seeks acceptance from his family, friends, church, and community, while being a gay man of color.
The Buddha and the Bee: Biking Through America’s Forgotten Roadways on an Accidental Journey of Discovery, Cory Mortensen, White Condor - This memoir combines storytelling and adventure. Mortensen bicycles from his father's home in Minnesota to meet his girlfriend in California. For two months, he shares his mental and physical challenges. Along the way, he encounters many people and animals in the small and large towns along his freewheeling route, full of encounters, triumphs, and life lessons.
The Calling: A Memoir of Family, Faith, and the Future of Healthcare, Dr. Christopher Chen and Dr. Gordon Chen, Forefront Books - This book offers hope that America's current "sick care" system can be replaced by a more affordable, compassionate, and effective system—one that is patient-centered and focused on maintaining health and dignity. It chronicles the dramatic and inspiring story of two generations of the Chen family. Moving from poverty in Taiwan to America, Dr. James Chen and his wife, Mary, opened the first ChenMed practice in Miami, providing care for some of the poorest, most vulnerable, and underserved members of their community. The remarkable turnaround in health outcomes demonstrated to skeptics and the medical community that holistic and values-based health care is not only possible, but it's just what the doctor ordered.
The Reference category involves traditional and emerging reference areas, including history, psychology, biography, education, sports, recreation, training, travel, and how-to.
Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew, Ellen Notbohm, Future Horizons - Notbohm offers a simple and direct path for parents and instructors to interact with children with Autism. Realizing that students on the spectrum have different verbal and behavioral communication skills is key to learning how we can advantageously interact and provide a learning environment that is beneficial for the student, as well as the parent or teacher. By focusing on the child and not necessarily the lesson, we can build quality student-teacher relationships, thus allowing ASD children to thrive in a trusting environment that believes in their abilities, but it takes time to nurture. This highly informative handbook offers useful ways for instructors to adapt to a student's individually. Examples and short exercises reinforce the concepts.
The Stress Book: Forty-Plus Ways to Manage Stress & Enjoy Your Life, D Terrence Foster. M.D, Global Health & Consortium - With clear and easy-to-understand language, Foster breaks down not only the biology of stress, but also the basics of stress management into bite-sized chunks. Besides the anticipated personal physical and mental actions required to manage this issue, the author highlights the actions needed for the community at large. Built from the S.T.R.E.S.S. acronym, the author points to many practical ways to manage stress, which everyone experiences to one degree or another. These strategies can be incorporated into personal and professional lives.
Competing on Thought Leadership: How Great B2B Companies Turn Expertise into Revenue, Robert Buday, IdeaPress Publishing - How long will a business remain profitable in today's business landscape where adaptability to change may mean the difference between failure and success? Enter "thought leadership," which is best characterized as an in-house, on-premises think tank that encompasses a wide range of assignments, which could include advertising, product development, media visibility, and new ways of interacting with personnel and retooling their habits. It is not enough to have a great idea. A company has to sell the idea in a global competition for recognition. This idea must be actualized, and often that means problem solving for others. Buday presents strategies, motivation, and opportunities for growth or opportunity recovery, ensuring that the thought leaders and employees are prepared for change.
Liberty, Science and Wealth: The Evolution to Modern Society, Ralph L. Bayrer, XlibrisUS - Why did America become the prosperous nation that it is? The author is very clear: freedom and a rational world view. But it's not just any freedom. Rather, it is individual freedom that must prevail, the freedom to pursue individual wants and needs and to enjoy the fruits of one's efforts. That often means less government intrusion into the lives of individual people. Ffreedom by itself is necessary, but not sufficient to produce wealth. One's world view must include the acceptance of science as a problem-solving methodology, which allows for innovation, invention, and tolerance for novel ideas. Bayrer provides a brief history of how the particular freedom Americans experience led to a modern sensibility, which then translates into wealth.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
The Self-Help category involves traditional and emerging self-help topics.
ACE Your Life: Unleash Your Best Self and Live the Life You Want, Michelle P. Maidenberg, Ph.D., MPH, LCSW-R, Morgan James Publishing - This is a roadmap for anyone stuck in life and wants move past negativity, shame, hopelessness, trauma, anger, complacency, and other obstacles that hinder personal growth. The author draws on psychological research and her own extensive clinical experience to offer a skill-based approach centered around three pillars: Acceptance, Compassion, and Empowerment (ACE). The ACE method identifies limiting behaviors and thought patterns through the three modalities and teaches specific coping strategies. Maidenberg offers reflective questions at the end of each chapter along with an exercise to apply the skill to daily life. This is a comprehensive and clear guide for healing and unleashing one's potential.
Unicorn Leadership: Find Your Passion, Achieve Your Goals, and Realize Your Potential, Anne Witherspoon, Unicorn Leadership - To live life as we are meant and to achieve our dreams takes a lot of courage. In this meticulously written work, Witherspoon inspires one to meet their professional goals and the career status they desire. In addition to being the best version of oneself, one must remember self-care and long-term growth, by determining what matters most and thereby achieving that illusory but reachable work-life balance. This book is a worthy tool for all of us who need the extra motivation to make a needed change in our current career or choose a new professional path altogether.
Doorways to Transformation: Everyday Wisdom for the Creative Soul, Karen Kinney, Winged Bird Press - This book encourages the experience of ordinary things in extraordinary ways, in order to celebrate a growth mindset and bolster inner creativity and spirituality. Written in easy-to-digest meditations, each chapter has built-in questions that can double as writing prompts for deeper reflection. Reconfiguring your thought process takes time. For example, viewing rest not as a "departure from production," but rather a "seedbed of germination," and seeing doubt not as a warning of misdirection, but rather signifying a necessary stretch in the journey. Filled with many jewels such as these, this book serves as a guide to experiencing everyday life outside of the box.
Jane's Jam: Inspiration to Create Your Super Awesome Life, Jane Enright, She Writes Press - A refreshing spin on positive psychology, Enright encourages accessible and applicable lessons on gratitude, kindness, creating happiness, mindfulness, and more. The author writes with clarity and a caring manner that reflects on daily living and inspires positive change for a more engaging and full life. The book supplies assessments, inspirational quotes, and step-by-step guides for healthy and happy living. An enjoyable read, this book reframes the reputation of self-help books in a positive manner and elevates the self-help genre.
U R Not Alone: An Illustrated Book About Childhood Trauma, Mental Illness and Hope, Jojo 1Love, Divine Insanity Productions - This powerful, illustrated book is ostensibly created for children, while offering compassionate companionship to victims of abuse at any age. In the story, a young child named Queenie is brought up in a home impacted by depression and horrifying abuse. In a child’s voice that speaks from deep hurt, Queenie shares her coping skills and her path to survival. This is a special type of self-help book, because the message it offers can truly change lives. Survivors of traumatic childhoods have a friend in Queenie, someone who understands their experience and are possibly still experiencing it, which makes it a life preserver tossed their way.
The Spiritual category involves the mind and spirit, including religion, metaphysical, and mystical.
Beyond the Parentheses: Your Journey to Transend Religious Trauma Seek Truth, and Embrace Love Susan Ford, Author Academy Elite - Growing up requires little effort beyond time. Becoming your own person, maturing, and making decisions takes a focused effort. Ford's journey of discovery and healing begins within the strict boundaries of a fundamentalist religious worldview. Having all questions answered before voicing them left no room at all for questions. One was expected to accept compliantly. In this autobiographical account of a woman maturing and determining her own fate, the author's mind and heart are reshaped to her own terms. A failed marriage, the perception of a failed life, another try, and undeniable encounters with Jesus that didn't fit inside her rigid life rules establish a new foundation.
Whatever the Future Holds, Heidi E. V. McCann, Green Heart Living Press - This inspiring memoir begins amid teen-aged angst and progresses through young adulthood and the tragedy of a latter debilitating disease, including the sufferer's struggle and the caretaker's journey. The thread that holds it all together is a sustained love between two people who grasp life, even when diminished, and eventually depicting the face of death and separation. McCann does not beg for sympathy; yet, the book is laden with palpable sentiment and maintains its balance without self-pity. For anyone who has dealt with a loved one's terminal diagnosis and become a caregiver, this book offers a cathartic experience and companion.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
Ask Yourself: Understand and Unlock Your Psychic Power for Personal and Planetary Healing, Rev. Pamela Irene Flowerday, Outskirts Press - The story captures one's attention with a descriptive introduction to the author's childhood. As the story continues, one finds their inner psychic power frolicking with nature. The lessons start by gently nudging one's mindset to connect with the universe for personal and planetary healing. Each chapter guides with clear and concise directions for opening Chakras in preparation for the clairvoyant work that helps others to heal. The tone of the message is calming and transparent. Eloquently written with tips and supporting quotes, the gentle meditation sessions are situated among nature, creating an apt bedside reference.
Crooked Lines: A Single Mom's Jewish Journe, Jenna Zark, Koehler Books - The protagonist, Jenna Zark, gives the reader of any faith a glimpse into many Jewish traditions, including the Torah, a get / Sefer k'ritut, mezuzahs, the menorah during Hanukah, Yom HaShoah, a Tu B'Shevat meal, and challah at Shabbat. Shame arises during many universal events: a single parent journey, divorce from a respected cantor, anti-Semitic bullying, failure to immerse her child in traditional cultural traditions, and other experiences. However, these decisions and traumas help her navigate the culture: Jenna's only son becoming a cantor, circumcision for boys, impurity during one's period, snippets of friendship. It is a Judaism Chicken Soup for the Soul with bittersweet memories, new love, and wit.
More Light: An Artist’s Life with Meher Baba, Tom Riley, Life-O-Riley Books - Riley shares his interactions with the spiritual leader, Meher Baba, both by means of correspondence, as well as personal encounters. The book relates a series of coincidences that occurred in Woodstock, New York and in New York City that led the author toward Meher Baba and an eventual personal encounter at the Meher Center in Myrtle Beach, sustaining a long-lasting relationship between the two. The author, an artist initially inspired to paint natural landscapes, painted more allegorical works after meeting Meher Baba. Images of the author's early landscapes as well as later paintings that include the author and Meher Baba together are included in the pages, along with photos of missives from Baba and his associates.
The E-Book Fiction category holds fiction books published in an electronic format.
The Portraitist: A Novel of Adelaide Labille-Guiard, Susanne Dunlap, She Writes Press - Dunlap recounts the journey of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, a portrait painter, in late eighteenth century Paris. Despite facing opposition from her husband and society, Adélaïde strives to make a name for herself as a painter to the royal family. When the Revolution begins, she witnesses the burning of several works of art during the fall of Bastille and realizes that her hard-earned achievements and financial stability are at risk. Nevertheless, she remains determined to overcome the challenges. In the midst of danger and uncertainty, Adélaïde must adapt to the new reality in Paris and rebuild her career while staying alive.
Lady Be Good: The Life and Times of Dorothy Hale, Pamela Hamilton, Köehlerbooks - In whiplash fashion, the story opens with the "broken heart and faded dreams" of Dorothy Hale, who plummets from a hotel window in the 1930s Depression Era. THe story jumps forward fifty-five years to the author's fascination with the titular deceased, and then settles back into the 1920s Jazz Age, as the vibrant Dorothy is brought to life as a buzzing socialite and aspiring actress. Her Broadway debut dancing beside Fred Astaire is short-lived, as the grasping hands of a producer send her flying down stairs, leg broken, dancing career finished. Denied the spotlight, her life becomes a whirl of famous friends and parties. She finds love with artist Gardner Hale, only to lose him in few years when his car plunges over a cliff. Her circle of friends soon includes political figures and high-stakes intrigue that contribute to her mysterious death.
Coming Apart, Karen Heenan - The story explores the lives of two sisters leading opposite kinds of lives during the Depression. Claire, a socialite living in the city, wants for a child. Ava, part of mining county, experiences the challenges of poverty, always being pregnant, and living on company land. They hardly contact each other until Ava’s last son is born needing medical care that Ava cannot afford. Claire takes the little boy to live as her son, but after Ava loses her husband in a mining accident, she moves in with Claire, and the two rediscover their deep bond, enriching each other's lives.
Dark Theory, Wick Welker - In this first part of a fantasy series, the diminutive robot Beetro wakes up on a planet in a universe that is literally expanding—and rapidly. Beetro knows only one thing: that he must find his maker. On this quest, he meets, Miree, a relentlessly cynical woman out to make her fortune; Ribcage, a beggar girl from a two-dimensional universe; and Arym, a young man who has spent his entire life living in an underground community of men cloned from a single progenitor. As Beetro and his fellows wander throughout their world, searching for the key to reversing the imminent heat death of the universe, their relationships unfold, as does their rivalry with the upstart but very capable General Deluvius. Half-medieval, half-science-fiction, this book is a well-constructed and imaginative read with believable, mature characters interacting against creative backdrops.
Sheriff of Starr County - Book 5 in the Westward Sagas, David A. Bowles, Plum Creek Press - Will Smith, a Texas Ranger, is assigned to keep the peace after the state of Texas is admitted to the Union. He and the solders of Fort Ringgold are not allowed to cross the river into Mexico to apprehend a felon who has been killing young Mexican girls and recently killed a solder. Will knows he has to do what is right, crosses the river, and locates his prey deep in Mexican territory. Now he must get him back to the US while avoiding the Mexican Police. Once he has completed his mission, he trains a young Mexican boy, Domingo, in the US law and how to handle people from both the sides of the border.
Spirit Sight: The Spirit Song Trilogy - Book One, Ross Hightower, Black Rose Writing - In a world where magic is forgotten and witches who know such things are hunted, we find young Minna and her sister, Alyn, newly awakened to their power and on the run from the Empire. Filled with intrigue, deception, and warring factions desperate to control the fate of the Empire, this book weaves an engrossing tale that is as captivating in its world-building as it is in its character development. High fantasy mixed with mythic tale-telling, the author explores what it means to be a pawn in someone else's scheme. That is, until the pawn realizes the true extent of her power and the path it will set for the rest of the Empire.
Sundown: Derailing Dystopia - Book 1, Carl H. Mitchell, Bookside Press - In a speculative near-future of New York, detective Nick Garvey finds himself at the crux of political scheming that starts with the assassination of the vice president. Evidence against the supreme leader of the World Council lands in his lap, forcing him deeper into the weeds and painting him a target. Nick navigates these waters on the timeline of the launch of a solar grid to re-light the city, which has been in decline since oil became scarce. Can an old-school detective connect the dots to prevent further assassinations while keeping his own family safe?
The Complication: a Camille DeLaney Mystery, Amanda DuBois, Girl Friday Books - What kind of shenanigans can possibly happen at a small-town hospital? When Camille's dear friend, Dallas Jackson, dies from a "simple" surgery, she starts to wonder. The surgeon, Dr. Willcox, claimed he went to Harvard, but Camille cannot uncover any indication of this. Upon further investigating, Camille and her assistants discover a very large number of surgeries in this small town. Were they necessary? Why did the hospital administration allow Willcox to continue even though there were numerous complaints about him. Is it all about the money? Camille is determined to figure it out, quitting her big corporate job to dedicate herself to the truth about Dallas Jackson’s death and the mysterious Willcox.
The Universe in 3/4 Time, Leona Francombe, Merle Books Brussels - Francombe conjures an ethereal space where music defines the universe. A famous piano found in the street in Brussels during WWII allows Audrey, a former member of the Kepler Trio, to dream of music again. The trio finds one another and makes peace after their estrangement. They chase after this mysterious piano with symbolic markings across Europe and back in time. The mysteries of war combine with the mystic of the piano and the mysterious Konstantine Zar. At the heart of the story is the idea of music being what harmonizes the physical, the spiritual, and the universal together into one.
The E-Book Nonfiction category holds nonfiction books published in an electronic format.
The Human Team: So, You Created A Team But People Showed Up! Jeanet Wade, ForbesBooks - This is a timely read for our modern workplace, providing insightful strategies and easy to understand concepts that can be applied for human-to-human context. Wade dives into how to adopt essential workplace interaction and engagement skills with clear call-to-action steps. With the author's wealth of relevant experiences in the workplace, the book includes relatable stories that build human connection, as well as spectrums of difficult personas and how to manage them. There are learning takeaways after each chapter for self-reflection. References and excerpts from influential thought leaders reveal their leadership and research practices. This broadens the discussion and provides food-for-thought for readers.
Federalism, Preemption, and the Nationalization of American Wildlife Management: The Dynamic Balance Between State and Federal Authority, Lowell E. Baier, Rowan and Littlefield- This dense and instructive book explores the history of federalism doctrine and how it has been in play in wildlife management. Although not meant for general readership, a specialized or scholarly reader will find a well-chronicled and reliable study of this political topic. Of particular interest is the last chapter that looks forward to the future of environmental preservation, and how the state and the federal must work together, not just to ponder the question if federalism will be able to withstand modern challenges, but to confront the direct threats and realities of a vanishing wildlife.
Essence of an Artist, Loren Ellis. Her Art, Poetry and Life, Loren Ellis, Pen Culture Solutions - True works of visual symphony create a message for every reader throughout this book. It is an intimate mixture of words, pictures, and personal stories that can inspire people to push past fear and conjure the courage to express themselves through art forms. As the subject matter changes, life experiences evoke an open-minded energy that surfaces in the artwork. Poetry and quotes are interwoven that speak in relation to the art, inspiring personal discovery.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
Freddy B: A Semi-Autobiography of a Young Man Named Frederic Walton Harris, Yvonne Stevens Walton Harris, Author Reputation Press - Harris presents an evocative, honest, and vivid collection of her son's poetry, journal entries, and essays written while in college and during his incarceration at a juvenile detention center. The collection reflects Freddy's thoughts on his childhood, family relationships, and the criminal acts that led him to prison. His writing delves into his daily life at the detention center, chronicling his struggles and breakthroughs, connections with other inmates and mentors, and his continued personal growth. The book serves as a tribute to the author's son, whose life was tragically cut short, and carries at its core a sense of the hope that infuses Freddy’s writing.
Surrender: A Mother's Acceptance of What Is, Nicola Irvine, Jetlaunch - Irvine has managed to capture our hearts, sending a reminder that the human spirit interconnects us all. It is an uneasy task for most, tapping into the rawness of the human soul and finding the possible ways to communicate and adapt. However, readers will find enlightenment and an urgent need to make changes to their own life for the better. It also is a great asset and useful guide on learning to adjust to the complexities of life.
The Sacred Writings of St. John the Apostle: The Biblical Scholarship series on the New Testament writing Modern Received Ecleptic Text compared to the Early Papyri and Uncials VOLUME IV, Rev. Dr. Henry B. Malone, Authors Press - The scriptures are the most translated texts throughout history. Thus, it can be hard to know what versions remain true to the original text. This study of St. John's writings is a labor of love in the works for years, and it aims for a precise translation of the Gospel that's free from the biases of translators and committees. Malone believes that many modern English translations of the Bible are more like a retelling, and this book aims to set the record straight. Thus, it's a great study tool for anyone who wants to understand the differences between ancient texts and modern interpretations. In addition, the book tackles criticisms and skepticism that some have directed toward the Christian Church. With its meticulous translation and insightful commentary, it's a valuable resource for scholars and laypeople alike.
Unexpected Transformation: Being Conformed to the Image of Christ, Bob Leland, Author Reputation Press - Leland takes the reader beyond the "should" to the "how" to respond to upsetting circumstances in our lives to grow joy, instead of bitterness, in our hearts. The book is organized as daily relfections, followed by a study of scripture verses and applications on how to fulfill God's goal for us of becoming more Christ-like. Each chapter is a day's lesson highlighting a specific characteristic of Christ and how it can be emulated in our lives. The author shares his own personal experiences of how he came to accept God. The author finds that the troubles that come his way to be teaching experiences, rather than enemies to be fought and conquered.
Books in the Legacy Fiction category are fiction books over two years of age which hold particular relevance to any subject matter or art form. Unlike many in the industry, we think good books last longer than one season.
Brewing Storms, A.M. Ramzy, Daybreak Press - This fascinating collection of poems details a young woman's long journey to spirituality. Using the comparison of a storm, Ramzy portrays the many different experiences and struggles often seen with growth. Rain represents the struggles, while sunshine is employed for joy in between dark days. Each poem resonates with feeling and insight. It is a brilliant briad of memory and perception, of reflection and insight, and ultimately of acceptance and transformation.
Opulence, Kansas, Julie Stielstra, Meadowlark Press - Unlike much contemporary young adult fiction, the story is not overwrought with angst and drama, even though it contains many harsh realities. A teenage Chicago girl suffers the shock of her father's suicide, followed by the jarring culture shift of moving to small-town Kansas, where her surviving parent sends her for the summer. There she finds a new family and meets a boy—who has his own heartbreaks and secrets—and endures more hardships. But like everyone in the story, she comes out stronger and happier, moving forward instead of drowning in a painful past. The setting itself contributes to healing, leading to an upbeat closure.
Eye of the Moon: A Novel, Ivan Obolensky, Smith-Obolensky Media - II's difficult to say which is more intriguing: the twists and turns of the plot or the cast of characters whose stories intertwine in truly unexpected ways. Even the dog is both hilariously entertaining and integral to the plot. The tale spans generations, uncovers family secrets, and is sprinkled with otherworldly influences and mystery. The extensive cast of characters is large, but each is a distinctive and unforgettable personality that add spice and depth—an imaginative and creative tale.
The Big Tilt, Dan Flanigan, Arjuna Books - In book two of this crime series, Peter O’Keefe, a former Vietnam Marine who battled drugs and alcohol dependency, runs a private investigation agency with two very devoted employees, Sara Slade and George Novak. O’Keefe relies heavily on a close high school friend, Mike Harrigan, an attorney who refers a considerable amount of work to the agency. The various threads running throughout—the death of a former high school flame, the Mafia underworld targeting O’Keefe for his involvement with their crime boss, Harrigan’s association with the wrong people which could lead to criminal charges, and an eleven-year-old daughter from former marriage—keep O’Keefe and his team very busy and sleeping with one eye open.
The Egyptian Princess: A Story of Hagar, KD Holmberg, Mountain Brook Ink - This is a very detailed depiction of Hagar of the Bible in relationship with Sarai, as well as intimate details of Islam and Judaism in light of the kingdom of her father and under the pharaoh. This book is a glimpse into Hagar's life as a princess and the twin sister of the up and coming king. She is faced with challenges and twists to the story of becoming Abraham’s concubine and soon enemy of Sarai.
Books in this Legacy Nonfiction category are nonfiction books over two years of age which hold particular relevance to any subject matter or art form. Unlike many in the industry, we think good books last longer than one season.
Keeping the Lights on for Ike: Daily Life of a Utilities Engineer at AFHQ in Europe During WWII; or, What to Say in Letters Home When You're Not Allowed to Write about the War, Rebecca Daniels, Sunbury Press - It is not your typical book about this era in history. The author gives us an intimate look into the interesting lives of two very private people. Daniels explains the amazing way he met his wife Mary, courted her, and married in March of 1940. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, their lives change a great deal. The historical documents and photos are a marvelous addition to this book.
Project Lina: Bringing Our Whole Selves to Islam, Dr. Tamara Gray, Najiyah Diana Maxfield, Daybreak Press - The book is divided in three modules that gently guide readers through the process of making the most of their new religion. In the first, the authors teach converts to recognize their personality and how their background has helped to form them. This makes them more aware of what they can personally bring to the community of Islam. In the second, they give key information and necessary tools to understand and engage in Islamic dialog. The third and final section helps readers to understand how they can maintain relationships, both with their Islamic associates and their non-Islamic friends and family. The book is filled with activities and well-researched charts that transform the book from merely informational, to engaging and enlightening.
Bashert, Andrea Simon, Vallentine Mitchell - Simon is on a personal mission to uncover the final moments of her lost family members, Jewish residents of a little-known town, Volchin, during The Holocaust. Their contributions have been lost to history, along with the details of a massacre at nearby Brona Gora where tens of thousands were shot and killed by the German SS. Her relatives' recorded eyewitness accounts are woven throughout the book, while the author moves through the Belarus countryside and into the ruins of Volchin, reaching out to authorities and into archives for information, struggling to unlock the last steps of her family lost to time and unbridled evil.
Héguanzî, the Dao of Unity, Marnix Wells, XlibrisUK - Wells facilitates the understanding of soul searching in our modern time using the exposition of Lao Zi and a concept of the unity of opposites in the Way (Dao). Through pictures and educated analysis, early Daoism is explored. Though this is a dissertation, it has been translated into a book that is accessible for any reader.
See a full review in the US Review of Books
No Ordinary Magic: Unexpected Travels with The Great Cellini, Eileen McFalls, Street Scenes - McFalls delivers a close-up of life on the road with a street magician. As an assistant to Cellini, the author travels the country—New Orleans, New York, San Francisco—and eventually much of Europe, living life alongside a master of illusion. Mentors, craftsmen, and showmen drift in and out of the narrative, but as the author learns to work street magic, she discovers a side of Cellini that she never anticipated. His childhood in foster care has produced a rootlessness, devoid of family loyalty, and Celini's love of magic long outdistances his desire to bond with his young son. The author takes us through the heartbreak of chasing Cellini across the globe, eventually abandoning the illusion of intimacy she once held with master on the streets.
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