July 2015 Independent Press Profiles
Self-Help and Inspirational
The reason why most 'relationship books' tend to sound the same is because few take into account the bigger picture of how to first embrace the love in one's own mind, body and spirit before moving outward to greater definitions and experiences. The Sacred Seduction: Forbidden Truths - Love, Sex & Seduction is designed to remedy this lack of information and begins with a basic examination defining love and how it sparks between two people.
Chapters require much of their readers: a willingness to consider the sacred and sexual paths that lead to real love, a willingness to embrace psychological and spiritual concepts in the process of exploring the nature and meaning of such love, and how men and women can unlock and ignite sparks of attraction by understanding their own psyches and those interactions between the sexes that lead to deeper connections.
It's obvious, fairly early on, that The Sacred Seduction offers higher-level thinking and is more than just a book about improving relationships or sexual experience: it's a spiritually-oriented focus that uses parables, admonitions, and discussions of the basics of attraction to reveal a deeper process that runs through lives like a river; too often remaining unplumbed in favor of shallower waters that recede too quickly.
If it's a quick read that is desired, move on. The powerful quotes, the parables and instructions, the keys to a more meaningful understanding and, ergo, a more meaningful life: all reside in a powerful survey that requires self-inspection, spiritual reflection, and a real desire to move beneath the surface to gain greater meaning.
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Yampa Valley Publishing
Box 4696, Parker, CO 80134
9780988995109, $35.00 www.TheImagineProject.com
The Imagine Project shares the inspiring stories of ordinary people who have achieved success by overcoming obstacles ranging from mental illness and abuse to addiction and war, and is an inspirational celebration of extraordinary success stories.
Photos accompany narratives of each life and offer vignettes that feature some of the wellsprings of courage.
It should be mentioned that there are no famous names here: readers won't be familiar with these being profiled. What will be recognized is their inspirational achievements, with photographer Mario Masitti's striking portraits enhancing the invitation to imagine the circumstances life has dealt these people and how they rose to the occasion to not just overcome and persevere, but to excel.
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Embrace Happiness: The Art of Conflict Management is about finding equilibrium and new strategies for managing stress and gaining happiness, and comes from a consultant who specializes in helping clients achieving better results in their lives.
His philosophy is simple and clear: sources of conflict emerge from communication snafus, differences in perception, crossed signals, and shortcomings inherent in the adversary system, and stem from variations in hearing, listening, and understanding.
The finer art of managing conflict for more effective resolution and understanding thus lies in semantic, emotional, and interpretative clarification; and the paths to embracing happiness lie stem from making modifications that lend to better communication. This powerful survey that offers many clear guidelines that move beyond conflict management to the heart of its ultimate purpose: peace and happiness.
Andrew Lam, M.D.
12699 Cristi Way
Bokeelia, FL 33922
Saving Sight: An Eye Surgeon's Look at Life Behind the Mask and the Heroes Who Changed the Way We See blends medical history and insights from an eye surgeon's perspective, and is recommended for any health or medical collection with a special interest in ocular surgery and eye treatment processes.
Graphic surgical accounts and case histories of efforts to save sight under often-impossible conditions accompany chapters that include a healthy dose of history as they expose new research and changes in the area of eye medicine and intersperse medical case histories with intriguing discussions of how the field of eye surgery has changed and expanded over the decades.
The result are discussions especially recommended for medical students and readers with an interest in the field of ocular medical advancements: a survey that successfully combines the personal approach of a physician's case histories with wider-ranging discussions of the field's growth, challenges, and changing treatment options.
I Wish I'd Known: Cancer and Kids
Deborah J. Cornwall
Bardolf and Company
5430 Colewood Place, Sarasota, FL 34232
Things I Wish I'd Known: Cancer and Kids is based on interviews with caregivers and provides anyone facing cancer in the family with the practical resources to help manage its daily impact on children.
One might anticipate this advice would occupy hundreds of pages; but one delight in Things I Wish I'd Known: Cancer and Kids is that it appears in a slim, pamphlet-like coverage of under sixty pages - which makes it much more digestible for those in crisis with short attention spans.
Case histories pair with caregiver interviews and experiences to share first-hand knowledge about the process of diagnosis, daily challenges, and resources to help children of different ages manage the disease in their lives, whether it be their own diagnosis, a sibling's, or another family member.
Also included are keys to handling children who have lost a sibling or parent to cancer, and discussions of support during and after treatment. Many adults struggle with issues of how to communicate with kids about cancer. Things I Wish I'd Known: Cancer and Kids addresses common communication issues at different ages, tells how to manage the impact of such a discussion (whether it's the child's own diagnosis or someone else's), and is packed with resources for further reference - all given in language and approaches that are easy to understand and apply.
Any caregiver feeling overwhelmed by too much weighty information should look here for answers that are firmly grounded in real solutions.
Mommy, Was Grandpa a Nazi? Recipes for Tolerance and Understanding serves up the belief that food has the ability to bring people together; and considering the popularity of the recent television show Breaking Borders (about chefs who arrange culinary liaisons and dinners between traditionally opposing political groups), this book's basic concepts have already been tested with great success.
Falcone is a German immigrant inspired to write this after conflict turned into a lifelong friendship centered on a shared love of food. Chapters conclude with 'food for thought' and recipes for greater understanding as they explore heritage, food, and how culinary contact brings with it newfound understandings of similarities rather than differences.
This collection illustrates how people of different ethnicities and religious backgrounds can come together over food and shared experience. Its stories are inspirational and revealing keys to understanding just how such a process works, and is best absorbed by any who would learn from its many case history examples.
Patrick Gaffney, Editor
Greenleaf Book Group Press
Talent for Humanity: Stories of Creativity, Compassion, and Courage to Inspire You on Your Journey is a motivational book and presents seven men and women who tell their stories of how they overcame hardships to take stands against poverty, apathy, and prejudice.
One might anticipate that these individuals led special lives; but these are actually ordinary people who made choices that led to extraordinary changes. Their accounts serve to illustrate that anyone can make the decision to help transform the lives of others, and their stories tell how they did so.
Any who believe that their lives are hopeless or are manipulated by political and social forces beyond their control will find here not just accounts of compassion and involvement, but important keys to understanding the choices that led to more connected lives.
Lisa J. Shultz
Lightning Source, Publisher
P.O. Box 1956
Breckenridge, CO 80424
9780615884288 $9.95 www.LisaJShultz.com
Ready or Not: Tips for the New Grad is a slim motivational book perfect for gift-giving for new grads, and blends the author's own life experiences with messages she received from influential teachers and courses. It provides anecdotes and words of wisdom arranged by topics such as setting goals, feeding one's soul, practicing new skills, and more.
Within these snippets of easily-digested words of wisdom are tips on what works and what does not. Often these words sound familiar or come from other (unidentified) sources (i.e. 'Be the Change You Want to See in the World'), but expand upon the concept of simple adages by adding easy explanations of the process involved ("If you want peace, live peacefully and support peaceful causes. The only person you can change is you.")
The joy of Ready or Not lies in its slim appearance, its simple concepts, and in specifics which move beyond the usual approach of one-line words of wisdom to examine the course of progressive thinking. It's these elements that lend to the book's accessibility to new grads and those who would learn new ways of leading more meaningful lives.
Magic: Lives of the Desert Shamans
Sunbelt Publications Inc.
1256 Fayette St., El Cajon, CA 92020
Old Magic: Lives of the Desert Shamans belongs in social science and Native American collections alike, examining the lives of the desert shamans of the West and providing important keys to understanding their daily experiences, perspectives and rituals.
Old Magic is no singular production: it uses the folklore of a dozen tribes as it builds a diverse picture of the shaman's world, from dreamscape and tribal interactions to desert and mountain landscapes and their influence upon the overall approach of desert shaman ceremonies.
Color photos of these landscapes, along with photos of relics and early recorded shaman imagery, pair with discussions that blend history and folklore with an analysis of the spiritual belief systems of the shaman.
It would have been all too easy to tailor Old Magic to reach new age audiences alone, but Clapp's focus on documenting the desert shaman's unique approach to nature and human concerns, and the role his environment played in his perspectives, makes for a lively history that will also reach general-interest readers with an interest in Native American culture.
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P.O. Box 265, Mendocino, CA 95469
Port Winston has a beach, shopping, and a pleasant atmosphere; but to teen Elizabeth, who's been moved mid-school year to Texas, it contains little of interest and much to avoid - including her judgmental, fisherman grandfather, who thinks she's nothing but trouble.
At first glance, Elizabeth might seem the last person to take an interest in endangered wildlife, but when she stumbles on an injured, nesting sea turtle, she finds new purpose and new conflicts as she fights to save the Landing, the turtles' critical nesting beach. It's one thing to fight against family, including its secrets: it's another to take on corporations and the results of the Deepwater Horizon's damaging oil slick.
It's rare to find an environmental story folded into a young adult read about a teen's angst and coming of age; but by incorporating the two under one cover, Elizabeth's Landing becomes so much more than the usual story of a moved teen's struggle to adjust. Bigger-picture thinking lends a social and political aspect to the story that succeeds in examining issues of a teen's power, awakening to the world around her, and movement from 'troublesome' to 'engaged'.
Add psychological insights and a first-person approach to understanding ("Thanks," I say, thrilled to hear terrific, perfect, and you in the same sentence.") and you have a moving story that succeeds on many levels. This award-winning book is recommended for middle school to high school audiences.
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1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781480808621 $12.99 www.archwaypublishing.com
Spare Parts is a teen sci-fi dystopian novel of climate change and its ultimate society-changing results, which creates different social stratas in the A-ones and the Underdwellers, who live in a huge Dome with artificially regulated weather. When A-one free thinker Tesla defies all that she's learned about the Underdwellers in her life through an encounter with Lynx, who puts himself in danger to defend his good friend, she finds herself on a journey that places the Dome and its society in danger.
One might wonder at how one young girl develops the ability to question the status quo in such a strictly regulated world, or how she stumbles upon events that lead her to question her perceptions of her status and the world that gives her a privileged life; but Spare Parts provides an engaging and powerful story that moves beyond any such questions and rests its story line upon relationships and realizations that lead to new truths and insights.
Blend high technology, plague and transformation, and choices that led to stronger friendships and social questions and you have a riveting young adult read that many an adult will find engrossing and different, spiced by the spunky determination of a girl who defies her upbringing, her class, and her predetermined life.
and the Tapestry
Bunker Hill Publishing
9781593731458 $18.50 www.bunkerhillpublishing.com
Time and the Tapestry is illustrated by Phyllis Saroff and provides middle school grades and older with the engrossing story of a 13-year-old girl and her 10-year-old brother, who are transported back in time to the Pre-Raphaelite period on the back of a giant bird and charged with restoring the missing pieces of a William Morris tapestry.
From living room to epic quest, this story takes flight and provides a healthy dose of 19th century English history as it follows the two siblings, who can't return home until they find the missing pieces that will make a tapestry whole.
With adventures moving from Iceland to Boston to Oxford, lovely illustrations enhance a timeslip fantasy adventure that represents a compelling integration of historical fact, modern children, and a quest that must be undertaken if they are ever to see home again.
Fu Kitty: Laying Down the Law
Abaton Book Company
100 Gifford Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07304
Kung Fu Kitty retold the story of Exodus and was set in ancient China with animal characters, and years later comes its sequel, Kung Fu Kitty: Laying Down the Law, which needs no prior introduction to prove whimsical and fun.
Here a nation of formerly enslaved cats are learning how to live in peace in their newfound homeland, guided by a master Kung Fu kitty who travels not only the world, but the universe, serving her kitty companions.
While the book appears short, it's actually packed with much food for thought because the story line is replete in observation and ideas, as in the controversial construction of a dictionary: "To placate King Serious, Pin Zi Feng selected a handful of words with negative characteristics: cataclysm, cataract, catatonia, catarrh, catachresis, catacomb, caterwaul, catalepsy and catastrophe. Nonetheless, he managed to balance it out with a few unsavory dog-starting words; dogma, in all its forms, and doggerel."
Black and white full-page illustrations by Michael Gentile compliment a zany cast of cat characters who find their new home embraces not just a single land, but the universe. Self-help readers interested in a blend of cats, philosophy, and reflection will find the format unusual and the delivery refreshingly different.Kung Fu Kitty: Laying Down the Law
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Novel New Novels
Novel Public Relations
Blossom is the first book in a trilogy and opens in the spring of 1906 in San Francisco; a world of light and wonder teetering on the brink of vast changes soon to be wrought by the 1906 earthquake. It's here that socialite Clarissa Donohue stands poised for success - and here that earthquake and fire will rip apart everything she's dreamed of.
It's important to note that Blossom takes place over a period of only five days, yet packs in enough detail and transformation to make its timeline feel much longer. As chapters count down to the earthquake, events assume a vivid immediacy as secrets are revealed, family connections questioned, romance rears, and the streets of Chinatown come alive.
With such a memorable backdrop and the inevitability of disaster based on historical events, Blossom could all too easily have become a scenario of survival. The fact that much of its action takes place in the days before the quake lends to a warm, revealing story that takes its time to paint the cultural interactions and social world of San Francisco pre-quake, and Blossom Sun and Brock St. Clair's place in it, before everything changes forever. Between romantic tension and historical events, it's impossible to not be immersed in this story of passion and tragedy!
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Time's Chariot tells of a man turning 80 who is faced with a killer, a woman's love, and a host of conflicts from his haunted past as a Marine sniper, including the loss of his wife. In some ways it's the quintessential account of an elderly man facing death who confronts present and past with determination and courage; in another way, it's about the increasing fluidity of time as the years march on.
Because so much alternates between past and present, the casual leisure reader seeking a quick read might find Time's Chariot a challenge. But though its writing may feel challenging to some readers, it's a beautiful and poetic example of English at its best, charting movement and growth even at the end of time itself: no easy topic for the reader seeking action and adventure.
Those who appreciate the classic works of Saul Bellow and others who write of the middle-aged or elderly experience will find something exceptional in Time's Chariot: a culmination of a lifetime of influences and experiences all wound up in what could be a final crescendo of either celebration or surrender... no spoilers here: read Time's Chariot to find out.
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Isthmus provides the first sequel in the Widow Walk series and is set in 1860s Panama, where revolution brings civil war to the United States and Emily has moved back to Boston with all that remains of her fragmented family. Their journey on the Panama isthmus railroad brings them to a strange new world where international peoples mingle and revised hopes and dreams bring together a disparate ragtag of personalities.
Isthmus is based on history and provides a rich setting in the jungles of South and Central America, but its major attribute lies in a fictional representation that brings to life the uncertainties of a world where languages and customs differ and where there's no information readily available to help ease the culture shock between peoples or the confusion over their intentions: "She sensed there was difference between the aborigines here and Deacy, but she didn't know if she was correct about that, or whether she was missing something and they really were alike."
Take human rights issues, family interactions and struggles for survival, encounters between different peoples, and vivid accounts of this historical period's major issues and mix in the high drama of fiction and you have a story that's truly hard to put down.
Solstice Publishing $4.99
614 Wal-mart Drive
Farmington, Mo. 63640
Cora is a photographer who loves nature and she's living at and renovating her grandmother's house; returning to a small town where she has mixed memories of fellow classmates and her past. Anticipating an environment which will embrace her, she instead discovers that something uncanny and unfamiliar is happening - something involving more than her grandmother's uncertain memory.
Death, werewolves, and full moons suddenly stalk her footsteps, and thus Cora moves from a nature-loving photographer looking to help out her grandmother to an amateur investigator with a tiger by the tail.
Add a touch of (unwelcome) romance, girlfriend interactions, and the lure and dangers of full moons and you have a fine blend of mystery and romance, spiced with small-town interactions and a single girl's ability to raise danger from the dead in an engrossing leisure read recommended for romance, mystery, and supernatural readers alike.
The Road Home opens in 1905, with Katherine standing over her mother's coffin, having had the opportunity to forgive her for past trespasses as she lay dying. Forced by her mother's death to revisit these painful years, Katherine struggles to understand her mother's life; particularly as the funeral brings with it many strangers and unexpected revelations.
In an interconnected series of stories, twins Katherine and Tommy come to uncover the truths about their mother's life: both forced to return to painful memories and years in order to understand their mother's actions and achieve an ultimate sense of peace.
Broken family connections, miracles, hopes, and redefined pasts: all these form the foundation of a powerful story that's Book Two of The Letter Series in a saga which stands powerfully and firmly on its own for newcomers, yet creates and cements a powerful account of change for those who want further details on the evolving story of uncertain family connections and ultimate healing
Yelled. I Screamed…She Pulled My Hair!
1920 Hillhurst Avenue #330
Los Angeles, CA 90027
9780989998833 $19.95 www.againagainbooks.com
She Yelled. I Screamed…She Pulled My Hair! pairs black and white 35mm photos with a picture book story about sharing, and achieves the unusual goal of creating a book suitable for young readers and adult coffee table display alike.
She Yelled. I Screamed's format and presentation are unique and compelling: each page holds a large-sized black and white image while a rollicking rhyme builds the story of a summer hot spell that leads siblings to angry encounters and much angst.
From a tossed teapot and a tempest between sisters to huge problems caused by the word 'share', characters come to life in a tale narrated by big sister Phoebe. With its back-and-forth summer exploits punctuated by confrontation and then love, there's nothing quite like this on the market, which makes for a refreshingly different pick suitable for read-alouds and adult enjoyment, as well.She Yelled. I Screamed…She Pulled My Hair!
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1700 - 4th Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
Two gorgeous picture book presentations are recommended picks for ages 4-7, and pair award-winning authors and illustrators with formats and subjects that lend to fun leisure reads. Maureen Fergus and Qin Leng's And What If I Won't (9781771470650, $17.95) imagines the consequences of increasingly bad behaviors, and begins with a boy's response to his mother's simple request. As Benny keeps on asking 'what if?' questions, his mother joins in on the fun of providing increasingly outrageous answers in this hilarious story. Carrie Snyder's The Candy Conspiracy: A Tale of Sweet Victory (9781771470506, $17.95) is illustrated by Claudia Dāvila and tells of Candyville, a place where children are ruled by the Juicy Jelly Worm, a tyrant who forces kids to work. Worst of all, they never get to sample the candy they work with - so when they decide on a plot to sweeten the pot, fun results make for an inviting, delightful story line. Both are top recommendations!
181 Carlaw Ave., Suite 207
Toronto, Ontario M4M 2S1 Canada
Two lovely new Pajama Press picture books are picks for kids looking for vivid, colorful and fun reads. Stephanie McLellan and Dean Griffiths's Tweezle into Everything (9781927485477, $14.95) tells of a precocious monster who believes he's a big boy and who gets into trouble whenever he tries to help. Tweezle has big ideas, but not enough experience - and the monster family (first introduced in Hoogie in the Middle) has no idea what to do with him. Can they redirect his good intentions into something less destructive? Gorgeous illustrations lend to a fun story. Victoria Allenby and Tara Anderson's Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That (9781927485521, $15.95) tells of Nat, who has a talent for sleeping all day long, on, under, and in many pieces of furniture and household items. But when night falls, Nat is alert and on the prowl. Can a kitten keep up with Nat? An endearing, gentle story of cats at play and evolving friendships emerges. Margriet Ruurs and Katherine Gibson's A Brush Full of Colour: the World of Ted Harrison (9781927485637, $19.95) pairs full-color images of Harrison's bright Yukon settings with a picture book story of his growing up in a mining town in northeast England, discussing how he became known as one of Canada's most famous artists. Good reading skills are required to appreciate this story of Harrison's artistic evolution, which will inspire many a young artist. All are wonderful leisure reading choices.
Day No One Was Angry
Toon Tellegen and Marc Boutavant
9781927271575 $19.95 www.geckopress.com
The Day No One Was Angry requires good reading skills or parental help and packs in twelve fun, philosophical tales by a storyteller who tackles anger in all its forms.
One doesn't expect some of these tales to be hilarious - but many are. One doesn't expect an arguing elephant or a hyrax who begs the sun not to set - but strange things happen to all the animals, even as a lobster salesman tries to peddle anger.
Why would the animals worry if anger vanished? A fine set of stories explores the value of anger and its place in the world, offering youngster and their adult readers food for thought and discussion, making for a pointed leisure read and educational tool alike.
Four gorgeous new picture books are top recommendations for any seeking superior productions, and should be in any American picture book collection. Marlies Verhelst and Linda Faas's The Feast for the King (978193595446, $17.95) tells of Tarantula, who has created a lovely cake for King Lion's birthday party. Unfortunately, its centerpiece - the best piece of meat - has vanished. Who is to blame? Tarantula must inspect all the jungle animals' mouths to find the culprit in this whimsical story of thievery in high places. Mirjam Enzerink and Peter-Paul Rauwerda's The Day the Sun Did Not Rise and Shine (9781935954439, $17.95) tells of one sleepy owl who makes a wrong turn on his way to bed and finds that the world has changed. Can he help the sun rise and banish perpetual darkness? A lovely, gentle story emerges. Ingrid & Dieter Schubert's There Is a Crocodile Under My Bed! (9781935954088, $17.95) tells what happens when a little girl uncovers a crocodile under her bed. Unafraid, the girl teaches him tricks and enjoys her new playmate; a satisfying change from monster-under-the-bed picture books that focus on overcoming fear. Here, it's all about accepting unexpected invitations without trepidation. Ellie van Lieshout and Erik van Os work with Mies van Hout in Uh-Oh Octopus! (9781935954392, $17.95), which depicts a satisfied octopus who loves his home and life and has no complaints. When a large tail blocks his home, he must consult his friends on what to do: once more, with unexpected results. Is the sea really filled with opportunities, and does change bring them closer? All are excellent, positive approaches to life which will delight and entertain young readers with messages about adaptation, change, and good attitudes.
Judy Young's Sleepy Snoozy Cozy Coozy (9781585369089, $15.99) features gorgeous color illustrations by Michael Glenn Monroe and explores the bedtime habits of animals using rhymes and questions designed to encourage parent/child read-aloud interactions. It is a lovely bedtime read, spiced by the full-page, full color, realistic wildlife drawings that have gained Monroe recognition even up to the White House level. Stephanie Shaw works with illustrator Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen in The Legend of the Beaver's Tail (9781585368983, $16.99), a fable that tells of Beaver, who once was a chubby guy with a tail that wasn't wide or flat, but thick with fur. Beaver, too vain about his lovely appendage, spends too much time bragging and too much time grooming his tail, and eventually he drives away all his friends - until his pride and joy is flattened in an accident and his friends respond with kindness. Both are top recommendations for any discriminating picture book collection and for parents seeking realistic drawings and nature-oriented tales.
Mia Pelletier's A Children's Guide to Arctic Birds (9781927095676, $16.95) covers selected bird species in the North American Arctic and represents the first volume in a set. Youngsters with rudimentary reading skills will learn about twelve selected birds through fun facts about where birds nest in the Arctic and how they raise their young. It's a fine introduction for any young birder who also wants to know more about Arctic wildlife. Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley's The Walrus Who Escaped (9781927095683, $16.95) relates a gentle fable of a walrus who once had lovely, spiraled tusks rather than modern straight ones. Raven's jealousy over Walrus's clam-hunting skills lead to a dangerous spell that changes Walrus forever. The result is a lovely story for any child interested in fables.
Bunker Hill Publishing
285 River Road,
Piermont New Hampshire 03779
9781593731533 $17.95 www.bunkerhillpublishing.com
Orangutan Houdini is based on the true story of a zoo orangutan who defied confinement, and is a recommended picture book read for kids in grades 2-4 who have basic reading skills in place. Kathie Kelleher's engaging, colorful line drawings compliment the story of Fu Manchu, an adult male orangutan who always outsmarts his zookeeper friend by escaping his enclosure to spend time with his animal friends.
Jerry is determined to discover how Fu Manchu is escaping; but this requires special surveillance - and even then, he can't figure out how the beast picks locks with no tools!
The warm, fun story embraces Fu's perspective as well as that of his keeper and will keep kids reading - and wondering - to the end.
Bunker Hill Publishing
285 River Road,
Piermont New Hampshire 03779
9781593731526 $17.95 www.bunkerhillpublishing.com
The Flying Mouse will engage young animal-loving readers in grades 2-4 with its gentle story of a fisherman who ties a tackle in the semblance of a mouse, only to find out that the mouse comes to life nightly and scurries through the house, bragging to other mice that he can fly.
His failure leads to an early retirement from fame in the tackle box, until spring arrives and the fisherman heads out with his gear - including the unused, creatively-made little mouse tackle.
Finally, the mouse learns to fly - but not before adventure is achieved. There are very, very few fly fishing stories geared to young picture book readers. The Flying Mouse thus stands alone and apart for two reasons: its subject, and the fact that a whimsical twist on a theme will keep many an adult read-aloud reader engrossed, as well.
Do Not Want This On My Plate
Laredo Publishing Company
465 Westview Avenue
Englewood, NJ 07631
9781564924070 $14.95 www.laredopublishing.com
Jennifer Bisignano has taught early childhood education for many years: perhaps this is why I Do Not Want This On My Plate is so engrossing, providing a warm picture book story of a girl who has a spoonful of green beans placed on her lunch plate for the first time, and who rejects them without even sampling them.
Even though her caregiver has produced a delicious lunch, Sally can't adjust to the idea that she must try new things; nor is she dutiful about rules (she "almost always" follows directions.)
The hilarious perceptions of a girl horrified by her lunch's single oddity will delight adults and kids alike ("I started at the wet green beans as its slimy water began to attack my other food. I saved the bread and the nuggets by bringing them safely to my napkin but the applesauce was in trouble.") while Gastón Hauviller's fun color drawings capture the dilemma.
Young picture book readers with rudimentary reading skills will find I Do Not Want This On My Plate an appealing, award-winning story (the 2014 Purple Dragonfly Book Award Picture Books 6 & Older, Honorable Mention; and the 2015 Florida Book Festival Children’s books, Honorable Mention.)
Trouble at the Airport
Laredo Publishing Company
465 Westview Avenue
Englewood, NJ 07631
9781564924124 $16.95 www.laredopublishing.com
HippoDuck Trouble at the Airport tells of an unusual stuffed animal: a hippo and a duck who have been sewn together so that neither will be lost. The only problem is: Hippo loves adventure while shy Duck just wants to stay home: these two very different creatures should not share a destiny!
One morning HippoDuck and their friend travel to the airport, where airport security leads best friend Charlotte to become lost. Will HippoDuck find her before the plane takes off? Their search for their lost friend unites them in an unexpected way with a shared goal.
Bright color photos by Gastón Hauviller bring this adventure to life.
Mouth Frog's Big Birthday
2206 E. Hazel Dell Rd.
Springfield, IL 62703
9780988394865 $15.99 www.sunnycrestpress.com
Wide Mouth Frog's Big Birthday is written and illustrated by Jerry Barrett and adds to the other 'Wide Mouth Frog' titles in the series; but stands well alone for newcomers, as well.
Here Wide Mouth Frog is throwing a big 5th birthday party for himself, and he invites all his animal friends to come help him celebrate, issuing whimsical invitations and arranging games.
Mother Frog's only stipulation is that Wide Mouth Frog and his friends stay on their side of the pond - but the inevitable happens amidst the fun, and danger is encountered. Can Wide Mouth Frog come up with a creative solution before he or his friends become someone's dinner?
The fanciful story is packed with colorful illustrations and fun easy adventure reading that animal-loving kids will appreciate, while the creative problem-solving portion is well done and appealing. It should also be noted that Wide Mouth Frog's Big Birthday was the 2015 Indie Award Winner in the Children’s Book category (0-6 years) - with good reason!
Rootlets: Super Rootabilities
The Rootlets, LLC, Publisher
9780990721604 $12.99 www.therootlets.com
The Rootlets: Super Rootabilities offers a fun, 37-page easy reader adventure illustrated with art by Jeremy Russnak and revolving around the vegetable 'Rootlets' people, who discover they have magical super powers called 'Rootabilities'. The Rootlets live on an enchanted planet called Planet Planted in a village called Veggie Ville, where everyone sports colorful vegetable hair.
The kids' interest in visiting Planet Earth is only exceeded by their discovery of their special powers - but then, the real question lies in how to uncover and use these abilities.
Good reading skills from grades 2-4 will lend to an enjoyment of an early reading adventure that only goes to show that veggies are anything but boring and predictable - at least, on Planet Planted! During the course of the story, kids learn about plant-based food through funny characters and veggie-themed action that teaches about vegetables through an innovative, fun fantasy that grades 2-3 and their parents will appreciate.
Now You See Me: From Endangered to Extinction examines a variety of endangered animals and considers what's threatening their existence, pairing analysis with Brischke's own photos throughout the book to provide inviting color photos of the species.
The simple format uses a full-page photo on a facing page with three paragraphs of discussion and at-a-glance information to consider exactly what kind of human encroachment (poaching, pollution, habitat loss or pet trade) poses the most problems.
About 32 pages of detail are presented in a pamphlet-sized booklet that stems from the photographer author's hours spent photographing zoo animals and gathering information appropriate for both children and adults interested in an introduction to conservation. While the information is not new; what is different is an arrangement that lends to quick browsing and quicker understanding about the particular threats facing each species.
Defenders: Bully Patrol
William & Monika Carter
Brandylane Publishers, Inc.
5 South First Street
Richmond, VA 23219
The first day of a new school year can set the stage for school atmosphere for the rest of the semester, as Tommy well knows; so he has a vested interest in seeing that his little brother's first day at kindergarten is a success. His plan is thwarted, however, by bullies - and Tommy is just smart enough to realize that Matthew needs a defender in his arena if he's to be successful.
Thus The Defenders Bully Patrol idea is born, with its wider purpose of identifying and thwarting bullying at school.
There's been a lot of media coverage of bullying and its short- and long-term effects, but this thirty-five-page reader isn't directed to adults. Picture book readers to early elementary grades with good reading skills will find The Defenders: Bully Patrol addresses all the components of bullying, from identifying its different incarnations to reviewing what can be done to control bullying at school.
Tad Butler's realistic full-color drawings enhance a story that follows an older brother's thinking and approaches to provide young readers with alternatives to the difficult process of handling bullies. Kids in grades K-5 will find this a thoughtful discussion - the first in a projected series.
Spiders Need Leggings When it's Cold Outside?
Brandylane Publishers, Inc.
5 South First Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Do Spiders Need Leggings When it's Cold Outside? is a forty-page bedtime story book that centers upon a child's confusion over a parent's bedtime admonitions and some of the possibilities that can happen in a darkened room ("don't let the bedbugs bite" and "see you later alligator" are two such admonitions, for example; while pirates and monsters are just two things that can happen in a dark room).
As an unsleepy child begins to imagine some fairly fantastic scenarios, young readers and their read-aloud parents will find a number of whimsical scenarios come to life, including an impossibly polka-dotted cat and why spiders might require leggings when it's cold outside.
Whimsical scenarios blend with color drawings by Buttons Boggs to provide a diverse set of 'why?' imaginative examinations in a fun bedtime collection that lends particularly well to read-aloud.
and the Worry Watch
Susan M. Brown
Brandylane Publishers, Inc.
5 South First Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Simon is excited to be starting preschool - at least, he thinks he is; because all the adults around him are certainly excited. But Simon is actually not so sure about it all, and is worried about many possibilities, from finding the bathroom to making friends.
In fact, Simon worries so much that he spends all day imagining the worst about his first venture out into the world and all the things that could happen.
He's not alone, however: other children seem to also be worried - and they loudly express their concerns. Simon is more the strong, silent type; and as his worries are addressed one by one, he begins to find the courage to actually enjoy his experiences.
Simon and the Worry Watch offers a book packed with color drawings by Tara Friel Swinford and does a fine job of presenting a kangaroo child's viewpoint as he makes his way through an unpredictable new environment. Caregivers as well as kids will appreciate this 40-page story, with its warm insights on a child's growth process.
the Little Stray Cat
Little Balloon Press
New York-based artist and teacher Kirsi Tuomanen Hill provides the winning color images for Pam Laskin's picture book Homer the Little Stray Cat, recommended for kids and parental read-aloud as it follows the adventures of a stray cat who lives on the streets until he discovers a loving new home.
Homer is furry, frisky, and tiny, and he considers the streets his home and his fellow felines his family. People try to take him in, but they don't like his loud mewing and he's just as happy to be let go to enjoy the freedom of the streets - but really, it's only because he hasn't found anything better.
When Homer is run down by a bicycle and rescued by two caring children, he discovers what it means to enjoy a real, loving home in this fun story with its engaging drawings and message of warmth.
The realistic story line, drawings, and story of a small cat's affection for both freedom and home lends to a tale ages 3-6 will relish.
Shock: A Practical Guide
H.E. Rybol (self-published)
The first prerequisite to enjoying Culture Shock is an interest in international travel. This requirement met, would-be travelers will find it a different take on culture shock than most books offer, with a focus on finding and appreciating similarities between diverse peoples, rather than just differences.
Readers can be students embarking on an international studies program, travelers, or those who are encountering other cultures for the first time: they don't have to be solo adventure travelers like the author; nor does one need to have a nomadic background. All that's needed is an open mind and an interest in this particular method of minimizing culture shock, which involves using "…simple everyday actions in a purposeful way to ease the stress that comes with everything being new."
Chapters delve into the process of accepting and using new information, providing keys to self-analysis of typical reactions to understand the shifts in consciousness brought about by unexpected encounters. From practical tips covering apartment hunting, organizing plans and movements, and learning to listen to one's inner voice to broadening a sense of self and, thus, one's horizons, these easy admonitions and messages are accompanied by lovely color photos (in the ebook edition: the print edition holds black and white images) of other cultures and overseas scenes.
This focus on understanding is designed for self-help readers who aim to make the most of travel and the cultural encounters that go with it.
Raven Productions Inc.
P.O. Box 188
Ely, MN 55731
9780983518921 $17.95 www.adventurepublications.net
Paddling to Winter relates how author Julie Buckles and Charly Ray built a wood and canvas canoe, married, and paddled away on a year-long journey into northern Saskatchewan where they stayed for the winter. It's a story of the honeymoon of a lifetime: an adventure that carried them and their canoe through gorgeous scenery and many wilderness struggles, and one which will engross armchair readers not quite brave enough to duplicate the effort.
One doesn't anticipate humor in a travelogue; especially when it involves a rugged sojourn from Lake Superior to the Canadian North - but its here.
From close encounters with moose to adjusting to the silence of being alone on an island, the tales in Paddling to Winter come to embrace a warm autobiography, a cold climate, and a series of encounters that ultimately bring the honeymooners closer together.
It's almost enough to make a reader want to attempt the same - but the hardships are candidly covered as well as the ecstasies. It's much easier to just sit back and vicariously enjoy the read!
French Illusions: My Story as an American Au pair in the Loire Valley blends an autobiographical coming-of-age story with an account of how the author decided to choose a French immersion approach to her ultimate goal of becoming a flight attendant: a decision that led to her job as a nanny for a wealthy French family - and to poor choices when she claimed to speak basic French, when she barely knew a word.
Once there, she found communications impossible, was treated as a household drudge, and struggled with French culture and language alike. Even worse, she met and developed a crush on a handsome student … 'worse' because at a time when her hands were filled with struggle, a romance was the last thing she needed.
Plenty of memoirs address traumatic cultural encounters; but this blend of adventure, romance, and a summer of discovery goes a step further in documenting the poor choices of youth, their consequences, and how Linda Kovic-Skow ultimately overcame many challenges to achieve her goals despite these early snafus. The result makes for an especially vivid, engrossing read.
Christopher Kelly and Stuart Laycock
Book Publishers Network
P.O. Box 2256
Bothell, WA 98041
9781940598420 $29.95 www.AmericaInvades.com
Plenty of books have been written about specific invasions and their history; but few have undertaken a comprehensive survey of all the countries America has either invaded outright or been militarily involved in. Enter America Invades: How We've Invaded or been Militarily Involved with Almost Every Country on Earth: an eye-opening examination that doesn’t limit itself to one nation, one period of time, or one approach.
There are many surprises here, including the fact that the U.S.'s first major invasion in 1741 helped George Washington name his Mount Vernon home; the fact that Norwegian scientists nearly began World War III after the Cold War's end; and the trivia tidbit that shows how many wars have been named after food.
Military historian Christopher Kelly provides a world-wide survey that examines these political and military processes involving Americans in Madagascar, France, Thailand, and even Greece. An alphabetical listing of nations makes it easy to locate a specific country and its history while the addition of color photos adds to the shock value and historical insights in a rare focus compiling information not readily accessible elsewhere.
Buffalo Soldiers South of the Rio Grande surveys the first African-American regiments in the U.S. Army and provides a novel set in the early 1900s, when an African-American Army officer and Buffalo Soldier attempted to rescue captured U.S. Armed Forces during the Mexican Revolution.
Because so little is generally known about early black soldiers, having the story assume the form of fiction lends to its accessibility for those who want the high drama and compelling characters of fiction, with strong roots in real fact. The fictional form also allows for a narrowed focus and an expanded perspective as the story line follows three different people from different backgrounds who participate in a force that holds wide-ranging impact on soldiers, African-Americans, the Mexican Federal Army, and more.
There are a number of nonfiction histories about the Buffalo Soldiers; but this more vivid view in Buffalo Soldiers South of the Rio Grande will reach a far wider audience (especially those with little prior background on their history) than any nonfiction account could achieve.
Film, Music and Stage
Sexual Outlaw, Irish Rebel
Darwin Porter & Danforth Prince
Blood Moon Productions
75 Saint Marks Place, Staten Island, NY 10301
One might expect that Peter O'Toole: Hellraiser, Sexual Outlaw, Irish Rebel would hold the usual biographical survey of the actor's life and times; but in fact it's a story that offers something far greater: an analysis of O'Toole's life and career that features a new look at the actor's passion, controversies, and determination to 'raise hell'.
Lest readers think this will be a rehash of prior biographies, it should be mentioned that Peter O'Toole: Hellraiser, Sexual Outlaw, Irish Rebel represents decades of research by writers who define their efforts as being steeped in media and celebrity stories - and therefore replete with the high tension, drama, and eye-popping gossip and grit of Hollywood's most outrageous moments and characters.
So don't anticipate a casual coverage: it's an account of a hellraising, outrageous personality and is itself steeped in the culture it investigates, cultivating lively language, newly-revealed shocking truths, and passionate descriptions to capture the life and times of a film star who, according to Peter O'Toole, "...became the toast of international society. The decadent part, those who live just to fornicate on the Costa del Sol. It's the new gathering place for panty sniffers, child molesters, drunkards, prostitutes, pimps, gigolos, pillheads, and poon stalkers. I adore it. It seems that all the big names want to go to bed with me. A lucky few actually manage to accomplish that splendid feat."
Outrageous? You bet. It's not for the morally faint - and that promises that Peter O'Toole: Hellraiser, Sexual Outlaw, Irish Rebel will be a frequent flyer out of library collections and film reference holdings alike.
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Dylan from Woodstock
Ray Foulk with Caroline Foulk
Medina Publishing Ltd. (Casemate Academic, Distributor)
310 Elwell Road, Surbiton, Surrey KT67AL UK
Stealing Dylan from Woodstock: When the Word Came to the Isle of Wight provides an account of how the Isle of Wight Festivals transformed the small English island into massive focal point for rock and roll celebrations. It all began in 1968 when a small town's attempt to raise funds for a local swimming pool turned into a massive outdoor gathering and eventually attracted Bob Dylan, a reclusive musician who rarely appeared in public after aserious motorcycle accident.
The real question lies in what would compel a recluse who lived right next to one of the biggest rock music festivals in the world (Woodstock) to fly 3,000 miles away to England to participate in a little-known, unprecedented music gathering.
Stealing Dylan from Woodstock is about this development and the process of building an event which took on a life of its own to alter Bob Dylan's life and others who participated in or attended the event. Any collection strong in rock music history needs this story of how a tiny island came to be synonymous with one of the largest music festivals in the world.
Gold-in-Quartz: A Jewelry Hunter Thriller weaves a vivid and unpredictable plot packed with jewelry thieves, a terrorist plot, an international chase, and more, and opens a year after an Islamic cleric declares a fatwa against Bill and Jenn Watson for averting a terrorist plot in California.
As if that isn't enough, a jewelry-buying trip in Northern California's Gold Country leads them into a danger that lands them in the witness protection program: a solution that offers only temporary remedies as their enemies find them anyway.
It seems the world isn't wide enough to allow them to escape and lead easy lives. As their journeys direct them into more and more danger, readers become immersed in the bigger picture of whether any move they can make will lead to their survival and re-entry into a non-conflicted world.
Plenty of thrillers offer action and international struggles; but few contain the sense of direction, staccato changes, and intrigue of Gold-in-Quartz, which leads readers on an unrelenting romp skirting deadly dangers right and left.
the Eyes of Madness
PO Box 1013, GOTHA, FL 34734
11.99 (Paperback), 2.99 (Kindle), 4.99 (Nook)
Number: 978-0-692-43733-9 (paperback), 978-0-692-42392-9 (Ebook)
In the Eyes of Madness reveals a psychotic mother, a damaged child, and what happens years later when, in an effort to become closer to his mother, Declan takes a job in the institution where she is housed. But the institution houses more than his mother and fellow sufferers: there's an evil lurking behind closed doors, and Declan has run right into it by pursuing a relationship with his mother.
Raised by his aunt and uncle after his mother's breakdown, Declan has many unanswered questions; the biggest of which is what led to her sudden psychotic break and attack.
What he doesn’t fully comprehend is that in order to understand her breakdown, he will have to follow her not only to the institution that houses her, but into the halls of madness itself - a journey that leads to answers, newfound revelations, and new dangers that emerge from asking too many questions and refusing to let the past remain hidden. As Declan becomes involved with Zoe, Keira, and others, he finds himself on a path that, if it doesn't lead straight into madness, surely leads into another world of danger, death, and unexplained powers.
It's a murder mystery, it's a supernatural piece, and it's about one son's determination to find answers to the puzzles in his life; all in one. The journey that results will inject 'rehab' with an entirely new interpretation that skirts the boundaries of reality and supernatural worlds in a tense saga that's engrossing and hard to put down.
Wolves of the Revenue: A Tale of IRS Abuse is a thriller with a difference: it comes from a lawyer whose clients have experienced harassment from the IRS, who exacts his revenge not in the courtroom, but through writing about it.
This is a fictional saga of a taxpayer struggling with two IRS agents' harassing audits, assessments and seizures. In the course of taking action, the protagonist walks the dangerous road of vengeance and finds his life forever changed because of his decisions.
The fact that this saga is loosely based on a real-life IRS struggle by a deceased client of author Pete Johnson, and that it contains details of tax revolt and documents the real-world relentless practices of the IRS, makes it a particularly convincing, realistic read that will delight and chill thriller audiences whether one believes taxes are fair or not.
Science, Nature and Technology
Eduard Josef Gübelin Story
The Gübelin Foundation
Unicorn Press, London (University of Chicago, Distributor)
9781910065402 $60.00 www.unicornpress.org
The Eduard Josef Gübelin Story: The Art and Science of Gems is an in-depth biography of the father of modern gemology, and belongs in any science collection strong in gem science and discoveries.
Gübelin's pioneering research did more than make discoveries: it created and defined the science of gemology, which spread around the world. This book discusses not only Gübelin's life and influences but the science of gemology as a whole, pairing full-page color gem images and black and white vintage photos with deliberations ranging from the evolution of a business to the advancement of gem science.
Also included are histories of his involvement in film and photography, rounding out his scientific discoveries and presenting the portrait of a true Renaissance man whose research and achievements changed the world.