March 2015 Independent Press Profiles
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
While most may readily recognize the name of Johnny Appleseed, which is widely connected with the propagation and popularity of apples, this same audience is just as unlikely to realize that Appleseed was actually a traveling minister with deep spiritual roots - and that he used apple seeding as one device towards the greater purpose of seeding men's souls.
It's about time that a biography of Appleseed were written to capture this little-known facet of his life; but while The Appleseed Journal is a story of spirituality and enlightenment as much as a chronicle of one man's wanderings and calling, and is recommended for any who wondered about the persona and impact of the man in his 1800s world, it would not have come to exist without a chance discovery by the author.
This spiritual fictionalized story begins with a weathered sack, a blue tin box, and an old manuscript after excavating a failed swimming pool from his back yard, discovered to be written by one John Chapman (popularly known as Johnny Appleseed). The author researched the relationship between Appleseed and spiritual leader Emmanuel Swedenborg, coming to understand their spiritual connections and influences - and these facts are incorporated in a story line based around Appleseed's wanderings.
That this is a major facet in the life of a man who today is primarily known for his apple seedlings is astonishing.
Anyone could have produced a biography of Appleseed's life based on Internet research. The fact that this collection of fictionalized stories are driven by Appleseed's own writings makes it an extraordinary piece that deserves a place in any collection serious about spiritual writings in general or Appleseed's life and philosophy in particular. Its lively passion should attract a wide audience.The Appleseed Journal
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Bleeding Heart Publications
978-0-9905732-0-3 $16.95 http://christopherliterary.
Under a different hand, it would have been all too easy for The Job Pirate to have become another autobiographical survey of poor career moves and an endless succession of jobs - but then, we're not talking about the usual approach with Brandon Christopher; which is why his book is being recommended here as an inviting, lively read for any who have an interest in a humor-spiced memoir chronicling good and bad job experiences alike.
Christopher's intention is to shock and amaze with the unexpected, and this is evident from the very first sentence of his introduction (which should serve as adequate warning to prospective employers): "To see me in your office is surely cause for speculation. I look like you, I work like you, but I am not like you, and some part of you knows this. Some elemental part of you, deep down inside, knows that I am an imposter in your workplace. But your—actually, our—employer doesn’t know this yet; he doesn’t realize the person he just gave a unique login and password to is a professional at what he does for a living. But this particular profession isn’t what he does for a living— at least it wasn’t three days before the interview."
And while this won't delight the job seeker who has unwittingly come upon The Job Pirate in hopes of perhaps gaining some employment-fostering tips during the process of re-careering, there are plenty of books on the market which better serve this purpose - and none with the whimsical delivery of of The Job Pirate.
After all - the full title gives away this book's focus (The Job Pirate: An Entertaining Tale of My Job-Hopping Journey in America), so there should be no cause for confusion or dashed expectations - and plenty of appropriate anticipation of a fun journey.
This is no singular path, either: Christopher's jobs range from porn magazines and moving vans to sewers, and his West Coast journeys make for particularly fun reflections for any who reside on the 'left bank' of the country.
Be prepared to laugh. Be prepared to recognize that boring jobs become enlightening and fun only under Christopher's hand. And be prepared to be delighted; for in the vast world of career and job experience books, The Job Pirate doesn't just stands out: it shines.The Job Pirate
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Many Lives of Ruby Iyer
The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer perfectly captures the layers and psyche of Bombay, an Indian world that is too rarely featured in adult novels, much less young adult fiction, and centers upon a feisty teen whose best friend has been kidnapped by an evil despot.
Now, given its dystopian background, the temptation would be to label this story as a fantasy; but that would be a shame, because it's also a young adult thriller and detective story wrapped in the guise of a futuristic urban world where a city is failing and a girl finds herself charged with saving what she can.
This is no light read: steeped in the culture and atmosphere of Bombay but with a futuristic twist, it will attract young adult into adult audiences with its realistic characters and events that documents an increasing lack of choices, fueled by anger, injustice, and struggle. The detective/thriller aspects are nearly adult in their depth and orientation, which means that an advanced young adult reader audience is recommended for a different kind of coming-of-age saga: one that is immersed in political and social conflict.
As Ruby follows the trail of her friend into a maze of social injustices, turning her status as a runaway into one of a freedom fighter, readers are presented with a powerful character who doesn't know when to quit and won't accept easy answers as the solutions to either her personal challenges or the wider world around her.
It's her attitude that serves as a pivot point for an entire city's possibilities and failures - and her struggles that neatly immerse readers in an effort that does lend choice and new possibilities to even the most impossible scenarios.
In the end it's not only Ruby who has many lives and many possible paths: it's the reader who follows her journey to self-realization and newfound perspectives. And perhaps this is the greatest strength of all in a dystopian young adult novel that presents so much more than a singular, easy path.The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer
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A Voyage Through French Polynesia
Paradise Cay Publications
9780986217104 $24.95 www.paracay.com
"Convergence: A Voyage Through French Polynesia" is a multi-faceted book that has the rare ability to reach well beyond a sailing audience. It's refreshing to note the balance between text and color photos in this large-format armchair narrative. Packed with full-page color photos that capture the life and culture of French Polynesia, Convergence isn't just a beautiful coffee table book, it’s a highly readable, personal account of one woman's travels, as she observes and experiences life at sea, the Polynesian peoples, the ecology of the islands and more.
Exploring the history of these fabled islands, the author reminisces about her father's travels in 1930s Polynesia, reflecting on what has changed and what remains the same. Ever passionate about the oceans and their conservation, she offers readers a colorfully close encounter with the beauty of and threats to the ocean environment.
Convergence will attract and educate cruisers, armchair travelers, and readers of ecological issues alike.Convergence: A Voyage Through French Polynesia
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ZBrush Characters & Creatures: Projects, Tips & Techniques from the Masters is not your usual computer guide: presented in an oversized 8 1/2 x 11 format packed with color, it's a digital tutorial with a flashy difference, covering workflow solutions for 3D models and 2D images alike.
The publisher has a track record with other ZBrush titles, so it should come as no surprise that this latest addition to the series is sterling in its content and presentation. Perhaps this is because it's created not by a singular computer expert, but by a team well versed in the industry who tackles a range of issues involved in the overall design of creatures and characters.
Modelers with some basic experience will be the best followers of ZBrush Characters & Creatures: while it's geared to all levels of user from novice to advanced, having a basic introductory background in ZBrush will lend to an immediate understanding and appreciation of the character concepts here; especially for those beyond the beginning stage who want to delve into the tricks of the process.
The experts contributors come from a range of backgrounds and offer a diverse set of resources, from Bryan Wynia, a Senior Character Artist at Sony Santa Monica who delves into the basics of sketching, shaping, and using Alphas to achieve special effects (such as leathery skin on creatures) to freelance character artist Caio Cesar, whose article 'Aliens' discusses the basics of setting up a science fiction scene that features modeling by form and environment.
Not only do each provide step-by-step discussions of the process they use; but the steps are packed with color photo examples from the characters each artist has created using ZBrush: thus, the foundations of making a character model itself are imparted, pairing concept with techniques and reinforcing everything in the ZBrush environment.
This supportive approach succeeds where an ordinary art book might fail, using ZBrush and artists who work with it as foundations for exploring techniques that lead to superior character creation, not amateur dabbling. And this, in turn, makes for a recommendation not so much for novices with little prior ZBrush or character experience, but for those who would use the book to step up to the next level in creature development.ZBrush Characters & Creatures
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Survivorship Coping Tools
9781782797753 $14.95 www.ayni-books.com
There are so many books on cancer management and experience on today's market that it's unusual to see one that holds something different on the subject; but Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools comes from the writings of a two-time cancer survivor whose intent is to use her experience to provide tools for recovery from cancer's emotional pain (she is a survivor of breast cancer and melanoma), and it focuses on the emotional needs of patients and their caregivers.
From the moment of diagnosis through treatment and the turmoil that rises and falls like a tide, it provides not just a candid account of the author's own struggles, but adds unexpected humor and tips for perceiving positive paths when facing life-threatening health challenges.
Its pages give clues on how supporters can help, and provide patients with insights on their emotional ups and downs and how to redirect negative impulses into positive results.
Most of all, Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools goes beyond the usual meditation and imagery tips other books provide to impart some candid, different observations - such as how to not shut out those who want to help and, most of all, how to learn to trust one's body again.
If all this sounds too simple, keep in mind that this set of tools is fairly basic. There's no magic in them; but having them all under one cover as a toolbox is a special event: one cancer survivors will want to celebrate.Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools
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Allen: Reel to Real
ISBN: 978-0-9915887-2-5 (Mobi edition)
ISBN: 978-0-9915887-3-2 (Epub edition) $7.99
There have been plenty of Woody Allen books produced over the decades; from biographies to critical considerations of his works: so many that one might wonder at the need for yet another.
good work, it's all about approach and delivery - and Woody Allen: Reel to Real
truly different as it takes Allen's complete body of cinema works and
translates it into 'Digidialogue': a process whereby the author's
results in a discussion between himself and his audience. Basically,
dialogue and inquiry brought to light in the form of a text debate, and
linked to a website at http://www.
Readers anticipating another production based on text analysis should be advised that this website is an integral key to the process; not a tertiary adjunct as with so many multimedia productions. It's here that one will discover summaries of the book's concepts, reproduction of one key chapter in its entirety, and a set of book-inspired dialogues that are the whole purpose and point of Woody Allen: Reel to Real.
This is no light coverage: paragraphs are long and analytical and present critical views that may prove controversial - but that's the best part of such an intersection of minds: the ability to provoke thought and dialogue in the critical thinker.
So go ahead: imbibe. Just keep in mind that this is no light read, and is especially well suited to college-level cinema analysis students who will find Woody Allen: Reel to Real's discussion-oriented focus is especially accessible and intriguing. And: the book promises to be updated once a year with new, free material by the author. In the meantime, readers can visit http://alexsheremet.com/ for more essays on cinema and art.Woody Allen: Reel to Real
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Army Knife for the Soul
Stephen Thomas Graf
Publisher Address: Stephen Thomas
Im Feld 7, 8486 Rikon im Tösstal, Switzerland
Publisher Email: email@example.com
Swiss Army Knife for the Soul begins with a mysterious Call, which informs the answerer/protagonist that he is, indeed, a wanted man - and things evolve from there, as a rollicking adventure transpires based on the spiritual journeys of one Thomas Stephens (aka Tommy Boy), a member of a secret society known as the Masterful Order of Things.
But, wait - this isn't a fictional form of spiritual enlightenment, or a how-to guide to becoming self-actualized: it's a parody of both worlds as it considers a dubious path to enlightenment, and it presents a fun protagonist who falls into nearly every rabbit hole of complexity along the way: so if you're expecting a self-help journey with spiritual overtones that's actually serious - look elsewhere.
It's important to note that this isn't a smooth fiction read: there are actually footnotes throughout - something unexpected and, to some, a device that may prove somewhat of an interruption to the smooth flow of the text. But even this is acceptable when you consider the irreverent observations of a protagonist who is actually quite good at making lemonade from the lemons life hands him:
"Moving on. I had been on this particular stretch of my Path(3) for about a month. I had been with the same company for almost a year, though, having been transferred from a different department. Technically this new job was a demotion—but only if you looked at it in terms of pay-grade, title, and benefits. From another angle, it could have been seen as a promotion—namely, in the amount of tasks I was given that were above my pay-grade, as well as how customers saw me, when they were given the mistaken impression that I actually had the knowledge or means to assist them."
So you think the footnote will lead to scholarly reference? In this case, the (3) above is referenced as "Sucky job and/or life."
And so it goes: a series of rollicking encounters from a quasi-intellectual who rolls through a series of jobs testing their boundaries and impressing irrepressible audiences and co-workers with knowledge that falls on deaf ears:
“Do you even know what ‘salmonella’ means?” he asked. “Yeah,” I said defensively; “sure. It’s named after the late Theo Smith and Jay Lignières, for their discovery of the bacterium choleræsuis—” “Just shut up; please. What I mean is, do you know what salmonella does?” “Well, sure. According to the Lancet Medical Journal—”
Thomas Stephens just keeps putting his foot in his mouth, whether it is in pursuit of employment or romance. As a cross-section of comic blunders and social faux pas, it's a hilarious journey that will keep readers involved and laughing: "What followed was a veritable culinary symphony. I was unable to listen to it, however, since I was being asked to work, at the same time. Which meant speak."
Revolving around the food industry as it does, Swiss Army Knife for the Soul is more than food for thought: it's food for comic relief and is a celebration of life, love, and circumstance alike: a breath of fresh air in a genre replete with the overly serious.Swiss Army Knife for the Soul
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Nedda R. Thomas
History Publishing Company
9781940773209 $18.95 http://www.
So many books have been written about the pilots and aviation history of World War II that one might wonder about the need for yet another story; but Hump Pilot: Defying Death Flying the Himalayas During World War II offers up something different; although it starts off with the usual biographical mechanism of examining the life of one American pilot.
So what's the difference between this and other accounts? For one, there's a focus on the experience of training to be a pilot versus the actual deployment and in-the-air experience. Under such an approach, readers feel they are in the cockpit with Ned Thomas as he rises to the cause.
For another thing, Hump Pilot emphasizes a particular route (over the most notoriously dangerous mountains in the world, the Himalayas - known as the Hump) and documents how American pilots braved the special challenges of this itinerary to bring resources to both Chinese troops in China and Allied forces in the Pacific.
This has been a little-documented piece of the war, despite all the aviation histories on the market covering other facets of pilot experience, and so Hump Pilot stands out in this arena as a rare survey of Eastern Himalayan dangers and challenges. While other histories cover military transport units, few provide more than a cursory mention of the Hump's special meaning in the war.
Imagine flying over the remote Himalayas with no charts, no navigation tools, and very little information about weather conditions! Imagine providing a solution to the China supply dilemma that involved placing pilot lives on the line with no support and very little information to go on.
Now imagine a history that reads with the drama and immediacy of fiction, and you have an inclination of the special features of Hump Pilot: a story recommended not so much for the technical aviation or military history specialist but for the general-interest reader who may know little about either, but who harbors an affection for vivid stories of death-defying heroism.Hump Pilot
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Plum White Press
The Dollhouse Mirror provides a doll's-eye view out the window and tells of life through a series of vignettes and insights that are short, precise, and reflective observations. The twist is the perspective as the doll observes the 'girl of her dreams' and also the wider world this embraces, while the works themselves are particles of insight and wonder that are vivid and revealing: "alone among the flowers/sleeping beneath the sun/our love's a fallen shower/whose water path has run." Blend in tarot and emotional connection and you have a vivid stream of thought that is reflective and engrossing!
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