May 2015 Independent Press Profiles
Darwin Porter & Danforth Prince
Blood Moon Productions
9781936003419 $27.95 www.bloodmoonproductions.com
Love Triangle: Ronald Reagan, Jane Wyman & Nancy Davis may find its way onto many a Republican Reagan fan's reading shelf; but those who expect another Reagan celebration will be surprised: this is lurid Hollywood exposé writing at its best, and outlines the truths surrounding one of the most provocative industry scandals in the world.
There are already so many biographies of the Reagans on the market that one might expect similar mile-markers from this: be prepared for shock and awe; because Love Triangle doesn't take your ordinary approach to biography and describes a love triangle that eventually bumped a major Hollywood movie star from the possibility of being First Lady and replaced her with a lesser-known Grade B actress (Nancy Davis).
From politics and betrayal to romance, infidelity, and sordid affairs, Love Triangle is a steamy, eye-opening story that blows the lid off of the Reagan illusion to raise eyebrows on both sides of the big screen.
Black and white photos liberally pepper an account of the careers of all three and the lasting shock of their stormy relationships in a delightful pursuit especially recommended for any who relish Hollywood gossip.Love Triangle
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9780986323713 Paperback $17.95
9780986323706 Hardcover $29.95
9780986323720 E-book $9.99 www.harleyhousepress.com
Shell Shock is a novel that should have appeared decades ago, and examines battles and how they affect soldiers' mental illness. It's based on events from World War I to modern times and injects a thriller feel into a saga which portrays a famous Stanford psychiatrist, Dr. Gus Conrad, who discovers a secret military group formed during World War I to encourage heroism.
Based on the true story of Private Harry Farr, a real officer who served in the British Army during WWI and was executed after being treated for shell shock, this story comes from a psychiatry professor at U.C. California and is packed with true-life accounts of the phenomenon of post-traumatic stress disorder and its lasting impact on soldiers.
A search for military records, a family's struggle to uncover closely-held secrets, and a group's fierce commitment to bravery and secrecy: all these facets come together in an unusual blend of military history, thriller, and psychological suspense story.
While the many twists make it sound complex; in fact under Stahl's firm hand the story line assumes a logical progression of events and is well-done and involving on many levels.
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Two Dot (An Imprint of Rowman & Littlefield)
Wicked Women: Notorious, Mischievous, and Wayward Ladies from the Old West isn't about your usual Western woman's pilgrimage across the plains: it's a randy, rowdy survey of less-well-behaved female outlaws, gamblers, and other wicked women, and it provides a lively alternative to the usual focus on pioneer homemakers.
During the late nineteenth century, while men were settling the frontier, such women led 'wicked' lives when they followed fortune seekers. Their stories have been widely scattered under various headings, so it's refreshing to find a collection of short, action-packed stories of the Old West here, offering biographical sketches paired with Western history and spiced with insights on purposes and people.
Speaking of 'spice', fun black and white vintage photos and illustrations from the author's own historic collection of images and historical libraries enhances the value and appeal of her coverage, making it a recommendation for collections ranging from women's history and issues to Western frontier sagas.Wicked Women
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in the Flesh
Box 170881 Boise, ID 83717-0881
Terrorism. Nanotechnology. A killer designed to erase his body - and all evidence of his presence - after each murder. A man made into a killer through loss. There's a lot happening in Walk in the Flesh; and under a different hand, the results could have been confusing - but Peter Bailey's ability to draw in even the most seasoned thriller reader with something unexpectedly different will especially delight those who are far too used to predictability.
Opening with Neil's insertion into Iran with murder in mind, Walk in the Flesh exhibits a rare ability to grab readers with only few paragraphs of description. Perhaps 'grab' is too light a word in this case; for the story opens with the bang of death and many questions and just keeps firing on all cylinders.
Peter Bailey's ability to not only describe action and create exquisite tension but capture the sights, smells, and sounds of the world enhances his powerful survey: "Breathing deeply, he instructed his endocrine system and gripped the table tightly as his heart beat faster and faster, until it was vibrating hummingbird-like in his chest. As his perception of time increased, the piped music slowed down, turning Tori Amos into a deep baritone. Across the room a smoker’s cigarette left a comet trail of ash as he lifted it to his mouth."
Plenty of authors write about terrorism, nanotechnology, international murders, and protagonists bent on revenge. Few can pull off the finer balance between thriller and science fiction that Peter Bailey achieves. Add computer references and intriguing new technology applications and you have a multi-faceted story line that doesn't just grab: it immerses. Very highly recommended!Walk in the Flesh
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Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop Elements
Jenny Newell, Junior Editor
29 Foregate St., Worcester WR1 1DS, United Kingdom
9781909414099 $34.99 www.3dtotal.com
Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop Elements is literally a step-by-step manual that leaves nothing to guesswork and assumes no prior knowledge of Photoshop Elements, and is a recommendation for newcomers to both Photoshop Elements and the concept of digital painting.
While other books cover both topics, the notable difference here is a step-by-step format, the inclusion of charts and graphs to supplement painting examples, and both small-sized and full-page color embellishments that lend life to the process and teach by example.
Many titles overwhelm beginners with too much information packed into too short a format. Others present an approach that assumes a degree of program, computer, or artistic knowledge. In order to truly appeal to beginners, the superior production makes none of these assumptions and provides a comprehensive overview that builds a basic software knowledge base, then uses projects to teach art theory and advanced applications.
Another 'plus' is the projects themselves, which range from animated figures to landscape scenes that include fire, clouds, all kinds of lighting effects (from moonlight to artificial lighting), and a host of characters. The specific details and examples in Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop Elements review all the options and the technical details to achieve them: add a dash of basic art knowledge and the rest is up to a reader's creativity and drive.Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop Elements
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Spacious Life: Memoir of a Meditator
Palmer Higgs, Publisher
9780994238122 $24.95 www.amazon.com
Author Narissa Doumani was born in Sydney, Australia and grew up well educated, loved, and well-dressed; but struggled with the meaning of life and how to be truly happy. Her memoir reflects this struggle and the process involved in arriving at answers, and offers readers a blend of autobiography and spiritual reflection in a self-help journey that describes what forces change her life after she meets a Buddhist yogi in a Thai forest cave, who leads her on a spiritual journey.
While none of these subjects is new (self-inspection, spiritual seeking, or a search for meaning beyond materialism), what is different in A Spacious Life is where Doumani ends up in the course of her quest - and how she takes readers along for the ride.
Her observations of her state of mind and its methods is revealing and involving ("My entire life was a house of mirrors reflecting back at me the vomit of my own psyche. Why couldn't I look upon even one simple object without a host of thought-forms rushing to it like moths to a flame?") and her relationships contribute much to her evolution ("There are various methods of training the mind in compassion. It can, and should, be actively cultivated. However, I hadn't received any such training and didn't even know it existed. The next couple of years with the Fighter formed the basis of my early training.")
Just how she took an 'outpouring of energy' and translated it into gems of insight to ultimately lead the life of a meditator cognizant of karma, choice, and actions makes for an involving story that ultimately questions what elements make for a meaningful life - and how to reach them.
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Linda Howard Zonana
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
Vertigo! When the World Spins Out of Control: Meniere's Disease, Benign Positional Vertigo and Other Vestibular Illnesses is about inner ear imbalances, sudden onsets of vertigo, conditions that can thwart medical diagnosis and treatment, and is recommended for any who have struggled with regular, ongoing or undiagnosed vertigo.
Sometimes vertigo is temporary and other times it evolves into a chronic condition, but repeated bouts can alter lives - and it's a more common condition than one might think; not limited to the elderly or hearing-impaired.
The author's sudden and prolonged struggle with vertigo led to her diagnosis of Meniere's Disease even though her symptoms didn't fully match the disorder. Her decision to conduct her own research into Meniere's and her findings, which appear here, blend personal experience with her encounters with the medical community.
It should be noted that this focus is only on vertigo caused by inner ear problems. Interviews with some fifty people who suffered with vertigo provides in-depth discussions and research that has been reviewed by health professionals, and it considers alternative therapies (such as yoga), which may not be prescribed by a doctor, but which can help. Any who suffer from ongoing vertigo will find Vertigo, which includes many case histories, offers hope and understanding.
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Jongg: The Art of the Game
Ann M. Israel and Gregg Swain
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game features color photos throughout by Michel Arnaud and provides an unusual collector's guide to mah jongg tiles and sets (something very different from the usual player's guide), pairing a history and collector's focus with insights on vintage sets from around the world.
There are very few such references on the subject and this is perhaps the only book to thoroughly document the origins of the game, its evolution, and the wide diversity of playing tiles that have evolved throughout history.
Add hundreds of color photos of these sets and extensive historical background and you have a celebration that will attract players and collectors alike. While players might initially be disappointed that this doesn't cover game strategy, they should quickly come to appreciate the book's wider focus and intriguing insights, which are all but impossible to find elsewhere.
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