Friday, May 29, 2015

Bookviews - June 2015

By Alan Caruba

My Picks of the Month

A book I would recommend as “must reading” is Samuel Blumenfeld’s and Alex Newman’s Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children ($26.95m WND Books). It has been known for decades that America’s school children have been falling behind others worldwide in their ability to read and do math. In 1983 the National Commission on Excellence in Education said “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed I as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.” This book traces the deliberate effort to destroy the ability of students to learn to read back many years and reveals why, as a result, half of America’s adult population is functionally illiterate. Americans, through their government school system have been systematically dumbed down and today a national standard to maintain this is being imposed via Common Core. The result has been a rise in the number of parents who are home-schooling their children and the rise in tutoring. When you have read this book you will know why too many Americans think the others around them are dumb. They’re right.

January 1973: Watergate, Roe V. Wade, Vietnam, and the Month that Changed America Forever by James Robenalt ($27.95, Chicago Review Press) is a densely documented review of the title date’s month and the way so many events came together to alter the future. Just prior to January Harry Truman passed away and later in the month so did Lyndon Johnson. It was the month the Watergate investigation revealed the White House payoffs to its burglars and forced an end to Nixon’s second term. The Vietnam War was winding down due to Nixon’s decision to bomb the North over the Christmas period. Negotiations began again that would end it. The Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion would change our culture thereafter. This is strictly for the reader who enjoys reading the details but it demonstrates how, in a very short moment, history can take some dramatic turns. Disruptive Power: The Crisis of the State in the Digital Age by Taylor Owen ($27.95, Oxford University Press) is another challenging read. We have encountered new phenomena like WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden that reveal information about how the government is actually functioning in ways unrivaled before. Owen provides readers with a look at the way digital technologies are shaking up  the working of the institutions that have traditionally controlled international affairs, including humanitarianism, diplomacy, activism and journalism. 

For those whose passion is cinema, they will want to add John Hughes: A Life in Film ($40.00, Race Point Publishing) to their libraries. Kirk Honeycutt, its author, explores Hughes’s life and career, with behind the scenes stories and insights regarding the creation of each of his films. They include The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Home Alone, Uncle Buck, and many others. Honeycutt is a former film critic for The Hollywood Reporter and as this large format, extensively illustrated book demonstrates, other than Steven Spielberg, there was no other filmmakers of the late 1980s and early 1990s who was as influential and produced such a legacy of films that remain iconic and popular to the present day. Honeycutt notes that “Among his closest associates some felt his prolific output worked against his artistry…john never paid any attention. Perhaps he couldn’t.”  That is the price and reward of genius. This book guarantees not only his life story and career, but hours of reading pleasure.

I’ve never been there, but it never surprises me to hear people speak of Paris in glowing terms. You’ll learn why when you read A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light by David Downie ($26.95, St. Martin’s Press.  Downie sets out to get to the heart of the city’s magic and mystique. In a unique combination of memoir, history and travelogue, Downie weaves together the lives and loves of Victory Hugo, Georges Sand, Charles Baudelaire, Balzac, and other great Romantics, along with his own, delighting in the city’s secular romantic pilgrimage sites to find the answer. Abounding in secluded, atmospheric parks, artist’s studios, cafes, restaurants, and streets that have changed little since the 1800s, Downie finds romance around every corner, noting the art and architecture, the cityscape, riverbanks, and quality of daily life there. Downie, a native San Franciscan, lived in New York, Providence, Rome and Milan before moving to Paris in the mid-1980s. He divides his time between France and Italy these days.

The Future and Why We Should Avoid it: Killer Robots, the Apocalypse and Other Topics of Mild Interest  ($22.95, Douglas & McIntyre, softcover) has been described as “a survival guide, part how-to manual, part product guide, part apocalypse and part sardonic observation to help us navigate through these troubled times.” But when weren’t the times troubled? Scott Feschuk, its author, muses on aging, death, technology, inventions, health and leisure. He is a satirist for lack of a better definition, but to his credit, he is never boring. Fans of MAD magazine have over the years enjoyed the writing of Frank Jacobs, credited over five decades with over 575 contributions, over 300 issues, to the human readers came to love.

The first installment of “MAD’s Greatest Writers” is devoted to Frank Jacobs: Five Decades of His Greatest Works ($30.00, Running Press) with a foreword by “Weird Al” Yankovic. As a special treat, the book features an exclusive interview conducted by former MAD editor Nick Meglin. This is a large format book with page after page of the artwork which is timeless.


It is curious how one of America’s greatest composers and writers of classic musicals is generally unknown. You would instantly recognize “Witchcraft”, “Big Spender” and “The Best is Yet to Come”. You may have enjoyed performances of “Sweet Charity”, “City of Angels”, and “Barnum” and still not be able to name Cy Coleman. That is about to change with Andy Propst new biography, You Fascinate Me So: The Life and Times of Cy Coleman ($32.99, Applause Theatre & Cinema Books). Propst, a music and theatre journalist takes the reader into the world and work of this amazing Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award-winning talent. He was a child prodigy in the 1930s and was a jazz pianist and early television celebrity of the 1950s. This preeminent Broadway composer passed away in November 2004. In addition to the full cooperation of the Coleman estate, the book is further enhanced by interviews with performers like Michele Lee, Phyllis Newman, Chita Rivera, as well as others such as Hal Prince and Tommy Tune. Every major singer has performed his songs, from Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Steisand to Dame Shirley Bassey. If you love music, you will love this biography.

In the 1960s when the feminist movement was gaining momentum and spreading, we all became aware of Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem who became icons of the movement, but at the same time there was an anti-feminist counterpart who, happily, is recalled and the subject of Helen Andelin and the Fascinating Womanhood Movement by Julie Debra Neuffer ($19.95, The University of Utah Press, softcover). She authored “Fascinating Womanhood” which sold more than two million copies, becoming a celebrity and spokeswoman for the point of view that the greatest role for a woman was as a wife and a mother. She preached family values and that the best career was homemaker. From an unknown housewife-turned-media-sensation, Andelin found herself appearing in magazines, on radio and with TV personalities, Larry King, Phil Donahue, and Connie Chung. Neuffer teaches 20th century American history and courses in American religion at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington. Ironically, Neuffer grew up in a small town where Andelin’s views would be right at home, but still pursued her career. She would come to know Andelin, discovering she knew little about the feminist movement, but both she and Friedan were responding to the unhappiness and turmoil that many American women were experiencing during the 1960’s and 70’s. 

Going further back in time, Dorothy U. Seyler tells us about The Obelisk and the Englishman: The Pioneering Discoveries of Egyptologist William Bankes ($26.00, Prometheus Books)  who was a pioneer in the nascent study of the language, history, and civilization of ancient Egypt. Born in 1786, Bankes discovered the King List at the Abydos Temple, a wall of cartouches listing Egyptian Kings in chronological order which was vital to the decoding of Egyptian hieroglyphs. A homosexual, he lived in an era where he as persecuted for being gay and threatened with imprisonment. Despite that, his pioneering work on ancient temples and artifacts now enriches the knowledge of modern Egyptologists. His home, now a National Trust estate, can be visited to enjoy his art collection and it has an obelisk from Philae on its south lawn.  A professor emerita of English who has authored ten college textbooks, but this departure is a special treat for its treatment of Bankes’ life and his work.

Various Sciences

The Earth from Myths to Knowledge by Hubert Krivine ($29.95, Verso Books) takes the reader on a trip to the past as it tells the story of the thinkers and scientists speculated and discover how the Earth came to be and, while the planet’s elliptical orbit around the Sun and its billions of years of existence is taken for granted these days, it took a millennia for these truths to be achieved and known. Krivine introduces the reader to Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler, as well as Halley, Kelvin, Darwin and Rutherford among many others, demonstrating how they often had to get passed religious dogmatism to make their discoveries known, celebrating their courage while acknowledging that as often as not blind luck played a part! It was an epic struggle to overcome ideology and superstition from which the philosophy of science emerged. Krivine demonstrates that scientific progress is not a sufficient condition for social progress, but it is a necessary one. The Earth is not merely a history of scientific learning, but a stirring defense of Enlightenment values in the quest for human advancement.

The Earth is at the heart of Rare: The High-Stakes Race to Satisfy Our Need for the Scarcest Metals on Earth by Keith Veronese ($25.00, Prometheus Books). What would happen if the supply of tanalum dries up? While most have no heard of this unusual metal, but without it smartphones would be instantly less omniscient, video games would false, and laptops fail. This is the story of Rhodium, Osmium, Nioblum and other such rare metals and how they are the key components of many consumer products like cell phones and flat screen televisions. Rare delves into the economic and geopolitical issues surrounding these “conflict minerals” blending tales of financial and political struggles with glimpses into the human lives that are shattered by the race to secure them. This book has warnings of the future as China is the world’s largest supplier of these metals, and the U.S., Great Britain, and Japan race to find alternative sources.

You will gain a whole new insight as to human behavior when you read Richard H. Thaler’s Misbehaving: The Making of Behavior Economics ($27.95, W.W. Norton). Thaler is already acknowledged as one of the world’s most unconventional economist so his new book is no surprise in that regard. He distills a career’s worth of thinking about “dumb stuff people do” into a witty demolition of the more doctrinaire elements of economics. Thaler looks at the way people actually make their decisions to purchase things, to save nor not for the future, and countless other choices. Along the way he looks at economic misbehaving in financial markets, the NFL draft, to TV games, determining along the way which businesses thrive and which do not. This book will make you think far more seriously about the way you go about your economic life from buying tickets for a rock concert to picking out a new office and planning for retirement.

What drives the habit patterns that can be destructive to ourselves, to society, and the environment? That’s the question asked and answered in Dr. Peter C. Whybrow, MD’s The Well-Tuned Brain: Neuroscience and the Life Well Lived ($27.95, W.W. Norton).  An eminent neuropsychiatrist, Dr. Whybrow weaves cutting-edge science, philosophy, history and personal experience to explore how the human brain is at odds with the enticements of the consumer society. He calls it the mismatch between who we are and the vibrant culture in which we live. Self-interest and the drive to overconsumption are relics of our evolution, from a time when competition for scare resources was essential to our survival. We are, in addition, creatures of habit, what Dr. Whybrow calls our auto-pilots that permit the brain to work efficiently and with speed—intuitively and without conscious attention.  He offers a variety of changes he believes will produce a better society. For anyone interested in how we think what we think and how we act on it within the context of our society, this book has much to offer.

The Future and Why We Should Avoid it: Killer Robots, the Apocalypse and Other Topics of Mild Interest ($22.95, Douglas & McIntyre, softcover) has been described as “a survival guide, part how-to manual, part product guide, part apocalypse and part sardonic observation to help us navigate through these troubled times.” But when weren’t the times troubled? Scott Feschuk, its author, muses on aging, death, technology, inventions, health and leisure.

Advice! Advice! Advice!

I don’t know why, but I have been overwhelmed by a dozen books that have arrived offering advice on how to live one’s life, get on with one’s partner, be a good parent, et cetera! I have no doubt that one or more of them will prove quite helpful.

Now, briefly, here they are. Are you Fully Charged? The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life by Tom Rath ($22.95, Silicon Guild, an imprint of Missionday) With many endorsements, Arianna Huffington says it is “about renewing ourselves in the full est sense. Drawing on extensive research, Tom Rath, provides us with the three key pillars that can help create a life of more meaning and perspective; being part of something larger than ourselves, valuing people and experiences over mere stuff, and understanding that looking after our own well-being is the first step to doing more for others.” 360 Degrees of Success: Money, Relationships, Energy, time—the 4 essential ingredients to create personal and professional Success by Ana Weber ($17.95, Morgan James, softcover) is written for corporate professionals who want to dramatically improve their level of efficiency, effectiveness and enjoyment at work and in all other aspects of their life. The author of 17 books as a renowned corporate success coach, Weber has put a lot of knowledge and guidance into book that pulls together the kind of insight and advice that can make a big difference for the reader. Another book for the workplace that is well worth reading is Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes by Margaret Heffernan ($15.99, a TED original with Simon & Schuster, softcover). The author demonstrates that by implementing sweeping changes, businesses often think it’s possible to do better, to earn more, and have happier employees. That is often not the case and she draws on decades spent overseeing different organizations to conclude that small changes are often far better. They encourage listening, asking questions, sharing information. This is a short book with a big message.

For marriage and parenthood, you could start with Navigating Your Relationship: A Voyage for Couples by H. Laurence Schwab, M.F.T. ($16.95, Two Harbors, softcover) who brings nearly thirty years of experience as a marriage and family therapist in private practice, as well as clinic and hospital settings to this text that addresses the fact that everyone’s relationship sails through choppy waters as some point. If couples learn to see each other as co-captains, both needed to be in control of their emotional destinies, even the toughest storms can be weathered. This book has a perfect metaphor. This is about dialogue and destiny.

Live More, Work Better: A Practical Guide to a Balanced Life by Gayle Hiltendort ($12.95, Bascom Hill Publishing Group, softcover) After spending more than 20 years as an overworked professional pouring her heart and soul into her job, the author decided after sacrificing her health, marriage, and personal relationships for her job to reevaluate and take her life back. If this sounds like you, this is the book for you! Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success ($19.99, Harper Wave, in imprint of HarperCollins, softcover) by David B. Feldman and Lee Daniel Kravetz asks why do some people succumb to tragedy while others are able to use it as a springboard for extraordinary accomplishments? The book offers a blueprint for human resilience and a window into the science of achievement. It’s a book that Bloomberg Businessweek said was “one of the most valuable and interesting business books released this year.” The authors have given voice to individuals from all over the world who have managed to overcome significant hardship. If you or someone you know is encountering some setbacks, this is the book to read. “Unexpected inspiration from inside the nursing home” is the subtitle of Simple Lessons for a Better Life by Charles E. Dodgen ($18.00, Prometheus Books, softcover.)  These are valuable life lessons from the unique experiences of nursing home residents. Dr. Dodgen, a clinical psychologist who has worked with this population for 18 years has discovered that when the surplus trappings of lifestyle are cleared away and lives are stripped to their most essential components, people discover new paths to happiness, peace and fulfillment. It is an inspiring book that is well worth reading.

For those with a spiritual approach to life there’s Life Unstuck: Finding Peace with your Past, Purpose in your Present, Passion for your Future by Pat Layton ($14.99, Revel, softcover). As she notes, womanhood is not an easy journey and everyone has felt stuck at some point in life. Layton reassures the reader that God has some much more than this planned for His daughters. The founder and president of the Life Impact Network, Layton has 25 years in full-time women’s ministry and has learned a lot about how women think, feel, respond and don’t respond. She shares her insight and encouragement as she delves deep into areas women seem to get stuck in the most—relationships, finances, ministry, career, and more.

Sand in My Sandwich and Other Motherhood Messes I’m Learning to Love by Sarah Parshall Perry ($14.99, Revell, softcover) is about a perfectionist, uptight lawyer, marry her to a small-town hero with no college degree and a very laidback outlook on life, and you have the recipe for some interesting challenges. Now add three children, two of whom are on the autism spectrum, and you know life is going to be filled with challenges to face and overcome. That’s Perry’s life and she pulls some universal truths of motherhood from it, addressing them with humajn, poignancy, and a naked honesty that will look and feel familiar to mothers everywhere. For today’s new mom’s this will prove to be very useful reading.  Bruce and Caitlin Howlett have teamed to write Creating Capable Kids: Twelve Skills That Will Help Kids Succeed in School and Life ($15.95, New Horizon Press, softcover). Educators, they show parents how to guide, teach and incubate child development at home and in school. They offer fresh, effective ways to rescue children who are struggling in school and at home. Given the way today’s schools literally dumb down their students from the way they teach reading and math, this book could be the answer to many a frustrated parent’s questions on how to correct that problem. This is good advice on helping children become motivated, perceptive and resilient.

Stress-free Discipline: Simple Strategies for Handling Common Behavior Problems by Sara Au and Peter L. Stavinoha ($14.95, AMACOM, softcover) will solve a lot of problems that parents commonly face. From tantrum-throwing toddlers to eye-rolling teens, parents with children of all ages struggle with challenging behaviors at some point and while advice seems plentiful, it never seems to apply to your child at the moment. Sara is a mom and a journalist and Peter is a dad and pediatric neuropsychologist. Together they help the reader to understand why kids behave badly and how discipline can be applied, consistently and calmly, to not only alleviate stressful behavior issues, but also cultivate a positive parent-child relationship. As they say “behavior is communication” and “discipline is education.” Using flexible methods, both scientifically tested and parent-approved, the authors render the routine challenges less stressful, while strengthening a parent’s sense of purpose and peace of mind.

Kid Stuff for Younger Readers

To get the very young interested in reading, start them off by reading to them and Peter Apel’s book, Fred Pinsocket Loves Bananas ($7.99, Fred Pinsocket Productions) is a good example. First of all, it is small and very sturdy paperboard so it could take the handling of a two to three year old. Its colorful illustrations are easy to understand and its text is largely a repetition of the title, devoted to his love of bananas. Apel is a San Hose music artist, singer-songwriter, author, illustrator, magician and, yes, a dad.  You can learn more about the book at and download a song to accompany it. By reading a delightful story like this, you will awaken an interest in pre-school children and create a memorable bond at the same time.

Two books from New Horizon Press have a message for specific groups of children. A Home for Ruby: Helping Children Adjust to New Families by P.J. Neer, PhD, ($9.95) was written for the 400,000 children who live in foster care, some of whom have a difficult time adjusting to their new home. Ruby is a beautiful horse but does not behave well and each of her owners send her off to new farms when she acts up. She is frustrated and scared, but when she arrives at Meadow Green, but her new owner sticks with her and Rudy finally realizes this would be a great forever home and behaves well. Maddy Patti and the Great Curiousity; Helping Children Understand Diabetes is by Mary Bilderback Abel and Stan Borg, illustrated by Lorraine Day ($9.95) and as the title makes clear, it is filled with information about diabetes that a younger reader needs to know. This is particularly true because if one parent has diabetes the child’s risk is 15% higher and, if both parents have it, the risk rises to 75% of falling victim of type 1 diabetes. It is a delightful story because Maddy’s grandfather is a retired doctor and Maddy has the gift of being able to communicate with the animals on his farm who instruct her on proper care and diet.

For sheer fun for those age seven and up, there’s Night Buddies Go Sky High by Sands Hetherington, illustrated by Jessica Love ($7.99, And the good news is that there’s also Night Buddies: Imposters and One Far-Out Flying Machine and Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare.  Night Buddies is devoted to the nighttime adventures of a young boy named John, who is not ready to go to sleep, and a bright red crocodile named Crosley who turns up under John’s bed each night. With an imaginary language of their own and a unique set of technological gizmos, this unlikely pair sneaks out using Crosley’s I-ain’t-here doodad, which makes them invisible to John’s parents. The stories are imaginative and great fun to read.

For the young adult reader there’s a novel by Deirdre Riordan Hall, Sugar, ($9.99, Skyscape, softcover) about a Puerto Rican-Polish teenager who lives in a dead-end town somewhere in New Hampshire. And Sugar is very, very fat at the age of 17. She is the brunt of cruel jokes and ridicule everywhere she goes. To survive, she keeps her head down, does what she’s told, and tries to fill up the empty space in her heart with food. When she meets a young man who seems to like her for who she is, they grow close and a new future opens up for her as she sets herself free with her own determination, bravery, and strength of character. This one is well worth reading.

Novels, Novels, Novels

I never fail to wonder at the number of new novels being published every month. It is a torrent of fiction. Here are a few that arrived at Bookviews.

There’s The Organ Broker by Stu Strumwasser ($24.99, Arcade Publishing), a story about an underground black market organ dealing known as “New York Jack.”  For eighteen years Jack has been a ‘transplant tourism director’, sending wealth Americans and Europeans in need of kidneys and other organs to third world nations where they would buy them from transplant centers on the take. The death of a client and a newfound relationship lead to a crisis of conscience as he is forced to choose between a two million dollar commission—and participating in a murder. Jack races to South America, Brazil and beyond, just one step ahead of his adversary and the FBI, in search of one small act of redemption.  You will want to follow that race when you read this intriguing novel.

Good news for fans of Graig Johnsons’s Longmire series as Wyoming’s beloved lawman takes on his coldest case yet in Dry Bones ($27.95, Viking). When the largest complete T Rex skeleton ever found turns up—along with a dead rancher—in Absaroka County, Sheriff Longmire must solve a 66 million year old cold case. When Danny Lone Elk, a Cheyenne rancher is found dead and floating in a turtle pond, he also learns that a T Rex skeleton has been unearthed on his land. Everyone lays claim to it while Longmire seeks to find the rancher’s killer. Longmire is a successful television series on A&E.  If you love a good mystery, you will love this latest addition to the series. Far from Wyoming there’s Manhattan Mayhem ($24.95, Quirk Books), new short stories from members of the Mystery Writers of America, edited by Mary Higgins Clark and featuring an original one of her own. From Wall Street to Harlem, these stories reflect that crimes and misdemeanors in a tour of neighborhoods with well over a dozen stories that will prove thoroughly entertaining from cover to cover.

Hillary Clinton is in the news these days having announced her candidacy for 2016. Dr. Alma H. Bond, Ph.D, a psychoanalyst for 35 years have read everything possible about Hillary and, as she did with her previous novels about Marilyn Monroe, Jackie O, and Michelle Obama, all “On the Couch”, her latest book is Hillary Rodham Clinton on the Couch ($22.50, Bancroft Press).

Some of the questions Dr. Bond seeks to answer is what her parents were really like and what lasting affects they had on her? How does she deal with a womanizing husband? Is she a genuine person or just acting a role? How effective was she as a U.S. Senator and as Secretary of State? If Hillary is on your mind, this book, billed as a novel, is fact-filled and ready to answer your questions. Rex Burwell takes the reading on a romp through a week in the 1920s in Capone, the Cobbs, and Me ($30.00, Livingston Press) as a baseball big-leader Mort Hart is suspected of knowing too much by a mob murderer who tries to kill him. Hot-headed Ty Cobb has a reason to kill him as well because he suspects Mort is having an affair with his wife. You are along for the ride as Mort uses his wits to save his skin and that of the woman he loves. You will get a feeling for the high-flying 1920s and some of its most flamboyant figures. It’s fiction, yes, but the suspense of what happens next is a lot of fun.

Seventh Street Books have published a number of novels. I’ll start with Stone Cold Dead by author James W. Ziskin ($15.95, softcover) who continues his “Ellie Stone Mystery” series. The date is December 21, 1960, the shortest day of the year as 15-year-old Darleen Hicks slips away from her school bus. It departs without her and she is never seen again. On New Year’s Day 1960 Ellie Stone receives a late-night caller—Irene Metzger, the grieving mother of Darleen Hicks who tells her the local police won’t help her because they believe she has run off with some older boy and will return when she’s ready. Ellie takes on the case and you join her as she begins a chilling journey to a place of uncertainty, loss, teenage passion, and vulnerability, a place where Ellie’s questions are unwanted and put her life in danger. Mark Pryor is back with a Hugo Marston novel, The Reluctant Matador, ($15.95, softcover). When a 19-year-ld aspiring model disappears in Paris, her father, Bart Denum, turns to Marston for help. Marston, the security chief at the US embassy, makes some inquiries and learns that the daughter was in fact an exotic dancer and she has left for Barcelona with a shady character she met at a seedy strip club. When Marston and a friend, a former CIA agent finally track the man in Barcelona, they find Bart Denum standing over his dead body. Spanish authorities arrest him and the question is whether Marston and his friend can find the real killer and locate the missing daughter. See Also Murder: A Majorie Trumaine Mystery by Larry D. Sweazy ($15.95, softcover) begins with a grisly killing in 1964 in Dickinson, North Dakota where Erick and Lida Knudsen are found murdered in their bed with their throats slit. Their two sons, ages 19 and 20, live in the same house but claim to have heard nothing while they were asleep. When Sheriff Hilo Jenkins finds a strange copper amulet clasped in Erik’s hand, he turns to Marjorie Trumaine, a skilled researcher, to help unravel this mystery. It just gets uglier, but in a way that will surprise the reader. One thing’s for sure, it’s never boring.

The author of Traitor’s Gate, Charlie Newton ($15.95, Thomas & Mercer, softcover) has already established himself among the top novelists around these days. His debut novel, “Calumet City”, was named a Best Debut in 2008 by the American Library Association and nominated for the Edgar, Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, And Thriller awards. The next, “Start Shooting”, generated similar praise. His newest novel is a gripping thriller that takes the reader to the tense days leading to the first shots of World War II. A survivor of a brutal massacre that left her family dead, Saba Hassouneh becomes “the Raven”, a freedom fighter hunted throughout the Middle East by the British colonial powers and the religious mullahs. As she plots a major attack on one of the British oil refineries, the plot of the story will keep you glued to the page and turning them to find out what happens next.

That’s it for June! Tell your book-loving friends, family and co-workers about where a wide variety of unique non-fiction and fiction can be found every month, sure to provide you with news of a book you want to read. And come back in July!