Category Archives: Reviews

Book of the Week: Didn’t Get Frazzled by David Z. Hirsch

No Shelf Required is an ardent supporter of independent authors around the world producing their work on their own terms and with their own resources. In an effort to draw attention to quality independent literature (fiction and nonfiction published by independent authors and indie publishers), and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews of a wide variety of titles published on BIR’s site each week. Enjoy this week’s pick, a debut novel by a Maryland physician.

Didn’t Get Frazzled

About Author

frazzledDavid Z. Hirsch is a practicing physician in Maryland who uses a pen name; he notes that he prefers to keep his professional work and writing life separate and feels that there is  more freedom with writing anonymously. Didn’t Get Frazzled is his first novel.

 

 


About BlueInk Review

BlueInk Review was founded by Patti Thorn, former books editor of the Rocky Mountain News, and Patricia Moosbrugger, literary agent and subsidiary rights specialist. It offers serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books. Reviews are penned largely by writers drawn from major mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and Washington Post, and editors of respected traditional publishing houses. Select reviews appear in Booklist magazine.

Book of the Week: A Pigeon’s Tale by S.A. Mahan

In an effort to draw attention to quality independent literature (fiction and nonfiction published by independent authors and indie publishers), and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews of a wide variety of titles published on BIR’s site each week. Enjoy this week’s pick.

A Pigeon’s Tale

About Author

s-s-mahan

 

S.A. Mahan writes children’s books and stories for young adult readers, gaining  her inspiration from hiking in the Rocky Mountains and her love of adventure. In addition to being an author, Mahan is a fiber artist, barista, and rancher. She lives in Colorado with her husband. This is her third book.


About BlueInk Review

BlueInk Review was founded by Patti Thorn, former books editor of the Rocky Mountain News, and Patricia Moosbrugger, literary agent and subsidiary rights specialist. It offers serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books. Reviews are penned largely by writers drawn from major mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and Washington Post, and editors of respected traditional publishing houses. Select reviews appear in Booklist magazine.

Book of the Week: What Remains by Tracey Lee

In an effort to draw attention to quality independent literature (fiction and nonfiction published by independent authors and indie publishers from around the world) and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews published on BIR’s site each week. This week’s pick is Tracey Lee’s novel What Remains.

What Remains

About Author

tracey-lee

Tracey Lee is a former schoolteacher from Southern Australia. After 32 years of teaching, she is now pursuing her love of writing fiction. Lee notes that she finds inspiration for her work from observing human behavior. Many of her stories relate to ordinary people and their response to extraordinary events.  The author received her Master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Canberra, and is currently living in New South Wales with her husband.

 


About BlueInk Review

BlueInk Review was founded by Patti Thorn, former books editor of the Rocky Mountain News, and Patricia Moosbrugger, literary agent and subsidiary rights specialist. It offers serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books. Reviews are penned largely by writers drawn from major mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and Washington Post, and editors of respected traditional publishing houses. Select reviews appear in Booklist magazine.

Book of the Week: The Cannabis Revolution by Stephen Holt

In an effort to draw attention to quality independent literature (fiction and nonfiction published by independent authors and indie publishers), and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews of a wide variety of titles published on BIR’s site each week. Enjoy this week’s pick.

The Cannabis Revolution©

About Author

Stephen HoltStephen Holt, MD, has written over 25 books relating to medical issues such as aging, osteoporosis, weight loss, and sleep deprivation. He is the founder of Holt Institute of Medicine in New York and an emeritus professor.  Holt holds a medical degree from Liverpool University Medical School and is a board certified Internist and Sub Specialist in the US, UK, and Canada.

 


About BlueInk Review

BlueInk Review was founded by Patti Thorn, former books editor of the Rocky Mountain News, and Patricia Moosbrugger, literary agent and subsidiary rights specialist. It offers serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books. Reviews are penned largely by writers drawn from major mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and Washington Post, and editors of respected traditional publishing houses. Select reviews appear in Booklist magazine.

 

Audiobook of the Week: The Short Reign of Pippin IV by John Steinbeck

Audiobooks are ebooks. Listening is learning. In an effort to raise awareness among readers and all who work with books about the versatility of digital literacy, NSR occasionally publishes audiobook reviews of titles of exceptional quality to draw attention to the subtle (but consistent) ways in which formats are blurring in digital environments.
This week’s pick is John Steinbeck’s The Short Reign of Pippin IV. In the words of NSR reviewer, “with current headlines, this political screwball comedy will be much appreciated.”

Z04217_image_148x230[1]Title: The Short Reign of Pippin IV
Author: John Steinbeck
Narrator: Jefferson Mays
Publisher: Recorded Books
Release Date: 2016

Duration: 4 hours

Reviewed for NSR by Michael Rogers (Babylon, New York)

 

John Steinbeck often tackles the affairs of the common man and the political climate that impacts him, but usually in a serious tone (The Grapes of Wrath isn’t exactly a barrel of laughs). This 1957 novel also incorporates those themes, but Steinbeck shows a different side of himself by presenting them in a wicked satire so biting that Jonathan Swift would be envious.

Protagonist Pippin Héristal is an amateur astronomer who spends most of his mundane existence listening to jazz and photographing the heavens through his telescope (he discovered the comet of ’51, you know!) in his Paris eighth-arrondissement home with little concern for the machinations of his fellow men. Allowing her husband his lackadaisical manner, wife Marie is a practical woman who maintains an orderly house, abhors waste, and keeps a firm grip on the family income provided by their property on which grapes producing a fine, much-desired wine are grown. Their daughter Clotilde is an anomaly—at 15 she wrote a novel that became a sensation and was morphed into a film. Instant fame paved the way for her to take to the stage and tour America. Clotilde does everything to the extreme. She is pretty but fat, a communist, clumsy and an American by osmosis. They live simply, quietly, and anonymously…or at least did.

It’s the year “19-blank” and France is in a funk; it’s greatness as a world leader has waned as its government increasingly is bogged down in never-ending bickering between the sundry ridiculous political parties—the Radical Conservatives and Conservative Radicals, the Right Centralists and the Left Centralists, the Christian Atheists, etc.—that disagree on everything to the point where leadership and progress are strangled.

The politicos decide that to reclaim France’s former glory the country must reinstate the monarchy, but who will wear the crown? Alas, poor Pippin is several generation descended from Charlemagne long rotting in the ground, and as he is a reasonable fellow, he retired to bed a commoner and awakens a king! While a king’s job is to rule, those who appointed him in reality only want the pomp and circumstance of a monarch (it makes good newspaper copy and brings in money from across the world) without actually having him in charge. Dragged off to live in Versailles (hot, dirty, full of freeloaders endlessly eating and drinking, bad plumbing, and snooty servants that bow and curtsy graciously and then completely ignore their orders) that life for Pippin becomes an astronomical pain in the ass. Marie endures with grace while Clotilde’s outrageous personality makes her a natural princess.

Pippin and Marie turn to their closest friends for council—for Pippin it’s his uncle Charlie, a shady art dealer who sells unsigned paintings that “might” be the work of a master (and might be cheap fakes) while Marie seeks solace from Sister Hyacinth, a former topless chorus girl who joined a religious order founded by the patron saint of feet!

Poor Pippin is so miserable and out of his depth that he begins taking kingly advice from Clotilde’s teenage boyfriend Tod Johnson, son of the American “Egg King of Petaluma,” whose dad built a multimillion dollar empire in chickens. Tod asserts that monarchs essentially are CEOs and that Pippin must run France like a corporation, including selling nobleman titles to rich Americans to generate bribe money. Everyone is making a quick buck of the new monarchy while the king himself has to sneak out in disguise and putt around the countryside on his scooter just to get a meal!

Steinbeck piles on the irony, sarcasm, and laughs—all the political parties claim to want what’s best for France when they really want what’s best for themselves and screw the other guy. Narrator Jefferson Mays delivers a perfect reading, breathing life into the characters and emphasizing the biting humor with just the right amount of a French accent when needed.

With current headlines, this political screwball comedy will be much appreciated.


Special thank you to Michael Rogers, former Media Editor and audiobook reviewer at Library Journal, for contributing this and other audio reviews to NSR. Publishers/producers interested in getting their (newly released) audiobooks reviewed on NSR should contact Michael directly at mermsr@optimum.net.

Book of the Week: Return of the Convict by William Alan Thomas

In an effort to draw attention to quality independent literature (fiction and nonfiction published by independent authors and indie publishers), and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews published on BIR’s site each week.

Return of the Convict

About Author

William Alan ThomasWilliam Alan ThomasWilliam Alan Thomas took a BA in English at the University of Chicago in the 1960’s, and his first novel, Daddy’s Darling Daughter, was published in 1974. Life was to sweep him far from the world of books, as he fell in love with the seafood business, acquired an old fishing boat, and then became a Vancouver longshoreman. Presently a full time writer living in Chilliwack, B.C., he remains involved with Return of the Convict; there’s to be a prequel and two sequels.  He’s just finishing a rewrite of Dangerous Vision, a corporate espionage thriller published in 2005, when he was still working at the docks.


About BlueInk Review

BlueInk Review was founded by Patti Thorn, former books editor of the Rocky Mountain News, and Patricia Moosbrugger, literary agent and subsidiary rights specialist. It offers serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books. Reviews are penned largely by writers drawn from major mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and Washington Post, and editors of respected traditional publishing houses. Select reviews appear in Booklist magazine.

Book of the Week: Now That We’re Adults by Lynn Almengor

In an effort to draw attention to quality independent literature (fiction and nonfiction published by independent authors and indie publishers) and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews published on BIR’s site each week.

Now That We’re Adults

 

About Author

Lynn AlmengorLynn Almengor has been writing existential fiction since 2005 when she wrote and directed her first feature-length independent film. Now That We’re Adults, about the transition from college graduation into adulthood, is her first novel. Almengor holds a BA in video communication from Arcadia University and currently works as a web producer in her hometown of Philadelphia, PA., where she lives with her husband and their four ferrets.


About BlueInk Review

BlueInk Review was founded by Patti Thorn, former books editor of the Rocky Mountain News, and Patricia Moosbrugger, literary agent and subsidiary rights specialist. It offers serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books. Reviews are penned largely by writers drawn from major mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and Washington Post, and editors of respected traditional publishing houses. Select reviews appear in Booklist magazine.

Audiobook of the Week: Bobby Kennedy (The Making of a Liberal Icon)

Audiobooks are ebooks. Listening is learning. In an effort to raise awareness among readers and all who work with books about the versatility of digital literacy, NSR occasionally publishes audiobook reviews of titles of exceptional quality to draw attention to the subtle (but consistent) ways in which formats are blurring in digital environments. Enjoy this week’s pick.

9780735208087[1]Title: Bobby Kennedy 
Subtitle: The Making of a Liberal Icon
Author: Larry Tye
Narrator: Marc Cashman
Publisher: Books on Tape
Release Date: 2016

Duration: 20 hours

 


Reviewed for NSR by Michael Rogers (Babylon, New York)

Almost half a century after his June 5, 1968 murder, Bobby Kennedy still lingers in his brother’s shadow. As Tye ably shows, however, if not for an assassin’s bullet, Bobby likely would be the Kennedy son lauded as the great president. The public remains so ensconced in the “Camelot” myth surrounding JFK/Jackie that Bobby’s more impressive résumé has been ignored. If Bobby lived to be president, the 1960s might not be remembered for the turmoil that roiled the nation. The Civil Rights horrors still making terrible headlines might have been put to rest, and U.S. involvement in Vietnam perhaps would have halted sooner.

But how did this billionaire’s son born into unfathomable privilege who began his political career as a commie-buster for tail-gunner Joe McCarthy morph into the patron saint of liberalism? His journey is a remarkable story of perseverance, tragedy, and personal growth.

He was the runt of the Kennedy litter and deemed “girlish” by mother Rose, a label that made Bobby push himself harder. Bobby was still a small boy when first-born son Joe Jr. died in World War II, causing his father’s determination to have a son in the White House shift to Jack, a sickly, bookish intellectual, who grudgingly accepted the yoke, while Bobby simply was expected to play the lead role in supporting his brother’s political endeavors. No one did it better! Bobby became the campaign manager, personal confidant, and trouble-shooter from hell! He perceived his role as all-encompassing: from sealing envelopes, to knocking on doors, to leaking disparaging information about Jack’s opponent to the press (Tye credits Bobby with introducing the smear campaign). Bobby’s detractor’s labeled him “ruthless” because of his laser-focused determination to win at any cost, no matter how hard, how much it cost, how long it took—or who got hurt.

Whereas Jack, who several times had flirted with death from illness and his noted military service, joyfully embraced the perks of being a rich man’s son with all the splendors of wine, women, and song (especially the women), Bobby was nose to the grindstone, believing that success was achieved through hard work, although he, too, enjoyed his share of un/married affairs and repeatedly utilized his father’s connections to his advantage. After successfully managing Jack’s Massachusetts’s senate campaign, Bobby went to work for his dad’s crony Joe McCarthy. Bobby’s innate hatred of communism fueled his fervor for rooting out reds in the U.S., but clashes with henchman Roy Cohn made his time with the Wisconsin senator short while teaching him the invaluable lesson of covering his ass by doing his homework himself without cutting corners—Bobby always dotted his I’s and crossed his T’s; habits that served him well.

Tye shows that Bobby was stubborn, unforgiving (Joe Sr. observed that, “when Bobby hated you, you stayed hated”), and entered politics with a trunk full of biases but learned quickly to keep an open mind and change his opinion based on knowledge acquired first-hand. In principle he was vehemently anti-Communist but travelled throughout Russia to learn for himself what life under Soviet rule was like by going among the people, an act repeated in Japan and other locales. Unlike many in power, Bobby was interested in the thoughts of the young and visited colleges to meet students wherever he went.

Bobby liked to fight—he claimed it cleansed him—and never backed down from trading punches (literally and figuratively) with bigger, tougher opponents from college football bruisers to teamsters czar Jimmy Hoffa. His iron determination and ability to withhold judgment until researching the issues made Bobby a champion of causes unlike any other. When hearing that Americans were living in astounding poverty and squalor in the south, he investigated, visiting black families in dirt-floor shacks with only molasses for every meal. He knew the wealthy and privileged turned a blind eye to the sufferings of others less fortunate, so he forced himself to look and to act.

Tye details how Jack’s death emotionally destroyed Bobby—he lost his brother, confidant, and best friend. The blazing fire of his will was reduced to smoldering ash that took years of stoking to reignite. JFK’s death also halted Bobby’s influence with the White House—Lyndon Johnson kept him as attorney general but hated him (the feeling was mutual).

Bobby never fully overcame Jack’s death, but learned to move forward with a determination of keeping his brother’s legacy alive through his own actions. Clinching the NY senate seat was his path back to Washington (although LBJ already had passed many of the Civil Rights, education, and anti-poverty legislation Jack started).

As Tye amply illustrates, Bobby was a doer; promises meant nothing unless fulfilled. He worked hard, played hard, and was equally loved and hated by his political peers and the populace he served. The narrative, which incorporates much new information, is well balanced; Bobby’s achievements are praised while his many faults are equally well cataloged. It’s a detailed, even-handed portrait of Bobby as a hard-charging, no bullshit politician and a loving and dedicated husband and father. Narrator Marc Cashman reads in a documentary-style tone that is a perfect match for the material.

In the current, seemingly insane political climate gripping America, Tye’s account couldn’t be more timely, and is a strong addition to biography, history, and political science collections.


Special thank you to Michael Rogers, former Media Editor and audiobook reviewer at Library Journal, for contributing this and other reviews to NSR. Publishers/producers interested in getting their (newly released) audiobooks reviewed on NSR should contact Michael directly at mermsr@optimum.net.

No Shelf Required supports independent authors (and libraries should, too)

NSR Book Reviews logo - Copy

In an effort to draw attention to quality independent literature (fiction and nonfiction published by independent authors and indie publishers) and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR has for the past two months highlighted  an author reach week (as recommended to NSR by the editors of BlueInk Review). The goal of these “Book of the Week” features is to give face and voice to the writers out there taking the process of publishing their work with a  dignity, dedication, and professionalism.

In the sea of books that are ‘self-published’ each year (over half a million now), it is becoming increasingly more difficult to keep up with what is out there. It is also becoming increasingly more difficult to keep up with what is good out there. NSR admires the efforts of BlueInk Review to sift through independently-published books and provide unbiased reviews upon request.

Librarians, if you are looking to augment your collections by supporting local authors — or independent authors in general — please note that you can learn about a new independent author to support on NSR each Thursday. We not only link to the review of his or her book on BIR site but also provide comprehensive bios and other necessary background information about each author and the topic of the book.

SELF-e_IndieAuthorDay_Logo_v2Please also note that NSR is a media supporter of Indie Author Day, to take place on October 8th, 2016. Libraries across North America will host events all day long, designed to bring local writing communities together in their libraries and invite them to participate in author panels, book readings and signings, workshops, and presentations. Then, at 2 p.m. EST everyone is invited to join a digital gathering featuring Q&A with writers, agents, and industry leaders that will bring together the larger indie community. More information on Indie Author Day 2016 is available on its official site.

These books and authors have been highlighted so far on NSR [or you may go directly to NSR’s Reviews page].

Unmoored by Jeri Parker

The Olive Picker by Kathryn Brettell

Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall by Aaron Safronoff

Danya: A Woman of Ancient Galilee by Anne McGivern

When We Were Invincible by Jonathan Harnisch

Prader-Willi Syndrome by John Hernandez-Storr

Deliver Virtue by Brian Kindall

Grace Period by Melinda Worth Popham


 

NSR Book of the Week: Grace Period by Melinda Worth Popham

In an effort to draw attention to quality independent literature (fiction and nonfiction published by independent authors and indie publishers) and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews published on BIR’s site each week.

Grace Period: My Ordination to the Ordinary

About Author

Melinda Popham

Melinda Worth Popham is a writer, spiritual director, and retreat leader. Her third book is a memoir about her spiritual journey of finding God after going through a divorce and watching her daughter battle depression. Popham earned her B.A. in English from the University of Chicago and her masters in English/Creative Writing from Stanford University. She spent two years at Yale Divinity School earning her second masters degree and searching for spiritual growth. She lives in the Los Angeles area.

 

About BlueInk Review

BlueInk Review was founded by Patti Thorn, former books editor of the Rocky Mountain News, and Patricia Moosbrugger, literary agent and subsidiary rights specialist. It offers serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books. Reviews are penned largely by writers drawn from major mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and Washington Post, and editors of respected traditional publishing houses. Select reviews appear in Booklist magazine.