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Building A Child's Imagination!

Imagination Bigger Together - Casey Rislov, Stephen Adams

Imagination Bigger Together receives colorful, large-size drawings by Stephen Adams as it explores the limitless possibilities of a fertile imagination in a way young kids can easily understand.

 

Four animal friends get together to play a pirate game and discover that the sum of their collective imaginations far surpasses what any of them could accomplish alone.

 

As the four imagine the adventures they experience on the 'high seas' and the exciting places they will visit far beyond their wildest dreams, young picture book readers and their read-aloud parents will enjoy a fun survey that begins with a world cruise and leads to a rock hunt for hidden gems, exploring a secret garden, mud puddle romping, and more.

 

The emphasis on backyard play and how it can be enhanced by an active imagination makes for an engaging story that blends real-world observations and encounters with a spice of imaginative process encouraging kids to foster and accept their own playful fantasies. A backyard map offers visual emphasis about each of these adventures, which are created with a combination of a child's imaginative ideas and toys. Each point on the map holds a new spot for adventure, whether it be digging for treasure, taking a hot-air balloon ride, or encountering strange critters.

 

Parents will find this a fun way of reviewing various kinds of imaginative applications for daily life encounters, while kids will appreciate the bright, large drawings of animal friends who pair a lively and fun prance through the world with a healthy dose of creative thinking.

An Action-Packed Young Adult Fantasy

The Waterfall Traveler: Book 1 - S.J. Lem, Aaron S. Kaiserman

Book One of this young adult fantasy introduces its tale with a map showing an island off the shore of a land mass which includes such intriguing images as a castle at Sea Dragon's Point and a mountain range called Funeral Mountains. This provides a visual sense of the landscape and adds an element of intrigue right from the start. Enhancing the sense of adventure is a prologue that features a goddess, her brother Death, and her sister Fate, who together weave a new world. 

 

But this sense of magic and intrigue received an immediate, satisfying twist when protagonist Ri awakens to a dilemma which also forges a solid sense of place in just a few sentences.

 

Ri's adoptive father Samuel is ill. He suffers from incurable hallucinations, and she has to watch his every move while solidly rejecting the notion that he can't be healed. But she's stymied in her goal of helping him until she meets two strangers in the forest who have their own agendas, and faces a choice that could either cure Samuel or imprison her in another realm. 

 

The Waterfall Traveler combines an epic quest with a caring girl's coming of age and offers much to young adult fantasy readers. Perhaps its greatest strength lies in its ability to craft a tale with very realistic goals and concerns as Ri faces dangerous plots and counters many plans with her own.

 

It's always pleasing to see determination, grit, and personal struggle cementing an action-packed story, and The Waterfall Traveler provides these elements and more, never neglecting personal psychology in favor of adventure. Ri is continually challenged and meets these dangers head-on; but always with very real fears behind her bravado, and this is just one element that lends authenticity to the action.

 

As her relationships and choices drive the story, young adult (and many an adult) readers will find Ri's determination and rationales powerful driving forces to the story line, which lends it a flavor that makes it thoroughly engrossing and hard to put down. 

 

Can't wait for Book Two!

A Legendary Staff, Intrigue, and Power Plays!

Exodus '95 - Kfir Luzzatto

Claire Williams is a young graphic designer in New York City whose kindness to a dying neighbor leads him to reward her with a long-kept secret: the whereabouts of Moses' legendary lost staff. But is his secret really safe with her? She harbors a secret of her own that might not make her the best choice for keeping his, and even though she has assistance for what turns out to be an international journey of discovery, this secret may eventually betray everything.

 

But, why is Claire privy to this information? Jack makes her legacy - and his choices - quite clear. And, her own actions and reactions are equally clear.

 

Exodus '95 is an edgy thriller that spices its espionage and international romp with a sexual flavor that draws readers in to Claire's lifestyle and choices.

 

An ingenious machine, a complicated set of surprises involving the KGB, and ruthless enemies and high stakes are all faced by Claire, who maintains a feisty conviction that the staff will lead her out of her drab life much as Moses used it to lead his followers to freedom. But in any journey, there are costs, and these penalties are outlined in an adventure story packed with intrigue, twists, and turns.

 

One of the twists (without giving away the plot) is that Jack is not what he seems, and is using Claire and taking advantage of her trust. Another twist involves Claire's strange hold over Dan.

 

As relationships and plots evolve, Exodus '95 challenges the reader with many powerful, thought-provoking moments that take the story of a legendary staff and its powers and accelerate it to new levels of intrigue and interpersonal connections. Thriller readers who enjoy the spicy edge of

sex and romance will find this an intriguing story of mistakes, dire consequences, and change.

A Parable of Spirituality and Hope

Light on the Mountain - Dr. Stewart Bitkoff

Light on the Mountain will appeal to readers of spiritual fiction and spirituality, those who enjoy philosophical parables, and new age audiences; especially those confronting a new era of despair and hopelessness. It offers a message for each of these readers in the form of the fictional prophecy of an Ancient One who has been sleeping for 1,000 years, and whose awakening will lead the city people out of oppression and pain to confront their demons and solve their problems.

 

This is the basic message of a newly-awakened Ancient One who uses the lives of disparate individuals to chronicle how this kind of awakening spirit moves differently in and for each of them.

 

From the beginning, Light on the Mountain's atmosphere is ethereal and winding. There's a sense of uplifting energy and upward movement to the characters as they explore what this awakening means to them, and there's also a survey of God's will, questions and answers and the forms they take, their impact, and a message of hope that streams from the Ancient One to mankind as a whole.

 

The generalities of this light and its bringer lend an 'everyman' feel of universality to the story that considers the different effects of transformation on a disparate group of individuals. How soldiers and messengers react differently to these admonitions and insights, for one example, is gently crafted into a story that holds much meaning for any spiritual thinker who could take virtually any religious history in the world and compare it to the enlightening force described in Light on the Mountain.

 

The difference lies in its presentation: where other spiritual disciplines might detail a singular path to enlightenment, Light on the Mountain contains a wider-ranging approach that includes the perspective of the light-bringer as well as those affected by it.

 

Of additional note is the political impact of this spiritual force on the kingdom, and the issues of control and authority it raises.

 

The prerequisite to thoroughly appreciating this tale is a desire to question life's greater meaning. Readers with such an interest will find Light on the Mountain may look like a light read, with its fable format and 99 pages, but contains a powerful message that's particularly meaningful in these times.

 

It's a parable of hope and an affirmation of the power of Light in the face of personal, political, and social darkness, and its ability to both enlighten and entertain makes for a winning combination that considers possible paths to a better world.

 

A Journey from Corporate to Cuba

Cubicle to Cuba: Desk Job to Dream Job - Heidi Siefkas

Heidi Siefkas isn't the first author to leave a corporate job for a life of writing and adventure; but she's one of the few who found this path heading to Cuba: a land exotic, forbidden, and in many ways not too far from her own familiar world. And while her adventures begin with and always seem to return to Cuba, they embrace a lifestyle that takes her on world travels which are also narrated here. 

 

Cubicle to Cuba: Desk Job to Dream Job follows Heidi Siefkas through Cuba after she makes a life-changing decision that catapults her from a safe, secure, albeit demanding cubicle job to an uncertain, vivid life as a world-traveling writer, and it "...will teach you about Cuba, but it will also inspire you to think out of the cubicle, travel more, and embark on your own Life 2.0." 

 

Unlike many workers, Siefkas didn't leave because her job was changing for the worse. She left because she felt 'stuck' in the choices she'd made, even though she was in a managerial position at a new start-up. The overall structure of her life was frustrating, so when an unexpected call from a friend offered the chance to travel to Cuba in a new capacity as a tour guide, she decided to take the plunge into the unknown and accept far different working conditions than the set roles and cubicle world politics that were stifling her. 

 

Cubicle to Cuba chronicles this process of change, but what really sets it apart from a travelogue or the usual "I left my job for freedom" approach is the author's attention to detailing the daily experiences of Cuban travel and life; especially when she outlines the spirit of Cuba's peoples.

 

With passages such as these, Cubicle to Cuba deftly reveals the heart of the country and its peoples, juxtaposing cultural observations with travel tips and experiences revolving around bathrooms, water, safety, and more. After setting its foundations in Cuba, Siefkas visits and contrasts other places using a precise "you are there" feel and specific insights that allow for clear comparisons of Cuba's differences to, say, Hawaii.

 

Cubicle to Cuba is a lively journey that is highly recommended for general readers and, especially, for two audiences: those who want experiential accounts of Cuba, and corporate workers who dream of taking the leap into a different kind of lifestyle. 

Mystery, Wildlife Rights, and Coming of Age in Florida!

Gasparilla's Gold - Sandra Markle

Twelve-year-old Gus has been sent to live with his aunt on a Florida wildlife refuge after the family suffers from the loss of his older brother, but it's just one more change in a life filled with new things: an absent brother, the sale of their Manhattan home, and his father's relocation to Seattle.

 

But some things don't change: his fears about the unfamiliar and unpredictable world and the memories of his brother, which can arise from even innocuous life events like being caught in the rain.

 

Middle grade readers follow Gus as he encounters the unfamiliar at every step: bats, coyotes, a spunky girl named Fiona, and an aunt who reveres the wildlife she lives amongst.

 

About halfway through the book, Gus begins to realize where he really belongs - just as he's on the cusp of leaving. Add a mystery revolving around wild animals, rancher rights, the plight of the vanishing Florida panther to the saga of a boy beginning to realize his place in the world and you have a story line filled with courage and confrontation.  Sandra Markle weaves a compelling story that holds many different attractions, promising to interest high/low readers who enjoy mysteries and animal tales couched in the attraction of powerful personalities.

 

A Very Different Kind of Rapunzel Tale

In a Gilded Cage - Mia Kerick

Fairy tale retellings usually add a twist into the story - sometimes major; sometimes minor - but Mia Kerick's approach is darker and more striking than usual as she takes the Rapunzel story and adds a notably tragic element which embraces everything from a child's sale (a strange kind of "win-win" situation which gives his needy parents both money and a better life for their son) to the evolution of a strange relationship that can only be changed by a handyman's intervention.

 

The vision of Rapunzel as being a young man in need of rescue is indeed quite a different perspective, and as the story line evolves, readers will come to realize that a change in gender isn't the only difference between this Rapunzel and its classic predecessor.

 

From insights on dysfunctional family relationships and the experience of being a victim in a gilded cage (which also holds its benefits) to the efforts of an outsider to change the destiny and entrapped position of the alluring, damaged Lucci Grimley, In a Gilded Cage requires of its readers a flexibility and liberal outlook. Those without such attributes who unsuspectingly pick up the novel might find its tenants challenging and possibly offensive; but Mia Kerick's intention isn't to shock or disgust; but to provide a powerful story that winds family relationships, interpersonal connections, and the concept of a gilded cage's allure and dangers into a compellingly different vision of the Rapunzel mythos.

 

If you never leave your mansion-cave, what could you possibly need or desire outside of it? As an evolving friendship brings with it deeper questions, both characters move out of their self-imposed gilded cages and into uncharted territories.

 

Readers who pick up In a Gilded Cage expecting another predictable retelling of a fairy tale will be amazed - and delighted - by how far this author stretches the original story line's concepts in a dark social and psychological challenge to the innocence of the original Rapunzel story of seduction and love.

A Teen Struggles With Alien Changes to His World

The Tinker and The Fold: Part 2 - The Rise of The Boe - Evan Gordon, Scott Gordon

The first mark of an exceptional trilogy lies in the introductory book's ability to lay the foundation of a compelling story that's worth carrying forward into a series. Part 1 of 'The Tinker and the Fold', The Problem with Solaris 3, performed admirably in this regard, creating a superior work hard to put down; but the meat of a three-volume series lies in its ability to continue an exceptional approach past the first introductory volume and into later books.

 

The Rise of the Boe performs admirably in this respect, and opens with a foreword that places the story in perspective (for newcomers who have not previously imbibed of Solaris 3) so that all readers enter on an even playing field of prior knowledge. The saga begins where Solaris 3 left off, in a world changed by aliens, Ten Laws, The Fold's miracles and dictates, and a humanity at odds with their newly managed lives.

 

After his father's disappearance, Jett ("The Tinker") and his family is relocated for his own safety, and Jett is sick at heart for all the changes he's helped introduce to his life and everyone around him.  Jett decides to rescue his father from The Fold's rehabilitation base on Solaris 3, but faces new challenges when a miscalculation lands him in the middle of another alien force; this one scheming to bring down The Fold.

 

The story doesn't open in this sci-fi scenario, however, but in the rehabilitation center on Pluto where Dweller Jett Senior is being tested in a rehabilitation simulation that places him back in the Iraq War where his life-or-death decisions will reflect whether his destructive impulses have truly been changed.

 

The efforts and purposes of this brainwashing and retraining session are made startlingly clear,  reinforcing the underlying methods and purposes of The Fold's presence on Earth.

 

Betrayal, alien monkey-cats, a god powerful and feared by the Boe, and twin brothers on a mission makes for a gripping story that doesn't limit itself to a single aliens species or galactic setting, but continues to expand the boundaries of worlds introduced in Solaris 3.

 

As Jett and his brother face a deadly 'blood mist' and a force that rivals The Fold, they must make some terrible choices and face their consequences in a story line that is satisfyingly complex and an astounding piece for a middle-grade author, even given a father's collaborative participation in the process.

 

It's the stuff of movies (one can only hope a screenplay will come next); but if these two volumes are any indication, Book 3 will be well worth waiting for - especially since the Boe are not done here, despite Jack and Jett's best efforts.

 

A Powerful World-Changing Fantasy

The Tinker And The Fold: Part 1 - Problem with Solaris 3 - Evan Gordon, Scott Gordon, Dennis Duitch, Natalie Pearl, Ann Bryson

Four years ago a father and son collaborated on a fun project to write a science fiction story; an effort that was to blossom into something more than a one-time partnership. The Tinker and the Fold: The Problem with Solaris 3, sees their effort brought to full fruition in this first book of a trilogy, a result of that process; but if readers anticipate a genre read replete with conventional devices, they will immediately realize there's far more happening here than a predictable story line.

 

Many sci-fi reads for young adults revolve around events and characters which don't stand out from the crowd. Not so with The Problem with Solaris 3, which opens with sassy young Jett's increasing defiance of the status quo. His attitude crosses over from school to life in general, and though his twin brother Jack strives to blend in, Jett is determined to carve his own path and personality as he navigates his world.

 

It's this attitude that earns the eighth grader a unique place in the scheme of things to follow when his proclivity for tinkering attracts the attention of The Fold, a galactic peacekeeping organization, and leads to quite a different kind of alien abduction than popular literature portrays.

 

From an invention that tests his mother's quantum theories and opens the door to strange new worlds to Jett's place not just on Earth, but in the universe, The Problem with Solaris 3 succeeds in going where few other young adult science fiction reads can follow, transporting its readers to a unique universe replete with kidnappings, unexpectedly hilarious alien invasions, and a "must have" list of tools that includes impeccable and funny logic.

 

Each chapter adds a dose of humor and wry observation that defies normal sci-fi approaches. Each builds upon Jett's clever, creative character and the strange worlds he encounters, which are graphically and beautifully described from a pre-teen's viewpoint.  Even when dialogue and extraterrestrial encounters are taking place, the sassy, spunky interactions between characters are fun and refreshingly original.

 

The difference between a one-dimensional, predictable sci-fi read for young adults and one which is a standout in its genre often lies in a combination of author approach and fresh, original details; and the father-son team of Evan & Scott Gordon succeed in going where few writers (much less family authors) have gone before.

 

Rich in characterization, plot, development, and humor, the story unfolds as a winner and is highly recommended not just for the young adult audience it's intended for; but for many an adult sci-fi fan looking for the truly remarkable standout read that includes thought-provoking reflections on the nature of peace, collective consciousness, and ruling systems.

A "Must Read" For Any American Voter

Donald Trump: The Man Who Would Be King (Blood Moon's Babylon Series) - Darwin Porter, Danforth Prince

Donald Trump: The Man Who Would Be King is best read before the November 2016 elections, while his bid for the presidency is still active and immediate, and is recommended reading for all sides, no matter what political stance is being adopted: Republication, Democrat, or other.

 

Unlike most Trump coverages on the market, Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince employ a tabloid-style approach to create an especially lively tone, compiling newsworthy ironies, inconsistencies, and outrageous events just as they did in their prior books; but they also add a deeper level that belays any perception of Donald Trump: The Man Who Would Be King as being just a Hollywood-style gossip piece.

 

They take the time to examine not just Donald, but the Trump family's history and its evolutionary process, then delve deeply into how "The King of Debt" rose to arrive where he is today.

 

Ordinarily over 700 pages of close inspection would prove too daunting for readers seeking quick, succinct coverages; but one of the driving forces behind Donald Trump: The Man Who Would Be King lies in its ability to synthesize an unbelievable amount of information into a format and presentation which blends lively irony with outrageous observations, entertaining even as it presents eye-opening information in a format accessible to all.

 

Politics dovetail with American obsessions and fascinations with trends, figureheads, drama, and sizzling news stories, but blend well with the observations of sociologists, psychologists, politicians, and others in a wide range of fields who lend their expertise and insights to create a much broader review of the Trump phenomena than a more casual book could provide.

 

The result is a 'must read' for any American interested in issues of race, freedom, equality, and justice - and for any non-American who wonders just what is going on behind the scenes in this country's latest election debacle.

A Supernatural Mystery Delight for Teens

The Whizbang Machine - Danielle A. Vann

Supernatural machinery is nothing new to fantasy (many a young adult and preteen read have included magical equipment), but a talented typewriter is something different, which Elizabeth discovers when a gift from her grandfather spells out new powers in the form of secrets revealed.

 

One delightful aspect of this story line is the old-fashioned type sprinkled throughout the pages, which capture the typewriter's special font and clarify that the messages are coming from a machine.

 

Another is the fact that a family curse brings granddaughter and grandfather together on a problem-solving mission spiked with supernatural overtones. As Elizabeth narrates her family's heritage and her increasing involvement with the magic typewriter that will change lives and destinies, she thoroughly involves readers in the quest: "The machine sighed to sleep with the flip of the red off button. I drew in a deep breath, stuffed Jack’s last postcard in my front jean pocket and stood eerily still. Jack, I thought. After all this time, he would finally be standing inside my house. The place he used to treasure before the bomb went off in both of our lives. It didn’t seem like today would ever come."

 

Mystery and supernatural elements are paired with strong characterization, believable scenarios and motives, and a host of challenges that keep Elizabeth and Jack on their toes. Readers follow the clues along with the investigator duo and will enjoy an ever-quickening pace as the two race against time to solve a series of impossible problems, with the Royal typewriter pushing them to hone their sleuthing skills before it's too late.

 

The result is a beautifully written page-turner recommended for young adult readers: one that does an excellent job of building its plot and characters and surrounds them with a mystery spiced with the dilemma of a Royal curse that may prove undefeatable, if the two family members can't solve it once and for all: "I repeated the sinister words the vendor chanted, “One thousand and forty years the curse will remain until the rightful owner shall turn back the hands of time and correct a Royal mistake. The secret will eat away at those who come to play like a disease.”

Powerful Short Stories of New Beginnings

Of Dust and Tides - A.G. Russo

Of Dust and Tides is a short story collection about new adults just entering the adult world, and provides a range of characters and visions about how this world changes and challenges its new arrivals.

 

Take eighteen-year-old Dorrie, who sets off on a mission to find a long-absent father, Ollie, and discovers the meaning of rock gods, accidents of birth, and blood ties as she confronts a man whose world doesn't include 'nice girls', even if they are kin. Dorrie's uncertain connection with him leads her full-circle to discover what is really of value in her world in 'Ollie's Daughter'.

 

For a different perspective, turn to 'Portrait of Jori', in which an art student's life is changed by the man he becomes involved with. Art community scandals and politics, high-class living and patrons with unusual tastes, and issues of trust amid the trappings of wealth all emerge as themes in a thought-provoking tale of talent and the real cost of benefactors who take over lives.

 

Another powerful winner is 'Impure Earth', where the world is unprepared for a challenge to the status quo of the Pures and Assorteds, and survival tactics become steeped in rage and love alike. In such a future, war is forbidden and a thing of books and legend - and in such a world, it must be faced and fought again, introducing many new tests to a society carefully reconstructed to include cyborgs and strict rules.

In such a world, whoever has control is not necessarily the same as he who wields wisdom, as Tarquin and Immurra come to discover when they head a new kind of force and influence on the future of a broken society unfamiliar with the word 'revolution', among others.

 

Each carefully-crafted story provides a different perspective on evolving connections, adult lives, and new ventures. Each very different tale presents stories of survival, confrontation and change; and each follows characters that grow from their encounters.

 

Of Dust and Tides is replete with new beginnings and how they happen, and is an outstanding gathering especially recommended for new adult readers venturing into the world, offering lessons on its challenges and growth opportunities using succinct language and close encounters that pair disparate individuals and cross-purposes with paths that ultimately lead to connections and hope.

A Middle-Grade Story of Hope and Healing

Lucy in Her Secret Wood (The Lucy Series) - Christina M. Pagès

Book 1 of the 'Lucy' series is set in 1970s England and tells of eight-year-old Lucy, who has lived most of her life locked in a small closet until one day her angry stepfather takes her into the woods and abandons her.

One might think that, like Hansel and Gretel, disaster will come of this move; but in fact Lucy thrives in her new wilderness world outside of the closed-in room that has been her life. In the process of adapting to the outdoor wonders she has only read about in books, she comes to feel a new kind of freedom and appreciation for life.

Despite her friendship with a boy who helps her, and her ability to adapt, Lucy's not out of the woods yet: when authorities discover a child living alone in nature, they 'rescue' her and take her to an orphanage where, once again, she is bullied and abused.

One notable feature of Lucy in Her Secret Wood is its focus, not on the abusive situations, but on Lucy's sense of wonder as she discovers the good in her world. Her closed-in life serves, in this case, as a backdrop for the sense of appreciation she evolves for nature (wild though it may be), and the focus is on this sense of growth and discovery and not just upon the abuse she endures.

Gorgeous color paintings enhance the feel of Lucy's woods experience and the comfort it involves, while dialogue throughout reflects Lucy's respect for the newfound world she moves through.

 

Now, all is not sweetness and light in the woods: Lucy discovers she lacks and requires very basic survival skills despite the efforts of her new friend's help, and in the course of her explorations, she learns survival and problem-solving skills.

 

As advanced elementary to early middle school grades read about Lucy's evolution, it becomes evident that her story is about more than abuse, escape, and an appreciation of nature: it's about healing, recovery, and how to maintain a sense of wonder and appreciation of surrounding beauty.

In this respect, Lucy in Her Secret Wood offers an appealing window of opportunity for kids of all ages to reconnect with the world, use art to express these connections, and ultimately arrive at better places in life where hopes, dreams and promises do come true.

Lucy in Her Secret Wood offers a message, not just of survival, but how to choose positive paths that wind through the world's negative influences, making it a recommended children's novel for many reasons.

A Story Steeped in Victorian London Atmosphere!

Forever Gentleman - Roland Colton, Erin Willard, Anna Faktorovich

Forever Gentleman is a historical novel set in Victorian London and blends the author's love for architecture, music and history as it steeps its story in the sights, sounds, and flavors of the era and follows Renaissance man Nathan, whose struggles as an architect and a musician bring him in contact with the ladies and lords of high society.

Nathan's gifts bring him love in unexpected places; but they also are challenged by his economic misfortunes and by threats that give him clear choices between romance or seeking safety in another country.

From the squalor of Debtor's Prison to judges, courtroom dramas, and the beckoning possibilities of a new life that takes his beloved piano concertos to new heights, Forever Gentleman is about a young man finding his place in society and the social trials and snafus (and romance) that confront him along the way.

Readers who like atmospheric, sweeping historical sagas cemented by the personal goals, observations, and challenges of protagonists who interact on many levels will relish Forever Gentleman's special ability to turn out a rollicking good read while remaining true to the history and influences of its times.

It's a romance, it's a mystery, and it's a history all wrapped into one satisfyingly beautiful production, and is highly recommended for anyone who appreciates a depth and attention to detail that results in a powerful story line.

The Politics and Processes of Fracking

Fracking America - Walter M. Brasch

Fracking America: Sacrificing Health and the Environment for Short-Term Economic Benefits provides a follow-up to Walter M. Brasch's prior, acclaimed Fracking Pennsylvania; expanding the subject's scope and using some of the Pennsylvania settings as examples in a wider-ranging assessment of fracking's environmental, economic, and political impact on America.

Because many fracking discussions focus on environmental impact, it's satisfying to see an account that moves well beyond the usual focus to analyze some of the other reasons why fracking is an unusually dangerous pursuit. The wide-ranging discussions move from theological perspectives on fracking (from religions that include admonitions to care for the environment) to connections between industry interests and political maneuvering, which have influenced politicians to create laws skewed toward industry benefits and against public health and environmental concerns.

Dr. Brasch isn't just a naysayer who fills chapters with emotional rants: he offers a studied, rational series of analyses centered around the mechanics of fracking and its impact on different levels. And while it may be his third book on the topic (at first, he didn't want to write any of them; initially not wanting to take the time and effort to learn about engineering, geology, and political practices involved in any real in-depth treatment of the subject), Fracking America may well be his most important yet.

As Dr. Brasch delved into the mechanics of the natural gas fracking process, he became more and more convinced it is a bad idea on many levels - and Fracking America continues this conviction by gleaning more hard evidence from fracking operations across the country.

Readers should anticipate the same attention to detail and facts as in his other books on the subject. Charts, graphs, and footnoted references to CAC studies, news reports, scientific papers and documents support his contentions and provide authority to support every statement. While the prevalence of so many footnoted references (several thousand) may seem daunting to some, these serve to not only support Dr. Brasch's contentions, but provide annotated references readers can turn to (almost all of them presented as website links) for their own research.

Discussions and assessments of renewable energy resources around the world, their locations, and their potentials round out what has to be the most authoritative, well-researched, rational and evidence-based discussion of fracking in America to hit the book market to date.

Fracking America is highly recommended for anyone studying the subject at any level, whether they are newcomers to fracking or activists who have only researched environmental impact, and need to fill in the blanks on political processes and impacts that hold important questions about American freedoms and political maneuvering.

Being a Hero Versus Being Human

Conductoid (Volume 1) by M. B. Lehane (2016-04-15) - M. B. Lehane

Open with a typical student soccer game in which player Jack declines team celebrations at the end of a successful game to examine an illuminated device on his ankle in the privacy of the still-empty locker room, then flees. But there's something extraordinary in the method of his flight and in his ride home, implying that Jack is not the ordinary soccer-playing schoolboy he portrays.

 

Not every boy has a secret compartment in his closet and a jetpack accompanying his lunch bag. No normal boy can rocket into the sky through his rolled-back bedroom ceiling. And what boy can face his greatest enemy with nary a quiver? Nobody, it turns out - even Jack. But, a boy can dream!

 

In a world that constantly challenges Jack to be extraordinary, he consistently fails. His performance in class, in P.E., and in life are all met with obstacles and his best intentions to do better send him into a dream world filled with creatures more realistic than his own life. In contrast, his twin Phoebe is a winner at nearly everything she does. Even worse, his mother is about to become his teacher at school.

 

What's left to enjoy are dreams, which sometimes come with nightmares attached. And in this world, he shines.

 

Conductoid is a super-hero story, a saga of dreams and reality, and tells of a boy who shifts between the persona of a failure and that of Conductoid, a superhero with extraordinary abilities who saves lives and faces down challenges. What, exactly, is a 'conductoid'? It's "A being who can have another’s powers transmitted through them.’"

 

As Jack faces strangers, transformations, and challenges even in his super-world, he finds that the very qualities that limit him in one world come back to haunt him in the one place he feels powerful.

 

Not everything in Conductoid focuses on Jack's changing worlds: in between there are family encounters and relationships, field trips, and revelations about the underlying meaning of being strong.

 

 Readers move between fantasy adventure and Jack's real world as Jack explores his position in both. Do the stories Jack creates have their roots in reality? While readers are treated to a satisfying intersection between fantasy and reality, the real questions lie in Jack's ability to move between two worlds and face the consequences of his choices in each.

 

This gripping saga will especially delight advanced elementary to middle grade readers who secretly dream of being heroes even as they struggle with being human.