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Book Reviews
Rock And Roll Warrior
By: David Libert - Sunset Blvd Books, $21.95)

Description: David Libert shares the unvarnished, absolutely true tales from the Inner circle of the music industry from Alice Cooper to Prince; on the road, backstage, on private jets and inside the notorious after-parties with music legends in the era of free-spirit, hard-driving rock ’n’ roll and R&B.

It’s life on the road in technicolor and a rollercoaster ride quite like none other!

Verdict: Straight from the off you’re in the trenches as “Dyno Dave” engages with his hilarious, edgy, and sarcastic wit. As Tour Manager for Alice Cooper, running the first large-scale, theatrical, international rock tour to Manager of Parliament-Funkadelic Libert leads the charges with wisdom, ingenuity, dexterity, psychology, and arm-twisting galore!

As much as it is the story of rock superstars, it is a tale of David’s journey from being the singer in the hit ‘60s pop group the Happenings (See You In September) through his days as a drug dealer on Sunset Strip.

Opening on his memory of being crouched down behind a wall of speakers at Woodstock 1999 and wondering to himself, What’s with Bootsy?, given that the musician had been hiding behind a stage prop for twenty minutes, still fiddling with his rig, and with the orange light on and signalling that there was only ten minutes left of the uproarious Parliament Funkadelic set, was losing more and more rarefied daylight stage time, Bootsy then coolly looked him in the eye, winked, and kicking the stage prop out of the way, abounded on stage and as the crowd, let along George Clinton, all drink in the man’s arrival, the live sounds of the day just quadruple right there and then!

While there are endless rock and roll memoirs written by musicians, songwriters, producers and even engineers, sometimes the most entertaining come from the fringe. Not meaning that word as superfluous or crazy, but denoting tomes penned by those who circle around the music like roadies, managers, or ex-wives/groupies.

Author Libert freely acknowledges around the time of that now infamous Woodstock 1999 moment that he had an epiphany: How did I get here? How did all this happen? And the possible answers that came back included hard work (sure), dedication (sure), some dumb luck (sure), it all contributes, but if his mother hadn’t insisted that he continue with his piano lessons, it is noted that, most likely, none of what is to come would have ever happened!

But it turned out that it was those very same piano lessons along with inheriting his father’s musical talents that pretty much scripted the outcome of his life. Indeed, in his words, it was all just destiny.

OK, sure, Libert has spent most of his 50+ year career in music as a booking agent and manager, but he got his start as a performer and founding member of vocal harmony group The Happenings. As noted, they scored several hits in the mid-‘60s including “See You in September,” “I Got Rhythm” and “Go Away Little Girl,” but not content with just singing, Libert worked to teach himself guitar and write as well.

But as things began to wain with that regard, Alice Cooper’s booking agent Jonny Podell suggested that Libert become their road manager and thus despite not having any real experience, Libert excitedly started his second act.

In truth, and as a fan of Alice Cooper, this is not a bad thing, trust me, but the overall heft of the prose contained within this 250+ page book, most all distills down from Libert’s experiences on three Cooper tours: for the Killers, School’s Out, and Billion Dollar Babies albums.

So, here’s a little known fact for you all, my little fiends, with the group already known for their theatrical stage presence and overall imagery, and with each tour coming complete with better album sales and more chart recognition, each tour subsequently needed to become more and more involved re: props, costumes dancers, effects, and the still-in-his-show today guillotine that beheaded the headliner every night!

And yes, you are correct, David Libert had to coordinate it all along with hotel rooms, women and acquisition and delivery of certain substances! But he was not alone and says he learned a lot about the business watching Cooper’s manager, Shep Gordon (aka “Supermensch”) along the way, especially recounting the one tale where Gordon arranged for popular DJ Wolfman Jack to introduce Cooper at one show arriving atop a real camel!

Other stories included comprise of tasty tidbits such as Alice Cooper’s much-publicized love for Budweiser beer, his devotion to his live touring stage snake (dubbed “Eva Marie Snake”), and how it also also needed to be kept wrapped in warm blankets while accompanying the band on airplanes, the infamous photo shoot for the interior of Billion Dollar Babies (where the group were all clad in white complete with $100,000 in $100 bills), and even recants stories of himself, partying hard with his new friends when cocaine was king in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

In closing, this book has all that and more lovingly stockpiled within it and also inclusive of anecdotes about the other artists mentioned in the title that Libert came into contact with through his own booking agency (Prince, Living Colour, The Runaways, et al.), there is just no justifiable reason why you shouldn’t pick up your copy today and lose yourself in a time capsule of all the good, bad and ugly that went on back then - and which David Libert survived and lived to tell his story, just for you!

About the Author - Rock Star. Songwriter. Road Manager. Producer. Agent. Drug Dealer. Convict. From harmonizing in the parking lot with his buddies, to knocking on doors in Tin Pan Alley, David Libert’s career has traversed generations of legendary music artists and genres-from rock to pop, from funk to punk. Off the road, he’s a passionate animal rights activist. Personally rescuing dogs helping to find happy homes for others.

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The Way of Reiki: Inner Teachings of Mikao Usui
By: Frans Stiene - O Books, $19.95

Description: The Way of Reiki guides us on the path to becoming a better human being, softening our anger and worry so that we can live in a world of compassion and kindness.

It is a must read for any Reiki practitioner or teacher who wants to bring more love into their practice, teachings and the world.

Verdict: Taking it back to its origin, Buddhist monk Mikao Usui introduced the energy-healing therapy of Reiki in 1920 in Japan before it came to the United States in the 1940s, and then Europe in the 1980s.

The aim of the practice? To provide for improved physical, mental, and emotional well-being via meditation, mindfulness, hands-on healing, attunements, and the use of symbols and mantras.

Thus The Way of Reiki: The Inner Teachings of Mikao Usui by Frans Stiene is a near 200 page text that explains clearly how the new discoverer of Reiki will be taught this universal healing art.

One thing to keep in mind is that this is not a comprehensive Reiki text, but moreover a way that, and when we truly need it, the universe will always bring us opportunities to grow, to evolve, and to become our individual highest potential.

And therein lies the beauty of Reiki’s highest potential, as a whole, for the energy healing with it - which many of us experience on a daily basis, such as from a parent’s kiss, a friend’s embrace, or even sitting alone in nature feeling at one with the trees, et al. - enables us to heal using it as a tool (a method to be practiced, moreover) and which can effectively cleanse energy blocks which cause dis-ease and imbalance within our physical, mental, emotional and energy/spiritual bodies.

There are actually only two parts to this book, all be they uniformed into 16 chapters, those two being Preparation and Practicing, with the 16 chapters within encompassing such learned studies as Reiki, in and unto itself, how it can improve the mind and body, some helpful practice tips, Shoden Reiki I (which includes hands on/off healing of both yourself and others), and both Okuden Reiki II, Shinpiden Reiki III, and, to culminate, a history of Reiki.

Having now read it twice through, I can honestly say that all be they many books out there on the very same subject, newly published and/or aged throughout time, what Steine captures here is the pure spirit, the wisp-like essence of Reiki, in an much as he has masterly synthesized - with clarity and simplicity - the system of Reiki as a path of self-cultivation toward self-realization.

On a personal note, and as a polite outreach, I would hope we all know by now, and as a form of journalistic side bar, while Reiki is not meant to replace scientifically backed strategies prescribed by medical professionals, it can most definitely be called upon to complement other healing practices.

Thus, in closing, and as with any tool for transformation, the growth happens in consistently showing up for the practice and so we highly recommend you visit this book (regularly) to learn more about Reiki and its possible benefits for your very own (let alone all the help it can provide, through you, to others around you) mind, body and soul.

About the Author - Bestselling author Frans Stiene has been a major influence on global research into the system of Reiki since the early 2000s. His practical understanding of the Japanese influences on the system has allowed students around the world to connect deeply with this practice. He lives in Haarlem, Netherlands.

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Silver Butterfly Wings
By: Wendy Willow - O Books, $29.95

Description: Silver Butterfly Wings is my story. It’s a story of transformation, of the many paths and decisions I faced while going through the process of grief. At first I was skeptical. How could my dearly departed be sending signs and messages from across the veil? Over time I learned to trust these signs, these gifts from Spirit.

There was a reason I was still here. I was meant to go on, to live my life with passion. I was to figure out who I was becoming in this totally different world and trust that life was taking me where I was meant to be.

In short, I was to transform - like a butterfly.

Verdict: Incorporating a certain amount of genuine, heartfelt, raw grief, as any book attempting to relate such a subject matter could only dare to mine, the topic of grief is definitely one who pages are open here for all to read and so, politely, I make you aware that going in, if not initially, but definitely as you traverse the saddened ground laid before you, some of what author Wendy Willow has outlined may become triggering for you.

But that, in an unto itself, shouldn’t be wholly unexpected, for this is a beautifully written, heartfelt and yes, at times, joyfully ascribed book that oh-so powerfully brings forth a most personal account of human loss, complete here with a transformation that veritably sweeps the pages onward for you, showcasing that from the cruel reality of death can come a pure, unadulterated strength of love, hope, devotion, all brought forth by what the heart and soul perceive as signs and messages of life from the after-life.

Whether these signs and messages are justly or unjustly received, for that is all down to the individual, of course, this book is not only dedicated to all those people who have lost someone, but to those lost in the sea of a mental fog with regard what they actually believe; nay, what they have not believed in before but agonizingly wish to start to unfurl now.

As aforementioned, this book stems from the author losing her own husband and how she initially dealt with daily grief until different signs and messages started to begin to give her hope that there is life after death; even though true love never dies, of course.

Running at a solid 400 pages, Silver Butterfly Wings is one of those books that you inquiringly pick up at the store, glance through, but still decide to start from the beginning and then, out of nowhere, you are four hours in, have unknowingly cried way more than you knew, but have now also mentally opened up a hopeful shaft of light within you that an after-life connection with your own departed loved one could also now be searched for. For this book is just that good.

About the Author - Wendy has always believed in magic. Oh to pull a rabbit out of a hat! To wave a magic wand and transform a gloomy day into bright sunshine, a twig into a luscious strawberry plant, a murky puddle of water into the ocean! What fun that would be!

Palm reading beckoned, drawing her in with its intuitive aspect, it’s bang-on accuracy as she learned to interpret lines while feeling each person’s unique energy in their hands. Numerology soon followed as the vibration of numbers in one’s date of birth pulls at the subconscious, offering a key to the eternal question of Why are we here?

Writing began naturally as well; first as an outlet for feelings and emotions, but soon blossomed into a passion. Her articles appeared in Everchanging Magazine, The Journal of Alternative Therapies and various on-line blogs, publications and newsletters.

Reading Between The Lines is her first published book. As grandmother of 11 children, I think I can call myself an Elder at this point and hopefully share some wisdom with all of you!

Wendy lives in Tulsa, OK, where her second book Silver Butterfly Wings is getting ready to fly!

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Dawn of the Construct: Book 1
By: Eric Lard - Cosmic Egg, $18.95

Description: Earth is a prison and you’re living in it. It’s called The Construct and its keepers carefully manage the rise and fall of humanity in order to extract soul energy to fuel the galactic expansion of an alien race ... but we’ll get to that!

Verdict: When an enigmatic magic known as the Astrig Ka’a turns D’avry’s life upside down, he finds himself in a struggle to save humanity, not only in his own time and place but throughout Earth’s untold histories as well - histories replete with mechanized armor, steampunk airships, wolf-borne goblins, and creatures crafted from the very void between worlds.

Now D’avry’s dreams have become a playground for this world-bending chaos. When he saves the girl of his dreams, in one of his dreams, he inadvertently brings her back and must figure out what the Astrig Ka’a is trying to tell him and why the keepers of the Construct want so badly to kill a crippled girl from the future.

The answer to these questions may be the only hope that humanity has, not just to escape its prison, but to survive as a species.

My dear friends, simply put, if you are looking for a fresh new take on an already deeply purged genre (whether it be on TV or on paper), Eric Lard’s rather wondrous Dawn of the Construct: Book 1 of the Soul Machine Saga is a fantasy/sci-fi amalgamation that not only features reluctant heroes, dreams within dreams, monstrous bad guys, magic upon magic, and fully fleshed out and colorful characters of all sorts, but comes complete with a setting that features deep dives into three different timelines!

A beast to have put together, one assumes, Lard has tamed it, controlled it and now unleashed it unto the awaiting public, and boy, it is a might fine, side-winding, twisting and turning, magical treat worth waiting for, of that you have my word.

Running at just under 300 pages, once you get into it, there is simply no stopping as Lard cleverly constructs each closing chapter with a pinch of curiosity for what is to come and thus you just have no option but to keep reading!

Complete with a well-paced story line, and one, even given its three dimensions, that doesn’t come off the rails or lose you at any juncture, this is very much a high stakes story complete with pulsatingly-induced, accelerated moments of action, and thus Dawn of the Construct: Book 1 not only promises to be an action-packed saga, but here in its opening works, delivers upon it in spades.

About the Author - Eric’s base camp is at the foot of the oft-smoldering Sierra Nevada in NorCal where he surfs, snowboards, and mountain bikes with his wife and three adult sons. You can check out excerpts, upcoming projects, and short stories on his author page.

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Disney Princess: Beyond the Tiara
By: Emily Zemler & Jodi Benson - Epic Ink - $36.00

Description: Featuring concept art, memorabilia, and original interviews, Disney Princess: Beyond the Tiara - The Stories. The Influence. The Legacy explores the legacies of the princesses and what they represent today.

Verdict: Everyone knows the Disney Princess characters, but how did they become the cultural icons we know today? From the Princesses Walt Disney and his artists brought to the screen in the twentieth century, such as Snow White and Aurora, to the recent additions such as Moana, Tiana, and Rapunzel, each Disney Princess character’s influence has expanded beyond their original film.

Each of their unique, individual stories create a fabric with the power to inspire our imaginations, spark social conversations, and empower us.

Organized by themes of origins and inspirations, re-imaginings, toys and collectibles, fashion, music, parks, fandom, and more, Disney Princess: Beyond the Tiara features memorabilia and interviews with Disney historians, directors, voice talent, and fans.

Explore the different eras, influences, and legacies of the Princesses with Disney Legends such as Jodi Benson (voice of Ariel in The Little Mermaid and author of the book’s foreword), Lea Salonga (the singing voice behind two Princesses, Jasmine and Mulan) and composer Alan Menken.

What is it that has made these characters resonate through so many generations and cultures? How have they become a reflection of pop culture as we know it? Delve into these indelible characters and find the Disney Princess within you!

OK, from the off I can tell you that just holding this amazing book is a joy all of, and unto itself! The pure weight of this hardback alone is rather wondrous, but the front cover, let alone all the colorful and informative pages within make this a MUST HAVE for all those Disney fans (Princesses or otherwise) out there!

A simply beautiful hardback book from start to glorious finish, it most assurdly appeals to both adults and children for the veritable tome is sprinkled throughout with interesting behind the scenes stories, drawings and merchandise along with an array of photos of celebrities who have portrayed various princesses and the fashion their characters have influenced.

Phew! Indeed, the cultural analysis of the far-reaching impact Disney princesses have had on our society is truly eye opening and this magnificent and wholly encapsulating new hardcover book (the size of which will impress you also, as it is HUGE) is just a really enjoyable read, with great visuals.

Opening with a lovely foreword from Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel, amongst other things, she might well have also been the very first Princess we were all introduced to, within this genre, and her love for the character continues on today.

She details how she “never expected the lasting impact the role would have” on her or had no idea the magnitude that The Little Mermaid would touch viewers back then and how it continues to with new generations.

The book then continues onward with the backstory for how the Disney princesses came to be. As we all know by now, it was the brain of the late, great Walt Disney and thus a lot of time is spent within the book showing how, and importantly why Walt Disney decided to tell the stories of his chosen princesses in his own unique, and now memorable ways.

Indeed, this was a good starting point that set the foundation for what is to come within the book, and so we are taken through his, and the studio’s magnificent history, one step, one princess at a time.

Oh, and please don’t let the cover fool you, for as much as it is subtitled Princess, it is much more than a book about them - it is an all-singing, all-dancing book about Walt Disney’s wonderful creations and all that went into their construction.

Featured Disney Princesses include:
Merida, Brave
Rapunzel, Tangled
Tiana, The Princess and the Frog
Jasmine, Aladdin
Ariel, The Little Mermaid
Aurora, Sleeping Beauty
Snow White

About the Author - Emily Zemler is a writer and journalist based in London. She is a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone, among other prestigious outlets. Emily is the co-author of A Sick Life, with TLC’s Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, and the author of The Art and Making of Aladdin.

Jodi Benson is best known as the voice of Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. She has a long list of stage, film, video game, and television credits, and was named a Disney Legend in 2011.

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God Inspired Life
By: Godfrey Kesari - Circle Books, $19.95

Description: This brand new book, God Inspired Life: Living Differently through the Six Challenges of Life, will help you live the life God intended you to live with clarity and confidence.

Verdict: Many live a self-inspired life. Many others live an others-inspired life. If we live a self-inspired or others-inspired life, we could underdo things.

It is equally possible that we overdo things and get burnt out. A God-inspired life is not only the best way to live, but it is also the only way to live as God intends us to live.

Life is a struggle. We can get confused about our purpose, passion and perception. There is so much distraction in this world. We can get muddled up. Life can become messy. Well, nothing can revitalize our life than a renewed vision - a vision to live for God in Christ.

Taking it from the acorn, so to speak, I think, by now, that God takes up residency in our hearts the moment we believe, but we do not at that moment instantaneously become a fully mature Christian, of course.

It takes time for the fruit that the Spirit brings to ripen and become visible in our lives. And we have to do our part along the way, of that be sure, and yes, some turn away for whatever reason they choose, but more stay on track; to build their belief, both internally and externally.

Here in God Inspired Life: Living Differently through the Six Challenges of Life by author, and Vicar of Holy Innocents Parish Church, Southwater, West Sussex, Godfrey Kesari, it is made clear that God wants us to be people of love and joy and peace. He wants to build endurance into our lives and instill in us compassion for those who need our help.

Furthermore, he wants to breathe into us the qualities of generosity, integrity, humility, and self-discipline. The disciples of Christ are “inspired” people. The word “inspire” literally means to have someone or something breathe into you … breathe hope into you when you have none or very little … breathe creativity into you … breathe thoughts and ideas into you.

Inspiration, then, if it is breathed into you, must come from something outside of yourself. We don’t breathe into ourselves. We don’t “inspire” ourselves. Inspiration comes from without … it has a source. We receive “inspiration” from other people, from books, from the ideas of others, from nature.

Ergo, our ultimate “inspiration” comes from God, who breathed into us the very breath of life itself. “… then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

What God breathed into us was not just air. He didn’t do CPR on a lump of clay and bring it to life. What He breathed into us was the breath of life … the divine spark of life … the indwelling Spirit of God. What He inspired us with … what He breathed into us … was the Holy Spirit itself.

And thus, with the help of this book and subsequently working through those aforementioned, and titular six challenges of life, you yourself should sooner, much rather than later, realign yourself with a quite wondrous God-inspired life. Amen

In short, if you feel you are not living the life you are meant to live, this book is for you, of that you have my solemn promise.

About the Author - Godfrey Kesari is the Vicar of Holy Innocents Parish Church, Southwater, West Sussex and the Interfaith Adviser for the diocese of Chichester. He lives in Horsham, UK.

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The Medicine Wheel
By: Barry Goddard - Moon Books, $25.95

Description: Fire, Earth, Air and Water: the Medicine Wheel shows us what we are made of and how to transform ourselves.

Verdict: The Medicine Wheel shows us how to both live and transform ourselves while remaining in balance with the natural world. Indigenous peoples in the Americas, with whom these Wheels originate, have a profound understanding of what it means to be human that has been largely lost in the modern world.

This book is not just another ‘self-help’ guide, but rather an exploration of an ancient map that shows how human beings and the world work. A Wheel is very simple and experiential – dividing the world into the four basic elements of Fire, Water, Earth and Air – and on that basis it creates a deep and transformative psychology, a subtle and practical philosophy and a ceremonial form through which the community can celebrate the sacredness of life.

Not something I myself was aware of, in truth, The Medicine Wheel, sometimes known as the Sacred Hoop, has been used by generations of various Native American tribes for health and healing. As noted, it embodies the Four Directions, as well as Father Sky, Mother Earth, and Spirit Tree — all of which symbolize dimensions of health and the cycles of life.

Indeed, The Medicine Wheel can take many different forms. It can be an artwork such as artifact or painting, or it can be a physical construction on the land. Hundreds or even thousands of Medicine Wheels have been built on Native lands in North America over the last several centuries.

Movement in the Medicine Wheel and in Native American ceremonies is circular, and typically in a clockwise, or “sun-wise” direction. This helps to align with the forces of Nature, such as gravity and the rising and setting of the Sun.

Thus within this truly fascinating, majorly eye-opening new book from author Barry Goddard, The Medicine Wheel: Maps of Transformation, Wholeness and Balance (a telling that encapsulates both Paganism and Shamanism), we quickly learn that different tribes interpret the Medicine Wheel differently.

Each of the Four Directions (East, South, West, and North) is typically represented by a distinctive color, such as black, red, yellow, and white, which for some stands for the human races. The Directions can also represent:

Stages of life: birth, youth, adult (or elder), death
Seasons of the year: spring, summer, winter, fall
Aspects of life: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical
Elements of nature: fire (or sun), air, water, and earth
Animals: Eagle, Bear, Wolf, Buffalo and many others
Ceremonial plants: tobacco, sweet grass, sage, cedar

So for those of you that have been following along with Goddard’s online blogs for the past good few years, well, none of this will come as a surprise to you, but for the interloper, those that peak over the hedge and wonder what is going on, this book is pure dynamite on the subject; of that you have my word.

For, as I am reliably informed by a dear friend of mine in the UK, Goddard’s works have always been found to be inspiring for their left of center perspective, one that makes you think more than you expected, shall we say. And this book, much like Goddard’s own knowledgeable and highly relevant ideas, do not disappoint in that way either.

About the Author - Barry Goddard is well known for his social media writings on shamanism and astrology, to both of which he brings a fresh and sometimes controversial perspective. He does astrology readings, teaches shamanism and lives and walks on Dartmoor in Devon, UK.

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Pagan Portals - Abnoba: Celtic Goddess of the Wild
By: Ryan McClain - Moon Books, $12.95

Description: Pagan Portals - Abnoba: Celtic Goddess of the Wilds enables you to take an investigative journey to connect with Abnoba, the mysterious woodland goddess of the ancient Gauls.

Verdict: The Gauls were the ancient Celtic people of continental Europe. Deep in the Black Forest, they worshiped Abnoba, the goddess of the wilds. In this book you will learn of the connections that Abnoba has to the forests, rivers, springs and wildlife and explore what we know of the historical record, before looking to similar goddesses.

Explore a year of festivals along with tips for building an altar, a discussion of prayers and meditations and a Gaulish dedication ritual. Uncover what Abnoba can bring to your life and the many ways that she can enrich it.

Whether as an intrepid huntress, a confirmed virgin, a moon-goddess and a protector of pregnant women, Diana [Abnoba] has an allure all her own. At the same time, she is a goddess whose historical importance is out of the ordinary on more than one account.

As noted, The Gauls were highly faithful to her; they identified with her the deities of several important places, such as Abnoba (goddess of the Black Forest ridge where the Danube rises).

And in Celtic polytheism, Abnoba has been interpreted to be a forest and river goddess, and is known from about nine epigraphic inscriptions. One altar at the Roman baths at Badenweiler, Germany, and another at Mühlenbach identify her with Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt.

Abnoba, sometimes spelt Arnoba or Arbona, is obviously very important to the author of the just-released Pagan Portals - Abnoba: Celtic Goddess of the Wild, Ryan McClain, for he goes indepth into her origins, the landscape of which she would have appeared, and then into the whole lore that accompanied her presence.

A valuable resource for Pagans and those who are interested in connecting deeper with this wondrous Gaulish goddess, the book is a rather fascinating insight into not only the historical aspects on the subject matter, but the Celtic deity as a whole, along with modern day Pagan practices.

About the Author - Ryan McClain is a member of the Gaulish Polytheism Community. He is a graduate of Ivy Tech Community College. He is dedicated to the Goddess Abnoba, and is an active environmentalist and homemaker. He lives in Terre Haute, Indiana.

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Pray Then Listen
By: Teresa O’Driscoll - Circle Books, $15.95)

Description: This prayer guide was commissioned by God. “Write a book and show people how to speak to Me,” He told author Teresa O’Driscoll. This is her work of obedience. Do you speak to God from your heart, listen for His reply and do what He asks?

Verdict: By sharing experiences of Christ and Bible-based private prayers, Teresa O’Driscoll shows how you too can have enlightening conversations with God.

Through simple meditations, confide your troubles, listen expectantly for answers and overcome fear and doubt by allowing Christ to guide you through the tests of daily life, boosting self-confidence and resilience.

Pray Then Listen: A Heart-to-Heart with God is the kind of book that if you are a Believer, have been since birth, have it running through your veins, that you will open and read as if it were nourishment.

That said, if you are on the fence, well, you might dip your toe into it, and one would hope that toes becomes warmly inviting for where you are about to travel, but if you are a skeptic, well, sure, this is most likely not the book for you (that said, I urge you to still give it a shot).

As for author Teresa O’Driscoll’s stance here, her offerings of sample prayers along with pertinent, salient scriptures, they showcase a person who has a personal, heartfelt recounting to proffer, along with a plethora of wondrous biblical verses, et al.

Now, of course, we all know that prophets throughout the ages have heard God’s voice and proclaimed his messages with confidence. And we believe our God still speaks to us today. But how do we hear God’s voice is it is not coming through on our own personal frequency, persay?

Our lives are noisy, and our heads are filled with so many voices vying for attention and influence. So how do we receive clear guidance from God for our everyday lives?

This is where O’Driscoll’s book comes to the fore as it may not have you hearing his voice, but the book provides enough basic prayers to help you start a real and genuine conversation with God, that’s for sure.

About the Author - Teresa O’Driscoll, born in Cardiff, capital of Wales, spent a number of years working as a journalist in Athens, capital of Greece. It was there that she was inspired to write her book 9 Days to Heaven, How to make everlasting meaning of your life.

She has now returned to her native city. In lockdown she kept sane by channeling a mishmash of emotions into writing. This proved a good move as she has had a further two books accepted for publication. Her prayer guide, Pray Then Listen, A heart-to-heart with God, will be released by Circle Books on 30th September 22. And her debut novel, Angel at the Paradise Hotel, set on the green and beautiful Greek island of Corfu – where her personal Odyssey began, will be released by Roundfire Books in Spring 23. Watch this space for more details coming soon.

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Resetting Our Future: Provocateurs not ...
By: Maiden R. Manzanal-Frank - Changemakers Books, $19.95

Description: Resetting Our Future: Provocateurs not Philanthropists provides everyday leaders with evergreen principles that can help them avoid mistakes when helping, overcome challenges, and achieve lasting impacts at the global level.

Verdict: You want to make a difference - to use your passions and talents in the developing world and create a meaningful, lasting impact. But you also know that billions of dollars are wasted on faulty and misguided aid and development projects on an annual basis.

While governments, multilateral organizations, and billionaire philanthropists continue to look for the next silver bullet, can you be confident that you can make a difference with who you are, what you have, and what you can imagine for the communities you feel called to work with?

Yes you can, according to Maiden R. Manzanal-Frank, a global impact advisor with roots in the Philippines and more than a decade in international community development experience.

In fact, where larger institutions and philanthropists often fail, you might well succeed by becoming a provocateur instead. Unlike the philanthropists, provocateurs are everyday leaders such as entrepreneurs, teachers, farmers, and engineers. They are ordinary people who make extraordinary personal and professional contributions to making the world a better place.

At this critical moment of history, with a pandemic far from over, we have the rare opportunity for a wondrous reset – to choose a different future. This highly heartfelt, and longingly thoughtful new book provides a platform for pragmatic thought leaders to come together and share their vision for change based on either their deep expertise or their once deeply buried vitriol having gotten to a whole new boiling point.

For communities and nations struggling to cope with the current crisis, let alone the bigger, world one that has been eating away at civilization now for a long, long time, this book provides a burst of hope and energy to help us take the first difficult steps towards a better future.

In short, what Maiden R. Manzanal-Frank has brought forth here today within the pages of Resetting Our Future: Provocateurs not Philanthropists is an inspiring and practical narrative that will leave readers feeling uplifted and empowered to create a future they are eager to embrace.

Ergo, this book distills real-life examples and insights from the experiences of provocateurs in the Global South into practical principles for success that will ensure your impacts will be sustainable and generative.

About the Author - Known as the Global Strategist, Maiden Manzanal-Frank advises governments, businesses, non-profits, and international organizations to achieve their impacts with precision and sustainability. As the Founder and President of GlobalStakes Consulting, she is a global impact advisor, an award-winning diversity champion, consultant, speaker, and mentor to many aspiring social innovators around the world.

She is the Bhichai and Khunying Charoye Rattakul Scholar for Peace and Conflict Resolution at the Rotary Peace Center in Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. She was an award recipient of the Outstanding Diversity Outreach and Communications Award from the Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards.

Her professional and consulting experience spans short of two decades in the area of global humanitarian and aid development, economic development, and cross-cultural management working with municipalities, international organizations, and advisory councils at the national, regional, and international levels. She was born, grew up, and educated in the Philippines and moved to Canada in 2010. She has traveled in 33 countries, and worked in 14 countries in Asia. She had consulting work with the United Nations.

She is a sought-after speaker and has facilitated hundreds of workshops, training, and group processes for various organizations and agencies since 2001. She has trained thousands of business owners, social entrepreneurs, social change makers, and non-profit leaders in many parts of the world.

She is the author and writer of published articles, policy briefs, white papers, and reports on peace and conflict, immigration and settlement, sustainability, strategy, and leadership. She taught at the College of the Holy Spirit of Manila, in the Philippines, guest lectured at the University of the Fraser Valley’s Global Development Institute, and currently lectures at the Red Deer Polytechnic Division for Advanced Education and the Rotary International Studies on Peace, Conflict Transformation, and Development at Chulalongkorn University. She lives in Alberta, Canada.

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Born to Be Weird Demented Fantasy & Bizarro Horror
By: Set Sytes - Microcosm Publishing, $14.95

Description: A public restroom even more horrific than most, with a stained toilet that can swallow a man whole, sending him to a sewage-filled hell!

A riverbank lined with swaying mops given faces and philosophies! A secondary school that seems to waver in and out of reality not only in dreams, but also upon wakeful visitation!

An isolated grotto, home to trolls and the posthumous shadow form of Elvis Presley!

These are all settings of the peculiar, often unnerving events in Set Sytes’ collection of short bizarro fiction. By the author of How Not to Kill Yourself, this second edition of Born to Be Weird features hordes of new terrors and otherworldly adventures to make your stomach turn and skin crawl.

You’re welcome!

Verdict: In what has fast become not only one of those books that I could have kept reading even if it were the size of War & Peace, but also one that I have been loaning out to my friends and neighbors (as something they have to also read), Born to be Weird: A Short Collection of Demented Fantasy & Horror by Set Sytes may well only be a collection of short stories, but there is much more to see behind the curtain, as they say.

Chock full of compelling ideas, in an unto their respected prose, but obviously not wholly capable of becoming book length themselves, in the end, the path taken to a thunderously entertaining read isn’t worried about such things - for they come together as one regardless.

In fact, this shorter format not only helps, but propels each and every tale further, allowing the reader to see the light at the end of the tunnel as they read, and yet not allow them to reach it before having been thoroughly put through the, at times, stomach churning and skin crawling tales!

My own personal favorite tale here is the quite brilliant Keep it Clean, which comes toward the beginning of the tales and is, for my money, the best one spun.

I will not give anything away, but just the opening couple of paragraphs should have you compelled enough to keep reading until the end is revealed. For it is structured upon a very unique concept and provides a rather strong execution of narrative within the story also. Great turn of phrases and excellent pacing, with colorful descriptions continually on point, everything made this, for me, a vividly palpable tale to read.

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Pedal Zombies: Thirteen Feminist Bicycle Tales
By: Elly Blue (Editor) - Microcosm Publishing, $9.95

Description: In the not-so-distant future, when gasoline is no longer available, humans turn to two-wheeled vehicles to transport goods, seek glory, and defend their remaining communities.

In another version of the future, those with the zombie virus are able to escape persecution and feel almost alive again on two wheels.

In yet another scenario, bicycles themselves are reanimated and roam the earth.

A talented array of writers bring their diverse visions to this volume: sometimes scary, sometimes spooky, sometimes hilarious, always on two wheels.

If you love The Walking Dead but can’t figure out why nobody’s riding bicycles, this book is for you. The zombie apocalypse will be pedal-powered! And feminist! Watch out!

Verdict: Edited by Elly Blue and complete with a scary zombie cover by Amelia Greenhall, let alone featuring an exciting and talented collection of new and returning authors, Pedal Zombies: Thirteen Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories is exactly that; a wondrous read, chock full of 13 fully-fleshed out (sorry, but it had to be done) short stories that you never knew you needed in your life before you started reading, and yet now simply cannot get out of your head!

In what is a most wondrous, inventive and infectious read (sorry, but it had to be done, again), from start to finish, Pedal Zombies is chock full of a variety of slanted tales, allowing for imaginative approaches to be encouragingly taken.

With each story a quick read, each page a turner, each prose a delectable slice of enlightened feminist, queer-positive, and progressively adamant standpoints, there is everything to love about this book and, most definitely, nothing to hate.

I mean, if you love zombie films/books and you love cycling over driving, well, come on now, this book was made for you! My personal favorites were the brilliant Riding the Circ (Jim Warrenfeltz), Dead Rock Seven (Cat Caperello), Dreadmonton (Alexandrea Flynn), and Why I Ride by Gretchen Lair.

In closing, the book is just a super fun read, complete with conceptually different stories, written by a group of uber talented writers, that comes complete with a Portland-themed backdrop to base their collective narrative around.

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Sly & The Family Stone: An Oral History
By: Joel Selvin - Permuted Press, $18.00

Description: Sly Stone shook the foundations of soul and turned it into a brand new sound that influenced and liberated musicians as varied as Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, and Herbie Hancock.

His group — consisting of blacks and whites, men and women — symbolized the Woodstock generation and crossed over to dominate pop charts with anthems like “Everyday People,” “Dance to the Music,” and “I Want to Take You Higher.”

Award-winning journalist and bestselling author Joel Selvin weaves an epic American tale from the voices of the people around this funk phenomenon: Sly’s parents, his family members and band members (sometimes one and the same), and rock figures including Grace Slick, Sal Valentino, Bobby Womack, Mickey Hart, Clive Davis, Bobby Freeman, and many more.

In their own words, they candidly share the triumphs and tragedies of one of the most influential musical groups ever formed — “different strokes” from the immensely talented folks who were there when it all happened.

Verdict: Long considered the definitive account of the meteoric career of the pioneer funk-rock band, Sly & the Family Stone: An Oral History by Joel Selvin, the 1998 classic that has been out of print for years, now returns in a new, updated edition from Permuted Press.

Well, given that I am sure by now we all know that Sylvester Stewart aka Sly Stone (before, during and after The Family Stone) had purposely, or be accident, stumbled into a life that would not only provide great stardom highs, but come complete with some disturbing, and sometimes chilling lows, this book (in its original format) was always a massive go-to for all fans, interested parties, and, of course, lookie-loo’s.

So, if you have any interest in Sly Stone - the man - then this new, updated edition is still a must read. Veritably a compilation of thoughts by many of the people who worked for him and with him, alongside a few from some keen observers, so to speak, An Oral History is, simply put, a bloody masterpiece!

Sure it also covers the creation of his music, but for the most part the emphasis of the book is the lean main man, his self-inflicted, dashed ’60s dream, where idealism gave way to disillusionment, soft drugs giving way to hard ones (and, as expected, Sly makes no contribution to the book).

It has long since been agreed upon, by those deep inside the know, that the bad craziness began when he left the Bay Area for Southern California, in 1970. But then, and just as quickly, after a massive bump on their road to fame, as noted in this book, his disappearance from the world of music was suddenly becoming more and more apparent.

Now, as much as I am not going to spell out every word, every sentence, every paragraph and told story within, as discovering all this for yourself, first hand is the only way for this to become as surreal to you now as it was to those back then, but what i will say is that this book perfectly, astutely even, documents, through the words of his inner circle along with others attune to his external life, the collapse of a creative, innovative musical genius; as he surrendered to the dark world of narcotics.

But, it won’t be a chock to you that come the mid-1970s, Stone’s drug use and erratic behavior effectively ended the group, leaving him to record several unsuccessful solo albums. In 1993, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the group and he even took part in a Sly and the Family Stone tribute at the 2006 Grammy Awards, his first live performance since 1987.

Anyway, as I myself seem to now be acting like There’s a Riot Goin’ On by bouncing back and forth here on his timeline, the sense you are left with from the book is that he honestly, truly never acquired an authentic sense of self esteem.

From a hard-working, apparently happy maker-of-music and performer-of-music to an unreliable, physically abusive, withdrawn addict, it was the time, I get it, and he most definitely wasn’t alone in his drug-fueled descent, but wow, the man credited with creating a series of euphoric yet politically charged records that proved a massive influence on artists of all musical and cultural backgrounds, just couldn’t stay focused on what joy he had brought to his fans, the the music scene, or to life all around him.

In closing, what is genuinely missing, in my humble opinion, is Sly’s very own voice, which thusly leaves a gaping hole in the center of the narrative.

OK, and yes, instead of getting more than the barest glimpse inside the studio during the recording process of some of the greatest albums in all of American popular music history, we are given quite a lot of negative prose - including tidbits such as during his downward spiral, into his life came firearms, coke, PCP, goons, paranoia, isolation and a mean-spirited pet pit bull he named Gun - but regardless, Sly & The Family Stone: An Oral History tells it like it is; for it is an unflinching, unabashed tale of one of a man who played a critical role in the development of funk with his pioneering fusion of soul, rock, psychedelia and gospel in the 1960s and 1970s, but also found the Devil and his darkness too hard to resist.

About the Author - Joel Selvin is an American San Francisco–based music critic and author known for his weekly column in the San Francisco Chronicle, which ran from 1972 to 2009. Selvin has written more than 20 books covering various aspects of pop music—including the No. 1 New York Times bestseller Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock with Sammy Hagar — and published articles in Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, Billboard, and Melody Maker.

He has written liner notes for dozens of recorded albums and appeared in countless documentaries. His most recent book is Hollywood Eden: Electric Guitars, Fast Cars and the Myth of the California Paradise.

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Jethro Tull: Lend Me Your Ears (A Fan History)
By: Richard Houghton - This Day In History Books, $36.00)

Overview: Told in the first person, this new book Lend Me Your Ears is an oral history of Jethro Tull, mixing hundreds of fan anecdotes with memories from the band, their collaborators, other musicians and celebrity admirers garnered from over 50 years of recording and performing.

With many images in full color and previously unseen pictures from fans, this is the Jethro Tull story as it’s never been told before!

Verdict: Jethro Tull were, by the mid-seventies, one of the most successful live performing acts on the world stage, rivaling Led Zeppelin, Elton John and even the Rolling Stones. Now with some 30-odd albums to their credit and sales totaling more than 60 million, Jethro Tull continue to travel near and far to fans, old and new, across the world.

Lend Me Your Ears, an official new book with a foreword written by the great Ian Anderson MBE, is as magnificent, as revealing, as intriguing, as colorful, and as glossy as you could ever have wished it to be, trust me!

Having been oh-so kindly sent one from the UK for review here in the US, I have now finished reading it, lovingly viewing all the wondrous photos, reliving pieces of their past whilst at the very same time, learning more about the band than I ever did before!

Jethro Tull, the man, was an English agronomist, agriculturist, writer, and inventor whose ideas helped form the basis of modern British agriculture.

Jethro Tull, the band, were a British rock band who initially played blues rock and jazz fusion, before soon incorporated elements of English folk, hard rock, and classical music, forging a signature progressive rock sound.

No connection between the two, you say? Wrong, I retort, for both the man and the band soon became renowned figures within their respective genres, formed a substantial following, and over the years both became renowned for being at the forefront of their given career choices.

Moving on, and band wise, the group’s bandleader, founder, primary composer and only constant member is the aforementioned Ian Anderson, a multi-instrumentalist (flute, acoustic guitar, vocalist) who has himself watched as a revolving door of musicians have come and gone; inclusive of some rather significant contributors throughout the decades.

From the off, author Richard Houghton attempts to bring everyone on board with the Jethro Tull history, opening with the aforementioned two-page foreword from Ian Anderson and then launching into Anderson’s Holy Family Church Hall 1964 memory, before giving us former booking agent Chris Wright’s memories of first meeting Anderson in 1967, and then comes a gig at London’s infamous Marquee Club later that year.

Told at a leisurely pace, never wanting to speed through the deliciously served facts of the time; the band; the man, those are just the opening three stories and trust me when I say there are hundreds more to be found here, all the way chronologically through to 2022’s The Zealot Gene, which was Anderson’s last solo album.

Contributors to the book include former Tull members Jeffrey Hammond, Dave Pegg, Clive Bunker, Dee Palmer and Doane Perry, celebrity fans Penn Jillette (Penn & Teller), Marc Almond (Soft Cell), Steve Harris (Iron Maiden), Joe Elliott (Def Leppard), Joe Bonamassa, Steve Lukather (Toto), Danny Carey (Tool), Bryan Josh (Mostly Autumn), Graham Bonnett (Rainbow), TV presenter Lloyd Grossman, Tim Bowness, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Seth Lakeman, Jakko Jaksyk (King Crimson), Leo O’Kelly (Tír na nÓg), Franz Di Cioccio (PFM), Reverend George Pitcher, TV snooker commentator John Virgo and novelist Mark Billingham.

Lend Me Your Ears will be published in four editions with a Special Edition box priced at £85.00 – ($105.00) which includes the following bonus items:
A pack of Jethro Tull playing cards
A set of Jethro Tull drink coasters
Set of 4 Polaroid photographs of Jethro Tull
Jethro Tull setlist from a 1976 North American Tour
A high quality copy of hand written lyrics by Ian Anderson
Martin & Co guitar plectrum with Ian Anderson printed signature, as played by Ian
Ian’s personal Tour itinerary from the 90’s with handwritten notes by Ian
432 page full color hardback book

Lend Me Your Ears is now published and in stock as a 384 page full color hardback edition at £39.99 ($47.99) and a softback edition priced at £26.99 ($36.00).

Ian Anderson - Lend Me Your Ears [Official Book Reveal]

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Rock on Film The Movies That Rocked the Big Screen
By: Fred Goodman - Running Press, $28.99

Description: For rock music and film buffs alike, Rock on Film: The Movies That Rocked the Big Screen, from renowned author Fred Goodman, is the ultimate guide exploring the electrifying, entertaining, and often daring marriage of rock & roll and cinema.

Verdict: When the use of Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock” turned 1955’s Blackboard Jungle into a teen sensation and a box-office smash, it proved the opening shot in a cinematic and cultural revolution.

Starting with Elvis Presley and the teensploitation films of the ’50s and ’60s, in Rock on Film award-winning author and former Rolling Stone editor Fred Goodman takes readers on a wide-ranging journey through film and pop history.

Along the way, he measures the transformative impact of the mid-’60s landmarks A Hard Day’s Night and Don’t Look Back and how they seeded an almost unbelievably broad genre of films made by increasingly ambitious musicians and filmmakers across the past seven decades.

From the carefree to the complex, the mindless to the mind-bending, rock films have staked out their own turf by simultaneously celebrating innocence and challenging artistic and social conventions.

With an insightful round-up of fifty must-see rock films spanning crowd-pleasers, art-house favorites, underground gems, and undisputed classics, Rock on Film surveys the nearly seventy-year canon of a genre like no other.

With a genuinely heartfelt, and stoically driven approach taken by Goodman here in Rock on Film: The Movies That Rocked the Big Screen, ok, sure, he cannot be expected to list everyone’s favorites, far from it, and sure, he has left some beloved troopers by the wayside in his progression onward, but my goodness, Goodman sure has encapsulated a massive amount of informational wealth in this quite wondrous new book.

In what is a very entertaining, informative and, at times, light and humorous page-turning book, while maintaining the due respect for it all that it (the discussional topic) deserves, each section of the book is full of history, cross references, and thoroughly exhaustive insight.

I mean, come on now, this book without Goodman’s encyclopedic knowledge of rock and the films that used the noted tracks, is one that wouldn’t come across so damn entertaining. The man clearly loves music, and rock music in particular, and through his well written prose we get some eye-opening facts strewn about also.

And yes, as aforementioned, those left by the wayside include Eddie and the Cruisers, Everyone Stares (Stewart Copeland’s excellent documentary about The Police), oh, and most definitely Head (the Monkees), but it is what it is and there had to be a cut off point in here somewhere.

But included in this dutifully glossy hardback book are such gems as the much-underrated Dave Clark Five opus Having a Wild Weekend (aka Catch Us if You Can), Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Thunder Revue Bob Dylan extravaganza, The Girl Can’t Help It, A Hard Days Night, The Kids Are Alright, The Harder They Come, a pair of Elvis classics in the form of Jailhouse Rock and Viva Las Vegas, the brilliant Quadrophenia, and newer films such as The Runaways, Almost Famous, The Punk Singer, Inside Llewyn Davis, amongst a slew of others!

That all aside, Goodman’s skillfully and engagingly written, thoughtfully curated and handsomely packaged latest work does not pretend to be an unabridged encyclopedia of rock movies (bear in mind that even the R&R Hall of Fame has never been able to convincingly define the genre).

Rather, the author has focused on a meaningful overview of significant films about both the music style, its relatives, and the elements and artists who have masterfully presented it and for that alone the man should be Knighted!

The range of examples is broad, yet never leaving the Reservation, so to speak, and always finds its intended reader target. And if you don’t find your favorite here, or have an internal discussion with yourself about what was wrongly missing, if you can manage to put all that aside, you might actually come away with a refreshed outlook on the subject. One that will have you searching out a new viewing experience.

Inclusive of a most wonderful introduction by Sir Michael Lindsay-Hogg and sharp interviews with respected directors who truly understand the genre add even more welcome value to this very enjoyable offering.

There is also a series of original interviews with Cameron Crowe, Jim Jarmusch, Penelope Spheeris, Taylor Hackford, and John Waters which wholly illuminates how rock has influenced the work of some of the most divergent and thoughtful directors in movie history.

In closing, sumptuously illustrated throughout by more than 150 full-color and black-and-white images, Rock on Film brings the history of music in the movies to vivid life, whilst also educating the reader about a whole slew of things that, perhaps, they never realized going in.

About the Author - Fred Goodman is a former editor at Rolling Stone, whose work has appeared in the New York Times and many other publications. His previous books include the award-winning The Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce and Why Lhasa de Sela Matters. He lives in New York.

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Fred Goodman @ Twitter

TCM Underground: 50 Must-See Films
By: Millie De Chirico, Quatoyiah Murry - Running Press Adult, $22.49

Description: Based on the Turner Classic Movies series, TCM Underground is the movie-lover’s guide to 50 of the most campy, kitschy, shocking, and weirdly wonderful cult films you need to see!

Verdict: On the pages of this book, you’ll explore this unique order of films—primarily from the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s — with insightful reviews, behind-the-scenes stories, subgenre sidebars, and full-color and black-and-white photography throughout.

You’ll go along for the ride with new takes on crime films, including The Honeymoon Killers and The Harder They Come, witness one-of-a-kind horror in Bill Gunn’s landmark vampire film Ganja and Hess and Nobuhiko Obayashi’s infamous and indescribable Hausu.

You will absorb the boundary-pushing documentary-style trilogy The Decline of Western Civilization, which throws you into indelible moments in the punk and metal music scenes and you will marvel at pure ’80s oddities like Mac and Me and The Garbage Pail Kids.

In what is a most incredible, lushly created, magnificently cultivated, and brilliantly engrossing new book, TCM Underground: 50 Must-See Films from the World of Classic Cult and Late-Night Cinema is a must-have for all those out there who think they know what’s TCM cool, and for those that have no idea what TCM cool even means!

Just pulling a few of my own favorites out of the mix here, I’ll open with Across 110th Street (1972) starring powerhaus’ Anthony Quinn and Yaphet Kotto. Although known primarily as a blaxploitation film, it holds many Neo Noir elements, most noticeably being a police procedural.

Plus with Quinn as a slightly crooked cop with a good heart and poor sympathetic criminals stealing from unsympathetic rich criminals and different factions of the mob and/or gangs, this was a rich Noir-laden, under-watched gem through and through.

Another one would be the wildly wacky Eating Raoul (1982) starring Mary Woronov and and Paul Bartel (who also directed and wrote the screenplay). I love that the film was shot on multiple stocks, cadged from a variety of sources. Indeed, much of it was shot on donated short ends, short unused portions of unexposed film.

Some of the longer runs of stock given to the production had been rejected by the donors because of noticeable mold growth on the cans that held it. The team shot the film and then crossed their fingers and delivered it to the developing lab!

Another is Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) starring James Taylor and Dennis Wilson. Just some of the reasons to love this movie include the fact that it is, without a shadow of a doubt, the purest American road movie ever!

Add to that it’s like a drive-in movie directed by a French new wave director and because the only thing that can get between a boy and his car obsession is a girl, and Laurie Bird perfectly messes up the oneness between the Driver, the Mechanic, and their car!

Oh, and add to those it’s because Dennis Wilson gives the greatest performance ever . . . by a drummer and also because James Taylor seems like a refugee from a Robert Bresson movie, and has the chiseled looks of Artaud from Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc, and you start to get my drift!

My last choice will be the brilliantly colorful Thank God It’s Friday (1972) starring, amongst others, Valeri Landsburg, Terri Nunn, Donna Summer and a whole host of other crazy-beautiful musicians! Aside from the movie having been made for about $2 million, and reportedly tripling its production investment, the now-infamous ice cavern-themed room The Cave seen at the Zoo disco in the movie was an actual room that existed at Osko’s Los Angeles nightclub!

Oh, and the movie was released about six months after Saturday Night Fever (1977) and thus has been considered as being a studio programmer cashing in on the success of that movie as the film’s title featured the other big day of the weekend (Friday rather than Saturday) in which people go out at night.

But heck, the landmark song Last Dance from Donna Summer went on to win the Golden Globe Award in 1979 for Best Original Song from a Motion Picture, so who’s laughing now!

In conclusion, from Possession to Polyester and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls to Xanadu, no two films are alike in this compendium. Just sit back and prepare to be surprised, amused, and entertained by this celebration of the stars, filmmakers, and stories behind fifty of the most beguiling and unforgettable movies ever to hit the screen.

Inclusive of a most wonderful foreword by comedian Patton Oswalt, who instructs the reader not to read the book from the beginning, but moreover flip it around, stop where it grabs you, and let it lead you backward and forward and sideways, TCM Underground: 50 Must-See Films from the World of Classic Cult and Late-Night Cinema is a most wonderful gift for the person in your life that has all these movies, talks about all these movies, and yet you still think they should hunker down with this book to garner more knowledge for their insufferable/adorable verbal recollections!

About the Authors - Millie De Chirico is the chief programmer for TCM Underground, and hosts its companion YouTube series, TCM Slumberground. She is also one-half of the film podcast I Saw What You Did which spotlights unexpected, thematic double features. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Quatoyiah Murry is a film critic and writer who has worked with TCM and FilmStruck, as well as written under the moniker The Cinephiliac, with contributions to Time, Pretty Clever Films, and Movie Boozer. Her work often focuses on diversity, representation, and historical context in film. Born and raised in Georgia, she now resides in Paris, France.

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