By Richard Grant (Free Press, $15)
This captivating account of an adventurous decision to explore one of the elusive African rivers, the Malagarasi in the East African country of Tanzania, also provides a look at a slice of modern Africa.
Grant, a veteran British travel writer based in Tucson, followed a portion of the Malagarasi to Lake Tanganyika. He endured innumerable setbacks and hardships including broken promises, misinformation, illness, bad food and unreliable equipment, but emerged triumphant.
Woven into his own story are accounts of previous efforts made by 19th- and 20th-century explorers. But there is more to come, as Grant finishes his book with his homeward journey through Burundi and Rwanda. His picture of Rwanda today and his interview with the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, are sobering.
"Tarnished Ivory: Reflections on Peace Corps and Beyond"
By Peter Bourque (Xlibris, $29.99 cloth; $19.99 paperback)
In 1973, graduating from the University of Michigan with a liberal arts degree, Bourque signed up for the Peace Corps and was sent to Ivory Coast on the West coast of Africa. He spent two years primarily promoting a nutritional program that involved school gardens. In this honest, thoughtful memoir he recounts his successes and failures.
By J.M. Hayes (Poisoned Pen Press, $24.95)
After a stunning beginning, the sixth "Mad Dog and Englishman Mysteries" title settles into a contemporary plot that involves drug-running tactics and Arizona politics. The English family is making a gradual transition from Kansas to Southern Arizona. Daughter Heather is a member of the Sewa (read Tohono O'odham) Tribal Police, and brother Mad Dog has moved into a double-wide at Three Points. Only the Englishman, Benteen County's sheriff, is sticking it out in Kansas.
"Zen Mind, Zen Horse: The Science and Spirituality of Working With Horses"
By Allan J. Hamilton, M.D. (Storey Publishing, $24.95)
The horse as Zen master is the theme of this handsome, comprehensive book about working with horses. Hamilton, described as a Harvard-trained brain surgeon who has become a horse trainer, conducts clinics all over the United States and Europe. His esteem for horses is so great, you almost get the impression that the relationship between a man and his horse is as good as it gets. Hamilton has a small ranch near Vail, and this is a great gift selection for a horse lover.
"Make Every Shot Count: How Basketball Taught a Point Guard to Be a Surgeon"
By Bruce Rosenfeld, M.D. (Wheatmark, $11.95 paper, $9.99 Kindle)
Rosenfeld, a urologist, writes of a pleasant childhood in New Jersey, one dominated by sports - basketball in particular. In this quiet autobiography, he grows up, goes to college and becomes a doctor - never forgetting the lessons of playing the game.
"Blackbird Shouts Ring 'Round About"
By Fred Adams (RoseDog Books, $16)
Private Eye Cris Collins starts out simply enough with a missing persons case. A quiet teenager has disappeared, much to the concern of his mother and sister. But the missing-kid search quickly escalates into an international drug-dealing situation, and Collins, always a sucker for a pretty girl, gets in almost over his head.
By Darrell James (Midnight Ink, $14.95)
Veteran short-story writer James combines the debut of Tucson-based private eye Del Shannon with the investigation of a religious cult in Kentucky. The Nazareth Church - the cult in question - is led by the charismatic Simon Rule. Rule uses religion to extort money and sex from followers or prospective initiates. Shannon, looking for her long-lost mother who is rumored to have had ties with Nazareth Church, has a personal as well as a professional interest in the investigation.
By Kate Mathis (PowWow Publishing, $24.95, hardcover; $14.95, paperback; $6.50, Kindle and Nook)
Agent Melanie Ward is a busy girl. Working for an unnamed organization based in Washington, D.C., in a location identified as the "Manor," she travels the world on assignment. Her cohorts include assassins, spies, terrorists, powerful enemies and passionate lovers (sometimes not easy to sort out). This is the second Melanie Ward novel - the first was "Living Lies," and it is clear at the end of "Second Chance" that another is on the way.
"Take Care of the Difficult Today and Leave the Impossible For Tomorrow"
By Mary E. Barreras (Tate Publishing & Enterprises, $9.99)
The Rev. Barreras and her husband, Dennis, are pastors of the Santa Cruz Harvest Center, "a multicultural church" they founded. Her guidance for solving or enduring life's problems relies heavily on the Bible, primarily the Old Testament.
"Who Knew? Humorous Enjoyable Stories"
By Rita Irwin-Davidson (Self-published, $10)
Cancer survivor Irwin-Davidson has put together some short, sweet essays about family life. A portion of the proceeds for this book will go to the National Exchange Club's Foundation for the Prevention of Child Abuse.
If you are an author and live in Southern Arizona and would like your book to be included in this column, send a copy to: J.C. Martin, P.O. Box 65388, Tucson, AZ 85728-5388. Include the price and give the name of someone who can be reached in case additional information is needed. After the titles appear in this column, they go to the Pima Community College West Campus library. Most of the books are available locally at Mostly Books or Antigone's. You can read past editions of Southern Arizona Authors at www.southernarizonaauthors.org