“From Grief to Acceptance: An Active Process for Healing While Honoring Our Loved Ones” by Misty Proffitt-Thompson.

Awaken Village Press. $16.99, $6.99 Kindle.

Misty Proffitt-Thompson’s only sister disappeared in the Arizona desert 26 years ago, and her body went undiscovered for nearly two months. Devastated by her loss, the author spent two decades unsuccessfully trying to work through her grief and anger before realizing she lacked the proper tools. The standard Kübler-Ross model for grieving (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) was no help to her, and in fact, left her feeling fearful and inadequate. It was not until she realized that everyone’s experience of grief is unique and that actively making self-affirming, individual choices while honoring the transition of the lost loved one is the key to peaceful acceptance. With compassion and sensitivity born of personal experience, Proffitt-Thompson offers a nontraditional perspective on death, discusses spiritual gifts and identifies the “encouraging phases of grief,” with lessons for healing. The author, who has lived most of her life in Arizona, is a spiritual life coach and a mind/body/spirit practitioner.

— Helene Woodhams

“Range Roaming: A Birdwatcher’s 65-Plus Year Love Affair with the Chiricahua Mountains” by Betty Jones.

Independently published. $22.00.

It would be hard to find a hiking buddy more wilderness-savvy or enthusiastic than Betty Jones. By the time she passed away in 2017, Jones had spent over 65 years exploring the Chiracahua Mountains; Range Roaming is her lively account of those years. Part backcountry guide and part memoir, Range Roaming contains a wealth of knowledge including historical and cultural landmarks, favorite trails, and tips for identifying birds and wildflowers. However, the real delight of this book is the personal story at its heart. In the 1970s, when she realized that outdoor adventuring was more than a weekend avocation, Jones left her TUSD teaching job to live, full time, off the land. A Euell Gibbons fan, she became skilled at foraging for Southwest outdoor delicacies. Her interest in bird-watching grew into expertise, and her enviable “life list” includes many of the 370 birds populating southeast Arizona’s sky islands. In her 70s she could still be found hiking trails she initially trod 40 years earlier. Sadly, Jones did not live to see her manuscript published; her brother, Tucsonan Rob Jones and his wife, Doris, saw it through publication, a fitting homage to an Arizona outdoorswoman.

— Helene Woodhams

“Santa Cruz Chili & Spice Co. Recipes & History” by Jean England Neubauer.

Independently published; distributed through Rio Nuevo Publishers. $19.95.

Jean England Neubauer’s family has influenced Southwestern cuisine with their Santa Cruz Chili & Spice Co. seasonings for 75 years, and no Arizona kitchen worth its salt would be without a supply of their chili powder. As chef Janos Wilder notes in the foreword to this new cookbook, “I don’t think you can create the flavors of the region without it.” Neubauer shows her company’s products off to good advantage in these easy-to-follow, beautifully photographed family recipes. But this book isn’t just about the food — her family’s impact extends beyond the dining table and deep into local history. Neubauer guides readers through her family tree in a narrative rich with clan lore, from the three-times-great-grandfather who made his fortune designing the saddle used by Union soldiers in the Civil War, to the great-aunt who studied painting with a young Diego Rivera, to the great-grandfather who, while mayor of Nogales, lobbied to have a new US battleship named for the state of Arizona. Home-grown anecdotes and period photographs abound, adding flavor to this delectable volume. The Santa Cruz Chili & Spice Co. is in Tumacacori; Neubauer is its owner.

— Helene Woodhams

“Saving Red: The True Story of a Rescued Horse Turned Rescuer” by Susan L. Newman.

Independently published. $16.00, $3.99 Kindle.

Susan Newman wasn’t looking for a horse to rescue, much less one traumatized by a lifetime of rough handling. But when she encountered Red, neglected and all but abandoned on an isolated, decrepit ranch in rural Arizona, his profound need for caring companionship proved irresistible. The Tucson stable owner brushed aside the myriad arguments against taking on the aging, damaged horse, brought him into her sphere of involved friends and horse whisperers, and set to work on the huge challenge of easing his pain and gaining his trust. Lives were changed in the process, and important lessons learned about patience, humanity, and deep listening — and, to Newman’s surprise, Red was more often the teacher rather than the student. It took Newman 20 years to write this book, part memoir and part fictionalized imagining of Red’s life prior to their meeting. The result is a very readable snapshot of life in a community of stable owners along the Rillito before the winds of development swept through, as well as a tribute to a memorable equine. Newman lives in Pomerene, Arizona.

— Helene Woodhams

“Four Finger Singer and his Late Wife, Kate: A Novel of Life, Death and Baseball” by Arthur D. Hittner.

Apple Ridge Press. $16.95 softcover; $6.99 e-book.

In his acknowledgments to this novel, Arthur D. Hittner writes that publishing professionals counseled against his writing a baseball novel. It’s “passé,” they claimed, and “men don’t read, and women don’t love baseball.” Forget that. Hittner’s hit it out of the park with this droll, smart baseball romance.

The book opens at the funeral of Kate, a young wife killed by a truck. We first hear the narrative voice of Jake, her widower, so angry with her that he asked Benny from the bar (internet ordained by the “venereal Universal Life Church”) to officiate. The next voice is Kate’s, dead and looking on. First, she berates her husband for putting on such a shabby service, but then she says, “Honey, I can’t really blame you.”

Jake, a once-promising baseball pitcher, Stanford and Harvard Law-graduate, had fallen for sexy, junior college dropout Kate. Though clearly ill-suited, they married, Jake became a partner in a law firm, and — at Kate’s persistent insistence — they tried unsuccessfully to make a baby. Along with some disastrous choices on Kate’s part, that insistence sealed their doom, and when Kate met her messy, untimely demise, she was moving on. Now, posthumously guilt-ridden, she can’t move on. It’s only when Jake is persuaded to pick up a baseball and try throwing again (without a fifth finger — “second-date story”), that Kate finds meaning in death: she has newly realized gifts that can aid her beloved husband.

Frothily darkly comic, “Four-Finger Singer and His Late Wife, Kate” is a perfect end-of-summerread.

— Christine Wald-Hopkins

“Inspirational Stories of the Visually Challenged and Resources” by Margaret Phalor Barnhart

Self-published. $14.95 paperback. Available in large print, e-book, and audio.

Married for 24 years to a blind masseur to whom this book is dedicated, and an advocate for the blind, Margaret Phalor Barnhart here presents a book of life stories, simple medical explanations, and practical resources for the vision-impaired. The first part of her book offers essays by or about 11 Tucsonans living with blindness. They tell stories varying from accepting the use of the white cane, through hitchhiking blind across the country, to graduating from Harvard Law and working for the U.S. government, and they all demonstrate persistence and gutsiness. The second part of the book describes common causes of blindness, and their treatments and prevention. The third section gives specific resources — tips for airline selection, technological support devices (Alexa’s a boon), contact information for local and national advocacy and support organizations, descriptions of educational opportunities, and services (including Arizona’s blessed Sun Sounds) that provide audio access to current written material.

— Christine Wald-Hopkins

“The Loch Ness Papers” by Paige Shelton

Minotaur Books. $26.99.

So, what’s a nice farm girl from Kansas doing nosing around a murder investigation in Edinburgh, Scotland? Trying to save an old man who believes his father ran off with the Loch Ness Monster, natch. The latest in Paige Shelton’s Scottish Bookshop series, “The Loch Ness Papers” has book-and-antiquities specialist Delaney Nichols juggling three balls: she’s having a wedding in a week’s time, she’s introducing her Kansas family to Scotland, and she’s trying to prove innocent an old man whose nephew was murdered with a knife from his kitchen.

At the pace and in the character of work in a genteel rare-books shop, Shelton here explores Scottish sights and atmosphere, delves into Loch Ness Monster lore, and offers gentle mystery and romance.

— Christine Wald-Hopkins

“Piñata Moon” by Torran Anderson

Self-published. $11.99 paperback.

“It’s just a phase they say of me,” tweets @themoonforreal, winking. “But, it’s true. Don’t give up.”

In this original, thoughtful YA novel in verse, by Tucsonan Torran Anderson, a tweeting moon is the most consistent comfort for a despairing high school senior. Enzo’s life-long friend J. has recently committed suicide, and he and buddies Matas and Sci-fi are driving around town, in time-honored Tucson fashion. Matas and Sci-fi are looking for parties; Enzo is looking to make sense of J.’s death. The action takes place in one night. From sunset on Gates Pass, through midtown, to Sabino Canyon in the east, and finally to early morning high in the northern Foothills, the boys cruise, party, hike, and kibitz. Enzo, however, feels apart. His mind and imagination manifest in individual strands: poems contemplate life and death; the moon tweets; a visceral yearning imagines a violent tribal rite of passage into adulthood; and a tempering, calming ongoing list of “tiny moments” argues to make life worthwhile. (Think “mom’s mac and cheese”; the Rillito River with running water). It’s not only young adults who can be touched by this affecting book.

— Christine Wald-Hopkins

Former educator and occasional essayist Christine Wald-Hopkins has long been a book critic for national, regional and local newspapers. Helene Woodhams recently retired from Pima County Public Library, where she was literary arts librarian and coordinator of Southwest Books of the Year, the library’s annual literature review.