A Guide to the Geology of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona: The Geology and Life Zones of a Madrean Sky Island

John V. Bezy. (Arizona Geological Survey. $24.50)

Most people look at the Santa Catalina Mountains and see… well, they just see mountains. John Bezy looks at this expanse of Sonoran Desert high country and sees its unique geologic personality, as individual as a fingerprint. The story of the Santa Catalinas begins about 1.65 billion years ago, and this is where Bezy dives in, identifying the geologic time periods and providing the inside story of these hallmark land formations (the really inside story, right down to molten rock, magma, and Pinal Schist). The next three chapters examine the geology of individual regions within the range—their composition, the effects of wind and flooding, even the source of their rich coloration. The concluding chapter focuses on the range’s nine life zones, from Sonoran Desert Scrub on the desert floor to the Subalpine Forest at Mount Lemmon’s 9,157 foot summit. You don’t have to be a geologist to benefit from this interesting book; it is clearly written and lavishly illustrated, and will be helpful to rockhounds of a casual nature. This is #22 in the “Down to Earth” series, and was published in cooperation with the Arizona Geological Survey. Bezy, who has authored several volumes in this series, lives in Saddlebrook.

— Helene Woodhams

And I Was There: A Novel Based on the Life of a Ukrainian Immigrant

By Martha Elliott (Virtualbookworm Publishing Inc. $19.95 pbk; $8.99 Kindle)

A peasant boy raised on the magical fairy tales of his Ukrainian grandparents was one of thousands of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island at the turn of the 20th century. Stepan Bemko was 16 when he left Galicia in search of opportunity, and he ultimately raised a large and prosperous family on Long Island. Author Martha Elliott, an able family historian, is one of his many grandchildren. With this novel cum biography, she imagines the life of her beloved grandfather from his earliest days in Eastern Europe, through his lonely journey to the new world, to his fulfilling life at the heart of a community that valued him. Elliott provides plenty of context — historical, cultural, and political—and effectively demonstrates how Bemko family members were impacted by the times in which they lived. Readers curious about Ukrainian culture and the Eastern European immigrant experience will find much to interest them in this book. Elliott lives in Tucson.

— Helene Woodhams

Shopping with the Virgin Mary

By Kermie Wohlenhaus. (Ghost River Images. $14.95)

Thrift store bargains? Check. Tile and carpeting at a great price? No problem. Hard-to-find leather shoes? Easy—and at a discount, no less! Wohlenhaus writes that her relationship with the Virgin Mary began many years ago when she was in the market for new footwear. The Virgin made herself known to the author through “soft, quiet leading.” The perfect shoes were secured and they’ve been boon shopping buddies ever since. Wohlenhaus, a Tucson-base author, angelologist and clairvoyant, has made it her mission and her joy to develop a deep understanding of the Virgin. She offers this volume of vignettes as a way of sharing the knowledge she has gleaned in her spiritual exploration and the myriad ways she finds she has been touched and supported by the Mother of God, from sacred shrines to online rosaries, and from the mundane to the miraculous.

— Helene Woodhams

“Agile PR: Expert Messaging in a Hyper-Connected, Always-on World”

by Marian Salzman and the Team at Havas PR (AMACOM Books, $29.95)

“Agile,” writes Marian Salzman in this manual on the public relations business, is “ 1. quick and well-coordinated ...; 2. active; lively ...; 3. marked by an ability to think quickly….”

Salzman, the CEO of Havas PR North America, applies the term and walks the “agile” walk in this how-to on navigating the fast-paced, always-connected PR world. With a lively voice, clarifying with bullet points, boxes, and examples, she dispenses such advice as how to craft the news, pitch to the media, brand clients, spot trends, manage social media, and control crises (one piece of advice: when your client does a naughty, get him to respond like Hugh Grant—with an immediate, convincing public mea culpa—not like Lance Armstrong.)

“Agile PR” is readable by even non-PR types—if for no other reason than to see how we’re all being played.

— Christine Wald-Hopkins

Frontline Fugitives, Book I, ‘The Khaki Cops’; Book II, ‘Cops in a Combat Zone’”

By Nick Jacobellis (Nick Jacobellis, $13.99; $12.99)

Nick Jacobellis devoted a lot of background time to this two-book series on civilian and military cops during World War II. As he writes in the author’s notes, the former New York City police officer and retired U.S. Customs Service undercover agent researched not only World War II, but also World War I, the 1916 Expedition into Mexico, the history of the New York City Police Department. He also explored a slew of practical activities: how to shoot vintage guns, how to drive vintage jeeps, how to fly a glider. (He had personal experience on to how to crash-land a large military plane).

Against the background of New York City, and U.S. Army culture and the war in Europe, the action in “Frontline Fugitives,” involves tracking down two low-lifes who kill a New York police officer and hide out by joining the army under aliases. They end up in contested Belgium, with a NYC cop and Army CID agent on their heels.

As Book II closes with more crime-fighting opportunities for the cop and the agent abroad, you know Book III’s in the hopper.

— Christine Wald-Hopkins

“Why the Undocumented Belong to America: The Experience of Rosa Robles Loreto and 11 Million Others”

by Denise Holley (Denise Holley, $10)

Tucson-area journalist Denise Holley bookends this discussion of the role of the undocumented in the U.S. with the story of Tucsonan Rosa Robles Loreto (remember the “I Stand with Rosa” signs around Tucson?). Arrested after a minor traffic infraction and detained for overstaying a visa, Robles Loreto chose to take sanctuary in Southside Presbyterian Church rather than be split from her husband and young sons and deported to Mexico. As a result, she endured another kind of family split: 15 months living alone in a church activities room.

In “Why the Undocumented Belong in America,” Holley argues that immigration is central to American history, that the undocumented constitute an essential component of the US economy, that detaining and deporting 11 million people is both unfeasible and unconscionable. She provides historical context, cites statistics, quotes local border activists, and presents other migrant stories to demonstrate the sacrifices immigrants make to follow their American dream. An activist herself (a member of Southside Presbyterian and a volunteer with migrant aid organization No More Deaths), Holley nonetheless presents a clear, dispassionate case for legitimizing America’s undocumented.

—Christine Wald-Hopkins

Kissing Lucy Thai

By Bruce E. Weber (Stanfield Books, $11.99)

A dozen straight-forward stories containing emotionally-distant wives, old dogs, ornery horses, Chinese thugs and rusty cannons, murder by curry, missing diamonds and the infamous Lucy Thai. In one of the stronger entries, “Fly Away,” an elderly Apache women recounts a devastating battle that wiped out her entire village and left her to learn the white man ways. This is Weber’s sixth book.

— Vicki Ann Duraine

Paint ‘n Spurs: The Men Who Founded the Cowboy Artists of America

by Barbara Marriott Fireship Press ($19.95)

It’s an iconic photo in the Western art world – five laughing cowboys sitting in a cozy bar, beer bottles and glasses littering the table. A common sight in mid-60s Sedona, but these hands weren’t just range riders – they captured the life on canvas and bronze and, on that day and in that bar, founded the prestigious Cowboy Artists of America (CAA) between rounds. In sections beginning with their early years, Marriott recounts their diverse backgrounds and shared passion for realistic Western art. Included are photos, sketches and personal antidotes, and a list of current members who continue to portray treasures of the trail. Marriott writes historical fantasies and nonfiction.

—Vicki Ann Duraine

What the Dead Leave Behind

By Rosemary Simpson (Kensington Books $25)

Simpson aptly captures the “Great Blizzard” and 1888 New York City in this lushly-written Victorian whodunit pitting Prudence McKenzie, a young heiress mourning the death of her father, against his widow – a much younger second wife and trustee of his sizable estate. Shortly after her father’s death, Prudence’s fiancé dies while struggling through the blizzard and she enlists the aid of his confidant and former Pinkerton agent handsome Geoffrey Hunter, to prove that neither man died from “natural causes.”

Bursting with historical detail and flavor, this engaging escape is the first of the Gilded Age Mystery Series.

— Vicki Ann Duraine

If you are a Southern Arizona author and would like your book to be considered for this column, send a copy to: Jennifer Bond, 4850 S. Park Ave., Tucson, AZ 85714. Give the price and a contact name. Books must have been published within a year. Most books are available locally at Mostly Books or Antigone Books. There is a backlog of submissions, so we ask that an author submit no more than one book per calendar year.