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Review of Killer of Crying Deer
97809811949550 $15.00 http://www.kitsunebooks.com
Reader beware: William Orem's Killer of Crying Deer is not a beach read. It is a serious novel, maybe even an important one, in the tradition of Moby Dick, Heart of Darkness, and The Red Badge of Courage.
The novel begins with a blindfolded twelve-year-old boy, who is onboard the pirate vessel, Arrogante. Almost immediately the novel flashes back to Henry's kidnapping, to his being splattered with blood as Captain Whitepaul shoots Henry's uncle in the head. Then there is a further flashback to Henry's departure from his home in England, his separation from his family and everything familiar.
In fact, the novel plunges back and forth in time and shifts points of view so frequently the plot sometimes feels disjointed. Poetic lines like these-"He said it in the sound of shifting pelts" and "said it in the sound of cranes, stretching their necks out like dancers in a line"-should convince readers to trust in the author's competence to eventually weave the fragmented story threads into a cohesive whole. The patient reader will be amply rewarded.
Killer of Crying Deer is allegorical, exploring man's true nature through Henry's struggle to find a proper place for the dark voice inside him. The pirates who kidnap him, Black P'ter (shortened from Peter) and Whitepaul, are disciples who illustrate a philosophy of greed and violence. Take what you want. Show no mercy to those who disagree. Win through intimidation. Whitepaul looks on Henry a son. As Henry lives with the pirates, he begins "to feel less, as if his soul too had been worn down and coarsened. Something less touchable inside him began to grow." He becomes desensitized to the violence he witnesses. The pirates replace his given name with "Roojman," because the skin on his palms peels away from working the ship's lines without gloves. The pirates have torn away even his identity. Very late in the novel we learn the same thing happened to P'ter, who used to be Kofi before Whitepaul took him aboard the Arrogante. P'ter chose the ship and violence over a young woman who loved him.
During a storm, Henry falls overboard and washes up on an island, one of the Florida Keys, inhabited by The People. On the island he meets Juan Daylaylo, a former friar, who has come to reject organized religion in favor of listening to the creator's voice in nature. In case the reader has missed the significance of name of this disciple, near the end of the novel, Henry refers to him once as "John." Daylaylo starts as a missionary and evolves into believing the church is violent, a belief illustrated through the character of Albenix, the commander of a slave ship who sees himself as a devout Christian missionary. We meet Albenix as he is serviced in carnal fashion by a cabin boy.
Henry's right arm is injured in the storm and he has lost the use of it. As Henry lives with Daylaylo and the indigenous people, he learns to listen to the voices in the sea. Henry is attracted to a young girl, Speaking Owl, who shows him the beauty of insects and plants on the island. Henry's dead arm comes back to life when he reaches for this woman, representing connection to his feminine side. The spiritual leader on the island, the Caffekey, is considered both male and female, and this idea is reinforced as Henry believes he and Speaking Owl are "separate trees whose roots drank one source" and "she was person, she was not other than he was, not separate from him." The People now give Henry the name "Starfish" because like the sea creature, he has brought a dead limb back to life. The new arm "spoke and sang like the laughing children." Daylaylo tells Henry what he does with his new hand is his "own decision," that he can "create" himself again and "make [himself] right."
The People are not romanticized as peaceful. One warrior, Tied Sticks, leads numerous raids on neighboring tribes and returns with innocent blood on his hands and decay in his soul. The girl Speaking Owl is not afraid of him and eventually this makes him acceptable to the tribe again. But Tied Sticks is unable to defeat his violent impulses and kills the miniature deer, who are part of native legend. As native children play a game, they chant "He kills the deer, they weep."
Spoiler alert: reading on may reveal more about the ending than you want to know. Yet the novel's beauty can only be felt by examining every last thread. The tribe invites Henry to go on a hunt for the black panther. They row for several days to reach the Everglades. On the voyage into the Wastes (the Glades), the men become "un-man, un-self." When they return, they "become man." Though they seek the panther, what they find is Captain Whitepaul and a band of his men washed up on the beach. They return home and Henry convinces many warriors to accompany him and kill the pirates. Daylaylo renounces Henry as a "coward who is not able to defeat his own hate."
In battle Henry's warriors kill several pirates and then move on to a larger gathering of Whitepaul and his men. At the last moment, Henry has an epiphany and sees "It was the story of the Christ. They were all the same story told all over the world. The story of sacred martyrs, those who sacrifice themselves in order to save men from their own blood-loving gods." For the second time in the novel, Henry warns Whitepaul-his enemy, the man he hates-of an attack. He saves the captain's life, but this time, as before, Henry is really doing it to save himself. Sadly, all the native warriors are killed.
In the final chapters, the various plot threads come together. Commandante Albenix attacks The People in the absence of their warriors. As is his custom, Albenix murders all those who are not of his faith, first requiring them to take the sacrament. He trusses Daylaylo to a cross, trying to force a confession from the former priest. Daylaylo, the Christ figure, stands firm in his beliefs.
Whitepaul, Henry, and the pirates commandeer the slave ship while Albenix is on shore. They then attack and kill the slavers. Henry arrives in the village just in time to save Speaking Owl and tells her to hide in the woods. Henry refuses to kill anyone, including Albenix, who escapes and finds Speaking Owl in the woods. As Albenix tries to kill Henry, the young man refuses to draw on his inner violence to save himself. Yet knowing what this slaver will do to Speaking Owl finally motivates him to unleash the evil within, the violence he learned from Whitepaul.
Henry buries Daylaylo and Whitepaul side by side with the words "free men" and "father" on their markers. They are both his fathers, one who taught him to seek his own better nature, the other who showed him the savagery sometimes needed to survive and protect the family. With Speaking Owl's love, Henry once again purges his soul of the evil he has seen and participated in. The novel's final image is of the pair listening to and sharing the joy of the dolphins, who live free in the ocean.
Killer of Crying Deer is so rich in symbol and masterful in language, it can perhaps can be forgiven for falling a little short as a page-turner.
Orem's stories and poems have been published in over 100 literary journals, including inThe Princeton Arts Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Sou'wester and The New Formalist. His first story collection, Zombi, You My Love, won the GLCA New Writers Award, previously given to Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, Richard Ford and Alice Munro. His second collection, Across the River, won the Clay Reynolds Novella Prize. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in both poetry and fiction. The author is currently a writer-in-residence at Emerson College.
Emanuel Carpenter, Reviewer
How does a straight-A student with a chance for a scholarship bomb the SAT? What makes an NBA most-valuable player miss crucial free throws in The Playoffs? Or how does an otherwise capable sales professional completely blow the biggest presentation of her life? In a nutshell, they choke. In first-time author Sian Beilock's new book "Choke," the Ph.D. and college professor sets out to define why people choke under pressure and how they can overcome choking once and for all.
So why do people choke? The author explains, "One of the main reasons people choke under pressure is they are not using their working memory in the right way. They are either paying too much attention to what they are doing or not devoting enough brain power to the task at hand." In other words, chokers overthink the intricate details [paralysis by analysis] or their minds are simply not on the anticipated end results. Of course, there are also physical reasons people choke, such as fatigue and glucose depletion.
Are there solutions to choking in the author's opinion? Sure. Among them are meditation, positive thinking, practicing under pressure, and writing about fears beforehand. On writing, Beilock says, "When a person repeatedly confronts, describes, and relives thoughts and feelings about his or her negative experiences, the very act of disclosure lessens those thoughts."
"Choke" is a brilliant piece of work. The advice given can be applied in many aspects of a person's life, including the classroom, the workplace, in sports, in performing arts, and even during sexual performance.
However, the book at times reads like a very technical doctoral thesis with its usage of terms such as prefrontal cortex, voxel, and hippocampus. A person without at least a couple of college psychology classes under his belt might get completely put off. But if one truly wants to learn the nature of choking and how to overcome it in all aspects of life, he should pick up a thesaurus (and maybe a medical dictionary) and read this engaging and intelligent book from cover to cover.
The Islamic Tsunami: Israel and America in the Age of Obama
Shiloh Israel Press
Fern Sidman, Reviewer
Issuing an impassioned clarion call to the Western world on the litany of existential dangers that radical Islam represents to America's cherished democratic principles, author David Rubin's meticulously researched monograph reveals that Islam is in actuality a political ideology predicated on a pernicious dogma, rather than the "religion of peace" that its proponents purport it to be.
"The Islamic Tsunami: Israel and America in the Age of Obama" (Shiloh Israel Press) is an exceptionally well documented treatise on the gamut of commonalities that are endemic to both Israel and America in terms of religion, politics and culture. Rubin calls on all free peoples, especially Americans, to take serious heed of the escalating dangers that Islam represents in terms of the perpetuation of bellicose actions bent on mass murder or the more insidious and subtle kind of aggression that is manifested by the potential silent incursion of Sharia law into American jurisprudence. He exhorts both Jews and Christians alike to carefully examine the Judeo-Christian value system that has bound them together for centuries and strongly suggests that they create concrete alliances in order to thwart the nefarious agenda of radical Islam; thus preserving "Western civilization" as we know it.
Rubin speaks with authority as he explains the Islamic concepts of dhimmitude (slave status for all "non-believers"), how the Koran metes out punitive measures against infidels, and outlines the ultimate goal of Islamic global dominance in the form of a Caliphate. Rubin is neither an alarmist nor he is suffering from paranoia and to his credit he does not posit himself as an abstract theoretician or a think-tank denizen. Having studied the Koran, the Bible, as well as plumbing the depths of resources on American history as it pertains to the views of the founding fathers and more recent events, Rubin's book is replete with a plethora of highly enlightening quotes from these sources that help to state his case.
As a Brooklyn born American Orthodox Jew who now lives in Israel, he has first hand experience of the travails of Islamic terrorism as he ruefully recalls his victimization and that of his three-year old son, Ruby. In December of 2001 while driving home to Shiloh from Jerusalem, Rubin and his son were both injured in a terrorist attack carried out by Islamic militants. When Rubin arrived at the hospital he was told that he was "the hospital's 1000th victim of terrorism" and recalls that he was later told by surgeon that, "the bullet which entered the head and traveled through the neck of my three-year old boy missed his brain stem by one millimeter." Determined to assist other facing similar crises, Rubin founded the Shiloh Israel Children's Fund, an organization dedicated to relieving the trauma suffered by child victims of terrorism.
Indeed, politics make for strange bedfellows. Under a sharpened lense, Rubin examines the nexus of ideas promoting multi-cultural and moral relativism as extolled by the ideologues on the far left of the political spectrum and those who would seek to vanquish any vestige of moral clarity, namely radical Islamists. Chiding President Obama for his own associations with left-wing radicals such as convicted terrorist Bill Ayres and his futile attempts to reach out "in peace" to the Muslim world, Rubin details the predominant Muslim influences in Obama's background and his adamant denial of the very real threats that Islamists present to America, Europe and the free world.
While there is a virtual laundry list of hard hitting points that leap forth from the pages of this book, what really stands out is Rubin's assertion that Obama's Harvard law school education was financed by Saudi petro dollars. Says Rubin: "The tentacles of Islamic aggression reached their highest levels of American influence when it was revealed that Barack Obama's higher education was likely financed and guided by the anti-American, anti-Israel alliance of secular leftists and Islamic ideologues." He qualifies this by saying that the radical American Muslim ideologue Khalid al-Mansour, (a.k.a. Donald Warden), a former mentor to Black Panthers founders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale was "raising money for Obama, apparently for his education, although the reason why al-Mansour would be raising money for a virtually unknown young student was not divulged."
Rubin tackles the burgeoning phenomenon of Islamic dominance by encouraging the United States to tap into a treasure trove of timeless lessons for life. Quoting the Prophet Isaiah, he says that, "the Torah will go forth from Zion, thereby spreading its wisdom to the entire world. He asks the sublimely simple question: "What can the U.S. learn from the ongoing struggles between Israel and Islam?" Among other things, Rubin calls for the halt of immigration (both legal and illegal) from Islamic countries to the U.S. and suggests that the U.S. require the emigration of actively hostile Muslims and those Islamists who are engaged in anti-American subversion. He also decries the passage of hate crime legislation which he says "will be used as a big brother technique to curtail the free speech of those who dare to speak out against Islamic ideology."
Reminding us of the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson who said "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance" and Ronald Reagan who said, "At least let our children and our children's children say of us that we justified our brief moment here; we did all that could be done", Rubin leave us with a sense of optimism and hope as we prepare to gird our loins and defend our liberties and freedoms and our very lives from those who would obliterate us and them.
The Fall Guy
Amazon Digital Services
Kindle price $1.99 / Nook price $0.99
The next time you bump into a car and even contemplate not leaving a note, think of Todd. A simple hit and run starts Todd on a journey of not only trying to keep himself alive, but also one of self discovery. The 'Small Man' wants Todd to pay for the loss of his drugs (they were in the Porsche when it got pulled over for the busted light), and sends him to Dallas to deliver what he thinks is "just a car." But nothing is ever "just" anything in the land of illegal doings. Todd soon finds out there is much more involved, and begins to live the life of a criminal. A life that is both completely foreign to him, yet somewhat exhilarating. He soon wonders if he could be cut out for a life of full time crime as he certainly seems to have the knack for it. As Todd zig-zags his way from San Fran to Texas to Seattle and home again he tests the boundaries of the law and how close he thinks he can come to going over the line. While he wasn't Mr Perfect (hello, he did hit a car and leave a fake note), he isn't/wasn't a hard core criminal. But will he become one? Will he be pushed to his limits? Will he do whatever it takes to save himself? Or will he run from everyone and live in hiding, working dead end jobs for the rest of his life, just below the radar? Can he ever find his way out of the wrong place, wrong time position he continually finds himself in? The Fall Guy is the true definition of a thriller ~ depicting a great mystery with exciting plot twits and suspense galore, with a character that struggles daily with choosing his true moral compass or a life he thinks he is meant to live.
Cities of the Maya, 1250 B.C. to A.D. 1903
Steve Glassman and Armando Anaya
McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers
Box 611, Jefferson NC, 28640-0611
9780786448487 $38.00 800-253-2187 www.mcfarlandpub.com
We read the histories of ancient civilizations in the ruins they left behind. Their crumbling cities and fragments of statuary tell us where the ancients lived, who they were, how they lived, what they looked like, who their gods were and how they were worshipped. In arid places, deserts and rocky or mountainous terrain, the ruins of ancient cities often remain visible for centuries, but in the lush tropical lands of Central America, the forest, like a great serpent, swallows them whole. These civilizations, such as the Olmec, Maya and Aztec stretch back 3000 years or more, and left behind many great cities abandoned because of war, disease, or other disasters. The forest, like a greedy landlord, reclaimed its loans quickly.
These hidden cities from early western civilizations have given modern explorers - archeologists, anthropologists, scholars and adventurers - a rich and wonderful playground for research. Instead of the primitive cultures the early European explorers claimed them to be, modern research, beginning around 1850 and continuing to the present, has proven they were highly developed civilizations with extensive knowledge of astronomy, agriculture, mathematics, written language, and arts. The story of this discovery and the people who have been deeply involved in the process, is the focus of this extraordinary book, which is generously illustrated with many maps and photos by Mr. Glassman. One striking photo shows an ancient Olmec sculpture of a head posed with a contemporary resident who could easily have been the model for the original. Although the authors take on a huge panoramic view of these cultures and their history, such close-ups manage to convey a surprising intimacy. However, the authors' interests are not only on the civilizations uncovered, but on the people who did the uncovering as well. Their energy, interests, ambition, imagination, determination; their successes, failures, losses and wins; and their highly competitive spirits, are every bit as interesting to read about as the peoples from the past whom they sought to discover. It's an interesting and informative account of Who's Who in Central American VIP's from the distant past to the 20th Century.
Faber and Faber
74-77 Great Russell Street, London WCIB 3DA
9780571166930 Indian Rupees $10.99 http://www.faber.co.uk
Victor Hugo once said, "There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come". His words kept on making an echo, while was I reading The Joke by Milan Kundera. Socialism was one such idea which affected the lives of millions of people around the world in the 20th century. The idea or the concept of socialism is based on the collective good of people. In simpler words, it is the movement of masses, who were being exploited by the church and the capitalist for centuries. But what is collectivism after all? Can a man be called individualistic just because he has a strange smile? Can that smile be misconstrued as disrespect towards women? In today's world, one would ask, what's wrong in being individualistic? The proponents of socialism interpreted the word individualistic as something unique, which sets an individual apart from the masses. They thought that such an individual might not be able to do justice to the mass movement no matter how knowledgeable he or she was. Ludvik is one such member of the communist party. He is loyal, hardworking and has an impeccable knowledge of Marxism. His comrades find his behaviour objectionable on flimsy grounds like his conduct and smile seem intellectual to them. They can't take an action against him since they don't have a concrete proof.
Ludvik is chasing a girl to whom he sends postcards regularly. Once he writes, "Optimism is the opium of people! A healthy atmosphere stinks of stupidity! Long live Trotsky!". To him, it is a harmless remark, a bit cynical though. But can't cynicism invade into our jokes? Not in the socialist Czechoslovakia. The communist party seizes the postcard and interrogates Ludvik. When he pleads that it was a humorous remark, they reply that they can't see any humour in it. The girl, to whom he had sent the postcard, tells him that she had handed over the postcard to authorities since she also found his remark objectionable. In a meeting chaired by Pavel Zemanek, Ludvik is expelled from the party. He is sent to work in mines. He spends rest of his life despising Zemanek and all those who supported the decision to expel him from the party.
Even years later, Ludvik can't forgive Zemanek. He tries to take revenge by coming close to Zemanek's wife Helena. He doesn't love her. By increasing physical intimacy with her, he tries to wreak havoc with the private life of Zemanek. In his opinion, it is justifiable since Zemanek was the staunch supporter of socialism, which didn't allow an individual to have a private space. However, things don't go by the plan. When Helena gets drunk, she tells Ludvik that her relationship with her husband was just a mirage for the sake of their daughter. There was nothing intimate in that relationship. At this point, Ludvik would loathe making love to any woman. He just wanted to give Zemanek a taste of his own medicine by sleeping with his wife. When he realizes that Helena seized to be Zemanek's wife long back, he just can't convince himself to make love to her. His plan is demolished by Zemanek, though unintentionally. Helena's life is devastated, when she realises that Ludvik doesn't love her.
The irony doesn't end here. Towards the end of the novel, Ludvik happens to meet Zemanek. He is shocked to realise that Zemanek he is meeting is altogether a different person from Zemanek who had expelled him from the party. Over the years, he has become far more liberal. Not just that, he is one of the most revered professor among the young students, who just don't relate to socialism. He even has a young student as his mistress. Kundera aptly captures Ludvik's predicament when he meets Zemanek and his mistress by saying, "Life had mocked me by sending me a reminder of that failure precisely in the features of the mistress of the man whom only the day before I thought I'd defeated in grotesque sexual combat".
The novel is a lot more than this. It's also about how people and their perceptions change over time. When Ludvik was in the communist party, he had explained socialism to his friends, who were rather unwilling to accept it as a new order. He had then argued that socialism was also about preserving art forms like folk songs as a symbol of their way of life. Years later, when he visits the same friend, he just can't appreciate folk songs because he was expelled from the party and had stopped relating to its values.
Milan Kundera writes in first person for all his characters, which helps the readers in developing a great sense of intimacy with the characters. It also shows the depth of Kundera's understanding of his own protagonists. He is also one of the few writers whose form of writing is as beautiful as his content. He is at his best when he writes about that part of human psyche, which often we don't understand or even when we understand, we find it hard to describe. For instance, the passages when he describes how the district committee tries to impose a feeling of guilt on Ludvik are lucid. A girl in the committee asks him, how comrades tortured to death would have reacted to the words written by him on the postcard. When he doesn't say anything, she tells him to think harder. Kundera writes, "What she wanted was for me to pass a harsh sentence on myself through the dead comrades' imaginary lips. I had refused to play the role of the accused who accuses himself and by the very ardour of his self-accusation begs for mercy"
Published in 1967, The Joke was Kundera's first novel. However, its intellectual reach, its multi-layered characters and its style of narration are a class of its own. Kundera followed it up with equally impressive works like, "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting" and "The Unbearable Lightness of Being".
The Road to The Rubicon
A Bright Pen Book
Authors on Line Limited
Quoting from the back cover:
"This book is derived from the incomplete Book 8 of the Commentaries, by Aulus Hirtius. It has taken me longer than expected to unravel the story because of its complexity. Dedicated historians barely agree on the order of the political events leading to Caesar's march on Rome.
"History is written and revised by the victors. Down through the two millennia since Caesar crossed the Rubicon those victors have been men who believed that revolution had to be anathematised. The death of the Republic, the outcome of Caesar's successful revolt against the Optimates, could not be represented as the dawn of the new era of ethical government that Caesar intended. Caesar's heir, Augustus and the Principate - that cynical mimicry of the Republican Senate - the model from which European ideas of kingship developed, had to be seen as the true savior of Rome. As a result, Julius Caesar has been portrayed ever since as a sick (allegedly an epileptic), power-crazed tyrant.
"This is the last element of the story of Julius Caesar's preparation for his return to power. He had wanted that to be via the ballot box and a legitimate second Consulship. Fearful for their future fortunes, the Optimates were determined that would not happen."
The Road to The Rubicon is the last book in the five-volume series John Timbers refers to as the Rutilius Journals. The other books in this series are: Caesar's Tribune, Master of Gaul, Albion Ablaze and A View To A Death. I have read them all as they were sent to me to review. If you are interested in The Commentaries by Gaius Julius Caesar or are a history buff, you'll thoroughly enjoy this series by John Timbers, a consummate writer and historian. The Road to The Rubicon is well edited, well written, has a stylist charm about it and is an excellent conclusion to the Rutilius Journals.
Psychoanalysis in a New Light
Cambridge University Press
The Edunburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK
9780521122443 $34.99 www.cambridge.org www.amazon.com
Psychoanalysis in a New Light, by Gunnar Karllson, lives up to its title and portrays psychoanalysis differently than any analytic work in my experience. The book is a real gift to psychoanalysis, which has been accused of being stopped in its tracks. Indeed, I myself as a practitioner of 37 years, retired from a flourishing practice because I felt psychoanalysis had reached a dead end and I had nowhere else to go in it. I was wrong. My problem and that of psychoanalysis in general was that we were looking at the field from only one point of view. Dr. Karrlson's book shows us that psychoanalysis is like a many faceted diamond, which has been examined from a stationary position and merely needs to be turned to the light to bring up another vision.
Dr. Karllson is a philosopher, a phenomenologist. I am not, and in fact, know nothing about the field. Hence I was delighted to find that his philosophy brought me many insights about psychoanalysis. Phenomenology is concerned with the study of consciousness, whereas the field of investigation for psychoanalysis is the unconscious. According to Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, psychology has not been grounded in an adequate fashion. The task of phenomenology is to study the meaning or essence of a phenomenon, to identify and clarify the necessary conditions for it to be what it is. Karllson, following Husserl's line of thinking, believes that psychoanalysis has neglected the study of consciousness, and that it is necessary to understand it further as the gateway to the unconscious. Phenomenology provides that gateway. Karllson informs us that consciousness cannot be overlooked in either psychoanalytic investigations or the attempts to understand the essential nature of psychoanalysis. Freud also recognized the value of studying consciousness, even though his work did not reflect his interest. He wrote, "Now all our knowledge is invariably bound up with consciousness. We can come to know even the ucs only by making it conscious" (Freud, 1923, 190-191)
Karllson discusses subjectivity or the psychical as an objective fact of nature, which goes under the name of "naturalism." Naturalism eliminates the subjective, or looks for something objective to replace the subjective. Reality, first and foremost, or exclusively, is nature as it is interpreted by natural science. The description of the world in natural science is a description of the world's real nature, independent of the subject. The goal of natural science is to approximate ever more exact descriptions of nature. To understand the results of natural science, we must ask, "Do they describe an objective world outside of human consciousness? Do they describe the world as it really is?" Psychoanalysis, in contrast to "naturalism" has relatively neglected the study of reality. Husserl spoke of the life-world, the experience of our ordinary, cultural world, into which we are born and in which we grow up. It precedes the scientific description of the world, in that it com es before it in time. In the life-world, we experience things in their subjective, cultural meaning. Karllson give as an example (p.31) a religious temple as a cultural object. Without the life-world there is no scientific world. At its extreme, the life-world experience is overlooked by denying its exists, in which case there can be no science. All sciences must be grounded in life-world experiences. By working out a phenomenological psychology, Husserl wished to lay the ground work for humanistic science, including psychoanalysis.
For phenomenology, the essence of consciousness is intentionality. Intentionality has to do with meaning. An experience always stands in a relationship to experiencing. Consciousness is always consciousness of something. The word intentionality implies a rejection of the idea that there could be objective facts, independent of a subject understanding the facts.
Psychoanalysis is concerned with suffering that cannot be explained on a conscious level. It can be experienced explicitly, but it is difficult to understand why the person suffers or if it has any inherent meaning. When the suffering cannot be understood on a conscious level, it is necessary to look into unconscious causes. The unconscious, which appears as something strange and unfamiliar to the conscious mind, is, according to Freud, the most important concept in psychoanalysis. Nevertheless, the construct still suffers from vagueness and obscurity. According to Karllson (p. 192), it is extremely important for psychoanalysis to clarify its concept of the unconscious.
There are essential differences between psychoanalysis and phenomenology. Psychoanalysis is an empirical science that studies psychic reality, in contrast to material reality. Phenomenology, on the other hand, is a philosophical project, which tries to describe conditions of different forms of existence, i.e. how the world appears to the conscious mind. Nevertheless, there are common points of interest as well as differences between the two. These are interest in the subjective, the concepts of intentionality and meaning, interest in the latent, the significance of reflection, the value of openness, the break with the attitude of common sense, and responsibility as an ethical principle.
Karllson's comments to clinical practitioners on affirmation are particularly useful. He says that affirmation as a therapeutic intervention is particularly helpful when we are treating deficiencies of early mother-child relationships. On this level of psychic functioning, the task of the psychoanalyst is to affirm, rather than reveal psychic conflicts through interpretations. Karllson states, "What we- psychoanalysts and analysands - ultimately achieve in affirmation is not to validate or legitimize experience by means of external norms or criteria. What we do is to open (unfold) ourselves for experience such as it is experienced" (p. 91).
For Freud, sexuality and its struggle against the driving force of defenses was always the determining factor that ruled human behavior. Today, according to Karllson (p. 93), the significance of the role of sexuality in explaining psychopathology has diminished. Nevertheless, there are still psychoanalysts who complain that sexuality is now neglected in the psychoanalytic movement today.
Karllson suggests (p. 95) that the aetiological significance of sexuality for neuroses for Freud was something of a "vision" that he spent a lifetime trying to verify. Karllson believes that Freud's "vision" had its start in his everyday life, his life-world experience, that it was sexuality as it shows itself in the life-world experience that awakened Freud's thoughts about its significance.
Karllson makes the interesting observation that it is a mistake to believe psychopathology has changed since Freud treated his analysands. Karllson writes, "Only if one defines sexuality in a rather limited way can one get the idea that the changes in lifestyles and attitudes with respect to sexuality that have occurred since Freud's time would have any effect on the sexuality that psychoanalysts deal with and that many think is the core of the unconscious" (p. 106). In my experience as a clinician, Karllson's comment is correct.
Psychoanalysis in a New Light, by Gunnar Karllson, is an original, fascinating comparison of the findings of phenomenolgy and psychoanalysis. For older psychoanalysts who desire to reach beyond the teachings of Freud, the book is a novel and delightful expansion of our knowledge. The book, however, leans very heavily on its philosophical underpinnings, and is perhaps too difficult to understand for those students of psychoanalysis to whom Freud's works are not yet ingrained as second nature. Therefore, I am happy to recommend Psychoanalysis in a New Light to experienced psychoanalysts and, perhaps, philosophers, but not for neonates in either field.
The Tin Ticket: The Heroic Journey of Australia's Convict Women
Deborah J. Swiss
Berkley Hard Cover
"The Tin Ticket," written by Harvard-educated genders affairs expert Deborah J. Swiss and published by Berkley, is a wonderful book. It illuminates a part of history that long has been overlooked, in a manner that holds the reader fast to his or her seat from the exciting introduction to the present day end of the story. In the early nineteenth century, the British government sought to build up the working class of their new Australian colony, where men outnumbered women nine to one. They did this by enforcing an old law which allowed the deportation of women convicted of petty crimes, and packed them into filthy, disease-infected slave ships that carried the ones who survived to the other side of the world . "The Tin Ticket" (named for the card of tin tied around the necks of the convicts) is told through the eyes of the women and children shipped to Van Diemen's Land, later to be renamed Tasmania, whose horrendous journey of four months and miraculous survival has long been neglected by history books. Agnes McMillan was one of thousands of children punished for a trivial crime by being shipped to the harsh, remote land. The book explores Agnes' background, in which her father abandoned her and her mother died when Agnes was twelve years old, and she had no choice but to turn to the streets. The starving child was driven to steal scraps of food to stay alive, which resulted in her and her close friend Janet being caught and condemned to the horrible passage to Australia. The closeness of their relationship, the humor they found together, and their ingenuity helped the girls live through unimaginable hardships and humiliation. The author tells us that the descendants of the girls believe that similar characteristics typify the Australian character today. Swiss follows the lives of Agnes, Janet, and Ludlow, as well as that of Elizabeth Fry, the great pioneering Quaker reformer who fought to make the lives of the women convicts more bearable. These women broke the chains of bondage to establish a society one hundred years ahead of the rest of the world, in which equality of men and women was established. Discarded by their homeland and neglected by history, these women, by sheer force of will became the heart and soul of the new nation.
Alma H. Bond, Ph.D.
Home Inspired by Love and Beauty
Margaret A. Lulic
Blue Edge Publishing
9780982837405, $18.00, www.lulicbooks.com
Your home is a reflection of your personality. "Home Inspired by Love and Beauty" is a guide from Margaret A. Lulic for making one's home just that, truly a home and something with a lot more to understand on top of it all. With a simple spirituality and wisdom, Lulic will guide readers to understanding just how to craft their home, whether it be through decorating or relationships with their neighbors. "Home Inspired by Love and Beauty" is an intriguing and useful resource for those who want to make their homes more homely.
My Spiritual Exercises
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9780557694839, $14.99, www.twincreekspress.com
Spiritual drive is not simply thinking and waiting. "My Spiritual Exercises" is a collection of poetry from Robert Killoren, inspired by St. Ignatius and the Jesuit ministry, devoted to ministry doing more than pondering its faith. With a certain appeal and drive, "My Spiritual Exercises" is an excellent collection and very highly recommended reading. "Hosanna": Bent and broken/palm/branches/lay on the apth//broken/promises/or/lost faith.
See Me Improving
Copper Canyon Press
PO Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368
A simple act could have devastating consequences. "See Me Improving" is a collection of poetry from Travis Nichols exploring the status of human behavior and the reality and what has gone wrong with it all. With excellent verse and award winning wit, "See Me Improving" is a choice addition to any poetry collection. "See Me Improving IX": What do I have in my yard tonight?/I have a possum and a raccoon,/a kitten and a squirrel-- no, not a squirrel because it is nighttime./Now I have a skunk and a bear,/A bear? Yep. And another bear./Two black bears by the fence.
When the Getting Was Good
Susan B. Bell
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449081225, $15.99, www.authorhouse.com
With big money comes big risks. "When the Getting Was Good" tells the story of Kate Munro, lone woman wall street tycoon who quickly finds her status in fear as she earns the wrath of the higher ups and finds she and her firm under investigation by the Federal Reserve. Drawing on her own Wall Street experience, "When the Getting Was Good" is a fun and riveting tale of high market intrigue.
2637 N. Southport, Ave., Chicago, IL 60614
9780984568833, $19.95, www.cornholebook.com
The simplest of things can prove the hardest to let go. "Cornhole: Throwing Bags in a Hole" is a deeper dive into what seems like the simplest of games . Outlining the standards and rules of what Cornhole should be, Mark Rogers explains the game and the deeper aspects that are not readily apparent. Thoughtful with plenty of advice to be the champion of the next tailgate game you see, "Cornhole" is a fun and useful read for those who enjoy this simple yet something more event.
244 North Avenue, New Rochelle, NY 10805
9781885881380, $19.99, www.multieducator.net
The very young found themselves under the force of the Holocaust most heavily. "Forbidden Strawberries" tells the story of Cipora Hurwitz and his challenges of the Holocaust, finding herself not even ten when the troubles began to rage throughout Europe. Telling her story of her survival and her recovery, "Forbidden Strawberries" is a fine addition to any Holocaust memoir collection, highly recommended.
Cowboys Can Fly
118 Heritage Ave, Maple Shade, NJ 08052
Nearing adulthood, the truth of your life comes together. "Cowboys Can Fly" is story of two young boys in the United Kingdom coming to terms with their sexuality through the bonds neither had and the need for love that both feel. A touching story of young love and understanding friendship, "Cowboys Can Fly" is charming and recommended reading, not to be missed.
The Christmas Gift
R. William Bennett
5406 W 11000 North, Highland, UT 84003
Some friendships form on the most odd of circumstances. "The Christmas Gift" tells the story of a friendship and its strange origins. As a young man stands up to a bully and becomes a hero, the bully becomes a victim to him and through conversation and understanding, a new friendship is born. With a simple and powerful message, "The Christmas Gift" is a fine take and heartwarming read, highly recommended.
The Scoprion's Sting
J. D. Masterson
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781616636524, $28.99, www.tatepublishing.com
When your missing persons case entwines with ancient mysteries, you know your in for a rough test. "The Scorpion's Sting" is an exciting spin into mystery and intrigue as Dr. Magdalena LaSige, criminal archepsychologist finds herself in the pursuit of her professor's sister who has been dragged into a plot that involves history, faith, and pharmaceutical conspiracy. A riveting novel with many layers, "The Scorpion's Sting" is a fascinating and very highly recommended read, not to be missed.
Stories from a Lifetime
Stones Point Press
6 Henderson Lane, Cushing, ME 04563
Writing is a life long passion, even in the danger of a world war. "Stories from a Lifetime" is a collection of short stories form World War II veteran Hugh Aaron, who has collected the stories he has written throughout his life, even as he was at war. His stories draw on what surrounded him in his life, and provide an intriguing bit of insight on the changing pace of life. "Stories from a Lifetime" is a fine and riveting collection, not to be overlooked.
Along Interstate 75
c/o KSB Promotions
55 Honey Creek NE, Ada, MI 49301
America's interstates have earned an attraction all their own. "Along Interstate 75" is a guide to the wonders of Interstate 75, the highway connecting Florida and Detroit. Dave Hunter gives readers everything they need to know to turn a multi-day drive into an entertaining affair all its own, pointing out the attractions that litter the road as they go. With plenty of detailed maps that point out everything from restaurant, lodging, and more, "Along Interstate 75" is a useful travel guide for anyone who wants to avoid the boring road trip.
GPS and Geocaching in Education
180 West 8th Ave, Suite 300, Eugene, OR 974401
9781564842756, $29.95, www.iste.org
A GPS is more than a way to avoid getting lost, it can be a valuable teaching tool. "GPS and Geocaching in Education" is a guide to how to use Geocaching, a practice that uses GPS to teach its participants about the world around them and encourages real world problem solving. Fully explaining GPS and their use, offering many puzzle ideas to be done, as well as a technical review, Burt Lo gives plenty of ideas of how the activity can be used on any level. "GPS and Geocaching in Education" is a fine pick for any educator seeking to vary their lesson plan.
Willis M. Buhle
Surviving My Happy Childhood
Even when it goes well there can be problems. "Surviving My Happy Childhood" is a collection of short stories from Jim Carpenter who comes to readers with a simple collection discussing the simple problems of youth. With a distinctly Midwestern flavor, Carpenter's work is sure to stir up memories as well as it entertains and brings new light to what's considered normal. "Surviving My Happy Childhood" is a fine assortment, sure to please.
Chapter & Verse
Sim Warkov & Collaborators
PO Box 352, Corte Madera, CA 94976
The place of the Jew is one that has never been universally decided in history. "Chapter & Verse: Poems of Jewish Identity" is a collection of poetry from several Jewish writers as they discuss what it means to be a modern Jew, in a society that may not condemn them yet does not fully understand them. Presenting a thoughtful blend of opinion with excellent poetry, "Chapter & Verse" is not a collection to be overlooked. "To Our Children" by Susan Terris: Instead of using the staircase,/risk the tendriled stalks of ivy/and drop into muddy copse below./Your great-grandfathers understood mud/as they slogged from village to village/peddling pots and ribbons and scissors.//They knew days with no light, nights/with no heat, years with no safety--/years of pogroms, famine, and loss.//But, still, you may collar their essence/if shaking pearls from your ears,/you can know wet boots and the windfall.
A Vow Fulfilled
22700 W. Eleven Mile Rd., Southfield, MI 48034
9781568715025, $21.99, www.targum.com
The Holocaust twisted many lives, and there are many stories of those who found their way back from hell. "A Vow Fulfilled: The Fran Laufer Story: Memories and Miracles" is her own recollection of how she battled back herself to find her own piece of mind as she fought for her life and spending years under their thumb, stealing to survive. A touching story of the drive for life and to make something better for it all, "A Vow Fulfilled" is a riveting tale and is very highly recommended for biography and memoir collections.
The Syllable That Opened an Eye
Dead Man Publishing
PO Box 349, Dollar Bay, MI 49922
The simplest of revelations can change so much. "The Syllable That Opened an Eye" is a collection of poetry and philosophy from Micah Cavaleri. A unique style with unique ideas, his format brings attention to his thought and provides a good deal to ponder. "The Syllable That Opened an Eye" is worth reading and understanding, very highly recommended.
Zinester's Guide to NYC
636 SE 11th, Portland, OR 97214
9781934620465, $9.99, www.microsmpublishing.com
Understanding a living city is best done by living in it. "Zinester's Guide to NYC: The Last Wholly Analog Guide to NYC" is a guide to the life of New York that isn't the life presented by tourism, but instead the best of the best that's off the beaten path and that truly reflects the New York lifestyle that real New Yorkers live. "Zinester's Guide to NYC" is a guide for the NYC tourist who doesn't just want to be a tourist.
117 Warwick Street, Minneapolis, MN 55414
9780970765222, $12.95, www.aliformgroup.com
An eternity is a long time and quite the thing to reach for. "Magdalena: A Fable of Immortality" tells the story of an aspiring sorceress who seeks Eternal life as her ultimate goal. Such a goal is one with plenty of peril and will require much thought and travel, as author Beatriz Escalante weaves a fascinating and riveting story of fantasy. "Magdalena" is an excellent pick, not to be missed.
Setting the Captive Free
Jane A. Simington
9703 - 108 Avenue, Edmonton, AB T5H 4R9
9780981373508, $22.95, www.takingflightinternational.com
When grief gets a hold of you, it proves very difficult to break free. "Setting the Captive Free" is an inspirational self-help guide from Dr. Jane A. Simington. Stating that after a traumatic life experience changes one's life forever, she offers advice and wisdom for coming to terms with life and getting a handle on it all to move on to the next step for your spirit. "Setting the Captive Free" is a thoughtful and highly recommended read, not to be missed by those who are struggling to move on.
The Shame of What We Are
New Door Books
2115 Wallace Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130
9780978863647, $12.95, www.newdoorbooks.com
Life isn't a massive, overreaching narrative; it's split into something more long and far reaching. "The Shame of What We Are" is a unique novel from Sam Gridley, who has broken his over-reaching story into pieces of a greater puzzle of life. Set in 1950s, the reality of a story book time seems to emerge for young Art Dennison who comes to see life for what it really is. With a strong message and good use of art from Tom Jackson, "The Shame of What We Are" is a thoughtful and highly recommended pick, not to be missed.
A Better Congress
Two Seas Media
PO Box 25706, Alexandria, VA 22313-5706
9781587332333, $16.95, www.twoseasmedia.com
It has been more clear than ever that our system is flawed. "A Better Congress: Change the Rules, Change the Results: A Modest Proposal" is a collection of ideas from Joseph Gibson who holds that much of the corruption and problems with congress comes from bloat, comes from greed, and comes from strong partisan divide. Offering his many ideas and why he believes they would work, "A Better Congress" is a thoughtful and recommended read, not to be missed.
1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
9780741463302, $15.95, www.newwitchhunt.com
Is it your family or the world? "Witch Hunt" tells the story of Leigh, a woman married into the Hawthorne family. When she finds that it's a family of witches, she finds herself in conflict, between the loyalty of her family and the witch hunt that seems to be coming for her as well as her family. A riveting story of magic and morality, "Witch Hunt" will prove very hard to put down.
Matthew Livingston and the Politics of Death
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450266284, $10.95, www.iuniverse.com
The drive for power so often leaves dead bodies in the wake. "Matthew Livingston and the Politics of Death" is the third in the Matthew Livingston series circling Matthew as he enters into the world of politics and finds it trickier than a murder mystery. But both soon overlap, as author Marco Conelli draws on his own experience as an NYPD detective to create a highly enticing story. "Matthew Livingston and the Politics of Death" is not to be missed, highly recommended.
God's Wild Herbs
PO Box 336144, Greeley, CO 80633
9780981892924, $17.99, www.cladach.com
There are countless and varied plants all over the world, and understanding them can prove very useful. "God's Wild Herbs: Identifying and Using 121 Plants Found in the Wild" is a guide to the many useful and unique plants that can grow where you never knew. With a description, full color photograph, and history behind each plant, it gives insight on the versatility of nature. "God's Wild Herbs" is a treasure trove of knowledge and know-how, making it a very highly recommended pick for nature collections.
Granville Island Publishing
212-1656 Duranleau, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6H 3S4
9781894694803, $24.95, www.granvilleislandpublishing.com
Losing a child is the most horrible thing to a mother. "Snapshots: A Story of Love, Loss, and Life" is the memoir of a mother, as Cathy Sosnowsky reflects on facing tragedy and coping with life when the worst comes into play and all seems lost. With a certain spirit and determination that isn't likely to be matched, "Snapshots" is a touching read and heartily recommended for any mother looking for strength to continue on after their own devastating tragedy.
One year can take you out of control. "Whiplash" tells the story of one woman and the year which shifted her life all over the place. A story of growing up quickly done in a style of a conversation, Tracy Farren tells a fun and fast paced story of life's curveballs. "Whiplash" is a fine pick and solid addition to fiction collections.
Quest of the Sleeping Princess
The dance is an art, and like all art, there is struggle. "Quest of the Sleeping Princess" is a novel of ballet, following John Fencer, a man frustrated with his lot in romance and lot in life. Under the fist of the oppressive people running the company, John seeks to placate his place in life while still making the most of his art. "Quest of the Sleeping Princess" is a thoughtful novel of art and ballet, highly recommended.
The Intersection of Beauty and Crime
Justice can be hard to find in some places. "The Intersection of Beauty and Crime" is a collection of poetry from Jawanza Phoenix, as he draws on his career as a criminal defense attorney to give new perspective on law and justice. "The Intersection of Beauty and Crime" is an enticing read with much to ponder. "The Brightness of You": all last week,/I watered three plants which looked/tired and ready to quit/today,/they stand tall and proud/I told them about you.
Michael J. Carson
Lion of Liberty: Patrick Henry and the Call to a New Nation
Harlow Giles Unger
Da Capo Press
Harlow Giles Unger in his sixteenth book chronicles the life and times of Patrick Henry in "Lion of Liberty." Exactingly researched, we learn a lot more about the man who had uttered those famous words "Give me liberty or give me death."
Patrick Henry's life was always dedicated to his campaigning for the rights of all Americans. However, his background was not from a wealthy aristocracy, but from a tobacco farm and store located in the Virginia frontier. He was home-schooled and read his way into becoming a member of the legal profession in Virginia. Among his accomplishments he was the original drafter of the Bill of Rights which was incorporated into America's way of living unfettered liberty.
Henry was a true revolutionary in every sense of the word. He raised troops in Virginia to fight for our nation at a time when they were needed to bolster not only the morale of those who were engaged in battle, but were needed to fight. A selfless leader, he served 5 terms as governor of Virginia.
Harlow Unger has captured the essence of Patrick Henry and incorporates today's Tea Party in a way that draws comparisons to this movement which resists strong intrusion of the Federal government into decisions which should remain states' rights. There are many annotations of speeches made by Henry which helped frame and mold the United States Constitution.
The relationship between the nation's Founding Fathers - George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and Patrick Henry - is what makes this book stand out from other history books. Unger has researched the relationships between all of them by combing through the national archives and referencing correspondence between them. Readers will get a sense of how decisions were made to formulate freedom by Unger's interjection of both successes and failures of the fledgling nations' fight for liberty from England's rule.
Of particular interest is the taxation by the colonies in financing the war. A cost of 50 million dollars had to be levied upon the citizens and the method of collection was distasteful, especially among those who lived in rural areas. Unger has drawn some interesting parallels to the taxation of today.
Chronicling the life of Patrick Henry it is interesting to learn that he had 18 children with two wives. It was estimated that had they been tracked through the period from the 1700's to today, there would have been 100,000 that could claim to be his progeny, the size of a city such as Gary, Indiana. During his 63 years of life, he amassed many thousands of acres of land, farms, slaves, and was revered by his fellow Virginians. In 1799 he died and 6 months later his friend, George Washington, also passed away.
This book is highly recommended because of the personable historical account of one outstanding patriot of our nation.
The Glenn Miller Conspiracy: The Never-before Told True Story of His Life - and Death
Hunton Downs, Lt. Col. US Army, Ret.
Creative Book Publishers International
Beverly Hills CA
Glenn Miller, one of the most famous band leaders of all time, died 66 years ago in a purported airplane crash over the English Channel in World War II. Miller was known for the music of the swing era which was the favorite of GIs and home-front citizens, leaving a legacy of memorable tunes such as "In the Mood" and "String of Pearls."
Hunton Downs, Lt. Col. US Army, Ret., in his fifth book, has doggedly delved into what he believes was a cover-up at the highest level in both the German and Allied forces as to what really happened surrounding Glenn Miller's death. Downs has presented vital documents, photos, and statements made by those who he alleges were involved, as he makes a poignant case regarding a possible cover-up.
Downs believes that not only did Miller die at the hands of the Nazis; they attempted to besmirch his reputation as well by placing his body at a brothel after torturing him. In an attempt to salve the wounds he suffered, the United States' high command decided to cover up his true mission and demise by saying he died when his two-engine plane crashed. Those who were involved were sworn to secrecy in an attempt to secrete the real story would never be told.
Hunton Downs's background during the war is very credible. He served on General Omar Bradley's personal staff and with General David Sarnoff (founder of NBC), winning numerous citations during World War II. He also received journalistic awards for his broadcasts from the Berlin Wall and had been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from Vietnam.
Based upon his analysis of the facts as he found them, he came to the conclusion that Glenn Miller's mission during WWII was far greater than entertaining the troops. Miller became a spokesman who made regular broadcasts in German to encourage the defection of the Third Reich's soldiers to deplete their Army. He also engaged in a secret mission to provide a liaison for the defection of Hitler's Generals as well. Miller was a thorn in the side of Hitler to the extent that he was singled out as a man whom they wanted to dispose of.
One of the outstanding features of this book is the collection of documents which are appended. Readers will get to see many notes and photos which have not been previously readily available. It is easy to draw your own conclusions as to the veracity of this conspiracy theory. Sadly, many of the key players who could have corroborated all of these pronouncements are deceased. That is where the book lacks its strongest effect on acceptance of Hunton Downs's discoveries.
This book is a good read for those who enjoy war-time history, conspiracy theories, and the unforgettable Glenn Miller.
I See the Sun in Nepal
Dedie King w/illustrations by Judith Inglese
Satya House Publications
I See the Sun in China
Dedie King w/illustrations by Judith Inglese
Satya House Publications
PO Box 122, Hardwick, Massachusetts 01037
Holiday time is here and the youngsters are on vacation. What a wonderful time to visit the bookstore or go on-line and get some new books for the children to enjoy. These two books are exceptionally well done. "I See the Sun in China" was the first in this series which explores foreign countries in an easy to understand manner through the eyes of a child.
"I See the Sun in China" has captured several awards among which are the 2011 Teacher's Choice Award for the Family sponsored by "Learning Magazine," and a 2010 Preferred Choice Award - Books for Kids category - from "Creative Child" magazine.
What makes these two books outstanding is they are written in two languages. One is English and Nepalese and the other is English and Mandarin Chinese. The illustrations demonstrate features of both countries which will both enlighten and entertain.
There are other books which will be in this series and will appear in the stores starting in the Spring of 2011. They are "I See the Sun in Afghanistan", followed by "I See the Sun in Russia" and "I See the Sun in India."
A unique series which will help children become familiar with other ways of life around the world, highly recommended.
The Changing Colors of Amos
Illustrator: Kay Selvig Flanders
Integrated Book Marketing
P. O Box 321, Kings Park, NY 11754
John Kinyon, a storyteller in his own right as a 2nd grade teacher, has written "The Changing Colors of Amos", which is the story of a leprechaun who changes colors each day of the week.
This is an enticing book which will teach children from pre-school or kindergarten the days of the week and colors. Beautiful pastel illustrations throughout the book make this one a keeper for the children's library.
You Can Draw in 30 Days: The Fun, Easy Way to Learn to Draw - in One Month or Less
Eleven Cambridge Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142
Success in the art world is often measured by the paintings and acceptance by the public of them. In the case of Mark Kistler, he is extremely well known for his teaching methods and writings about how to do it!
Currently, he has a 10th book coming into the market place in January of 2011. "You Can Draw in 30 Days" is a lesson book which takes budding artists to the sketch pad and shows them how to take a circle and make it a 3-D image by demonstrating how to recognize light and form by inserting shadows with shading.
Additionally, Kistler can be seen on PBS in his show "Imagination Station." He has lectured at over 7,000 schools and universities.
One of the outstanding features of this book are examples from students which are incorporated into it. There are before and after drawings which illustrate techniques working from the perspective of a student to that of an accomplished artist.
Why would we put a drawing book into a holiday column? Well, this would make a great gift along with sketch pads and pencils. A bit belated, but then again, we do have birthdays!
A Division of Random House, Inc.
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780385340588 $28.00 262-785-9000 www.bantamdell.com
I have read all of Lee Child's books to-date, and I am a faithful fan of his thriller novels with Jack Reacher as his main protagonist. I was hooked on his debut novel the Killing Floor, and this novel makes fourteen novels. I have liked the thinking man's thriller style of Reacher, and although Lee's stories don't always rely heavy on action. The plots force us to see how he gets in and out of trouble. A wandering character roaming into a small town or new location each book keeping it fresh from the point of that new setting, new characters, with not much repeat of previous novels. A little backdrop on Jack's past life fills us in on his MP Army life, and cases he investigated. I only will stop reading Child's novels on Reacher, if he quits, and moves on to something fresh or new I will glance at that too. I am a loyal fan, but I did meet him at a bookstore. I like this author joining a huge fan following, all waiting for him to speak on Jack Reacher. Lee was giving his audience including my wife and I, the lowdown on his style, plots, along with discussing Reacher's character development. He then had a question and answer period about anything the group had to ask about past novels or future ones.
Reacher on traveling on a bus through a savage snowstorm has an erupted stop with a group of traveling seniors in South Dakota. An accident strangles the group with some serious injuries and the nearby police of Bolton help the bus group and Reacher putting them up for the duration until they can continue on with the trip. Reacher ends up helping the local police with a more serious problem of protecting and assisting an elderly female witness to a crime which eventually brings in outside criminal forces. This does add a burden to the local police who also do support the nearby prison. Reacher is persuaded to help the police through the next 61 hours, until she is able to hopefully be a witness to testify. The outside criminal sources start to drift in closer. This criminal is a paid professional killer en-routed to go after her, and any one who stands in his way. He is known as an assassin who never misses. The secrets are dangerous to the final outcome to protecting the witness, and his enemies are stronger than one could imagine. Reacher does respect the woman's honesty and strength, so he will do the right things, and vows to protect her with his life. The ending is an explosive ending that leaves this story with a sequel to wrap up what follows in this exciting story and plot.
Lee Child is the author of fourteen Jack Reacher novels all thrillers showing us his solo survival skills, his way of being placed into trouble and his getting out of through his perceptive thinking, his fighting survival skills in being able to assess, what he must do to battle through his adversaries. His latest book is Worth Dying For, and I will eagerly await its reading like any other good thriller by an author who keeps them so interesting.
Worth Dying For
A Division of The Random House, Inc.
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780385344319 $28.00 262-785-9000 www.bantondell.com
I have mentioned in the other Midwest Book Review, I have read all of Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels. I have liked them all, but a few stand out as my favorites. The first five with Killing Floor my personal favorite. That favorite has been true until now. Worth Dying For has been the one that leaps to the top. So I hope Child writes more like this one and his earlier books. I come to like the hard nosed character, that rises through the dust and battles to win at all odds over foes that plain deserve and ask for the retribution.
Jack Reacher is en-route heading for Virginia to meet a woman named Susan. His nomadic no real roots now carry him on this trip, because he wants to meet her after a elongated phone conversation. This happened earlier through a time of Reacher's inquisitive need for support help and professional peer dialogue. He gets to a remote corn county in Nebraska, and runs into unexpected dilemma. He faces deadly trouble and Jack walks abruptly into it because he cares about people, and the way they are treated. Not long in the area Jack invites himself into the life of one of the resident's families. The family is named Duncan who took a beating to his wife, and Jack understood, that it was contributed by the husband. Jack invades the hang out spot, and confronts the husband after making sure his wife was treated by the local doctor. The doctor was reluctant to intervene, but Jack didn't think it was right to ignore her needing treatment. Jack became physical while giving Seth a surprise broken nose.
The Duncan family took offense to this Reacher meddling which included his father and uncles. Jack learned later that they controlled the area and all the corn business off the fields, due to the fact they monopolized the trucking business to haul the crop off to market. Also the underline county secret Jack learns of an unsolved several decades cold case of a missing child, he is reluctant to pass on forgetting. On top of this matter the Duncans have a secret business that is being held up from dealing until Jack is taken care of by the locals headed by the Duncan family. The powers of the business are half way around the world including several different powerful gang sources, who also want Jack out of the way. They are involved in the Duncan business, and are the customers who control the whole criminal process.
Jack would have been better to move on, but he stays on to help the innocent locals who deserve to be left here in this Nebraskan county with respect. He considers that some of the people who have caused this problems will be dead and those that were lead to do the evil to be sheepishly humbled over their poor choices. He feels leaving is impossible after discovering the information of what happened in this county twenty-five years ago due to some manipulated evil, that has to be contested in only the way Jack Reacher brings about justice. His determination makes this an explosive thriller with the all out justice and purpose ending in deadly retribution being the outcome.
Lee Child has now written fifteenth novels with Jack Reacher as his main protagonist. 61 Hours, Gone Tomorrow, and Bad Luck and Trouble along with Nothing to Lose were the #1 bestsellers. Killing Floor won the Anthony and the Barry awards for Best First Mystery, and Enemy won both the Barry and the Nero awards for Best Novel. He is hard at work on his next Jack Reacher thriller, and I can hardly wait to read it.
Out of the Mountains: Appalachian Stories
Meredith Sue Willis
Ohio University Press
9780821419205 Cloth, $39.95 Paper $24.95
I admired Meredith Sue Willis's earlier collection, In the Mountains of America, a marvel of craft, voice, humor and deep knowledge of a people and a place - the mountains of West Virginia. Picking up her recent collection Out of the Mountains, I had misgivings. It can be difficult for a writer so profoundly rooted in a place to move on and, in a sense, grow up.
In this collection of linked stories, however, Willis has made the transition with stories that mirror the changes that have taken place in the world she knows, as some leave the mountains or simply change their ways, while others enter for the first time.
In "Pie Knob," for example, the mountain woman Merlee Savage goes to work for an academic couple from Washington D.C., who have, to the puzzlement of the locals, built a vacation home up on one of the mountain ridges. Merlee - who appears in several of the stories and is one of Willis's best characters - has been more or less deserted by her husband C.T., a man whose invitations to go motorcycle riding are nearly impossible to turn down, who "doesn't have a mean bone in his body" but who, like all the Cooper County Savages is known to be "hard on women."
Merlee has raised the kids on her own, and has fought hard to become a registered nurse. She is now engaged to take care of Mrs. Rosen - yes, in addition to being academics from the city, they are Jewish - who comes to the vacation home to recuperate from vicious bouts of chemotherapy. Unheard of as the Rosens are in their views and their ways, Merlee "develops a crush" on both of them: "They were different from people she know. She loved the way Hank was always talking but managed to watch you at the same time, checking to see if you were getting the point. Merlee's mother chattered, but that was like sparrows twittering or rain falling. You didn't have to listen because it was the same thing over and over."
It's a small but classic story of world's colliding; in the end the bright, scrappy country woman and the cultured intellectuals have found a common space that is rich and new for both.
Merlee, along with the still-wild C.T., appears again in my favorite story, "On the Road with C.T. Savage." Though they have been divorced for twenty-five years, still it seems Merlee, for all her struggles alone, has never quite gotten over that "motorcycle-riding, engine repairing wild boy with a crooked grin." On day, C.T. shows up on her door step, struggling for breath. Having spent years as a nurse in a West Virginia town, Merlee knows the last stages of lung disease when she sees and hears it.
"Hey, Merlee," he finally manages, "come and take a ride to Canada with me."
C.T. knows how bad off he is, but, still wild boy who seeks something other than staid domesticity, he wants Merlee to accompany him on one last trip, to a lake in Canada or maybe Maine, a lake so smooth "you can't tell the difference from the real shore and sky and the sky and shore in the water, and I just lean back and ease down, sky, water, it's all the same, me and the boat."
"Goddamn you, CT," Merlee replies. "I'm not going to be your nurse!"
But they've known each other a long time. They haven't exactly grown old together and C.T. hasn't exactly grown up. Still. In this world, while some things may change, the connections deep-rooted people have with one another endure. And so Merlee, against her better judgment, goes with C.T. on one last ride.
In the last line of the story Merlee rehearses what she'll say at O.K.'s funeral if people look at her funny. That's simple. She'll say: "Goddamn you, C.T. Savage."
The Chieu Hoi Saloon
PO Box 23912, Oakland, CA
Harry Hudson, the hero of Michael Harris's The Chieu Hoi Saloon, reminds me of other hulkingly desperate, endlessly searching, secretly intellectual loners of literature. I think especially Thomas Wolfe's Eugene Gant, hurling himself into "immense and swarming" New York City. Perhaps it is only the outsider, the tortured seeker for something that couldn't be found in his nowhere home town, who can truly plumb a great city's depths.
In The Chieu Hoi Saloon, a huge book in which literary meets noir, it's 1980s Los Angeles, a city festering for the eruption that will follow the Rodney King verdict. Harry Hudson, who has fled/deserted a small town up in Oregon, a failed marriage and a little son, stutters so badly that he can barely talk to anyone but himself. His copy-desk job in a dying newspaper world leaves him plenty of time to shadow box with his past, to re-live the moment when, in a young man's "drowsiness and fear," he killed a harmless old Vietnamese, and the even longer moment, fifteen years later, when he was too drunk to fish his little daughter out of the deep end of the swimming pool. With these memories before him, he knows he "has no right ever to feel good again."
Los Angles, as seen here, seems to be a good place to have come if you are looking to run but have no real hope of hiding. Harry Hudson - as he's always called - seeks to find himself, or lose himself, in one dive after another, joints where signs such as "SWINGERS WELCOME" and "ONE AT A TIME ONLY IN THE TOILET" tell you all you need to know. Part-time hookers on their way down are willing to love Harry Hudson a little, accept his money and his support, and he at times he becomes so involved with their lives that the book sometimes begins to speak, successfully I think, in their voices, opening up a second window onto the life of the city.
Does our hero find redemption? Let me not say.
But there is one oasis of hope in the book, the Chieu Hoi (exact translation, I think, to sicken and die) run by a woman called Mama Thuy. Her life has been tough too; a young girl during the Vietnam War, she also left behind a son to make her escape. Still she remains whole: beautiful, tough, decent, courageous. The disreputable crew of saloon regulars - those who have long since "lost the ability to control their behavior well enough to pass for normal citizens" -- are all in love with her, would lay down their lives for her in a minute.
The Chieu Hoi, though it's called a saloon, is really, Harry Hudson, knows a church, a "congregation of fools, of incomplete people gathering around Mama Thuy in hope that, somehow, in this one place, some wholeness might "rub off."
G.P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson St., New York, N. Y.10014
In 1971 Frederick Forsyth released his first novel, The Day of the Jackal. It immediately set the gold standard for international thrillers. Almost thirty years later the author has penned The Cobra. The story begins with the death of a teenager in Washington, D. C. Cause of death, abuse of cocaine. The boy's grandmother works in the household of the President of the United States and during her mourning, she relates her grandsons story to him.
Struck by this everyday tragedy, the President decides to initiate a war on worldwide cocaine trafficking. To head up this clandestine effort he recruits Paul Devereaux, now retired, but formerly the head of CIA Special Ops.
Devereaux, known as the Cobra during his CIA days, comes up with a proactive plan that requires that the President provide him with complete authority to use any Federal Law Enforcement Agency and all branches of the Military. In addition, he needs a budget of two billion dollars to purchase two ships, helicopters, speed boats and other combat related weaponry. He further states that no one must have knowledge of the two billion dollars. The President's right hand man balks at the requests, but ultimately agrees to them.
The Cobra sets about assembling his strike force. First he enlists another retired man, Cal Dexter. Dexter has a varied background as a Vietnam War hero, lawyer and international bounty hunter. Dexter arranges for the purchase of the ships and other materiel. Then he and Devereaux arrange to bring in Navy Seals and British commandoes to serve as their combat troops.
With their forces in place, Dexter engages in some old fashioned spying to identify the routes of the cocaine cartels. Once they have that information they plan to seek and destroy. The story sounds exciting, but it reads like a work of non-fiction. The main characters are never full developed and the engagements with the drug cartel people are not exciting, because the Cobra's forces always overwhelm the bad guys. The outcome is never in doubt thereby negating any tension.
The novel is set in the present and as we know drug trafficking is bigger than ever. The virtual invasion of America's southern borders by the Mexican drug cartels is a huge problem. The story in this novel juxtapositioned with the reality of what's happening in the real world comes off as pure fantasy. Mr. Forsyth is still an able writer, but this effort is not up to the level of his many splendid books.
Santa Fe Edge
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson St., New York, N. Y. 10014
Ed Eagle is successful Santa Fe, New Mexico, attorney who handles high profile cases. He is recently married to Susannah, a well known film actress. Their big problem is that Ed's former wife Barbara is an evil and brilliant sociopath, but is currently residing in a tough Mexican jail. Unfortunately, she isn't there long before she masterminds her own escape by manipulating the lustful warden. She arranges to be picked up outside the prison wall by a male friend from California.
Heading back to California it develops that Barbara is focused on having Ed and his wife killed in a brutal manner. She plans to have a "hitman" carry out this job. Her reason for revenge is that Ed Eagle had arranged for her to be arrested by the Mexican authorities for crimes committed by her and her sister while vacationing in Acapulco. Eagle, having heard that Barbara is out of prison, hires two private detectives to try find her since he surmises that she will be heading his way.
There is a subplot concerning several CIA agents tracking each other around the far West. Their activities and motivations seem strangely disconnected to this novel, almost as if they should be in another book. The other weakness I discerned is that the main character, Ed Eagle, is introduced and then put on the sideline of the story while the plot concentrates on Barbara. She is compelling and certainly one of the most cold blooded killers in recent fiction, but you wonder why he is missing in action.
I found this novel moderately interesting, but I'm sure it would appeal greatly to the many Stuart Woods' fans that enjoy his work.
Edward F. Smith
Signing Their Lives Away The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed The Declaration of Independence
Denise Kierman & Joseph D'Agnese
215 Church Street Philadelphia PA 19106
9781594743306 $19.95 www.amazon.com www.quirkbooks.com
I was alerted to this book by a reader of my column and I thank that person for letting me know about this very interesting book about the men who wrote and signed the "Declaration of Independence" of this country. We learn there are 57 men who signed the document from all of the thirteen colonies. The writers tell all about every one of the men who helped form this great nation. They came from all walks of life and led very interesting lives. . It is pointed out also that George Washington was not the first president of this country. There were 10 other men who were also considered the president. This is the kind of thing you do not ever learn in school
Legends in the Kitchen Celebrity Recipes for a Cause
Compiled by Mrs. Howard Keel & Linda F. Radke
Foreword by Stefanie Powers
Five Star Publications Inc.
P.O. Box 6698, Chandler, AZ 85246-6698
9781589850545, $17.95 www.amazon.com www.LegendsintheKitchen.com.com
I loved the many famous people's recipes and the idea is a fun excursion into many different types of foods. My only complaint is that the ladies who compiled this book should have given the reader more details about the people and what they are known for.
The Strangest of Strange Unsolved Mysteries Volume 2
Phyllis Raybin Emert
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10010
www.tor-forge.com 978765365945, $5.95, www.amazon.com
There are fifty-two tales of things that have never been resolved. Some of the most interesting stories in this second collection are about Jack the Ripper, D. B Cooper, The Bermuda Triangle, Atlantis, and Agatha Christie. All are true things that are fascinating reading for all ages.
The Adventures of Captain Tag
Art & Story by Don and Lisa Eppersom II
Legacy Publishing Services Inc
1883 Lee Road, Winter Park, Florida 32789
9781934449851 $12.95 www.amazon.com www.LegacyBookPublishing.com
I reviewed this one a while back and now see that this is a different version because of the PC version on the cover. I have to laugh that someone would find something to object about a kid's book but someone must have because this one is a little different but the story is still the same and a lot of fun. Anyone who enjoys comic books or super hero stories will love this enjoyable first escapade of Captain Tag.
Night of the Living Trekkies
Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall
215 Church Street Philadelphia PA 19106
9781594743306, $19.95, www.amazon.com www.quirkbooks.com
I had a lot of fun reading this satire of the "Star Trek" universe. The authors who obviously are fans do a nice job of making fun of the many of the Trek characters. I love that the novel takes place at a convention called Gulf Con at the Botany Bay hotel. The authors also play with the popular Zombie genre as well and do it very well. This is a laugh out loud spoof that should be the first of a series.
The Student From Zombie Island Conquering the Rumor Monster
Michael J. Moorehead Illustrated by Kathy Parks
Five Star Publications Inc.
P.O. Box 6698, Chandler, AZ 85246-6698
9781589850729, $15.95 www.amazon.com www.ZombieIslandBooks.com.com
A new kid in school becomes the subject of many rumors. The author shows how a rumor starts and how it can take on new details that blow it out of proportion. The story moves along as readers see the many interesting facets that happen when people talk about other people. Adults in office situations should learn from this book because so often rumors are untrue. The author shows how damaging they can become.
Children Go Green Bus Trip To Little Stars Elementary
Monica Goldstein Illustrations by Bobbi Switzer
Outskirts Press Inc Denver, Colorado
9781432725280, $14.95 www.amazon.com www.outskirtspress.com
The author and illustrator teach children all about recycling and how important it is that they learn to do it. Told through the character of a can the author takes young readers through the process of recycling. This is a fun kid's book that has a lot to say about saving the planet.
The Umbrella Race
Outskirts Press Inc Denver, Colorado
9781432760069 $25.95 www.amazon.com www.outskirtspress.com
The story is a delightful tale of what happens if an umbrella suddenly could talk. There are many interesting characters that come in contact with the talking umbrella
Be Afraid of a Dentist, Be Afraid
Outskirts Press Inc Denver, Colorado
9781432761158, $14.95, www.amazon.com www.outskirtspress.com
I'm sure the authors have a lot to say against the dental profession but its lost because its just too difficult to follow. Told in the first person the writing is hard to track because there are two people telling their portion of the story and it is difficult to tell which is the father or daughter talking. They should have hired someone to edit the work before they published it.
Conrad J. Storad Illustrated by Nathaniel P. Jensen
Five Star Publications Inc.
P.O. Box 6698, Chandler, AZ 85246-6698
9781589851610, $16.95 www.amazon.com www.RattlesnakeRules.com
This is a book to teach kids all about rattlesnakes. The author and artist reveal many facts about the creatures that kids should know. The writing is simple and the art adds to the pieces about these reptiles. There are also facts that are told at the end of the book for all ages to learn.
A Sporting Murder
Chester D. Campbell
Night Shadows Press
8987 E. Tanque Verdi #309-135, Tucson, AZ 85749-9399
9780984604401 $14.95 www.NightShadowsPress.com
In his fifth fictional appearance, Greg McKenzie, a former cop who had worked for 25 years as a special agent for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, has been hired to look into the proposed arrival in Nashville of an NBA team, and to check out the rumor that something shady was going on among the NBA franchise seekers. As the city already has both professional football and ice hockey teams, it seems like a bit of overkill to further dilute the sports fan base to a point where none of the three could be truly viable.
Combining a terrific mystery with professional sports - what could be better?
Greg and Jill, his "bride of nearly forty years," who together comprise McKenzie Investigations, receive a call from Arnold Wechsel, a young German who is the nephew of Greg's old OSI colleague, asking for a meeting, telling him only that he has information about the NBA matter that will "blow the mind." When Greg arrives at the designated meeting place, he finds the young man's dead body. Greg is determined, on both a personal and professional level, to track down the killer. In the process, they survive a couple of serious attempts on their lives. And there is also the presence of a ubiquitous [and somewhat menacing] black Escalade to add to the mystery. As Greg says, "the professional sports franchise business [is] getting deadly."
This reader by now feels an affinity for this husband-and-wife team, and cannot also help but feel a knowledge of and affection for their creator and his wife, who seem to be the models for the protags. A thoroughly satisfying holiday read [it is the week before Christmas as the book opens], and recommended.
Thrilled to Death
By L. J. Sellers
9055G Thamesmeade R., Laurel, MD 20723
9781590807279 $13.99 301-490-2507 echelonpress.com
Homicide Detective Wade Jackson, of the Eugene, Oregon Police Department, returns in the newest entry in the series by L. J. Sellers, following her terrific "Secrets to Die For" and "The Sex Club," and this one is every bit as exciting and suspenseful as were those earlier books.
Wade's girlfriend, Kera Kollmorgan, enlists his help when Danette Blake, her 20-year-old not-quite daughter-in-law, fails to return to pick up her three-month old grandson Micah, following her appointment with a psychiatrist. [Danette and Nathan, Kera's son, had never married before he was shipped out and later died in the war.] His search for Danette proves frustrating and fruitless. But when another young woman who apparently has nothing in common with Danette also disappears on the same day, the investigation widens. The women appear to live in completely different worlds: Danette lives in public housing, and the second woman to go missing, though superficially similar in appearance to Danette, is an heiress with no connection to Danette that the police can find. The only lead takes them to the home of an agoraphobic man who hasn't left his house in a year.
A cop for over twenty years, Wade is dealing with issues in his personal life as well, primarily health issues - he's had abdominal pain for months, along with what could be cardiac symptoms - as well as his relationship with his daughter, Katie, and her reluctant acceptance of her father's new romantic interest when she still hasn't given up on her parents' getting back together now that his ex-wife is sober. [He has full custody of Katie, her time with her mother being at Wade's discretion.]
Fast-paced, well-plotted and with terrific writing, the book is recommended. [It should be noted that the author has two books due out in 2011, the fourth book in the Jackson series, as well as a standalone.]
225 Duncan Mill Rd., Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B3K9
9780778327639 $7.99 US/$9.99 www.MIRABooks.com 416-445-5860
This newest entry in the Taylor Jackson series could be termed a procedural with a twist. It includes elements of the occult: Goth, Wicca, Satanic and Pagan rituals and beliefs. In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that in general, "woo woo" is not my favorite genre. This novel, however, does not ask readers to believe in the occult, merely to accept that there are those that do. And on that basis, I had no problem with it at all. More to the point, I found it equally as enjoyable as the earlier books in this series, of which this is the fifth.
All events transpire over a four-day period, beginning, significantly, on October 31st [usually known as Halloween or, if one follows the occult, Samhain, which is the Wiccan New Year.] As the book opens, Taylor Jackson has just been reinstated as a Lieutenant in the Nashville Metro Police Department, heading up the Murder Squad. The squad assembles hurriedly when there are reports of multiple victims and multiple crime scenes, at least seven dead in five different houses, all victims between fourteen and eighteen years of age. The persons responsible seem to be the eponymous, if self-styled, Immortals. Is this, as it starts to appear, a case of vampires and witches running amok in Nashville, Tennessee?
Paralleling this investigation in the novel is one that revolves around events which began in June of 2004 with the discovery of the fifth victim of what the media dubs The Clockwork Killer, which involved Dr. John Baldwin, Supervisory Special Agent and Taylor's fiance, and which he must revisit when a hearing into the matter is being held at FBI headquarters at Quantico. In each case, the present and the past, there is an inherent threat of further loss of young lives, both aspects of the book equally suspenseful. [I couldn't help but note that Dr. Baldwin displays good taste in writers, reading a copy of a John Connolly book in one scene.] The occult aspect becomes just another part of the background and not a deterrent to this reader's enjoyment of the book. As is pointed out to Taylor, "Everyone needs something to believe in. Pagans just look to things that are a bit more tangible than what you and I are aware of." The Immortals, as were the other books in the series, is recommended.
Driven to Ink
Karen E. Olson
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780451231574 $6.99 800-847-5515 penguin.com
Karen E. Olson, the author of the Annie Seymour Mysteries, here brings back for her third appearance Brett Kavanaugh, owner of her own tattoo shop, The Painted Lady, in Las Vegas. As the book opens, Brett calls Jeff Coleman, her almost-boyfriend, to tell him that Jeff's mother, Sylvia, who had borrowed Brett's car to marry Bernie Applebaum in one of the ubiquitous wedding chapels that abound in Vegas, had returned the car with a little something extra: A dead body in the trunk. Wearing a tuxedo, no less.
Brett is the daughter and sister of cops; in fact, she shares her home with her detective brother, Tim. Jeff is actually a competitor of Brett, running a tattoo shop specializing in 'flash,' or stock tattoos, whereas Brett does only custom designs in her shop on the Strip in Vegas. She has come to L.V. by way of the Philadelphia University of the Arts, having ultimately decided "if I couldn't set up an easel along the Seine in Paris, then I'd tattoo body parts in northern New Jersey" but, at 22, when the opportunity arose to own her own shop in Vegas, she jumped at the chance. A redhead nearly six feet tall, she cuts a striking figure.
It is determined that the dead man was one of several Dean Martins employed at a drive-through wedding chapel, and is also one of several characters in the tale who, by book's end, have had the words "That's Amore" tattooed on various body parts. Appropriately, that's also the name of said wedding chapel. When three people go missing, including the new bride and groom, matters escalate. It begins to look as though someone is trying to kill all the Dean Martin impersonators. As is her nature, Brett decides to investigate, all warnings from brother Tim and the detective assigned to the murder notwithstanding.
The author captures the glitz of Vegas, as well as the aura of desperation in the casinos. I did feel that the book could have benefited from some tightening, with a bit less rehashing of the various points in the story line, though I must admit it was still difficult to keep everyone and everything straight. As in the previous entries in the series, the teachings of Sister Mary Eucharista are frequently invoked, to amusing effect, always provoking smiles. Brett is a funny, clever gal, words that also describe the books in which she appears, which are always entertaining.
You Are Next
c/o Harper Collins
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061809026 $7.99 800-242-7737 harpercollins.com
This riveting new book by Katia Lief centers around "a twenty-seven-year-old mild-mannered loner named Martin Price," a serial killer dubbed the Domino Killer, so called because at the scene of each of his crimes he leaves a message, spelled out in dominoes, if the police can figure out the clues. As the book begins, he has escaped from custody, leaving a last message that brings the police, in the form of detective first class Billy Staples, to the door of former Detective Karin Schaeffer. Karin, now 33 years old, has received a medical discharge from the police force, having suffered an unthinkable blow at Price's hands: the murder of her husband and three-year-old daughter. "There had been others before that but it was my family's murders that had put JPP [her own name for Price: Just Plain Psycho] away once and for all." But now, apparently, not quite. Karin had first become involved in the hunt for the killer following the murder of five members of a family in Maplewood, New Jersey [her old beat before she quit the force and her old life, believing that she was to blame for her family's deaths], and which had led to his obsession with her and her family.
This time the dominoes Price left behind contained her street address in Brooklyn, New York, where she's lived for the last five months. The previous note he had left for her, nearly a year before, was written in her daughter's blood: You Are Next. His m.o. has always been to wipe out all members of whatever family he has focused on, and now is apparently no exception. The effect on one of his potential victims is made palpable, as Karin describes her brother, Jon: "Nearly translucent skin revealing a lattice of fear, tension, and determination that had replaced the bones, muscles and cartilage out of which the average face was built. His was no average face, not anymore, not since every iota of his being had geared itself to the survival of his family." Only adding, of course, to Karin's sense of guilt.
Karin is ambivalent about seeking protection, almost welcoming the prospect of joining her beloved family in the next world; the reader will find it almost impossible to comprehend her unfathomable loss. [On her last day on the police force she had swallowed an entire bottle of pills.] In this intense rendering, the writing is imbued with an ever-present sense of danger and dread. The book is nearly impossible to put down, and is highly recommended.
Next Time You See Me
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061809040 $7.99 800-242-7737 harpercollins.com
Katia Lief's first book, the thrilling "You Are Next," was published by Avon in October of 2010.; this novel, a sequel, one short month later. Inasmuch as it picks up four years after the end of the first book, everything to follow must be considered a potential spoiler, hence:
Karin Schaeffer is still living in Brooklyn, New York, but now she is about to celebrate her second wedding anniversary. Five months pregnant, she had married Mac, after the latter quit the Maplewood, New Jersey police force [as had Karin herself a few years back], moved to Brooklyn where he married Karin and they both started a new life after [barely] surviving the events described in the first book
Karin had been a soldier, a cop and a detective; now a mother and currently taking courses in forensic psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Mac [nee Seamus MacLeary], a former cop for more than twenty years, has just been promoted to senior vice-president of Forensic Security at the exclusive firm of Quest Security after a scandal involving allegedly altered forensic testimony in a high-profile legal case had resulted in his predecessor in the job being summarily fired. Also present is Billy Staples, the cop who worked with them on the earlier case, now Mac's best friend and still working in Brooklyn's 84th Precinct.
As the tale opens, Mac's parents have been found dead in their home, apparently the victims of a botched home invasion. But a few days later, shortly after the funeral, the police suspect Mac's brother, Danny, who has a history of alcoholism and rootlessness, frequently changing jobs and girlfriends, based on DNA evidence found in the house. In a state of exhaustion, when Mac insists on going to work but trying to exude enthusiasm on the morning of their anniversary celebration dinner, he promises Karin, with a kiss and a smile, "next time you see me, I'll be . . . " when she cuts off his apology with another kiss. Then he disappears.
Two weeks later, with no word from Mac, they are notified that the car that he had apparently rented has been found in Long Island Sound, with no trace of a body. Months go by, with no word from or trace of Mac. Karin is convinced that his disappearance has something to do with his new job, rather than his parents' murder and Danny's possible involvement. She is convinced that Mac is still alive, focusing on the fact that no body has been found. She hires a private detective, and discovers things about Mac's past she never knew of or suspected. As her mother tells her, "we may think we know someone, but there are always surprises," and as Karin herself thinks, " i you think life is going to turn out the way you plan it, you're a fool."
The book is as suspenseful and surprising as was the earlier book, and it too is highly recommended.
Dexter is Delicious
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780385532358 $25.95 800-726-0600 doubleday.com
Jeff Lindsay is back, with his totally unique creation, Dexter Morgan. Mr. Lindsay's trademark alliteration is firmly in place, e.g., on the second page of the novel, Dexter references his Dark Dabbler, Dexter Dead for Decades, and Dexter the Decidedly Dreadful. [Although the tale is told in the first person, the protagonist routinely refers to himself in the third person.] But in this, the fifth novel in the series, it seems that these references might belong to an earlier Dexter, since now, at first blush at least, he appears to be a changed man, with a new appellation, Dex-Daddy, courtesy of the gorgeous, perfect baby girl to whom his wife has just given birth, to wit: Lily Anne; he now sees himself as "something that almost feels, that so very nearly resembles a human being." And amazingly, he welcomes the change. But can this kinder, gentler Dexter prevail?
As those who have read the prior books in the series, as well as fans of the wildly popular tv series based thereon, know, Dexter is by day a blood splatter expert who works for the Miami-Dade P.D., by night an avenging angel who delights in cutting up and disposing of those whose heinous acts fall into the category of those who fully deserve to die, according to the 'code of Harry,' his cop foster father. But his infant daughter has wrought this extraordinary change in our hero, and now, when Dexter perceives a threat, it is not danger to himself or the world at large that awakens his old predilections, it is any possible peril to Lily Anne which is 'not a thing he can allow.'
Dexter's protective instincts jump into high gear, as opposed to his usual mode of "recreational homicide," when what at first appears to be a kidnapping turns into the disappearance of not one but two teenage girls. In this appearance Dexter's adoptive sister, Deborah, a sergeant in the Homicide Division, seems to have undergone a change as well, her usual contentious self showing some softer, more vulnerable moments, a truly unnerving thing. And by the time the book ends, it would appear that there are a lot of other people out there with an unsuspected dark side, their own "Dark Passenger." This is a macabre tale which, however, regularly induces smiles despite the occasional grimace, in almost equal measure. It is thoroughly enjoyable, and is recommended.
Bleed a River Deep
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312384326 $23.99 646-307-5560 minotaurbooks.com
As this newest book in the series begins, Inspector Benedict ("Ben") Devlin has set his sights on a very wealthy. influential and powerful man, John Weston, who he suspects is guilty of . . . something, he's not quite sure what. But his very attitude of arrogance and something akin to condescension raises Devlin's hackles. He first meets Weston at his company's sixteen acres of Donegal bogland within which sits Ireland's newest and largest goldmine; when he enters the man's office, he cannot help but look out of the windows, which allow a view "revealing both the expanse of his goldmine and, to the other side, the majesty of the Donegal landscape in which he had quite literally carved his niche." But he has come here on this day in preparation for a visit by a U.S. Senator who is about to formally open the site.
Devlin is charged with ensuring the safety of the Senator, a fierce hawk vis-a-vis the Iraq war and a harsh critic of terrorism, the latter perhaps hypocritical coming, as it did, from a politician with links to an IRA support group, which in turn had incited Ireland's own anti-war activists. That, added to threats from the environmental lobby only adds to the concern. All of which is borne out quite vividly when the man, as feared, attacked, the event made worse, for Devlin, when the attacker is recognized as the brother of a childhood friend. And for his boss, Supt. Harry Patterson, this is the last straw after a series of perceived 'mistakes' [of conscience and principle] on Devlin's part, and he is suspended.
But Devlin feels compelled to continue the investigation on which he had been working: What at first blush appeared to be a case of identity theft turns into something much more sinister: illegal immigration and its close relative, people smuggling, an all-too-familiar scenario with only the geographic particulars and the ethnicity of the victims varying.
This is the third Devlin novel. The writing is compelling, its protagonist a very human one [not the anguished, hard-drinking man one has come to expect in the genre], and it is recommended.
To Fetch a Thief
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781439157077 $25.00 800-223-2336 simonandschuster.com
Bernie Little and his 100-pound dog, Chet the Jet, are partners in the Little Detective Agency. A bit odd, one might say - unless one has 'met' Chet in either or both of his two prior appearances, "Dog on It" and "Thereby Hangs a Tail." If one has encountered Chet previously, it is not at all odd - Chet has both natural instincts and other abilities gained through Bernie's tutelage that make him an invaluable asset. When last seen, they had been hired to find a tiny show dog named Princess, which they successfully accomplished, of course. This time around the missing "person" is another four-legged one: Peanut, an African elephant [the largest ones in the world, apparently], and, incidentally, its trainer, a man with a reputation as the greatest, if not also the most humane, elephant trainer in the circus world. [Both of them had been working in a family-owned traveling circus.]
Bernie is ex-Metro PD and a Vietnam Vet; Chet is an almost-graduate of K9 school, the 'almost' factor the result of an unfortunate incident on the very last day of school. [In this entry, the reader is filled in on the day on which and the manner in which Chet and Bernie first met and got together.] And as Chet keeps reminding us, they make a great team.
The immediate question is: How does one hide an African elephant? Apparently, no one had seen anything amiss, or seen either Peanut or her trainer leaving the circus grounds. Matters get more serious when the trainer's dead body is found, the manner of death being as much a mystery as anything else: He was fatally bitten by a snake not indigenous to any part of the United States. A sub-plot deals with Charlie's ex-wife and her impending marriage to a man who seems to have no interest in settling down with one woman, and Bernie fears his adored son may have an unstable household in his future, which cannot be allowed.
I am the first to admit that I am not enamored of books with talking animals, especially ones that solve crimes. Chet is an absolute exception to that general preference, he is such a charmer, and a terrific and professional detective as well, as we find out yet again. This was such a welcome change from the spate of serial killers in my recent reading [good as they might have been]! Chet, and the novel, are completely captivating, and the book is highly recommended.
Reed Farrel Coleman
1213 N. Sherman Ave., Unit 306, Madison WI 53704
9781935562207 $24.95 620-258-0079 tyrusbooks.com
A predominant theme of this wonderful new novel by Reed Farrel Coleman is guilt, something of which there is more than enough to go around, and which plagues several of the characters, not least of whom is the protagonist, Moe Prager. Moe [as are most New Yorkers] is still feeling the aftershock of 9/11; unable to deal with the murder of his first wife [from whom he had been divorced], seven years prior, for which he still feels responsible, and which.had in turn led to his continuing estrangement from his adored daughter, Sarah; morose following the end of his second marriage after six years, which had also caused him to close his p.i. office, in which his ex-wife had been a partner. He now, with his brother, owns several successful wine shops in and around the metro New York area, from Brooklyn to the Hamptons. All that changes when Sarah asks Moe to speak with a woman who was her best friend, role model and babysitter when Sarah was a child, about the disappearance of the woman's young daughter, a prodigy in the art world at four years of age, now only 11.
Moe, though now 60 and out of the NYPD for thirty years, cannot refuse his daughter, and he takes on the search for the possibly kidnapped child, now gone for three weeks; as he says, he is "back in the game," hoping that at the end there will be two daughters restored to their families. The title derives from something Moe is told by a possible suspect: "Beware the innocent monster, Mr. Prager, for it need not hide itself and lives closely among us."
The book is totally engaging from page one. The plot is intriguing; the characters well-drawn; the ending stunning. I've read most of Mr. Coleman's prior books and loved them all. The 2008 "Empty Ever After" stayed with me long after I'd read the last page, and I suspect this newest novel will as well. [And it's not just the fact I grew up, as did Prager, a Brooklyn Jew who still remembers all the neighborhoods where the investigation takes Moe, the original Nathan's Famous in Coney Island, the villainous departure of the Dodgers in 1957, and now roots for the Mets in Flushing.] The book revolves around the [mostly] enduring love of family. The writing is terrific, and the book is highly recommended.
On the Line
S. J. Rozan
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312544492 $24.99 646-307-5560, minotaurbooks.com
What, exactly is "on the line" in this newest novel from S. J. Rozan is nothing more than the life of Lydia Chin. For the uninitiated, Lydia, a young ABC [American-Born Chinese, and described as 'Chinatown's only PI, with a non-Chinese partner her mom doesn't like'], is the sometime partner of Bill Smith, a chain-smoking middle-aged white guy. And no one writes protagonists of a different gender and ethnicity better than this master-craftsman [excuse me, make that 'craftsperson'].
As the novel opens, early one morning late in the Fall in NYC Bill receives a call made from Lydia's phone. The caller, who doesn't identify himself and whose voice is electronically altered, says that he has Lydia, and for Bill to get her back he will have to play a 'game' whose rules are laid out: Bill will have to follow a series of clues that will be doled out to him in an unspecified manner, but he has only twelve hours to find her. Of course, the game rules keep changing, and Bill has no idea who the kidnapper is. He seeks help from Linus Wong, Lydia's young cousin and a talented hacker, and Linus' assistant, a teenage Goth girl named Trella. The 'game' becomes much more complicated when Bill discovers the dead body of a young Chinese woman he thinks at first might be Lydia, but turns out to be that of a hooker. Immediately after this discovery the cops turn up, and Bill soon finds himself hunted by the cops as well as by the girl's pimp and his two very scary associates. The game soon threatens the lives of several more young girls, with Lydia the prize for whoever wins.
The tension never lets up, with Bill desperately trying to obtain and then figure out the clues left for him in varying places all around the city, as well as identifying the man who hates him this much, because it is soon apparent that this is very, very personal. The novel is exquisitely plotted, all leading up to a breathtaking denouement. More than highly recommended, this one is a Must Read.
Forget to Remember
1663 Liberty Dr., Bloomington, IN 47405
9781452072340 $14.99 800-839-8640 authorhouse.com
Rigo Ramirez is a bright young man with a master's degree in psychology and some excellent computer skills. In order to earn a living, however, he works for minimum wage as a dishwasher in a restaurant near his parents' home [where he too resides] in the Palos Verdes Peninsula of CA. In the course of his duties one evening, which duties include taking out the trash, he discovers to his shock the naked body of a young woman in the dumpster outside the restaurant, unsure whether she is alive or dead. Due to Rigo's quick action, she is taken to the hospital and survives the ordeal with nothing more than relatively superficial injuries. However, she finds she has no memory at all, either of the attack or anything prior to that.
One consequence of the girl's amnesia - she decides to call herself 'Carol' because she likes the sound of that name - is that she is unable to acquire many of the things one tends to take for granted, such as a social security card [for which she needs a birth certificate, which of course she doesn't have either], a driver's license, a bank account, etc., nor can she fly anywhere because of her lack of I.D. "Officially, as far as the county, and I guess any state and the federal government, are concerned, I'm a non-person." A pretty daunting situation in which to find oneself. As if that weren't enough, she is warned "Somebody wants you dead, which, I suspect, is the reason you were found in a Dumpster. This is beginning to look more like a murder mystery than a search for identity." And so it turns out to be.
With the help of Rigo, his family, and a friend who is a genetic genealogist, the search for her identity begins, through DNA, statistical analysis, computer searches and the like. Along the way "Carol" has some problematical encounters with men she meets, but nothing she can't handle. In a fast-paced tale which is immediately engrossing, the journey itself becomes as interesting as the quest, and the novel is recommended.
Pinnacle, c/o Kensington Publishing, 119 W. 40th St., NY, NY 10018,
9780786020263 $7.99 800-221-2647 kensingtonbooks.com
From the attention-getting first sentence of this novel ("Quinn had found a box of paper clips in his bottom desk drawer and was just straightening up when the dead woman entered his office") to the description of the latter, which ends as follows: "The smile came again, a red slash of amusement that broke into speech," in true noir style, I suspected that this was a novel that I might or might not want to read through to the end. I should quickly add that initial impressions are often misleading, and that was the case here.
Although she initially introduces herself as Tiffany Keller, the woman under discussion soon admits that she is Chrissie Keller, the twin sister of Tiffany, who five years prior was the fifth and final victim of a serial killer, still on the loose, nicknamed The Carver, whose pattern of killing included mutilating his victims and carving a large "X" on the chest of each before finally cutting their throats. She explains that the police have refused any longer to pursue the cold case, and that she wants Quinn to reopen the investigation and bring the killer to justice.
Quinn, a former Captain with the NYPD, now owns a private detective agency, along with his partners Larry Fedderman, like Quinn a former homicide detective working out of Manhattan South, and Pearl Kasner, also former NYPD and with whom Quinn at one time had a.much more intimate relationship [on which they both from time to time reflect]. Suddenly things heat up when it appears that The Carver has once again become active.
The novel at first is not a heart-in-the-mouth thriller, but steadily builds suspense as the body count mounts, and every time a female character has a date with a new guy she's just met, the reader can't help but think "Is she going to be the next victim? Is this guy the chameleon-like Carver.?" And suddenly it becomes just that, a heart-in-the-mouth thriller. Mr. Lutz paints an alternately grim and beautiful picture, each mostly accurate, of New York City. I must admit that this book, the author's twelfth overall and the fifth in the series featuring Frank Quinn, was my first introduction to John Lutz. It is recommended, and I certainly plan on reading the next in the series, which the publisher advises is forthcoming in 2011.
Alan Dean Foster
Del Rey Books/Ballantine Books
A division of Random House, Inc.
New York, NY
The Flinx series of stories is one of the best SF series today. Flinx and Pip are two of the greatest fictional characters that you can find. Foster has been using them for the last thirty-five years to build a variety of unique and interesting worlds. Foster writes both short stories and novels. A number of his latest Flix and Pip stories were beautiful short stories that had been dressed as novels. This is because the major publishers have not been producing venues for short stories. In Flinx Transcendent, Foster has started with a short story about the AAnn home-world, Blasusarr. He then finishes off the major storyline hook that he introduced in his first set of novels three decades ago. This is a better solution than his past practice of editing a single short story into novel length.
Flinx Transcendent is a satisfying end to this major SF series. It stitches together all of the threads weaved into the saga over the years and is still a fun independent story. In many ways, this story could have been told much earlier in the series. The characters and worlds Foster has created could easily have continued after this major climax into a continuing series of satisfying travelogs within the fantasy future worlds of the Commonwealth.
Finx and Pip represent a major genre line in SF and anyone who enjoys the genre needs to read a few, if not all, of this series of stories. Even those who normally don't enjoy SF will find the interesting complex worlds of the Commonwealth and the characters Foster creates a worthwhile escape. Flinx Transcendent is a must read for those who have read any of the previous series of books and is a satisfying introduction to the series for anyone first finding it on the shelf.
The Atlantis Code
A Forge Book
c/o Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
The Atlantis Code is a fun action adventure. It is a nice mix of history and fantasy framed with just enough reality to give it a solid link to the world today. Brokaw takes a new twist on the Atlantis myth to give it an unexpected turn which gives the story a fresh feel. Frequently many popular authors let their fantasies loose when it comes to the timeframe on the events in the plot line. There is no reason why the writers can't use realistic travel and work times. Brokaw actually uses timeframes that could happen and it creates a stronger story that is easier to escape into. There are weaknesses in the plot but, with the stronger reality based framework, they are easy to ignore.
Linguist/archeologist Thomas Lourds is hired by a TV show to be the guest expert. The TV show sets up in Alexandria, Egypt with an array of artifacts for him to examine in front of the camera. A team of murderous gunmen raid the makeshift studio and steal a ceramic bell with writing engraved on its side that shouldn't exist. Lourds has become a target in the sight of a gang of killers hired to steal a series of artifacts that could change the world. Lourds is on the run, hiding from the killers, while trying to discover the secret of the artifacts scattered across the world for millennia.
The Atlantis Code is a very good escapist novel. It deserves more notice than it has received. It is one of those books that the publishers don't seem to understand how to promote that become hidden behind better selling books that actually have more problems with their storytelling. It is a great find on the mass-market shelves and a steal in the used bookstores.
S.A. Gorden, Reviewer
George W. Bush
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
What this collection of apologetics by the worst president America is ever likely to have proves more than anything else, is that he has learned nothing and is likely to die as ignorant as he is today. But it also confirms that he is unlikely to ever have to pay for his war crimes, crimes against the constitution, and crimes against the American people, because his defence of "diminished responsibility" is as near-certain of convincing a jury as it would have been ten years ago. In November 2000, Bush demonstrated that he really believed he had been elected President of the United States, when the rest of the population recognized that he had been appointed to an office he failed to win legally, by five Supreme Court justices who treasonously overthrew the constitution in order to place a member of their own party in the White House.
From 1981 until 2001, it was considered axiomatic that Ronald Reagan was the most unintelligent president America had ever had. Then George W. Bush took the title from him in a canter. From 1972 until 2003, Richard Nixon was widely recognized as the most morally retarded president America had ever had. Then George W. Bush took the title from him by lying to Congress in order to wage a war that had no purpose except the personal glorification of George W. Bush. For seventy years Herbert Hoover was regarded as the most inept president America had ever had. Then George W. Bush proved as incapable as Hoover of solving an economic crisis almost as severe as the Great Depression of Hoover's time. And for almost 2,000 years, the emperor Gaius Caligula was regarded as the most rationally challenged head of state in world history-until George W. Bush.. You get the picture.
The first two chapters of Decision Points, on the subjects of quitting drinking, adopting Hillbilly Graham's imaginary Sky Fuhrer, and running for office, will interest only the kind of persons who watch television's reality garbage and soap operas. Chapter three, on choosing his political collaborators, reveals only that Bush still does not recognize his coconspirators such as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Karl Rove as war criminals who may yet end their lives strapped to gurneys with needles in their arms-if their unlikely protector, Barack Obama, stops interfering in the judicial process and allows them to be brought to trial. Indeed, one can only wonder what kind of crimes Obama may be contemplating, that he sees a need to establish the precedent that a previous president and his enablers are above the law.
Chapter four, on Bush's prohibition of stem cell research, reveals only that he continues to rate the opinions of persons who take their values from Osama bin Laden's imaginary playmate above those of persons with functioning human brains. That conscienceless liars who could not possibly have believed it themselves, were able to convince Bush that he alone could forestall the creation of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, adds nothing to what is discernable from other sources concerning his Christian Science/ Jehovah's Witnesses-level-intelligence and Mormon/ Scientology-level gullibility.
A comparison of Bush's chapters on the subject with more objective accounts of his invasion of Afghanistan and the events leading up to it, does not show his version to be more self-serving or unrealistic than something Lyndon Johnson, for example, might have written. It is when he attempts to justify his war against a country that had no connection with the World Trade Center atrocity, was not harboring al Qaeda, and posed no threat to America, that he reveals the full extent of his ability to doublethink anything in order to avoid living in the real world. His continued insistence that, "America is safer without a homicidal dictator pursuing WMD and supporting terror at the heart of the Middle East" (p. 267), eliminates the possibility that he was merely misinformed but now knows better. As for his claim (p. 262) that, "The left trotted out a new mantra: 'Bush Lied, People Died'", he is clearly labeling as "the left" everyone whose moral evolution is at least two thousand years more advanced than his own, in other words the 83 percent of the American population who are not fundamentalist theofascists.
Bush's most consistent feature, which of course he does not mention in his book, is his inconsistency. He zooms in on Saddam Hussein's acts of war against Iraqi communities that opposed his dictatorship, and stresses the support he received from his pet poodle in England. But he makes no mention of the several countries in which Bush himself has been indicted for war crimes. As governor of Texas he rejected a petition from another unelected head of state, the Catholic pope, to cancel a ritualistic revenge murder. But as POTUS he made foreign aid contingent on the recipients enforcing the taboos of that same unelected pope. Apparently Bush has no objection to having his puppet strings pulled, provided he does not give the appearance of allowing his puppet strings to be pulled.
It is tempting to offer Bush II as proof that belief in Mother Goose (or is it "God"? I'm always confusing those two) rots the brain. The reality is that not only nontheists, but also a majority of god-addicted Democrats, consider Gee Dubya an embarrassment to hominids. Does Bush really believe that his fairy-tale Sky Fuhrer told him to invade Iraq, as he informed the Israeli newspaper ha-Aretz? Even if he does not, his ability to believe that other people would take such a claim seriously is indicative of chronic mental dysfunction. His acknowledgement (p. 307) that, "I am pleased that the faith-based initiative [a policy his equally god-infested successor refuses to abolish] continues," reveals his inability to grasp that making America's 112 million nontheists pay to propagate the god delusion is a treasonous violation of the First Amendment.
Perhaps the most significant part of Decision Points is Bush's confession that he is a war criminal. When asked for permission to waterboard prisoners, in violation of the Geneva Convention's classifying such procedure as torture and therefore a war crime, he answered (p. 170), "Damn right." He attempts to justify his violation of the principles that make America a more just society that Iran by two equally invalid arguments. One is the Big Lie, which he has never stopped parroting (pp. 169-171), that the torture worked. Torture will always extract whatever lie the person being tortured believes will put an end to the practice, and it did the same in Guantanamo-as any number of investigators have proven. The other (p. 171) is that waterboarding is not a war crime, even though America executed Japanese soldiers for waterboarding after WWII. Following the publication of this book and Bush's embarking on a tour to promote it, the lord mayor of London warned him that, if he ever enters the mayor's jurisdiction, he runs the risk of being arrested. The same applies to every democracy in the European Union. And yet, despite Bush's own admissions that would guarantee his conviction in any US court, the Democrat currently occupying the White House is choosing to canonize the Nixon doctrine, "When the president does it, it's not illegal." Why?
George W. Bush is unteachable, incapable of grasping that wanting something to be true cannot make it true, and impervious to even an infinite amount of evidence falsifying his masturbation fantasies. No wonder he is a god addict. The truly sad part is that he will never learn that the Cloud Cuckoo Land to which he believes he will be posthumously assigned for becoming the most prolific serial killer in American history (152 ritualistic revenge murders in Texas; 4228 servicemen killed in Iraq during his presidency) does not exist, because he will be totally, permanently, irreversibly DEAD.
The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Values
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
"Just as there is no such thing as Christian physics or Muslim algebra, we will see that there is no such thing as Christian or Muslim morality. Indeed, I will argue that morality should be considered an undeveloped branch of science." With those words (p. 4), Sam Harris makes clear that he intends to offer a concept of morality based on something more realistic than, "My God says so, so there!" Robert Heinlein took a giant leap in the direction of rationality when he declared that sin means hurting someone unnecessarily, and all other "sins" are invented nonsense. But he did not spell out the logic behind his conclusion. Harris does so.
In criticizing (p. 6) "Stephen Jay Gould's doomed notion of 'nonoverlapping magisteria'-the idea that science and religion, properly construed, cannot be in conflict because they constitute different domains of expertise," Harris writes, "I hope to persuade you that this is not only untrue; it could not possibly be true.." And in reporting on his attendance at a three-day conference on science, religion, reason, and survival, attended by some of the world's most rational, nontheist scientists, he expresses amazement (p. 23) that, "three days were insufficient to force agreement on the simple question of whether there is any conflict at all between religion and science." Yet after what I see as an unambiguous denunciation of scientists who bend over and hold their ankles to avoid offending the incurably religious, he does the same thing himself.
In various places Harris capitalizes the words, He, Him and His, when their antecedent is religion's imaginary Sky Fuhrer. Has Dr Harris's education been so narrowly focused that he does not know that such a practice is no longer considered correct English, and even liberal theologians have ceased doing it? And, in referring to "Jesus Christ," is he also unaware that, while a majority of historians have concluded that "Jesus" was a person from history, calling him "Christ" amounts to a concession that he was the prophesied fairy tale character he believed himself to be.
Harris believes in evolution, just as he believes that the earth is round and the sky is blue. But he does not swallow the arguments of fatuous oafs calling themselves evolutionary psychologists, that all human behavior can be attributed to genetically-reinforced thought processes that originated as survival factors. He writes (p. 13) that, "Evolution could never have foreseen the wisdom or necessity of creating stable democracies, mitigating climate change, saving other species from extinction, containing the spread of nuclear weapons, or doing much else that is now crucial to our happiness in this century.. But our minds do not merely conform to the logic of natural selection. In fact, anyone who wears eyeglasses or uses sunscreen has confessed his disinclination to live the life that his genes have made for him." Also (p. 20), "But the mere influence of a belief system or custom does not suggest that it is adaptive, much less wise. It merely suggests that it hasn't led directly to society's collapse or killed its practitioners outright."
Even when science and religion agree on whether an action is right or wrong, they disagree profoundly on why it is right or wrong (p. 6). "Faith, if it is ever right about anything, is right by accident." Further (p. 5), "Religious conservatives tend to believe that there are right answers to questions of meaning and morality, but only because the God of Abraham deems it so.. Secular liberals, on the other hand, tend to imagine that no objective answers to moral questions exist.. It should concern us that these two orientations are not equally empowering. Increasingly, secular democracies are left supine before the unreasoning zeal of old-time religion.. not knowing what is right-or that anything can ever be truly right-often leads secular liberals to surrender their intellectual standards and political freedoms with both hands."
Harris is aware that even an infinite amount of falsifying evidence will not cure all believers, whether in religion, parapsychology, or tealeaf reading, because (p. 21), "There will always be people who are unable to grasp specific facts or believe certain true propositions." But he rejects the dogma that absurdity can never be defeated (pp. 24-25). "Many assert that, while they can get along fine without an imaginary friend, most human beings will always need to believe in God. In my experience, people holding this opinion never seem to notice how condescending, unimaginative, and pessimistic a view it is of the rest of humanity-and of generations to come."
Instead of expressing his own opinion on whether "God" is a good guy or a bad guy, Harris asks (p. 17), "What would we think of a person who said, 'Well, I could have delivered all seven billion of us into the Good Life, but I had other priorities.' Would it be possible to have other priorities?" Could even Joseph Ratzinger or Osama bin Laden read that sentence and delude himself that the "person" mentioned was not his imaginary lawgiver? Could its message that the Catholic or Moslem deity does not conform to even minimum standards of human decency penetrate the firewalls they maintain around their brains? Sure it could-when Pluto goes nova.
In arguing for the existence of moral truths, Harris utilizes the principle that identical logic cannot validly be used to support opposite conclusions in parallel situations (p. 31): "Most people take scientific consensus to mean that scientific truths exist, and they consider scientific controversy to be merely a sign that further work remains to be done; and yet many of these same people believe that moral controversy proves that there is no such thing as moral truth, while moral consensus shows only that human beings often harbor the same biases. Clearly, this double standard rigs the game against a universal conception of morality."
Expanding on this point (pp. 34-35): "Again, we should observe the double standard in place regarding the significance of consensus; those who do not share our scientific goals have no influence on scientific discourse whatsoever; but, for some reason, people who do not share our moral goals render us incapable of even speaking about moral truth." As an example of scientists' reluctance to say that any particular concept of morality is plain wrong, Harris draws attention to the teachings of the Catholic Church. "Even among non-Catholics, its doctrines are widely associated with the concepts of 'morality' and 'human values.' However, the Vatican is an organization that excommunicates women for attempting to become priests but does not excommunicate male priests for raping children. It excommunicates doctors who perform abortions to save a mother's life-even if the mother is a nine-year-old girl raped by her stepfather and pregnant with twins-but it did not excommunicate a single member of the Third Reich for committing genocide. Are we really obliged to consider such a diabolical inversion of priorities to be evidence of an alternative 'moral' framework? No. It seems clear that the Catholic Church is as misguided in speaking about the 'moral' peril of contraception, for instance, as it would be in speaking about the 'physics' of Transubstantiation."
But while the Catholic Church and al Qaeda are the extremes, they are not the only dispensers of an evil and insane concept of morality. Three major mythologies claim to take their values from the same deity. Yet (p. 38), "The God of Abraham never told us to treat children with kindness, but He [sic] did tell us to kill them for talking back to us. And yet everyone finds this 'moral' imperative perfectly insane." Furthermore, (p. 53) "The fact that millions of people use the term 'morality' as a synonym for religious dogmatism, racism, sexism, or other failures of insight and compassion should not oblige us to accept their terminology until the end of time." And even nontheists have postulated equal absurdities (p. 49). E.O. Wilson, creator of the imbecilic pseudoscience of sociobiology, wrote that "morality, or more strictly belief in morality, is merely an adaption put in place to further our reproductive ends." While Richard Dawkins initially swallowed Wilson's masturbation fantasies before eventually distancing himself from them, "Daniel Dennett rightly dismissed [the quoted passage] as 'nonsense.'"
There can be moral truths. Therefore there must be a procedure for determining what they are (p. 28). "Once we see that a concern for well-being (defined as deeply and as inclusively as possible) is the only intelligible basis for morality and values, we will see that there must be a science of morality, whether or not we ever succeed in developing it." It follows that (p. 47), "Grounding our values in a continuum of conscious states-one that has the worst possible misery for everyone at its depths and differing degrees of well-being at other points-seems like the only legitimate context in which to conceive of values and moral norms."
In the chapter titled "Good and Evil," Harris asks (p. 72), "Is it wrong for me to save the life of my only child if, in the process, I neglect to save a stranger's brood of eight?" He does not see that as a question that a "science of morality" could ever answer. But he also does not see such unanswerable questions as a reason to abandon the pursuit of such a science (p. 73). "Such difficulties notwithstanding, it seems to me quite possible that we will one day resolve moral questions that are often thought to be unanswerable." And he has no hesitation in validating the absolute morality of the Western World's condemnation of what he calls (p. 74) "the low-hanging fruit of conservative Islam: there is absolutely no reason to think that demonizing homosexuals, stoning adulterers, veiling women, soliciting the murder of artists and intellectuals, and celebrating the exploits of suicide bombers will move humanity to a peak on the moral landscape. This is, I think, as objective a claim as we ever make in science." The truth is out there, regardless of whether we are currently able to see it (p. 77). "To say that there are right answers to questions of how to maximize human well-being is not to say that we will always be in a position to answer such questions." And the existence of opposing beliefs does not mean that incompatible conclusions must both be viable (pp. 88-89). "It is undeniable, however, [on an issue of fact] that if one side is right . the other side must be absolutely wrong.. Just as people are often less than rational when claiming to be rational, they can be less than moral when claiming to be moral."
In response to researchers who have concluded that the tendency to maintain metaphysical beliefs is "tethered to the genome," and therefore (p. 129), "any rational criticism of religious irrationality is an unseemly waste of time," Harris points out that, "we could have said the same about witchcraft.. Is there a scientist on earth who would be tempted to argue that belief in the evil eye or the demonic origins of epilepsy is bound to remain impervious to reason?" And his extrapolation (p. 134) that, "The development of a reliable lie detector would only require a very modest advance over what is currently possible through neuroimaging," shows an awareness that "a reliable lie detector" does not currently exist. Since law courts recognize that reality, why do enforcement agencies such as the FBI stubbornly insist that it does?
Harris notes (p. 145) that, "Marx, Freud, and Weber . expected religious belief to whither in the light of modernity. It has not come to pass." He imagines that Americans who "claim to never doubt the existence of God" is as high as 87 percent,(1) even though competent evaluation of the polls has shown the true figure to be less than 64 percent.(2) But he hones in on the big reason religion is rising in the underdeveloped world and diminishing more slowly than expected in the industrialized world: "In fact, humanity seems to be growing more religious, as prosperous, nonreligious people have the fewest babies."
Dr Harris may or may not know that, until at least the time of the Babylonian Captivity, Jews believed that an individual's only immortal part was his name, and that it could be kept alive by ancestor worship. That has changed, and Jews today share the belief of Moslems and Christians, that humans but no other species have immortal souls. This raises the question (p. 159), "If the joint ancestors of chimpanzees and human beings did not have souls, when did we acquire ours?"
Harris's fifteen-page annihilation of Cuckoo's Nest escapee, Evangelical Christian Francis Collins, appointed to the office of Director of the National Institutes of Health by the only-slightly-less godphuqt Barack Obama (Obama does not consign all non-Christians to Hell), can be compared to using a steamroller to crush an ant.
Possibly for no better reason than to dispel the impression that I think Harris can do no wrong, I am going to mention points on which I disagree with him. He defines child pornography (p. 96) as "the visual record of an actual crime"-and so do I. But he seems to be unaware that religious fanatics (such as the script supervisors of Law and Order SVU) define kiddie porn so widely that their condemnation has all the appearance of including Coppertone ads. He sees victimless, nonconsequential sexual recreation outside of a monocentric relationship as "cheating," simply because he is culturally conditioned to view it as such. Let me remind him of Robert Heinlein's definition: "Sin means hurting someone unnecessarily," with my clarification that the hurt must be objective, not merely in the eye of the beholder. When, in connection with Bill Clinton's victimless recreation with Monica Lewinsky, he writes (p. 133) that, "the great man's conscience . appeared to be located in another galaxy," he is assuming that his concept of right and wrong is more valid than Heinlein's (or mine). His description of what happened when seven researchers had themselves admitted to a psychiatric hospital by faking symptoms leads to the conclusion (p. 142) that, "It is clear that we cannot distinguish the sane from the insane in psychiatric hospitals." Yet he refuses to recognize that the "diagnoses" of psychiatrists are neither more nor less accurate than those of bartenders, taxi drivers, or hetaeras.
Harris writes (p. 101), "Evolution may have selected for . rape." I respond that he could be right only if there was an era in hominid history when females lacked sexual needs, so that only rape kept the species in existence. As far as I am aware, no paleoanthropologist has ever postulated the existence of such an era. And his paragraphs on the connection between religion and sexual mores, such as the institution of taboos designed to protect males from being cuckolded into raising offspring not of their own genes, and between religion and burial customs, date both religion and the discovery of the biological relationship between fathers and sons millennia earlier than they actually occurred.(3)
Harris's attributing the Fifth Amendment to metaphysical considerations prevalent in "a more superstitious age" (p. 135), ignores the reality that it was actually instituted to put an end to the practice of torturing suspects until-guilty or innocent-they confessed. His tentative endorsement of the thesis that there is no such thing as freewill is based on a definition of freewill so narrow as to be meaningless. Fortunately he stipulates (p. 105), "Human choice, therefore, is as important as fanciers of free will believe."
Harris's consistent use of the proper name, "God," to refer to the paramount deity of Islam, indicates a lack of awareness that, while Christians and Jews are taught by their puppetmasters to regard God, Allah, and Yahweh/Adonai is interchangeable names for the same mythical entity, only the most Westernized Muslims publicly profess to believe that "Allah" is identical with any other religion's sky fairy. And his statement (p. 158) that, "There are . more people in the United States who cannot read than who doubt the existence of Yahweh," is as indefensible as saying that there are more dachshunds than dogs. There may be more than 36 percent who are scientifically illiterate, but implying that more than 36 percent cannot read is unmitigated bullshit.
But the faults in Moral Landscape are negligible. This is a valuable contribution to human knowledge that should be taught in every ethics class, from junior high school to graduate seminars.
1 The Freethinker, November 2010, p. 6. The statistics given in The Moral Landscape, written later, are lower (78 percent think the bible is nonfiction, p. 150), but still too high.
2 Ronald Aronson, Living Without God, Counterpoint Press, 2008, p. 12.
3 William Harwood, God, Jesus and the Bible: The Origin and Evolution of Religion, World Audience, 2009, pp. 42, 52n6, 58-59.
The Religion Virus. Why we believe in God: an Evolutionist Explains Religion's Incredible Hold on Humanity
Craig A. James
The Bothy, Deershot Lodge, Park Lane, Ropley, Hants, SO24 0BE, UK
The back cover of The Religion Virus describes Craig James as "a writer, computer scientist, evolutionist, and movie producer." All of the other terms I understand. But what is an "evolutionist"? Does it simply mean someone who believes in the reality of evolution but does not teach it? By that standard I could call myself a "round earther." For a person who is not a paleontologist to call himself an evolutionist is at best imprecise-and so is the whole of James' book.
It disappoints and frustrates me beyond measure when I discover a book that at first glance appears to be a powerful tool in the campaign of the educated to cure the infested masses of The Religion Virus, only to discover that it is so riddled with inaccuracies as to make it impossible to recommend. James has a Master's degree in computer science, but in the field of biblical analysis he is as much a hit-and-hoper as any other non-expert. However, unlike most of the wannabees who were encouraged to write their own rebuttals of religion's self-evident absurdities by the success of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris (all of whom are listed in James' bibliography), James has written a properly-supervised graduate thesis. For that reason he was able to avoid his competitors' most egregious inadequacies. But what expertise in another field could not give him was the ability to distinguish between religious propaganda of a non-theological nature and facts discernable only by specialists.
A surprising omission from James' bibliography is Victor Stenger's God: The Failed Hypothesis. However, Stenger's proof that "God" (as opposed to gods as a class) does not exist is an elaboration of the argument made by Epicurus, which James does quote in detail (p. 9). Less defensible is James' failure to consult God, Jesus and the Bible: The Origin and Evolution of Religion, since its absence allowed a myriad of unnecessary errors.
For example, James' statement (p. 19) that Yahweh had not yet acquired that name when he made a deal with Abraham conforms to what is stated in the Torah, but not with what anyone who compares the Yahwist's Torah with the Priestly Torah could not fail to notice, namely that Abraham did call his deity "Yahweh" (Gen. 15:2a). The author of the Yahwist document wrote c 920 BCE, almost a millennium after Abraham (to the degree that he was based on a real person) flourished, and could therefore only guess what Abraham believed or which god he favored. But James' statement reveals an unawareness of the consensus of biblical historians.
James' allegation (p. 22) that, "The rise of true monotheism among the Jews took hold with Moses," contradicts his acknowledgement (p. 23) that, "Strictly speaking, Moses' people were henotheistic, that is, they were devoted to one god, Yahweh, but believed in the existence of many gods." In fact James is aware that monotheism only entered Judaism after the Babylonian Captivity, and cites Torah passages showing that its authors viewed Yahweh as merely outranking other gods.
"Most Christians of the third century AD believed that Jesus was divine." That statement (p. 38) is inaccurate. Two-thirds of third-century Christians were monotheists who regarded Jesus as Yahweh's adopted human son. The reason Athanasius's masculinized triple-goddess was voted god of the Christians at the Council of Nicaea (just as Claudius was voted a god by the Roman Senate) is that the vote was rigged. The trinitarian minority forced a vote at a time when the majority of bishops who supported monotheism had not yet reached Nicaea.
Note James' use of the offensively Christian dating system, AD. Is he unaware that even liberal believers have adopted the scientifically neutral equivalent, CE (Common Era), in recognition that telling 5.5 billion non-Christians that they are living in "the year of the master" is unnecessarily confrontational? Similarly, his capitalization of pronouns and possessive adjectives whose antecedent is one of the Christian gods has long since ceased to be Correct English. Indeed, there is a passage (p. 20) in which James refers to the god of Abraham as both "He" and "he" in successive sentences.
One more error that only a writer unfamiliar with the relevant scholarship could have made is revealed in the sentence (p. 42), "The best known god-given laws, now called the Ten Commandments, were given to Moses by Yahweh (around 1200 BCE)." In fact the lawcode now termed "ten commandments" was not identified as such by any Torah author. The commandments allegedly given to Moses, engraved on stone, and described as the Ten Words (Exod. 34:1-28), were quite different. The lawcode currently cited as Ten Commandment first appeared in the Elohist Torah of c 770 BCE, and nowhere in the Tanakh is it identified as the Big Ten.
James swallows Richard Dawkins' "selfish gene" hook, line and sinker, with no awareness that Dawkins has since backed away from the concept and declared it an unfortunate metaphor that was taken far more literally than he had ever intended. And he buys into the sociobiology pseudoscience that stands or falls on undisciplined speculations Dawkins could have told him are incompatible with the way evolution is known to work. For example, he cites Jane Goodall's observation that an alpha male chimpanzee is likely to kill the offspring of a female he has not yet mounted, in order to hasten her submission. But he parrots the sociobiology delusion that the killer chimp is trying to maximize its own DNA by killing infants it knows it could not have sired. The reality is that humans did not learn of the connection between copulation and procreation until c 3500 BCE, and animals other than Homo sapiens have never acquired such knowledge.
James is also venturing outside of his field when he declares (p. 9) that, "Nobody has to tell a teenager to have sex.. This knowledge is 'hardwired' into our brains." WRONG! Certainly humans are hardwired with an instinct for orgasm-induction. But methods of satisfying that instinct other than masturbation have to be learned. Infants shipwrecked in Blue Lagoon, with no adult to teach them and no animals to watch and copy, would never have learned to copulate, as both movies and the original book portrayed them as doing "by instinct."
James attributes the phrase, "survival of the fittest," to Darwin. Darwin did eventually pick it up, but the originator of the term was Herbert Spencer.
James misuses religious terms in contexts in which they are anachronistic. He describes Aphrodite (p. 26) as "unfaithful to her husband." But Aphrodite was worshipped as the goddess of sex long before the concepts "husband" and "unfaithful" ever existed. There could be no such concept as "unfaithful' in a society that had not yet turned women into men's privately-owned breeding stock. He declares (p. 26) that, "Queen Isis . was incestuously married to he brother." But ancient Egypt did not have an "incest" concept. Describing Egypt's sibling marriages as "incest" is analogous to accusing pre-3500 BCE humans of "living in sin." And when he reports the discovery of the Amung people of New Guinea, an animistic society that had no "god" concept, it does not occur to him that their possession of the purely religious concept of "incest" is proof that at some point they must have been contaminated by religion-infested outsiders.
James is right on target when he points out (p. 1) that, "The Yahweh worshipped by Abraham (also called El, Elohim and Jehovah) was quite different from the almighty God we know today. Abraham's God was made of flesh-and-blood.. He was . quite the opposite of the loving, Almighty God we know today.. Abraham would have a hard time believing that his Lord and the modern God Almighty are one and the same." But he shows no awareness that Yahweh and Elohim were not interchangeable names for the same deity. One Torah author called his god Yahweh, while two later authors identified it as Elohim. Only the final Redactor edited the combined Yahwist/ Elohist/ Priestly/ Deuteronomist Torah in such a way as to make his predecessors' gods the same god. And despite James' awareness that the Tanakh authors were not monotheists, he seems not to know that elohim is a dual-sex, generic plural meaning, "the gods and goddesses."
James' explanation of how, "the most unpleasant character in all fiction" (p. 44) evolved into "the Almighty God we know today" (p. 20), cannot be faulted-despite his use of the doubletalk word, memes, that in my view is as metaphysical and obfuscating as "selfish gene." Richard Dawkins is fortunate that history will judge him by his useful contributions to freedom from mindslavery, not by his earlier ventures into gibberish.
James devotes a whole chapter to "Evolution and Memes," asking questions about as profound as: When does information/ idea/ belief/ theory become a meme (meaning information/ idea/ belief/ theory)? How many memes can dance on the head of a pin? How many memes does it take to screw in a memeplex? Memetics seems to have a lot in common with theology, since each analyzes, criticizes and evaluates the emperor's new clothes. The difference is that memetics evaluates ideas and concepts; and ideas and concepts, while abstract, do exist. Theology evaluates "Theos," best described as Santa Claus for adults. I would not go so far as to describe memetics the way H. L. Mencken described theology, as a blind man in a dark room searching for a black cat that is not there-and finding it. But it does take a comprehensible concept and camouflage it in doubletalk.
In explaining (in terms of memes) how natural selection turned gods with the non-survival qualities of the Torah's Yahweh into the totally admirable "God Almighty" accepted as real by believers who have never read a bible with their brains in gear (or they would have been cured), James points out (p. 160), "the anti-religion atheist's paradox: why hasn't evolution turned us all into atheists?" His answer, and I do not recall reading a more accurate explanation anywhere, is, "Religion is an individual choice, but the burdens of religion may be more on society. If religious beliefs benefits (sic) the individual, natural selection will favor it, even if religion is bad for society as a whole." The only problem with such reasoning is that it is likely to be incomprehensible to persons such as the just-retired CNN interviewer who in all seriousness asked an anthropologist, "How can evolution be true, when there are still monkeys?"
James consistently prints biblical passages without giving any indication of which translation he is quoting. I ascertained that it was neither the Jerusalem Bible (Catholic) not the King James Version (Protestant), but that was as far as I checked. Certainly it was a translation that did not footnote or draw attention to interpolations, and I get the idea that James has no idea that certain anecdotes, such as the whole virgin birth myth, as well as trinitarian passages in books written before the fourth gospel, are interpolations. His quotation of Matthew 28:18-20 reads, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." The Protestant Bible Fully Translated renders the original Matthew passage, "All authority in the sky and on the land has been bestowed on me. So go and make students of all the infidels, teaching them to obey every order that I've given you." Verse 28:19b is included in the separate "Interpolations" section, and reads, "Immerse them in the name of the father and the son and the breath of consecration."
James states as a fact (p. 119), "From the philosopher's chair, all religions have a problem. They can't be proved true or false." Has James not read page 9 of his own book? Does he not comprehend that the incompatibility of a god with both the ability and desire to eradicate evil, with a universe in which evil does exist, is proof that a religion based on such a god is demonstrably false? Perhaps a close reading of Stenger would help? And given his defence of cliches (p. 108), does he not recognize the self-evident truth that anything that cannot exist does not exist? And his citing (p. 136) of polls rigged by questions designed to produce a predetermined result, that Americans are 52 percent Protestant and 10 percent nontheist, shows how much he could learn from Ronald Aronson's Living Without God. Aronson demonstrates that, when polls are competently evaluated, they reveal the number of nontheists to be 36 percent. Christians constitute 54 percent of the population, yet, in recognition that they are little more than a decade away from becoming a minority, they scream "persecution" every time their attempts to have their religion written into American law, in violation of the First Amendment, are opposed by believers in equal rights. In quoting Jerry Falwell as a notorious opponent of the separation of church and state (p. 136), James could be accused of utilizing a straw man, since a majority of Christians see Falwell as an embarrassment to their cause. But Falwell's theofascism is in fact typical of the Religious Right, including some potential candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
In several places James explains and tries to justify his reasons for writing this book. Basically it was because his knowledge of the origin and evolution of religion greatly exceeded that of his associates, and they persuaded him that he had something useful to offer the brainwashed masses. And perhaps he does, even if he makes no valid point that could not be found in the books and authors cited above.
Dishonest to God
Continuum International Publishing Group
80 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038
Mark Twain described philosophy as "a blind man in a dark room searching for a black cat that is not there." H. L. Mencken described theology as "a blind man in a dark room searching for a black cat that is not there-and finding it. Mary Warnock claims to be a philosopher, but writes like a theologian. Among 172 pages of theobabble, she makes a vanishingly small number of factual statements, and all of them are wrong.
For example, she states (p. 3) that, "whatever the atheists may think of religion, God exists, the Bible is true and religion is on the increase all over the world. Statistically this seems to be a fact, for good or ill." Wrong, wrong, and wrong. God does not exist, the bible is fiction, and religion is diminishing all over the world. If Warnock had actually read Richard Dawkins, whom she consistently denigrates, she would know that.
She asserts (p. 96) that, "the Christian religion has had an enormous influence on the values incorporated in the law in this country (UK), an influence that is lasting and will never go away, however secular society becomes." Certainly the Christian religion has had an enormous role in screwing up the law in every society it has succeeded in corrupting. But to suggest that its influence will never go away is analogous to prophesying that the influence of Nazis, Marxist communists, Thuggs and Assassins will never go away.
In her final chapter Warnock concludes (p. 166), "Our parliamentary democracy is doubtlessly flawed, and may seem in especially poor shape in the twenty-first century. But we must do all we can to mend it; and this entails doing all we can to fend off the forces of theocracy." So even when she favors abolishing the enforcement of evil, she refuses to recognize that the evil itself needs to be abolished.
This book may be the longest exposition of, "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" ever written. For all the sense it makes, it could have been written in Etruscan (which has never been deciphered).
The Edge of the Woods - Iroquoia, 1534-1701
Michigan State U. Press
East Lansing, MI
9780870139857 $49.95 www.msupress.msu.edu
Parmenter applies sophisticated modern concepts about geography, space, and organization and the implications of these to the Iroquois nation occupying most of the area to the south and east of today's Lake Ontario. The Iroquois Native Americans are also known as the Iroquois League or the Five Nations for the five tribes of the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas comprising the Iroquois group. They were also united by the same Native American language, though this language is found also outside of the Iroquois.
The Iroquois have attracted previous scholarly attention for their form of government--which has been seen as democratic, and possibly a model for aspects of early American democracy--and for the location, numbers, and alliances which had a role in conflict between France and Britain and its American colonies for control of this Lake Ontario region important for transportation, commerce, and settlement farther west.
The century and a half covered is the period of early French and English exploration and settlement. This is an especially fruitful period for study. The European presence was not strong or numerous enough to break up the Iroquois system; though toward the end the European presence did start to bring changes. For the most part in this period, accounts by European explorers, traders, and settlers in conjunction with official documents of interactions and archaeological findings of later centuries make for a particularly detailed, accurate, and informative study.
The first Europeans encountered an Iroquois social system "possessed [of] centuries of experience with building reciprocal relations between people and communities that extended over spatial distances and that were sustained by frequent human movements for political, ceremonial, and economic purposes." This work "explains how Iroquois people translated spatial concepts embedded in their traditional philosophy into actions that engaged new challenges and opportunities brought about by early European intrusions on the borders of their homelands" while keeping their core values and cultural cohesion until finally overwhelmed by European development.
Tom Kirby: Light Passage
Sam Scott and Kristen Barendsen
Fresco Fine Art Publications
distributed by U. of New Mexico Press
It is fitting that the poet Kristen Barendsen writes an essay for this monograph on the expressionist works by Tom Kirby. Barendsen is also an art critic, and has an interest in yoga and Eastern spirituality. With her poetic sensibility and her critic eye, she is able to call attention to the nuances running through Kirby's paintings. As Barendsen writes, in the artist's paintings "[light] scatters, hovers, and pools over the canvas, until subtle layers of light seem to form the substance of the work itself, like veils." This is not simply an effect of Kirby's use of color, but as if bound into the paintings by the way they have been created. As Kirby tells it in his Artist's Statement, "I begin each painting by applying multiple textural coats of paint. I allow these textured surfaces to become cracked and worn, evoking a sense of the passage of time--a counterpoint to the immediacy of the revelatory light that is to follow. I achieve this sense of light by suspending luminous glazes of clarified color upon the aged surfaces, a painstaking process that culminates after 20 or 30 layers of paint." Kirby regards each painting as a "light event".
In the Artist's Statement, Kirby also writes that the 24 paintings in the monograph are grouped into the themes or subjects of Foundations of the Earth, Immortality, Infinity, Fate, Solaris (referring to the fiery light of the Sun), and Satori (meaning "sudden enlightenment" in Japanese Buddhism). Kirby developed his cosmic, philosophical views embodied in his paintings from much travel in different parts of the world.
Kirby studied with the artist Sam Scott, whose works have been exhibited in the Whitney Museum in New York City. In his short, one-page essay, Scott says, "These paintings are invocations of vastness (a concept that we know [italicized] rather than experience directly) [by their artist's] escape into an absolute of nature" where extremes come together.
The War to End All Wars: World War I
Russell Freedman, author
Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
215 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10003
Renowned nonfiction children's author Russell Freedman succinctly lays out the tangle of European alliances and resulting horrific, first modern world war. "The War to End All Wars: World War I," is organized into 15 neatly-delineated chapters, beginning with the assassination of Austria-Hungary's Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie. Subsequent chapters discuss various battles, trench warfare, the rise of new technology such as tanks, poisonous gas and airplanes, the involvement of the United States that brought the conflict to an end and the political aftermath that, many historians say, went too far in punishing Germany and resulted 20 years later in World War II. The challenge, of course, in authoring such a book is culling the vast amount of existing information and carefully telling the story in a way that resonates with readers as young as 12, which the book is listed for. Freedman, who has won many major awards for his previous titles, once again proves a master at such a task. Photos are important, and Freedman includes more than 100 of them, all perfectly placed to correlate with and bolster the text. Surely more gruesome battlefield pictures exist; the ones chosen are just graphic enough to make their point without overwhelming young readers. The text is also peppered with quotes from an array of people, from soldiers to kaisers. Like the pictures, they are also perfectly placed, breaking up textual stretches and striking like lead shot at poignant moments. Over and over, the words of those involved say it best. Such as this account from a British soldier on rising out of his trench to meet the enemy: "As soon as we got over the top the fear and the terror left us. You don't look, you see; you don't listen, you hear; your nose is filled with fumes and death and you taste the top of your mouth. You are one with your weapon, the veneer of civilization has dropped away and you see just a line of men and a blur of shells." That Freedman is a Korean War veteran and his father was a U.S. soldier who served in France in 1918 is mentioned in the credits, certainly lending deep personal perspective. Nearly 100 years after the start of the conflict, "The War to End All Wars: World War I," is a meticulously researched, beautifully human telling that shouts out that those involved were real people, not just troop movements on some yellowed, crumbling map. And - crucial for young readers - it flows like a story, not just a straight, textbook-like account of day-to-day battle. If kids are to start and finish it, that will make all the difference. Perfect and important.
101 Freaky Animals
Melvin and Gilda Berger, authors
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
Fabulous use of bright color will catch the eyes of grade-schoolers. And once they begin flipping through "101 Freaky Animals," they won't be able to put it down. Organized alphabetically, the animals range from the babirusas to the frilled lizard, komondor dog, mata mata turtle and viper fish. Each animal gets one page, with a short paragraph and two color photos - one large and one inset. The language is simple yet informative. Hatchet fish, for instance, "have two monster eyes that face up to see the fish swimming above them. A hatchet fish attacks suddenly from below. It nabs the prey with its upturned mouth." The book is paperback, a good choice for slipping into a backpack. Kids with a passion for the creepy, crawly, weird scientific world around them will revel in "101 Freaky Animals." A great choice, too, for reluctant readers.
Karyn L. Saemann
Young Money Masters
Lewis Mansfield Johnson
9400 MacArthur Blvd #124, 313, Irving, Texas 75062
This book, or manual, as it is referred to by the author, should be a gift to all high school and college students. I wish I had it when I first started out. It is well written, concise and very informative.
At one point he says, "Once you have decided on your goals, it would be a great idea to write them down and review them regularly." This is wonderful advice for all of young people's goals in all aspects of their lives.
Lewis gives excellent information on how to plan for your future starting out in life. He does it in a manner that is not preachy or condescending, but is straight to the point. He presents young people values that they can and should follow to have a future that is debt free and gives them ideas on how to be prepared for retirement - something teens think they have all the time in the world to plan for.
He uses very interesting concepts to illustrate his points. He asks his readers to visualize a bathtub filling up, and then draining out. Controlling the flow of the water (income and expenses) is the key to a successful financial future.
Lewis' advice to young adults is sound and based on the tried and true. His book describes tenants that young adults just starting out can use in several aspects of their lives. It will give them a great basis for a secure future.
Lewis Mansfield Johnson is a Registered Investment Advisor Agent. He has over twenty years of financial planning that he has used in his own life. His area of expertise is advising young people who are just starting out in life.
The Life of Bud
127 E Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
This lovely story of the cycle of life depicted by a bud, named Bud, on a Mighty Oak tree. It provides a wonderful explanation of the universal cycles of life that small children will understand.
"…Birds were singing, squirrels were romping, the sun was shining, and The Mighty Oak Tree on Crescent Street was beginning to sprout buds."
Bud learns from his friends on the Mighty Oak tree and thinks about what is happening to him and about his experiences. He goes through his life with acceptance and wonder as he changes from the small brown bud to the beautiful green leaf of summer and the end of his days as a glorious colored leaf of fall. But his use does not end there. You will have to read the book to learn what happens.
Children will ask you to read this book over and over until they can read it themselves. They will easily see the parallel between the little 'bud' and their own lives. Parents will want to refer to it during many aspects of their child's growth and discovery.
Divide & Conquer
R. L. Geerdes
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432758103, $20.95, www.outskirtspress.com
The whole world may end up on the shoulders of four individuals, and they already have their own problems. "Divide & Conquer" tells the tale of the land of Arconia and how a plot by an evil Wizard may send the world spiraling out of control. Through disease and assassination, his plan comes into fruition, and four people must stop him, but soon find themselves the targets of blame, further setting out their hopelessness. "Divide & Conquer" is an exciting fantasy with a bit of romance blended in, highly recommended.
I Did What I Had to Do!
James E. Diamond
419 Park Ave. South New York, NY 10016
9780533163250, $14.95, www.vantagepress.com
Helping someone is best done by teaching them how to help themselves. "I Did What I Had to Do!" is reflections by James E. Diamond about his time serving in the Peace Corps serving the African nation of Chad. Stating he primarily worked with agricultural concerns, he states that by helping the Chadians understand rural ideas and helping them push this further, even these simple lessons will help them much further along on the road to change. "I Did What I Had to Do!" is an excellent and thoughtful memoir, not to be missed.
419 Park Ave. South New York, NY 10016
9780533162338, $8.95, www.vantagepress.com
For a better and more driven world, concepts such as god or nationalism are not entirely needed. "Eternal: For Those Who Know They Are" is a driven and spiritual read with thought on what it takes to become a better person and how a better person can move along society to a far better place. Inspired with plenty to ponder, "Eternal" is not to be overlooked.
From Povety 2 Publicity
J. Will Da Invincible
419 Park Ave. South New York, NY 10016
9780533150786, $7.95, www.vantagepress.com
To rise from nothing to be truly something, that is the American dream. "From Poverty 2 Publicity" is a collection of urban driven poetry from J. Will Da Invincible who comes to his readers with a powerful message drawn from his own life in New York City. With common sense and plenty of thought, "From Poverty 2 Publicity" may be a wise choice of poetry. "Slum Child": I tried 2 live right!/But it's hard when your pockets is real tight!/Da media tries 2 say cats from da slums don't care about their life!/Little do they know they might be right!/I'm tired of seeing cats with stuff I don't got!/That's why I work da block even when it's hot!
9780986607400, $18.00, www.repairingrainbows.com
A life abruptly interrupted is one that's course will never be the same again. "Repairing Rainbows" tells the story of Lynda Fishman and her unique journey through life. At thirteen, just starting to become a young woman, her childhood is shaken as her mother and sisters die in a plane crash and her father is devastated by the loss, barely able to function in her daily life. Stating that living life is more than simply being alive, "Repairing Rainbows" is a story about recovering from devastating tragedy and making the most of it.
Sharon Elizabeth Sarkisian
2180 West State Road 434, Suite 2140, Longwood, FL 32779
9781606478127, $22.99, www.xulonpress.com
A return home can reignite past loves, but it can also reignite past problems. "Tender Trysting: Cari Chesterfield and the Coat of Arms" Is the first book in the Cari Chesterfield series following her as she returns home and finds her home collapsing all around her. An exciting and riveting story with a blend of romance, action, and drama, "Tender Trysting" is quite the collection and is very highly recommended. Also from Sharon Elizabeth Sarkisian is "Etonne and Eclatee: Cari Chesterfield and the Pirate" (9781615793198, $22.99) following the continuing drama of Cari and her encounters with a notorious and unusual pirate.
2012 and the Cabala
9781453721537, $13.99, www.cabalisticnews.com
How does the legend of 2012 mix with the book of Jewish mysticism? "2012 and the Cabala" offers a Jewish spiritual take on 2012 and the end of days, looking at the meeting of Hebrew, Mayan, and Roman calendars. With plenty of thought and offering new ideas to the 2012 debate, student of the Cabala Dovid Krafchow makes for quite the read for metaphysical readers, making "2010 and the Cabala" a solid addition to any 2012 studying collection.
To Drink the Wild Air
Parendum Books Publishing
9780983039808, $16.95, www.todrinkthewildair.com
It's hard to rein in to normal when you've lived on the road. "To Drink the Wild Air" is the memoir of German-born Birgit Soyka who came to America at age 25 and embraced the open road and motorcycle racing. As her life went on, she embraced marriage and never completely settled down. A unique memoir, "To Drink the Wild Air" is a fine and solidly recommended pick, not to be missed.
Paul McCartney's Solo Music Career 1970-2010
Pepper Tree Publishing
1269 First Street, Suite 7, Sarasota, FL 34236
MaryGlenn McCombs (publicity)
2817 West End Avenue, Suite 126-274, Nashville, TN 37203
9781936343423, $15.95, www.peppertreepublishing.com
As the Beatles drifted apart, Paul McCartney far from wandered quietly into the night. "Paul McCartney's Solo Music Career 1970-2010: Life, Love, and a Sense of Child-like Wonder" looks at the past forty years of McCartney's work and how he has proven to have a grand deal of success without the legendary group and has become quite the legend in music in his own right. Tracing his career from the dissolution to the modern day, he touches on the best and worst of McCartney, making "Paul McCartney's Solo Music Career 1970-2010" a treasure trove for both fans and those who want to understand his career better.
Fairy Tales in Electri-city
Francessa Lia Block
A Midsummer Night's Press
16 West 36th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10018
9780979420870, $13.95, www.amidsummernightspress.com
The search for love may as well be a fantasy. "Fairy Tales in Electri-city" is a collection of poems with a fantastical element with the focus on the search for love. Blending the fairy tale with the very real need for feeling alive, "Fairy Tales in Electri-city" is an enticing and thoughtful collection. "Breaking Up with Love": i've worked too hard to find/comfort in/this skin i'm in/to give it to you to inhabit/a tiny pink and white coat/that can't keep you warm//my bones are too small/to carry more than one of us/i've even lost some/they're not for building with/that tower would fall.
The Woman's Migraine Toolkit
Dawn A. Marcus & Philip A. Bain
150 East 61st Street, New York, NY 10065
9780982321928, $14.95, www.diamedicapub.com
Being plagued with constant pain is no way to live. "The Woman's Migraine Toolkit: Managing Your Headaches from Puberty to Menopause" is a guide aimed at women who commonly face migraines throughout their life and want to conquer them to live their life more completely and competently. Telling why many women find themselves the targets of migraines and what they can do to minimize their impact on their lives with both dietary and other avenues on improving health and reducing the causes of migraines. "The Woman's Migraine Toolkit" is a simple guide and powerful resource for women facing this constant pain in their lives.
The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved
PO Box 885, Lockport, IL 60441
The chronicles of the disciples offer us much deeper looks into the life of Jesus and his devotion. "The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved" is musings from J. Phillips on the identity of the one Disciple Jesus loved above the others. Thoughtful and intriguing reading, "The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved" is enticing and thoughtful reading, highly recommended.
Dina's Lost Tribe
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450251075, $22.95, www.iuniverse.com
In the mountains, there still lie things lost in time. "Dina's Lost Tribe" tells the story of Nina, a woman searching for her birthplace with a town not found on maps. Her parents, fleeing the Holocaust, birthed her in a small town called Valladine, and Nina, in search for this and her birthplace, finds that the truth may be more surprising than some remote town, but instead some place locked in time. "Dina's Lost Tribe" is an intriguing read of historical fiction, very highly recommended.
You Can't Save Them All
Jeanette Michelle's You Can't Save Them All opens as Chicago attorney Ethel Reynolds is driving home. It has been a long day, she wants little more than just getting home to a quiet evening of visiting with her guardians, the 3 children of her sister, supper and no thought of the mass of work awaiting her tomorrow. As a member of the district attorney's staff Ethel spends many hours working on cases.
It was a long drive home.
When Ethel's colleague Lisa asks Ethel to look into a wrongful incarceration of a deaf white man down in Mississippi, Ethel's life undergoes radical changes; the first entails a trip to the state Ethel despises.
Before long Ethel, Chicago detective Andre Kenner, Ethel's friend Taylor, a woman with training and expertise working with the deaf as well as the deaf man's brother and future sister in law find themselves caught up in a thorny -everyone knows, but no one talks- southern town situation. It is not an enviable place to be for the poor white family of Dowdy Dillard or the black Chicago contingent resolved to determine the guilt or innocence of Dowdy Dillard.
The reader begins a fast paced journey through a dangerous weave of long hidden secrets, gang rape of an underage girl, pregnancy, a child to be raised despite murky parentage, twisted thoughts, artificial justice, miscarriage of justice, powerful rich, white townsmen revealed as the privileged, above the law thinking louts they are and finally real justice brought to bear upon those who committed the rape so long ago.
You Can't Save Them All is writer Michelle's third fiction novel. This particular work precedes novel number four, Millicent Quinones, which is actually the prequel to Mycall, book two.
When Jeanette Michelle first approached me regarding reviewing her books; her question was whether I would mind reviewing books written from a black perspective. I assured her it was no problem for me despite the fact that I am not black. And, I'm happy to say, that You Can't Save Them All has proven to be an excellent read written with a black viewpoint, using a black voice and offered by a black woman author. I enjoyed the read very much.
Filled with notable personality, writer Michelle crafts a fast paced thriller filled with convincing characters, excellent detailed settings, a credible storyline and a satisfactory conclusion. Ethel is a strong, witty woman filled with insight and determination. The scoundrels of the work are evocative of some of the instances and persons who fill the evening news now and then.
I hope writer Michelle has another narrative or two featuring attorney Ethel Reynolds planned for future writing.
While You Can't Save Them All is the third in writer Michelle's body of work, I found it to be a satisfactory stand alone read. On the other hand, I do plan to read the rest of the progression, Mycall, and Millicent Quinones as well as Michelle's first book Taking Care of Henry which I believe does not feature the same cast of characters.
Happy to recommend Jeanette Michelle's mystery thriller You Can't Save Them All.
What The World Needs a Collection of Poelosophy
Matthew Allen Wegner
Poetry based in Philosophy
Matthew Allen Wegner's What the -World Needs a Collection of Poelosophy- is a compact work featuring philosophical quotes from figures living in our collective past and presented along with 33 poetic offerings penned by versifier Wegner.
Poetry and philosophy produce a credible blend. The two disciplines are not themes too removed from one another.
I enjoyed reading Wegner's works; the book is a slim edition easily tucked into purse, brief case or even a coat pocket for taking out and reading during a wait for others during a lull at the shopping mall, dentist's office or while on break at the office, in my case, the classroom.
Contents listing each of the poetic works, Epilogue, Index of Quotation Sources and Author Biography all are listed inside the cover. Poetic offerings are one page, one word titled works preceded on the facing page with 3 quotes. I like the format.
Table of contents lists poems in random order; suppose purists might want to see them listed alphabetically, or by topic; random seems to work well for my own reading taste.
Consciousness is followed by Awareness. Awareness precedes Thought and so it goes. I especially enjoyed Patience, Persistence and Trust simply because I feel they are attributes needed for most of us.
Imagination preceded by quotes from George Bernard Shaw, Albert Einstein and Thoreau is a delight extolling the power of creation, creating a monster, or a new self, while asking why we are afraid to use it.
What the World Needs: a Collection of Poelosophy brings a compilation of insight gleaned by the poet from reading noteworthy figures from timeworn and current works along with a selection of his personal verses contemplating age old precepts.
Courage, Commitment and Fulfillment should not be missed. Freedom ponders the question what is freedom? And goes on to reveal that we each must decide what our personal freedom is as we reject false freedom that hurts others before we will find the kind of freedom that makes us truly free. Quotes leading to the poem are taken from President Reagan, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Voltaire.
What the World Needs: a Collection of Poelosophy is a blend of philosophy and poetry based in an inimitable and thought provoking approach to canto and viewpoint whilst, providing a first-class, provocative study for those who find joy in poetry.
33 poetic works, a rhythmical epilogue dedicated to those who have truly lived ends with the bard's salute to same, Index of Quotation Sources beginning with President JQ Adams is presented in alphabetical order making it easy to locate various notables of our history, and finally the author biography rounds out the work.
Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend Matthew Allen Wegner's What the World Needs a collection of Poelosophy.
The Fun of Dying Find Out What Really Happens Next
Greater Reality Publications
Roberta Grimes' The Fun of Dying Find Out What Really Happens Next based on the writer's stated study and life experiences is a work I found to be attention-grabbing, encouraging and very interesting.
When asked to do the review I did ponder what the book might reveal. Despite the fact that I may not have the same opinion with or accept as true every single thought expressed in the writer's book, I do find Grimes' conviction to be provocative.
The Fun of Dying is not a story book or a novel per se, it is a coming to believe result of the writer's own experiences, investigation and continuing study into the fact and reality of what we call death.
I think few living have not pondered what takes place following death. Christian religious believers hold to the notion that we go to Heaven or hell
while others believe that we become dust and nothing more and others believe something in between. Whatever the notion regarding death and what comes next; it remains an intriguing, out of the ordinary subject leading to peace, fear and discussion of many possible answers depending on initial belief.
Writer Grimes endeavors to ease some of the fears as beset much of society through her readable, motivating book. The Fun of Dying Find Out What Really Happens Next is focused upon that one matter which has intrigued and plagued humans from the beginning of time. Medical science has, on occasion, noted that there is no real reason for death, on the other hand, people, as all life does, does die.
Grimes puts forth the notion that the main reason for the fear and controversy surrounding death is the real dearth of tangible proof or concrete understanding regarding afterlife and or what we may anticipate when we, as those before us, do depart this life.
Following years of study into the topic, Grimes informs with some determination that death is actually an uncomplicated and even pleasurable changeover likely very dissimilar to what most of us may foresee in our minds. Grimes' belief is that the moment of death is not a cruel act, nor is it terrifying.
Grimes' research has included study into out of body experiences, reincarnation, the moment of death, afterlife which has led to her belief that these data lead to equivalent results. She depicts feelings people may experience during the period of pre-death and post-death. Her assessments are largely based on the experiences of people who themselves are reached during those stages.
It is Grimes' belief that each one having made the passage from this life to the next will come face to face with a review of their temporal life and deal with the good and learn to forgive themselves for the moments of spite they may have experienced. It is her contention that learning to forgive self is a major reason for our time of life here on earth.
She believes that in this next stage we will each meet those we may know, family and others, who will appear in the prime of life whether their passage transpired during that period or not.
I found The Fun of Dying to be a soothing, informative, well-written work based on the writer's examination of various written works as well as investigation and talking with others in which is expressed the writer's understanding regarding that passage we identify as death moving us from earthly juncture into succeeding life's phase. On the other hand, some of the ideas found mentioned in the work may cause a sense of enormous ire for the religious purist and scientific purist alike who may find Grimes' notions to be inconsistent with Biblical or other religion, or, scientific literature alike regarding teachings pertaining to death.
It is the author's contention that Death is not to be dreaded, and she explains fully in her book why she believes this. The Fun of Dying is an uplifting, out of the ordinary, instructive read, for another view of death and what it may actually be.
Whatever the reader background or belief; if the work serves to motivate readers toward beginning to love and to forgive others and self while alive; then the book has done a good job.
As stated above; despite the fact that I may not have the same opinion with or accept as true every single thought expressed in the writer's book I am happy to recommend The Fun of Dying Find Out What Really Happens Next for all who may wonder or worry about death and what happens next.
Molly Martin, Reviewer
The Winter Sea
PO Box 4410, Naperville, Illinois 60567
The Winter Sea is one of those novels that a reader doesn't come across too often. It is a creative tour de force. Sometimes a writer catches lightning in a bottle, and Susanna Kearsley has done just that. The idea behind the plot is ingenious. It centers on author Carrie McClelland as she journeys to Scotland to write a historical fiction novel concerning the 1708 Jacobite Rebellion. In many ways, life imitates art as the reader gets a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Kearsley's writing process as shown through Carrie's work habits. It's a fascinating look behind the veil of a writer at her craft depicted through a character of her own creation. Brilliant!
The novel is broken down into two settings - modern day Scotland with Carrie and 1708 Scotland with Sophia, a dependent of the countess of Slains Castle. The chapters are intermingled throughout the book with numerical designations such as chapter 1, 2, 3, etc. for the present and Roman numerals for the historical segments such as I, II, III, etc. What provides the bridge between the two worlds is Carrie's ancestry. She discovers that Sophia actually resided at Slains Castle, and not just in her mind. To top it off, she is related to a woman she initially believed to be a figment of her imagination. As Carrie delves deeper into the story, she begins to unearth facts about Sophia previously unknown to her through dreams, deja vu and genetic memory. The story already happened. In fact, it seems to be writing itself with Carrie serving as merely its vessel.
The inherent love story also spans the centuries. Carrie's attraction to history professor, Graham is immediate when she happens upon him and his dog at the ruins of Slains Castle. However, Graham's playboy brother, Stuart, tries to stake his claim her attention for his own. While back in the early 1700s, Sophia is enchanted by John Moray. However, as a loyal servant to the exiled King James, he is a man with a price on his head in his native land. In planning the 1708 rebellion and bringing the Stuart king back to the throne, his life is in constant danger. A life he does not want Sophia to have to endure. Before Moray is recalled from Slains Castle to return to the Scottish court in France, he weds her in a secret ceremony in the hope that one day they will be reunited.
Kearsley has a knack for embodying her characters with a down home sense of charm. None more so than Jimmy Keith, father of Graham and Stuart. With his Scottish lilt of "quine" and "roast a bit of beef," the elderly gentleman and landlord of Carrie's rented cottage, is a welcome addition to the novel's pages. Another excellent example is Moray's Uncle Graeme who comes to comfort Sophia at Slains Castle when his nephew is in the heat of battle in France.
At interesting note throughout is Sophia's fate. Carrie uncovers through historical documents that she married a man named David McClelland, her ancestor. What then happened to Moray? The answer to that question builds up to a heart-wrenching conclusion.
The title - The Winter Sea - is also quite moving. When Sophia is alone and worried that she will never see Moray again, his Uncle Graeme reminds her that without the desolation of winter there can be no ever-renewing hope of spring. It is a hard lesson about accepting the bad in order to appreciate the good, but it is a lesson worth learning and relearning throughout life.
Overall, all writers wish for the psychic inspiration Kearsley gives to Carrie.
PO Box 4410, Naperville, Illinois 60567
Mr. Darcy as a Wild West cowboy? A dungaree-clad Elizabeth Bennett flying over the range on her painted pony? Pride and Prejudice is done Texas-style in Jack Caldwell's debut novel, Pemberley Ranch. Whether or not a devotee of the esteemed classic novel will want to mosey on over to the antebellum cattle town of Rosings, depends upon one's taste for shifting the time and place of Austen's beloved characters. If one's taste is for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the numerous sequels, prequels and spin-offs in existence, then Caldwell's take will be heartily enjoyed. For the Jane Austen purist, it might be a bit harder to swallow.
Where Caldwell excels is in fleshing out the masculinity of the buttoned-up Regency era Darcy. Here the sense of his authority and command over outlaws and swindlers is impressive to behold. He's as fast with his gun as he is in spying on a skinny-dipping "Beth." He is a man that other men can't help admiring, and one that causes many a woman to swoon.
However, it is Darcy's inner turmoil that is most captivating. As a Confederate soldier, he was flogged within an inch of his life. If not for the attentions of his comrade "Dr." Bingley, he would not have survived. The wounds run deep. He collapses during a night of heavy drinking after "Beth" refuses his marriage proposal. Yes, the self-contained Darcy gets intoxicated.
At times, the Annie Oakley approach to Elizabeth is a bit much. Being a crack shot with a rifle during a Custer's Last Stand/Alamo type scene borders on the unbelievable. While the original Elizabeth was more than a tea-sipping lady in a parlor, she also wasn't above and beyond her time period in terms of her station and decorum. Caldwell's Beth is a little more tomboy and a little less intellectual.
The more inspired anecdotes involve the supporting cast. Fitzwilliam and Charlotte Lucas have a secret, passionate affair. Caroline Bingley suffers post-traumatic stress disorder from Sherman's March to the Sea and the burning of her Georgia home. Lily (Lydia) is a saloon girl thrown away by town bad boy George Whitehead (Wickham). Mrs. Bennett possesses common sense and the esteem of her husband.
Another tidbit that Caldwell gives to fans is introducing characters from other Jane Austen novels into the story. Henry Tilney of Northanger Abbey is the town clergyman and devoted suitor of pious Mary. Emma's Mr. Knightley and his brother are the entrepreneurs that Darcy invests in to bring the railroad to Rosings. While bit players like Anne de Bourgh and Georgiana Darcy are given more of a voice.
Overall, if you're willing to hop in the saddle, you'll enjoy the ride.
Susan Fraser King
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
Royalty is common fare for historical fiction, but the lives of the saints are usually not. In Susan Fraser King's Queen Hereafter, the two themes are melded in the personage of Queen Margaret of Scotland. The novel has a twist of the familiar by incorporating many of the characters from Shakespeare's Macbeth. The religion and politics of medieval 11th century Scotland are shown through a woman's point of view - either that of Margaret, herself, or the fictional bard/harpist, Eva, who Fraser King assigns the role of Lady Macbeth's granddaughter. The pair represents the conflicting roles of Scotland - the arrival of a polished, sophisticated court versus the tradition of the warrior kings of old. Their relationship is rooted in opposition, yet forged in mutual respect.
Margaret is the beautiful blond in exile; a Saxon married to a Scottish king. She is disposed English royalty thanks to the Norman invasion of William the Conqueror. Her aim is to replace Scotland's Celtic church with that of the official Roman rite. She seeks to bring luxury, education and esteem to a court often looked down upon by the rest of Europe. Having always desired to be a nun, she instead puts her all into making her husband, Malcolm Canmore, a literate, sophisticated monarch instead of being best known as the killer of Macbeth.
Yet Margaret's religiosity borders on the extreme. While pregnant, she continues to observe a schedule of strict fasting and prayer. Fraser King likens her avoidance of food to anorexia. She depicts Margaret as feeling it holy to deny the babe in her womb the nourishment it needs to enter the world. Yet the queen opens the castle gates to all children needing a decent meal, while refusing to partake herself. Her fanatical addiction to observe the hours of devotion leaves her tired and worn down. She frequents the chapel at all hours of the night and is found on her knees before the altar at dawn. She even frees prisoners from her husband's dungeon and attempts to take gold from the royal treasury in order to feed and clothe the poor. This leads Malcolm to call her, "his little thief."
While Margaret is devoted solely to the Lord, it is Eva who is caught between two masters. As a hostage, she is taken from her home in the northern district of Moray to Malcolm's court. While there, her grandmother induces her to spy on a book that Malcolm is having commissioned that seeks to paint Macbeth in an unflattering light. However despite her clandestine mission, Eva quickly comes to admire Margaret filling the role of the queen's most trusted and beloved confidant. Throughout the novel, Eva struggles with protecting the reputation of her blood kin while battling her deepening affection for the Saxon queen. Yet Eva's actions are not determined by the queen's behavior of the queen. It is Malcolm's treatment of her that influences her judgment. His arrogance regarding the demise of her relatives and the condescension he bestows on her as a female bard become primary factors in her decision making.
Fraser King takes Queen Margaret's story as far the birth of her third child. Famous events are recounted such as the miracle of the queen's Bible remaining completely intact after falling into a river. Another inclusion is the historical watermark at Abernathy where Malcolm kneels before William the Conqueror in order to stop a Norman invasion.
Fraser King does a great job in bringing the landscape of Scotland to life. From roaring woodland waterfalls to the churning of the North Sea, the rugged, harsh environment surrounding the palaces of Dunfermline and Dun Edin is vividly expressed. She also gives a nod to the Scottish people from the pilgrims Queen Margaret encounters on the road to St. Andrews or the mob of frightened Saxon slaves at the gates of her castle. The reader feels the pride the people have for their homeland.
The one drawback is the repetition of detail. Fraser King fleshes out Margaret's character, having her enjoy romantic interludes with her husband and feeling an innate connection to the Benedictine priest, Brother Tur. Yet her daily life leaves much to be desired. She is continually shown praying, sewing or attending functions in the great hall. Her inner life is full of worrying about whether she is praying enough. While a canonized saint is most assuredly fixated on God, it would have been refreshing to see Fraser King more fully explore what filled her days. Instead, her created character of Eva demonstrates more vivacity and moral turmoil. The fictional Eva adds more interest to the story than the historical Margaret.
Overall, a worthy historical fiction covers two familiar themes, Scotland and royalty, with an added twist of sainthood.
Richard Paul Evans
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
Promise Me by Christmas mega-author, Richard Paul Evans (The Chirstmas Box, The Christmas List) is one of those sentimental stories that a reader either devours or detests. It is touching, yet schmaltzy; miraculous, yet impossible; feel-good, yet cliche-ridden. The plot revolves around Beth Cardall, who is faced with an array of truly overwhelming problems. Infidelity. Unemployment. Foreclosure. Cancer. Who comes to save the day? A mysterious man, of course. For believers of love having the power to solve all of life's difficulties, this book is a validation. For skeptics who would roll their eyes at such a premise, this is not a work to venture into. Promise Me does not apologize for being a complete escape from reality because that's what it's meant to accomplish.
For those who love to curl up on a snow-filled Saturday and get lost in a Lifetime television movie, this is the book for you. It is melodramatic, full of impossible twists and turns that culminate in a saccharine-sweet, happy ending. A jaw-droppingly handsome man saves a helpless woman from all of her problems - financial, medical, etc. He saves the day leaving her breathless with gratitude and contentment. Without his aid, she would have succumbed to disastrous, life-altering consequences. But he is the one to take charge of the situation leaving her completely and irrevocably in love with him.
The true gem of the book is the unsung support team of Beth's female friends. They are constantly babysitting her daughter, covering her shifts at work or bringing over homemade casseroles for her oven. They are the ones in the trenches with her helping her battle through the problems that life keeps throwing at her door. While not as glamorous or romantic as being championed by a beyond-perfect suitor - the power of women helping women is undoubtedly the true source of strength for many who find themselves in tough situations without a man by their side.
Overall, indulge if you crave holiday fluff.
Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc
9781616330859 $9.95 http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com
How would a 5-year-old boy experience the birth of Jesus? Debut children's author Cheryl Malandrinos ponders the scenario in Little Shepherd. She allows her readers to witness firsthand the coming of the Messiah. She transports them to the stable in Bethlehem placing her readers in the very presence of the Holy Family on that silent night over 2,000 years ago. Such a story is sure to make an impact on the mind of a young reader in a way that few books can. The shepherds found under a child's Christmas tree are brought to life. Their story and symbolism become significant and not an afterthought. They are not merely figurines representing some ancient tale, but flesh and blood individuals who were alive to experience a truly miraculous event.
Malandrinos' touch is similar to the style of the classic Rankin/Bass animated TV specials from the 1960s and 1970s such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Little Drummer Boy and The Year Without a Santa Claus. It is in league with the timeless, quality children's entertainment that endures through generations. It is one of those books that has the ability to become deeply ingrained in a child's memory as one of the traditions that they associate with the holiday itself. What is admirable about Malandrinos' approach is that she doesn't shy away from the holiday's true religious foundation in order to appeal to children through talking snowmen and fun-loving elves. Instead, she brings the heart of the Nativity front and center capturing children's attention by telling the story from the point-of-view of someone their age.
While the title character may have more responsibilities than a child of today, tending to an entire flock of sheep, Malandrinos balances the difference in time period by showing the child-like joy experienced by the adult shepherds at seeing the Messiah. They willingly leave their sheep - even with wolves nearby - in order to heed the angelic announcement of Jesus' birth. He wonders what could be so important that they would do such a thing. Their reaction to the newborn intrigues him, and he yearns to discover what it all means. It is a beautiful lesson for young readers to experience. The most important thing in life is not one's job, status or material wealth. It is God.
Overall, the Little Shepherd will guide his flock of young readers to the true meaning of Christmas.
New Hope Publishers
Post Office Box 12065, Birmingham, AL 35202-2065
One of the great mysteries of faith is how God does not play favorites with his love. It is not parceled out based on the severity of one's personal struggles. Instead, it flows throughout the world touching everyone equally. This phenomenon is explored in Kathi Macias' Red Ink. From a nursing home to a drug house to a Chinese prison, God is there for all wherever they may be.
Another fascinating aspect of the book is its depiction of the power of prayer. It crosses all boundaries and conquers all obstacles. It does not require a person's name for an intention to be granted. It does not need a defined reason for its influence to be felt. It does not demand reciprocation in order to be acknowledged. All that is necessary is raising one's heart and mind to God. He takes care of the rest.
Zhen-Li is one of Red Ink's triumvirate of main characters. She is imprisoned for actively proselytizing her Christian faith against the restrictions set in place by the People's Republic of China. She is forced to leave behind her husband and young son in order to be "re-educated." Tai Tong, one of the guards, makes it his personal mission to break her. He will either get her to sign a legal document denying her God or he will force her to become his personal sex slave for the remainder of her 10-year sentence.
Maggie is a disaffected American teenager. Bored with her life and dismissive of her parents, she falls for the false charm and insincere attention of a drug-dealing Lothario. He lowers her inhibitions with his chemical substances and shakes off her hesitation with his physical intimacy. It's not long before he has complete control over her mind, heart and body. She is so head-over-heels in love with him that she is unaware how she is playing right into his carefully laid trap.
Julia is a resident of a nursing home. In her younger days with her husband, she served as a Christian missionary to China. She has carried her faith with her into the twilight of her days. Through divine premonition, she feels compelled to pray for an unknown Chinese woman who she believes is in some kind of trouble. She also prays for Maggie, the wild child granddaughter of one of the residents, who Julia also believes is in terrible danger. It is through the power of Julia's devotion that the fates of Zhen-Li and Maggie are decided.
Red Ink is an impressive narrative construction. Macias masterfully weaves the three stories throughout the entire book. She never falters with pacing, point-of-view or plot. The details are expertly drawn together for a satisfying conclusion. At times, the dialogue gets a bit didactic in tone and slightly repetitive in nature. The characters' words are more palatable when they do not strain to carry the storyline, but instead come from the heart. A portion of the ending also shifts in style to the melodramatic and the unbelievable. Yet Macias, without a doubt, successfully illustrates her main themes - of the equality of God's love and the power of prayer - to her target Christian audience.
Overall, Macias employs a masterful writing style delivering a powerful Christian message.
The Storm Before Atlanta
1745 Broadway, Mail Drop 10-1, New York, NY 10019
Why would a 10-year-old boy wish to die in battle? Could a life that has not yet truly begun be so easily forsaken? Jeremy DeGroot's circumstances are not ideal. His father is in jail. He is an indentured servant on the run. He is trying to support himself by selling newspapers barefoot through the cold streets of Syracuse, New York. The Civil War headlines he delivers speak of the glory and honor of death on the battlefield. He wishes to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to join their ranks. By becoming a casualty of war, he believes he will finally obtain the respect and dignity lacking in his life. Karen Schwabach demonstrates the persuasive power of propaganda on the youngest members of society in The Storm Before Atlanta.
Upon joining the Federalist forces as a drummer boy, Jeremy befriends Charlie, a young Secesh (Confederate) soldier and Dulcie, a contraband (escaped) slave. The three resemble the dynamic of Mark Twain's memorable trio - Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Jim. Schwabach divides the book's focus in order to give the reader a taste of the time period from different viewpoints. Jeremy, an innocent, now has seen the elephant (witnessed the death of others during battle). Charlie, a poor Southerner, is questioning the basis of fighting so that rich plantation owners can retain their labor force. Dulcie, a newly-freed slave, is discovering the world of possibilities open to her as a paid medic for the Union forces. The shifting worldviews during such a pivotal time in American history are shown in the thoughts and actions of Federalist, Confederate and former slave. The educational value for young readers is immeasurable.
They are all heading toward the burning of Atlanta so memorably portrayed in Gone With the Wind. The South is falling, but not without a fight. As Jeremy sets the pace for the marching soldiers, the last remnants of a collapsing society are on display. The uniforms of the Confederacy are taken from the bodies of the Union's dead. Their hospital tents lack the crucial supplies of morphine and anesthesia. Their cooking fires are without the basics of coffee and hardtack. Charlie realizes the devastating odds stacked against his comrades. His decision to protect Jeremy and Dulcie from his fellow rebel soldiers shows just how much he doubts the rationalizations behind the South's cause.
Schwabach peppers the narrative with twists and turns. It is discovered that one of the soldiers in Jeremy's regiment is a woman. Another character admits that black blood is running through his veins. A nod is even given to the historic election of Barack Obama when Jeremy's fellow soldiers ponder the possibility of there one day being an African American president. But above all, the true picture of war shatters "The Drummer Boy of Shiloh" image that lured Jeremy into the fight. Death is not the pretty picture immortalized in the song. It is full of blood and infection, agonized screams and sawed-off limbs. Muddy fields, torrential rain, scorching sun and worm-infested food make up the interim. Jeremy comes to this hard won understanding by the novel's end. The renown of his legacy will not be passed down through generations, and he doesn't mind. His only wish is to survive and experience a long life in a world that is changing before his very eyes.
Overall, this young Civil War soldier beats a different tune to "The Drummer Boy of Shiloh."
Nicole Langan, Reviewer
The Skinny on Success: Why Not You?
265 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06880
9780981893594 $14.95 http://www.theskinnyon.com
This book, part of a series, attempts to distill a number of self-help books into a clear and easy to read format. It is intended for busy people who don't have time to read all those self-help books.
If there is such a thing as a definition of a successful person, it is someone who finds something about which they are passionate, they take action to achieve that objective, and they don't give up when setbacks get in the way.
Billy works for a CPA, and thinks that he has a knack for making people laugh. Therefore, it's nothing to participate in a comedy club's open mike night, become a successful comic, and appear on the Tonight Show, right? All you need is talent, right?
Randel, the narrator, tells Billy that passion and determination are much more important than talent. Stephen King got so many rejection letters that he needed a large spike on which to hang all of them. Steve Martin spent 10 years working to become a stand-up comic, after he worked at Disneyland as a teenager, trying out jokes and magic tricks on the public. Did they give up when success was not immediate? Brian Williams of NBC News and Jim Nantz of CBS Sports knew what they wanted to do when they were 8 years old. Many people give up on their dreams out of fear of failure, or fear of looking stupid. That may happen, but unless you try, failure is assured.
Billy's wife, Beth, is a paralegal with an interest in politics. She has been asked to run for the town Board of Finance, but she is wavering. She decides to go for it, and after getting beaten handily, is ready to give up on politics. Randel tells her that persistence in whatever you do is most important, along with not giving up when things don't go your way.
This book is excellent. It does a fine job at presenting a potentially vague subject like "success" in terms anyone can understand. Don't let the stick figure illustrations turn you off of this book that is made for busy people.
The Job-Hunter's Survival Guide
Richard N. Bolles
Ten Speed Press
2625 Alcatraz Avenue, #505, Berkeley, CA 94705
9781580080262, $9.99 http://www.tenspeed.com
Here is a basic job-hunting guide for the growing number of people who are unemployed, and don't have the time, or desire, to read a lot of details.
Among the first things you should do is to do a Google search of your name, to see what the Internet says about you. If there are any drunken, or racy, photos of you on Facebook, for instance, restrict their availability or delete them, now. You can plan on a potential employer doing the same search.
After that, take some time and do a through self-inventory of what you do best and enjoy most, and your skills that are most transferable. What did you like most about your last job? What would be your dream job? (Please don't say "A job with high pay and no responsibilities.") That way, you can be absolutely detailed about the type of job you are seeking, and use that to focus your job search.
Most people want to limit their job-searching to replying to online job vacancies, mailing resumes, answering newspaper ads or using private employment agencies. Their rate of success is small, so don't make them your only job-search methods. Much more effective job-search methods include asking your network for job leads, knocking on the door of any employer that interests you (whether or not they have a vacancy), and using the Yellow Pages, alone or with others in a job club, looking for fields of interest.
Before you get on the Internet, know what kind of job you are seeking. There are a seemingly infinite number of sites to visit, including omnibus search engines, sites with jobs in specific fields, and social networking sites. Pick just a few sites, and monitor them (jobs are frequently cross-posted to multiple sites). If a site allows you to fill out a profile, or post your resume, do it. You never know who will read it. Employers prefer to fill vacancies from within, before they advertise for the opening, and deal with a bunch of semi-qualified candidates. If they already have your resume, or have seen you work as a temp or contract employee, your chances have greatly increased.
This book is short, and excellent. To those who bemoan the total lack of available jobs, the author asks "Have you done anything more than rely on the Internet or Sunday want ads for your job searching?" It is very much recommended for all job seekers.
Astronomy for Beginners
For Beginners LLC
155 Main Street, #201, Danbury, CT 06810
9781934389256 $14.95 http://www.forbeginnersbooks.com
This book attempts to explain Earth, the solar system, our galaxy and our universe, in clear and easy-to-understand language.
For thousands of years, humans had made quite detailed observations about the heavens. It wasn't until the 14th century, when humanity emerged from the Dark Ages, that people started to test their theories about why the heavens were the way they were. Stars, like the Sun, emit energy in wavelengths shorter and longer than visible light, ranging from gamma rays to radio waves to ultraviolet light. Detecting those waves can tell a lot more about objects in the sky than just what we see.
Billions of years ago, matter, time and energy existed as what is known as the initial singularity, smaller than an atom and with nothing else outside of it. Then the Big Bang happened. If the expansion had happened just a little faster than it did happen, then gravity could not have drawn matter together to form stars and planets. Of the four forces that affect various kinds of matter (strong nuclear force, electromagnetic force, weak interaction and gravity), gravity is the weakest, but it has an unlimited range, working over hundreds of millions of miles.
The book explores the Solar System, giving a short profile of all of its inhabitants, from the Sun to Pluto (no longer considered a planet). Also explored is the search for life on other planets; as of now, there is no actual evidence of life anywhere except on Earth.
The axis of Earth is tilted by approximately 23 degrees, which helps to explain Earth's seasons. At the summer solstice, the North Pole is tilted toward the Sun, so its rays beat down most strongly on the Northern Hemisphere. At the winter solstice, the North Pole is tilted away from the Sun, so its rays beat down on the Southern Hemisphere. During the spring and autumn equinoxes, the tilt is sideways to the Sun, so both hemispheres get an equal amount of light.
The author does a very good job at presenting the material in language accessible to anyone. For those who want to learn more about the heavens, but consider themselves scientifically illiterate, this is an excellent place to start.
Red Serpent: The Prophet's Secrets
1710 First Avenue, Suite 169, New York, NY 10017
9780982952337 $29.99 http://www.9ineinc.com
This is part 2 of a projected 14-book far future science fiction epic. It is all about humanity fighting to return to Earth from which they were exiled by a race of humanoid vampires.
In part 1, mankind, living on a giant space station in orbit, fought a major battle against the vampires, and was victorious. Also, Alexander Howe, grandson of John Howe, newly-appointed dictator of humanity, learned that he is The Falsifier, the long-prophesied savior who will defeat the vampires, once and for all.
In this novel, both sides are making all-out preparations for the war that everyone knows is coming. Humanity is to build an immense energy weapon on the Moon that will destroy any and all ships that the vampires can launch against them. They are also creating enough room under the Moon's surface to hold all the people, because they know that when the vampires attack, the space station, called the Regnum, will be the first target. Humanity is also building thousands of ships, and gathering an army in the millions. The vampires are not standing still, either. Their top-priority plan involves creating thousands of genetically-modified werewolves.
Meantime, Alex is learning more about his destiny as The Falsifier. He has gained the power to bring the dead back to life, which he uses more than he should. He watches disks left by his father, who died the day Alex was born; disks which tell Alex a lot more about where he actually came from. Part of the prophecy says that Alex is supposed to die three times, and be brought back to life three different ways, one of which has already happened. Alex also learns things about himself from communicating with his grandmother, in a hospital in an irreversible coma.
The human attack catches the vampires off guard. It turns into one of those grand space opera battles, full of beam weapons, energy shields and sword fights.
This is more of a politics and revealing of secrets type of novel, and the author does a fine job at it. It touches on themes like cultural intolerance, it's interesting and is very much worth reading.
Enjoy Your Money! How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It
J. Steve Miller
Wisdom Creek Press
5814 Sailboat Pointe, Acworth, GA 30101
098187567X $15.95 http://www.wisdomcreekpress.com
There are a seemingly infinite number of personal finance books available in bookstores. This one is intended for people in their teens and twenties whose financial plans start and end with "become a millionaire."
Akashi, Antonio, James and Amy are your average high school students in detention, again. They meet with Mrs. Kramer, an eccentric, elderly teacher at the school, who teaches a course on money management. Every Saturday, they meet at a local fast food joint, where Mrs. Kramer takes the four into the world of money.
Have an emergency fund, equivalent to three or four months salary, in a savings account or money market account, accessible if needed. Pay off your debt as soon as possible, whether it is credit card debt, student loans or car payments. When you get some money in your pocket, it is tempting to buy a big-screen TV or fancy new clothes. Don't do it; live beneath your means; cut your expenses as much as possible. Is it more important that others think you are a rich person, or that you actually are a rich person?
It's also tempting to buy and sell stocks on a short-term basis, looking for a quick profit. Again, don't do it. Every time you buy or sell stock, your stockbroker makes money, not you. Research good quality, no fee mutual funds (especially index funds) that you can invest in for the long haul. Just because a fund had a good year last year, it does not mean they will have a good year this year.
A popular way to make money is by buying houses and "flipping" them. If that is not for you, and if you know the right people, think about "flipping" cars or motorcycles. People will always need decent, reliable transportation. The book also looks at buying a car (consult Consumer Reports and choose quality over flashy), insurance, knowing your way around a supermarket, investing in real estate, getting a job and keeping it.
This book is a goldmine of information. Written as a dialogue, this is very easy to follow for the person who does not want to read another "money literacy" book. This is highly recommended for every teenager and twentysomething who think that a million dollars will suddenly show up in their mailbox.
Is Anyone Out There?
Nick Gevers and Marty Halpern
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756406196 $7.99 http://www.dawbooks.com
This is a bunch of new science fiction stories exploring that age-old question: Is mankind alone in the universe?
A husband and wife laying outside on a clear night talk about aliens. Among the husband's speculations are that aliens home in on a psychological signal given off by one person alone. That is why sightings are always in rural areas, and never in the city. The aliens could be here already, but out of phase with humanity.
A moderately-famous writer penned a series of stories about a human and his alien sidekick. In a dream, or delusion, the alien comes to life and tells him the truth about the universe. An alien scout is sent to Earth to offer it membership in the Galactic Community. Watching some electromagnetic transmissions, he/she/it is horrified by the state of present-day Earth society. Aliens can show up in the strangest places; inside a brown dwarf star, inside the human eye and as parasitic blobs that attach themselves to humans, and seem to thrive on human philosophical paradoxes. Throughout the galaxy, various alien species are uplifted to sentience seemingly in the blink of an eye.
Mankind has a hard enough time communicating with non-human intelligence here on Earth, so how is Man supposed to recognize a message from an alien intelligence? Aliens might also show themselves through graffiti-like tags in e-books in a supposedly invulnerable digital library. In present-day Rome, a humanoid figure all in black appears at a certain spot, with absolute regularity, about every ten and a half years. Perhaps it is an alien out of phase with humanity. A homeless woman can't escape the feeling that one of her six physical senses has disappeared.
These are not just SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) stories. They do a very good job of showing that aliens can appear almost anywhere. They will keep the reader entertained, and are really worth reading.
My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey
Jill Bolte Taylor
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452295544 $15.00 http://www.penguin.com
Having a stroke must be hard enough for anyone. It must be that much harder to be a Harvard-trained brain scientist having a stroke, knowing what is happening to your brain as it happens.
In December 1996, the author woke one morning knowing that something was very wrong with her. Within four hours, the left hemisphere of her brain had deteriorated to the point where she could no longer read, write, talk or understand what those squiggles were on her telephone keypad. While her logical left brain was shutting down (she was able to get help in time), her intuitive right brain gave her a feeling of total peace and being at one with the universe (not necessarily a bad thing). Taylor is able to give an almost blow-by-blow description as her brain shut down. For instance, when she loses the ability to speak, that means that a spot called Broca's Area is affected.
Taylor's type of stroke was called an arteriovenous malformation, an abnormal arterial configuration. Even though it's a rare type of stroke, it's the most common type of stroke for younger sufferers (Taylor was 37 years old when she suffered her stroke). After several days in the hospital, she was sent home with her mother, who had come to help nurse her back to health. The plan was to get her as well, and as strong, as possible, because the operation to fix her arterial malformation, a stereotactic craniotomy, was coming. She survived, and over the next several years, was able to put her brain back together, leaving out the unpleasant and negative parts.
During her recovery, Taylor learned the things that caregivers should, and should not, do to help stroke patients. Make eye contact with me. Honor the healing power of sleep. Speak slowly and enunciate clearly. Please don't raise your voice. Keep visits brief. Ask me multiple-choice questions, not Yes/No questions. Break all actions down into smaller steps. Don't finish my sentences or fill in words I can't find.
This is a really interesting book. On one level, it looks inside the brain to show just what happens during a stroke; good for stroke victims or caregivers. On another level, it shows that the two lobes of the brain have very different personalities. It's very much worth reading.
Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
Henry Holt and Co., 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780805090567 $24.00 http://www.henryholt.com
Mankind has irreparably changed the Earth's climate and weather conditions. This book gives the details, and tells how to survive on this new world.
The Earth that mankind knew, and grew up on, is gone. A new planet needs a new name; hence Eaarth. It is a place of poles where the ice caps are severely reduced, or gone. It is a place where the oceans are becoming more acid, because of excess carbon absorbed into the water, not to mention the toxic chemicals and other pollutants being dumped into it. It is a place of more extreme weather patterns.
The average person might not care if an entire glacier completely melts away, like the Chacaltaya Glacier in Bolivia. Those living downstream, dependent on that glacier for their water supply, will certainly care. Since 1980, the tropics have expanded worldwide by 2 degrees north and south. Over 8 million more square miles of land are now tropical, with dry subtropics pushing ahead of them. The chances of Lake Mead, which is behind Hoover Dam, running dry in the next 10 years, have reached 50 percent. The residents of an oceanside town in North Carolina are spending up to $30,000 each to place large sandbags in front of their homes to keep the ocean at bay.
The times when America, or the world, can simply grow its way out of its financial problems are gone forever. Building enough nuclear power plants to get rid of even a tenth of the climate change problem will cost at least $8 trillion. According to one estimate, America needs to spend over $200 billion a year for decades, just on infrastructure, to avoid the kind of gridlock that will collapse the economy. A small village in Alaska is being evacuated, because of rising sea levels, at a cost of $400,000 per person. There is not enough money on Earth to evacuate everyone threatened by rising sea levels.
What to do? Some people are taking another look at small-scale agriculture, getting away from a dependence on artificial chemicals and fertilizer. Eliminate the middlemen, like advertising and transport, and put more money in the farmer's pocket. Along with local agriculture, consider local power generation.
This is a really eye-opening book. The first half is pretty bleak, showing just how bad things have gotten. But, there is plenty of hope in the second half of the book. It is very much recommended.
Paul Lappen, Reviewer
Secrets, Lies and Grace
Comfort Publishing, LLC
296 Church Street, Concord, NC 28025
A bullied boy earns redemption!
In Secrets, Lies and Grace, sixteen year old Charley drives home after being battered by the town bully--a young man everyone seems to be afraid of, a beefy kid who sounds manic and vicious. Charley's eye shiner is only a minor part of injuries to his face. His lower lip has been ripped and front teeth have been damaged.
At home, Charley's sister Grace, a twin, overly endowed and attired in the skimpiest bikini, dashes in from the family swimming pool to help him and to phone their parents who are attending a Rotary dinner. Grace's muscular jock friend remains hidden outside in the shadows smoking heavily. Charley has been beaten again both physically and mentally.
He has always lived in the shadow of his athletic, powerfully built brother. In fact, he and his brother are physical opposites in every comparison. His brother is handsome, popular, athletic, exceptionally strong in body and spirit; Charley is extremely thin, pimply, uncoordinated, and unusually frail for his sixteen years. He looks like an emaciated youngster and is treated as such in this small town.
Arriving at home, Charley's physician father is infuriated, not so much because his son has been beaten, but because he wants his son to fight back--stand up for himself--advocate for himself, instead of being looked upon as the town weakling. Yet Secrets, Lies and Grace points out how Charley's particular physical endowments and meek, timid appearance will not permit this.
Charley has few friends because being known as the skimpy little kid everyone picks on, does little for his masculine reputation. He is bullied in school, picked on in the community, and berated or ignored by his family at home. Charley, in every way, could easily be called a lost soul. One wonders how he manages to cope with what he feels is a hateful environment, and to stay sane.
Inside, Charley seeks revenge. He knows his father has several pistols and rifles kept under lock and key. Throughout Secrets, Lies and Grace, the lad continues to think, 'If only I had a gun ...' But then he locates the key to the drawer where his father keeps his Glock handgun. A reader will almost feel glad for the timid youth as if he morally needs some kind of retribution to improve a rock-bottom image.
So what will happen in Secrets, Lies and Grace? Is there a way young Charley's psyche can be healed without murderous violence? Can he be made to feel whole again after years of hurtful taunting and disgrace because of his physical appearance? Here is where I will leave the reader to discover how Charley and his clearly dysfunctional family handle what seems to be a lose, no-win situation.
Secrets, Lies and Grace is one of those stories where the reader becomes so involved with Charley's pathetic life and zero positive attitude, that they will find themselves screaming for 1) revenge of some kind, or for 2) some spectacular incident that can win for this demeaned sixteen-year-old some kind of respect with his family, peers, and community.
I would highly recommend Secrets, Lies and Grace to all persons who want bullying to stop. All of us have been aware of harassment in our own past; perhaps we were even victims. The reader cannot help but look inside the mind and life of this young teen who has little to live for except physical and mental abuse simply because of his stature and appearance.
This book should be on the reading list of EVERY high school student. As a former educator, most of us teachers were aware of both girls and boys who were bullied in school. We could at least attempt to control the school environment. Life outside the school was another matter. Parental attitude was beyond our immediate control.
Please read Secrets, Lies and Grace. Why? Because there are many youngsters like Charley struggling in today's world that truly need our help, right now.
Those Who Save Us
215 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10003 US
German Women Who Dared to Save Others!
Over the course of time that I have been reviewing books, Those Who Save Us I would have to rank as number one--top of my list. Author Jenna Blum has touched upon a subject that is extremely delicate, particularly for those of us who lived during the ghastly days of World War II. I was just a young boy then, but old enough to remember!
To begin with, Blum's writing style is often blunt yet expressive of the terrible mental scars incurred by the survivors of that war - particularly women. Jewish women were sent off to prison camps along with their husbands and children, only to be gassed and then burned in an effort to eliminate any trace of a Jewish population. The absolute horrors of their holocaust we need not dwell on here.
But what about German women who were caught up in Hitler's madness; who could not leave the country; who did not believe in his insane Third Reich? That was the plight of Anna in Those Who Save Us. Realizing from the start, especially after Krystallnacht that her Jewish friends and neighbors were disappearing, Anna attempts to hide a Jewish man she has fallen in love with. She is carrying his child.
Anna lives in an ancient house replete with nooks and crannies that have sat vacant, collecting dust for many years. This spirited German woman conceals her lover in a narrow closed-off secret stairway meant for servants. Incredibly, Anna's own father, a satanic believer in Hitler's new Germany that will last 1000 years, discovers Anna's hidden lover and the SS escort him off to a labor camp.
Because of her complicity in hiding a Jew, Anna's hateful manic father will also turn in his own daughter to German authorities except that she has already stolen away to hide in the basement of another courageous German woman, a renowned baker. It is in her bakery that Anna delivers her daughter Trudy into the world. As a half Jew, the tiny infant will be slaughtered when discovered.
Very carefully, Anna begins working beside the trusted German baker. As a beautiful young woman, Anna is singled out by a high ranking German officer who weekly visits the bakery. For fear of reprisal against herself and her daughter, Anna beds down with this disgusting German Obersturmfuhrer. (I could not find the rank of this officer.)
In fact, she gives up her body weekly. She learns from this egotistical man of the incredible atrocities being committed against Jews. She knows they are being exterminated through the chimneys of prison camps. She learns that the man she loves is being slave driven in a work camp in the hill country not far from the bakeshop. With the baker's aid, Anna becomes part of the underground, exchanging baked goods and messages with the dying prisoners in the work camp.
And it is here that I will leave the reader, deep in German held territory, where Anna continues her perilous life with the German officer while working with the underground. At this point, the war is lost. German soldiers and officers know it; but because of their deadly fear of Hitler and his entrenched loyal SS, they must fight to the death.
What will happen to Anna and young Trudy as Germany collapses around them? Will she be held culpable with other Germans by American troops that storm the city? Must she file past the mounds of dead and decaying Jewish bodies like other German civilians? Must she take her turn at burying the rotting corpses? And what is the ultimate fate of her first love, Trudy's real father?
As a reviewer, Those Who Save Us haunts me--I mean it really troubles me. What would I have done either singly or as part of an underground to halt the monstrous German murdering machine? Would I have somehow acted differently than Anna or would I have played out my role like she did to spare little Trudy and her own life? This is not a book for the feint hearted. It is an unforgettable tale of unconscionable savagery. It is a story ultimately coupled with remote hope and abiding love.
Comfort Publishing Company
Box 6265, Concord, North Carolina 28027
What possible plan could be launched to stop suicidal bombers before they act?
All Americans are aware of the bombings here in the United States such as that of Timothy McVeigh whose van loaded with 4000 pounds of explosives brought down a third of a seven story building killing men, women, and children inside. Who can forget the suicide flights into New York's twin towers seen by millions around the world.
Although they occur in distant places, the media keeps us informed of the suicide bombings that happen in foreign marketplaces, near government offices, and at the gates leading into military compounds to see the horrifying aftermath of suicide bombings in Israel, Jordan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and a host of other nations.
Certainly, we experience a deep feeling of sorrow, of pathos, even though we can never feel the horror and psychological disintegration of surviving loved ones and their families. But even though we harbor disgust and hatred toward the killer, there is an entrenched feeling of frustration--there is no way to retaliate against the dismembered suicidal bomber. It is far too late.
In Dangerous Solution, Author Don Ruch actually offers a way to stop suicidal bombings. His method is, in a way, disgusting, atrocious, immoral, unfathomable, and despicable. Yet, it is a method that, if implemented as he suggests, would surely stop many of the fanatical bombings that take place where suicide to a terrorist means a quick exit from this life into an afterlife filled with vestal virgins and a life of joy and happiness.
Dangerous Solution suggests that a very small group of men would join together in absolute secrecy to obtain money and necessary weapons. This group must be so secretive and so dedicated to their mission, that they would suffer death before exposing one another or the anti-suicide bomber plan. None of these men want to kill for the sake of killing. All want to stop suicide bombings.
Here is the plan. A world wide proclamation would go forth to all nations in the Mideast stating that if and when the very next suicide bombing takes place, the family of that bomber would be hunted down and assassinated. This includes the killer's mother, father, sister(s), brother(s). Although these persons may be innocent, knowing that they will surely be assassinated might stop a person intending a suicidal bombing.
The plan seems simple in some ways, but extremely difficult to actually effect. After this small group of men made their world wide pronouncement which of course flashed across the globe at the speed of the Internet, all they could do was wait, anticipating how they would carry out their "sacred" plan. Within a few weeks, a suicide bombing did occur. Now, they would have to act. They would have to prove to the world that as a top secret organization they would indeed kill off the suicide bomber's immediate family members.
In Dangerous Solution it takes extremely clever action with absolute caution to uncover the name of the bomber, where he lived, with whom he was affiliated before the planned assassinations could take place. As a reader could imagine, a suicide bomber in all probability would merely be a pawn for some radical organization. Getting correct information would not be easy.
But the anti-suicidal bomber group finally uncovers the bomber's correct name, what outfit he worked for, where he lived, and where his family lived. With that information, the assassination plan had to be worked out in such detail that others would not be killed and that the assassins would be able to escape.
And at this pinnacle in the story, I will leave the reader of this very clever tale. How do they finally manage to carry out their plan? Are they successful? Do they get caught? For readers hunting a book with a detailed explanation of a murderous way to stop suicide bombers, then read Dangerous Solution. This incredible story will grab your attention to minute detail, just as it grabbed the alertness of those involved in this assassination plan.
Better still, there is an extremely odd twist at the end of the story that will make a reader wonder about secrecy. Is it really possible to carry out such an assassination plan in total secrecy, or are other hidden eyes watching?
4537 California Ave, Seattle, WA 98116
Water Witch: A Review by Regis Schilken
"After soaking his father with three gallons of gasoline, Olm lit a match and tossed it ." How's that for the very first sentence in Water Witch. Right from the very first page, you know Water Witch is not a tale for the squeamish.
Tell me, is that not an opening sentence that jolts? But terror and suspense are what Water Witch is all about. As the story begins, Olm is a Pawnee Indian who is offering the body of his dead father to Tirawa in order that this god of the spirit world will instill in him, all the knowledge and particularly the powers of his powerful, warrior-like ancestors.
But Olm is mad. In his crazed mind, he stupidly decides to overwhelm Tirawa to make certain the god will grant his wish to become powerful, rich, attractive, and abundant with knowledge.
In addition to the body of his dead father, he will offer Tirawa the life of a young girl and boy by slowly burying them alive. He lures the two into his car then forcibly takes them to a remote area on an island like plateau deep in the densely tangled swamps of a Louisiana Bayou.
Olm buries the two horrified children in holes up to their waists with their hands shackled behind them. Bit by bit for several days, he fills the two holes with sludge-like swamp mucous so that the terrified children can see what will eventually happen: the slimy goo imprisoning them will eventually cover their faces.
Demented Olm believes that the more the children scream and suffer; the better will be his offering. He must keep them alive for several days to complete what he thinks is his sacred tryst with Tirawa. The children must urinate and defecate in place. Olm gives them only occasional drinks of murky water.
Dunny Pollock is summoned by her sister to a tiny remote town in Louisiana, Bayou Crow, to help locals find the two missing children. Dunny is extremely intelligent. She has psychic abilities due to a freak of nature. Dunny has always managed to hide a sixth finger on her left hand. She simply folds it inward under her other fingers or wears gloves.
Dunny is nicknamed the Water Witch because certain feelings in her sixth finger allow her to find hidden water sources. It also burns, or throbs, or aches or twitches in some peculiar way when danger or death is nearby.
Dunny's sister convinces her to set out into the swamps, hoping her psychic finger will help locate the two missing young children--a seven year old boy and a girl who is eight. The hazardous swamps are filled with alligators, crocodiles, a variety of snakes and other vile swamp creatures that lurk in the night.
As one might imagine, horrific incidents happen to these two sleuths. As they draw near a bayou plateau in their aluminum outboard, they see the leg of a gutted dead woman caught on a Cyprus tree root. Their outboard dies as their small craft floats toward the corpse knocking it loose. In a panicked attempt to start their motor, Dunny's sister slips, hits her forehead on the motor housing, and plunges overboard--unconscious.
Although Dunny cannot swim, she jumps into the fetid water. She must save her sister even though the bloated body of the dead woman surfaces beside her and the boat. Dunny gets a mouthful of water, some of which contains the decomposing hair of the dead woman.
Needless to say, I shall go no further in describing the horrifying events authored in Water Witch. If you are a reader who loves ghastly macabre stories involving grotesquely described details that will chill you to the core, read Deborah LeBlanc's latest thriller.
In addition to Dunny and her sister, there are other characters who might have appeared in Michael Jackson's "Thriller." There is elderly Poochie who can never stop talking, but who occasionally shrills out like a bingo caller: "B-6," or "N-37." She tends a purgatory tree in her back yard where tied-together shoes hang over its limbs.
There is preacher Rusty Woodward whom Dunny describes as "definitely a "cuckoo," a real "Fruit Loop." This wooden headed idiot claims that the two missing kids are lost in the Bayou suffering punishment from a wrathful God for sins they've committed. There is Beeno, an incompetent police officer; Sook and Vern; and Pork Chop; all characters Dunny met at a grocery store bar aptly named The Bloody Bucket.
Although horror stories are not my usual read, there was something uncanny about this grisly tale that made me keep going and going. It was as if I didn't want to turn the pages, but I had to. I had to find out about the suffering children. My curiosity might have come from many years of teaching kids who, in spite of their oft stated bravado, are really vulnerable at heart.
Imagine being stuck in a hole in which a madman dumps buckets of filthy slime every so many hours. You know your nose and mouth will eventually be covered. As an adult in that situation, I would be crazed, shouting, screaming. The terror of these two kids is unbelievable.
As a result, I would recommend Water Witch to those readers who are looking not only for a very clever read, but also are capable of bearing terrifying descriptions, unimaginable mental torture, and a grotesquely demented human being, Olm.
What happens to him, to the two kids, to Dunny and her sister, and to the other witchy characters in Bayou Crow I will leave to your imagination until you pick up a copy of Water Witch and read it for yourself.
Regis Schilken, Reviewer
Romancing the King: Finding Intimacy with God
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
Passionately Pursuing Intimacy with God
Brian Lake's "Romancing the King" explores life changing principles for finding intimate fellowship and union with God. Brian's writing is innovative with a new freshness and enthusiasm for pursuing the presence of God. The book is breathtaking in possibility and provides practical steps for applying the truths developed throughout the narrative.
Brian shares personal profoundly meaningful conversations with God Brian hr leads the reader into the eminent presence of the King. Brian takes the reader beyond forms, creeds, styles, and methods to a transformation that leads to experiencing intimacy with God through: friendship and fellowship with Him, understanding God's nature and character, spending time with Him, pursuing purpose and personal destiny, entering into the deepest level of worship.
Lake also challenges the reader to examine the spiritual disciples of fasting, prayer, and praise. He describes the availability, ministry, and power of the Holy Spirit to the follower of Christ.
I especially enjoyed the new insights into the life, purpose, and destiny of Queen Esther as she entered into the King's presence with her requests.
The "points to ponder" offer an amazing opportunity to personalize the narrative and to develop a personal study beyond reading as the you the reader record your observations, reflections, and step for action as a result of your study.
"Romancing the King" is rich in Bible content accompanied with Brian's own personal experiences and revelations. The book is designed to introduce a rising generation of new believers to find their purpose and destiny.
Possessed: Living Fully Abandoned to God's Glory
Rod W. Larkins
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257 -0310
Living Fully Surrendered Life's to God Glory
Rod W. Larkins leads the reader on a personal spiritual adventure into the past to reveal the potential of the future. By looking back in time at the early church and the expectations and promise of the supernatural fundamentals of the normal Christian life, Rod Larkin's exposes the reader to the enormity of the concept of being "Possessed: Living Fully Abandoned to God's Glory" in the pursuit of finding God given destiny.
The Church today is faced with the biggest challenge of any generation since the founding of the New Testament Church in the first century. People today are looking to Christians for authenticity and the reality of the transforming power of a relationship with God in their own search for peace.
Rod Larkins provides the reader with a manual for "exploring the recesses of the deep" and provides the Christian with the "spiritual weapons" for combating sin and the evil so prevalent in the world today. He shares revelations on heavenly portals, supernatural visions, and experiencing holy fire.
Larkin's writing well research, filled with scriptural evidence, illustration with real life examples, which illustrate the possibilities of walking divine light, spiritual authority, and in the in the reality of being empowered supernaturally.
"Possessed" is designed for everyone longing to experience more of the passion of Christ, the power of the Spirit, and the purpose of God. Larkins message is highly acclaimed with strong endorsements from well know Christian leaders. Profound insight, anointed writing.
The Power of Your Life Message: Decisions That Define Us
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
A Powerful Message of Value and Impact
"The Power of Your Life Message: Decisions That Define Us" is David Crone's personal story. He describes personal experiences that have changed and impacted his life.
Every word, sentence, paragraph, page, and chapter of his story, whether written or implied speaks of his overwhelming love of the Savior. His passion is evident in his writing.
David describes how God defined his purpose and destiny and the decisions that brought him to this place. He relates the lessons the truths he learned through pain, grief, disappointed and tragedy and of how these led to the concept of a family creed and of the importance of a personal legacy, a unique personal purpose, and the defining moment in his life that determined his life message. God has left his imprint on David.
I was personally drawn into the presence of God as I read of David's example and of his commitment to know God more intimately. I determined to accommodate myself to this same transforming power. I want to discover, develop, and pursue the fullness of life David defines as "Value" and "Impact." These two themes are interwoven into the twenty chapters of the book.
"The Power of Your Life Message: Decisions That Define Us" is a book for anyone willing to actively pursue the person of Christ himself, to experience his resurrection power, and to be a partner with him in his suffering. Life changing challenges to impact others.
Healing Prayer and Medical Care: God's Health Plan
Abby H. Abildness
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
A Blueprint for a Vital Healing Prayer Ministry
"Healing Prayer and Medical Care" provides important guidelines for determining balanced prayer and medicine in healing care. Abby H. Abildness, a behavioral health care specialist, has observed that healing comes after patients have reconciled with God and recognized His purpose in their lives. The book is a compilation of true stories of prayer, medical intervention, and miraculous healing. There are stories of hearts touched, relationships restored, and bodies healed.
Abildness works closely with the Penn State Hershey Medical Center Chapel. Rest, restoration, and healing make are the critical foundations of the ministry of the Chapel. Theirs is a holistic approach to healing. The Hershey Medical Center Chapel program recognizes the importance of ministering to the body, soul, and spirit of the individual.
Jesus' teaching model is applied in the Chapel ministry, which includes: "Ministering to unbelievers in crisis, finding a balanced prescription for healing, finding healing in worship, healing from the heart of God, healing in communion with God and one another, healing in the Word, and healing faith. It is a place of safety, refuge, and healing. Hearts are healing, destinies fulfilled, person refreshment, and restoration work together to remove unbelief and doubt, which are replaced with a stronger faith.
The book is an excellent study of God's original design for healing. Biblical study and a study of Clinical Medicines original design are both included. Abildness advocates the need to find a balance of cultural beliefs with healing. She considers the question, "Who carries authority to heal?"
She presents a step by step training plan for establishing a healing prayer team in the appendices with a model of choice words and scriptures.
Abildness challenges the reader to become involved in a movement of healing among nations with a call to think and pray globally. "Healing Prayer and Medical Care" provides a proven blueprint for a vital healing prayer ministry.
For Love's Sake
Jessica J. Davis
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
Pure Religion Looks After Orphans… in Their Distress…
Jessica J. Davis was disappointed with the emptiness she found in her experience with religion. She noticed the same void in the lives of many of her friends and acquaintances. "For Love's Sake" is the story Jessica's spiritual journey. She was willing to go around the world in her search to find God.
Jessica relates stories of her miraculous encounter with Jesus in a most unexpected place. She met Jesus in soaring heat and the red dust Africa. She describes the change that took place in her life as she looked deeply into the eyes of Jesus. Her life was changed forever in that instant.
Jessica's tells of the call of Jesus on her life to reach out to children around the world, children exploited by war, disease, and death. The story includes a description of the work of Iris Ministry in which Jessica is involved. Iris Ministry is mobilizing a supernatural justice movement worldwide.
Davis' writing is dynamic. Her descriptions are unbelievably real. She writes human of poverty and "the smell of the garbage dump flooding her sinuses" and of "the stench of burning rubber" in Mexico. Her stories are soul searching, gripping. Her challenge demands response, involvement, life change.
"For Love's Sake" is a book for anyone pursuing a new encounter with Jesus and for those ready to be "interrupted by heaven's touch." Davis' story is absorbing, uplifting, and poignant.
Tree of Life: Book of John
Messianic Jewish Press
Destiny Image Publishers
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17252-0310
9780768436136, $5.99, 64 pages
A Messianic Jewish Family Bible Project
The first volume in the Messianic Jewish Family Bible project is the "Tree of Life: Book of John." The unique purpose of this revolutionary new translation is to convey a world view of the Jewish Messiah and to communicate a message of being one in His love.
The translation uses Jewish Messianic terms which add a new significance and understanding to the scriptures. This approach allows the Jewish reader to see for themselves how Yeshua's (Jesus') teaching is directly from the Torah. It also helps the modern day Christian to relate to the Jewish roots of the faith and to learn more of the culture and traditions of the Jewish people.
The headings provided in outline form in the introduction of the "Tree of Life" volume uses Hebraic titles. This wording stimulates new insight to those readers already familiar with one or more of the contemporary Bible translations. An impressive selection of original Jewish artwork adds another dimension and a new significance to the interpretation of selected passage, being illustrated.
"The Messianic Jewish Family Bible" project is destined to become an important contribution to Christian and Jew alike. This new approach for teaching Jewish culture will help the reader to understand the significance and magnitude of the Messianic message.
The project is a major undertaking. The scholarly approach adds to the value of this tool for the professional theologian and member of academia. The clarity and simplicity also make this translation ideal for the Christian layman, for Messianic Jews pursuing a study of the scriptures, or for the curious Jew looking into Messianic teaching.
Richard R. Blake
Kissed by an Angel
an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
Kissed by an Angel is a trilogy, bound together, consisting of the novels Kissed by an Angel, The Power of Love and Soulmates.It is aimed at a middle grade and young adult audience. I found Kissed by an Angel to be a fascinating book. It had all the love and gentleness of first love, a murder mystery and tons of suspense.
Kissed by an Angel contains no obscenity or gratuitous sex. It is wholesome, yet thoroughly enjoyable. I felt that Kissed by an Angel provided the best qualities of good reading. There is a wonderful building of tension through each book up to its concluding pages. There is a tendency of the book to lose pace at the transition between the books of the trilogy. This is necessary so the reader has the basics of events that led up to the new book. I personally don't consider any of the books in the trilogy as stand-alone books. I'm also not sure if they were marketed as stand-alone books. Their current marketing of the three books as one bound trilogy works very well.
What follows is a passage from the trilogy, Kissed by an Angel:
"Will gave her a smile, but it was more with his eyes, which were deep brown, than with his mouth. His lips turned up slightly at just one corner of his mouth.
He was not easy to figure out, thought Ivy.
"O'Leary" said Eric when the owner had passed by, "have you got the hots for Pat, or what?"
"Likes those older women," Gregory teased. "One at UCLA, one doing Europe instead of college…"
"You're kidding," said Suzanne, obviously impressed.
Will glanced up. "We're friends," he said, and continued sketching. "And I work next door at the photo lab."
That was news to Ivy. None of Will's friends had real jobs.
"Will did that portrait of Pat," Gregory told the girls.
It was tacked up on the wall, a piece of cheap paper worked over with wax crayons. But it was Pat all right, with her straight, soft hair and hazel eyes and generous mouth - he had found her beauty.
"You're really good," said Ivy.
Will's eyes flicked up and held hers for a second, then he continued his drawing. For the life if her she didn't know if he was trying to be coo; or if he was just shy,
"You know, Will," said Beth, "Ivy keeps wondering if you're really cool or just shy."
"Beth!" said Ivy. "Where did that come from?"
"Well, haven't you wondered it? Oh, well, maybe it was Suzanne. Maybe it was me. I don't know, 'ivy, my mind's a muddle. I've had a headache since I left your house. I think I need caffeine."
"Gregory laughed. "That chocolate pizza should do the job."
"For the record," Will said to Beth, "I'm not really cool."
"Give me a break," Gregory said.
Ivy sat back in her chair and glanced at her watch. Well, it had been eight whole minutes that she had thought about other people. Eight whole minutes without imagining what it would have been like if Tristan had been sitting beside her. That was progress."
Kissed by an Angel is full of love, heartache, mystery and suspense. It is everything you would want your teenager to read. As an adult I found it extremely entertaining. It had me so caught up in its story that I couldn't wait to read it each day. I highly recommend it, especially for teens and tweens.
Silent Screams from the Hamptons
Christa Jan Ryan
Robert D. Reed Publishers
PO Box 1992, Brandon, Oregon 97411
9781934759059 $15.95 http://www.rdrpublishers.com
Silent Scream from the Hamptons by Christa Jan Ryan is an engrossing tale of one woman's life, her battle with alcoholism and her subsequent recovery. It is a tale of a life gone wrong early on and finally found after a long and difficult struggle. It is a story of the multi-generational effect alcoholism and dysfunctional families have.
Christa's openness and willingness to bare her soul to strangers for the purpose of healing both them and her is to be commended. She holds nothing back in an attempt to be honest and to help other to be able to see they are not alone and they too can begin the road to recovery if they are willing to try and to follow the steps.
Here is passage from one of the scenes in the book where Christa's life begins to get totally of control. It involves a secret trip away with an adult male teacher from school when she was only twelve:
"Late that afternoon, I stood in the lobby of the hotel watching Greg check in and felt a wave of alarm pass through my young body. WHAT AM I DOING? He suddenly looked old. When Greg turned toward me and flashed a lecherous smile, I knew I was in trouble. He grabbed me by the hand and led me toward the room. I didn't know how to tell him that the deal was off. In the room Greg suggested that I take a shower first. That sounded great; it would give me time to plan my escape. I stripped off my ski clothes and stood under the hot water with my heart pounding in my chest. He came in the bathroom, and I heard him lock the door behind him. "Shit, I should have done that?" I thought. Next thing I knew, he was in the shower soaping me down.
"I'm done," I said casually as I stepped one foot out of the shower. "It's your turn," He grabbed my arm and yanked me back into the shower. "Hey," I protested. "that hurt."
"I'm sorry, baby. I just didn't want you to leave."
"Please, Greg," I reasoned, "I'm only twelve. I don't think I'm ready for this."
"Christa, you're not leaving me hanging now. It's gone too far." He turned off the shower.
"Please, please, Greg. I'm just a kid," I pleaded desperately.
For the sake of keeping the review PG I won't go any further into the story. Let me just say that Silent Screams from the Hamptons was spell-binding. Once I started it I was unable to put it down, I read it from beginning to end, all two-hundred-thirty-eight pages. It is wonderful, fascinating and an absolute must read.
Illustrated by Sue Cornelison
Little Pickle Press LLC
PO Box 983, Belvedere, CA 94920
Sofia's Dream by Land Wilson is a charming tale of one child's friendship with the moon and the important lessons the moon has for the child regarding her home, Mother Earth.
Written for young children up to approximately eight-years-old Sofia's Dream is a delightful tale written in rhyme and full of the joy of childhood, its discoveries and imaginings. There's a serious message in the children's tale. The lesson, to take care of the planet because it's the only home we have, is critical to the next generation who will one day be stewards of the planet and its resources.
What follows is a brief sample of the story:
"Then one time when the moon seemed blue,
She noticed that his face was too.
"Excuse me, Moon, what bothers you?
There must be something I can do."
"You need to come and visit me,
For there is something you must see."
"But you are up there far away!
I'm here on Earth. I have no way."
Sofia's Dream is delightful, interesting poetry that will touch children's minds and hearts while teaching them a valuable lesson. I highly recommend adding it to family's collection of books. I also think Sofia's Dream by Land Wilson would be a wonderful acquisition for libraries everywhere.
Robert B. Parker
Robert B. Parker
G. P. Putnam's Sons
Parker's Split Image is a Jesse Stone novel. Stone is the chief of police in the town of Paradise. Stone's character is interesting, well-developed, with just a touch of cliche in spots that actually tend to add to the character. Sunny Randall is a private detective who is working closely with Jesse on a case requiring his input, the two develop a rapport as they each use the other as a sounding block for theories regarding their respective cases.
The rest of the characters are typical of their respective roles: There are muscle-bound body guards with the IQs of snails; mob-boss thugs; ex-con heads of security; wolves in sheep's clothing and a set of twins, wives of the respective mob bosses who give new meaning to the term "dynamic duo."
Few of the characters are spectacular, but the writing shines through despite this flaw resulting in a good story that makes skillful use of the technique of foreshadowing. The build-up of tension is very good. The pieces of this murder mystery artfully woven together into a coherent pattern that leaves no loose ends when the story is finally completed. Also, there is a wildcard, or two, thrown into the mix that will keep you wondering how the story is going to turn out in the end.
I hold everyone up to the historical greats: Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple and of course, Hercule Poirot. Who can hope to compare to the icons of the crime/murder genre?
Still, Split Image held my attention. It made me want to keep turning pages. It was a great way to pass several evenings. The story itself was well-developed and presented in an appealing manner. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. It didn't keep me up at night wondering what was coming next, but it was good. If crime novels are your thing I think you'll enjoy Split Image. I did.
Witch & Wizard: The Gift
James Patterson and Ned Rust
Little, Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Witch & Wizard: The Gift is the second installment in James Patterson's Witch & Wizard series. I loved the first book in the series, Witch & Wizard. I thought the story was great and the characters were wonderful. I'm not as enthused about Witch & Wizard: The Gift. The cast of characters remains essentially unchanged, but they digress from the form they had in the previous book. Also, this book doesn't, in fact, pick up from the same spot the where the previous book ended. It's rather confusing.
I liked the combination of Patterson and Charbonnet in Witch & Wizard. I don't think the combination of James Patterson and Ned Rust in Witch & Wizard: The Gift works as well. The story seems to really diverge from the direction it seemed to be heading in the first book. Maybe Patterson wanted to change directions but the story ended up losing some of its character and ability to relate to. Instead of being a sequel it feels like a different story that just happens to have the same characters as another story. Little remains to bind it to the first book other than the names of the people in it.
I don't want you to get me wrong; I still feel Witch & Wizard: The Gift is worth reading. It still carries on the story of Whit and Wisty, just not in ways you would have foreseen, but maybe that's not all bad. The story doesn't allow you to settle in a comfortable rut and say, "Oh yes, well this is absolutely what this story is about and this is what is going to happen." There's no point where you'll find yourself saying that. But if you've read both books you'll probably like the first better.
After reading Witch & Wizard: The Gift I'm still curious about what is going to happen to Whit and Wisty, but I don't know if it's a strong enough desire to make me read the next book in the series, especially if it's another Patterson/Rust collaboration.
Imago Chronicles Book Two: Tales from the West
L. T. Suzuki
Imago Chronicles Book Two: Tales from the West by L. T. Suzuki continues the story of Nayla Treeborn begun in the first volume, A Warrior's Tale, which incidentally is optioned for a major motion picture. Tales from the West introduces a palate full of new characters and a new adventure and a new love for Nayla. Will this love be more faithful to her than her first love was? You'll have to read to see.
Tales from the West is artfully crafted with a scintillating storyline and a constant escalation of tension that will keep you turning the pages. I read this 413 page book in three days. I think I only stopped to grab coffee so I would have the energy to keep reading because I had to know what was going to happen next. Nayla Treeborn is a character near and dear to my heart and I can't wait to read the rest of the books in the series.
In Tales from the West a great quest is undertaken by seven men, six humans and one elf. Of the males all are warriors save one, an innocent, a boy, the young squire of one of the princes in the party. Together the party is destined to try to protect humans and elves from the coming of a get evil, the dark lord Beyilzon and his mighty army. If they fail, the worlds of elf-kind and humankind will be lost. It is an all or nothing situation.
The young squire is stolen from the party by emissaries of the dark lord and this is where Nayla enters the picture, battling the emissary who has the boy and freeing him. Nayla flees after the battle to pursue her own quest. Due to her stature and her battle skills all are left wondering who the boy or young man who came to their rescue was. Then Nayla comes to their rescue a second time, leading the group to safety after a hazardous turn of events. It is at this junction that the party learns their rescuer is actually a woman, who can not only carry her own weight, but best any man among them. After some consideration part of the party asks Nayla to join them on their expedition. Not everyone likes this idea but after giving it due consideration Nayla, and because of one member of the party in particular and his role in relation to her own people, Nayla decides to join forces with the expedition.
As usual Suzuki, a master at martial arts herself, brings all her knowledge of this art to bear in the fight scenes making them realistic. Her writing skill makes the scenes steal your breath away. At every turn she is the consummate professional drawing into the world of her creation with artful imagery and storytelling.
What follows is a passage from Imago Chronicles Book Two: Tales of the West:
"At the mouth of the Gap where the pass opened up into Darross, Markus and Arerys caught up to Faria. An Expression of utter shock was etched across this knight's face as he took in the carnage. His mind was reeling, unable to comprehend the magnitude of the devastation that lay before him.
Nicobar, his childhood home, was now but a memory. And against the night sky, King Sebastian's castle was a stark silhouette, dark and abandoned. The banners bearing the golden dragon, the heraldic symbol of Darross that once flew high and proud over the castle walls were now conspicuously absent.
Faria's eyes scanned the darkened landscape littered with the dead. Everywhere, there lay body after body. He dismounted from his steed as he gazed at the fallen knights and soldiers before him.
"How can this be?" gasped Faria, shaking his head in disbelief as he swallowed back his mounting rage.
"This would only have happened if the captain was killed at the onset of the battle," determined Markus. "The ranks collapsed and mayhem ensued."
"Do not say that!" growled Faria. "The captain is not dead! He cannot be dead!"
Ignoring Markus' words, Faria frantically raced from corpse to corpse, searching the faces of the knights once in King Sebastian's service.
"Faria, we must move on," ordered Arerys. "There is nothing we can do for these men."
The Elf's words went unheeded as Faria scrambled from one knight to the next. As he came to a body that lay near the banner bearing the emblem of the golden dragon, Faria fell upon his knees. Many arrows had pierced the knight's body that lay before him. Arerys and Markus came to Faria's side.
Carefully, he removed the helmet, gently cradling the dead man's head in his arms as he trembled, overwrought with sorrow. Faria began to weep for this lost life.
"Who is this fallen knight you grieve for?"questioned Arerys, as he knelt by Faria's side.
Gazing up at Markus and the Elf, through his tears Faria spoke: "Here, in eternal sleep, lies the protector of the House of Northcutt; trusted servant and loyal knight to King Sebastian."
"He was the captain?" determined Markus.
"He was my brother, Davenrow Targott," responded Faria, a sad sigh escaped him as he lay the younger sibling down. "The one I had appointed to captain the army in my absence."
Tales from the West is full of examples of the personal tragedies and triumphs of a people who have literally set out to save the world. Its tension is finely tuned, its characters skillfully drawn and it storytelling exquisitely set forth. Tales from the West is a prime example of why fantasy and adventure is such a wonderful release for those who, like me, love it.
Please note that with some booksellers this book is listed as the first in the series. To avoid confusion look for the words Tales from the West in the title or search for it by the ISBN number. Currently the book is available in electronic format for popular reader applications and in a pdf version although a print version will be available beginning in early 2011. If you purchase the book in deluxe PDF version through the author's official website at http://web.me.com/imagobooks it is numbered correctly as the second book in the series.
Tracy M. Riva
Shelley Shepard Gray
Harper Collins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
I found this book to be moving, tender and a well crafted story. When two strangers meet at an Inn, just days before Christmas, each have a story of great sadness.
A young Amish woman who is pregnant and has no husband, and a young Amish man who looks haunted and lost. Neither one is prepared to share their thoughts with others. Both are looking for peace and rest that they can't find at home.
The Inn is ran by a Amish family that had planed to close and have a family gathering with no guest. But then they find a reservation that had got mixed up in the mail. And when the young woman shows up and passes out and falls in the snow they know things will not be what they had planned. Yet they could not see the many blessings that they were to encounter.
It is by the healing power of God, that the strangers wind up sharing their story's with each other, and then the family at the Inn. There they will find peace and love by doing so. This book is truly a MUST read at Christmas even if it is to remind us what the season is for.
This book is a great reminder that we should all take the time to really listen to what God has to say to us.
Hugo Publishing Company
128 East Jackson Street, Hugo OK 74743-4035
9780982826805 $14.95 www.hugopublishing.com 1-800-900-3311
This book has cross generational appeal that comes along very seldom. It has intriguing twist and turns and you can never anticipate what will happen next. There is not a boring moment in this book.
The characters are well thought out and interesting. All that this reviewer can say is "grab some pop corn and a coke before you start reading this book. If you are like me then you won't just be reading but seeing a movie in action."
Mr. Stamper is one heck of a story teller. This is one of the best reads of 2010.
What a way to end the year.
Five star rating.
The Sheik's Forbidden Virgin
P.O. Box 5190, Buffalo, NY 14240-5190
9780373128594 1-888-432-4879 http://www.eharlequin.com
Princess Kalila Zadar was pledged at an early age to marry King Zakari of Calista. Kalila has mixed feelings about the arrangement, for she had always dreamed of finding a mate that would provide her a true and lasting love. She fears that Zakari will see their marriage as one of an obligation instead of a love match.
Prince Aarif Al'Farisi receives an e-mail from his brother Zakari who wishes that he would go and escort his betrothed to their homeland for the impending marriage since he is tied up with other business. Aarif knows that he could not refuse his brothers request. At a young age, he had failed his family and still wears the scars of the horrific day as a constant reminder. That one day still haunts his memories; since then he has always put his family's needs far above his own life.
Kalila is disappointed when her intended does not show up to escort her to his homeland. She sees it as a sign that Zakari doesn't see her as a high priority. She devises a plan to run away from his brother Aarif.
Aarif manages to foil Kalila's escape plans. The two find themselves trapped in the hot desert in the middle of a sand storm. The turbulent conditions ignite a forbidden desire they both give into out of need and acceptance.
After Aarif claims Kalila's virginity he knows it is his duty to reveal that has transpired to his brother. Kalila acceptance of his scarred body awakens feelings he never thought he would experience. He questions whether he will be able to step aside and allow his brother to claim the woman he wishes to build a future with.
Kate Hewitt is an exceptional romance author. With every book that I discover from this talented author, I grow more in love with her writing style. The Sheik's Forbidden Virgin is the perfect way to spend a cool winter's night. You will fall in love with Aarif and Kalila and find yourself holding your breath in anticipation of when these two lost loves will be able to unite.
Desserts 4 Today: Flavorful Desserts with Just Four Ingredients
Abigail Johnson Dodge
The Taunton Press, Inc.
63 South Main St., PO Box 5506, Newtown, CT 06470-5506
9781600852947 $17.95 http://www.taunton.com
Desserts are the final dish that makes any meal extra special. Often, to make these scrumptious delights it takes a cooking course to master. Now with the creation of Desserts 4 Today: Flavorful Desserts with Jut Four Ingredients you are now able to create a confection of delight by simply using only four ingredients.
I must admit, when I first discovered Desserts 4 Today: Flavorful Desserts with Jut Four Ingredients I was skeptical at what type of recipes I would find in this book. I had a hard time absorbing the notion that anyone could prepare a dessert with just the use of four ingredients. I am happy to report that my fears were quickly put to rest, for I am now able to create masterpieces that include: Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake, King Cake, and Louisiana Pecans.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever dream that I would be able to create the desserts that I found in Desserts 4 Today: Flavorful Desserts with Jut Four Ingredients. With Abigail Johnson Dodge's simplistic approach to cooking, I am now able to create desserts that have my friends asking for seconds.
Desserts 4 Today: Flavorful Desserts with Jut Four Ingredients is packed full of some of the best desserts that you will find anywhere. Those that are pressed for time or lack of cooking skills will consider this book a lifesaver!
Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
HMH Trade & Reference
9205 Southpark Center Loop, Orlando, FL 32819
9780547195957 $32.00 1-800-225-3362 http://www.hmhco.com
In today's hectic society often we are pressed to find the time to cook. Gone are the days where we spend endless hours in the kitchen preparing home cooked meals. Now through the ingenious discovery of Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All you need for Easy Get-Togethers cooks worldwide are able to find a way to offer wonderful home cooked meals in a fraction of time it takes with other traditional cookbook methods.
Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All you need for Easy Get-Togethers provides a simplistic way to make anyone a gourmet chef. It is separated by four sections that include:
Stews for All Seasons
Roasting Pan Complete
Big Summer Salads and Grilled Platters
It contains over 200 recipes that are easy to understand and prepare. One of the best attributes this book has to offer is that it concentrates on each dish and provides the additional recipes for main course, appetizer, salad, and desert. It even goes a step further by suggestion the perfect drink combination for the main course. Knowledge such as this could take hours to gain from other numerous other cookbooks. Now all you need to make a perfect meal is your copy of Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All you need for Easy Get-Togethers.
Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All you need for Easy Get-Togethers is one of the best recipe books I have yet to discover. Being single, I hate the hassle of preparing dishes that take tons of time that results in an endless amount of dishes; with this book it has made cooking an easy task.
In the short time I have received Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers; I have found out that I am able to make to prepare a mouthwatering meal in less time and with more professional results. My friends are in awe at the meals I am now able to create through Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers. This cookbook is definitely worth the one time investment you made, for it will quickly become one of your highly treasured cooking references.
Petunia Pepper's Picture Day
PO Box 2499, Anderson, IN 46018
9781593173975 $14.99 http://www.warnerpress.org
It was picture day for Petunia Pepper. She wanted to look extra special for the day. In the past three years, something always prevented her from having the perfect picture, from pink eye, to missing teeth, to puffy hair.
Petunia was determined that this year she WOULD have the perfect picture that all would want to see. Unfortunately, she spilled syrup on her dress and missed the bus and had to walk in the rain instead. As she hurried to school she slipped and fell on a banana peel.
With so many obstacles standing in Petunia's way by the time she got to school her hair and dress was a mess. Her teacher refused to allow her to have her picture taken with the class. Petunia was so disappointed, yet again another year where she wouldn't have a proper picture.
The next morning Petunia is presented with a present she never anticipated. What could manage to put a smile on a young girls face?
Petunia Pepper's Picture Day is a book that will put a smile on your face. You can feel the anguish Petunia experiences as she tries to make it to school to get her picture taken, she refuses to not let any obstacle stand in way of her goal. The illustrations bring to light the point when life gives you lemons you turn them into lemonade.
Brooke Keith (Author) and Mary Bausman (Illustrator)
PO Box 2499, Anderson, IN 46018
9781593173982 $14.99 http://www.warnerpress.org
Chrissie is a turtle who lives deep in the forest. She feels that as a turtle she is lacking in her skills compared to other forest animals. She sees them each have speed, agility, and strength; all attributes that she lacks as a turtle.
Chrissie asks God to change her into one of these useful animals. God replies that she is a special creation in herself. Will Chrissie believe God's words and be able to see herself as a beautiful and useful forest creature?
Chrissie's Shell is a beautiful illustrated children's book. The colorful pictures bring the words to life. Youngsters will be held captive by all the wonderful colors that bring out the true essence of Chrissie's Shell. I highly recommend this book to any child that may be suffering from self-esteem issues, for the lessons that can be found in this one book are priceless.
Rocky Mountain Match
Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical
P.O. Box 5190, Buffalo, NY 14240-5190
9780373828388 $TBA 1-888-432-4879 http://www.eharlequin.com
Joseph Drake is drowning in sorrow and despair after an accident leaves him a prisoner in total darkness. He refuses to believe that his blindness could be permanent, for he dreams of one day having a family. If his condition is to remain unchanged, he stands to also lose his career as a carpenter.
Joseph's brother Ben refuses to allow his brother to waste away. He hires Katie Ellickson who is a teacher of the blind. Katie refuses to allow Joseph to wallow in his own self pity. She challenges him to make the best of the situation, and allow her to show him how to live in a sightless world.
Katie's strong will is able to break through Joseph's resistance towards his condition. With her guiding hand she is able to show Joseph how he can still live a full and prosperous life even though he is blind. With this close contact Joseph starts to develop feelings towards Katie. Will he be brave enough to share his feelings, and ask her to stay with him?
Katie past is one that is filled with much pain and agony. She fears one day her dark secrets will be revealed. Once Joseph discovers all her painful memories will he still accept her as his true love?
Pamela Nissen has written an exquisite book in Rocky Mountain Match. This is the type of romance that you will find that you can't put down once you start. I was highly impressed with the talent this author exhibited. Rocky Mountain Match reminds me of why I am a devoted romance reader.
2665 S. Atlantic Avenue, #349, Dayton Beach, Florida 32176
9781607352082 $3.99 http://www.resplendencepublishing.com
It had been seven years since Jenn had last seen her college friend Riley. Their lives went separate ways when she accepted a job in New York and Riley had settled in North Carolina. The two had kept in touch over the years by phone, e-mail, and texting.
When Jenn is given the opportunity to interview for a job in Riley's hometown, she sees it as the perfect excuse to visit her beloved friend. She is pleased to see that the years have been kind to Riley for he still is as handsome as she last remembered him.
After college, Riley was able to explore his dark side of passion by discovering the BDSM lifestyle. He finds that he is a natural Dominant who enjoys bringing a submissive to her knees. He has always had deep feelings of love for Jenn and is determined with this visit that he will reveal to her his new found interest.
When Jenn finds a book and a flyer for a local BDSM club in Riley's condo she finds herself fascinating by the concept. Will she give Riley the opportunity to show her a world that is foreign to her livelihood? Or will his new interest have her wanting to return to the safely and security of her home in New York?
Eliza Gayle has written a sizzling romance in Bottoms Up. You will not find a better offering of the BDSM lifestyle then you will in the words of Ms. Gayle. This book literally has the power to short out your eBook reader with its electrifying jolt of intense sexual pleasure. Eliza Gayle is one author whose name I intended to commit to memory, for she has certainly left a very positive impression of one talented author who knows how to write a unique romance novel that will leave you craving for more of her work.
Suzie Housley, Reviewer
The Track of Sand
Translated by Stephen Sartarelli
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780143117933 $14.00, 800-847-5515, www.penguin.com
Strange dreams and perfect intuition and logic are the keys to solving a mystery in this Inspector Montalbano novel. It seems that even when he is asleep he can proceed with an investigation with dispatch.
He awakens one day and looks out of his beach house to see a bludgeoned horse lying in the sand. When his men arrive after his call to investigate, the horse has disappeared. In short order, Rachele, an equestrian champion rider, and Saverio Lo Duca, one of the richest men in Sicily, each report a missing horse. Which one was the horse the inspector sighted?
In consultation with Fazio, a colleague, Montalbano learns of a clandestine horse racing scheme operated by the mafia. Meanwhile, several burglary attempts take place at the inspector's house, as well as an arson attempt. What, if any, is the connection to the investigation? With his customary unorthodox methodology, the inspector proceeds to unravel all the possibilities.
With humor and charm, the author writes a procedural of a different kind: one which is full of good food, good-looking women and lots of fun. Eat, drink and read hearty.
Translated by K. L. Seegers
Atlantic Monthly Press
841 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9780802119582 $24.00 212-614-7850 groveatlantic.com
Post-Apartheid South Africa has undergone many traumatic changes. But for homicide detective Benny Griessel, nothing much changes except for the murder victims, the politics, unsettled race relations and his own personal problems. Benny is saddled with "mentoring" newly promoted black or "colored" detectives. Of course, he is the only experienced white.
The plot involves two murders and a kidnapping, each a potential PR disaster for the SA government. It is up to Benny and his untested troops to save a captive American girl who witnessed the murder of her fellow tourist. Meanwhile, a well-known music executive is found shot in his home with his pistol lying at his feet, his alcoholic wife asleep in a chair.
Deon Meyer has written six novels and "Thirteen Hours" is probably the best (not taking anything away from its predecessors). It is taut, moving and deeply memorable, and is highly recommended.
She Felt No Pain
RCMP Corporal Holly Martin, newly transferred to Vancouver Island, faces adjustment to her new command, along with encountering her own past along the way. The reader is treated to all kinds of descriptions of the island in all its glory.
Almost incidentally, a mystery unfolds when an apparently homeless man is found dead of what looks like a drug overdose. An autopsy shows a deadly combination of heroin and a potent synthetic opiate, a deadly combination. Holly soon discovers something the man had hidden near the site of his death, and she struggles to find its meaning. At the same time, Holly is encouraged by her elderly aunt to investigate the disappearance of her mother many years before.
Slowly, Holly begins to look into the background of the homeless man, uncovering his relationship with a sister and aunt still living on the island. Consequently, Holly is able to begin piecing together the background story and investigate the possibility of murder. The author concentrates on developing the story against the raw beauty of nature and environment, which not only provide a truly forceful setting for the plot, but also a powerful conclusion.
She Felt No Pain
c/o Napoleon & Co.
178 Willowdale Ave., Toronta, CA M2N 4Y8
9781926607078 $16.95 877-730-9052 napoleonandcompany.com
RCMP Corporal Holly Martin, newly transferred to Vancouver Island, faces adjustment to her new command, along with encountering her own past along the way. The reader is treated to all kinds of descriptions of the island in all its glory.
Almost incidentally, a mystery unfolds when an apparently homeless man is found dead of what looks like a drug overdose. An autopsy shows a deadly combination of heroin and a potent synthetic opiate, a deadly combination. Holly soon discovers something the man had hidden near the site of his death, and she struggles to find its meaning. At the same time, Holly is encouraged by her elderly aunt to investigate the disappearance of her mother many years before.
Slowly, Holly begins to look into the background of the homeless man, uncovering his relationship with a sister and aunt still living on the island. Consequently, Holly is able to begin piecing together the background story and investigate the possibility of murder. The author concentrates on developing the story against the raw beauty of nature and environment, which not only provide a truly forceful setting for the plot, but also a powerful conclusion.
Evidence of Murder
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061544507 $7.99 800-242-7737 harpercollins.com
Persistence is a virtue, and Theresa MacLean, a forensic scientist in the M.E.'s office exhibits plenty of that in this novel in which she still has not recovered from the death of her fiance. A young woman has been found frozen to death on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland and there are almost no clues as to the cause of death. She left behind a husband of three weeks and a young baby.
Theresa smells a rat and she can't let go of the case. She learns that the baby has received a $1.5 million inheritance from its grandparents and Theresa suspects that the baby's life is in danger because of the money. But unless she can prove murder, and she can't seem to find any evidence, there might be another death in the near future.
This reader found the book slow reading, bogged down in minutiae and over-detailed descriptions, especially of forensics procedures. But for this criticism, it is an interesting and well-drawn plot, with an exciting but rather implausible conclusion.
Evil for Evil
James R. Benn
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781569478516 $14.00 212-260-1900 sohopress.com
The Billy Boyle World War II Mystery Series has the protagonist, a former Boston detective now serving as a lieutenant on the Eisenhower staff, undertaking special assignments for Uncle Ike (Billy's mother and Mamie are sisters) requiring discretion. In this episode, he is sent to Northern Ireland where there is a large American base, part of the contingent preparing for the D-Day invasion.
Fifty Browning automatic rifles and a hundred thousand rounds of ammunition have been stolen, and the fears are that in the hands of the IRA, the Irish Republic to the south might be forced to come into the war on the Axis side if the weapons are used in an effort to "liberate" Ulster from the hated English. Billy, a Boston Irishman brought up to be a sympathizer against the English "oppressors," arrives in an attempt to find the BARs, but quickly learns of other schemes and of the differences between Catholics and Protestants, the politics of the region, and the history of the Irish troubles.
The plot is complicated by many factors, as Billy stumbles along to solve two mysteries. While much of the novel is action-packed, and the mixture of wartime intrigue and Irish history may include a lot of fiction, the story is a fascinating look at a little known aspect of the Second Conflict involving the Nazi effort to use the Irish question to undermine England's war effort. Had it succeeded, the war's outcome might have been very different.
Rag and Bone
James R. Benn
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003,
9781569478493, $25.00 212-260-1900 sohopress.com
A couple of weeks ago, the Russian Parliament acknowledged that country's responsibility for the slaughter of more than 20,000 Polish officers at the Katyn Forest early on during World War II over the protests of the Communist Party. Katyn plays a prominent role in this novel, the fifth in the Billy Boyle World War II mysteries. When a Soviet officer is found murdered on a London street, hands tied behind his back and shot in the back of the head as were those murdered at Katyn, Billy is sent ahead to London from Italy by his Uncle Ike to solve the murder just days before the General and his staff were to arrive to set up Supreme Headquarters for the invasion of France.
While the Poles in London, especially Billy's friend Kaz, have proof of the Russian complicity in the massacre, it was not in the interests of the British or American governments to upset the delicate balance in the wartime alliance, which depended on the pressure of the eastern front to offset the German defenses of the west. Now a first Lieutenant, Billy has to tread a fine line between all elements to find the killer and seek justice, while saving his friend, who is Scotland Yard's number one suspect.
As usual, the author uses and depicts history to set the stage for an intriguing murder mystery, with cameo performances by Uncle Dwight D. Eisenhower, FDR and Winston Churchill, among others, carrying forth the series from North Africa to Sicily and Italy to blitzed Britain, just before the Normandy invasion. Written with a blend of fact and fiction, the novel is a first-class crime novel, transcending the vivid scenes of Luftwaffe bombings, war-time shortages and deprivations, and is recommended.
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312646967 $24.99 646-307-5560 minotaurbooks.com
"The Devil" reads like a cocktail of Xanax and Jameson, with a side of Guiness. Maybe that's because Jack Taylor absorbs that combination on practically every page of the novel. Describing a book by Ken Bruen is no easy task, and the smart thing would be to not make any attempt to do that, but merely to write anything that comes to mind. But that would just about describe the novel, wouldn't it?
Taylor, at the outset, is denied entry into the United States because of his unsavory background. So what does he do? Naturally, head for the airport bar, where he meets what appears to be, throughout the rest of the book, the devil incarnate. It appears that the devil has a grudge against Taylor, who has interfered in the past with some of His plans. Along the way, various contacts of Taylor's meet their deaths at the hands of the supposed devil.
There is no way to describe a Bruen novel, except to say "far out." The writing is always interesting, albeit sometimes incomprehensible, the theme frequently unusual, as in this case. "Noir" in every sense of the word. But recommended.
An Impartial Witness
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061791789 $24.99 800-242-7737 harpercollins.com
A chance sighting while in Waterloo Station leads Bess Crawford into a long investigation. She recognizes a woman, crying as a Captain leaves to catch a train to the front during World War I. The woman, the wife of one of Bess' patients, whose picture was pinned to his tunic, enabled Bess to recognize her. Later that day, the woman is found murdered, floating in the Thames.
In between her duties on the French front and occasional furloughs, Bess becomes obsessed over the murder, as well as a subsequent stabbing of a friend. Scotland Yard arrests one person, who pleads guilty in open court to the first murder. Not convinced of his guilt, Bess continues in her dogged manner to gather "facts" to undo his death sentence.
The mother-son writing team that gives us Charles Todd has created a worthy second addition to the series, with a moving plot and well-drawn characterizations. The mystery is developed slowly, so the reader progresses with just enough momentum to reach a very satisfying conclusion. Recommended.
Berkley Prime Crime
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425234464 $24.95 800-847-5515 penguingroup.com
For anyone who likes cozies, with a little mystery thrown in, a Royal Spyness Mystery is right up his or her alley. In a change of scenery, Lady Georgiana is asked to travel from London to the Castle Bran in Romania's Transylvania to represent the Crown at the wedding of the Princess Maria Theresa and the Bulgarian Prince Nicholas. It seems Georgiana went to school with the princess, who had specifically asked for her friend to be a bridesmaid.
Yes, that's the castle reputed to be Dracula's, giving us the opportunity to anticipate vampires, werewolves and the like, and amusement, along with royal shenanigans, sex [both requited (friend Belinda) and unrequited (Georgiana)], and other assorted goings-on. The mystery is the apparent murder by poison of the head of the Bulgarian armed forces and a favorite of the king, possibly a cause of another Balkan war.
There are some cute moments in the novel, although the formula is becoming somewhat wearisome. Georgie's love life (or lack thereof) is becoming a little boring, while Belinda's is, of course, predictable. As for Georgie's ability to solve crimes, it is more like stumbling into situations that seem to be resolved while she is present. The writing moves the story along apace, and the 1930's royal atmosphere is interesting. The novel is recommended for readers, and they are many, who appreciate the genre.
The Spider's Web
Berkley Prime Crime
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425236604 $24.95 800-847-5515 penguingroup.com
The strange team of Father John O'Malley and attorney Vicki Holden in this latest Wind River Mystery follows dissimilar paths to arrive at a similar but unproven conclusion. It begins when an Arapaho man is shot and killed, the only witness a white girl who claims she was his fiancee. Vicki is retained by the girl's father to "protect her interest," Father John providing refuge for the woman while authorities hunt the two men she accuses of being the murderers.
Father John suspects something is off about the woman, but can't quite come up with the reason. Vicki, on the other hand, cannot believe the woman could have committed the crime, which many of her fellow Arapahos believe, pitting her against them and Father John's instincts. Usually working together, this time they march to the beat of different drummers.
"The Spider's Web" reads somewhat differently from its predecessors; perhaps it's just that the story is a lot less complex than those in the past. Still infused with Arapaho legends and rituals, the flavor of the novel retains at the same high level of interest. But somehow, this mystery is less involved with Arapaho and western culture and peoples, than just 'ordinary' human frailty. Nevertheless, it is a well-done effort and a good read, and is recommended.
Scribner, 1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781439148518 $26.00 800-223-2336, simonandschuster.com
This is not an easy book to read. Nor is it a mystery. It is a somewhat disjointed story of some disparate characters joined only by the Portobello, a winding street in London filled with stalls and shops where one can find almost anything at any price.
The novel alternates telling about each of the characters, sort of in turn, and how, in the end, their lives kind of intertwine. There is Eugene Wren, a fastidious personality who becomes addicted to a sugar-free sucking candy, a habit that could cost him his fiancee, Dr. Ella Costend. Then there is a minor thief, Lance, who is arrested for an arson and murder, but not for his burglaries. Lance's girlfriend and grandfather play important roles in his life, along with here live-in mate, Fize and his friend, Ian. Ella's private patient Joel, who has a near-death experience during a heart operation, provides the author the opportunity to delve into deep psychological issues.
There is little plot to speak of, only descriptions of the Portobello neighborhood and the actions of the individuals, either by themselves or in relation to each other. Except for Joel, who has almost no relationship with anyone except his doctor and no role in the erstwhile story. It is easy to wonder while reading the book what it is all about; at least, until in the final pages, when it all seems to come together. On that basis, as well as for the beautiful writing, "Portobello" is recommended.
Translated by Victoria Cribb
9781846552854 11.99 BPS
Long before there were Erlender and Sigurdur Oll, Arnaldur Indridason wrote this imaginative novel. In fact, it was copyrighted a decade ago, and only now has been published in Great Britain and Canada. (U.S. publication is scheduled for the fall of 2011, and the next Reykjavic Murder Mystery, "Outrage," is to be published in the UK in 2011.) It is a pity we have had to wait this long for an English translation of this work, but all the more reason to be grateful that that has now been done.
Just before the end of World War II a German bomber crashes on a large Icelandic glacier with American and German officers aboard. One of the senior German officers attempts to reach a nearby farm, while the others remain on the plane only to be buried by a blizzard and ice; then he disappears as well.
Over 50 years later, after a few failed attempts to find the plane by U.S. intelligence, they are finally successful, and a secret mission is undertaken to remove the plane and its contents.. Coincidentally, two young Icelanders on the glacier in a training mission spot the Americans and are captured, one killed and the other seriously injured. Before the capture, one of the men had contacted his sister, Kristin. She undertakes to discover the truth of her brother's fate, placing herself in danger in the process.
The tense plot follows Kristin as she challenges the Americans in an effort to find out what happened to her brother, leading her on an arduous journey to learn the facts of Operation Napoleon. The descriptions of the various elements of the story are overwhelming: the freezing weather, the subterfuge of the Americans, the divergent views of Icelanders vis-a-vis relations with United States authorities, and other conflicts. Written with a sharpness to which we have become accustomed from this author, the novel is highly recommended.
Our Kind of Traitor
John le Carre
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780670022243 $27.95 800-847-5515 penguin.com
This novel could easily have been entitled "The Money Launderer Who Tried to Come in Out of the Cold." It is the story of Dima, a Russian gangster, the Mickey Cohen of the Russian Mafia, who launders all the billions amassed in illegal activities. He makes contact with a visiting English couple on holiday in Antigua and leads them to contact British intelligence in an effort to defect with his extended family, exposing his erstwhile cohorts, as well as British politicians and notables.
The plot evolves around plans to extract Dima et al by a few intelligence operatives who not only have to free the Russians, but fight their own organization's superiors. The characterizations of each of the principals is outstanding, with the foibles, strengths and weaknesses of each displayed to the utmost. That's more than can be said for the various subjects under study: money laundering, banking, the Mumbai stock market and other supposed contemporary themes intended to replace the author's past dependence on the Cold War and its brand of spies.
Despite his reputation for research and detail, le Carre treats these essential topics in summary form, rather than in the depth one would expect from the list of experts he consulted. For instance, Dima gets a telephone call telling him to "sell Mumbai," only a while later to be informed to buy it back. For this, one has to consult a pro? And not even mention inside information. As for Dima's specialty, money laundering, there is virtually no hard description, just sort of a lackadaisical recounting of common knowledge. Despite this criticism, the author has written an entertaining tale, and it is recommended.
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061735172 $26.99 800-242-7737 harpercollins.com
We have become accustomed to certain characteristics in an Elmore Leonard novel: kooky characters, an offbeat plot, visual and visceral elements, and so on. All of these and more are present in "Djibouti," but somehow they are not amusing or meaningful. The beginning of the book is somewhat slow and dull until you get to the ending and wonder what it all means.
We start with Dara Barr, a documentary filmmaker, winner of at least three major awards, including an Oscar. For her latest, she decides to do a piece on the pirates who are upsetting shipping between the East and West off the Horn of Africa. As she begins filming, she continues to wonder where the shoot is going. So do we.
The characters, as in all Leonard novels, are colorful in more ways than one. There is a pirate chief who has a Mercedes in Djibouti, along with a luxury pad and girlfriend; a billionaire Texan who sails half the year accompanied by an elephant rifle and his hoped-for wife; the black American convert to Muslim (done while he was in a Florida jail) who is an al-Qaeda operative; and other assorted offbeats.
While an entertaining read, the novel doesn't seem to be up to the usual Leonard standard. Perhaps because it was written with a movie script in mind (at least that is what it seems like to this reader). Still, it was written by the master, and is recommended.
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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