The Pickelfrey Twins

The Picklefrey Twins Mystery in the Bermuda Triangle assumed published, copyright and written by Molly McIntyre and Kyle Kroupa.

This is a nicely written children’s book about two precocious children who are able to save their parents who had initiated a flight into the graphically designated Bermuda Triangle. They are aided in their performance by magical gifts they previously had received from a favorite aunt. Added after the story’s conclusion are brief accounts of the three most (in)famous tales from the Triangle area – the strange case of the sailing vessel, Mary Celeste that left New York in 1872; the disappearance of WW I USS Cyclops with 306 crew members; disappearance in 1946 of Flight 19 that consisted of 5 U.S. Navy bombers making a routine simulated bombing run in the area.

Discussion: The author, with assistance from her co-author grandson and enjoyably pertinent illustrations from Arthur Lin, has set forth a tale which has all of the elements for basic appeal to young readers. The additional material at the book’s end should even provide stimulation for slightly older children to search further into the mass of material that has collected referring to these incidents.

5* Enjoyable, appealingly written/illustrated book for young readers.

It’s Not the Score It’s the Trip

It’s Not the SCORE, it’s the TRIP ISBN: 978 1642251494  Advantage Media Group copyright and written by Brian O’Hara.

Sub- titled “One man’s journey to building a global franchise is a memoir by the founding president and COO (later CEO) of XL Insurance. A company described by importantly prominent members as “the Bermudian re-insurance market instrumental in raising the bar of economic landscape of the island to a now globally recognized as a prominent reinsurance domicile.”  “The publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered.” The book opens with the usual Forward, Preface, and Introduction followed by 9 chapters, an Epilogue, acknowledgements and About the Author, some photographs scattered throughout and a collection at the end. End Notes (18) and a closing note depicting a slightly less formal description of the author complete the volume. Each chapter describes advances and occurrences leading toward his goals as they occurred chronologically. The first accounting Family Luck 1948-1965; #2 Testing my luck 1966-1970; #3 Fun into prophet 1970-1979; #4 No simple highway, the road 1978-1989; #5 Buy or be bought 1990-1999; #6 Leading the industry 1999-2003; #7 Rough Waters 2003-2006; #8 Plan B 2007-2008; # 9 Now what? 2008-2011.

It is a quite personal story of how Brian worked his way through the business to become CEO of a global corporation largely bringing recognition to Bermuda as a prominent center for the insurance-reinsurance industry. His personally rigid belief and adherence to collegiality and integrity he believed were most important for survival and were the keynote to all operations as well as knowing the rules but being flexible in relationship to them. He further worked on the principle that you get better results if you ask people if they can do something, rather than tell them to do it. He was acutely aware of the magnitude of inherent risk in the industry’s cycles and the corresponding uncertainty, especially when it came to matters like budgeting for the premiums. (Especially with Fortune 500 Companies operations and products. “They appreciated their underwriting discipline that would create a stable long-term relationship despite the cyclicality of the insurance industry overall.”) He used his program in Barbados as well as Bermuda and the company went from $450 million in ’87 to $1 Billion by ’90 and ultimately an organization employing 2400 people in 20 countries. Eventually, the main operations moved to Bermuda from Barbados and also started a branch in Dublin, Ireland. Their entire mission was as insurers/reinsurers that dealt with providing coverage for large-risk properties. Finally they opened to become a public company and success continued but he found it to be personally unpleasant because he felt required now to satisfy so many strangers who had invested in the work. Interestingly, the day he was forced to step down as CEO was the year that catastrophe struck the company along with most others involved in this high risk business.

Discussion: The author has written a most interesting memoir from several perspectives. First, it presents an impressive insight to the drivers and inner workings of the property and casualty risk industry for interested parties. Second, the details about this phase of insurance underwriting offer fascinating ‘inside’ information for uninvolved individuals interested generally in how other businesses operate (such as this reader). Third, it is studded with interchanges with well-known athletes and coaches from football, basketball, tennis and golf as well as cinema celebrities, Heads of State and powerful individuals within the world of finance. Thus, the author has offered the entire package in a personally oriented manner that removes it from the more usual somewhat dry and subject oriented business reminiscences.

5* Informative and unusually enjoyable business memoir.

Her eyes underwater

Her Eyes Underwater assumed published, copyright and written by Romona Simon.

Julia Straus is a thoroughly spoiled daughter of wealthy parents who finally have informed her that it was time to stop her “wasteful, immature, goalless life” and do something with it. She enrolls in Law School, is thoroughly bored but must continue at least for a while to satisfy her parents. One evening she stops at a local coffee shop and sees the most attractive man she ever has encountered. She approaches and attempts to attract him and succeeds in being invited by him to visit a friend who lives some distance away. She accepts. The trip is unusual and contains a rather scary encounter, but ends with her safe return somehow with his discovery that they are in the same law class. She discovers that his name is Alex Bowman and that they previously had not met because he has missed a considerable number of classes. She still does not meet him in school for several more days until he finally appears as a fabulously popular, socially polished individual who attracts all manner of fellow students of both sexes as well as those at the professorial level. In spite of constantly attempting to spend time and actually obtain a legitimate ‘date’ with him he manages largely to ignore the attempts. Julia is an extremely attractive young woman who always has been the object of choice, even over other attractive women. Her attitude, “You doesn’t need men. Men need you. You are a modern woman, not your mother.”  Chagrined by his constant refusal she persists with intermittent successes leading to various somewhat unusual sexual encounters interspersed with other activities shared with each other as well as with other acquaintances. The activity continues in this fashion until the concluding chapters which somewhat strangely are largely repetitious of the early one but from a slightly different perspective.

Discussion: This is an usual book following a period in the amazingly totally free-living existence of a thoroughly spoiled young daughter of wealthy parents living with equally wealthy friends following a similarly wasteful and goalless path. Their principal activities appear to consist of shopping, heavy drinking and partying plus acquiring any number of available men, seemingly for ‘bragging rights’. The newly acquired activity is totally new for Julia and she muddles onward in an often almost unbelievably socially immature manner. The story is stated as being the first attempt by the author at serious storytelling and as such, shows considerable promise. Her descriptive powers are excellent and her tale is so unusual as to provide continuing interest as to ‘where it possibly could finally lead’. Unfortunately, a good editing could greatly enhance the format. Another regrettable feature, for this reviewer at least, is the fact that not a single character was able to elicit any level of positive empathy. As a result the reader is supplied with a somewhat bizarre tale of misplaced love and socially disturbed individuals in often well-described settings of these rather dysfunctional individuals interacting with a psychotic sociopath who’s ‘other’ activities provide a bit of horror to the account. If a reader’s interest tends toward such stories, it is well enough written to be within your realm of interest. A rating of a significant level for others is difficult.

3* ranging downward depending on reader interest as discussed.

 

The Trail of Tears

The Trail of Tears published, copyright and written by the History Titans.

Sub-titled The 19th Century Forced Migration of Native Americans, this book is not to be confused with other books with the same title that were published over a considerable number of years. This volume is a relatively complete listing of substantiated facts and features of the removal of a large number of Indian Nations featuring particularly the well-developed civilization of those inhabiting the East Coast of the budding United States; viz. Choctaws, Seminoles, Cherokee, Creeks (also referred to a Muskogee), Chiricawas, and Chickasaws. Others are included in part from other areas as pertinent. The material is provided with a disclaimer, an Introduction, 6 Chapters and a Conclusion. The first chapter is informative with respect to Native American Lifestyle and Culture and the influence of Colonization first by Spanish Settlers followed by that of the English. The second discusses issues with Native Americans as complicated with the changes taking place as a result of British vs. the developing independent new government of the United States. The third discusses the early influence of some American Leaders; Chapter 4, The Indian Removal Act with emphasis on John C. Calhoun and Andrew Jackson; the fifth describes The Trail of Tears with tribal emphasis; the sixth, Repercussions and Current Scenario; a Conclusion provides an overview of the tremendous loss of individual nations culture and way of life and the burgeoning problems facing what is left of these once proud and well-developed nations.

Discussion: This is a book that provides exactly what has been intended. It presents history as it exists. Pertinent documents that fill some of the areas that previously appeared to be empty with respect to this distasteful action set in motion to satisfy the greed of the inhabitants of a newly formed government. One that provided a death sentence not only for several thousand members of these smaller nations that were willing, initially for the most part, to make attempts to find a solution to communal living, but an action that additionally sentenced the survivors and their descendants to poverty, disease and stress on all levels. This relatively well-set-forth listing of historical facts include probable reasons for Jackson’s finally agreeing to proceed with removal of the Creek Nation in spite of his interesting wartime relationship with the Muscogee Chief and the statements made to him – an action difficult for nostalgic followers of American Indian History to understand. And incidentally, a simple phrase or expression coined during the period still occasionally is heard today, although usually in an amusingly misunderstood connotation. “God willin’ an’ the Creek don’t rise” refers to a Creek Indian uprising, rather than a usually assumed intervening stream of water.

4* Historically presented disgraceful actions by the newly formed United States.

Crime Beat Girl

Crime Beat Girl a book assumed published, copyright and written by Geri L. Dreiling.

Debbie, daughter of highly respected and successful Bradley and Beth Hughes, has left her position as a Washing, D.C. reporter and returned to St Louis because her mother, now several years widowed, has been diagnosed and is facing surgery that may expand beyond this initiating session. Thus, she is not sure how long her stay will be. Furthermore, she is unhappy with her love life as it had developed in Washington. It seems that her fiancé always avoided her attempts to agree upon a wedding date so, when offered a job following the ‘Crime Beat’ by her college mentor Sam Hitchens while in St. Louis, she accepts. Sam, an old-time traditional newspaper guy well aware of the gradual slowing of newspaper publishing, had accepted the position of Editor of a new well-funded trendy magazine. He believed she would be a natural for what he had in mind. Debbie was a young woman full of drive who loved to craft sentences and be creative but also to get away from her desk and ‘be where the action was’. Thus she felt that the job would fit perfectly with her burning desire to expose corruption and injustice. He offered the job. She accepted. From this point, the story blooms into a fast paced thriller/mystery involving numerous multi-faceted individuals as the reader follows Debbie’s often foolishly irrational decisions.

Discussion: The author has provided a credible picture of a somewhat naïve but determined young woman’s attempts to extend her career in investigative reporting. The pace is excellent and the story line exhibits knowledge of pertinent aspects of the law. A considerable number of supporting characters are included. They are complex both within themselves and in their interrelationships. As the tale progresses, this reader at least, would have liked to see certain ones ‘fleshed-out’ a little more. She has presented an interesting story and done a commendable job with the development of the mother-grown daughter relationship. The final twists involving some of the characters providing the climax appear for this reviewer to be a little tenebrous but acceptable. Overall, this is a pleasant, fast moving mystery/thriller that should satisfy devotees of the genre

4* 5* Fast-paced, mystery/thriller that should be satisfying to devotees; -1* as noted

Grand Masquerade

Grand Masquerade Born Publishing copyright and written by Stephen C. Perkins.

Setting: The setting for the story is the small town of Rupert, Vermont with its surrounding farmland and dense forests. The town is small but seemingly prosperous with well-run stores and farms with a particularly large dairy that also provides a far better than to be expected Bed & Breakfast that also includes a series of well positioned hunting blinds for those who like especially to hunt deer.

Characters: Outsiders that include a man running for President of the United States; the owner of a technological company that is ‘taking over’ the technology sector of the world by his company’s cutting edge advances; his spoiled well-educated but play-boy son; his long-standing and trusted CFO; his Chinese chief designer; a few lesser characters. Insiders are composed of a sizeable number of residents of Rupert that include the owners of the Dairy/B&B/hunting complex; several of their children; city residents and prominently one daughter of one of the wealthiest; the Sheriff and his Daughter who is somewhat of a ‘bulldog’ investigator; a doctor who is gaining an increasing position of renown as a healer who uses non-invasive techniques. A third set of characters, ‘the Others’, seemingly existing as those of legend and not really existing except as the after results of some form of horrendous activity. Legend has it that they exist because of an unholy alliance they had reached with certain residents of Rupert many years ago.

Plot: The book opens with a gruesome attack on a young boy riding his motorcycle in the dense woods followed by his disappearance. The local Sheriff provides a seemingly plausible reason but the State Police Officers decide to investigate further. They reportedly are attacked of several bears with disastrous results. From this point the reader is taken into a world of political machinations interwoven with the equally corrupt life of business with off shore hidden accounts, deceased individuals who are not dead but living and getting paid as another, and dishonesty, distrust, betrayal, deceit, and treachery rampant. All of these activities gradually interweaving with features concerning the legendary “Others”.

Discussion: The author has set forth a quite intriguing mixture of politics, unprincipled business tactics, personal greed, lack of morality, seeming lack of ability to have any semblance of deep affection all overshadowed by a mystically malignant power in which it is enveloped. A quite intriguing horror (?) story highly recommended.

5* Highly recommended multi-genre/suspense tale.