Diary of a Time Travelling Alien

Diary of a Time Travelling Alien ISBN: 9781234567890 assumed published, copyright and written by Yaakov C Lui-Hyden.

The story is of a fictitious Alien who begins with: “dear reader, be this a tale of woe and hope; two things you love above all else. It is difficult to write. To collect my thoughts of a millennium and my motives for doing so I’m not even sure of. Perhaps simply because I can.” He then continues to describe how he belonged to a race that destroyed itself in wars, not foolishly fought on their own territory, but that of others, until they were the conquerors. Further, this was the cause of the wars, they fought for ‘souls’ which their technology had developed technics to move from one body to another. With shortages as a result of the wars (with technical advancements again allowing the bodies to be maintained [rather than killing]. Their fantastically advanced society, once arriving at their conqueror state, led to complete destruction ultimately through infighting among themselves. He had been a soldier and his last days on his planet he was dead, or as he explains: “Not dead because we had gone far beyond that”, but his consciousness was dormant. He now, and for some millennia, was destined to travel the universe as a bodiless wraith that, if desired could again enter another’s body. The story is of his attempt to do so and the disastrous consequences of his action.

Discussion: The author has generated a fast moving tale that offers a unique and distinctly different plot. It is one that lives up to providing suggested insights into the human condition with sarcasm and wit. Most unfortunately, these insights are mostly momentary statements. The opportunity and desire for expansion not only is there, but looked forward to by this reader with thwarted anticipation. Certain episodes also, such as with the dinosaurs, is too extensive for the material offered, as are occasional others. There also is a certain amount of confusion in following the action, part of which is handling of the unusual subject matter. Judicious editing would have helped tremendously. It is my understanding that this is the author’s first novel and as such problems encountered are no more than can be expected. However, this book demonstrates the advent of an author with a tremendous amount of promise.

3* fine effort from a new author demonstrating 5* uniqueness in plot design.

Getting Unstuck

Getting Unstuck assumed published, copyright and written by Cara Stein.

This is a book similar to a growing number of others published with suggestions on how to be happy with your life and life’s work. The difference in large part is the author’s approach. It is bubbly, as seemingly is the author, and her modus operandi is to ignore the one common thread that appears to ‘hold back’ most persons from moving forward – fear of failure or making mistakes. One must remember mistakes are human, everybody makes them. The answer is to learn from them and not worry about any past faults. In other words, don’t be too hard on yourself. Start with a good session of introspection and follow up with more to find your strengths opposed to your weaknesses. She then attacks a large number of common faults that keep individuals in an unhappy and often most confused state. Too many blow things out of proportion. Some keep avoiding something that must be done, an action that just makes the task that much worse. Other persons stay detached to “avoid being hurt”. Often persons get upset by matters not under their control. Do you have a lot to do? Make a list – don’t try to remember it all. She admonishes the reader to avoid and/or get rid of these faults and provides suggestions on how to accomplish this goal. She suggests, among other moves, making a list of tasks you don’t want to do and then begin doing just that, stop doing them. Start with the little ones and gradually move further up the list. The author’s suggestions are accompanied by a list of 40 references at the conclusion of the book.

Discussion: The author appears to be amply qualified to write this book. She has dabbled in a large number of tasks including obtaining a PhD while “overcoming fears had been my chief occupations for a few years, between career change and completely remodeling my life.” She quit her well-paying job and started her own business. Then “When she experienced how much easier it all is than it looks, I realized I had to spread the word.” Thus, “Whether you’re stuck, lost, or just looking to enjoy your life more, I’ve been there! I can provide advice, guidance, and vision. I’m a big believer in self-reinvention and sculpting your life into what you want it to be. I love guiding people to do the same.”

5* Much material similar to others, but refreshingly different.

Secret Diaries of Juan Luis Vives

The Secret Diaries of Juan Luis Vives ISBN: 9780228834380 Tellwell Talent, a novel copyright and written by Tim Darcy Ellis.

This is a novel based on the history of the early Renaissance when Europe began stumbling out of the Dark Ages. It is an era replete with numerous contributions to different areas of science, art, architecture, religions and to a more humanistic approach to the persons living within it. It is a period that elevates to the highest level the scholar, the man of letters and Classical learning. The protagonist is Juan Luis Vives, a Jew of Valencia, Spain, whose family had converted to Catholicism to avoid the Inquisition but still for many generations secretly maintained their Jewish faith and rituals. Pressure on the family increases that his father ignores because he still remained a man of the golden age of Muslim-Christian-Jewish concord and the fact that Jewish money kept the monarchy in power. Juan Luis, with a growing reputation as a scholarly teacher and writer, decides to escape to Flanders where his reputation continues to grow, Regrettably in Flanders, the Duke of Alba and Louis de Praet also are Jew hunters, and with aid from one of Juan’s brilliant students, constantly are attempting to trap Juan Luis. However, he meets Álvaro de Castro, with secrets of his own, but is responsible, through a special relationship with the Cardinal in charge of the Catholic Faith in England to meet. The reason, Álvaro is responsible for introducing him to Sir Thomas More who in turn, has been sent to discover any reason why he should not be appointed the teacher of Henry VIII and Catherine de Aragon’s only daughter, The story gradually unfolds as the reader follows Juan through what seem to be excerpts from discovery of a secret Diary by an electrician making repairs in an old building in Bruges built years before the Nazi occupation. He shows the box to Linguist Professor Benitez. He swears Jacques, the electrician, to secrecy and spends the next 2 months in isolation at the Museum Brugge. The box contains a manuscript, a sketch and a ring He studied the work, much requiring a magnifying glass and it was written in code as well as some in Spanish, Latin, Arabic, and Greek with the last part almost all in poor English. After 2 months he realized he was examining the secret writings of one of Bruges’s great men. It details his life among the literati and important people of the time, including the Boleyn sisters in the Court of King Henry VIII – his life, loves, his family and his attempts to please both the King, who is leaning away from Catholicism and Catherine of Aragon, the double action leads to his apparent unmasking.

The book is presented in four parts. Part One’s opening chapter “The Eyes and Ears of the King of Spain that explains that Bruges, Flanders is in the hands of the Catholic King of Spain but Martin Luther, with the peasant rebels would change all of that” with Parts Two and Three continuing with the body of the story and Part Four, End of Days where one of his worst enemies throughout the story, Louis de Praet, barges into his home in Bruges and tells him since they’re both exiles – Cardinal Wolsey kicked him out just as the King had done to Vives –  they should be able to help each other. He already had built a hospital so maybe the poor-boy school could be next. Thus he could get the credit and Vives would be the silent voice that steered that change and Juan’s initial desire to help humanity in general was within sight, as well as a closure to his family situation.

Discussion: The author has provided a fascinating hint of what this period of turmoil must have been like as well as the never-ending persecution of the Spanish Jews in particular. With respect to Juan Luis, it is difficult to envision a clear picture. He is described as having a spinal problem and a petit mal seizure and others of greater intensity, although the symptoms described appear to be associated with reactions to emotional problems or inability to cope with a situation more in line with psycho-physiologic reactions. The reader may find other relationships with which it is difficult to equate. In mentioning these problems this reviewer is aware that the manuscript discovered is difficult in the extreme to decipher. However, as a novel, it would seem that a little more descriptive material might have provided an even more enjoyable tale.

4* 5* -1* for reasons described.

Lies behind the Woods

Lies behind the Woods ISBN: 9780578593616 assumed published, copyright and written by Bradley Cornish.

A 25 year old tenured college professor is bored and moves for the summer into a cottage in the small town of White Pine in the Adirondack Mountains. He always went there for the summer because he somehow associates it with better times before his father left without saying a word to him when he was very young. He still hoped to find some connection. He is a serious distance runner and while on a morning run he sees what appears to be a possible kidnapping of a young woman. He rationalizes that it could have been any of several different scenarios and does not report it to the police until he sees the local paper and recognizes the reported missing girl as the one he had seen in the car. From this point on the story evolves into a search for the missing girl, her discovery, jailing of her kidnapper, his escape and her part in helping him capture the professor and an FBI associate for whom he has developed some love interest. The story also leads him to discovery of the long missing father and continues until the reader is offered a forthcoming follow-up story.

Discussion: This is a story supposedly based upon the Stockholm syndrome wherein hostages develop a psychological alliance with their captors during captivity. The story’s plot is somewhat thinly aligned with the syndrome, but more specifically it is a tale split in two halves loosely tied with his search for his missing father to bring closure to a part of his life. The first part dwells on the young professor’s repetitive, graphically described sexual encounters with the aside that he, like all of the characters, has been abused heavily during his early life. The second portion is a well-paced mystery/thriller chase through sections of the densely wooded area of the mountains. Overall there are many interesting twists to the story but a time line and seemingly missing sections of action that make the tale a little annoying if not difficult to follow.

Summary: An erotically tilted mystery/thriller/romance this reader found to be interesting but replete with problems of presentation. Probably a tale enjoyable for many. Regrettably, this reviewer was quite unimpressed with what provided only flashes of a good tale.

3* 4* for certain readers; considerably less for others.

AMORA

AMORA ISBN: 9780982150338 (paperback) Cleardtone Publishing, copyright and written by Grant J. Hallstrom.

Amore is a Roman aristocrat who at 17 years of age marries a somewhat older member of the same class who, as a result of having been sent to settle a problem in Egypt, has developed a significant business that he runs with his Roman Senator partners. The marriage is a happy one with the birth of a daughter greatly loved by both parents. Later, she gives birth to a boy who has a deformed leg, something that the unwritten rules of their society almost demand the child’s abondement. She persuades Leo to allow her to keep the child in spite of the act reflecting badly on his position. A position that includes not only his business partners, but his personal friend the philosopher Marcus Aurelius who becomes the Emperor. On the daughter’s 12th birthday, she is kidnapped, raped and killed. Both Leo and Amora are devastated, but instead of consoling each other, they begin the blame game. He finds more and more time to spend travelling and she finds herself completely alone. Gradually she becomes acquainted with increasing numbers of Christians, finally is caught with a group, and is sentenced to die in the Arena. Leo has been one of the men pushing for eliminations of all Christians and witnesses her destruction, as well as that of her faithful maid by wild Lions. The story continues with his gradual descent into debauchery and increasing drunkenness where he is betrayed by one of his partners. He is discovered badly beaten and barely alive by the son he has not seen in a long time and nursed back to health by him and his Christian friends. The tale continues with several interesting twists, well-described bits of gladiator combative techniques, captivating descriptions of Roman centurion battle procedures and a considerable amount of well- done proselytizing. All in all, a quite fascinating read as it wends its way to a conclusion not only as a novel but one containing most pertinent historical factual material and stimulating proselytization.

Discussion: A Preface explains the background material for this book. The author’s younger brother, Calvin, “despite some mental and emotional instabilities emotional problems”, married, worked three low-pay jobs to buy a home for his wife and three children. Unfortunately, the combination caused him to be difficult to live with, so while on a trip to California, his wife changed the locks and filed for divorce. Shortly thereafter, the eldest son moved out. The middle child came out as transgender. The youngest became socially anxious and spent most of his time playing video games in the basement. A few years later the transgender child committed suicide. Calvin’s ex-wife barred everyone from even knowing where the child was being buried. Calvin, through all of this heartbreak refused to let anyone speak negatively about anything concerning his family. Six months later he was ecstatic when his youngest son wanted to reconcile. He joined him, they embraced and the boy stabbed Calvin to death. His story of failing to blame or discredit anyone, is the basis for this story.

Summary: As described above, a fascinating tale on several levels, “Amora is a historical novel based on the true story of the noblewoman who inspired Justin Martyr’s petition to the Roman Senate” on behalf of Christians. It was denied and he, along with several others, was beheaded after refusing to deny their faith. Other important figures of the day – Marcus Aurelius, Crescens, the aristocratic woman’s husband Leo, who is a central figure in the book, and other non-fictional as well as fictional characters play significant parts in this appealing story. Thus, as stated above – a quite fascinating read as it wends its way to a conclusion not only as a novel but one containing most pertinent historical factual material and stimulating proselytization.

5* fascinating novel; pertinent historical facts; stimulating proselytization.

 

Battlemind: a Military Legal Thriller

Battlemind: A Military Legal Thriller ISBN: 9781712187845 assumed published, copyright and written by Michael Waddington.

Max O’Donnell, the protagonist was the usual normal child through grade and high school, subject to the usual bullying. His father had little to no sympathy and told him to quit whining and do something about it, which he referred to as develop a battlemind or developing an emotional mental approach to fightback and win. Eventually he did and the bullying stopped. We now find Max as an army JAG corps lawyer, nearing his time of release from active duty. He is a handsome half Puerto Rican who met and married his beautiful wife Annabella, while they were university students, She was a true southern Belle, born and raised in South Carolina and thoroughly spoiled by a family consisting of a Head of the most prestigious law firm in the state and properly positioned mother in all of the traditions and societies of southern aristocracy. The couple now have a home close to that of her family, two children, and are expecting a third as he prepares to leave the army and begin searching for a position in civilian law. Annabella is expecting him to receive an offer for entry into the family business. The family, of course, is totally turned off by even the thought of Max as the husband of their pampered, South Carolina Belle of old southern aristocracy. Max’s mother is Puerto Rican, so his heritage does not exactly ‘fit in’ with a family clinging to the long held southern beliefs of the purity of members of their particular society. Max is assailed with another problem. He is ordered to defend a Sergeant charged with murdering a terrorist by beating him to death while held in American custody. Any improper action against prisoners of war strictly is prohibited by the rules of International treatment of such prisoners. The story evolves into a mystery with many twists as Max attempts to defend the Sergeant at trial in Texas while simultaneously attempting to save his marriage in South Carolina. Both defenses are fraught with hostility. The trial has a hostile judge and a prosecution that is backed by the government’s stance that they never would be involved in such improper activity and thus, much of the material he requires for defense cannot be addressed because of governmental regulations. The home front situation is filled with intense dislike by his wife’s family and exacerbated by his wife’s receipt of false stories of Max’s association with another woman in Texas. Ultimately, after finally again speaking with his father after many years, he reacquires his Battlemind and approaches both problems with a mindset that brings results.

Discussion: The author has written an interesting tale of governmental employee deception, betrayal, blatant dishonesty all backed by supposed as well as actual mandates, as well as a well-done description of the distinct racial biases that still exist and are more prevalent in some areas than others. The characters are quite believable and the plot exhibits numerous intriguing twists. There is a certain amount of confusion to portions of the presentation that this reader finds a little difficult, but generally speaking, it is an intriguing story that leaves many questions as to how, or if, Max is going to be able to successfully straighten out his life with any degree of success.

 

4* 4 ½* actually (5 – ½*) for reasons described.