PROVIDER PRIME, Alien Legacy

PROVIDER PRIME, Alien Legacy, a sci-fi, alien, intergalactic novel copyright and written by John Vassar.

Thirty-seven seconds ago a mind-numbing fear entered the mind of DS. Agent David Telson. Being aware that psychological warfare could be expected he was concerned that nerve gas may have penetrated his cam-suit. However, he concentrated on keeping his thoughts on his job and Gem because he knew that he had the most advanced technology at FedStat’s disposal protecting him, that his Commanding Officer Harry Doyle ‘had his back’, and that extraction was on the way. As a long successful agent, he still was concerned because he sensed something was out there. His extraction unit arrived within minutes, he started sprinting towards it and suddenly was nothing but a puff of dust. Shortly thereafter the reader is introduced to Doyle having drinks with Lee Mitchell, an extremely intelligent former agent who he attempts to persuade to return on a special assignment at Delere Secos (DS). Even after long friendship Lee refuses, they have words and Lee leaves. A few days later he is contacted by Commander Nathaniel Devlin who informs him Doyle has vanished and he asks Lee to become an investigator for him into the disappearance with no real ties to the parent organization and provides him with information on what they seem to be facing. Lee accepts because of his long relationship with Doyle. Next, Cytec is introduced. It is a huge corporation that functions on the cutting edge of science and is responsible for a considerable amount of Earth’s usable technology. It is headed by exceedingly brilliant Roderick Deucalion Thorne, a man who has become a recluse in his huge laboratory that he has staffed with autons (human-like robots). Because all of the board of directors have become mega rich under his direction of the company no one wishes to challenge his eccentricities. Thorne’s huge main autom Sentinal he has programmed to think but with complete loyalty to him and also Cortx with no thoughts other than within parameters Thorne dictates. The Sentinal is his constant companion, As further pieces of information are released the reader discovers that Thorne actually is an intelligent alien named Ja’faal from the planet of Vis’hanni, many light years away in an entirely different solar system. Additionally, the level of scientific development of this planet is far advanced beyond that of Earth. Thus, the seemingly genius Thorne who has been able to devise and produce the many useful devices that have made Cytec such a leader that the company has disregarded his unusual behavior, is the intelligent Ja’faal from a far advanced culture who has been functioning at the advanced level that has allowed him his reclusive activities. Additionally however, his withdrawn position has allowed him to secretly devise deadly instruments such as the one that destroyed Telson and Doyle. And these were merely successful first steps to pursue his secretly held ruinous intentions for Earth. Meanwhile we learn that Lee has accepted the assignment and during his early deployment is approached by SenANN the now autonomous functioning advanced Artificial Intelligence System that serves the secret levels of FedState. They have approached him because they require a physical representative to gain entrance to save a ‘brother SenANN’ who they believe is threatened by Thorne. By insinuation of miniscule working elements into Lee’s brain his new circuitry becomes part of this ‘top secret’ functioning system. And now enough. Presentation of any further details of Lee’s subsequent interaction with SenANN, with his peers, his commanders, the aliens or any other facets of the entire thread of the complicated plot would be a distinct disservice to prospective readers.

Discussion: The author has set forth a remarkable alien/sci-fi story replete with action that generally moves the tale forward at a nice pace, provides relatively simple explanations for the technology employed that are vague but seemingly adequate to move the reader forward, and characters with whom the reader for the most part can equate. Lee’s love interest, as such, is difficult to swallow as to its depth, as is Reyna’s relationship with her sister who first had known Lee and whose ultimate situation after an apparent vague plea to him is never again mentioned. Similarly, the sequencing of important information often provided an annoying level of confusion with respect to the entire plot, at least for this reader.

Conclusion: An intriguing, nicely verbalized alien/sci-fi that most readers no doubt will enjoy.

4* Enjoyable alien/sci-fi for most, but disconcerting hiccups as described.

Cascading Petals

Cascading Petals ISBN: 9781775067627, Huntson Press, an e-book by Jane C. Brady.

Jewel Hart is an attractive student entering her senior year in high school. She has a 2-year older brother who is a tease but loves her and a sister she is responsible for collecting from her pre-school and taking care of until her mother returns from the office where she is officer manager for her husband’s very successful law firm. Her parents still a loving couple, also attempt to be good parents providing not only for the children’s desires but a healthy home life as well. Her brother, now in college, is pretty much a ‘loner’, never acquiring or needing friends. Contrarily, Jewel has a deep need for close friends and dreads this senior year because she has none. In spite of her seemingly ideal background, she has an extremely fragile ego that was first fractured thirteen years previously by acts of bullying classmates, people with whom she of necessity has associated for all of these years in this rather stable upper class neighborhood. The main bullying activity is rendered by Lexi and Amy, attractive girls with problems of their own that cause them and Lexi’s muscled boyfriend Chad to act as they do. Chad is totally spoiled and more or less out-of-control as the result of a father who provides him with everything but attention. He drinks heavily, drives recklessly, and delivers occasional drugs. Most fortunately however, Jewel meets Kaiden Carter, an extremely kind, seemingly self-assured young man in spite of secretly carried horrendous psychological baggage. He had just transferred to the area when he and his widowed mother moved in with his grandparents in this neighborhood. They become friends along with Finn Garcia, a pleasant, intelligent ‘nerd’ Mexican also transferred to the school and friendless. The plot evolves into following the interactivities of these individuals through the year with Kai and Jewel’s relationship developing into a budding love based on their common need. The devastating results arising from the actions of the disruptive characters along with the parental activity or lack thereof coupled with ineffective and/or lack of, proper action/reaction by teachers and other persons in authority also are set forth in some detail.

Discussion: The author has set her tale in Canada, but has described a situation of social injustice replete with abominable action, unacceptable neglect and ineffectual authoritative reaction that all-too-frequently is encountered in many countries leading most often to disastrous results. In general the message is clearly presented and described. The characters are obnoxious and/or suffering according to their position as attacker or attacked, the parents are credibly described in their rolls, the teachers both good and bad are as would be expected and the authoritative figures as ineffectual regrettably as commonly is the case. Thus in general, the author has provided a clear and compassionate message about the plight of bullied children and their bullies. Additionally, she has offered not only such causative factors as domestic abuse, but also some measure of description of effect of parental personal activity resultant from their own psychological baggage and its effect upon their children. However, the seemingly effective corrective course of action provided, regrettably at least for this reader, is a little too unrealistically ‘pie-in-the-sky’. Either Jewel’s family was not as lovingly appreciative of their daughter’s years-lasting problem as described, or they were completely incompetent in the practice of law, the latter seemingly strange since he was Senior Partner in a Law Firm doing sufficiently well to have their own prominent building and taking the entire family on exotic vacations. As an additional aside, the two women bullies seemingly were totally aware of the cause of their problems – a rather uncommon occurrence, and certainly not as completely understood as their actual verbalization of their problems would indicate.

Conclusion: An interesting and compassionate presentation of a universal problem with a disappointing supposedly effective corrective course of action.

3* 4* Compassionate presentation; 2* disappointing corrective activity.

Mastering your Emotions

Mastering your Emotions ISBN: 9781938015915 Hybrid Global Publishing by Masha Malka.

The complete title/subtitle to this book is ‘The One Minute Coach to Mastering your Emotions: A step-by-Step Guide to Feeling Happy on a Regular Basis’. It is a relatively short book in spite of the number of sections and chapters because many contain merely a few pages at most, with each focused specifically on its subject. It begins with introductory remarks with respect to “Are Emotions a Purely Human Experience” and “How this Book is Structured and Why”. There follow 5 general Parts – 1: Getting to know your emotions – Getting to know you, which includes 14 individual chapters. Part 2: Emotions that Cause Us Pain and Suffering, that run from Chapter 15 through 33. Part 3: Understand and Boost Your Feel-good Emotions, with Chapters 34 through 45. Part 4: Mastering Your Emotions – Mastering Your Life, with Chapters 46 through 65 and Part 5: Conclusion, Chapters 66 through 70 with a conclusive statement concerning “Tomorrow is Promised to No One.” Two Appendices, a note About the Artist and another About the Author and a Personal Message conclude the presentation. Each chapter contains material pertinent to its title expressed from a somewhat different perspective.

Discussion: The author is a native Russian who has “The experiences of overcoming the struggles of being a refugee at 17-years old, dealing with a very difficult break-up of a 20-year marriage, lived in seven countries …” all while raising three children and still finding time to compete successfully in Ballroom competitions, gain degrees and certificates in higher education and successfully established successful businesses. She now splits her living/working time between Sunny Isles, FL and Marbella, Spain, two areas that provide further insight to this successfully entrepreneurial individual. Sunny Isles is a prime area with both affordable and posh residential and office space to buy and/or rent. Marbella is a once charming village on Spain’s Costa del Sol that greatly expanded with the expansion of nearby Porto Banus to be a ‘must’ port-of-call for mega yachts whose owners and guests enjoyed the expensive restaurants and high end Boutiques constructed along its quays. But Marbella still was able to retain pockets of its old original qualities – something that appears to be important to the author, if properly interpreted from the impression gained by this reviewer from this book. She obviously has acquired a distinct sophistication, but espouses Feng Shui, the Chinese quasi-philosophical system that attempts to interrelate individuals with their surroundings and she also expresses a perhaps lingering attachment to folk medicine as provided in the Appendices. One of her successful ‘businesses’ has been to coach individuals in the subject matter of this book in which she strongly suggests their pertinence. Thus in an interesting manner, this sophisticated woman has presented an approach to ‘harnessing’ one’s emotions in an unadorned, unsophisticated and heartfelt manner that is simple, and no doubt effective for some of the readers who are looking for help. Discerning readers will note that in his brief Forward to the book Michael Bowker appears also to have noted this interesting dichotomy.

3* 5* For those desiring an unsophisticated, heartfelt presentation of help.

The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man, A Digby Rolf Mystery, Book 1, an e-book by Raymond M. Hall.

Digby is the son of an Anglican Vicar with a quite extensive sphere of influence in spite of his position in a small parish “tucked deep into the countryside of rural Sussex”. He supposedly was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. Unfortunately he engaged in quite socially unacceptable activity that dictates he move from the local areas. He is offered no parish but instead is assigned as a Prison Chaplain whose most unfortunately onerous duty includes accompanying condemned prisoners on their short journey to the hangman. His task of accompanying John Moorcroft on this last journey and an associated strange occurrence initiate a tremendous upheaval in his life. Moorcroft has been found guilty of raping and killing a young woman. He insists he is innocent but since this is a normal claim for convicted felons, he is not believed. Digby is the exception and his belief is solidified when as the last to leave the still hanging body the bible he is holding seems “to spring from his hands, the pages moving in a blur of speed as if blown by some fierce wind, but around him the air was still, there wasn’t even a slight draught. He stood transfixed as the book hit the concrete floor and flipped onto its spine. He stared down and noticed it had fallen open on a familiar page. The words leapt out at him. ‘Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord’. Digby sank to his knees and turning, looked up once more at the hanging body. ‘We have killed an innocent man!’”. He attempts to explain to the Bishop what has occurred, is harshly rebuffed, resigns in a huff and returns to the boarding house in which he has been living. The owner is Mrs. Pentley, the widow of a patrol officer who was killed in the line of duty so has a small pension which she augments by leasing rooms. He mentions his suspicions to her. She still is friendly with one of the officers still working and pays him a visit. He provides some answers but is hesitant to speak further with her because of the situation of distrust throughout the department. This, of course brings further questions with respect to a case that at best was improperly handled. In moving further, Digby becomes involved with warring factions of the underworld, a thoroughly corrupt judiciary, involvement of the Free Masons with their secret codes and edicts, an unexpected romantic interest in Mrs. Pentlry’s niece and even more unexpected aid from his quite stern and dismissive father with his strange ‘connections’. The result is a thoroughly incompetent investigator bumbling his way slowly along in a most naïve manner that places not only him but others with whom he has contact into imminent danger and even death in a most brutal manner. He does have one additional all-encompassing and no doubt faith-based guiding companion who wants to see justice done. To provide specifics of the manner in which the story progresses and its finale would be a disservice to any prospective readers.

Summary: Interesting presentation of a mystery/suspense tale different from the more usually encountered format.

4* Engagingly different presentation of unusual mystery/suspense tale.

Plagued

Plagued, Book One, a post-apocalyptical e-book copyright and written by Garrison Scott and introducing the series’ protagonist.

Skyler Campbell is a normal, attractive teenager living in Great Neck, Long Island. In school she is fully engaged in her school’s activities, including being a cheer leader. The football team has just won an important game and she is about to celebrate with her friends when her grandfather tells her it is important that he speak with her. She says she will see them later but after their talk she begins a home schooling program dictated by the fact that a monstrous asteroid is headed for earth and scheduled to strike within five years if the atomic war heads dispatched cannot stop it. Her grandfather, a former member of the Army’s specially trained Delta Force, wants her to learn to survive under any possibly evolving conditions. Thus begins her home schooling specifically designed to reach this objective. The asteroid strikes earth with cataclysmic effects. She and her grandfather manage to survive because not only had he trained her completely, but had a home with one of the deep survival shelters that had been constructed by a number of people when atomic warfare possibilities first became a viable possibility. The story presents a constant flow of credible occurrences that one might expect following a strike of this nature. There follows equally believable after reactions of earthquakes, flooding and entre into the post- catastrophic world. One, unexpected but also credible occurrence is a brief influx of alien organisms released from within the structure of the asteroid when it strikes that leave a horrible and lasting effect on survivors. Strangely it affects only part of the population but unfortunately Skyler is one of those affected. As they finally are able to emerge from their shelter, they encounter other individuals, some also affected while others who are not and these latter attempt to annihilate all of those who are. The story line follows Skyler as she attempts to survive this devastating situation as she heads west from this most seriously, seemingly center, of the devastating blow.

Discussion: The author has provided a non-stop thrilling tale of the attempts of a now unusually physically compromised young woman who otherwise still is fully equipped to survive as she tries to save others as well as herself in her constantly death-threatened journey. It is a story set forth at such break-neck speed that other than the more pragmatic reader will find difficult to put down. The only caveat offered is for these latter.

5* for other than pragmatists.

Dark Ocean

Dark Ocean ISBN: 9780992902841, Seaward Publishing, an e-book by Nick Elliott.

Angus McKinnon is a seasoned Marine investigator who, although working independently, semi-officially works for Alastair Marshall’s CMM investigative company based in Greece. Angus is in Hong Kong investigating a situation with respect to the Lady Monteith, a ship being used by the Japanese and sunk by an allied submarine during WW II. The vessel reportedly was carrying a huge amount of gold and Sinclair Buchan, the original owner is interested in its reclamation. Angus receives a call that Alastair has died suddenly and so must return to Greece. There he discovers that his employer/mentor/friend actually has been murdered apparently after escaping from the Toyama Maru, a small Japanese ship. He again meets Clair Scott, the British Intelligence agent he had rescued several years before when she had been abducted during a Russian entanglement. She verifies his collateral knowledge that Marshall had worked for years with British Naval Intelligence since merged with the Ministry of Defense Intelligence Department. Together they were concerned about information that some of the radical imperialistic Japanese groups were more than just bugle blowing, mega-noisy, people parading the streets. Angus, somewhat reluctantly agrees to investigate for them while pursuing his on-going process with respect to the Lady Monteith. From this point, his life becomes filled with frenetic activity. He discovers that one Japanese group in particular, the Genyosha or Dark Ocean, has ties to a Geneva based study group and that combined, their objective seems to be much more extensive than previously would have been surmised. His job then, is to discern how extensive it is and exactly how it is to be implemented and he must accomplish this feat by gaining the information piece by piece and assembling it. The story proceeds at breakneck speed as it follows his activities as he approaches this herculean task with unexpected help from unlikely organizations who cooperate because it is a necessity for the good of all. Unfortunately for Angus and everyone close to him, the activity is one fraught with constant danger and the imminent threat of death.

Discussion: To quote from this reader’s review of the directly preceding novel ‘The Sea of Gold’: “… the complicated plot and constantly changing world locations may not be to everyone’s liking but for the more sophisticated reader the author has quite masterfully assembled these perhaps somewhat disparate elements into an engrossing story that is quite difficult to put down.” This statement again applies but one somewhat disconcerting feature must be mentioned that does not seem to be apparent in the preceding volume. Here, Angus’ serendipitous survival repeatedly depends on a sizeable amount of good fortune, karma, or whatever. His Extra Sensory Perceptive abilities (perhaps more frequently referred to as instincts or ‘6th sense’) seem somehow to be lagging with respect to: recognition of danger producing situations, places and/or individuals; loss of, or slowed, ability when quick thought/action required; or perhaps he never had developed these necessities to the extent required for individuals in his present ‘secret agent line of endeavor’. This latter perhaps is the best explanation as Angus himself recognizes. He is an excellent Marine Investigative Agent but never thought about, or was not particularly enamored of being, a clandestine field agent, more vernacularly referred to as a ‘spy or spook’.

Conclusion: A fast paced international thriller with overtones in accord with today’s headlines and a somewhat reluctant but still very efficient, protagonist who appears to be only partly temperamentally equipped for this ‘new’ job.

4* Fast paced international thriller with a slightly reluctant protagonist