Flawed Justice

Flawed Justice ISBN: 9781975882136 a mystery/romance copyright and written by Peter Shianna.

The reader is introduced to Jason Ferris, a forty-year-old man whose exact position within the church is debatable. After some ten years serving as a priest he no longer functions in this capacity. Instead, he serves as a teacher mostly of the 3 “R’s” to lesser educated individuals incarcerated for various nefarious activities. He has one friend, his immediate superior, lives frugally in the small facilities provided and has little use for modern technology but retains rudimentary familiarity. As the story begins to unfold the reader gradually learns, at least in part, the reason for the checkered theological history. Then, further acceleration is provided to the plot when he receives an e-mail from Cari, the teen-age neighbor with whom he had been in love. She is forty-one, now unmarried, still beautiful but with monstrous demons of her own. With time, the two rejoin, establish an unusual relationship that limps along until suddenly another element is added. Jason begins to receive mysterious anonymous messages. As their frequency increases, their content also gradually evokes memories of specific activity during these teen years, activity that only could be known to someone involved. This stimulus leads to increased subsequent action by Jason and Cari with respect to these missives as well as the direction of their own interpersonal relationship and all gradually coalesce to form a most riveting conclusion. Provision of pertinent details will not be supplied because this quite definitely would be a disservice to the prospective reader.

Discussion: In this “able to stand alone’ follow-up volume to his preceding Imperfect Acts, the author once again has provided a fast paced tale of mystery and suspense. Additionally, he has quite nicely and credibly described the mental machinations of individuals who are carrying extremely heavy psychological burdens. But perhaps even more captivating is the fact that the author has had the temerity to describe and discuss a subject so often avoided; viz. the often miscarriage of justice in the system’s mandatory protocol.

5* Another tense, fast-paced and compelling tale by Peter Shianna.

We Own the Sky

We Own the Sky ISBN: 9781548450205 a fantasy tale in e-book format copyright and written by Sara Crawford.

The Prologue of this Book 1 of The Muse Chronicles introduces the Muses of Greek Mythology as they are beginning to awaken again from their five hundred year sleep on Mount Olympus. Urania, the current Ruling Muse of astronomy has awakened and her sister, Clio Muse of History, awakens shortly thereafter and is in total shock to discover how much the world’s art had changed. Chapter one introduces Sylvia Baker, the sixteen-year-old tremendously and varied musically talented protagonist. She lives in Marietta, GA, a suburb of Atlanta with her father and attends the local high school where she is pretty much of a ‘loner’. Her situation results in large part from peer reaction to this youngster who is the daughter of the “homeschooled teenager who her dad ‘knocked-up’ at 17.” Further, her mother left when she was 10 and her father became an alcoholic whom she literally and frequently had to save from dying. Finally however, with help from AA and his gradually increasing ability to compose successful music and a degree of acceptance of his small band, at 33 he is a loving father. The entire basement of their home has been converted to a recording studio where he and his band practice and record and Sylvia often jams with them. During these early days however, she suffered from depression, almost committed suicide, was sent to a local institution and gradually recovered enough to return home and attend school. One of her classes is an experimental one teaching about the ancient Muses and another is in music where they are preparing for a competition. She often sees flickering figures, especially when music is involved. Suddenly after a series of activities, she actually sees an entire figure of a beautiful man with whom she speaks, and progressively she sees and can speak to several others. This one man brings to mind the Greek Poet Hesiod’s: “He is happy whom the Muses love. For though a man has sorrow and grief in his soul, yet when the servant of the Muses sings, at once he forgets his dark thoughts and remembers not his troubles. Such is the holy gift of the Muses to man.” Could Vincent really make her “forget her dark thoughts”? Certainly her life begins to turn for the better. She gains friends, performs brilliantly and becomes actually happy. However, at this moment in time the Muse Clio has decided that there are too many half human/half muses in existence that must be eliminated. One of her new friends has become aware of her muse relationship and the beautiful relationship that was solving her problems is shattered because her equating with ‘people’ no one else can see should dictate she be returned to the institution. The reader must await further information as the story’s next activity unfolds in the next book in the series.

Discussion: The author has presented a fascinating plot in a well-written manner that readers of fantasy and especially those who enjoy involvement of mythical characters should find most charming. Simply explained, it is a story about a multi-talented, brutally psychologically abused child who suddenly realizes she has constantly been seeing flitting images but doesn’t care if it is true. She wants it to be. “I want to live in a world where there are immortal spirits that help us make art. I want to live in a world that is as magical as Ancient Greece when everyone believed in mystical gods and goddesses. I want to live in a world where art is connected to things that are spiritual – things that we can’t even understand as humans. Because that’s how I feel about it. Art is divine. This idea makes me seem special, rather than insane.” The plot follows how she does it and still lives in her everyday school day with its people and their disbelief of such possibilities from their position of mundane existence, surroundings and commitments. A caveat required for readers who prefer at least a measure of closure with each book in a series.

Summary: Well-written myth based fanciful tale that ‘believers’ will love but a caveat is required as mentioned above.

5* Well-written myth based fanciful tale for ‘believers’ but with a caveat.

 

 

 

Closer to Paradise

Closer to Paradise, an e-book published, copyright and written by H. Stinington.

This dancing romance novel is the first volume in a proposed series that follows eighteen-year-old Isabella Anderson and two-year-older partner Daniel Prentiss as they attempt to make their way in the small and highly competitive field of professional dance. They are individually attractive, very talented, perform and look extremely well when performing as a couple. They have just won a title and wish to be selected as the lead couple to represent Daniel’s Canada in a contest to be held in the near future on the international level. Unfortunately her citizenship papers of transfer from the U. S. is taking time and adding just one more layer of tension to the huge number already facing persons entering this totally visible, tightly gathered group activity. And above all else, the couple find themselves stranded by airplane problems that the limited hotel arrangements available lead them to stray across the line of sexual intimacy. Regrettably, although they find they now are fully and joyously happy in all ways, such a relationship is a long-considered taboo in the group supposedly leading to disastrous results. Thus, any witnessed display of the relationship immediately will be noticed and open to discussion by this tightly knit bunch so inundated with interpersonal intrigue, innuendo, canards and hearsay. Some couples have successfully dealt with the situation but unfortunately apparently others have not. So, a state of affairs exists that sadly and somewhat amusingly perhaps best may be described by a Mark Twain quotation: “The less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.” Regardless, facing this strong group-accepted belief, the young couple is forced to decide whether their careers or their happiness is most important. The remainder of the story recounts their attempts to decide and how best to deal with their decision when made.

Discussion: The dilematous matter is presented in a readable manner; similarly, sexual activity is nicely restrained; these young people exhibit remarkably maturity in their thought patterns; and generally the story presents a certain level of interesting credibility. In this viewer’s opinion, a little expansion of the inner operational aspects of this very visible and beautiful, but often somewhat small audience generating activity, would have offered a fascinating addition. However, the story as provided is one that should have great appeal to younger readers and most especially to devotees of the romance genre.

4* Delightful short tale especially for young romance devotees.

On the Lighter Side of Forever

On the Lighter Side of Forever ISBN: 9781523366682, an e-book by Everett Lavell.

The book is interestingly and amusingly “dedicated to the most magnificent and entertaining person I have ever gotten the pleasure to know. This person, through all life’s trials and tribulations and all its rises and falls, has proven to be nothing less than God’s best work. So it gives me great pleasure to dedicate this book to myself.” A short introduction explains why he feels justified in setting forth this impressive statement. There follows intriguing statements such as: “Hell, most of us are deceased while technically still alive – just breathing God’s air, never channeling any of our talents, constantly dwelling on our failures, and reading countless self-help books from every self-proclaimed guru on earth yet not once looking inside ourselves.” He blames this first on parents quoting results of a study done in the UK that claims “we as children were told an average of five thousand lies just to get us started in life…. This means our parents…. Had such a low belief in society as it existed that they felt the only way we could survive was for them to fill our heads with bulls—.” (Not counting, of course the big 5 – the sandman, tooth fairy, Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and God.) “Let’s face it: these poor folks, our parents, were just addicted to s—.” so “…as soon as they came clean or detoxed from one lie, they were back at it again.” Further discussion is advanced to explain: “The main point to be broached here is the hypocrisy we experience from our childhood straight into adulthood.” And he “wants to help you join me on the lighter side of forever.” In continuing he explains that he is not about to discuss the whole 5000 lies told by parents. “I just want us to examine and absorb a few for the purpose of gaining clarity on why we are so easily manipulated and distracted from accomplishing being the best us possible.” To accomplish this feat it is required that we move away from or beyond the early teachings absorbed because “We have been trained to trust blindly, repress our emotions and feelings, and accept that things that bring satisfaction are bad.” We must stop with all the regrets, guilt, immortalizing the past (because it really wasn’t that great, we just forget the worst parts) and stop justifying mediocrity. You can’t be ‘kind of happy’. You are or are not.

Discussion: In this rather short book the author has set forth a sizeable number of truths which individuals seldom face, or perhaps are ideas that don’t even enter their thoughts. They are well worth perusing and have been provided in an amusing package that makes reading easy. The last approximate fifty pages have a more serious tone that unfortunately do not quite fit the rest of the prose, but basically it is well worth the read.

4* Short, amusingly readable thought-provoking ‘self-help’.

FLEX LIFE

FLEX LIFE ISBN: 978177503991, Flex Life, Inc. Publisher. An e-   book by Spencer Langley.

This book is sub-titled How to Transform Your Body Forever, and in the author’s own words “was inspired by my years of struggling to lose fat and gain muscle. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the dedication or the drive. I was simply drowning in information overload and didn’t know where to start.” Answers discovered were “contradicting, confusing, and sometimes bizarre diet and exercise advice.” It is from this mass of utter confusion that the author decided to take the simple solution offered years ago by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” It is from this thoughtful beginning that Spencer Langley has provided the seriously interested reader with a remarkably detailed trail to attainment of this treasured goal. His book contains 15 chapters, each providing specifics pertinent to the chapter’s title. The first 2 provide a template. The 3rd presents details of how the body breaks down and uses food for energy. Number 4 explains flexible dieting to lose fat and gain muscle and suggests specific foods to eat, how to ‘cheat a little’ and the all-important aspects of restaurant dining. #5 covers frequency of eating, the practice of intermittent fasting and nutriment timing. The ‘touchy’ subject of alcohol consumption most interestingly is dealt with in #6. Cardio and weight loss are the subject of #7. The next 2 chapters concentrate on weightlifting – the 12 principles followed by the author’s program. #’s 10 and 11 return to discussing the huge and confusing variety of supplements offered to the public. #12 returns to features of body building. Numbers 13 and 14 present cogent means for maintaining fat loss without counting calories and maintenance strategies while traveling. The last chapter contains the author’s parting advice and the book ends with numerous acknowledgements, a magnificent 19 pages of pertinent references listed for chapter by chapter and a most helpful 4 index pages, alphabetically aligned.

Discussion: The author has included a number of interesting and pertinent quotations ranging from an opening one from Steven King – “The scariest moment is always before you start” to a final one explaining why the author “… truly poured my heart and soul into this book to help change as many people’s lives as possible” and obviously spent a huge amount of time and effort into gathering such a complete collection of material to aid others facing the same amount of confusion as had the author. This quote is from Danny Thomas: “Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.” In between, a number of others are included that are amusing as well as relevant; e.g. Mandela: “I never lose. I either win or I learn.” Mark Twain: “The less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.” The content is nicely arranged and provided in a surprisingly almost scholarly fashion, BUT still in a most easily readable manner for the individual seriously looking for a useable template to attain the ultimate success. Included are numerous tables containing precise numbers for weight, cardio, reps and other values, and explicit designation of good and bad activities, and good, bad and marginal supplements on the market to mention a few.

In summary: it can only be reiterated that a really exceedingly useful set of procedures has been offered that every individual serious about gaining muscle/maintaining weight and strength, definitely must read.

5* Must read well-written/documented book for serious individuals.

 

 

Asia Mine

     Asia Mine Children’s Stories (hard copy ISBN: 9781547042227) published, copyright and written by Haran Choi

The prospective reader is informed that the author “graduated from UCLA with honors in East Asian Studies and studied International Affairs at Columbia University.” This short (20 page) presently read e-book edition contains eight, mostly very short stories about Ada, a very young, probably lowest caste child in India who qualified for MENSA; a bear in India who loved cheese pizza and coke; children taking pictures of Hong Kong ‘skyscrapers’; children waiting at the end of line for their parents to return from climbing Japan’s Mt. Fuji; a child in a Japanese Tea House; saving the Hainan Gibbons; a young girl who wants to continue life with her grandmother who is one of the storied women Japanese divers; and how tasty is Korean Kimichi when properly prepared.

Discussion: Children reading, or lack thereof, has been a growing problem for quite a number of years and only exacerbated with the advent of TV and the mass of electronic devices and games. In fact the problem had risen to such a level that educators embarked upon a large number of studies of how best to combat the situation. Gradually several factors evolved as helpful. Regrettably, although the author’s educational endeavors should make her highly qualified with respect to knowledge of her subject, she either is unaware of these seemingly helpful guidelines, or has experienced a degree of difficulty in attempting to impart them to children, at least in this volume. For example, with respect to Ada, MENSA will mean nothing to most children, would need explanation and some follow-up as to its importance to this child and her culture; there is no ‘point’ per se made with respect to diet and/or harmful effects of substances in the pizza/coke story; nothing of importance is ‘attached to’ the pictures of Honk Kong’s buildings; the importance of tea and tea ceremonies in Japan is not presented, etc. And there are no illustrations in the book, an element educators believe provides an excellent stimulus for gaining and maintaining children’s attention and interest. There additionally are none of the usual quietly interposed ‘lessons’ these books almost invariably contain.

Summary: Most unfortunately, the author has approached a most difficult task – the presentation of reading material that will appeal to children. Even if an author does not have a truly empathetic sense or ‘feel’ for presentation of this material, a number of quite effective specifics have been discovered. But even following these leads, a sizeable hurdle till remains to reach these young minds. Any author is entering an area of highly skilled activity requiring a ‘special mind and approach’. A number of authors have been most successful in producing such products. Regrettably, this well-intentioned volume does not compare favorably with a substantial number of these books already on the market for children.

2* Thoughtful attempt leaving a wealth of knowledge unexpressed.