When Life Doesn’t Turn Out the Way we Hoped it Would

     When Life doesn’t turn Out the Way We’d Hoped it would ISBN: 0791973719830 Create Space Independent Publishing Copyright and written by Tom Wick.

In this 3rd book the author details his tour of duty as a young enlisted sailor aboard the USS Gridley CG-21 (West Pac 81-82 Cruise Book) that took him into the Indian Ocean during the Iran Conflict and beyond. It first presents the frequently repulsive antics engaged in by ‘old salts’ indoctrinating pollywogs into Shellback status as they “Cross the Line” (Equator) for the first time. He also describes levels of Shellbacks awards for particular crossings and certain ‘Fraternities’ for other types of crossings; e.g. crossing the Arctic Circle, Antarctic Circle, International Dateline, etc. After this test, he was awarded ‘Ship’s Liberty’ in their first port to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Pattaya Beach, Thailand in 1982. Next he describes Thailand in general, its travelogue features and those of its capital Bangkok. Numerous pictures are provided here as well as in the pages following. In the beach area, Kickboxing shows are offered at several beer bars. Go-go bars, nightclubs, and discotheques are in abundance. Sexual, as well as authentic, massage parlors also are numerous and he describes World-famous Walking Street as the center of night life, although seemingly the rest of the area was well supplied. Additionally, the reader is informed that Pattaya Beach had the second largest concentration of gay oriented enterprises in Thailand with Bangkok the largest. Besides Tuk-Tuk busses (pictures included), there was cheap public passenger pickups called songthaews or baht-busses because Thai currency is the baht and they’re cheap. Repeated accounts of his amorous escapades with his 3 lovely Thai prostitutes are provided as well as other similar escapades in the other ports covered. These other ports are Hong Kong with description of weather, demographics and points of interest as well as nearby Kowloon. Sasebo, Japan, again a complete general description and year’s weather report as well as an overview of Sasebo with a post-WWII note preceded by brief historical notes on beginnings of WWII. Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is next where travelogue descriptions again are set forth. The final port of San Diego ultimately is reached and he is met by family. The descriptions of his sexual and drug/alcohol activity, of his shipboard tasks, how the USS Gridley was named and lessons on the Geographic Coordinate System are so prominently and repeatedly described it becomes a bit annoying.

Discussion: In my review of the first book by this author (June, 2020) I wrote: “The material covered in this first book in the series presents, in quite explicit detail, quite lengthy descriptions of the repetitiously indulgent activities of the author, his family, friends and acquaintances as he moves among several locations. However, there is an overlying tone of a man somehow repentant of much of his activity and, as a result of some unnamed factor, ultimately realizing the ‘error of his ways and being ‘born again’ as a Christian. Although the causative factor is not mentioned per se, when he failed 1st grade a psychiatrist diagnosed him as having ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). This long-standing dysfunction, in combination with being brutally beaten, raped and suffering a degree of PTSD could have left him totally repentant for the meaningless sex, constant drug and alcohol abuse and the rest that caused him intense feelings of alienation, isolation, and loneliness.”

The author again has presented a book that presents a maximum amount of thought. Here he still participates in abundant sexual and drug activity “we shot some heroin, smoked some pot, and made love again.” “After our shower, we smoked some pot, got dressed and had some breakfast.” And similar phrases and sentences repetitiously are supplied, but in this volume he does not exhibit any of the repentance shown in the first book. However, the fact that a young man just barely out of his teens and with the background of family psychotic behavior, dysfunctional acquaintances from childhood, and personal problems he has encountered from a very early age, should have the tenacity of purpose to attempt to write a series of books is, at least to this reviewer, amazing. It is most unfortunate that he has not encountered an editor or other sympathetic person who would have been able to aid in his endeavors. His attempts really show promise.

3* Extremely difficult to rate; 2*- 4* dependent upon degree of analysis.

When Life Doesn’t turn out the Way We’d Hoped It Would

When Life doesn’t turn out the Way we Hoped it Would Volume I ISBN: 9781974032822 Create Space, copyright and written by Tom Wick.

This autobiography is written by an individual who had been born into a family whose roots he had been able to trace to a particular tribe of some of the most “unrestrained and pitiless pagans and savages of all Vikings”. Thus, his particular family were a mixture of Scots, Pics, Irish and Manx who had ultimately occupied a small section of northern Scotland. Further extension of genealogical facts detail the intermixing of the family strains as they move into more recent history. Here it would seem, some of these early ‘unrestrained’ genes carried over to the future generations with occasional episodes providing vicious physical harm. Specific sordid details of the remarkably dysfunctional family’s interrelationships as well as their activity with others are presented along with lengthy descriptions of his personal activity. The protagonist enumerates the fact that by the age of six years he had witnessed people being killed, men beating women as well as other men. He relates seeing and participating in indiscriminate sex. He smoked tobacco and marijuana incessantly, drank liquor heavily, sniffed, inhaled, ingested and injected drugs. However, until later in life, he thought this just was the ‘normal way of life”. His mother had been diagnosed with “agoraphobia, paranoia, multiple personality disorders, and other mental and emotional ailments.” His father had been beaten mercilessly and repetitively by his grandfather. The author had been molested constantly by his older brother, participated in exploratory sexual activity with playmates and had sex with a ‘girlfriend’ at four years of age.

Discussion: The material covered in this first book in the series presents, in quite explicit detail, quite lengthy descriptions of the repetitiously indulgent activities of the author, his family, friends and acquaintances as he moves among several locations. However, there is an overlying tone of a man somehow repentant of much of his activity and, as a result of some unnamed factor, ultimately realizing the ‘error of his ways and being ‘born again’ as a Christian. Although the causative factor is not mentioned per se, when he failed 1st grade a psychiatrist diagnosed him as having ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). This long-standing dysfunction, in combination with being brutally beaten, raped and suffering a degree of PTSD could have left him totally repentant for the meaningless sex, constant drug and alcohol abuse and the rest that caused him intense feelings of alienation, isolation, and loneliness.

Summary: A seemingly most honestly and completely told tale detailing the extent of dysfunctional behavior existent in the author, as well as sections of the general population, is set forth along with a series of factors that influenced change to a direction for resolution for the author. If the extent of explicit description of immorality can be accepted, the level of reader interest for members of the Evangelic religious faith should be high. That for general readership difficult even to suggest.

3* High interest level for some readers; difficult to determine for others.

A Coin for a Dream

Coin for a Dream published, copyright and written by Mae Adams.

This volume presents a series of short stories, the first fifteen of them told to the author in her early childhood growing up in Korea. They are simple tales, the significance of some perhaps even a little unusual for the uninitiated to absorb. Included are tales of egg ghosts, water ghosts, angels of death, servants of the underworld, a 9-tailed dragon shape-shifter and its nemesis, a 3-legged dog, also of the monstrous part lion, sheep and unicorn haechi with scales, feathers and horns who actually seek justice by punishing the wicked. Other tales, some provided a little later, detail the legends and folktales along with historical explanations of Korean beginnings, religions and practices. Included are tales of how shamans, these mediums between this and the spirit world are created, fascinating explanations of the differences among the Chinese, Japanese and Korean Dragons, discussions of their zodiac, and more. All of these later features gradually and ultimately fade into and join material of a bio- and autobiographical nature.

Discussion: This is the second book by the author of “Precious Silver Chopsticks” which I had reviewed approximately a year ago and stated “This autobiography/memoir is written by an eighty-four-year-old Korean woman of considerable intelligence, fortitude and an amazing ability to survive and prosper” and concluded: “Certainly a relieving catharsis for the author and a book of considerable interest for a diverse reading public.” Because I had witnessed the conditions and people of  Korea during the U.S. involvement, my conclusion with respect to this second book retains my admiration for the author and personally find considerable material she has provided to be quite interesting. But regrettably and in all honesty, I must narrow the scope of those for whom I believe this book will have appeal. There is much redundancy in her presentation and repetition within the body of the work as well as a considerable amount from her first book. Thus, I strongly recommend this book to readers who are interested in learning more about other people, their history, cultures, religions, activities, habits, individual beliefs, and their personal abilities to adapt and especially as depicted here, to survive. For readers with these interests, the subject matter most assuredly requires a 5*. The rating unfortunately must be reduced by 2 because of matters that judicious editing would have removed, plus the most regrettable fact its level of interest for others than those mentioned; i.e. general readership, probably would not be extensive.

3* 5* story regrettably reduced by 2 as explained in the discussion.

An Incredible Journey

     An Incredible Journey ISBN: 9780990393559 Barringer Publishing copyright and written by Thomas Z. Lajos.

Dr. Lajos’ story of his journey has been divided of necessity and presented in 5 distinct parts. Part I deals with the first 25 years including family background and describes its effects while under Nazi influence followed by dwelling behind the Iron Curtain for years; Part II describes his search for training in surgery, freedom and democracy first in the British Isles then Kingston and Toronto, Canada in the New World. Part III and IV provide details first of the professional years and the author’s training in general surgery followed by that in cardiac and thoracic surgery. Part V consists of several appendices that provide interesting factual material on several incidents, movements, manifestos and important people involved along with fascinating observations on political as well as movements and decisions with respect to total health care. The book also includes a list of figures and captions for the sizable number of pictures included, a Bibliography, and a very sizable Name index.

Discussion: This is perhaps one of the most inclusive biographies this reviewer has read. It also is one that demonstrates the tenacity of purpose of a man subjected to numerous almost insurmountable conditions during one of history’s periods of abominable activity. An era in which two men, Hitler and Stalin, with obviously malignantly degenerative thought patterns were particularly dominant. With respect to the biographer, his ability to recall the names and accompanying incidents associated with the person is most highly commendable. His descriptions of attempting to obtain surgical training as a Resident in so many different training venues quite clearly reveals the problems facing residents when they move from one program to another. Each program invariably is dominated by quite rigid protocols established and monitored by individual physicians usually quite specific in running the program as they see fit. One to two residencies usually are sufficient for most. His tenacity to gain maximum training was exemplary.

Summary: An autobiography about and by a man of fine intellect and all of ‘the right stuff’ to succeed. Truly “An Incredible Journey”.

5* An autobiography demonstrating truly exemplary personal attributes.

The Changemaker

The Changemaker ISBN 9781946633736 Forbes Media copyright and written by Deke Copenhaver.

Sub-titled “The art of building better leaders” opens with several statements of praise for the book and its author followed by publication details; a forward; acknowledgements; about the author; timeline; introduction; nine chapters; “a parting word”, Passing the Baton to the Next Changemakers”; and more about deke”. The author admonishes that a Changemaker is “somebody who’s not afraid to do something different in the service of a good cause” and describes 7 attributes of such individuals; asks “What kind of Leader are you? Stresses the importance of creativity; Courage to Weather the Storm; importance of Coming Together; need to listen so you can learn from others; the requirement of transparency in all activities; dire need to remain calm, composed and lead on during times of trouble; and perhaps the most essential requirement, to follow your moral compass. Each chapter expands upon its subject matter and provides a helpful list of activities apropos to the subject in hand.

Discussion: This is a well-written book by an intelligent non-politician who had the temerity to run, and serve, for 3 terms (2005-2014) as Mayor of Augusta, Georgia. He was eminently successful by travelling a path quite different from the usual track espoused by career politicians. The individual chapters tell how it was accomplished and provides the reader with step by step directions how to become such a leader. Although containing some redundancy, an unfortunate feature of written material presented by anyone accustomed to speaking engagements, this is a well-written blueprint for any person desirous of attaining a high level of expertise in leadership.

5* Worthwhile read for any aspiring leader.

May Cause Drowsiness and Blurred Vision

May Cause Drowsiness and Blurred Vision ISBN: 978732721616, published, copyright and written by Gloria Squitiro.

This is an autobiographical segment in the life of a woman of Italian birth, happily married to a man who is a brutally frank auditor who attacks waste in government budgets – Mark Funkhouser, politician, author, former Auditor, then elected Mayor of City of Kansas City, MO. She, like Mark, is adamant about seeking the truth about her areas of interest; e.g. a freelance (unattached to any hospital) individual providing knowledge and aid to couples before and during childbirth after experiencing 2 caesarian sections that seemingly were unnecessary. Her birth children are a son and daughter and she has others she has attracted because of her nature. The story covers a period preceding her husband’s run for Mayor starting with a somewhat extended trip to Europe with the whole family as well as a period following their return.

Discussion: The author has initiated “The C’mon Funk Series” with this first volume that is sub-titled “The side-effects of bravery”. Here, she has set forth a no-holds-barred look at her unvarnished truth seeking evaluation of a number of factors and situations from her brave but confessed quite hypochondriacally slanted approach to life. It provides both humor and bits of poignancy from a realistic viewpoint that seems to be quite congruent with her husband’s thought processes. In her own words: she “has an INFJ (Introverted, intuitive, Feeling, Judging) personality. She is an advocate. She is a dreamer who takes concrete steps to realize her goals and make a lasting positive impact. Helping others is her purpose in life, but not through charity work. Her real passion is to get to the heart of issues so people need not be rescued at all.”

5* Fascinatingly amusing approach to life fascinating for many readers.