Fractured: Dereck Dillinger and the Crystal Ball

Fractured: Dereck Dillinger and the Crystal Ball ISBN: 9781543939651 assumed published copyright and written by Eddie McPherson.

Dereck constantly is baby-sitting his 6-year-old sister Jessie because his mother has had to find a second job since his father died last year. He loves her and doesn’t mind except when meeting his friends who mock him. He has taken Jessie to the carnival where she now is riding a horse on the carousel and waves every time she passes him. Two of his friends see him and begin their usual routines. While he is occupied with them, he looks back and finds that Jessie is nowhere to be seen. From this moment, he is whisked away on an incredible journey through the land in which all of the characters about whom he has been reading to Jessie, reside. It is a world in which monsters, dragons, witches, fairies, magic and more and where Little Red Ridinghood, Rumpelstiltskin, Rapunzel and other of these famous people live.

Discussion: The author has provided a second novel to accompany the first which also had deposited him in this other world for a time before returning him to his home. His creative style is one that young readers will find entertaining and adults involved may discover amusing reminiscence. It is somewhat longer than most children’s books, but its pace and frequent introduction of new scenes and players should overcome any deterrent influence.

5* Enjoyable children’s book even adults reminiscently may enjoy.

The Winter Sisters

The Winter Sisters: A Novel ISBN: 9780984974894 QW Publishers, Copyright and written by Tim Westover.

The story opens with a prologue set in 1811 that introduces the three Winter Sisters – Rebecca, the oldest, Sarah and Effie the youngest. They are ‘healers’, taught by their now deceased mother, well known for their abilities by residents of the nearby town of Lawrenceville and the surrounding area of Georgia. Raised in Hope Hollow in which the mother had settled long before the town existed, they had moved to town, largely because of Rebecca’s association with one of the town’s inhabitants and lived there for some time until driven out by a ‘fire breathing’ minister who had incited the townspeople to riot against these ‘devil’s advocates and witches who produced their cures through potions and other demon-directed methods’. In the resulting action, the man with whom Rebecca related was badly burned and even Effie, the youngest who did appear to have some manner of occult power, could or would not save him (causing something of a rift in her relationship with Rebecca). The sick, if still desperate enough, still followed them when they returned to Hope Hollow, but now were threatened on the journey by a rabid panther that roamed the forest. An animal that the minister insisted was the Devil’s own creation serving the desires of these witches. Because of the new difficulty encountered by the sick and infirm residents, the Mayor persuades Dr. Aubrey Waycross, an urban hospital trained physician to move there. The story gradually unfolds as Waycross arrives with his training of the day that still embraced Galen and Hippocrates. This consisted of using lancets, emetics, enemas and blistering agents, with bloodletting when called for, as well as other treatments obvious to the names of the agents employed. Thus, his practice vies with the herbal and holistic approach as developed to that time because he sees their results effective in many instances. So, simultaneously he attempts to combine the two approaches as he also becomes enamored of Rebecca. During the development of the plot, the characters of each of the three sisters proceed along quite different lines that aid in its development and a number of supporting characters including a travelling medicine man, the minister, and several other town characters, also provide different aspects of the story.

Discussion: The author has set forth a fascinating description of medicine as it existed, and was practiced, in rural (often to a degree urban as well) areas and populations of the era. As such, the tale is well worth reading. Unfortunately, a number of hiccups occur in recounting the tale. Most prominent, from this reader’s perspective, is difficulty attempting to define and empathize with the main characters. Waycross’ activities frequently appear quite thoughtless, even at times ridiculous; Rebecca appears to act in accord with her position in that place and time, but still is rather wraith-like in presenting a persona; Effie is even more of a wraith as she wanders about with her apparent occult power, and her ultimate close relationship with Thumb, a typical medicine man, seemingly unpredictable; Thumb, in turn offers his share of question marks; Sarah is a ‘loose cannon’ wandering around; Other, supporting characters also provide interesting, often amusing additions to the story. The ending, at least for this reader, was abrupt, somewhat inexplicable and unfulfilling.

Summary: A look at the practice of medicine in the 1800’s, perhaps particularly of interest at this time because of the surging interest among patients and even physicians in the holistic approach to treatment.

4* Special interest for current holistic medicine interest; hiccups as noted.

Are you Scared?

Are You Scared? An e-book copyright and written by Ingo Blum, Illustrated by Mark Balita.

This small book is subtitled “Help Your Children Overcome Fears and Anxieties”. The story tells of little Susie whose mother sent her to a store to obtain ingredients she needed to bake. Susie leaves on her journey and encounters numerous imaginary fears that fortunately no longer scare her on her return. The reason is that her beloved grandfather happens by and gives her a ride home. It is then she sees that she was imagining the fearsome figures.

Discussion: The author has presented a very short book purportedly to aid small children in handling their fears. On the good side, the idea is sound and the illustrator has provided charming drawings. However unfortunately, most of the book expresses Susie’s imaginary fears and only a few lines actually are directed toward a solution. In fact, much of the book could be scary to a child with imagination. The author has brought forth an excellent matter about which parents unfortunately give too little thought and he is to be commended for doing so. It is just that, regrettably, pragmatically and apologetically from this reader’s perception, he has written an excellent reminder for parents, but not a book per se for young children.

3* 5* Reminder for parents; far less for small children.

Munching on the Sun

Munching on the SUN ISBN: 9781775111122 an e-book copyright and written by Mark Paul Oleksiw.

The story opens with a young man reciting a bit of the dramatic play Frankenstein on an empty stage in an equally empty theater at midnight. The single spectator is the Dramatics Professor who overheard the intruder’s entrance and came to see what was happening. From this unusual beginning the reader finds him/herself proceeding through the life of a very conflicted and confused young student as he and his friends advance through their senior school year. He is an extremely disciplined young man from a loving family and with an older sister with mental challenges. Through his dedication, he has succeeded in advancing her to a seemingly relatively normal manner of existence. He is tremendously well-liked and a natural mentor-of-sorts to his classmates. Much of his enduing problems stem from the fact that he becomes totally enthralled with a girl recently arrived with her strict family from India. Their evolving relationship, both reminiscences and on-going, along with his unusual interaction with his sister as well as his classmates, provides, a basis for the strange tale as it unfolds.

Discussion: The author has set forth a most unusual story in an intriguing manner that makes a reader want to follow to its termination. For most readers, this is sufficient. However, for a few who are inclined to think more deeply with respect to a character, questions about Lucas, the protagonist, surface and will not ‘go away’. Obviously this is more than a young person’s ‘coming-of-age’ tale and a reader would like to have some basis provided to account for his singular attributes – his dedication, and ability, to raise his sister’s mental acuity; his almost mesmerizing effect upon his fellow students; his actions with Kara; his tendency to react violently to certain stimuli. Similarly, some hint of an explanation for Kara’s unusual actions would be so helpful in providing some explanation for an initial reaction and her often wraith-like appearances. Granted, much of the story depends upon reminiscences, but frequently the reader is not sure which are fact and which fiction. Another feature that is difficult to dissemble is the educational level of the group. Much of the material indicates their senior level of secondary school. Yet much of the academic structure is more specifically of university level. But perhaps this feature only is troubling to individuals acquainted with the idiosyncrasies of academia.

3* 4* Fascinating tale in spite of missing and confusing elements.

 

The LIon’s Prey

The Lion’s Prey, a thriller/mystery assumed published, copyright and written by Cameron Mays.

Cole Cameron, a special ops type of individual, works for CIA on a covert project attempting to eliminate a former lieutenant to the former Muslim leader whose main thrust is to throw the U. S. into disarray by losing cyber-attacks to affect the main business activities. Cole is quite a brilliant tactician and with his smoothly functioning team constantly is being sent to areas where Intel indicates the Muslim chief reportedly has been seen. His desire to find this man is strengthened by the fact that his daughter, Jess, had been attacked and almost killed by him. This now college attending daughter’s reaction had been to apply for, and begin training to join the FBI. Added to Cole’s problems is his love for FBI agent Hannah and the interference in its progression because of their constantly conflicting work schedules. The characters provided for the reader are quite numerous and besides the main protagonists, include Jess’s friend, Hannah’s parents, an ill-intentioned congressman and his cohorts, and several Muslims, a couple of beautiful spies and a number of upper echelon members of the government. The finale provides a quite presentable entree to a no-doubt following volume to this second in the Cole Cameron saga

Discussion: The plot of this story in many ways is quite similar to others in this genre. The management however is well done by an author with knowledge of his subject, providing interesting characters, periods of high tension activity and a romance that makes a reader hope eventually will terminate successfully.

4* Well done thriller with a touch of mystery and of romance.

The Protectorate Wars: Born Hero

The Protectorate Wars: Born Hero. Assumed published, copyright and written by S. A. Shaffer, Esq.

This is the story that takes place in a mythical land “of vast wealth and power, towering mountains and lush plains ….a bastion of hope between sweltering deserts and the raging ocean.” Within this land are individual countries that have been peaceful for a number of years but now unrest again is arising both within the countries and among them producing further tensions. The protagonist, David Ike, is a very young man who is the son and grandson of heroic pilots who are legends as saviors of the country in which he lives. Presently, his circumstances are rather dire. His father was killed heroically saving the boy and his mother in a disastrous air crash and his illustrious grandfather passed away shortly thereafter. He lost an arm in the crash and the bionic replacement, although quite adequate, precludes continuing his air cadet training. Responsible for his mother’s care, an invalid unable even to speak, he is her caretaker and ekes out a meager living until by routine mandatory public testing, it is discovered that he is of superior intelligence and is hired by one of the major representatives in the country’s parliament. Unfortunately, David is a quite naive, sincere individual with a strong work ethic and a strong belief in principles. As a result, from this initiating step, he is poorly fitted to be involved in the political arena replete with maneuvering that involves deceit, distrust, betrayal, treachery and even murder. The story continues until somewhat unexpected activity produces a conclusion that leaves little closure and only begs for further action.

Discussion: A somewhat unusual book with an interesting plot, set in a mythical world of the future with many sci-fi features, some mystery and a hint of romance. The characters are well portrayed and the plot provides several surprises. As such the reader will enjoy, but must be aware of a rather slow beginning consisting of largely unbroken prose with few conversational or other breaks – a tendency that persists throughout much of the ensuing material.

4* 5*Interesting multi-generic plot; -1 with questionable feature for some.