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 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.
A Predator & A Psychopath ISBN: 9781543976397 assumed published, copyright and written by Jay Kerk.
Subtitled A Dark and Twisted Psychological Thriller, the story begins with Part 1 following the activities of Jason Stankovic, a brilliant CFO for a large and successful corporation. He has an apparently idyllic life with his lovely wife Lisa, equally beautiful daughter Lea and young son Mathew until it suddenly dissipates. He is found in a completely confused state in a bloodied room with both Lisa and Lea dead from gunshot wounds. He is brought to trial but released into custody after being diagnosed as having suffered from a disassociated identity disorder. He is brought under the care of an excellent psychiatrist and his life and activities continue here and in Parts 3 and 5. Part 2 introduces the reader to Jerry who describes himself as “a human being. A superior one to the flock of the worthless…. a hypersexual being… belonging to the elite hunters… We all are hunters and gatherers, but we descended from a diverse genetic pool. I belong to the elite hunters. Today they have no use for us …. (but) we have a massive lust, we’re hungry to mate and multiply, thirsty for blood …. How do I live with my nature? I seek pleasure in the dark.” The activities of this psychotic predator continue to be described here and continue at length in Part 4 and are referred to in the last section of the book.
Discussion: The author’s mind set in publishing this book is interesting. In his ‘Note’ following conclusion of this volume he states: “This is my first novel, but it is not the first one I publish… along the years I have written for myself. I have written my imagination; now I matured to write for your entertainment.” He further admonishes that word count, paper or money generated are unimportant. “What I want is that you reach out to me and tell me what was good and where you felt most. I hope the next time, I’ll have something this animated and thrilling.” There is no doubt he has provided a certain degree of ‘animation’. But ‘thrill’ and written “for your entertainment? The story entails quite realistic descriptions of the activities in which psychotic individuals suffering from two of the various patterns in which psychotic behavior is manifest can engage. It is not a pleasant picture and from this reader’s perspective would seem to have been presented more as a vehicle for instruction rather than enjoyment. However, once again a reader is made aware of the vast differences that may exist in individual taste.
Summary: This is a somewhat instructive description of depraved activity in which sufferers of two different forms of psychoses can engage. It no doubt will appeal to certain readers for its suspense.
3* 4*Relatively adept description of psychotic behavior; -1 at very least for enjoyment.
The Monster is an e-book assumed published, copyright and written by Josh Soule.
The story opens at Chapter Zero with the protagonist reminiscing about life as it was in his earlier years and finally about the bedtime stories his parents told him. Especially he remembered his mother always telling of monsters, how they were real and among us today and that “Once in every generation, a monster awakens.” Then suddenly, he must breathe deeply to slow his heart rate, check himself to determine that he had no wounds and that the blood on his hands was not his. The room was a mess looking “like a warehouse in a low-budget horror movie” with a woman’s body on the floor leaking blood. He wondered if it was Debbie or just some unfortunate woman because “it was not unreasonable to think that an innocent person had died here, the world can be unpredictable and unfair like that sometimes”. Then chapter one begins with the twenty-two year old protagonist in a college class and gradual introductions to his close friend Tony, his ex-girlfriend Kelly and later his mother Susan who is a friend of Kelly’s mother Karen. We learn that Susan is undergoing therapy for a relatively recently discovered cancer lesion that had been caught early and responding well to the therapy. However she constantly picks fights and continues her pattern of poor treatment of him that has included quite intense verbal and physical abuse since his father left when the boy was twelve. The reader then is introduced to activity at the school and the school’s Halloween party where we meet Police Officer Erickson because of violence occurring from involvement of a shadowy figure that only our protagonist sees. The results make him appear to be the guilty person for the altercation, so he runs, meets and joins a group of misfits and criminals and the story escalates still without providing an indication of where the tale is going and how it will end. Regrettably, any further information would be a distinct disservice to interested readers.
Discussion: This is a very well-, and intriguingly-written psychological thriller following the activity of a mentally disturbed individual exhibiting much of the background for, and many symptoms of, dissociative identity disorder. The only disappointing features of the story from this reader’s perspective are the protagonist’s level of maturity which seems more that of a teen-age high schooler rather than that of a 22-year-old university student (which possibly can be at least partially excused as resulting from reaction stemming from the degree of abuse) and a seeming amount of unnecessary redundancy.
4* 5* Compellingly written psychological thriller; -1 for reasons described.
The Chemist, an e-book of an award-winning novel first published in 2010. Fearless Publishing, copyright and written by Jason Mancheski.
The story opens with the kidnapping of a young woman in an unusual manner and with her disappearance even her automobile cannot be found. The perpetrators are described to an extent with specific attention to the shadowy ‘Chemist’. The reader then is introduced to Cale Van Waring the detective lieutenant heading the special crimes unit of the Green Bay, Wisconsin PD. He becomes lead investigator on the missing woman case that begins to worsen when more blond young women completely disappear along with their automobiles. He is aided in his search particularly by longtime partner James “Slink” Dooley and Sargent Anton Staszak and their first ‘break’ is the gruesome discovery of the first woman’s decapitated body appearing in the waters of Lake Michigan. Cale has other, personal, problems with which he is struggling. He and Maggie Jeffers, a beautiful young lawyer with the Public Defender’s Office, have been living happily together now for fourteen months but since the relationship appears to be going nowhere, she has given him until a late July date to make up his mind, or she will leave. From here, the manner in which the story proceeds to unfold, both with respect to the missing persons’ investigation and the Cale/Maggie relationship, is quite convoluted. It also, is this reviewer’s opinion, would be a disservice to the prospective reader to divulge more aspects of the process. Suffice it to say that the story involves Chloe, Maggie’s 2-year-olded clairvoyant sister, along with several gang members, and other sinister characters with a mounting amount of evidence pointing toward the despicable but unfortunately lucrative human trafficking industry.
Discussion: The author has provided a quite involved plot with variously described characters set in a suspenseful multi-genre tale. The protagonist perhaps is a little too strong in his tenacity of purpose when mixed with his ambivalence on a number of counts and his strong adherence to his own particular mindset with respect to others. However, it is a tale that most readers should enjoy and the brief synopsis at the end of this volume presenting the following book’s opening lines should enhance one’s interest in proceeding to the next in the series.
4* Suspenseful multi-genre tale readers should enjoy.
Cut Reality ISBN: 9781733504911 Anywhere Press, written by Zack Hacker.
Jason Debord is a College English Professor who decides to become a contestant in the 50th TV Reality Show where two teams of contestants spend sixty days on small islands with no clothes or means of survival other than those they can devise. Periodically, a member is voted out and the rest realign themselves until only one is declared the winner. Conditions are difficult with insufficient food, extremely difficult sleeping arrangements and constant tension to avoid being the next to be voted off the island. One of the participants with whom Jason was most friendly dies, reported by the show’s producers as a suicide. Jason does not believe it was suicide and continues to accuse the producers of murder even after the show’s termination and he was declared the one million dollar winner. He believes that the death resulted from the producers desire to give further life to the series that was beginning to lose its general appeal. One, and possibly more, of the contestants also are critical. However, none can discover any evidence and a number of unusual occurrences seem to support his contentions, among them a near fatal automobile accident. Meanwhile, Jason’s involvement with his intermittent love interest expands and finally reaches a plateau because, as a consulting psychologist albeit mostly with disturbed teens, she find his paranoia difficult to accept. However, the story continues with numerous activities pointing both ways until its ultimate conclusion.
Discussion: This book, the author’s first, has presented an apparent mystery that expands to provide very thoughtful commentary about reality TV. The last pages of Chapter 11 aptly express these basic thoughts under the title “Dying for good TV: What we can learn from Bill Gerding’s Untimely Demise.” From this reviewer’s perspective, the tale’s characters never are particularly well defined, quite a number of features also would benefit from further attention and the romantic relationship is a little difficult to understand. However as a first endeavor, the author is to be commended and further presentations no doubt will be well worthwhile.
4* Thoughtful look at America’s Reality TV near addiction.