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.

Strategic Entanglements

Strategic Entanglements assumed published, copyright and written by D. K. Knightley.

The author has set forth this initial book in the planned Kendra Veiss series that introduces her and other characters in another world in the year 2977. This world is composed of the dominant empire of Basur who had defeated and literally destroyed Askar, a medium-sized militant nation and left in this state although it’s ideological enemy. Askar gradually had climbed out of its devastated position and was again proving problematical. Both nations retained Counterintelligence agencies including Clandestine Operations, State Security and similar branches. The plot centers in Kendra’s position as an operative in Basur’s clandestine operations and her hot/cold sexual attraction to Aran Reiner, her Askar counterpart, especially after having been abducted by his operatives and submitted to torture. Kai Ansurian, an apparently good friend of Aran but seemingly a Basur-Askar Double agent, presents a somewhat similar problem after sexually attacking her not un-pleasurably during her torture sessions. Additionally, he also was helpful in her survival before release. A number of other supportive characters also are introduced and the story provides no ending per se, but rather serves as an introduction to the next volume in the series scheduled to appear in the near future.

Discussion: The author is described as presenting “A red-hot battle of the sexes designed for sophisticated readers looking for something original and out of the ordinary.” From what this reader seems to have been able to assemble from relatively diverse social intercourse, she has provided a vehicle that should have great appeal for these individuals. If the potential reader has not attained the more advanced levels of this mental state, however, the following notes may be helpful. Kendra’s at times almost hostile verbalization and actions with respect to attitudes of male dominance certainly are understandable after the horrible results of such activity she encountered within her own home. Similarly, such chauvinistic attitudes, even without her life experiences, are totally understandable and justified. It is only in the manner in which she often uses them that is difficult to accept. It would appear that she held almost a ‘death wish’ associated with some latent desire to be dominated as demonstrated by her totally unrealistic actions that repeatedly placed her in a dangerous, even untenable, position from which some dominant male’s activity was required to extract her. Additionally, the basic direction of the tale was a little difficult to discern. Besides depicting a highly intelligent and totally modern, courageous young woman fighting male chauvinism, an underlying tone of hesitant titillation seems prominent. For example, a rather extended scene seemingly slanted toward raising the expected titillation, proceeded during the torture period but was followed by quite clinically explicit descriptions that, perhaps purposely, nullified its apparent direction. Another feature of this volume that readers who prefer at least partial closure to parts of a story, may find the tale a little annoying in that it’s serial nature dictates that one must wait with baited breath until the author has been able to furnish the next episode.

Summary: If the prospective reader is not deterred by the above listed features, they will discover a well-written tale incorporating tension and sexual, as well as other, intrigue between attractive characters in a foreign land of the future. A good first novel.

3* 5* “…battle of the sexes …for sophisticated readers”       -2* for some as described.

Gritty Tales

Gritty Tales ISBN: 9781732544109 an anthology assumed published, copyright and written by Tyler M. Mathis.

The author states that this book contains “13 stories of Crime, Mayhem and Terror”. A forward, although purported to be brief, contains adequate length to provide an overview of the contents with a few directions on suggested approach. He also defines “Gritty tale” as “a story of harsh and uncompromising realism” and lists three definitions of gritty – “courageous, course and abrasive and characters driven by their very basest motives” – as applicable to his content. He also admonishes that “vulgar language, graphic content and unhappy endings” are abundant. He also advises that 6 of the stories previously have been published and all are “straight-up crime, horror of supernatural bent, and most are cross-genre works.” Each individual tale is initiated by its own brief forward providing a hint of what the reader will discover in the following prose.

Discussion: The collection of stories offered are replete with characters who are losers, contain sick minds and/or are basically evil or are in an evil position as a result of one or another factor. Each story is independent of the others and can be randomly selected to read, except for 4 designated as closely related and to be read as such. Thus, the volume provides an excellent read for the busy person who finds only short spaces of time for such activity. The book perhaps is a more fitting read for those who enjoy stories on the dark side.

4* for readers who enjoy dark tales often involving course characters and language

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.

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.