Her eyes underwater

Her Eyes Underwater assumed published, copyright and written by Romona Simon.

Julia Straus is a thoroughly spoiled daughter of wealthy parents who finally have informed her that it was time to stop her “wasteful, immature, goalless life” and do something with it. She enrolls in Law School, is thoroughly bored but must continue at least for a while to satisfy her parents. One evening she stops at a local coffee shop and sees the most attractive man she ever has encountered. She approaches and attempts to attract him and succeeds in being invited by him to visit a friend who lives some distance away. She accepts. The trip is unusual and contains a rather scary encounter, but ends with her safe return somehow with his discovery that they are in the same law class. She discovers that his name is Alex Bowman and that they previously had not met because he has missed a considerable number of classes. She still does not meet him in school for several more days until he finally appears as a fabulously popular, socially polished individual who attracts all manner of fellow students of both sexes as well as those at the professorial level. In spite of constantly attempting to spend time and actually obtain a legitimate ‘date’ with him he manages largely to ignore the attempts. Julia is an extremely attractive young woman who always has been the object of choice, even over other attractive women. Her attitude, “You doesn’t need men. Men need you. You are a modern woman, not your mother.”  Chagrined by his constant refusal she persists with intermittent successes leading to various somewhat unusual sexual encounters interspersed with other activities shared with each other as well as with other acquaintances. The activity continues in this fashion until the concluding chapters which somewhat strangely are largely repetitious of the early one but from a slightly different perspective.

Discussion: This is an usual book following a period in the amazingly totally free-living existence of a thoroughly spoiled young daughter of wealthy parents living with equally wealthy friends following a similarly wasteful and goalless path. Their principal activities appear to consist of shopping, heavy drinking and partying plus acquiring any number of available men, seemingly for ‘bragging rights’. The newly acquired activity is totally new for Julia and she muddles onward in an often almost unbelievably socially immature manner. The story is stated as being the first attempt by the author at serious storytelling and as such, shows considerable promise. Her descriptive powers are excellent and her tale is so unusual as to provide continuing interest as to ‘where it possibly could finally lead’. Unfortunately, a good editing could greatly enhance the format. Another regrettable feature, for this reviewer at least, is the fact that not a single character was able to elicit any level of positive empathy. As a result the reader is supplied with a somewhat bizarre tale of misplaced love and socially disturbed individuals in often well-described settings of these rather dysfunctional individuals interacting with a psychotic sociopath who’s ‘other’ activities provide a bit of horror to the account. If a reader’s interest tends toward such stories, it is well enough written to be within your realm of interest. A rating of a significant level for others is difficult.

3* ranging downward depending on reader interest as discussed.

 

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.

Weight of Shadows

 

Weight of Shadows ISBN: 9781733563123 Mystful Press copyright and written by Ana Domini.

This Dark fantasy is set in a post-Apocalyptic era following a world encompassing pandemic that wiped out an entire generation. Those who survived are immune, sterile and immortal to a degree. A particular group of survivors have been segregated in a large pharmaceutical compound, Wyrmwood Place, some distance outside Washington, D.C. It is the headquarters of the company that was able to manufacture the required vaccine. The compound contains all of the necessary laboratories, professional and support personnel and additional guards, fencing and other necessary features for security. Numbered among the inhabitants are 13 surviving children and 2 women who were discovered to be fertile. This is the story of the children, of Mantis, so named by his ‘friend’ Atticus, and other inhabitants and/or otherwise encountered persons discovered with the help of a fantasy figure as the story unfolds. The plot basically is a fantasy/mystery with psychological undertones that takes many twists and turns.

Discussion: The tale appears to be the product of a somewhat reclusive mystery (?), fantasy (?) author who has presented a rather complicated well-written story that moves at a good pace. The characters are well developed within the context and scenes often sufficiently detailed and well described to offer empathetic credibility. Interesting thoughts, even somewhat emphasized by the characters as set forth by the author, include the fact that death sometimes is a good thing in that it eliminates sadness, fear and pain for those who have lost everything, but that on the other side of grief there are strength and forgiveness, A tangential point offered  is the constant presence of greed and the potential harm it can cause.

Summary: From this reader’s perspective, an interesting, well- written/paced tale regrettably offered at this exact time of today’s unemployment, shortages and controlled social environment resulting from a still uncontrolled world viral situation. Thus, if you are a reader looking for enjoyment or relaxation, this book is NOT for you.

3* 5* well written/paced story; -2* at least for enjoyment/relaxation.

After Olympus

AFTER OLYMPUS ISBN: 9781733801713 Lone Think Press copyright by Desmond Mascarenhas written by Santiago Xaman.

Description/Discussion: Pragmatically, and referred to by the author as “pseudo-fiction”, this most unusual book follows a rambling plot following the lives of three men besides the story teller and their wives or significant others as their lives play out after discovery of a hitherto unknown/unreported Russian Space craft of unusual components and containment. The tale is a tumultuous mixture of mystery and mythology with overtones of mysticism (?), occult (?), history spread over a wide section of the world ranging from Guatemala to Russia, the Serengeti and other parts of Africa, India, throughout much of the U. S. and Europe. The four protagonists all are exceedingly well educated and from backgrounds (families/cultures/traumatic occurrences) that make them prone to a somewhat different manner of living, employment and in their reactions to these matters. The pages are replete with thought provoking messages on such matters as the fact that every subject deserves empirical, intuitive and pragmatic contemplation; everything good grows from the bottom up (plants, trees, cultures?); everything projected from the top down is bad – organized religions, governments et al. – these latter often ‘dodge’ by forming protocols that ‘adapt’. Good comes from people thinking alone; e.g. Plato, Einstein; bad from organizational groups at the top claiming from their collective decision that they are right and everybody else wrong. And unfortunately, even authenticity is vulnerable if railed against at a high level maintained for a sufficiently long time. The author seems most interesting, but who is the author? The book includes a previously published “Opinion Piece” of interest in itself, as is another “Rebuilding the House” that discusses replacing organized religions, governments, corporations “with better versions of themselves”. Also some notes About the Author are quite fascinating when contemplating the entire book and the thoughts that arise from the ‘experience’ of reading this book.

5* Unusual, divertingly intriguing experience for certain readers.

On the Backs of Waves

On the Backs of Waves ISBN: 9781076836984 Kindle direct publishing copyright and written by Chiara Kelly.

This book encompasses the strong emotions of several persons caught in life’s situations originating from basic physical emotions embodied within that are at war with seemingly equally powerful, more mentally based, self-fulfillment desires. Moriah, a former feature writer for a prominent New York magazine had downgraded to retain a part-time position when she married Miles, a struggling cartoonist. The union was highly satisfying and within a couple of years, she became mother to a son followed 2 years later by an adorable daughter. During this period, Miles had become a highly successful syndicated cartoonist and they had arrived at ‘the good life’ and were living in the Half Moon Bay community on the eastern shore. Unfortunately, Moriah now became acutely aware of her mundane activities as a dedicated mother and started to be a little resentful of her only part time mental activity producing material for her old employer. Thus, when a vacancy opened in her old office and her former boss thought she would be the perfect person to fill, she felt that she just had to accept the offer. During the discussion with Miles, she uttered her resentment that she had been the one in the family who had, of necessity, made all of the changes in her work life. Miles out of fairness but with some quiet reservations, agreed to her return to her earlier position and they began the search for a Nanny. Through neighbors, they found Laurel Mackintosh who was their Nanny but who would be available because they were moving away. Laura is a former Marine who had two children when raped by a Sargent who refused to marry her before being shipped to another assignment. Before delivering, she began hemorrhaging and the uterus had to be removed to save her. As fate would dictate, Virgil, the supportive medic who had assisted, later became a sailing instructor at the Yacht Basin where the Reeds and the other couple lived and a relationship was reestablished. From this somewhat entangling set of circumstances, a web of activity evolves where revelation of further details would be a definite disservice to the prospective reader.

Discussion: The actual story behind this book and the poignancy it generates is, at least for this reader, as fascinating as the tale itself. It is written by a former Marine, now married and living in Seoul, Korea with her thoughtful and supportive husband and their three sons. Most appealingly, perhaps, are in the short biographical details at the book’s conclusion where she offers: “And although unconventional, I want to thank my characters, through whom I was able to, in a sense, live vicariously through their diverse array of achievements, victories, loves, and losses. Some of which, I still long to realize myself.” She further expresses why she is grateful for each of her characters activities and especially she thanks “Laurel, as a fellow female Marine and Depression and PTSD survivor, whose loss and longing gave me a greater appreciation for my three sons, whom at times, I not only took for granted, but craved time away from in the quest for my own sanity.” Before even the book’s Prologue she has provided a most compelling description of the book’s story and combined with the short capsule of her life at the end of the story, produce a most memorable thought producing book. The opening quotes are Vincent Van Gogh’s “The heart of man is very much like the sea. It has its storms, it has its tides, And in its depths it has its pearls, too” which then are followed by the author’s dedication: “For my children, for whom no sacrifice is too great.” The two combined are predictive of the story that follows.

5* Absorbing, as explained in the discussion.

Still Standing

Still Standing ISBN: 9781456634414 Orca Publishing, copyright and written by Vicki Fitzgerald and M.G. Crisi.

Sub-titled One Woman’s Struggle with Divorce, Depression, and Betrayal, the story details repetitive painful episodes of a life of gradual descent into the depths of despair but with ultimate survival resulting from unrealized internal strength. The reader follows the gradual decline of an originally confident, outgoing, fun-loving young Vicki as she makes one poorly thought out decision after another unfortunately accompanied by others not of her making. After several poor relationships in early teen years, she finally progresses in her life to gain a position as a respected investigative reporter, finds a loving husband who grows in his executive positions with an international organization, and she gives birth to an adorable son and a lovely daughter. Only three days after her beloved Emily was born, however, her beloved and constant ‘rock of strength’ Grandfather was diagnosed with a terminal disease, one which he fought and she had to watch his gradual decline. During this period, she was invited to report on the opening of a new entertainment park where she was given a ride on a new mechanical device called The Whip. Seemingly a malfunction resulted in a painful back injury. Apparently because of the British Health System, she was sent for examination to an incorrect diagnostic center and her spinal disc injuries were not properly diagnosed. She continued to suffer with increasing bouts of pain, lost the other Grandfather, and her disc problem worsened causing her to enter a deep state of depression until the disc problems finally were diagnosed correctly and she had back surgery. Still recovering, she received word that her almost indispensable childminder, suffered a CVA resulting in loss of vision and speech impairment. The effect upon the already heavily depressed young Vicki requires no words. Still functioning ‘normally’ on the surface however, she was continuing her news assignments and other activities. But now she began to encounter increased problems in her job, which her editor advised to ‘forget about’. Recounting the situation to her husband, instead of providing the loving ‘comfort’ she had expected, she receives nothing more than a repetition of the editor’s advice. She suffers an instantaneous, intense feeling of rejection and truly ‘being without anyone’ and her world suffers complete devastation. From this point on, her downward spiral greatly accelerates. Her husband’s increasing numbers of trips away from home, conjure up suspicion of possible unfaithfulness She encounters deceit and betrayal by trusted friends. Drugs and even an assault occur. Even worse, there is a totally unexpected and horribly frightening encounter with the judicial system, brief incarceration, marital separation and multiple suicide attempts. BUT, the story continues beyond these features as ultimately it tells of her gradual climb back to become an accomplished author and CEO of a rising company.

Discussion: This is a poignant tale of survival by a vibrant young woman who falls to emotional rock bottom as a result of an extended series of devastating, many self-inflected, situations only to courageously once again approach the pinnacle of success. It is a journey which easily can be the tale of anyone who, for one or another reason, still retains and exhibits, much of the naiveté and insecurity exhibited by much younger people. She now readily admits many errors but is glad to have put her trials and troubles on paper and has no doubt they will be criticized and worse by some, but they have provided a welcome catharsis for which she has no regrets. So, “With my children by my side, life is good.” And “After everything I’ve endured; pain, betrayal, tragedy, and near death, I’m still standing.” And, in revealing these matters, she hopes to offer a simple message: “Hope it inspires at least one person at rock bottom to keep climbing, keep swimming and hold their head above water when they’re drowning. “If I can weather the storm until the sun shines, so can you!

5* Message of hope to the confused, depressed looking for help.