FOLIE?

FOLIE? A novel published, copyright and written by M. S. Barnes.

In order to provide further understanding of the substance of the book, immediately following the title these words are set forth; “noun, plural fo-lies [faw-lee] /fo’li/. French. Madness; insanity”. This is to explain that the referenced word is French and describes a particularly disruptive syndrome where delusional beliefs of one person may be passed to another (folie a deux) and even beyond to many, as in folie pleusiers (mass hysteria). The plot centers around a young psychiatrist who recently has completed her training and takes a job offer in an aging, poorly staffed and poorly maintained psychiatric institution in a remote section of Tennessee. It is in the time when the profession was only very slowly evolving from insulin and/or electric shock, lobotomies and other of the early experimental procedures. Armed with all of the latest knowledge available to the profession, Dr. Lee was sure she would be able to change the thinking and treatment procedures long espoused by all of the older staff members who she assumed were long removed from newer information. The story begins to accelerate when she spies a newly arrived patient whom she feels she must personally treat. The Chief, along with other members of the staff, believe she does not have the experience to handle this patient, but with reservations, give in to her insistence. She suddenly discovers she has a case beyond her abilities and turns to her mentor, a prominent professor/author and otherwise long recognized as most prominent in the profession. Providing further details would be a disservice to the prospective reader. Suffice it to say, that the tale gradually evolves into a horror, ghost (?) story of huge proportions, similar to, but more sophisticated than those shared in scary surroundings by youngsters.

Discussion: The author has set forth a most interesting tale of two particular basic features of addressing treatment of individuals with any health problems and especially those dealing with the mind. One is the ever present, but largely hidden, difference in the beliefs of medical practitioners and academicians. The former hold the latter in distain with belief in the old adage “Those who can (treat patients), do; those who can’t, teach.” Whereas, the latter, are just as strongly entrenched in the belief that without their discoveries and dissemination of the new treatment modalities, the practitioner would still be employing ineffective methods. Obviously much can be said in support of both beliefs. The second probably supports the first contention much more strongly because a really huge risk is associated when treating patients with mental problems. If the physician has any hidden, unknown or unrealized instabilities within, it can make him/her highly vulnerable to some action, word or thought pattern exhibited by the patient being treated. This is why psychiatrists themselves, after their extensive training beyond medical school and internships, may themselves undergo analysis and all invariably have a mentor with whom they consult when needed. Dr. Lee just picked the wrong type of mentor for her activities – an individual well versed in all phases of psychiatry EXCEPT the practical aspects and worse, an individual with a completely suppressed, devastating personal memory.

Summary: This book’s tale is spun by an author knowledgeable of the story’s basic elements. Thus, it presents an interesting dichotomy of choices – 1. An interesting read about a somewhat bizarre case of mental disintegration 2. To reiterate, an interesting horror, ghost (?) story similar, but much more sophisticated, than those shared by youngsters in scary surroundings.

5* Particularly interesting for two different tiers of readers as described.

Conscience of the Machine

Conscience of the Machine published, copyright and written by Brian Cato.

This is a philosophical tale concentrating on three humans and one machine in a fictional setting not possible within the U.S. for many years. The setting is to be ignored, however, as it has been employed to illustrate the author’s interestingly thought-producing sequence. Bobby Rosen is a young student with greater intelligence than he is able to demonstrate. When facing academic tests he develops an overriding tension that interferes with his thought processes. Regrettably, he has an additional learning problem in mathematics and the sciences. His parents are supportive and well-meaning, but both have overly active work lives that allow little other than demonstrating stray moments of affection. Emma Browne is a dedicated teacher believing that gentle encouragement is required to bring forth the best student performance. She constantly is at odds with Harvey McNair, the school’s Principal who contrarily believes in following the era’s trend to use fear in his pursuit of better student performance. The ominous machine overshadows the entire tale from its early introduction simply as an interruption of normal daily activity at the local high school by the sudden metallic screeching sounds accompanied by screams from behind a fence adjacent to the school yard. No student, if knowledgeable, will describe, much less discuss the matter and the machine does not actually appear and take an active part for the reader until the story’s closing moments when it assumes an overpowering position.

Discussion: The entire tale is a presentation of the psychological and philosophical aspects of personal development and whether man actually has ‘free will’ in making choices in his life, or whether life is dictated by fate? The author, a Brown University dual major graduate (Philosophy, Chemistry), is a synthetic organic chemist engaged in working “for major pharmaceutical companies for ten years, taking breaks to spend a year teaching English in China and to write.” He offers further that he has “an abiding interest in the phenomenon of the mind, the genesis of identity, and the persistent irrationality of the human creature, himself included.” If the prospective reader’s interests are in accord with those expressed by the author, you certainly will thoroughly enjoy being able to project yourself into this somewhat fanciful setting.

 

5* For devotees of philosophical discussions.

Her Tale was told in Whispers

Her Tale was told in Whispers a novel published, copyright and written by Mutch Katsonga.

This most unusual story begins with the protagonist, a 14-year-old boy and new student in the local high school, observing another new student in an unfortunate incident. He sees Marcy, a poor, shabbily dressed, also 14, seemingly somewhat retarded (described as still believed in Santa and the Easter Bunny) in an unfortunate situation. He knows she is the constant recipient of ridicule and worse by young students in their often cruel manner when encountering someone ‘different’. He again encounters her in the school’s hall just as she is finishing retrieving her books and papers after being knocked down and left to gather them. He sees a paper she has missed, picks it up and hands it to her. She grabs it and leaves, but gives him a direct look that makes a lasting impression. He quickly looks around hoping that his helpful gesture had not been seen because he also might be included in her torment and ridicule. It was bad enough, although still low key, in that he also was ‘the new kid’ in school. He also encounters her when she, with her aunt, attends the same church as he does with his father. Again he receives penetrating looks that somehow disturb him. From these incidents, the reader is introduced to a strange tale of two rather ethereal-like individuals intertwined in a fateful seraphic and somewhat macabre relationship seemingly dictated by some unusual relentless power.

Discussion: This is a most unique plot-based tale with little character development per se. However, it is a riveting story of psychological activity on a rather dysfunctional level by two highly disturbed individuals. Marcy’s reactions on introduction to, and following requirement to live in, the world peopled with other human beings, is inevitable. The protagonist, who actually is not even named until late, also has been mentally affected by his disrupted family situation. Thus, although not as totally unprepared as Marcy, he still has not sufficiently developed the thought patterns believed necessary for more normal social relationships. So, to conclude, the author has provided a most unusual and utterly intriguing story.

5* Most unusual and utterly intriguing story. Highly recommended!

Write Yourself Out of this One

Write Yourself out of This One ISBN: 9781951744106 Telemachus Press copyright and written by Peggy A. Edelheit.

This is Book 12 in the Samantha Jamison Mystery series. Once again it is characterized by her very active generic team of Martha, Hazel and Betty, providing backup along with PI Clay and ex-mobster Tony as they scramble through another scenario of mysterious activities. And once again, Sam is at risk, although this time she is pitted against another writer(s?) in a game which could end disastrously for our mystery author/sleuth. It begins with a macabre and inexplicable discovery on Sam’s well-maintained and secured property and proceeds though an equally strange series of ‘happenings’, all in turn, alternating with normal, albeit somewhat unusual social relationships. Many of the activities and their results occur because of Sam’s mental attitudes which someone appears to have been able to decipher quite accurately. The hi-octane concluding termination inevitably results.

Discussion: Actually, little need be said about this popular author’s tale that no doubt will present its usual appeal. The unusual plot is provocative, the characters react in their colorfully expected manner and the finale again is explosive. Regrettably for this reviewer who has read and enjoyed several of the author’s books, this one presented a few too many ‘leaps of faith’ for an admittedly pragmatic mindset to accept. But this is a personal attribute no doubt resultant from many years in empirical endeavors that occasionally override otherwise enjoyable flights of fancy.

3* 5* Another exciting mystery by this popular author; (-2 regrettably for this reader only?).

LEAP

LEAP ISBN: 9781946623651 ForbesBooks, copyright and written by Dr. Marta Wilson.

Sub-titled Master your Superpowers, Soar to the Leading Edge, this book’s author, an Industrial Organizational Psychologist, opens with a Preface providing information that her consulting firm (TSI – Transformation Systems, Inc.) has taught federal agencies and Fortune 500 companies and their members to “uncover the hidden gifts of executives, managers and employees to build morale, increase collaboration and enhance success”. “…includes achieving transformation goals such as cutting costs, increasing efficiency, and energizing the work-force” or in other words, “all of the message and work of TSI already shared with thousands of others.” She explains further that becoming Masterful in 4 areas tend to make the achiever become a ‘Super Hero’. These four are Personal, Interpersonal. Organizational and Motivational Mastery. Moreover, these 4 make up the LEAP title of the book and stand for Leadership Effectiveness and Potential. The profile is described in detail in Chapter 3 and an app is available at theLEAPapp.com that provides a fast-paced crash course in proven principles of individual effectiveness and guidance from science and industry to build these attributes. In the book she also includes inspirational examples of great leaders; i.e. Mastery in Action, along with experiences of some of her past and present clients plus her own story. The ensuing nine chapters provide individual information and recommendations on imagining yourself soaring; discovering your Masteries; your Superpowers; expanding your Personal Mastery; ways to amplify this personal attribute; boost your Organizational Mastery; raise your Motivational Mastery; Create your Own Opportunities; unleash your Inner Superhero and Soar. Each Chapter concludes with a list of pertinent questions for the reader.

Discussion: The author has set forth another in the burgeoning number of books with the intent of helping to further the growth of various established and new entrepreneurial businesses. She offers suggestions on how to overcome fear of public speaking, of failure, of engaging in change. The need not only to listen to people but to actually HEAR what they are saying, to empathize with them, to connect and have them engage, elevate and energize each other and how you can best accomplish this if you have learned to master yourself and teach by leading as a positive person who can innovate, create, interrelate and inspire, manage stress time and data. As with most books of this nature, there is much redundancy typically displayed as a result of a desire to emphasize facts delivered by lecturers repeatedly speaking to multiple audiences.

5* Excellent suggestions; some redundancy not unusual with lecturers use for emphasis.

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.