Incite Insight

Incite Insight ISBN: 9780994439901 Tale Publishing, Australia first published 2015 written by Robert New.

The protagonist, Brad Thomas, is a young man who, in spite of somewhat lesser abilities to ‘read’ people, their expressions and body language, and postulate on possibly hidden agendas, manages to become a detective in one of the smaller cities of Australia. However he somehow manages to obtain a similar position in one of the large cities where he constantly is made to feel inferior. He has a certain personal charm, however, which provides some hope for the sergeant to whom he reports and she assigns him to a case where the victim suddenly succumbs from an apparent ‘melting’ of the brain tissues. Several more victims suffer similar occurrences and all are recognized as prominent members of ‘think tanks’ or the highly intelligent products thereof. Forensics provides basic information which allows Brad to discover a certain professor’s programs that were “designed to help its audience improve their understanding of the links between aspects of the so-called ‘human situation’. It aims to increase people’s working memory and awareness of what happens around them”; i.e. not simply make them more intelligent. There are several levels of advancement which they gradually can unlock but really need to work mentally to reach each new level. He is provided another young woman detective as a partner, and at the same time meets, and is attracted to Amy, a secretary he meets while following a prominent lead. The attraction grows as they both are studying the professor’s levels, he thinking it might aid in solving the case while her interest is a basic desire to advance in life. The tale continues as Brad engages in computer hacking to advance in the program, confers with the prominent head of an organization that provides programs for others to circumvent undesirable matters and discovers a world of secrete organizations with thoughts of world dominance they in no way consider unconscionable. Brad gains in self-confidence and makes progress with solving the mystery, but concurrently the tale assumes another, associated but somewhat different, direction to its climax.

Discussion:  Brad’s approach to solving the mystery employs an approach that is somewhat implausible and the multi-layers of the story and their juxtapositioning is a little perplexing. However, the story retains the reader’s interest, but somehow leaves, at least this reviewer, with a somewhat confused understanding of its direction from that initially provided for prospective readers.

3* Interestingly worthwhile, but somewhat confusing read.

Secret Diaries of Juan Luis Vives

The Secret Diaries of Juan Luis Vives ISBN: 9780228834380 Tellwell Talent, a novel copyright and written by Tim Darcy Ellis.

This is a novel based on the history of the early Renaissance when Europe began stumbling out of the Dark Ages. It is an era replete with numerous contributions to different areas of science, art, architecture, religions and to a more humanistic approach to the persons living within it. It is a period that elevates to the highest level the scholar, the man of letters and Classical learning. The protagonist is Juan Luis Vives, a Jew of Valencia, Spain, whose family had converted to Catholicism to avoid the Inquisition but still for many generations secretly maintained their Jewish faith and rituals. Pressure on the family increases that his father ignores because he still remained a man of the golden age of Muslim-Christian-Jewish concord and the fact that Jewish money kept the monarchy in power. Juan Luis, with a growing reputation as a scholarly teacher and writer, decides to escape to Flanders where his reputation continues to grow, Regrettably in Flanders, the Duke of Alba and Louis de Praet also are Jew hunters, and with aid from one of Juan’s brilliant students, constantly are attempting to trap Juan Luis. However, he meets Álvaro de Castro, with secrets of his own, but is responsible, through a special relationship with the Cardinal in charge of the Catholic Faith in England to meet. The reason, Álvaro is responsible for introducing him to Sir Thomas More who in turn, has been sent to discover any reason why he should not be appointed the teacher of Henry VIII and Catherine de Aragon’s only daughter, The story gradually unfolds as the reader follows Juan through what seem to be excerpts from discovery of a secret Diary by an electrician making repairs in an old building in Bruges built years before the Nazi occupation. He shows the box to Linguist Professor Benitez. He swears Jacques, the electrician, to secrecy and spends the next 2 months in isolation at the Museum Brugge. The box contains a manuscript, a sketch and a ring He studied the work, much requiring a magnifying glass and it was written in code as well as some in Spanish, Latin, Arabic, and Greek with the last part almost all in poor English. After 2 months he realized he was examining the secret writings of one of Bruges’s great men. It details his life among the literati and important people of the time, including the Boleyn sisters in the Court of King Henry VIII – his life, loves, his family and his attempts to please both the King, who is leaning away from Catholicism and Catherine of Aragon, the double action leads to his apparent unmasking.

The book is presented in four parts. Part One’s opening chapter “The Eyes and Ears of the King of Spain that explains that Bruges, Flanders is in the hands of the Catholic King of Spain but Martin Luther, with the peasant rebels would change all of that” with Parts Two and Three continuing with the body of the story and Part Four, End of Days where one of his worst enemies throughout the story, Louis de Praet, barges into his home in Bruges and tells him since they’re both exiles – Cardinal Wolsey kicked him out just as the King had done to Vives –  they should be able to help each other. He already had built a hospital so maybe the poor-boy school could be next. Thus he could get the credit and Vives would be the silent voice that steered that change and Juan’s initial desire to help humanity in general was within sight, as well as a closure to his family situation.

Discussion: The author has provided a fascinating hint of what this period of turmoil must have been like as well as the never-ending persecution of the Spanish Jews in particular. With respect to Juan Luis, it is difficult to envision a clear picture. He is described as having a spinal problem and a petit mal seizure and others of greater intensity, although the symptoms described appear to be associated with reactions to emotional problems or inability to cope with a situation more in line with psycho-physiologic reactions. The reader may find other relationships with which it is difficult to equate. In mentioning these problems this reviewer is aware that the manuscript discovered is difficult in the extreme to decipher. However, as a novel, it would seem that a little more descriptive material might have provided an even more enjoyable tale.

4* 5* -1* for reasons described.

Lies behind the Woods

Lies behind the Woods ISBN: 9780578593616 assumed published, copyright and written by Bradley Cornish.

A 25 year old tenured college professor is bored and moves for the summer into a cottage in the small town of White Pine in the Adirondack Mountains. He always went there for the summer because he somehow associates it with better times before his father left without saying a word to him when he was very young. He still hoped to find some connection. He is a serious distance runner and while on a morning run he sees what appears to be a possible kidnapping of a young woman. He rationalizes that it could have been any of several different scenarios and does not report it to the police until he sees the local paper and recognizes the reported missing girl as the one he had seen in the car. From this point on the story evolves into a search for the missing girl, her discovery, jailing of her kidnapper, his escape and her part in helping him capture the professor and an FBI associate for whom he has developed some love interest. The story also leads him to discovery of the long missing father and continues until the reader is offered a forthcoming follow-up story.

Discussion: This is a story supposedly based upon the Stockholm syndrome wherein hostages develop a psychological alliance with their captors during captivity. The story’s plot is somewhat thinly aligned with the syndrome, but more specifically it is a tale split in two halves loosely tied with his search for his missing father to bring closure to a part of his life. The first part dwells on the young professor’s repetitive, graphically described sexual encounters with the aside that he, like all of the characters, has been abused heavily during his early life. The second portion is a well-paced mystery/thriller chase through sections of the densely wooded area of the mountains. Overall there are many interesting twists to the story but a time line and seemingly missing sections of action that make the tale a little annoying if not difficult to follow.

Summary: An erotically tilted mystery/thriller/romance this reader found to be interesting but replete with problems of presentation. Probably a tale enjoyable for many. Regrettably, this reviewer was quite unimpressed with what provided only flashes of a good tale.

3* 4* for certain readers; considerably less for others.

AMORA

AMORA ISBN: 9780982150338 (paperback) Cleardtone Publishing, copyright and written by Grant J. Hallstrom.

Amore is a Roman aristocrat who at 17 years of age marries a somewhat older member of the same class who, as a result of having been sent to settle a problem in Egypt, has developed a significant business that he runs with his Roman Senator partners. The marriage is a happy one with the birth of a daughter greatly loved by both parents. Later, she gives birth to a boy who has a deformed leg, something that the unwritten rules of their society almost demand the child’s abondement. She persuades Leo to allow her to keep the child in spite of the act reflecting badly on his position. A position that includes not only his business partners, but his personal friend the philosopher Marcus Aurelius who becomes the Emperor. On the daughter’s 12th birthday, she is kidnapped, raped and killed. Both Leo and Amora are devastated, but instead of consoling each other, they begin the blame game. He finds more and more time to spend travelling and she finds herself completely alone. Gradually she becomes acquainted with increasing numbers of Christians, finally is caught with a group, and is sentenced to die in the Arena. Leo has been one of the men pushing for eliminations of all Christians and witnesses her destruction, as well as that of her faithful maid by wild Lions. The story continues with his gradual descent into debauchery and increasing drunkenness where he is betrayed by one of his partners. He is discovered badly beaten and barely alive by the son he has not seen in a long time and nursed back to health by him and his Christian friends. The tale continues with several interesting twists, well-described bits of gladiator combative techniques, captivating descriptions of Roman centurion battle procedures and a considerable amount of well- done proselytizing. All in all, a quite fascinating read as it wends its way to a conclusion not only as a novel but one containing most pertinent historical factual material and stimulating proselytization.

Discussion: A Preface explains the background material for this book. The author’s younger brother, Calvin, “despite some mental and emotional instabilities emotional problems”, married, worked three low-pay jobs to buy a home for his wife and three children. Unfortunately, the combination caused him to be difficult to live with, so while on a trip to California, his wife changed the locks and filed for divorce. Shortly thereafter, the eldest son moved out. The middle child came out as transgender. The youngest became socially anxious and spent most of his time playing video games in the basement. A few years later the transgender child committed suicide. Calvin’s ex-wife barred everyone from even knowing where the child was being buried. Calvin, through all of this heartbreak refused to let anyone speak negatively about anything concerning his family. Six months later he was ecstatic when his youngest son wanted to reconcile. He joined him, they embraced and the boy stabbed Calvin to death. His story of failing to blame or discredit anyone, is the basis for this story.

Summary: As described above, a fascinating tale on several levels, “Amora is a historical novel based on the true story of the noblewoman who inspired Justin Martyr’s petition to the Roman Senate” on behalf of Christians. It was denied and he, along with several others, was beheaded after refusing to deny their faith. Other important figures of the day – Marcus Aurelius, Crescens, the aristocratic woman’s husband Leo, who is a central figure in the book, and other non-fictional as well as fictional characters play significant parts in this appealing story. Thus, as stated above – a quite fascinating read as it wends its way to a conclusion not only as a novel but one containing most pertinent historical factual material and stimulating proselytization.

5* fascinating novel; pertinent historical facts; stimulating proselytization.

 

The COIN

The COIN assumed published, copyright 2013 and written by Maria Elena Alonzo-Sierra.

A prologue finds a man searching an area in the mountains of the Côte d’Azur looking for a stash of coins and records he previously had hidden there. A recent naturally caused upheaval in this section had caused a re-arrangement of the territory that had eliminated any familiarity with its former formation. With intense frustration, he realized that it was impossible to find any remnants of the material he had secretly stashed away. Unexpectedly, a lost tourist stumbles upon him, thinking he had found someone who could help. Instead, he is slowly and cruelly put to death by the intensely frustrated man. The story then opens to follow the subsequent results of Gabriela Martinez discovering an unusually marked coin while hiking in the same area, La Marbriére, a short time later. Gaby, along with her parents, was a refugee brutally forced out of Cuba when Castro moved in. Quite sheltered while a Cuban resident, she now is happily married to her first love whom she met in college, and the mother of two young children who are visiting their grandparents in the United States for the summer. Her husband, Roberto, an innovative designer of new materials, frustrated by not being able to proceed, had been offered a position in Europe, had found a considerable degree of freedom and had extended his assignment. He loved his wife dearly, but with a totally ‘old-fashioned’ mindset that the husband was the bread-winner, and the wife a mother and housekeeper, was completely involved with his work. Simultaneously, Gaby had developed into an artist of tremendous talent and was being mentored by an enormously wealthy and influential man who was readying her for an exhibition of such importance as to launch her into a career that would make her one of the leading artists in the world. Unfortunately he had further designs on making her his mistress. Now, Richard Harrison, a lead member of an American special operations unit, as a courtesy to the Israelis’ request and favor to his boss is in France on vacation but has consented to interview Gabriela with respect to the special coin she had discovered during here trip to the mountain. Richard is a man typical of such operatives – handsome, pleasant and charmingly accommodating, but calculating, coldly uninvolved and with no compunction against killing when necessary. When meeting her, he is startled with the natural warmth and seeming degree of underlying naiveté – qualities he never had, or expected to, encounter in any woman. A set of circumstances develop, where Gabriela is to be introduced to a collection of world art connoisseurs with the latest of her works on the same night Roberto is to sign an important contract providing all he ever has wanted. Complicating the situation further is that Gabriela’s life has been threatened because of the coin that had been found and Richard has become her 24-hour-per-day bodyguard. The interrelationships that develops among these individuals, aided and abetted by an interesting group of supportive characters, develops into a mysterious, thrilling chase and sex-laced romance about which furnishing further details would be a great disservice to the prospective reader.

Discussion: The author has positioned three individuals in situations of almost insurmountable tension production with adequately supplied supportive personnel. The plot providing a thrilling, fast-paced tale and engaging climax. A number of inadequacies or unusual mental activities are difficult to totally accept, but no doubt are a personal consideration arising from this reader’s pragmatism. If noted at all by other readers, probably they will be observed as an unimportant ‘blip’.

5* Fast paced psychologically oriented mystery/thriller/romance.

 

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.