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.

 

NONDisclosure

NONDISCLOSURE ISBN: 9781733771405 published, copyright and written by Geoffrey M. Cooper.

Brad Parker is a highly successful scientific investigator who, like numerous such individuals are coerced into assuming a position of curtailing his investigative activities to assume a position of department chair at one of the prestigious universities in Boston. His administrative assistant comes to him with a problem of not being able to discover the reason for a $20,000 shortage in their budgetary allotment at the same time his top grant money recipient Mike Singer comes to him reporting an even graver problem. He believes another prominent staff investigator has just raped one of the graduate students working with them. He reports the situation to the dean and the president and one of the members of university’s police force, Karen Richmond, is sent to investigate. She insists that Brad work with her because of his obviously extensive knowledge of the individuals involved. Further details would be a disservice to potential readers. Suffice it to say, that although a fictional tale, the convoluted story gradually evolves to expose an involved set of actions that most readily could be factual. It is a fascinating look at a prominent, long existent problem particularly associated with the student-mentor relationship in the university ‘publish or perish’ milieu that exists in such institutions. Another item examined is the rivalry among investigators.

Discussion: Sub titled “A Medical Thriller”, this book also is a tale of mystery and romance. Its setting is academia. Its theme is modern day research and problems that not infrequently can arise when fertile minds produce important interdisciplinary results. It places a spotlight on universities finally facing the long ignored problem of sexual harassment on all levels, but seemingly more prevalent within the academic sciences where, as described above, a situation exists from which the misuse of authority so readily could arise. It also demonstrates a situation that has grown to ridiculous proportions within the last few years. The almost uncontrollable competitive situation among pharmaceutical houses to spend huge amounts of monies to aid in the discovery of significant results and for the originator to acquire some degree of compensatory gratification. As an individual once immersed in academia, this reader highly recommends this author’s presentation as a thoroughly enjoyable novel based on matters about which he demonstrates an intimate knowledge.

5* Well done novel by knowledgeable author.

How to Live to be 100

How to Live to be 100 ISBN: 9781943386543 Leaders Press copyright written by Elizabeth Lopez.

The book consists of a Forward, Preface and The Magic of Nicoya culture and personality as they are intertwined in a discussion as to how their life activities contribute to their longevity. This is followed by portraits and discussions with seven of these individuals about their lives and with a 95-year-old whose father just passed away at 110. Comments by a school teacher who has had a long and lasting acquaintance with these people follows and then comments by the author’s primary associate in the project. A number of local recipes are provided in detail along with a personal questioner with respect to the reader’s possibilities of reaching this advanced age, and thirty references are added.

Discussion: The book contains considerable redundancy. However, it is the most interesting result of the author’s request to be included as part of the group provided by Blue Zones LLC, Inc. to investigate whether this remote peninsula of Costa Rica qualified as a Blue Zone containing a larger than ‘normal’ number of centenarians (Presently listed are Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, CA; Ikaria, Greece; areas of Japan.) As a native of the peninsula and an American University EdD in psychology, the author’s stimulation to make the request is obvious and her findings indeed interesting. They appear to be much in accord with findings in the other Blue Zones listed with respect to living a healthy life style that includes an obvious genetic factor, physical, biological and personal traits and a life style consisting of low neuroticism, high extroversion, openness, agreeableness, competence, self-discipline, ability to ‘take care of one’s self’ and pride in being able to do so. Some qualities perhaps somewhat more specific to this population that she describes as the “World’s Happiest Centenarians” is their love of nature, music and dancing and strong belief in God.

Conclusion: An interesting, but perhaps somewhat surprisingly unsophisticated approach by a native who has obtained advanced psychological training and resides in the United States, to this subject of growing interest to a larger number of people. Of probably particular appeal is the inclusion of a personal quiz for the reader to take and evaluate his/her own chances of reaching that level – one that seems increasingly today to be elevated to ‘holy grail’ status.

3* 4* results & quiz to discern the reader’s possible attainment; -1 as described.

Nachash’s narrative

NACHASH’S NARRATIVE ISBN: 9781733957106 Seacoast Press, a novel copyright and written by Volker G. Fremuth.

The story begins with DC Metropolitan Police Officer Leroy (Roy) MacRay patrolling his beat when he finds a young woman on the ground violently coughing copious amounts of blood and struggling for breath. She does not respond to his chest compressions and is pronounced dead by ambulance personnel upon arrival. They inform him that they will take her to “our medical examiner” rather than the usual “the medical examiner”. This simple phrase causes a question in his mind and initiates a tale describing terrorist activity among the population of the city along with betrayal, deceit, treachery and misplaced trust reaching the highest levels of government along with relentless activity by rabblerousing fear mongers aided and abetted by a biased media. Roy, along with long-time buddies in the FBI and CIA and Rebecca (Becky) Glendale, a young and very talented Investigative reporter attempt to unravel the complicated situation only to be most seriously affected, as are the inhabitants of Mac’s beat in a depressed area of the city in which he is its most respected and liked figure of authority.

Discussion: In fictional form, the author has set forth a stunning portrayal of activities that do not seem too far removed from a situation that could easily develop in the United States in its present state of disarray. It is conjecturally informative and tremendously thought provoking. Much of the action is thriller-like and the descriptions of characters and their thought and action patterns most creditable. Some of the descriptive material at times makes for sections of heavy reading but really are quite pertinent to the overall theme. Thus, after a considerable amount of thought, I believe I can add little to what has been said in introductory material in the book itself. The author dedicates the book “To the men and women of law enforcement, though peril is your kin May you combat the demons before you, and cope with those within. Be wary of the demons behind you, their contempt is set afire. They’re lurking in the shadows, with Nachash they conspire.” A Forward follows from a man who is attempting to ‘do something’ “about the decline of our country”. He states “This book reflects many years of close observation and deep consideration of our nation’s trajectory …… From top to bottom, our society is vulnerable, and Volker captures the threat to our nation in a novel that ranges from the White House to the poorest urban block.” And the author’s Epilogue provides a final note of interpretation of the ancient Hebrew presentation of Eve, the snake and the Garden of Eden. This is a book you will remember and ponder long after reading the last line.

5* A book you will remember as the unrest within the country escalates.

Breaking Free

Breaking Free, ISBN: 9789493056145 Amsterdam Publishers. Good to Go, Part 1 copyright and written by Jeffrey Vonk.

The author has provided a quite unusual travelogue that begins in Switzerland and ends in an Afterword that brings this native of Holland to Chicago, IL on an impulsive decision. Between these points of ‘advanced civilization’, his journey takes him through parts of Russia, China, Tibet, Nepal, India, African Gambia, Jordan, Syria and Kurdistan. Perhaps even more intriguingly most of his journey was conducted singly on a Chinese built motorcycle, on foot and even horseback with occasional local bus and invited rides on trucks, vans and unusual personal transportation. His sleeping accommodations were at the least expensive hotels and/or hostels, personal homes and frequently ‘hopefully acceptable’ shelters in abandoned buildings or even the open air where he could pitch a shelter, or perhaps not. Conditions encountered for the most part were extensively primitive. Quantities of food and water frequently were low and even dangerously missing for periods of time. Quantities available were purchased if possible, or provided for one reason or another by many kind people he encountered.

Discussion: This is a fascinating tale of travel largely in some of the most poorly developed areas of the world undertaken by a young man who is intrigued by different cultures and thrives on living a totally different way of life. His story is descriptively presented and a reader can only marvel at the fact that his survival itself is quite remarkable.

5* Travel tale for those interested in other, often primitive cultures.

Across Time and Space

Across Time and Space: Chronicles of Courage, Hope, Love, Persistence and Leadership. Assumed published, Copyright and Written by Emilio Iodice.

The title of this book fortified by its subtitle, “Stories for Us, our Children and Grand Children explain exactly its contents. The opening story describes a young German woman who had the fortitude to defy Hitler. The second details the story of the 5 Sullivan brothers who were lost together while serving aboard a U.S. Navy ship during WW II. Another is that of the heroic action of a young Italian police officer and the stories continues with numerous other examples of “wisdom, courage, love, compassion, charity, integrity, faith and hope”. Many of the offerings included are examples of residents of a small island off the Italian coast and apparently are memories of individuals known by, about, and/or are relatives of, the author, and all exhibited one or more of the attributes mentioned above. Many tales seem to be personal remembrances of these individuals as they immigrated to the U.S. and attempted to blend into the country during the devastating Great Depression that began in 1929. Interestingly detailed accounts of the founder of Bank of America, President John F. Kennedy, athletes Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and others also are depicted.

Discussion: The author has described periods of great unrest and/or others calling for display of all of the personal qualities he has enumerated as well as frequent sacrifices of varying degrees. It is a book seemingly ‘written from the heart’ by one who also has experienced some of the same or similar situations. The author has provided an authentic touch to each episode by offering pertinent references. The only regrettable aspect of the book from this reviewer’s perspective is the amount of repetitive material that judicious editing would have eliminated. Overall however, a most thoughtfully prepared and written text from which readers will gain much while enjoying the diverse nature of the tales.

4* 5*Thoughtful reminiscences providing many lessons; -1* editing required.