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.

Slater’s Vendetta

Slater’s Vendetta Book 4 of 4 in the Slater Mystery series, assumed published, copyright and written by T. J. Jones.

Eric Slater again is the protagonist. He is a quite sizeable, muscular but remarkably supple, relatively handsome guy with a good sense of humor, honor and a huge heart. He is a former Marine with Special Operations as well as Military Police training. In this volume he again is functioning in a couple of his ‘jack-of-all-trades’ roles. He is performing in his PI job investigating a couple of identity authenticity cases, while supervising his construction workers remodeling the homes he then turns over to his real estate agent to sell. The situation becomes totally muddled quite quickly, however. A quite vicious gang begins to invade the neighborhood, he makes friends with a young boy roaming the streets at night. He learns why and decides to do something about it. His PI, building business and live-in partner, lovely but Black Belt qualified Maggie, agrees since she also has a couple of similar friends resultant of the same ‘soft-heart syndrome’. All components of the situations escalate when their real estate agent is murdered with a tool belonging to Slater, causing him, as well as Maggie, to be suspects. Members of the agency he employs, as well as of the company for which he is remodeling houses also become ‘persons of interest’ and one is charged with the murder.

Discussion: This book is another written by an author whose growing number of books invade Mystery, Romance and Fantasy genres. His forte appears to be in producing well-portrayed individuals in character driven plots. The protagonists here are appealing on many levels with abundantly soft hearts. The results are positive and the reader enjoys inclusion of an interesting mystery/detective story within an often amusing modern romance that maintains some of the old, solid components.

5* Mystery/detective/romance highly recommended as described.

Stars on the Oriental Corridor

STARS on the Oriental Corridor ISBN: 9781733957144 Seacoast Press copyright and written by Young-Tae Kim.

According to the author’s preface, this Book 1: Heaven, has resulted from a series of short stories written/published in Korean, rewritten and published in 2010 in six volumes, revised into two books in 2016 before rewriting and publishing in this English version in 2019. The stories detail the activities of heroes and heroines who led their countries in politics, war, fertile fields, religions, sciences, industries and arts. Certain of the tales also concentrate on the deities various tribes/small countries worshiped and the interrelationships among the various units as they continued to grow, inhabit and unify the Korean peninsula.

Discussion: Many of the stories have charming elements and are set forth in a rather quaint fashion especially when employing modern verbalization to describe activity. In Chapter 1, description is provided of two tribe/small country leaders engaging in individual combat as the designated leader of the people of their country, a sensible form of warfare often employed in earlier times that saved many lives. Chapter 2 follows these inhabitants after a successful period has followed the union and they became interested in perpetuating the dynasty. Thus the King’s advisor addresses him: “Your Majesty, now that our country has become stable all in out, people are each doing his or her role very well. We have no problem in our country except for one thing. As we do not have our queen to become mother of the country. It is imminent for Your Majesty to get married.” Other similarly quaint verbalization occurs throughout; e.g. “Give your order to me. I will accomplish your order doing my best.”

Other than these interesting and often amusing features, however, it is this reviewer’s thought that much of this book is directed toward, and will be enjoyed most, by Koreans and other Asian peoples as well as other historians who are interested in the years preceding the AD 7th century. It contains a plethora of material pertinent to through and down the Korean Peninsula. The manner of presentation, especially after that set forth in the introductory material described, makes the overall presentation seemingly somewhat complexly arranged. After the primary material follows an anticipated pattern. Directly thereafter, the reader is presented with “NINIGI-NO-MIKOTO AND PRINCESS OF GAYA (2nd volume of “Stars on the Oriental Corridor”)” divided into several chapters; These, in turn followed by “Gods of WA (Ancient Japan) (The 3rd volume of “Stars on the Oriental Corridor”)”; the 4th; 5th; 6th through 9th  – each similarly divided into several chapters and following the progress of other groups of Orientals. The book terminates with a relisting of the volume’s contents.

Summary: An interesting presentation of assumedly well assembled for those interested in early history of Asian people. Regrettably the seemingly dual explanations of its assembly was not particularly well-received by this reader. However the entire manuscript can be most enlightening for any reader with an interest in the subject matter.

3* 4* pre- 7th Century AD Asian History with quaint/charming areas; 3*- probably for most Americans.

Plant Food Cookbook for Beginners

PLANT-BASED COOKBOOK FOR BEGINNERS assumed published, copyright and written by Jackie Collins.

Sub-titled 600 Quick & Delicious Vegan Recipes for Busy People on the Plant Based Diet, the book opens with an Introduction that explains the health aiding ability of this plant-based lifestyle in today’s era of busy schedules with concurrent occasionally frenetic periods and follows in a most simply, but amazingly direct and complete manner, to provide the Basic Ingredients required for each recipe, how to blend the ingredients, the time required to complete the item and how to serve and/or store the completed item(s). She supplies these details for Broths; Plant-based Cheese dishes; Breakfasts, including various toasts, twists, muffins, unusual breads; Omelets, e.g. Mushroom & Spinach Chickpea; Waffles, e.g. Lemon-Almond; Pancakes; Puddings and more; Numerous fabulous sounding Smoothies are added; additionally there is an interesting No-Bread Avocado Sandwich that can be very quickly prepared. Next is the section of recipes for Soups and Stews with another large number of individual recipes. Salads and Entrees follow, beginning with a quickly prepared and taste-appealing Greek salad, as well as providing another sixty plus recipes with some thought-producing ideas for seldom thought-of combination of ingredients such as oranges and kale, olives with cherries, millet with olives and cherries, carrots, cherries and pecans. Lunch Recipes consist of the same carefully maintained format of including ingredients, directions for preparation and time required with serving instructions. The section offers close to one hundred recipes that should present any number of tasty offerings for anyone looking for a ‘different’ lunch time repast. As an aside, this reader rarely indulges in midday food, but admittedly, a couple of the chili recipes, hot coconut beans and vegetables and the hot lentil and guacamole recipes appear quite tempting. Dinner Menus are the next and still once more offer another large selection of appetizing recipes. A delicious assortment of Snaks and Sides follow (with a most delicious recipe for Parmesan Broccoli Tots, Maple-Glazed Butternut Squash and one for Dijon Roasted Asparagus this reader tried the last three nights). Desserts & Sweet treats wrap up this incredibly complete collection of some relatively well known recipes, some that are better known but still offered with an unusual twist and/or use of ingredients that presents something ‘different’. AND even more new offerings are added to these selections.

Discussion: Briefly stated, this book is a fantastic presentation of recipes in a complete format not encountered in many years. A suggestion for the prospective book owner: be aware of the need to invest in a larger than normal selection of ingredients and because of the need to refer to the recipe while cooking, purchasing a hard copy as well as digital might be helpful, depending upon one’s construction of cooking facilities..

5* Highly recommended book for non-diet as well as dieters, as discussed.

Future Proofing Cubed

FUTURE PROOFING CUBED ISBN: 9798638377168 Bookmark Publishing, Copyright Lcubed Consulting, Inc. written by Iisa L. Levy.

Subtitled Future Proofing Cubed the Definitive Guide to Increasing Productivity, Refining Processes and Bolstering Profitability, the book opens with a dedication; the usual disclaimer; a complementary forward; Introduction; Three sections: 1. Hybrid Consulting that contains two chapters -My Why: Enabling Corporate Success and Lcubed; 2. Future Proofing with five that define traditional consulting, initially describe Lcubed’s Adaptive Transformation, Solving recurrent problems, Desired results and Future Proofing; 3. Enabling Frameworks offers the last five, in turn discussing project management, process and performance management, internal controls, organizational change management, and chapter takeaways; Case Studies; References (16); Resources (4); and About the Author.

Discussion: Although the copyright is more stringent with respect to not allowing “any part of this book to be reproduced or transmitted in any form….”, this reader hopes that reprinting of the author’s ‘different’ and amusing Dedication will be overlooked. It reads “I’d like to dedicate this book to my friends and family who are always supportive of my choices even the ones they don’t understand. My hope is that this book will finally help explain to my parents what I do for a living.” Following this charming note of levity, the content of the volume explains her approach to teaching a business how to Future Proof itself against the ever-increasing number of changes they face as time evolves. The overall concept is to look at your business as a Rubik’s cube. You have all of the pieces and need only to position them to interface correctly. Use of the plan allows you to build a culture that embraces the enormous number of existing recent changes and will increase greatly in the business world as time advances. Granted, use of the Rubik’s cube analogy applies to medium sized businesses that have all of the pieces in place and functioning with a management team, money coming in, etc. With this understanding, she continues to explain that she had ‘spent her time in the trenches’ and gradually evolved her projected program after observing  the numerous types of quite disparate software with which companies were faced when attempting to accomplish the various tasks required simply to keep abreast of the changes in the business world as they developed. In fact, most of the time they had been able to assemble the required results only after the data collected were outdated. Thus from her repeated observation, the concept of “Adaptive Transformation” came to mind. The concept, although suddenly appearing to her, perhaps had been un-consciously stored in her mind in that she found a paper on the subject had been published by Stanford Professor Dr. Harold Leavitt in 1964. Regardless, the basis of the concept was to focus energy on building a new project rather than fighting the old, and it fitted well into her line of thinking wherein a series of activities could provide a means for an organization’s structure and culture to survive and advance even when facing tremendous elements of change. Eventually, the whole evolved into her epiphany moment and she decided to construct a software program that would encompass all of the disparate parts and meld them into one bundle.

Summary: The author, has presented details of the birth and evolution of her somewhat unique contribution – the structure, function and successes of a software program that combines and includes all of the usual features considered to be important components of building and maintaining a steady healthy business growth in times of change. There is much redundancy and substantial inclusion of material offered by others in the large number of books covering business maintenance and growth in the seemingly increasingly chaotic business world. However, Lcubed appears to be a knowledgeable organization, founded by a nationally recognized organizational change management authority, with a unique program that offers several advantages not previously made available.

5* Unique offering; -1 for redundancy,  not unusual for lecturers.

A Kite at the Edge of the World

A Kite at the Edge of the World ISBN: 9781733080613 Yearning Press, copyright and written by Katy Grant.

The story opens with an eighty-plus-year-old man reminiscing on the same beach where he met his first childhood friend in a vacation resort town they visited every summer. He was five or six years old, rather reticent as the result of a rather overprotective mother and a strict nurse heavily occupied with his newly-born sister. Thus, he did not take to the other children because they were ‘too noisy’ but had noticed a young boy several times walking with his mother or an older woman. The boy appealed to him because he too seemed to walk quietly and seemed somewhat ‘reserved’. A few days later he saw him alone on the beach and they began talking. The boy, Ilio, was a little older and this was a first visit with a mother and father who wanted him to learn as much as possible. The reason for the visit, as he informed his new friend because he was dying. He explains that whatever it was it was incurable and he didn’t have very much time left. The plot follows the simple pleasures discovered by the two young boys as it advances during the summer through Ilio’s gradual decline and eventual death.

Discussion: In the closing pages, the author presents a summation by the old man telling the story “True Ilio’s life was short. There were many things he never experienced…Never looked back on a long life and wondered, bewildered, what he possibly had to show for it. Time was his enemy. Yet time has been my enemy too. I was once told years ago that nothing lasts. Not mountains, nor planets, nor stars. And yet, I have also been told that these three things abide – faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love. And now, all of the people I have loved in my life, more of them are dead than are living. Do they know we still love them? I am told that they still do. Perhaps that is the power of love. It endures.” And he continues his ruminations about the first young friend he had ever made. Obviously, the author has attempted to weave a poignant tale extolling the importance and everlasting effect of love and sets forth the story in a well-written manner amply providing thoughts, verbalization and actions of children of the age portrayed. Many readers may thoroughly embrace this story. Regrettably and apologetically to the author however from the perspective of this reviewer, a caveat is required. A story of ruminations by an old man about the death of a childhood friend, although such occurrence is readily acknowledged by all as simply a necessary part of living, is not a more usually preferred subject for selection.

3* 5* Well-written tale extolling the importance of love; -2 caveat as explained.