TEARS and Trombones

TEARS And Trombones
ISBN: 9781937818272, Sand Hill Review Press, an e-book by Nanci Lee Woody is a novel based on a true story.

Plot: Joey Woodman is the second son of Ellie, an attractive woman from a nearly insolvent family who married Vernon, the man she believed was ‘caring’ after becoming pregnant. When introduced to the reader some years later, this husband is discovered to be self-centered, crude, a heavy drinker but highly skilled with bulldozers and other heavy earth-moving equipment, garnering him eventual supervisory status. John, the first son, although good at drawing, emulates Vernon, also becomes greatly skilled with the industrial equipment and works and drinks with him. Joey, the second son is favored by his mother and wants to become a musician. The highly dominant father, already treating his wife more like a servant than a wife and largely ignoring her, cannot abide such a decision. Utterly disdainful of the youngster, he indulges in abusive behavior that is not overly physical but more specifically of a highly psychological nature. The boy does manage to obtain a trombone, because it is the only instrument available, perseveres, graduates, goes further to obtain a Master’s Degree and eventually gains a position of prominence. The story revolves around his endeavors plus his long and close involvement with fellow musician Roger, with Jolene and his close involvement with Donna, who adores and helps him endlessly. But then there is Catherine with whom he has a mutually reciprocal love to which he never can seem to commit. He feels duty-bound to remain with Donna to whom he feels, and actually does owe much of his career development. The story gradually progresses through a multitude of triumphs, mental and sensual epitomes and nadirs, most of which are accompanied by, or ending in, periods of depression, more vacillation and guilt until finally persisting to a rousing and tear-producing finale.

Discussion: The author has provided a book exhibiting considerable knowledge of the handling of heavy earth-moving equipment as well as of both classical and popular music and of persons associated with these realms (and acknowledges a number of consultants who have contributed to her work). The book is well-written and nicely paced and is a story that would have been highly recommended to and for the readers of the once widely popular Oprah Winfrey Show. It is replete with agonizing personal vacillation, intense personal suffering, and a blatant exhibition of self-centered concentration with all that it permits an individual to attain, but simultaneously is accompanied with extensive personal misery and mental desolation.

Conclusion: A compellingly constructed look at the effects, positive as well as devastatingly deleterious, that can accompany self-centered tenacity to attain a goal. A story much to be enjoyed by the aforementioned reader. Regrettably, the single-minded thoughtless activity of the protagonist and the blind faith/acceptance of other characters provided quite an unpleasant read for this reviewer.

3* 5* Well and knowledgeably written; 3* regrettably, unpleasant as described for this reviewer.

Biological Youth

Biological Youth is the first book in an anticipated series examining the causes of loss of Biological Youth and how to recover. An e-book by Todd Ewing, PhD.

The author has been involved in pharmaceutical research for 20 years and has become increasingly appalled with the effect that today’s lifestyle is having on an individual’s existence. He believes that it is the cause of a rapid expansion in what he terms LTD’s or Lifestyle Transmitted Diseases and especially the NCD’s or Non-Communicable Diseases such as diabetes, lung and heart problems. He believes that the specific, easily available, choices of when and if to exercise, improper diet, acceptance of health aides and/or therapeutic pharmacological offerings are the culprits and that belief in and acceptance of the multitudinous recommendations with which the individual constantly is bombarded readily enforce deleterious choices. He advances a concept of Total Recovery (TR) where a person can take control of his/her own health and bodily function and he provides specific suggestions: “Toward your Mindfulness and Recovery of your Diet, Lifestyle, Health and Youthfulness.” He provides five basic fitness needs – metabolic, circadian, microbiological, immune and mental –“each representing the resilience of our echo system to particular stress on the body”. There is explanation and discussion of activity on the cellular level and considerable detail is set forth about the Duke Study of Biological Age (versus Chronological) and that by UCLA of Alzheimer’s Disease Reversal. Each chapter is provided with a review and much of the presentation is heavily footnoted with provision of most helpful instructions for easy accession of the relevant footnotes while reading the text.

Discussion: The author applies much attention to the Duke Study that sets Biological best age at chronological age 20 and descends to worst at 80 with variation of the latter ranging perhaps from 50 to 100+ chronologically. The author also provides some examination of the Hayflick phenomenon as being responsible for ultimate cellular senescence and death. Hayflick demonstrated that cell propagation is limited because the telomeres at the ends of the cell’s DNA shorten with each new division so that the number of divisions before eventual cell death is limited, thus limiting length of human life. (Recent reports have raised one’s ultimate chronological age from around 90 to 112 years.) The author here believes that removing all of the ‘Zombie’ influences cited will greatly limit and/or remove the stressful factors causing cellular senescence. He cites stem cell research and the doctrine that germ cells are immortal, thus retaining the ability to divide forever because they have greater resistance to stress and better mechanisms of repair. Work here still is refuted although it is granted that Silicone Valley is working seriously and diligently on the idea of living forever so as to revive man’s dreams most often encountered by recurring notes of Ponce de Leon’s searches. Parenthetically from a strictly psychological aspect, as one becomes sufficiently advanced in age and increasing numbers of family, friends and acquaintances no longer are around, persons often rethink this dream.

Conclusion: The author has provided interesting thoughts on regaining one’s proper Biological age. It is a book that is NOT for everyone – especially for the individual looking for a ‘how-to’ book, one that will provide suggestions/instructions/lists for reinventing his/her health routines. Instead, the author has provided a quasi-scientific presentation to educate the lay person who wants to take the time to think about the effect modern western social/political/marketing procedures have upon anyone living in this complex culture. An individual must read the text, examine the pertinent references, take time to consider the total of what has been provided and decide upon ONE’s OWN course of action. It is not a simple task but can lead to great rewards IF the individual is able AND WILLING to make the commitment.

3* 5* for the ‘thinking person’; 3* definite caveat for ‘how-to’ searcher.

SERENITY

SERENITY, A Shelby Alexander Thriller, Sweatshoppe Publications, an e-book by Craig A. Hart.

Plot/Characters: Shelby, a sixty-year-old former highly ranked professional boxer is living alone in the small northern Michigan town of Serenity. Long divorced and the father of Leslie who, now grown, finally no longer hates him, but rather is attempting, through frequent calls, to get him back together with her mother. His presence in the small town is from a desire to get away from the life he had devised after losing his last championship fight. He was ‘a fixer’, best defined perhaps as a sort of PI who did not always stay on the side of the law in his ministrations. One evening he looks out of his kitchen window and sees a figure in the snow. He investigates and discovers Jenny Ellis, a mentally challenged but friendly woman known by everyone. She is comatose, he brings her into the house and calls emergency but she dies before an ambulance arrives. Upon inquiry from Deputy Stevens, he learns that she had been struck on the head while in the woods but managed to regain sufficiently to make it as far as his house before collapsing. She is part of a family infamous for years as drug dealers, killers and more. Harper, the leader of the Elis clan offers Shel $10,000 to find the person responsible and from this seemingly simple beginning the reader is immersed in a tale of drugs, murder and some suspenseful activity involving a number of unusual characters; Ellis family members – Shepherd, the oldest, Gannon, the hulking, mentally slow and viciously mean youngest, and Ma, also mentally challenged; Norman Evans, an unusual, very nervous individual with surprising activities; Sheriff Wilkes, new, obnoxious and of questionable ability and agenda; Carly, beautiful and raunchy bar owner/attendant who is closely involved with Shel; Jerry McIntyre (Mack), retired Detroit police officer now PI and longtime Shelby friend. The story’s end was somewhat unexpected by this reader although hints had been there to observe.

Discussion: After a somewhat slow and uncertain (fortunately short) beginning, the author has set forth a thriller that moves well and includes activity well-described as appropriate to the characters. There perhaps is a sense that the character may not as yet have reached his ultimate characterization and portions may not be quite as smooth as desired. However, this is understandable as the first of a proposed series and no doubt will be rectified as it continues.

4* First of a purported thriller series.

 

New Order

NEW ORDER, Hidden Vampire Slayer, Book One, Amazon Edition by H. J. Lawson.

Sadie Meyer, waiting to be picked up by her boyfriend Arron – they are going to their Senior Prom with his best friend Ryder and his girlfriend Lakia – when she hears a piercing noise. She looks through the window and sees a car wrapped around a pole and creepy shadows and overhears through the closed windows part of a conversation: “That’s one of them on the list”. “Remus will reward us nicely for this kid.” And “Or we could keep him for ourselves”. She moves away from the window questioning how she could hear through the closed windows. Aaron arrives, they pick up the other two and head for the Prom. On the way she sees a vampire (?). No one else does. How could she? Such things are only fictional. After the prom, they head for the motel all of the guys have arranged for staying the night. There, an entire group of vampires attack the students and the story escalates into a state of attack and escape warfare as she gradually learns that she and some of her friends have an unexpected mission in life. Pieces of this, and bits of the projected activity are provided.

Discussion: The author’s depiction of places, action and reaction is nicely worded, although occasionally slightly confusing, so as to provide a pervading sense of not knowing ‘what to expect next’, possibly even something as dire as impending death and disaster for loved ones as well as for the protagonist herself. Generally speaking, this is a book and proposed series that, although lacking sufficient sophistication for the usual vampire devotee, should be of sufficient interest for younger readers of the genre to embrace.

3*        4* possible for young readers; 2* for usual devotee.

A Darker Shade of Sorcery, The Realmers Series

A Darker Shade of Sorcery, The Realmers Series, an e-book by the intriguingly imaginative author, William Collins.

Plot: First presented to the reader is a welcome note from Master of Illusion, Padrake Pontiferous: “To whichever race you belong, orc, elf, djinn, human or other: You are now a Venator. Welcome to Veneseron Fortress, school for Demon Hunters. Your job is to travel through the many realms on missions we assign you. …Of course, your most important purpose will be battling demons and the Dark-Venators. Here at Veneseran we will train you to use enchanted weaponry, from Spellzookas to elemental grenades (grenades that actually employ the elements). And wield whatever form of sorcery you possess, from Curse-breaking to Creature Summoning. All so you may save countless lives against the eternal evil. Enjoy your stay. (P.S. Please specify at the front desk whether you’re arriving by Airship, Alien craft, Bubble-sphere or other means.) From this most enlightening introduction the story moves to introduce two humans, Evan, a young London orphan beset by bullies, and Brooke, a young girl living with a family who almost completely ignores her. Each arrives at the Fortress by a different route and means and the plot proceeds to develop as they settle in, make new friends, and enemies, from among an assortment of elves, Halflings, members of alien races and others while living in a city inhabited by these and other strange creatures. They develop their skills with all types of strange weaponry and engage in deadly combat with all manner of demons. AND, the reader discovers that these two humans share an unknown and only ultimately discovered trait from a most powerful source that can provide chaotic results. The attempts to manage and possibly use these traits to combat the abilities of the powerful source will be told in the succeeding volumes.

Discussion: This is a most intriguing tale for young readers that, because of the author’s engaging imagination, may offer some degree of interesting amusement to the more mature reader IF he/she still retains a bit of their earlier appreciation for fantasy. It moves well and the supporting, as well as main characters, equate well with their surroundings and activities.

4* Fantasy tale for the young that certain mature readers also might find amusingly readable.

A Christmas Tartan

A Christmas Tartan
ISBN: 9781250132659 Minotaur Books, a mystery e-book by Paige Shelton.

Delaney Nichols is a former museum curator from Kansas and now in Scotland hired by Edwin McAlister, the remarkable owner of an unusual book store. One morning he discovers a box containing an odd collection of items on his doorstep and asks Delaney to investigate the possible origin of the collection. The story evolves from this starting point and proceeds into the body of a mystery/fantasy.

Discussion: This purchase was made because the reviewer had a short space of time between review requests. Enjoying mysteries, he noticed this title in the genre, that the author had been recognized for previous work and that it was of novella length. After reading the synopsis, he made the purchase and proceeded to read the book. Reaction was dichotomous. The story evolved into an interesting and well-designed mystery/fantasy. However he was a little chagrined to discover that the already short story actually consumed only 64 % of the purported novella length book. The rest of the ‘novella length’, roughly ONE THIRD, was consumed by an excerpt from the author’s NEXT book. It is granted that the author in her introduction mentioned that it was a “mini mystery”, BUT the prospective reader has no way of learning this fact before purchasing it. It also is granted that the price is nominal. However, it appears that this annoying habit is insidiously and increasingly invading publishing. A sad commentary on a once proud and trustworthy industry and one incidentally that does NOT add appreciably to an author’s reputation.

2 ½*      4* brief mystery/fantasy; 1* for ‘lack of disclosure’.