Super Sized Success

Super Sized Success, 9 Steps to Maximum Riches in Minimum Time ISBN: 9780996659079, Maxar Press, a self-help e-book by Linda Zander.

The book is presented in Three parts: Part One – Success and God: the Supreme Joint Venture. Part Two – Success and You: Building Your Total Package. Part Three – Unleashing Your Inner Tycoon Epilogue: Super Sized, A League of Your Own. Success Superheroes. Part One includes seven steps in the first chapter, number 8 in the second and step #9 in the third. Part Two includes the Cornerstones of building – Mental, chapter 4; Physical, Chapter 5; Financial, #6; Moral Character, #7 which “Initiates the Way of Christ: Identifying Your Own i-Christ-like values. The 49 Moral Values of Christ Owning Your Top 4 Values.” Part Three follows “Unleashing Your Inner Tycoon Epilogue: Super Sized Success Superheroes. A League of Your Own.” A plethora of suggestions are included throughout the book.

Discussion: This is a book that can provide much for a person who is searching for ‘a proper path to follow in their life to gain the level of accomplishment they wish to attain while doing so in a manner compatible with God’s teachings’. The heavy emphasis on God and Christian beliefs becomes obviously understandable as we read and learn more of the author’s personal life. She is a “self-made multimillionaire, success coach and award-winning athlete, who ‘beat’ addiction (remarkably now clean for 26 years) and a bout with cancer (now clear for more than 9 years) after refusing to accept the physicians’ directions for treatment. Reportedly, her refusal was the result of acceptance of a strong ‘sense’ that to follow their recommendations would be fatal. She quotes an anonymous author: “God gives miracles to those who believe, courage to those who dream, and love to those who accept.” Numerous other famous and near-famous quotes are included along with positive suggestions that individuals seeking help certainly will find quite useful. Regrettably, there is an overabundance of redundancy such as lecturers frequently employ for emphasis. In such an arena activity of this nature often is helpful, but it is tedious when transferred to a written form. Another gross error, at least in this reviewer’s understanding, is inclusion of controversial figures as examples of persons to be emulated. Specifically the author states: “Having feelings is normal but allowing them to control you is not a healthy procedure. Learning to control them for the benefit of a positive outcome is having the emotional intelligence of a champion and a leader. Here are a few examples of world leaders who led with emotional intelligence. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Mahatma Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, Hilary Clinton, Nelson Mandella, Martin Luther King, Jr.” Application of the criterion to most of those mentioned undoubtedly would generate immediate acceptance. Granted, inclusion of Margaret Thatcher may be somewhat marginal because of the controversy that flourished during her last days in office. However, inclusion of Hilary Clinton certainly would not appear to be a good choice because: 1) she still is extremely active so her decisions are too ‘new’ to properly be evaluated and 2) regrettably, her personal position as the center of tremendous controversy with respect to the intelligence of some past decisions as well as the veracity of some of her statements are much in question. It is entirely immaterial whether this situation is politically initiated or even whether the questions are right or wrong in this instance. Inclusion of ANY person still involved in political activity, in this reviewer’s belief is a huge mistake and more especially if validity, rightly or wrongly, is in question. Such inclusion immediately opens the author’s hypotheses to question and even can provide a massive negative reaction that can undo all of his/her serious, and often beautiful presentation.

Conclusion: A well-intentioned presentation that could provide some help to numerous searching individuals that most regrettably has been compromised.

3* Best evaluation possible because of reasons listed.

The Mud Dance

The Mud Dance
ISBN: 0781780363042, Peach Publishing, an e-book by Neil Grimmett.

Plot/Characters: The setting is the ‘Rock & Roll’ era of the ’70’s. The story is centered upon Kenny whose family, in an attempt to save a marriage that was beyond saving, moved from Birmingham to a Somerset coastal village. He is brought along with vehement objections because it is his senior school year and will tear him from his familiar environment and friends. Further shock occurs when he discovers he is far removed from the structured formality to which he is accustomed, to a very lax one peopled with students who “grunted in thick slurring accents linked with a strange, archaic grammar” and non-formerly robed faculty who have difficulty exerting authority. He does meet one boy, Larry, who is different, from an apparently wealthy family but one also with mother/father problems. He establishes a strong bond with him that lasts for a lifetime. Kenny is a jazz drummer and Larry, trained as a classic pianist is desirous of playing contemporary music. They graduate, form their first band, gain a certain amount of local success and expand and the tale continues with a recounting of their attempt to gain that intangible pinnacle of success that combines both personal satisfaction with strong monetary compensation. They obtain contracts to record and perform in prestigious national/international venues and gradually move through the years with a changing personal relationship that leads to a somewhat dismal termination.

Discussion/Conclusion: The author appears to have provided as graphic a picture possible of the periods of success and defeat of a modern musician’s life and has centered their activity in the frenetic ‘Rock & Roll Era’. All is provided by apt descriptions of the often hidden, but at times explosive hostile and/or jealous, ego conflicts among band members, the highs followed most often by post-performance lows, the need for ‘pick-up’ drugs, the sexual excesses, the groupies, the unnatural ‘work’ hours and the host of other distractions to a ‘normal’ life. No doubt the author best, and beautifully, describes the basis for his story with his description of: “why musicians don’t dance – Dancing kills the ego. Like those whirling dervishes. Round and round they go into a state of beautiful, open, naked vulnerability, destroying the only bearing between their spirit and God until they are liberated. We were doing the opposite, laboring to close ourselves in, ensnared by vanities and false pride until nothing – musically or mentally –had any chance of escape. Dancing our dance – The Mud Dance”. Thus, perhaps most compellingly, the story describes the formation of a strong but unhealthy bonding between talented but highly flawed individuals and its slow dissolution as it moves toward its depressing inevitability.

3*            5* Rivetingly provided character study; 3* depressing read for this reviewer.

Connected

Connected
ISBN: 9781617981555, Wild Child Publishing, an e-book edited by Leslie Karen Lutz, authored by Kat Stiles.

Characters/Plot: The plot actually is quite complex with several threads and many questions, some of whose answers are revealed as the story continues. A number of characters are variously interrelated. The story begins when teen-age Emily (Em) is struck and thrown into the air by a drunken driver who stops, determines she still is breathing and leaves. She feels a tremendous heat generating and awakens to find there is no damage. She discovers through the school nurse (Judy) that she has the gift of ‘healing’. Somehow this is associated with a tendency for her hands to perspire heavily so as to be an embarrassment in school. One thread of the plot follows a ‘coming of age’ theme with Angel the leader of the group making her life miserable. Next introduced is her one good friend Roz, whose father has been like a father to her – her father having been sent away by her mother for believing he had acted inappropriately with the child (which may have some substance because we learn later that her mother insists she visit a psychiatrist because of disturbing dreams she has repeatedly.) Emily’s mother Anne is extremely involved in a job that requires odd hours and besides is quite a difficult person with whom to equate. Lauren, her older sister who has problems of her own, is constantly dominant. Tommy, transfers from another school after ‘getting in trouble’, and is attracted to Emily. As the story progresses we further discover that Tommy has unusual sensual (hearing, sight, olfactory) sensitivity and Roz is clairvoyant. The second major thread evolves when their collective powers are brought to bear in searching for a murderer and the tale introduces several more characters. The story’s ending provides an extension of one thread that initiates what may be assumed to be a forthcoming sequel.

Discussion/Conclusion: The author has set forth a thriller/mystery/romance with a touch of the occult that is somewhat unique. More especially it is a book for the teen/pre-teen reader. However, the uniqueness lies in the fact that it has enough of an interesting opening and theme to stimulate to an extent the interest of more mature readers. Admittedly, the later will need to ‘overlook’ the more obviously youth oriented story to follow the interesting tale.

4* Intriguing tale for young readers even the more mature may find interesting.

Nostalgia from: A City Set Upon a Hill

Nostalgia from: A City Set Upon a Hill
ISBN: 9781514628928 is an e-book by Garfield “Garry” Whyte describing: “Memories of boarding school. It was Seven years…Seven damn good years (1977 – 1984).”

The reader first is presented with a quote from Isabel Waxman: “It is indeed ironic that we spend our school days yearning to graduate and our remaining days waxing nostalgic about our school days.” The author’s ‘disclaimer’ follows: “The book was written with the primary purpose of encouraging all Munronians (School graduates) to keep their memories of this great institution alive. It is not intended to be the be-all and end-all about Munro. It is simply my chapter in the history of this great institution.” Historically the school was established in 1856 as a school for poor boys of St. Elizabeth but “evolved into a cauldron in which boys from all backgrounds converged” There were rich, poor, black, white, local and foreigners, as well as those who were motherless or fatherless. Munro College is “Perched 2,560 feet on the peak of the Santa Cruz Mountains in one of the remotest sections of Jamaica and is the oldest all-boys boarding school in the Caribbean with a commanding view of the horizon and the Caribbean Sea…”. Also provided are a description of all aspects of the college – acreage and sports fields, Barbecue (main quadrangle); building descriptions, several with pictures, and their designation, e.g. Chapel, Boarding House, Bus Garage; sustaining employees; and faculty with descriptions of individual idiosyncrasies that contributed to the school’s “..enviable reputation of being one of Jamaica’s most prestigious citadels of learning.” And: “It is the alma mater of several Jamaican icons and dignitaries…” including Jamaican Prime ministers, Rhodes scholars, lawyers, physicians and others. The tale further, as would be expected, is replete with stories of individual boyish antics and their sequelae, and here the author himself perhaps best describes his story: “The pranks; the outlandish vocabulary; the innovative ways of dealing with what could be considered a boring life void of modern-day technologies; the camaraderie; the lack of modern amenities; the fights today and the making-up tomorrow; the acceptance of discipline as a way of life; the making the most of an environment that we had no control over, but following in the path laid out by our predecessors.” This ‘is the stuff that memories are made of.’ There is a glossary at the end of each chapter and again at the end of the book to explain local terms and some of the patois that is used.

Discussion: The author has provided an interesting picture of what most people think of as an island tourist attraction. It is a presentation of Jamaica that few of the many visitors to the island even know existed. It is a memoir written by a man who obviously retains great love for his home and his alma mater. A well-educated person who knowingly has provided a rambling narrative setting forth enjoyable thoughts as they arose with a main intention of providing himself and others poignant and other remembrances ‘of another time, another place’. Thus, my only criticism, per se is the redundancy of the glossaries.

Summary: Perhaps the best summary of this book and this review is to use the author’s own provision of the most charming quote from Mary Lou Retton. “A trophy caries dust. Memories last forever.”

3*     5* memoir for target group; 3* for general readership.

 

Let There Be Linda

Let There Be Linda
ISBN: 9780990544227, Laugh Riot Press a dark comedy/thriller in e-book format by Rich Leder.

Plot/Characters: Mike is a middle-aged steady, honest CPA following his mother’s teachings in a large prestigious firm in L.A. and is expecting a partnership. Instead he is ‘let go’ when an account he is managing goes bankrupt and the senior partners are threatened by the bankrupt developer. They blame Mike and to cover, hint that he may not have handled the account properly so he no longer is employable in the profession. His wife leaves with his two daughters, returning to N.J. and her mother who never liked him. Meanwhile his brother Danny a neer-do-well wastrel like his father who left years ago for New Orleans and never returned, runs a flea-bag talent agency and bets the horses. The two men are inextricably bound together by an oath their mother made Mike swear on her death bed. From this point the plot takes off on a bizarre rollercoaster ride of absurd proportions involving a motley group of characters including a dwarf, a giant, a dentist, his weird wife and his sword wielding girlfriend, a cop who wants to be a ‘stand-up comic’, a zombie, an accountant, a talent agent, a weird ‘gypsy-like girl who can bring back the dead’, a clown and others assembling in a Pawn Palace (Pawn Shop), a police deposit area for impounded cars, a couple of wacky houses and a badly degenerated Airstream trailer with the entire tale ending in a ‘sort of all’s well that ends well’.

Discussion: The plot for this book may best be explained by the author’s own words: “Great thanks to two of my heroes, creative artists who have entertained me, educated me, guided me, and encouraged me over the years, geniuses who, in one way or another inspired the bloody irreverence that became this book.” They were Monty Python “who made me laugh since 1969” and “Quentin Tarantino, a brilliant filmmaker whose orchestrally violent and hilarious movies leave me awestruck.” Specifically, the plot is in turn, or perhaps symbiotically, inventive, wacky, bazaar, absurd, and insane but also verbally well done, fast paced, ridiculous and containing psychotic twists, graphic violence and at best may be considered a twisted example of black comedy involving complex characters who mostly are barely unbelievable.

Conclusion: The author has provided a book whose distorted humor and often graphically described violence will have great appeal for a certain type of reader. Others, including this reviewer, will find a well-written, well-paced story that has little appeal. In other words, you’ll either love it or discover it provides little ‘entertainment’.

3* 5* for readers described; 2* or less for the others.

Double Knot

Double Knot, A Davis Way Crime Caper #5, ISBN: 9781635110302, Henery Press Mystery Collection, an e-book by Gretchen Archer.

Plot/Characters: Davis Way Cole, along with Fantasy and Baylor are security personnel under direction of Jeremy Covey (Bald Head) for the casino owned by Richard Sanders. She also is wife of Bradley, the de facto CEO of Sander’s organization and coincidentally the image of Sanders’ wife Bianca so as a secondary job she is the person photographed for all publicity required of Bianca. Both are pregnant, with Davis’ being twins (of unknown sex because she and Brad ‘want to be surprised’). Richard decides to build Probability, a huge ‘state of the art’ cruise ship with every amenity known to man and invite only a limited number of billionaires on the initial cruise at one million a pop. Sanders had hired Maximillian Deluca and his wife Jessica earlier on a ‘whim’ and installed them as the ship’s host and hostess although no background or other vetting had been done as far as security personnel knew. Davis thinks that it is strange that Deluca would accept the proffered position when he was a successful banker – the Deluca-Elina bank. All members and guests board and are given special devices that open their stateroom doors and provide other required services. Davis also brings her beloved cat, Anderson Cooper, and is surprised to learn that her mother, with whom she has a somewhat confrontational relationship, has been invited to share her suite of several rooms that also contain, as do they all, a live-in butler, Burnstone, and maid, Poppy. Bradley cannot make the cruise because he must fly elsewhere on company business. The ship casts off, the cruise begins, Davis discovers that their special device is not functioning so they cannot even leave their room, and then finds a note in her bedroom compartment telling her not to attempt to escape or there will be dire consequences. From this initiating point the story evolves into one of intrigue involving a well-planned electronically based scheme to bilk millions of dollars from these billionaire passengers as they gamble in the ship’s casino.

Discussion: The author has provided action interspersed with mundane discussions and interactions, albeit in and about many activities and subjects and in a manner that many readers no doubt will enjoy and may even be able to equate – marital problems, family relationships, mother-daughter interaction, pregnancy idiosyncrasies, the generation gap, and others and does provide some attendant unexpected twists. All aspects are developed in a basically interesting plot that evolve into a pattern of chaotic activity aided and abetted by a group of zany characters. This is a novel written by an obviously accomplished author since it the fifth in the series and thus is a type of novel a certain type of readers thoroughly enjoy. For others however, this reviewer included, some of the dialogue appears irrelevant and the misplaced and/or thoughtless frenetic activity often seemingly appears somewhat contrived and may be a little ‘too much’ so that additional editing could enhance the enjoyment.

Conclusion: An interesting basic plot involving the activities of a zany bunch of characters in a chaotic romp that the author’s followers thoroughly will enjoy. Another, perhaps lesser number, will appreciate the plot but find disappointment in its envelopment in the chaotic romp that appears to be somewhat contrived.

3* Dichotomous. 5* for many; 3* for others as described.