Rubber Match

Rubber Match, an unusual tennis story in e-book by Marcus Paul Cootsona.

Plot: the reader is introduced to Wally Woodrow Wilson a 59-year-old tennis professional with his most attractive wife Danielle who are visiting colleges with their high school senior son Deuce who is quite adept at various form of magic and would prefer to try his hand in Las Vegas. They are accompanied by their red merle Australian Shepard, Rod Laver, the dog. They also have a daughter Addie who is in college and has a best friend, Ashley Margincall. Ashley is the daughter of an immensely rich parent who gives her huge amounts of money which apparently she employs in a highly successful entrepreneurial manner. From this point the story takes off to provide a tale of a stolen Dutch masterpiece painting, search for which involves Wally, his family and a host of other amusingly unconventional characters in a rambling story most prominently involving a remake of the format of the Davis Cup Tennis Tournament.

Discussion: The author is a highly regarded tennis professional and “lapsed playwright” with two other books and routine contributions to Tennis Magazine to his credit. His story here is an amusingly presented parody of tennis – and more specifically of the Davis Cup Format. Here he references the changing mentality of modern society. Tennis was begun in another era when life moved at a more leisurely pace. Today the average attention span of any millennial, the fastest growing group of consumers, has been found to be EIGHT SECONDS. Thus sports are increasingly being criticized for time consumed. Golf is ridiculous; 3 hours of football includes actual playing time of 11 minutes; baseball, 18 minutes; tennis time wise, probably is the best at 31 minutes of activity in 3 hours. An interesting example the author provides is the fact that Nadal takes as much as 45 seconds between shots compared with a match in 1969 between John Newcome (deceased Australia) and Rod Laver where time between shots routinely was clocked at 6 seconds. With respect to the flow of the story, it does so nicely except for some slightly annoying proofing errors more prominent in the later pages. Of particular interest and fascination to this reader was the author’s inclusion in this zany story of a deeper conviction: “96 % of the universe is dark matter. Nobody has seen it. Nobody may ever know how it works. That’s you.” You are controlled by destiny. “So, you can’t sit back and ask destiny to do its worst. Because it will. And nothing will happen. At least nothing good. You have to participate. With faith. And with goodwill. And without expectation. The way to be in control is to make a decision. Even if it seems risky.” A most thoughtful suggestion.

5* Amusingly unconventional story of tennis and assorted other activities

A Pigeon’s Tale

A Pigeon’s Tale
ISBN: 9781514136539, Gross Mountain Press, e-book by S. A. Mahan.

Plot: A young Homing Pigeon is the only escapee from invasion of the flock’s roost by a wildcat. He barely makes it to town where he joins a group of ‘ordinary’ pigeons on the telephone wires. Here he is taken almost literally under the wing of wily ‘Old Dude’ who, through his knowledge shared by all birds, is aware of the yearling’s heritage and gradually teaches him basic survival tactics along with introducing him to children at grade school where he begins to learn basic elements of ‘human learning’. At Old Dude’s urging, the youngster travels south with a migrating flock of geese, becomes attached to Grandpa, an extremely intelligent and highly educated human, who along with his six well-educated brothers, is preparing for the cataclysmic fate that he predicts will befall earth. Grandpa teaches him more basics and some advanced technics and works with him and his natural ‘bird instincts’ to aid in the preparations he, his brothers and several other intellectuals are making to survive the predicted coming disaster. The story gradually unfolds to end most interestingly with a strong message of hope.

Discussion: To quote Old Dude: “This ain’t no ordinary pigeon story. ‘Course how could it be ordinary? Pigeons ain’t ordinary at all!” This statement is followed by extremely interesting facts about homing pigeons (with more provided in the author’s notes at the end). The story itself actually is an amalgamation of scientific facts not only about pigeons but also of the earth’s magnetic field, the relationship to our Solar System, the importance of ‘dark matter’, Nano-technology and even a resurrection of the now seldom used Morse code. All of these elements are joined in a charmingly written sci-fi fantasy extolling positive thinking, never ending hope and an unshakable belief in an all-powerful deity.

Conclusion: The author has provided a sci-fi fantasy containing much factual material written in a most charming elevating manner that in some ways conjure up poignant thoughts of people and a way of life that no longer exists. This book should appeal to many readers of varying age and regardless of genre preference.

5* Charmingly written sci-fi fantasy containing factual material, positive thinking and belief in a deity.

The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles

The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles, Book 2
ISBN: 9781514490112, an e-book history/thriller (Rev. Date: 05/20/2016 Xlibris 18887954274) by Ronald E. Yates.

Plot: Ted Sayles is recounting from journals of his grandfather William (Billy) Fitzroy Raglan Battles as this fundamentally journalistic newspaperman encounters endless adventure in the waning years of the 19th and early years of the 20th Century, the era of intense attempts to extend colonialism. The reader is informed that Book 1 covered the first thirty-three years of Billy’s life from the time he is a wide-eyed eager teen from Lawrence, Kansas who, although employed as a newsman, also became a Deputy U.S. Marshall involved in a shoot-out with an outlaw gang and tragically loses of his dearly beloved wife after only a few short years. In this second book the reader finds that Billy, in utter despair has deserted his four-year-old daughter, his mother and his dead wife’s loving parents and boarded the S.S. China to ‘loose himself’ in the ‘mysterious orient’. Here he meets the ravishing but intimidating Baroness Katherina von Schreiben, a widow travelling to visit her brother who has a hugely successful mahogany export business in the Philippines. She is being followed by a German intelligence agent because of the manner/cause of her husband’s death and because she purportedly is carrying missing governmental secret documents. The man following her is Oskar Eichel, coincidentally a former Pinkerton man who had been assigned earlier to investigate Billy because of the manner in which one of the gangsters had ‘disappeared’. The Baroness is desperate, confides in Billy that she had killed her husband, but had not murdered him. From this excitingly complicated beginning, the author takes the reader on a journey involving war and/or action in Hawaii, the Philippines, French Indochina, Hong Kong, several cities in the United States and in Germany and other parts of Europe.

Discussion: This is a story covering a most interesting era in history when the ‘developed nations’, as well as the relatively newly formed United States were attempting to expand their control over the rest of the world. The most obvious, and for the subjected countries the most devastating results, were the death, destruction and pain suffered by the inhabitants. All the while these extremely poorly disguised attempts to ‘bring enlightenment’ to the natives of Hawaii, Indochina, Philippines and the rest were nothing more than crass desire to exert power and acquire the riches existing in these countries.

The author of this series is an extremely well-qualified and multi-awarded journalist who has experienced countless hours of activity in the many far-flung areas described in his books. Furthermore he has provided an interesting fictional scenario whose main thread is fascinating and to a large extent totally credible. The bold effrontery of the United States in their Philippine activity is most appropriately presented, as is the hint of that so disgracefully exhibited in Hawaii and Indochina. Although I have not read Book1, I assume the author, with his obvious sentiments, similarly must have made at least some allusions to this country’s treatment of the American Indian and to the problems encountered by the Tejanos who had helped the United States in the Mexican War (which also was an engineered ‘land grab’) and were so badly treated in part because the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo never had been ratified. He also, as would be expected, has presented this material in a very well written manner. His description of the specifics of the thoughts and action patterns of the individuals involved is nicely depicted although this reader is ‘not convinced’ with respect to the thought patterns behind some of that set forth particularly by the protagonist. Further, the story is perfectly set forth if the reader prefers to learn his/her history in the less rigid structuring provided by a fictional presentation. Unfortunately the reader who is looking more specifically for an entertaining novel will find here numerous hiccups where judicious editing would have contributed to retaining the well-paced level of activity evident in large portions of the story

Summary: A historical novel for readers who enjoy learning history in a less structured manner. Regrettably at least for this reader, judicious editing would provide a much smoother and enhanced pace and enjoyment.

3* 5* Provocatively well-written historical novel; judicious editing would enhance pace/enjoyment.

Modify Destiny

Modify Destiny

ISBN: 9781519740243, an e-book by Bill Higgins, first self-published as The Project by William D. Higgins in 2007.

Plot: The reader is introduced to “the project” as Reuben Garrett proceeds to meet with a high level governmental ‘security officer’ to play him a tape made years before of a secret meeting with President Kennedy that acknowledged recognition of the fact that UFO’s were making not infrequent visits to earth. We next are introduced to protagonist Dave Reed, a former Air Force Officer who, after a short time as a security guard, now functions as a night shift message watch officer for several organizations in the CIA. He is a likeable guy, constantly sleep-deprived because of his simultaneous studying for his M.A. degree He equates well with his co-worker Mary Ann Adams, as well as his supervisor Whitley Larson and co-worker Bob Wang, a huge Chinese-American weightlifter who was born in America but raised in Hong Kong and incidentally has a relative with top secret clearance. He has an interest in UFO’s after having experienced a brush with one in flight that he has been ordered ‘to forget’. Reports of an increased number of sightings of the craft are reported as particularly prevalent in the very small town of Ramps, W. Virginia. Co-incidentally, the message center receives a flash message from NORAD of an unusual sighting over the Bering Sea followed shortly by a strange call from the organization’s Commanding Officer to forget it as it was an error. Dave has been corresponding with a character, John ‘Tater’ Potts who had had encounters with UFO’s in Ramps. He has a long week-end so decides to get together with him to talk about them. Bob accompanies him and here they meet Tater, his well-educated sister Shelby, the local Sheriff’s Deputy, the head of a civilian organization established to investigate UFO’s and a pleasant stranger Dan Hoffman, who is not exactly who he appears to be. From here the story unfolds with a picture of governmental cover-up and a strange tale of the purported origin of, activity of, and reasons for this activity by the inhabitants of the space ships. All ensuing activity proceeds to an explanation of certain ‘happenings’ and an epilogue with a resulting ‘correction’.

Discussion/Conclusion: The author has provided interesting conjectural reasons for the origin, existence, functions and especially reasons for existence of UFO’s.

4* Tale offering still another conjectural ‘raison d’être’ for the UFO’s.

Golden Children

Golden Children, is a short fictional story in e-book form by Avi Lewis Wolfson.

Plot: Ted Camble is a newly hired (largely because of his Great Grandfather’s reputation) staffer at Riafnu Unified School District special programs for Special Needs Children. He actually dislikes and abuses these children; e.g., when seemingly providing praise or help he actually physically hurts them although in a manner not easily observable so a parent believes the help and/or praise is sincere. Unfortunately the children are too young to differentiate and must assume the parents, whom Ted impresses, are correct, so he becomes a ‘hero’. Ted and the District’s Director of Special Education Stacy Stumpkins, the young wife of the elderly school Principle Howard, are in an illicit relationship. The husband dies shortly thereafter at a dinner eating Ted’s and his mother’s recipe. The couple think it wise not to mention their relationship, but eventually marry and complications ensue that result in an unmasking of Ted’s actual character faults and associated attitude toward the children

Discussion: The author, assumedly associated in some manner with children with special needs, has provided a most noteworthy introductory note: “…extra special thanks to all the children who have persevered and continue to work through hardships in school, this story was written and dedicated in your honor.” For this sincerely expressed reason, it is most unfortunate that the author did not confer with a knowledgeable editor before publishing this little book. It is his first and unfortunately the well-intentioned story falls into a situation often demonstrated by new writers of not developing the plot and/or characters so the reader can experience a satisfaction with what has been set forth.

Conclusion: A well-intentioned but regrettably not well-presented exposé of a deplorable situation that requires much needed attention.

3* Well-intentioned exposé of a deplorable situation.

Just Juliet

Just Juliet, published by Inkitt, the Hipster’s Library, an e-book by Charlotte Reagan.

Plot: The story line simply follows a group of young people as they move through their lives and relationships during their high school years with eventual dispersal to various colleges and slightly beyond. The actual school time activities are presented quite superficially with more prominent concentration on those of a social or inter-relational nature. The reason unfolds quite quickly when the reader discovers that the main theme is to follow the evolution of the main protagonist, Lena, into an individual with active bi-/homosexuality. The story examines the feelings and activities of this individual as she becomes entangled with a young woman, Juliet, who has a most unusual and understanding family. It details the evolving relationship with her, Juliet’s family, Lena’s own family and with her heterosexual friends and acquaintances and progresses to build ultimately to a most interesting conclusion.

Discussion: The author has provided, perhaps somewhat surprisingly in fictional form, a rather thoughtful and seemingly knowledgeable account of a period of transition faced by an individual who cannot feel happy in the conventional male/female relationship. It presents the fears, anxieties, extensive soul-searching and embarrassments encountered in the often lengthy, lonely and always highly distressful trip in order hopefully, to attain periods of mental/physical satisfaction, a sense of belonging and ‘true love’. Unfortunately, it mentions only minimally the down side of the often highly discriminatory activity such individuals still encounter.

3* 4*Well-written partial primer on bi-/homosexuality; 3* or less if not interested.