Sweet Barbarian, a fantasy/romance including considerable erotic activity in e-book by Jayla Jasso.
Plot: Valamir Braga is a Visigoth warrior who has been wounded, captured and is in chains in the castle of opponent clan leader Jovimus in Gallia Aquitania in the year of 483. His brother Andaric has just been beheaded and he is next. The iron door opens and Glismoda, Jovimus’ wife enters and says she will free him if he swears fealty to her and when her husband is killed in his ridiculous wars, she will bring him back and they will rule supreme. He knows she is a cold, uncaring person who is sexually attracted to him, but with no choice agrees. She is a Druid High Priestess with enormous occult skills, mixes some of his blood with special oils, delivers an incantation and he disappears. He awakens on a mountain in snow and cold, gradually begins a descent and finally collapses near a cabin in 2015 Colorado. Karly, the cabin owner’s Chihuahua disturbers her by barking furiously. She investigates and discovers this huge, muscular, sparsely clothed man literally freezing to death. Reacting instinctively, she manages to drag him into the house and save his life. His education and ‘modernization’ follows along with a gradually increasing love for this hulk who simultaneously expresses the same feelings and is an impressively and unbelievably thoughtful and ‘caring’ individual. Unfortunately, Karly still cannot commit because of her bad treatment by Shawn, now a drug abuser, whom she met and married while both were in the service. His continued insistence she return to him causes him to take action which adds another element to the story, as do actions by her brother Josh, close friend Macy and a few others, AND another (expected) occult session.
Discussion: The author has presented a story with an interesting plot and characters that lovers of fantasy and romance should most readily enjoy – a hulk who is thoughtful, respectful, faithful and sexually fulfilling on mutually acceptable terms. The pace is good and the gradually evolving learning process is well handled. The amount of explicit sexual activity is a little repetitive, but no doubt will be acceptable to many.
5* for the fantasy/romance aficionado.
ISBN: 9780692369005, Serpentine Books, an e-book by Hubert Crouch is a multi-plotted legal thriller on subjects most pertinent in today’s headlines.
Plot/Characters: Two prominently integrally woven main plots – 1) legal action against a fringe religious group led by Ezekiel Shaw, a self-centered, marginally psychopathic leader that pickets in a viciously demeaning manner, but deemed acceptable as free speech by supreme court decree, the funeral of a woman soldier killed in action fighting in Afghanistan; 2) the attempt by a new and talented reporter Leah Rosen under constant threats initiated by the lawyers to publish an article detailing fraud perpetrated by collusive activity between their law firm and an insurance company. Associated conflicts: The virtual protagonist, Jace Forman, a highly successfully profiled lawyer attempting to gain retribution for the disrespect shown the soldier, is assailed with troubles stemming from his son Matt’s belief that he was responsible for his mother’s automobile accident, and his subsequent activity; threats by his long-term and indispensable paralegal Darrin Mackenzie to leave him because of jealousy with respect to a superb woman P.I. Jackie McLaughlin important to the case; his former law firm, Hadley and Morgan, whom he left because of unfair treatment is attempting ‘payback’; as well as ‘normal’ difficulties with discovering necessary supportive evidence. Darrin’s sister Megan, with whom she has a close relationship, simultaneously is involved with marital problems disconcerting to her; Jackie also is working Leah’s case of personal threats. Numerous additional characters – Eugene and Janice Hanson, mother and father of their late-in-life only child, the dead soldier; Christine and Cal Connors, the lawyers involved in Leah’s case; Mike Randazzo, a shadowy unprincipled P.I.; Jamie Stein, an unprincipled insurance executive; Abe Levine, Leah’s boss; ‘Sister Rebecca’ and her daughter ‘Sister Mary’ (Maddy); numerous others who variously play smaller to highly significant parts in the constantly evolving complexly integrated plots and sub-plots.
Discussion/Conclusion: The author, a highly successful trial attorney, has produced one of the best legal thrillers this reader ever recalls having read. The plot/sub-plots are numerous, as are the characters but all simultaneously are so beautifully integrated that there are no ‘hitches’ whatsoever. The flow not only is smooth but fast moving as well and the characters have life. Additionally, the author has NOT fallen into the technically laden, often long-winded trap that so often catches other writers of books with legal plots. In this reviewer’s opinion, any reader who enjoys legal thrillers should NOT miss this one.
5* A MUST READ if you enjoy books with a legal theme.
5 Evolutions for Sustainable Weight Loss
ISBN: 9781505297362 (softcover first printing 2014) in e-book form by Dr. Tommy Voris, The Anti-Diet Doctor.
This is a book describing a step by step program for substantial weight loss and its maintenance. The method concentrates on how to “evolve your mind to transform your body” to accomplish the objective. It is divided into five evolutionary stages entitled Power, Emotions, Belief, Fear and Cravings. Extensive explanations and examples are provided to support each division, and myriad suggestions are set forth that will allow the reader to accomplish her/his desired effect. Included are numerous examples of how the author developed the system from his own personal struggles as well as with thoughts he gleaned from mentors and friends. It also is replete with pertinent quotations from Socrates and Einstein to contemporaries such as Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Muhammed Ali and others. Additionally, the making of lists pertinent to each activity addressed by the subject along with simple reasons for the logic for doing so is a most viable suggestion.
Discussion: This is another in the growing number of self- help or ‘how-to’ volumes appearing in the last few years. Ostensibly set forth to provide a weight loss and maintenance program primarily for women, it certainly presents viable suggestions equally pertinent to men. Also as set forth, the program goes beyond simple weight control and can be applied to one’s total life. Specifically, the methodology relies heavily on modifying the individual’s strongly ingrained mental patterns by use of introspective analysis and intensive self-evaluation to understand the reasons for the faulty activity and to remedy it by gradual development of counter actions and self-discipline along with large amounts of positive thinking. The repetitive making of lists and their review would appear to be a most helpful suggestion.
Conclusion: Presentation of this material seems somewhat unusual in that it has been authored by other than a therapist trained in the usual mental disciplines per se. However, and perhaps because of this, its ‘homey’ touch with countless personal references certainly could provide an empathy that should make it most effective with certain readers. The author has seized the essence of the importance of what is required to effect change as well as championing the extensive power provided by positive thinking – both difficult for most to acquire/maintain without sustained assistance. There is much redundancy in the book which is largely excusable. The author lectures widely and it is a common practice for emphasis employed by all lecturers, but difficult (annoying?) for reading.
4* A most viable program for certain readers; some reservations.
IMPRESSIONS, A Collection of Flash Fiction and Short Stories. An e-book by Dan Groat.
The collection referred to consists of 55 individual stories, many of vignette or even simply 2-3 page length. The content ranges from a comment on a single idea of questionable interest/importance/relevance to more extensive thoughts, considerations, ruminations, and philosophy. Subjects include racial relations, the second amendment, religion, thoughts on ‘being’, and remembrances of ‘things past’. In the treatment of each individual account the author moves from simple descriptions to the use of humor, poignancy, parody, fantasy and other prominent human emotions including thoughts on basic survival. Stories this reviewer found to be particularly interesting for one or another reason were numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 11, 13, 14, 26, 28, 45, 46, 51, 52, and 54.
Discussion: In the author’s lifetime he has participated in a host of labors ranging from menial to meaningful, all of which no doubt have contributed to his approach to life and to his writing. And as with his selection of labors, the subjects chosen about which to write demonstrate equal eclecticism. For this reader the collection as a whole covered an unusual array of subjects ranging from those seemingly lacking in a ‘theme’ to other, well-couched, thought provoking discussions.
3* Some interesting/amusing/provocative stories but for this reader an uneven presentation.
ISBN: 9781537184081, is an amusingly presented story set in Italy in e-book by Deanne Wilstead.
Lucia is a 10-year-old visiting family in Italy with her mother and father when they tragically are killed in an automobile accident. She is desolate and will speak to no one but only wants to return to her home in San Francisco. The best efforts of her uncle, Gianni who also is trying to console his wife Cristina who is equally devastated because of her love of her sister and even their young son Mario’s attempts to aid are futile. A decision ultimately is made by the Head of the Family. Nonno, the grandfather, when he decides to take the young Lucia home to America and leave the eminently successful construction business in the hands of his son Gianni. In America, he successfully opens a grocery supply where Lucia helps by stocking the shelves and other menial tasks. She has many ideas for business expansion but Nonno, she is convince, would not consider any such ideas,. Fifteen years pass and Lucia now has returned to Italy to visit the family where she supposedly is to learn to ‘cook Italian’. Many changes have taken place in the family during the ensuing period. Gianni was spectacularly inept at running the business; Cristina, exhibited an adeptness and now runs the construction company successfully; Gianni has become a Chef Par Excellence, and Mario has gained a significant other named Jaime. All of these changes the family believes must be kept from Nonno because of his strong belief that women do not properly belong in positions of authority and other traditional views. Additionally entering the plot is Aiden, a young Englishman whose Godmother Francisca had left him her Villa della Fontana. He and Lucia meet. The young man’s villa unfortunately is in a state of almost complete disrepair. Cristina takes on the restoration project which is hampered by the loss of an icon from the property and must be replaced in order for the work to be completed and the chaotic situation gradually progresses through a number of related and unrelated issues. Suddenly, Nonno returns and eventually a satisfactory conclusion is reached.
Discussion: The author has exhibited an apparent love for a very provincial Italy that most regrettably like Spain, France, Mexico and similar largely has disappeared. Hopefully, it still may exist in some rural and/or ‘out-of-the-way’ sections of the country and can provide the wistfully charming thoughts/reminiscences of a type of people and way of life once prevalent in these beautiful countries. She has been able to capture this unsophisticated social behavior quite appealingly and amusingly.
5* Appealing story of unsophisticated social behavior seldom encountered today.
ISBN: 9781946089007, Dirt Road Books, an e-book by C. C. Bolick
This ‘coming of age’ (with a twist) book follows a period in the life of Jessica Ray Delaney, a 15-year-old as she and her family return to her adoptive mother’s home town of Credence, Alabama after numerous and often abrupt unexplained moves. (Her adoption had followed her being found under strange conditions by her adoptive father at 4 years of age). Her life appears to be filled with the numerous challenges of a teen entering a new school with its already structured social groups, bullies and all. However, her problems are exacerbated by the fact that her parents although loving, seem to emphasize the adoptive fact and she also worries about her adoptive father’s health problems. She is close to her Aunt Charlie’s daughter Bailey and is attracted to her Aunt’s son and popular football player Pade which is the source of further bullying. This fact, associated with another relationship that she gradually develops with Chase, a new boy in town whose mother is Jes’s English teacher gradually gains increasing importance as the tale unfolds and the reader learns more about Chase, his mother, Jes’s earlier history and her family attachments. Of further importance are her dreams and return of memory of her early life. Unfortunately, much of this material had been known by her adoptive mother and father but had not been revealed to her because they had been told by counselors not to do so because her mind eventually would supply the facts. The ending is acceptable for the plot and provides an easy entré to the next volume in the series.
Discussion: This is a rather complex story with acceptable ‘other worldly’ overtones that should be most enjoyable for young adult readers and for the reader who is less pragmatically inclined. For these latter individuals, regrettably there are far too many unexplained actions and unresolved issues other than the ‘other worldly’ matter which is, to reiterate, acceptable and interesting.
3* 4* For Young Adult and/or readers less pragmatically inclined.