Walking Out of the Dark

Walking out of the DARK
ISBN: 9780993240201, a novel based on a true story in e-book by Steven R, Mailkowski,

Mike, the protagonist, is a young man in his twenties who has moved from his rural home to the city to attend a school for the blind. The move has been recommended because, although he still has marginal vision, he has been told it gradually will fade. To save money his residence is a rather run-down hotel/boarding house peopled by druggies and prostitutes among others. It is cheap and close to school, however. The story follows Mike and his activities as he interacts with Ruby, an interesting resident of his hotel, Margaret, his first teacher, George, a somewhat older fellow student who was an auto mechanic, Norman, a former football coach, Samantha (Sam) a lovely younger teacher and others as well as some of their friends and/or acquaintances.

Discussion: The author has provided a quite engrossing look at the activities of sightless individuals. The thought and practice that is required for the simplest activity and how the slightest wrong or not well-thought-out move could cause a problem that could range anywhere from amusing to complete disaster. The entire tale is absorbing and is set forth in an intriguingly light ‘up-beat’ manner that glosses over the devastating effect that the sightless person must experience and avoids much of the ‘downside per se’ and the more obnoxious individuals who no doubt are encountered. Instead it focuses on the statement: “There are a lot of things you can do in a bad situation; try to choose something that doesn’t make it worse.” It concentrates on the tremendous strength, fortitude and humor exhibited by the affected individuals and even describes some of the physical games devised for and by the blind for entertainment – games ranging from a type of baseball called Beep Ball to such dangerous sports as downhill ski racing where the skier is followed by another with sight who, when approaching the flags, shouts to a blind watcher that it is time to vigorously shake a tambourine so the blind skier will know the flag has been reached so as to make the appropriate turn.

Conclusion: This book is a worthwhile read that provides a number of insights into the world of sightlessness that demonstrates existence of a degree of resilience, hope and humor that is amazing.

5* Nicely constructed/presented fictional memoire, highly recommended.

 

A Hole in Science

A HOLE in SCIENCE
Arevised edition in 2016 e-book by Ted Christopher that he has subtitled: An opening for an alternative understanding of life.

The book’s synopsis recalls the fact that problems have always existed for the scientific understanding of life, particularly with the number of unusual behaviors encountered and suggests exploration of alternatives. For example, with advanced studies of DNA and the genome it was believed that the age of ‘personalized medicine’ was at hand where hereditary disease would be eliminated. Sadly, we are not quite there yet. Hereditary diseases which supposedly could be wiped away by finding and destroying the common variable(s) in their genetic origin, were discovered to have far too many variables. The common factor(s) present could explain only six per cent of the hereditability and almost none of the causality. It is accepted that 99.9 % of human beings are identical. However, that remaining 0.1 % still has a huge variability. The author then proceeds to discuss a number of the variabilities as encountered in monozygotic (identical) twins; Intelligence Conundrums – childhood behavioral syndrome, the child prodigy, the Einstein Syndrome, the Savants and the Flynn Effect (environmental influence); animal mysteries (strange social behavior); those of families; groups; gender; all with a considerable amount of discussion within a religion/science context rather heavy on transcendentalism, reincarnation and similar. A short author’s biography and quite extensive list of references round out the presentation.

Discussion: This is an interesting book for non-scientists. The author in his closing comments states that he wished to provide a discussion “for the curious” and that “The main point of this book has been to point out some of the basic problems with the material-only vision of life.” Even more specifically perhaps, he has listed some of the many questions surrounding life and the manner in which they offer challenges to materialism. Also in his closing remarks, the author cites a strong personal interest in transcendental views as a result of inexplicable dreams as a child as well as a “deep phobia and somehow sensing a connection to someone who had died in a difficult scenario”. The residual effects of such experiences quite obviously can provide intense pressure to investigate, hopefully to deliver some manner of personal catharsis. Certainly this is an acceptable cause that furnishes simultaneously interesting and thought producing material to the inquisitive mind that has not previously had the benefit of exposure to much of the material provided.

Summary: Interesting introductory scientific discussion with religious overtone for the previously uninitiated. Some further editing may have been helpful.

4* somewhat scrambled but interesting book for uninitiated inquisitive reader

Anamnesis Paradox

Anamnesis Paradox, an e-book by Stewart Sanders opens with the author’s statement: “This book is fiction, except for those words that happen to be true.” This statement, as well as the book’s content, perhaps can better be understood by a prospective reader with a little more explanation. There is another pre-statement to the actual story’s beginning: “And now, amongst the ruins of lives lived at an uncompromising pace, start the dreams. Welcome to your Anamnesis.” If today’s reader is unacquainted with this less often encountered term, it is defined in M-W Collegiate Dictionary simply as “a calling to mind”. Google offers a definition more pertinent to the author’s tale: “recollection, (or reminiscence of) in particular the remembering of things from a supposed previous existence (often used with reference to Platonic philosophy)”. [Plato having set forth the belief that the recovery of buried memories, anamnesis, was the only manner in which one could know the world in which he/she lived.] The most pertinent definition of the remaining word of the title, paradox, of course, is number 3 in the M-W dictionary: “one (as a person, situation, or action) having seemingly contradictory qualities or phases.” Specifically for purposes here, something may sound absurd, ridiculous and/or contradictory but contain elements of truth. The author offers further explanation for the basics of his saga: “Human brains can make the simplest answers hard to find, by limiting all reason to only account for whatever tiny part of life’s rich tapestry has been experienced. We each have an eternal soul, our church teaches that instead of allowing the natural process of transference, we influence the process, but the soul’s story must always start at the beginning of the body and mind.” Further along he raises the question: “Could that mean all of our hidden routines were left by a consciousness that we knew where to look all along.”
Discussion: The story line itself follows the thoughts/action and the recalled thoughts/actions of individuals through various periods of their lives from the 1100’s to the present with recall of activities, acquaintances and individuals of note ranging from Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury to Hitler’s demented (?) obscene physician Mengele, and today’s prominent Mujahideen. The book is well written but somewhat difficult to follow as it moves from person to person, and even sometimes confusing especially with different sexual references. Philosophical offerings obviously are plentiful and, as would be expected with the author’s background, much of today’s cutting edge science is included along with plentiful elements of sci-fi.

Conclusion: It is strongly recommended that the prospective reader heed the author’s specific advice at the very start of the book. “This is the third title in a continuing saga, you need to read book 1, Paralysis Paradox available for free on Amazon and book 2, Convergent Paradox first.” This admonition is almost mandatory because the volume cannot stand adequately on its own. If the reader proceeds he/she will find considerable confusion and/or even complete disenchantment at the worst. At best only partial enjoyment even if the basic tenet is accepted.

3* 4* Philosophical fiction; 3* or less dependent upon acceptance of admonition.

Mortum

MORTUM
ISBN: 9781477829394, Thomas & Mercer, an e-book by Erik Threrme.

Plot: Andy Crowl inherits the house and other worldly goods from his 33-tear-old cousin Craig Moore who apparently fell from a cliff and drowned. There were no witnesses but autopsy demonstrated no contrary evidence. The house is in the very small town of Mortum where Mary, Craig’s mother still lives. Andy drives to the town with his sister Kate, meets the real estate agent and against instructions to not visit and/or attempt to move anything from it until legal matters have been settled, he goes there and begins to explore. A highly offensive odor greets him and Kate which turns out to be a dead rat under the refrigerator that has a key and a note in its mouth. Andy immediately realizes that this is a clue that will lead to others before his total inheritance is divulged. He and Craig often challenged each other in this manner. From this moment the story proceeds in a slowly expanding way to evolve a pattern of deceit and deception laced with misconceptions, misunderstandings and poorly thought-out activities indulged in by a number of often quite self-centered and/or thoughtless individuals. The tale ends in a manner that just seems to perpetuate the problems experienced by the poor protagonist.

Characters: Craig is never introduced, per se, but his competitive nature in association with Andy provides the basis for the plot. His mother Mary was 19 and pregnant when she moved to Mortum and provided the information that her husband had been killed in an auto accident in Canada. She also refused to answer any of Craig’s questions about his father. Andy is the son of a caring mother and father, as is Kate who is a single, conservative thinking, lower grade school teacher. Andy is enamored of puzzles, recently divorced under circumstances divulged later as not of a frivolous nature previously assumed by his sister. Nate is the local owner of a gas station in the town and has been there ‘forever’. Harlan, Nate’s ‘no-good’ nephew occasionally plays poker with Craig. Ricky Simms is the local cemetery custodian who takes a liking to and treats Craig like a son until a misunderstood occurrence drastically changes the situation. Debbie who is Ricky’s 13-year-old granddaughter.

Discussion: The author has provided an interestingly involved tale of deceit and deception indulged in by a group of characters who regrettably from this reviewer’s standpoint are not well defined. Thus, the activities in which they participate often are difficult to understand and/or accept. If, however, the reader enjoys a provoking almost totally plot based mystery, he/she no doubt will enjoy.

3* Unusual involved plot based mystery, 2* character inconsistencies.

SELF PUBLISHING

SELF PUBLISHING, The Secret Guide to Becoming a Best Seller, an e-book by Richard McCartney.

This is the third book offered by this author with respect to selling your self-published book. In the first, he provided “The Secret Guide to Becoming A Best Seller”. In the next (which he graciously offers to readers of this present volume) he added a most useful marketing ‘Cheat Sheet’ of “some of the lesser-known facts about buying and selling books on Amazon”. In five chapters he explains how to work your way through the Amazon jungle to best market your book AND does so in explicit, detailed steps. The present volume does contain some repetition of a small portion of material presented earlier, but is acceptably compatible in context.

Further in this present volume he has added definitions and highly pertinent discussions with respect to how Amazon works to employ ‘click through rates’ (CTR), ‘conversion rates’ (CR), etc. in determining book sales. Also set forth are ways for placing your book on listings other than only the ‘Best Sellers’. There also are comparative descriptions of the sales success rates to market one’s book gained from social media sources such as Facebook and Twitter versus those of alternative means such as Book Subscription Services. A list of the more prominent ones available is included. Even more importantly, he provides comparative statistics of value received for dollars spent (ROI – return on investment). Perhaps one of the most helpful discussions is about, and the importance and value of, book reviews, their honesty, and how to obtain them.

Discussion: At a time that extended through part of the advent of POD and the earlier phases of self-publishing this reviewer provided a university level course in writing/publishing. After studying what was available for marketing and being particularly disenchanted with the limited helpfulness of social media (strengthened by statements, and even limited studies performed by one highly respected author), my straightforward advice to my classes was: “It is my firm belief that to be even moderately successful in today’s market, you must have a sizable group of readers with whom you share a common interest. Without it, publishing and selling novels is quite simply a crap shoot. So, if you don’t have a sizable group with whom you have established a common bond, or if you cannot establish one, you had better really enjoy writing, because your sales may not come anywhere close to your expectations. There is an adage that has been around for many years in the writing profession: ‘Don’t be in a hurry to give up your day job’. AND, if you still wish to become ‘a published author’, bring your expectations to a plausible level, continue to write for the pure enjoyment and sense of accomplishment that the activity brings, and accept any monetary recompense as a most pleasant and additional result. If you still wish to reach a more meaningful level of book sales, either prepare to work as hard or harder marketing them than you spend in the writing, or be willing to spend a sizeable amount of money to accomplish the goal.” Obviously and regrettably the material presented by this author was not available at the time.

Conclusion: McCartney has set forth a well written treasure trove of information literally vital to the independent author IF after thoroughly examining the true purpose of their desire he/she wants to attain a level of respectable compensation. It indeed is regrettable that this information was not available at an earlier time when attempts were being made to shepherd a group of neophytes. Once more, as with the previous book, it is strongly suggested that this book is a must read for Indie authors.

5* Must read for serious Indie authors.

 

Milijun

Milijun
ISBN: 9780994495617, an extraterrestrial Sci-Fi in e-book by Graham Clayton.

Plot: The story opens in Mare Moscoviense, Lunar Far Side in 2179 AD with Lunar minor Simon Cordell entering the unusual cavern in which the mining company was initiating drilling procedures. His light discovers strange shapes on the walls, all appearing identical. He radios earth who send a palaeontologist who finds no evidence of their being carbon based and medico Kendall LeBlanc who decides to extract one to study. Simon objects but LeBlanc proceeds. At the base camp the alien is sealed in a transparent cryogenic tube and attached to a vacuum pump and they decide to examine it in the morning. An alarm awakens the base. What appear to be a horde of bats is arising from the dig site. Simultaneously the alien they have is escaping from the tube with head and an arm out when it suddenly stops. The scientist approaches. LeBlanc asks if it’s dead. Probably. LeBlanc moves forward and discovers there is no evidence of injury to the tube even though the ‘thing’ had partially passed through. They open the tube, extract the alien and decide to investigate. Meanwhile Simon and the director return to the cave and find all the figures have disappeared. They return and find the station a shambles and an increasing number of dead bodies. One of the remaining minors attacks them. He is killed by a laser shot, an alien emerges from his dying body, Simon nicks its arm with another shot, it speeds to the door and disappears. From this strange, devastating and fast moving beginning the reader is taken to the lesser populated areas of the Australian outback where Laura Sinclair and her teen-age son Jason are attempting to enjoy a sojourn in their camper. Their period of enjoyment is unfortunately brief as they become involved with these strange alien creatures, the local police, the military, Simon, and a strange group of individuals in a rather sequestered area of the outback they refer to as Milijun.

Discussion: To provide more detail would be a disservice to the prospective reader. The author has combined his years as an aerospace engineer and interest in sci-fi to present a tale about human- extraterrestrial interrelationships that is ‘different’ and intriguing in its concept. The plot really is fascinating but regrettably, at least for this reader, the characters have little development. Laura and Jason especially are difficult persons with whom to attain any great degree of empathy. Neither is well defined and Laura and her vacillating activities are particularly difficult to accept. However if the reader is looking for a sci-fi replete with extraterrestrials, this book should be very intriguing.

4* Intriguing plot-driven alien sci-fi.