The Thing Speaks for Itself

The Thing Speaks for Itself ISBN: 9780997905502, Sneaky Quiet Publishing, a psychological mystery/thriller by A. S. A. Durphy.

Plot: The author introduces the reader to Special Agent Gracie Stratis who is on a mission headed by Charles Davis. It serves as part of advanced training before leaving for overseas security assignment. The mission does not go particularly well and she receives some injuries, but not sufficient to interfere with a second assignment. The second assignment is a more or less complete disaster where Charles is killed and she receives several severe injuries leaving her with a damaged leg/ankle, median nerve damage (which controls feeling/action to the thumb and adjacent three fingers) and a certain amount of brain damage that time alone will determine rate of recovery. She is in her early thirties and formerly was employed by the Mayor in a position assumed to be related to security. In her personal life she is responsible for an unusual small group of younger persons all living with her in her apartment – Russell, her 22-year-old brother who delivers pizza and who she has ‘taken care of’ since he was a pre-teen when their father died; Dario, the same age and a gym employee (personal trainer?); Paige, a student journalist well versed in use of electronics; Noah, a young man raised in luxury, repeatedly cut off from funds by his parents because of non-conformity with their wishes and now employed on a questionable project being espoused by the Mayor. Noah disappears and the story evolves into activities undertaken by Gracie and her untrained cadre as they attempt to find him. Their attempts coincidentally interfere with advancement of a project deleterious for most of the people but immensely profitable for a small group of politically involved individuals. This brings into play several deadly employees-for- hire, a vicious drug dealer, his henchmen and assorted other characters. Wild melees result as a ‘refusing to admit but definitely severely injured and illusion-suffering Gracie’, assisted by her untrained/unknowledgeable and poorly fitted group, and with unexpected assistance, pursue their blundering but somehow moderately successful course.

Discussion: This is a story about a young woman carrying a considerable load of psychological baggage who reacts in a manner that proves to be increasingly self-destructive. It is a tale that is quite fascinating in some ways although more pragmatic readers will find several features difficult to accept. The plot gradually evolves well, action is ‘over-the-top’, and the illusionary aspects credible. Regrettably, the character development and their interaction are rather rudimentary and this reader often had difficulty in ‘catching-up’ at the beginning of, of even during some portions of the activity in a scene,.

3*  Interesting story, fascinatingly but unevenly presented.

Benny Gator

Benny Gator ISBN: 9780997933314, King Kahan Publishing, Blueberry Illustrations, a children’s e-book by Chrissie Kahan.

Story: Benny, a dog that was abandoned as a puppy, now is grown but suffers from the unusual need to open his mouth gator-like. The reaction is greatly exacerbated when the garbage collectors made their rounds and he has to do this to relieve a very uncomfortable feeling. His owners’ constant reaction to him is “Put those choppers away”. He wanted to be like other dogs but could not change. His owners were very observant and gradually began to think that maybe he actually was responding in this matter out of fear and/or anxiety. They checked the Internet, took him to a therapist and gradually were able to instill in him a simple method for changing his behavior.

Discussion: The author is an educator who has worked with children for thirteen years and has been an elementary educational assistant principle for the last eight. Frustrated with the manner in which children often are treated, she decided to attempt to produce a fun, meaningful book that would teach them how to better manage their fears and anxieties.

Conclusion: This well-illustrated little book should be a step in the right direction for providing help to children at this level, especially if it is accompanied by thoughtful personal relationship(s). Prospective readers should be aware that this book can be read ONLY on ‘CLOUD’ devices.

4* Helpful presentation especially accompanied by suggested ‘backup’.

PALADINE Traffic Stop

PALADINE Traffic Stop, copyright 2017, Queen City Trading Ltd. a thriller e-book by Kenneth Eade.

Plot: The book opens: “Sacrifice, charity, and concern for others has always been a characteristic of the human spirit. But there is a wild, hungry, thirsty, selfish creature that lurks within the libido of each of us. That id some of us ignore, others deny, and still others put a mask on it or lock it away so even they cannot release it. But when the balance is tipped to its side, it can break any bonds that have tied it down, and we are powerless to stop it. The result can be exhilarating, intoxicating, mind-blowing, or it can be deadly.” The story then unfolds to follow the activity of Robert Garcia, a man who had “run away from himself, had tried to convince himself that his past was not a part of his present” – a ‘present’ simply dedicated to following where the winds blew in his ocean going sailboat to quietly spend time fishing. This area right now was among the smaller Greek Islands. Robert never had a ‘normal’ job. Like his father it had been the military, more specifically with the Army’s Special Forces as a covert operative who’s training and exceptional skills had converted him into a fine-tuned, killing machine living a dangerous life of death-dealing assignments. Reportedly, and almost factually, he had been killed in his last assignment, so now as an unknown with nobody close and money from lucrative assassination jobs he pursued his solitary anonymous life from a base on one of the most obscure islands. Unfortunately, he was tired of fishing and ‘the beast within him wanted to come out and play’. He was about a 30 minute cruise to Porto Heli, a summer resort pecked with partiers and more easily accessible and less well-known than Mykonos. He sets sail to land on the island where the subsequent results of his evening sets in motion a whirlwind of activity. He returns beyond Isis lines, reconnects and partners with a former Russian adversary, acquires a new partner who unfortunately also has a personal agenda, all leading to a rousing finish.

Discussion: The author has set forth a well-written, fast paced thriller based on the totally vicious and degenerate practice of Human Trafficking/sex slavery extant throughout the world but seemingly more viciously prevalent in Syria and the entire ISIS/21st Century Terrorism expansion and movement. A number of references for additional reading are sited.

5* Thriller, well-written, fast-paced and based upon factual material.

14 Steps to Self-Publishing a BOOK

14 Steps to Self-Publishing a BOOK ISBN 9780997994643, Lecture PRO Publishing, an e-book by Mike Kowis, Esq.

This book presents the specifics of the author’s process of publishing his first book. An introduction explains why he decided to self-publish – his only option after receipt of numerous rejections from traditional publishers – and follows with extolling the advantages that ultimately accrued as a result of the decision. Chapter One then recites the 14 steps to be taken; Chapter Two, each of the Writing, Self-publishing, and Marketing Costs; Three, enumeration with detailed description/explanation of Ten Lessons learned from writing the first book; A Conclusion; Appendix containing a Self-Publishing Checklist that largely is repetitive; A short biography of the author again with some repetition.

Discussion: Evaluating this book as a whole is somewhat dichotomous. Its main thrust – to provide specific details required for the novice to self-publish a book that is ‘properly done’ with the fewest possible errors – is excellent. It is short and really addresses all pertinent details. However, this reviewer has questions with the second theme – the suggested time line that admittedly may be faulty interpretation, but if so would seem to profit from extensive clarification. He states in the introduction that upon receipt of his last rejection from a traditional publisher in August 2016, he proceeded with the self-publication that occurred on October 21, 2016. AND in his conclusion he states “To summarize, simply follow the 14 steps above and you should be able to self-publish your tome in about one to two months.”

This time line would seem to be quite difficult to achieve. Not only is time required to write the book, but the publishing process often extends time required simply because of the need to hire quite a number of additional personnel and pursue a number of additional steps. A cover design professional, a graphic designer to format the book, an editor, a proof reader and a printer for the physical act of publishing (especially in all three formats the author employed) all are required which adds not only the time required to perform their activity, but also that needed for ‘fitting your request into their own busy schedule’. Good cover designers are quite in demand as are good editors AND further time is required simply to ‘see how well you can work with a particular individual’. A cover designer and even more especially an editor with whom an author is ‘not on the same page’ can be disastrous. Then the author also lists the need for the activities of “establishing a new business to publish and market” your book, buy a domain and establish a web site, buy ISBN numbers, apply for a Library of Congress number, find a merchant account at your preferred shipping company, and create a social media platform (to promote your book). For these rather numerous requirements listed, it is extremely difficult for this reviewer to visualize how this self-publication could have been accomplished in two months. And incidentally by a man who, according to his short biography, includes functioning as an “Adjunct Faculty Member for one of the largest community colleges in the Lone Star State… ENGAGING COLLEGE STUDENTS in Business Law and Corporate Tax classes” as well as being employed as a “Tax attorney at a Fortune 500 company in Texas.”

Conclusion: A short book (that could even have been shorter by excluding repetition) that definitely provides 5* ranking for presentation of vital importance for the novice. However and most regrettably, a proposal that provides a time for book completion that in this reviewer’s opinion would be most difficult to reach.

3*   5* excellent publishing advice; strong cautionary caveat regarding completion time.

KARAOKE CULTURE

KARAOKE CULTURE ISBN 9781934824597, Open Letter, U of Rochester (NY) nonprofit, literary translation press, an e-book by Dubravka Ugresic. (Translators David Williams, Ellen Elias-Bursac and Celia Hawksworh.)

The author was born after WW II in the part of Yugoslavia that now is Croatia. With cessation of the 1991 war that dissolved the country. She was a “product of Yugoslavia post-war culture that, in spite of its proclaimed future orientation was clearly deeply immersed in the wartime past. I am a witness to the recent “Yugoslav” disintegration, the change of ideological and political systems and the collapse of a cultural system”. (Strategies listed: to erase the past by burning books, deletion of bibliographies, rewritten school texts and official “truths” fabrication of history along with disappearance of an untold number of people.) Ugresic’s firm anti-nationalistic stand exposed her to persistent media assessment naming her a traitor, ‘witch’ and more. This book expresses, quite succinctly in areas, her obvious resentment but also quite clearly describes the tremendous inter-nation hostility that reached quite distinct levels of almost nonsensical proportions; e.g., accusations that although a Croatian, she was expressing too strongly a depth of Serbian influence. She further states that she believes European writers are too accustomed to lugging the baggage of their states with them acting as the country’s representatives espousing its history, politics, national and religious beliefs, its communities and homeland. Her desire would be to see a Republic of Literature established where admittance would be by production of a piece of literature that did not espouse these causes, but instead was pure literary in nature. She believes unfortunately that such establishment probably would be “dangerous for Europe, its foundation and its future.” Her presentation is not limited exclusively to this theme but largely is a memoire that covers a wide range of activities in numerous countries throughout Europe and the United States with often fascinating pertinent remarks. She now resides in Holland.

Discussion: the author has exhibited a superb breadth of knowledge of a vast number of subjects and a skill at very aptly expressing her feelings thoughts and preferences, whether serious or amusing as is her discussion on the almost universal existence of a ‘mini-bar’ in each hotel room and the psychological aspects raised by its presence. A most important inclusion to this book is to give credit to the very excellent manner in which the translators were able to so beautifully capture even many of the author’s innuendos. David Williams, pursuing his doctoral research at the University of Auckland, has centered on Ugresic’s writings and “the idea of a “literature of the Eastern European ruins.”” Ellen Elias-Bursac is an award-winning translator of Yugoslavian writers. Celia Hawkesworth, now a retired freelance writer and translator, was Senior Lecturer in Serbian and Croatian at the school of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London.

Conclusion: The Oxford dictionary states that the origin of Karaoke is Japanese and means “empty orchestra”. For this volume, such a definition provides the large number of ‘unsupported songs’ that initiate interesting corollary thoughts to accompany the book’s descriptive content. The author has set forth many subjects upon which the reader can spend almost endless time pursuing on many levels, not the least of which have cogent similarities to what is happening in today’s chaotic political and cultural structure within the United States and parenthetically I’ve just heard, in the small South American Country of Ecuador. This is a most worthy addition to the University of Rochester’s literary collection and recommended to those who enjoy reading books that simultaneously offer material of interest on many levels.

5* for the reader who enjoys a well-written, thought-producing read.

Mouth of the Rat

Mouth of the Rat ISBN: 9781938701672 Telemacus Press, Book 5 in Samantha Jamison Mystery Series by Peggy A. Edelheit.

Plot/Characters: Samantha (Sam) a mystery author constantly pushed by her editor and publisher has just been persuaded to visit a friend in Boca Raton, FL. The friend Mona, a college friend long removed, suddenly has an emergency that Sam cannot resist. (Her next story?) It seems that Mona’ husband, Marco has been killed, she has been left with instructions to find and give to his uncle Carlos his extremely valuable collection of cars and his condo. The problem is that she does not know where the cars are garaged, nor can she find the uncle anywhere. The story evolves as Sam attempts to discover both and encounters a mass of impediments as the search advances with numerous serious consequences awaiting any misstep. Marco was heavily involved in illegal activity, he was killed with Mona’s pistol (she has a permit to carry), Marco’s ex-wife doesn’t yet know about his marriage to Mona which is fortunate because she is believed to have very lethal tendencies. Another ex-wife also turns up, although rumors exist that she may have died in an auto accident (been run over –twice) along with two very large thugs, one with a poodle, neighbors Sylvie and Bunny and Irving who had ‘heard/saw things’ the night of the murder, Sydney and Nikko, neither of whom seem to be who they are supposed to be, and of course’ Sam’s AARP triumvirate of mystery-solving partners, Martha, Betty and Hazel.

Discussion: This is the third novel I have read in this series and all have involved zany players actively engaged in a plot of duplicity and deception with murder and mayhem working their way to an acceptable ending. A historical note about Boca Raton is included.

Conclusion: To repeat a conclusion I have used previously to describe books in this series: This book presents an amusing romp through a complicated plot with rather zany characters involved in a type of madcap activity that appeals to many readers in this seemingly well-received series.

5* Another amusing romp by the regular and new zany characters