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Book Review of "Touching Gently: A Memoir", by Charles Hargrove

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In his book, Touching Gently, A Memoir, Charles Hargrove had the unique ability to welcome the reader to the culture and times living in Southern California in the 1930s. He takes the reader on a journey beginning with his childhood, which included loving parents, horses, boy scouts, a teenage romance, acceptance into the right crowd at school, a job in the family business, his first heartbreak, and a chance at an acting career.

Hargrove’s memoir continues with detailed vignettes of his experiences in college, meeting the love of his life, Joan Von Euer and his stint in the Navy during the Korean War. Serving as a Quartermaster on a destroyer, he writes vivid descriptions of life aboard the USS Halsey Powell: sleeping in narrow bunks stacked three feet high, rough seas and seasickness.
 

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Book Review of "Almost Damned", by Chris Leibig

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Chris Leibig’s 2016 PenCraft award-winning novel Almost Mortal ended with defense attorney Samson Young, having just learned that his client Camille Paradisi had risen from the dead after being brutally shot to death in front of the Bennett County Courthouse, agrees to represent her and the other descendants of the Fallen Angels in their plea for redemption.   In this sequel, Almost Damned, Sam seeks to keep his commitment. But how? Samson Young is a criminal defense attorney with an office in contemporary Washington, DC.  He is struggling to handle several legal cases that seem to be mysteriously interconnected.  The intense opening court scene sets the stage for drama and suspense that keeps the reader guessing until the last page.

 

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Book Review of "The Gotten", by Rob Tucker

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Astrid Sims is a new girl in town. The Gotten, by Rob Tucker, is a young adult novel that introduces a precocious thirteen-year-old British girl into the world of pre-teen boys. Set in the 1950s in a small Mid-west town, Astrid’s intimidating personality, intellect and boldness set her apart from the other girls. She self-assuredly inserts herself into a clique of four boys, Ray Kern, Eddie Devito, Steven Tilman, and Clement Petersen. Although they resent her for including herself in their social circle, she ingratiates herself by contributing a doorbell to the boys’ tree fort. She says the bell is magical and introduces a game she called, “ring if you dare.” 

 Astrid impresses the boys with her world of imagination by installing the doorbell on their tree fort.  She starts a rumor that if a person rings the bell with a question in mind, the bell will provide an answer.  Does it really have that power?

Suddenly the boys and Astrid disappear, causing chaos in the small community. The police, news media, and parents become involved in searching for the boys and Astrid. Rumors fly.  They question if she is a witch who has control of the future?

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Book Review of "Beyond Revelation", by John Hazen

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Beyond Revelation by John Hazen is the third novel in his Francine Vega Investigative Thriller series. Told in the first person by Francine Vega, a TV journalist in New York City. She is as much a detective as she is a reporter.

Hazen makes this novel easy to enjoy as a stand-alone by having his protagonist give an intriguing glimpse into the series' first two installments. The back story also tempts readers to peruse the previous novels. Beyond Revelation opens with Francine expressing her emotional involvement with her family, her job, and previous experiences as an investigative journalist. The behind-the-scenes of news media, news programming, and the workings of a news network lead into the main plot.
 

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Book Review of "Torment in the Wind", by Judy Bruce

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Judy Bruce's Torment in the Wind is the seventh installment of the Wind Series. Megan Docket, who is a small-town attorney, is the surprisingly endearing protagonist of the series. Her preferred legal practice is estate planning, wills, and tort cases, but unfortunately, she repeatedly finds herself serving in criminal cases.   She also is a gifted yet troubled female detective. 

A threatening letter mailed from the state of Nevada sets off a series of revelations that unearths deep secrets, and Bruce's layered approach gives the book more than enough plot points to keep the novel exciting.   

Bruce's choice to reveal the possible villain's identities and peel back the layers of their family lives creates an atmosphere full of ominous suspense. Which one of them is the real villain in this story? Which one of them is out to kill Megan? 

 

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Book Review of "The Enigma Threat", by Charles V, Breakfield & Roxanne E. Burkey

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The Enigma Threat by Charles V, Breakfield & Roxanne E. Burkey starts off with their iconic supercomputer ICABOD being targeted for destruction by CESPOOL, a UN-sanctioned agency charged with the responsibility of finding all independently owned AI-enhanced supercomputers and destroying them.   Tragically the R-Group is unable to stop ICABOD’s demise and the arrest of Quip. Their old nemesis, the MAG, celebrate this turn of events. For readers of the Enigma series, the end of the iconic ICABOD is a sad development.

 

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Book Review of "Farm Boy, City Girl", by John Dawson

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Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina, by John “Gene” Dawson, is a riveting tell-all memoir that includes intimate details of growing up on share-cropper farms in Iowa during the Tryin’ Thirties. Gene experienced many backbreaking chores as the oldest son of a farmer struggling to make-a-living for his family during the depression, dustbowl, and drought. His recollections provide vivid historical references to the living conditions and farming practices in the 1930s and even information for today’s scientists studying global warming.

 

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Book Review of "One Boy's War", by Nancy McDonald

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One Boy's War, by Nancy McDonald, is the anticipated sequel to Boy from Berlin.  These young adult novels are true-to-life adventures inspired by historical events. The plot of One Boy's War follows the exploits and struggles of ten-year-old Kafer Avigdor as he and his family strive to survive war-torn Europe in 1940.

The tribulations of war are immediately apparent from the opening paragraphs, told in Kafer's voice.  Kafer, his older sister, brother, and mother are traveling on the ocean liner SS Somerville sailing from London to Halifax when the ship is hit by a German torpedo. His terrifying ordeal includes boarding a tossing lifeboat, a miraculous rescue, and a mysterious stranger.

 

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Book Review of "CC's Road Home", by Leah B. Eskine

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CC's Road Home, by Leah B. Eskine, is a young adult novel that takes place in the early sixties. It is a story about teenage pregnancy in an era where the subject was gingerly tiptoed around. Back then, shame would rain down even on a family of any young pregnant unwed girl. 

Eskine's beginning chapters captivates the reader who'll wonder why an estranged, alcoholic mother would be abandoning her teenage daughter.  The protagonist, Cicely, also known as CC, is a sixteen-year-old girl from New Orleans whose mother is leaving her in Ruston, Louisiana, a small town in the northern part of the state.  It isn't total abandonment; she is just relinquishing Cicely to the grandparents who own a small farm.  It is a safe place where Cicely can hide away while she takes care of her problem.  Back then, pregnant teens — unlike today — had no choice. They were kicked out of school, and if they were also employed, they were terminated. Where was a 16-year-old girl to turn?

 

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Book Review of "Snapshots", by Eliot Parker

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Snapshots is a collection of eleven separate ingenious tales penned by author Eliot Parker.  There is richness in his detail with an accurate depiction of human passions and frailties. Stories that tell of a brother gone bad, a minor drug dealer sentenced to big time in prison, a sheriff who meets a nightmare, a tale about baseball, and much more. Parker has given us a treasury of tales that represents an astonishing range of short stories.  It’s a collection of tales in various hues and timbres. All these stories have one point in common—the consistent quality of Parker’s storytelling.

 

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Book Review of "Finding Up", by Linda Anthony Hill

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Finding Up by Linda Anthony Hill is a self-help book written by an author who lives what she preaches.

If you are struggling to keep up with life and a career, then, Finding Up is a book you need to help overcome obstacles in your personal and professional lives. Hill’s book provides a method of how to do it. She offers some actionable strategies to regain control of your emotional self, your inner self, and your professional self by providing ways to move in a positive direction to help you succeed in life. It’s not only a fascinating read, but it could be transformative.
 

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Book Review of "The Chairs Are Jealous", by J. Denise Kulick

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J. Denise Kulick, author of The Chairs Are Jealous, pulls the reader's leg and tickles his funny bone in this fun fantasy. Set in 1958, near New York City, the novel's plot follows the adventures of Marian Fennell.  Marian is an introverted textile conservator in a large university. She and her extroverted sister were orphaned when young and were reared by Aunt Ruthie who plays a pivotal part in the plot.

After leaving a terrifying phone call to Marian, Ruthie vanishes. Despite warnings, Marian rushes to Ruthie's home to look for clues.  What she discovers is a hilarious and unimaginable scene that resembles a Disney cartoon movie. Confronted with mind-boggling destruction, she finds that animated furniture has taken over Ruth's house. On the ceiling, "strands of cooked spaghetti hung like yellowish fringe from a tomato sauced circle overhead."
 

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Book Review of "As Seen in a Mirror", by Caleb Rocke

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 As Seen in a Mirror, by Caleb Rocke, is a political/mystery thriller that begins with an introductory teaser from the conclusion which sets the stage, hints at the plot, and introduces major characters. Josh Cunningham is employed as a truth-seeker and field agent for a mega-industry firm called SEH. He is faced with searching for the truth behind a conundrum of mysterious worldwide happenings. His challenge is to discover how the present has morphed from the past.

Rocke's novel, written prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, actually deals with the unexpected ways that a pandemic can influence not just the public health but culture and politics and economies as real life has taught us. The plot makes parallel and oblique references to history-making events in the year 2020. The novel is set in the United States in a technologically advanced future.  Global warming has caused humans to have allergic reactions to the sun.  A raging pandemic disease seems to induce madness in the afflicted. The later stages of the disease appear to cause the infected to become a physical threat to others and self-destructive. They kill those around them and mutilate themselves. Bodily deterioration makes the infected human display rabies-like symptoms and appear zombish. Cosmic activity causes talk of alien intervention. Terrorist attacks and cyberattacks reported by the mainstream media, as well as social media alarmists, complicate Josh's job to find the truth. Only by discovering the truth behind the terrifying morphing chaos can the scientists Josh works for, develop a cure and a preventative vaccine for the pandemic.

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Book Review of "Catamaran Crossing", by Douglas Carl Fricke

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Landlubbers, as well as boating enthusiasts, will be intrigued by Catamaran Crossing, by Douglas Carl Fricke. More than an adventure story or a travel log, this memoir reveals dreams that come true. The author had verbally retold his 1986 sailing adventure numerous times and now he preserves it in writing.

His “opportunity of a lifetime” came about when sailing friends asked him to help crew a new 42-foot catamaran sailboat, the Toucan, from the Canary Islands across the Atlantic to Antigua in the West Indies.  A forty-year-old weekend sailor with extensive experience on smaller boats, Fricke was so excited by the opportunity that he was willing to quit his job if his boss would not grant him vacation time. His dedication to preparation and pre-trip planning is empowering for readers who desire adventure and the thrill of a challenge.
 

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Book Review of "Bloodlaw", by Blaise Ramsay

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Bloodlaw by Blaise Ramsay is a novel about an unfortunate man named Alastair Maddox, who is transformed into a vampire by a strange woman named Alexandra Delane. The story takes place in the windy city of Chicago during the roaring twenties.  If you love books about the mafia, vampires, alpha males, beautiful women, and stories told from multiple perspectives? Blaise Ramsay’s Bloodlaw has got you covered!  The book has sort of a horror feel to it as Ramsay describes Alastair digging himself out of his grave and learning to exist by avoiding sunlight and chowing down on fat Chicago rats.  Alastair has a mission; he wants to find the criminals who were responsible for his death. Adapting to his new persona is hard because he can hear the blood pumping in the living, and just the site of a human makes him salivate – but he controls himself. Low lives had also murdered his parents - is there a connection between these murders? What are the who’s and whys of the murders?  How will he deal with his girlfriend, Charlaine Ware, better known as Charlie? Will she accept him as a vampire?

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