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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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Book Review of "Retire not Expire", by J. L. Edwards


Retire not Expire by J. L. Edwards is a true guidebook for anyone who anticipates being around to retire sometime in the future.  It is a well-written book with great insight into today's often complicated world of investments.  This short but insightful book is a friendly/casual read, not dry at all—like many similar books. There are real experience examples—many of which seem quite familiar—that will help you focus on a map to help navigate to your retirement.  The book offers a very balanced, simplistic no-frills approach to reaching your retirement objectives. The book's goal is not just helping you have the cash to live on in retirement, but the planning to have the life that you have dreamed and imagined. It is a book filled with wisdom on making the choices that are best to optimize your future retirement. Continue reading "Book Review of "Retire not Expire", by J. L. Edwards"

Book Review of "The Green House", by Dan Lawton

The Green House by Dan Lawton is a novella that chronicles the life of Girard Remington, an elderly Mathematics professor struggling with his guilt from his feeling of responsibility for an accident that took the life of someone dear to him. The story, told in the third person, recounts a transformative event that happened to Girard, which shattered his everyday regimen and became the catalyst that brought clarity and reconciliation to his life.


Girard Remington had built a fabulous Greenhouse and became a dedicated gardener. The greenhouse and its beautiful flowers provided him solace from the mental issues he struggled with.  It became his refuge whenever he felt overwrought from the deadly event that made him feel emotionally empty. It was a place of beauty and quiet that soothe the everlasting guilt that ate at him for what he had allowed to happen many years before. An event that led to a death and also the alienation of his daughter, Stacey. It was his love of alcohol that precipitated the deadly event. 

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Book Review of "The Secret of Plants in the Environment", by Rishikesh Upadhyay


The Secret of Plants in the Environment, by Rishikesh Upadhyay, is a scientific nonfiction read. The author has compiled a great deal of research concerning various stressors that impact plants in the environment. Upadhyay's work is of particular interest to environmentalists, outdoor and nature enthusiasts, and botanists; the book includes extensive references.


The author's study of plants is a scientific look at the various effects and impact of environmental stressors on crops, individual plant species, and the natural environment. He states that "the quality of our life depends on the quality of the surrounding environment."  Plants develop specific adaptations to deal with stressors that affect the plants' ability to process photosynthesis, grow, and produce fruit. The author explains different studies and gives examples of the effects of pollution from the automobile industry, as well as plant responses to electric stimuli, heavy metals, and other chemical agents.

Upadhyay points out that chemical fungicides to control plant disease may have severe effects on the health of both humans and animals. Sunlight, "the most important resource for plant photosynthesis and growth" to sustain life on earth, may have detrimental as well as beneficial effects. In a discussion of drought, the author quotes Christopher Lloyd, "One of the nice things about water plants is that they never need watering."

 

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Book Review of "The Mouth of the Mine" by Caleb Posten

Jackson, Wyoming, is the picturesque setting for The Mouth of the Mine, by Caleb Posten. The psychological thriller quickly engages the reader with a short back-story; the murder of Mike Jefferies, one of many persons who have mysteriously gone missing in the mountainous public lands. 

The rapidly developing plot revolves around ten-year-old Alistair Evans, called Al.  Al, and his wealthy, recently retired parents, have moved from New York City and purchased a seven-bedroom western-style mansion to turn into a bed and breakfast.  The expansive property, which had belonged to the Jefferies, adjoins the public lands. The murder narrative is pushed into the background as the character of Al, and his parents are fully developed. Al is a scrawny, lanky, timid boy with an intelligent, curious mind. He and his father, Wayne Evans, are intrigued with the western culture of the area; however, Al's curiosity quickly gets him into trouble. 


Without definitive parental boundaries, Al crosses the property fence line chasing butterflies. He also crosses into the nightmare world of a manic gold miner, Cyrus Mclanster. He had watched Al "with the threatening eyes of a hawk". Using techniques of friendship, secrecy, and promises of treasures, Cyrus ensnares Al into his world.  Brainwashed and trained to follow Cyrus, Al digs himself deeper and deeper into a hole that could sprout evil. Continue reading "Book Review of "The Mouth of the Mine" by Caleb Posten"

Book Review of "The Flight of the Veil" by Bruce J. Berger

The Flight of the Veil, by Bruce J. Berger, is literary/psychological fiction with a historical background.  In 1990, Nicky Covo is a successful psychiatrist in his sixties practicing in Brooklyn, New York. Covo, of Jewish descent, was born in Greece before WWII. He struggles with flashbacks of his shame and trauma as a 14-year-old Greek citizen-soldier in 1944. The unspeakable horrors he experienced grew larger in his psyche. As time passed, it was harder to distinguish reality from fantasy or from nightmares. Things that he had done and gotten away with haunted him and threatened to be revealed.

Unexpectedly, a letter arrives from Abbess Fevronia of the Holy Monastery of St. Vlassios, in Greece.  She has been searching for the brother of a nun living in the monastery. Sister Theodora is an enigma with select mutism. Throughout the forty-plus years the Abbess has known the nun, she has tried to discover her history. Her research led to Nicky Covo.


The plot develops with alternate voices piecing together the backstories of both Nicky and Fevronia. Both have been victims of war with unresolved issues. Nicky disbelieves that Sister  Theodora could be his younger sister, Kal, a devout Jew thought to have been murdered with the rest of his family during the Holocaust. How could she now be a pious Greek Orthodox nun? Continue reading "Book Review of "The Flight of the Veil" by Bruce J. Berger"

Book Review of "The Albatross: Contact" by Connor Mackay

The prologue of "The Albatross: Contact", by Connor Mackay, seizes the reader with graphic detail in this contemporary, contemplative sci-fi novel. The first word and initial paragraph engages the atmosphere and sets the personality of Will Reach. Reach exposes his gritty, hidden back-story in self-talk and through remembered ex-special forces experiences as he is indoctrinated into an alien world. An alcoholic drifting in society after being discharged from the military, Will Reach lives with untreated post-traumatic stress disorder. His distinctive character is memorable, absorbing, and is as believable as the sci-fi plot. Aliens have astonishingly appeared in the heavens above Earth. The extraterrestrial beings, called Lumenarians, arrived from another solar system and have come to recruit warriors to help defend their world in an interstellar war in exchange for upgrading earth technology.  The ever-shifting, chimeric-like plot draws Will into space.

Character-driven, the tightly structured plot is developed around Will, Sarah Li, and Arthur as they blast off on a mission into the unknown. Sarah Li, a scientist with a brilliant mind, tells her adventure in first person. Her encounters with imaginative futuristic technology and weapons sound convincingly plausible.

 
 
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Book Review of "My Travels With a Dead Man" by Steve Searls

 Steve Searls supernatural thriller, My Travels With a Dead Man, begins with a gripping scene of a young woman, Jane Takako Wolfsheim, having a severe seizure in a park. A man who appears as a vagrant gives her assistance and uses her phone to call “911.”  Jane is rushed to a hospital, and after a considerable struggle, she is well enough to be released. She wonders who was the poor man who saved her, but the top of her list is to find a job. In a terribly humiliating interview with a former partner of her father’s, she lands a job. A chore given to her by her disgusting boss creates a strange coincidence that puts her in contact with the man who had saved her life. His name is “Jorge Luis Borges.” The name is synonymous with a famed writer, but he assures her that he is not that - “Jorge Luis Borges.”

Love blooms between the two of them, along with a fantastical series of events.  They travel to Japan, and more strange happenings occur, and Jane wakes up in Costa Rica without any recognition of how she got there or why she was there.  She is also told that the trip to Japan never occurred.
 

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Book Review of "A Coward's Guide to Oil Painting: the Novel" by MM Kent

MM Kent, author of A Coward’s Guide to Oil Painting, is a genius. Not only is he a recognized painter in the world of art, but also a creative wordsmith. His novel begins with an explosion. Set in 1969, the plot weaves from West Texas to New Orleans, Mexico, and back to Texas with minute details that make the storyline believable. It is obvious that the author is well acquainted with his settings and the historical timeframe of the era of free love, civil rights, politics, race relations, and the Vietnam War. Perhaps he even lived in some of the scenes he narrates. It should also be noted that the novel’s captivating cover is a creation of Kent’s extraordinary grasp of art.


Kent’s character, Blaine Grayson, is believed to have been killed when his small private plane loaded with Mexican marijuana crashes in a bleak West Texas cow pasture. The story then gives a glimpse of Blaine’s back story as the scene shifts to his younger brother, Cliff, and his brief, life-changing encounter with a woman whose identity he failed to get. The saga continues with the two main characters, Mariah and Cliff, alternately telling their stories as they independently set out to learn the truth about Blaine’s airplane accident. During the search, Mariah poses nude for painting and sculpture classes, while Cliff paints in watercolor and later in oils.

 

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Book Review of "A Season of Sons" by Rob Tucker

A Season of Sons by Rob Tucker is book one of Tucker’s Black Spiral Series.  Readers who love suspense or horror novels with a paranormal theme will greatly enjoy Tucker’s finely crafted tale. The protagonist, Leon Safullo, an FBI agent, becomes involved with the investigation in a horrible murder of a prominent evangelist. His investigation is stymied because the killer appeared to have left no forensic evidence that would lead to his capture. In another case, the disappearance of Paul Evans, the CEO of a major corporation, becomes a new challenge for Agent Safullo. Is there any connection between the two cases?  Leon’s investigation prompts the killer to contact him with a challenge.

Tucker creates some memorable characters for this thriller. Antonio Guzman is one of them, or should we say, Pearl Antonio Guzman.  This individual is the result of a metamorphosis of Guzman from a husband and father to a Jekyll and Hyde combination of himself and his alter ego, Pearl. He is a non-binary character who appears to possess the ability to insinuate into the minds of others, making them his converts. Paul Evans is his current target.  Evans senses that his world is being encroached by something but his concerns about this evil that imperils him are dismissed by those close to him.  The novel is a book of good and evil, and Evans is certainly a little of both. He is a man who had his vices and had hurt those around him as he clawed his way to the top of the corporate ladder. But now, as he is being challenged by Guzman’s powers, he flees to the wilderness with his estranged son to try to escape Guzman’s reach.

 

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