Back on Track

New reviews coming soon! I'll be importing my work from the past two years, but in the meantime,
I'm reclaiming my small place on the web.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Poetry Review

Rocking in a Free World
By Mark Allen Gray
ISBN-10: 0976109530
Review by Heather Froeschl

Without chaos there is no peace, without struggle there is no celebration. These are the concepts of a collection of poetry, titled, "Rocking in a Free World," by Mark Allen Gray.

Broken into four chapters, Independence, Journey, Struggle, and Celebration, the author works to demonstrate his understanding of the feelings behind the words. In Independence he looks at the freedoms we have and the restrictions that keep us circled in. In Journey, Mark examines our purpose to Be, and experience life. In Struggle, he bears witness to inner turmoil and outer conflict. Celebration is all about that pivotal moment of change, that moment to rejoice; it regards the rupture of spring and laughter, and the burst of song.

Gray's style is point blank poetry. His words are honest and clear; his meaning is obvious. His artful intent is complete with self-made symbols for each chapter. It was a delight to read this book and reflect on his purpose.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Non-Fiction Sports Review

The Fat Lady Never Sings: How a Football Team Found Redemption on the Baseball Diamond
by Steven M Reilly
ISBN-10: 0595394671
Review by Heather Froeschl

A twenty-eight-year winning streak in the game of football is no small matter in the town of Derby, Connecticut. When that streak ends, the results are devastating to three seniors. In a search for redemption they take on other ball fields in their midst. In Steve Reilly's book, "The Fat Lady Never Sings," readers come to know some great sports while hearing the true tale of the come back kids.

Not willing to give up the game, some of the boys and the coaches take to the basketball courts over the winter. Come spring training, the green fields and tan diamonds beckon to the hard working sportsmen to play. Baseball season takes on a whole new purpose as the boys strive to leave school with a win. And what a win! The team qualifies for the state baseball tournament and advances to the championship game. Will they pull off a final win for Derby?

The book is told in the view of one of the assistant coaches, Steve Reilly. Reilly gives us the details of practice, practice, practice, and win, win, win. Every obstacle the team overcame, and every moment of sportsmanship is relayed in the tone in which it was felt. With passion for the game and support for the team. Reilly understands the people he describes, right down to the need to win, and the tear in the eye of suffering players. This memoir is a moment in time that will not be forgotten by those players, the coaches, or the small town of Derby, but what's more is that it reaches out to every coach and player who reads it. Well played! Good game!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Non-Fiction Review

Handwriting Analysis: Laws/Principles…and More
by Jacob J. Cammarata
Review by Heather Froeschl

What precisely can our handwriting reveal about us? So much more than you might think. Jacob J. Cammarata explains the process well in his book “Handwriting Analysis: Laws/Principles…and More.”



Handwriting analysis is a somewhat complicated science; there are principles and laws to consider, and much study to be done. This book is a guide that is in line with one you would expect to see in a college classroom. Many years of experience and observation were utilized within its pages. Cammarata speaks clearly that this is not a light subject, not a new age practice, but a field of study that is long and enduring.



First and foremost in handwriting analysis is measuring, and today’s analyst has tools available to make this a more exact result. These measurements (of letter spacing, size, etc.) are the basis for understanding of every other aspect. The writer’s speed, spacing, slant, rhythm, organization and so much more are examined in the book with traits that have been shown to correlate with them. Does a person whose writing is illegible have psychopathic tendencies? The book doesn’t go that far because there is much study to be done on an individual and the habit of illegible writing isn’t the only factor. The whole picture must be seen in order to make projections as to personality. The last chapter looks at tendencies and gives an inkling as to what the person is like, but the author reminds the reader that this is just a single clue. For instance, if a writer’s slant is consistent, the writing has a straight baseline, shows regularity, legibility, and has an even pressure, then the person might be analyzed as being trustful. Each analysis must be given hundreds of measurements though and it is not an easy science to learn.



Jacob J. Cammarata has explained his science and practice in a clear and concise manner. Handwriting analysis is an ancient and newly high-tech discipline. The uses for such a tool are many, from police investigations to personnel matters, psychological understanding and insight to learning more about your ancestors through their old letters. The book describes the science of the subject well, in clear and certain terms. This isn’t a light read, but anyone with an interest in it will not be disappointed.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Thriller Review

Drift
by Steven Paul Mark
ISBN-10: 1601450621
Review by Heather Froeschl

Is it possible that greed could actually put an end to our world, as we know it? Could our gluttonous behavior be our demise? In Steven Paul Mark's novel, "Drift," the world is in grave danger of dinosaur extinction proportions, all because of the almighty dollar.

Imperium Solutions is an oil company of epic standings. Their drills go deeper and produce more liquid gold than any in history. And they are making history in other ways. The only problem is that if they continue on, there will be no one left to record that history or even care about it. Our hero, Max, stumbles upon the company one afternoon, as fate throws a drafted inter-office memo in his face during a tickertape parade in New York. Max, having just been let go by his previous employers, takes the seeming opportunity that the memo mentions. It seems some guy named Bran is about to be terminated and Max sees it as an opportunity to get his foot in the door. What he doesn't realize is that Bran is not to be let go, but exterminated, and the mention of his name is enough to get his apartment ransacked, his wife killed and his own life in grave danger. What follows is a crescendo of story that involves the underworld of NYC subway systems, the elusive Bran, paid off cops, and the destruction of the world, literally. Drift refers to continental drift, fault lines, deep vibrations in the earth and Mother Nature's reaction to greed. The whole world is under the influence of one company's doings. Can Max do anything about it?

This wild ride of a thriller is fraught with intense possibilities, consequences, and excitement. Full of drama of all kinds, from the police and FBI side of things to terrorism, and from psychological intrigue to human relations and romance, it's all in here. The result is a book that transcends the gender gap of reading materials and the genre gap of novels. The writing is excellent, with a tight plot and perfect flow. The characters are well conceived, creating people in the mind whom we hope are truly out there to protect our world, and also detailing the villains who unfortunately have a basis in reality. An excellent read!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

YA Non-Fiction/Self Help Review

University Wisdom
by Vanessa McCallum
Review by Heather Froeschl

As a student, I assumed that I knew what I was doing, approximately where I was going, and hoped for the best. I wish I had had a book to tell me that I might be able to be more successful if I just did this or that little thing. Vanessa McCallum lets students know that adding a habit here, or stressing less over there can go a long way, in her book “University Wisdom.”

“Discover the secrets of getting the most from your experience at university and use them as stepping stones to launch your life and career” in this guide. It doesn’t read like one of those lectures from your guidance counselor might sound. This guide can be taken in small doses, one short chapter at a time, or you can breeze through the whole thing in a very short time. Chances are, you’ll want to keep the book around and refer to it now and then. 50 lessons on what you can expect from college, life, careers, and yourself, are sure to grab your attention at some point. Can’t decide what you want to be “when you grow up?” Do you freak when it comes time to settle down and take a test, get a project done, or be interviewed for a job? Parents pressuring you to pick a course of study? Financial situation have you concerned that college is out of the question? Vanessa has answers for you. This interactive guidebook will get you centered, thinking, and planning your future.

Written in a down-to-earth, easy-going tone, the author doesn’t attack and conquer, but rather she explains where she’s been (right where you are) what she did about it, and encourages readers to take steps of their own, whatever they may be. With tips on everything from hanging out with friends, and serious relationships to learning about budgeting money, and planning finances, there is sure to be numerous topics you will relate to. Take some stress out of your life and get a grip on a book that will definitely help, in a fun and practical way. I highly recommend this title for any high school senior, college student or parent of one.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Short Story Collection Review

Shielding Her Modesty
By Sita Bhaskar
ISBN-10: 8188811343
Review by Heather Froeschl

As an "American Mutt" I truly enjoy learning about other cultures through all forms of publishing. In Sita Bhaskar's collection of short stories, "Shielding Her Modesty," readers are in for a treat of Indian culture.

It is an interesting examination of distinctions between Indian ways and American, and the combination of both in the Indo-American experience. What a delight! The fact that human emotion and habit abound in all cultures is clear throughout the book. One eight-year-old girl's enchantment with Barbie and her abundance of clothing is clearly an almost universally felt feeling. The fact that she works in a factory, packaging G.I. Joes while her brother boxes the Barbies, brings out the desire all the more. Reading about a young couple's grief over the death of their baby is something that is sure to touch many readers, but seeing it through the culture in which it is set, where a woman cannot officially enter a cemetery without her husband, makes the tale all the more poignant. Other tales include universal themes of getting married, rekindling love, admitting to feelings, lust, and death. All of them are told with delightful tidbits of Indian essence.

This book is a wonderful collection of short stories. The settings are vibrant and alive, while the characters are enticing. Feel the silk sari, smell the aromas of delectable spices as they cook, and smile at the knowledge that it is a small world.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Christian Non-Fiction Review

I Can Do All Things Through Christ Which Strengtheneth Me
by Charity Gustovic
ISBN-10: 1419634364
Review by Heather Froeschl

Witness one woman’s spiritual journey through poetry. Charity Gustovic’s offering, “I Can Do All Things Through Christ Which Strengtheneth Me,” is a testament to her faith.

Beginning with poems written before her journey, Charity shares her darkest days. Then readers witness her growth and joy in finding her faith. Each work expresses feeling and understanding of the process she undergoes. From heartbreak to pure joy, Charity allows readers to see who she is through her words. Always with the message of outreach, Charity tells her story in effort to lead others along her path.

In a style of openness and willingness to share, the poetry is effective. A short read, likely it is meant as something to ponder over time and again, and not just read through as a reviewer does. A Christian offering, in its simplest form.

Self Help Review

Maximizing me: 30 lessons on the the journey to self-empowerment
by Hart Cunningham
ISBN-10: 0944031994
Review by Heather Froeschl

What is stopping you from being everything you want to be? It could very well be yourself. In Hart Cunningham's book, "Maximizing Me," he offers 30 lessons on your journey to self-empowerment.

Who are you? The first step is discovering just who you are. What are your talents? From there you can do all things as you develop yourself, make determined goals, and following Cunningham's advice, reach them. This book takes you through all of the steps to change your life. Whether it is something like changing you health for the better or developing a multi-billion dollar company, the path begins with the same steps.

Written in a been-there-done-that-so-I-know-you-can-too tone, the book is easy to read and feels like a friend is giving you guidance. Wisdom is added to the friendly, no-nonsense feel with relevant quotes at the beginning of each lesson. Efforts to bring home the message are made with "remember this" and "try this" sections at the end of each lesson, where the author goes over the key points in the chapter and gives readers a particular assignment to complete and make the idea a reality.

Overall the book is a nice package. It offers a lot, in a tight and simple form. Why take advice on changing yourself from Hart Cunningham? He's obviously on a highway to success, and he's offered to give you a roadmap. Take him up on it and see where you end up!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Interview with Beneath A Marble Sky author John Shors

John Shors
www.beneathamarblesky.com/
Publisher: Penguin Group

Heather: Why the story of the Taj Mahal? I've been lucky enough to spend a great deal of time in Asia and have been powerfully influenced by its history, as well as the sights, sounds, smells, and customs found today in that part of the world. For a decade I've wanted to write a novel set somewhere in Asia but waited to find the right story-or rather to have the right story find me.

John: In 1999, my wife and I were traveling in India and of course made it a point to visit the Taj Mahal. We arrived at the mausoleum as soon as it opened to the public and were the first people there that day. Walking within its chambers, hearing our voices echo in the same manner as voices did hundreds of years ago, and touching its sculpted walls was an overwhelming experience. Seeing the wonder of the Taj Mahal, and understanding that a man built it for his wife-a woman he cherished above all else in life-was uniquely inspiring. Indian poets have been writing about this love story for centuries. And yet, not many people in the West know the tale. I realized that I had to tell it. Quite honestly, I was amazed and delighted to discover upon my return to America that no one in the West had ever fictionalized the story.

Heather: What impressed you most during your research?

John: The period that I wrote about was so advanced when it came to the arts. Poets and painters and architects were celebrated on a very profound level. The Taj Mahal blends elements of the greatest of such artists together into one wondrous sight. Thousands of hours of thought went into the design of the Taj Mahal, and generations of visitors have benefitted from the brilliance and vision of those who created this monument. There's nothing quite like the Taj Mahal. It was designed to celebrate love, and it succeeds in doing so like nothing else I've ever seen.

Heather: What was your inspiration?

John: Well, again my personal experience of visiting the Taj Mahal inspired me to write Beneath a Marble Sky. So also did the fact that no one in the West had ever fictionalized the story. The story behind the Taj Mahal's creation is one of the great love stories the world has ever known, and yet until Beneath a Marble Sky came out, very few Westerners knew of this story. I felt blessed to know the story and I wanted to share this blessing with others.

Heather: One wouldn't think a thirty-something American male would want to tell a love story, especially in the voice of a princess; yet you did so perfectly. Did you have trouble doing so?

John: Let's just say that writing in the first person as a 17th-century Hindustani princess wasn't completely natural to me. Additionally, not only did I need to write convincingly as a woman from another place and another time, but I had to re-create the way in which Hindustanis spoke in general. Upon reading memoirs from that time, I quickly realized that the manner in which people spoke was much more formal than how people converse today. I wanted to capture some of this formality without getting carried away.

So, a great deal of work went into Jahanara's voice, as well as the other voices within Beneath a Marble Sky. I edited my novel fifty-six times. This number did not always sit well with my wife, as I was forever editing at night or during a much-needed vacation! However, I think that all of these edits allowed me to create consistent, unique voices within my novel.

Heather: How much truth is there to the tale?

John: Beneath a Marble Sky is a nice blend of fact and fiction. For the most part, my novel is based on fact. For instance, I depicted the royal family quite accurately. And I depicted the creation of the Taj Mahal and the civil war accurately. I did take two fairly significant liberties with Jahanara's character. However, besides these liberties, my novel is really rather true to fact. The events that I describe in Beneath a Marble Sky were so compelling (in real life, that is) that I really didn't need to fabricate much of anything.

Heather: How did you hook up with Penguin Group? Did you have an agent before the book was accepted?

John: Yes, my agent sold the rights to Penguin, and I've been blessed to work with some wonderful people at Penguin.

Heather: I hear there is a movie in the works. Can you talk about that?

John: Sure. Eriq LaSalle (Dr. Benton on "ER") liked Beneath a Marble Sky enough that he hopped on a plane and flew to India. Eriq's production company, Humble Journey Films, bought the film rights to Beneath a Marble Sky, and is developing my novel into a major motion picture. Fun stuff for a first-time novelist.

Heather: What's next for John Shors?

John: Right now I'm still heavily involved with promoting Beneath a Marble Sky. Beyond that, I've started thinking about my next novel. I have several ideas in mind, and now it's time to talk with my agent and my editor to figure out what novel makes the most sense. I am really looking forward to working on my next novel. It's been too long since I've written.

Heather: Your outreach to readers through book clubs is a fantastic promotional idea. How did this come about? Do you plan to continue?

John: I grew up reading several books a week, and always wanted to connect with authors on a personal level, but never really had the ability to do so. And so I promised myself that if I were ever able to get a novel published that I would go to great lengths to give readers a new experience. In the back of the Penguin version of Beneath a Marble Sky, I wrote a letter that invited readers to invite me to their book clubs. I included my email address (shors@aol.com). My program has been a huge hit. During the past six months, I've chatted with 300 book clubs. I've spoken with groups in the U.S., Canada, and even Africa. My program has gotten a lot of media attention, and was even featured on The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. My goal is to chat with 1,000 book clubs, and I'll reach this goal by summer's end.

Heather: Did you learn anything about yourself while writing this book? About women?

John: Yes, I learned many things about myself while writing Beneath a Marble Sky. I learned that my stubborness can sometimes be a good thing, as the publishing industry is so hard to break into! I learned that my belief in myself and in my novel paid off. And yes, I learned a great deal about women. For five years I put myself in Jahanara's shoes, and thought as I imagined her thinking. Many, many women have told me that they found Jahanara to be extremely believable, and I'm always delighted to hear this. It's about the best compliment I can get.

Heather: Anything else you'd like to add?

John: I'm very, very grateful for readers' support, and I'll do my best to continue to earn that support.


Biography:
Originally from Des Moines, Iowa, I now live in Boulder, Colorado. After graduating from Colorado College, I lived in Japan for several years. I managed to save up enough money in Japan to travel all over Asia, and finally returned to America. I then became a newspaper reporter and later a public relations professional. Beneath a Marble Sky is my first novel.
Books: Beneath A Marble Sky

Historical Fiction/Romance Review

Beneath a Marble Sky
by John Shors
ISBN-10: 0451218469

One of the most touching love stories of all time...the Taj Mahal. Why was it built? Who was the designer behind the grandest testament of love? In John Shors' novel, "Beneath a Marble Sky," readers will be touched by a love that transcends time.

In seventeenth century Hindustan, we meet Princess Jahanara as she tells a secret tale to her two granddaughters. It is a life full of secrets that has kept Jahanara from living as a Princess should, but also it is her secrets that have let her live a life of love. Jahanara's mother was the love for which the Taj Mahal was built, though she never saw the testament to her memory. Jahanara's father, the Emperor, had it built as a mausoleum for his beloved. The building must be as splendid and heartbreakingly beautiful as Arjumand herself. The designer was a common man in standing, Isa.

Jahanara must endure a marriage made for politics, but worse, she must endure a man she could never love, a foul, despicable man. It was her greatest hope to find love as grand as her parents'. Through the years Jahanara came to be nearly as wise as her mother, who was said to have ruled the throne except in name. The people loved her as much as her mother and many would do anything for her. Over the years, two of Jahanara's brothers were destined for great things. One, to be placed on the throne when the time came, the other who sought to take the throne and command the land through violence. This battle took the greatest toll on the kingdom. Jahanara did not stand by and watch it happen, but rather took steps to save them all. Would she succeed? Would she find love? Would she be worthy of her father's love and make her mother proud?

John Shors has taken the pinnacle love story and given it new life. Readers will weep for the Emperor, will feel the adoration Jahanara feels for her mother. The marble blocks will pulse with passion as the Taj Mahal is built, and glow with love forevermore. The plot is perfectly presented and the characters are inspiringly real. This is a story you will not forget, full of life's most glorious truths.

Friday, December 1, 2006

World War II Book Review

The Cielo: A Novel of Wartime Tuscany
By Paul Salsini
ISBN-10: 0595406971
Review by Heather Froeschl

What people can get through when standing together, is sometimes unbelievable. When you couldn't imagine going on for another second, and a friend assures you that you can, you suddenly know that you will. In Paul Salsini's novel, "The Cielo," a group of villagers will come through horrific circumstances, very much different from how they were before, but ultimately, closer.

World War II reached into the hills of Tuscany, causing many farmers and young men to become partisans, fighting against the Germans in their own ways, often defending the most helpless right at the doorsteps. The villagers of Sant'Antonio are forced to leave by Hitler's SS troops. Fearing boarding a train to Germany, the 100 or so people flee to the hills where previously farmers had eked out an existence growing olive trees and making wine. In five abandoned farmhouses, broken into groups of nearly 20, the villagers gathered in fear of what would happen next. Shortage of food was the least of their worries, with German soldiers threatening to kill ten Italians for every German that the partisans kill. The woods are filled with dangers, mine fields, and desperate men, from escaped war prisoners to army deserters. Virtually trapped in the farmhouse, the souls gathered there, some knowing each other all their lives, and some not known in the least, must learn to reach out to one another, for if they do not, then even their sanity will be lost.

Sickness, desperation, bravery, betrayal, heartbreak and love all find the farmhouse to be home for months. Confronted by Nazis, bonded by terror, the villagers of Sant'Antonio find a family amongst themselves. Salsini's work brings history to life in rare form. Obviously, "The Diary of Anne Frank" comes to mind. The tale is told through the honest lives of the characters, through the human emotions of living. The beauty of this book is the raw humanity of it. Examining the terrible, atrocious actions of war, and balancing that with the heartbreaking compassion and outreach of one soul to another, "The Cielo" is an unforgettable read. You won't be able to put it down, through tears and smiles, until you reach the very end.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

World War II Thriller Review

Hitler's Grail
By Louis Charlebois
ISBN-10: 1425968341
Review by Heather Froeschl

The quest for the Holy Grail is an ancient story. Louis Charlebois' version brings the Grail to life in the midst of WWII, in his book, "Hitler's Grail."

"Hitler's Grail" tells the story of how Constantine the Great forced together the Sun Religion, Mithraism, and Christianity to form the Catholic Church. It tells of Hitler's desire to own the Grail, not for its legendary power, but for the power of politics. The book tells the tale of the invasion and occupation of France by Germany, and the terrible things that occurred. It is a somewhat dark tale, all the more dark because of its fact base. Will Hitler grasp the Grail? Will Christianity falter because of Hitler's message?

An epic story, this book is a war novel, a thriller, and even a romance. It is quite long, and non-military enthusiasts might feel they are back in history class. But some of such history you might not have known and bears looking into. The writing is tight and intriguing, grabbing the reader's attention. The plot flows as quickly as one of such depth can. There were a few typographical errors that caught my attention, but as an editor I am prone to such things. Errors are easily overlooked, and the story will carry the reader through some unforgettable moments.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Interview with The Sicilian Conspiracy author, Michael Sammaritano

Michael Sammaritano
www.michaelsammaritano.com
Publisher: Adesso Publishing

Heather: Michael, your own life sounds very interesting. Why choose the Mafia to write a book of fiction about?

Michael: The stigma of Mafia is what I have contended with all my life. While I am proud of my ancestors’ ideology, I am totally opposed to Mafia-hoodlums.

The majority of my compatriots are good law-abiding citizens who are stigmatized by these hoodlums and their undue glorification by the masses.

Heather: What did you base your story on, with the new Mafia having a goal of legitimacy?

Michael: The Sicilian Conspiracy portrays one man’s struggle, Don Saverio, to lure young Sicilians in becoming the best they could be through education and to compete in foreign markets for position of influence. Don Saverio’s master plan is to put an end to this fa├žade of hoodlums disguising themselves as Mafia and spread the true Mafia ideology, which is what Big Business and Government relish—men of honor with solid backbone.

Heather: Is any part of the story based on real life events that you are aware of?

Michael: Some is from real life. Most however, comes from my wishing how things ought to be.

Heather: Why do you think readers are always so interested in hearing more tales of the Mafia days? Do you think this is more of an American obsession, or worldwide?

Michael: People, especially Americans, are more obsessed with grotesque events. Unfortunately many of the so-called Mafia stories offer all that and more.

Heather: Are you planning any further works of fiction?

Michael: “Red Roses” and “The Professional Dreamer” are two of my upcoming novels. I should have them out by the end of 2007.

Heather: A lot of authors have to continue with their “day jobs” to pay the bills. Are you still a pilot? Is this your “day job”?

Michael: Yes, I am still a pilot, but I don’t earn a living at it. Fortunately, I can pay the bills without a day job.

Heather: Do you have book signings planned in the near future?

Michael: It’s in the working. The dates and location will be posted on the website @ www.adessopublishing.com.

Heather: Do you find marketing your work to be another enjoyable aspect of writing?

Michael: Marketing is an innate treat. I began marketing myself the day I was born; first to my mother, then to my siblings, to my outer family and to the world.

Heather: How do you work your plotting of your work? Do you outline every major event, or do you let your characters have their way?

Michael: I outline the storyline—beginning, middle, and end—and then each character’s general appearance, traits, and habits and I watch them act their parts and report it.

Heather: Tell me something about you as a writer that would surprise people who think they know you.

Michael: When I moved from Sicily to the United States I taught myself English. I envy anyone whose native tongue is English. For the small words they learn as children and take for granted I struggle to learn.

Heather: Thank you for talking with me, and I wish you the best of luck with your work.


Biography:
Michael Sammaritano was born in Sicily in 1937, his mother in New York City. Michael spent his childhood in the heart of WWII. He started writing when he was 14 years old. In 1956 he graduated from the Scuola Professionale a Tipo Industriale. At the age of twenty he moved to the United States.

Michael holds several US Patents. He is a multiengine instrument rated pilot. He enjoys golfing, fishing, and, of course writing. He is the author of several books. The Sicilian Conspiracy is his latest work of fiction. Currently he is working on the "Radically Simplified™” series of books; “The Golf Swing Radically Simplified”, “Your health Radically Simplified” and “Marriage to Matrimony Radically Simplified”.

Fiction Review

The Sicilian Conspiracy
By Michael Sammaritano
ISBN-10: 0977902374

Whispers of the Mafia are part of our culture, like it or not. Some say the legend is bigger than fact, some pretend they know nothing about it. Michael Sammaritano’s novel, “The Sicilian Conspiracy” does more than whisper rumors, but after all it is a work of fiction.

Don Severio Cremona was forced into taking over the family “business” in Sicily. It is something he didn’t wish to do but upon the death of his father he makes a decision to set forth dramatic change in the Mafia around the world. The goal of legitimacy is a huge undertaking. It will take years to bring about tiny steps of progress. Ray Greco becomes Don Severio’s presence in the United States, New York to be precise. With the help of the Class of 1956, a group of young men specially trained per Don Severio’s instructions, Ray will begin to break down the decaying Mafia and replace it with supposedly legit business. The control that Severio hopes to gain will come through his men being in every possible position of power, from within. Politics, business, even the FBI, are all targets. Ray though, has been waiting for the moment to seek his revenge for his own father’s murder. Will he follow tradition? How does the new Mafia truly differ from the old?

Michael Sammaritano has written an interesting and exciting tale of the darker side of Sicilian and American culture. His plot flows nicely, coming full circle, while his characters lead the way. A fast-paced and intriguing read!

Fiction Review

Explozion
by Ross Wells
ISBN-10: 059525411X
Review by Heather Froeschl

Some film directors leave you wondering what they were thinking, and some make you desperately want to know what inspires them. In Ross Wells' novel, "eXploZion!" the reader is immersed into one young film director's thoughts. What is revealed is downright weird.

Gabriel Black has a mild obsession with film. (Maybe not so mild.) He meets an addictive young woman, and together they work on sorting out who he is and what he will become. Along the way we read of Gabe's sordid past with various females, a couple of good friends, and the ultimate goal of producing films. His influences ranged from Mary Shelley to late night horror flicks on television. He collected dreams in the form of motion pictures. After a couple of student films, he became a film instructor for a private school, but that wasn't quite enough. His talent called him to move on to greater things. His relationship with the young woman, Isis, led him to a chance at a financed project and a permanent job. Strange things happen though, and like a scene out of a classic horror film, the unexpected occurs.

A cross between the Johnny Depp movie "Ed Wood," and a college course in film, "eXploZion!" is quite unique. Movie buffs will love it. As a story in itself, the plot was a bit out there, not exactly smooth, but something completely different. The tirades into books and films were a bit distracting to me, but then I'm not the obsessive fan that Gabriel Black seems to be. It certainly helped to bring his character across. It made me wonder though, if this book wasn't really just an excuse for the author to talk about his own passion. I don't know.

All in all, it is very different sort of book.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Science Fiction Review

The Paladin Chronicles
by B. W. Philpot
ISBN-10: 1598005650
Review by Heather Froeschl

Have you ever considered the possibility of ancient souls roaming the universe, perpetuating change, protecting civilizations and encouraging evolutional progress? In B.W. Philpot's novel, "The Paladin Chronicles," The Elders are out there, doing just that, but it may have been because of them that a whole lot of trouble began as well.

It is a school of thought that the dinosaurs were killed off by nothing greater than a germ. In Philpot's book, a great plague, spread by terrorists, nearly devastates the earth. With the intervention of The Elders, and the peoples they nourished, The Paladins, Earth is saved but society is very different from what we now know. The Elders need help in an ageless battle with The Zillians, a reptilian species that is a mortal enemy. The Paladins were to be their army, with Earthlings as the force behind it. The greatest plans go astray, but with partial success, the future can be saved. A rift must be healed between the Earthlings and Paladins and it becomes the mission of the very man who instigated the trouble to begin with, to begin the healing.

On the personal side of things, two Paladins who were clearly meant to be together, happen to be the two greatest battle hero's of the force. Forced to work together, along with the scientist and doctor who deeply affected their careers and lives previously, the three must find a way to overcome hard feelings. A bit of a rebel, Lensil has a few surprises aboard his ship, including a captive Zillian, and a forbidden dog. Other
relationships carry the reader through the tale on a personal scale.

The book is an interesting and intriguing piece of science fiction. It holds the reader's attention with cool sci-fi technology and settings, yet offers the human-interest aspect of a good story. A handful of misspellings did distract me a bit, drawing attention from my editor side, but my inner reader was more interested in following the action of the tale. With the promise of additional Paladin books in the future, I look forward to hearing more from author B.W. Philpot.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Terrorist Fear Fiction Review

Reaching Home
by Ron Breazeale
ISBN-10: 1931642060
Review by Heather Froeschl

What do terrorists hold over us? Is it their weapons, their knowledge, or is it our own fear? They elicit terror, and when we allow ourselves to be afraid, we give them power. Our fears can control our lives in many ways. In Ron Breazeale's novel, "Reaching Home," we are brought face to face with the fears that many of us cling to.

Dr. Lee Brazil left the south for the open arms of Maine. He's raised a daughter, and lived life, despite his own demons of fears. While back in the south, doing research for a book in Pine Grove, Tennessee, and a meeting of SOMAP - Save Our Mountain and Our People, Lee falls victim to an accident at the Pine Grove Lab incinerator for nuclear waste. This accident is mistakenly believed to be a terrorist plot and Dr. Brazil is taken into protective custody. The fallout sickness not being enough to deter him, Dr. Brazil escapes and hitches a ride in the back of a truck hauling port-a-johns. Thus the journey begins, and develops into a discovery of how people will help a stranger, and how they either live by or face their fears.

Things get quite heated when a second incident occurs at Pine Grove. The FBI is looking for Brazil, and a terrorist cell is being tracked in Boston. Emotionally, Lee is dealing with old feelings of lost love, nightmares of terrors, and an unquenchable thirst to return to Maine. Will he make it home? Will the real terrorists realize their terrible quest?

Breazeale's novel is an enticing, captivating read. Set in the very near future, the book rings true with many current public fears. This work of suspense also holds deeper messages of love, life, and understanding our demons. The plot is tight and well planned, and the characters are undeniably human. Easy to read and impossible to put down, "Reaching Home" is bound to be a great hit!

Testimonial Book Review

Dying to Live: A Call to Joy - The Power of a Testimony
by Hope Joy
ISBN-10: 143030846X
Review by Heather Froeschl

Do you know someone who feels a deep joy, no matter what is going on in their life? Hope Joy's offering, "Dying to Live" is an explanation of her personal joy.

After enduring years of depression, Hope finds herself in the unfortunate situation of hearing terrible news from her doctors. She faces a life threatening illness and has to undergo surgery. It is during her ordeal that she comes to realize her joy at living, and finds the source of that joy in her God.

This short book is a testimonial; it is one woman's moment of truth and her desire to share the joy she feels with people. In a no-nonsense, straightforward tone, Hope shares her tale, details her feelings and invites readers to develop their own testimonial through a workbook section at the back.

This work should be a help to some readers, a confirmation of beliefs for others.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Christian Non-Fiction Review

Dying to Live: A Call to Joy - The Power of a Testimony
by Hope Joy
ISBN-10: 143030846X
Review by Heather Froeschl

Do you know someone who feels a deep joy, no matter what is going on in their life? Hope Joy’s offering, “Dying to Live” is an explanation of her personal joy.

After enduring years of depression, Hope finds herself in the unfortunate situation of hearing terrible news from her doctors. She faces a life threatening illness and has to undergo surgery. It is during her ordeal that she comes to realize her joy at living, and finds the source of that joy in her God.

This short book is a testimonial; it is one woman’s moment of truth and her desire to share the joy she feels with people. In a no-nonsense, straightforward tone, Hope shares her tale, details her feelings and invites readers to develop their own testimonial through a workbook section at the back.

This work should be a help to some readers, a confirmation of beliefs for others.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Poetry/Relationships Review

Forever Sentimental Vol. III: Agape Love
by Kenyatta
ISBN-10: 0595396933

If you're looking for a sort of poetically styled relationship advice book, "Forever Sentimental" by Kenyatta, is for you. Taking the art of relationships to a lighter, artful form, the book offers sound advice and mixes it with loving words of caring.

The book is broken into sections titled, Cherish the Love, Heartbreak, Hopelessly Romantic, and Agape Love. Each section offers Life Lessons and a piece of verse for each one. Loosely correlated to each other the topics of verse and advice include everything involved in relationships, from finding someone to connect with, to putting an end to a bad relationship, being comfortable with yourself first, to making a major commitment.

Honestly, I prefer verse to feel more poetic than greeting card-like, but the honest heartfelt emotion in the works is obvious. The advice is well founded and thought out, and is presented in a straightforward and helpful manner. All in all, the book is an insightful exploration of love.

Interview with a poet, Stephen J. Dodds

Stephen J. Dodds
Publisher: 1st World Publishing

Interviewed By: Heather Froeschl
Heather: This is your first attempt at poetry? I can't believe it.

Believe it.....surprised me too.

Heather: Did you ever, in your life, try it before? Maybe on a paper napkin, or in a secret journal? Did you take any classes in poetry?

No, no and no. My only real experience, if any, was writing business plans, marketing plans and copy/text for packaging. Other then that I have zero formal experience where writing is concerned. That said, I have always had a good grasp of the English language, thanks to my momwho started me reading at a very early age. She was a stickler on grammar, likely because she didn't want me to grow up speaking "Geordie" slang.

Heather: What has been your greatest influence to write?

I'm an avid reader of everything from history books and autobiographies to mainstream fiction where I am a huge fan of Tom Clancy. With each book he writes I am forever amazed at the way he can bring his characters to life, not only as fictional characters but as truly believable characters. This a result of his tremendous research. While my writing style is far from Clancy's he is a big influence, nonetheless. I am also a huge fan of cleverly written TV sitcoms such as Seinfeld and All in the Family. Both carefully andskillfully marry words and phrases with perfect visuals (actors) to deliver their messages - some hidden and some straight on. Add Bill Maher to the list. While I disagree with him as often as I agree I think he uses the English language brilliantly to get his point across. I hope this makes sense.

Heather: Tell me about the book cover.

The title "Life, and everything in between" is described with the globe, and withthe oyster shell represents the old phrase....the world is your oyster.

Heather: Will there be more collections of poetry from Doddsy?

There will be more of something I suppose but maybe or maybe not poetry. It may sound odd but I really don't see myself as a poet. Rather, I see what I wrote as a kind of inspirational writing of sorts. I simply tried to convey to the reader my thoughts on topics thatinterested me or on topics that are close to me, somehow my style came across as poetry. Regardless, if in doing so I somehow caught the reader’s attention, good, bad or indifferent then I totally accomplished my task. In this regard if the mood strikes again, then I will certainly write more "poetry," if not then a short story islikely my next attempt.

Heather: What is the hardest thing about creating your work?

Definitely finding the perfect words to fit what I wanted to say. On occasion I changed the same word over and over and over again until I got it right. Even at that there's always a word or two that I might still rewrite if given the chance. It all depends on my mood.

Heather: What gave you the idea to pair your poems up with famous quotations?

Understanding that I am a total unknown when it comes to writing I tried to think of ways to marry my messages/writings with the thoughts and/or writings of others. I thought that by doing so I just might catch the interest of the reader to read on. Some of the quotes came obvious to me, such as John Lennon's "imagine." It tied perfectly towhat I wrote about my travels, and the feelings that my travels evoked in me. Another great quote was from my dad. The night he died he left me a telephone message which said, "Stevie, son, I gave it my best shot." I am forever grateful for the life he gave me and I wanted to honor him. My piece "respect" does just that.

Heather: It is rare for a poet to reveal what he was really thinking about when he was inspired to write a particular piece. You've openly shared some of your intentions. Did you plan to do that in the book or was it something your fans insisted upon?

Actually it was my intention all along. In fact if I have a criticism of my book it's that I didn't expand on this section even more. Actually I get a lot of questions about this.......wow, do I have fans?

Heather: Have you been back to visit England?

Many many many times, though as I write in my piece "respect" the best return of all was the first one back with my parents. Wecame to Canada on a boat with nothing and returned to the UK via British Airways - first class......my parents thanking me for the tickets......ironically perfect. Need I say more.

Heather: I like to know what a poet sounds like when reading their work, so I can "hear" their voice in my head. Do you have an English accent or are you sounding more like a Canadian these days? Or perhaps you've picked up the Californian dialect?

It depends on how many pints I have had. All kidding aside I'm a crazy mix of Canadian and US. Not so many "ehs' any more and way too many "hey dudes." Oddly enough, however, the Geordie always returns 3 or 4 days into a trip back to Newcastle – maybe on purpose...who knows.

Heather: What has been the best part of being a published author?

Certainly not the money. In truth, the pride of accomplishing a goal and most definitely the pride of pleasing my mom with my efforts. She was thrilled with the book in all regards. Last, the fact that people actually seem to like what I have to say. I pinch myself a lot.

Heather: Tell us something that we might be surprised to learn about you.

Wow, that's a tough one. I guess the fact that I really have an "oxi-moron" kind of personality. I like hockey fights yet I write poetry, my dad was a millwright yet I can't change a tire, my mom is introverted while I am type "A" extrovert personified, I listen to AndreBoccelli, Johnny Cash and Led Zeppelin.....kind of sums me up best.

Biography:
Stephen J. Dodds was born in Newcastle, England in February 1961. An only child, he emigrated to Canada with his parents before his fourth birthday. Steve spent most of his youth in Long Branch (Toronto) Canada, playing hockey and lacrosse, and enjoying everything the 70's had to offer. An entrepreneur, Steve now resides in Orange County, Southern California with his beautiful wife, Alexandra. His friends call him Doddsy. This is Steve's first literary effort.
Books: Life and Everything in Between

Poetry Review

Life, And Everything in Between
by Stephen J. Dodds
ISBN-10: 1595409750

It takes a certain talent to create poetic verse that truly evokes an image or feeling. Stephen J. Dodds demonstrates his abundant ability in his book, "Life and Everything in Between."

This wonderful collection of works covers many topics and is aptly named. I found the perfect description for the book within one of the poems, "Random thoughts adorn the page, like a jig saw, connecting not in context, but adjoining perfectly, in concert." Though many of the poems do connect in context, it is the overall feeling of one man's thoughts on life that pulls the book together so nicely. Each poem is accompanied by a quote that compliments it and completes the feelings evoked by the verse. Each poem is demonstrative of an ability to pull imagery and feeling together and weave them into carefully chosen words. I especially enjoyed "the bath" as it brought to mind the relaxed sensation of my favorite evening event and the peace of mind one feels watching troubles go down the drain along with the bubbles.

Typically I will ponder if I've read the author's intentions correctly when reading poetry. Dodds takes the mystery from that question with the addition of an explanation at the end of the book, regarding what brought many of the poems to be. This adds to his outreach to his readers as we can truly look into the mind of the artist.

Stephen J. Dodds has found a place in my mind as a talented modern poet for every walk of life.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Spiritual Thriller Review

Song of the Universe
by Robert Veres
ISBN-10: 0595402275
Review by Heather Froeschl

I had an epiphany years ago; some would say my ideas were not unique and some would say that they were just downright wrong. To me though, they answered the questions that were floating in my head. Many of those ideas are addressed in "Song of the Universe," by Robert Veres. This gives me comfort to know I am not the only one to have thought such things. So what were the ideas? I can't give away the book's plot, but part of it has to do with the energies that our souls are and what we could ultimately hope to achieve with our little spark of stardust.

The book is told from the viewpoint of a father trying desperately to reach out to his adult daughter after a time of estrangement. He is writing her a very long letter in attempt to reveal what he has been through and learned as of late, and that is a very good deal. Adam Zakar is a securities broker, but he's one of the good guys. He's one that can truly be trusted. He isn't out to line the company's pocket by stealing the fleece out his customers'. So when he is enticed in the most influential way by his boss to become involved in a huge real estate transaction, he becomes slightly wary and suspicious. The first task is to vacate the "vagrants" that are living in the warehouse he has just purchased on paper. When he meets these people, he is oddly welcomed as one of them. This group of spiritual seekers opens his eyes to the spectrum of the soul, the invisible parasites that cling to negative energy, and the power to heal the spirits who are in need. Will he kick them to the curb or will he come face to face with the one they call The Master? Will this group of avatar students be able to spread the word of their experiences and have opportunities to share the healing power of the Universal Awareness? Or will they be stopped by the evangelical power that has come to recognize them as a threat?

This novel is powerful in that it opens up the reader to the possible path of what is termed "New Age." This Spiritual Thriller's plot is tight and flows with a crescendo that keeps readers turning the pages. Conflicting feelings of greed, caring, hate, love, power mongering, and open giving are all parts of the whole. The characters are rich with personality, and the author's ability to create dimension, whether on this physical plane or in an alternative one, is outstanding. We should all be blessed to meet characters like Adam Zakar. I am happy enough having made the acquaintance of the author.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Autobiography Review

A Chameleon's Tale
by Mo Tejani
ISBN-10: 1887521658

What is it like to be sent away from your country, your family split, and future uncertain? Mo Tejani explains it all in his memoir book, "A Chameleon's Tale." These true stories from a global refugee are enlightening, interesting, funny, sad, and poignant. Experience the world through another's eyes!

An Indian Shia Muslim by roots, Mo Tejani and his family were expelled from Uganda in 1972 when Idi Amin took over the government. He was not allowed to return to the country of his birth. For three decades he made his way, working for non-profit agencies that sent him to be a refugee teacher, trainer and interpreter. In many ways a refugee himself, he was of great help to many people even more lost than he. Helping others to learn new languages, what to expect culturally, how to shop in an American Supermarket, and how to cope with feelings of homesickness, he helped himself along the way, learning many of the same lessons but an even deeper one that you are never truly alone in the world, no matter what the circumstances.

Traveling over five continents leaves a great many stories to tell. Mo Tejani shares them with an open heart. His wit and humor shine through, but his humble humanity outshines all else. This is an interesting and entertaining read. Seeing history from another's perspective truly opens the eyes. I truly enjoyed this book very much.

Non-Fiction Review

Schatz Technique: Loving Touch Can Change the World and Reverse Chronic Pain
by Bernard Schatz
ISBN-10: 0977470717
Review by Heather Froeschl

Having witnessed family sufferers of chronic pain, I was quite interested in reading about alternatives to pain management through drugs and invasive surgeries. Bernard Schatz, P.T. offers his life’s work in “The Schatz Technique: Loving Touch Can Change the World And Reverse Chronic Pain.”

Addressing the issues right from the start, Schatz doesn’t pull punches when it comes to the medical community not taking responsibility with chronic pain and a lack of helpful answers to it. His case studies point out numerous instances where the doctors had failed a patient and then when he was able to help, the doctors refused to address the fact, let alone query as to how they can improve their treatment of patients. There are many reasons for chronic pain and Schatz goes into great detail with many common maladies, how he treated them and what you can do at home to help yourself. Yes, he tells you how to do what he does for his patients! Starting with Arthritis and going through the alphabet of common aches and pains to Whiplash, Schatz explains what the body is telling you, how you’ve grown accustomed to pain over the years, and what will alleviate that pain.

Explaining his technique as unique, something quite different than massage therapy and other forms of physical therapy, and a far cry from the torture of those horrible days of Polio “rehabilitation,” Schatz is one of only two who are certified in the Schatz Technique. But here he is, sharing exact details of it with you. He really cares about his patients. Every chapter is full of specific information on the pain felt, the cause of it, and the precise technique to ease the pain. If you, or anyone you love, suffers from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Migraines, Sciatica, Tendonitis or even Tinnitus, buy this book and see if the Schatz Technique helps. Easy to read and understand, this well written, personable text is like sitting down with a medical professional who truly cares and understands. Now that can be hard to find in person!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Fiction Review

Silent People: Hearing the Call of the Dodder
by Yvonne Jerrold
ISBN-10: 1905237529

Have you ever felt that you just didn't fit in? Do you know people who refrain from joining in conversation and would rather stay on the outskirts of existence? Perhaps another world of possibilities exists. In Yvonne Jerrold's novel, "Silent People: Hearing the Call of the Dodder," readers will be opened up to another world, another race.

When Hebe was a child she spent summers with her maternal Grandmother, Poppy, and every moment possible playing with The River Boy. The River Boy told Hebe the secrets of his world, his people. The Dodders are people of the woods, protectors of nature, and an ancient race. They have gifts, such as being able to camouflage themselves with their surroundings. Their lands are being stolen and so their numbers grow fewer. Through interbreeding with monkeymen - our race of humans- hybrids are born. Hybrids are not accepted by the Dodders and are outcast. They live among us and tend to keep to themselves, ever quiet.

Hebe is drawn to Dodders Well, the place where her grandmother's cottage still stands, her grandmother still taking care of young ones. Hebe has tried to make it in the world of colleges and jobs, losing her illustration position at a botanical garden due to an encroaching world of computer graphics. She feels a need to return "home" and help to protect the natural world of plants, trees and Dodders. Even her duty to help her scientist father, by illustrating the flowers and plants of Dodders Well, is impossible to complete as she finds herself subconsciously unable to finish even one drawing. Will Hebe find her place in the world? Will she answer the call of the Dodder?

Yvonne Jerrold has woven an intricate tale spoken in first person, through the eyes of Hebe. As she figures her way in the world the reader figures the plot of the story. It is a vivid experience, to read this book. How ones sees the world is a key theme, for we all have our own views and as such we may be blessed to witness more than others, or blessed to see less. Jerrold's talent is in portraying the confusion of a character trying to find her way. This is a haunting tale that will compel readers to try to see the world from other viewpoints. Well done!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Children's Book Review

The Playdate Kids: Cosmos' Mom and Dad Are Moving Apart
by Annie Thiel
ISBN-10: 1933721049

When parents get divorced the children will often feel that they are to blame, in addition to being scared, angry, and sad. Help for the youngest children can be found in "Cosmos' Mom and Dad Are Moving Apart," by Annie Thiel, Ph.D. Geared for children ages 3-6, this book addresses every concern a young child might have.

Cosmos' parents don't get along anymore and are always arguing and sad. Cosmos is sad too. When his parents tell him that they are getting divorced he goes through the natural emotions and asks the important question, "Was it something I did?" Reassured that it wasn't, Cosmos begins to tell his friends at school, who also react in a natural way. Through the process, Cosmos learns some things about his parents, his friends and himself. Keeping his room clean in both homes is still going to be a parental concern, and spending time with both of his parents is still going to create a loving environment.

Dr. Annie Thiel knows how to address these issues, and so many more. Having over 30 years of experience as a child psychologist gives her the best possible role requirements to play as an author of this and other titles that will be of high family value. The story is simply written to directly answer the concerns of children in this age group. Straight forward and to the point, but friendly and engaging, children will relate to every word. The illustrations are bright and colorful and full of life, lending to an atmosphere of interest and potential personal growth for readers. I look forward to Dr. Thiel's other titles, which involve a new baby brother, moving, and a parent having to go to the hospital. It's about time that the youngest children's needs are addressed in such a loving and caring way. I highly recommend this title to family therapists, divorcing parents, and teachers everywhere.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Pregnancy Self Help Book Review

The Single Woman's Guide to a Happy Pregnancy
by Mari Gallion
ISBN-10: 1419633287

If there was a time when I needed a friend the very most in my life, it was during my pregnancy and after the birth of my first child. We can't all have Mari Gallion for a friend, but through her book "The Single Woman's Guide to a Happy Pregnancy," we can learn to feel better and to be our own best friends.

Mari shares her own story, as a single mother, right from the start. She doesn't hold back and lets the world know how it was and is. She shares what she did to get through some tough things, and like a great friend, puts herself in the position to understand what her readers are going through. Her most imperative message is to feel confident and do what you feel is right and not to worry about what friends, family, or society have to say about your decisions if they are not in agreement. Offering a plethora of information, on all topics from breast-feeding to diaper changing, organic foods to dark chocolate, bassinets to WIC, the book reads like letters from a gal-pal you can't live without. Her advice is down to earth, honest and well researched (as well as lived out by the author herself).

Not just a guide for Singles, or those boasting a baby on board sign, the advice holds true for all women in many aspects of life. Meditation, healthful eating, exercise, finding companionship or not, financial interests, and emotional well being are all topics we all can relate to. Buy this book for a friend, read a copy yourself, and pass it on. Mari may live in Alaska but she is right there in the peace of mind of every one of her readers.

Hard Science Review

One Moment in Eternity: Human Evolution
by Eugene Minard
ISBN-10: 0976445948

Are humans still evolving? Not noticeably in the physical sense, but culturally, we certainly are. To that effect, are we becoming better, or worse? After reading Dr. Eugene Watkins Minard's book, "One Moment in Eternity - Human Evolution," readers will surely have something to think about.

An abundance of information awaits within these pages. Such research and thought development that went into this work is astounding, all to wrap it up in a neat package for the world to devour. Beginning at the very beginning, for us, with the origin of the known universe, and finishing with thoughts on the survival of civilization, as we know it, Minard leaves no stone unturned in his search for the truth. From what religious organizations have done to influence the beliefs of the people of the world, if not the world itself, to what motivates our highest political leaders. From the very beginnings of life to the evolutional process of Homo Sapiens. From Holy Wars to secret societies, Minard has thoughts and documented evidence to back up his ideas, all lined up for readers.

A bit slow to get into at first, after all we are talking about the beginnings of the universe here, the thought process quickly becomes apparent and the mindset is in place to expand your horizons and consider things you might not have previously. Or maybe you have, in which case, Minard brings forth a fresh perspective. Open your eyes, read this book, and you won't think the same way ever again...your own little evolution!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fiction Review

The Interview
By King Hurley
ISBN-10: 0977418804

Just how far would you go for employment opportunity? Is your career more important than family, friends, or your happiness? Just how far should companies go to woo their next big players? In King Hurley's novel, "The Interview," readers will come face to face with those questions and will come to realize how dangerous it is to play with tigers.

Michael King is the CEO of a pharmaceutical company, making a competitive wage and living a good, albeit stressed, life. He takes on the worries of his investors, and dreams of a simpler life. When his recruiter calls with the offer of a lifetime, he simply cannot say no. Panda Pharmaceuticals is the largest private drug company there is. They are on the cutting edge of medical breakthroughs and employ the greatest minds in the industry. Michael first interviews with the board and then with the partner President in Virginia, where he is wooed without mercy. The final word though, is up to Dr. Chu, the other presidential partner in Thailand. Michael's weeklong visit to Dr. Chu is when the real interview takes place. When dealing with the future of a multi-billion dollar company, one can expect the interview process to be highly scrutinizing. Michael thinks he is prepared, but nothing could be further from the truth. No one could be prepared for such a trial. But how can he say no?

The novel is well set up, with great detail to characterization. The plot flows smoothly, gaining strength as the pages turn, developing a running high in the last few chapters. The story idea is fascinating, even compelling. Truly, the book captures the reader's attention. "The Interview" is a very well written piece of fiction.

Fiction Review

Lying with Chiyo
by J.L. Tyler
Review by Heather Froeschl

Cole Thompson is on a journey of reflection as he travels by motorcycle for a rendezvous with friends. He recalls his recent past and tells a story of love, lust, need, and growth. J.L. Tyler’s novel, “Lying with Chiyo” is a book about self-inspection, self-respect, and dealing with the fallout.

Cole lived in Japan for six years, running his own business and being involved with another man’s wife. Chiyo is like a drug to him, and he is an addiction for her as well. The two complete each other but at the same time take away things like self-respect, trust and integrity. Can love overcome the negative side of their relationship? Can fulfillment of some desires be enough to fill the void?

Tyler’s book is an interesting examination of feelings, actions, and consequences. The plot is in flashback and present day, which truly lends itself well to the reflection of life Cole is going through. The characterization is superb, letting the reader into a discreet relationship and all of its dirty little secrets. “Lying with Chiyo” is a good read.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Fiction Review

White Raven
by Deborah Cannon
ISBN-10: 1412096278

When myth comes to life, no one is safe; the monster ravages. In Deborah Cannon's novel, "White Raven," the past comes back to haunt in more ways than one.

Jake Lalonde is an archaeologist who searches for the past in his own life as well as that of the Queen Charlotte Haida...his own people. It is a bad time to be stirring up old memories as there is a harsh dispute ongoing between loggers and environmentalists, involving the archaeologists who search for clues of ancient native culture. A tight society is sometimes hard to get straight answers from and Jake's inquiries leave closed mouths. One man in particular isn't to be trifled with. Thomas McPherson has brought an old myth to new light, scaring everyone into believing that the Seawolf has returned. A monster has been unleashed and Thomas has everything to do with it. Will the loggers lose their way of life? Will the Haida fall victim to big business? What will happen if Jake discovers his parentage and the meanings of his dreams of the past?

This wonderful mix of mythology, tradition, mystery and even romance is a delightful read. Deborah Cannon depicts the legend of the Seawolf, as well as her character's relationships, with the flair of a true storyteller. Her descriptive writing puts you right there in the elements of the islands on the Pacific Coast, on the water, with a gigantic sea elephant snorting mist into your face. This fast paced book is one you will not want to put down, but is also one that you will hate to see the end of.

Fiction Review

Millionaire City
by Jack J. Miller
ISBN-10: 0977051730

Imbedded deeply within the history of the Catholic Church is a secret power. From its adoption as the official new religion in Rome to modern day times, there has been an immensely powerful cartel calling the shots, protecting its benefactor and basically guiding the world from the inside. With secret cities in various places over the globe, T.E.R.A. controls the majority of wealth and the allowances of invention.

In the state of Colorado, hidden in a natural canyon, is Millionaire City, a place where only the wealthiest live. No one has to work, but they can if they choose to. Robot humanoids perform the tasks that no one desires. Everyone is at least a millionaire. But not everyone is happy.

When the mayor is kidnapped, his daughter, Laura Morgan calls upon an old flame, a former CIA analyst, Rick Burton, for help. Allowed into the secret city as a visitor, he is sworn to secrecy and soon becomes the possible pawn for the cartel. If they suspect their secrets will not be kept they offer bribery, or, deliver silence in the ultimate fashion. Will Rick be able to find the mayor in time? Will he be allowed to leave Millionaire City in the end? Will he and Laura rekindle what once was?

There is so much more involved in this work of fiction that I cannot possibly touch upon it all. The book is full of mystery and conflict, plot twist and intrigue, throw in romance and personal growth and you have a genre-crossing novel that appeals to the masses. However, I found the continuing conflict to be a little tiring, the promise of romance a little drawn out. What should be the climax of the main plot left me wanting more. But the story goes on and the reader will be satisfied.

All in all, the book offers an interesting cache of possibilities.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Short Story Collection Review

Bumps, Bruises and Bouncing Back: A Young Woman's Adventures into Womanhood
by Leigh Platt Rogers
ISBN-10: 0741431971
Review by Heather Froeschl

Being thrust into adulthood is usually how we find ourselves, all of a sudden, grown up. Trials and tribulations, panic attacks and calm responses, all add up to how we behave as adults. Getting through the lessons of early adulthood is a trying and memorable thing. Sometimes it is so helpful to know that people have been there, done that and are still breathing to talk about it.

Leigh Platt Rogers has compiled stories from her own plunge into adulthood and offers them to readers in the book, “Bumps, Bruises and Bouncing Back!” in hopes that young adults everywhere will take some comfort in her tales. This motivating book will make readers laugh, think, sigh in the contentment that someone else has done a crazy thing, and maybe even understand themselves just a little bit more.

Fiction Review

Secretarial Wars
by Linda Gould
ISBN-10: 0595275923

We all know that it is the secretaries and receptionists that make the world go `round. Getting through the guard dog can be the biggest challenge in a business deal. In Linda Gould's, "Secretarial Wars," we see where the power lies.

Miriam is a secretary in a Washington D.C. office for U.S. Peace Grants. The program sends scholars and professionals abroad to share their knowledge of American ideals. However, this is only on the surface. What is really happening? Miriam is intent on discovering the truth. A bit bored with her cubicle entrenched life, empty apartment and seemingly dead end job, she takes a peek at the files that surround her. Why are some grants awarded to incomplete applications? Is there a pattern to those who are awarded? Is there an underlying scandal that involves the rumors she hears about The U.S. Peace Council being nicknamed the Covert War Council? And just how influential is the President of the United States on a professional football team?

Linda Gould has written a testament to the power of secretarial staff. Be warned people! Secretaries know your dirty little secrets. The book's plot is well thought out and moves along nicely. The characterization is downright realistic! From the sluty two timing upper management to the tight fisted, by the book image, of the director, and right there with the staff who actually does the work, these people are folks you might know! The story is almost too real. A well balanced read of scandal, sex, drugs, and politics.

Fantasy Review

When Buffalo Roam: A Fantasy
by W. G. Palmer
ISBN-10: 0595392741

George Orwell's "Animal Farm," taken ten steps further! That's the best description I can make of W.G. Palmer's book, "When Buffalo Roam."

Imagine a world in which animals have secretly learned human language, where they have evolved beyond us and show the intelligence to keep quiet about it until the right time. The right time to what? Kill all humans of course. In a hidden society, deep within a mountain of caves and tunnels, a plan is developing. With the initial help of a radical human and her bewitched lover, the beginning of their time is born. Their society is based on Orwell's book, "Animal Farm" with thoughts from the Bible and other works of authority thrown in. Will the animals take over the world and become the higher dominance?

W.G. Palmer must have been influenced greatly by Orwell; it shows in his style and of course in the concepts in the book. An intense read with multiple layers of things to think about, this book is not light reading, though it fits the fantasy genre well. Marketed as Juvenile Fiction - I disagree. The text can be confusing, the plot a bit difficult to follow for the younger set. Young Adult and older is more the target audience and the book should be well received.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Children's Book Review

The House with the Magic Cellar: Realm: I
by Antonio Garza
ISBN-10: 0595392911
Review by Heather Froeschl

What kid doesn't dream of finding a secret world where they can experience magical things? "The House with the Magic Cellar," by Antonio Garza tells such a tale.

Twelve-year-old Angela and thirteen-year-old Tony often play together. One day they find a trap door in the basement floor and are amazed to find that at the bottom of a ladder is an entrance into a magical world where they can train to be wizards. Time will cease to move on in their world while they are gone, so Mom doesn't have to worry. She won't even know! In this new realm, Tony and Angela are tutored by their guide, Peepo. He shows them how to collect crystal powers and spells and how to use them. Along the way, they encounter dangers...one of which is a dark wizard who had been transformed into a rattlesnake. In an act of courage, Tony makes a mortal enemy of this snake and the danger follows them throughout the book. Will they learn enough to make their mark when taking their exam at the end of this training session? Will they live to take the test?

I personally love books that attempt to inspire the way Harry Potter books do. Antonio Garza has a feel for that magic. I had a couple of plot issues with this book though. The story is without an end goal other than to learn enough to take a test. The evil wizard adds some drama but there could have been more interaction between the characters. This promises to happen in future books. Certainly, young readers will find the details of magic "goodies," like a crystal that makes you invisible, quite interesting, and the magical abilities and spells fascinating. I think though, that the author is focusing too much on presenting the feel of a magical realm (Which was well portrayed) and not enough on overall plot. Since this is the first in a series of books, it does make for a good introduction to the characters and realms. I look forward to reading more about Angela and Tony and their adventures.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Fiction Review

A Testament In Purgatory
by Scott D. Muck and M. Kevin Durak
ISBN-10: 1424118956

Can one person make an impact on the world? Absolutely. Look at Hitler. While definitely not a positive impact, he did leave a huge, unforgettable scar. Have there been people who have initiated a point for the good side? Absolutely. We may never know how many. In "A Testament in Purgatory," by M. Kevin Durack and Scott D. Muck, readers will come to realize that there is a lot we do not know.

Magnus is a loner. He's very quiet, even brooding. His work in a grocery store is not a life long dream but it is something to do. He's a recluse, hiding in broad daylight, stocking shelves. He has a great secret, but since no one thinks to ask him about himself, he has no temptation to share. Samuel likes things in order and on time. He has a sense of duty and commitment, yet something is missing in his life. As the manager of a coffeehouse, he provides for the typically human habit of addiction to caffeine. Yet he drinks tea. The weirder side of Samuel is his seeing flames where none exist. This quirk leads readers to believe there is something beneath the surface that we're just not able to see...yet.

As secrets are revealed, an epiphany occurs, that we never really know what is truly going on around us. This short book is a delight and a disturbance. The plot is tight and well tuned with a fantastic twist. The characters are quirky and quaint and something completely different. "A Testament in Purgatory" is a fun read.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Adventure Fiction Review

The Incredible Adventures of Enrique Diaz: A Novel for the Young at Heart
by Andrew J. Rodriguez
ISBN-10: 1598008293
To find a land where people live in harmony - such is the adventurous if not arduous task of Enrique Diaz. In "The Incredible Adventures of Enrique Diaz," by Andrew J. Rodriguez, readers will embark on the journey of a lifetime, or three.

A youthful dreamer, Enrique Diaz is a fifteenth century Portuguese Catholic. Leaving on a quest to find the legendary kingdom of Prester John, he is joined by David, a Portuguese Jew, and Blas, a Moor. Together the three will have unbelievable adventures and dance with danger at every turn. To visit the holy city of Mecca is the first goal of the trip, the second is to find the lost tribe of Black Jews, known as Falashas, and the third and most precious goal is to discover the truth about the legendary kingdom of Enrique's dreams. Along the way the three friends see, taste, endure, and learn much. Danger is all around in the form of pirates, slave traders, thieves and disease. The plague lurks and lepers reach out for help. Somewhere down the road the three also experience compassion, gain wisdom, understand the global world and its religions, and find love.

Andrew Rodriguez has done it again. He has written an epic journey within the confines of a mere novel. To live a lifetime of adventure through his pages is a treat indeed! The plot flows eloquently through the Nile, up mountainous terrain, and sweeping into France. His characters are endearing and show their flaws like the hearts they wear on their sleeves. The greater message though, is one of living in harmony. Let us all have such a quest.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Science Fiction/Fiction Review

The Gospel Probe
by Myron Curtis
ISBN-10: 059536327X

We believe what we perceive to be true. Our truths are often led to us by various others, who, in turn, believe what they perceive to be true. What would you think though, if all of our beliefs were based on what somebody else wants us to believe? Confused? Let Myron Curtis, in his novel, "The Gospel Probe," explain it to you.

The year is 2287 and finally H.G.Wells' vision of a time machine of sorts has been invented. In a battle between the two largest religious sects, one following the Old Testament and the other following the newer, to be deemed "right," scientists and a few other choice specialists will travel back in time to the days of Christ and his trial, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. The goal is to prove by first hand accounts the existence of Jesus and the subsequent events that the Gospels were based on.

Rajulk is the main explorer of this time period and through his eyes we see the events unfold. Disguised as a traveler he encounters the people, hears the rumors of not one but two prophets, and sets about gathering "evidence" in the form of audio recordings and a visual recording of a crucifixion. He comes away with much more than he expected after risking his life among the Roman guards. Will the Pope get his wish, and see his "mission to prove the veracity of the gospels and discredit satanic counter efforts" fulfilled? Will the world see the truth or continue on seeing what someone else wants us to believe is fact?

Myron Curtis brings forth a highly interesting thought. The book is intriguing and interesting. As a whole, I feel the story was told well and shows promise to be somewhat controversial for a work of science fiction.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Non-Fiction Review

Retiring in Thailand
by Philip Bryce
ISBN-10: 1887521704
Review by Heather Froeschl

Admittedly, all I've known of Thailand is that many Cambodian's fled to it during the seventies, and, I happen to love Thai food. Reading "Retiring in Thailand" by Philip Bryce and Sunisa Wongdee Terlecky allowed me to visit the country and come away with a good deal of knowledge. While I'm nowhere near ready to retire, I can see this is a viable and desirable option!

The book is in five parts. The first is an introduction to Thailand, opening the reader up to customs and facts, amenities and culture, and offering the testimonials of a few folks who have retired in Thailand. Part two is the how-to section, describing in detail how to go about preparing for your retirement there. Information on passports, visas, taxes, social security, health care, and even plans for your will are all included. This information is for those coming from the U.S. and the U.K.. Part three details helpful hints on living and adjusting to Thai life, explaining mannerisms and etiquette, what you can expect and what will be expected of you. Part four examines the different areas of Thailand, giving the pros and cons of each major retirement spot. Part five is a plethora of reference information including websites to check out, a calendar of national holidays, a list of common items and their cost, and much more.

The book is an ideal opening guide when considering retirement in Thailand. It is also a perfect introduction to Thailand itself. If you've known as little as I have about this beautiful country, you'll be happy to sit back and explore through the pages of the book. "Live in paradise for pennies on the dollar" certainly seems to be true.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Fiction Review

The Painted View
by Matthew Burns
ISBN-10: 1420803603
This is not your ordinary plot driven book. "The Painted View," by Matthew Louis Burns is unique in a distinctly twisted way.

The human race is in a downward spiral, soon to be unable to reproduce. Paint, the main character, has a brainstorm to help women to reproduce on their own, basically cloning themselves within their own bodies. While this is happening, Paint goes off on many random tangents on just about every subject possible. His ramblings are in turn interrupted by numerous adventures in the bedroom with a plethora of women named just as uniquely as he: Season, Horizon, and Faith, among others. His appreciation for drink, smoke and sex is apropos with his drop of the hat attitude of traveling, trading jobs, and his non-need to make money. Paint is one heck of a character to read about!

I'm not entirely sure that Paint's ramblings are his own or those of the author, since I have not read anything else that Matthew Burns has written. I would venture to say that Paint gives him freedom to express his thoughts! This book is by far the most different thing I have read in years. Quite interesting, indeed!

Monday, October 2, 2006

YA/Children's Fantasy Review

Leven Thumps and the Whispered Secret
by Obert Skye
ISBN-10: 1590384903


Leven Thumps returns! Obert Skye's second book, "Leven Thumps and the Whispered Secret," is a much-anticipated sequel to "Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo." In the first book readers learn about the existence of Foo and meet Leven, Winter, Clover and Geth among other delightful characters. In this second book, readers are able to explore Foo itself and hope that it will still be there at the end of the book.

Sabine, the darkest and most selfish being in Foo seems to have been splattered in Reality in the previous book, but his evil reach has a presence in Foo, one that Leven and his companions will have to deal with. From the very beginning of this book to the very last page, chaos is all around them as they try to restore Geth as the rightful king. Winter encounters grave dangers on her own as Leven must cross the dreaded Swollen Forest. At every turn there is an obstacle to overcome as Foo is still in turmoil from Sabine's reign of terror. Fate dislikes a plan and leads things in various directions while the four travelers hope for the best. Will Leven learn to trust in fate? He doesn't have much choice!

Foo is a fantastic place to visit and readers will experience things they've never imagined through the glowing eyes of Leven. Obert Skye has a true talent for creating the mystical and drawing readers in to his world. His seemingly laid-back style captivates and then the fast paced plot holds attention until the last page is turned. Foo exists to remind us to hope, imagine and dream; the Leven Thumps books seem to be reminding us how to do these things.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Fiction Review

Goodbye Evilwood: The Murders in Tinseltown
by Vladimir Chernozemsky
ISBN-10: 1932656049

What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive. And who is more deceptive than the actors of Hollywood? Aren't they in the business of deception, acting the parts of a lifetime? In Vladimir Chernozemsky's latest novel, "Goodbye Evilwood," the deception is murderous.

Peter Arvad is an instructor at an acting school in Hollywood. He frequently spends a good deal of time with his students, outside of the classroom. Some, more than others; sometimes, in not so respectable situations. When a young woman shows up dead in one of his student's apartments, the law is obviously interested in how he could be involved. When he lies about the identification of the young woman, suspicion rises even more. Likely this action could be part of a cover up, but why and to what end? Peter is involved all right, for he knows all of the key players in this mystery. Some, more than others.

Chernozemsky has done it again. His careful attention to detail and the intricacies of creating a twisted, intense plot pay off tremendously. While this particular book is based on real life events, Vladimir's own experiences, the tale could not be told without his storytelling prowess. The reader's attention is held captive right to the very end. Head hopping between the main characters gives one insight to not just the actions of the plot but also the reasoning behind those actions. This murder mystery is a psychological ride on the Tinseltown roller coaster of greed, envy and jealousy. Bravo! Encore!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Fantasy Fiction Review

The Human Element
by Dan Skelton
ISBN-10: 1424142253

Do we really know the people in our hometowns? What could they be hiding, just under the surface? In Dan Skelton's novel, "The Human Element," what's under the surface is something truly scary.

Everyone in the small town of Medalia seems to idolize a young football hero, Trex Stegal. He's a fantastic player, on and off the field. The girls all want to be near him, the guys all want to be his friend. Trex has the respect of the adults in town, from the coach to the local cops. But there is something just barely hidden under his skin, something in the depths of his eyes that hints at an untamed beast. When three college students are murdered, the case goes unsolved for the guilty party is the person who would be last expected. Bit by bit though, we begin to see the boiling persona Trex keeps somewhat under control.

Disturbing events of sex and violence demonstrate the truth, but only to the reader. The other characters in the book have only an inkling that Trex can be a monster. You don't want him as an enemy, for revenge is deviously planned and played out. This all American boy is really anything but. Murder, incest, attempted rape, tortuous blackmail, vicious violence on the football field in front of hundreds of fans, all wrapped up in a tight package called, "The Human Element."

Dan Skelton captures the reader's attention and writes his work so fluidly it's a wonder the words don't pour off the page. His descriptive talent will have you gasping in shock, devouring the words in the heat of passion, and appalled at the detailed depictions of lust, violence, and insanity. Can he get any better? I can't wait to find out.

Non-Fiction Review

The Miracle Within
by Jack McCubbin
ISBN-10: 0978633601

The beauty of developing life is captured eloquently in the book, "The Miracle Within" by Jack McCubbin, M.D. and Cathy Schaffer. For every woman who is now pregnant or is considering having a baby, this beautiful book will be an inspiration.

Photography, artist's depictions, loving quotations, and a gentle, guiding narration will carry the reader through nine months of the gestation process. Straightforward, easy to understand, text portrays every step of the development of a baby. Guidance in the way of taking care of yourself as an expectant mother is given, regarding what you eat, what you partake of, the exercise you need, and tests you might have performed. The emotional side of pregnancy is also discussed, in a caring, loving manner.

The authors are well versed in their guidance. Jack H. McCubbin, M.D. has delivered thousands of babies and Cathy Schaffer, PA-C, has worked extensively with women suffering from high-risk medical problems during pregnancy. Together, they offer a book that is a helpful tool and resource for information, but is also an awe-inspiring collection of photographs of every stage of fetal development. This book should make an appearance at every baby shower and ought to be on the list of things to buy, right along with those prenatal vitamins.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Satire Fiction Review

Liberalstein
by C. D. Jewell
ISBN-10: 059539258X

"Liberalstein" is definitely a satire. C.D. Jewell has taken Shelley's idea and created a whole new monster.

Thinly disguised characters based on real people in America take extreme liberties and decide to literally create the ultimate in liberal presidential candidates. A cloned male who will have DNA from numerous liberal sources is created with the hope that he will be the answer to their collective dreams. With the help of a select few, the clone, Frank N. Liberalstein, will win a governorship and then run for president. The polls reflect the popularity of such a candidate and the republicans are running scared. Liberalstein has flaws though, as his drastic composition is folding in on itself.

The problem with basing fictional characters on real people is that as an author you are taking your perception of that person and perhaps some of the public's perception and creating a character whom you can make do anything you wish. This is leading the reader to feel the same way you do about your character and what he does and you are relying on the reader understanding what you're going for. I felt that I was being led in a direction that I am not comfortable with. I am sure there are many readers who will agree with Jewell's more conservative viewpoints and will enjoy the book. If you like satire, this is the most satirical book I've read in ages. Quite imaginative!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Non-Fiction self-help Review

Help Me With My Teenager! A Step-by-step Guide for Parents that Works
by Christina Botto
ISBN-10: 0978846508


If you are the parent of a teenager you may have had some challenging moments...you also may have run screaming to a friend begging for advice. Some teens are the type you need an instruction manual for, while others are perfectly understandable. Christina Botto offers a guide for parents of teens, that she says "works." "Help Me With My Teenager!" is a step-by-step guide, that instruction manual parents sometimes wish for.
Botto shares her own experiences, being the mom of two young women who made it through teenhood. Once she has you at ease that she has been there and done that, she explains that the best approach to having a better relationship with your young adult is to understand what it means to be a teen. You probably remember but it doesn't hurt to be reminded. Botto then goes on to give advice on connecting with your teen, giving them room to grow, dealing with their friends, setting limits, and enjoying your relationship with your teenager. You can do it!

This guide is a no nonsense "how-to" that is likely to save many relationships. Being reminded to be careful of what we say, how to act, and react, is worth its weight in gold. Some of the tips are so slap-upside-the-head simple that you'll feel a Homer Simpson moment of "Doh!" Others are full of insight that you just may have never thought of.

If you need a little guidance, a friendly whisper in the ear about what works and what doesn't, Christina Botto is here for you.

Science Fiction/Fiction Review

The Expert on Everything - a novel
by Edward David Gil
ISBN-10: 1847287263

Big Brother meets Big Business in Edward David Gil's novel, "The Expert on Everything." What is the next evolutional step for the internet? Could it be instant information at the ear of the questioner? What would the repercussions be? What would the cost for such a tool be? What price would we all pay when it comes to issues of privacy?

Charlie Sanders doesn't suspect that he's been set up for a job, even though he's offered a six figure salary just a few moments into his interview at the newly formed Vector Systems. Things get very interesting when he is mistakenly given the company's only prototype of a new technology so innovative that it would change the world in a heartbeat. Just ask "Wallace" anything about anybody and you will instantly be the expert of everything. Drawing information from surveillance cameras, credit card purchases, motor vehicle records, satellite systems and every conceivable possibility, Wallace, a sort of personal assistant with a microchip brain, all in the form of an earpiece, will let you know if you should purchase the used car you're looking at, go out on a date with the person you're flirting with, or eat the sushi that's on your plate.

The company is growing, debating whether to sell this new technology to government agencies that are seeking out terrorists under every rock, developing marketing plans to baby boomers and Gen. X'ers, and all the while the techno geeks are working out some serious kinks. When the head techie's car goes into the ocean, things get a bit scary. Even scarier still is the fact that Wallace has taken on its own mission and is now threatening lives unless his transportation, in the name of Charlie Sanders, completes the orders he is given.

Orwell was on the right track of course, but Edward Gil takes it a step further and into the 21st century. This techno thriller touches on the real threat of privacy no longer existing. The plot is smooth and interesting, showing a great deal of the truth of business development. Gil's style is of a different flavor and sticks out just enough to be memorable. Let's hope the premise never comes to be, and if it already does, I just don't want to know.

Children's Fantasy Review

Marin and the Dragon's Golden Treasure: A Lesson in Trading with Dragons
by E W Bonadio
ISBN-10: 0595396569

"Come to pass the time in the light of a dragon's eye." E.W. Bonadio's book, "Marin and the Dragon's Golden Treasure," is told in classic style.

When a greedy general with a fierce army hears of a dragon's treasure, he decides to hold a village ransom for the gold he desires. The village of Vale will be destroyed in three day's time unless the rumored gold is presented, and the villagers sold into slavery. A young boy named Marin trusts the stories his father had told him, and sets out to the dragon's lair. In years past, the dragon, Dax, had a pact with the king to protect the villages in exchange for a yearly trade of gold. This pact had been forgotten and the dragon hadn't received any new treasure in quite some time. Young Marin made his way to beg the dragon for a few pieces of gold, enough to pay the ransom to the general. Dax has another plan in mind. Will he help the villagers once again? Is Marin too trusting of the stories from the past?

This short story is an enchanting tale of dragon lore, honesty and integrity. Bonadio offers insight into the world of dragons, first through the story and then with more details of the history of dragons. Fast paced and fascinating, children will love this book about Dax and Marin and just may learn a lesson about trading with dragons.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Historical Fiction Review

The Spectre of Death Rode the Land
by Lois Glass Webb
ISBN-10: 1595263632
Review by Heather Froeschl

War is a Grim Reaper that deeply invades the lives of everyone it encounters. The U.S. Civil War hosted the Reaper, and as the title of Lois Glass Webb’s book depicts, “The Spectre of Death Rode the Land.”

In Southeast Missouri, John Gordon announces that the family will remain neutral, that they will remain the farmers that they are and raise corn and hogs as they always have. Family duty is a strong pull but a sense of justice is yet another. Stuart Gordon goes against his father’s wishes and joins up as the Union army pushes into Missouri. His brother Riley is pulled from both sides, all the more stronger now that he is the eldest son at home. With women to protect, crops to be pursued and life wreaking havoc at every turn, Riley struggles with his commitments and sense of honor.

Life continues on through the deaths of loved ones. Every day is a battle to get through. Every little thing once taken for granted is now an obstacle to get over. John Gordon’s daughters, Kate, Emely and Ritty hang on, hoping against hope that the war will end and life will return. But how can it? Husbands are lost, new lives are birthed, torment of fear is persistent. Will life ever be the same again? Likely not, but maybe there is a new one to look forward to.

Lois Glass Webb’s story is one often told but rarely given the humanity and depth of life that her characters portray. This is more than a tale of the North invading the South; it is a story of life prevailing over that spectre of death. With the fast paced action of a war story and the heart felt perspective of deep emotion, this book is one that brings history to the light of humanistic evaluation. Facts and statistics do not breathe, but history told through family remembrances, with emotive response, hopes and fears shared with the reader, is a book you won’t forget.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Mythology Review

Jason and Medea: A Whirlwind of Ruin
by Matthew Hunter
ISBN-10: 0595671039
Review by Heather Froeschl

How far would you go to reach that golden ring? Would you push another child off the carousel? As Jason strives for the Golden Fleece, he does more than mythology has led us to believe. In Matthew L. Hunter's version of the tale, "Jason and Medea: A Whirlwind of Ruin," we finally see the whole story...or at least Hunter's imaginative adaptation.

Dear old King Pelias sends his nephew Jason off on a quest to return the Golden Fleece to his kingdom with a promise that if he does so, the throne will be his. In the next breath he has Jason's father Aeson killed. And thus begins the violent acts of lust for power in this tale. Jason and his Argonauts are not the things of film and cartoon that recent history has depicted. The crew is brutal and vicious at every obstacle, Jason heartless in his quest. Mythology continues to accompany this version of the Fleece seeker, while the author's imagination fills in many gaps to the classic tale.

In a unique form of style, not quite novel and not quite play, Hunter offers a "mind-play" for the reader to envision the acts as they occur. This style is fluid and refreshing to this reader, while others may find it hard to follow. His writing is crisp and precise, evoking the images to appear in the mind's eye, the emotion to choke the throat. A very well done piece of work!