I love April 15.

I am suspending any “Daily Post” activity until April 15 (tax day…yay). I will still post reviews from now until then but they will be at the whim of internet availability in the countries I must travel through and to.

It is my choice to live in Indonesia so I am not going to complain about the institutional difficulties a foreigner must put up with. It is one of those “love it or leave it” situations. And I am generally quite content to watch the crops grow. We own the farm. However, I have been in Indonesia for five years and it is no longer legally possible for me to extend my visa, I must leave for another country, mostly one of my choosing, and obtain a new visa to return.

For me, this means travelling to Thailand. There I will deal with the Indonesian bureaucracy through the Indonesian Embassy while at the same time dealing with the Thai bureaucracy so that my new Indonesian visa will be processed inside the window of time Thailand allows me to stay. The process is physically exhausting because of transportation and can be mentally exhausting unless one is able to call on a strong sense of humor. Fun Fact: Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles.

At any rate, I will still be reading a lot; that is what keeps me sane. And I will write a lot of reviews as well. When I return, my students will be impressed as to how fast I can fill those holes on my blog calendar.

Unlike many citizens, I am looking forward to April 15.

“Grey” Must Be the Color of Their Hair

Grey Daze by Michael Allan Scott is a 306-page supernatural thriller published in 2015 selling for USD 2.99 on Amazon but available free through Kindle Unlimited. It is supernatural in that some of the characters have feelings that they can communicate with dead relatives, some of the characters more so than others. Lance is a full-on out-of-the-closet psychic. His psychic powers were revealed to the public by an investigative journalist and he has received unwanted attention ever since. His visions don’t merely come and go. He is able to check in with his dead wife, Sonja, almost at will. Sonja gives him advice about whatever current problems he has and occasionally lets him know things coming up in the immediate future. That is quite friendly of her considering Lance believes he killed her. Sonja’s sister, Hilde thinks Lance killed her. Lance is occasionally in court because Lance’s nephew, a lawyer, has brought charges of manslaughter against Lance for killing Sonja. The one “person” who believes Lance didn’t kill Sonja is Sonja; she constantly gives reassurances to Lance that he is not at fault while she is helping Lance to solve another murder.

Continue reading ““Grey” Must Be the Color of Their Hair”

What’s in the Box?

Meat by Bones Monroe has a strange, frightening, attractive cover. The author name could be a pseudonym, maybe not but it goes along with the cover. The combination attracts readers like me who favor horror and thriller books. What did I actually find? A benevolent “terminator.” You will have to read the entire short story to find out how I interpreted this. You may disagree. At 50 pages and at a price of USD 0.00 (not Kindle Unlimited) it is an easy investment and an interesting time filler. The surprise is (and this is not a spoiler) the horror is almost not there. The “almost” is because there might be a few snippets the reader will think it is gross or yucky but the overall content is very tame. I was surprised.

Continue reading “What’s in the Box?”

Dreams, Time Travel, and Reality

Quantum Lace by Leigh (Bella) St. John is a 102-page read about time travel. Unlike many stories of this genre, this one incorporates research that links the story to historical fact. The story is interesting although there is a cliffhanger for an ending. The story will be continued; the author promises that, but my preference is for closed end stand alone stories. The lack of such an ending did not diminish my interest in this story but my interests may not be typical of all readers. I like language and the way it is used. Ms. St. John writes of Bridgit, the main character whose life experiences occur in 1895. There are vocabulary items and phrasing that are not common today. How many times have you “fossicked around?” The letter written to Bridgit by Dr. Preston (chapter eight) contains phrasing that today might be described as turgid.

Bridgit has a dream in which she is in a restaurant where not only the customers are wearing clothes of a style unfamiliar to Bridgit, so does Bridgit and she has no idea why. She is amazed by sights she sees outside the restaurant window but she does not have time to contemplate all the strange things she sees and hears before she is interrupted by Markus. He addresses her with such familiarity that he must be a friend. Bridget’s amazement over her new setting and her surprise at being spoken to so excitedly by Markus lead Bridget to a nodding acceptance of all Markus says while Bridget is trying to figure out what has happened. Markus describes events that happened in history, from 1914, 2007, and even 2015. However, Bridget lives in 1895 and almost everything he says is strange to her. The one point they have in common is H. G. Wells, a friend of Bridgit’s. Markus calls on many authorities as he tries to explain to Bridgit why time travel is possible.

Bridgit wakes up back in 1895. She, along with the reader, contemplate the reality and feasibility of time travel. Maybe Bridgit wouldn’t have thought more about time travel if her father hadn’t died. The possibility that she could be reunited with him and possibly even with her dead mother spur her desire to believe in the possibilities. Now if she could only remember the directions Markus gave!

This short story will appeal to young adult (YA) readers. There is no violence, no sex, and no bad language. Some readers may be motivated to read more about the authority figures Markus uses to set the background for the feasibility of time travel. Adult fans of time travel stories will appreciate the 102-page story. It can be read on a lunch break.

It’s fun, it’s short, and if you have a KU subscription, it’s free.

If You Could Live Forever …

The Diary of an Immortal by David J. Castello is a book I found through OnLineBookClub. It is a Book of the Month for February 2017 on their site and members are encouraged to submit thoughts for discussion as they receive point rewards for submission of posts. To enter, I had to read the sample. From that point on, I was hooked by the story; I couldn’t put it down. This will not be true for all readers. There is history, historical fiction, mysticism, hints of the supernatural, and explorations of the tenets of Buddhism. For me, the book was a fit. I would have given it 5 stars if not for the ending. The novel was great down to the last few pages and then the author presented an ending which I found totally unacceptable. That was quite a feat considering all the various genre we had passed through so well.

This is a 350-page book available on Amazon for USD 2.51. I am one of those who takes advantage of KU whenever possible. This novel was not available from KU but the sample was so good I purchased the full version. It would be easy to get the wrong impression of what the book is about from the sample. Steven is a medic in WWII and is a part of the US forces that liberated Dachau. His description of what was seen inside the camps, the actions of Kripos, the desperation of the liberated to adjust their stomachs to accept food, the actions of US forces toward German troops who surrendered and his feelings observing all these events may be eye-opening to a generation far removed from those events. As a person born in Germany during those years, I accepted what the author wrote as factual and normal. Except for the immortality pills, and that is where the book takes off to establish its own niche.

I am confident the author managed to shock readers with some of the scenes of children fanatically accepting death in the final days of attempting to save the homeland. One very important subject was barely touched on; the universal guilt of the German population. Vestiges of that remain today and later generations are resentful of it. Perhaps the author was wise to tread lightly on this one or we would have never got on with the rest of the book. What is widely accepted from a base that mixes anecdotal evidence with objective, documented evidence, is that during the final days of the Reich there was a flailing about of all kinds of attempts at saving the Reich. There were hints at experiments with jets, nuclear power, and getting aid from the occult. Enter Steven as he finds a box with not only immortality pills; they also come with instructions.

Because Steven was a medic, he wanted to find medical evidence for how this combination of chemicals came about. Luckily he ran into Erika Orsic, a beautiful, stunning (who will write about the ugly people) German who knew a person who knew a person who had been involved with medical experiments at Dachau, where Steven had found the pills. And that final person in the food chain was known to Erika; he owned a coffee shop nearby. Erika offered to take Steven to the coffee shop and Steven accepted. He trusted her because in an earlier happenstance meeting she had described to Steven a shortcut they could take into the village when they were invading it. The shortcut bridge had been mined and blew up when the allied forces tried to use it; Erica had neglected to mention the mines but she explained she hadn’t known that. Steven believed her; she was beautiful and stunning. At a meeting in a coffee shop, Steven learns enough that he decides to take the pills, one per day and, due to the available supply, he not only will live forever but his body would do all kinds of neat things like regenerate lost parts and heal wounds. As the meeting at the coffee shop concludes, Steven goes off with Erika to spend the night in what will become the best night of his life and he will think of her forever. Literally, because he is immortal and she is beautiful and stunning.

Immediately after WWII, at the time of Steven and Erika’s meeting, there were laws about fraternization between allied troops and Germans. Steven could have gone to jail but he didn’t. Instead, he was shipped home, the war was over, and Steven accepted the idea he would never meet Erika again. But a guy could dream and Steven did. Steven went home a changed person. His family was not a stranger to him but things had changed. His father was dying and Steven saw an opportunity. He would share the pills with his father. His father refused, choosing instead to commit suicide. There was nothing for Steven to remain home for and he embarked on a series of travels and experiments with music in an effort to build a postwar meaningful life. It would be a long one as he continued to take the pills. And the pills affected his music. Steven would go into a trance and produce music no one had ever heard before. It was a mix of contemporary music with hints of Chinese overtones. While playing innovative music two people showed up at a performance who wanted to talk to him about his music. Albert had been a missionary in China but was presently defrocked due to an “incident.” Albert was accompanied by his niece Jennifer who acted as a caretaker for Albert. She was stunning and beautiful.

In conversations with Albert and Jennifer Steven describes some of the visions he has in a trance while playing his music. He sees two prominent monks, Chow Li and Chang Sou, and is able to describe them in such detail that Albert and Jennifer recognize them. Albert associates them with the incidents that caused him his problems with and expulsion from the church. Albert knows that both monks are in a deadly fight with each other. Chow Li is a force for good, Chang Sou is a force for evil, and both of them are immortal. The visions Steven sees when playing music are something called the Akashic Record which is tenuously linked to a portal to a different world. The world can be connected to telepathically, the immortality pills provide a method to see the records. Clearly, a road trip is necessary for Steven, Albert, and Jennifer to find the monks Steven has seen in trances and Albert has met in person. The idea of immortality will be explored. The conflict between Chow Li and Chang Sou will be resolved. The immortality pills with the associated powers that brought Hitler to power will never again be used for evil.

One of the people who could have explained a lot about the immortality pills was Maria Orsic. She had helped Hitler come to power by using her telepathic powers to communicate with her home at Aldebaran, about sixty-five light years away from earth. That had resulted in the immortality pills. She, other than being stunning, beautiful, and the sister of Erika, had gone home to Aldebaran. There was nothing left for our heroes Steven, Albert, and Jennifer to do but go to Tibet and visit the monks of Steven’s trance. In Tibet, the leader will learn some of the tenets of Buddhism and Taoism. The reader will learn of conflicts between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese. And the reader will witness life and death struggles between Chow Li and Chang Sou, a struggle our three heroes must participate in. Steven is necessary to the struggle because Steven can kill. Chow Li can’t kill due to religious beliefs. And some people need killing.

The struggle will continue to an end I really didn’t like. But the rest of the book was fantastic and I wouldn’t give up the pleasure of reading the book even if I had known the ending before I started reading. Other readers may approve of the ending. That is why there is a discussion in the forums of the site that introduced me to the book.

This is a safe book for those offended by rough language. There is no gratuitous sex and little of any other kind. Readers who can suspend beliefs and accept a bit of the occult will like this. It is also good historical fiction as it encompasses the struggles of Mao, the Dalai Lama, Chiang Kai Shek, and the final days of the Germans in WWII.

This is a worthwhile and entertaining book I highly recommend. Despite the ending.

Brenda Winds Jacque Up

Curious Goods: Jack-in-the-Box by Bones Monroe is story number four in the Curious Goods series. I purchased the book for USD 0.99 on Amazon although I could have read it for free on Kindle Unlimited. My KU queue was full and the annoyance of shuffling my books around was not worth USD 0.99. All the stories in the series are short and, to me, all are impressive. After posting this review I will spend time reading the other short stories in the series.

Continue reading “Brenda Winds Jacque Up”

Noah’s Wife by T.K. Thorne is a 369-page novel selected as an OnlineBookClub Book of the Day for 25 February 2017. The Kindle edition is available from Amazon for USD 1.99 but there is a free sample. After reading the sample I couldn’t resist buying the complete novel. For those who tend to click on things too fast (buy buttons) be careful here. There are two novels with the same title if you search on Amazon. This is the one with the cover that looks like big waves are coming. The other one, Noah’s Wife by Lindsay Starck has people with umbrella’s on the cover and costs a lot more.

A reader’s immediate expectation is that we are going to read about a flood. It is no spoiler to mention that we will but it is a long way (pages) from the following opening two-sentence paragraph to the flood.

My name, Na’amah, means pleasant or beautiful. I am not always pleasant, but I am beautiful. Perhaps that is why I am trundled atop this beast like a roll of hides for market and surrounded by grim-faced men. (p. 1)

That sentence is why I couldn’t resist buying the book. This sentence appears in the prologue with the title 5521 BCE.

After the prologue, we shift back in time with Part I titled 5524 BCE followed by Part II titled 5521 BCE (like the prologue) and finally Part III titled 5500 BCE. This is followed by a highly informative 10-page postscript detailing the author’s research underlying the historical part of this fine historical fiction work. That is followed by a glossary of character names which appeared too late for me. Although I would appreciate a glossary appearance at the front of the novel, it would detract from the value of an Amazon sample.

Each part describes a significant period of her life when dramatic events happen. In part one, Na’amah deals with Asperger’s Syndrome. Her brother, Tubal, despises her and constantly tells her she is ugly and stupid. She is convinced she killed her mother with her birth. Tubal reinforces this idea every time he speaks to her. She does have a loving grandmother whose role becomes more important after her father dies while attempting to flee from a flood. Not THE flood, but a devastating one nevertheless for Na’amah’s village.

In part one Na’amah will become quite familiar and comfortable with Yanner, a friend with whom she will spend a lot of time in hills while tending sheep. There probably will not be a romantic relationship with Yanner. Na’amah will not encourage it. She is betrothed to Noah in a marriage arranged by her father. Noah has promised to wait several years before consummation of the marriage. It would be nice for Na’amah to get through puberty first. Noah is a lot older than Na’amah but is impressed by her direct speaking style. It seems she cannot lie and she tells Noah what she thinks of him upon their first meeting.

After Tubal becomes the head of the family upon the death of their father, Tubal notices that Yanner seems to love his ugly sister. Tubal may or may not hate Noah, but it was Tubal’s father that arranged Na’amah’s marriage to Noah, a marriage that Na’amah seems to accept. Tubal hates Na’amah and Yanner is Tubal’s friend. Tubal decides to make a change to the arrangement and promises Yanner Na’amah as his wife. This is done more out of his hatred for Na’amah rather than a fondness for his friend. This conflict between Na’amah and her brother will lead to her running away from her village. It will lead to her capture by slavers. They want to sell her and other captured women to their King. She will escape from the slavers and try to reach the refuge of a religious sect that worships a supreme power that is female.

Up to this point, there are no spoilers because by the title of the book readers can be confident that she escaped from the slavers and that Noah is the ultimate winner in the relationship department. After this point, spoilers become a problem.

This novel has a character driven story of the competition for believers in a true religion. Is the true religion patriarchal or matriarchal as far as legitimacy? Tubal fights many followers from the matriarchal camp. Na’amah is not interested in either being in power or acting as a power broker.

The book has interesting insights into building a really big boat. Noah uses methods of construction innovative at the time. An interior fireplace on a wooden boat was new. The attention paid to sealing material and the need for frequent maintenance is interesting. Notes on diversity in agricultural methods and distribution were interesting. Different results achieved by different groups living comparatively closely together might have encouraged socialization as one group discovered, perhaps through traveling trade shows and merchants, that the neighbors were a bit better off.

There are many interesting comments on peripheral supporting information that are provided as bonus entertainment. The frequent referral to cave paintings could have been left out entirely but the inclusion contributes a lot to how some of the characters support their beliefs.

This is a thoughtful read, something not to be rushed, and something the reader may want to come back to, especially when referring sections to friends.

This may not be suitable for strict, orthodox believers of the Christian religion who believe in a literal meaning of every word in the Bible.