Mothers Always Know Best

Some Books will encourage a click on the “Buy Now” button just because of its cover. Hello World: Meet Mother Rebecca by Rebecca Frost Cuevas is one of those. If the Victorian headdress and great smile don’t get you, the subtitle The autobiography of a fictional Victorian know-it-all might be enough to clinch the sale.

To Post Or Not To Post

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions this year as far as blogging and posting book reviews. I stayed with my general policy of not reviewing certain novels because they are thinly disguised porn. I’ll keep that resolution. I don’t want to write negative reviews; I don’t see the point because I will not waste my time by engaging in the type of dialogue I have seen on a national level. This second resolution is one I will bend a bit in the review posted below. I will not post the review on Amazon, Goodreads, or BookBub, sites I usually post to in addition to this one. But I will post the review here because I took the time to download the novel and comment on some of the good points until there were so many errors I abandoned the book. This is the first time I have stopped and given up in approximately 800 reviews.

Three Short Satires

These three short stories were sent to me by an independent publishing house promoting their writers. For the next week or so these three stories (there are others, but I was not attracted to their genres) sell on Amazon for USD 0.99 and are supposed to rise to USD 2.99 thereafter. I like stories such as these for my students of English as a second language. I must read everything I recommend making sure I don’t damage cultural sensitivities.

The blurb accompanying SYNCO™ by J.R. Kruze is this mouthful of run-together words: Short Fiction Young Adult Science Fiction Fantasy. That could be two genres or four.

Per the title, the world is in sync, it is a peaceful place, maintained and monitored by social media. The largest social media concerns had merged to form SYNCO™. The idea was that everybody had signed the Terms of Use documents without reading them and in doing so had given up all rights to privacy. Then the organization had begun to homogenize language by defining and eliminating anti-social sentiments. What was left was social doctrine.

Orders: To Obey Or Not Obey?

Spin Drift by Lisette Kristensen is a very short story describing the culmination of Mossad training with an operational test. Pass the test and you graduate. Fail the test and it would not matter; candidates who failed died Is this realistic? Sure, it can happen but the conditions under which it would happen are more stressful than described in this short story. For fans of this type of story look at accounts of military teams operating on horseback in Afghanistan, actions on the part of Seal Team Six, some of which have inadvertently been declassified. For non-fiction from the past look at Five Years to Freedom by Col. Nick Rowe, a prisoner of the Viet Cong and NVA for the number of years indicated. Also look at the operation under the Carter administration to rescue US hostages from the US Embassy in Tehran. The Commander on the ground was Col. Charles Beckwith, the main inspiration for and leader of Delta Force. I mention all these things to give some credibility to this story. Fact (mentioned above) can be stranger than fiction.

All Angels Are Not Angels

Dragonfly Dreams by Jennifer J. Chow will be an eye-opening opportunity in cultural education for Western readers new to Asian culture or the hybrid culture that grows as immigrants deal with their new adopted culture. Our main character is Topaz. Her job as a narrator is limited by the fact that she dies on Page One while giving birth. During a brief period of ascent just after dying, Topaz is offered a choice between two paths to follow. She has no idea of what to do until the appearance of Sage who lets her know that one path leads to an end and the other path leads to a beginning. The path on the right will allow her to be with her family temporarily but she must choose how long. Topaz wants to see her daughter grow up and decides ten years, a decade, will be fine.

Hold the (Party) Line! A Twittering Tale

It is a placid if not yet happy New Year and I am looking forward to being bored. I know it can’t last for long but with the latest government shutdown, I save a lot of time by not listening to the news. I only listen to the one headline per day: “The government has been shut down for (X) number of days.” I can then turn off the news because there is nothing else important. Yes, there are important things going on in the world outside our borders but as Donny the Grinch says, he is only here to make America grate again. And he is doing that. To do that, the chief needs to mobilize all our resources.

Fantastic Story Structure

Maybe because of the relationship between crime, mystery, and legal thrillers, I am attracted to titles like We, The Jury by Robert Rotstein. Years ago, I was spoiled as far as legal thrillers by John Grisham. His appeal has not faded with his recent works such as the The Whistler. Rotstein does not compare to Grisham; he is different in many ways and that is what makes this novel an exceptional one. It is pleasing in its organization. It is clever in the observations offered on the travails of everyday life, some, but not all, in a legal sphere. It is entertaining in its examination of spousal abuse in which the husband is the abused … or maybe not. That is why we are in the courtroom. Abused or not, should there be incidents in which murder is justified? Self-defense? Perhaps. That is why readers are invited to examine the court proceedings presented here.

Clio’s War Is Different

I was surprised to find Clio at War by Peggy Gardner not listed in the young adult (YA) genre on Amazon. I recommend this as a good YA read because of an absence of sexual or violent language. This is most appropriate as the Main Character is 11-year-old Clio. She will tell most of the story in the first person. Clio begins the story as a very angry daughter of Delia. Her mom is taking her on a “forced march” to Wolfe Flats, Oklahoma. The town and area are as small and boring as the name implies. Delia will leave Clio with Aunt Harriet and Aunt Norma as Delia pursues an exciting career in Europe as a war correspondent. Delia dreams of being a contemporary of Martha Gellhorn. The war is WWII. After dropping Clio off, we hear next to nothing about Clio’s mom or the war in Europe.

Too Many Crimes, Too Many Characters

Murder is Secondary (A Susan Wiles Schoolhouse Mystery) by Diane Weiner is one in a series of nine novels. The About the Author section notes this is a cozy mystery. I have never been sure what that is. In searching for a definition, I found that there is generally an almost absence of sex and violence but there is some sort of mystery that is supposed to appeal to intelligent women. Also, the mystery typically takes place in a community where everybody knows everybody. This sounds like the TV series Murder She Wrote. I hope no one minds if I occasionally spy on what intelligent women are reading.

Changing Faces of Demons

Demon King by Erik Henry Vick should be a favorite for readers in the horror and fantasy genres. Vick created so many demons they would not fit into one category. There were traditional demons, “biblical, with leathery wings, horns, fangs, and whatever” (p.63). “Others had black, rotting skin that hung from them like clothing three sizes too big. Those he called “undead” demons.” (p. 63). And then there were the demons that didn’t fit into the two categories. They were just weird. Teleports don’t count as demons. All the above information is in Chapter Two which takes place in 2007. Books don’t generally start with Chapter Two. Chapter One takes place in 1979 when several children had near experiences with demons. It was a time when Toby disappeared. Close friend Benny went to find him at an abandoned, some considered haunted house. Adults became involved when Benny told his dad, the town manager, where he had been. Then police became involved in a search for Bobby, a super psycho (later to be known as O. G.) was discovered and the journey began.