The Widow’s Network by Nick McDonell might be an eye-opening book for readers that believe armed conflicts are between two monolithic elements, that there is a good side and a bad side. Using a small core of named individuals that worked with female spy Sabrine, McDonell delivers a well-sourced account of the conflict in Iraq. There are shifting alliances, people who worked openly for more than one side, and some documented facts with flexible dates to serve bureaucratic purposes.
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A collection of ten short stories, an Experiment in Emotions by P. A. Priddey offers some descriptions of love and romance that all contain a twist. Only the first one, The Dark Secret of Padwell, might use language too strong for the YA crowd. The last story, A Bag of Conkers, delivers a set of absurdities but ends with an I-didn’t-see-that-coming surprise. All are pleasant to read as they explore themes of deceptions, misperceptions, jealousy, and heightened puppy love (also known as lust, but not graphic lust). On an interest meter, I give this collection a ten out of ten. There are none that I wished I had skipped; all are interesting.
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Children To A Degree by Horst Christian has a subtitle on the cover which might not attract the general reader. “Growing Up Under the Third Reich,” can evoke a reaction of “ho-hum, another apologetic story of WWII Germany.” Some might think it is a work of complete fiction. As the author points out (turn the page) this work of fiction is based on a true story. I found this on sale at Amazon for USD 0.00 as of 10 December 10, 2017, and was pleased to note this is the first in a series of four about WWII and Germany even though it was published third in the series and subsequently renamed as Book 1. I look forward to reading the remaining three books in the series.
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From the title, we can guess that A Perfect Society is a series prequel. This short story sets the scene for an ideal world community. It is proposed that money will no longer be used. The currency for everyday transactions will be the worth of the individual to society. A person’s potential lifetime worth will be measured at birth and a value assigned by the government to everyone. The individual then will trade on his/her assigned worth to obtain daily necessities. But not everybody will have the same potential worth. As this story begins, it seems people of color are valued less.
Starting out as a YA novel, Persephone (Pepper) is in the fifth grade. At home, there is a barn where a friend of her father, Dr. Terry, works. Dr. Terry is black, the son of a man who was a soldier with Pepper’s father. Cort and Tuck had served together in Iraq where Cort had contracted a disabling disease due to chemical weapons. Tuck permitted Cort’s son, Dr. Terry, to conduct research in a barn behind his home. Dr. Terry, an MIT graduate, was doing genetic research, the kind of stuff that might affect values of social worth assigned by the government at birth.
The year is 2020. The government has finally passed a law institutionalizing the digital society, the perfect society based on a person’s predicted worth. Pepper’s personal life is terrible. She has no friends as all previous ones shunned her as the daughter of a family harboring and supporting a man whose research will disturb the new proposed society. Her only friends are two boys, one black and one white, who are in a romantic relationship. At school, the three sit at a table for the rejected as they suffer taunts based on racism and sexist intolerance. At home, Pepper’s mom has separated from the family. There are no friends or visitors other than Government representatives who visit to enlist Dr. Terry with Tuck’s help.
This short story ends with an unexpected event, a tragedy, and a surprise ending. It is followed by an excerpt from Skin Trials. I don’t usually read follow-on excerpts out of some contrarian reaction to being manipulated into buying a novel by the cliffhanger from the prequel. In this case, I am glad I read it. It carries forward but does not really explain, what happened in the prequel. I was quite happy, surprised, and intrigued by the unusual and well worked out premise to these stories. I will read further books by this author as they become available.