Rebirth is the first of a three-part science fiction series entitled The Praegressus Project. Eighteen-year-old Chris and his mother were both taken in the dead-of-night. Soon, Chris awakens in a cell. Confused and frightened, he has no knowledge of where his mother is–only that she’s accused of treason and children must pay for their parents’ crimes. Chris must join forces with others just like him in the fight for survival against a group of doctors who are experimenting with science in order to enhance the human race.
The premise of the story kept my interest from start to finish. It held at a steady pace with a couple of action scenes here and there. Most of the setting takes place solely in the cells, so there wasn’t a lot of world building; however, that didn’t drag the plot. Unlike most science fiction stories, Rebirth wasn’t about building a world, but about character development. It’s hard not to like the characters, particularly Liz, the young woman Chris first meets after he awakens in his own cell. Chris, on the other hand, took awhile for me to like. But I believe out of the small group, Chris was the one who grew the most–and maybe that’s what author Aaron Hodges had in mind, although I can’t vouch for sure.
I believe Rebirth would fit just about any type of readers. There’s just about everything one could want: science, fantasy, friendship, love, power, and survival. It’s clean of bad language and no sex scenes. There is a bit of violence, though, but it’s not heavy, so no gore. It only shows how evil these experimenters are. They treat their captors as if they’re lab rats.
There were some errors here and there, but I’m quickly learning not to count against it…especially since the errors were few. After all, we are all human, and shouldn’t be expected to be perfect! Even the greatest has misprints at times. I don’t know if Aaron Hodges edited his own work or not, but as a professional editor myself, I’ve learned that it’s not easy editing one’s own work.
Rebirth was well-written, tight and a story I couldn’t wait to finish just to find out what happens. Aaron Hodges is definitely on the fast track to becoming an excellent science fiction novelist. I can’t wait to read more from him. Highly recommended.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Aaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Geography, and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job and see the world. Two years later, his travels have taken him through South East Asia, Canada, the USA, Mexico, Central America, and South America. Today, his adventures continue…
Although I’ve read novels based on aliens, and I wouldn’t turn down a chance to read books about aliens, it’s not technically my type of thing. I tend to be very picky with the alien genre. Spirit Raiders is about such: alien abductions, the threat to humanity, advanced technology, and first contact…pretty much everything a die-hard science fiction fan would enjoy.
The plot was complex, very slow moving, filled with a lot of technical things I had trouble grasping…mostly because I’m not very technical-inclined. While much of it was science fiction, the reality of some of the technological terms was very well-researched to make the fiction appear realistic. Sometimes, I had to re-read the information to grasp what it was saying…remember, I’m not much of a technical person, so at times, the information didn’t do enough explaining for me. Other times, however, I was overloaded with information and caught myself skimming a tad.
With a little bit more editing, the writing could have become tighter and stronger, earning a higher rating. I like to be shown what’s happening during the scenes, rather than being told. It helps me visualize better, even if I’m reading about things I just don’t understand.
If you’re one that loves aliens and you can understand a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo, then I recommend you taking the time to read this book. Don’t be put off by the slow-moving parts. It took me a few chapters to really get into the story. Once I did and continued reading, I was pleased to find that it ended with a well-built, action-packed climax
Savio is a resident of Mumbai, India, who grew up on everything sci-fi. Science Fiction has its own charm of unravelling mysteries, boldly going where no man has gone before [yeah I know it is from Star-trek :)] and to seek and find explanations for the unexplained. This is more or less what excites a true sci-fi enthusiast.
Savio is one of the enthusiasts too and he is presenting his own version here. Mystery surrounds us in many ways and it is mammoth in proportion to what we know. No one knows what lies beneath the ocean; no one knows what lies beyond our solar system; no one knows how vast the universe is; no one knows if any other extra-terrestrial form exists, but still the pursuit of knowing the unknown will continue unabated and will continue to excite us. This excitement is what Savio attempts to bring out in his books.
Savio is blessed with a supportive family and has a day job in India. Writing is his passion and he also writes for many blogging sites. When not writing and not working, which, of course, happens a lot of time, Savio likes to while-away and watch sci-fi movies.
“The Museum of Modern Love” by Heather Rose traces the soul of Arky Levin, a film composer. Arky is separated from his wife, Lydia. She has asked him to keep a promise. And he does. So why is he troubled? In his restlessness, he wanders into the MOMA and sees Marina Abramovic in The Artist Is Present.
The novel spans the 75 days in which Marina performed between the months of March and May of 2010. It goes through the seven phases of a project, as identified by Marina, being:
So it is that the lives (as projects) which intersect Arky and Marina’s eventual encounter are changed.
This is a story of love, and how we perform love every day.
Love accounted for so many things. A series of biological and chemical interactions, A bout of responsibility. An invisible wave of orality that had been romanticised and eternalised. A form of required connection to ensure procreation. A strategic response to prevent loneliness and maintain social structures.
When Lydia said, “[g]o and write. Make wonderful music. Know that I love you. Have no regrets” then shouldn’t Arky do what she has prescribed?
That is what Arky believes, until he is compelled to discover love’s true gift. And this compulsion is through the art of Marina, whose performance in the MOMA demonstrated the power of connection and the magic of “being seen” by another, beyond the material visibility that is reflected through the context of this novel – the New York rich and celebrities who came to sit with Marina.
This is a story of courage, Arky’s and the participants in “The Artist Is Present” with Marina; people at the crossroads, like Jane, who observes the performance then leaves wondering,
Had it been enough to sit on the sidelines? Had she somehow missed an opportunity for something life-changing, some act of courage?
The courage to not succumb to the should and ought of this world, to face the uncertainty of beginnings.
This is a story of connection – to our past, to each other in the present, and to the future. That we hold the history of us and humanity within us. How we are shaped by the convergence of our past, present and future.
Now, day after day, he looked into the human face, painted with curiosity, and he saw the abyss of history within a human heart. Everyone was its own beaten, salvaged, polished, engraved, carved luminous form.
A connection to our raison d’être – of being open and available to that which calls to us, soul-deep, and honouring it.
All that they are is stored up loud and insistent inside them. But what does it take to be an artist? They have to listen. But do they listen? Most people are filled up with a lifetime of noise and distraction that’s hard to get past.
If Arky’s life is a project, what is the gift? His to receive or to give?
Would I recommend it?
“The Museum of Modern Love” won the 2017 Stella Prize. A thought-provoking and enjoyable book definitely worth checking out!
Get The Fourth Pularchek by best selling author Sam Marquis at Amazon by clicking here
The Fourth Pularchek is an action adventure novel set today with ties to the WWII. Nick Lassiter and his just married bride Natalie are about to head on their honeymoon when they witness an assassination. The assassination leads to a honeymoon in Poland and a race to find a Nazi horde of stolen art worth billions. Did I mention Lassiter discovers his real father is as Polish billionaire?
I like books with a link to the past. But a lot of them sort of tend to be the same old thing. Not that I’m complaining. They are still fun to read. But in The Fourth Pularchek, Marquis, takes a familiar prompt and adds a lot of twists and turns to it.
Marquis could have simply made this an action book with a lot of guns and chases but instead he throws in some head line events the real world is facing today. There are also so many subplots going on, that all tie into the main story, that you shouldn’t rest when you think something isn’t happening.
I recommend The Fourth Pularchek to those who like action and adventure or like a touch of history to their modern stories. I think when you’ve been compared to James Patterson you must be good.
The Symorians are an alien race whose home planet is inside the core of the sun. Four Symorians: Lenyx, Tryst, Kazi, and Milliken embark on a mission to save their people from extinction. It doesn’t take long before their vessel crash-lands on the planet Earth. Afterward, their troubles are just beginning. The Symorians get off on the wrong foot with the humans after accidentally killing one. Then they attempt to bridge an alliance between Symoria and Earth, but after another incident occurs, our alien friends have to fight for their survival.
I loved this story. It was the perfect blend of mystery, action, and sci-fi. The characters were believable, the plot line engrossing and every turn I took, there was a new twist, many of which put me on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t get enough and once I’ve finished reading, I wished I’d taken my time. People of the Sun would definitely be one of the few books I wouldn’t mind re-reading.
Let’s get off topic for one brief second. For Star Trek fans (like myself), you know how viewers say the undertone meanings of the episodes mirror real life? For example, in the episode, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” there are two separate alien races, one has white on the left side and black on the right side, while the other race has the same colors vice versa. They’re killing each other even though they are exactly the same. They’re judgmental. Now, back to People of the Sun, Jason Parent does the same thing. He cleverly shines the light on mankind’s weaknesses. Humans tend to judge others by the color of their skins, by the mistakes we’ve made, by the class we were raised from, etc. Reading this story makes you think about what you do, what you say and how you react to certain circumstances.
People of the Sun isn’t just a science fiction novel. It’s not just a horror book. It’s also filled with plenty of action, adventure, and thought-provoking situations. It’s a very well-written novel, deserving of praise. In my opinion, I think just about anyone would enjoy this book. With the exception of Star Trek, I’m not a major fan of aliens. But I love the Symorians!
In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them. He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.
In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it’s harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he’s back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that’s another story.
When he’s not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in a knot or takes somebody’s head off – he misses the appeal). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.
I read this memoir by David Jordan and I must admit I was appalled at the way Social Services had treated David’s family. The problems began following an innocent initial inquiry to Social Services by a relative, concerned that David’s partner Martha and their baby Sally were living in unsuitable housing next door to an aggressive mentally ill man. Instead of finding them a suitable flat, two social workers forcibly removed Sally from Martha as she was pushing her along the street in her pram and placed her with foster parents. After Sally was taken away, Martha then began to suffer with mental health problems.
This is David’s very detailed and documented account of what followed next, in his efforts to claim back Sally and have her removed from the ‘At Risk’ register. He was to discover that social workers fabricated and falsified evidence in order to prevent Sally returning home, and that they were in fact a law unto themselves (social workers cannot be sued due to a ruling by the House of Lords). They also tried to have David and Martha’s younger two children taken away and put into care.
David fought the system for many years, trying to glean new information from the police, from Sally’s teachers and foster parents, and from the corrupted ‘Mega Pig’ file (Social Services’ name for the Jordan family’s file) in order to get his eldest daughter returned home to the damaged family unit. I can only applaud his efforts.
This is a book that has been well edited and is easy to read. It is compelling and a definite page turner. I recommend it most highly.
Do contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a true story or a fictional family relationship drama that you would like me to read and review.
It’s very rare that I would be tempted to give any book more than a five-star rating. If I did do that, then Cory Barclay’s Devil in the Countryside would be one of the few. It’s 1588, and a killer is terrorizing the German countryside. It’s rumored to be the legendary Werewolf of Bedburg. Investigator Heinrich Franz is assigned to find the killer, seeking help wherever he can get it. A priest attempts to keep the peace amongst the townspeople, while he attempts to fight against the temptation of a young woman that could destroy his most basic beliefs. They find themselves wrapped in mysteries, steering through the political and religious landscape of the 16th century.
Devil in the Countryside was an extremely tightly written novel, keeping me on my toes the entire time I was reading. I did not want to put it down. The characters were three-dimensional and realistic…very memorable. In my minds-eye, the book played like a movie. I felt as though I was watching the scenes unfold so much, that at times, I had to remind myself that I was in the 21st century. I felt it was that good.
You’ll not only want to find out who—or what—is piling corpse after corpse, you’ll want to find out what secret these characters are withholding from everyone else. You’ll want to find out if they can force temptation out of their minds. You’ll want to find out everything you can about this book.
The story is action-packed from the second it begins until the ending, leaving the reader on the edge of their seat. There were times when the dialogue didn’t seem up to par with the time; however, that didn’t even matter. The scenes were painted beautifully. For readers that enjoy historical fiction, werewolf hunts, and murder, I recommend giving Devil in the Countryside a try. It’s a must-read!
As far back as he can remember, Cory Barclay has always loved the “big picture” questions. How much knowledge did humanity lose when the Library of Alexandria was burned down? Why has the concept of Heaven remained intact, in one form or another, throughout most of human history and how has it impacted life on Earth?
And even before that, when he first began writing stories in grade school, he’s been fascinated with histories and mysteries. Whether Norse mythology, the Dark Ages, or the conquests of great leaders, Cory’s been that kid who wants to know what’s shaped our world and write about it. Especially the great unsolved mysteries.
So Devil in the Countryside was a natural for him.
Born and raised in San Diego, he graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz, where he studied Creative Writing and Modern Literary Studies. He’s also a songwriter and guitarist, and – no surprise – many of his songs explore the same topics he writes about – the great mysteries of our crazy world.
Devil in the Countryside is his second novel and he’s hard at work on its sequel.
Title: Practicing Normal Author: Cara Sue Achterberg ISBN13: 978-1611882445 ASIN: B06XH4SJW6 Published: 31st May 2017 Pages: 336 Genre: Women’s Fiction, Family Life Description:
The houses in Pine Estates are beautiful McMansions filled with high-achieving parents, children on the fast track to top colleges, all of the comforts of modern living, and the best security systems money can buy. Welcome to normal upper-middle-class suburbia.
The Turners know in their hearts that they’re anything but normal. Jenna is a high-schooler dressed in black who is fascinated with breaking into her neighbors’ homes, security systems be damned. Everett genuinely believes he loves his wife . . . he just loves having a continuing stream of mistresses more. JT is a genius kid with Asperger’s who moves from one obsession to the next. And Kate tries to manage her family, manage her mother (who lives down the street), and avoid wondering why her life is passing her by.
And now everything is changing for them. Jenna suddenly finds herself in a boy-next-door romance she never could have predicted. Everett’s secrets are beginning to unravel on him. JT is getting his first taste of success at navigating the world. And Kate is facing truths about her husband, her mother, and her father that she might have preferred not to face.
Life on Pine Road has never been more challenging for the Turners. That’s what happens when you’re practicing normal.
Combining her trademark combination of wit, insight, and tremendous empathy for her characters, Cara Sue Achterberg has written a novel that is at once familiar and startlingly fresh.
“Does facing the truth beat living a lie? In PRACTICING NORMAL, Cara Sue Achterberg has given us a smart story that is both a window and a mirror, about the extraordinary pain ― and the occasional gifts ― of an ordinary life.”
– Jacquelyn Mitchard, New York Times bestselling author of THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN
“What does it really mean to have a normal life? Achterberg’s stunning new novel explores how a family can fracture just trying to survive, and how what makes us different is also what can make us most divine.”
– Caroline Leavitt, author of CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD and the New York Times bestsellers PICTURES OF YOU and IS THIS TOMORROW
“PRACTICING NORMAL takes a deep dive into the dysfunctional dynamics of a ‘picture perfect family.’ A compelling story about the beautiful humanity in the most ordinary of lives: from first love to a marriage on the downward slide to an unexpected family tragedy. Achterberg handles each thread with tender care and we can’t help but root for every member of the Turner family.”
– Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of THE VANISHING YEAR
Body of review:
I was given a copy of this book as a gift and I freely chose to review it.
Tolstoi’s probably best-known quote: All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way fits perfectly this novel. As a psychiatrist, ‘normal’ is one of those terms that we always seem to come back to, even if it is impossible to define. It seems that normal is always what other people are, never us. Perhaps, as it is discussed in the novel in reference to Autism and Asperger’s, which are conditions that fall within a spectrum, the same is true for normality. It is not an on or off thing. Perhaps we all belong to some point within the spectrum, but we’d be hard pushed to find many people whom we’d all agree were ‘normal’, at least if we got to know them well.
The novel introduces us to the Turners, who live a reasonably comfortable life within a theoretically idyllic neighbourhood. Once we scratch a bit under the surface, we find: Jenna, the sixteen year old daughter, who is not a goth but likes to shave her hair, dye it in interesting colours, collects piercings and is an ace at breaking into neighbours’ houses (courtesy of her father’s job in a security company). Kate, her mother, is forever busy caring for everybody but herself. She has to look after her mother, Mildred, who might be dementing, or perhaps not, and who lives alone, never leaves the house and talks to her birds. She also has to look after JT, her son, with an Asperger’s diagnosis, who cycles through periods of obsession with different topics (ER Medicine, Fire-fighting…), has tantrums if his routine is disturbed, cannot read people’s expressions or understand their feelings, but is a genius at Maths and has an incredible memory. She also runs around the rest of the household and is always worried about her husband, Everett, who cheated on her once (that she knows of). The chapters alternate the first-person narrations of Jenna (who somehow becomes friendly with the rich, handsome and all-around nice neighbour, Wells, who isn’t, after all, the stereotypical jock), and Kate (whose sister, Evelyn, has made contact with their father, Frank, who left them when they were young children, and believes their mother has been lying to them) allowing the reader to better grasp, not only the secrets they all keep from each other, but also the different ways the same events can be interpreted and seen. Everett’s narration (also in the first person) joins later, giving us hints of more secrets to come, allowing us a more rounded picture and offering us a male perspective.
I found the first person narrations served well the topic, and the voices of the three narrators were very distinct and fitted in well with their characters. Although personally, I can’t say I liked Everett very much, no characters are despicable and all of them love their family and each other, even if they might go about it the wrong way. Jenna’s strong hostility towards her father is easy to understand, not only because he cheated on her mother (and is still doing it after promising not to) but because she had idealised him when she was a child and he’s shattered that illusion. She is clever, challenging and reckless but with a great heart (she doesn’t care for rules or conventions but has no bad intentions) and her romance will bring warm memories to all readers who are still young at heart. Kate is a woman who is always at the service of others and makes big efforts to ignore what she feels she can’t cope with, even if it means living a lie. But she learns that she is stronger than she thinks and grows during the novel. She also gets to understand that her dreams of romantic love are unrealistic, and we feel optimistic for her at the end. Everett is a man who lost his way (it seems) when he left his job as a policeman. Now, to feel better about himself he’ll do almost anything, not caring what the consequences for himself and others might be, and he always puts his needs before those of the rest of his family. He does not understand his children but he loves them and tries to do what he thinks is best, within limits. JT is a wonderful character, well-drawn and realistic in terms of the behaviours he exhibits and his relationship with Kate, Jenna and the rest of the family is heart-warming and has the ring of truth.
There are many secrets, some that come from a long time back and some much more recent, and the narrative is good at revealing them slowly, even if we might strongly suspect some of them, partly because we have access to the thoughts of several the characters (as they don’t communicate with each other that well). There are also many love stories and many different kinds of love that are explored. Ultimately, love must be about more than just saying the words and looking into each other’s eyes. It isn’t something we should feel automatically entitled to; it has to be proven and worked on, as Cassey, a friend of Jenna and later Kate, explains.
The secondary characters are also interesting, mostly sympathetic (with the exception of Wells’s family, and Evelyn, who comes across as self-centered and domineering) but not drawn in as much psychological detail as the members of the family, but they are far from unidimensional. I really liked Cassey, the hospice nurse who understands all the females of the family and helps them without asking anything in return, and Phil, a good man who, like Wells, disproves Mildred’s generalisations about men. Mildred, the grandmother, can be at once annoying and endearing, but eventually, we get to understand her a bit better, even if we might not necessarily agree with her actions. I also loved the animals, especially Marco.
This is a well-written book, where plot and characterisation go hand in hand, that offers good psychological insights into the nature of family relationships and the games members of a family play with each other. It also will make readers think about what love means and will remind them of the risks of keeping secrets, not only from others but also from ourselves. The narration flows well and once you get to know the characters it’s difficult to stop reading and you feel bereft when you come to the end as they’ve become part of the family. A great read.
I couldn’t leave you without sharing a few of the sentences I highlighted.
Never break more than one law at a time.
Kate talking about JT, her son, with Asperger’s: but I focus on what JT can do, not what he can’t.
Kate again, wondering about her son’s inability to read other people’s expressions and know what they’re feeling or thinking:
Maybe it would be easier to sail through life unaware of the emotions of the people around you.
And Jenna, on one of her typical (and oh, so accurate, sorry gentlemen) pearls of wisdom (although this one she keeps to herself):
If men didn’t have penises, they’d probably be a lot smarter.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 4.5/5 Made Me Think: 4.5/5 Overall enjoyment: 5/5 Readability: 5/5 Recommended: 5/5 Overall Rating: 5/5 Buy it at: Format & Pricing: Paperback: $ 10.75 Kindle: $ 8.95 Audiobook: $31.86
Thanks to all and remember to like, share, comment, click and to review all the books you read!
For me who’s struggling to see how five months of 2017 is nearly over, I took a mental break and reached for “The Scent of You”.
Title: The Scent of You Author: Maggie Alderson Publishers: Harper Collins Publication date: 1 April 2017 Format: Kindle, Paperback Website: maggiealderson.com Pages: 512 Genre: Fiction – Contemporary; ChickLit
What’s it about?
“The Scent of You” is Australian author Maggie Alderson’s 10th novel. It is a story of loyalty and of letting go, of following your heart or your head, and the conflicts within.
Hippolyta Masterton-Mackay, Polly to her friends, is a mother to Lucas and Clemmie, both of whom are away at university. She is also a successful blogger, an initial hobby which is now work, and a yoga teacher.
Polly is daughter to Daphne, a glamorous model at 85 years of age and living in a posh retirement home. Though she was quite emotionally absent from Polly in her younger days, Daphne now seems to have great insights into the dilemma her daughter is facing. The dilemma – Polly’s husband has vanished after declaring his need for space. What is Polly to do?
It is through her perfume blog in which she wrote of how scents evoked memories, and vice versa, which causes her to chance upon Guy, a gifted perfumer making a break in the world of scents. Guy quickly became one of her inner circle, but could there be more?
Around the same time, Polly reconnects with an old school friend, Edward, with whom she had shared an innocent kiss on the beach. Chum, a nickname for Edward, visits his stepfather at the same retirement home in which Daphne resides. And before long, Polly and Chum are taking long walks in the country, familiar and comfortable with each other’s company. Is familiarity a better choice than the excitement of Guy?
As Polly grapples with her bewildering situation of lost husband and emerging relationship, she is supported by her yoga students, Shirlee in particular.
What will Polly do? Will Polly take this opportunity to realise who she wants to be?
Would I recommend it?
“The Scent of You” is light and entertaining, a worthy beach holiday read. Or read anywhere really.
This book is filled with warm characters, lovable and flawed. Pick it up and enjoy!
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 3/5 Made Me Think: 2/5 Overall enjoyment: 3.5/5 Readability: 3.5/5 Recommended: 3/5 Overall Rating:3/5
• Title: Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir • Author: Karen Ingalls • Print Length: 108 • Publisher: Beaver’s Pond Press • Publication Date: May 21, 2014 • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC • Language: English • Formats:Kindle, Paperback
• Goodreads • Genres: Memoir, Biography
I found this story incredibly informative and inspiring. There is little greater fear than hearing you have cancer—no matter whether you have a long family history of those that battled the disease or if it’s completely taking you by surprise. Most, if not all, of us, knows someone that has or had cancer. We usually watch from the outside looking in at how the person fighting for their life chooses to deal. Karen Ingalls gives us her firsthand, raw experience with one of the leading causes of death: ovarian cancer.
It’s a short book and I finished it in one sitting, finding myself wishing there was more. I couldn’t set it down and I’m amazed at how uplifting people can be when dealing with cancer. For me, this book isn’t just about fighting cancer or even teaching others about the seriousness of the issue. It’s about how she not only relied on her family and friends for comfort, but she relied on Jesus Christ’s unconditional love and grace. As I read through Karen’s story, I could see how her faith in the Holy Spirit grew stronger. Sure, she had her ups and downs, but she’s human. Still, she leaned on her faith, rather than crying out “Why me, Lord?”
At the end of the book, she listed signs to look for in ovarian cancer (formerly known as “the silent killer.”) and question suggestions for the patient and their families. I highly recommend reading Outlook: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir. It’s a quick, easy read, tightly and well written. Although I found myself fighting back tears, there were places where I giggled at the humor.
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars
Karen Ingalls is the author of two novels and an award winning non-fiction book. She enjoys writing from her home office overlooking a lake in Florida.
Ms. Ingalls’s non-fiction book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, won first place at the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards in the the category of women’s health. It was a top three finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award of 2012 in the two categories of health and self-help.
The purpose of the book is to provide information about this too often deadly disease, and offer hope and inspiration to women and their families. All proceeds go to ovarian cancer research.Davida:Model & Mistress is about the love affair between her great-grandfather Augustus Saint-Gaudens and her great-grandmother Davida Johnson Clark. Very little is known about Davida except her role as a model for many of the sculptor’s famous works. Ms. Ingalls was able to use her imagination in creating the life of Davida. It won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for 2016.
Novy’s Son, The Selfish Genius, is about Murray Clark, who sought love and acceptance from his father, who had been raised as the bastard child of the famous sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. After reading Iron John by Robert Bly, Ms.Ingalls recognized what was missing in her father’s life.
She is a Californian by birth, a Minnesotan in her heart, and a contented Florida retiree. She loves gardening, golfing, and reading, but her real passion is writing.
One of the things I like about a Kelly Oliver story is that it makes sense. That may sound strange but I read a lot of books and real life situations happen and the reactions to them are borderline stupid and unrealistic.
Oliver has a real character in Jessica James. Jessica wakes up half naked behind a dumpster. What does she do? For one thing, she doesn’t go home and try to solve the mystery all by herself like some vigilante. I won’t tell you what she does do but all through the story realistic things happen but in great ways that make sense and add tension to the story.
In F.O.X. we have the return of Jessica’s best friends Lolita and Jack who both play big roles in the book, especially Jack. I like Jack here more than I did in WOLF, he’s a much more developed character. And who doesn’t love the badass Lolita? I mean she still has the attitude and swagger. Can you say women have swagger? I don’t really know. Hmmm.
All the characters are well developed and I see that with each book Oliver is really upping her game. She adds a little more layers each time with a couple of surprises thrown in. Taking on the IVF subject was a good topic to tackle and I think Oliver did it with sensitivity and respect of women involved. I can’t really go into much more detail without giving a lot away.
Originally I was going to give this a 4 out of 5 but as I started doing the review I realized how much I enjoyed it so I changed my mind. So a 5 it is.
The Buried Few is the debut novel by M.J. Lau, and I found it quite enjoyable. The pace was steady, storyline intriguing and the overall prose well-written. It’s set in a near-future society where the idea of privacy is extinct. Technology is now more advanced. The government knows where you are, what route you take to get home, and they oversee every child born for the rest of their lives. When Daniel Allingham finds a live baby buried, he takes the infant to the hospital (although it’s not a maternity hospital) with hopes of doing a good thing and washing his hands clean. Nonetheless, he soon finds himself struggling against the right thing and becoming entwined with a persistent government agent.
It took about three chapters for me to really get into the book. It starts off with the prologue some times in the distant past, then in chapter one, jumps to the present time. As we’re being introduced to the main characters, it hops from the present to the near past. The only way we know whether we’re in the present or the past is by the situation or the characters in the scenes. This made it a tad confusing to me; however, once I got a handle on the author’s writing style (and it didn’t take long at all), it was easy reading.
The only thing that would take me away from reading was the amount of adverbs in the story. There just seemed to be so many, it annoyed me. It doesn’t bother a lot of readers; however, it had become somewhat of a pet peeve of mine. About half of the adverbs in the prose could have been used in a way to show, rather than tell, all the more.
The characters were enjoyable and easy to love, particularly the main one, Daniel. I found that they all had “chemistry” through their interactions and dialogue. There were plenty going on to build up the drama and keep the story moving forward. I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next. While The Buried Few is a standalone story, it’s left open for a sequel. I’ve seen reviews on Amazon mention they could see it made into a movie: I have to say, I agree. As a bonus, I have to add, I love the cover.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
M. J. Lau is an English teacher by day, writer by night… or rather, a teacher day and night, and a writer any spare moment in between. He is the author of The Buried Few, a near-future fiction novel that is equally influenced by dystopian classics, fatherhood, and Wired Magazine.
He is currently working on a fantasy novel, tentatively anticipated to release in the spring of 2018.
A story with its beginnings pulled from the headlines of today and realistic events that could happen, The Red Line gives a scary look at a what if of the near future.
First of all, I liked the book overall. The pacing was good, and everything was well developed. However, for my own personal taste there was almost too much detail. I know the author intends to give a comprehensive covering of all the aspects of the what if scenario but I personally didn’t need to know the shot by shot coverage.
That being said, it was done well and you could feel the tension in each scene. There is definite realism in the story. I like that we don’t get all sunshine and roses throughout the book. We do get realities of war even when it hurts, and that hurt is to the plus of the author’s talent. You feel the losses that take place. I would recommend this book to anyone that really gets into war stories and likes to feel the action.
I recommend this book to anyone who really gets into a good war story with real events occurring.
From the Author
Dining and Driving With Cats is a heartwarming and hilarious true adventure of a couple who shares a love that most of us only imagine. Pat Patterson is a born storyteller and makes readers feel as if they are part of the road trip. This book will keep you up late into the night reading and laughing. Here is the remarkable story of how a girl who loved cats captured the heart of a young man who came in from the rain. This is their story of a shared love for travel and history, for food and for their sweet and wily cats Munchie and Tuffy. No cats were harmed during the writing of this book, although the humans have been left with minor physical scars from this very real trip with two very real cats. With the help of his Editor Bryna Kranzler, the award winning author of “The Accidental Anarchist”, a non-stop two hundred and sixty page adventure wrapped in a tender love story emerges from the author’s diary.
Alice is a real life brainy, successful business woman. Today she lives in San Miguel de Allende a small cathedral town high in the Central Mexican foothills. For over thirty years she lived in Washington D.C.. When she was fresh out of grad school and managing her firm’s D.C. office she captured the heart of a young man who came in from the rain. He fell hard. He pursued her. She said no –she told him she had cats. What she didn’t tell him was that she also had a secret. Over thirty years have passed since Alice revealed her secret. The young man is no longer young but he still pursues her. She calls him hubby.
Now sharing a dream home in San Miguel with their two cats Alice suggests they embark on a road trip from Mexico to Blowing Rock, N.C. in the Blue Ridge mountains. Alice insists the two cats Munchie and Tuffy must ride along. Hubby resists. Alice seduces him with a promise. She promises to buy him the perfect vehicle for the trip. He dreams of a Suburban SUV like the ones on CSI Miami and Criminal Minds or maybe a Ford Platinum F-150 4 Door Supercab like the one Mark Wahlberg and Hugh Jackman drive. Alice surprises with a Japanese sub-compact. She buys him a Honda Fit.
The reader joins the foursome as an intimate passenger on the first leg of the journey from the Mexican border to Atlanta, Georgia. If you come along you will dine on scrumptious creations from America’s most acclaimed chefs from Austin and New Orleans to the Procope and Odeon Relais at Buci Market in Paris. You will laugh at cats stuck in boxes, cry over destruction beyond imagination, fight with a Pirate, terrify a US Vice-President, learn cat smuggling, thrill with a love that wouldn’t die, and learn how the Other Woman persuaded Alice to accept my ring. So what’s keeping you? Hop in ‘cause these cats don’t bite. Besides, “The Get In Here and Eat” pop-up food truck is waiting just up the Austin highway.
My Review Dining and Driving with Cats—Alice Unplugged was every bit as interesting and amusing as I’d imagined. If what you’re looking for in a book is a story that paints a picture, then look no further—Dining and Driving with Cats will take you along a ride of a lifetime.
It’s a true voyage of a couple who decides to take a vacation from Mexico and travel across the United States with nothing but a Honda Fit, suitcases, pet carriers, litter boxes, cat food, and of course, their two beloved cats. We get to take a peek into the lives of how the couple met and how they truly are devoted to one another.
It was a well-written story where you feel as though you were along for the ride. I love stories like that. It’s not always easy for me to imagine the scenes in books. So, when I do begin reading something that I can see in my mind’s eye, it’s hard for me to put the book down. I found myself laughing and at times in shock. In one instance, one of the cats does something completely hilarious, I had to fight back a fit of laughter while waiting for my oil change. And I thought my cat was a troublemaker!
From the history lessons to the eateries to the comic mischief of the two felines, Tuffy and Munchie, Dining and Driving with Cats—Alice Unplugged is a story to be treasured and enjoyed. Cats are certainly an interesting species and Pat and his wife Alice are certainly two likable humans.
*You can preorder this via Amazon now! The title will be available June 30*
Love, happiness, sadness, and more fill Don’t Worry, Life Is Easy. This book is a sequel and at first you get the impression you might needed to have read the first book to understand some of the relationships but you really don’t. You quickly figure things out.
Diane, the widow who lost both her husband and child, has returned to Paris and has bought her literary café, Happy People Read And Drink Coffee, from her parents. Her energetic and comic relief friend and employee Felix is still present and bolsters up Diane during her moments of sadness and despondency.
Diane doesn’t really know what to do with her emotional life. She thinks the bookstore is enough for her but something is missing. A new relationship presents itself while old friends resurface in her life to face unsettled questions.
The characters are well developed and not one dimensional at all. The relationships are well done, make sense, and honestly are done so well you might cry by the end of the book. (I admit to nothing.) If you’ve ever faced a loss in your life and then been given the chance to fill that gap with something new, you will get this book. It’s a fairly good paced book and you could read it in a day if you dedicated yourself to it, or in two very easily. I like the fact that situations aren’t overdone or go on too long and are not repetitive. Some books replay the same scenes over and over but this one gives you something different throughout the book. The only repetitive thing in the book is some of the characters going outside to smoke a cigarette and even then something happens.
I’ve recently submitted my second novel to my publisher at ThomasMax Publishing. With it being my second book, I’m both excited and extremely nervous! My debut, The Murder of Manny Grimes, was released last year, mid-September. I’ve spent seven years sweating over my manuscript, wondering if I’d ever get it published. Finally, it happened, and my “baby” is now available on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble for paperback/e-book. It has had some amazing reviews so far. I hope they keep on comin’!
Sometimes, you live with a group of characters for so long, they become a part of you.
A few readers asked me about a sequel, and I thought, “Why not?” Initially, I hadn’t planned on writing a sequel. However, I was curious as to how my protagonist, Lieutenant Jim DeLong would handle his job and home life. If you’ve read Manny Grimes, you already know that circumstances threatened DeLong’s very existence. Did he overcome his temptations? Well, if you haven’t read the book, I’m not telling! Shhhhh!
And now, Blood Runs Cold is born.
This next case DeLong will be involved with will be the most difficult of his career. It’s full of mystery, intrigue, new characters, as well as old. We’ll learn even more about DeLong–more than he wants us to know. But sometimes, secrets have a way of coming out! No one knows this like our beloved protagonist.
My publisher is working on preparing the book for publication. I don’t know the exact date it’ll be released. My hope is by the end of May or early June. You’ll be kept updated for sure! If you would like to pre-order a signed copy of Blood Runs Cold (or even The Murder of Manny Grimes), I will be selling them for $14–shipping included. If you’d like to order both, I’m offering them for $20! Again, shipping is included.
A New Case. An Old Memory.
A young woman has been murdered at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion and Lieutenant Jim DeLong realizes at first sight this case will be the most difficult one of his career. DeLong is immediately swept into the memories of his childhood and dark secrets he’s longed to forget. With no clear motive, DeLong questions his ability on whether he’s able to remain objective.
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Equipped with a professional writing degree from Augusta State University, Angela Kay is a southern lady who spends her days and nights dreaming up new ways to solve dark murders of normal people.
Angela Kay was one of 23 across the United States to win a 2009 playwright contest for her one-act entitled “Digging Deeper.” Because of this, she was able to spend a week in Atlanta at the Horizon Theater Company.
She lives in Augusta, Georgia with her crazy calico, Maggie.
The Wager is written as a cross between a romance novel and a play. We meet two very distinct characters and we quickly fall in love with them. Sarah Dumont is a famous actress, rich, grew up in a prominent family as the oldest child. Because of her status, she is driven, focused, and pretty much snotty. Matt Shepard is not rich, who was the youngest child growing up on a farm. Matt is working hard at putting pieces of his life back together, friendly and sly.
The two meet based on a wager: Sarah is challenged that she wouldn’t be able to earn Matt’s attention. Sarah’s first intention was to have him make furniture for her in LA. Then when the wager is made, I felt like something was missing within the story line. Sarah wants furniture, then the woman tells her Matt wouldn’t meet with her no matter. From there, it seems Sarah’s immediately offended being told she wouldn’t be able to get Matt out on a date. I felt I needed something more to explain.
When they finally do meet, from there on, the two personalities clash and are full of hilarious banter. You can’t help but love them. I also love the use of Doodle, Matt’s dog, in the story. It only made me love Matt all the more. I found him to be very charismatic and charming.
The writing style flowed nicely. The only thing I wasn’t too fond of was that the narrative repeated pieces of the dialogue and vice versa. Having to read too much repetition made me skim more than I’d like. However, it was easy to get the feel of the southern accent. Whether you’re Midwestern, southern, northern or from Mars, readers will find themselves slipping into a southern accent.
Sometimes it was difficult for me to gather the feelings of the characters but I think it’s really up to the reader. After reading parts of the scene, I would go back and reread in order for me to get the sense of how they felt during the incident. I feel this is primarily due to the fact that it’s more of a play (or movie/TV script).
Regardless of the few “negatives,” I thoroughly enjoyed the read. It had humor, it had tears, it had love, and of course, a hidden moral to the story.
Mike Brister was born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1952. His father worked for the Illinois Central Railroad and in 1955 was transferred to New Orleans, Louisiana. This began a lifelong relationship with one of the most unique cities in the world. Eventually, the family would return to Jackson.
Mike received degrees in mathematics and spent his working career as a consulting actuary. Now retired, he has written his first novel. He has made numerous trips to Haiti and plans more. The hope is that the novel is a fun read and allows for the purchase of goats for families in Haiti.
Title: As Wings Unfurl Author: Arthur M. Doweyko ISBN13: 978-1940215778 ASIN: B01HY589FG Published: 19th July 2016 Pages: 234 Genre: Science-Fiction & Fantasy (I’ve found it classed under Alien Invasion and Military, Space Marine)
“… captures the reader’s attention with kick-butt action in a video game storytelling format.” ~ Publishers Weekly
“Apple Bogdanski, a disabled Vietnam veteran, worked in a secondhand books store. When a private detective takes incriminating photos of shape-shifting aliens in the act of transformation and sends the negatives to the owner of the bookstore hidden in a book among a shipment of books, Apple is caught between two groups of aliens-one of which studies mankind’s development and the other who wants to terminate mankind and claim the Earth for their own purposes. Apple has a helper, Angela, who appears just in time to save his life and make him appear to be a hero. Angela has a beef with the bad guys and she and Apple unite with a few good guys to take on the bad guys.
As Wings Unfurl is an entertaining science fiction novel based on the premise that an alien race planted the seed of the human race of Earth millennia ago and now watches quietly as we evolve. Apple is a fairly well developed protagonist who just wants to be left alone to deal with the hand life has dealt him on his terms. Angela is a member of the alien oversight group dedicated to observation. Strangely attracted to Apple, she must deal with a conflict between her duties, her sense of right and wrong, and her feelings. Dane, as the bad alien, has a single side; the discrediting and destruction of the human race for her own purposes. Yowl and Shilog are Tibetans who are caught up in the war between factions and who provide a notable twist to the ending. Both are far out of the world that they know, but both adapt amazingly fast to the developed world.
This book is entertaining reading for readers who love science fiction “what if” scenarios and readers who love action adventures in any form.” ~ Midwest Book Review
Applegate Bogdanski returns from Vietnam with a missing leg, a Purple Heart, and an addiction to morphine. He stumbles through each day, looking forward to nothing and hoping it will arrive soon. When he attempts to thwart a crime, he is knocked unconscious and wakes up to discover that people are once again calling him a hero, though he feels undeserving of the praise.
Apple returns to work and meets Angela, a mysterious woman who claims to be his guardian. Immediately, he feels a connection to her, which morphs into an attraction. But he soon discovers that Angela is much more than she seems.
Apple and Angela are swept up in a conspiracy that stretches through time and space. Together, they must fight to save everything they hold dear from an alien race bent on destroying humanity.
Body of review:
I thank the author who contacted me thanks to Lit World Interviews for offering me an ARC copy of his novel that I freely chose to review.
I am not a big reader of science-fiction (perhaps because I don’t seem to have much patience these days for lengthy descriptions and world building and I’m more interested in books that focus on complex characters) so I was doubtful when the author suggested I review it, but the angel plot and the peculiarities of the story won me over. There are many things I enjoyed in this book but I’m not sure that it was the book for me.
As I’ve included the description and it is quite detailed (I was worried about how I could write about the book without revealing any spoilers but, many of the things I was worried about are already included in the description) I won’t go into the ins and outs of the story. The novel starts as a thriller, set in 1975. A private detective has taken a compromising photo and that puts him in harm’s way. Apple, the main character, seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, although later events make us question this and wonder if perhaps what happens was preordained. One of the interesting points in the novel, for me, was that the main character was a Vietnam War veteran, amputee (he lost a leg) and now addicted to Morphine. He also experiences symptoms of PTSD. Although his vivid dreams and flashbacks slowly offer us some background information, and the whole adventure gives him a new perspective on life and a love interest, I found it difficult to fully connect with the character. It was perhaps due to the fast action and the changes in setting and point of view that make it difficult to fully settle one’s attention on the main protagonists. One of the premises of the story is that Angela, the mysterious character who is his ersatz guardian angel, has known him all his life. She is oddly familiar to him, and she decides to give up her privileges and her life mission because of him, but as Angela’s interest in him precedes the story, there is no true development of a relationship and readers don’t necessarily understand why they are attracted to each other from the start.
The story, written in the third person, is told mostly from Apple’s point of view but there are also two other characters, from Tibet, Shilog, a farmer, and Yowl, what most of us would think of as a Yeti, but that we later learn is a member of a native Earth species. In my opinion, these two characters are more fully realised, as we don’t have any previous knowledge or any expectations of who they are, and they work well as a new pair of eyes (two pairs of eyes) for the readers, as they start their adventure truly clueless as to what is going on, and the situation is as baffling to them as it is to us. They are also warm and genuinely amusing and they offer much welcome comic relief. They are less bogged down by conventions and less worried about their own selves.
I enjoyed also the background story and the underlying reasoning behind the presence of the “angels” (aliens) in the world. It does allow for interesting debates as to what makes us human and what our role on Earth is. How this all fits in with traditional religions and beliefs is well thought out and it works as a plot element. It definitely had me thinking.
I said before that one of the problems I had with some fantasy and science-fiction is my lack of patience with world building and detailed descriptions. In this case, though, other than some descriptions about the Tibetan forest and mountains, I missed having a greater sense of location. The characters moved a lot from one place to the next and, even if you were paying attention, sometimes it was difficult to follow where exactly the action was taking place (especially because some of the episodes depended heavily on secret passages, doors, locked rooms…) and I had to go back a few times to check, in case I had missed some change of location inadvertently. (This might not be a problem for people who are used to reading more frantically paced action stories.) I guess there are two possible reading modes I’d recommend for this story; either pay very close attention or go with the flow and enjoy the ride.
I really enjoyed the baddie. Dane is awesome. I don’t mind the bad characters that are victims of their circumstances or really conflicted about what they do, but every so often I like a convinced baddie, who takes no prisoners and goes all the way. She is not without justification either, and later we learn something that puts a different spin on her behaviour (I didn’t find it necessary but it does fit in with the overall story arc). The irony of her character and how she uses human institutions and religions to subvert the given order is one of my favourite plot points and she is another source of humour, although darker in this case.
All in all, this is a book for readers who enjoy science-fiction that asks big questions, with religious undertones, lots of action and not too worried about the psychological makeup of the main characters. Ah, and if you love stories about Bigfoot or the Yeti, you’ll love this one.
What the book is about: On the surface, aliens, angels, and a battle of good and evil. At heart it deals with metaphysical issues (like the best science-fiction does) and questions of identity, and where humanity comes from.
Book Highlights: The whole premise of the story, and the two Tibetan characters, Shilog and Yowl, that are a true joy. And Dane, the baddie.
Challenges of the book: There are many quick changes of location and different points of view that might disorient readers. The story is set in the 1970s but there are a couple of anachronisms. There are some beautiful passages about Tibet and Shilog observes everything he sees with new eyes, but there is a paucity of description otherwise, even when discussing major plot points (the devices used to travel or the locations of their scape).
What do you get from it: A challenge to preconceived notions and an interesting story with plenty of action. I also really liked the baddie, Dane. There’s more to her than meets the eye.
What I would have changed if anything: Perhaps I would have tried to build up more the main characters, as for me, Apple comes across as quite disjointed and as if readers should know the type (perhaps so, but who is he?). We slowly learn a few things about him but the frantic pace of the action does not give readers much chance to delve on that. It is easier to empathise with Yowl and Shilog, perhaps because we feel as lost as they are. A stronger sense of place and time might also help.
Who Would I recommend this book to?: People who enjoy plot over character, and who like science-fiction that makes you think. Also lovers of action and Yetis.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 3/5 Made Me Think: 4/5 Overall enjoyment: 3.5/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 4/5 Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Buy it at: Format & Pricing: Paperback: $12.99 Kindle: $6.09
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Title: Pale Highway Author: Nicholas Conley ISBN13: 978-1940215532 ASIN: B016ALW8PW Published: 20th October 2015 Pages: 319 Genre: Science-Fiction and Fantasy, Alzheimer’s Disease, Metaphysical & Visionary
Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel – Predators & Editors Readers Poll 2015
“Steeped in suspense, Conley’s novel delves into the darker recesses of the medical establishment. Gabriel is a sympathetic character, and the reader is pulled into his private struggles.” – Publishers Weekly
“Pale Highway brings his struggles for survival along with his fierce desire to hold off his symptoms long enough to save everyone around him to brilliant, beautiful life.” – Examiner.com
Gabriel Schist is spending his remaining years at Bright New Day, a nursing home. He once won the Nobel Prize for inventing a vaccine for AIDS. But now, he has Alzheimer’s, and his mind is slowly slipping away.
When one of the residents comes down with a horrific virus, Gabriel realizes that he is the only one who can find a cure. Encouraged by Victor, an odd stranger, he convinces the administrator to allow him to study the virus. Soon, reality begins to shift, and Gabriel’s hallucinations interfere with his work.
As the death count mounts, Gabriel is in a race against the clock and his own mind. Can he find a cure before his brain deteriorates past the point of no return?
Body of review:
Thanks to the author who offered me an ARC copy of his novel that I freely chose to review.
When the author approached me about this novel, I didn’t know what to say. I don’t read a lot of science-fiction (although I’ve really enjoyed some of the sci-fi I’ve read. I think my main problem, and the same goes for fantasy, is that I don’t have much patience for world-building and descriptions) but he explained that although it was classed as science-fiction, and indeed it purports a world that is very similar to ours but with some differences (mostly, the protagonist of the novel, Gabriel Schist, years back discovered the HIV-vaccine but , rather than simply creating a vaccine against that illness, his vaccine reprograms the immune system of the person that receives it and protects them against many other illnesses), it was a bit different to most science-fiction. He told me, as mentioned in his biography, that he had worked in nursing homes and the novel was also about Alzheimer’s disease. I read the description of the novel and was intrigued. And yes, I agree with him, his novel is not a standard science-fiction novel, although it’s true that some of the best sci-fi looks at what makes us human and explores metaphysical issues.
The protagonist of the novel, Gabriel, a famous scientist who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery, is in his early seventies and suffers from Alzheimer’s, fairly early stages, but noticeable enough. He is trying to hold on to his identity, testing his memory and using tricks to orientate himself and hold onto reality, but it is not without difficulties. The book wonderfully describes the residents of the nursing home, some of their peculiar behaviours, but also the persons behind the behaviours. The novel goes back and forth in time, as does the memory of the character, from 2018 to the 1950s, when Gabriel was a weird young boy (he seems to have presented some traits suggestive of autistic spectrum disorder, likely Asperger’s) already determined to solve the problem of future infectious diseases, and also covering the years when he met his wife, the dissolution of his marriage, his great discovery and how he eventually connected and got to know his daughter. All this is interspersed with what is happening now (well, in the very near future) at the nursing home, as Gabriel never goes out. Suddenly, some of the residents start getting ill, and the virus (if that’s what it is) puzzles everybody as it acts as no known illness. Gabriel starts to have strange experiences that he’s not sure if they are hallucinations or real (the readers are free to make up their own minds about this, although if one chooses to go with a rational explanation, there are enough clues within the story to suggest how his mind might have come up with such weird events) and becomes convinced that he’s the only one who can fight this terrible illness. His is a desperate race, not only against the illness itself but also against Alzheimer’s and the progressive degeneration of his mind.
The novel is written in the third person, although always from Gabriel’s point of view, giving the readers a great insight into the processes and difficulties of a mind coming undone, of the strength of memories of the past, sometimes more vivid than the present, and the style is fluid, with some beautifully descriptive passages, and some very vivid moments, particularly Gabriel’s memories, filled with emotion. Gabriel is a scientist and a keen observer, even in his current state, and that serves the novel well.
The characters are realistically drawn and it’s impossible not to care for them. Gabriel is confused and unclear at times, he hesitates and his self-confidence is marred by his illness and by previous experiences. He feels guilty for letting people down in the past, for his use of alcohol (initially to try and fit in with social expectations, as he was too different and too intelligent for most people, but later he got to like it and used it as a coping strategy but also as something he enjoyed), for allowing his wife to leave, for not being there for his daughter … He also feels guilty because he’s always said that human beings are predictable and not interesting enough and he hasn’t loved or cared for many of them. But his experiences through the novel put him to the test more than once and he discovers that it’s never too late to learn more about yourself. The author, who evidently has first-hand knowledge, depicts well the changes in humour, the confusion, the fear, the loneliness, the disorientation, and also the tenacity and the spirit of the elderly residents, including those moments when their personalities shine through the illness. The character of Melanie, Gabriel’s daughter, and her difficulty coming to terms with the illness of her father (all the harder because of his once brilliant mind), reflects well the difficulties of the families, with their guilty feelings for not visiting more often or for not being able to do more and their difficulty accepting the new circumstances (although not everybody is the same, of course).
The running of the facility, Bright New Day, also rings true. Understaffed, with routines to suit staff rather than residents, and with a mix of staff, some very caring and professional and others not so much. The novel is not an indictment of nursing homes, and other than one of the staff members, everybody works hard and is caring, but it does reflect the difficulties of running such facilities within a limited budget and trying to care for residents as individuals.
The plot is intriguing and the issue of if and how Gabriel might manage to defeat the virus is a page turner, although there are some very quirky aspects of the story that some readers might find challenging (not the scientific part as such. Although I’m a doctor I don’t think readers without medical knowledge will have difficulty with the general concepts behind Gabriel’s discovery. It is a fascinating idea). The story requires some suspension of disbelief although it is also possible to read some of the clues offered through the fragments of Gabriel’s memories as proof that a less fanciful interpretation of events is also possible. That is up to each reader.
I have to confess to feeling very moved by the story and being teary-eyed a couple of times but don’t worry, there are fun moments too and it is not a sad story but a life-affirming one. The ending, whatever interpretation we choose to go with is joyful and positive and might be meaningful to many readers.
This is not an easy novel to categorise in any genre. I think most people who are interested in Alzheimer’s will enjoy it, and people who like books on medical subjects, as long as they have a well-developed imagination. I recommend it also to people interested in memory, identity and in the big questions, and to those looking for a positive and inspiring read.
What the book is about: Many things. Being different and not fitting in, Alzheimer’s disease and care of the elderly, identity, the immune system, what makes us human, memory, family…
Book Highlights: I’m a doctor, although not a researcher, but the part about Gabriel’s research does not require hard science or lots of knowledge to be understood. It’s the concept what makes it work and the beauty of it. I particularly enjoyed the depiction of residents at the nursing home, with their quirks and their individual personalities that feel very real. And the positive message. It is a life-affirming book.
Challenges of the book: As mentioned above I don’t think the science part is too complicated as it is the general concept what is important to the story. Some of the weirder aspects of the book (the slugs, it’s not much of a spoiler as it is commented upon in quite a few of the reviews) might be a barrier for some readers, although each individual can interpret it at will. It might be difficult to read for people with relatives suffering from Alzheimer’s, although it is written with care and affection.
What do you get from it: A good insight into what Alzheimer’s might be like for sufferers: the confusion, the loneliness, the fear, and also the moments of joy and how important memories and little things can be. It’s an inspiring book with a very positive message.
What I would have changed if anything: As I mentioned, some of the quirkier aspects might be hard on some readers, but I wouldn’t change anything.
Who Would I recommend this book to?: People interested in Alzheimer’s and elderly health care with a capacity for wonder and inspiration. Also, those interested in a book with medical subjects, although they must have some imagination.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: This one is a bit difficult in this book. Let’s say the characters who are residents and staff in the nursing home (and Melanie, Gabriel’s daughter) 4.5/5. The others… 3/5 Made Me Think: 4.5/5 Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
Buy it at: Format & Pricing: Paperback: $10.99 Kindle: $4.81
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Events: Prime Ministers During the Alien Era is a mock history text during the period of Roswell crash landing until the “current” space war. The text focuses on politics and personality conflicts, both fiction and non-fiction.
First, let me start off by saying, with the exception of Star Trek, I’m not big on anything alien—that’s not to say I never read or watch alien-type things because after all, I have written reviews on such topics. That said, I found this mock history text quite amusing. It held a slow but steady pace as a real textbook would go. It’s not long at all (just over a hundred pages), so I finished in less than two hours.
The prose held my interest, however, it read more as a cross between a long narrative and a student history paper. As a textbook would have, it held footnotes, which made me want to go back and read what it referred to in the prose.
At the end of the book, Murphy explains which parts of his prose were fiction and which were nonfiction. This was a good way for us to know how he weaved the truths and fiction into an intriguing read.
There were misspells (not a lot, so I’m not dwelling on the issue. Even the greatest of authors have misprints). The quotation marks weren’t very consistent. Sometimes it had a single quotation mark (which would make sense seeing as it is a British text) and others were doubled.
If you’re wanting to read a fast-paced story about aliens, then this won’t be for you. However, if you like aliens, science fiction, and historical texts, then I recommend this. It’s a fun, light read as to what might happen should we ever have to deal with aliens!
Since Amazon and Goodreads only offer whole stars, I’m bumping this story to 4 stars, though my actual rating is 3.5.