Teddy Lancaster and the Eye of Naroshi

 Teddy Lancaster and the Eye of Naroshi ISBN: 9798985573503 assumed published, copyright and written by Johnny Rapp.

Teddy Lancaster, is a young somewhat withdrawn boy progressing through the usual coming-of-age experiences. He lives with his mother, a healthcare worker employed at a near-by facility having just lost Teddy’s father whom they both miss greatly. Teddy also is a dreamer whose nightly series takes him on trips where he visits and actually lives in a waking state (during the time he is supposed to be sleeping) inside the kingdom of Egaria which is magically enchanted with an ancient protection spell. He also becomes enrolled as a student in Zarmore, the local school where he will be taught how to make his own world a better place along with various magical activities. During one of these dream sessions he befriends one of a colony of Goblins that includes farmers and this state of coexistence has been in effect for thousands of years. Teddy, under pressure of capture by the Goblins whom he believes he had insulted, steals one particular farmer’s greatest possession, a horse – Naroshi – to escape.  (This Goblin-Farmer group lives in a border city next to where Teddy lives when at home. It is a place that is half dream world and half real world. It is called Slaybethor.)

Actually he wasn’t in danger, but the ‘friend’ was having fun with him after he found him too near the area’s Castle. However, the old man does not take the theft lightly and has a magic staff with which he can blow things apart and when Teddy stole his horse, he went on a rampage looking for it and wrecked large portions of the surrounding village. From this beginning activity, the story continues, expanding as it proceeds.

Discussion: The author has set forth an interestingly plotted fantasy with its usual collection of goblins and animals cleverly assuming human roles. All are well characterized allowing an interest and even empathy to develop, and although fundamentally a story directed to the tean and pre-teen reader, no doubt well written enough to have appeal for the fantasy reader, similarly to others of note, at more advanced ages.

5* Teen/pre-teen; also probably advanced level fantasy devotees

ARTWORDS

ARTWORDS ISBN: 9781643145198 AuthorsPress, copyright and written by Beatriz M. Robles.

The author’s opening words of dedication well-describe the intent of her book “As my father, Rene Robles, has always said when describing the meaning of his art Assertionism, “Art that has power—asserts, transforms, and transcends,” Under his influence in art, and my mother, Emilia Robles’ poetic influence in writing, we have Artwords, “Writing that asserts, transforms, and transcends to become art.””

Discussion/conclusion: I was impressed by the reviews of other of this author’s books and was looking forward to reading it. To be totally frank, I spent a considerable amount of time attempting to figure out what I was reading. And yes, it is that different. Once you begin to understand, it is possible to attain some feeling for the reviews others have written for her other books from the structure of the material she has supplied and her photographs, and certainly she, as well as both her mother and father, are held in high regard by a seemingly large number of inhabitants of the Philippines from reviews offered by the media there. Additionally, the author is well-know and highly respected, especially in Asia and Europe as a classical musician, as well as recognized artist with a number of exhibitions as well as an author of a number of well-received books. So to return to Artwords, from the material offered and total contents, it is possible for a reader to ‘feel’ or ‘sense’ what the author is attempting to provide – a use of words that provide an image and is a most interesting concept. Granted, a complete evaluation regrettably and apologetically could not be provided by this viewer, because some of the material provided a dark shading of sections, notations, and the letters themselves were unable to be raised to a size font sufficient to be completely comprehended. However, a ‘sense’ of her intent easily was discernable. So, to conclude: the author successfully has accomplished her purpose. But again apologetically for a caveat – although a fascinating, well-formulated and presented concept, this book is not particularly one for the more pragmatically inclined reader.

3* 5* concept; – 2*(?) readers’ choice – see discussion/conclusion.

Tokyo Express

Tokyo Express USS Bull Shark Naval Thriller Series, Book 4 assumed published copyright and written by Scott W. Cook.

This 4th book in the seemingly popular suspense thriller series by this author again follows the activities of the brilliantly aggressive Captain Art Turner of the somewhat unusually designed USS Bull Shark submarine as it operates in the Pacific Ocean from August 15, 1942 through August 24th, 1942 and sometime beyond through an Epilogue. Most of the main action described takes place in the waters surrounding Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Gavutu, Tanambogo and especially those of New Georgia where the Sealark Channel, popularly called “The Slot” provided a straight supply line from the Japanese Holdings at Rabaul and Bougainville. Once the U.S. had established their base on Guadalcanal and completed Henderson Airfield, their air superiority gave them control of this area during the day. This provides the base for this fact based novel.

To overcome the problem of supplying Japanese troops in these areas, Admiral Yamamoto developed a plan of running the fast destroyers down the slot at night when air power did not operate with any degree of success and destroyers were specially equipped to fight submarine attacks if attempted. The Americans immediately named it the Tokyo Express. Along with these naval engagements, Several Marine-Japanese hand to hand engagements are included with men serving on the subs as well as with the Marines included. A couple of naval battles – Solomon Islands, Savage Islands and individual Carrier-Enemy Aircraft engagements also are included.

Discussion: The author’s knowledge of his subject appears to be quite extensive as his description of pertinent minutia with respect to submarine working parts, movement, maneuverability and the results of attacks described, as well as the effects of bombs received by surface craft. His descriptions of hand-to-hand combat as well as other land battle scenes and their aftermath also are graphically set forth and thus, just as horrifying to the uninitiated as those of the results of a ship’s receipt of bombs from the air as described. The author’s understanding of the psychological aspects, pertinent perhaps more particularly to submarine warfare, appear to be quite accurate, as well. This is the second of the series I have read, and highly recommend as a WW II thriller.

5* Highly recommended war thriller.

 

A Hitite and a Shaman

     A Hititite and a Shaman at Queen Nefretari’s Service by Naveen Sridhr.

This fundamentally is a historical tale of royal intrigue during the era of Ramses II long reign with his beloved wife Nefretari. It is replete with the usual deceit, distrust, betrayal, deception and treachery among the kings and other heads of state, many branches of the same family. It also is a story whose history the author has stated he has attempted to follow as closely as possible.  Fortunately for the reader he also has included a list of the characters and a glossary of terms. The plot follows the flight of a deposed Hitite King and his son to Rameses country, the possibility of the new king demanding his return for prosecution and the maneuvers in which Rameses, and more especially his Queen Nefretari, engaged the situation to obtain a peaceful conclusion to the affair.

Discussion: The author has provided a most interesting discussion with respect to how adroitly a Shaman and Nefretari managed to acquire a peaceful settlement for a burgeoning problem and the lasting effects its use by Rameses had for the good of his people. In general, a lesson is set forth with respect to the value of peace versus war and much is learned about both of these monarchs. The only disappointing feature of this book from this reviewer’s perspective, is the redundancy and repetition employed to describe Nefretari’s, the Shaman and each provider’s viewpoint of the subject under discussion. Granted, the discussions are pertinent. However judicial editing could have reduced this material substantially to provide a more enjoyable read.

4* 5* material; -1* for reasons noted.

Europe by Milk Run

Europe by Milk Run ISBN: 9781954778078 published, copyright and written by Rory Moulton.

Subtitled A solo Travel Experiment from Copenhagen to Barcelona, First published 2020 by EuroExperto. The author has provided this mini-saga of his unusual journey resulting from a decision to prove wrong a casual observation by an acquaintance that traveling Europe “isn’t real travel” anymore. By riding slow trains, using a Eurrail Pass, using Airbnb (a list of low-budget lodging), a vague direction in which he wanted to go and little more than a backpack he made the trip in a measured time frame. (Set by budgetary restrictions dictated by the fact he now was married with a young teen son and other responsibilities, although his main job appeared to be providing, and editing, new material for a rather undefined person who seemingly provided travel material for some source). His decision could be considered unusual since he was several years beyond the usual age for such rambling journeys. However, he makes his decision with much gusto and desire to explore the offbeat neighborhoods with their storied, often risqué activities, ‘different’ foods and their often ‘different’ venders. Almost all activities conducted with newly acquired young and completely involved ‘friends’ he meets on the travels

This introductory material concludes that with “Ample humor and humility”, he shows “that traveling Europe at ground level reveals the Continent’s greatest treasures.”

The trip explores Copenhagen including its lesser known ‘naughty areas’ as well as the better known ones existing in Hamburg. Amsterdam includes dealing with a large number of feral cats; Brussels perhaps slightly more emphasis on the architecture and Paris somewhat similarly  with interesting comparison of the Notre-Dame Cathedral with some of the newly designed ‘masterpiece’ architectural structures, as well as Barbes Market in Paris – an enclave of 1st and 2nd generation Africans speaking rapid-fire French mixed with African patois and the Museum of Immigration in Paris which depicted the end of Colonialism in its strange history of development. Other notable features were Bayeux as a food-lovers delight, Saint-Jean-de-Luz (Basque country where the native language is Euskara –a language with no real relationship to French, Latin, Spanish or other. There are a few hundred thousand Basques in France but most are in Portugal and the adjoining region of Spain. (An author’s brief discussion discloses the existence of even a couple of thousand in Colorado, USA. Pamplona included an interesting discussion of the difference in gauge between the rails in Spain and the rest of Europe (9 inches wider) and their gradual change as well as many other features of interest besides the San Fermin Festival and ‘Running of the Bulls’. Zaragoza elicited a comment expressing the fact that the city was far more beautiful to visit at night at night– most beautiful to visit at night and that the small town’s Canfranc with unusual rail station offered “A key crossing point and center for spies and espionage” during WWII earning “a new nickname Casablanca in the Pyrenees.” Description of Barcelona, an Epilogue and notes about the author terminate the book.

Discussion: A well- and often charmingly-described presentation of many little known facts and features of some of Europe’s cities, towns, and countryside. Highly recommended.

5* Highly recommended

Big Stone Gap & Beyond

Big Stone Gap & Beyond: A Novel assumed published, copyright and written by John M. Vermillion.

The narration is provided by someone who has lived a millennium and fortunately the book’s opening contains a list and short explanation of the individual’s interrelationship to the large number of characters included in the story. Basically it is about the coal industry and those involved, largely from the minors’ level. It is split into three tales, the last following the life of Felix Forthright Fox a person of far advanced intellect who is bored with traditional school work, does not do well and is resentful with having to complete tasks he does not like. His forte is facing a problem, recognizing the core and developing an answer that will work. As an adult he progresses rapidly into a power within the coal industry, and as he grows older and matures, moves into other areas of endeavor compatible with this growth and change.

Discussion: This is the first of this author’s books this reviewer has read. He appears to be very well received, is a West Point Graduate with appropriate service and additionally has obtained three Master’s degrees. His characters are interesting, generate empathy, and the story’s pace is good. One particularly interesting feature is his ability to blend the story teller’s thoughts/beliefs into the thought patterns he provides through the characters. Thus, a most interesting and enjoyable read that supplies more usually unknown facts about a subject of particular importance at this particular time in history.

5* Interesting & enjoyable; particularly important at this time in history.

Mosquito Junction

#1

MOSQUITO JUNCTION Memories ISBN: 9781648039911 Westwood Books Publishing, LLC. Copyright and written by Robert S. Saito.

This is a memoir of a Japanese man from California who spent time as one of the members of an internee family during that fiasco in the US during WWII. From this beginning, it proceeds through a rambling life spent largely as an enlisted sailor after some schooling including attendance at a California junior college with assignments for the rest of his enlisted life mostly as a lifer second class petty officer and rising eventually to an E-6 grade enlisted man. Included are many changes in area of service (including many of which this reviewer did not even know existed, although spending tours of duty during WWII [4/44 – 3/46] and the Korean War [7/50 – 2/55]). His duty stations were somewhat removed from the ‘ordinary’ including a start in Mosquito Harbor and time in part of the Aleutian Island chain that is the last such U.S, Naval Base before the Russia owned territory. His duty assignments also included Viet Nam – First. Sea Bee Base Camp Faulkner which was past China Beach and check point Charlie along the Bon Son River. Second starting at Camp Campbell in Hue Phu Bai near the city of Hue. Beyond recounting some of the less often reported details of these duty stations and activities, he sets forth extensive and frequently unusual detailed description of much of the rest of the world he travelled during intermittent leave and retirement travels experienced with Naida, his Mexican-American wife of fifty years. Now at 84 years he sums up the story in the simple and straightforward words: “This is my memoir of the many people I have met and places I have been: “The people are ordinary hard working devoted to duty military men and women from all walks of life from many countries I have visited.”

Discussion: This perhaps, is one of the most fascinating memoirs this reviewer has read. It is written in simple unadorned English in a rambling style frequently missing connecting words in a sentence but most enjoyably understood. It also provides an introduction to unusual explanations of types of previously unthought-of (by most non-Asians) fish preparations, and provides extensive descriptions of places seldom so thoroughly covered by other individuals in describing places and/or activities of interest. This is a book that is highly recommended.

5* Rambling, unusual memoir simply written by 84 year old retired sailor. Highly recommended

The Uquiet Genius

The UNQUIET GENIUS ISBN: 9780999117378 TMR Press, LLC by Glenn Dyer.

In this Conor Thorn (Book 3) the author again has provided his readers with a rapidly moving thriller taking place in the European theatre during WWII. This time it is as a result of Mussolini, and the Vatican wanting to retain a brilliant nuclear scientist, while the Germans, Russians and Americans’ all wish to convince him of the need they have for him to join them in their final movement toward building an atomic missile. The scientist also is an ordained man-of-the church who had successfully faked his demise and for four years successfully hidden in a monastery high in the Italian mountains. Deciding what he has done to his family was an unbearable action, he writes them a letter. A copy lands in ‘unfriendly hands’ and the secret is divulged, thus creating the involvement of the groups mentioned.

Discussion: The author has set forth an action-packed suspense/thriller/romance complete with Nazi cruelty as well as displays of betrayal, deceit, treachery and deception involving quite a large cast of characters who are sufficiently under-developed to result in fundamentally a plot-based tale. Enough empathy is developed among enough characters, however, to provide interest for those who enjoy other than plot –based stories. A particularly interesting note from this reader’s perspective is the inclusion of thought relative to the horrific results from atomic fission – a subject beginning to be addressed more frequently in the scientific community as time passes and circumstances change, but not previously noted so prominently in fiction.

5* Largely plot-based suspense/thriller/romance with interesting aside.

All We Have to Believe In

     All We Have to Believe in ISBN: 9781957013039 Hybrid Global Publishing published copyright and written by Jeffrey J. Lousteau.

The story opens in May 1919 in San Francisco with a parade followed by celebration in the rose garden of the Parthenon for the soldiers just returned from Europe with termination of WWI and selected family members. The book describes the WW1 horrors, the men who participated and the many levels of suffering they encountered, the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, the ‘mockery’ of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, the Great Depression, the government’s attempt at legislating the curtailment of personal consumption of alcohol termed Prohibition, the racial hatred, and more. All has been encapsulated in a family and their acquaintances in a time when wide spread unrest existed. The protagonist is Edward Dooley, a young Irish immigrant who enlists in the army directly from high school, and participates in heavy combat, returns suffering from a degree of what today finally has been determined PTSD, maries a loving and understanding woman with whom he has three children. But, to include a more complete overview of the era, he has been placed in the position of the son of immigrant parents upon whom his family becomes heavily dependent.

Discussion: The author has set forth a history of the 1900’s by employing a main character fully representing the average American man who was involved totally in the activities of the chaotic century making the errors made by most members of the generations struggling through with tenacity of purpose to survive. Generally speaking, it is a depressing story that in attempting to ‘cover-all-bases’, often becomes entrapped in unnecessary details. However, if the reader can accept these oversites, he/she will discover a quite extensive knowledge of the era told plainly and setting forth the main protagonist as an individual of strong character indoctrinated with the strong morality and work ethic existent within the generation as well as the other firmly established beliefs that appear to have been included in the members of those generations so as often being referred to as The Great Generation.

* 5* history of an era; -2 lengthy discussions; depressing but recommended.

Who’s Killing All My Old Girlfriends

Who’s Killing All My Old Girlfriends ISBN: 9798402869110 published, copyright and written by Jon Spoelstra.

Sub-titled Old Guys Murder Mystery #1, the author has set forth a most unusual story of an elderly gentleman who encounters a serious set of problems by deciding to ‘look up’ former loves of his life. Charlie North, a former news reporter for a Chicago newspaper, now in his early seventies, widower of a happy 41 year marriage and a highly successful Blog writer, had been thinking about fate as the cause of one’s selection of marriage partner, and decided to find three of his ‘almost’ partner selection. Regrettably, each of the three are murdered with his visitation marking him immediately as a ‘person of interest’ by the police in each of the cities.

Discussion: First impression is an interesting plot presented in a charmingly laid-back manner that at once is amusing, yet irritatingly rambling, redundant and repetitive with jokes included that are plentiful but mostly old, many references and examples of aging presented which are painfully correct but will be read and remembered. This reader for one, could not stop reading. The book does not even end per se. At its conclusion the next book in sequence is begun and, even if you don’t want to, the reader discovers that he seems to have acquired an addiction to want to see where the next venture is heading. A fascinating experience.

5* Unusual, charmingly dichotomous admixture of seemingly almost addictive proportions.