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Teddy Lancaster, is a young somewhat withdrawn boy progressing through the usual coming-of-age experiences.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.

Bivrost Nine

 BIVROST NINE is the first in a proposed nine book series described as “an Epic Space Opera adventure (The Bivrost Nine Saga Book One)” Broken Wing Publishing, copyright and written by Andrew Tanner.

The prologue describes in detail the desperate last efforts by super hero woman warrior space pilot to perform her almost impossible ‘last stand’ attack on the attacking Otheran battle ship. Nysse Ann Hazara-Ghazi is successful in providing the last blow necessary when combined with the other successful battle results achieved by Earth’s forces, to make the invaders withdraw. The tale then moves into a period of uneasy peace among the various countries forming this huge intergalactic world in which Earth is a very new component. Nysse now is aboard a flight to her new assignment as a Commander in the uniquely structured ruling section of a small city left “on a chunk of what was left of the continent Bivrost Nine- an expanse of barren, reddish rock along the horizon” of a huge gap overlooking nothing but empty space.

The first chapter of this book opens with Nysse, now after participating in a ‘renewal program that has made this late middle-aged women into a vibrant and completely fit warrior who appears and acts like an individual twenty years younger. A person also particularly qualified because of her many years spent intermingling with the many different inhabitants of this intergalactic mass of diverse individuals.

She is on her way to assume her new position as commander of an outpost that represents a new approach to attempting to bring peace to the many highly diversified with many war-preferring nationalities sharing this outpost thousands of light years from its initiating conception by Earth. Her new team most prominently includes Sam, a person largely rebuilt from what was left of his badly destroyed body and referred to as Cyborgs which is a name, along with others rather distasteful to those involved; a brilliant, but totally unorthodox scientist Winston; then unfortunately assigned from the less favorable possibilities, Ishlaa, an Othren priestess, and her own long-time warrior ‘protector’ Ufthuf who hated humans. The committees’ task is to hammer out a lasting peace among this diverse and seemingly war-preferring intergalactic mixture. And the place in which they have to do it is as described, the small city situated on what is left of a partially destroyed continent sitting on a huge section of rock overlooking nothing but a huge abyss of endless space. The time of the tale’s beginning is only shortly advanced from Earth’s present year and the story is one of constant activity with danger, duplicity, treachery, betrayal and more.
Discussion: The author sub-titles this endeavor “The last hope for peace” and proceeds to present a sci-fi-thriller with undertones of mythology and philosophy from his self -professed position as a simple citizen who supports scientific advancement but finds the amount of authoritative pressure so widely extant to appear to be a little oppressive. Seemingly his beliefs seem quite in common with those expressed by individuals similar to his own background and training. He has served in the military, acquired academic training in one of the large California colleges and supports the concepts set forth by Black Lives Matter and of universal equality. His present endeavors seemingly are to attempt to add his ‘little bit to attempt to better the world from his position as an independent investigative individual who provides written analyses of his findings from his perspective’.  Summarily speaking, the author has produced a first volume of his proposed series that is a fast moving, sci-fi space thriller with interestingly portrayed characters with whom the reader can empathize, in interestingly presented imaginative situations and with a touch of humor. Attempts to impart some bits of philosophy and a tad of mythology additionally are included. The reader will need to decide how well he has accomplished his opening salvo, but if he/she enjoys the trend set by today’s futuristic thinking authors, they no doubt will enjoy this new book/series.

5* as described.

Leviathan Rising

Leviathan Rising A USS Bull Shark Naval Thriller, Book Two, published and copyright by Scott W. Cook and Spindrift Press and written by Scott W. Cook.

The author has set forth a thriller following the engagement of two submarines during the American Japanese hostilities of WWII. The vessels are constructed quite differently from those routinely composing the fleets of these two opponents. Each has been constructed with features providing aid to allow them to provide destruction to the other while on the surface rather than in the usual below surface manner of function. Added are an underling problem between the captain and his executive officer; a prominent member of the crew who is a drug user/dealer; the man’s accomplices, one of who has provided information to the authorities; Japanese and American spies, counter spies and or double agents; all gathered together to determine the condition of the other’s surrendered ship.

Discussion: Not having read the first volume, this is a seemingly plot driven tale with little background of the characters, but an intriguing, fast moving story that presents a most enjoyable few hours of reading.

5* Enjoyable read

Apotheosis Now. Rabbit Hole to the Beyond

 

Apotheosis Now. Rabbit Hole to the Beyond assumed published copyright and written by Yanhao Huang.

Description/Discussion: The author seems to have aspired to set forth another pseudo-philosophical discussion on how to face life and the situations encountered with a basic need to discover “Do you want happiness or success?” He further hypothesizes that the answer is happiness and yet he points out how often, even if success is attained, how often happiness still is missing. Or that a goal reached results in only a short period of happiness and another goal must be obtained. This in turn, leads to a need to question even the basest suggestion that comes to mind and leads to extended introspection. In the author’s beliefs, these appear to be somewhat heavily affected by Asian religious philosophy, but generally lead to attempts to discover who he is? What are his true goals? Is a deity’s inclusion in the mix? And other similar questions.

The reason this particular review opens with a note as to the authors approach to a confusion that seems to be occurring more frequently because it is the 3rd approach to the subject I have read recently, the last just a little more than a week ago. Thus, to render a personal evaluation, as expected from reviewers, this book offers another dissertation on a subject that appears to be of rising interest in today’s reading population. It offers another interesting approach for the confused individual to read, evaluate along with the other approaches offered, and arrive at a decision with which he/she can live.

5* As discussed

Arnolfini Art Mysteries 2

Arnolfini Art Mysteries 2 ISBN: 978190053059 (eBook), an imprint of Digital Vista written by Rich DiSilvio.

The author has set forth for the prospective reader a most interesting series of mysteries ranging from almost priceless pieces of art to prominent architectural structures. The protagonist is a private investigator whose vocation/avocation is to appraise the authenticity of these objects for Museums and other interested individuals/groups who are willing to pay the expenses as well as the fees for which such unique ability is rendered. The first of the investigation the protagonist, Armand Arnolfini, describes in this book is of the authenticity of the long-lost Leonardo daVinci’s “Leda and the Swan” which his father maneuvers him into doing after setting-up Armand’s marriage to Andrea St. John, a young woman he found to be able to replace an irreplaceable wife who he had passed away a few years earlier. The marriage took place in a storied castle in Belgium with a list of attendees that was a list of the elite of the art world. From this initial offering the story travels through a number of other investigations of prominent pieces of art, buildings associated with architect/artists and then to a fascinating tale about the at one time tallest architectural structure in the world, the Woolworth building in the United states.

Discussion: the descriptions provided by the author are replete with details of an opulent manner of life only imagined by most as well as fascinating details of the varied and often serendipitous path these investigations can take. The amount of fiction included within the body of this work only can be judged by how much the reader knows about the art and architectural world and those who participate and/or have participated through the centuries. Definitely a rivet and ‘must read’ for anyone interested in investigations and especially for those having any interest and/or curiosity about art and architecture.

5* Riveting if interested in investigative art and/or architecture.