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

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.

Dutch Preacher Boy

        Dutch Preacher Boy ISBN: 9781098382420 TunaFiscch Publishing by John Kommerinus Trinstra.

Sub titled “Coming of Age in Grand Rapids, Taking Wing Beyond* From Ethnocentric Religion to a Wide World of Wonder. A MEMOIR.

This is a fascinating tale most especially if you have an interest in any phase of religion. It is told by a man born and raised in the Netherlands in the Dutch Calvinist faith – Calvinist College 1962-1966 and Calvin Seminary 1966-69 and after immigrating to America, 2 weeks at Moody Bible Institute – and wanted to be a Fundamentalist (Religion defined as Religion as written is the last word). However, as explained in the gradually developing story, his extensive travels throughout a goodly part of the world changed quite drastically his perspective. His description of these travels and the changes wrought make for a story similar to few, if any other ‘coming-of-age’ tales in that the process extends far beyond what usually is considered that period in one’s life, into sessions as a missionary where threats were encountered in the Mexican Border area; working with Inmates in Cook County Psychiatric Hospital where he picked up a most thought-provoking answer to a simple question and read a sign posted on a near-by wall the reader will love. It simply read “I’m absolutely crazy about change. I just can’t handle it well.” And many more incidents of interest including close encounters with royalty and celebrities, a number of ‘secrets’ of well-known radio/TV preachers of various faiths, “sexual awakening, athletic fields of battle, heroes, tragedies, escapes, with lots of humor and playful banter”.

Discussion: The book ends with a brief notation about the former pastor, educator, and entrepreneur author and an Index of his wide range of people encountered and exact page(s) where it took place with the referenced person. Some of the discussion with respect to the individual and/or his/her perspectives may appear biased to varying degrees, but certainly lie within the author’s prerogative.

5* Interestingly, thoughtfully assembled memoir

Don’t Mess with Jess

Don’t Mess with Jess assumed published, copyright and written by Kim Hamilton.

The author states that this is Book #1 of “An Accidental Lawyer Short Read in a series of short reads inspired by the full-length novel, Accidental Lawyer.”

Jessica Snow, a recently graduated young lawyer works with Kari Cruz, part black and other races and seemingly ‘Girl Friday/ jack of all trades’ for work required in and around the office.  Both work for boss Dawson who has a still newer employee whom he is grooming to partner with him in a most important (purportedly) golf tournament. The legal practice is of a typically described ambulance chasing variety and the office is in a depressed section of town as is Jess’s only slightly better situated place of abode. Jess has a well-deserved reputation for aiding in a criminal investigation, and once more is involved in finding the perpetrator of a hit-run incident that involves drugs.

Discussion: A tale of mystery and criminal investigation involving stereotypical characters but the tale is saved by the authors approach and the zany activities – a light, amusing style. This is the first of a proposed series of short stories, each easily consumed in a couple of hours.

4* A short bit of mystery in an amusingly described situation with zany characters.

The Case of the Torn Yellow Socks

The Case of the Torn Yellow Socks Assumed published, copyright and written by Alan Hardy.   

Inspector Cullot of Scotland Yard Mystery Series Book 4 is a continuation of the cases in which he appears to be a commanding figure requiring respect bordering on submission of his subordinates including Detective Constable Stephanie, his daughter who is beautiful, adoring, sexy but mostly sufficiently subservient, Sargent Watkins, a not overly bright police investigator and Blunt, a typically story book “Bobby” who records by trusty pencil stub and paper notebooks the Inspector’s words as well as a running description of all that occurs during each investigation. The latter individual seemingly is even less gifted than the Sargent, and both are completely enamored of the Inspector’s daughter. The plot is of the contrived variety in which wealthy men are killed when visiting high-end brothels by a woman who actually is of one nationality while having changed identities with that of others in the same apartment building. The dead men each are dressed wearing colors contained within the flags of the countries each supposedly represents. The story continues presenting more involving details and ends in the Inspector’s solving the case in a manner suitable to the tale.

Discussion: The author has written a tale in a humorous fashion once referred to as ‘slap-stick’ where characters of questionable intelligence face un-understood activity or level of conversation, and often speak repetitively and/or deal with an array of amusing situations. A series of incidents similar to an episode offered by the once immensely well-known comedy team of Abbot and Costello in their skit “Who’s on First”. If this is your type of comedy, this book is for you, but with a caveat. From this reviewer’s perspective, editing to remove the somewhat excessive repetitive verbalization describing the same material would enhance the presentation.

3* no doubt more *’s for readers who already seem to enjoy the author’s books.

Independence

Independence ISBN: 9780998386782 Bryson Taylor Publishing copyright and written by Deb Landry,

This is a memoir by the author of remembrances over a considerable number of years of Secrets, Discovery & Forgiveness. It is a story not of physical abuse per se, but of a more subtle and damaging psychological or mental abuse applied to a growing child. It is one of constantly mixed messages of love and hate and shifting rules that offer no opportunity for the child to ‘gain a footing’ on this slippery footing. Generally the family situation appears to be one of normality but wherein ‘something is missing’ and they gradually lose any self-confidence they have been able to generate.  The child constantly believes he/she is wrong with attendant shame and greater desire to please the abuser, something that never can be done because the offending parent feasts upon the humility they cause and the dominence they possess that is an unrecognized need their twisted ego requires. The author certainly has provided an extensive list of offenses she had suffered that provide a complete picture of how such activities proceed and the subsequent effect. She also has set forth the superb manner in which she has ‘risen above’ the years of degradation and has acquired a position of importance that incidentally has derived from the long-standing period of degradation.

Discussion: Regrettably, as is the case with most severely abused children, physical removal from the situation offers little or no actual release. The author has demonstrated this fact with a plethora of examples. She can remember even small details of many features of the incidents she had suffered even in her earliest years.  It is only when the individual discovers some inner strength to face facts, a status usually acquired only with aid from a trained and understanding counselor, that healing can take place. And yet, as demonstrated here, the stories still remain to haunt, even after success and such a catharsis has been acquired.

4* Often sad, poignant, humorous, disturbing tale with ultimate victory.

Hairbag Nation

HairBag Nation Amazon Digital Services LLC copyright and written by Robert L. Bryan.

This is Book 1: The Police Riot that tells a series of stories of the NYC Transit Police. The story is purported to be fiction, but obviously contains non-fictional elements. Crime was rampant and the subway system even worse so that the authorities in 1983 ultimately decided to form three separate New York City police agencies – the NYC Police Dept., Transit Police Dept., Housing Police Dept. The same civil service examination was given to all applicants. Those who passed were assigned at the rate of 7 to the Police Department, 3 to the Transit Police and 1 to the Housing Police. Obviously a large degree of animosity developed among personnel of the various departments as a result of their self-assessment of importance of the various departments. This factor altered the consciousness of some of the Transit Police to the opposite of what they were meant to be. “They became lazy, cynical, contemptuous, apathetic, and indifferent. In short, they were transformed into Hairbags”, a name assigned frequently to ‘burned-out’ individuals who didn’t want to do anything and didn’t care anymore. This book is a fictionalized account of some of the resulting antics of these misfits.

Discussion: The book’s title appears to provide a suitable one in that it recounts a story of a bizarre incident occurring in NYC in 1857 that resembles the occurrences of the fictional anecdotes provided here. The author, a most creditably educated and still importantly engaged in security activities, retired Captain of the Transit Police has gathered together these vignettes that range from nonsensical to amusing to bizarre.

4* Mostly amusing collection of fictionalized stories about the NYC Transit Police.

A Laughing Place

A Laughing Place Berwick Publishing, copyright and written by Christian Hageseth, M.D.

This offering is a relatively short but quite thorough look at the position of humor in the content of an individual’s mindset and the extent of its importance in an individual’s well-being. It includes an introduction that once again reiterates the importance of Hippocrates’ statement “It is far more important to know what person has the disease, than what disease the person has. The difference between patients is the content of their minds.” Twelve chapters follow, opening with a humorous, tenuously embarrassing incident that occurred with the author’s first lecture with respect to the subject. An incident that gave rise to the quote “Life and adversity: You can’t have one without the other” and an opportunity to provide further discussion of the importance of how the individual deals with adversity when encountered. Years of treating patients who were almost impossible to help finally brought this psychiatrist to a realization of the vital importance of Positive Humor. Thus he decided that rather than treat the aftermath of adversity, he wanted to prevent some of the pain that poured out in his consulting room and instruct his patients to learn about humor – what it is, how it constantly is modified, what purpose it serves and when properly couched and utilized, what it can bring to alleviating some of the suffering individual’s most debilitating episodes of despair.

Well aware of present day demand for short, crisp, to-the-point- comments, in the book he first provides what he believes are the ten basic components of humor. And he does so simply, “without detail, without examples, without metaphor”. With these as a basis, he then expands to examine the subject from its very first appearance to its many levels beyond. Many psychologists believe that humor is a function of language and a process involving abstract thought. As such, its first appearance is around the child’s first grade. The author contends that the first humor experience emerges even before with the smiling response which occurs at about eight weeks of life. Regardless, from this initial emergence, he traces it through the stages of mental and physical growth accompanying childhood, adolescence and into the adult. He explains how humor is more than jokes and that three pathways exist to a humor experience; that one’s surroundings, culture and subculture dictate the acceptance or non-acceptance of a humorous statement, with occasional exceptions as noted. And he provides numerous true stories of the effectiveness of humor in certain disastrous situations. Further presented are “the four elements of successful humor” and how they are achieved as well as how it may be used to combat illness as well as depression. The book ends with again a succinctly presented list of twelve affirmations of positive humor.

Discussion: The author has set forth a quite thorough overall discussion of humor. Further, he has provided the material in an easy to read form that the neophyte looking for help will discover to be simple to follow. Amusingly perhaps, is the fact that he most obviously is well aware of the extent of decrease in the general public’s attention span. Whether watching TV, reading or conversing, this activity measured 12 seconds in the year 2000; 8.25 seconds in 2015 and seemingly is dropping even lower in newly acquired data. (Comparatively, that of a goldfish is 9 seconds.). Resultantly, he has provided much material in quite simple to read lists and individual phrases. As an aside, his inclusion of certain humorous incidents/tales are quite hilarious for any reader with a degree of imagination. One word of caution seemingly would be helpful for the self-help reader – no matter how easily comprehensible one discovers the material to be in this book, it would seem wise to find a competent individual with whom to discuss this subject before embarking on any extensive personal change.

5* Thorough presentation of humor and its importance to human health.

7 Days in Russia

 

7 Days in Russia ISBN: 9781456631796 Orca Publishing, copyright and written by M. G. Crisci.

The book opens with the usual credits, followed by a list of sponsors; acknowledgements; a preface presenting brief biographical data including the raison d’être for the presentation; maps of specific routes taken in the 7-day journey; an amusing (and most appropriate for the Russian language) “Idiot’s Guide to Verbal Survival”; Day 1: “What could go wrong, goes wrong” and each succeeding chapter setting forth descriptions of more enlightening, frequently amusing, activities from each succeeding day. Additionally a photographer of note, the author was able to provide photographs of many of the places and people visited. Thus, the book describes an interesting and eye-opening account of the country and its inhabitants that will surprise many, if not most of today’s Americans.

Discussion: The author has presented a most appealing picture to describe present-day Russia that have strengthened his beliefs that the alcoholism, surveillance, and otherwise general effects of apprehension among the residents now exist only within the beliefs of the average American. Regrettably and most apologetically, this reviewer still retains some measure of reservation in totally accepting the author’s conclusion. He makes mention of the fact that his trip was made during one of Putin’s inaugurations following a first that had preceded it by two years. And from the freedom he noticed, and to a large extent quite ably demonstrated, today’s Russia appears to be one that is far removed from that which long existed. This reader also has travelled to Russia and experienced some similarities to those set forth by the author, but under other circumstances; i.e. not visiting as a tourist, but as a scientist visiting other scientists. We encountered most comfortable accommodations, transportation, excellent food and entertainment and really had no sense of being under any manner of surveillance other than tight restriction with respect to picture taking. (Granted this first trip was made when Gorbachev was struggling to bring the country together following the Troika disasters.) A week later we visited St. Petersburg to see the magnificent Hermitage and had the fascinating added pleasure of attending a performance of Boris Godunov in the city’s gem-like Opera House. Upon boarding our plane to leave Russia, a seemingly inconsequential remark by an In-Tourist representative provided a definite impression that surveillance of our activities actually had been quite extensive. Activities encountered on a subsequent trip a few years later still did not offer any definitive answer causing two other thoughts linger. Within the last 2-3 years this reader has received translations of books by Russian authors to review. None of these offer any clarification of the situation for this reviewer, but in fact strengthen an originally observed observation of a seeming dichotomy in the manner in which different classes or grades of citizens are observed/treated according to their main source of employment and/or activities; the other, a tendency toward observation/treatment according to religion, especially the apparent persistence of a degree of anti-Semitism – a feature one author commented on as having been accurately mentioned in my review. Additionally as continually discussed ‘ad nauseum’ by the media, we still have the involved Russian-American political situation.

Still another possibly unrecognized component in this seemingly benign Russian citizens’ complete freedom – the unbidden thought that this author, as a well-known lecturer as well as friend of the Director of the Russian Cultural Center in Washington D.C., may have received some measure of un-requested and un-recognized aid in his reception and activities in Russia. But then again, and most apologetically, this reviewer is an American who had WW II acquaintances and memories, the Cold War, Cuban fiasco, of the recurring political charges and the rest, as well as a couple of personal visits to Russia as a scientist conferring with scientists. Albeit this individual’s trips were a few years previous to Mr. Cristi’s and the memories may well be influenced by the troubled times not experienced by the author of this book. Trump and Putin seem to understand each other and actually seem to ‘be on the same page’ whereas the old hardliners of the Russian Politburo and those in the U.S. Deep State appear to be unrelenting. Perhaps it would be better if both countries paid a little more attention to China?

But to conclude, the picture the author has provided hopefully is the correct one as he has described it and this book is highly recommended as a most enlightening and interesting read for ALL Americans to further assess and better interpret the barrage of news to which they constantly are subjected.

5* Highly recommended as described.

Slater’s Tempest

Slater’s Tempest assumed published, copyright and written by T. J. Jones.

This 3rd book in the Slater Mystery series follows former Navy Seal, now PI Eric Slater, as he and his ‘working for her license’ love Maggie embark upon solving another mystery. This one is in the Florida Keys where the much loved daughter of an exceedingly wealthy tycoon supposedly died when hurricane Irma tore through the area in 2017. It was believed that Isla the daughter, had taken her beloved dead mother’s boat, the Caroline, out trying to save it by sailing it to safety. Slater is contacted by the tycoon when he receives in the mail a neckless that his purportedly dead daughter never removed. Slater and Maggie, with aid from Jasmine, his young ward who is eighteen, brash, overconfident with a mind of her own, but really a most intelligent and nice young person who enjoys ‘pushing his buttons’. It seems that the old man has ALS with a remaining 3 -5 year life span. He now was struggling with numerous additional complications arising from his less than exemplary life style. After being cleared of killing his first wife with whom he had been totally in love, but both had ‘messed-up’, he had married a beautiful younger woman. Seemingly, his money was not important because she really cared for this much older man as a result of her own early problems. His daughter Isla, close to the new wife’s age, did not equate well with her and for that matter believed her father did kill her mother. He had a brother who was intelligent and a part owner of his company, but actually was a ‘playboy type’ individual interested only in the money, not the company. The caretaker for his mansion actually was a brilliant engineer who helped develop many of Dunbar’s products. This man’s longtime live-in Asian friend/wife (?) who serves as the mansion’s cook also had some strange type of relationship with the owner’s family. Then there is a local PI who works as a barman at his son’s local tavern and whose other son is a recluse growing marijuana. Still others are entangled in the very complicated plot that even includes a ghost of Eli, an old sailor in some manner associated with the dead wife and/or the house. All in all, an interestingly involved tale including mystery, romance, humor, many psychological overtones and even a touch of the occult that the author ultimately is able to untangle.

5* Well-written, addition to the seemingly popular developing series.