Skinny House

Skinny House, a memoir of family ISBN: 9780995877718 Skinny House Productions copyright and written by Julie L. Seely.

In the Forward, the author very adroitly describes this book; “Despite its title, this book is no simple story about an odd, narrow-built dwelling. It’s about the family who lived in the house and the patriarch who built it.” The dwelling referred to is a ten foot wide, three story house among full-sized homes and now on the National Registry list, situated in Mamaroneck, N.Y. The basic story is of an ambitious black carpenter whose entrepreneurial abilities built a successful construction business in the early 1920’s with a grand house and all associated amenities for his wife to whom such ‘arrival’ met all of her expectations, only to have it snatched away by advent of the ‘Great Depression and subsequent devastation that followed well into the late ‘30’s. It follows the loss of the business, the house and all other amenities in a period when everyone was struggling just to survive in a time ‘when black men were the last to be hired and the first to be let go’. It also is of a period of time when ‘the man was the breadwinner, and the woman was the stay-at-home wife’ and a man was ashamed not to be able to work, and a wife should not be in a position to have to do so. The tale also provides quite graphic details of the carpenter’s attempts to salvage his pride and that of his wife, and of the gradual but insidious manner in which it failed and gradually slid into destruction of the family as a whole and to an extent, the individual personalities.

Discussion: Little more needs to be said. The author has used the house, how and why it was built and of what happened to the builder, his wife, children and grandchildren to provide a fascinating tale of a wild and highly explosive period in the history of America, its demoralizing fall-out and the residual effects on a man, his wife, children and grandchildren. The author readily admits her mistake of underestimating a family’s legacy. The lesser importance of physical versus “the colorful tapestry of memories and anecdotes handed down” and “intangible wisdom handed down from one generation to another”; “the spiritual binding”.

5* Captivating family memoir painstakingly, scholarly assembled by a loving granddaughter.

Like no other Boy

Like no other Boy a novel assumed published, copyright and written by Larry Eisman Center,

This book indeed is like its title. It is a story unlike any other. It is the story of parental love for a deeply troubled autistic child who is completely dependent upon both parents, a situation that has become hugely problematic. Chris, 8-year old Tommy’s father, is an extremely empathetic individual devoted to his elderly, ailing father, and still enamored of his wife who divorced him as the marriage dissolved under the continued pressure of the situation. Cheryl was from a wealthy family whose treatment apparently was such as to not allow her to cope with adversity, and had found another wealthy man with whom to bond. Chris had not been quite as fortunate, His parents were a devoted couple until his mother passed away, actually contributing greatly to his father’s physical degeneration and his vocation was as a prominent ‘voice over’ actor whose employment depended upon a spotty flow as is all ‘show business’. Thus, Tommy was awarded to Cheryl, but because of the child’s need for both parents, she consented to allow week-end visitation rights to the husband. There was a constant disagreement with respect to modes of treatment for the child and reached a pinnacle when Chris, on a trip to the Zoo, had discovered Tommy had been absorbed with the chimpanzees. He seemed to equate and even speak with them, at the same time demonstrating an advancement in speaking with his father. Additional trips strengthened the attachment and advancements in his speech and sentence formation with his father. Prominent scientists became involved and were willing to commit a huge amount of money to further study the interaction. Cheryl, would not even consider the relationship, preferring removal of the boy to another city where she, now pregnant, and her soon to be new husband both could also benefit from new vocational opportunities. The drama continues to escalate as it unfolds through the ensuing pages to a thoroughly fascinating conclusion.

Discussion: the author has done a remarkable job in depicting the activities of an autistic child and the excruciatingly painful situations repeatedly faced by parents who deeply love their child and constantly strive with little other than hope for some miracle to happen. The author also has learned and shared interesting facts about one branch of primates. A number of involved characters are well and believably described and the book’s flow is acceptable, although occasionally slightly irritating perhaps with Chris’s unwavering extension of empathy upon occasion.

5* Totally absorbing story about autism.

Mine

Mine Published by Bloodhound Books print ISBN: 9781913942052 copyright and written by Kelly Florentia.

The story’s prologue opens in North London in late August when an unnamed person is evaluating the fact that the person she is looking at is a liar. She is aware of the fact that his drinking was the cause but it is immaterial. “I know what you did and you have to pay. All I’ve got to do is figure out a way to get rid of you. For good.” The first chapter opens with another anonymous voice berating herself doing something she regrets and worries mount when her phone is missing from its usual place. Before she can move, a 40ish man she knows joins her in bed and asks if she is alright? They are in her flat and knows him but cannot even remember his name. He turns out to be her friend Allison’ new yard man of a few weeks, and we hear the gruesome details of the night’s drunken escapade brought on by her just ex-husband’s divorce and her invitation to his new wedding to one of her formerly best friends. Finally, she remembers the man’s name and that he is the man her dearest friend has been wanting her to meet, he leaves and quite quickly thereafter, her ex-husband appears and we obtain details of his infidelity. She then gets an anonymous text saying: “I know what you did with your best friend’s husband”. Her ex-husband tells her she must sell the flat which she still owns jointly with her ex and a quickly accelerating series of events begins to involve Lucy in a series of events that threaten her with possible incarceration and even death. The ultimate solution to the extended series of activities provides an interesting twist that will give many readers pause for thought.

Discussion: The author has described a woman approaching forty who is carrying a large load of psychological baggage of unknown origin. The result is impulsive activity carelessly pointed in several directions simultaneously, accompanied by multiple thoughts in several directions frequently only vaguely pertinent to the situation in hand. Thus the reader is faced with a somewhat dysfunctional young woman with an intense need for close friendship, whose husband has left to marry a former close friend, a dependence upon other ‘close’ friends with whom she shares all of her most intimate thoughts, and an unfortunate inability to contain her alcohol consumption frequently at inappropriate times. A recipe for reoccurring disaster. A number of proofing errors are a little disconcerting.

4* Probably 4 ½* for readers who find tales of this type intriguing.

 

Resurrection Runner

Resurrection Runner ISBN: 9781734769821Tautly Sharp Publishing copyright and written by Robert Wood Anderson.

Listed as “A Steven Popoford Thriller”, the story opens with Steven as a very young man killing his love Gretchen on receiving orders from Home Office that he had been compromised because she was a master spy behind a sophisticated ring of enemy agents tasked with disrupting lives of American citizens. It was a messy kill but he would become more adept in the coming years. Apparently, he does become one of their best assassins, but is retired early for reasons that appear later, but only again to be recalled to provide a kill of unimaginable importance to save the country. Confusion develops after the kill because there is a considerable amount of evidence developing to show that he may have been sent to kill the wrong man. The tale continues to evolve in a rather confusing manner until the last quarter of the book where answers for much of the confusion begin to emerge. An ultimate climax is reached but leaves an opening for a probable sequel.

Discussion: The author has written a book that should appeal to individuals who enjoy sections of high octane action even though it is interspersed with lengthy sections of self-analysis by the protagonist. And as stated, the last quarter of the story provides adequate reasons for the earlier confused state in which the protagonist is enveloped and presents further fast action. For the more pragmatic reader, some of the action and its results are a little difficult to absorb.

3*  4*Politically oriented assassin mystery/thriller; -1* apropos caveat.

The Martian among Us: The Unexpected Saga of Elon Musk and Space

The Martian among Us assumed published copyright and written by Dexter Franklin.

This book sub-titled “The Unexpected Saga of Elon Musk and Space, A science-Fiction Novel” opens with an explanation about Mars – a planet, fourth rock from the sun, that Earthlings called Mars – was more than a red planet of desert hills and valleys inhabited by weird creatures. Instead, the author presents a far different picture of the true planet, one with a vital civilization of intelligent beings living in an underground city. Physically, they were structured similarly to humans but with a head size about double, very large eyes and a small nose and mouth. They were immensely intelligent. Their one aerospace scientist, Dr. Dor, working through an extinct volcano, hopefully would be able to construct a space ship that would transport the entire population to another inhabitable planet. Changes in planet dictated such a move within the next one hundred years. They had no idea of earth, or any other plants. Simultaneously, Elon Musk is attempting to be the first person from Earth to set foot on Mars. His wife, Justine just lost her baby (crib death). He is an extremely successful and highly innovative entrepreneur with many businesses and a huge net worth. He awakens from a dream in the middle of the night that a spaceship is going to crash and he knows where. He gets up and rushes off. He does not find anything except a large hole with no discernable unusual debris. He does meet Dr. Dor however, who neutralizes him and assumes his identical physical and mental shape, memory and abilities, after which, he completely disintegrates into his individual component molecules which then erase all evidence that any Elon Musk exists except the one assumed by the Martian. Justine is unaware of any change except reappearance of the man she had learned to love.

As time passes, Dr. Henry Malcom, a geologist who was drawn to the scene, can’t find any evidence of a meteorite but finds an impression of a body plus a car key to Musk’s Tesla, which the Martian had forgotten to take before reducing Musk. He returns it to the Martian/Musk and his actions raise questions for the geologist. Additionally, Dr. Fredrick Wilson, one of Musk’s employees actually knew what had happened to the real Elon Musk and uses this to pressure the Martian to provide a better position for himself. The new Musk continues with gaining investors for his already begun space ship to Mars and complications continue to mount for all characters involved leading to a most interesting and unexpected finale. Provision of more details would constitute require a “Spoiler’ designation.

Discussion: Devotees of Alien/Sci-fi tales may find this book to be somewhat below their expectations. Activities of several of the Earth characters are difficult to accept as are some of the Martian. Younger readers perhaps may find it appealing.

3*  4* interesting plot; -1* apropos discussion.

Redlined

Redlined, a novel of Boston ISBN: 978097282233Brunswick House Press, copyright and written by Richard W. Wise.

Jedediah Flynt is an ex-Marine with a considerable amount of hand-to-hand combat experience, an ex-wife and two small children for whom he pays support but seldom sees. Presently he is an ‘organizer’ in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts under contract to the Catholic Church for projects helping the poor and downtrodden in their fights against public projects such as a just completed victory against the Boston Building Commissioner. He still is a well-conditioned, attractive, somewhat charismatic individual who believes in what he is doing and has the ability to analyze and truthfully face a situation and manage it. Sandy Morgan is a newly hired young woman who he sends to watch a vacant building that he fears will be next for gutting by explosive arson in a developing pattern that, on the surface makes no sense. Sandy does not follow his orders and is killed by the arsonists. Thus begins a fascinating story that builds to a climax with involvement of: another new young woman replacement being heavily involved through excellent research activity and becoming threatened; a part of a local Chinese ‘tong’ group; a large Chinese Gambling Syndicate and representatives of a mainland Chinese ‘Mafia- like’ group; an immensely wealthy entrepreneur; several groups of local resident organizations; marine corps friends of Jed; and even several levels of the Catholic Church. The story builds to a fascinating climax that is logically thought producing on several levels.

Discussion: A tremendously well-written story with an excellent pace, well-developed characters and a plot that holds the reader enthralled until the end. A highly recommended thriller/mystery provided by an author who seems eminently qualified to produce such a tale.

5* Thriller/mystery highly recommended.

The Robot and Automation Almanac

The Robot and Automation Almanac 2021 ISBN: 9781946197719 Prestige Professional Publishing edited by Jason Schenker, Chairman of the Futurist Institute.

Sub-titled “Between Robocalypse and Robotopia COVID Edition” This volume is another in the series of Futurists Association attempting to keep readers abreast of the phenomenal yearly development in Robot technology and associated AI advances. It includes a Preface, Introduction. Discussions on “The Year Ahead and Beyond” and “The Future is for Futurists” by the Editor. Following his remarks are succeeding chapters of explanation and discussion of various aspects of the subject, each by ‘authorities’ on their version of the subject with pertinent references at the end of the presentation.

Discussion: This little volume presents a most worthwhile in depth update on Robots, their future, interaction with humans and with respect to the forward movement of artificial intelligence per se for the person not personally involved. From this reviewer’s perspective, one of the most illuminating remarks offered early in the book by one of the contributors was a simple example of how far we have travelled in a short time. Simply stated, he pointed out that today’s smart phone has a million times the memory and more than 100,000 times the processing power of the computer used in the Apollo 11 Mission. Another interesting fact is the belief in the necessity to next proceed to investigate in depth the neural networks in individuals in order to define how small nuances may be discerned and how they may be incorporated. A third point of interest is establishment of ‘boot camps’, along with ‘just-in-time’ learning from random opportunities – coffee break, commuting and similar – result in aptly termed “upskilling”, to provide somewhat knowledgeable people with further training so that often more ‘formal education’ is not required. Further fascinating subjects are extension of robotic usage in numerous different fields is predicted that will physically interact these ‘creations’ with humans directly and safely in a shared workspace. The great need that has been demonstrated for them by the covid-19 pandemic especially in the consumer and ‘cleaning/sanitizing’ areas and, especially in health fields where a true type of intellectual human-robot interaction is required. The book wraps-up with the book’s Editor explaining The New, New Normal; a brief description of The Futurist Institute; About the Editor that presents Mr. Schenker’s extensive qualifications; a list of Institutes’ publications and forthcoming titles;  Jobs for Robots; The Future after Covid; a disclaimer from the Publisher and the Institute and a repeat of the Copyright completes the book.

5* Easy to read, current/future status of Robotics and AI for the interested but uninvolved

When Blood Whispers

When Blood Whispers published, copyright and written by Richard Devall.

The book is subtitled “A Bad Date Forensic Thriller” and opens with “This story begins with a supercharged lift-off and doesn’t stop until the end.” An explanation follows that Wendy, a young woman had met Steven Porowski through a dating site and leaves their table in a restaurant he had selected when she is disturbed by his behavior. He follows immediately and threatens her before she can drive away. The story unfolds as his psychotic behavior intensifies and involves her sister Jennifer when  he sends pornographic material to her young son, and sets – up her husband Hunter as his killer after disappearing while abducting Hunter’s new ‘love of his life’ that already has set huge problems in motion in his family situation. Her mother also becomes involved and together turn into a pretty relentless team of sleuths leading to a chase of the demented Porowski and the kidnapped young woman. The ending is ‘different’.

Discussion: As provided in the opening remarks, the story provides the ‘supercharged lift-off’ and follows through as predicted with episodes of high suspense. The characters are well ‘fleshed out’, the pace is fast and the tale is well-written. Thus, regrettably and apologies, because seemingly only for this reader, some of the action and thought patterns exhibited by some characters were difficult to accept as pertinent to the character and/or situation.

3* 5* psychological/suspense/thriller; -2* for this reader as described.

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.

Road to the Breaking

Road to the Breaking ISBN: 9781733107949 published, copyright and written by Christopher Bennett.

Book 1 of historical fiction in an anticipated four book series that by way of explanation opens with a quotation by Billy Creek, an Indian Scout, U.S. Army, 8th Infantry:
“It was a time of such suffering and death, it caused the breaking of all the old ways. Some for the good, and some for the worse. Nothing came through ‘The Breaking’ unchanged, and all that once was, even to the greenness of the earth, was broken during that time, and was never again the same.”

The story opens in March 15, 1860 – South of Fort Davis, Texas. As Captain Nathaniel Chambers leads his troop attempting to find a notorious outlaw. They do and Chambers, angered by the outlaw’s action, viciously reacts. The reaction is understandable and not inappropriate, but distasteful to him as he is concerned with this personal lack of self-control of anger that he has been struggling with for many years. And this trait becomes a persistent feature of the story as it evolves. The tale continues as he is almost revered by those under his command as a fearless leader in battle and an intelligent, empathetic officer. Thus, when his father dies unexpectedly and he is forced to leave the army and its, for him, compatible way of life to return to Virginia, a few of his men resign to accompany him. The return is necessitated by his mother’s inability to handle the affairs of running a huge plantation, replete with slaves, another feature with which the Captain is ‘uncomfortable’. Acceptance of his resignation, outfitting for the trip and the distance to be covered will take several weeks at best and his mother already is experiencing tremendous pressure from the inheriting son of the neighboring plantation. A running feud between the two deceased owners is being re-opened by the young man who is taking ruthless and totally unfair advantage of Nathaniel’s mother. This first book sets the stage for the ensuing series.

Discussion: The author has initiated what appears to be the beginning of an enjoyable tale of the pre-civil war and probably some parts of the ensuing conflict. He has approached a difficult job admirably considering all of the elements required in such an endeavor. He has set the stage by including all of them and imbued the story with tension and anticipation for the next volume. Granted, a certain amount of ‘filler’ has been added that slows the tale’s forward thrust, but generally acceptable and pertinent to character development. An intriguing beginning.

5* Pre-civil war novel with tremendous possibilities.