Truth Stranger Than Fiction – Winchester (Movie Review)

Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California
Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California, courtesy Getty Images

The “most haunted house in the world,” the Winchester Mystery House, is a Queen Anne Style Victorian mansion in San Jose, California, once the residence of widow firearm magnate William Wirt Winchester. Fueled by rumors, stories, and confused fascination, the mansion has long been the subject of conjecture contained within books and now a movie Winchester, released February 2, 2018.

Jason ClarkI find it fascinating that not an American director/producer, but Australian brothers, Peter and Michael Spierig, created the movie starring Helen Mirren (English) and Jason Clark (Australian). We went to see this movie on Tuesday. The critics have panned it. Of Google users who responded, 77% liked it. So what did the brothers get right? Actually, quite a lot.

Continue reading “Truth Stranger Than Fiction – Winchester (Movie Review)”

Choices and Illusions – Review

Choices and Illusions by Eldon Taylor
Sept 2014 Cover

Choices and Illusions-How Did I Get Where I am, and How Do I Get Where I Want to Be? By Eldon Taylor

 

Genre: Currently #1367 in Best Sellers Ranking for Books, Religion & Spirituality, New Age & Spirituality, New Thought (#5004 in Books, Self-Help, Motivational, and #7925 in Books, Self-Help, Personal Transformation)

Publisher: Hay House, Inc.

Publication Date: Revised Edition: September 2014

Submitted by author’s publicist for review

Choices and Illusions-How Did I Get Where I am, and How Do I Get Where I Want to Be? 

From the hype promoted for “Choices and Illusions-How Did I Get Where I Am, and How Do I Get Where I Want to Be?” I guess I expected some innovative breakthrough, or influential psychological studies that would drive home a solution, albeit not without real conscious or subconscious work on the behalf of the reader.

Choices and Illusions
January 2007 cover

This entire book, however, could basically be summed up in two words: “Own it.” Taking responsibility for yourself is a strong mantra repeated throughout, and probably learned by most who delved into self-help books beginning 20 years ago. It’s a close companion to “forgive and forget”, and ergo always more difficult that those simple words would divine. It begins with the basic tenet–we have all been imprinted–and I’ll buy that. Whether or not by accident or design, that imprint creates the composite of who we are. Continue reading “Choices and Illusions – Review”

Wired Rogue by Toby Neal – Review

Wired Rogue by Toby NealWired Rogue by Toby Neal

Genre: Currently #4603 in Best Sellers Rank for Literature & Fiction, Action &   Adventure, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Crime

Publisher: Tony Neal

Publication Date: November 2016

Submitted by author for review

Wired Rogue by Toby Neal –  Great cover, conveys location

Once again, Toby Neal has written a book with so much character and charisma in her multi-dimensional protagonist, exotic Sophie Ang, you’ll feel intimidated when she launches into explosive action in Wired Rogue. I’ve written before regarding the author Toby Neal and have long enjoyed her Lei Crime Series. The character of Sophie Ang was introduced in that series, along with friends Marcella and Marcus.

While book 2 of the Paradise Crime series could be a standalone, you might want to read book 1 first to gain some insight and back story into Sophie’s character and the ongoing battle regarding her program DAVID secreted within the FBI with whom she’s worked computer guru for five years. Continue reading “Wired Rogue by Toby Neal – Review”

Goodreads Choice Awards 2016

The winners of the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards have been published on the Goodreads website. These are the only major book awards decided by the readers themselves and come through literally millions of votes; 3,562,702 to be exact. Who says people don’t read anymore?

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane MoriartyVoting was scheduled in three rounds beginning November 1st and ending November 27th and included 20 categories from Fiction and Mystery/Thriller to Non-Fiction and YA Fantasy. Of all nominees, there were 237,844 votes total. In the Fiction category, the winner with 30,154 votes went to Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriaty. Truly Madly Guilty was also listed on Amazon in the top 20 overall customer favorites, where additional favorites listed were such authors as J. K. Rowling, Nora Roberts, John Grisham, Bill O’Reilly, and Michael Connelly. And in the best mystery and thriller category, Stephen King for End of Watch with 42,382 votes. How is that even fair?

The Nix by Nathan HillAlso found in the top 20 in both the Goodreads Fiction category as well as the same category on Amazon was The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeny with 24,848 votes on Goodreads and The Nix by Nathan Hill with 3,645 votes, also an Amazon editor best pick of the top 20. Additionally, Nathan Hill scored again for Best Debut Goodreads Author. And it doesn’t stop there. Continue reading “Goodreads Choice Awards 2016”

Mortom by Erik Therme-Review

Mortom by Erik ThermeMortom by Erik Therme

Genre: Currently #1555 on Best Seller’s Rank for Kindle eBooks, Mystery Thriller & Suspense

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication Date: April 2015

Submitted by author for review

Mortom by Erik Therme – Cover hints at suspense

Maybe it was the discovery of the odiferous rat found under the refrigerator when the protagonist, Andy Crowl and his sister Kate, tentatively set foot in the house he has just inherited, but this one grabbed me from the beginning. The rat had a key wrapped in a note shoved into his rotting jaws. His unfortunate cousin, Craig Moore, had passed and left his entire estate, consisting of this old house and an empty bank account to Andy despite the lack of recent familial connection.

What he remembers of his cousin was the puzzles in which they both shared an interest. Craig wasn’t just good with puzzles, it was the one activity where he could actually best Andy. It doesn’t take Andy long to realize, however, this puzzle is a deadly one, but one that could also reap him some major bucks if successful–and heaven knows (given his current circumstance) he needs them! Unfortunately, the puzzle comes with a timeline. Continue reading “Mortom by Erik Therme-Review”

Serenity by Craig A Hart – Review

Serenity-A Shelby Alexander ThrillerSerenity by Craig A. Hart

Genre: Currently #11672 in Best Sellers Rank for Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Crime

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Publication Date: October, 2016

Submitted by author for review

Serenity by Craig A Hart – Interesting cover-may not convey subject

Serenity – The Shelby Alexander Thriller Series by Craig A Hart actually uses a senior protagonist, albeit one who, as a former boxer, still has a somewhat athletic body with the strength and experience to handle most of what comes his way.

Shelby Alexander is known in the small Michigan town of Serenity as a “fixer,” and takes on the murder of a young woman left to die in his arms on his property. She comes from a family of less than stellar reputation, and the patriarch has hired him for the task of discovering who and why. Continue reading “Serenity by Craig A Hart – Review”

A Bit of Earth – Review

A Bit of EarthA Bit of Earth by Wendy Crisp Lestina

Genre: Currently #26694 on Best Sellers Rank for Biographies & Memoirs

Publisher: Lychgate Press

Publication Date: October, 2016

Submitted by author for review

A Bit of Earth by Wendy Crisp Lestina

Maybe because I’m not, I love stories of strong, independent women. In particular, the ’60s were a time of major upheaval in the standard structure of the home with more women than ever grabbing the car keys and **gasp** heading to work.

Giddy from escaping total nuclear annihilation in the ’50s, the ’60s went the extreme from flower children to the assassinations of our leaders. Increasingly, women no longer had a mandate to stay home, produce babies, cook, clean, and “stand by their men.” And like a number of social activists and feminists, the author discovered she too had to have more than diapers and a garden.

The memoir of Wendy Crisp Lestina, “A Bit of Earth,” is composed of folksy vignettes, some of which originated as columns written through the years, and tells the story of a remarkable list of accomplishments. There are a few times the chronicle lapses into a back-story; something that perhaps is meant to explain the next. This is a woman of intelligence with places to go, people to meet, things to do, and the powerful influence to do it. Continue reading “A Bit of Earth – Review”

The Old Man and the Princess-Review

The Old Man and the PrincessThe Old Man and the Princess

Genre: Currently #2555 in Best Sellers Rank for Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Publisher: Paul Thomas Publishing

Publication Date: September, 2016

Submitted by author for review

The Old Man and the Princess by Sean-Paul Thomas – Cover is great and almost tells the story.

“The Old Man and the Princess,” from the mind of Sean-Paul Thomas will definitely grab you from the beginning. You may think you can second-guess where this is going, but you won’t. Yeah, I know you’ve heard that before, but Sean-Paul apparently thinks out of the box and his plot is full of intrigue and plot twists.

Pegged as a mystery, thriller, and suspense, this novel has that and more; how about tension and apprehension? I love how that dark sense of Irish humor weaves in and out of the dialogue, a patter so palpable, there are snicker-filled moments–or depending on your own sense of humor, LOL opportunities. Continue reading “The Old Man and the Princess-Review”

When the Reaper Comes – Review

When the Reaper ComesWhen the Reaper Comes by John DeBoer

Publisher: Solstice Publishing

Publication Date: November, 2016

Submitted by author for review

When the Reaper Comes (Cover falls short.)

Like watching it play out on the big screen in full Technicolor and Dolby Sound, the action from the beginning pages of “When the Reaper Comes” by John DeBoer was so well laid out, it was difficult to hit the pause button until the last scene played out.

I do enjoy a good thriller and have read my share of both military and political themed novels, including stories that include the present day battle with ISIS. It seems that so much of the philosophy zooms over our heads and is usually far enough removed off our own soil that it is fairly easy to stick our heads in the sand and try to pretend it isn’t happening. Unfortunately, it is. America is no longer the isolated and protected country it once was. But don’t take my word–read the book. Continue reading “When the Reaper Comes – Review”

Maggie Elizabeth Harrington-Review

Maggie Elizabeth HarringtonMaggie Elizabeth Harrington by C. J. Swykert

Genre: Currently #3071 in Best Sellers Rank for Kindle ebooks, Literature and Fiction-Historical

Publisher: Cambridge Books

Publication Date: March, 2016

Submitted by author for review

Maggie Elizabeth HarringtonMaggie Elizabeth Harrington Two Covers–One for print and one for Kindle. The Kindle cover includes a wolf in the background, but a modern-day woman.

This powerful story of thirteen year old Maggie Elizabeth Harrington was set in a copper mining town of Michigan in 1893. Maggie Elizabeth is the daughter of a miner who lives with her grandmother and her father (who against everything that Maggie Elizabeth believes in, drowns every new litter of kittens). Her mother passed in childbirth; the father barely speaks to her, the grandmother isn’t much better, and she attributes this to the death of her mother–which she considers must be her fault. Continue reading “Maggie Elizabeth Harrington-Review”

Lost Coast Rocket – Review

Lost Coast Rocket Lost Coast Rocket by Joel Horn

Genre: Currently #14083 in Best Sellers Rank for Kindle Store, Science Fiction and Fantasy

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, LLC

Publication Date: July, 2016

Submitted by author for review

Lost Coast Rocket – Cover and title conveys subject; Cover girl hints youthful age of characters

The debut novel, Lost Coast Rocket by Joel Horn, is classified as sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult; though it reads with such authority you’d swear is a non-fiction on rocketry that merely involves a story. Thank heaven we are introduced to the protagonist and “his team” as young children, albeit geniuses, as the subject of rocketry would otherwise have been well over my head. As is, it was broken down into easily understandable snippets of believable dialogue between kids. And kids, as well as young or old adults would enjoy this easy introduction into a fascinating subject.  Continue reading “Lost Coast Rocket – Review”

Blacktip Island – Review

Blacktip IslandBlacktip Island by Tim W Jackson

Genre: Currently #3585 in Best Sellers Rank for Literature & Fiction-Action & Adventure-Mystery & Thriller-Crime

Publisher: Devonshire House Press

Publication Date: September, 2016

Submitted by author for review

Blacktip Island Cover invites inspection and obviously conveys a Caribbean theme

Psst–want to have a fantastic Caribbean adventure and save some moola? How about an Islander hop to a fictional Caribbean, Blacktip Island? Ahh, the sun, the surf, the people…but what about the people? Well, that’s the thing, you see. Blake Calloway had it good, working in his dad’s investment firm, right up until he screwed up a few decimal points. An innocent mistake! Unfortunately, when he tries to disappear on a remote island with some cash, blending in with the other scuba enthusiasts, he accidentally rescues one of them–again–an innocent mistake. So much for blending! And just like that, the book has you within the first few pages. Continue reading “Blacktip Island – Review”

Forbidden Birth – Review

Forbidden BirthForbidden Birth by William Rubin

Genre: Currently #1949 in Best Seller’s Rank for Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense, Medical

Publisher: Crystal Vision Creations

Publication Date: July, 2016

Submitted by author for review 

Forbidden Birth – Cover conveys medically themed novel

I was sent this book by the author, Dr. William Rubin, as a medical thriller to read and review. After reading “Forbidden Birth,” however, I’m wondering if it shouldn’t have been classified as cross-genre, as there were also elements of horror, crime, and mystery; even sci-fi.

Dr. Christopher Ravello has given up a lucrative medical practice to join the newly formed Medical Crimes Division as a homicide detective of the New York Police Department. Compelled to fight crime on the street level after the brutal murder of his mother, he moves his well-to-do family to a blue-collar hood of questionable security and works with childhood buddy Kev Kennedy as they bump up against a serial killer known as The Giver. The antagonist is presented as extremely intelligent and, indeed, we get to know him well as he rationalizes the necessity for the work he is doing and the status he’ll achieve when his work becomes known. Continue reading “Forbidden Birth – Review”

Beyond the Red Carpet-Heart of Stone – Review

Beyond the Red CarpetBeyond the Red Carpet/Heart of Stone by Debbra Lynn

Genre: Heart of Stone is #653 in Best Sellers Rank for Mystery, Crime Fiction, Murder

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Publication Dates: December 2016/June 2016

Submitted by author for review

Because I was sent these two books of the Hollywood Lies series together, I’ll review both here beginning with Beyond the Red Carpet, a debut effort by Debbra Lynn. Though I am not usually one to read a book with some serious “adult content,” (language and sexual content) this book caught my attention with an interesting plot that was laid out by flashbacks setting the ground work for the present (2015) scene–describing a well planned, or “perfect” murder. Both covers are dark and set the stage for murder mysteries.

The initial protagonists don’t all stay in that position as the plot progresses. Not the first time a marriage has been misrepresented as a beautiful, loving couple, Marcus and Sophia have their share of conflicts that escalate into ever-increasing paranoid revelations by Marcus. He has become involved with Sophia’s best friend, Cat, who is definitely no friend, getting her claws into Sophia’s husband, who is a wildly successful and powerful Hollywood director. Continue reading “Beyond the Red Carpet-Heart of Stone – Review”

Molding Men – Review

Molding Men by Ray RonanMolding Men by Ray Ronan

Genre: Currently #279 in Best Sellers Rank for Historical Fiction, German

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, LLC

Publication Date: November, 2015

Submitted by author for review

Dark, foreboding cover easily gets across the supernatural/occult insinuation.

Interesting choice for the title. This dynamite, hard-driving suspense novel, “Molding Men” by Ray Ronan is a winner from page 1. Molding Men could as easily have been Molding Character.

The abominable living conditions created by war-torn Germany points to all the directions men take in response to the worst that man can do to man–or is it always human? What form can evil actually take? In this supernatural thriller, evil takes the form of Historian, Herr Brandt, as he weaves in and out of multi-plotted cataclysmic historical events combined with the fictional German family of Terrell Engels. It is no secret that Adolph Hitler, ergo his Nazi party, had a fascination with the occult and although other novels have been penned using the knowledge, this tale takes a unique twist. The story weaves in the fictional “Historian” character, whose principle is that he does not record history; he creates it. Continue reading “Molding Men – Review”

Dead Lawyers Don’t Lie-Review

Dead Lawyers Don't LieDead Lawyers Don’t Lie by Mark Nolan

Currently #1 in Books, Mystery, Thrillers, Spies & Politics, Assassinations

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Publication Date: January, 2016

Submitted by author for review

Dead Lawyers Don’t Lie – great cover, but I wish he’d have included the dog beside him (in proper “heel” formation, of course).

Tired of books that end before you have a chance to get to know the characters, the motivation, the plot? Look no further than “Dead Lawyers Don’t Lie,” by Mark Nolan. Once I really got into this book, it became a reward for the day–Jake Wolfe is the really bad-assed good guy–ex-Marine. He’s been there, seen it all. His attitude evolved with each new scar on his well honed body. He has the confidence to handle any situation and his sense of propriety leans towards the “Good Samaritan” side. His job as a photojournalist has given him access to a fine network of people, although his closest friends are those who served with him. He shares a relationship with Terrell that only men together under fire can understand and appreciate. Their conversations are good-humored and natural; dialogue as would happen between loving and respectful men.

But here’s the thing: The book you think you are getting at the beginning changes. There are twists, yes, but even more than that, these characters mature. His coincidental assignment locations have almost given him “first responder” position to two unusual homicides–lawyers murdered in creative ways by an assassin known as “the Artist.” Jake’s forensic eye offers intimate intel to his buddy, Terrell, a SFPD lieutenant and Terrell’s partner, Beth Cushman. Continue reading “Dead Lawyers Don’t Lie-Review”

Death Unmasked – Review

Death UnmaskedDeath Unmasked by Rick Sulik

Genre: Currently at Amazon’s Best Seller’s Rank #4837 in Books, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Supernatural

Publisher: Christopher Matthews Publishing

Publication Date: November, 2015

Submitted by author for review

The title Death Unmasked could be descriptive of the topic. The cover ties to the coat involved in the story, but doesn’t readily explain the book subject.

Interesting plot premise (reincarnation) and a subject that fascinates me. I also read and enjoy paranormal novels and really wanted to love this book as well. Rick Sulik apparently has an affinity for poetry and offers his thoughtful expressions of life intertwined within the plot of his book. His poetry ranged from pensive to beautiful. The subject and the plot have a great potential.

The book begins with a heinous scene reflective of the horrors inflicted on citizens by the Germans during WW2, that of the cruel death of married lovers; Laura is first raped, then murdered, and Emil vows retribution before his death.

Now to present day Houston Police Detective, single Sean Jamison, who is burned out at 57 years of age and reclusive. He is busy pining for his one true love, and involved in the investigation of a crazed serial killer who likes to leave the haunting line from the “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” by Oscar Wilde, “Yet each man kills the thing he loves,” as a token taunt at the scene of his sadistic murders.

That’s the simple part and that’s where simple ends. Sean Jamison, the first and main protagonist, climbs on his soap box rather often. He has realized through several happenstances that this is not his first life and that his last life ended horribly cruel. His partner, Bill Roman, is a candidate for anger management. His captain, Virginia Schaeffer, is a really horny (middle-aged?) single woman who suddenly and inexplicably falls in mad, over-the-top passionate love (after one heart-to-heart) with Sean, who is saving himself for his previous wife who he feels is now living a present day existence as well. If only he could find her! Are you confused yet?

Bill Roman is taking psychic lessons from Sean, though initially scoffs at the suggestion, and helps to find and apprehend a felon. He will try to use the same power later to help catch the antagonist, the serial killer (who previously kidnapped his wife).

But wait–there’s more: spoiler alert! The serial killer has noticed a flea-market coat that has a particular significance for him, and marks the coat so he can track the new owner. Uh oh! The new owner of the coat, coincidentally, may be connected to Sean’s previous life’s wife.

When he does find his wife from another life, they throw caution to the wind and enjoy a rather public tryst, forgetting his wife from another life has a current day fiancée. In his mind, he has found his wife, his life, and his family. But if she’s still his contemporary, I’d wager that’s too late.

Another spoiler alert: Some of these people are all connected, and I mean brother and sister connected, in previous lives. And the serial killer? You’ll just have to read it–or maybe you already know.

The dialogue ran stilted at times, preachy (and unrealistic); and the characters were inconsistently fleshed out. I had a little problem with the continuity, with scene jumping, or contradictory timing of day/night. Descriptions ran a little on the verbose side bordering on TMI.

Rosepoint Rating-three of fiveThis book will benefit greatly by a critical eye for cut, slash, and rework as the idea is solid–it should work better.

The Author: Rick Sulik served in the US Air Force Military Police prior to working with the Houston and Pasadena Texas Police Departments, followed by ten years as a courthouse bailiff. He retired in 2013.

Rosepoint rating based on current problems: Three of Five ©2016 Virginia Williams Resource Box Continue reading “Death Unmasked – Review”

Children from Dark Houses-Review

Children from Dark Houses by Carlyle Clark Children from Dark Houses

Genre: Currently #262 in Best Sellers Rank for African American, Mystery, Thriller and Suspense

Publisher: Branch & Crane

Publication Date: June, 2016

Submitted by author for review

Children from Dark Houses is a title that will hint at the plot and seals suspicions with the cover.

The book will introduce you to two new and unusual PI’s, Atticus Wynn and Rosemary Sanchez, a duo unaccountably made for each other. While their personalities may be 180 degrees apart, these are opposites that work well! Carlyle Clark spares no one, poking fun at Atticus, as well as most of the remaining characters in the book. And characters there are! While the patter from Atticus is just a bit over the top in the beginning, the dialogue evolves as the unique plot develops into good natured humor along with his delightful incite and observation of people.

Atticus and Rosemary are hired to find Imran Khan, who has run away from an exclusive reform school by his unhappy and volatile parents, Habeeb and Heena, who would rather not draw either the attention of the police or a lot of notoriety into their extremely lucrative and organized network of moving money. (The reader is introduced to the term “Hawala,” finally giving a name to a previously known but unnamed system of money laundering.

Imran’s main squeeze, Sebellia, is a nasty lady with a crude and vicious “cousin,” Eiger. Sebellia has connections with an outlaw biker gang, the Demon Dogs (who are another whole story unto themselves), and it becomes obvious that Atticus and Rosemary have a tiger by the tail. Included with the other colorful characters, Mawroo the cat, who periodically adds his own “cat condescension” to the scene.

Here are protagonists you come to love to love and antagonists you love to see they get what is coming to them. Believable dialogue, non-stop action, surprises and fun along the way. I received this book in exchange for a review. I think this author is off to a terrific start and he has a series that will keep his readers looking for the next installment.

Author Carlyle ClarkCarlyle Clark should know about cats–he has two along with a dog. Married and a Chicagolander, Clark is also an avid sportsman and martial arts enthusiast. Bullseye!

Rosepoint Rating based on the correction of current edit errors:

©2016 Virginia WilliamsResource Box

 

Exaggeration

I’ve written before regarding my author buddy, Michael Reisig. I really enjoy his style of writing, but more than his style of writing, it is  the philosophy behind everything he writes. It’s almost poetic and almost always goes straight to my heart. Reisig just seems to nail both the best and worst in man. He understands it apparently, otherwise how could he describe it so eloquently? The following came in his last newsletter, an observation I felt worthy of reprinting. Enjoy!

ExaggerationMichael Reisig

By Michael Reisig

I was sitting by the fireplace with a friend yesterday, drinking coffee and trying to keep away from the winter weather, and he was telling a grand story. I suspected that without a deliberate attempt to be deceitful, some of the story had been embellished, and given the situation that was perfectly okay. But the thing about exaggeration is that there’s a fine line between being a grand storyteller and a bald-faced liar, and I think the crux lies in how often and how willing you are to bend the truth.

You might think of exaggeration as a custom peculiar to man, but if you study nature you realize that it’s common in animals and birds as well. Mating rituals are often all about embellishing or magnifying elements of their bodies – fluffing out feathers, exaggerated actions, enormous bellows and roars. Actually that sounds to me like a night at the local watering hole.

But the problem with exaggeration is that it ultimately diminishes distinction, because it becomes the harbinger of disappointment and often cheapens the final appraisal. The lesson here being the more you profess, the more you may be forced to produce. Take resumes for instance: there are few of us that haven’t gone to great pains to create an image there – they’re more like grand embellishments of who we’ve been in the past and a wish list of the qualities we assume would be an advantage to the situation at hand (staying within boundaries that won’t make us look like absolute fools if someone actually checks.)

Let’s face it, many times in excitement or indignation, our conversations seem to take on a life of their own – the colorful embroidery of words are out of our mouths before we can stop them, and in a moments of quiet afterwards we chide ourselves for not correcting such blatant corruptions of the truth. I can’t help but be reminded of the quote by Kahlil Gibran: “Exaggeration is truth that has lost its temper.” But at the same time, exaggeration is often nothing more than a tool – used by governments, television networks, politicians, and novelists. We inflate situations, or deflate situations to suit our needs, or simply ignore situations with the exaggerated aplomb of the deaf.

But where is the line between exaggeration and lies? Where is that fine line where truth and conscience take a back seat to ego and exigency. The truth is, it’s an individual territory in each one of us, because no one weighs the value of honesty exactly the same as the person next to them. I have certainly met people with whom there was no distinction between truth and lies, and there was no pride or sleep lost over the matter.

In hopes that all your stories carry a gem of veracity, I’ll leave you with a quote by 19th Century humorist Josh Billings; “There are some people so addicted to exaggeration they can’t tell the truth without lying.”

His last book, “Down the Road to Key West” continues to be a best seller on Amazon. Check out his books or read more about Michael Reisig, the author, here.

Resource Box

Dishing the Dirt on Reviews

This is the age of instant. We want it now. Whether food, internet, or books, it must move–quickly! I’m older. I can wait. I can give Burger King up to 5 minutes. I can give a book several chapters. I’m usually pretty careful regarding the book I choose to begin next–sometimes looking up Amazon reviews to see if the little descriptive blurb really tells the story. I’ve written before regarding Amazon Reviews. You generally want to read the good and the bad reviews. Somewhere therein lies the truth. love-hate

Having read a great book, I really enjoy creating a lively and honest review. Unfortunately, I’ve read a few lately that have not been so inspiring as depressing. The last I began was “The Hostage,” Book Four of the Sarah Roberts Thrillers by Jonas Saul. Having read one of his previous books, “The Warning,” Book Two, I noted the foul language, but apparently enjoyed the plot enough to award five stars. This time I couldn’t get past Chapter 3 with the description of a scene by the perp that turned my stomach. Yes, I know–it’s a thriller/horror novel. (I don’t like Freddy either.) Not usually one to abandon a book–I freed The Hostage. (Yuck) Continue reading “Dishing the Dirt on Reviews”

Another Reisig Winner

down-the-road“Down the Road to Key West” is another Reisig winner! Those rascally Caribbean adventurers Kansas Stamps and Will Bell go in hot pursuit of the legendary lost treasure of Pancho Villa. It’s no secret that Villa loved his gold and was a vigorous Robin Hood/political activist. In this fifth book of the wildly successful Key West series, Michael Reisig sends his popular but reluctant protagonists to Villa stomping grounds after a visit from that old Rastaman, Rufus, as they follow an antiquities specialist in possession of an authentic Villa cipher with his knowledgeable and beautiful daughter, Max. Of course Maxine is that wonderful combination of smart, pretty, strong, and independent. Continue reading “Another Reisig Winner”

The Golden Persuader – By Michael Reisig

Michael Reisig, no newcomer to combining whimsical sci-fi with past-faced dramatic action-adventure, has done it again in his new release, “The Golden Persuader.” In his words, it is the story of “modern cowboys, American Indians, big city hoodlums, and some seriously illegal aliens.”

golden-persuader

Dax Dryder was trailering his horse to Abilene with his massive German Shepherd/wolf mix, Smoke, when rain, the dark of night, and his exhaustion forced him to take a break. That night would change his life forever.

Dax and his sister had been raised by wealthy parents. Being groomed to take over his father’s political life, he seriously questioned that role and took the opportunity of his father’s fall from grace to go his own way. It was shortly thereafter both parents were killed in a private plane crash under mysterious circumstances and it sealed the dissolution of what was left of his family’s estate.

What he witnessed before daybreak in the little hollow on that moonless night, however, left him shaken, feeling lucky to be alive, and headed in another direction.

Continue reading “The Golden Persuader – By Michael Reisig”

Just Out

Caribbean Gold-The Treasure of Time  You can feel it–the hair rising on the back of your neck. Reisig has pricked that sixth sense with “Caribbean Gold – The Treasure of Time”. After you viewed the movie “Ghost”, did you believe? The chills begin early in Caribbean Gold – The Treasure of Time, and they manifest often in this, the second of Reisig’s new offering in the Caribbean Gold series. We love stories of deja  vu–probably because we’ve all had…those…experiences not easily explained away. Haven’t we been here before–know this person? A connection–it’s there–palpable, real.  Continue reading “Just Out”

Your Exclusive Preview!

Irresistibly drawn to tales of treasure hunting, swashbuckling pirates, sailing ships, their courageous crews and the bawdy women who entertained them, I discovered “Brothers of the Sword/Children of Time” written by Michael Reisig in 2001. Envisioning a modern day Stanley McShane, off on another adventure, I witnessed my grandfather’s travels again through Reisig’s historical 17th century masted sailing craft, experiencing much of the same kind of treasure hunting in the Caribbean as did my grandfather in the South Pacific a century earlier. Fortunately for all of us, however, Reisig began fashioning his sea-worthy tales well before he retired from the sea!

Caribbean-GoldIn the first book of Reisig’s riveting new collection, you are drawn back in time, to an era of dark-hearted men, captivating women, and a seafaring adventure so real you’ll taste the salt spray.

The year is 1668. Englishman Trevor Holte and the audacious freebooter Clevin Greymore, sail from the Port of London for Barbados and the West Indies. They set out in search of adventure and wealth, but the challenges they encounter are beyond their wildest dreams – the brutal Spanish, ruthless buccaneers, a pirate king, the lure of Havana, and the women – as fierce in their desires as Caribbean storms.

And then, there was the gold and the emeralds – wealth beyond imagination. But some treasures outlive the men who bury them…

We come to love these raucous men, their love for each other, and their chivalrous devotion to their ladies. Reisig weaves his storytelling in such compellingly descriptive manner that even were it not your normal read, you’ll be glad for the electricity–oil’s expensive! Continue reading “Your Exclusive Preview!”

Charlie Chaplin-Not So Silent!

I recently won an advanced copy of “Charlie Chaplin-A Brief Life” authored by Peter Ackroyd through a Giveaway on Goodreads. Of course the author was referring to the length of his biography rather than the years lived by Charles Chaplin, whom most of the world learned to call Charlie, as we are aware he lived into his eighties.

Knowing the name and having seen a few examples of his work, however, I was not prepared for the story of the impact his life actually had on not only the United States, but the entire world early in the 20th Century. And, apparently, his legacy has lived on and was instrumental in fanning the change in what was considered “acting”.

Charlie Chaplin I was grateful for the concise and interesting biography of the apparent genius in Charlie Chaplin as I know there are numerous biographies as well as his own autobiography which are extremely lengthy. Never really a fan of his, having now read this book want to find some of his earlier highly acclaimed silent films and see if I can glean the true meanings as Ackroyd has afforded them.

It’s well he introduces us to the child of the London slums to describe the volatile personality which emerges as a result of his earliest experiences. His older brother, Sydney, and he manage to survive without really knowing who their biological father is, born to an alcoholic mother who following a psychotic break spends the rest of her life essentially in and out of asylums as well as the boys lives. A natural mimic, he is perfect for the time and quickly gains attention both in his native London music halls and later in America where he pushed the image of the “Little Tramp” to new and popular heights in silent films.

Later as he takes over the direction of his own films, and reading the descriptions of his rages, periods of genius, and lack of social acumen, I often wondered if he was really an undiagnosed Aspergers person long before they were identified as such–he certainly exhibited many of the symptoms. What struck me, however, was the numerous ways in which he actually changed the focus of silent films and acting; the excessively unbelievable attention to detail, the strength he pulled from his actors. Not so commendable was his volatile private life–more ugly than inspired or romantic and Ackroyd includes all the warts; Chaplin the man as opposed to Chaplin the beloved actor. Not the first time the fans have not been privy to the real face behind the makeup. Chaplin descends into “murky scandals”, from which he eventually escaped into exile to Switzerland. He was obviously ahead of his time only to fall victim to the “talkies” as well as his own strong philosophical and political ideals that would spell the end of the movie world as he knew it. As we sometimes do with our former idols who have been banished in scandals, Chaplin was much later accorded an honorary Academy Award. Indeed, with all of it, there is no denying his cinematic contribution to America.

Are Amazon Reviews Bogus?

Interesting and lively discussion back on Goodreads.com regarding all those wonderful stars trailing the best-selling books.

Neil (of “Shut Up and Read”) started it all in December 2013 when he ranted, “Are all Amazon reviews bogus???…Some reviews are so obviously fake, shills, they must think the readers are stupid. …”

Having read the posts and feeling fairly strongly about it myself given the degree to which I’d worked to get any stars at all, noted that I spot read reviews; usually a couple rated 5, but also rely on the lesser rated for some good insight into the book. I felt that the book descriptions don’t always accurately describe the book and the title can be deceiving.

I appreciate honest and detailed reviews for the manuscripts I’ve published for my grandfather and likewise try to be very honest in my reviews of the books I’ve read–and I’ve read quite few; some good–some not so. In view of the time it takes to write a decent review on the books I thoroughly enjoy, I might rate but will not generally spend the time to review one I didn’t care for. I suspect many do the same, although in reading the reviews left by others, usually find a consensus of the same two or three stars I would give confirming my judgment of the book.

My problem here is that if I don’t leave a review for the book I didn’t care for (and that seems to be the norm), the author is deprived of the problems I perceived. The same applies to the books I’ve published. I didn’t understand the motives behind a two-star rating which left me wondering how to fix a problem I’m unaware exists. Of course it’s hard to actually print those harsh words for someone else knowing the blood, sweat, and tears that comprise a manuscript. As Ken from Goodreads wrote“I’ll read the bad reviews first and see if they have anything valid to say. You can usually tell if it’s real. Sometimes a bad review will complain about something that I consider an attribute and that’s makes me want to read the book. I don’t really trust 5-star reviews any more.” Continue reading “Are Amazon Reviews Bogus?”

Shipwrecks, Pirates, Treasures in Maine

Shipwrecks, Pirates, Treasure in MaineAvast and Ahoy, Matey! The book written by Theodore Parker Burbank, “Shipwrecks, Pirates, Treasure in Maine” was an eye-opener. I can’t find the research to explain why it seems the propensity of schooners to sink is over-whelmingly more so than your average yawl, ketch or cutter, but reading his book would tend to scare me off even a multi-million dollar yacht. There were, no doubt, many more schooners plying the world’s oceans than barques or brigs.

Originally, schooners were gaff-rigged, and these were described often in my grandfather’s sailing adventures. Schooners would commonly have two masts, although there again, the schooners described by my grandfather usually noted three. Popular because of their windward ability and speed, they were used for everything from traditional fishing to slaving and privateering–(gulp!!)–also described more than once by the same Stanley McShane.

Of course, many were used to carry cargo, as varied as spices to lumber and were also comfortable on the high seas as well as coastal runs and large inland bodies of water.

Ted  BurbankTed Burbank takes us back to the beginning, describing the ships of the “Golden Age of Piracy” and debunks some pirate myths. Interesting chapters on pirates, including the famous Captain Kidd, who it turns out never really was a pirate!

Burbank then takes us through the shipwrecks from the South Coast and Mid-Coast to Penobscot Bay (New Ireland).

While the focus of Burbank’s book is of pirates, I loved the chapters on treasure in and off shore of Maine and the many neat pictures. It’s obvious he spent a lot of time in research and pulled it all together in a fascinating study of pirates and their ships off the Maine coast. Enjoy watching those waves hit the beach? Love watching those ships? Can you smell that sea air? This book will benefit by the help of a good proofreader, but it’s a fun read and sure gives you the taste for lobster! Elginshire

Calvin Many Wolves Potter

Calvin Many Wolves Potter

goodreads_icon_32x32-032d59134a33b2b7a83151dec051b8f3Twelve year old Calvin Potter had had enough of his abusive Pennsylvania father; he couldn’t stand it any longer. Stealing quietly out of the door early one morning with little more than the clothes on his back, Calvin begins a journey into another life punctuated by the walk of his life, incredible endurance, and unbelievable pain. Calvin awakened to the care of the gentle Falling Star and attentive Spirit Wind and began the change from white to the Dakota of Minnesota. Running Fox quickly becomes a boyhood friend and mentor and the young boys of the tribe enfold and foster a bond of friendship and respect. Calvin is adopted into the family of Strong Eagle and White Cloud and their daughter, Red Leaf, and slowly and carefully learns the language, the ways, and the respect of the rest of the tribe as he is indoctrinated into the tribe and leaves Calvin behind to become Many Wolves. Many Wolves participates in tribal activities as seasons and years evolve until it is apparent the very way of life of “the people” is threatened by the encroaching white man and the severe negative impact their civilization has on the native peoples. Strong Eagle has wisely forced Many Wolves back into the white population to help salvage the situation between the peoples, to get Many Wolves out of harms way, and to bring about his assimilation into the growing white population. Failure to follow through with agreements to alleviate hardships and misunderstandings produce hard feelings on both sides, until the situation becomes so dire that flash point occurs. The native peoples are starving and have few options open to them as their centuries old way of life begins to unravel. The situation deteriorates into forced massive movement and exodus of large populations of all tribes of the Dakota Nation while 38 of their young men are brought up on charges in acts of retaliation and face an incredibly sad ending to a remarkable life. Many Wolves as Calvin has been unable to salvage the situation to his overwhelming sorrow and finds himself neither red nor white. Lost between worlds, Calvin begins a journey back to his “borning” family to try and discover where he belongs. But after so many years, a journey of boy to man to another world, can he ever go back?

What Makes a Survivor?

Free My Heart of Grief to Love

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I had a chance to interview Sandra Moore Bernsen in Quartzsite, Arizona, where she was hosting an author signing event at Readers Oasis Books. Sandra wrote Free My Heart of Grief to Love-A Journey from Loss to Joy, a memoir of devastating loss and recovery.

Born in Minnesota, the financially stressed family moved to Montana where she later found the “bad boy” to whom she gave her heart. The antithesis of Sandra, she and Rich married and eventually moved to Idaho where they established a life of their own after welcoming their two sons. Ray was their first born son. Patrick followed, but at 8 days old went from being a happy, healthy boy to one of multiple and massive health issues–forcing the family for an extended period of time to concentrate on acquiring his care where they could and eventually losing him to the devastating illness that ravaged his little body.

Ray had his own issues, but borne of the eventual loss of his younger brother and that of his beloved German Shepherds, Sam and Alf, he turned inward for solace and took it upon himself to garner the protection he felt he needed. The protection accidentally turned deadly one evening in the kitchen as he fixed himself a late-night snack. Roused by the sharp report in the kitchen, both mother and father discovered their son had suffered a fatal head wound. Within 10 short weeks of the loss of Ray, Sandra’s mother succumbed to her own health issues.

Devastated, both parents grieved in their own way until Rich was discovered to have contracted acute leukemia–one so rare his doctors were at a loss to create an appropriate treatment regime. Sandra took her husband home and once again faced the emotional turmoil of laying to rest another loved one. Continue reading “What Makes a Survivor?”

Just the Pits–Isn’t!

The latest in a Hetta Coffey series, Jinx Schwartz has done it again with “Just the Pits“. Hetta is a single female engineer who tends to get in over her head after being hired to investigate what appears to be over-whelming expenditures on an already expensive mining operation. That she quickly begins confronting problems is apparently not wholly unusual, but she has a super network of friends who are ready and willing to come to her aid including a long-distance boyfriend somewhere mysteriously off on his own classified missions. Among the comical sub-plots is her struggle to come to terms with turning the big 4-0 and granting her BFF Jan the lavish male attention her stunning long-legged, blonde good looks garners without rancor. Endearing is her plot to rescue (and keep grounded?) a dog she names Po Thang whose major force in life is to find and devour his next meal. Her general obvious love and appreciation of the local Baja location and population stems from her extensive real life experiences while piloting a 45′ yacht she calls home. The mine that is the subject of the plot is but one of many in the area and her failure to see any masculine dominated industry or activity as being a challenge includes a hilarious description of her maneuvering a monster dirt hauler in the middle of some serious seismic activity. She wraps it all up in snappy, witty and downright laugh-out-loud dialogue and concludes with a satisfying ending. I figured if I enjoyed reading it that much, so would my hubby and got him to read it as well. He loved it! Now, how can we score another of her “Just” Hetta books? They are too much fun!

You gotta check out this book–either in print or digital download! Just the Pits