Miguel Traveler

Miguel Traveler: The Man from Texas by Daniel McFatter

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The Journey from Poor Procrastinator to Invested Millennial by Jeremy Kho

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The Streets of Nottingham by Auckly Simwinga

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Mayhem, Murder and Maarijuana

Mayhem, Murder and Marijuana: The Los Angeles Marijuana War by Arik Kaplan

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Occasional Crimes: A Thriller by Tucker Edwards

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The Other Path: Illuminating the Path toward Reduced Volatility while Achieving Equity-Type Returns by Robert J. Klosterman CFP

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The Perfect Match by T. Wayne Bloodworth

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Miguel Traveler: The Man from Texas by Daniel McFatter

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Miguel TravelerMiguel wakes up floating in a solution and being cuddled and cared for by “Mama.” There is a lot going on around him and suddenly he is washed out of a large tank of fluid in to the arms of Alice, the Woman in Black. This is the surprise beginning.

The story is told from Miguel’s perspective, throughout. It is unusual for a 1st person book to hold the interest of most readers, but this is one of the few that is very well written. There are 3 sections, each proceeded by a poem that nonetheless becomes important to the story. Almost from the beginning there is action, excitement and so many seemingly mundane encounters, but prove to be truly not.

“Man is unto himself the Great Work-a puzzle to be opened, explored and ultimately solved.” This quote is almost integral to a good in-depth analysis of the book. This is one book requiring some thought after reading it because of the depth presented.

The Journey from Poor Procrastinator to Invested Millennial by Jeremy Kho

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

The Journey From Poor Procrastinator to Invested MillenIf you are looking to learn how to achieve financial independence, Jeremy Kho has prepared a book just for you. The Journey from Poor Procrastinator to Invested Millennial will teach you the basics regarding how you should manage your finances and make you curious to learn more. However, the book is not limited to this topic, it can also just help motivate you to overcome your general state of procrastination.

Don’t be scared that the information presented will be too technical for you, it is far from that. With a friendly tone, Jeremy Kho takes you on a journey of self-discovery. He uses a lot of colorful examples to make the economics part more accessible. There are plenty of stories with realistic characters throughout the book containing noteworthy morals. You might even recognize yourself in one or more of these.

Mayhem, Murder and Marijuana: The Los Angeles Marijuana War by Arik Kaplan

Reviewed by Ray Palen

Mayhem, Murder and MarijuanaThe back cover of this novel tells a story almost as chilling as the one found between the covers. The author — Arik Kaplan is a pseudonym to maintain his true identity— literally lived this story. In 2011, immediately following the relaxing of laws in the State of California allowing medicinal marijuana dispensaries to open, he began aggressively purchasing legal medical marijuana locations in Los Angeles county.

The problem with things that sound too good to be true is that they usually are — or, at the very least, they come at a big price. ‘Kaplan’ found out that his involvement in this new industry was the literal equivalent of drawing a target on his own back. If he went through even a smidgen of what the characters in his novel experience it is indeed a wonder he lived to tell this tale.

MAYHEM, MURDER AND MARIJUANA: The Los Angeles Marijuana War makes “Boyz In the Hood” look like an episode of “Sanford and Son”. The fact that our humble author has received death threats at the mere thought of revealing what is contained in this book speaks to his and the stories credibility.

Occasional Crimes: A Thriller by Tucker Edwards

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

Occasional CrimesWhat begins as an ordinary surfing trip to South America turns into something far more thrilling for three college students from California. Tim, Lee, and Chuck are college friends about to graduate. All have a passion for surfing and are always looking for the next big wave. Disenchanted about looking for a job after graduation, Tim and his friends decide to take one last big surfing trip. They make plans to go surfing in Mexico and possibly in Costa Rica and Nicaragua at the end of the summer. This should be a fun experience, giving them the chance to ride the best waves and hang out together.

Soon August rolls around, and it is almost time to leave for their trip. Tim buys a new truck and has a camper put on the back, so they can campout as they travel. Right before they leave, Tim meets a girl and they begin to date. She is as passionate about surfing as he is, and they agree to keep in touch while he is away. The three friends set out on their trip, excited about the places they will visit.

The Other Path: Illuminating the Path toward Reduced Volatility while Achieving Equity-Type Returns by Robert J. Klosterman CFP

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

The Other PathIn The Other Path, Robert J. Klosterman’s follow-up to The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the author once again offers his astute financial and investment advice. The book’s subtitle, “Illuminating the Path Toward Volatility While Achieving Equity-Type Returns,” is apt, as that is just what Klosterman advocates that investors do to achieve optimal monetary gains with their investment portfolios. Klosterman gets his title from Robert Frost’s famous poem, “The Road Not Taken,” which he quotes at the beginning of The Other Path, a highly interesting book that offers investors insights into a different sort of investment approach than they might be used to, though a very effective one that is designed to aid investors to earn equity-type returns while reducing the volatility that many other investors experience who only try more traditional approaches when it comes to planning their portfolios.

Klosterman’s book, The Other Path, is relatively short, coming in at just 60 pages, not counting the Appendices at the conclusion of it, but his approach to investing which he details in it is one which is very informative. The book is sure to interest and be beneficial to anyone who would like to lower his/her investment risks while maximizing his/her potential monetary returns.

The very title of Klosterman’s book, The Other Path, alludes to an investment strategy, or road, that most people have traditionally followed, which is investing their money entirely in stocks, bonds and cash. Such an approach is a tried-and-true one that has proven beneficial to many investors, but it has also proven to be a sometimes volatile path for others. Investing in stocks, bonds and cash, Klosterman argues, is an important part of an overall investment strategy, though there are other opportunities for diversifying one’s investments and reducing the volatility many portfolios unfortunately undergo, a volatility which can cause the monetary value of one’s portfolio to experience a disastrous nosedive.

Still, the main leg of the milk stool, that is, investing in stocks, bonds and cash, is a vital component in a wise investment strategy, according to Klosterman’s assessment in The Other Path. He calls it the core leg of a metaphorical three-legged milk stool, with each leg in the metaphor referring to a different but complimentary strategy when it comes to investing. If an investor diversifies his/her portfolio and does not solely focus on the main leg of stocks, bonds and cash, but also invests his/her money in nontraditional ways, Klosterman argues, using a series of useful and informative charts and graphs, that one’s portfolio is much less liable to experience a disastrous financial loss and the volatility of one’s portfolio will be reduced.

The second of the three legs of the milk stool is “Diversifiers,” and the third leg is “Absolute Returns.” Klosterman argues that “Diversifiers,” or alternative or nontraditional Investments, help reduce the volatility of an overall investment portfolio. Some examples that the author gives of nontraditional investments include real estate, private equity, “developed and emerging international equities,” distressed debt, and managed futures. These sorts of nontraditional investments can reduce volatility by either having a “very low correlation with traditional markets,” as Klosterman writes, or by delivering “consistent returns year after year, with little or no volatility.”

The third leg of the milk stool, “Absolute Returns,” is also the name of Chapter Four of The Other Path. Absolute returns are investments, according to Klosterman, which “demonstrate the same qualities of a bond with the assurance of return of principle and consistent payment of interest.” The author writes that they are similar to ten-year treasury bonds but “they are not backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.” Despite this, Klosterman states that aspect of absolute return vehicles can be considered to be an advantage. That is because strategies involving absolute return vehicles, as the author writes, “can invest in sound ideas and not have to fit restrictions that other institutions have.”

One example is investing in companies that lend money to small businesses and house flippers. These companies can work fast and close loans faster than banks. These companies have the ability to provide quick access to loans for money to people like real estate developers or house flippers, in comparison to banks.

In The Other Path, author Robert J. Klosterman writes about a no-nonsense approach to nontraditional investing and how it can benefit one’s investment portfolio and help reduce volatility. The book also examines and identifies “trouble signs” besides volatility when planning one’s portfolio, like groupthink, market disruptions and inflation. While Klosterman recommends that investors follow the advice of professionals who are experts in planning investment portfolios and have proven track records over at least a decade, The Other Path is an interesting and insightful look at adding nontraditional investments to an individual’s portfolio. Whether investors want and like to plan their investment strategies on their own, or with the advice of professionals, The Other Path is an eye-opening Must Read designed to inform investors of types of alternative investments that can balance out their portfolios and reduce the negative effects of market volatility. It is a book I would highly recommend to anyone who has ever considered expanding their investment portfolios and adding nontraditional investments to them.

Chanting the Feminine Down by James C. McCullagh with Roy McCullagh

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Chanting the Feminine DownOddly enough, when an author subtitles his book it is often more about the author then the book. However, McCullaugh here declares this to be a “Psychological, Religious and Historical Novel,” he is not being disingenuous.

This story is well researched and well documented. It is a tribute to the author’s dedication and abilities in research and correlation of large amounts of data and information. The author provides source references and other interesting information at his website, Chanting the Feminine Down.

The Dot on the Left: Life Lessons on Moving from Below Average to Ahead of the Curve by Dave Swanson

Reviewed by Ray Palen

The Dot on the LeftWhen readers turn to a self-help book they are looking for something new and different. There have been thousands of books written about overcoming adversity, striving to improve yourself, finding strength from within, etc… The question when promoting these self-help books is not only how to market them but finding something unique that no one else has written previously.

Dave Swanson’s self-help/inspirational book entitled THE DOT ON THE LEFT: Life Lessons on Moving from Below Average to Ahead of the Curve is not as much another primer or how-to book. Rather, Swanson simply tells his own story and how he overcame adversity, negativity and labels others wished to place upon him and instead listened only to his inner feelings as he pushed himself to succeed at every goal he set for himself.

This is a great start, but to really grab readers and keep them engaged you also need to have some credibility beyond just a good story. Swanson has that in droves. In addition to being a published author he is also a motivational speaker and former U.S. Army infantry platoon leader. He knows about real adversity as he survived over 100 firefights while deployed to Sadr City, Iraq. There’s an old adage that states ‘there are no atheists in fox-holes’! Well, to survive the type of warfare this man was faced with required much more than faith alone. Dave Swanson sounds like the type of person I want to listen to when he has something to say.

The Perfect Match by T. Wayne Bloodworth

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

The Perfect MatchA narrative, both sincere and touching, The Perfect Match by author T. Wayne Bloodworth focuses on the complex and emotion ridden journey of Dr. Zack Folsom, a man living life so mired in doubt, sorrow and guilt, that it takes twisted fate for him to let go and start living life as he should.

Central character, Doctor Zack Folsom, a talented cardiac surgeon, loving husband and father, becomes a man preoccupied, after suddenly losing his wife Emily in a fatal car accident. To avoid the pain of his loss, he throws himself into his work dedicating the majority of his time and energy to his medical practice gaining him the reputation of being “all business” while he constantly wields an irascible and crudely sarcastic disposition.

Although he experiences great success as a competent surgeon, he also deeply feels the emptiness of the void left by his wife’s death. Meanwhile, his only son Brody who is very much in need of a loving relationship with his father especially after the loss of his mother is now raised and cared for by Emily’s family. Consequently, the relationship between father and son eventually festers into a dysfunctional and emotionally fractured relationship as Brody feels ignored and essentially parent-less, and in turn grows to hold onto a deep and resounding resentment against his father.

Understanding the Patterns of Your Life: Take Charge of Your Destiny by George Pan Kouloukis

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Understanding the Patterns of Your LifeDo the events in your daily life follow patterns? It is usually easy to find math patterns. What about nature? Is there a pattern in examining pine cone? The mathematician Fibonacci certainly saw that pattern. Are there other patterns?

Are there good years and bad ones or is that just a balance of life? Obviously, not every second of each day is good or bad, but what about the overall year? Of course, every day is not typically all good or bad.

Think about the major shifts you have experienced. Examine your health issues, your money situations, your career ups and downs, and your love life. Do any patterns appear? When you analyze your results in chronological order, surprisingly you are likely to see a pattern. Could this help each of us begin to predict our own futures? Would it help each of us with our family, relationships, career, or life issues in general?

George Kouloukis analyzed the lives of twenty-two well-known people who lived in the last five-hundred years, a few still living today. He quickly found the not many ordinary people chronicle and publish their lives. Due to this, he chose famous people in various parts of the world with different careers who experience their own good and bad years. He studied the lives of Ludwig van Beethoven, Giusepppe Verdi, Pablo Picasso, Mikhail Gorbachev, The Dalai Lama, Margaret Thatcher, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Christopher Columbus, Queen Elizabeth I, Napoleon, Victor Hugo, Winston Churchill, Aristotle Onassis, Nelson Mandela, Maria Callas, Sarah Bernhardt, Napoleon’s wife – Josephine, King Henry VIII, Jimmy Carter, and John Glenn.

Surprisingly, the author, George Kouloukis discovered a pattern in their lives, a sixteen-seventeen year cycle. The short biographies of these famous people help every reader to properly assess the good and bad seasons for each individual. Naturally, not everything is good in the good season and bad in the bad, but the major overall events are the focus. The author examined the health, wealth, their positions or careers and love.

Kouloukis researched other findings of patterns identified by other researchers. The Universe by Time-Life Books explained how the magnetic poles of the sun alternate every eleven years. Strangely, this pattern seemed to have little to no relevance to human behavior. Another consideration was The Seasons of a Man’s Life by Daniel J. Levison explained the four seasons of every life with each lasting round twenty to twenty-two years. Again, George Kouloukis found no normal correlation with his life or those he studied. These resources appealed to Kouloukis but seemed slightly flawed.

Lacking few biographies of ordinary people or regular people, he began to study these famous people throughout the world, varying the time periods, the gender, the situations, and delving into their personal lives focusing on their wealth, health, love, and successful or failed careers.

He discovered the patterns through these people and allows you to examine your own life to discover the season you are now experiencing so that the author’s realizations can assist you with your life in the future.

Reading the book, Understanding the Patterns of Your Life allows you to learn to examine your own life to allow you to make choices for yourself. George Pan Kouloukis has opened his wisdom to read your own personal crystal ball.

Nitro Wild (Rex Knight Book 4) by David C. Brown

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Nitro WildDavid Brown has composed an epic alternative fantasy history tale of the 19th Century. Rex Knight is the protagonist. From Rex’s mysterious transport from Earth through his first few years on Erden, the inhabitants’ name for their planet, he struggles to survive, thrive, and finally succeed in great ways. Most of the story is related from Rex’s viewpoint.

There are other transported races and groupings of people. The Wapiti spoke a lingua franca that was primarily English, German and some of the indigenous peoples’, the Clovis, own language. This could support other transports and some indigenous groups, but there is also an alien, non-human race called the Ichneumons who rule a substantial part of the continent that appear to be much like 19th century North and South America.

The details of the planet, civilizations and governments here are sprinkled sparingly throughout the story’s development. The Ichneumons are vying for control of the world with the mighty Prussian empire. The area that conforms roughly to the Eastern United States is controlled by the Prussian Empire. The remainder is largely controlled by the Ichnemons. These two empires are at constant conflict for control of this continent. Meanwhile, the European and Asian equivalent continents are split between the Prussians and their allies and the Mongol tribes that are constantly restless if not openly attacking on the eastern borders of Prussia.

The Power of the Dhin (The Way of the Dhin Book 2) by John L. Clemmer

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

The Power of the DhinContinuing his offering of intellectually arousing science fiction, author, John L. Clemmer, once again accomplishes a satisfying and entertaining narrative with his second addition to his “Dhin” series, The Power of the Dhin.

This time around, author Clemmer fully immerses readers in a more plot driven perpetuation of the Dhin saga; albeit, he still maintains an approachable level of scientific sophistication, with this book he engages with more plot twists, action and conflict within an intelligently expansive, multiperspectived and multihabitated universe.

The story starts two years plus, ensuing the A.I. Governors departure from earth. They exited on a mission seeking to expand their existence in the galaxy with the coveted Dhin technology. However, their efforts towards expansion do not come easily, as they find themselves faced with a powerful obstacle. Meanwhile, on earth, mankind has accomplished the feat of reverse engineering of the Dhin technology, giving rise to the beginnings of the unfettered exploration of the vast regions of space, which in turn, also leads to a stunning discovery.

Moreover, while free of the distrusted A.I. Controllers, citizens on earth continue a turmoiled existence with their lives made uncomfortable and disorganized by a lack of A.I. control and a portion of the populace unable to contribute to society in much needed technical ways, those of lesser intellect hold minimally paid jobs, forcing them to live an actuality fraught with poverty while seemingly stuck in a downcast position in society. With riots, and hacking attacks on the rise, those in power on earth, struggle to maintain control over its restless population, while clues point to the possibility of a rogue force at work and scheming, in the background.

Altogether, The Power of the Dhin turned out to be entirely enjoyable to read. It was a well-posed and successful continuation of the Dhin story, which I found both stimulating and engaging. Author John L. Clemmer, delivers with his balanced style of cognizant, palatable science fiction that is diverse in perspective, consistently creative and provides unique facets of science fact, fiction and innovation. Thus far this is a read worthy series.

Strong to the Bone (A Caitlin Strong Novel) by Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

Strong to the Bone“You may be able to walk on water, Ranger, but quicksand’s a whole other thing,” a character advised Caitlin Strong early on in Strong to the Bone.

And quicksand is pretty much what Caitlin finds herself mired in here in the superb ninth book to feature the stalwart Texas Ranger who’s as close to a female Jack Reacher as it gets. No, she doesn’t use her fists with the aplomb of Lee Child’s seminal series hero, but she more than makes up for that with her prowess as a gunman (or, more accurately, gunwoman), a skill she gets to use with typical frequency in her latest adventure.

But Strong to the Bone serves up a new kind of target in the form of the man who sexually assaulted Caitlin eighteen years before while she was a collegiate undergraduate. We’ve barely started flipping the pages before she rescues a woman from a bar basement who’s been similarly assaulted and barely taken a breath before learning that it was the same man who raped Caitlin all those years ago. And I haven’t even mentioned the book’s primary villain in the form of a neo-Nazi gang that’s appropriated a Texas ghost town as headquarters for the massive drug dealing operation their leader, Armand Fisker, has taken international.

Fisker, a man so prone to violent impulses that one scene finds himself dousing his own son with gasoline and flicking on a lighter before the terrified boy’s eyes, is somehow connected to a killer Caitlin’s grandfather Earl Strong hunted in the waning days of World War II. Did you know that Texas was home to over 100,000 Nazi prisoners of war in camps scattered throughout the state? Neither did I. In the flashback thread that’s become a staple of this sterling series, though, Earl Strong finds himself on the trail of one of them who escaped his camp after killing his three bunkmates. Why? What did they know? And what’s none other than J. Edgar Hoover himself doing on the scene?

Strong to the Bone, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, unfolds frantically and frenetically, serving up a smorgasbord of emotionally wrought angst garnished with characters of both misplaced and misconstrued morality. Fisker, for example, isn’t planning to unleash a catastrophic weapon upon the world when the book opens; that intention unfolds organically, lending Strong to the Bone a stunning spontaneity featuring characters who are truly in charge of the action.

Heading up that roster as always is Caitlin herself, whose own personal quest to at long last find her dragon lends the book a visceral quality to go with the visuals Land has always excelled at framing. But what’s truly special is her doubts about whether she really wants to kill that dragon, lest she lose the edge that has long defined her, as Land deftly stirs a pot that features the perfect blend of emotion and action.

The Caitlin Strong series is much deserved of the praise it has attained and many awards it’s won. But Strong to the Bone takes what’s always worked to a whole new level. A terrific, tumultuous tale of rare depth and prowess certain to solidify Caitlin’s place as the most polished and proficient female hero in thriller fiction today. Maybe that’s why none of Jack Reacher’s travels have taken him to Texas. Even he doesn’t want to risk messing with Caitlin Strong.

Hidden Sea by Miles Arceneaux

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Hidden SeaProffering a literate jolt to the senses, miles Arceneaux’s Hidden Sea gives readers food for thought with its rich and captivating narrative of human trafficking in the Gulf of Mexico. Albeit this is a work of fiction, the story is based on the reality of sea-faring enslavement, which occurs within the South Sea of China. Readers will find this entertaining story stocked with a bevy of colorful characters artfully immersed in a briny mix of adventure, humor, political corruption and pirates, set in the Gulf of Mexico. Written by a trio of well-honed authors, known as Miles Arceneaux, writing as one voice, this makes the fifth addition in their series of Gulf Coast thrillers.

The Missing Factor: A Jim Factor Novel by Daniel C. Lorti

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

The Missing FactorArms dealer Jim Factor has a great life, a thriving business, a loving wife, and an affluent lifestyle. The one time engineer has always run a legitimate arms business, until he is approached at a convention in Europe with a steal of a deal. Carlos Sengretti would like him to act as a moderator in negotiations with a client and will make him a large sum of money. After some discussion, Jim agrees to assist Sengretti with his deal and they decide on a payment amount. Jim believes he will just be a consultant and once the deal is finished, his services will no longer be needed.

Unfortunately, he is mistaken. Soon after the business is completed, Jim receives a phone call warning him of potential danger. The illegal deal has gone sour, and now he is suspected of leaking the deal to the United States Customs Service. His life is at risk and Jim must immediately leave the country without a trace. He cannot even tell his wife anything about the deal gone wrong, nor can he tell her where he is going. He quickly gathers cash and some clothing and leaves his housen eventually ending up at the bus terminal where he makes his escape to another city.

Flicks: A Tale of Cinematic Docudrama, Half-Truths and Half-Fictions by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Ray Palen

FlicksThe death, or in some people’s minds, murder of the late Hollywood star and Blonde Bombshell Marilyn Monroe is at the heart of this novel…sort of. This work by author Simon Plaster is entitled FLICKS: A Tale of Cinematic Docudrama, Half-Truths and Half-Fictions. The title isn’t the only thing ambiguous about this novel. I also found it hard to nail down as far as genre for it has bits and pieces of several: Expose, Satire, Crime, Filmography… I could go on. I settled with just calling it Fiction and allowing readers to decide where they thought it best fit.

FLICKS also features many parallel narratives, most of which cross paths with each other at times throughout the novel. There is no true protagonist or antagonist, just a myriad of colorful characters. We have Hollywood filmmaker Deano DeBoffo, who is making what he refers to as a docuflick about the late Marilyn Monroe entitled The Deadly Pepper Shaker. More importantly, DeBoffo claims to have in his possession a loop of film that purportedly details the how, who and why Miss Monroe was murdered rather than being the victim of an overdose. It also allegedly depicts Monroe caught in what is essentially a porn tape with one of the characters depicted in DeBoffo’s film.

There is Henrietta — the closest thing this novel has to a moral center — who is a writer for the hometown Oklahoma City series of newspapers referred to as the OKC. She is always in search of a good story and thinks she has one that combines some of the crazier local characters with Deano DeBoffo who is temporarily stranded in Oklahoma City and not letting that slow down the research process or creation of his film.

The Streets of Nottingham by Auckly Simwinga

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

The Streets of NottinghamThe Streets of Nottingham by the talented author Auckly Simwinga is a page-turning work of spellbinding fantasy and myth, a magical and fascinating first-person tale narrated by an adventurous and mysterious character only identified by his first name, Adam. It is a story that fans of fantasy will enjoy reading, because Adam goes on a quest that everyone thinks is impossible. There are gods and goddesses, wraiths, and creatures called demauglers, which are sort of like werewolves, but with bones showing here and there, as if they were zombie werewolves with attitudes.

Adam’s quest involves trying to find a city called Nottingham, a place that ancient scrolls describe in detail, but a place that is reportedly impossible for anyone to ever reach. He wants to travel there to find a healer that the scrolls mention, to try to save the love of his life, a beautiful young woman named Marika, and bring her back from the dead, after their village is attacked by wraiths.

The Streets of Nottingham begins with a Prologue, and has only four chapters. The Prologue is supposedly an excerpt from a scroll, specifically, the 11th. Scroll, verses 1-6, and it is from a book called – what else – the “great book.” The excerpt and what it reveals, Adam discovers, while he is on his quest, is basically the truth. At first, though, the language does not seem to him to be very straightforward, but more like a series of riddles. One example is when the excerpt mentions: “May the darkness be your guide.”

“The Breaking of the World” is referred to quite a lot throughout The Streets of Nottingham. The world that Adam and Marika live in has drastically changed from what it was once like, as if it has broken in pieces, and fiery rivers separate the chunks of land that still exist.

The explanation that is contained in the scrolls is that a goddess called Rain, who is ebony-skinned and looks quite a bit to Adam like Marika, is one of the ones responsible for the breaking up of the world. A god-king, who is Marika’s father, has had a major falling out with her, resulting in a “400-year war.” The war began because he was not happy with Caelemon, the god she fell in love with. He transforms Caelemon into a brutish monster.

Adam cannot bear to be in the village he has lived in all his life, when he learns that it will soon be time for Marika to be cremated. That is when he embarks on his quest to find Nottingham and the healer reputed to be there, riding off on his horse, Shadow. Adam has many adventures along the way, and he gradually works out the meaning behind the excerpt, all to save Marika and bring her back to life.

While The Streets of Nottingham by Auckly Simwinga is a work of fiction that deals with tragic topics, it is also filled with joyous moments and hope, and readers will find themselves rooting for Adam, hoping that he succeeds in his noble quest. If you are a fan of the fantasy genre, I highly recommend that you check out The Streets of Nottingham today!

Written in Blood by Layton Green

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Written in BloodIn Written in Blood, author Green introduces readers to Detective Joe “Preach” Everson. Following a common path, Green has given readers a flawed protagonist, though Preach’s baggage goes well beyond the ordinary. After suffering a tragedy as a young man, he had a sort of breakdown and fled his hometown of Creeksville, North Carolina. His life path from then until the book opens took him to Bible college, time as a church preacher, a prison chaplain and then as a police officer in Atlanta, where another incident led to another breakdown.

Here we reach the first thing about the novel that just doesn’t quite work. Pearch has returned to his hometown and has been hired as a police detective even though he has not been cleared to work from his breakdown. He promises to see a therapist who happens to be a relative. One has to question what police force would hire an emotionally unstable person as a detective and what therapist would risk his or her reputation and licensing to sign off on a deeply troubled soul who has suffered at least two emotional breakdowns to serve as a detective. But let’s accept this as written for the sake of the story.

Warning Light by David Ricciardi

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Warning LightThis is quite a story for those of us who enjoy adventure and also enjoy hearing and reading about the military, espionage, and all things tied to those areas of our lives.

Zac Miller, traveling as a technology consultant, is flying to Singapore when the aircraft is diverted due to mechanical problems (the Warning Light). Zac and the other passengers end up landing in Sirjan in the Republic of Iran. Walking from the aircraft, which was forced to land quite a distance out on the runway due to its size, Zac begins taking some pictures of the land behind the airport.

As they get to the terminal Zac is stopped and taken into a room where his camera is taken from him and he is in fact taken prisoner. The Iranians then take him to Colonel Arzaman of the Revolutionary Guards. Here he is questioned and realizes that Arzaman is going to hold him and further attempt to find out about Zac, his background, and what he is doing in Iran. Also at the same time unbeknownst to Zac, a young man matching his build looks, and attire takes Zac’s place on the plane. This is going to be a big part of the story later on.

The Undertaker’s Daughter by Sara Blaedel

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The Undertaker's DaughterThe Undertaker’s Daughter introduces Ilka Jensen, a middle aged protagonist who has struggled with the loss of her father for most of her life. When she was seven, her father up and left moving to Racine, Wisconsin, never to be heard from again. That is never heard from again until now. Word comes that her father has died and named Ilka in his will. His estate cannot be settled until she signs off on the will Rather than leaving this to her attorney to handle for her, she decides to travel to Wisconsin and handle it herself. Of course things turn out to be more complicated than she expected. She finds her father has left everything to his current wife and two American daughters except his business, a failing funeral home. While I generally liked Ilka and found the book interesting, it was quite a bit different than I would expect from a Scandinavian crime author.

The first thing that struck me a bit out of the ordinary, was except for the very beginning of the book, when readers meet Ilka and her mother in Copenhagen, the entire book takes place in Wisconsin. I suppose there are other Scandinavian writers who set an occasional in America, but I found this an interesting way to start what appears to be a series.

A Death in Live Oak: A Jack Swyteck Novel by James Grippando

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

A Death in Live OakDuring an inter-fraternity event at a prominent Florida university, the unthinkable happens: the president of the university’s most prominent black fraternity, Jamal Cousin, is found along the river. Mark Towson, president of an equally prestigious white fraternity. The most damning piece of evidence is a text message with a peculiar message, sent from Towson’s phone. Towson is from a prominent family, which is how talented attorney Jack Swyteck comes to take the case. Tensions run hot and there is mounting pressure from all sides to obtain justice for Cousins. The D.A. is anxious to close this case quickly but Swyteck is convinced that there is more to this case than meets the eye. It will take all of Swyteck’s skill to get to the truth.

Idiot by Holly Smith

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

IdiotIdiot by Holly Smith is a story rooted in real events, which has blossomed into a gripping work of fiction. The book touches on several major social issues, like teen pregnancy, attempted mass school shooting, substance abuse, and domestic violence. Unfortunately, as recent events have shown, these remain ever more current and pressing. But beyond these, rises the life of a girl and her continual struggle with the hardship of life.

We are invited by Holly Smith on a very intimate journey, as we flick through the pages of Eva Langston’s diary. The first time we meet her, she is a troubled teenager trying to find a place for herself in life as she is spun around in the foster care system. Lacking a deeply coveted stability, she finds herself a constant misfit and on the verge of making some life threatening decisions. Her present is shadowed by a childhood marked by an abusive father, made bearable only by the presence of a loving mother and a loyal friend, Kami. But by dwelling into these memories in her journal, at the encouragement of her therapist, she starts working through them and slowly rises above.