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The Way of the Dhin

The Way of the Dhin by John L. Clemmer

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Walk Shepherdess, Walk

Walk Shepherdess, Walk by Barrett Cobb

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The Day Momma Made Me Dance

The Day Momma Made Me Dance by Patrice Brown

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The River and the Ravages

The River and the Ravages by J.M. Lawler

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Blood Memory Society

Blood Memory Society by D.A. Field

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Corn, Cotton and Chocolate: How the Maya Changed the World

Corn, Cotton and Chocolate: How the Maya Changed the World by James O’Kon PE

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Spots: A Tale of Star-Struck Misfame and Misfortune by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Spots by Simon PlasterSpots by the talented author, Simon Plaster, is his latest satirical novel featuring a small-town reporter, Henrietta, who is from the actual small town of Henryetta, Oklahoma. In Spots, Henrietta travels to Oklahoma City, where the novel is primarily set, to report on the days leading up to a TV awards show in which awards are given to the best actors/actresses in TVCs, or TV commercials, otherwise known as “Spots.” Because of this, other than Henrietta and her mother, Wynona Sue, many recurring characters from Plaster’s other novels in the series are not featured in Spots, but that is more than made up for with his cast of new characters, including ones from famous commercials, like William Shatner, the insurance gal, Flo, and the two guys who currently are in commercials for Sonic.

The Way of the Dhin by John L. Clemmer

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

The Way of the DhinPosing an intellectual convergence of science fiction, fact and possibilities, John L Clemmer’s The Way of The Dhin delivers with its futuristic tale of A.I. sovereignty, alien contact and the mystery of the technology they left behind.

During a time of revelation and turmoil on earth with A.I. grown to the point of hive mind singularity, governing much of what humans once managed for themselves. By virtue of their governance the need for manual labor was significantly reduced with A.I. providing everything for their human charges; food, water, shelter, power and transportation, making life easy for humans to basically exist. However, hot spots of rebellion surged, as many humans did not completely trust A.I. intentions and sought to somehow overthrow their advanced existence.

Walk Shepherdess, Walk by Barrett Cobb

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Walk, Shepherdess WalkBarrett Cobb’s childhood was filled with literature and songs. As a young child one tune stayed with her, almost as a lilting lullaby.

Eleanor Farjeon wrote both the words and melody which were first published in Nursery Rhymes of London Town in 1916 and adopted by the American Girl Scouts evolving the little tune into a folk song reflecting to the world a different time, place, and culture for most of the world.

As with most folk songs, throughout the years the song has been modified slightly with the tune and alternative words. This book focuses on the original version. The book is based on a basic three-versed four-lined poem. Some of the vocabulary could be difficult depending on the past experiences of the readers. The story was written with sheep wandering through the nearby hills and uses words, not always commonly spoken in today’s city culture. Some words need to be introduced such as shepherdess, ebony, ram, ewe, fleece, wether, and shan’t. The book explains that a wether is a lead sheep which could be compared to the game Follow-the-Leader.

The music is beautifully performed by the author, Barrett Cobb and can be downloaded through the website listed in the book. The melody is an easy tune which quickly can be a haunting selection, staying with you for days. The simplistic tune is sung by Barrett, who has a beautiful, well-trained voice adding accompaniment harmonies, flute and piano into a memorable performance.

Twelve gorgeous watercolor paintings perfectly parallel the story in poem form as the story progressing reinforcing the poetic story.

After a few readings, it is easy for a young prereader or early reader to sing the melody as the pages are turned with the pictures reinforcing the words.

At the conclusion of the tale, a narrative explaining the poem assists in further demonstrating the theme being jealousy and how to appropriately recognize and turn this into a positive life lesson.

Barrett Cobb is a painter, singer, flutist and now a visual storyteller turning a childhood folk song is an enchanting life lesson for everyone.

The Day Momma Made Me Dance by Patrice Brown

Reviewed by Veronica Alvarado

The Day Momma Made Me DanceAs any parent will attest, deciding how best to properly discipline a child is far from easy. It is truly a daily struggle and requires a careful mix of patience, sternness, and most importantly, love. In her new picture book, entitled The Day Momma Made Me Dance, author Patrice Shavone Brown offers her own perspective on the correct way to discipline one’s children.

Brown comes to this book with years of perspective and first-hand insight. A self-described visionary, motivational speaker, and go getter, Brown is also the single mother of two children. Immediately from the dedication, she positions her underlying viewpoint for the project: “A mother is strong when her children are weak, a mother stands when everyone else sits, and a mother loves unconditionally from the beginning of birth to the end.” This philosophy of tough love resounds throughout the book.

The River and the Ravages by J. M. Lawler

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

The River and the RavagesThe River and the Ravages by J.M. Lawler touches on universal themes from a predominantly female perspective. This fiction-romance tells the story of a girl coming to terms with her true self, while being pulled in opposite directions by competing forces.

The core relationship explored by J.M. Lawler seems to be that between mother and daughter. Aaliya only felt truly understood by her mother, of whom’s recent passing threw the world off-balance. Freeing burning emotions is not something that comes naturally to her; instead she keeps the pain to fester inside. In her desperate desire to find a way to cope with a seemingly unbearable loss she recklessly throws herself in different directions, into the arms of a lover or into the hard labor of saddle making. The way to redemption and acceptance is crookedly paved, but this makes the journey all the more interesting and relatable.

Blood Memory Society by D.A. Field

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Blood Memory SocietyWho would have believed that Dr. Will Dunbar, would be involved in a national emergency of far reaching proportions.

While diving in the Bahamas, Dr. Dunbar, Will, is summoned to Washington by a friend’s desperate plea for assistance. When he sees his friend, Colonel Ross Chapman the years seem to disappear between now and then, when they were both at West Point.

Although Dr. Dunbar is about to become the head of reproductive medicine at the Mayo Clinic, his friend is able to sidetrack him into working on this issue.

For the first-time Dr. Dunbar hears of a secret organization, The Blood Memory Society, that the government has been running since the beginning of the government in the United States. In the current case, the society has been renamed the Inherited Memory Society.

Corn, Cotton and Chocolate: How the Maya Changed the World by James O’Kon PE

Reviewed by Ray Palen

Corn, Cotton and ChocolateNo civilization in the history of our planet existed longer than the ancient Mayans. The historic period that they were at the forefront of lasted for 3500 years. This is an unheard of figure and, arguably, one which will never be beat. This civilization reigned from roughly 2500 B.C. to 900 A.D. However, most of what they achieved went all but unnoticed. There was no written or oral news to traverse the globe to describe their exploits and the impact they had on the planet and the rest of mankind. In essence, they were the ‘phantoms of history’.

CORN, COTTON AND CHOCOLATE: HOW THE MAYA CHANGED THE WORLD looks like a textbook, something you might have to purchase for your Social Studies class. It could also be a highly quoted text to aid in your term paper or thesis research. Sounds like some pretty dry stuff, huh? I am happy to say that in the hands of author James O’Kon, this eye-opening work was never short on surprises and could gladly hold the interest of any intelligent person seeking to learn more about perhaps the most influential civilization of all-time.

Rather than a straight chapter by chapter review I thought I would make things more interesting.

10 Things The World Can Thank The Mayans For

1. The Mayans were Cosmic Philosophers. They always considered themselves sky watchers and this need to understand the universe above and around us made them the earliest known astronomers. They were able to gain an uncanny knowledge of the harmonious composition of the cosmos. Yes, well before Carl Sagan!

2. They were the greatest agronomists in word history. They made famous the term cultivar. Not just an assemblage of plants or flowers but a natural process honed through careful cultivation. They can thank Columbus for spreading the word around his global journeys about the original ‘flower power’ people.

3. The invention of the number zero. This is nothing to laugh at (no pun intended). Mathematicians have proclaimed that one of the singular accomplishments of the human era, and the greatest intellectual feat of the Maya, was the number zero. This was a culture that was so introspective and intelligent that they were actually able to grasp the concept of something having no value — but still making it the starting point for numerical sequences!

4. Maize. Long thought to be a Native American find, Maize or as we more commonly refer to it — corn — was brought about due to sophisticated cultivation of high yielding grain. Some have called it the Maya’s greatest invention. They were eons ahead of the trend of genetic manipulation in creating food products — particularly, one in which people today cannot go to the movies without enjoying the ‘hot air-popped’ version of Maize.

5. The avocado. The fruit botanically known as Persea americana has grown in popularity in recent years due to its’ health benefits. This tropical delight is the central ingredient in the beloved Guacamole Dip. The Mayans cultivated Avocado trees whose origins may stretch back to the Cenozoic Era.

6. The Cassava and how it changed the way the world is fed. Cassava root was also mass cultivated by the Mayans and the ‘bread of the tropics’ took off in many different cultures throughout the world. This great source of carbohydrates stands behind only sugarcane and sugar beets in that category.

7. Bubble Gum. O’Kon talks about the mass-produced sticks of hard gum that used to accompany every package of baseball cards (long before collectors scoffed at the practice as lowering their value). We can thank the Mayans who took Chicle or the sap of the sapodilla tree and turned it into a substance to be chewed and enjoyed. Not sure if they actually blew bubbles with it or not…

8. Chocolate/Cocoa. Many of us, particularly the ladies, have a very personal relationship with chocolate. Can you imagine Valentine’s Day or Easter without it? It was the Mayans love affair with chocolate and cocoa in general, four millennia ago, that made this the treat of choice. Yes, they even made a warm, frothy beverage from it!

9. Cotton. This has long been attributed to the great cotton plantations of the southern United States. However, it was once again the expert cultivation of the wild cotton plant that turned this into the world’s most valuable and productive vegetable fiber. It also makes for some really smooth and breathable fabric for clothing.

10. Tobacco. Cigarette and cigar smoking, along with the second-hand smoke they produce, may be taboo in recent years due to the adverse health conditions they can cause. That being said, it is impossible to not recognize how every civilization has been touched by tobacco — from Native American peace pipes to the Marlboro Man. Again, the Mayans cultivation of Nicotiana paved the way for a vice that has been enjoyed by every civilization that followed them.

This just scratches the surface on all the terrific research James O’Kon applied to this text. A fun and interesting read. More importantly, you can feel O’Kon’s enthusiasm for the subject in every paragraph and that also elevates it far above your average textbook.

A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic by Peter Wadhams

Reviewed by Teri Davis

A Farewelll to IceHow would you explain climate change to someone who does not believe it is a reality? How could you prove to anyone of the rising temperatures of the ocean or the melting of the Arctic?
Would they believe someone who has been a polar researcher for forty-seven years and is considered an expert scientist?

Peter Wadhams, who wrote this readable scientific data-driven report for the non-scientist, A Farewell to Ice, is one person no one could disagree with the disappearance of the polar ice.
Wadhams is one of the few people who truly understands the changes since 1970, he has documented the tremendous changes of the Arctic region as a polar researcher. His descriptions, evidence, pictures, and graphs tell a story of their own that is and should be frightening to every creature on this planet.

The Bitter Season by Tami Hoag (Review #2)

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Bitter Season
Tami Hoag writes great murder mysteries but believe that she almost outperformed herself on this one! Not quite sure what the title means but the story line is enough to make one’s mind turn to a slightly Bitter Season!

It really is a great read but it is also very twisted and re-twisted. It all begins with Nikki Laska, a Minneapolis detective, who is working on her first cold case which she has requested believing that it will give her more free time at night to be with her two sons.

At the same time Sam Kovac, her longtime detective partner, has just been assigned a murder case where an older couple were attacked and killed by someone using ceremonial Japanese weapons including a Samurai sword which was very valuable. The man who was killed had been a college professor who was in the midst of a possible promotion in East Asian studies at the university where he taught. Strangely enough he was battling another professor for that promotion and also strangely enough that other professor was very much involved it seems with the murdered professor’s daughter. And that mix-up is just one of the many weird coincidents that begin occurring in this story.

Salk Creek by Lucy Treloar

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Salt CreekMost of us strive for adventure and riches in fulfilling their dreams of the future.

Hester Finch’s grandparents arrived in Australia from England continuing their lives of wealth and status. Unfortunately, for Hester and her siblings, her father has dreams. This was life on her mother’s side of the family who fell in love with a man who was considered beneath her. Yes, he wanted the family to maintain the lifestyle they were accustomed to living.

Having already failed at many prospective investments and opportunities, he decides that the family needs to start over. He chooses a deserted, dry region new Salt Creek in South Australia, uprooting their lives in every aspect with dreams of success and wealth.

Watching the Dark: An Inspector Banks Novel by Peter Robinson (Review #2)

Reviewed by Mark Moderson

Watching the DarkI was excited to find a new mystery writer to read, and based on some reviews was excited to read this book. Unfortunately this book was not what I expected. It was an extremely slow and hard read that could not hold my interest. I have read thousands of books and this was the longest it ever took to complete the book.

The novel starts out intriguing with a police officer being murdered. Unfortunately the author then spends more time focusing on describing small, inconsequential details of each scene then he does working on the main mystery of the novel. The novel itself is also convoluted because there are multiple different characters following multiple different story lines.

Unsub: A Novel by Meg Gardiner

Reviewed by Allen Hott

UnsubThis is a very interesting, almost nerve-racking, story about a young female detective as she tries to learn about, find, and corral a demented man.
The man called the Unsub has returned to the San Francisco Bay area after a hiatus of 20 some years. On his first appearance he had terrorized the Bay area with his cryptic messages and killings. He also basically ruined a police officer both physically and mentally. This new young female detective, Caitlin Hendrix, is the daughter of that retired and fairly disabled police officer, Mack Hendrix.

Caitlyn basically grew up in a broken home as her mother was unable to cope with Mack’s mental condition after his encounter with the Unsub also known as the Prophet. Caitlyn however decided she wanted to be a police officer and worked her way onto the county’s Narcotics Force. One night while she was at home with her ATF policeman/boyfriend she got a call to report at once to a crime scene.