Wind: A Tragicomedic Tale of Trials & Errors by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Wind: A Tragicomedic Tale of Trials & Errors is an entertaining book of political and social satire that focuses on the conflict between religious beliefs and science, along with human rights issues. The chapters are split into sections that coincide with the six days of the biblical account of creation. Genesis 1 has been assigned as part of the reading material for a western literature course at the Oklahoma Public Education Center (OPEC) in Oklahoma City. Should this be allowed or is it unconstitutional? Are the Censorship threats from the American Civil Liberties Union a real concern?

The story centers around Henrietta Hebert, Professor Owen Hatteras, Lawrence Farrell, and William B. Ryan, although all of the supporting characters play essential roles. Henrietta wants to rejuvenate her journalism career by furthering her education. She enrolls at OPEC and takes on the task of writing for the school newspaper under the tutelage of Professor Hatteras. Owen adamantly disagrees with the story of biblical creation but changes his stance in pursuit of his own agenda which ties into the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. Farrell and Ryan, candidates in a District Attorney’s race, are on opposite ends of the political spectrum when it comes to whether or not Genesis 1 being assigned as reading material in a public school violates the constitution.

Capitol White: A Donnie Brasco Novel (Audiobook – Original Recording) by Joe Pistone and Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

As a crime film connoisseur, I place Donnie Brasco among the very best the genre has to offer. Watching Johnny Depp, as the title character, spend five years undercover inside the New York Mob, before ultimately bringing down the infamous families at the top of the food chain, remains great fun every time I watch it.

So it was with great interest that I plunged into Capitol White, more or less a direct sequel to that movie, penned by former FBI agent Joe Pistone working in tandem with bestselling thriller writer Jon Land. The twist is Donnie himself has been re-imagined wondrously here as a fictional hero, as opposed to a fictitious one, to spectacular success.
Pistone famously chronicled his years living undercover in Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia – A True Story. Capitol White may be all fiction but you wouldn’t know it from the writing and I had to remind myself numerous times that what I was reading was made up instead of a literary rendition of Donnie’s next major case.

The Eye That Never Sleeps by Clifford Browder

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Traversing back in time to New York City circa the late nineteenth century, Clifford Browder’s The Eye That Never Sleeps poses a decidedly brilliant take on the historical crime thriller with an enticingly twisted narrative that brings together history, mystery, and masterfully fleshed out characters.

A growing mystery is afoot in the expanding metropolis of 1869 New York City when three banks are robbed within a nine-month period. Of particular concern is the robbery of the Bank of Trade which is considered the heist of the century. Moreover, the thief has the gall to brag about the robberies by way of sending to the president of each bank gloating rhyming verses and a key to the bank within days of the wake of each masterminded robbery.

Meanwhile, unfortunately for the bankers, the police department has been overwhelmed by the heavy caseloads of other criminal investigations which leaves the city’s bankers in growing desperation. Looking for answers, they turn to private operative/ detective Sheldon Minick who agrees to take on the case for a substantial retainer which enables the financially strapped detective to pay bills and bring meat to his table.

The Furies by Corey Croft

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

The FuriesThis is a book that has it all; friendship, love, violence, and drugs. The Furies by Corey Croft follows the story of a group of Fury friends. In their final year of high school they are faced with a series of tough decisions. It is about them making it just one more year; it is about figuring out what comes next when worlds of possibilities open up in front of them. Or do they? But above all, it is a story about different ways of coming to terms with oneself.

Set amidst the 90’s drug boom, the narrative faithfully encapsulates the spirit of the time. The plot oozes cultural references specific to that period which takes the reader on a playful journey back in time. The city of Fury is where it all happens. It is a city, not unlike any other, where social and racial divide fills the air. And so does the smell of weed. Corey Croft takes you beyond a picture-perfect layout of middle class life which leads you down some dark alleys and shows you what lurks behind closed doors. The Furies is all about forms of struggle and adaptation to what life throws at you. And the furions sure know how to throw back a punch. But there is also a softer side to their wild nature – a childhood naivete that lingers on in their adolescence.

The Experiment (The Kinship Series Book 3) by Robin Lamont

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

The ExperimentRobin Lamont’s The Experiment, the third addition to her well-received Kinship series, traverses the rough terrain of animal rights in a story that not only takes readers seamlessly into a world that brims with webbed mystery but also exposes the horrific aspects of a subject that is not often visited – the protection of animals.

Promptly, from the narrative’s outset, the suspense begins to build, as we meet the story’s engagingly complex protagonist, Jude Brannock, a senior investigator at The Kinship, an organization specializing in undercover investigations of large scale / industrial animal abuse. Jude anxiously broods about a recently hired investigator, Time Mains her trainee, who suddenly seemed to be mysteriously missing in action. Investigative Trainee Tim Mains embarked on an independent mission to go undercover to gather, document and report violations at a targeted company Amaethon Industries. After a spate of little to no contact from Tim, Jude embarks on an intense mission to find the missing investigator determined to get to the truth of his whereabouts, especially after his cryptic message of being on to “something big”. However, Jude’s interest in the mystery of Tim’s disappearance turns out to be more than just a “platonic” or “comrade in arms” type of concern for him as it turns out the two had started an affair that had to be kept out of sight.

The Four Hats of Leadership: Be Who Your People Need You to Be by Drake E. Taylor

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Drake E. Taylor, an officer in the United States Air Force, advocates four types of hats that will help individuals become effective and successful leaders. The Preface is an excellent tool for drawing readers into The Four Hats of Leadership: Be Who Your People Need You to Be. The four types of hats are The Farmer’s Hat, The Drill Instructor’s Hat, The Psychologist’s Hat, and The Self-Care Hat. Taylor does an excellent job of providing an analogy between a farmer’s job and that of leading a team of people, describing the role of when it is appropriate to use the drill instructor’s hat in a civilian environment, the value of the psychologist hat and ways to help people with their emotional well-being, and the importance of the self-care hat for a leader’s mental health.

When Dog Pals Fly Across America by Rob Kortus

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

When Dog Pals Fly Across AmericaTravel along with Sophie, Wallace, and Sulley; three intelligent dog friends, as they embark on an unforgettable journey across the United States. Sophie and Wallace are border collies and Sulley is a chocolate lab mix. They fly their personal and colorful helicopter making stopovers in every state to visit cool and unique places.

The book is sure to pique the interest of all ages. It provides a truly imaginative look into America’s geography and encourages readers to dive deeper into the sites each state provides. Our country has many little known places so reading this book will have educational benefits as well.

Establishing Presence: A Chip Fullerton/Annie Smith Sports Novel – Book Three by T.L. Hoch

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Establishing PresenceWhat is the purpose of a softball game? Is it the same as a basketball game? Is there a difference between the two? Is winning the goal of both sports? Is winning everything? Can you learn more than the techniques of a competition by not winning?

Between the junior and senior years of high school, a few exceptional female athletes are invited to assist at a sports camp for women’s softball and basketball. Annie, Chip, and Jenny are from the small town of Reston, Texas and joined by Cheryl while rooming together at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.

Cheryl’s uncle is in charge of the camp and is thrilled to have these exceptionally talented high-school seniors joining her.

The four girls enthusiastically work with the younger campers teaching them the technicalities and techniques needed to improve their skills. Including becoming better players, they also quickly learn that building their game skills are as necessary as building their personal and interpersonal skills.

Zintara and the Stones of Alu Cemah by Dominic Bohbot and Michel Bohbot

Reviewed by Ray Palen

The debut novel from brothers Michel and Dominic Bohbot is a dynamic fantasy tale inspired by the love of speculative fiction instilled in them by their father. This is seen not only in the dedication of ZINTARA AND THE STONES OF ALU CEMAH but also throughout the narrative.

We are taken to another world, one that contains mythical and imaginary creatures alongside human characters. There is a synopsis of many of the characters at the start of the novel and I admit I had to turn to it several times during the reading as there are a lot of names and relationships for the reader to juggle. The Prologue finds a young Zintara, human in all features aside from the great black wings that thrust out from her back, being sent away by her mother as her family and their empire falls in a violent manner. The antagonist of this tale, Korban — human warrior and sorcerer — is on a quest for the three Stones of Alu Cemah which will purportedly bring him the ability to rule over all.

The Ashorne’s Ingress by Seamus Eaton

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Truly a prolific read, Seamus Eaton’s The Ashorne’s Ingress excites the imagination with a multifaceted, and complex fantasy epic which proffers to readers an enticing narrative rich with the craftily blended elements of fantasy, horror, gore, magic, science fiction, and sex.

Initially, events start out on earth, the year is 2020 and we are introduced to the focal character William Gentry, who is in the midst of a softball game when his whole world comes tumbling down as he receives the news that his family was severely injured in a freak kitchen accident, that leaves his wife and son dead, and his daughter’s life hanging in the balance. Meanwhile, as he struggles with his emotions and the devastation of the loss, William finds himself approached by two beings claiming to be ambassadors from a land called Arba, located on another world. Claiming to have knowledge of his true identity and legacy, they extend to him a very odd offer, that if accepted would lead to saving his daughter’s life, and possibly more, they only catch is he has to drown himself in a specific river, at a specific time and carry with him an odd triangle they left with him called the Germ of Reismyl. Distraught, in disbelief and teetering on the edge of insanity, he initially misses the opportunity to take the plunge, resulting in the unfortunate death of his daughter.

Neon Prey (A Prey Novel) by John Sandford

Reviewed by Allen Hott
Lucas Davenport, who used to be the governor of Minnesota’s number one crime solver, still works at solving crimes. But now the former governor has moved on to Washington and from afar he uses Lucas as his number one U.S. Marshall. So whenever there is a strange crime going on anywhere in the West Lucas gets the call and off he goes.

This time he starts off meeting a different FBI agent in New Orleans along with a couple of other agents, Bob and Rae, whom he has worked with on other occasions. It turns out that they not only are hunting a killer but this particular guy is also a cannibal. Although not a perfect one in that he does kill the person first and then usually cuts them open and eats the liver or other intestinal organs.

The killer, named Deese, was on bail for doing other criminal activities in his job as a muscle for hire by loan sharks and others. He skipped out on his bail procedure and was on the loose but still actively doing various crimes as he worked at earning more money.

The Point of Light (Historical Fiction Book 1) by John Ellsworth

Reviewed by Allen Hott

In this fictional accounting of the atrocities of World War II Claire Vallant lives through those horrendous days. She was able to not only recount verbally but also by pictures memories of the happenings. Claire was a young French girl who quite by accident began her career in photography by taking some pictures in a hospital. She was then “hired” by many of the visitors at the hospital to take photos of relatives and friends. Little did Claire realize what this beginning would grow into?

She falls in love with Remy whom she had known from grade school and together they join the French Resistance to fight as well as they can against the advancing German Army. Together they made reconnaissance missions where Claire would take pictures of the German soldiers who had been sent ahead of the oncoming army that planned to take over Paris and all of France.

Because Remy’s father was the foreign minister to Paris Remy was forced to join the German army even though in his heart he was a French resistance fighter. As the story goes on he has the parents of a young French girl taken hostage and he secretly hides away the young girl because he doesn’t want her to be killed also. As he fights alongside the Germans he does everything in his power to prevent many of their atrocities and is a true rebel at heart.

The Eighth Sister: A Thriller (Charles Jenkins) by Robert Dugoni

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Eighth SisterThis is quite a story that basically that wraps around the concept that there are or were eight Russian women who have fought against the KGB or its current counterpart the FSB for many years. Supposedly there were seven who lived for years but then, again supposedly, three of them were killed or died in some fashion. Now there is a new one looking to join up with the survivors and she would be The Eighth Sister. However there is at least one Russian FSB agent, Viktor Federov, who is looking earnestly for this theoretical eighth sister. He hopes by finding her he can find the other remaining sisters and bring them to Russian justice!

However in the United States Charles Jenkins, a former US CIA agent, was contacted by his former CIA boss who wants him to go into Russia undercover and convince the FSB that he knows who and where the original sisters are and that the eighth sister will come forward allowing the FSB to capture her and try to track down the others. However before they can do that the CIA plans to step into Jenkins’ place and kill the eighth before she can do any talking.