La Chimère of Prague: Part II (The Chimera of Prague Book 2) by Rick Pryll

Reviewed by Ray Palen

Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic and one of the largest and most bohemian cities in the European Union. It is important to have an understanding and a sense of Prague to truly appreciate this novel as the majority of it is set there during the late 1990s. Specifically, LA CHIMERE OF PRAGUE spans the length of August – December in the year 1998.

It was not that long before the action of this novel that Czechoslovakia saw a schism referred to as the Velvet Revolution and later the Velvet Divorce which saw the country split into the new Czech Republic and Slovakia. Prague is found in the former and by the late ’90s became one of the business and cultural centers in all of the EU. Author Rick Pryll knows all this only too well as he lived in Prague from 1997 to 2002.

Someone who knows and understands Prague even better is the protagonist in this tale, Joseph. He is an American ex-patriot American now living and working in Prague. He is not only leaving behind the U.S.A. but also the memories of his late love. In one of the most interesting love affairs in modern fiction, Joseph was involved with a bi-sexual mermaid who died under mysterious circumstances. He still intends to get to the bottom of her death but for now, must focus on his own life and moving forward.

A Time to Kill: A Novel (Jake Brigance Book 1 by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A really good read by Grisham. As usual it is in the south and again as usual it has legal ramifications. Jake Brigance is a young attorney in Ford County Mississippi and is struggling at the moment to make money. Unbeknownst to him at the time he is about to get a tremendously big case even if the income isn’t going to be too great.

It seems that two young very inebriated white guys (one who had already been imprisoned once) grab a little ten year old black girl and do some unspeakable things to her. Not only do they sexually attack her but they also beat her pretty badly and then after the horrible mutilation they threw her into a ravine and hurriedly drove away.

Tonya, the little girl, gets out of the ravine and with some help gets home to where she tells her Mom and Dad what happened. Once the sheriff hears what has happened he goes after Billy Ray Cobb who has been spouting off in the local bar about having raped a young “nigger”. Ozzie, the black sheriff, arrests both Billy Ray and Pete Willard who was Ray’s buddy that afternoon.
Ozzie took them to jail and there the real story begins.

Tunnels & Caves by Robert Haydon

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Kelly Wren and Angie Morrison are in a serious romantic relationship. They co-own a farm in Willow Creek, a rural town in Texas. Wren is a former sheriff who works on cold cases along with retired detective Wayne Tolleson for the Austin Police Department. Morrison unofficially helps with the investigations, which involve three cold cases: the double murder of a man and his girlfriend, the murder of a teenage girl, and the disappearance of a college student and her boyfriend. While Morrison devotes time to aid Wren and Tolleson, she also oversees the day-to-day running of the successful farm business and deals with a stalker. Wren and Tolleson end up in dangerous and life-threatening situations while pursuing satisfactory resolutions to the unsolved crimes. Will they be successful, or will the criminals get away with their abhorrent behavior? As Morrison’s stalker escalates to more intrusive and threatening behavior, will Morrison become the victor and not the victim?

Cooking for Cannibals by Rich Leder

Reviewed by Daniel Ryan Johnson

Cooking For Cannibals is your classic love story. Boy meets girl. Girl gives her mother and her mother’s friends a miracle drug that makes them young again. Corporate hit-men come in search of miracle drug. Drug comes with the side effect of craving human meat. Youthful 90 year olds start killing people of questionable character. Boy starts cooking up a cannibalistic feast. It’s a tale as old as time.

Rich Leder takes us on a wild ride in this darkly comedic thriller and if you are willing to suspend your disbelief a bit you will be joyfully swept along. It’s not the drug that takes the elderly back half a century that is hard to believe. Nor is it the fact that a side effect of the drug is cannibalism. Rather the most unbelievable part of the book is in the insane luck that our protagonists seem to be blessed with as they are constantly jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire while remaining unscathed, with death and destruction looming all around them.

A Steep Price (Tracy Crosswhite Book 6) by Robert Dugoni

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A very good cop story by Dugoni. A good read with action, story line and no sex! Tracy Crosswhite is a Seattle homicide detective who works with Del, Faz, and Kins. In this one Del and Faz are working to break up a drug ring headed by a guy named Little Jimmy. It appears that Little Jimmy has shot and killed a woman in the neighborhood who was spearheading a drive against drugs. The main proof is a hand print on top of an automobile that was left by the gunmen. But figuring out if that ties to the shooting is part of the story.

Faz knows Little Jimmy very well since when he was fourteen Faz had been instrumental in getting Little Jimmy’s dad put in prison. While there he was killed by other prisoners and Little Jimmy still feels that Faz was the one who put his dad in the position and thus he does not like Faz. So far however it has been just a quiet eye to eye battle between the two but Faz watches Jimmy very closely. And Faz works to prove Jimmy is the one in the murder of the woman.

While Faz and Del work on their case they also battle sideline battles. Del has severe back problems that get worse every day by his work and doing things around the house. It causes Faz to have to work alone quite often and he is also having personal problems as his wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer so he is having all sorts of mental anguish.

A Bend in the River by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Reviewed by Teri Davis

From an American, Vietnam is usually from the soldier perspective. Yes, our young men were enlisted and drafted into military service. Many more interpretations of the situation half-a-world away from the United States do exist.

Libby Hellman wrote a realistic fiction novel beginning in 1968 involving two sisters from a small Vietnamese village, Tam and Mai.

This small village is approached by Americans both from land and air. The two know about how the servicemen drop bombs from helicopters leaving their crops burnt and poisoned. Even worse, they are then not able to grow anything on that land for years.

Tam and Mai select two different opportunities leading them apart and not reuniting again until 1978. What could happen in those ten years?

A Bend in the River is a beautiful image of life for the Vietnamese people of the South. Author Libby Hellman vivaciously researched this particular time, the land, and spoke to many people regarding their personal experiences in creating this gem. Her characterization makes real people in this fictional tale of the sisters.

The Innocent (Will Robie Book 1) by David Baldacci

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Will Robie is back and though a lot of us have a hard time believing that our government would hire hit men to take out those opposed to our ideas, here is the guy who does just that. For some time and several Baldacci books Will Robie has been the hit man for the United States who travels all over the world. He works for the U.S. government incognito and takes out the top men in the various groups who oppose the U.S. way of thinking and doing business.

He basically reports to one man who gives him his assignments and these assignments can be anywhere in the world. And as is almost always the case he somehow gets involved personally with individuals along the way. Usually these individuals are women that he meets and falls for. Some of them are good and some are not so his live becomes even more involved than just killing bad guys.

In this story Robie begins having to kill a Russian and a Palestinian who are planning on killing someone high in the U.S. Government. Robie does his job and makes his way back home. Little does he realize that the Palestinian whom he had killed has a relative who will hunt Robie down and eventually find him.

Tales from the Other Side by Paul Corson

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Tales from the Other Side” by Paul Corson was designed as a companion piece to his “Regaining Paradise: Forming a New Worldview, Knowing God, and Journeying into Eternity”. While, the books are strong enough to stand as independent reads, when taken together, their message is elevated to the next level.

But first off, a few words about “Regaining Paradise”. This daring book goes beyond the curtain of materiality to tackle some of the biggest existential questions relying on personal experience, science, and rationality/logic, sprinkled with a little bit of imagination. Although the spark for this intellectual and spiritual quest lies in the three lived transcendental experiences of the author, he heavily relies on science to argue his perspective.

In “Tales from the Other Side”, Paul Corson delves deeper into his personal life, revealing instances of when the “Other Side” seeped into this side. These confessions and stories will enable the reader to have a more holistic view of the thought-process of his spiritual journey. The book is segmented into seven magical parts, of which five are autobiographical, the next part is a rather out of the ordinary conversation (between space travelers and stargazers) and the last part consists of fiction stories that form allegories.

The Little Breadwinner: War and Survival in the Salvadoran Heartland by Lucia Mann

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

The Little Breadwinner: War and Survival in the Salvadoran Heartland” is a harrowing tale about the many faces of war, written by Lucia Mann. The book folds and unfolds the narratives of several generations across different lands and times, but perhaps the biggest feat of the read is that it offers an account of the civil war of El Salvador. What is more, the author was on location at the time of the civil war so the subject has an added personal resonance.

If you are not familiar with the Salvadoran Civil War (1979-1992), this is a great opportunity to learn about it. At the beginning of the book, you can find a map and chronology of the events that serve as a general guideline for the pages that follow. The two sides that were in conflict for more than 12 years were the military-led junta government and a coalition of left-winged groups, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). The US-funded government death-squads conducted a methodic terror campaign against civilians that added up to a long list of human rights violations (forceful recruiting of child soldiers, massacres, attacks, and rapes). A lot of people were killed and a lot of people simply disappeared. Their exact number remains unknown, but the UN reports a victim count of over 75,000, as far as those killed during the long civil war. It all finally ended with the Chapultepec Peace Accords.

“The Little Breadwinner” encompasses the civil war, but goes beyond it and captures some of the late after-effects of a tough decade. Lucia Mann starts with some apparently disjointed cold facts about the Salvadorian Civil War, but as the pages progress, her approach turns more personal as she tells us a multi-generational story. She frequently interjects with personal observations and comments that sometimes jolt the reader out of the immersive experience.

One of the main characters is Estrella Godwin Lozano, a person with a short stature that becomes “the little breadwinner” for her family living in poverty. She is the descendant of the Waorani tribe from the Amazonian rainforest. Her birth mother was a gifted tribe member and her gift passed down between generations being particularly strong in Estrella’s case. Yet, this special soul was not ordained for an easy life; she faced many hardships and challenges, the worst of which was brought on by the civil war.

The Little Breadwinner” reveals the personal narratives of the victims of the Salvadorian Civil War. The book is based on real events but presents these in a fictionalized form. Lucia Mann, a passionate and worldly activist, a prolific writer, tells yet another unique story about the oppressed and suffering trying to fight against the current of fate.

Daniel Scratch: A Story of Witchkind by Don Jones

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Daniel Scratch has the misfortune of being an orphan. Strangely, he is allowed to stay in his family home. Being alone in an old house can be difficult; however, brownies, the little elf-like creatures, clean and cook for him. His father lives as a spirit in the basement, making noise and yelling advice. Also, his great-great-grandmother resides in the attic as a spirit-like creature in another dimension.

Daniel lives inside a world of witches and humans co-existing with each other.

On his thirteenth birthday, Daniel’s great-great-grandmother informs him that he is to take a test. She gives him no other information but directions. Afterward, he is given an unusual glass medallion and discovers himself on an isle with the Tower of Endings. Now his education to fulfill his family destiny begins.

Reading Daniel Scratch is reminiscent of Harry Potter, in that they both begin in similar situations such as being orphaned and no family support. The discovery of their destinies is the adventure.

Once the education begins for Daniel, it also starts for the reader. The sentence structure and vocabulary are both more advanced, allowing the reader to learn along with him. Philosophy is intermixed into his lessons, also increasing the difficulty level.

The story is exceptionally well-organized. Developing the details in the world of the Axis is his destiny. He must learn the responsibilities of each Axis before he ascends to his duties for the Sixth Axis.

Surprisingly, the necessary relationships between witches and humans are compared to any entity dealing with people. The lessons for Daniel are relatable for everyone as he learns from his own and others’ mistakes.

An underlying theme is also the necessity of continuing reading and researching the past.

The author, Don Jones, resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. After years of writing technology books, he now has entered the fantasy world of witchcraft with an obvious continuing story of Daniel Scratch.

Daniel Scratch is an enjoyable story with unpredictable twists and turns that will leave you wondering and always thinking and questioning.

I look forward to meeting Daniel Scratch again in the future of this exciting new series.