Monday, November 9, 2015

Marines don't only storm beaches - they bring the thunder in the sky as well!

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Tippy: Tales of Flying Sergeants by Michael Uva is a tale of a backwoods mechanic turned Marine auto mechanic turned pilot turned war hero turned pastor.  That seems like a lot of twists and turns, but Michael Uva spins a tale that anyone who loves military stories should read.

Typically, Marine enlisted men are not pilots - officers are.  But during WW II, necessity meant that rules were more like guidelines.  Thus, enlisted Marines were thrust into the pilot seats with little formal training and expected to uphold the Marine fighting spirit in the sky.

"Tippy" is a Marine's Marine.  He is the type of guy you want in your foxhole, or in the case of air combat "protecting your six".   But like all hero's, there is much more to the story than many around them know about.  Tippy's story is told through the eulogies that are given at his funeral, which makes them all the more poignant.

So, with this posting date being on the Marine Corps birthday and just a day before Veterans Day - take a little flight with this short book and learn what the men of WW II were made of.  Thank God that America produced such men who sacrificed so much and expected little in return.

While this is a work of fiction, you can tell the author is a Marine himself and knows what he is talking about.  As a Marine myself, the flavor of the book brought me right back to my days when I was fortunate enough to wear the uniform.  Uva is even able to pull off the strong "Esprit De Corps" that only one who has experienced it can even attempt to explain.

I will even admit that some of the stories almost brought a tear to my eye.  It just reminded me very much of the bond that only brothers in arms can know.  Again, this is a work of fiction, but I feel that it captures the spirit and the essence of the men who had to do the dirty work for our nation to survive.

The book is a short read, and I was very fortunate to have been gifted the Audible version of it.  It does have some "film elements" in it - but I found it an interesting insight as to how people who are in the entertainment business think about stories.  (Michael Uva was in the entertainment industry for over 30 years).  I finished it very quickly and wanted more when it was over - which is how anyone in the entertainment business wants it to be.  "Always leave them wanting more...."

Semper Fi, Michael Uva, and Happy Birthday Devil Dog - you have written a book that brought a smile and fond memories back to this Marine and I am sure any others who read it as well.  

(This review was part of a paid package by the author.  This only gave the author "front of the line" privileges.  This review is an honest review based on the opinion of the reviewer)

Monday, November 2, 2015

It's not easy putting together a "super group" of warriors without getting yourself killed!

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The Summoner once had it all in the Empire's land of Malvia.  Huge armies to command against the fight against the Rell and the Orcs, money, power, fame.  He was a true rock star of his age.  But he is also known as the Renegade General - which is what seems to happen when you turn your back on the same Empire that helped make you that rock star.  Now, branded with "The Black Rings", everyone in Malvia knows that The Inquisition would be more than happy to get their paybacks.

Tired of being on the run and having no place to call his own in years, The Summoner, embarks on a yearlong quest in search of the best warriors, mages, holy men, thieves, prodigy's, and psycho's that Malvia has to offer.  There is just one little problem The Summoner has - how to convince these people to meet him months from now in an out-of-the-way pub without telling them the reason for the meeting.  Giving information out is the same as The Summoner writing his own death warrant, especially when you can't be sure that those you invite to the meeting won't just attack you, or even worse, call in the Inquisition on you with the information. 

Oh, and before he can even get started, The Summoner must gather enough Messenger Stones (Malvia's version of holograph walkie-talkies) to be able to communicate with his group.  Unfortunately, these are usually only carried by the best and the brightest of The Inquisition.  Killing off a bunch of their agents isn't going to endear the Renegade General to the Empire or The Inquisition any further.

And, as The Summoner discovers, it sometimes sucks when you ask someone to join your team - only to have them beat the snot of you as a response.  Not that The Summoner can't handle himself (magic in the form of summoning elementals and deadly swordplay come naturally to the Renegade General), but healing yourself after time and time again of getting whooped tends to get old after a while.
The author, who goes by the pen name General Asa, does an excellent job keeping the reader guessing and in a good way.  The book is large, but if you view it as many different short stories of The Summoner trying to recruit the different members to his cause - it becomes much more manageable.

Asa also does a great job developing the characters.  The Summoner is strong and powerful, but not invincible.  He also is a very trusting soul, probably a leftover from being a great leader and having people follow his every command without question.  However, this can become a weakness with The Summoner placing trust in those who may have motive or bad memories of previous dealing with him.

This novel is chock full of magic, battles, sword play, and even an arena scene that will bring down the arena! 

Give Black and Gold: Formation a chance and soon you will be sucked into a world wondering which of The Summoners recruits will join him, ignore him, try to kill him, or just rat him out........   A great blend of mystery, magic, and some good old fashioned butt kicking!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

How Does A Backwoods, Lowly, Enlisted Mechanic Become A - P-51 - Ace Fighter Pilot?

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How Does A Backwoods, Lowly, Enlisted Mechanic Become A - P-51 - Ace Fighter Pilot?
Based on an “Enlisted Marine” who flew a P-51 aircraft during WWII. (Normally, only Commissioned Officers were pilots.) These "enlisted" pilots fought like hellions in air battles in the European and South Pacific theaters against greater trained enemy pilots and superior aircraft. They showed tenacity, guts, and heart in a belief they could stem the tide of tyranny. They crammed their bodies into tiny aircraft, and then hurled themselves across the skies, to protect America!

I wrote Tippy as a tribute to a Master Gunnery Sergeant Tippy that I had the pleasure and honor to have served with while I was enlisted in the Marines. I flew a few times as his crew chief.


Tippy was a salty old marine. A fair guy, but let’s just say, seasoned. Boy, did he have some stories. Some may have been “Fairy Tales," some the "God’s Honest Truth." You can never tell with the Marines. I was told early on in my Marine career, there are only two types of fairy tales told in the Corps; One begins with, “Once upon a time…” the other, “This is no Shit!”

Whatever the truth may have been, I wrote “Tippy” as a tribute, as I imagined this Flying Marine Sergeant might have been in WWll.

Enlisted Men Become Fighter Pilots!
(Eleven become Generals)

Only Officers were supposed to be pilots. But despite discrimination, over 2,575 enlisted men are officially, “In the books!” as Pilots. These men flew under the banner of "Sergeant Pilots." Chuck Yeager, Carroll Shelby, and Walter Beech all started out as enlisted men.
These heroes are now lovingly referred to as, “Flying Peons.”

Authors' Note:
Lets' keep alive the histories of these enlisted, Sergeant Pilots who served bravely between 1912 and 1945. This is the story of just a few of those unsung heroes. One in particular, Tippy!
(This Is My "Fictional" Story Of Real Flying Sergeants!) 

Not a review - cover and book blurb as part of an advertising package

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I am calling in sick tomorrow - I am feeling a little "Afflicted"

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"Afflicted Dawn" by Gregory Napier is one of the reasons why I have fallen in love with the zombie genre.  I resisted the urge to view / read anything zombie related as if ignoring the upcoming apocalypse could somehow save my brain from being eaten.

I mean, really, how interesting could slow moving brain eaters be?  No real need to do any "character development" on a creature who might just shrug a limb off just as easily as you might sneeze.

But my milky white eyes have seen the light - and one of the main reasons are books like Napier has written.  You see, the best of the zombie genre don't even really feature the zombies.  Yes, they are there - and you can't really avoid talking about undead braineaters if they happen to have some role in your book - but that doesn't mean that everything focuses on them.  To be fair to Napier - they aren't even really zombies, per se, - they are "afflicted".  The cause of the end of the world - a cancer treatment gone really, really bad.

Dylan and his niece Aurellia are just a couple of survivors trying to make their way in this new world order.  Is it OK to befriend other survivors, or should they be more feared than the afflicted themselves?

This book has it all: zombies that seems to be able to "evolve", bad guys that are looking to make a bad situation good for themselves, survivors willing to take risks and sacrifice everything for a chance to leave their world just a little nicer place, and harrowing escapes (for some characters - not all).

If you've never given the zombie genre a chance - sit down, buy this book, and get ready to feast on some brains.  You won't regret it!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Should I lounge in the sweats or rock the stilettos?

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Rachel Cleveland shares her journey through depression and just plain horrible things that daily life has to throw at you (sweatpants days) to coming out the other side killing it in the stilettos.  This is a journey that isn't unique to most people, but few people are willing to share their experiences in a book to try and help those come after them.

Written in a style of a memoir, the insights from her journey are shared in a logical, easy to read style.  You almost feel as if you are sitting somewhere with the author over lunch and lending an ear.

There were many "aha" kinds of moments, but I will share two that stood out to me so that you can get a sense of the "flavor" of the book:

  • Training that involves real learning is oftentimes painful and terrible, but that's the training that sticks.  "The lessons you remember best are often the ones you found to be the most difficult."
  • Sharing what she learned from author Kevin DeYoung - (paraphrased) - The reason why you are busy could be because you feel you are the only person that can do the job.  Sit down and ask yourself  "What makes my work or thought processes so superior to everyone else that they can't possibly complete the task?"   If you are being honest with yourself, the answer is that it isn't so superior to everyone.  Just let it go!
Having written a self help book, I went in thinking that if I could just get across a few "nuggets" that hit people at the right time when they were open to them - it would make it all worthwhile.

I believe Cleveland has accomplished the above.  It is a short book packed with a large book full of wisdom.  Dive in, read it, reread it - and then dust off your stilettos and get back out on the dance floor of life instead of watching from the sidelines.

(This review is part of a paid ad.  The ad only moves the book to the front of the line.  The review written above is the authors true feelings of the work.)

Friday, September 4, 2015

Author Interview: Kyle Garlett author of "Lessons From the Edge of Life"

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1.    Kyle, thank you so much for sharing your story with the world.  It is truly inspiring.  Like most inspiring stories, however, there is an element of struggle and dark days.
What is the one thing that you can attribute your “Thrive – don’t just Survive” attitude to?
I think it goes back to those dark days, as you suggest. I felt an element of anger at cancer, that it was disrupting my life so profoundly and threatening to take it. To put it bluntly - cancer really pissed me off. So I didn’t want to just beat it, I wanted to destroy it. I didn’t want to just win. I wanted to humiliate it. So the “thriving” that I strive for in my life is soft of me continually spiking the football in the face of cancer. It’s a reminder to me that I beat it, but also in a way it’s me trying to remind cancer that I am better than it. It is tough, but I am tougher.
 2.   Can you picture your life if you would not have gone through these struggles?  Do you believe you would have just fallen into the “complacent” category you warn against?

It’s hard me to picture a life without the struggles that I’ve survived because they are such an integral ingredient in who I am today. I suppose I probably would have fallen into the complacency that I warn against because that complacency trap ensnares so many of us. There is a natural instinct in all of us to click on the cruise control and just stay the easy and known course. Hopefully I would find my out. Hopefully I would get the kick in the pants that is often needed to seek more. Because I also believe that there is a natural instinct within all of us to reach for bigger and better. All it takes is the confidence to go for it.

3.            It seems that you are a huge “pay it forward” type of person.  What is the most rewarding thing you have done to give something back or pay it forward?
It’s hard to say what is the most rewarding thing for me, in terms of paying it forward. I do appreciate that because of being on television, going to Ironman, and writing books, I am somewhat known in the heart transplant and cancer communities. So often someone newly diagnosed with cancer will seek me out. Or someone waiting for a heart transplant, and terrified by what that means, will send me an email. Being able to speak to people like that. Giving them hope, or simply an ear that understands their fears, is something that I will always do. I’m so fortunate to be in a place where can pass along the same hope that got me through the worst of days. It’s truly a blessing.

4.            What would you recommend a person focus on when they are in the dark periods or feeling like everything they are doing just isn’t going to matter?
I talk about this in my memoir, Heart of Iron, which came out a few years ago. When I was in isolation during my bone marrow transplant, life was pretty horrible. Physically I was at my weakest and sickest. But also mentally, my hope was at its lowest point. So what I would do was try to find a good thirty minute period a day. It might be reading a good book, watching a funny television show, or having a conversation with a friend. If I could find an enjoyable thirty minutes each day, then I could bear the other twenty-three and a half hours. And if I could get a whole hour of good, then it was an extra special good day.

Find something in your life that is good. Because there is always something. Someone that loves you. A pet, a parent, something. Find something you love. Writing, reading, running, laughing, something. And then focus on that good. Zero in on the good, and the elevate its importance above all of the bad. Make that good be the reason for which you live. And in time, the bad will begin to recede, and more goods will begin to enter your life. As I point out in this book, light always illuminates the dark. It’s never the other way around.

5.            I see that you are a speaker – how rewarding is that and what is your favorite topic to speak on?

I love speaking, and especially speaking about the strength that we all possess to overcome the great adversities of life. And the nature of my speeches tend to be very personal, because my story is one that is relatable. So after hearing me speak, people feel like they know me. So they often approach me afterward as though I am already a friend. I have great conversations. I make great connections with people. We talk about life. They share things with me because over the course of my speech most of the normal walls that separate people are lowered. 

I always leave a speech in a really great mood. I hope that in the time people spend listening to me, I give them hope and optimism and an extra spring in their step as they take on whatever challenge they are currently facing. Because that is exactly what happens for me after giving the speech.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Horned grey Rells, Orcs, Greenskins, and Humans - oooohhhh this is going to be good!

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Malvia is a world caught in constant war. The three remaining races slaughter their way towards a victory that has escaped them and others for over a thousand years. In the west exists a great Kingdom belonging to the horned, grey skinned race of the Rell. To the north, behind walls of jagged steel and rock, are the Orc Territories where the savage Greenskins live. In the west, ever fortified and watched over by the Inquisition, is the Empire of the humans.
As the war continues there are many who seek to capitalise on its carnage, its pain, and its horror. One such man is the Summoner: a mysterious warrior whose name and past is well known to all in every corner of this violent world. But what plan has he concocted to make his mark on Malvia and what is in store for not only those who stand in his way but those he desperately seeks? 

(Not a review - part of a paid advertising package)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Kyle Garlett has walked to the edge so that you don't have to and you can still get all the wisdom from that right here!

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"Lessons from the Edge of Life: The Seven Keys to Surviving the Worst and Living Your Best" by Kyle Garlett is a one of those books that makes you just pick it up and smile all the way through.

Kyle Garlett is a four time cancer survivor.  That in and of itself is testament to the man's willpower and attitude.  But what is survival if you then become complacent?  Garlett chose to thrive instead of survive.  Most "healthy" people would not be able to accomplish the feat of completing the Ironman Triathlon.   With a heart transplant and damaged lungs from rounds of chemo, Garlett did just that.

But, like all great people worth listening to, Garlett has a sense of humility that allows him to not just share his story, but to share the insights that were gained from his journey.

Being a personal development coach, I recognized many of the points that Garlett makes, but his examples and twists on them is where the real value of this book lies. Garlett has people facing their gremlins by having them not just facing their fears, but making fear their friend.  He does an excellent job in the very first lesson when he encourages people to "climb out of the valley of the fog".

I also appreciate that Garlett never turns into a "positive in the face of everything cheerleader".  There were times when he suffered setbacks and depression.  No one is ever going to be 100% positive all the time - depression, hurt, helplessness and other emotions are OK for a quick visit, but nothing good happens from an extended stay with these emotions.

One of the greatest take-aways for me was the acronym of AWE:  Attitude, Will, Effort.  I have seen this first hand in myself and others that these three words can take a person quite far if they put them into action.

I could go on and on about the contents of this wonderfully motivating book, but I can't do it justice or give you the wisdom in a blog article.

Do yourself a favor - take Kyle Garlett's hand, walk with him to the edge of life, and learn all you need to learn on how to get more out of each and everyday.  

(This review was part of an ad package.  This only moved the book to the "front of the line" and in no way influences the review"

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A difficult choice facing us every day: Sweatpants or Stilettos?

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Many months of this year were what I call the sweatpants days. Don’t even try to tell me you don’t understand what I mean by that statement. But just so we’re all on the same page, sweatpants days are those days that all you want to do is stay in bed with your sweatpants on and have Netflix at your beck and call to create your own marathon event. They are the days in which the sun should not shine, the world should not move on, and no one should smile, laugh or be happy.
Thankfully, I have learned this year that sweatpants days don’t last forever. I have seen them go from sweatpants to jean days to leather pant days and then on to stiletto days. Those days where you feel the absolute best and are 100% yourself, doing what you were created to do, with people you love to be around, and everything is falling into place. Blessings from heaven abound. Yeah. Those days. They are the stiletto days. They are the take-on-the-world-tell-them-whose-boss-no-one-can-stop-you kind of days. And they are awesome. I love those days.

Educator, DIY junkie, and Believer, Rachel candidly reveals some of her darkest days and brightest moments. In Sweatpants and Stilettos, she speaks to the truths of Christ that have been put on display through life’s variety of circumstances. She gives light to real and honest conversations we have with ourselves while battling life’s trials, all while still managing to be both brutal and comical.

(Not a review - Book cover and blurb posted as part of an advertising package - review to follow)

Friday, July 24, 2015

One of the most unique stories that you will ever hear!

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Diagnosed with cancer at age 18, Kyle Garlett would go on to wage four separate battles with the disease - three times with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and then a fourth battle with a chemotherapy-induced secondary leukemia. All told he was in active treatment to fight cancer, undergoing a combination of radiation, chemotherapy, and a bone marrow transplant, for a total of 54 months.

But perhaps his most challenging hurdle was still to come, when it was discovered that damage sustained from repeated treatments to fight his cancer would require a heart transplant. And after another 64 months on the heart transplant waiting list, at the age of 35, Kyle finally got his gift - a life restored through heart transplantation.

Since that October day in 2006, Kyle hasn’t looked back. Making the most of his second chance at life with a new engine in his chest, Kyle has won multiple medals at the U.S. Transplant Games and crossed the finish line of dozens of triathlons and marathons. And in 2009, on the third anniversary of his transplant, he became the first heart recipient to ever compete at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

Kyle has survived many of the worst pains and uncertainties of life, he’s witnessed and benefitted from the absolute best of humanity, and he’s now dedicated himself to sharing the lessons and perspectives gained during his more than 25 years of living with and conquering adversity.

Kyle Garlett as a Keynote
While Kyle's story is particularly relevant to anyone in the healthcare industry - the video to the right is from his keynote address at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Global Communications Conference in Basel, Switzerland - he's also been a frequent headliner in the non-healthcare business world. Kyle has done multiple events for Boeing Aerospace and his frequent work within the financial and corporate communication industries have netted him clients like Morgan Stanley and Williams Lea.

As a cancer survivor and heart transplant recipient, Kyle knows how to face unexpected obstacles. He knows how to win in the face of adversity. He knows how to take the difficult challenges that life is sure to bring, and turn those tests into moments of opportunity. And that is why Kyle's message has resonated at conventions, conferences, corporate retreats, athletic events, high schools and universities, and anywhere there is someone in need of motivation and inspiration.

(Not a review - Part of a Paid Ad Package)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Hard Luck Hank turns crap into.... really nothing, he just deals with it

In the second installment of Steven Campbell's Hard Luck Hank titled "Basketful of Crap", the adventures of Hank continue on in a big way.

After saving your space station and everyone on it from a crazy destructive robot, you would think that Hank could live in his apartment on Hank Ave. in relatively quiet.  But lately a lot of dead bodies have been appearing on Hank's doorstep, which wouldn't normally be a big deal except for the fact that Hank didn't put them there.  

Hank would be content just going to the diner and eating them out of everything they have, but two super fast ninja women have other plans.  They attack Hank, which is mostly just annoying, because as a mutant, Hank is super hard to hurt.  But Hank is slow and the only way to stop them is an unplanned remodel of the bathroom involving a ripped up toilet used to slow them down.

When things calm down, Hank discovers that they want to hire him.  He needs to find a women, who they really can't describe and won't tell Hank why they are looking.  Great.....

The basket of crap becomes fuller when the corporations who have taken the place of organized crime start to declare open war on each other.  Hank's normal puny double barrel shotgun isn't really useful against tanks, so his friend hooks him up with a weapon so powerful that Hank is almost guaranteed a trip to the hospital whenever he fires it.  Let's just say Hank is a big believer in the "don't bring a knife to a gunfight" philosophy.

Strange become stranger when Hank discovers that his real adversary is "Naked Guy" (named for the fact that he is always naked, lol) who also happens to be indestructible and bored.  When naked, eternal people are bored, they get crazy thoughts in their head to keep things entertaining.  Like bringing in dozens of Therezians (a race of giants) and a couple of Gandrines (a race of rock people who resemble.... rocks) to start a galactic civil war - all because Naked Guy hasn't seen that yet.

Add to the fact that the Navy is very interested in finding their lost disintegrater that could blow up the entire space station, and now Hank's basket is filled to the brim with crap.  Seems like a trip to a sewage facility might be in order....

If you are looking for something funny, entertaining, and just plain fun - you need to look into the Hard Luck Hank series.  I read the first one just because I wanted to.  I couldn't wait to read the second!  Do yourself a favor and check them out if you like lite sci-fi stories!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Do you really know who you are? This book can help you answer this question!

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As a certified personal development coach, one of the things that I consistently see in my clients is a total lack of spending any time with themselves.  Often, when given a list of different values and asked to prioritize them, you will see most people will put “Self” at the end.
In the short term, things are fine like this.  Stretched out over time, however, the inevitable end result is disillusionment, lack of energy, and frustration.   

How do I know this?  If you pour everything into everyone and everything (work, kids sports, etc.) you will eventually reach the point where you find that you haven’t done anything for yourself in quite a long time.
People will try to justify this saying that they are giving everything to others, and wrap themselves in a shroud of nobility with the statement. 

Three questions. 

1. What happens when you have nothing else to give?  It is going to happen – you can’t run anything on drained batteries.  You need to recharge yourself to be able to give.  Doing something for yourself is not being selfish – it actually will allow you to be and do even better things for others.

2.  What happens when the people you are giving your all to either no longer need or want your help?  Think empty nest syndrome here.  It is no secret that almost all parents go through this with their teenagers.  You want to help, but they are trying to break away and be independent.  The giver is left alone with no sense of who they really are – their identity has been tied into another instead of their own.

3.  Who are you?  Short question, but how you answer this will play a huge part in your happiness and success.

This is where Antoinetta Vogels’ “Healthy Sense of Self” is going to be a game changer for some people.  This book is both scholarly and readable, which isn’t always the case.  In it, readers will find some of the thoughts that they have are really thoughts that they have allowed others to put there.  Then there are the standard demons of depression, insomnia, and addiction.  Self limiting beliefs are another gremlin that this book can help you conquer.

The end result?

“People with a healthy Sense of themselves know what they want in life; they also know their boundaries.  That enables them to come up with a plan for their living and their lives, and they are unlikely to feel the need to higher authorities to do that for them.  They certainly would not consider giving their lives to people who then use them for their won purposes, just as their self-absorbed, abusive parent used to do.  They are able to manage themselves and let their lives be an expression of their own opinion and preferences.  They do not need to be rewarded for good behavior by a person who is higher in rank for they intrinsically and sincerely know their own value.”

If that one paragraph speaks to you, look into a “Healthy Sense of Self” to help guide you to get to that end result.
 Amazon Link               

Thursday, June 11, 2015

It's hard to be humble - especially when your constantly fighting evil armies!

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Delenas Farlong is the elven leader and things are going pretty well.  Delenas has no desire to be remembered for his exploits on the battlefield - in fact, he'd prefer just to lead the Elven race all the way into peace and prosperity.  

But something evil this way comes, and the sound of all those boots hitting the ground are the "Possessors" - Humans, Dwarves, and Elfs who all carry "the mark of evil" on them.  Part of their souls seem to have vanished and they fight with a wild abandon.

Delenas hears of this threat when a band of Dwarves bring the last two living Humans to his peaceful city.  Yes, your eleven ears did not deceive you - the last two Humans.  It is going to take Delenas some time - and the Annual version of the Eleven Olympics seem like a great distraction.  That is - until some Possessors decide to use the crowd as archery practice.  In the confusion, the last two humans are nowhere to be found.

Delenas rounds up a band of misfits and decides to go look for the Humans.  They consist of a refugee elf who is ready to overthrow the leadership in his home town and a band of Dwarves whose leader has his hands constantly full just trying to keep his Dwarves from using the Elves as practice for their meat cleaving axes.

Their epic adventure includes magic stones, magic weapons, a trip on the sea, and some illusions that rival David Copperfield.  Can they rescue the Humans and save their Race?  Whether they do or not, what are they going to do about the horde of Possessors that still inhabit the old Human city?  Delenas' army isn't large enough to do it by themselves.....  and ddesperate times call for desperate measures. 

Can someone tell those Dwarves to quit drinking and quiet down!  I am trying to write a review over here!!!


A Humble Heart (Dark World Novel 1) by Tim Vander Meulen is an epic novel that will be enjoyed by any reader who loves the fantasy genre.  The author did an admirable job with a great plot, good sense of pacing, and set of fully developed characters.

I found myself really drawn in by the author's writing and descriptive style.  I am sure that part of the richness of the descriptions and depth of characters comes from the fact that the author has been mulling this story in his head since he was 12 and worked on it for 10 years.  With that kind of effort, it better be good!  And this book will not disappoint.

Let's just hope that the next two novels are not on the George R. R. Martin timetable of writing.  :).

(This review is part of an ad package that was purchased by the author.  The package just moves the book to the "head of the line" and in no way has an impact upon this review.)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Without Remorse ... without a doubt a good book

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Tom Clancy's book Without Remorse is a good read.  The book is part of the Jack Ryan canon but its focus is on another character in the Ryan universe - John Kelly, a/k/a John Clark.  The novel also introduces us to a younger Admiral Greer (most know as a character played by James Earl Jones in The Hunt for Red October; Patriot Games; and Clear and Present Danger) and Robert Ritter (also seen in Clear and Present Danger). In addition to Greer and Ritter, the avid reader will notice Emmet Ryan, a Baltimore Detective, who is the father of Jack Ryan.

Without Remorse takes place in 1972-73 and has two parallel stories - one in Baltimore and one in Vietnam.  John Kelly/John Clark is involved in both story lines; although, most of the focus in on Baltimore.

The character of Kelly/Clark is well drawn by Clancy with a convincing backstory along with a development of his character through tragedies and his response to them.  The title of the book applies to Kelly/Clark's response to those tragedies.

Having read plenty of thrillers from Vince Flynn to David Baldacci, this story of Clancy is not an old yarn and contains many surprises.  However, the one plot twist in the novel is telegraphed early on.

Overall I recommend this novel as a great summer read.  Although written after several other Jack Ryan novels it is the first in the chronology of the Ryan universe.  If you find the novel in your travels, then grab it and give it a go.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

What happens when artificial intelligence meets a self created killer computer virus?

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In the not so distant future, people cellphones will be littering the junkyard like VCR's did once DVD's and digital recording were invented.  What invention could make us all care less about cracked screens on our iPhone?

Brain Prosthetics.

Need to answer a phone?  Look over at the white circle that pops up in your virtual viewing pane and choose to answer or ignore the ringtone that only you can hear in your head.  Dr. Hagan is the neurosurgeon to some powerful people - including the family of the richest person on earth.  Dr. Hagan can do what once was thought impossible, heal the brain - and when your last name is Devron and your son needs something - it gets done.

As a hobby, Hagan dabble in artificial intelligence.  Well, dabble might not be a strong enough word.  If a hobby causes you to constantly have your job threatened, have your wife walk out on you, and almost kill billions of people - it might just qualify for obsession status.

The trouble with super advanced prosthetics implanted in someones head is that when things go a little wacky - it isn't an easy fix.  And when the prosthetic is like a primordial swamp that can give "birth" to new virtual life forms - that's not good.  And you might get an idea of the character of this new "life form" by the user name it chooses for itself - RedDevil_4.

It is up to the odd couple team of cops to find the connection in murders popping up all over the city and put an end to it.  Krantz, an old curmudgeon of human, still is using outdated prosthetics in his head.  You know the type - still has his Beta and VHS VCR's so he can play his whole library of tapes that he finds in future antique stores.  Krantz is old school, solve a cases by hard work and gut feelings.  Tara is the former military, super-hot, super-cop partner that can't stand working with someone whose brain implant means she has to wait a whole 3 seconds to download an encyclopedia into Krantz's head.

When these three are forced to team up, they will need everything they have - and somethings that they don't quite have yet - to stop RedDevil_4 from wiping out everyone with an implant.  That means only the lost villages in Brazil and some pygmy tribes in Africa are left.  So whatever this team needs to do, including getting past robotic driveway gravel (I know, doesn't sound menacing - but you are sooooo wrong.....) must get done. 

Red Devil 4 is a fast paced thriller with well developed characters and almost constant action.  The story had more than a few twists and turns that kept me guessing just enough to keep my interest.  If you are a fan of medical science fiction - this needs to be on your brain implant e-reader!

Friday, May 8, 2015

An Epic Adventure!!! A Humble Heart by Tim Vander Meulen

Amazon Link

Book Description

An epic fantasy of war and adventure! Set in the world the Elves call Iělŗenväd, where peace has been upheld between the Elves, Dwarves, and men for a century, the human country of Gemdals is conquered by those that possess the Mark of Evil. Receiving this news from two young boys who escaped the battle, the leader of the Elves must decide, per their request, to take the long journey to the West and recapture the lands of men. 
As far as anyone knows, the two young refugees are the only remnants of the 
human race in the world. As they decide to comply with the boy's request and seek out the allied races to join with their cause, the characters find that the war is not only something external, but is within their own selves. They are not out to fight another race entirely, but they fight the Possessors - Elves and Dwarves and men who have chosen to abandon their old ways and join a cause that opposes the survival of their former kindred. 
It takes great courage to survive the growing night, and morality has no place in the grand shift of the world. "
A Humble Heart" is a term applied to Delenas Farlong, the leader of the Elves, who throughout the tale faces tremendous adversity and who shows great valor and humility as he leads his people on their dangerous journey.
From the Back Cover
Sightings of Northerners...
An attack on the Elven tournament...
The appearance of a band of Dwarves and two human boys who possess three magic stones...
Could it mean war?
For a hundred years there was peace in Elveran. Now the Elves learn that the kingdom of men has been invaded. The two young refugees, Henty and Clese, ask that the Elves and Dwarves go to recapture their homeland, and so the choice is laid before Delenas, leader of Elveran. But it is not an easy decision, for it would mean marching an army across half the world, facing unspeakable dangers, and joining forces with people who would not easily agree to the venture.
Can the boys succeed in their mission? Will the Elves and Dwarves agree to their request? Will they all be strong enough to resist not only the enemy but their own inner conflicts, both of which seek to destroy them?
"Whether we go to our deaths, or to end all darkness, now is the time of testing."
(Not a review - cover and book blurb as part of paid ad) 

Author Interview with Theodore Singer - "Jabberwocky: A Novella"

Amazon Link

1.  What was your motivation in writing a book featuring such an enigmatic creature as the Jabberwocky?

I was simply inspired by the poem.  It describes the monster physically, but doesn't really say more than that.  It doesn't say what its essential nature and purpose are or where it comes from.  This left a lot of room for filling in the details and telling a story.

2.  How much did you try to mimic Lewis Carroll's style when writing your book - or wasn't that a consideration?

It wasn't a consideration.  I've been very careful to say that the book is inspired by the poem, rather than based on it.  I took the poem as a starting point and wrote my own story from there.

3.  Other than Astreus - who is your favorite character from the book and why?

Gssa.  I love cats, as you may have guessed, and Gssa is based on a cat I once owned.

4.  Do you have any other works floating around your head that you are going to be working on next?

Right now I'm working on a novel inspired by classic Sword and Planet (e.g. Edgard Rice Burroughs' Mars books) and Sword and Sorcery.  It's set partly on the moon and partly on a prehistoric earth where Atlantis still stands.  What makes it a little different is that the heroes are magicians rather than warriors.  This is obviously meant to be a light, fun book, and the first of a series, but I also have an idea for something longer and more serious - something that takes the poetry and melancholy of Jabberwocky and extends it further - which I will write at some stage in the future.

5.  What piece of advice do you wish someone would have given you when you started writing this book? 

Be disciplined!  Set aside time every week and push yourself to write during that time.  Even if it's rubbish, you can always edit it later.  It's better to write rubbish than nothing.