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Author: Karen Judd Smith Title: United Nations Unlocked Subject: Non-Fiction Release Date: Available now Reviewer: Rebecca Ross “Many people today recognize that humanity as a whole is approaching a pivot point that will have a proportionally larger impact on us than anything we have experienced before,” says United Nations Unlocked author Karen Judd Smith. In these rapidly changing times we live in, she asks the question ‘How can the United Nations and the tech world come together in a meaningful engagement?’ If the relationship between the UN and the tech world is one you’ve never considered, you’re probably not alone. Judd Smith draws a line from time honored social institutions to cutting edge tech companies that not a lot of people are talking about. At least not yet. She believes that these companies would greatly benefit the United Nations, if they were willing to get involved and that the UN can only remain relevant if they adapt. Of course, that’s the over-simplified version. Judd Smith’s concepts are extremely well developed and researched. She has landed on two very different groups and drawn from a wide variety of disciplines and sources to support her claim that if they came together it would benefit our future in incredible ways. And, if not, our collective futures will be jeopardized. Again, that is a simplification. You wouldn’t expect to see members of the UN and CEOs of tech companies sitting down to dinner together, but if they did they might be one step closer to putting “all of these individually brilliant, but disparate pieces together into working strategies.” Meta-Nets play a big part in United Nations Unlocked as do various leadership models and strategies. Judd Smith’s desire to save the UN from obsolescence is clear and a partnership with tech companies makes [more]
FRONT PAGE reduced Author: George Woelcken Title: War and Defeat Subject: History Release Date: Available Soon Reviewer: Michelle Hunter George Woelcken does an excellent job in capturing his family’s history dating back to WWII. This is an epic illustration of the human plight given from the perspective of a German gentleman. When reading this story the reader is instantly placed in the setting of war, violence, poverty, social injustice and survival. The history of this family was eloquently written. George made it a point to speak of the good parts of his family as well as the not so great points. This novel is definitely written for the history fanatic, who is willing to learn about capitalism, socialism and the human struggle for equality, as well as getting an insight to the German viewpoint. This is the beauty of this novel. Anyone can connect to the many stories and atrocities displayed. There were several great parts to reading this book. The correlating of the family history to actual historical events were spot on. Not only was the writer capturing his personal experience, but he had obviously done his due diligence in researching the global events that were concurrent on his family timeline. Another aspect that was greatly appreciated was the German viewpoint of Hitler, the war and the aftermath. Specially, when George came to the US. It was nice to see how a German could come into a “Jim Crow” environment and point of the similar injustices that the African Americans and the Jews and Germans had to endure during this time. George also states the not so obviously point of the hypocrisy of “White only” signs in the land of the free. The reader can also appreciate learning about the [more]
Author: Lyman Ditson Title: Please Don't Ask Subject: Poetry Release Date: Available now Reviewer: Rebecca Ross With a lyrical name like Lyman Ditson, one seems almost destined to be a poet. Please Don’t Ask, Ditson’s eclectic collection of poetry, traverses a variety of genres, subjects, and forms, taking readers on an interesting journey of words. One of the great things about modern poetry is that it doesn’t insist on similarity and consistency as benchmarks of success. A book of poetry today doesn’t have to contain only poems that take place in a specific location or only those of a particular metrical pattern. It doesn’t have to be love poems or political poems or spiritual poems – it can be all of these and more. Modern poetry thrives on variety and purity of self expression, no matter the form, and Please Don’t Ask fits right into this ideal. Ditson has crafted poems that act as social commentary (i.e. the world of celebrity through the lens of mythological figures in “Mount Olympus”), that rely on humor to convey a message (“Just a Trash Bin”), and that transport readers to another time or place (“The General”, “Adobe Land”). Several pieces in the collection are clear standouts. The absolutely beautiful imagery in “Prior to Eternity” will make you feel as though your own memories have been stirred, whether or not you’ve ever “slept ‘neath the stars”. “Cricketland” is an example of wordsmithery at its finest, while “Self” reminds you why poetry is considered an art. While there may be the occasional poem in Please Don’t Ask that makes you stop and re-read to make sure you have a real grasp on what it’s about, more often than not the thing that will stop you are lines like “gaze across the cosmic sea” and “cast my knowledge into [more]
Author: Clair William Harmony Title: The Check Subject: Fiction/Mystery Release Date: Available Soon Reviewer: Valerie Porter “What starts as a small-scale, intriguing mystery escalates to an all-out global situation involving the FBI, CIA, White House, Cosa Nostra, drug cartels and terrorists. Our main character goes from mild-mannered postal carrier to billionaire, living in a massive “bunker” with a secret railway, and a huge security team. The story almost feels a bit too extreme or outlandish, bordering on world domination, but the saving grace is that the author definitely has a knack for the mystery/thriller genre and the reader becomes so engaged that there’s a willingness to forge ahead, eager to be part of the rollercoaster ride till the end. The story idea is certainly unique and progressively becomes a morality tale of sorts, where the good guys win and the bad guys are stripped of money and power…” Overall, this is a well-written book by an author clearly well-versed in the major elements of the subject matter. The book shows great [more]
Author: Holly Pepe Title: Lesson Plans Subject: Fiction Release Date: Available now Reviewer: Maria Josey Lesson Plans, a novel written by Holly Pepe, begins with the lives of two main characters that happen to be high school teachers in New York City. First there’s Maureen, an extremely stoic and introverted woman who finds social interaction both intimidating and unnecessary. A quiet, short redhead with the ever-present “muffin top” shape, Maureen begins the school year with both dread and anticipation. Then there is James Frangi. James is an amateur band player complete with tattoos and the requisite cigarette, and yet James spends his days as a special education teacher. With his good-natured and easy-going personality, James enters his new school year with some elbow-ribbing from his friends and a hangover on the first day. It’s an inevitable expectation that James and Maureen are going to meet, and the enjoyable expectation of what these two characters are going to bring to each other keeps a reader turning the pages. From the beginning, however, the disconnect between Maureen’s extremely introverted personality and the fact that she’s a teacher is somewhat baffling. In fact, her social phobia and “don’t speak, don’t engage, don’t socialize” mentality are so intense that it’s hard to come up with anything likeable about her at the beginning. Even if it’s possible that such a social-phobic person would find their niche in teaching, readers wouldn’t get that impression when the woman nearly bursts into tears after she discovers her schedule includes three periods of the frighteningly uncomfortable “team teaching.” When one of her teammates happens to be the mysterious James Frangi, the spark that we expected to see when the two finally meet is instead replaced with an awkward, abrupt introduction. Once in front of the class-room, Maureen exudes a cold stern-ness and a harsh, [more]
Author: RJ Ward Title: What Would You Call...? Subject: Humor & Entertainment Release Date: Available now Reviewer: Valerie Porter What Would You Call…? is a clever book in concept and the illustrations add immensely to the project. The humor is simple and obvious and at times quite enjoyable. However at other times, it feels like an old-time comic routine from a show in the Catskills – each pun waiting for that drum roll or riff – Ba DUMP bump! This will appeal to those who like this brand of humor, but perhaps not to a wide audience. At times it’s very much a thinking person’s riddle that is presented (thanks to the author’s wide-ranging knowledge). How he ever thought of all of these riddles is a major accomplishment in itself. But in spite of this, at times it borders on too silly. Actually, some of the riddles are a bit groan-worthy and nonsensical: “What do you call it when a person doesn’t eat much plastic?” Really? Even though the answer may be ok (a low-card – not low-carb diet), the bigger question is “What kind of person eats any amount of plastic and why was this joke relevant?” Another riddle that is too much of a stretch at humor is: “What do you call a mystery dish served at the beginning of the meal which contained Macintosh?” Apple teaser is the answer (play on appetizer) but how does one relate to the question, which then causes it to become only marginally funny. Yes, it’s meant to be humorous and not deadly serious, but one would think there needs to be some sense of reality to make the reader relate to it. Word tricks like trading peanuts for penance, cussings for cousins, playing the filled for field – if the reader is willing to suspend any sense of [more]
Author: Ernie Alanis Title: Llorona Subject: Fiction Release Date: Available now Reviewer: Michelle H. Alanis does a great job in creating this epic story about Llorona, a mystical priestess whose sole mission is to fight child abuse. The story is told by multiple characters, but Alanis does an amazing job creating the stage. Alanis takes us through time periods starting 500 years ago in Spain, to the crusades of the New America to the 21st Century. Mestizo, the offspring of Llorona and Fernando Medina, tells the story at the beginning of the book. This is the introduction of the priestess and the illustrations are impeccable. As a reader you are drawn into this world of paranormal mixed with real life historical events. Alanis has definitely created this book for anyone who is interested in sci-fi/paranormal/historical books. It is eerie at times but is consistent with twists and turns that will keep you on your feet. It was brilliantly crafted, and can easily have a sequel with the existing ending. There were a lot of positive parts to this book. The momentum of the book was fast and consistent. There was never a dry moment. And just when the reader felt like the plot would be predictable, they were immediately thrown for a loop. The descriptive passages were eerily vivid. The constant reference to the “child” priestess and her supernatural abilities are still haunting. The subject matter of combating child abuse was brilliant. Anyone who has children would love to read this book. It provides the element of reality, fiction and evokes strong emotions for the subject matter. This book is very unique and one would struggle to find any like novels to compare it to. There were a couple of areas that needed improvement. There were many typos throughout the novel. Some grammatical errors were present as [more]
Author: RJ Ward Title: The Bully and the Leprechaun Subject: Fiction Release Date: Available now Reviewer: Rebecca Ross In The Bully and the Leprechaun, Gilbert and Jade are best friends that live in the quiet village of Dingley Dell between rolling hills and the rolling sea. Not much happens in their hometown, so the pair must make their own adventure. As many best friends are, Gilbert and Jade are opposites. Gilbert believes in science and empirical evidence, while Jade believes in magic and things that cannot be seen. One day they have a fight and Jade storms out, determined to prove to Gilbert that fairies do, in fact, exist. As she climbs to the top of a magical tree in pursuit of magical creatures, Jade is faced by the town bully who causes her to fall. When Jade wakes up she finds that she has very nearly crushed a small leprechaun! The two become instant friends and he vows to help her find her way back home. Together they travel across a rainbow to a dark and magical place where Jade is able to finally defeat a bully once and for all. When she returns, she tells Gilbert of her adventures and wonders if he truly believes her. Of course, her little fairy friend may help make her case. Author R.J. Ward does a wonderful job of pulling young readers in with his easy, flowing style and touches of whimsy and humor. Did you know that the violet part of a rainbow tastes of tuna fish? Jade didn’t either. Patrick the leprechaun is quite charming, as are the illustrations that depict the various adventures he and Jade have. The theme of bullying is a common one in children’s literature and also, unfortunately, a necessary one. It is nice to see a young female character defeat her bully without fighting, while at the same time staying true to her own mission which, in this case, [more]
Author: RJ Ward Title: The Hermit and the Time Machine Subject: Fiction Release Date: Available now Reviewer: Valerie Porter What a delight for children, and for adults willing to suspend reality! The Hermit and the Time Machine is clever and charming with an environmental message that is handled in thought-provoking ways – robots using recycled dump materials, no more humans in existence because they polluted and poisoned the planet. Author RJ Ward’s writing is very descriptive in terms of characterizations (especially with Professor Boson and with the robots) and locations (the beach scenes and the Professor’s home in particular). Pacing and length of the story seem just right. It’s clear from the overall language, the primitive but charming illustrations and even the title of the book, that it is meant for children, who are sure to enjoy it. However, some technical and structural glitches prevent the book from being all it could be. It could use proofreading as well as some minor editing or rewriting. The proofreading would involve fixing minor issues of overuse or misuse of punctuation in some places, and non-use in areas where punctuation marks are needed. Some basic grammatical or mechanical problems exist, too, where there is too much space between lines near the end of each chapter, unless that is only showing up on this reviewer’s reading device. The Table of Contents could use some extra spacing between the chapter number and the page number, since it looks awkward as it stands now. But these are easily fixed and not what stand in the way. More important are a few language issues and cases where the author seems to presume the reader and the characters are in on what he is thinking, yet he shows no concrete evidence to support this. Regarding language, for the most part it is child appropriate. If it is intended [more]
Author: Rupert Pollard Title: Assassin’s Cradle Subject: Fiction Release Date: Available now Reviewer: Rebecca Ross In many ways Idries Tanarra is like any other newly graduated twenty-two year old. He’s eager to begin his career, confident in his abilities, and ready to take on the world. Or, in this case, the universe. As an operative. And eventual assassin. In the distant future. Okay, maybe he’s not your average twenty-something. We first meet Idries as he is arriving on the planet Ganoten, ready to be given his first assignment. He soon finds himself on a mission from the Insam Enlightenment to seize the planet from its current leaders. What begins as an exploratory mission, taking him to farming cities and college towns, becomes a wild ride as he finds himself working deep in the mines, falling in love, and being promoted left and right. The Assassin’s Cradle is full of twists and turns, secrets and deceptions, that would put Dynasty to shame. The only thing that would have made all of the political intrigue more intriguing would have been if we, as readers, were allowed in on some of what happened behind closed doors. Idries is often kept in the dark and so are we. Idries goes through quite a transformation as the story unfolds. He is no stranger to ladies’ bedrooms, yet he also trains to control his emotions. However, we all know there is no controlling love, so he eventually succumbs to the charms of the lovely Darla. When Idries makes a startling discovery about his love interest, the results are somewhat anti-climactic. Though it would be nice to connect with Idries on a deeper level (his stoic, oftentimes robotic nature keeps readers at arm’s length), there is no lack of connection when it comes to the world of Ganoten. The politics may be hard to follow, but author Rupert Pollard goes into great detail when it comes to the behaviors and customs of [more]