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Category Archives: Reviews

Here you will find either book or movie reviews.

Heavenly Vision by Koos Verkaik

Religious cults have been part of our world for ages if not just thru stories, but actual cults that can be found throughout this world. They have filled the void for those who felt lost and needed a sense of belonging. They have filled the void for their leaders who wish to corrupt a religion to get people to their bidding.  There are of course numerous reasons why people both join, and start a cult and would be a story upon itself.

I bring up religious cults as they will become part of the story of Author Koos Verkaik’s aptly titled book Heavenly Visions. A book that will find a reader facing different time periods as a story unwinds thru the words with in the pages of this book. The book will introduce the reader to a wide range of characters, and even a range of time periods.

The book starts interesting enough in the year 1745 and will introduce the readers to ship captain Adriaen Kalf.  The Captain will have the most unfortunate events that will cause the man to see formal charges filed against him. The events that lead to his charges will be found spelled out in an old Atlas that falls into the hands of one Jan Glas.

As we continue to read the book, we find out that Captain Kalf had taken on a very unique device that time has nearly forgotten about. I write nearly, as Glas will be involved in helping an article get written about Kalf and it leads to an invitation to a symposium held by a publishing company. The company, Arnold McKay Publishing, is being the magazine ParaPsycho. It is during the symposium that many of the other key characters in the book will come into the picture. There is Pamela Mitchell from the magazine, a Hellen Derringer from a group called the Third Eye Association, and the beautiful Mary Landock.

The events in, Heavenly Vision, will start growing more and more intriguing during this event. Mary has her purse stolen that leads to a chase, police involvement and so much more. These events will eventually lead to Jan Glas, in England waking up in a Hospital.  There is much that is being left out on purpose as one must really get to read how this all happens as it is exciting and very intriguing.

The book will lead you back in time a few more times as you read the pages. One of the more interesting, trips to the past, will involve the introduction to Manuel Raso back in the late 1880’s in several southern US States. Our introduction to him will tell the tale of his unique gift that potentially came from a kick to the head by a horse. A gift that will leave many in tears, but grateful for meeting the man. A gift that will find him gaining a “cult” like following and eventually a formation of a town in Florida.

All of these past events will somehow find themselves tying back to Jan Glas, ParaPsycho and Arnold McKay. They will also go back to that secret cargo that Captain Kalf had upon his ship. All of these pieces are tied together much like a jigsaw puzzle being completed.  The rush of finding a place for each piece, and that feeling of nearing completion will be felt as you read what Author Koos Verkaik has laid out within the pages.

I do realize some people do not like stories that seem to jump around from one period to another. I however found this to be a great tool within the story and added so much to this book. There was just the right amount of changes that it did not take away from the overall enjoyment of the story. In truth, it only added to the complete puzzle as things are unveiled as you reach the finale of the book. Those who enjoy mysteries, suspense and intrigue will surely enjoy this book by Koos Verkaik.

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Posted by on December 24, 2018 in Reviews

 

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A Light in the Desert by Anne Montgomery

I first want to state I do not always re-post a blog review but in this instance I felt it was necessary. You see the book, A Light in the Desert, seems to have some interesting luck. The book saw it’s previous publisher close and is being republished. I want to say this is not the first time either to be honest, but we won’t get to much into that. I just know that Author Anne Montgomery haw been one of those authors who I have reviewed a few of her books. It is for that willingness on her part to allow me the pleasure of reading her books that I am re-posting this review. I do hope you find it helpful in discovery a new read that you should really enjoy.

I have to admit when I saw the title to author Anne Montgomery’s newest book I had a flashback to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Why? In the movie Brad and Janet go toward a light to find help after a flat tire and a song plays. The song has a lyric of, “In the velvet darkness of the blackest night, burning bright, there’s a guiding star, no matter what or who you are.” I of course started humming the rest of the song but after reading, A Light in the Desert, I found this lyric to be quite fitting.

I write this as such a light has numerous connotations available to why it may be seen. A religious person would think of the light that led the three wise men to the manger where Jesus was born. Those not of a religious background may think alien, car light, train, or just a plain old light with nothing special to it. The book will introduce the reader to a few potential options but in its core is a story that takes the reader into the lives of many people that are as diverse as the wild of the Arizona Desert they all call home.

A Light in the Desert will introduce the reader to former Vietnam veteran Jason Ramm who has moved into town. He’s been able to settle in and found he’s been welcomed by the locals. As a person reads the book they will get to find much more of his background, including potential mental problems. These problems did not appear till he had a “mission” in Jerusalem and you may wonder what was he doing there. You will of course need to read the book to find out why. They will also find that he finds a dog, near death, and helps bring it back to life.

There are other characters like young teenager, Kelly Garcia, who is very pregnant and living with The Children of Light. The children are a group of Pentecostal zealots who try to live the way of the bible. They try and grow all their own food and help take care of those who cannot help themselves like Kelly. She has found her way to their home after a jealous mother decided she could not live with Kelly in the house any longer. Kelly does have a birth defect in her face, but it appears some man still found her beautiful.

There are other characters within the book such as a malicious gas station owner who has no problem beating his own son. The man’s problem is that the son has reached an age where he is not afraid of his father and is himself quite ruthless. The local store owner is the man all should talk to if they want to find out about their neighbors as he is the local gossip. He hears so much and sees so much as he does operate the only store around. There then is a smart and edgy news reporter who according to her bosses is a bit “past her prime”. She has won several Emmy’s but her age has caught up to her and in the world of TV News that is deadly.

The book will take the reader into a very complex plot filled with many plot lines. Ramm seems to be just another man escaping the big bad world but there is so much more to him. He helps the Children of Light and even takes a liking to Kelly. She needs help and someone to watch over her as she is under educated and the world has not been kind to her.  Ramm even may believe that she may help him with the madness he struggles with all the time.

There then is the gas station owner’s son, Billy, who stole so much from his father before running away. In truth Billy had left a nice package for his father in the bathroom of the gas station but it was found before it could do any damage. Billy has missed that opportunity but for those riding the train that goes through the area will find out, he is not done yet.

The book does have several different plot lines, but there is one thing that runs throughout the book. This is how one should never give up and fight for what they feel is right. Yes, there are those within the pages of, A Light in the Desert, that are misguided but the story unfolds nicely thanks to Montgomery’s writing. People will find some characters larger than life, and others you cannot help but sympathize with. There are even moments when one may feel terrible for Billy, and the next want to him hurt. The one character that caught my eye was that of the “retired” TV Reporter Kate. I felt there may be a bit of Montgomery in this character when one considers her back ground in TV. The simple truth is that each character is well developed and the story eventually will find a point where all the plot lines seem to join and converge on the right track. I have one final note and that is be sure to read the Dedication as the struggles Ramm has may be more real for the reader

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2018 in Reviews

 

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Water to Water by Karen A. Wyle

I first wish to open by stating I have had the pleasure of reading several of Author Karen A. Wyle books in the past. She has always been able to create very believable world settings combined with characters readers will find themselves relating to as they read the pages of her books. As expected, Karen A. Wyle does it again in her latest book, Water to Water.

In the pages of Water to Water, readers will find a world that is unique and new to readers. It is a world with multiple beings living upon the planet with each type of being having its own belief systems and part to play within the pages. The book will tackle topics from death to the wonder of discovery. At the same time, as we all find, sometimes discovery comes at a cost.

Water to Water setting is that of an alien planet which allowed author Karen A. Wyle to utilize her imagination when creating the world that will be discovered thru the eyes of the books main characters. These characters will not be familiar either as they will have multiple appendages in some cases. They may be considered non-human to some, but their relationships and emotions are all too human. This adds an additional complexity to the characters in my humble opinion.

As readers will find the book opens with a scene that sees a member of the Vushla race preparing for his final walk to the sea. The Vushla believe that they need to go to the sea and allow the water to reclaim them at the moment of their death. It falls on Terrill’s hands to be the one to walk with his father to his final rest as he is reclaimed.

At the same time,, this is taking place a young Vushla hides away in a traders cart. The trader Kititit, a Weesah,  has engrossed this young Vushla in his tales of what Kititit has seen and learned thru his travels. Thus, Honnu has hidden away leaving just a note for his family to know where he is going. A brief moment on the road will find Terrill returning with family from taking his father to the sea run into Kititit and his cart. It is not long after this moment that the book will really begin to open up the world of the Vushlu and the Weesah. A world that is vast and at times will have the two Vushlu boys questioning the things they have been told and believed.

As I read the book I found myself thinking of other tails of boys running off to explore their world. I thought of books like Stand by Me, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Like these books, both took the reader into a world of adventure that allowed the reader to explore the world around the boys thru their eyes. Each of those books is set in many different times than today, some of their lessons are not what is politically correct in today’s world. The fact is they told a tale of exploration that left others wondering what would it be like to throw all aside and take a risk and wonder.

You see, this is what comes from the feelings and emotions that are conveyed within the pages of Water to Water. The boys will work for their passage, but at the same time, their predetermined beliefs will be questioned. They will learn things that may shatter their worldviews, but at the same time, they will see wonders they would not have gotten had they not taken the urge to travel.  This urge going against much of what the Vushlu may believe, but in reality, the experience is the best teacher for someone.

The connection between our three main characters will grow strong. We also cannot forget the beast like creature that pulls the cart. The group will reach for wonders, and Kititit will do all he can to help the young Vushlu learn about their world.

Author Karen A. Wyle again does an amazing job in developing the characters within the pages of Water to Water. She may be writing a book set on an alien world, with alien species, but again they can be seen to be all too human.  In truth, the trip these two Vushlu take is one that many would probably love to take today. A chance to get outside of what they consider the norm, and really learn about others. Something you will find yourself doing at least thru the eyes of the characters within the pages of the book.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2018 in Reviews

 

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Silver and the Ghost Horse by Koos Verkaik

Robin Hood is one of those characters that has sparked interest in many for decades if not for over a century. The thought of a man stealing from the rich to help the poor is something that many can easily get behind. I know I for one am a fan of two movie versions of the hero, the first being “The Adventures of Robin Hood”. This version was made back in 1938 and stared actors, Errol Flynn, and Olivia de Havilland.  I also am very fond of the 1973 Disney animated classic, “Robin Hood”. I point this one out second as the fact Disney decided to use animals as their lead characters made this version charming.

You may wonder where I am going with this review and I wanted to use that opening to bring you into the world of Angie and her wonder horse Silver, along with her friend Joe and his bear Bruto. So, if you have not determined by this point, the reference to Disney the book I am reviewing here is a children’s book by Dutch author Koos Verkaik.  The book is part 3 in the Saladin Series which tells the stories of Angie and Silver and is titled, “Silver and the GHOST HORSE”.

The book’s title does not make one think of Robin Hood and this is why I wanted to open by mentioning the thief(hero) known to have a golden heart, and honor. The reason being is this book takes place during the period of Prince John, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Robin Hood, and his band of men. A period in which many stories have taken place, and where this children’s book finds a great home.

“Silver and the GHOST HORSE”, will start by letting us into the mind of Prince John as he must deal with the demands of his daughter and Robin Hood. The Prince will find himself taking the advice that will lead us to some fun encounters within the pages of the books. The choice will be to replace the current Sheriff of Nottingham with a monster of a man, or a giant. His name is  Buck Bains and the man truly fight, drink and eat. He, however, will need to have the Prince’s advisor Counselor Rupert with him to help give Bains direction.

The books adventures will take off from here and I found it quite interesting on who would tell Angie about Buck Bains. The now-defunct ex-Sheriff of Nottingham who is under a tree enjoying a beautiful day and no longer chasing Angie, Silver or Robin  Hood. Instead, the man will become a fountain of information due to his bitterness over being fired.

“Silver and the GHOST HORSE”,  is a unique tale set in the era of Robin Hood. Angie will be found to be quite an energetic, caring and brilliant girl. Her friends rally to her help and with all of them pulled together there will be some interesting and exciting adventures to come. I mean how can one not find themselves reading a book that features a wonder horse, a bear named Bruto and so many other interesting characters. There will be battles of wit, and others of simple lessons in the nature of people.

Author Koos Verkaik does a very good job in pulling a reader, regardless of age, into the story he unravels thru the pages. The characters are well developed and those you may know from past Robin Hood Stories are found to live up to the character you may remember. Verkaik also does a great job in introducing readers to Angie and Silver. The primary characters in the book will be found to be resourceful and loyal to her friends, including both Joe and his bear Bruto.

As it’s a children’s book I do not wish to give too much of the plot away. I will share there are other new characters to find in the book. There is a Sultan who has his eyes on the wonder horse for his master back in another land. There, of course, are townspeople who will have involvement as well, and many find reasons to laugh at Bains. The book is pure fun and something that both child and adult will enjoy. As for the ghost horse in the title, well again do wish to keep a bit of mystery for when one reads the book.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2018 in Reviews

 

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The Fall: Book 1 – Conversion by Author S.T Campitelli

As one looks around in in the entertainment world for moves, comic books, TV shows, and even much of the literary world there is something unique. You find that many of the stories involving a post-apocalyptic world focus either on North America or Europe. There have been newer tails that bring us to places like Africa and even India. However, there is not much, that I found, that deal with “The Land Down Under” or better known as Australia. This is at least till I was given the opportunity to read the book The Fall: Book 1 – Conversion by Author S.T Campitelli.

The book opens up in a future that Is not too far away from the present day. It starts innocuously with a man driving out to check his property. He comes across a strip of land that has gotten a great tear in it as a meteor landed and plowed a crater into the ground. Unfortunately for this man, and humanity there is some type of cosmic hitchhiker that will bring Australia, and the Earth, to its modern day end. Its effects will not immediately be known but this older man will shadow what is to come. A wild animal bit will not heal as a man give himself shots of antibiotics as he travels home. It is only when a friend stops at his home do we get a sense of what happened, and Humanity is in for just as much as a shock as that friend. A friend who will find out that opening a door can be a big mistake as the other side could have something infected who sees you as “lunch”.

The Fall: Book 1 – Conversion will take a jump in time and lead us to a walled city. A place where survivors from a massive infected outbreak now live by somewhat strict rules, but they are safe. They will take patrols out into neighboring areas searching for the needs to help their community survive. As we learn more and more about those inhabitants we find not just great friends, but family dynamics, and of course greed. The inhabitants will be a mixture of military to civilians with each member having their job to do.

Author S.T. Campitelli does a very good job in not just introducing his characters but giving us great storylines for them. You find yourself starting to sympathize with their situation as well as either hoping for their success, or downfall in some cases. Along with the character development there is futuristic technology utilized in this book that easily could be real today, if not in a few years. This makes the book even that much more enjoyable as you find yourself envisioning the items being used. In all truth some of the items in a home could be things you ask your voice assisted device to do for you within the next few years.

The story will move at a very good pace and you will notice that the chapters are named around the primary character in each.  It is why you will find many are named for the leading character, father, and husband John Bradley. He is an educated man who goes out into the wasteland around to find those things the walled city needs. He is also one who cares for many and gets involved in a major operation that is going to be overtaken within the book.

There are also chapters such as Dustin Callahan, The Headhunter and Alpha Kronenburg that are just hints of the protagonists within the pages of the book. These will be names that readers will come to find have their own agenda’s and those in the city are at times just in their way.

The Fall: Book 1 – Conversion will introduce the reader to what remains of the civilization that was at one time Australia. It will give readers insight into a part of the world that is often left out of the decision during apocolyptial events. It will also give the reader a chance to ponder what would they do to survive such an event. Would they find themselves banned together in the city, trying to survive on their own, or just well that’s a question you must answer yourself. Of course that will all come if you allow your imagination to take you within the events of the book.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2018 in Reviews

 

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The Last Movie Star (2017) staring Burt Reynolds

How many actors are you fans of that when you hear they are in an upcoming movie do you stop and make note of that title? Are you able to name them using one hand, maybe two hands at the most? I know I struggle to think of my own personal list, but one who comes to mind is Burt Reynolds.

I bring up Mr. Reynolds for the reason that I have seen his name appearing in several movies as of late. I had not realized that he was still keeping busy and doing a lot of acting as he enters the later years of his life. It was then recently while walking the aisles of my local Family Video store that I saw the title, The Last Movie Star.

I didn’t think twice I grabbed the movie and proceeded to rent and of course view this movie. It costars another older actor, Chevy Chase, and the Modern Family star Ariel Winter. The movie will take the viewer into an old actor who seems to have lost much of his past fame. He will get invited to a Movie Festival in Nashville and that will cause some changes in his life.

The movie does open on a sad note as you find Vic Edwards (Reynolds) at a veterinarian hospital with is ailing dog. The vet is giving Vic bad news about his aging dog and it comes down to Vic having to put his old friend down. He is left with the dog’s collar when he leaves the hospital and takes his drive home.

The movie will later show Vic out shopping at a grocery store taking time to admire an attractive young woman walking buy. He will decide on a frozen dinner for his evening meal and we watch as the aging actor goes through his normal routine. It is when he finally see him having a lunch with a fellow older actor, played by Chevy Chase, which he finally talks about the invitation to a movie Festival. Chase’s character tells him he should go and later on we see Vic packing his bags for the Festival.

The movie will follow Vic as he gets to the Festival and finds out his “assistant” for the weekend is Lily McDougal, Ariel Winter. The young woman is not what one would call typical or even assistant material. She picks Vic up in her “beater” of a car, drives while using her cell phone, and has shorts that are short. She is just the start of what Vic will find awaits him at this Festival he had determined was a top of a line affair. Instead he’s put in a lower level Hotel, taken to a bar for the Festival, and worse finds out he is in coach when it came to his plane travel.

I wanted to include that last part about how Vic sees himself as a top talent and still should see A-lister perks. I mentioned that as I wanted to show that the movie shows how hard it is for Vic to truly understand he has gotten old. It takes Vic to realize who he really is, and where he came from when he talks Lily into a side trip to his home town. It is here that the viewer will begin to relate more with Vic, and better yet what it’s like to get old.

The Last Movie Star could have been written around Burt Reynolds himself as much of it resembles his own life. In truth there have been articles written from interviews with the writer of the movie that it was written with Reynolds in mind. As the movie progresses we are introduced to this old man, grumpy, and headstrong man that still has his site on his glory days. There are even parts of the movie where old Vic is interlaced with young Vic in movie scenes. Old Vic is doing his best to pass on wisdom to his younger self about the dangers of getting old.

What the Last Movie Star does is quite brilliant in the way it was written and performed by its cast. It takes the viewer into this old man’s life and we see how he starts to realize he has gotten older. We get a sense of how he wants to reconnect with his past, and at same time teaching this young woman about life.

The thing the movie shows the viewer the most is a different way to accept what will happen to us all. We are all getting older every day and the movie will show the viewer the good and bad of growing old. It may help the viewer rethink their own ideals on getting old. However, most of all it is a heartwarming tale of a man who will reconnect with his life, and accept where it has brought him thru his life choices.

I should add that The Last Movie Star was written and directed by Adam Rifkin.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2018 in Reviews

 

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Who: A Novel of the Near Future by author Karen A. Wyle.

If one was to take some time and do an internet search for uploading your mind to a computer you’ll be surprised by the multitude of results. There are tech industry stories going back several years that talk about just that fact. There was even an article in which now departed Stephen Hawking stated it would be something that could happen. He did have the “brains” to know at this time we do not have the technology.

You have to wonder had we had the technology would Hawking have taken the chance to have his brain transferred to a computer to continue living. The possibilities of what could happen to a consciousness moved into a digital realm is somewhat endless, but someone has taken that potential and put it into a great read. The book is titled, “Who: A Novel of the Near Future“, by author Karen A. Wyle.

Author Wyle has already written some very thought provoking books in her Twin-Bred novels. She certainly continues that trend in this book. She goes deep into a subject that is currently starting to gain headlines and has implications of all types. The thing is, this book will give the reader a sense of what some of those potential problems could be.

The book will introduce the reader to a couple who are young and naturally in love. They are both musicians that have done some work for the company LiveAfter. LiveAfter is a firm that will take a person’s mind and digitize it so a person can continue to interact with those they care for. As both Thea and Max have done some contract work for the company they are offered a deal to make use of the digitization if something should ever happen.

As the reader continues the story they will find out the worse does happen and Thea dies. Max makes the choice to have Thea’s mind digitized and this is where the story really starts to take off. Max will find that he has his Thea back as she can still play her music and seems to be her normal self. However, as legislation is passed allowing those who have been digitized to do more, like voting Thea seems to change.  Her mindset changes and her personality seems different and Max has to wonder is this really his Thea?

The book will take the reader into the realm of what could happen when someone’s mind is digitized. Is there a chance the company doing that work could change or manipulate the mind, or some may say soul. I do realize it is a stretch to go with the soul, but if someone’s mind is change I say it’s part of their soul. The mind is the thing that drives reason and feelings, we can say it’s our heart but really it’s the mind that makes that final call.

The book will not just focus on the interactions of Max and Thea but you get to read how others are impacted. The extended family, their friends and others involved in their lives. We get questions come to mind on what this technology could potentially do if this technology eventually came to reality. The book really will get readers using their minds as they consider all the options put forward within the pages of the book.

Author Karen A Wyle is an author who will cause the reader to really think. She does a great job in character development as well as explaining many of the potential challenges this type of technology may bring. I will warn readers that at times this book may seem to get mired in topics around law and great explanations on possibilities, and technology. I realize some of us in fast speed world may find some of this boring, but the book is well worth a read. You can surely scan some of the pages but you’ll miss out on a very well developed story.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2018 in Reviews

 

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