F Is for France: A Curious Cabinet of French Wonders – Piu Eatwell

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

Exceptional

Did you know that French president Félix François Faure was the only known head of state to have died while having an orgasm? How about that at one time in history male impotence was considered a crime In France?

Do you know that there are more bakeries in Paris than bars? Can you name the ten most popular cheeses in Frances among the one thousand varieties?

F is for France is a wonderful encyclopedia full of French historical and cultural trivia. The proper way to prepare Absinthe, rules for serving wine, the most popular main dishes, and of course, French etiquette are all in there. You’ll even find recipes.

Many misnomers and myths are also exposed. The French press was not invented in France. In fact, France is not even among the top ten countries with the most coffee consumption.

Kissing practices in France vary widely from region to region. Want to know about French fashion? Just look under “F”.

With the permission of the president, you can marry a dead person. The word “necrophilia” was first used in relation to François Bertrand, a sergeant in the French army. I can go on and on with these fun facts. There’s so much in here at only 224 pages.

Author Piu Eatwell has lived in France for over a decade. This “tribute to everything eccentrically, paradoxically, surprisingly, and delightfully French” will be the perfect gift for family, friends or any Francophile in your life. Enjoy!

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Love is the Power: Moving Humanity from Fear to Love – Robert Odus Williams

(Reviewed by Jeyran Main)

Love is the Power is a self-help, health and fitness book. In James Twyman’s words, “This book is a revolution.” By helping us, all understand the concept of changing how we look at relationships and the world we live in; the author answers questions like who we are and where we come from. Robert, the inventor of Quantum Code Technology, tempts us to look at things in his perspective.

The author uses quantum technology to learn and validate the power of mass collective consciousness. His intentions are pure: to move the human mind from fear to love. He hopes to create world peace. Is that possible? You may ask, and that is what I thought when I began reading this book.

The author demonstrates how an app that he has programmed can easily apply this method to almost every person. This book explains how the program works and reflects the history and the science behind it. What you achieve is less stress and a more receptive heart.

What I particularly enjoyed about the book was that the author uses personal references as examples for what he is trying to convey. His love for music, being an educator, loving science, all contribute to delivering this masterpiece, and I believe, it is one to look out for.

The literature is strong and well edited. The double spacing at times did distract me from the flow of reading the work, but it did not take away anything from its rich content.

I recommend this book to people who are seeking a change in life and do believe that good things can happen once you set your mind to it.

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Netwalking Space: A Netwalk Sequence Novel – Joyce Reynolds-Ward

(Reviewed by Jeyran Main)

Aliens have attacked Earth before using a Gizmo war machine that destroyed many cities on Earth.

Bess and her family managed to confine this machine and stop the destruction. The machine endorsed Bess and her family to create a Netwalk. This Netwalking Space became a communication system that allows personalities to upload when they die. Bess’s grandmother, great-grandmother, and mother have all passed on into this Netwalk.

When Bess and her family realize that the aliens are planning to attack again, they have to work together to defend Earth. However, friction takes over this family. Sarah, Bess’s great-grandmother, has a past that is revealed causing Diana, Bess’s grandmother to have a meltdown and join the Gizmo collaborators.

There is an added romance between the lead character and a certain accompanied gentlemen that blossoms within the right amount of time built into the story which I found to be an additional bonus.

Many words can easily describe this wonderful book. However, none can do it justice. The plot is original, and it is a family-oriented story, which is very touching. All the characters and casting crew have enough written backstory and relatable personalities. It is effortless to feel and bond with each and every one of them.

The pace and settings of the story is fantastic. Every page is interesting and not filled with fluffy content just to get by. Joyce Ward has definitely presented one of her greatest works. The literature standard is so easy to understand yet contains enough science fiction and space terminology to keep the intelligent mind intrigued.

The love and bond for protecting a family member regardless of them passed on or alive was admirable. Our daunting pasts can always get to us, but family always comes first.

I recommend this book to readers who like science fiction and space stories.

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The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema – Michael Vaughn

(Reviewed by JD Jung)



“Welcome seeks of the odd and the strange! What you hold in your hands is not merely a book but a map to the sublimely weird, the wonderful, and the grimy side of cinema from all over the globe. It’s a labor of love and the result of a lifelong love affair and obsession.”

This is what Michael Vaughn claims in his book The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema and he sure delivers! This is the ultimate guide to cult cinema from around the world.

Each chapter deals with a genre: Action/Adventure (with a sub-category on cannibalism), Cars/ Trucks / Chopper, Comedy, Crime/Thrillers, Drama, Fantasy and Horror. He gives a synopsis, photo, relevant history and review of each film. Each entry isn’t just a few lines, but multiple paragraphs. If you can’t get enough of a specific film, he suggests another movie that it will go with.

Not all these are great movies, but they represent a specific niche in the genre. In fact, some are way over the top.

There are many movies that I remember, such as Russ Meyer’s 1965 sexploitation movie “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!”,  David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet”, “The Skin I Live In” by Pedro Almovador , “Glen or Glenda” starring Bela Lugosi, and the weird comedy, “Eating Raoul” from 1982.

Most I haven’t heard of though, such as Werner Herzog’s 1970 “Even Dwarfs Started Small”, Fassbinder’s “Satan’s Brew” (1976), “I’m a Cyborg But That’s Ok” from South Korea, the wild action/ horror-comedy “Dead Sushi “-2012 from Japan and, well, there are hundreds.

Unfortunately, most of these films cannot be streamed. However most of the ones that I looked up are available in physical DVD rental.

As a big fan of Grindhouse cinema, I can say that The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema will make the perfect gift for fans of cult films. In fact, I will be referring to this often and may just go “old-school” and rent actual DVDs again.

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Puzzle of Fate: Is Your Fate Predetermined or Can You Change It? – A. Reza Kamarei

(Reviewed by Jeyran Main)

Exceptional

Puzzle of Fate analyzes fate from a scientific point of view. Many books are discussing this matter whether it is philosophically or through religion. Others have also attempted to discuss this through fiction. However here, we experience a novel approach towards something much debated amoung scholars.

Is fate designed? Or can it be manifested? Are you able to create your own destiny? Who is really in charge?

I began reading this book with an open mind and open heart. I was expecting something new or innovative in the world of debate. What I found surprising was that this author manages to use old methods in pinpointing, elaborating and classifying factors and sub-factors that contribute to the building and shaping of our fate. Therefore, he has created an innovative way of debating using already used factors! Now that is a treasure indeed.

Dr. Kamarei invites us to use a drawn, six-factor system in a schematic diagram, calling it the House of Fate. He indulges us by stating that each factor will impact our lives at different times and forms, shapes and directions. They all affect us in various ways and what is more pleasant is that he declares:

“The past does not have to be your prison. You have a voice in your destiny. You have a say in your life. You have a choice in the path you take.”

The happiness and quality of life you lead is also mentioned in this book. Another intriguing part of the book is the “Unique Summit.” It is a term used when you have reached everything you have desired in your life. It is a destination where you will be satisfied and what more could any person need or want out of life?

I found this book to be compelling and a bit of fresh air in the science world. Readers that desire to know the truth about the logistics of fate and how to achieve an ultimately satisfying life will enjoy this book.

I highly recommend this book to everyone.

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Havana Libre – Robert Arellano

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

Exceptional

“…now that doctors are malnourished malcontents while dropouts driving tourist taxis are relative millionaires.”

Twenty -eight year old Dr. Manolo Rodriguez, a pediatrician for the national medical service in Havana, Cuba, resents how most of the medical resources go to tourist hospitals. He is also afraid that the family clinic that he runs will be closed. It’s the summer of 1997 and living conditions are rapidly getting worse in Cuba.

In fact since the fall of the Soviet Union there have been massive food, clothing and medical shortages. Tourists are treated royally while Cuban citizens are barely getting by.

What repulses him just as much is that his estranged father never had to experience any of this. He left Cuba before Manolo was born and is now living in Miami.

Still, it sickens him when he witnesses an anti-Castro terrorist attack where an Italian tourist was killed. There will sure be more of these, financed by Cubans exiles living in Miami.

So when the chief homicide investigator tor the National Revolutionary Police—who he is in constant odds with already– demands he take on an assignment to try and find out who has been financing these terrorists, he initially resists, but eventually complies. This will entail that he fly to Miami with the initial intention of attending a medical conference. He is instructed to contact the father that he never met with the pretense of trying to defect.

Havana Libre takes us on a journey of political intrigue and espionage, with twists and turns until the very end.  I do feel that the ending was rushed though and wished it could have lingered a little longer.

I appreciate that the Cuban political situation is not handled in black and white, neither are the exiles living in Miami. Author by Robert Arellano is pretty even-handed on both sides, though the terrorism is strictly condemned.

What I also enjoyed about this novel is that it is a very personal, human story. Though most of the novel is from Dr. Rodriguez’ s perspective, there are also chapters from those of the paid terrorist and one of his patients that the doctor has taken a particular interest in. I don’t understand why the particular cover image was chosen though, as it doesn’t have anything to do with the story.

Still, Havana Libre is an enticing novel that is a must-read for those who enjoy political history and intrigue mixed with diverse culture. I understand that there are more in this series featuring Dr. Manolo Rodriguez, and I am looking forward to exploring them.

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Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance – Bill McKibben

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

“Vermont on its own will be a lot closer to what Lincoln had in mind for a healthy country.”

When is a country just too big to be accountable to all of its citizens? Former radio host, seventy-two year old Vern Barclay believes that the United States is just that and is out of control.

So he wants to do something about it in order to save his home state, Vermont—where “neighbors are more than decorative” and politics is local. He wants to keep its progressive and friendly nature. He notes that Vermont was the first sovereign nation to outlaw slavery, doing so before joining the Union. Vermont was also the first state to legalize civil unions.

Barclay now delivers podcasts from undisclosed locations. He is assisted by Perry Alterson, a nineteen year old techie with limited social skills. Newspapers started the idea of secession and Barclay is simply expanding the conversation. He and Alterson conduct contests for a national flag and song for Vermont. Alterson, who is a huge fan of the old Memphis sound of the 60’s and 70’, pushes that a song from that genre be chosen.

Even though Radio Free Vermont, “underground, underpowered, and underfoot” has quite a following, Barclay has been labeled a “terrorist” and is on the run. He has been accused of orchestrating various antics such as reversing the sewage system in a Walmart. Soon his three cohorts will also be dodging authorities.

Through satire, Radio Free Vermont turns feelings of hopelessness in this current political and social era into those of empowerment and action. The characters are fully developed and the action never stops. Each seemingly minor situation adds to the plot and we never stop rooting for our rebels.

Author Bill McKibben tells us:
“…it’s that when confronted by small men doing big and stupid things, we need to resist with all the creativity and wit we can muster, and if we can do so without losing the civility that makes life enjoyable, then so much the better.”

Unfortunately the other side is far from civil. In reality, we have to actively resist the Trump administration and the evil that it promotes.  Sometimes we need a related diversion though and McKibben has given us just that.  I recommend Radio Free Vermont to all Americans who feel angry with the current state of affairs.

Posted in American Politics, Humor & Satire, Political fiction | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Fall to Earth (Pillars of Fire and Light Sci-Fi Book 1) – Ken Britz

(Reviewed by Jeyran Main)

Fall to Earth is a Sci-fi fantasy novel written about Indiana Beckam. Her life ambition and dream is to be the best swordsman. She joins Arthur Macbabran, a scientist that has invented a device that can make or break the world. Indiana transforms so she can enter the energy course Arthur has created. However, just like every story, Cornwall Marks, the bad guy, wants to have power and is determined to do anything to keep it.

The first thing I noticed in the story was its strong background story. This book is part of a sequel and therefore, needed a strong foundation, and I believe, the author did the job justice.

The plot surrounding the work and the scenes is beautifully executed. What I preferred was a little more character development and express of emotion. However, I don’t believe that the lack of it, takes away much from the experience. Instead, the casting crew is likable.

The pace of the story is semi-slow, but I believe that is necessary to provide a solid foundation for the next books to come.

The literature standard is suitable for its genre and keeps its professional style one would expect. I believe this book would be suitable for people who enjoy outer space stories and Sci-fi fantasies.

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The Last Best Friend – George Sims (Author), Martin Edwards (Introduction)

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

“Had Sammy, on the towering ledge, been tempted by death, the last best friend? The endless embrace, offering oblivion and release from the remorse that Sammy felt for his parents and sisters left behind to be butchered at Auschwitz.”

 

Sammy Weiss was an Austrian Jew and socialist who was imprisoned in Dachau before WWII. He escaped to England and became a jeweler. London is where he met Ned Balfour, a dealer in manuscripts and autographed letters. They were to become best friends, though Sammy didn’t understand him.

“Ned. Part adult, part adolescent—who finds success ”boring”, who has a charming wife and delightful children yet wants to throw all this away.” 

Yes, Ned was a womanizer— single or married—it didn’t matter.

Now it’s early 1966 and Ned is middle-aged, at forty-two years old. He was vacationing in Corsica in the company of a very young woman,when he received an urgent telegram from Sammy. He wanted advice on a “terrible decision” that he made and asked that Ned call him on a specific date and time. Before he could do so, a telegram arrived from Ned’s ex-wife stating that Sammy was dead. He fell or jumped from the 10th floor of his building. But what didn’t make sense to Ned was that he knew that Sammy severely suffered from vertigo.

Distraught, Ned returned to London to investigate what actually happened. Not only does he discover criminal activity and secrets dating back to 1945, but through all this he starts to understand more about himself.

Author George Sims was an antiquarian bookseller who wrote more as a hobby. Maybe this attributed to his unorthodox use of excess description and superfluous activity, which does tend to bog down the story. But you find out that some of these characters were essential to the outcome of the story.

Though void of twists and turns, this dark novel kept my interest by slowly revealing clues that built up to a satisfying conclusion. I also found Ned’s continual self-examination while trying to find the cause of his best friend’s death to be particularly fascinating. At barely over 150 pages, the story is surprisingly complete.

Last Best Friend which was originally published in 1967 was recently re-issued by British Library Classic Thrillers.

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The Flawed Ones – Jay Chirino

(Reviewed by Jeyran Main)

Exceptional

We can never be defined by our shortcomings or the conditions we live in, but we can certainly fight and believe that love always conquers all. Our hearts are not touched by our flaws, and that is what The Flawed Ones teaches us.

Mental illness, depression, addiction and the effects of it all can easily cloud our judgments and have us make the wrong decisions. However, once Jay confronts them all, that is when his life takes a turn. The people around him are his influential backbone and shed the necessary insightful perspective he needs to rebuild his life.

The book not only raises awareness towards the subject matter but it also provides an eye-opening realization for the ones that have no idea what people with mental illness go through. Addiction is something most people suffer from. The author provides much heartfelt backstory to what causes his downfall. Once he loses the love over his unstable lifestyle, he changes things around. The turning point then becomes his light and what transpires to be this beautiful book of celebrating life.

I found the book to be written with much care, and it took me on a delightful emotional journey. I recommend this book to people who wish to know how it feels to be surrounded by so much darkness and how to overcome it.

The literature was easy to understand and to follow. The concept and content were well connected smoothly, causing the reader to remain intrigued and interested. I believe everything happens for a reason and this book is one of those you really don’t wish to miss reading.

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