A NIGHT IN JAIL: A story about drugs and mental illness, inspired by true events – H.A. Swan, K. Anderson

Reviewed by JD Jung)

Exceptional

“One day, marijuana is going to be legalized and this “punishment” will all be for nothing.”

Yes, getting pulled over while high was the first “Reality Rush”. The second one came when his parents refused to bail him out. Eighteen year- old Danny had plans to become a lawyer. Now, he’s sitting in jail with Captain, a delusional, drug-addicted, homeless man.

In his twenty-four hour stint in jail, we learn a lot about Danny‘s life as he reminisces in between Captain’s rants. Danny wondered what kind of family Captain came from; that is, how did he wind up homeless and so boring? Yes, Danny thinks he is “boring” because “Captain’s life is all about hustling money to get high.“

A Night in Jail is not a “scared-straight” story. At barely one hundred pages, it’s a riveting tale based on true events. Readers will be hooked at every page until the surprise ending.

Most importantly, it’s daring enough to bring up a topic that very few will discuss: the effects of marijuana use on those with a predisposition to mental illness. A family history of mental illness is often unknown and I personally know those who didn’t see links until tragedy struck.

For that reason I encourage adults to read this, no matter what their views are on legalizing drugs. Then I think that they will want their teen and pre-teenage kids to read it also. It will open up an engaging discussion for both adults and children.

And remember, it’s a captivating story also.

(For more information check out the website: http://anightinjail.com/)

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Escape From Samsara: A Dark Comedy Fantasy Adventure (Prophecy Allocation Book 1) – Nicky Blue

(Reviewed by Jeyran Main)

Exceptional

Escape From Samsara is a dark comedy about Barry Harris who still lives with his mom and has fantasy adventures about being a lethal ninja. This humorous tale begins with Barry trying to find his dad who went missing 25 years ago. He trims hedges for a living and is adamant to find the lost pieces of the puzzle which may save his father.

I found this story to be very funny. The literature was filled with content that made the reader laugh out loud. Barry is definitely a funny character, and his personality is developed very well. There are quite a few other casting crew in this story that play an essential role in making this book enjoyable to read.

I believe anyone who likes to read humorous stories would thoroughly enjoy this one. I would caution that the nature of the humor does sway towards the male side and the British slang is embedded within the content of the work.

Writing a story maybe easy but to make it this funny and enjoyable to read is not. I appreciate the author’s sense of humor and humility in creating such literary work.

Posted in Humor & Satire, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Mythology, Skinny reads | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Making Sense of the Alt-Right – George Hawley

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

“…we can be reasonably concerned that a growing percentage of white America no longer views racism as a moral failing and is willing to be associated with explicit white-identity politics.”

That statement is pretty scary. It is also personally surprising to me. However, according to George Hawley, assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama, this white-identity politics is the only concrete belief of what we now refer to as the “Alt-Right”. Economics and other issues don’t play a part.

Though there are a few major players, it is basically a loose unorganized group of online trolls. They are mostly young and tech-savvy. Hawley has done extensive research on this movement and has presented it in his book, Making Sense of the Alt-Right.

This research was difficult as the group treasures its anonymity. However he does a notable job of exploring the history and implications of the alt-right. He also describes how it is fundamentally different from traditional and neo-conservatism.

He explains how members get around social media bans on racial slurs and other controls. They seem to always be one step ahead of these sites.

What public individuals are considered part of the alt-right? Hawley doesn’t see much of a connection between Trump and the alt-right, though both help each other immensely. I agree with him, but for totally different reasons. His position is based on ideology, whereas I believe that Trump doesn’t have a particular belief system or goal for this country. He is too narcissistic, and his goal is simply to remain as President.

Hawley brings up questions on the potential dangers of the alt-right. Are they just an insignificant fringe group? Is the movement global?

Another important question comes from the free speech versus censorship debate. If we allow government and corporate restrictions of these groups, what is to stop the censoring of speech from groups like Occupy and Black Lives Matter?

After reading this book, I still can’t make sense of “The Alt-Right”. However, I do have a better understanding of their origins and methods. I also believe that we must take these groups seriously—at least be aware of their potential threat.

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When Leaves Fall (A Different Point of View Story) – C.A. King

(Reviewed by Jeyran Main)

Exceptional

Have you ever read a book so good that you don’t even know where to start reviewing it? When Leaves Fall is a fictional short story that intrigues from the start and almost has your eye pop out with its big reveal towards the end.

The story begins with the main character, Ralph, trapped and chained in a shack. No matter what he does, there is no escape. The abuser is very mean, not providing even the basics of needs, such as water and food. No matter how much the protagonist tries to escape, yells, and shouts for help, no one is there to hear him or to save him. He isn’t sure why he is there, why does he feel so much pain?

Have I already made you want to know more? Well, that is how deliciously well-written this book is. The suspense and heartfelt nature of this book made me feel it to the core. The writing is superbly done. The author weaves the story so incredibly well, that you really do not see the reveal coming.

Although the book is short at fifty-six pages, the literary standard and the layout of the work are nicely connected and have a smooth flow to it. I believe this author has great potential in writing solid, good literature.

I believe anyone picking this book up will enjoy reading it. The emotional challenges and the message behind the book are what make it a great read.

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How to Have Fun with Your Aging Parents: I Want to Go to Lithuania – Christina Britton Conroy

(Reviewed by Pat Luboff)

A gem of a book! Part workbook, part memoir, part self-help and how-to book; in under 100 pages, Christina Britton Conroy has put together a blueprint for living in peace with your parents. Wow! Yes, even if your parents are cantankerous, unable to function or focus, or downright hostile, you can find a way to make your life and their lives work better.

The author is a former senior center director and nursing home music therapist. Maybe more importantly, she is someone who has been there and done that with her own father. The stories she tells to illustrate her points are both professional and personal. She makes the reader feel like the impossible is doable, if you just keep trying to find the solution to the problem.

Her advice is detailed and practical. Ask yourself questions. How do you see your parents? How do they see themselves? What do they want and need? How do they see you? How do you see yourself? What do you want and need? Discovering the answers to these questions for yourself is the first step in unravelling the mystery of how to have fun with your aging parents, even if you never had fun with them before!

Christina (I feel like I can call her by her first name because she is so accessible throughout the book) helps you identify your parent’s basic personality type, describe your relationship to your parent, and try to figure out what your parent needs to feel validated and whole. If you never had a decent relationship with your parent, this may be your chance to be the grown up and make it happen. I wish I had this book before my parents passed away.

I’m old and perhaps closer to the Aging Parents category. I’m going to give this book to my adult children! I hope they are as kind to me as Christina encourages her readers to be to their parents.

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The Ghosts of Galway – Ken Bruen

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

“It’s not that the Irish
Are cynical.
It’s simply that they have a wonderful Lack of respect
For everything and everybody.”
Brendan Behan

Former ex-guarda , current Jameson- loving PI Jack Taylor loves to quote famous writers when he’s trying to convey a point—that is, when he’s sober and not picking a fight. His liver must be shot and he’s made so many bad decisions in life that it’s surprising he’s still alive.

Yes, still living and continually disgraced, Jack is now working as a private security guard at night. Hardly utilizing his investigative skills, he’s offered a profitable assignment to recover “The Red Book”, a book of heresy supposedly written around 800 AD. It’s currently in the hands of a rogue priest now hiding in Galway. Also trying to get their hands on the book may be “The Ghosts of Galway”. Many believe this is a fundamentalist cult; though some believe they’re just a bunch of thugs trying to spread chaos. What we do know about them is that they kill animals and dump them on the public square.

Now if you think that this is treading into a Dan Brownish knock-off, you’re not even close. It’s not just the varied plot from Jack’s cynical point of view; it’s the seriously flawed characters and their relationships that are paramount to the novel. This is what I love about the Jack Taylor series. There are a lot of paradoxes, just like in real life. Jack continues to maintain a certain unhealthy adoration for his adversaries. It’s not that he’s a poor judge of character—he knows what and who he’s dealing with—it’s just that he’s sentimental…at times. Like me, he also laments the death of Prince and David Bowie.

There are a lot of novels about alcoholic ex-cops but this one is different. Author Ken Bruen takes irreverence to another level. He continues attacking traditional Irish institutions and the Church’s hypocrisy. As usual, the bleak setting,  witty dialogue and dark humor keep you glued to the pages.

You don’t need to read the other books in the series to understand or enjoy The Ghosts of Galway. But if you’re like me and find that you love Bruen’s style, you may want to.

 

(Check out our review of another in the Jack Taylor series, Sanctuary.)

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A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment – Barbara Radnofsky

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

Exceptional

May I speak to our America readers for a moment? We’ve been hearing the term “impeachment” and “impeachable offenses” quite a bit lately. Do you think that you can speak on the subject with a fair degree of knowledge?

I learned a lot about the legal principles and impeachment processes by reading A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment by attorney Barbara A. Radnofsy .

This fascinating guide explains the intent of our founding fathers, including a thoroughly researched history. The author then details the specific cases chronologically—which mostly involved federal judges—and what we learned from them.

The Constitution states what the duty of the President is and what constitutes the violation of this duty as well as “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” which our founding fathers took from British law. What I found particularly interesting was that this violation need not be a criminal act.

Radnofsy includes all of her references and notes, but the actual study is well under one hundred pages. It is non-partisan, as I don’t think that Trump is mentioned even once.

That said, our democracy is under its greatest attack in my lifetime. Since impeachment and removal from office is at the sole discretion of Congress, the power that we as citizens hold is at the ballot box.

No matter what your political views are, I highly recommend A Citizen’s Guide to Impeachment to all of those interested in American history and who care about the future of our country and, in fact, the world.

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Burner: Book One of the Affinity Series – J. S. Lenore

(Reviewed by Jeyran Main)

Exceptional

Burner is an urban fantasy thriller  about Kim Phillips, a Chicago detective that has powers to help release ghosts trapped between life and death. Due to the powers mentioned she is called a burner.

Priya, a healer who died fifty years ago and was saved by Kim and Riley, the dashingly handsome meticulous homicide detective, all work together to save Chicago from a serial killer that only has his eyes on specific species.

I found the book to be an action-thrilling, nail –biting mystery that did not disappoint and kept me intrigued. The flow between the chapters and paragraphs were smooth. The literary standard was admirable and it was very easy to connect to the characters and to bond with them. I really enjoyed the additional drawings artistically made for the book, giving me a visual example of what the characters looked like.

There are scenes of violence and sensitive subject matters such as death and afterlife, however; none were to the point of making the story dull or depressing. This book is the first of the Affinity Series and it provides enough content and backstory for several interesting sequels afterward.

The ending is an absolute gem. Burner is a very beautiful book for the minds that are open to innovative urban style writing. This book does not disappoint.

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Fire Sermon – Jamie Quatro

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

“…I only know arousal within love—because I’ve never separated emotion from body—is my pattern to create a pretend love first, over and over, in order to feel desire, and desirable?”

“I admit that unless something is forbidden I cannot want it with any intensity….I admit that unless something is forbidden I can’t fucking feel anything.”

Forty-five year old Maggie Ellman has been married for twenty-three years, has two college aged children, and continually feels that something is missing in her life. She attended Princeton for her doctorate in comparative literature. She lost interest and so studied a field that was an intersection between poetry and theology. She then changed to eschatology and again lost interest. Upon moving to Nashville, she started another doctoral program at Vanderbilt.

“I admit to using my religious beliefs to manipulate, resisting temptation as a means of feeding my own desire.”  She tries to reconcile her guilt and strong religious beliefs with her actions and desires. The more she tries to analyze, the more confused she gets and the two opposites become fused together.

We try to put all this together to figure out what’s going on in Maggie’s head. Fire Sermon moves back and forth – from her wedding to current time, college, and emails between her and her “real” love, James Abbott, another poet.

I couldn’t put this book down as I enjoyed how the author expressed Maggie’s feelings and confusion, with a nice amount of eroticism that wasn’t over the top. Another major plus is the writing style; the literary cadence keeps the reader totally engaged.

Though I didn’t care about Maggie herself, I enjoyed trying to figure her out. That is where the suspense lies, as we aren’t concerned whether her husband will find out about her current affair; we wonder whether Maggie will ever resolve her issues.

Those who appreciate realistic psychological studies will enjoy this one.

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Mr. Wonderful – Daniel Smith

(Reviewed by Jeyran Main)

Brian Fenton’s life is not easy. His father, Doc Fenton is suffering from dementia. His own son is loopy and keeps trying to get cash from him.

Events take an interesting turn when Doc passes away. At this time the truth comes out, revealing a great deal for this Texas family.

The conflict between family life and drama is what this book focuses on. “Mr. Wonderful” is in fact Doc Fenton and he’s quite a character.

This book is well written, utilizing vivid description from the first narrative. The pace of the story is steady and I believe anyone interested in family sagas will enjoy it. Family dynamics and emphasis on diverse characters is what makes a novel work well. The author is successful in making this happen.

I particularly enjoyed the cover design, using two blackbirds and the moon. I could identify with the thought process that had gone in to creating it and felt that it definitely represented the content inside.

Attempt to read this story with the back thought of being thoroughly entertained. You won’t be disappointed.

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