Monthly Archives: October 2011

Book Review – Flidderbugs

Flidderbugs – A Compelling Political Fable

Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Author: Jonathan Gould
Format: Kindle

Making his way to Fleedenhall through the densely packed leaves on his side of the tree, Kriffle mentally prepares for the upcoming debate with Fargeeta – daughter of the leader of the Quadrigons.  For years, his own tribe – the Triplifers – have been at the mercy of the Quadrigons rule and their complete control of the Shears.  Without the coveted Shears, Kriffle’s side of the tree has overgrown making it barely livable and almost impassable.  Life has truly been challenging but Kriffle knows he has the truth on his side.  In fact, all around him the proof stares him in the face – leafs on the Krephiloff tree all have three points on them.  How the Quadrigons have convinced their followers that the leafs have four points is beyond him but it does not matter. The truth is clear.  Unfortunately, what Kriffle doesn’t yet realize yet is that there are many truths.

Just as he did in “Doodling”, Jonathan Gould once more demonstrates his expert command at creating adult fables.  In Flidderbugs, simple insects living their simple lives drive home universal messages regarding our daily political reality.  So convinced are both Flidderbug parties to their own truths, neither takes even a moment to consider the other side may have a valid perspective.  Afterall, one need only count the points on a leaf and know the answer or is the issue more complex?  Some tribe members don’t even bother to look at the leafs anymore and just take direction from their tribe’s leaders echoing whatever it is that they are told.  As a result, control of all of their futures lie with those who live on the borders willing to be swayed one way or another depending on who has the evidence and the best argument.  Ironically, these polarized positions have the unintended result of threatening the very lives of all Flidderbugs.

Gould is truly a master in this genre.  While directly applicable to politics, the messages here are also applicable to everyday personal interactions particularly with those who one may not see eye to eye with.  The key is not assuming the other person has ill or negative intent; that there may in fact be another truth.  As a further bonus, this book reads well for all ages making it truly enjoyable for everyone.

At $0.99 on Kindle, Flidderbugs should not be missed!

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

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Book Review – The Growing Dim Project

The Growing Dim Project – Band on the Run!

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Author: Nicholas McGirr
Formate: Kindle, Paperback

Crossman Jessica, Clint, Mike, and Justin , they are the band “The Growing Dim Project”.  An eclectic mix of musician’s, their emo group is an alternative performance rock band costumed in black garb playing to the light of candles in their regular haunt – The Sh*t Creek bar.  As they play their signature original and cover pieces on what is their best performance to date, the band and the crowd all feel something odd happening as the night progresses.  Cross, the bands founder and drummer is acting a bit odd.  A feeling of dread fills the room.  Something is about to happen as fate draws them inexorably forward…

Like the band members in the book, Nicholas McGirr’s “The Growing Dim Project” is an eclectic mix of styles and genres.  Told from multiple first person perspectives as well as third person occasionally, the first part of the book reads like a band documentary.  Through frequent flashbacks, we are introduced to the various band members, how they met, how The Growing Dim Project came to fruition and how all of these events brought them to what would become their final performance at Sh*t Creek.  About half way through the book, however, it becomes clear this isn’t just a documentary but something much much different.  Supernatural abilities emerge from Crossman and readers come to learn the Cross plays a pivotal roll in human history and is faced with a choice none of us would want to face.

The Growing Dim Project is a very different kind of book with true alternative / indie flair.  Though it is a fist in a series, the ending of this volume is climatic and resolves a number of story arcs while leaving clear a path to future chapters.  If you are looking for something different, consider picking up The Growing Dim Project.  It is $2.99 on Kindle.

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – The King of Paine

The King of Paine – Great Mystery/Thriller at Steal of a Price

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Author: Larry Kahn

Format: Kindle, Paperback

Busting open the hotel door, Frank Paine finds a woman gagged and bound to the bed as a black-masked man stands over her while a tripod mounted camera records the rape.  The masked man claims the entire affair is a role play they had both agreed to through an online BDSM chat room.  The girl, however, thought she was simply living out a non-contact encounter.  In reality, both were setup by a third party stalking them online.  Worse, Frank learns his own former online personality – the King of Paine – is potentially be used as a part of these crimes.  Meanwhile, Roger Martin, a washed-up former Pulitzer Prize winning journalist follows a series of leads regarding the recent disappearance of several elderly chronically ill high profile individuals.  Though they don’t know each other, Frank and Roger’s lives are about to be thrown together as both work to solve two mysteries linked at their core.

“The King of Paine” by Larry Kahn is a complex, compelling, fast paced and intriguing thriller that will have you turning the pages well into the early morning.  The writing is crisp and pops off the page.  This novel is not, however, not for the prudish.  Online sex chat rooms and alternative BDSM lifestyles are a focal point for most of the book.  In fact, this facet overshadows the book’s other central theme regarding end-of-life illness management and elderly respect issues.  An odd combination for sure but Kahn makes the story work because of his great characters and ability to keep readers guessing throughout.

This was almost a five star book for me.  My holdout was that I felt the fatal disease management theme was not as well developed as I would have liked.  Having said that, at $0.99 on Kindle this book is an incredible deal.  For a good mystery/thriller, readers can’t go wrong with The King of Paine at this amazing price.

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – The Glass Wall

The Glass Wall – Sci/Fi Fantasy meets Suburbia!

 Rating: 4 of 5 stars

 Author: Madison Adler

Format: Kindle, Paperback

Staring out the car window, Sidney takes in the neighborhood that will become her next temporary home. As her social worker Neelu says all the right things about the foster family she’ll will be living with, Sydney tunes her out having heard it all before.  Months from now her mom will be out of rehab and they’ll move across country to once more start over only to replay the entire scene sequence again.  Much to her surprise however, Sydney quickly takes to her new foster parents and even their athletic daughter Grace.  For once in her life, Sydney started to feel like she belonged and all would have been fine had not been for the strange neighbors across the street whose strange behavior and expensive cars are far out of place in this lower middle class neighborhood.  Sydney’s foster father Al suspects the neighbors are dealing drugs, and he and Sydney install a few hidden video cameras to begin surveillance.  What Sydney learns, however, is something more than she ever bargained for, and she soon finds that it is she and not her neighbors that is at the center of all that is strange in the neighborhood.

Madison Alder’s “The Glass Wall” is a different type of fantasy book.  The beginning third of the book reads a bit like an after school special about the lonely girl whose only real friend is her pet mouse that she has smuggled from foster home to foster home.  This premise is itself a compelling read.  Then midway through the reader comes to understand that the neighbors are much more than they appear.  Without giving the plot away, this is more a sci/fi/fantasy novel than one might first expect.  Adler integrates these diverse elements in such a way that they read very plausible managing the suspension of disbelief factor well.

For those interested in a different twist in this genre, check out The Glass Wall.  It is the first in a series and at only $0.99 it is a bargain!

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – Rebirth (The Judas Syndrome Book 2)

Rebirth – An Excellent follow-up to Book One

Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Author: Michael Poeltl

Format: Kindle, Paperback

Distraught and destined to raise her child Leif without his father, Sara finds herself in a battle with Earl for leadership over their small house of survivors.  As the days and weeks go by, Earl’s hunger for power and delusional ideals lead to ever increasing acts of control and violence forcing Sara to take drastic measures.  Finding herself on the run, she follows Joel’s last words to go North where she comes upon a group of four elderly women whose fallout shelter provides the perfect home for her and her child.  Unfortunately, they can not stay and once more they find themselves searching for their destiny.

Michael Poeltl’s “Rebirth” – book two in the Judas Syndrome series – is in many ways the mirror of the first book.  Told from Sara’s perspective, this volume takes on a different tone.  Sara will do anything to protect her child giving her the focus, drive and selflessness Joel did not have.  This book also delves deeper into the supernatural elements hinted at in the first book.  The “blank man” and his relationship with Leif is powerful and creepy and elements of this volume reminded me of Stephen King’s “The Stand”.

I enjoyed The Judas Syndrome, but I enjoyed Rebirth even more.  The end is more satisfying than the first volume and while one does not get all the answers, it is much more of a complete story than book one while at the same time setting up what I hope will be a stellar final volume.  Rebirth is $2.99 on Kindle

Note: A complimentary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – The Science of Slim

If you are serious about losing weight and keeping it off – you must read The Science of Slim

Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Author: Jonathan Bailor

Format: Release date January 2012

With well over fifty pages of references, Jonathan Bailor’s “The Science of Slim”, is exactly that – a thorough scientific evaluation of the data and research collected over decades on what makes our bodies slim and what does not. While steeped in research, this is no dry academic book, but rather an engaging and interesting read exploring how diet myths and the deleterious effects institution of the government’s food pyramid has had on the overall health of our nation. Bailor explains how misinformation in the fifties caused a large shift in our diets away from fat, assuming it is always bad for our health, in favor of grains and sweeteners which cause major inconsistencies in hormone levels throughout the day effecting our metabolism and our bodies fat storing signals.

Hormones, Bailor explains, are the main factor impacting weight gain and weight loss. This is why two different people can eat the same amount of calories and one person will gain weight while another will not. The average American diet basically signals our hormones to essentially have us in fat storing mode almost all of the time.

Bailor also explains the impact of exercise on weight loss and busts some beliefs on what does and does not work. For those doing cardio workouts multiple times per week and adhere to a strict calorie controlling diet yet still find themselves not losing any weight Bailor explains why supported through years of research.

This book not only gives you the information to understand how our bodies work and why what you may have come to believe as truth does not work, but it also provides data and research on what does work. The good news – it doesn’t involve counting calories, points, starving yourself or working out 2 hours per day. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Less, more specific exercise and more frequent correct eating will actually help manage weight goals. You don’t have to believe me. In fact you don’t even have to believe the author. What you should believe is the mounds of research, many including randomized studies, to support his contentions.

There is something to note however. While this book does not require you to be on a diet, it does require you to understand and eat differently both in the proportions of the types of food you eat per meal and how frequently. Essentially you must change your diet.  If you aren’t willing to commit to a change in how you eat this simply will not work.

Overall, a very interesting and well researched book that has the answers if readers are willing to follow it. I will admit that I find it a little hard to believe the exercise routine suggested would work (a couple of videos on the exercise on youtube would also help) but then again if the focus is fat loss versus cardiovascular health then perhaps it does. It seems to me that combing both eccentric exercise and a cardiovascular workout would be appropriate for a healthy lifestyle, but admittedly I have not done the research the author has.

Note: A copy of this work was provided in return for a review.

Book Review – Sidekicks

Sidekicks – Great Fun!

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Author: Dan Santat
Format: Paperback, Hardcover

It’s tough being an aging super hero; sometimes it is even harder being an aging super hero’s pets!  Laid up for an extended period of time due to his peanut allergy, Captain Amazing starts his search for a sidekick to spread out all the hero work, his faithful pets decide perhaps they could have the job if they prove themselves worthy.  They take to the streets in a hilarious and entertaining romp where they encounter a great cast of villainous and friendly characters.

Dan Santat’s “Sidekicks” graphic novel is a wonderfully illustrated fun read.  It is like a cross between “The Incredibles” with its quirky set of superheroes and “Bolt’s” Rhino and Mittens characters.  There are good messages to kids sprinkled throughout regarding loyalty, being thoughtful, teamwork, thinking before acting, and my guess is kids won’t even know they are getting these gems because they will be so entertained.  After I finished reading this, my eleven-year-old read it in record time followed by my ten-year-old.  We all agree, Sidekicks is a kick!

Note: A complementary copy of this work was received by the Amazon Vine Program.