Tuesday Book Review: “She’s My Dad”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:

she's my dad by iolanthe woulff

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She’s My Dad

by Iolanthe Woulff

ISBN: 9781432744052

Synopsis*:

“Don’t hate, Nicholas. Hate destroys everything. Don’t let it destroy you…”

For decades, ultra-liberal Windfield College has been a thorn in the side of Northern Virginia’s hidebound elite. When a teaching position unexpectedly becomes available, the school hires a former male graduate – now a transsexual woman named Nickie Farrell – as an assistant professor of English. Hoping to find peace, Nickie keeps her secret under wraps until ambitious lesbian student reporter Cinda Vanderhart outs her. And Cinda has noticed something else: both Nickie and a young townie waiter named Collie Skinner have a genetic quirk which causes their eyes to be different colors. Convinced that the similarity is no coincidence, Cinda begins an investigation to discover the connection between them.

Meanwhile, in a death-bed confession as she succumbs to years of brutality at the hands of her disgraced cop husband, Collie’s mother Luanne reveals that his birth resulted from an illicit affair she had with a long-vanished Windfield college senior named Nick Farrington. Shattered by his mother’s death, Collie turns for comfort to Robin Thompson, a gentle-hearted Christian co-worker at the upper-crust Foxton Arms restaurant. As Nickie is stalked by a pair of homicidal sociopaths, Robin finds herself entangled not only in Cinda’s investigative machinations but also a murderous plot by former U.S Ambassador and tycoon Eamon Douglass to eradicate the hated college with a suicide detonation of a Cesium 137 dirty bomb. Lives and secrets hang in the balance until everything comes to a head on the morning of Windfield’s annual spring picnic: April Fools Day.

Filled with richly-drawn characters and building to a stunning climax, SHE’S MY DAD is a story about the destructiveness of hate, the power of love, and the redemptive triumph of good over evil.

Like her title character Nickie Farrell, Iolanthe Woulff is a transsexual woman. A fifty-nine-year-old Princeton-educated English major, she lives in Palm Springs, CA, where for several years she wrote a column in a local magazine about the challenges of gender transition. As the eldest child of author Herman Wouk, storytelling has always been dear to Ms. Woulff’s heart. Her hope is that besides providing a suspenseful read, SHE’S MY DAD will help to dispel some of the widespread misconceptions about transsexual people.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Featured Review

Author Iolanthe Woulff has once again written about issues that impact all of us. She hits every point head on without sugar-coating anything. In this book, “She’s My Dad,” the author addresses hate, specifically blind prejudice and how each of us handles it.

In a small town in Virginia, a wealthy man disowns his son because of his sexuality, but this one surviving son is his sole heir. The son chooses to use his inheritance to build a university where all individuals are accepted without judgment or prejudice, however many of the local people are not happy with the ideals of the university.

In 1979, Nicholas Farrington had an affair with a married woman, and unbeknownst to him, they have a son Nicholas “Collie” Skinner. No one has heard from Farrington since he suddenly disappeared.

Now 25 years later a new engaging and dynamic professor Nickie Farrel, has been hired at a local liberal college. Nickie is hiding a huge secret–she is a transsexual woman. There are individuals threatening to expose Nickie’s secret and cause trouble for the school. Cinda Vanderhalt, an aggressive journalism student, will do anything to get that “big” story that will make her famous.  Eamon Douglas, a former Ambassador, is determined to get rid of that “fag” loving college and all the gay students and faculty.

The author provides powerful insight into the destructiveness of hate, the love of an abused mother, and learning that we all have basic needs and desires. We fear what we don’t understand. Many will not take the time to become more knowledgeable about these fears, but prefer to keep hatred and prejudices inside until they lose control and do harm to others.

Woulff’s characters provide amazing insight into the turmoil that we as individuals and society experience when others do not fit into our “accepted” roles. She provides very controversial topics, and subplots that will have readers re-thinking their stance on their values and beliefs.

Readers will come away from this read with new knowledge and hopefully more understanding and a better person. I highly recommend “She’s My Dad” by Iolanthe Woulff to everyone; you will remember this book long after you finish reading.

– reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views

Other Reviews

I picked this book up to read on a recent trip. I was intrigued by chapter 3 and had trouble putting it down by chapter 7. The story line is multi-dimensional and complex in its presentation. This book did a really great job of helping me to understand some of the complex social issues facing our nation and world today, and I am a better human being for having read it. My heart is more open to people of different social upbringing and sexual orientation after the author’s magnificent presentation of a side of an issue to which I had no previous exposure.

Most of us don’t spend much time thinking what it would be like to have been born the opposite gender, or born with the feeling of being assigned one physical gender with the inner feeling of belonging to the opposite gender. Today’s society has little room for the small minority of people with gender identity issues. Because they are in the minority does not make them insignificant and unimportant.

What the author accomplishes by telling her story allows her to demonstrate the universal truths that bind us together as a human race – despite our differences in beliefs, ethics, politics, etc. we all have the same basic needs and desires, and our differences pale in comparison to our similarities despite how things may seem at first glance. We fear what we do not understand. I now understand things I did not prior to reading this book. I will probably be forever changed, in a good way, for having read and understood this book and the point of view it portrays.

 – reviewed on Amazon by Sidney D. Lehr

I just finished “She’s My Dad” and I thought it was excellent. It got me very wrapped up in the characters early on and kept me that way right through the whole book. Well, as it was, not through the WHOLE book! Seems I didn’t really know what “Epilogue” meant and ended the book before I read that part. Being so wrapped up as I was and anxious to see how things ended, bad over evil I hoped, where I ended caused me so much anger that I threw the book on the floor! God, it couldn’t end this way!! It just couldn’t! It was 11pm, I turned off the light and rolled over trying to sleep. The next day I read the Epilogue! It’s probably not recommended that one read She’s My Dad that way but looking back it set me up for a wonderful high! I loved it all through the book and highly recommend it. Definitely not too long for the story that was told.

– reviewed on Amazon by InfoSeeker

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Tuesday Book Review: “Help! I Have a Brain Injury”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:

Help! I Have a Brain Injury: And It Feels Like I've Dropped Out of the Sky" by Kay Pratt

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Help! I Have a Brain Injury: And It Feels Like I’ve Dropped Out of the Sky

by Kay Pratt

ISBN: 9781478718079

Synopsis*:

WHAT do you know about brain injury? How does it happen? How does it affect one’s life? What does it feel like? How long does it take to recover from a Traumatic Brain Injury? Will a survivor ever be the same again?

WHAT are your beliefs about the future of someone who’s sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury? The answers to these questions are as broad and unique as the individual’s who have sustained brain injuries. “In my own experience as a TBI survivor, I have come to understand that the degree to which we recover can be measured not only by our physical reality, but, by our personal and caregiver’s belief systems; after all, if, we are cognitively and physically able, what we believe, shapes our every outcome!” Kay Pratt.

In this Book, TBI survivors share the answers to these questions and more through the voice of their experience. It is with sincere hope that by doing so, your understanding and beliefs about brain-injured individuals will be broadened and your perspectives enlightened.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Featured Review

“Help! I Have a Brain Injury: And It Feels Like I’ve Dropped Out of the Sky” by Kay Pratt is one of the most amazing, informative and well written books I have read on this topic. Having had multiple mini-strokes in August of this year, I wish I had this book in hand afterwards.

The author shares her experience in her ten year recovery from her brain injury as well as the stories of others. Little did I realize all the anger, depression and loss I would feel when I lost the ability to write, walk and do small, everyday tasks. I am sure many going through this feel the same way.

Pratt and others talk about the pain, fear, anger and depression and the long road of physical, occupational, and sometimes emotional therapy to learn to walk and talk once again. What impressed me was in each story or discussion, Pratt includes a section on Important Takeaways – how one deals with the loss, anger and changes in our lives. Believe me, recovery will not happen overnight, and you will come to rely on many professionals, as well as family and friends to help in this process.

As a Psychologist, I found the information in this book to be very helpful, full of supportive tips and resources. It is very well researched, and provides information I hadn’t even considered. The examples Pratt provides on the impact of domestic violence and brain injury caught me off guard. Her statistics, lack of treatment and diagnosis was shocking, although it shouldn’t be. The undiagnosed impact of brain injury may be a reason why some women choose not to leave an abusive relationship; brain injury makes it difficult to get a job and be self-supportive. She also relates that according to some sources pushing a diagnosis may have unintended consequences such as being used against the women in custody battles.

What many people do not realize is that children who are abused may suffer from mild to severe TBIs (traumatic brain injuries). It is imperative to assess children for dizziness, change in personality, and change in behavior, and determine if they should be returned to a violent home. That means that caregivers, family or friends need to be observant and say something.

Part 5 of Pratt’s book, entitled Brain 101! includes vital information about what TBIs are, statistics, parts of the brain impacted and what that means. She goes on to discuss coping with challenges, length of time for recovery and provides numerous resources.

Since I am still early in my recovery, I showed this book to my Occupational Therapist, and she now has it in her hands to share with others. “Help! I Have a Brain Injury: And It Feels Like I’ve Dropped Out of the Sky” by Kay Pratt is a must read for all professionals, family members, friends and those who have diagnosed TBI, or not.

– reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views

Another Review

If you or a loved one has experienced a brain injury you most likely feel as if you are suddenly hurtling down a never ending road of pain, confusion, hard questions and a roller coaster ride of emotions, as you try and decipher the clinical terminology from well-meaning experts, as well as face the reality of what is. Given how brain injuries impact one’s life and those around them, it is hard not to be overwhelmed with fear and doubts at the long road ahead, let alone the day to day journey.

HELP! I Have a Brain Injury And It Feels Like I’ve Dropped Out of the Sky! by Kay Pratt is the result of all that she has learned throughout her 10 year journey and recovery from the time of her own brain injury to the present day. This is her third book in her HELP series on dealing with brain injuries and it answers quite possibly any and every question you might have on the topic. The book is extensively researched and thorough in it’s discussion of all aspects of brain injuries, from the first steps to take following the occurrence and diagnosis, the physical and emotional health concerns following the injury, understanding brain trauma, the importance of advocating for one’s self and tips on coping with daily challenges as you move forward in your recovery journey. Yet you never feel like you are reading about a medical issue nor do you ever feel inundated with medical terms. Ms. Pratt breaks everything down into a conversation between ordinary people. The book is about you, whether you are the patient, a family member or friend. It is always about you and your own personal journey.

Ms Pratt recounts as well moments of her own journey, the obstacles she faced and how she dealt with them. Also included are the personal stories of other brain injury survivors. On page after page Ms. Pratt’s inner grace, strength of spirit, wisdom and compassion infuse the book and her words with hope and give one the courage to go on, even when confronting what seem unsurmountable odds. I cannot say enough about how invaluable this book is for anyone suddenly finding themselves facing the unexpected reality following a brain injury.

 – reviewed on Amazon by reluctantmuse

 


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Tuesday Book Review: “Highway Odyssey”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:

highway odyssey alexander flint

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Highway Odyssey

by Alexander Flint

ISBN: 9781432766696

Synopsis*:

Highway Odyssey began in the summer of 1978 with a man and his seven year old son. They drove from New York to Colorado in search of adventure. The man soon realized that he was searching, not for adventure, but for his identity. Having recently been separated from his wife of fifteen years and having five kids together, the man was emotionally overwhelmed by the change in his status.

What was originally planned to be a short visit with old friends turned into an understanding of his responsibility in his position as a single father.

Flint found matters of interest among the culturally diverse families he stayed with and many interesting characters along the way. These events led him to understand the struggle with the self doubts that originated with his rejection from his fifteen year marriage.

Backpacking to the high altitude snow fields of the Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming, turned into an event that made his seven year old son a candidate for the Guiness Book of World Records. This occurred with the challenge of climbing over a closed pass, without any technical gear, on to Hurricane Pass.

Highway Odyssey covering a period that reaches well back into the nineteenth century and the lives of his ancestors, is based on thoughts drawn into his memory as he drove thousands of miles across highways. Such was his enjoyment, that Flint continued this marathon trek over twenty four consecutive summers. Sitting behind the wheel of his custom van in 1978, Flint begins the examination of his identity.

From rodeo riding, motorcycle touring, competing in hundred mile bicycle road races, pedaling on single track mountain trails with his fat tire bike to ghost towns and overnight horseback trips on the isolated Colorado Trail, Flint found his nirvana.

Through the close connection with his children, the deaths of friends and his parents, this man comes to realize the priorities in his life..

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Featured Review

“Highway Odyssey” by Alexander Flint is the story of a man attempting to discover himself. The year was 1978 and he found himself a single father after his recent divorce. He started traveling with his seven year old son. Together they made adventures: back packing across the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. The trek was not without dangers; they did not posses practical gear but managed to conquer Hurricane Pass. Alex recounts who they visited. He shares old friends and new ones. The descriptions of the places and people bring them to life. I felt as if I were looking at them myself. He expresses the cultural difference between families and embraces it. To some degree this is a travel journal, yet it is so much more. This book offers great insight. “Highway Odyssey” is a fascinating read through two decades of a man’s life. The reader looks through a window at his marriage, is privy to his emotions and watches as the metamorphosis of his being takes place. He faced his self doubts and overcame them. By reaching back into the past of his ancestors, Flint found himself and became a responsible single parent. For twenty four years Flint continued to travel and seek adventures.

I love this book. Flint discovered what some never do…what is most important in life. I found this book easy to read and it held my attention. It is much more than this man’s travel journal; it is the search for identity. I envy his free spirit and ability to face the challenges of life and overcome them. I find this book inspiring.

– reviewed by Rita G. for Readers’ Favorite

More Reviews

Those of us in the family who know and love “cousin Alex” have always considered him a Renaissance man ; loving single dad of 5, Grandpa, Marine Corps officer, teacher , gymnastics coach, fitness enthusiast, runner, hiker ,adventurer, martial artist and writer. In Alex Flint’s new book “Highway Odyssey”, he takes you along on his own personal journey with him, a journey of body ,mind and spirit.And he tells it warts and all, not ever attempting to smooth over the rough edges, which has always been his style.The chapters of his yearly treks to the Rockies and Grand Tetons were beautiful. You feel as if you were standing next to him, taking in this indescribable beauty. And the stories of his travel companion, his 7 year old son were priceless. I also enjoyed the stories of his, and my, quirky, eclectic, talented and most of all, loving family. He indeed paints a lovely family portrait which brought back tender memories for me. Alex is brave enough to take the pain head-on also. His stories of heartbreak of divorce from his wife and a disruption of the status quo with the loves of his life, his children, were heart wrenching as was the retelling of the excruciating pain of watching the demise and passing of his beloved parents, my much loved aunt and uncle. Alex has always been a guy to not only take on challenges, but be the point man and make sure that all with him not only get thru but come out the better for it. Years ago , I was invited to make that grand journey to the Tetons and Rockies with him, and I foolishly declined thinking I had more important things to do . I regret my error of lack of foresight to this day! Thankfully, I have a second chance now with this book . I strongly recommend you jump on the back of Alex’s Harley or into his van “Darth Vader” and take this 260 page odyssey. You won’t regret it.

 – reviewed on Amazon by Stephen R. Zimmermann

It was wonderful to read this book and relive all the great memories of traveling with my father. I remember sitting around the campfire with the Canhams and hearing Stu proclaim “we’re making memories”. As a child I wasn’t sure what he meant, as an adult I know exactly what he was talking about. The precious times we spend with family and friends is what life is all about. As the author’s son, this book holds special meaning to me, but it’s a book everyone can enjoy. We could all relate and appreciate remembering meaningful people and experiences. It’s a great read.

– reviewed on Amazon by Alex and Shalini

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Tuesday Book Review: “The Paymaster”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:

the paymaster adeed dawisha

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1st Place Winner in the 2018 Reader’s Favorite Awards Mystery Category

The Paymaster

by Adeed Dawisha

ISBN: 9781478783152

Synopsis*:

George Haddad is a deeply conflicted man. A doyen of Washington’s high society, he is also a life-long member of a terrorist organization. George resolves his inner conflict when he discloses secret information to Tessa Barnard, a young television reporter, who soon finds herself treading a treacherous path of intrigue and deception involving murder, abductions, and brutal assaults. Someone is determined to silence her. Is it foreign terrorists, or does the danger emanate from somewhere much closer to home? Meanwhile, George Haddad himself becomes the object of the boundless cruelty of his organization’s star assassin, and he has to make a fateful decision that could cost him his life. He knows the odds are heavily stacked against him. A tightly written and intricately plotted novel, with many twists and unanticipated revelations, The Paymaster is hard to put down.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Featured Review

The Paymaster is an exciting exploration of terrorism and counterterrorism, a twenty-first-century thriller done right.

Adeed Dawisha’s fast-paced novel The Paymaster unites a former nationalist and an ambitious journalist to take aim at one of the modern world’s biggest problems—terrorism.

George Haddad is a veteran of a nationalist terror organization, a former idealist who spent his young life sipping black tea in bombed-out warehouses in the Middle East. Now, with a mansion and a family in Virginia, Haddad has grown bored, tired, and despondent. He seeks to combat his ennui by aligning himself with Tessa Barnard, an aspiring investigative journalist who is stuck in West Virginia.

The initial purpose of their meeting is to expose Emilio Luciani, a man posing as an Italian but who is really a Hezbollah terrorist, Nizar Saleh. Haddad wants Barnard to unmask the man while he is in a secret meeting with the CIA, but one murder throws the entire scheme off of the rails.

The Paymaster is a quintessentially modern thriller set in some unexpected places. Besides the usual milieu of Washington, DC, the East Coast megalopolis, and the jet-set spots of Europe, the story also touches down in frozen Chicago, small-city West Virginia, and during the heady days of the 1979 Iranian revolution. It is an entertaining journey, the main thrust of which is that the worlds of terrorism and counterterrorism are far more entwined than most people think.

Although he is a scholar who specializes in the troublesome politics of the Middle East, Dawisha does not write like a pedantic professor. Indeed, The Paymaster moves at a quick clip, with concise, utilitarian language far outpacing fancy linguistic displays.

Characters are believable, though Barnard conforms to a certain stereotype. She is almost amoral, a careerist who seems mostly driven by a desire to get the heck out West Virginia. Although she certainly grows in maturity as the novel progresses, she is not as artfully drawn as the conflicted Haddad.

If Haddad is emblematic of real terrorists, or of terrorists who have lived long past their prime, then your average bomb maker or cell functionary is a lot more conflicted than news reports would suggest. Haddad and Barnard make for an exciting team, while the expert assassin hired by Haddad’s former comrades makes for a threatening adversary.

The Paymaster is an exciting exploration of terrorism and counterterrorism, with the daily monotony of both captured in between cinematic shootouts and cat-and-mouse games. This is a twenty-first-century thriller done right.

– reviewed by Benjamin Welton for Foreword Reviews

More Reviews

“The Paymaster” by Adeed Dawisha is an exciting and electric mystery/thriller that submerges readers deeply into the plot and leaves them guessing until the very end.

The story begins with George Haddad, a wealthy man of deep political influence in Washington DC, who is actually a member of the Revolutionary People’s Front, a Middle Eastern terrorist organization.  Attending a budget meeting of said organization, Haddad’s mind was not in the meeting as he was preoccupied with other matters: not being late to his daughter’s Christmas’s show, and making ‘the call” to Tessa Barnard. This call would finally put an end to his life of conflict by sharing the secret information he knows with the T.V. reporter. But instead of realizing peace of mind for himself, divulging the secret information puts Tessa in mortal danger and makes him a target within his organization.  Efforts to keep this information under wraps set the tone for this thrilling, intricate adventure.

Adeed Dawisha created a well written thriller with simple, engaging dialogue, and a fast-paced integrated plot that flows beautifully, keeping readers from putting it down. As much as I like to brag on how I always am able to figure out plots, I must admit, this one did have few surprises for me. Dawisha truly knows how to master pace and plot in a way which unravels unexpectedly. His characters are not just genuine, the way he built them with dialogue and description made them come alive in my mind. Dawisha also features impeccable writing skills within the action scenes as I could picture things happening vividly in my mind as clear as having it play on a screen in front of me.

I can’t recommend enough “The Paymaster” by Adeed Dawisha. It is an awesome five-star read. A thrilling and intriguing page turner that made me jump from my seat more than once. I will definitely look out for more work from this author!

 – reviewed by Michel Violante for Reader Views

This spicey thriller with multiple surprises includes characters drawn from the FBI, the CIA and television journalism, covering and uncovering international secrets and dirty deals with shady organizations from abroad. Murder, sex, betrayal, vengeance, redemption — even confirmation hearings — this fast-paced story has plenty of human interest. Lots of fun!

– reviewed on Amazon by Stephen Nimis


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Tuesday Book Review: “A Debt of Survival”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:

a debt of survival l f falconer

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2017 INDIES Finalist

A Debt of Survival

by L. F. Falconer

ISBN: 9781478787082

Synopsis*:

Shimji, a young Channel Island vixen, dreams to go where no Island fox has ever gone: to the place her ancestors came from thousands of years ago. By talking with a sea lion named Malibu and a seagull named Topanga, she finds the island’s harbor and stows away on a boat headed to the California coast. During her adventure on the main-land, Shimji befriends wild and domesticated animals. She learns from their different ways and thus gains knowledge of the world. Her curiosity satisfied, Shimji longs to return home, only to be discovered by humans. Scientists want to send her to a zoo. Can Shimji escape and find her way back to her island home?

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Featured Review

It’s true that the most terrifying horrors a human being can feel are in the mind and A Debt of Survival by L.F. Falconer aptly justifies this. The reader is introduced to a very compelling character, Don Lattimore, a man who had his stint in the army and who retired to a quiet life in Diablo Springs, serving his community as a sheriff. He thinks his past has been buried and that he has moved on, but when he discovers evidence of evil activities in an abandoned house, he knows it is the beginning of a terrifying journey for him as he begins to live his worst nightmares. Possessed by a powerful evil that causes the death of people in his county, the sheriff has to pay the impossible price if he’ll save lives. The question is: Does he have the courage to do what he needs to do to stop this evil from consuming everyone around him?

The pervading spookiness of this gripping horror tale starts from the very first page. The reader already knows that he or she is in for a dreadful ride the moment they read the first sentences of the story. The plot is beautifully imagined and the author’s writing flows flawlessly; it is measured and so tightly knit that the reader will be blown away by the lyricism in the prose. It is impossible not to feel deeply for Don Lattimore as he struggles helplessly against his own demons. A Debt of Survival is the kind of book that makes readers spend sleepless nights. The drama is intense and the reader can feel their pulse rise as they turn each page. L.F. Falconer is a master at creating a plot that leaves readers engrossed and transported.

– reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers’ Favorite

Other Reviews

A Debt of Survival is an atmospheric novel and an engrossing entry in the horror genre.

A Debt of Survival by L. F. Falconer examines the price of war within an incredible character-driven supernatural horror ordeal.

In the idyllic town of Diablo Springs, Nevada, a gruesome crime takes a toll on Don Lattimore, the sheriff and an army veteran. The scene appears to be a satanic ritual to conjure a demon, but it is quickly written off as a harmless teenage prank—that is, until the town is rocked by mounting violence and grisly deaths.

For Lattimore, the deaths and gore usher in memories of his Korean War experiences and lead to vibrant hallucinations that threaten to unravel his sanity. Unsure who to trust, or even how to confront whatever force is wreaking havoc in his town, Lattimore comes to realize that everything is connected to the war and to himself.

A Debt of Survival is a polished horror story. The writing is sharp and adeptly shows instead of tells, such as when Lattimore is startled by an airplane-like noise and looks up at the moon; the sight causes him to reflect on Armstrong’s current lunar landing and a nightmare from his past. All in one line, the time frame is established and a sense of unease settles over the story. This all occurs outside of the horrific crime scene that has yet to be described, prompting the tension and fear to mount with each paragraph.

All the characters are vividly drawn to life, but none more so than Lattimore. Coping with PTSD and burdened by the duty to protect his family and community, his convictions keep his actions consistent.

Every piece of dialogue and action builds upon another to examine a man damaged by war while suffering from mounting horrors. Character tics like Lattimore’s tendency to quote his idolized father and favor his youngest son and dog over the rest of his family, as well as his discussions with exasperating colleagues, produce a protagonist worth rooting for.

As a horror story, A Debt of Survival excels. A strong and unique internal mythology draws from supernatural legends to add a layer of complexity to the story, which even so remains accessible. That same aspect of the story helps explain Lattimore’s personality and actions. From the intense descriptions of smell to the ramifications of the crimes on Lattimore’s mind and psyche, the horror is ever present.

A Debt of Survival is an atmospheric novel with undertones of social commentary; it is a unique and engrossing entry in the horror genre.

 – reviewed by John M. Murray for Foreword Reviews

 

I love a gripping horror story, so when presented with the opportunity to read “A Debt of Survival,” by L.F. Falconer, I jumped on it! Falconer takes readers on a thrilling ride in this complex, multi-dimensional tale, full of heart-pounding suspense and drama.

Set in 1969, the story follows Don Lattimore, Sheriff of Diablo Springs, Nevada, who finds himself knee-deep in the middle of an investigation involving gruesome satanic activity. Quick to write it off as a prank of the local teenagers, Lattimore cannot ignore the onslaught of murder and destruction happening in his town ever since the “conjuring.” There is something familiar to Lattimore in all this mire, and suddenly the ghosts from his time in the war come back to haunt him with vengeance. As memories of the war come to the surface, Lattimore can’t help but wonder if he’s seeing things and losing his mind, or if the demons are real? When a stranger arrives in town offering assistance, Lattimore is torn –not sure who to trust, or what path to take. In the end, will he be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of his community?

“A Debt of Survival” was such an entertaining reading experience. The writing is impeccable, Falconer truly has a style all her own. She clearly knows how to show vs. tell–her descriptions drawing me directly into the plot with intensity and crisp detail. And, I do mean crisp detail – those with a tendency toward a weak stomach be warned – this author has no problem getting down and dirty with grisly particulars. The pace of the story is spot-on as well; I never felt like I was left hanging while waiting for something to happen, or driven through the story too quickly.

Another thing Falconer is right at home with is character development. Lattimore is a genuine protagonist who is well rounded with a diverse personality. He has no trouble being the bad guy when necessary if his convictions are tested, while at the same time being open-minded to learning new things and hearing all sides of a story. All of the characters are distinct, and readers will develop definite opinions about each one as the story progresses.

L.F. Falconer does an amazing job unfolding a clever, well-written story in “A Debt of Survival” with lots of layers, twists, and turns. Suspenseful, intriguing, and easy to follow, readers will be satisfied right up to the very last word. I rate this book an awesome Five-Star read and recommend to all horror fans and thrill seekers. You will not be disappointed.

– reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views

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Tuesday Book Review: “Shimji: The Channel Island Vixen”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:

shimji the channel island vixen christina steiner

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Winner of the West Pacific Regional Reader Views Literary Award

Shimji: The Channel Island Vixen

by Christina Steiner
Illustrated by Steve Ordonez

ISBN: 9781478787082

Synopsis*:

Shimji, a young Channel Island vixen, dreams to go where no Island fox has ever gone: to the place her ancestors came from thousands of years ago. By talking with a sea lion named Malibu and a seagull named Topanga, she finds the island’s harbor and stows away on a boat headed to the California coast. During her adventure on the main-land, Shimji befriends wild and domesticated animals. She learns from their different ways and thus gains knowledge of the world. Her curiosity satisfied, Shimji longs to return home, only to be discovered by humans. Scientists want to send her to a zoo. Can Shimji escape and find her way back to her island home?

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Featured Review

Shimji, the Channel Island Vixen is an adventurous children’s book written by Christina Steiner. After hearing so many tales of her ancestors, Shimji, a young fox kit, decides to explore the world and see what it has to offer. Knowing that water vessels travel between the islands and the mainland regularly, Shimji sneaks onto a ferry and makes it across, but has no idea where to go or what to do. She meets many different animals on her travels, but after being chased across town by angry dogs, Shimji finds herself befriending a cat and his human family. While trying to assist Shimji in returning to her island home, the family quickly discovers that Shimji would be taken by the government to a zoo instead. This causes Shimji to put all of her efforts, survival skills and cunning into trying to find a way back to the island on her own.

Positively engrossed in every word I read, I found that Christina Steiner’s story about a young fox named Shimji not only presented a wonderful, exploratory adventure of an animal eager to see the world, but also showed how different animal species interact, regardless of their difference in size or habitat, while helping each other escape the perils of various predators. Learning which foods and animals to avoid, Shimji is able to make her way across the treacherous sea and onto the mainland, where she finds new species of animals and is able to determine for herself whether or not they can be trusted. From sea lions, seagulls, possums, horses, cats and even skunks, Shimji has an incredible tale to tell, should she ever find her way back home. Each animal interaction left me smiling, with the exception of those with an evil motive in mind, and I found myself cheering Shimji on the whole way, while easily visualizing each interaction with each turn of the page. I thoroughly enjoyed Shimji, the Channel Island Vixen, and recommend it to readers aged 7-14 years of age, who enjoy books about various species of animals interacting in a peaceful, almost humanlike way. I look forward to reading more books from Christina Steiner in the future.

– reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers’ Favorite

Other Reviews

This book is adorable. I purchased it for my grandson who just turned 4 and we read it together as a chapter book. The tale is about Shimji, a Channel Island vixen, who sneaks off to the mainland for a look around the home of her ancestors. She runs into a delightful variety of animals who help her along on her adventure before she decides to sneak back home, a task fraught with some challenges.

Shimji is a sweet character with a courageous and friendly nature, and the animals that she encounters are a hoot with distinctive personalities and voices. The opossums made me laugh out loud, and Blackout, a domesticated cat, is a riot as he explains how he manages his humans. The gulls are pretty funny too. Throughout the book, Steiner weaves in a bit of history about the island foxes as well as information about all the different animals Shimji meets.

A highly enjoyable book for kids with gentle characters working together to help each other. My grandson gave it 5 stars, and I second the opinion.

 – reviewed on Amazon by Diana

 

With a story that takes you inside the world of wonderful little Shimji’s life and takes you on a quest to accomplish her dreams this book is a wonderful read that will educate you in a way that feels more like fun than just being told facts. The characters, story and setting will give any young reader a new favorite to go on their book shelves.
– reviewed on Amazon by Anastasia B.

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Tuesday Book Review: “Too Much Junk in My Trunk!”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:

too much junk in my trunk! the adventures of zealy and whubba roe de pinto

Too Much Junk in My Trunk!
The Adventures of Zealy and Whubba, Book 4

by Roe De Pinto

ISBN: 9781478790259

Synopsis*:

The Adventures of ZEALY AND WHUBBA Children’s Book Series – 14X Award Recipient – Mom’s Choice, Readers’ Favorites 2016-2017, Readers Views, Independent Press, & National Association of Book Entrepreneurs, Pacific Book Review 2016/2017 Books 1, 2, 3 & 4

This newest release, “Too Much Junk in My Trunk!” teaches children to eat a variety of food, encourages them to try new foods from early on, and teaches them not to overeat as well as providing comfort in knowing that their parents will usually “fix their boo-boo” so they know who to go to when that occurs! This edition actually engages the child throughout the book through questioning the reader, which enhances the child’s experience of what the characters are embracing throughout the story. Splish- Splash with Zealy and Whubba-more to come!! Watch for it!

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Featured Review

“Too Much Junk in My Trunk!” is Book 4 in The Adventures of Zealy and Whubba series by Roe De Pinto.  It is about two friends named Zealy (a seal) and Whubba (a killer whale) who ate too much. They went to Zealy’s mom and told her that they had a bellyache. The book says they had too much junk in their trunk that made them feel like funk. The book taught me that it is good to have other nutrients in our bodies and to try new different foods.

I liked that Zealy and Whubba had to have water and they ate some food. I liked that Zealy’s mom helped them feel better.  I did not like that they went into the deep end. It should have been against the rules. There were sharks and bad things in the deep end.

I thought the art was good! I really liked the cover because Whubba is hugging Zealy. On another page, the pictures showed the food that the friends were going to eat. I also liked that the pages were colorful and that all the pages had a blue background because blue is my favorite color.

I really liked this book because it is a good book and it is all blue! Other kids will like it because they can learn that they shouldn’t eat too much food or their bellies will hurt too.

Parent’s Note

Russ really seems to like this book. He runs around saying, “Too much junk in my trunk makes me feel like funk!” When I asked him about it, he said that if he feels like he is eating too much, that he won’t because it will make his belly feel bad. He also knows he needs to eat a variety of foods and take his vitamins. I think “Too Much Junk in My Trunk!” by Roe De Pinto is perfect for little boys in the “potty talk” stage where they make up words anyway.

– reviewed by Russ Cramer (age 6) for Reader Views Kids

Other Reviews

For fans of Zealy & Whubba, the fanciful girl seal pup and her orca friend and mentor Whubba, we all get to join this duo as they go on yet another adventureAuthor Roe De Pinto brings these characters into new situations up in the cold water off of an imaginary Big Rock Island in episode 4Too Much Junk in My Trunk! In this episode, the two wander off to a new place where they come across a feeding area of new and flavorful fish, clams, lobsters and mussels. Zealy tries many new delicacies of colorful fish as Whubba eats his favorite crustacean diet. Along come some sharks, but since Whubba can protect Zealy from the sharks, they all decide to join the feeding frenzy. It’s a happy, festive feast when all of a sudden, oh boy, Zealy & Whubba both get big stomach aches.

They go back to Zealy’s parents where her mother tells them both, “Too much junk in your trunk makes your belly feel like funk!” So after drinking more water and feeling better, they come to a finale dance and celebration saying to each other, “Too much junk in my trunk makes my belly feel like funk!” Having this repeated by everyone time and time again “drills” in the message to children to watch what they eat, and keep away from junk. The importance of a well-balanced diet is explained, in this case by example.

The illustrations are wonderful and generously placed, interleaving with the story to provide an excellent and memorable bedtime experience. As children are read The Adventures of Zealy & Whubba!, they are taught special lessons of life, however the predominating rule in all of Roe De Pinto’s books is love. Love one another, and love yourself – it is all about love.

The achievement of this series of beautifully illustrated and printed children’s books has created two of the most lovable talking sea creatures since, well Spongebob and his friends in Bikini Bottom. Zealy with her snow white fur and Whubba with his shiny black and white body and blue eyes make ideal role models for kids to find details to love within both of them; making for excellent role models of loving the differences of others not looking the same as you. So many undercurrents of social behavior and family structure are threaded into all of Roe De Pinto’s books which make this series a “must have” collection for toddlers to enjoy – an excellent gift for young family libraries.

Each of the episodes bring to awareness the love of friendship and family and with the illustrations so consistently imaginative, each of the books comprising this series receives the highest accolades from not only this reviewer, but many from others as well.

 – reviewed by Beth Adams for Pacific Book Review

 

This book is adorable! The illustrations are colorful and show just how sweet this dynamic duo can be. There is a good lesson for the little ones to keep their belly’s happy and healthy that resonates through. The wordplay here is something my sons really loved. Highly recommend!
– reviewed on Amazon by Anthony Naber

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