ORIGINAL BOOK REVIEW: “A Sense of Urgency” by Patrick McLean (Fiction)

A SENSE OF URGENCY by Patrick McLean

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION*:

Baseball franchise moves can break your heart.

Mark Weber, President & CEO of the St. Louis Cardinals, thought he landed his dream job. Little did he know it would turn into a nightmare shortly after management changes at parent company Rheinhold Brewing Company.

Christina Rheinhold, newly installed President & CEO of the company that bears her name, is anxious to keep the small brewery afloat. What better way than to shed non-beer assets? Especially if you don’t even care about the team, purchased by her father when In-Bev acquired Anheuser-Busch and they also were in an off-loading situation. Christina [is] well aware of the 125 year plus tradition of the team in St. Louis, but it [is] very tempting to sell the team to out of town parties for top dollar.

Can Mark, with the help of natural and even supernatural support, save the team for the city and their fans?

REVIEW:

Baseball! So many different aspects of my life seem to be telling me I should brush up on my (nearly nonexistent) knowledge of the sport. I spent my middle and high school years abroad in a country where baseball doesn’t exist, which probably explains why I know so little about the sport–including its history and why it is of such significant importance to Americans today. There are some similarities across sports: baseball and cricket, for example, are both considered “gentlemens’ sports” in that competition coexists with camaraderie and umpires are as important as the players, their calls are of the utmost importance, and sassing an umpire is as gross a misdemeanor as exists. In many other ways, though, baseball and the culture that has formed around it is utterly unique. In A Sense of Urgency, Patrick McLean captures much of the detail and texture of daily life with baseball and infuses his book with the spirit of the same.

Like the sport itself, A Sense of Urgency is a dialogue-driven read. Thumb your way through the book and you’re liable to land on a series of pages where the majority of the text printed on that page is being spoken aloud by one character or another. McLean is somewhat unusual in this–in writing, I mean. My personal addiction when writing is to scenic description (sometimes I think it’s all I know how to write) and that was fairly common among the writers I became acquainted with back in my college years. There are also plenty of authors who are addicted to what you might call the Infodump, or in some genres worldbuilding without much action. In moderation both worldbuilding and scenic description can be useful, but as most of you can probably attest, something needs to happen in a book in order to keep the momentum going and readers engaged. Too much summary description of action as it unfolds, though, can come off as distant. (“He ran, then he stopped. He ate a sandwich. Then he moved to Alaska to learn how to muster sled dogs.”) It’s almost as if some writers (me included) can completely forget about the power of dialogue–but not Patrick McLean.

One of the benefits of a dialogue-driven book is that it doesn’t come off as teasing or deliberately disingenuous to withhold certain information until the critical moments in which those details are important; a third person omnipresent narrator, however, knows everything the character knows and can therefore be something of a tease in books that depend on the timing of those details for plot momentum and reader interest. (If an author knows that it was Lady Scarlett in the dining room with the candlestick but asks me to consider the butler and Colonel Mustard as primary suspects, I start to wonder what else the narrator is hiding from me. And then I start skimming ahead. Because sometimes I’m a very impatient reader! Whoops.) With dialogue, though, an author is fully justified in only conveying what the characters themselves know or are willing to share in the moment, since their voices are the only (or at least the dominant) voices on the page. This comes in very handy in A Sense of Urgency.

Dialogue also conveys personality and regionality in a way like no other text can. Speech patterns, dialect, and idiom tell people who we are when we speak, more than even our clothes and our resumés, since we can put on costumes and brag as much as we like, but how we speak and how we speak to each other will always reveal who we are underneath the affectations and behavioral habits we acquire.

When it comes to plot, there’s not much I can tell you about A Sense of Urgency that’s not already in the description without spoiling key details, but as the omnipresent narrator of this review I’m going to tease you with hints at what you’ll discover when you crack open a copy for yourself. McLean’s command of the details is exquisite. (Who wears loafers without socks??! Who are these people? My mother would be mortified if she were caught out of doors without socks in her sneakers. I, meanwhile, wear sandals until the snow is thicker than the soles of my sandals. Then I switch to boots. I do not loaf. You’ll have to read on in order to discover why this is important in the book.) The little things aren’t always little in this book. But that could also be a hint of misdirection; a Colonel Mustard moment of mine, if you will. (See? Don’t you hate it when a narrator tortures you? McLean doesn’t do this thanks to his dialogue-driven approach.) The Cardinals are more than just a team. Security is called to escort people out … and there are several moments where things get “a little dicey,” to steal an expression from the book. There’s plenty of drama to go around, but I won’t embarrass myself by trying to replicate McLean’s command of how baseball works and will simply state instead that this is a book that is focused on the game and what the game makes possible in the lives of those people who are involved in it.

If you like baseball, or even if you know nothing about baseball but enjoy seeing just desserts dished out by characters who are knowledgable and passionate, this is a book to add to your reading list.

IN SUMMARY:

While the world keeps reminding me that Americans play baseball and not cricket, A Sense of Urgency pairs the sport with storytelling that is bound to appeal to fans and newcomers alike. And yes, Patrick McLean really does convey … a sense of urgency … in this compelling slice of life narrative.

WHERE TO BUY?

You can find A Sense of Urgency  wherever good books are sold, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can also find out more about Patrick McLean’s work on the book’s Outskirts Press author page.

WHAT NEXT?

The year 2020 being what it is, I couldn’t help but feel drawn to Integrity Based Policing by Dan Barry, which is an insider’s perspective based on Barry’s thirty or so years in law enforcement for the City of Las Vegas. Personal opinions aside, I think it’s an important moment to be seeking out stories from all perspectives on this topic in order to better understand what’s going on in the world (specifically America) today.

 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

* Courtesy of Outskirts Press book listing.


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ABOUT KENDRA M.: With nine years in library service, six years of working within the self-publishing world, as well as extensive experience in creative writing, freelance online content creation, and podcast editing, Kendra seeks to amplify the voices of those who need and deserve most to be heard.

Self-Published Book Review: “Primeval Origins: Paths of Anguish”

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 month’s featured book review:
paths of anguish vonsik

Primeval Origins: Paths of Anguish

by B.A. Vonsik

ISBN: 9780578138602

 

AWARDS and HONORS
* Young Adult Book of the Year, 2014/2015 Reader Views Literary Awards.
* Finalist, Fantasy Book of the Year, Readers Favorite 2016 Book Awards
* Finalist, Fantasy Book of the Year, 2016 International Book Awards
* Distinguished Favorite, Epic Fantasy Book of the Year, 2017 Independent Press Awards
* Fantasy Book of the Year, 2017 NYC Big Book Award
* Winner, Science Fantasy, National Association of Book Entrepreneurs (NABE) Winter 2018 Pinnacle Book Achievement Award

Synopsis*:

Book one in this epic story of mankind’s origins and the creation of the Four Horsemen. Join Nikki, a graduate student working on a field expedition that turns her life upside-down, as she learns of and experiences our undiscovered and hidden history filled with terrible tyrannies, deadly dinosaurs, brutal beasts, ancient gods, and heroic hearts  as the origins of our End Times is revealed, answering the question, “What if all of our myths and legends are true?

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Reviews

Nikki is a graduate student at a dig in South America when a new dinosaur species is discovered. When she falls into the dig site and is knocked unconscious she is suddenly transported into the memories of Rogaan, a young man from 65 million years ago. Against everything she has been taught, humans not only lived with dinosaurs but had an advanced civilization. The world she views is rich in detail as the author creates a new world filled with exotic plants and animals and a new language to label them, plus the peoples of this world and their titles. It is also a coming of age story as Rogaan goes on his first Hunt and returns to find himself a wanted man and his father arrested.

Book Trailer

 

 


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Self-Published Book Review: “Rambling Squirrel”

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:

rambling squirrel

reader views award

Rambling Squirrel

by Wendy Laird

ISBN: 9781432738761

 

Synopsis*:

Learn interesting squirrel facts as you read about a curious squirrel’s journey.

Little squirrel has learned a lot about life as a squirrel but he hungers for more of life’s challenges. Follow his exciting adventures ahead!

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Reviews

“Rambling Squirrel” is a book about a squirrel wanting to learn lots of things. He was born on a bright, blue-sky day and learned very quickly. He learned how to climb down a tree head first, gather nuts for winter, where to build a safe nest, to hide in a safe place and, of course, use his tail as a blanket, a rudder and an umbrella. But he wanted to learn more! He went to talk to his mama and she suggested he should visit his cousins to learn more. He packed all of his squirrel-needing items and went to visit his cousins.

First he visited his cousin Beaver, He taught him how to build a river dam. It was cold, hard work! Then he went to visit his cousin Prairie Dog, He told Squirrel to always stay alert and keep safe by digging a tunnel and live in it! But Squirrel didn’t want to live in a tunnel so he went to visit his cousin Flying Squirrel; he couldn’t wait until he could fly! He also learned from his cousins Woodchuck, Chipmunk and Mouse. He was gone from his family for many weeks when he went to go back home. When he returned home, he told his family all about his trip!

My favorite character was the baby squirrel because he wanted to learn more about things. My favorite picture was when he was with his cousin Beaver because the squirrel really looked like a beaver! My favorite part was when he was with his cousin Prairie Dog. I liked the artwork a lot! I also learned more fun facts about squirrels in “Rambling Squirrel.”


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Self-Published Book Review: Tea With the Queen

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:

tea with the queen charles lunsford

beverly hills book awards winner

Tea With the Queen

by Charles Lunsford

ISBN: 9781478766551

 

Synopsis*:

What do you give someone who has given you everything? What do you give your mother as a birthday present when she turns ninety years old? I gave my mother this story that you are about to read. My sister asked my mother what kind of party she wanted and with the wink of an eye she exclaimed, “a tea party!” Invitations were sent out to one and all to have “Tea with the Queen.” You were to wear your finest tea party attire; suits, ties, dresses and of course, hats. I sat down to read my new fairy tale to my mother and her guests from a copy I had printed by the local printer, with clip art I found on the internet and bound in black vinyl, I began to read the story aloud. You see, I come from a long line of storytellers. From my grandmother, to my nieces and nephews, we loved standing up to retell the history of our family.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Reviews

Once upon a time, the question was asked: “What do you get the 89-year-old queen who has everything?” Her family home for her birthday, of course! And that’s just what Princess Dawnellen sets out to get for her mother, Queen Bettyruth, in Charles Lunsford’s book, Tea With the Queen.

This adorable book begins with the queen bemoaning her upcoming 90th birthday, not because of her age but because her sons won’t be there to help her celebrate. Her very caring daughter, Princess Dawnellen, decides to make it happen and give her mother a party to end all parties, but all of the princesses’ brothers are spread out in the region! Can the princess make it happen? Will everyone be home for the party?

Based somewhat on a true story (the author’s sister asked their mother what she wanted for her birthday, and she answered, “A tea party!”), I thought this was a really cute tale about a daughter trying to do right by her elderly mother who has given her everything all of her life. The beginning half dragged a little bit, but once the decorating for the party began, things kicked into high gear. I especially liked the arrival of different people, with each arrival done in various humorous ways. My only [minor] quibble was that there was barely any attention given to the problem at-hand. We went from the queen wishing to see her sons to preparations being made for a party. I would liked to have read about some minor conflicts in the princess’ quest to bring her brothers home. There was also a subplot with the queen and her husband, King Bernard, who had suffered from a number of ailments and could no longer talk. I admit that a few scenes had me a bit teary-eyed, moved by the depth of their love for each other.

One of the most important parts of books for children are the illustrations, and I think they were well-done in this case. I believe that the author noted on Amazon that he used clip-art. The pictures were therefore simple but vivid and colorful, giving even more life to the characters therein. My only issue with the pictures was that Princess Dawnellen and her siblings looked a little young to be in their 70s or even 60s; while I’m guessing about their ages, I don’t think I can be too far off since the queen’s children all had grandchildren of their own. Even if they’re young grandparents, their pictures made them look to be no older than their early 30s, if that. The queen, on the other hand, did look to be elderly, though she could have done with a few more wrinkles.

I thought that the theme of family love was very well portrayed, and it was fun meeting everyone in the extended family. Even so, I will make one minor note. One of the couples included in the book is homosexual, which I had no problem with. The thing that did give me pause, however, was that one half of the couple looked at the other’s behind and smiled. Due to the language in general, I think this book is aimed for slightly older children (maybe 10 and up), but that aside was a little too much even for me, and I’m quite a bit older than 10! While I realize that this book started off as a gift to the author’s mother, thereby making that scene “no biggie”, it’s now on Amazon and posted as a children’s book, so I think that one sentence should be edited out.

Insofar as the editing in general, I don’t think that this book was professionally edited. It’s only 56 pages long, and I managed to find well over the ten grammatical errors we need to note, with the first ten being found in the first 6 pages. Most of the mishaps were punctuation missteps, but there were also a few instances of incorrect word usage and one time that “they’re” was used when it should have been “their”. I strongly urge the author to have this book edited now that it’s being seen outside of the family because it has important themes that shouldn’t be lessened by bad grammar.

Due to the typographical issues, it is with a heavy heart that I give Tea With the Queen 3 out of 4 stars; the minor issues I mentioned don’t warrant a lower drop in the rating. I also recommend this book to older children or tweens as well as adults who like children’s books based on family and love. Fans of fairy tales may also want to give this tome a try.

And with that, MsTri was done with her review, and they all lived happily ever after.

Tea with the Queen is a heart warming true story written in fairy tale form. The book is a testament to family values, family diversity and most importantly, family love. Worried she will not see her beloved family on her birthday, her daughter conspires to have family members converge on the castle for a birthday tea. The lessons she and her husband have taught their children and grand children are time old lessons of honesty, integrity and love. I was a reading/language arts teacher for 40 years and I highly recommend Tea with the Queen for every classroom library.

– reviewed by Michael on Amazon

What a delightful book! I was enchanted to learn the fairy tale had been inspired by the author’s real life: a desire by his 90-year-old mother to have a birthday tea party. I recommend this for kids over age 7 because of its length and a few ‘adult’ words kids may not know. I do feel it would be perfect read aloud at story-telling events and at bedtime. The illustrations are a lot of fun and enhance the plot. The essence of the book is the importance of generational love and how love and family traits continue to live on in future generations. Who doesn’t agree and appreciate that message?!?

– reviewed by Amy Light on Amazon

 

Book Trailer

 


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Self-Publishing News: 8.20.2018 – New Releases!

august month

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically new releases written by self-publishing authors and published by independent presses! Today we’ll be featuring brand-new releases in the Outskirts Press Bookstore!

Here’s a debut for the ages! In The Escapee: Happiness in a Bottle, setting and timing is everything. It is New York City, May of 1950, and Hollywood screenwriter Harrison Harper is in turmoil—devastated by the death of his fiancée, Amelia, and torn by his feelings for the newest woman in his life, film star Venus Kingsley.  Struggling through alcoholism, Harrison suddenly finds himself being blackmailed by a mysterious stranger who claims to know the truth behind Amelia’s death—a truth that Harrison has kept secret for two agonizing years. As dangers rise and situations worsen, Harrison must conquer his vices and his enemies, and overcome the agony of lost love, all the while trying to resist the call from a bottle of liquor … and to stay alive in the process. This book is packed with tension, texture, and thoroughly researched details of the time and place. If you’re a history buff, or like a good star-crossed romance, or a hero in the process of bec;oming, this is the novel for you!

Looking for a magical tale to take home to the junior reader in your life? This may just be the perfect book for you and your preteen to enjoy together. Its fascinating premise, replete with the titular dragons and fairies, begs one very important question: What does the Queen want most of all? Welcome to the Kingdom of Ing, where dragons are playful and kind, and where fairies surround the land with enchantment. It should be the very happiest place—but King Alexander and Queen Arabella are downcast because they don’t have a baby dragon. Time is passing, and the kingdom needs a prince or princess. Night after night, the Queen can be heard sighing and weeping. The queen dreams of a baby to love, and somewhere, an orphaned baby dreams of her. Can the queen of the fairies and her very best team work their magic to bring a bundle of joy to the Kingdom of Ing? This book carries you along as their two stories dovetail. With delightful rhyming lyrics focused on words with “-ing” endings, this imaginative fable is fun to read aloud, while providing opportunities for early reader, vocabulary, and counting skills. With its whimsical illustrations and heartwarming story, this tale of a mother’s longing for a child is sure to become a family favorite.

Are you feeling stuck and looking for a way forward? Or, are you looking for a way to boost your already existing mindfulness practices over the coming months? This book is for you, and for anyone interested in understanding themselves and their place in the world a little better. The authors, each of whom is in possession of a lifetime of rich experience and expertise, have painstakingly created a one-year, one-a-day template for writing about your thoughts and feelings as well as a nice mix of active, hands-on exercises to keep it interesting and to help you avoid the so-called “journal fatigue.”

All three of the authors have been working with individuals, including students and adults, with mental health concerns; their clinical and practical expertise includes peer mentoring, stress management, mood and anxiety disorders, and life coaching as well as mentoring. This is a guided journal with specific application in those circumstances, as well as a broader appeal based on shared and universal human experiences. So, as the sales copy encourages you to do: find a comfy chair, grab your favorite hot beverage, a good pen and start journaling!


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As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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