Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mr. Joe: Tales from a Haunted Life - Book Review

Mr. Joe: Tales from a Haunted Life
I was a bit hesitant to review this one. It sounded like an interesting story, but what if it was all these crazy ghost stories. What would I say about it? Thankfully this book is not at all like that. As a teacher, I know that custodian is arguably one of the toughest jobs in the building. Mr. Joe gives voice to all the custodians who do an amazing job and don't get the recognition they deserve. For that reason alone, I think everyone should read it. But thankfully, that's not it. Mr. Joe also lets us into his personal life. We see all the painful memories as well as the the happy ones.

My only caveat is that at the end he gets into some spiritual ideas that I personally disagree with. However, they are a part of his story and it is not my place to agree or disagree with it. I only say this to warn a reader who might be sensitive to various spiritual ideas.

My Amazon Review:

By definition a custodian has responsibility for or looks after something. Mr. Joe is a custodian in every sense of the word. He had a responsibility to the the school system he worked for and the meat plant before that. He looked after his family even when it was hard. He had responsibility for these stories and we are lucky that he has shared them with us. His narration is gentle and comfortable even when the stories are painful, embarrassing, and just hard.

There are ghosts in his stories and some of them are still living. There are ghosts that played tricks and ghosts that looked after him. There are ghosts of failed relationships and ghosts of painful memories. Mr. Joe has not had an easy life, but even in the telling he lets us know that it is all okay. 

An amazing story told in a beautiful way.

Book Details:

Do you believe in ghosts? Joseph Barnett didn t until he became a school custodian in a midlife career change. Joe had no idea that his first assignment, working nights in a school, he d be forced to confront his darkest fears. "Ghosts are part of my story," says Joe. "I believe in them; I have no choice. After you ve seen one ghost, you can go back and rationalize it. But after you ve looked a couple in the eye like I have, you believe. Otherwise, you doubt yourself. I ve done that, too and wondered if I was losing my mind but I know what I saw and heard. Here s something else I know: there are many ways to be haunted, and not all of my ghosts were dead. That s the other part of my story. It took almost becoming a ghost myself for me to see my life differently. I believe in ghosts, and I believe in myself. But back when this all started, I was just a guy trying to make a living."

380 pages
2013 Aug 1
Book length
Publication date

PublisherBettie Youngs Books (August 1, 2013)
Price: $14.52

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. And I added the links to Amazon because that is where I reviewed it. I was not asked by Amazon, NetGalley, or any affiliate to add the links to Amazon.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Golden Crystal: A Book Review

 Photo Credit: Amazon

The only caveat I will add to the review is that there were a couple places where I was confused or there were typos. I'm not sure which it was. However, I assume the copy I received wasn't the final copy and those things will be fixed.

My Amazon Review:

This book is a Sci fi Action Adventure Ancient History Thriller.June 28, 2013
As you can tell, it is hard to classify! A book that doesn't fit easily into a genre is a book that breaks some rules. And I like it that way!

Mr. Thacker has written a superb novel that I thoroughly enjoyed! The ancient history intrigued me. The sci fi marveled me. The action adventure startled me. And he even threw in a smidge of theology in a very simple and satisfying way. I loved the experience of reading this book. I loved the what ifs this book made me consider. And I fell in love with the brave and noble characters that save the day.

I generally do not read action adventure thriller books because the are a bit too brutal for my tastes. This book did have some brutality in it and at times I was uncomfortable. However the rest of the book was too compelling to stop reading.

If you are squeamish about death, read this book with caution. (I think you should still read it though.) If you typically don't like sci fi books, let this one change your mind. If you don't like historical fiction, read this one anyway because it most certainly isn't boring! And if you are uncomfortable with the mention or discussion of a deity in novels, you can skip the page(s). (But I wouldn't recommend that because I think the pages are too good to skip.)

I think there is something that everyone will enjoy in this novel, so I think you should read it!

Editorial Reviews


In 1791, two men began planning the layout for the nation's capital city. One is shunned and resigns in disgrace, and the other is all but forgotten. Years later, an original copy of the plans long thought to have been destroyed is found, with hastily marked notations by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

During the second World War, American military scientists discover some fascinating properties of the hydrogen atom and its link to an ancient mystical number. The exact findings are never published, but a national laboratory is built in 1943 to further their research in covert silence. America is told it is a defense project, code-named The Manhattan Project.

An ego-maniacal entrepreneur and his company, Vilocorp, will stop at nothing to build the perfect human specimen. His firm's research has been getting closer every day, but they seem to have uncovered a horrific, ancient secret that has been locked away for thousands of years.

Now, it's up to two men to understand the mystery surrounding the events and ancient symbolism before Vilocorp unleashes a hellish fury upon the earth; one that hasn t been seen for ages... --From the back cover...

Book Details

422 pages
2013 Jul 1
Book length
Publication date

PublisherTurtleshell Press; 2 edition (July 1, 2013)

Price: $14.18

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from Story Cartel in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. And I added the links to Amazon because that is where I reviewed it. I was not asked by Amazon, Story Cartel, or any affiliate to add the links to Amazon.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Middle Earth and Paris: Two Reviews

I have lots of ideas about Sgt. Fiana Thrace and the Environmental Crimes Division. I have every intention of working on that story. However right now, I'm stuck in a reading mode right now. As such, I'm going to be posting some reviews of what I have been reading.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit Photo Credit: Goodreads

I somehow had the mistaken notion that this was a boys book and therefore not interesting to me. I was completely wrong! I'm actually a little sad that it took me this long to get over that faulty notion. On the strong recommendation of a couple friends and my husband, I finally caved in and read the book. I LOVED IT!!

My Goodreads Review:

I can not believe that it has taken me so long to read this book. The detail is a bit overwhelming at first. However, you quickly become immersed in this new world where the danger is there, but the story teller keeps your feet from the fire. You are at a comfortable distance from the danger so that you do not feel the need to stop reading. The character of Bilbo changes and expands in a natural movement with the story. The character of some of the dwarves, elves, and so on remain a bit illusive until the end. 

After reading this one, I am even considering reading the trilogy. 

If you have not yet read this book, do yourself a favor and read it. It is a delightful story that is well written and well paced.

Book Description

 November 8, 2012
This lavish gift edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic features cover art, illustrations, and watercolor paintings by the artist Alan Lee.
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.
Written for J.R.R. Tolkien's own children, The Hobbit has sold many millions of copies worldwide and established itself as a modern classic.

Product Details

  • File Size: 6964 KB
  • Print Length: 316 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0395873460
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 114th edition (November 8, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009VN1Q00

(I reviewed this book on my own and did not receive a copy from any publisher.)

The Paris Lawyer

 Photo Credit: Amazon

I think a few weeks ago I mentioned that I wasn't a big fan a books set in France. This one unfortunately is no exception. 

My Goodreads Review:

It could be a great summer read for some people. The characters are all very unique and unlike any that I have read in other novels. The main character Catherine is fighting for the rights of others, even if she is doing it for her own reasons. The mystery does seem to be multi-layered. And the bad guy slowly reveals himself. 

I did notice there were a couple times when the point of view shifted to a different character unnecessarily. And several of the men were very creepy. Catherine was not really a favorite either. So I didn't finish the book. 

It wasn't for me, but maybe some who have a broader reading preferences would like it.

Book Description

 July 2, 2012

Winner of the Grand Prix Sang d’Encre crime fiction award in 2011, for the first time in English.

As a child, Catherine Monsigny was the only witness to a heinous crime. Now, she is an ambitious rookie attorney in sophisticated modern-day Paris. On the side, she does pro bono work and hits the jackpot: a major felony case that could boost her career. A black woman is accused of poisoning her rich farmer husband in a peaceful village in central France, where the beautiful, rolling hills hold dark secrets. While preparing the case, Catherine’s own past comes back with a vengeance. This fast- paced story follows Catherine’s determined search for the truth in both her case and her own life. Who can she believe? And can you ever escape from your past? The story twists and turns, combining subtle psychological insight with a detailed sense of place.

Product Details

  • File Size: 517 KB
  • Print Length: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Le French Book (July 2, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008H3QNSU

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. And I added the links to Amazon because that is where I reviewed it. I was not asked by Amazon, NetGalley, or any affiliate to add the links to Amazon.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Environmental Crimes Division: Part 3

Environmental Crimes Division: Part 1
Environmental Crimes Division: Part 2

After a long and largely sleepless night, Thrace had a file of information ready for the captain. When he entered the office, she was following him with the information.

"After much research, I have discovered quite a bit of information. First as I was looking for people who had access to Tae or its artifacts. Of course there are the scientists and high level politicians. However, I found a surprising group with access to Tae, garbage collectors."

The captain stopped fixing his coffee and turned to look at her. "Garbage collectors? How did that happen?"

"Fifteen years ago there was a movement to rescue items from Tae. As such they sent in garbage collectors to collect artifacts, elements, and other items from Tae to be used here. The plan was to live on the Space Fort for three months. They would take a ship to various parts of Tae to search for items. They would bring them back and clean them as much as possible. After three months they were to come back and further clean the items and turn them over to the Department of Science. However after three months the mission was considered so successful that they were assigned to the Space Fort for three more months."

"Six months at the Space Fort? I have never heard of anyone being assigned there that long. Three months is longer than most terms up there. What happened to them when they came home?"

"There was only one crew of 7 men. James Ardan, Bruno Blanda, Micheal Cyra, Nolan Gildava, Robert Lagash, George Motya, and Felix Sulci. They all made it back, but since then they have had very different lives. Bruno Blanda was from North Region and returned there. However within 5 years he was dead of an unknown disease. Micheal Cyra was from West Region. For the last 7 years, he has been in a home for the mentally unstable. George Motya was from Central Region. He came back and settled in North Region. He has also been dead from an unknown disease for the past 9 years. Felix Sulci was from South Region and settled back there. He has also been in a home for the mentally unstable for almost 10 years. Nolan Gildava was from the East Region and has settled back there. He has been living happily with his family since his return. James Ardan and Robert Lagash have lived in various regions and had various jobs. They haven't kept a job or a home for longer than 6 months since their return. Neither one of them have any family living. In fact for over two years now, they have not been heard from. I have been able to find no recorded evidence of them for the last two years."

"Is there reason to believe they are dead?"

"No sir. There were no hospital reports of them and their physical reports all say they are healthy with no disease or ailment known."

"So we need to find them."

"Yes sir. And I have an idea about that as well. Upon researching the groups who may be claiming that this yellow moss caused the destruction of Tae. I found one scientific article from 40 years ago written by Dr. Bartholomew Tharros claiming to have found evidence that what he termed Yellow Death Moss contributed to the flammability, poor air quality, and even famine that caused the evacuation of Tae. He never directly came out to say what was the evidence or where he got it. I didn't find any response to it or anyone that seemed to think he was correct in his assumptions. In fact there was no mention of it until about the time of the garbage collection project. They were not connected in anyway that I could find other than the timing. Then about 10 years ago a group was created called Yellow Fever. Their membership rolls are unavailable. Their meeting times and places are secret. The induction requirements are unknown. The only thing that we know is a few public statements made by Gerard Divici who claims to be their voice and nothing more."

"What has he said?"

"He hasn't said anything recently. The most recent statements I could find were from 3 years ago. At that time he claimed that this Yellow Death Moss was not only the destruction of Tae, but would also be the destruction of Geala. I have the full article as well as the other information I have found in this file." She said handing him the folder she had been carrying.

"Good work. I think the next step would be..."

"For me to sleep. I mean the interruption in the most respectful way possible. However in order to get all this information, I have not been home since about this time yesterday. So in order for me to function at my best, I need to go home and sleep for several hours. I'll be back after lunch ready to work."

Captain Jorns glared at her for a few seconds and then relented. He nodded his head and she was free to go. She went up to the roof and took off for home and her very comfortable bed.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Environmental Crimes Division: Part 2

Environmental Crimes Division: Part 1

As the sun rose high in the pale green sky, Sgt. Thrace awoke from her deep and restful summer. She slowly gathered herself and prepared to meet the day. She checked her phone and had a message from Jonathan.

Fi - I've got some results from the samples you dropped off yesterday. Stop by in the morning and we'll talk. I think we're on to something here.

She strapped on her weapon and her evidence tote. She locked the door and took off from her balcony. The morning was beautiful and calm. It was a good day for flying. She landed on the roof of the The Lab and headed down to Jonathan's office. As she walked in, he stood up from his desk and embraced her heartily.

"You have gotten some sleep. Splotchy isn't a good look for you."

"Thanks bro." She said rolling her eyes at her brother. "Now on to more important things. You said you found something for me."

Jonathan focused on business and led her into his lab area. "You brought by two samples yesterday and I've tested them both. The yellow substance you found was fairly easy to identify. It is a type of moss. It is very common and tends to grow in small clusters."

"That doesn't sound like something to be burned away."

"Well, that is debatable. Many believe it is this that caused the destruction of our first planet.  The fault in the theory is that the destruction is so complete on that planet that we have trouble proving what we know to be true. We can't even find concrete evidence of cities and societies. I don't know how anyone could know for sure what caused the devastation. We know that something used to live there, but we don't know who or what. I don't see how we can find evidence of such a small thing."

"So we have a conspiracy theorist. Lovely. What's his angle?"

"Hard to say. He could be torching the places he finds this in a misguided effort to protect our planet. Or he could be torching them as a method of proving their danger. Or he could be torching them in an effort to eliminate them and the conspiracy surrounding them. I can't even guess what side he is on."

"And the gel?"

"I ran almost every test I could. The findings are here he said sliding her a file of information. We did run into 2 problems. First, the test I didn't run requires norol. In order to run that test, your captain will need to formally petition the Director of Testing to use it. You know we have a limited amount of norol left from our escape, so it is only used in extreme cases."

"Is the test needed? What could it reveal?"

"There were 3 separate substances that I could not identify in gel. The test I could not run would reveal if any of the unknown substances were from our first planet. Considering his focus on this moss, it is not unreasonable to believe some of his materials would relate to Tae as well."

"Is there a chance that we can run the test?"

"I have only heard of it being used once and that was 25 years ago on the Killer Candy case. So the chances are small and they get even smaller when you consider the second problem."

"Which is?"

"The sample disintegrated."

Thrace's eyes grew two sizes and face took on a particularly angry shade of purple. "It what?!"

Jonathan held up his hands in a position of surrender. "It isn't my fault. The tiny beads that were in the sample were full of nitrogen. They were a slow release capsule to ensure that any of the gel remaining would disintegrate after a period of time. You were lucky to get that sample. So even if you get permission to run the test, you have to find another sample to test."

Thrace sank to the ground feeling very defeated. She sat there quietly for several minutes. Jonathan knowing his sister very well said nothing and went about other business. After some thinking, she stood and left the room quietly. She walked down the stairs and out into the street. She needed to focus on this latest development and not the air space. Although the offices of the ECD were only a few blocks from The Lab, she took the long away around. An hour later she arrived at her office with a plan. Before she could enact her plan, she was called into the Captain's office.

"Sgt. Thrace, where are we on the Arbor Arsonist case. I heard there was some new evidence found yesterday."

"Yes. I just received the report from Dr. Thrace at The Lab." She continued to tell her superior all of the information that she had received in the last few hours.

"Then it seems we are back at the beginning."

"Not exactly, sir. I have been thinking and planning. I think we have a few new areas to explore. If the unidentified elements of the gel are connected to Tae, then we can eliminate several portions of the population. There are only a handful of people who have access to anything from Tae or the ability to go there and get more. Secondly, we know that he or she is focusing on this specific type of moss. That can help us identify the next possible target for the Arbor Arsonist. And if Dr. Thrace is correct that many believe this is the cause of the destruction of Tae, then we could begin looking at some of these groups who either espouse these ideas or those who seek to destroy these ideas. If we can gather a list of their members, then we can compare that to those who would have access to Tae and narrow down our list of suspects considerably."

Captain Jorns sat looking at her for several seconds. "Good work, Sgt. Thrace. I'll expect a report on this tomorrow."

"Tomorrow sir? I'm not sure I can prepare all of that information that quickly."

"I'm sure you can. I'll expect to see you at this time tomorrow."

"Yes, sir." Thrace said as she quietly exited the room. She went to her desk and began the long work of researching all of these leads.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Environmental Crimes Division

The water was the perfect temperature, hot enough to make her skin purple.  She eased herself into the tub as her stress melted away. Investigating these crimes all day had left Thrace exhausted. This suspect had her flying from one end of the region to the other tracking down leads and crime scenes. Without her permission, her mind drifted back towards today's events.
She had barely walked into the station when the call came in. She was gone again. Flying toward the southern edge of the region to investigate the latest destruction. As she flew toward the crime scene, she saw the news flights as well.

Grr. I wish the wish the no fly law had passed. She thought to herself. You know you are about the only one who is affected by them. It would be a little excessive to have a law just for yourself. The other side of her reasoned.

She flew very far left and then to south. She came upon the scene from the south instead of the north. She flew directly over the destruction before finding a place to land. She saw the acre of land burned black. From the previous crime scenes, she knew it was exactly one acre, no more no less. She also knew she should be flying through smoke as the forest should be smoldering. As was becoming normal in this case, there was no smoke.

Her mind was already reviewing the known facts of the case and adding what she had seen of this crime scene. As she approached the news flight, she dipped down low flew between the trees that were still standing. She arrived at the crime scene unseen by the news flight. She approached the officer on duty.

"Sergeant Fiana Thrace, Enviornmental Crimes Division."

"Sergeant Thrace, thank you for coming so quickly. You saw that we have the hallmarks of The Arbor Arsonist."

"Are there any new pieces of evidence?"

"Yes, ma'am. In a particularly thick clump of trees, we found a gel like substance. We bottled it, but otherwise haven't touched it for fear of contaminating evidence."

"Good work officer. I'll want to see the area later, but for now where is the bottle."

The seasoned officer handed her the bottle. She took it and examined it with the precaution she would an antique shovel. This could explode or disintegrate and be rendered useless. She noted it was colored orange and bore little weight. She strapped it into her evidence tote.

Mental note: Thank Jonathan again for creating this. I couldn't have gotten the promotion without this. She thought as she engaged her protection armor and followed the officer to the crime scene. She walked the perimeter and measured the destruction. It was as she figured, exactly one acre. She indicated she was ready to enter the destruction. She again followed the officer. This time they arrived at the site where the gel was found. She took photos and attempted to measure the unharmed portion as well as the thickness of the foliage on the forest floor. As she was taking measurements she noticed a yellow substance poking out from underneath the remnants of the gel. She grabbed a scalpel from the tools on her armor. She scraped what she could of the uncontaminated yellow substance. Without the use of all of her senses, she had no inkling what this could be. She strapped that into her evidence tote as well. After a bit more looking, she left the crime scene. At a safe distance away, she cleansed and disengaged her protective armor.

"Thank you for your help officer. I'll leave the rest to the technicians who should be here shortly. I will be heading back to The Lab to get these things tested. Good work today. This just might be the break through we need."

"I'm happy to be of assistance and if I may say so, it is my pleasure to serve your case in any way I can. You have been a revolutionary force in this division. Thank you."

She blushed a deep navy color and mentally cursed herself for it. Her words were simple though. "All in a days work."

Now soaking in her tub hours later, that term a day's work had a physical pain to go with it. She had dropped off the materials off at The Lab with Jonathan. She would check on that in the morning. Between now and then, she was going to try to rest.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Wild of God: A Review

Story Cartel is a pretty awesome website that gives me free books in exchange for an honest review. I get to read the description and decide which ones I want to review. And I like it that way because I don't have time to review a bunch of books that I don't think I would like.

A few weeks ago I got an email and read the description of this book. I wanted to read it, but I was skeptical about liking it. I was afraid it would be all about how he shared God with these people and they were amazed and blessed and stuff.

I was very pleasantly surprised that the book is focused on his growth and his relationship with God. He sees the beauty and power of God in all of these people and places. He learns from them as much as they learn from him. He is respectful of the places that he is going and what they are going through. He does not try to make them more like him. He simply observes and attempts to help. He goes on some crazy adventures just to see how God will show up. It isn't something that everyone could do, but it is something that everyone can learn from. It isn't a one time event that only rich people with extra time can do. It is something that most anyone can try because the World Race is a mission trip that anyone can go on.

His approach to the entire experience was an attempt to learn. That makes all the difference in the book.

My Amazon Review:

I often forgot I hadn't lived these stories. I found myself wanting to tell others about his experiences as if they were mine!

His story telling is powerful and realistic. His revelations about himself and God are right on target with where I find myself in my walk. His observations about travel and its impact resonated with the things I have learned in my meager travels.

The only negative I could find was that there was a legend he contributed to the Mayans, but I thought it was Aztec. However, that is often the case with those two people groups. Their stories and legends often get mixed up. And even this negative proves the reality of travel, the story you are living is bigger than the facts you thought you knew.

Book Description

January 9, 2013
Eric Hanson claimed to follow the most remarkable person in history, yet his life was as exciting as sugarless gum. Confronted with a disparity between a promise of abundant life and what he saw in life surrounding him, he left everything behind for a year to travel around the globe through the world’s poorest countries.

Refugees, hermits, prostitutes, mobs, secret police, monks, and a motorcycle gang. A dangerous journey introduces us to a fresh side of faith, God, and a fulfilling life.

“"My eyes were opening to whole new levels of pain and poverty, darkness and despair, I saw new and altogether beautiful things become real to me. The Bible is full of God’s promises of healing and restoration, but those words always seemed plastic and hollow to me. For the first time in my life, I began to see God move and heal—to truly touch people in the midst of unbearable pain. And in that, God’s message of restoration suddenly took on a significant, real-life meaning to me.

As I watched Jose’s transformation, my heart was ripped from my chest and squeezed until my muted soul could hear God whispering that this—real change, real love, not contrite phrases in an old book—was the heart of God for His people.”"

Product Details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: WestBowPress (January 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • Price: $13.41

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from Story Cartel in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. And I added the links to Amazon because that is where I reviewed it. I was not asked by Amazon, Story Cartel, or any affiliate to add the links to Amazon.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Secret Gospel of Ireland: A Review

 Photo Credit: Amazon

I LOVE learning about history. So when I saw the title of this book, I had to read it. Christianity, Ireland, Politics, and Science! This book has it all. And it is described well. They track the famous thinkers, Augustine, St. Patrick, John Calvin, Martin Luther and the lesser known thinkers, Columbanus and John Scotus Eirugena. I learned so much about ancient philosophy and society. It really helped me to see the world in a much larger scope than simply my life or even the life of my country. And quite honestly it gave me a huge sense of peace that God really is in control and has a plan. So I don't need to stress so much about each decision made by a leader or idea thrown out there by society. God really is in control and he really does work all things for the good.

My Amazon Review:

This book did an amazing job of sharing the important events in state ruled Christianity from its adoption in the Roman Empire to the creation of the United States. The authors profiled the thinkers and how they came to their ideas. They traced the inclusion of those ideas in affairs of state. And eventually those ideas that began with St. Augustine ended with the scientific method and a democracy of the people and for the people.

The history of Christianity was lived out over the geography of the Western Roman Empire, parts of Africa, and Ireland. Therefore all of the thinkers are not from Ireland. However the idea that began in Ireland was lived out in all of the other thinkers. So by tracing the ideas of Ireland you can find democracy and the scientific method. 

Who knew there was so much going on in the Dark Ages?

Book Description

July 1, 2012
As the light of their empire faded into history, the ancient Romans made one last-ditch effort to plant the seed of their civilization in a foreign land—they launched a mission to bring Christianity to Ireland. And there, on a little Emerald Isle that had never been conquered and occupied by Rome, something extraordinary happened. In the process of converting from paganism to Christianity, the ancient Irish developed a remarkable approach to the Christian faith that would one day make science, democracy, and our modern world possible.

In this joyous and illuminating journey through more than ten centuries of history, James and Leo Behan follow the astonishing story of how the holy men of Ireland shepherded the West from antiquity to the modern era. With their powerful brand of “Irish Christianity,” the monks of Ireland transformed Europe and produced the key that would ultimately unlock the awesome potential of the Christian faith.

Sure to intrigue, entertain, transform, and capture the imagination, The Secret Gospel of Ireland lifts the veil that has for so long separated science and democracy from their Christian roots in ancient Ireland. More than a book, it is a revelation in which history, philosophy, and theology come together to show how our civilization floats in a sea of faith that was born on the Emerald Isle centuries ago.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Skywest Publishing (July 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0985458305
  • Price: $12.59

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. And I added the links to Amazon because that is where I reviewed it. I was not asked by Amazon, NetGalley, or any affiliate to add the links to Amazon.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Mystery and Some Poetry: 3 Book Reviews

Treachery in Bordeaux

If someone is wine lover, they would probably like this better than I did. There were many very technical wine terms and I got a little lost. The crime wasn't quite what I was expecting, but once again, I'm not a wine lover. So I may not have really gotten the significance. The conclusion seemed rushed. And it was a little jumpy overall. It didn't flow really well.

Positives: Most of the characters were described beautifully. There were many settings that were very well done. There were moments of brilliance in the novel.

If you are a wine lover, you will probably like this book a lot. If you are not, you might get a little lost.

Benjamin Cooker is a renowned winemaker and critic turned gentleman detective who sets out to find who is trying to take down the prestigious grand cru Moniales Haut-Brion. Is it negligence or sabotage? Who would want to target this esteemed vintner? Cooker and his assistant Virgile Lanssien search the city and the vineyards for answers, giving readers and inside view of this famous wine region. Treachery in Bordeaux is the first of the 20-book Winemaker Detective series that delves into the underworld of a global luxury industry.

Title: Treachery in Bordeaux
Author: Jean-Pierre Alaux, Noël Balen
Paperback: 103 pages
Publisher: Le French Book (August 6, 2012)
Language: English

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. 
Bone Fragments

A wide range of places and peoples and times to cover the topic of war. It is brutally honest. It is poignant. It is real. He holds nothing back. These can be read quickly, but should be read often to enjoy them fully. I really don't have enough words to describe my emotions in reading these poems. So know that it was moving and memorable. Go pick up a copy for yourself.


Set in Iraq, China, and many other places, Bone Fragments reflects the kaleidoscope of life at war, evoking the colors, sounds and sorrows of those in battle, and those left behind. Sharply poignant and touched with sadness, Gabriel Gadfly's poetry encompasses 150 years of conflict and serves as a moving testament to human resilience in the face of tragedy. From the American Civil War to the recent upheavals in the Middle East, this anthology seizes the atmosphere of battle in the smallest of moments -- a soldier pining for a love left behind, the first kill of a new recruit, the loud chattering of teeth in the cold.... Gabriel Gadfly offers an anthology of wartime reading in remembrance of those whose lives have been affected by the many wars fought in human history.

Title: Bone Fragments
Author: Gabriel Gadfly
Paperback: 106 pages
Publisher: 1889 Labs Ltd. (July 26, 2011)
Language: English

Disclaimer: I bought this book and just decided to review it all on my own.

Ventricle, Atrium

Another volume of honest and poignant poetry. He holds nothing back. The smallest details and mundane rituals have been celebrated as much as the first kiss or the first coupling. There is much here to cause fond memories to resurface. There is also much to cause fears to resurface. Read with caution because your emotions will be engaged.


Love is in the details. In the fingers finding a hand in the dark. In the stretch and curve of a spine. In the goose bumped shoulders and taste of the skin. Gabriel Gadfly's much anticipated second anthology is a vivid and tender tribute to the life cycle of love - the sex, the laughter, the pain, the sweetness, the fear, the vacancy. Filled with yearning, this arresting collection finds beauty in all that love has to offer, from the mundane to the abstract. With Ventricle, Atrium, Gabriel Gadfly explores love at all its junctures, through sickness and health, in good times and in bad, offering sharp and remarkably precise observations on the tiny, all-important details of love.

Title: Ventricle, Atrium
Author: Gabriel Gadfly
Paperback: 98 pages
Publisher: 1889 Labs Ltd. (January 15, 2012)
Language: English

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from Story Cartel in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fast Food Vindication: A Review

As this is a blog about stories, it seems like a good idea to add book reviews here. I love reading and you might be interested in what I am reading. And just so we are clear, I'm stealing the layout for this from The Deliberate Reader.

 Photo Credit: Amazon

I am probably like many other Americans, busy! Yes in an ideal world I or my husband would go shopping for fresh ingredients for dinner every night. Except there are days when I have meetings until 5 and then he has a meeting at 6 and dinner needs to happen somewhere in there. There are days, like Sunday and Wednesday, when dinner doesn't seem to fit in before church and after church it is too late to cook something. The solution is often fast food. By now, we should all realize that fast food can be very bad for us. Of course, so are most of those recipes on Pinterest that look so amazing!

So what is one to do when you want to be healthier, but you also have lots of places to be? So far the answer has been feel guilty. And that is a bad answer. This book has a better answer!

The fast food industry is not solely to blame for the obesity problem in America. The biggest blame falls on .... AMERICANS! Even our cookbooks have changed their portion sizes to reflect what we now consider 'normal.' (I learned that in the book.) Lisa Tillinger Johansen takes and honest and realistic look at the fast food industry. There are good things about it, smaller portion sizes, healthy side options, and hiring from within. And there are bad things about it, triple cheese burgers, extra large fries, and sodium content. She does not minimize those points. She is neither too positive nor too negative about fast food. She is just honest and realistic. She is also honest and realistic about the sit down food industry and what we are cooking in our homes. If you want to be healthier by taking small steps that will last and will still fit in with your busy schedule, pick up this book!

My Amazon Review:
A realistic look at the chaos that has become the fight over the American diet. She reminds you of what you already know and makes observations that most wouldn't think of. She even includes research most wouldn't hear about. She doesn't demand immediate changes, but suggests small changes all around to become healthier. There are many observations and ideas she shares that I have incorporated into my eating habits and will continue to use for many years.

Publisher's Description:


For years, dozens of books, documentaries, and magazine articles have targeted the fast food industry as the cause for many of society’s ills, ranging from the obesity epidemic to the proliferation of dead-end jobs. Now, hospital dietitian Lisa Johansen makes the bold case that the fast food industry is actually a positive force in society. Johansen takes the reader from the industry’s scrappy, entrepreneurial beginnings to its emergence as a global business generating hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Far from a blight on society, the fast food industry has distinguished itself by providing a product that meets high standards of quality and safety, often healthier than meals served at home and in sit-down restaurants. The myth of the “McJob” is debunked by true-life cases of corporate titans who succeeded by virtue of the fast-food chains’ practice of promoting from within. And, relying on her years of counseling patients at one of the nation’s largest health networks, Johansen shows the reader just how easily fast food can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle. Lively and informative, FAST FOOD VINDICATION destroys the media myths and paints the true picture of an industry that touches the lives of millions.

Title: Fast Food Vindication
Author: Lisa Tillinger Johansen
Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: J. Murray Press (October 4, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0578110431

Disclaimer: I received a free copy (after I requested it) from NetGallery in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by anything other than the book. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Temple Run 2: Fan Fiction

Author's Note: I do not own any of these characters or settings. This is just a fan fiction story I dreamed up based on the game Temple Run 2.

He woke up as daylight broke through the darkness of the cave and fell upon his face. She was gone already. She was always up early on her days to run. He had tried to get up early once, but the brain haze only made him run straight into a fire bar. The 3 days of regeneration reminded him that he had to this his way just like she had to do it her way. They had agreed to this. Not so long ago (at least it seemed like not so long ago) they argued about everything, how much water to take, how to map the ruins, where to camp. Now arguing seemed pointless.
He stood up and wandered to the mouth of the cave. He knew he should go find food and start the fire, but he had to wander where she was at. He worried about her. What if she didn't duck put of the way of a fire bar? What if the rope burned her hands and she let go? Of course she would just regenerate like she had before, but watching her struggle and scream through the process was hard on him. She never remembered the regeneration or so she said. Just weeks ago or so it seemed, he worried she would trip and fall or get dehydrated. He was trying to protect her. She didn't know that, so she argued against his stubborn conservative tendencies.

"This was just supposed to be a job." He said to the wind because there was no one else to listen. "That stupid effin statue."

He paced at the mouth of the cave. Two months ago... Had it only been that long? He didn't have the patience to go count the days now. Something like two months ago, he had answered an ad for an adventurer. While many thought he was crazy to pursue adventure as a career, he found it to be a profitable and adrenaline packed lifestyle. And there were plenty of treasure hunters out there with big dreams and big pockets that lacked the courage to go get it. That's where Guy came in. Over the years he had run into plenty of danger from militia men, wild animals, and other treasure hunters. They were nothing he couldn't handle with a little skill and a little money.

Then came Scarlett. He first saw her and set up his defenses assuming her to be the competition. Then Mr. Theo informed him that she would be his partner. Mr. Theo had expressed concerns about their opposing genders. But Scarlett informed them both quite firmly that nothing got in the way of the job. And that has certainly been born out as true even after Barry and Kharma had been lost to the Fog. That next day Guy was slow to get up and on the way. He had never lost a team member before. He wasn't yet ready to face the day without them. Scarlett however got up early and was ready to move along.

"Now is not the time to grieve. Now is the time to live. Grief will only earn us the same fate as them. There is no time for it in these ruins."

He knew she was right. She was always right. Even the day they found the monkey statue. He ran over to it and started to pick it up. She cautioned him because they had yet to fully map the temple itself.  They hadn't read all the inscriptions and the ones they had read warned of horrendous consequences.

"We know about the fire bars. We have our gloves for the rope climbing. And our weapons for the animals. What else can tent throw at us?"

"I don't know, but I would like to find out before we go moving their idols."

"Now who is being 'conservative'?"

"I would call it smart."

Smart. She was right about that too. He hadn't listened because the thought of being done and leaving had been right there in front of him. He could see the way home and he could see Scarlett without this business between them. He didn't want to listen. He wished he would have though.

He grabbed the statue and nothing happened. He handed it to her and nothing happened. No earthquake. No falling beams. No ancient beings chasing them. They walked out of the temple and nothing happened. They went back to camp and slept. They got up the next morning and the statue was gone. In its place was a note.
It read: Your selfish greed has betrayed you. Now you are doomed to search these ruins until you learn the true value of this statue.

What could that mean? They didn't know, so they argued. They left the cave and continued arguing. As they walked, they noticed their speed increased without their trying. In fact, they tried to slow down and couldn't. They stopped arguing as fear took control. They focused on staying alive as their speed dangerously increased. They both missed a turn and fell from the crumbling wall. Part of the way down, he blacked out. When he woke up, they were in the cave again. He didn't know how much time had passed. Only later would they find out that the regeneration process took 3 days and the one being regenerated would remember nothing. However, the screams issuing forth during the process would haunt the other one for days and weeks later.

He knew he had wasted enough time. He left the cave to do the chores for the one left behind. He found the roots and berries they had eaten for weeks. He found no birds or fish. He returned and stirred the fire to find the coals that were still burning. He stoked the fire to bring it back to life. Then he waited. He dreamed of leaving this place and settling down with Scarlett. He couldn't imagine a job either one of them might want or even be qualified for. That didn't stop him from imagining a home and a life with her.

He heard a noise and sought its source. He left the cave and saw Scarlett stumbling back early. "Thank God she can walk back." He thought.

"Any luck?"

"A few new bruises." She said showing him her multi-colored legs. "A little more singed hair." She said holding up her ponytail. "And some more rope burns." She said showing him her palms.

They were silent with the weight of one more try weighing on them. He put his arm around her shoulders and led her into the cave. They sat next to each other looking at the walls.

"I'm tired." She sighed.

"You can go to bed early tonight"

"Not like that. I'm tired of looking for this stupid thing. I'm tired of failing. I don't even want it. I don't think I even want this life anymore. I just want to go home. "

"Yeah. Me too. The money that Mr. Theo offered just isn't worth it. I would pay him at this point if I could just go home. What do you miss the most?"

"Guy. I don't think we should discuss this. We cant get back there. We don't even know what the note means. What will we do when we find the statue?"

"What if it isn't about the statue? The note said the value of the statue. I don't know about you, but I don't think the value is about money."

"What is it then?"

"I don't know what it is, but I know what it isn't. It isn't worth my family and friends. It isn't worth the pizza I'm missing. It isn't worth the home missing. It isn't with my future. It isn't worth...."

"Worth what?"


"That's not what you meant. Say it."

"If I do, we can't go back."

"We can't go back now. Say it."

"It isn't worth you. Every time you leave I spend half the day worrying about you and the other half dreaming of leaving here with you. Listening to you scream and watching you thrash around when you regenerate tears me up. I don't want you to have to go through this. I want you to be able to walk out of here and live your life the way you want to. I cant lie because I really want you to want me to be a part your life. But mostly I want you to be happy."

Scarlett said nothing. Guy looked at her expectantly. She looked at the ground and picked at the dirt. As he was turning his head to look away, she raised her head. He stopped mid turn. He waited ti hear her voice. He kept waiting. He didn't hear her voice though. He felt her hand. She was intertwining her fingers with his. She finally said one word, "Yeah."

With that one word, they both had bared their hearts and found them to be same. This time there was an earthquake and falling beams. They stood up hand in hand and ran. They didn't know where they were going. They ran solely on instinct. Ways that had been previously blocked were open. Walls that had been crumbling were strong. They ran until they were out of breath.

"I think the shaking stopped."

"And so have the ruins. Look! The Forrest." She said shaking with joy. The hope of life gave them new energy and they started to run. They ran until they couldn't see the ruins anymore. They stopped for breath.

"Guy, is this real? Are we going to wake up back there tomorrow?"

"I don't know. But look, your bruises are gone. That has to be a good thing."

"I can't believe it yet. I don't want to think we are going home if we aren't."

"I know. Let's keep going. When we find someone, then we will know it is real."

"Right. Let's go this way."


She turned and glared at him. "Because that is north. The town we need to get to is to the north. The wind that is blowing comes from the east. And by the tree growth at the top of the trees shows that this is the direction the wind blows most of the time. So this way."

Guy laughed a hearty laugh. "You always have been smarter than me."

She eyed him suspiciously and then smiled. "I'm glad you spoke the value of the statue. I'm not real good with words, but I'm looking forward to the time we have to work on that."

He wrapped her up in his arms and kissed her on the forehead. She smiled again and they set off in the direction she had indicated.