Friday, July 29, 2011

Michael Bronte's Presidential Risk

Presidential Risk by Michael Bronte is a compelling tale of America, both in the present world and in the supernatural world. Bronte seamlessly interweaves timely topics into his riveting plot, providing fictional insight into political topics and social issues in a manner that will keep readers absolutely captivated.   In the supernatural world, presidents of the past, including Abe Lincoln (Abe the Hat), Teddy Roosevelt (Ready Teddy), and Ulysses S. Grant (Ulysses), and others, play a game of Risk, as their moves of world conquest translate into the political climate of the real world.

In the real world, a maniacal dictator, Olie Tohouri, is wreaking havoc on the African continent, as the world sits back and watches, as their “strategic interests” are not in danger, outraging his protagonist Pauli Campo, who asserts that “Evidently, we didn’t have enough interests in the poor, desolate countries where thousands were already dead by Tohouri’s hand,” reflecting not only the “ungame,” but also the real events of the world, as the world watches the events in Zimbabwe unfold, unconcerned by Mugabe’s murderous reign, as it is not a “strategic interest” for America.  Bronte’s hero, Pauli Campo, defies the arrogant political stereotype, a man who considers flaunting accomplishments and “dancing in the end zone” the downfall of our society, believing that today’s adults lack discipline and humility as a result of their upbringing.  In Campo, we are offered insight into the downfalls of our society and politicians and given an opportunity to imagine a political candidate without agenda or ego who believes in standing up for what is right.

The action really picks up in the third chapter, leaving readers incapable of putting it down, spellbound as Bronte’s story unfolds on the page.  Presidential Risk is a phenomenally unique story of political intrigue and world politics past and present that will capture the minds and imaginations of its readers.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Toby Heale's Rebellion for Democracy

Toby Heale’s The Rebellion for Democracy is the riveting story of one man’s fight for democracy and freedom from draconian laws and crippling taxes.  Jack Palmer is leading a rebellion that is aimed at combating the stealthy campaign to turn England into a totalitarian state, making it a model for the rest of Europe to follow.

Palmer has been working on a “big project,” the details of which he does not divulge to his girlfriend, Alison, a senior staff member at the Home Office.  The first news she receives of the “big project” is on television, informing viewers that an independent territory is being established in south London, which Palmer proudly informs her is the work of the “The Reform Group,” a group that has honorable intentions and prefers the word reform to rebellion; “We don’t want power.  We want reform.” 

Jack receives a call from Miles Barclay, the rebellion head of security, breaking unexpected news on what should have been a day of triumph: a man who is “prepared to kill without compunction” has infiltrated the rebellion, making it evident that “they want total power and not to restore democracy.”  At each turn, the success of the reform and the lives of the reformers are threatened, balancing precipitously in a game of politics and intrigue, keeping readers surprised and in suspense throughout the novel.  Facing betrayal within the organization, threats on his life, and a ruthless security service, Palmer’s value system is challenged, and Heale artfully draws readers towards a stunning denouement.

Heale proves himself to be a master of plot and theme, interweaving deep themes into a story that will leave readers utterly breathless.  The Rebellion for Democracy is a page-turning story of political intrigue, suspense, and the struggle to maintain democracy in a country that is ostensibly founded on this principle.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nick of Time (Heroes of the Line)

Nick of Time; Heroes of the Line, Book 1 by J. A. Carlton, author of Wednesday’s Child, Broken, and Into the Fire, is the riveting tale of two young boys whose ordinary lives quickly become anything but.  Ten-year-old Nick is a protective and loving older brother, given responsibility for taking care of his younger, “scary smart” five-year-old brother, Frankie; they have seemingly ordinary lives filled with the usual childhood problems: bullies, a widowed mother who is constantly working, and hand-me-down clothes. 

When the janitor, Harry, gives Nick a mysterious watch, he discovers that he has the ability to freeze-control time, in marginal increments, and only when the purpose is right, the need is right, and the moment is right.  Gone are the days when his perpetual tardiness leaves his younger brother as the target for bullies, and no more are the boys powerless over the malicious influences in their lives.

Frankie is in awe of his brother’s newfound talents, and believes that he is going to be a “superhero,” the preternaturally smart five year old suggests that he call himself “Nick of Time,” a play on words using his name and the fact that he saved Frankie in “the nick of time.” Frankie hopefully suggests that he could be Nick’s sidekick, “Second Hand,” since all of their clothing is second-hand and there is a second-hand on the clock.  Frankie begins to develop some special powers of his own, gifted with the ability, albeit limited, to read minds.  With the boys’ new powers comes great responsibility, and they must protect themselves from the schades, evil forces who do not want them to learn to increase their powers.

Superficially, Carlton provides readers with a compelling plot; beneath the surface, the thematic elements of good v. evil, destiny v. choice, overcoming adversity, courage, honor, family, love, and duty give the story deeper meaning.  The two brothers’ love for each other is truly touching, and Carlton addresses far deeper themes and topics than other gifted children type stories, making for an intense and meaningful plot. Indeed, Carlton’s page-turning story leaves readers anxious for the next installment of the Heroes of the Line series.

Eat Bananas and Follow Your Heart

Eat Bananas and Follow Your Heart: Essays on Life, Politics, Baseball, and Religion by Mark J. Ehlers is a powerful exploration of what makes us human, filled with wit, wisdom, and aphorisms that rival those of Emerson or Thoreau. 
Among his essays are a personal reflection on “The Meaning of Fifty” when he “sensed for the first time that certain of my dreams may forever be deferred, that time is a gift, its limits felt with the passing of each year,” bipartisanship, the recession, Afghanistan, Obama, faith and religion.  The essay “Eat Bananas and Follow Your Heart,” an imaginary commencement essay to the Class of 2010, is a particularly profound selection from Ehlers, fusing the wisdom that he has garnered throughout life, from the amusing “Eat Bananas,” which are high in potassium and B6 and good for your heart, nerves, kidneys, and bones to the more serious, “Follow your heart, but don’t completely ignore your head.  Pursue your dreams, but fulfill your obligations.  Understand the importance of real income, but do not devalue your psychic income—the level of satisfaction derived from a job.”  

Ehlers resonates as the voice of reason in politics and in life, providing readers with his collective wisdom in a sincere manner.  His book is incredibly quotable and will inevitably gather readers as both fans of his and of his blog, Ehlers on Everything, where he continues to provide online readers with his insight on everything in new entries that include a Mother’s Day tribute, thoughts on Israel, and the enduring power of music.  Ehlers’s essays are intelligent, carefully constructed, uplifting, thought-provoking, and reflective.  His deeply meaningful words will move readers to reflect on their lives, pursue their dreams, keep learning, and if nothing else, they won’t forget the bananas.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tito Luv's SOS Stuck on Stupid

Tito Luv’s (SOS) Stuck on Stupid—The Self Help Book: A Book of Common Sense! is an unabashed exploration of everything from personal growth and relationships to the modern sexual revolution, as well as business greed, illegal immigration—and everything in between.  Luv takes on American society and confronts it with humor, a unique voice and a startling level of insight and clarity.

Luv asks readers, “Do you want the truth about America Politics, American Prejudice, American Religion and American Abortions?  Can you handle the truth about America’s underhanded dealings?”  He tackles all of the ills that are symptomatic of our society in a manner that leaves nothing sacred, keeping readers laughing and nodding throughout the book, having finally found someone who seems to see the common sense side of things.  Luv recognized the “desperate need for a contemporary composition explaining good old fashion ‘Common Sense’ to the masses at large” to address its “lack of use” in today’s society.

Although much of what he addresses is serious, humor is implemented throughout the book, encouraging readers to embrace humor in their own lives in all endeavors—to close business deals, improve their public speaking, or when dealing with the opposite sex.  Even when confronting serious issues, Luv incorporates laughter, keeping his work light-hearted and amusing.  Luv finds the positive while exploring the truth, revealing the true nature of the 2000 presidential election and then citing Gore’s subsequent success, noting “God loves cool people.”

He fills the book with “Titoisms”, like “Getting old means positively having to say you’re sorry!” and “Present literature reads: 85% of today’s women think their ass is too fat; 10% think their ass is to thin.  However, five percent said they would have married him anyways!”  Luv also gives a great deal of “SOS” words of wisdom with warnings for readers that help them to identify their “Stuck on Stupid” habits and behaviors, such as:  “If you do not set aside private/special time to spend with your best friend, the mother of your children or the soon to be mother of your children, you’re… (SOS)!”

(SOS) Stuck on Stupid is an excellent read for anyone who enjoys humor, politics, social issues, or “common sense” advice.  Author Tito Luv will keep readers laughing through his social exploration that fuses biting criticism and acerbic wit with positive messages and the uplifting lesson that we can cure most of what is wrong with society and our lives by not being quite so “Stuck on Stupid,” and by applying a little common sense.

Sonya Nanstad's Thoughts, Dreams, and Reality

Sonya Nanstad’s Thoughts, Dreams, and Reality is a compilation of poems and short stories, both fiction and non-fiction.  Nanstad’s writing using these various media to illuminate the human, that range from our protective feelings that we have toward our loved ones to our reflections on our growing children.

Among the short stories are “Uncle Hartwick,” “Running Late,” and her signature story, “The Caretaker,” a story about the reversal of roles for a mentally challenged girl when an intruder with an “evil smile” and eyes that “looked bloodshot and swollen, like those of a caged, rabid animal” threatens her sister’s safety.  “The Caretaker” is an incredibly powerful story, highlighting the power that all of us have to summon strength during times of duress, as well as the intense upwelling of emotion that occurs whenever we sense a threat to our loved ones.

Her collection of poems touches on the themes of our underlying humanity, from motherhood in “My Son,” to reflections on life in “Early Morning—Nantucket,” when “Soft breezes and warm/ Sunshine/ Soothe my aging skin.”  “My Daughters” is perhaps Nanstad’s most touching poem, chronicling the transformation of her daughters “From babies/ Whose kisses felt like/ Billions of butterfly wings” to adults who are individual, yet the same, on their paths of life, of which she hopes to be a part, “Let me be a part of you,/ Sometimes---/ Don’t leave me behind.”

Nanstad’s words are evocatively beautiful and deeply touch the reader with her raw emotion and the exploration of the human heart that she renders.  Thoughts, Dreams, and Reality showcases her stunning prowess in using words to create an intense visceral reaction of emotion within readers, leaving them with the overwhelming feeling that they have been touched on a deeper level—as she reaches into their hearts and their minds with her prose and her poetry.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Avraham Azrieli's The Jerusalem Transgression

Avraham Azrieli’s The Jerusalem Transgression is the second installment of the Jerusalem Gerster series, resuming the story of young IDF member, “Lemmy” Gerster, to whom readers were first introduced in The Jerusalem Inception.   Azrieli again treats a significant period in Israeli history, resuming the story just after the signing of the second Oslo Peace Accord.

Azrieli provides stunning continuity through Israeli history and within the series, interconnecting all significant events throughout Israel’s history, through the characters of Lemmy Gerster, Tanya Galinski, Elie Weiss, and Rabbi Gerster.  Many years have passed since The Jerusalem Inception and Lemmy is working as a mole in the Swiss banking system, passing as Wilhelm Horch.  Now a father himself, he struggles not only with the intrigue that is occurring around him, but also with his past, trying to accept that he is dead to his father, vowing that he could never stop loving his son; however, Weiss maintains that his family is all a part of his elaborate cover.

In the 28 years between the two stories, Tanya Galinski has come to command Mossad’s European operations, and Elie Weiss remains as bitter as ever, even while facing emphysema, commanding his team of assassins with prowess, making Tanya’s already difficult job even more complicated; Tanya is attempting to foster peace and thwart terrorism efforts and circumvent another war, while Weiss views peace as something only attainable by eliminating all enemies of the Jewish people.  Lemmy returns to Israel, where he will face the choice of blowing his cover or allowing those he loves to be harmed. 

Azrieli skillfully interweaves fact and fiction, setting his story before the backdrop of real historic events and political and military leaders, mirroring EYAL in his fictional ILOT, who proclaim themselves to be “warriors of the Torah” and swear “death to the pursuers of Jews” and “the traitors.”  His use of carefully replicated history and themes of revenge, survival, and belief in what is right and what is true make The Jerusalem Transgression for more artful and compelling than the typical spy thriller that relies on plot alone, giving it many layers of depth and meaning.