Where books are chronicled from beginning to end, and never stop being read.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Shadowed Soul

Shadowed Soul by John M. Spagnoli
This is an intense, mind-boggling story of a man named Thomas Milton.

Thomas and his blind wife, Beth, aptly agree that she take their infant son and move in with her parents. It is a difficult decision and a sadly necessary one. Being diagnosed with a deep bipolar disorder, Thomas grapples with his own demon, the Shadowed Soul.

Bailey, his wife's seeing-eye dog, is his only source of comfort and connection to reality. As Thomas falls deeper into his manic-depressive state, there is an abysmal drop into the delusive reality that consumes his mind. It is strangely reminiscent of Jekyll & Hyde.

"Adrenaline rushed through my body with the same ferocity my thoughts raced. It was foolish to believe anything supernatural followed us, impossible. There were no such things as demons and monsters. The Shadowed Soul... As we walked I could see him in my mind's eye, tall, lanky and broken, walking through the night in a way that was not quite human, his face long and deathly white, a shattered lunatic grin sliced across his lower jaw as he loped behind me, his eyes dancing with red embers of hungry desire, his pockets full of ropes and chains and gags and his heart full of unkind desires."

John Spagnoli's own experience with manic-depression has given this story a disturbing sense of reality. This is an intricate mixture of the author's personal foundation and brilliant imagination. Shadowed Soul will drop the reader into a spiraling progression of one man's tormented psyche, and his arduous battle to progress beyond the limits of societal diagnoses. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Primal Creatures

This is a superb read for a dark and chilling evening, when the entire house is quiet, give yourself a little spook. Go ahead, I dare you.
Primal Creatures by Eric Wilder
The cover says it all... Or does it?

The Tracists Monastery is located in the Louisiana Wetlands; it serves as a resort frequented by movie industry cast and crew members. So it comes as a shock when Rance Parker is literally ripped to pieces behind a locked door. 

A movie producer who needs answers to this terrifying mystery hires Wyatt Thomas, a detective from the French Quarter. Wyatt must figure out whether it was voodoo, a rougarou, or something even more sinister that caused the gruesome murder. Whilst delving further into his investigation, he gets the all too palpable feeling of his own life at stake.

"The smile faded, replaced by something eating away at my gut and causing my heart to race out of control. It was fear, an emotion with various flavors: fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of death."

This is the third book in Eric Wilder's chilling collection of abstruse inspection and delving into the occult. Though I am always a fan of following any series from the beginning, Primal Creatures stands well on its own. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

King Stakh's Wild Hunt

King Stakh's Wild Hunt by Uladzimir Karatkevich
A dark, thrilling tale of an archaic adventure. 

The story is told in a reminiscent nature by 96 year old Andrey Belaretski; a folklorist, looking back upon an adventure from his youth. Young Andrey, lost within the remote swamps of a Belarusian territory, comes upon the grand, forgotten castle of Marsh Firs. 

There, he meets his high-born hostess, Lady Nadzeya Yanovsky, the last remaining heir to the Yanovsky line. She is deeply frightened of the all-too-real phantoms that exist inside and outside of the castle walls. Believing herself the next in line to receive the vengeful comeuppance doled out by the Lady-in-Blue for all the cursed Yanovskys', Nadzeya is grateful for Andrey's company.

"It was fright, chronic, horrible fright. Not the fright that makes one's hair stand on end for a moment, but the fright that finally becomes a habitual state impossible to get rid of even in one's sleep."

It is not long before Andrey himself becomes cognizant of a supernatural force. He takes it upon himself to help undo the awful curse that plagues both the mental and physical health of Lady Yanovsky. Thus, he becomes engaged in the dangerous game of King Stakh's Wild Hunt.

"What's fated must die... You are a stranger here, these cursed generations are no business of yours. King Stakh's Hunt comes at midnight. Await it."

As the story ensues, the reader is taken through a series of eerie twists and hits a shocking revelation that threatens the foundation of the characters' lives.

Uladzimir Karatkevich (November 26, 1930 - July 25, 1984) created a profoundly macabre and emotive story that will both engage and excite all readers.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I've Had My Baby, Now What?

This is an important manual. I speak not only from the first hand experience of having my son, but also from losing a coworker who committed suicide when she couldn't manage to deal with her postpartum depression.
I've Had My Baby, Now What? by Shalay Struhs
This booklet, helpful for first time parents, allows the reader to follow along and realize certain truths about the advent of postpartum depression and a safe way to mitigate those stresses.

The author, who has six children and hypoglycemia, comes forth to enumerate a safe and natural way of diminishing postpartum issues. From diet to supplements, yoga to acupuncture, the reader is given easy-to-follow instructions. There are succinct and detailed definitions that focus on important information for mothers; such as the significance of L-theanine and water consumption.

Shalay Struhs has most certainly forgone extra pages of inane conversation that often inundate pages of certain self-help publications. A sort of cutting-of-the-fat, if you will. 

Postpartum is all too real. It should never be overlooked or underestimated. I would highly recommend this book to all new mothers and fathers.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Minority Bolshevism

Minority Bolshevism by Zuriel Redwood
The world as we see it in a skewed perspective. That is what seems to be the singular thought behind the writings of Minority Bolshevism.

Everything from Fascism, Socialism, Communism, and Capitalism is given a deeper look through the expansive research and ideas of the author. What exactly is a free market? Or the idea of democracy giving way to totalitarianism? Are our freedoms slowly being eroded under the guise of "security"?

There are many disturbing facts that the reader will acknowledge when delving deeper into this book.

"What a stable and democratic government really needs is the consent of the governed not the fulfillment of all the wishes of the people. Given an opportunity, people will vote for benefits to themselves even if the country cannot possibly afford these."

As the old adage goes, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. Never has it been so much more valid than our current state of affairs.

It is a repainted and revisited idea; from the Orwellian concept of losing our rights and living in a conformist, subjugated society, to the paradoxical dilemma of Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, there have been countless authors who have addressed these ideas and issues throughout history.

But it is a stunning reminder and warning to our own lackadaisical, perhaps even deliberately obtuse behavior as a society. Zuriel Redwood has created an easy-to-understand compilation of common patterns and the impact of learned lessons, that the world in general and the American public in specific has deigned to disregard.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Parent's Playbook for Learning

A Parent's Playbook for Learning by Jen Lilienstein
Every child is born with special skill sets and, most certainly, unique personality traits. A Parent's Playbook for Learning is an informative go-to guide for all parents.

This book would also serve as a handy tool for new or expecting parents. It is well thought-out, researched, and delineated.

Even with all the experience on the planet, there are some things we may miss when it comes to identifying and encouraging the best in our children. A child who is more responsive to intrinsic encouragement, a child who learns better by seeing, or a child who learns better by sounds, are a few things this book addresses. There are helpful hints and "optimal study buddies" that allow the parents to further evaluate their own teaching styles.

After all, the true bulk of learning begins at home.

Jen Lilienstein draws on her own experience and has created an innovative list separating each kind of learner into eight categories. It is a quick-paced, easy read that offers plenty of new tips and even reassesses some older tricks with a new twist.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Paris I've Grown Accustomed To Your Ways

Paris I've Grown Accustomed To Your Ways by Ruth Yunker
A follow-up to Me, Myself and Paris, Ruth Yunker has done it again.

This time, her perception of the culture and joie de vivre through Paris has become significantly inured. The reader will be introduced to the mirthful and priceless experiences of someone who has gone past the tourist point-of-view, and has developed the perspicacity of a true Parisienne.

It is a unique map of the author's journeys and foibles; attempting to discover and absorb the elusive ideals and colloquialisms within the localities of a daunting and majestic city. From simple restaurant etiquette to small comforts in chocolate or shopping in Montmartre, each page never fails to deliver a droll, heartfelt narrative.

In her usual style, Ruth Yunker has shown the sophistication of her evolution; depicting a strong ability to, not only fit in but, exhibit her own brand of panache.

A wonderful read for anyone before or after braving the streets of Paris! You will most certainly be spellbound within the vivid reminiscences of Paris I've Grown Accustomed To Your Ways.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Longest Year

The Longest Year by Stan Crader
The Longest Year is the third book in Stan Crader's trilogy of small town Colby, Missouri. It is a masterful addition to the previous two novels, The Bridge and Paperboy.

The band of boys are back and another year older. As they go forth on their adventures, they are met with new experiences. The newest, most serious situation is turning sixteen and getting a driver's license. Whilst exploring the now familiar surroundings of Colby, the reader will develop an inadvertent smile. Being dropped into the middle of sixties Americana, you can't help but be enchanted. 

There is a realistic brilliance to Stan Crader's fictional novel. Small town headaches and issues are not masked within the confines of the story. The beautiful, the quaint, the ugly, every facet of small town life is explored and adds a complicated dimension that is both touching and poignant.

Personally, I hope to see more stories in this series from the author. Though each book can stand alone on its own merits; together, they are a force to be reckoned with. Powerful and stirring, the stories will continue to remain in your heart and come to mind when you least expect it.

The proceeds from The Longest Year will go to benefit charity. I recommend all three books for readers of all age groups. 

Friday, March 8, 2013


Paperboy by Stan Crader
A follow-up story to The Bridge, this book takes us on a deeper journey into the major changes taking place in the town of Colby.

Quite aptly named The Band of Boys, Tommy and his friends have developed their own clique. Throughout the story, The Band of Boys are thrust into a myriad of changes taking place in Colby. There is an influx of different people coming into town, settling in, and making tongues wag. The shoe factory that everyone has known and been dependent upon has disappeared, and in it's place is a hat factory.  As if things weren't confusing enough, Melody has suddenly become front and center in Tommy's thoughts.

The book traverses throughout the sixties and addresses the fabric of social conscience. From the Vietnam War, the faux pas of teenage pregnancy, and racial tension, it is a realistic demonstration of the volatile atmosphere that gave birth to present day America. But even with so much happening, the author always keeps you within that small town of Missouri. Time is still relative in terms of human existence within the borders of Colby; Moon Pies, gossip, church, and the old codgers are still a normal occurance.

Paperboy is written in the third person, whereas The Bridge was written in a first person perspective. These stories are a testament of Stan Crader's love and attention to the period. The progression and fine-detailing awarded to each book is quite extraordinary.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Bridge

A stirring and inspirational story.
The Bridge by Stan Crader
Colby, Missouri, 1967 small town America.

Young Tommy Thompson faces his greatest challenge yet. A coming-of-age story where Tommy begins seeing reality outside of his comfortable ideals. At 12 years old, Tommy has gotten his very first job and fancies himself in love. His dreams are relatively simple and, as only a child can comprehend, his world is distinctly black and white. Good is good and bad is bad. Absolute certainties exist; such as fried bologna eaten with Miracle Whip and ketchup, and Uncle Cletus, the smartest man in the world. Tommy finds his own footing as he tries to be supportive of his best friend, Booger, who must deal with a death in his family. 

It's a nostalgic world of early America, where things were simpler and human interaction was church functions and neighborly gossip. Phones were a novelty, the internet wasn't even a thought and ice cream sodas were twenty cents. 

Stan Crader has created a delightful journey to a world that has passed us by. This compelling story printed on paper is reminiscent of a heartwarming tale inside a Norman Rockwell painting. Though we may never be able to go back and experience America in 1960, we are granted a quick peek.

I highly recommend this book. Another incredible plus, the author has generously dedicated all of the proceeds to charity.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chaos Theories

When I first viewed the cover for this book, I figured it would be an interesting story touching upon chaos theory. I wasn't wrong, but I wasn't completely right. This book was so much more than that. 
Chaos Theories by Stephen H Banks
What comes to mind when you hear the age-old question of fate vs. freewill?

One moment changes a lifetime.

The main character, Jim Parish, is a single, methodical, IT geek who lives a monotonous and organized lifestyle. A sequence of events leads to Jim being in a specific place at a specific time; he hears a scream and happens to look up... His entire life is changed from that moment on.  Even with his introverted and socially awkward tendencies, Jim ends up finding love.

The FBI is on the hunt for a serial killer. The killer is a highly intelligent man, who, by a series of unfortunate events, becomes the monster that goes on a cross-country rampage committing gruesome acts of violence and terror. Anger, lust, hatred... Can emotion be predicted? What if you could predict the future actions of such a man?

Perhaps the idea is fate and freewill. One cannot exist without the other. The author has carefully composed each circumstance to hold a distinct story within itself. Yet the characters, commencing from completely different walks of life and unrelated in terms of association, become intertwined in an ingenious twist of macabre occasion.

Stephen H. Banks wrote an incredibly enthralling book. Chaos Theories is an all-consuming, fascinating read that will cause the reader to think upon his or her own perception of reality.