“Detonation” by Burr B. Anderson


Burr B. Anderson
Outskirts Press (2017)
ISBN 9781478749769
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (12/17)

“Detonation” by Burr B. Anderson revolves around the attempt of several unscrupulous individuals to thwart the use of the new third lock of the Panama Canal with radioactive material. Brick Morgan, a maritime investigator, just returning from a mysterious person overboard on the Bernini Under The Stars cruise liner, has been tasked to stop this potential disaster.

Crime boss Gaston Rizzo is behind this incredulous plot along with several other cohorts who could make millions of dollars if this scheme is successful. As the FBI becomes involved, Morgan teams with Agent Nicole Colfield and they both are stunned at the lack of concern by port authorities. In addition to Colfield, Morgan gets help from his good friend Rilee who is a secret hacker. Even though Morgan loves the information Rilee provides, he is concerned she will be found out, putting both of their lives in danger.

Anderson provides all the characteristics of a great plot; though it is delayed by the beginning story of the arrogant lawyer and his wife’s death aboard the cruise ship. The pace drags with minute details that are not advancing the plot. I found all the various characters to be overwhelming and had to keep going back to see their role in the plot. Some of the minor characters Angela, Avery’s long time girlfriend and Emily, a live-in housekeeper for the Bancroft’s appear to be just fill-in characters in this plot.

I found the behind scenes of the cruise line to be quite interesting, as I never considered coded tags to be used to identify ships, their destinations and which dock they could use. I also found it interesting how specialists on a ship detected missing equipment or any potential explosives.

The story really picked up the pace around Chapter 20, with each chapter ending in tick tock. Even with the early distractions, “Detonation” by Burr B. Anderson is quite intriguing with well researched information on forensics, size and coding of ships, and possible attacks on the Panama Canal, by those who wish to gain millions of dollars or even terrorists who would like revenge.

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“How to Negotiate Like a Pro” by Mary Greenwood


Mary Greenwood
iUniverse (2017)
ISBN 9781532031168
Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (12/17)

I was drawn to “How to Negotiate Like a Pro” by Mary Greenwood right away, as I have always thought negotiating as a given talent that I totally lack. The book establishes from the beginning the author’s experience in professional negotiations as an attorney, human resources director, mediator, etc., but I found it interesting that she actually included in her repertoire her experience in negotiation as a Mother. When I read that I realized, this was a book I definitely want to read to truly understand the skill of negotiating.

Greenwood first tackles the topic by placing the reader in front of the negotiation process, helping them before it begins, to determine the goals they should focus on when going into the first negotiating meeting. The information is first presented within the process, by providing rules and a script along with examples of strategies and other tips. It then continues through different types of negotiations and “how-to’s.”

Overall, I found the author did an awesome job presenting the reader the ballpark information needed to prepare, conduct and close a negotiation, regardless of whether at a professional or personal level. My favorite part of this book was the scripts, as it actually provided me with words as instruments to apply a negotiation strategy. In this sense I found this book very helpful because I could actually put the information into action right away on the less formal types of negotiations we all have with our family members, friends, and even co-workers. By doing, so I was surprised on how confident I felt going into a more formal level when negotiating with a customer. I definitely will keep this book as a great guide for myself!

“How to Negotiate Like a Pro” by Mary Greenwood is an awesome, short, to-the-point guide which provides basic and useful information for the negotiator in all of us! I recommend it to everyone who thinks they lack the skill like I did!

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“Amazing Debi” by Debi Harmon Ferene


Debi Harmon Ference
Outskirts Press
ISBN 9781478782834
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (12/17)

“Amazing Debi” revolves around the author Debi Harmon Ference, who at the age of 18 months started having seizures due to a high fever and whooping cough. On the way to the hospital over 60 miles away she slipped into a coma and doctors felt she wouldn’t live or would have brain damage. Over the course of years, she would be tested for the causes and monitored closely. One can only imagine what it is like for a small child to sit in a doctor’s waiting room looking at other children who wore helmets to protect themselves due to the intensity of their seizures.

The author relates that seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Because communication between brain cells involves electricity, a small electrical abnormality can cause dysfunction. She also relates that when specific medical issues like brain tumors, brain damage and infections often the area involved in seizures can be identified. She also notes that much of the time an underlying cause cannot be identified. The author goes on to describe briefly spasm seizures, seizures when a person freezes for a short time and when “auras” occur. Auras are a sensation that one experiences which indicate a seizure is about to occur.

When she was in fifth grade, Debi had a seizure in class where she lost control of her bladder. Amazingly, to me at least, her parents never talked to her teachers about her seizures or how to handle them. However, given the year, that was something people knew little about or discussed. Debi’s biggest fear was she would be seen as a freak or bullied. Throughout the years the author kept her epilepsy a secret, and if any occurred, she stated she had a brain tumor. She was not able to keep any relationships as she would not reveal her secret. On December 29, 1995, she had brain surgery to eliminate her seizures.

While “Amazing Debi” has potential in being a very informative and supportive book on seizures, several areas left me quite disappointed. There was no indication of the support (medically and socially) from her parents; all support seemed to come from her sister Kyiana.

I found the overall writing in “Amazing Debi” to read at a novice level and the undertones of a “poor me” type attitude took me out of the story.  While many people have epilepsy, they do not take this stance. I did not feel the book met the author’s intent as it was very general and did not provide any suggestions on where to go for support groups or recommendations on living with epilepsy, etc. If some of this information had been provided I feel like it would be more beneficial to others going through the same thing.  As it stands, without this information I would not highly recommend “Amazing Debi” by Debi Harmon Ference.

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“Siren Song” by Ian T King


Ian T. King
CreateSpace Publishing (2017)
ISBN 9781546947424
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (12/17)

“Siren Song” by Ian T King offers a new look into the War on Terror with vivid, emotionally charged characters who are devoted jihadi supporters with a fanatical goal of revenge toward the West.

The story revolves around three characters: Jo Buck, a local small town hero who leaves for training at Parris Island, Jamal Shirani, who believes it is his duty to Allah to ensure that those who denounce Allah as a religious belief suffer, and a kidnapped woman held in a rat-infested cellar and repeatedly raped by want-to-be Jihadists.

King writes with great detail often switching from different tenses given the specific situation, and the transition is skillfully done. He is not afraid to write in such a way that goes against what most authors deem to be wrong, yet he can show what many believe to be a dedication to their religion as misguided motivation. Readers will find that the story is more about the soul of the characters rather than the physical events that take place.

I loved the fact that the author isn’t afraid to be honest and is sometimes very blunt in getting his point across, taking readers on a very emotionally charged ride that will have you asking, “Why and what are these people thinking?”

Another unique part of this book is an unnamed deity who comments on the activity going on below Him. At first, this deity’s thoughts threw me off until I realized the purpose of his inclusion. The characters are well developed and compelling. From a young local football hero who goes off to train to become a Marine who fights terrorism and then has second thoughts about the purpose of his actions, to a young lady who is enjoying time with her friends and suddenly finds herself kidnapped and repeatedly raped by individuals who feel she has treated their friend unkindly and they want revenge.

Readers will find themselves caught up in this vivid action story asking, “What would I do?” “Siren Song” by Ian T. King presents current events in the world today and will keep you on the edge of your seat. I highly recommend this read if you are ready to be challenged.

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“The Vicissitudes of Fortune” by Bob Siqveland


Bob Siqveland
Outskirts Press (2017)
ISBN 9781478785897
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (12/17)

In many ways, Vietnam caused a great deal of pain and hardship. It also resulted in the creation of unbreakable bonds forged by those banded together to not only fight the war, but to survive it as well. In “The Vicissitudes of Fortune” by Bob Siqveland, five young men are brought together and form a tie amongst them that lasts a lifetime. These men come from a wide range of cultural and socio economic backgrounds. These include Japanese, Native American, Jewish, African American and Caucasian. While this combination might be unlikely to form a group in civilian life, the experience of being young men in war makes them a family. In fact, some of them have better relationships with each other than their own blood. It is also interesting to note that as a whole, their individual strengths helped to overcome their weaknesses.

“The Vicissitudes of Fortune” tells their stories. Author Bob Siqveland does a masterful job of tying real history in to this fictional story. I found myself looking up historical people and events that were mentioned, to assuage my curiosity about what I was reading. In addition to enjoying a great fictional novel, I also learned a great deal about the Vietnam era and other historical events, including the WWII internment camps, the Selma to Montgomery March, and life on the Pine Ridge reservation.

The author also takes us back and forth through each character’s life, from their childhoods through to their adulthood, along with information about their parents and their experiences. These details add greatly to the character development which enables the reader to better understand their choices. Siqveland manages to weave us through time without making it confusing. He not only has a great talent for doing this, but also changing the narration from first person to third without the story losing a beat.

I really enjoyed reading “The Vicissitudes of Fortune” by Bob Siqveland. The characters seemed so real to me, I felt like I was experiencing their lives in person rather than through the pages of a book. Readers who enjoy historical fiction will really enjoy this novel, especially those with an interest in the Vietnam era. This book would be a great selection for a reader’s group or a high school summer reading list.

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“China Girl: And Other Stories” by Ho Lin


Ho Lin
Regent Press (2017)
ISBN 9781587903847
Reviewed by Skyler Boudreau for Reader Views (11/17)

“China Girl: And Other Stories” by Ho Lin is a collection of nine short stories that range from contemporary vignettes to urban fables. The reader explores stories that range from the title piece that details a young woman’s haunting experiences while roaming Beijing, to a film treatment about four people interconnected by a fifth. Each story embraces its climate, whether it be Los Angeles, Hong Kong, or Beijing, embowing its tale with an immersive atmosphere that sucks the reader in. Ho Lin is a master of painting miniature worlds.

The entire collection is a map of tiny collisions, spanning from Eastern versus Western culture to history versus myth. While each piece is unique, Lin’s impressive storytelling weaves them together to build a unique tapestry. His prose is simple, reading almost like a documentation written by an outside observer, and the style lends itself well to each story.

“China Girl” is the first piece to be encountered. It draws the reader in with its casual descriptions of tragedy and a strange protagonist. It is the perfect opening to the anthology and lets the reader know exactly what to expect: a dream-like journey through culture.

I had some reservations entering this anthology. I find it difficult to engage with short stories sometimes. Some are too short to leave me feeling satisfied, while others drone on without saying much of anything. “China Girl: And Other Stories” is the first to hold my complete attention in a long time. I would recommend it to anyone who has the same problems as I do.

I’ve read far too many collections of pieces that seem thrown together only because they couldn’t survive as stories individually. Ho Lin doesn’t do that. Each of his short stories holds up well on its own, and forming a collection only strengthens each of them. That makes “China Girl: And Other Stories:  a perfect example of what an anthology should be.

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“But My Brain Had Other Ideas: A Memoir of Recovery from Brain Injury” by Deb Brandon


Deb Brandon
She Writes Press (2017)
ISBN 9781631522475
Reviewed by Kimberly Luyckx for Reader Views (11/17)

“But My Brain Had Other Ideas: A Memoir of Recovery from Brain Injury” is the story of Deb Brandon’s struggle with cavernous angioma – a brain vessel malformation that can often lead to life threatening cerebral hemorrhage with debilitating repercussions. The author’s intention is to share her perspective so that others can know the trials and tribulations of a person grappling with a brain disorder. Although Brandon’s story is her own and specifically addresses the condition of cavernous angioma, her hospitalizations, surgeries, recoveries and complications are the stories of thousands. Her point of view communicates what it really means to be with pain, fear, anxiety and guilt; difficult emotions that are even more arduous to face in times of grave illness. She recounts what it feels like when a patient becomes just another number to doctors, nurses and even loved ones. And, how, in certain instances, you only have yourself to rely on for survival.

In recreating the setting and dialog of her experience, the author weaves a fascinating tale – one in which I was fully absorbed. Many of the memoirs that I have read tend to list life events much like a section from a dry history book. This author “shows” rather that “tells” her story, drawing you into the scenarios so that you are there. At times, Brandon writes in short snippets to describe the symptoms of her disability almost as if she were journaling. Other times, the author’s writing is quite poetic in its verse and communicates more meaning than simple dialog or narration can express.

I value Brandon’s responses and thoughts. When she asserts that “(my children) had seen me in the hospital far too much over the past few months,” it rings true for many of us dealing with persistent illness. She addresses the issues associated with frequent hospital stays, worrisome surgical procedures and plenty of other frustrating conditions that families come up against in the face of poor health. I think it is most interesting to observe how differently Brandon’s friends and loved ones react to her disorder. Some stay present and face facts head on while others remain detached and distant. In general, this memoir confronts topics that would be engaging discussion for book clubs or advocate groups.

“But My Brain Had Other Ideas: A Memoir of Recovery from Brain Injury” is a story filled with fluid narration and gripping detail. I am thankful for Deb Brandon’s perspective. Although many of us know someone dealing with chronic illness, we sometimes forget that there is a real person underneath the disease. This book puts us inside the mind of a patient, offering an important viewpoint. The author tackles the concepts of fear, empathy and loss. She highlights the hopeless periods when tests, diagnoses and treatment options are tough to focus upon. Yet we also get to experience Brandon’s valiant moments when her level of determination is unflinching. This is a compelling story for all of those affected by a chronic disability and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

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