Book Review: On the Hunt for the Haunted by Robin Strom @LlewellynBooks

On the Hunt for the Haunted
Robin Strom
Llewellyn Publications, April 2019
ISBN 978-0-7387-5841-1
Trade Paperback

On the Hunt for the Haunted is a non-fiction narrative highlighting processes and tools often employed in meta-physical investigations. Written by part-time paranormal researcher, founder and director of the Delaware Paranormal Research Group, it features odd experiences of a few (self-professed) normal people; along with the findings of Ms. Strom and her team.

It is difficult to doubt the author’s sincerity in simply seeking answers. To satisfy her own curiosity, certainly, but also for the opportunity to assist people with potential paranormal problems. She happily shares findings of concrete reasons for seemingly inexplicable reactions.

A particular room that adversely affects everyone who enters, must be haunted. Headaches, feelings of fatigue and general sickness are commonly reported. But the investigation team’s equipment identified a breaker box giving off extremely high electromagnetic fields, creating very the real symptoms.

On the eerie side, however; recording equipment captures voices and statements that are not so easily explained. Ms. Strom’s personal-use dowsing rods exhibit sporadic, unique and somewhat wild, behavior. Everyday folks relaying their unusual episodes in an almost-embarrassed way is as sweet as it is scary.

I truly enjoyed this neat little book’s intriguing stories as I learned the categories of equipment and how everything works together.

Reviewed by jv poore, August 2020.

Book Review: Halloween Monsters by Eric Guth and How to Handle a Narcissist by Theresa Jackson @guthbooks

Halloween Monsters
A Guide of Spooky Facts & Faces
Eric Guth
Eric Guth, July 2020
ISBN 979-8667180388
Picture Book

Halloween Monsters: A Guide of Spooky Facts and Faces by Eric Guth is so remarkably good, I’m downright giddy. Immediately intrigued upon hearing about this upcoming Children’s Picture Book with truths and origins of some spooky creatures, I was over-the-top enamored with the actual tome. Engaging, fresh and fascinating fast-facts, such as when witches were depicted with black-pointy-hats, rather than hair of smoke and fire; alongside confirmation of the familiar, result in a groovy bigger-picture.

Speaking of pictorial representations, I absolutely adore the collage-style pictures. The author uses an incredibly cool concept, wherein he maximizes the common accessories associated with each mythical being, but in a minimalist-kind-of-way. A few bats; a couple of garlic bulbs, stakes and mirrors—with a coffin tossed in—magically morphs into the face of a vampire.

Halloween Monsters is one of those rare treasures that I expect to appeal to all types of readers. Self-professed “non-readers” may like facts over ‘a silly story’ and this presentation makes for a very quick and easy read. Voracious readers tend to love trivia, particularly when it is timely. Learning a little monster-history as autumn approaches is fitting. Finally, for those youngsters that may be a bit more than apprehensive about the freaky-frights frequently spotted in October; reading how they came to be may make them a little less scary.

Huge thank-you to the author for the sneak-peek-copy to donate to one of my favorite classroom libraries.

Reviewed by jv poore, July 2020.

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How to Handle a Narcissist
Understanding and Dealing with a Range of Narcissistic Personalities
Theresa Jackson
Theresa Jackson, May 2017
ISBN 978-1521339978
Trade Paperback

I was wrong.

I thought I had a basic understanding of what it means to be a narcissist and—here I am so embarrassed for me—I was neither particularly empathetic nor sympathetic to the why. Which is not only disappointing, but stupidly hypocritical. My feathers will ruffle whenever I hear a misunderstanding about clinical depression stated as a fact.

Without rebuff, Ms. Jackson brings the facts. For example, we are all somewhere on the narcissistic scale. At the top of that scale looms Narcissistic Personality Disorder. A lofty sense of self and need to be admired are typical characteristics of NPD. For everyone else, personality traits are developed to handle narcissistic tendencies.

To me, this is the quintessential “How To” story. I appreciated Ms. Jackson’s straightforward explanations and I love that she worked so hard to help us understand that, while it may seem quicker and more effective to go through life with a yes-or-no/black-or-white view, it is actually inaccurate.

The case-studies, assessments and apt advice on understanding and associating with a person high on the narcissistic scale are invaluable. I am amazed by all that I learned in this quick, easy-to-follow guide and, although humbled, I truly feel that I will behave better.

Reviewed by jv poore, April 2019.

Book Reviews: Britain’s Forgotten Serial Killer by John Lucas and Phoenix Burning by Isabella Moldonado @johnlucas_news @penswordbooks @authorbella1 @midnightinkbook

Britain’s Forgotten Serial Killer
The Terror of the Axeman
John Lucas
Pen & Sword Books, September 2019
ISBN 978-1-52674-884-3
Trade Paperback

In 1975 a young, deeply troubled alcoholic boy, came before the court in London, charged with three brutal murders. Two were elderly women, one a neighborhood priest. The youth charged with their murders, Patrick MacKay, was twenty-two at the time and had a criminal career stretching back eleven years.

Journalist John Lucas has written a sober, detailed biography of this Nazi-obsessed youth, speculating over eight other similar murders of which Mackay might reasonably be accused, making him one of the most prolific and dangerous serial killers ever experienced in England.

At the time of his trial, Mackay was dubbed The Axeman, The Monster of Belgravia and the Devil’s Disciple. He never held a regular job for more than a few days, he was committed numerous times to psychiatric and other mental institutions for evaluation and treatment, but he was always released after short treatment or simply left the institution. Early on, a number of omissions, errors and missteps by various law enforcement agencies allowed Mackay to escape arrest and thus eight brutal murders attributed to him remain unresolved.

The book is evenly written with comprehensive research clearly presented. One of the most interesting aspects of the case of Patrick David MacKay is the number of citizens with whom he interacted and even occasionally lived with who, despite his erratic behavior, never saw clues to his murderous behavior. The book contains an extensive index, bibliography and several photographs of some of the principal characters.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, May 2020.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

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Phoenix Burning      
A Veranda Cruz Mystery #2
Isabella Maldonado
Midnight Ink Books, March 2018
ISBN 978-0-7387-5102-3
Trade Paperbacks

This is a novel of crime, of brutality, of family secrets, of conflicts and of resolution. It is also a novel rich in a variety of good and evil characters, of violence expertly described and of characters conflicted, misunderstood and striving for their goals, personal and social.

In Phoenix, Homicide detective Veranda Cruz with her partner riding shotgun races to connect with an important drug dealer. As she dodges mid-day traffic on a busy street she worries about the unusual timing of the contact and immediately discovers her instincts are still working well when her vehicle is intercepted and the drug dealer is killed. She and partner Sam Stark pursue the killer into a crowded mall.

Thus begins a fast-paced, terror-filled novel that carries the talented Cruz through incident after incident, some fraught and dangerous, others poignant and emotional, all thoughtful and often original in design and result. Phoenix is the site of most of the action with a few side trips to somewhere in Mexico and the summer season is recognized if not belabored. The novel is a judicious blend of modern electronic uses and mis-uses, and good-old-fashioned policing, mostly the action is physical, dangerous and logical. The pace can be best described as fast and furious, interspersed with more normal family-based rhythms and interactions.

Cruz’s target is a powerful Mexican drug cartel of epic proportions and ruthless actions. Her partners in a monumental effort to take down the cartel represent every available local and federal law enforcement agency, requiring negotiation skills beyond belief, almost.

In sum, the novel careens to an unusual if satisfying ending leaving multiple traces of future possibilities. For fans of violent crime novels, this is a definite winner.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, March 2019.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: GenTech by Dr. Rick Chromey @MyGenTech2020 @MorganJamesPub @iReadBookTours

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Title: GenTech: An American Story of Technology,
Change and Who We Really Are
Author: Dr. Rick Chromey
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
Genre: Adult Nonfiction,
History / Cultural & Technical History

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Purchase Links:
Amazon.com ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound
BAM ~ Powell’s ~ Indigo ~ Rediscovered Books

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Synopsis

Every twenty years a new generation rises, but who and what defines
these generations? And could current generational tags mislead
and miss the point? In this insightful analysis of technology history since 1900,
Dr. Rick Chromey offers a fresh perspective for understanding what
makes a generation tick and differ from others. Within GenTech,
readers learn how every generation uniquely interacts with particular
technologies that define historical temperament and personality and
why current generational labels are more fluid than fixed, and more loopy
than linear. Consequently, three major generational constellations emerge,
each containing four, twenty-year generations that overlap, merge, and blend:

The Audio Generations (1900-1950): Transportation-Telephone Generation
(1900-1920), Motion Picture Generation (1910-1930), Radio Generation
(1920-1940), Vinyl Record Generation (1930-1950)

The Visual Generations (1940-1990): Television Generation (1940-1960),
Space Generation (1950-1970), Gamer Generation (1960-1980)
and Cable Television Generation (1970-1990)

The Digital Generations (1980-2000): Personal Computer-Cell Phone
Generation (1980-2000), Net Generation (1990-2010), iTech Generation
(2000-2020), and Robotics Generation (2010-2030). Dive in and revel in
this exciting, compelling, and novel perspective to understanding
recent American generations with GenTech.

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Review by John Zaleski

FIVE STARS. A really interesting book. The first three chapters alone are worth getting the book for their explanation of how we’ve traditionally thought about generations in America.

Dr. Chromey starts out by asking very basic questions. What exactly constitutes a “generation?” What’s the criteria for saying when a generation starts and stops? How long is a generation?

The author explains that traditionally it has been major political and socio-historical events that have been used as generational markers. Using that criteria there are currently six living generations in America:

·         G.I. Generation (1901-1924) – WWI, Great Depression

·         Silent Generation (1925-1942) – Pearl Harbor and WWII

·         Boomer Generation (1943-1960) – Eisenhower, JFK, Vietnam

·         Gen X (1961-1981) – Watergate, Iran Hostages, Reagan

·         Millennials (1982-1999) – Desert Storm, OJ, Columbine, 9-11, Katrina

·         Gen Z (the author uses iTech) – Those born after 2000 – Great Recession, War on Terror

Drawing on the work of Neil Howe and William Strauss, Dr. Chromey illustrates how identifying generations, going as far back to the middle ages, has focused primarily on these sorts of random historical events.

The book challenges this approach by arguing instead that technological change is what shapes the personality of a generation:

Technology is what creates our cultural awareness. It could be argued that the “printing press” generations were more “aware” because of Gutenberg’s invention. The historical events that shaped them were exposed and explained through print technology. The same could be said for radio generations or television generations or web generations. The automobile and airplane allowed people to travel great distances, to personally experience what they once only heard through story or read in print.

In short, it is the technology of a generation that that determines its personality.

Chromey also offers the interesting observation that most of us begin to retain memory of cultural events between the ages of 5-7. Consequently, it’s very difficult for someone, like myself, born in 1998, and so classified a Millennial, to relate to the Columbine High School massacre (even though it’s one of the seminal events used to identify Millennials), because I was too busy cutting teeth to remember it. On the other hand, my generational psyche was formed by other, later events like the War on Terror. Therefore, I identify more with Gen Z. Essentially, we are the product of certain technologies that shape us between our tenth and twenty-fifth birthdays.

The remaining chapters make the authors case in more detail – covering technologies from the invention of the telephone to the iPhone. From automobiles to robotics.

Any criticism? I wish the author would have addressed the work of Ray Kurzweil and what it may mean for the very concept of a “generation.”  For readers unfamiliar with Kurzweil, in his blockbuster book, “The Singularity is Near,” he predicts that technological change, already growing at an exponential rate, will reach a point in time (he predicts 2045) at which technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unforeseeable changes to civilization and the human species.

Won’t that be awesome to see?

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About the Author

Rick Chromey is a cultural explorer, social historian and generational futurist. He’s also served as a pastor, professor, speaker/trainer, and consultant. In 2017, he founded MANNA! Educational Services International to inspire and equip leaders, teachers, pastors, and parents. Rick has a doctorate in leadership and the emerging culture; and travels the U.S. and world to speak on culture, faith, history, education, and leadership topics. He has authored over a dozen books on leadership, natural motivation, creative communication, and classroom management. He lives with his wife, Linda, in Meridian, Idaho.

Connect with the Author:
website ~ youtube ~ facebook ~ twitter ~ instagram

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Follow the tour here.

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Giveaway

Win 1 of 2 print or 1 of 3 ebook of
GENTECH (open USA & Canada)
(5 winners)

Enter here.

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Book Reviews: The Third Rainbow Girl by Emma Copley Isenberg and Cogheart by Peter Bunzl @frumpenberg @HachetteBooks @peterbunzl @JollyFishPress

The Third Rainbow Girl
The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia
Emma Copley Eisenberg
Hachette Books, January 2020
ISBN 978-0-316-44923-6
Hardcover

The summer of 1980 gave the people of Pocahontas, and its neighboring Greenbrier county, something brand new to gossip and gripe about. A bunch of (probably) dirty, drunk and drugged-out dudes and chicks were about to descend. The Rainbow Family Gathering was moving east for the first time and the meeting place this year was in the Monongahela Forest in West Virginia.

Individually, the people are quite warm and welcoming. However, many did not want this Rainbow Festival happening on their pristine land. Some did long for a spectacle, eager to see a ‘freak show’ of nude, free-loving, tree-huggers dancing and skinny-dipping, flitting through their forests like true faeries.

I was only nine years old. I remember grumblings almost masking anticipation.

Before the gathering properly began, two female travelers were killed merely miles from their destination. Based on the location alone, there was no doubting that the shooter was a local. Determining who it was and why, though, would prove to be more challenging than anyone imagined.

Conducting an investigation when essentially everyone knows each other isn’t easy. There really aren’t secrets in small towns. Yet, the inexplicable killing of two “Rainbow Girls” was not a mystery to be solved quickly, or with collective satisfaction.

I remember watching an America’s Most Wanted episode about “The Rainbow Murders.” Jake Beard was a suspect, whereabouts unknown. Only, my younger sister piped up quickly, “He’s in Florida! I just got a letter from (his daughter).” Before leaving the mountains, Beard would pull his snazzy red convertible into our driveway and happily haul my sister and his daughter around town.

We did not immediately assume his innocence, though. Public opinion was absolutely split down the middle between the people who couldn’t believe Beard would flick off a flea, to the ones that swear he always had a wild, hateful streak.

Finally, there was a trial and a conviction. But that conviction was overturned.

Would the killer ever be identified? Or, do we already know who got away with murder?

I was excited to learn of The Third Rainbow Girl by Emma Copley Eisenberg; although I admit to some apprehension due to a protective feeling towards my home state. I was pleasantly surprised and tremendously pleased with how well this author was able to understand the mountaineers and convey their way of life in an honest, objective manner.

I found her research and study of this criminal case to be tenacious and thorough without being too tough. The way that she shares what she learned was informative, but not suggestive. When I finished this book, my opinion of who killed those young ladies so many years ago has changed. And, I’m feeling a tiny bit homesick.

Reviewed by jv poore, March 2020.

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Cogheart
A Cogheart Adventure #1
Peter Bunzl
Jolly Fish Press, February 2019
ISBN 978-1-63163-287-7
Trade Paperback

Set in the skies above and the streets running through London, this scintillating story of clockworks, mechanimals, hybrids and humans is the book that will keep kids reading well past bed-times. It has to be hard for a young reader to step away from this fast-paced, perilous plot because as an adult, I found myself hurrying through a chore or four so that I could get back to the search for the oh-so-secret cogheart.

Professor John’s airship was attacked and it seems the sole survivor is Malkin, the mechanimal fox that serves as family pet and pseudo-protector. He must get a message to John’s daughter, Lily, but even a creature as clever as he cannot make that journey alone.

Slinking and thinking, Malkin has no idea he has been spotted. The teen-aged boy living above Townsend’s Horologist’s was having trouble sleeping and he spied the fox from his window. With a watchful eye, Robert realized the fox was a mechanimal and impulsively sought him out to see if he could be of assistance. He is his da’s apprentice, after all.

Robert and Malkin are indeed an unlikely duo, but it is apparent that they must work together to get to Lily, because they are definitely being pursued. Mr. Creepy-Mirror-Eyes Scary-Face (not his real name) and his equally alarming pal are popping up everywhere and it soon becomes obvious that the four share the same goal but for very different reasons. One pair wants to protect Lily and provide comfort, the other is after the Professor’s greatest invention.

When we finally meet Lily, and she pulls her little nose out of her beloved penny dreadful, we see a young lady that needs no protecting. But she’s no fool, so she is willing to let Robert and Malkin assist in her quest to obtain the elusive perpetual motion machine and to keep it safe from the heinous hybrids and whoever they are working for.

Cogheart could be categorized as an epic action-adventure and that would be accurate; but there are also some subtle, yet intriguing, conversations that provided unique points to ponder. I just love everything about this book and I cannot wait to give my copy to my favorite classroom library.

Reviewed by jv poore, February 2019.

Book Reviews: Misjudged Murderesses by Stephen Jakobi and Dead Silence by Ron Handberg

Misjudged Murderesses
Female Injustice in Victorian Britain
Stephen Jakobi
Pen and Sword, October 2019
ISBN 978-1-52-674162-2
Trade Paperback

Between 1836 and 1900 the wheels of justice often wobbled slowly and erroneously through British society. There were major changes in policing and some changes in social attitudes. However, the balance of justice most often was weighted in favor of the male side of things. Several women were accused of heinous crimes—mostly murder—and, according to this author, mistakenly convicted and executed.

The author, a private solicitor, in 1992 founded Fair Trials International, leading a persistent effort to balance justice world-wide. This volume of true crimes and results is part of his ongoing efforts.

It is a trudging look at the gathering of evidence and its presentation in English courts. The presentation is dense, careful and evokes textbooks of past classes. Indeed, the type on the page is small and readers might be advised to have a magnifier at hand. This is not bed-time pleasure.

However, for anyone intrigued by the evolution of our justice systems, police work and the attitudes of court authorities will find much of this book more than merely interesting.

Another rather fascinating aspect of the book is the role of religion. The author documents a case of torture of a woman prisoner by a chaplain and testimony in court by religious leaders who were supposed to be hearing confession by the female prisoners.

During the time between 1843 and 1900, 53 women were hanged after murder convictions. Thirty of those were poisoners. Fifteen of the poisoners never confessed. Eleven of the 53 were clearly guilty and of the rest, there were various problems that call into question the whole process and outcomes.

It appears that a good deal of the bias toward these women, some of whom were successful in society, was generated by a press that could be accused of being out of control over these sensational cases.

One of the most prolific murderesses described in the book is Mary Ann Cotton. Although convicted and hanged at 40 years of age, only for murdering her stepson, she was married many times, lost many children, and is reliably suspected of have used arsenic in tea to kill at least twenty men and children.

The book documents some appalling miscarriages of justice, as well as describing some appalling acts of murder that were never adequately resolved. Well researched, documented and written, this is not, however, something one would select to take to the beach.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, March 2020.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

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Dead Silence
Ron Handberg
HarperPaperbacks, February 1999
ISBN 0-06-101247-5
Mass Market Paperback

On a steamy July afternoon in 1983, three young boys run gleefully from their front yard to the nearby park and down the bluff to the edge of the Mississippi River. They do not return home ever again.

Fifteen years later, top television anchor, Alex Collier scans a memory item, the disappearance, on this date, of those three Hathaway sons. The story mildly intrigues him. Now readers, introduced to Collier’s co-anchor on the news team, are drawn inside the routine workings of a major station news operation. The author, with vast and varied experience in such operations, is careful to avoid relying on the technical details of such an operation to move the story forward.

Rather, Handberg relies on the interpersonal relationships, decisions and routines of the people who spend their time researching, writing, taping and presenting the daily television news to help move the story forward. It’s an interesting and sometimes tension-filled situation, but the story really focuses on the three missing boys. Collier decides to use his star-clout to get the station to in effect reopen the case.

Careful logical moves, rather than sudden insightful intuition guides Collier and his young co-anchor to the people, many long retired who were involved in the original case, including the still distraught, still seeking answers, parents of the boys.

The novel is rooted in reality and makes good use of the unusual and often exotic internal scenes in a big-time television operation, the evolving life of officials and ordinary citizens, some of whom have moved on, retired or left the Twin Cities. Mysterious threatening phone calls, possible deliberate hit and run and new murder all populate this novel as the clues mount, incidents occur and Collier persists against mounting resistance and tension.

The physical presence of the cities and rural Minnesota are inserted judicially with logical and useful influence on the trajectory of this story. The narrative rhythm is appropriate and although the novel is long, it is a well-paced read that will capture the imagination and attention of anyone interested in missing person cases.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, January 2019.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: Repeal the Second Amendment: The Case for a Safer America by Allan J. Lichtman @AllanLichtman @StMartinsPress

The following review does not necessarily reflect
the views of the reviewer or of the blog owner
but is intended to share the author’s study of the
amendment to aid in a better understanding
of the controversial issues involved.

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Repeal the Second Amendment
The Case for A Safer America
Allan J. Lichtman
St. Martin’s Press, January 2020
ISBN 978-1250244406
Hardcover

In Mr. Lichtman’s non-fiction Repeal the Second Amendment: The Case for A Safer America, he digs deeply into the history of the U.S.A. to detail what was happening then, providing perspective and understanding as to what prompted the writing of this amendment. Snippets from pertinent discussions and disagreements around drafting the document were enlightening. An original draft used “country” in “…being necessary to the security of a free _____”; but “country” was replaced with “state”. The reason isn’t surprising, but is remarkably disappointing.

The amount of intricate research that went into this book was astounding. I certainly did not expect a review of historical documents for the use of the phrase “to bear arms” in order to determine if it referred to militia or individuals. Or for sentences to essentially be conjugated to show that if the amendment addressed the individual, the explanation clause would be redundant.

Being born and raised in WV, with my paternal parental unit competing in shooting matches every Sunday, I’ve heard a lot about “The Second”. One tiny detail my father and his fellow firearm fanatics omit though is that the government conducted a census. There was a government-maintained list of every single gun-owner, and each and every gun he owned. The same men I’ve heard vehemently insist on their “right” to bear arms are the first people to bristle at the suggestion of anyone else on the planet knowing which and how many firearms are currently in his possession.

The gun-owners of which I speak are also almost-angrily, proud members of the NRA, I guess by ignoring the fact that the National Rifle Association originally felt differently about the 2nd amendment. It wasn’t until late 20th century that the NRA reversed their own findings (without explanation or even acknowledgement). Maybe they are not bothered by the attempt to incorporate Santa Claus into gun ads. Or the NRA approaching the Vatican to name a “Patron Saint of Handgunners”.

To me, these pages were packed with historical facts. Some I knew, some I suspected, and several became blatant when the bigger picture emerged. My understanding of both historic and present-day policies, rules and regulations has been enriched. Because of the plethora of interesting information that I’ve not found elsewhere, I introduced and donated this book to “my” high-school seniors and I am looking forward to hearing their thoughts.

Reviewed by jv poore, February 2020.