“Roll the Dice” by Wayne Avrashow

RollTheDiceROLL THE DICE

Wayne Avrashow
Fiery Seas Publishing (2017)
ISBN 9781946143327
Reviewed by Ben Green for Reader Views (12/17)

“Roll the Dice” is a “fictitious” and timely look inside the American political process at a time when the traditional rules of the game no longer apply. Author Wayne Avrashow has created an intriguing and entertaining read that delves deeply into American politics and takes a look at the dark side of how campaigns are won. The book is clearly fictitious, but Avrashow’s experience as a campaign manager inside the political process clearly shines through the story.

“Roll the Dice” tells the story of Tyler Sloan, a celebrated candidate who decides to run for office. Of course his campaign is plagued with all the stuff we have come to expect like backstabbing, sex scandals, and funding issues. What makes all of this special though is Avrashow’s attention to detail. You truly feel like you are following a real campaign and that this book could have been a “behind the scenes” look at any of the recent presidential candidates’ runs.

Avrashow also creates a well-based read that is hard to put down and while there are plenty of nuances, the book rarely feels stiff or dry. One real issue I have is that Avrashow’s characters feel a bit cookie-cutter. Take Sloan, for instance. He is exactly what you would expect from a celebrated candidate and exactly what you need to move the story forward, but Avrashow never really flushes him or any of the other characters out completely. Most of them feel like they are strategically placed to move the story. This isn’t a huge issue since the real focus here is the campaign and political process itself, and that is easily enough to make this a good read. The only other issue I have with “Roll the Dice” is that stakes never seem high enough. I know this may sound silly but literally, the only thing at stake here is who wins the election…so you know, just the White House. This in some ways goes back to the characters issue because we never really feel like the world will end for any of them no matter how the votes come out. Even if it would have ended, I never felt like I would have cared.

To conclude, “Roll the Dice” is a good read and even better if you’re into politics which it seems like currently, everyone is. Wayne Avrashow brings a lot of realism and detail to the campaign process and it is a great commentary on the current political process in the United States. It is a smooth read that is highly enjoyable and timely.

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“W” by John Banks

WW

John Banks
819 Publishing (2018)
ISBN 9780983333418
Reviewed by Megan Weiss for Reader Views (4/18)

“W” by John Banks is a uniquely crafted tale about a man named Josh Kinninger, whom we follow from his college years, and then to his years as a widowed father who must come to terms with the death of his own estranged father.  The novel goes back and forth between Josh’s narrations, letters written by an ancestor on the Oregon Tail, and a telling of how a Viking came to be buried in the mountains of Oregon.

Banks’ voice as an author is enchanting, and the message that seems to be conveyed with this novel is that no matter who we are, we all have a story.  Josh’s story is not just about him, however, but about his younger brother, recently deceased; his relationship with an openly racist, criminalized father; and how he uses letters found written by his ancestor on the Oregon Trail to his fiancée to make better sense of his own life.  What we see Josh realize throughout the course of the novel is that there are a lot of crappy people in the world – people who deserve to be ostracized and made an example of.  However, there is also a lot of good in the world, which we can find in our children; our siblings; our parents; and everyone else we meet along the way during our lives.

While the concept and execution of Banks’ novel is certainly unique and captivating, it is difficult to figure out, at first, what all the different stories have to do with each other.  For about the first 100-150 pages it was disorienting going back-and-forth between the Viking story, Josh’s narrations, and the letters from his ancestor, because it was hard to discern how they all related to each other.  The context is dense, and this is certainly a book meant for concentration and deep thought.  While I was reading about Josh’s recollections of his father, it caused me to question my own views and evaluate whether I’m as open-minded as I believe myself to be.  We all have prejudices, unfortunately, but just how much are these prejudices holding us back from our true potential?

This was an interesting, thought provoking book that did end up being enjoyable, but the confusing structure might turn away some readers who may not have the patience to wait 100 pages to get their bearings in the story.  A novel can be complex without having a complex structure.  A complex plot can be perfectly enjoyable as long as the structure of the actual reading is not tedious and tiresome to the audience.  I’d recommend “W” by John Banks to dedicated readers who have patience to figure out a complex plot and who enjoy going on an adventure within their reading choices.

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“Six Dogs ‘Til Sunday” by Lia Farrell

SixDogsTilSundaySIX DOGS ‘TIL SUNDAY

Lia Farrell
Camel Press (2018)
ISBN 9781603812504
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (4/18)

“Six Dogs ‘Til Sunday” is the final book in the Mae December mystery series by Lia Farrell.

Things are heating up in the town of Rosedale, Tennessee, when a man dies of a gunshot wound shortly after driving himself to the hospital.  This interrupts Mae December’s busy wedding plans to the handsome Sheriff Ben Bradley. It also stirs up a lot of memories of her deceased fiancé, especially after she discovers a link between the recent murder, and his supposedly accidental death.

Mae’s interest is initially piqued, because the recently deceased man was part of a movie crew that was filming at a nearby home owned by a former sheriff. Right after the film crew discovers a hidden safe, the victim is shot while apparently removing money from it. Since the former sheriff didn’t leave his office on good terms, it is immediately suspected that the money didn’t come from legal means. As the mystery starts to unravel, Mae discovers some shocking information about her fiancé’s death. In a sense this also gives her closure so she can move on to her new life with Ben.

“Six Dogs ‘Til Sunday” was actually my first book in the six-part series, but in spite of not having read the others, I will admit that it stood well on its own. The mother/daughter writing team of Lia Farrell, does a great job of seamlessly bringing everyone up to speed on the characters and their roles. The main characters are likeable, and I felt sympathy for all that Mae had to process to move forward with her marriage.

While “Six Dogs ‘Til Sunday” by Lia Farrell is a light mystery, there is still a great deal of depth in these pages and it will keep you guessing. The dogs play a small role in this story, but I enjoyed the parts they did play.  Bringing that past into the present really gave the plot a nice twist. I know that dog loving mystery fans will enjoy reading this one. As for me, I have five more books to read!

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“Halorum” by Sedar Aydemir

HalorumHALORUM

Sedar Aydemir
Amazon Digital Services LLC (2017)
ASIN B07BBCR7MR
Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (4/18)

I was drawn to “Halorum” by Sedar Aydemir right away as a fan of medieval, fantasy and paranormal stories because it has elements of each one in the story. King Tarkin, ruler of the Kingdom of the Light called ‘Halorum’ is attacked inside his castle. Lucky for him Paulira, his best Knight Reaper, saw the possessed man sneak in the castle and arrived to the King’s defense just in time through a secret passage. Paulira slays the demon-possessed man but she and the King noticed that this wasn’t a regular possession. Worried that there is a stronger dark force behind things, King Tarkin sends Paulira to look for an old friend of his, who is known as a legendary warrior. They didn’t know that they were against the clock as the dark forces were getting closer to ‘Halorum’ gaining strength and territory, while faith plummeted and souls were corrupted…

Sedar Aydemir gives readers an epic adventure where the forces of Light are in danger as they struggle with a new dark force. Faith struggles to keep alive in the realm; women are as fierce in bed as in battle, and fantasy, magic, and the supernatural, mix with medieval times! Aydemir does a great job describing action, developing characters and creating a suspenseful page turning plot. Although, I am not crazy about steaming sex scenes, I truly enjoyed the read. I loved the narration voice which kept me engaged as much as the action. However, I did feel that the voice changed from time to time and that confused me a little, bringing me out of the story. Other than that I found Sedar Aydemir’s writing skills and style awesome.

In general I found to “Halorum” by Sedar Aydemir to be a great debut novel, sure to be loved by readers. An engaging read full of sex, battles, demons, magic, and knights galore!

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“Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life” by Diana Raab

WritingForBlissWRITING FOR BLISS

Diana Raab, PhD
Loving Healing Press (2017)
ISBN 9781615993239
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (4/18)

If it’s true that everyone has a book in them then, “Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life” by Diana Raab, is an essential volume to help one dig deep within to nourish and that cultivate that story.

The author brings an abundance of wisdom and experience about writing for healing and transformation to “Writing for Bliss,” and guides the reader step-by-step.  So much more than a ‘how-to’ book about writing, although it is that as well, the focus is on writing from within, and how to bring your own story into existence in ways that can heal and transform. The author provides tips, writing prompts and techniques that writers in all stages of their journey will find helpful.

I have never given a lot of thought to writing my own story, convinced I don’t have much of a story to tell. Intimidated by the blank page and the ‘write what you know’ axiom, I was pleasantly surprised with the steps recommended by the author to overcome whatever holds your story inside. Tips such as keeping an open mind, and practicing patience when writing about emotions and experiences, are suggested as ways to give oneself permission to let go and just see what happens.  That permission to explore, something one intuitively knows is available, but often not allowed to surface, could be the key to clearing the boulder blocking one’s path.

Raab’s steps on Cultivating Self-Awareness (Step Two), Speaking Your Truth (Step Three), and Examining Your Life (Step Four) are enlightening, insightful, and easy to follow.  The other steps prepare you for writing and finding your form.  There is also a step on writing poetry and the final step provides constructive information about sharing your writing with others.

“Writing for Bliss” is an intimate journey with the author, who uses a heart-and-soul approach to reaching her readers. As she shares her own experiences, one will often feel as though she is right there in the room.  I highly recommend “Writing for Bliss” by

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“Habitat for Human Remains” by Scott A. Lerner

HabitatForHumanRemainsHABITAT FOR HUMAN REMAINS

Scott A. Lerner
Camel Press (2017)
ISBN 9781603816274
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (4/18)

“Habitat for Human Remains” is the fifth book in the Samuel Roberts series by Scott A. Lerner. Roberts is a cynical private practice lawyer who finds himself involved in a murder case with a cast of characters that have their own agenda. The accused is Blake May who lives with his mother who is blind but is extremely attuned to what is going on around her. Blake suffers from agoraphobia, and obsessive compulsions, and is accused of killing his girlfriend and destroying her remains, to the point of being unidentifiable.

The police are unable to find a murder weapon or fully understand Blake’s relationship with his girlfriend Heather, since he rarely leaves his room. The Frost Home dates back to the 1800s and in itself is a very spooky living environment. The butler who is mute reminds Sam of Lurch on ‘The Addams Family,’ and Laura James the maid is as friendly as a pit bull. It appears to Sam and his sidekick Bob Sizemore that more is going on than it seems and that everyone is trying to get Blake declared insane.

Lerner’s urban fantasy is full of surprises, quirky people and deep deception. Sam and Bob are not the usual handsome, rich lawyers but are shown to be down to earth and often like Laurel and Hardy. Lerner’s vivid description of the murder scene, magical mirror and unusual characters adds so much to the story line.

Dialogue between the characters struck me as funny and distinct for each character. This is what kept me reading along with all the hidden agendas of everyone involved. This is not one of those reads where one thinks they can solve “who did it” as each chapter has new twists and turns. I am not one who is familiar with paranormal fiction, but I will say Lerner’s book was quite the page turner. It is not a fast read as one will want to savor every scene, relationship and cast of characters. Lerner does an excellent job of keeping the reader’s attention and the description of Blake’s self-contained living area is quite amazing.

I highly recommend “Habitat for Human Remains” by Scott A. Lerner to all who love great mysteries that add some paranormal excitement.

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“STUFF People Might Want to Know: From Someone Who Really Shouldn’t Be Writing a Book” by Jon “Coach” Cohn

StuffSTUFF PEOPLE MIGHT WANT TO KNOW

Jon “Coach” Cohn
Windy City Publishers (2016)
ISBN 9781941478240
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (12/17)

“STUFF People Might Want to Know: From Someone Who Really Shouldn’t Be Writing a Book” by Jon “Coach” Cohn is a compilation of his thoughts, opinions and observations about random topics he has pondered over the years. Like many of us, some of these thoughts have crossed all our minds as well.

The topics of Eating for Epilepsy, Drinking for Dystrophy and other fundraising events provide excellent advice. Instead of dressing up and socializing with other well-to-do individuals and writing a check for large amounts why not roll up your sleeves and get down and dirty helping? Recently in the news with all the natural disasters, you see very few celebrities or politicians helping in any way. Some did go down to devastated areas and provided actual supplies, private planes or boats to evacuate the most medically fragile. How many of us have done that?

I had to laugh on his musings about consultants. I, like the author, have yet to figure out what a consultant is and how they got that title. So many of them, it seems to me, have never been in the field and rely solely on their degrees and opinions. So we pay thousands of dollars for their thoughts when most of those in the field already know what the problem is and how to fix it. Given that most schools or cities are cutting their budgets, it seems it would be more beneficial to enlist the help of those who know the situation best. That includes analysts on sports, war, and mass shootings.

The chapter on standing for the national anthem for me is a time to think about those who gave their lives so we can be thankful for all that we have been given. I am a military brat, married a soldier and worked for the military as a psychologist for 35 years. Even today my family and I stand, take off hats and put our hand over our hearts. Look closely at parades, sporting events and ceremonies dedicated to the military- who stands, claps, or gives a moment of silence? Very few.

The author provides some great opportunities to laugh, reminisce on various topics we have all thought about or wondered, “Why did they do that?” “STUFF People Might Want to Know: From Someone Who Really Shouldn’t Be Writing a Book” by Jon “Coach” Cohn is very easy reading filled with humor and great suggestions.

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