“Capone Island” by Stephen G. Yanoff

CAPONE ISLAND
Stephen G. Yanoff
AuthorHouse (2019)
ISBN 9781728308296
Reviewed by Robert Leon Davis for Readers Views (8/19)

“Capone Island,” written by author Stephen G. Yanoff, is a novel, with a blend of mystery, ruthless gangsters, romance, and spies, all coming together in a search for lost treasures. The main character, Adam Gold, is an insurance investigator who inadvertently, while investigating a claim, gets caught up in more trouble than he bargains for. There are various shady characters and twisted romances that he must navigate to locate the lost treasure of Al Capone.

The story is set in various exotic locales, such as the Florida Everglades, Miami, and Cuba. Most of the characters have their own motives and interests; quite different from each other. Treachery, falsehoods, and back-stabbing seems as if it’s par for the course. The threat of death or murder lies around every corner. No one can be fully trusted, and one must always be on the lookout.

This is one of those books that one mustn’t discuss in a review in detail, so as to keep the ending hidden, and the various twists and turns from discussion. As I’ve mentioned, the plot is brilliant, all stemming from a seemingly, mundane investigation by an insurance investigator. “Capone Island,” is a classic mystery, involving the most dangerous people that one could ever be involved with – spies and gangsters. Various specks of romances are mixed into the plot, and the historical back setting by the author makes everything falls together. That the author is a former insurance executive also serves this novel well.

One will quickly notice that quite a bit of exhaustive research was initiated before the writing this novel. All of the characters involved, along with the various interactions between the characters and the historical facts included bring the story to life, making the reader feel as if you’re actually in the story. The detailed information, vivid characters, exotic locales, twisted plots and hidden dangers, all weave together into a classic timeless mystery. I could actually see this novel being adapted into a film or television movie. Yes, “Capone Island” by Stephen G. Yanoff is that good of a read! Highly recommended. Easy 5 STARS.

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“No Apocalypse: Punk, Politics & the Great American Weirdness” by Al Burian

NO APOCALYPSE: PUNK, POLITICS & THE GREAT AMERICAN WEIRDNESS
Al Burian
Microcosm Publishing (2019)
ISBN 9781621065210
Reviewed by Skyler Boudreau for Reader Views (8/19)

“No Apocalypse: Punk, Politics & the Great American Weirdness” is a collection of writing by Al Burian, featuring essays of his that have appeared in publications such as Punk Planet, HeartattaCk Zine, and Skeleton Newspaper. These essays provide the reader with an intriguing portrait of the author’s younger self as they ponder their own perspective on some curious parts of life. With its eye-catching cover design, “No Apocalypse” will raise its audience’s eyebrows from the moment it is picked up and with every following turn of a page.

Though these writings are from years ago, Burian makes an interesting point of their relevance today when, in the introduction to this collection, he says, “The Oncoming Cataclysmic End is a deep and integral part of the American psyche” (Burian 7). He goes on to explain that “Craziness of the present moment did not spring out of nowhere. Standing on the brink of destruction is not unusual; it is the perpetual state of things” (13). Even a reader with opinions that contrast from Burian’s own will recognize a certain similarity in what he describes within people today. “No Apocalypse” is infected with a world-weariness that is somehow both exaggerated and relatable.

While the writing style in some essays comes off as dramatic for the sake of being dramatic, Burian never fails in getting a point across by the end of each piece. It’s an interesting dynamic that keeps the audience engaged. If they do not care for the writing style itself, they can still enjoy contemplating the thoughts conveyed within the essays.

The final piece, “Eternal Return,” is one that stands out among the others. It’s shorter than many of its predecessors and makes a great ending for an unusual book. In these last pages, Burian describes two separate hitchhiking experiences that he has had. The first is described in the moment of the essay, and the second is a past experience, recalled by Burian as he is dealing with the former. This essay returns to the parallels described in the beginning of “No Apocalypse,” and brings everything full circle, providing a satisfying ending for the audience.

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“Ephphatha” by Dr. Thomas M. Caulfield

EPHPHATHA
Dr. Thomas M. Caulfield
Ephphatha (2019)
ISBN 9780998042206
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (06/19)

“Ephphatha” by Dr. Thomas M. Caulfield is an eye-opening read based on the life of his son, born profoundly death. Much of the information in this book comes from a journal Dr. Caulfield kept for over two decades. This amazing and powerful story will leave you cheering, breathless and sometimes angry.

Some of what I learned is as a parent(s) you are the strongest advocate for your child; you know them best and what works best for them. Also, focusing on abilities and not on disabilities. As a former Psychologist who worked with and trained teachers on working with different ability children in the public school system, I found so many teachers were not trained properly nor were the administrators. They didn’t want to put much effort into what was needed to be done or make changes that would benefit their students. Readers will find throughout this read that the Caulfield and their son Christopher met the same obstacles, but that didn’t deter them.

The author does an excellent job of providing insight into having a child with different abilities, how it impacts his family and how children can be cruel in their own way. Often doctors deal with congenital deafness in a medical, diagnostic way and do not see the emotional and personal side. I have often said doctors need to deal with the whole person, not just the illness.

Christopher is talented and gifted in the basketball arena but experiences some lagging in reading and speaking academically. Therefore his parents provided education during the summer and with the help of his older sister, he improved.

I loved the fact that the author wrote about this experience as is one were having a friendly chat that was informative yet frank. The initial goal of journaling was to provide Christopher with his amazing journal later in life. However, Dr Caulfield realized it might be beneficial to other parents going through the same issues.

“Ephphatha” is enlightening and encouraging, I think all medical, school personnel and case managers should read this emotional journey. I highly recommend “Ephphatha” for the personal journey and information for every age. Hopefully, it will have readers re-think their perceptions about special ability individuals.

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Interview with Gary D. McGugan – Author of “The Multima Scheme”

THE MULTIMA SCHEME

Gary D. McGugan
Tellwell Talent (2018)
ISBN 9781773706450
Review and Interview by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (8/19)

Gary D. McGugan loves to tell stories and is the author of Three Weeks Less a Day, The Multima Scheme, and Unrelenting Peril. Whether sharing a vision with colleagues in large multinational corporations, helping consulting clients implement expert advice, or writing a corporate thriller, Gary uses artful suspense to entertain and inform. His launch of a new writing career—at an age most people retire—reveals an ongoing zest for new challenges and a life-long pursuit of knowledge. Home may be in Toronto, but his love of travel and broad business knowledge accumulated from extensive experiences around the globe are evident in every chapter Gary writes.

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Hi Gary, Welcome to Reader Views – it’s a pleasure to have you back to talk about The Multima Scheme, the second book in your Multima corporate intrigue series. What is The Multima Scheme about?

Thanks for having me back, Sheri! The Multima Scheme is an entertaining tale about the persistent threats of some nefarious forces in organized crime to infiltrate powerful companies like fictional Multima Corporation.

As a reader, it was exciting to dig into The Multima Scheme right after finishing Three Weeks Less a Day. How soon after you published your first book did you begin writing your sequel?

I began writing The Multima Scheme while my publisher was still fiddling with layouts and cover designs for the first book in the trilogy – Three Weeks Less a Day. Writing the final chapters of the first novel, I started visualizing how Suzanne Simpson might develop and the role she should play in The Multima Scheme.

Did you have a preconceived idea about how you wanted The Multima Scheme to play out or did the plot line develop over time?

I had a clear idea how the character Suzanne Simpson would evolve and how her story would play out. I was more ambivalent about a couple other characters and created new twists and turns in the plot to develop more suspense in the story. This led to unexpected endings for them.

How much of the story came as a surprise to you as you were writing? Did any of your characters end up doing something you hadn’t planned on, taking the story in a new direction?

I think readers will be quite surprised by the character Fidelia Morales. Her ultimate direction came as a bit of a surprise to me also! But I think readers will agree her unexpected pivot adds to satisfaction with the story’s eventual outcome.

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You mentioned in our last interview that it took four years to write Three Weeks Less a Day. How long did it take to write The Multima Scheme? Was it easier, harder or just different?

The Multima Scheme took about 15 months to prepare. “Just different” would be a good description of the experience. While writing the second story, I was intently focused on getting the book completed. As a result, I was more disciplined and sacrificed sales and promotion efforts to concentrate on writing. From that experience, I’ve learned successful writers today must spend as much time promoting books as actually writing them!

What are some of the challenges in writing a sequel?

I had two primary goals that create challenges. First, I wanted each of my novels to be independent, self-contained stories. Second, I was determined to avoid annoying readers of Three Weeks Less a Day with a lot of repetitive details. I think I successfully achieved both objectives.

How do you keep the plot unpredictable without sacrificing believability?

I like to ask the question, “Is it plausible?” Readers of fiction expect authors to stretch the boundaries to create interest and suspense. For every twist and turn, I ask that question during every review and edit. If it doesn’t pass my ‘plausible’ test, I find a way to tweak the plot to make it more believable.

There are a number of characters that morphed into totally different personalities in The Multima Scheme.  What was it like to take already well-developed characters and dig even deeper into their psyches?

Most of us have some complexity. Over time, I find some people are not who they first appear to be. I like to weave that truth into my characters to make them become more authentic and allow readers to better relate to them.

Who is the most interesting character development-wise in The Multima Scheme?

Readers will have to decide that for themselves! Fugitive Howard Knight, executive Suzanne Simpson, conniving Janet Weissel, or aspiring Douglas Whitfield.  They all demonstrate quite interesting attributes readers probably won’t initially expect.

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Which character in your book are you least likely to get along with and why?

Multima Financial Services president James Fitzgerald is a staid, predictable, and perhaps even boring individual who likes to follow all the rules, all the time. I don’t!

If your books were adapted into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?

I have no idea! I’ll stick to writing entertaining stories and let folks with a passion for movies answer that one.

Your stories are so creative – how do you come up with your ideas? Have you ever taken any creative writing courses?

Some studies conclude people who read fiction may develop the creative side of their brain more fully. I’ve always enjoyed reading novels and study the ideas and techniques other writers use. In the corporate world, I learned early the value of the concept of ‘thinking outside the box’ and try to let my imagination run wild as often as possible.

What do your family and friends think about your writing? How do they support your writing career? How did it feel sharing your work with them for the first time?

I have an exceptionally supportive family and network of friends around the globe. I’m deeply indebted to them all. They not only buy my books; these great people promote them! Several frequently share posts on social media to help spread the word. All encourage their friends, neighbors, and associates to visit book signings and other events.

My books are a source of pride and satisfaction every time I share my work with a reader. With family and friends, even more so, because I’m confident they’ll each derive some level of enjoyment.

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Do you feel you’ve grown as a writer since you began your first novel? How?

Every day I look back on some positive learning experience I’ve gained from my writing. From technique to structure or style, I think every element of my writing improves with experience, practice, and an eagerness to learn and adapt.

What can readers expect from your final book in the Multima series, Unrelenting Peril?

I think Unrelenting Peril may be the best novel of the trilogy. The story is entertaining, complex, and packed with action. Readers will see my penchant for telling stories in international settings, using a rapid pace with short chapters. I think they’ll want more. So, I’m already working on another novel to be released in 2020. It won’t have Multima Corporation in the background, but it will feature a couple intriguing characters from the Multima trilogy as they follow markedly different paths!

Gary, thank you for visiting Reader Views today. It was a pleasure learning more about you and your work!


CONNECT WITH GARY D. MCGUGAN!

Website:                     https://www.garydmcguganbooks.com
Monthly Blog:           https://www.garydmcguganbooks.com/rendezvous-blog
Facebook:                  @gary.d.mcgugan.books
Twitter:                      @GaryDMcGugan
Instagram:                 https://www.instagram.com/authorgarydmcgugan

MEET GARY D. MCGUGAN!

For readers living in Canada, Gary has personal appearances planned in more than 75 locations of Canada’s largest bookseller – Chapters/Indigo between April and November 2019. Stop by and say hello. Visit his website to find a list of his upcoming events: https://www.garydmcguganbooks.com/news–events.html

Read our book review for Three Weeks Less a Day
Read our interview with Gary D. McGugan about Three Weeks Less a Day
Read our book review for The Multima Scheme

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“Must Love Poetry” by Chriselda Barretto

MUST LOVE POETRY
Chriselda Barretto
Independently Published (2019)
ISBN 9789463881104
Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (8/19)

“Must Love Poetry,” by Chriselda Barretto is an eclectic collection of topics expressed in well written poetry. Topics range from Nature, Spirituality, the Universe…you name it and it is within these pages in some shape, or form. When I first saw that this poetry collection was 290 pages, I hesitated a little as this collection had only one author and other poetry books I have read of this size were always multi-author anthologies. I decided to read it like I read the anthologies…in different sittings without paying attention to the table of contents. I found that although I could identify the author’s voice in all the poems, each poem felt totally different than the next one. Each one was well written – some free style, some rhyme more than others, all spoke of different topics, and each expressed a distinct feel. Some of my favorites, to name a few, (although I loved the entire repertoire) are: ‘Soar,’ ‘From Mother to Son,’ ‘The Statue and The Tower,’ ‘Mind Me,’ and the one that really stayed with me, ‘Dark Pearl.’

Barretto has mastered multiple forms of poetry, but her talent of expression is what impressed me the most. To be able to share feelings and provoke thoughts about such a range of topics in one collection is remarkable. I liked the fact that she presented her work in no apparent sequence. This always kept me curious, wondering what the next one would be about, and how it would affect my mind and heart. Would it linger in my thoughts? Would it touch a moment within my life? Would it be about something I haven’t even thought about? Below is a short example to show how the author’s work is not only mind and heart stimulating…but also visually.

‘Dishonest

Living in an age

of dishonesty

Surviving a rage

of pre-occupational hazardry

Collect your thoughts

and reinforce your mental imagery

For this world is the biggest asset

of evolution for humanity!’

I loved “Must Love Poetry” by Chriselda Barretto and consider it a five-star book of poetry for this era. Definitely a must-read for all poetry lovers!

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“Unrelenting Peril” by Gary D. McGugan

UNRELENTING PERIL
Gary D. McGugan
Independently Published (2019)
ISBN 9781999565602
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (8/19)

“Unrelenting Peril” is the final book in the Multima corporate intrigue series by Gary D. McGugan. It’s a ruthless battle for corporate dominance, and with billions at stake it’s a show-stopping dramatic conclusion to a brilliant trilogy.

The executives at Multima Corporation encounter their biggest challenges yet in “Unrelenting Peril,” and the new CEO at the helm, Suzanne Simpson, has her work cut out for her. Suzanne and her leadership team continue to do battle against The Organization, a crime syndicate dedicated to taking over Multima Corporation, no matter the cost. Contending with forces persistent and merciless, Suzanne must bring her “A-Game” to her every waking moment. While planning Multima Corporation’s successional climb to the top of the business world through a joint venture, Suzanne Simpson must outwit and outmaneuver her adversary to block a hostile takeover attempt.

First, the characters – and I can’t emphasize this enough: ALL of the characters in “Unrelenting Peril” are well-developed, multidimensional and intriguing – from the CEO and chairman of the board, to the crime boss, to the administrative staff and housekeeper. Readers easily develop crystal clear mental images of any given character’s physical description, behaviors, attitudes, and inner thoughts, along with a sense of how they will react to any given situation. THEN McGugan spices things up a bit and has a character do something, well – out of character, as he remolds that character into an exciting new personality, i.e., the good guy becomes a bad guy, or vice versa.

Also, as a woman who enjoys the particular drama and intrigue provided in the environment of the corporate atmosphere, I was pleasantly satisfied to find a number of females in key executive positions at Multima Corporation. Kudo’s to McGugan for adding diversity to his stories and successfully rising to the challenge of creating effective authentic characters of the opposite sex – not an easy thing to achieve. Whether it is in the context of sleeping with someone to obtain information, successfully chairing a board meeting or firing a long-time seasoned executive in order to protect the corporation’s image and reputation – the Multima women are fierce!

As to the story itself – “Unrelenting Peril” is another amazing ride. With a number of conflicts involving different characters and businesses, including the FBI, The Organization, and several international corporations, McGugan does a magnificent job of not only sustaining a high level of realistic drama but also escalating conflict and tension, building at a pace that guarantees the reader will not be able to put his books down once they start reading. He takes reasonable circumstances and adds a bit of the extraordinary to create layers of excitement that enhance the overall entertainment value.

One thing is clear – Gary D. McGugan knows how to write top caliber stories. Some authors write predominately character-driven books, while others drive their stories through enticing plotlines.  McGugan does both, and with equal excellence – no small feat, especially in keeping a series exciting and suspenseful with escalating intensity.

I highly recommend “Unrelenting Peril,” along with the entire Multima series.  In fact, I suggest readers consume all of the stories sequentially in the order they were written: “Three Weeks Less a Day,” then “The Multima Scheme,” and finish with “Unrelenting Peril.” While it’s definitely not necessary, as each of the stories stand quite capably on their own – do yourself a favor and get the set.  I can honestly say this is the best trilogy I have read in quite some time and I am really going to miss the characters of this series – kind of like saying goodbye to old friends.


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“Sooner Than Tomorrow” by Dede Ranahan

SOONER THAN TOMORROW
Dede Ranahan
Read First Press (2019)
ISBN 9781732974500
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (8/19)

“Sooner Than Tomorrow: A Mother’s Diary About Mental Illness, Family, and Everyday Life,” by Dede Ranahan is a book that all individuals, families, Senators and Representatives should read. Through her diary and her son Pat’s Facebook posts we travel with the family as they try to negotiate the mental health system, cope the best they can on the good days and mourn with them at the loss of Pat in a psychiatric ward where no one would give her information due to the HIPPA Laws.

What began as a way to capture the family history that someday would become a treasure for her children and grandchildren grew into a documentation of her son’s last year of life where he died unexpectedly in a hospital psych ward where she thought he was safe.

With the author’s honest, poignant, sometimes humorous writing, readers learn about how it is to live with mental illness on a daily basis, the good times and bad. I certainly agree with the author when she says, “We love our children more than your own life,” even when they are adult children. We will do anything for them, anytime, anyplace. But when one doesn’t know what to expect minute from minute or day to day, your life, as you know it, becomes chaotic and full of despair. I admire Dede for her strength, her love and her determination.

As a professional in the mental health system for over twenty-five years, I say the mental health system is not broken because it was never whole.  It is a deeply flawed system, and while it is a much better one than existed previously, it is not perfect.

As we learn with Pat, he is misdiagnosed, rushed through the system, and when hospitalized, there is no follow-up. Involuntary hospitalization as we see with Pat is extremely fast-paced – there’s not enough time to fully do what needs to get done. Too often, individuals are prematurely discharged.

As we get to know Pat, we find that he is talented, loving, intelligent and loved by many. I think incorporating his Facebook posts along with Dede’s diary allows us to get an inside look at the dynamics of her wonderful family. I held my breath, cried, got angry at the flawed system and mourned the loss of a wonderful young man.

I highly recommend “Sooner Than Tomorrow” by Dede Ranahan for anyone who is dealing with or has a family member who has a mental illness. I say this should be required reading for all mental health professionals, member of Congress and those who pass or ignore the mental health crisis we have today.

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