“Blood Virus” by L.A. Hollis


L.A. Hollis
iUniverse (2016)
ISBN 9781491785270
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (1/17)

From the very first page of “Blood Virus,” author L.A. Hollis captures the attention of her readers. Her book is based on a virus developed by a demented scientist who is obsessed by the Third Reich ideology, and with the help of other scientists, is killing off the West African population.

Blood Virus will keep readers fastened to the edge of their seat as they travel with Dr. Lennox Richards, an infectious disease physician working with the Center for Disease Control, to try to determine the cause and develop a treatment that will eradicate the virus. His wife Liz, a photographer for National Geographic insists that she accompany him so she can get “the big” story. Her main character, Dr. Lennox, is an African-American who adds to the intrigue of the story. What we find is that only African-Americans die from this, white individuals may contract the virus, but they somehow survive.

For years bio-engineered viruses that target specific races have been discussed in conferences, behind closed doors, and at dinner tables across the world. Could this happen? Who would be so deranged to do something like this?

Given her background in microbiology, along with exceptional research, Hollis has developed a story that will develop fear in even the staunchest person. She has developed many subplots that include racism, mixed marriages, voodoo, and Hitler-like thoughts. The book does have some scientific terminology and her narratives are sometimes in detail, and as such may boggle the mind of readers.

Hollis meets her goal of having readers seriously consider this situation through her well-develop characters, wording and examples of the virus’ impact. Her graphic details of the impact on African-American victims are quite descriptive, and may be hard for some to read.

Readers’ will learn some basic information on the process of identifying a virus, development of treatment, and the risks involved in this undertaking.

I recommend “Blood Virus” by L.A. Hollis. Her writing flows, has twists, has underlying tones, and provides a great “What if?” story for readers.

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“The Word Search Oracle: Yoga for the Brain” by Cristina Smith, Rick Smith, and Darity Wesley


Cristina Smith, Rick Smith, Darity Wesley
CreateSpace (2017)
ISBN 9781544211558
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (09/17)

“The Word Search Oracle: Yoga for the Brain,” by Cristina Smith and Rick Smith, featuring oracle messages by Darity Wesley, is Book 2 in the Sudoku Wisdom Series. The series is unique in approach by incorporating philosophy into an entertaining, challenging puzzle book.

Having previously read and reviewed “The Tao of Sudoku: Yoga for the Brain,” I was excited to get my hands on this next edition.  The book starts with the definition of an Oracle and how we can use the messages in the puzzles to delve deeper and create or expand a mindful spiritual practice and greater awareness of oneself.

Each puzzle presents a focused theme (i.e., Connection, Gratitude, Purpose, Forgiveness), with a short paragraph of reflection on the subject, the word search puzzle itself, and a secret message revealed at the end by using the letters left-over after the word search is finished.  The secret message presents in the form of a mantra or positive affirmation, which are helpful tools for building a positive mental attitude and outlook.

Mixed in throughout the puzzles are pages that present interesting facts about our eyes, the brain, the practice of mental yoga and the benefits to our general well-being. There are also some great tips for solving the puzzles, using some techniques I had not considered before.

I am partial to word search puzzles. I’ve been doing them since I was a young girl, usually timing myself, and creating a competitive atmosphere. “The Word Search Oracle: Yoga for the Brain,” challenged me to incorporate a different attitude and approach; to slow down and consider the individual puzzles as part of a conscious spiritual experience.  With that in mind, I tried to develop a (somewhat) consistent routine, typically at the end of the day, when I was ready to unwind and still my mind.

That said, while I did try to stick to my nightly routine, there were times when I couldn’t help myself and rushed through a puzzle because I was eager to reveal the mantra on topic matters that really struck a chord with me.  Gratefully, this book teaches there is no wrong way to solve the puzzle, and I learned a lot about myself during the process.

I subscribe to a daily online crossword puzzle where users’ completion times are tracked.  After reading this book, I realize there is a lot of unnecessary stress created with timing yourself.  My experience with “The Word Search Oracle: Yoga for the Brain,” by Cristina Smith, Rick Smith, and Darity Wesley has taught me that life (and puzzle solving) can be much more pleasant when you slow things down a bit!  I highly recommend this book for puzzle gurus and those who want to develop or enhance their spiritual practice.

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“White Wine and Medical Marijuana” by Julia Cirignano


Julia Cirignano
CreateSpace (2017)
ISBN 9781548228972
Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (9/17)

I was happy to read “White Wine and Medical Marijuana” by Julia Cirignano as a wine and poetry lover as well as writer; and an advocate for marijuana as a prescribed solution for chronic pain. But my perception of the book title was totally wrong as the reference to ‘Medical Marijuana’ gave me the impression of a topic very relevant to my life lately.

Having said that, the thoughts, feelings and sensory experiences painted a deep, raw, and relatable picture of a current reality for young and old alike about addiction, darkness, passion and sadness that captivated my own thoughts in many instances. The only thing that confused me at times was the titles, as I was not always able to find a connection with the poem. An example of this is the poem titled ‘Ghost.’

Julia Cirignano shares without restraint, using words bluntly and openly to express her inner thoughts and feelings about instances in her life. Her communication technique of choice is Modern poetry which allows for words and format to flow freely, straight from her mind to the paper giving the reader a raw view of the author’s heart and inner thoughts. Readers will be immersed into different moments of her life, many of darkness, toxic passion, and pain like, ‘Broken Paragraph.’ Yet I found pieces that were empowering like a quick glimpse of hope for light like, ‘Freedom.” There is one that encases these two extremes for me and thus became my favorite, which I quote below:

Lost Kingdom

One day
You will be drinking
And you will realize
That no amount of alcohol
Can erase me
And no amount
Of weed
Can make you feel
As mighty
As we were together
The world in our hands
Me in your arms.”

Overall, I found, “White Wine and Medical Marijuana” by Julia Cirignano to be a deep collection of raw thoughts relatable to Millennial’s life experiences, great for young adults and even older crowds. It is a thought-provoking modern poetry collection which many will read again and again.

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“Most Highly Favored Daughter” by Janice Lane Palko


Janice Lane Palko
Plenum Publishing (2016)
ISBN 9781534908925
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (1/17)

“Most Highly Favored Daughter” by Janice Lane Palko is an engaging mix of suspense, drama, and romance.

Cara Cavanaugh Hawthorne Wells, aptly named “Miss Goody Two Shoes,” has been awarded the Mother Teresa Award for her work with children, while her sister, Sophie is just the opposite. Sophie is a wild child; does as she wishes and loves the shock factor. Both sisters were brought up in money by a father who was disinterested in caring for them unless it met what he needed. His potential to be nominated for the Ambassador of the United Nations provides more reason to alienate himself from his daughters.

After the awards ceremony, Cara finds herself in bed, naked and can’t figure out how she got that way. Now she is being blackmailed when pictures of her and a young boy surface that might end all she has worked for.

Cara’s husband whom she thought loved and supported her, turns against her and files for divorce. He is arrogant, and loves nothing more than to verbally abuse her. Given that she has no support from family, she turns to Jake Gold, a private investigator. Jake is a condescending, brutally straightforward type of person and they do not hit it off at first, but as they both seek to find out who is behind the blackmail they both give up their thoughts and move forward.

The investigation leads them to the seedy side of life in Pittsburgh, which shocks them both. The more they investigate, the more sordid it gets.

Palko provides very vivid descriptions of her characters and provides a story with twists and turns that will keep you reading. Her subplots include sibling rivalry, cheating husband, and an attraction to a man she should stay away from. The topic of sex trafficking is something most do not talk about, much less think about. Readers will have many emotions-they will be up, down, and all around.

Palko transitions her characters and events seamlessly while adding more suspense to an intriguing story. Just as I thought I had things figured out, something else throws my thoughts to the wind.

“Most Highly Favored Daughter” by Janice Lane Palko is a good read, full of action and one that is not filled with dirty language and detailed sexual encounters. Her ending will surprise you.

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“At The Root: My journey to health and healing” by Kimberly Miles


Kimberly Miles, M.A.
Sojourn Publishing (2017)
ISBN 9781627470087
Reviewed by Kimberly Luyckx for Reader Views (09/17)

From the minute I opened this book, I knew that it was going to make an impact on my life. “At The Root: My journey to health and healing” takes an in-depth look at one woman’s passage from pain and suffering to joy and restoration. Kimberly Miles’ memoir could be your story as it presents the difficulties associated with dealing with unexplained illnesses and the frustration in managing the symptoms they produce.

This account presents a wide spectrum of medical and natural health research over a period of nearly 30 years. During this extensive span of time, the author experiences a myriad of illnesses and diseases, ranging from persistent pneumonia to chronic lymph node swelling and memory loss. Her frustrating account has her dealing with symptoms that incapacitate her and affect her career, marriage and overall outlook on life.

After trying a multitude of doctors, diet changes and medicines, she is told, “it was likely that my health issues were all in my head.” Supported by anatomical figures and chronicled symptom charts and reports, Kimberly explains how she educates herself on ways to understand (in layman’s terms) what is happening to her body and how she can help.

Diagnoses of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lymphoma and Epstein Barr Virus champion her to search out lifestyle changes that might improve her health and alleviate stress. Although she receives intermittent periods of functioning health, she continues to encounter symptoms and finds that the worry involved depletes her energy sources even more. Refusing to “maintain this low standard of wellness,” she strives to discover the stressor that is responsible for keeping her body ill.

Finally, her search leads her to a doctor who associates her previous dental procedures with her general health issues. From there, she encounters a biological dentist who presents facts that, for the first time, ring true to her quest. What follows is a dramatic account of how chronic focal infection interferes with the whole body’s ability to heal.

I read this book voraciously realizing that many of my own symptoms, which typically come and go, could be attributed to some of the many dental procedures I have had over my lifetime. This memoir is in no way presented to evoke fear or scare you into never going to the dentist again. It is a genuine eye-opening biography written in true form to give the reader insight into how to take more responsibility for your wellness and to have the courage to work in conjunction with your providers to make the wisest choices when faced with health challenges. In the final analysis, it is the challenges that we are faced with that present the most opportunity for growth. In the words of Ann Allen, “boldly go into the great and vast unknown.” In this book, you will learn how and why these words stayed with the author throughout her ordeal and gave her the drive and determination to persist.

Even if you are not a medical person, you will be absorbed by the details in, “At The Root.” It is a great blend of science and art. Once digested, you will realize, like I did, that Kimberly Miles’ experiences prepare her for this tedious pilgrimage toward healing. Therefore, it is not just a tale of illness and struggle toward health. Kimberly’s experience and awareness along this 30-year long journey have culminated in a philosophical book that is truly remarkable and even magical.

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“No Longer Rejected” by Janice Broyles


Janice Broyles
Crosslink Publishing (2016)
ISBN 9781633570658
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (9/17)

Rejection happens whether we are a child or an adult. It impacts us right down to our core. Eventually some will develop low self-esteem and self-worth which in turn will have us questioning every decision or thought we make. There are so many thoughts that go through our mind like, “What did I do wrong?” “How can I get people to like me?” However, it must be noted that sometimes we bring on rejection due to our behavior and decisions.

In “No Longer Rejected,” author Janice Broyles shares her personal story of rejection and the impact it had on her life. She is very open about these experiences and shares how she dealt with it through the help of God and his teachings. Although I do appreciate the references to the Bible verses, for me personally, it was a bit much. While I do believe in a higher power, the tone somewhat turned me off during the reading.

One of the interesting points made in the book says, “We need to start changing the way we think about ourselves.” Many times individuals who are on the receiving end of rejection think they must be doing something wrong. The problem with this line of thinking is that there are some people who are so unhappy that they feel others need to feel the same as they do, so they attack. Let’s face it some people will not like you for whatever reason. The only people you have to please is yourself and God. We as individuals need to stop trying to fit everyone’s mold of who we “should” be.

Another point made is how we respond to rejection. It’s like dealing with a bully–if you keep giving them the reaction they want, they will continue their behavior.

Throughout the book the author provides several opportunities for the readers to respond to questions in order to help them get to know themselves better, and to start forming a plan to make positive changes. The questions are often ones we don’t think to ask ourselves, or avoid because we are afraid we may not like the answers. All we are doing is taking a step back and taking inventory, which we should do from time to time.

While “No Longer Rejected” by Janice Broyles was well written and thought-provoking, this reviewer felt like the author was lecturing. Still, it’s definitely worth the read Quite frankly, if I was a person who was dealing with rejection, lecturing would make me feel worse, especially if I wasn’t particularly religious.

Posted in Books, Non-Fiction, Self-help / Motivational / Inspiration / Lifestyle, Spirituality | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Variance” by Josen Llave


Josen Llave
iUniverse (2017)
ISBN 9781532012808
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (09/17)

“Variance: Raise Your Weapon,” by Josen Llave is an energetic and fast-moving sci-fi thriller.  Intriguing, non-stop action, set in an extraordinary alternate world, this space opera will satisfy newbie and hard-core sci-fi fans alike.

Scientifically blessed with Cellular Infinity, Utopians of Azure enjoy immortality, living in total peace and love. When confronted with danger, they simply smile and turn the other way.  This becomes a problem when the Kazats of Crimson, who believe Utopians are pure evil, vow to completely annihilate the race.

Paul Benedict is a different sort of Utopian.  Paul possesses independent thinking and free will and knows he must fight against the norm to save his family and the Utopian race from total extinction.   With the help of his family, an AI named Siren, and a few unlikely cohorts, Paul sets out on a mission doomed from the start. For in order to accomplish his task, he must fight and win the gladiator game called Divine Might, a seemingly impossible feat, where he will face every conceivablechallenge, and some beyond the wildest imagination.

Intellectually stimulating and captivating, Llave’s writing style really sets the tone for non-stop entertainment.  The setting is quite unlike anything I could ever imagine–both unique and customary at the same time, as distinctive out-of-this-world machinations combine with an almost old-fashioned sense of family and tradition.  The story is full of action, and great detail is shown in the battle scenes, providing intensity and moving the plot along nicely.

I thoroughly enjoyed the characters in “Variance.” The Utopian citizens created lemming-like images in my mind, while the character of Ryan is hilarious, providing engaging sarcasm and almost unintentional comic-relief. Siren–the AI, was the most captivating character in my opinion.  She completely unnerved me, as I likened her to the AI in the movie, “Ex Machina” by Alex Garland.  Paul Benedict as a protagonist grew on me as he developed with the progression of the story.  There are some cheesy moments with Paul and his daughter involving a somewhat grating catch-phrase they use between them but hey, it does establish a sense of familial tradition.

Overall, I highly recommend “Variance” by Josen Llave as a thrilling sci-fi experience, and look forward to the sequel, “Celestial” coming soon.

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