“A Dolphin and a Pilot” by Steven Lane Smith

ADolphinAndAPilotA DOLPHIN AND A PILOT

Steven Lane Smith
Outskirts Press (2017)
ISBN 9781478791140
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (11/17)

A whimsical yet compelling tale in which the fates of an unlikely duo collide, “A Dolphin and a Pilot” by Steven Lane Smith shows how two simple acts of compassion and kindness form an irrevocable bond of trust and friendship.

Flash is a young Pacific Bottlenose dolphin with a dream. The best acrobat in his pod, Flash craves the applause and admiration of humans and hopes to be world famous one day as an entertainer for Aqua World.  Against the advice of family and friends, Flash leaves his pod on a 15,000 mile quest to fulfill his dream. Flash bravely navigates through many of the perils in the ocean, but a treacherous encounter with an unruly group of humans leaves him wounded and vulnerable.  Will he make it to Aqua World or should he return to his pod?

Jon “Skip” Roper is a fighter pilot based at Osan Air Base in Korea. With just hours left of a week-long simulated air combat mission, the control panel in his F16 illuminate. As the systems begin to fail, Skip realizes his only chance for survival is to eject. Injuring his right hand in the process, Skip makes it to his survival raft, but his troubles aren’t over yet. With only a protein bar for sustenance and one container of drinkable water, he is exposed in his tiny one-man raft, in a sea full of danger and no land in sight.

Without giving too much away, Flash and Skip come together briefly at a couple of critical points in the story to teach lessons in mercy and relationships, and restore hope and faith in goodness and humanity.  A tall order for satirical fiction!

I’ve read a few novels by Steven Lane Smith and love his story-telling technique. He has a clear, distinctive voice and his clever wit shines throughout the story. His humor is often so subtle that many times as I was reading one page something he said on an earlier page suddenly clicked.  Skip Roper – ha! Most of the time however, the writing is just flat out hilarious, especially the dolphins’ take on things. For example on page 37, “I know what my life’s work is going to be!  I’m going to entertain humans in captivity!”  Flash’s obsession and obvious ignorance of what being in captivity actually means provides for some serious laugh-out-loud moments.

Not limited to humor, Smith can also write some agonizing drama. In this particular story the author’s background as a former fighter pilot provides a completely authentic experience.  One can actually feel the exhausting, painful ordeal Skip Roper goes through when he becomes stranded on a tiny survival raft through the author’s expert portrayal of the events.

Fans of satire, action and adventure, and general “feel good” stories will enjoy “A Dolphin and a Pilot” by Steven Lane Smith.  It is such a fun book to read and a thoroughly enjoyable experience that I highly recommend.

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“Adderall Blues” by Brian J. Robinson

AdderallBluesADDERALL BLUES

Brian J. Robinson
Koehler Books (2017)
ISBN 9781633934313
Reviewed by Christine Watson for Reader Views (11/17)

“Adderall Blues” by Brian J. Robinson is a memoir of the author’s life dealing with ADHD and all the issues that come with the disability. Mr. Robinson holds nothing back in this tell all personal story of his ups and downs, including addiction, travel, education, relationships and work.

The author opens up his life struggles in this book, starting at an early age in school. His challenges to stay focused and sit still are common symptoms of a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Being a smart kid, Mr. Robinson just stopped doing well in school because he wasn’t a “typical” learner. He needed visual and hands on learning versus just verbal instruction. He continued to struggle into college. When Adderall came into the picture, it helped a bit, but the author shares how he started abusing the drug meant to help him focus. His health was in danger a few times, but he continued to abuse Adderall along with alcohol and other drugs in an attempt to cope with the world and his mind.

As a former teacher of children with special needs, I saw a lot of ADHD in the classroom. The author has strong opinions on medication for children and adults with ADHD, and I tend to agree with him. Medication can help some behaviors that are not “acceptable” in the classroom, but it also greatly limits the creativity and personality of the individual. Medication can also become addictive, which can be very dangerous as was the case with the author.

I highly recommend “Adderall Blues” by Brian J. Robinson for anyone with ADHD, or with a child with ADHD. It was an eye opener for me. I didn’t realize how much this disorder affects a person’s entire life, and it’s not just in childhood. Teachers and administrators who work with students with special needs like ADHD could also benefit from reading an open and honest story of the real struggles with this disorder.

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“Wild Ideas: Creativity from the Inside Out” by Cathy Wild

WildIdeasWILD IDEAS: CREATIVITY FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Cathy Wild
Standing Place Press (2017)
ISBN 9780996810500
Reviewed by Kimberly Luyckx for Reader Views (11/17)

Creativity is not just having an artistic talent or the act of inventing something new; it is a way of approaching life. In her book, “Wild Ideas: Creativity from the Inside Out,” Cathy Wild explains how we all begin our lives with an ability to exist as creative beings. Unfortunately as we age, we erect defenses to protect ourselves that can stifle this creativity. And, in doing so, we dismiss or relinquish many forms of expression that could grant us a richer existence.

Ms. Wild reacquaints us with the creative process by presenting it in seven stages. Within each stage, she details five “inner” qualities or steps that are integral to moving forward. The author encourages the reader to use the book as a resource and seek out the information that speaks to them. Throughout the individual chapters, Ms. Wild gives examples of her own experiences and those of her clients to illustrate many of the blockages that can obstruct creativity.

The author’s personal story is literally what led her to create this book. At a young age, Ms. Wild was neglected by a mother who had succumbed to substance abuse and depression. Growing up, the author learned to escape her reality and find comfort in her imagination by reading books and exploring nature. Although never labeled as a creative person or artist in school, she still found little interest in performing routine jobs. When she discovered that her true passion lay in the field of health and healing, she began a career as a personal development consultant. Looking back, she realizes that it was the creative process that helped her to express her purpose so that she could transform, gain clarity and heal.

There were so many aha moments for me in this handbook. But the one that sticks with me the most is Ms. Wild’s statement, “Creativity thrives in the space between our efforts.” I feel drawn to this concept and realize that it is the same way that I perceive the act of meditation. In quieting the mind, you generate room for new ideas to come forth.

I also appreciate the way that Wild steers the reader’s mind through the process of creativity as though she were speaking directly to you. Her writing is fluid and easy without being elementary. I think captivating would be my word for describing her narration since one section so effortlessly entices you onto the next. By organizing the book into chapters and sections, Wild allows the reader to pinpoint and diagnose individual aspects of creativity that may be occluded or need more attention. I find the questions at the end of each section akin to a “self-help quiz.” They are insightful inquiries that would make great motivation for journaling.

In general, I view most self-help books to be a chore to read and, in the end, not always targeted to my specific needs, leaving me a bit dissatisfied. But, in my opinion, “Wild Ideas” is a rarity – a well-written, comprehensive, stimulating and useful guide. Cathy Wild takes an esoteric concept, creativity, and transforms it into a science by breaking it down into its separate components. Whether you are stuck in a temporary rut or looking to fulfill a lifelong dream, “Wild Ideas: Creativity from the Inside Out” can help you rediscover yourself so that you can get back on track. This book is a fantastic journey into self-reflection and one that I will be revisiting again and again.

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“The Promise of Breeze Hill” by Pam Hillman

ThePromiseOfBreezeHillTHE PROMISE OF BREEZE HILL

Pam Hillman
Tyndale House Publishers (2017)
ISBN 9781496415929
Reviewed by Michael Keeton for Reader Views (11/17)

In “The Promise of Breeze Hill” by Pam Hillman readers meet Isabella Bartholomew, who is in desperate need of a carpenter to repair the damages from the suspicious fire that devastated her family’s plantation and almost killed her father.  Isabella purchased an Irish carpenter named Connor O’Shea from an auction in Natchez, MS.  Connor’s only concern is to finish working out his contract for two more years until he can successfully bring his brothers to America.  He doesn’t want to make previous mistakes so he tries to stay clear of the beautiful Isabella.  However, it proves to be harder than he had thought. The more time Connor spends with Isabella the more he falls in love with her.  But, because of a prior relationship he keeps pushing Isabella further away.

The responsibilities of Breeze Hill had fallen on Isabella after her brother was murdered on the Natchez Trace.  Isabella’s father believes some mysterious cutthroat/highway man is after the family’s plantation after several suspicions incidences occur.  Isabella and her father are determined to save their family’s plantation.

This is a beautiful story I really enjoyed. One of my favorite parts of this novel is when Isabella’s faith is tested.  I enjoyed watching her spiritual journey back to God.  I was touched by the author’s ability to capture the essentials of the human soul.  This novel is bold, entertaining, and brilliant all at once, and I was completely engulfed in the story from start to finish.  I praise Pam Hillman for her wit, style and intelligence.  She has become one of my favorite authors after reading this novel.  The narrative has great pace and balance, and the characters are well-developed.

I highly recommend “The Promise of Breeze Hill” by Pam Hillman. It is a mesmerizing novel you won’t be able to put down.

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“175 Best Air Fryer Recipes” by Camilla V. Saulsbury

175BestAirFryerRecipes175 BEST AIR FRYER RECIPES

Camilla V. Saulsbury
Robert Rose (2016)
ISBN 9780778805519
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (06/17)

I love fried food, but it doesn’t love me. When I first heard about the air fryer I was intrigued because I figured that I could make my fried recipes healthier and lower calorie. It’s a win-win for me, as long as they stay delicious. I wasn’t thinking very creatively because I was only thinking about using the machine for traditionally fried meals. “175 Best Air Fryer Recipes” by Camilla V. Saulsbury takes air frying to a whole new level. There are so many delicious foods waiting to be cooked, that I hadn’t previously considered. Avocado fries and parsnip fries are two new options for me that I look forward to trying.  In addition to creating crispy low-fat treats, there are delicious choices that can replace other foods. In the case of the parsnips and avocados, it would be potatoes.

The air fryer can also be used to roast and bake, which open up even more options. The recipes all come with a nice description, dual measuring options including metric, and easily laid out directions. They really look fool-proof. The top 20 fried favorites covered traditional foods like French fries, onion rings, jalapeno poppers, mozzarella sticks and egg rolls. These traditionally simple foods would be good choices to use while learning how to use the machine. The chapters are divided into sections covering Breakfast and Brunch, Appetizers and Snacks, Entrees, Vegetables and Sides, Desserts, and finally Sauces and Dips. This is a very comprehensive selection.

The Parmesan Zucchini Fries are screaming my name right now! However, there are a lot of other delicious options to consider. This machine will be perfect for creating appetizers for a party! The dessert section is amazing. The dessert section includes too many options to list, but Funnel Cakes, Bananas Foster, Chocolate Lava Cave, and Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge Cake, all sound delicious and much better if they can be cooked with less fat! There are also vegetarian and some vegan options. The vegan choices include Falafel and Crisp Air Fried Tofu. I haven’t done the tofu yet, but it is next on my list. I currently use a waffle maker which is delicious, but a bit messy.

“175 Best Air Fryer Recipes” by Camilla V. Saulsbury offers great selections which anyone can easily make. I highly recommend using this cookbook, especially if you are new to the machine!

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Interview with Kaylin McFarren – Author of Twisted Threads

TwistedThreadsTwisted Threads

Kaylin McFarren
Creative Edge Publishing LLC (2017)
ISBN 9781975921354
Review and Interview by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (10/17)

Kaylin McFarren has received more than 40 national literary awards, in addition to a prestigious Golden Heart Award nomination for Flaherty’s Crossing – a book she and her oldest daughter, Kristina McMorris, co-authored in 2008. Prior to embarking on her writing journey and developing the popular Threads action/adventure romance series, she poured her passion for creativity into her work as the director of a fine art gallery in the Pearl District in Portland, Oregon; she also served as a governor-appointed member of the Oregon Arts Commission. When she’s not traveling or spoiling her pups and three grandsons, she enjoys giving back to her community through participation and support of various charitable and educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest, and is currently the president of the Soulful Giving Foundation – a non-profit focused on cancer research, care and treatment at hospitals throughout Oregon.

Welcome Kaylin, and thank you for being with us today! Why don’t you start by telling our readers a bit about your journey to becoming a published author?

I have always had a love of reading…at least as far back as I can remember. KaylinMcFarrenMy interest in writing began at the tender age of 10, when an English teacher took an interest in my stories and encouraged me to keep a journal. Throughout high school and college, I worked on the newspaper and actually had my own column. But it wasn’t until my children were grown that I allowed myself the luxury of writing stories and submitting to publishers in New York. At one point, I was accepted by a famous, well-known firm, but then told to change everything about my book…everything that made it special. Rather than struggle to fit in with formulated fiction, I chose to spread my own wings with a small press and ultimately as a self-published author, which resulted in setting my own hours and deciding what I truly enjoy writing.

What is “Twisted Threads” about?

Akira Hamada, a beautiful Japanese geisha, failed at killing Kaito Mitsui two years ago—the same yakuza gang leader who destroyed her lover and forced her to become an assassin. Now, with his sister’s murderer traveling to the Caribbean on a cruise ship, Akira has ten days at sea to identify her target and complete her assignment as her penance, or face her own death.

What inspired you to write this story?

For many years, I’ve been privileged to experience remarkable things and rare opportunities while traveling the globe with my husband. This had included a vast array of transportation, ranging from private planes, helicopters, and hot air balloons to kayaks, submarines, and elegant cruise ships. My world-travel journeys have not only allowed me to meet interesting people and discover fascinating cultures, but also to develop life-long friendships with fellow travelers and to introduce dear friends to all parts of the world. Interesting tales shared by friends, personal experiences, and extensive research have contributed to making this character-driven story possible and have inspired me to write this “twisted” tale.

Which character do you relate to most? Is there a bit of you reflected in the characters?

I honestly believe that there are small pieces of myself in every character that I create – my fears, my insecurities, my longings, and my craving for love, affection and acceptance. With that said, I find myself tangled up in the character of Devon Lyons—although he’s a self-assured man. In truth, he’s a lost soul in this complex murder-mystery story. For a number of years, he’s been struggling to find his true identity in a circle of family that is successful, strong, judgmental, and extremely opinionated. I believe this is his one opportunity to break out and discover what he’s truly made of and if he’s capable of real love.

How involved was your research for “Twisted Threads”?

It took me almost eighteen months to write Twisted Threads. This included the time needed to research ship disasters, interview cruise enthusiasts, reacquaint myself with characters from other books I’ve written, and edit my final manuscript, while maintaining an active lifestyle, of course. Typically, I create a visual storyboard on Pinterest, write a short summary, and simply write by the seat of my pants without a thought about how the story will end. I’m not big on storyboarding and long-term planning like other authors. For me, it’s more interesting and fun to allow my characters to develop and direct the plots of each book.

How do you keep the narrative fresh in a series?

I tap into my personal experiences and inner voices that yearn to be heard. I love each and every one of my characters, despite their failings and imperfections, and want readers to sympathize with their plight, heartaches and damaged lives.

What do you like to read?

Everything you can imagine…but primarily thrillers and action-adventure stories.

Do you believe in writing every day as a standard practice? Tell us about your writing schedule and a typical day at the desk of Kaylin McFarren.

I write as a daily practice from 10am to 6pm. When it comes to creating fiction, this might involve fifteen minutes or four to five hours every day. But when I write, I’m compelled to voice the emotions buried deep within me. Years ago, I was a damaged soul, but I’ve always longed to be strong and to overcome the insignificance that I felt throughout my life.

How do you feel when you finish a writing project?

Accomplished. When I write the final words on a manuscript, I want to believe that the truth of my story is told and the buried message within the final chapter will be understood by the readers that see it. We all grow and become stronger from our experiences in life—good or bad…negative or positive—and I want to believe that my stories make a difference in their telling.

What writers have inspired your own work as an author?

I love all kinds of genres: mysteries, erotica, sci-fi, historical romance…you name it. But what I love most is current affairs told in a fictional account. That’s why I love Jodi Picoult books. She truly inspires me. Her books are controversial because they deal with real tragedies that average people don’t like to discuss but at the same time consider an unavoidable issue.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, about writing, or about life in general?

Write what you’re passionate about. I understand that some stories require research and others require commitment and personal heartfelt experiences. But what I’m talking about is the need to share what your beliefs are…what you consider to be true and want others to understand more than anything in this world. Don’t try to fake it, because it shows…believe me. Write with your heart on your sleeve and with your mind wide open to possibilities and you’ll touch lives that you never thought possible.

What advice can you give aspiring authors?

Read like there’s no tomorrow. We learn from experience, whether it’s our own or someone else’s. Just trust in your talent and never stop believing that you have a gift to share.

What’s next, do you have another project in the works?

I’m currently working on a new time travel story that I’ve discussed with my husband. Strangely enough, he dreamed about this story and I want to write about it in the worst way possible.

Where can readers connect with you on social media to learn more about “Twisted Threads” and your other books?

I honestly try to be everywhere: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads…while writing as much as I can. You can find me at:

https://www.facebook.com/kaylin.mcfarren

https://twitter.com/4kaylin

https://www.goodreads.com/kaylinmcfarren

http://www.kaylinmcfarren.com

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

If you relish stories created by an author, be sure to let them know. Your praise and support encourages them to work harder at developing new dramas, romances, murder mysteries and adventures that you’ll ultimately enjoy and they’ll feel rewarded by writing.

Read review of Twisted Threads
Visit authors website

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“Base Camp Las Vegas: 101 Hikes in the Southwest” by Deborah Wall

BaseCampLasVegasBASE CAMP LAS VEGAS:  101 HIKES IN THE SOUTHWEST

Deborah Wall
Imbrifex Books (2017)
ISBN 9780997236941
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (11/17)

“Base Camp Las Vegas: 101 Hikes in the Southwest” by Deborah Wall is an invaluable resource guide for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts of all activity levels.

Wall is a recognized expert in the field, hosting a popular column on hiking and other activities and as a contributor and writer for many travel sites and publications. First published in 2010, “Base Camp Las Vegas” quickly became the bible for hikers interested in journeying the area.  “Base Camp Las Vegas: 101 Hikes in the Southwest” is the updated and expanded edition of that book. The guide focuses on trails located in the 4-state region of Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California, specifically the landscape easily accessible from the Las Vegas area.

My husband and I are relatively “newbie” hikers, with a few trails under our belts in Colorado and New Mexico, so I was eager to get my hands on this book and soak up everything Wall had to offer in this amazing guide.  The book begins with a section called Before You Hit the Trail, and contains practical sound advice for preparing for an outing.  Details ranging from what your should wear, items to carry in a day pack, weather considerations, and water consumption,  to tips about hiking with children and what to do in case of an encounter with certain wildlife creatures – such as rattlesnakes!

From there the author dives straight into specific areas and trails.  Having completed each one of the hikes at least once, Wall relays her first-hand knowledge providing comprehensive details about each hike, including the best season to visit, the length and difficulty of the hike, elevation data, specific trail warnings and directions.  This is vital information as knowing ahead of time allows for proper planning, and hikers will benefit greatly from the learned experiences of the author.  I particularly enjoyed reading about the historical significance of many of the areas, including the claims to fame and how each area got their names.

Aside from the wealth of information found inside these pages, it is an absolutely beautiful book as well. An accomplished photographer, Wall also includes page after page of STUNNING photographs of each area.  The views that jump off the pages are enough to make you want to gather your gear and head out – immediately! Truly a high quality production in every aspect, there are so many things to love about this guide. Having read through it once, I am now eager to go back to the many pages I’ve bookmarked so I can research and plan our next trip.  I will however, have to wait for my husband to finish reading it – he grabbed it as soon as I put it down!

I highly recommend “Base Camp Las Vegas: 101 Hikes in the Southwest” by Deborah Wall to anyone interested in hiking, camping or just learning more about the area.

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