“WTF? Where’s the Fraud?” by Larry Benson and Andy Bucholz


Larry Benson and Andy Bucholz
Archway Publishing (2015)
ISBN 9781480825604
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (8/17)

Modern technology allows people to access information anonymously, unlike the old days where we had to go in, in person and present official identification to sign up for government programs. This gives individuals more opportunities to commit fraud against the government and commit identity theft on an enormous scale. Hackers from other countries are also taking advantage of our current system. This is terrifying to me. In “WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government” by Larry Benson and Andy Bucholz, the authors use their knowledge and experience from working with LexisNexis to explain how identity theft and fraud has become a huge epidemic in our country.

As a person who shreds every document before it exits my home, “WTF? Where’s the Fraud?” helped me realize that this is still not enough. I am more likely to have someone access my personal information through leaks in our system, than I am through my garbage. I will still keep shredding, however, I am now going to be a lot more careful about how I enter my information into the system. In spite of this, individuals can still steal my information. Within the past month, at my work, a co-worker accidentally discovered that she could access the social security number of all employees. When reported, we found out that this issue was not going to be taken seriously. Having read this book, I am thinking of getting copies to leave on administrator’s desks, with their social security numbers.

The author’s discussion on how much fraud is costing our nation is astounding. They mention ways that much of this could be prevented. I am afraid that this won’t be taken seriously until individuals who can direct change, are actually affected. Living in a border town, I see a lot of fraud against our community because people send their children across the border every day to get an American education. They just need a local address and their child is set. In California, it was discovered that individuals were using their benefit cards at ATMs in casinos. The inappropriate use of benefits and the cost to individuals who have their identities stolen should be enough to encourage change, but so far it does not appear to be happening.

Everybody needs to read this book. We are all at risk of identity theft, even our children and the elderly. I intensely dislike knowing that my hard earned tax dollars are freely being given away to individuals who commit fraud. “WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government” by Larry Benson and Andy Bucholz should be required reading for individuals starting in high school. This book represents the stuff that nightmares are made of. I truly hope that there is a series to be developed from these authors because I suspect the information presented here is just the tip of the iceberg.

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“Hannah Was Here” by Nancy Szakacsy


Nancy Szakacsy, MS, LMFT
AuthorHouse (2015)
ISBN 9781496923134
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (8/17)

“Hannah Was Here” by Nancy Szakacsy is a story about a young teenager who was prescribed an antibiotic for acne in which she had a severe reaction, ended up in the hospital with organ failure and sadly passed away. The author is the young teen’s mother. Hannah spent 102 days in the hospital suffering in pain while her family and friends went through their own torment with her. It is a story of love, hope, compassion and grief. To this day her family still grieves, but yet they have become tremendous advocates for DRESS–Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms. Hannah’s brother Samson is a very talented musician who has written and dedicated many songs to his sister.

For the author, this had to be one of the toughest books to write, yet at the same time I imagine very therapeutic. While reading this journey I thought of my own children and grandchildren–treatments rendered and medicines prescribed. We are trusting of the medical field and their recommendations. Hannah’s story will make you feel every emotion–you will laugh, cry, and often be angry.

The only thing I can say which hampered my reading was the book jumped around between Hannah’s life, her parents’ life, and hospitalization. Though at times it seemed a bit disconnected, you will never lose the real meaning of this book.

The author uses this book as a reminder to be very cautious, question everything, and know your rights as a patient. I was amazed but not surprised at the “oh well” attitude of some of the medical personnel. We have all experienced it. The book was written very well, with honest and informative information during this journey. It is full of strength and determination.

Hannah was a bright, energetic young lady who advocated to stop bullies and was a great friend to all. There wasn’t anyone who she came in contact with that she did not touch somehow. Both Hannah and her brother were drawn to people who had internal conflict and loss of hope. So why do bad things happen to good people? One will never know – but this journey of Hannah and her family will stay with you long after you finish reading. “Hannah Was Here” by Nancy Szakacsy is highly recommended.

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“Ordo Draconum” by T.C. Gates


T.C. Gates
Outskirts Press (2015)
ISBN 9781478752769
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (08/17)

In “Ordo Draconum” by T.C. Gates, teenager Delaine Rogan’s life is altered forever when she receives a call to go to Romania to help find her missing father.  Soon after her arrival, she learns that her father, his friend Radu, and Miklos had created an order known as Ordo Draconum when they were young men. Now her father has mysteriously vanished, and his former friend Miklos appears to have ill intent towards Delaine because he believes she possesses a tool which will help rid him of a demon who resides in his body. Delaine encounters other characters that she is not sure can be trusted. She forms a special attachment to a professional thief, who appears to have her own agenda. Then there is the vampire Madelaine, who appears to be very caring and looks quite young for her age.

As Delaine searches for answers to what happened to her father, she learns a lot about herself, and she knows that he was keeping some huge secrets. She also gets to see real magic. A lot of real magic. She also discovers that she holds a great deal of power within herself. As it is difficult to figure out who can be trusted, it is also hard for her to trust her own self at times. As her adventure unfolds, her strength and loyalties are tested. Meanwhile, she still desperately hopes to find the man that raised her because the harder she looks, the more it appears that he does not want to be found.

I really got into “Ordo Draconum,” by T.C. Gates and love how the heroine had to go deep within herself to find her true strength. This detail added a great deal of depth to a fantasy novel that is full of surprises. Because of a relationship that is developing in this story, I would have been more comfortable if Delaine was already eighteen. Overall, I found this to be an excellent fantasy novel that has some unique details that make it stand out as a must read for fans of this genre.

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“Leadership by the Book: Lessons from Every Book of the Bible” by Brent Garrison


Brent Garrison
Elevate Faith (2016)
ISBN 9781943425020
Reviewed by Josh Cramer for Reader Views (7/17)

As someone who tries to practice leadership principles in all of my relationships, I very much appreciate what Brent Garrison has accomplished in “Leadership by The Book: Lessons from Every Book of the Bible.” He has taken a lesson on leadership from each book of the Bible. While some lessons seem to be stretching, most are very applicable to everyday life and the real-life leadership situations we encounter.

The book is divided into 66 chapters (one for each book of the Bible) and each chapter is broken into 3 parts:

1.    The applicable verses for the day

2.    A leadership lesson

3.    Reflections on Leadership with questions that should be answered in a personal leadership journal

To give you an example of what this looks like, I will use the lesson from the book of Leviticus. In this lesson, Garrison teaches from chapter 4, verses 22-26. These verses detail what a leader should do when they unintentionally sin (how often do you think about your unintentional sins, right?)

Garrison uses this example to show how leaders do not get to live completely private lives and must always be vigilant to let their light shine before all people. He takes the idea of recognizing our sin and then juxtaposes it against the importance of apologizing when we are wrong, which, and here is the leadership lesson, “instill a higher sense of loyalty from those [we] lead.”  After the lesson, it is time to answer questions in our leadership journal, like, “Do you struggle as a leader having others confront you about words or actions? Consider your reaction when others confront you to ensure that your reaction aligns with Scripture.” Finally, he finishes the chapter with leadership quotes from known leadership experts like Dale Carnegie, Vince Lombardi, and Tony Robbins.

As the author points out, if you are serious about your leadership journey, you will take his advice and keep a leadership journal on a regular basis. If you are not, then you won’t. Garrison recommends that keeping such a journal will help you get the most from this book.

If you are a leader of people at all (and who isn’t? Family, home, church, etc.), I strongly recommend “Leadership by the Book: Lessons from Every Book of the Bible” by Brent Garrison. I recommend this book even if you are not a Christ-follower—the principles are sound and built on excellent arguments. As a leader, you owe it to yourself to check this out. You will not be disappointed.

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“Never Summer” by Tim Blaine


Tim Blaine
Harvard Square Editions (2017)
ISBN 9781941861356
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (8/17)

“Never Summer” by Tim Blaine was quite an interesting read in that it was a different type of story for me.

After a long stay in Japan, Vlad D’Agnosino learns he has tuberculosis, and finds himself in New York City seeking the help of a doctor in Colorado, who feels the mountain air will help him. Vlad, knowing that eventually the consumption will end his life, chooses to at least see how it works. As Vlad begins to learn more about the treatment and how it will impact him, he meets a variety of individuals who add their thoughts. Vlad is a very unusual man and finds he is at odds with his family, and actions that have impacted his life.

I found the story interesting in that the main character is seeking many answers in his life about his past and future, and rather than just wait to die he must make choices about living in the present. Blaine provides an excellent read, which has a great philosophical view and is filled with corruption, brothels, and gang threats.  I find it interesting Madame LaGrange protects the women who work for her, and at the same time, she is funding the sheriff who many believe to be corrupt.

Easy to read, compelling, and covers many areas, it was interesting to see the many lives impacted by what has happened in the past, and some must suffer for it. Blaine’s writing is eastern philosophy combined with western action. There are very few authors that can connect this type of story that keeps reader’s interest.

Many individuals with a deadly illness attempt to make right from all their wrongs. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I like the fact that Blaine had his main character choose not to focus on his past, but to live life as he should and accept that no one should be harmed by those who use them.

If you like a read that has a good flow, with relatable characters that cause you to try to determine what you would do in situations like those Vlad encountered, you will love “Never Summer” by Tim Blaine.

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“Healing Through Divine Light” by efy


Art of efy Publishing (2013)
ISBN 9780615898162
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (09/16)

In “Healing Through Divine Light,” the author, known as “efy,” began experiencing symptoms of Lyme Disease in 1997, which completely took a toll on her whole life.  She was finally diagnosed in 2003, and this is when her healing journey began. This path also led her to discover who she truly was at her core. By photographing the beauty of nature, efy began to feel like she was connecting with the spiritual aspects that are incorporated within this beauty. At this time, she also began to receive Reiki treatments. Her practitioner Jennifer introduced her to Reiki at a more in-depth level, and took her to a beautiful place which efy refers to as, “The Spring.” As efy began healing, she continued to take soothing pictures of the beauty that surrounded her. This enabled her to feel a closeness with the spiritual aspects of herself and she felt connected to light beings.

The healing process was not easy. Efy had to confront areas of her past that were having a huge effect on her health. She also gained an acceptance about aspects of herself which she hadn’t been acknowledging. In order to truly heal she needed to move out on her own and leave behind a loving husband. As efy shares her story, we gain a greater understanding of her need to do so. When she moved out, she was fortunate enough to be able to purchase a cabin near the Spring which put her in even closer touch with the vibrancy of this special place. Living alone in the woods also gives one time to confront many of their fears.

Efy’s story is a beautiful one. While her journey did not always proceed perfectly, it was powerful. In “Healing Through the Divine Light,” efy shares the three stages she went through: Awakening; Transition; and Healing. I am so grateful to her for sharing everything, even though it makes her more vulnerable. Being able to immerse myself into the beautiful photographs while reading about efy’s journey was very soothing and felt healing within itself. She reminded me that I need to get back to my Reiki practice and start looking around me to appreciate the healing beauty of nature.

“Healing Through Divine Light: A Journey In Photos” by efy would make a wonderful gift for someone who needs healing or for a person who is an energy worker. I can’t think of a more appropriate gift to give someone on either path.

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“Stainer” by Iolanthe Woulff


Iolanthe Woulff
CreateSpace (2017)
ISBN 9781546647126
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (8/17)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘Stainer’ by Iolanthe Woulff on Blogcritics.

“Stainer” by Iolanthe Woulff is a flashback to times in the 70’s when young adults were looking to find themselves and be cool, yet still observe religious traditions.

Ben Steiner, a college undergraduate, lives in a communal house for Jewish students. He loves the atmosphere, customs, and peers who have the same beliefs as he does.  Ben wants more from life however, and on his 21st birthday, he fights his strict religious beliefs and meets up with individuals who introduce him to the dark side of friendship, and how we often self-sabotage our religion and beliefs in order to be accepted by others.

Woulff does a fantastic job of describing life in the 70’s as a young adult trying to come to terms with following cultural expectations of the Jewish community, wanting to be popular, the loss of virginity, and testing the laws of freedom. It is only human nature to want to spread your wings, test the waters, and sometimes push the envelope as one grows as a young adult.

Growing up in the 70’s, Woulff’s interpretation of the era was a trip down memory lane for me. The speech, fashion, and quest to be popular were among the common themes of some friends I knew in college, who jeopardized their own convictions. Not having much knowledge of LGBT issues during that time, I have since learned much. I believe that Woulff’s writing on the issues of sabotage and being used by so called friends or groups still hold true today.

I loved the preface of the author’s journey as a transgender writer. Starting out as “Nate” in 1978 and finally publishing this novel four decades later as a sixty-seven-year-old transgender female, Woulff provides great insight into how perspectives change. Remembering the issues and the avoidance of individuals who came out during that era, today’s society still has issues, but hopefully we have become more knowledgeable and accepting of people for who they are.

As an avid reader and book reviewer, it wasn’t too many years ago I would not have even considered books about LGBT topics. Since then I have met many wonderful friends and authors who have shared their experiences on this subject. Sadly some of those individuals were not accepted by family or colleagues as their true person.

I highly recommend “Stainer” by Iolanthe Woulff.  An emotional, insightful read, I loved Woulff’s passion, the changes one makes to find “themselves,” and the belief that “the grass is greener on the other side.”

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