“In the Temple of Wolves: A Winter’s Immersion in Wild Yellowstone” by Rick Lamplugh

InTheTempleOfWolvesIN THE TEMPLE OF WOLVES: A WINTER’S IMMERSION IN WILD YELLOWSTONE

Rick Lamplugh
CreateSpace (2013)
ISBN 9781490372051
Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (1/19)

“In the Temple of Wolves: A Winter’s Immersion in Wild Yellowstone” by Rick Lamplugh is the author’s recollection of his time as an observer in Yellowstone Park. Rick and his wife Mary signed up as winter volunteers to have a chance to experience the park during the winter. They had visited multiple times during the summer but as volunteers Rick would have a chance to observe as a naturist, experiencing the ecosystem, the behavior of the food chain, and his passion…the wolves.

The book presents to readers a mix of the author’s observation notes enriched with his own reflections and recounts of his experiences through prose narration, as well as black and white pictures at the beginning of each chapter. Each chapter reads as a standalone vignette, almost like a picture made out of words which tells of a moment in time in the life of the park. Its characters are not only of predatory wolves and coyotes but their prey, such as elk and buffalo, scavengers, and the money-making photo hunters who compete to capture each life and death event in nature.

Rick Lamplugh is a skillful writer. His storytelling in this narration is captivating and informative, two elements that will keep readers hooked page after page, even as they read the difficult and crude description of the food chain where it is the reality show of survival of the fittest. His point of view as a naturist gives a detailed description of what he is observing, while his point of view as a passionate wildlife lover gives readers his emotional view on the effects of intruding photographers in search of the best picture. His point of view of a regular person wanting to grow to an experienced outdoorsman shows readers a real view of the dangers and beauty of the wild outdoors during the winter.

My favorite scene was precisely the one where he realized once he got off the trail that he had left his important survival tools (like a map) in the car, and because of that, a small walk could have had a tragic end. I loved his voice and how he was able to transport me from my reading chair to the middle of the woods through his storytelling. Certainly a well-written account of Yellowstone Park, wolves, and the author’s experience during his visit in the winter. I do wish the pictures would have been in color and the format of the book would have been a hard cover to be displayed on our coffee table to share as a conversation piece with everyone.

Overall, “In the Temple of Wolves: A Winter’s Immersion in Wild Yellowstone” by Rick Lamplugh is a well-written captivating account of the life of wolves, extermination, and re-introduction into Yellowstone Park. Learn how their presence and absence affected the park and its food chain, and how people affect them as well, all through the author’s firsthand experience, observation and research of factual and historical information. I found it informative, thought-provoking and entertaining and recommend it to all nature lovers as a realistic trip to wild winter Yellowstone!

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Posted in Book by Book Publicity, Book Review, Books, Nature, Non-Fiction, Travel & Adventure | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Awakening” by Jackie Goldman

AwakeningAWAKENING

Jackie Goldman
CreateSpace (2018)
ISBN 9781727054620
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (1/19)

Love, betrayal and deception. Political intrigue, international spies, and alter-egos. “Awakening” by Jackie Goldman is a fascinating read, and it’s venture into different genres makes it an appealing choice for a widespread audience.

To Tess Shapiro, her entire life seems based on lies. As she struggles to make sense of her life and her purpose, she meets with challenges in every avenue of her life. The only way to ease her frustrations is through drawing graphic novels, a hobby she has engaged in throughout her life.  Starring in these graphic novels is Andrea Chambers, Tess’s alter-ego, and she uses her flair with the blank page to conquer and eliminate travails not so easily dealt with in the real world.

Goldman’s characters are full of personalities that jump off the page. Tess is a likeable protagonist complete with flaws who drifts in and out of different personalities like a chameleon. From frazzled single-mom to caring French program teacher to vulnerable lover and indignant daughter, there are so many different layers to experience right alongside Tess on her journey of self-discovery through some painful and traumatic events.

Tess’s sociopathic ex-husband is infuriating, and I found myself gritting my teeth at his actions and behavior. There were several moments when I wanted Tess to just start swinging at him – talk about bringing characters to life! Likewise, many of her characters will evoke strong emotions in the reader.

Perhaps the most unique element of this novel is Goldman’s integration of her graphic artwork, telling their own story and adding to the depth of Tess’s character through her alter-ego. I looked forward to these pages, eager to learn more about the fierce Andrea Chambers and had to steel myself not to fan through the pages to read all the graphic novel entries first!

The author’s proficiency in writing with a contemporary, genuine flair, incorporating all of the best elements of various genres and highlighting her creative talent with the addition of her artwork make for a truly one-of-a-kind experience.

“Awakening” by Jackie Goldman will “awaken” all of your senses.  Engrossing and highly entertaining, I highly recommend this novel for a distinct, memorable read.

Posted in Book by Book Publicity, Book Review, Books, Contemporary, Fiction, General Fiction, Novel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Writing for Bliss: A Companion Journal” by Diana Raab

WritingForBlissCompanionWRITING FOR BLISS: A COMPANION JOURNAL

Diana Raab
Loving Healing Press (2019)
ISBN 9781615994274
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (2/19)

“Writing for Bliss: A Companion Journal” by Diana Raab is the perfect complement to her book, “Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life.” Having read the book, I was eager to dive in to the companion journal.

When the author was ten years old, she was given a journal by her mother to help her cope with the death of her grandmother. She has been journaling ever since. Diana Raab views journaling as her spiritual practice, providing a path to identify her priorities, an outlet for self-discovery and examination, and a way to be alone with her thoughts.

In this companion journal, Raab provides readers with structured space to explore the world of journaling and the benefits it provides with regular practice. As with her book, the companion journal guides the reader through the process of writing for transformation and bliss.  I say structured space but feel I must clarify. The structure is in the way the book is presented, divided into different categories. From self-awareness to recalling memories, examining your life, writing about relationships and difficult subjects, writing using different devices and writing for joy and expression, the topics cover everything you need on your journey.

As this is an actual journal, it is not a book to be read through in a week.  Work at your own pace – unwrap the layers buried within yourself as you are ready.  I had a plan when I first opened the book – which included starting at the beginning and going through the exercises in order to the end. I quickly found there were some areas I was not mentally capable of exploring – yet. To me, that is part of the beauty of self-discovery. It’s not easy – it takes time, a steady practice and a commitment to see it through. When I let go of my perfectionist tendencies and approached the entries as a tool for growth and not a “writing assignment” it was an entirely different experience. And, though I’m still not writing every day, keeping this journal on my night stand encourages me to pick it up and write whenever I need a moment to collect my thoughts or even just slow down for a bit.

“Writing for Bliss: A Companion Journal” by Diana Raab will appeal to a wide audience and is a worthy guide for all levels of writers. Whether you are looking of a place to begin your writing journey, are experimenting in different ways of healing, are interested in writing memoir, or an experienced writer wanting to get back to your roots – the thoughtful, inspirational guidance found in these pages will help you achieve your goals.

Posted in Body Mind Spirit, Book by Book Publicity, Book Review, Books, Self-Help, Self-help / Motivational / Inspiration / Lifestyle, Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Cries at Sundown” by Stephen S. Janes

CriesAtSundownCRIES AT SUNDOWN

Stephen S. Janes
Outskirts Press (2018)
ISBN 9781478752660
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (01/19)

“Cries at Sundown” by Stephen S. Janes is one of the most pivotal historical fiction books I have read. Janes is able to take the history and past atrocities of indigenous people, in this case Indians, and weave an incredible story that puts readers right alongside his characters and events.

Before Columbus made his voyage, several tribes were living with their language, religion and cultures that are never addressed in history books and rarely, if ever, discussed.

The story begins in present day with Marcus, an archaeologist, searching for sacred sites that hide treasures and historical information his museum staff have been looking for. Little does he know he will find more than he bargained for. The author then tells the story of several key figures in his narrative of the native Americans fighting for injustices done to them or their tribe.

The stories I related to the most were of Jesse and Jet whose great-grandmother is being forced from her ancestral land by greedy corporations, and Mariah, a young woman who is raised by devoutly religious parents who treat her like a slave. Both stories relate first-hand how each wants only to live their lives as they should be and free from persecution.

My grandfather on my father’s side was full-blood Cherokee and before his passing would tell us of horror stories about the treatment of Indians, which led to starvation, no place to live and often the kidnapping and rape of their women. Interestingly enough, my grandfather married a white woman which also relates to Mariah’s story.

Janes has done an exceptional job in his research, and I appreciate that for years he had this story to tell and finally did it. It is very well written, characters and events are so colorful that readers will find themselves feeling the pain, hope and justice.

For this reviewer “Cries at Sundown” hit every emotion one can feel and had me questioning what she was taught through misinformation. The story is relevant in today’s world where different religions, beliefs and ethnic groups are attacked daily.

I highly recommend “Cries at Sundown” by Stephen S. Janes for the historical information. Those who like to be challenged in their current beliefs will find a lot of food for thought in the story.

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“Unwelcome Opportunity: Overcoming Life’s Greatest Challenges,” by Richard V. Battle

UnwelcomeOpportunityUNWELCOME OPPORTUNITY

Richard V. Battle
Outskirts Press (2018)
ISBN 9781977201645
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (01/19)

Richard Battle, the author of four other books, has dealt with severe hardships during his life. He wrote, “Surviving Grief by God’s Grace,” to deal with the loss of his son. In his most recent book, “Unwelcome Opportunity: Overcoming Life’s Greatest Challenges,” Battle had recently gone through a divorce and was now being faced with health issues. In less than a year, he was tested with prostate cancer and needed to have two serious heart procedures. It didn’t seem fair that he was being handed these trials because he took care of himself and was fitter then most men his age. Rather than dwelling on the negative or thinking, “Why me?” He proactively took charge of his health by following his doctor’s advice and using his faith to carry him through. As his challenges would arise, he would sink further down into his faith rather than darkness. This allowed him to not only survive, but also thrive.

As I read “Unwelcome Opportunity,” I was very impressed with the author’s unwillingness to allow himself to be consumed by darkness. He had already faced the loss of his son and his marriage and was now having to deal with health issues that didn’t seem fair for someone who was active. I really admired him for relying on his faith and using prayer to overcome everything that was placed in his path to test him.

“Unwelcome Opportunity” begins each chapter with a meaningful bible quote.  I would read each one and reflect on it before reading the chapter. This allowed me to obtain a better frame of mind for the material that was to follow. He also offers scriptures and inspirational quotes to place further emphasis on his writings. I can’t imagine being able to hold on to my faith as strongly as he did while he went through his challenges. My faith in God has always helped me overcome personal and health crises, yet I don’t remember being able to stay as steady as he did. Battle’s faith did not let him down as he pushed through his trials.

“Unwelcome Opportunity: Overcoming Life’s Greatest Challenges,” by Richard V. Battle would make an excellent gift for someone who is faced with challenges. Readers suffering from personal or health related issues will find comfort in Battle’s words.

Posted in Book by Book Publicity, Book Review, Books, Non-Fiction, Religion & Spirituality, Self-help / Motivational / Inspiration / Lifestyle, Spirituality | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Along Came a Cowboy” by Bev Pettersen

alongcameacowboyALONG CAME A COWBOY

Bev Pettersen
Westerhall Books (2018)
ISBN 9781987835151
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (01/19)

In Bev Pettersen’s latest book, “Along Came A Cowboy,” readers find Allie McIvor, the somewhat social director and jack-of-all-trades at the Mustang Ranch in Montana. Allie ran away from life in the city and landed at the resort ranch not knowing anything about horses or ranching, but she works hard to appease a variety of guests, while also trying not to lose her cool with the haughty, standoffish cowboy, Carter Bass. Carter Bass, a former rodeo champ, is at the ranch to provide roping classes, as well as to compete in the Man Tracker competition, where cowboys try to track down contestants in a race of skill.

The contestants in the Man Tracker competition are kept secret until the last minute, as is the route they will use, and Sharon Barrett, the owner of the ranch who loves mystery and intrigue, has no qualms about using and abusing employees in order to get her way. Janet Baily, a gold medalist in the Olympics, and her partner Rebecca Smith, are selected as the contestants in the Man Tracker. Janet is absorbed in herself without any regard for how she treats others or concern for their feelings. Rebecca walks in Janet’s shadow appearing somewhat subservient.

Pettersen does an excellent job in the development of her characters while engaging readers with captivating narratives. “Along Came A Cowboy” caught my attention from the beginning, first with Allie and then later with Janet and Rebecca and their back-stabbing behavior. The author’s realistic storyline draws readers in with her easy-to-read, comfortable pace. If you think this is another cowboy romance, Pettersen adds some great twists that will stun you at the end. I enjoyed the chase and the cleanliness of this story as it has romance, mystery and murder without the fowl, sexual innuendo and language.

Having competed in cowgirl activities and competitions while living in Colorado, I found Bev Pettersen’s deep passion and experience in the race-circuit to add color and expertise to her writing. I highly recommend “Along Came A Cowboy” for those who love a good romantic mystery that will draw you into the story and keep you captivated from the first page to the last.

Posted in Book by Book Publicity, Book Review, Books, Cozy Mystery, Fiction, Romance, Romantic Suspense | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Standing People” by JoAnn Fastoff

thestandingpeopleTHE STANDING PEOPLE

Joann Fastoff
Book Baby (2018)
ISBN 9781543944204
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (01/19)

“The Standing People” is the fifth book in the Howard Watson mystery series by author Joann Fastoff.  In this story, we find Special Agent Watson and several high-profile agencies trying to eradicate the illegal smuggling of highly prized rosewood and ebony timber out of Madagascar to other countries. From one corrupt family and government in China, Watson also encounters human trafficking of young females ages 13-17.

These operations are out of the realm of these agencies, and while it’s clear that these activities, which include bribing government officials and encouraging continued corruption, need to cease – what’s not clear is how to make that happen and who should be involved. If the illegal smuggling of trees continues, international security, not to mention the destruction of a country already near poverty will be devastating.

I found Howard Watson to be an interesting protagonist in that although he is dedicated to his work with the FBI, he is also a rogue. The softer side of Watson shows through the dialogues with his wife Carol and son Mark. The author provides very little history on Howard Watson when describing the character and readers will have to have read earlier books to gain this background information. There are also several characters introduced in short rapid blurbs in the beginning chapters, which gave me no clear idea as to who they were or why they were there. About midway through the book, there are some consistent themes and suspenseful activities, and the story moves in a smoother manner.

The plot on human trafficking is a current issue for all states and continues to increase daily. Families who live in poverty are of particular prey, with the promise of receiving money on the pretense that their daughters will live in good homes, be watched closely and given respectable jobs with good pay. Once the girls leave their family, they are never heard from again. After reading this subplot, I did further research on human trafficking and am surprised that many young women don’t know what to look out for.

I thought having former FBI experts weigh in on the accuracy of “The Standing People,” led to the authenticity of the subjects covered. I am impressed by the detailed yet easy way to set up codes so agents can communicate without being detected.

Overall, I think “The Standing People” by Joann Fastoff is a great story that provides readers with entertainment and food for thought. My only suggestion would be to encourage the services of a professional editor. While the story is a good one, grammatical and formatting issues detract from the experience.

Posted in Book by Book Publicity, Book Review, Books, Fiction, Mystery/Thriller | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment
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