“After Me” by Deborah Coonts

AfterMeAFTER ME

Deborah Coonts
Deborah Coonts (2017)
ISBN 9781944831875
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (6/17)

“After Me” is a fast-paced, action-filled mystery/thriller by Deborah Coonts that you will not be able to put down!

Kate Sawyer, an undercover cop in NY, was severely injured while trying to infiltrate a crime syndicate. Currently in the Witness Protection Program, she is participating in a medical study due to her lost memory. Kate has early Alzheimer’s and relies on others to tell her what happened.

Kate finds that many people she associates with are being killed, all for the goal of finding missing diamonds during the crime syndicate fiasco. Slowly as her memory returns, she finds that some individuals she trusts cannot be trusted.  Given that there are many individuals involved in her current life she becomes very stressed and fearful of everything.

Coonts captured me from page one through the very last page with her twisted plot. Every time I felt I knew, “who done it,” something else happened. She did an excellent job researching Alzheimer’s, describing flying scenes, and crime scene investigation.

Her characters are perfect for this story and are described in such a way that you will feel you know them. I felt the author did an excellent job of presenting behaviors on Alzheimer’s and the impact it can have on one’s life. She fills the book with cat and mouse games that many individuals participate in to get their way or get the suspicion off them.

Readers will never get bored with this plot; I found myself saying, “just one more page, one more page.” I find books like this challenge reader’s to help solve the crime actively, weed out suspects and in their minds say, “Look, ask, don’t trust anyone.”

I recommend “After Me” by Deborah Coonts to everyone who likes to be caught up in the action of a great story.

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“Finding Ariadne” by Doris Kenney Marcotte

FindingAriadneFINDING ARIADNE

Doris Kenney Marcotte
Outskirts Press
ISBN 9781478781684
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (10/17)

“Finding Ariadne” by Doris Kenney Marcotte is a mesmerizing tale set in 1465 BC on the mythical island of Kaphtor.

Ariadne is the daughter of the Minoan Queen Pasiphae.  In this version, the peaceful, matriarchal Queen Pasiphae has no love for her daughter, especially after the loss of two beloved sons. She goes into a mental decline when her most favorite son dies, blaming the Athenian king for his death. To get punishment and revenge, Queen Pasiphae orders that the Athenians send fourteen children to be sacrificed every nine years. Ariadne abhors her mother’s vengeance, and believes it goes against everything the Kephti people believe in. To stop these children from being sacrificed in a labyrinth by the Minotaur, Ariadne teams up with Athenian Prince Theseus, a man with whom she has fallen deeply in love. Their path is a very difficult one and they have much to overcome to defeat the people who stand against them.

I love Greek Mythology. What made “Finding Ariadne” really stand out is that the author did a clever job of weaving a mix of Greek tales into one story. In this particular tale, she includes the story of the Minotaur, Icarus and Daedalus, just to name a few.  This tragedy was brought to life by the vivid scenery and creative dialogue added by Marcotte. I could not put this book down! I started reading during the daylight hours, and when my husband came home from work, he found me sitting in the dark still reading with a reading light. He noted that I had not appeared to move. What made it even worse, was that when I finally finished the last few pages, I felt bereft at having to say goodbye to this couple!

“Finding Ariadne” by Doris Kenney Marcotte is a must-read for fans of Greek Mythology. I highly recommend this as a selection for a reader’s group as well as it will stimulate lively discussion. Readers will also enjoy seeing these stories told from a matriarchal perspective.  This story awakened my interest in Greek Mythology. After I finished reading I explored the legends of the Greek characters mentioned in these pages. I am looking forward to reading more books by Doris Kenney Marcotte!

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“The House of Dread” by John W. Cottrel

TheHouseofDreadTHE HOUSE OF DREAD

John W. Cottrell
Outskirts Press (2015)
ISBN 9781478761242
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (5/17)

In “The House of Dread” by John W. Cottrell, there is an abandoned house located in a place called Kayo Village. While the house is not very old, it is in a state of disrepair. Shadows of a man are often sighted in the broken-out windows of this house. It is not uncommon to hear gunshots coming from within, even though the house is empty. The neighbors try to pretend like there is nothing going on because they don’t want to deal with it. When their teen-aged children start disappearing, they don’t have a choice.

There are a lot of aspects to this story that drew me in. The first thing I noticed was the intriguing cover. The house itself has several mysterious elements, including the reason why it was abandoned by the owner before they even lived in it. Why the local teens are drawn to it, like moths to a flame adds to the mystery. It goes beyond just wanting a place to party or play in private. When the murderous specter Flannel Man starts making an appearance in the house, it makes the reader wonder where he came from and what happened to cause him to evolve into this form.

The author does an excellent job of building a suspenseful story. Knowing that he got the idea from a real house makes it even more interesting. Unfortunately, there are so many grammatical errors in the book, it detracts from what I think would be a great horror story. The incomplete sentences, run on sentences, misspellings and incorrect punctuation cause a huge problem with trying to follow the storyline.

If “The House of Dread” by John W. Cottrell was professionally edited, I think it would be an awesome read. I truly hope that there will be an edited version released because I think it would be a huge hit, for both teen readers and adult fans of horror novels.

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“Jacked Up and Unjust” by Katherine Irwin and Karen Umemota

JackedUpandUnjustJACKED UP AND UNJUST

Katherine IrwinKaren Umemota
University of California Press (2016)
ISBN 9780520283039
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views(5/17)

If you love to read research or clinical data, “Jacked Up and Unjust” by Katherine Irwin and Karen Umemota is the book for you. It is an academic research book that revolves around troubled teens In Hawaii. The subjects are from the inner city and have experienced extreme forms of racism, sexism, poverty and neglect. The teens include Native Hawaiian, Samoan and Pacific Islander youth. The authors are very clear in the beginning of the book that this study is not specific to all youths, but only included teens with this criterion.

As a parent, former teacher and Psychologist, I know that teen violence is a concern to all law enforcement, schools and social service agencies. Most agencies and studies have only focused on males, urban areas and middle class. Numerous studies have been done with very little viable solutions.

Many of the subjects in this book are involved in a “lunch bunch,” which is a support group that meets at schools and is nonjudgmental, which lets youth talk about challenges in their lives. I often find that such groups are facilitated by individuals who have not experienced any of the prejudices or experiences these youths have. It is very important that any agencies, law enforcement or professionals have an extensive background in knowing how and why these youths and their families behave as they do. It goes beyond book learning, it means getting out into the field and getting down and dirty.

I found the study to be very well done, however, to the lay person it can seem boring and full of facts that would go over anyone’s head. Having just finished my doctoral studies, written numerous papers, and completed research, I found this study to be rather dry. I would  liked to have seen another book done on this topic by the authors that are like “spark notes,” for the general population. I do think the basic information will give individuals a better understanding of the “why” youth violence occurs.

I believe that most of us who have or currently work with troubled youth realize what we are dealing with, yet there is no one solution that seems to work. Research is a great way to gather information, but more helpful would be to suggest viable solutions that could be put into place now.

I thought the authors, Katherine Irwin and Karen Umemota, did an excellent job with “Jacked Up and Unjust,” a nine-year project. They provided a lot of information and facts, yet I am still waiting on the “what to do.”

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“The Bad Specimens” by T.D. Clare

TheBadSpecimensTHE BAD SPECIMENS

T.D. Clare
CreateSpace (2015)
ISBN 9781511424035
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (5/17)

“The Bad Specimens” by T.D. Clare is an eerie sci-fi/horror story that will preoccupy you long after the story is finished.

Set some time in the future, a large group of humans is taken to a distant planet to be a part of the inhabitants’ experiments. Separated into groups, they are not allowed to communicate with each other. Because of language barriers, most of them could not do so anyway. The capturers think very little of these humans. Their captives’ apathetic behavior is disappointing to them. The humans make very few attempts to try to prevent their mistreatment and just seem to allow things to happen to them. Instead of creating an escape plan, they live with the hope that people from earth will rescue them.  Meanwhile, they endure horrific experiments which end up resulting in injuries, death and pregnancies. After a woman gives birth, her child is immediately taken from her. Most of the births do not survive. In time, it is also discovered that most of them are being killed to feed the locals. As the numbers dwindle, there are only a few captives that stand out as being resilient. The survivors continue to hope for a rescue and there are few that find some assistance from an unexpected source.

As I read “The Bad Specimens” I couldn’t help but compare the plight of these humans to those of animals on our planet. In both cases, there is no regard for their physical or mental well-being and they end up being used to serve the needs of humans. This thought crossed my mind many times, which made the story even more horrific because we aren’t much different than the capturers. In the story, there was very little evolvement of the characters. They mostly seemed to just allow themselves to decline. This was frustrating to me, but it made it seem more realistic.

“The Bad Specimens” by T.D. Clare is an interesting, thought provoking novel. I hope that there is another book to follow this one so that readers can get more answers. The author does an excellent job creating a story that will haunt your imagination. Because of this, I don’t recommend reading it if you are feeling down!

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“Surviving the Fatherland” by Annette Oppenlander

SurvivingTheFatherlandSURVIVING THE FATHERLAND

Annette Oppenlander
Oppenlander Enterprises, LLC (2017)
ISBN 9780997780048
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (5/17)

Having read numerous books on Hitler, survivors and concentration camps, I must say “Surviving the Fatherland” by Annette Oppenlander is one of the most compelling books I have read. From the author’s family history, we now hear about a subject that is overlooked – how the children were impacted.

The story is told from the perspective of Lilly, who at the age of seven, finds her father leaving for the war and Gunter, age twelve, who is experiencing the same turmoil in a different area. Each child finds themselves having to deal with financially helping their family, while at the same time surviving bombings, lack of food, capture and death of many they know.

It is a story that many are unaware of or choose not to know. Oppenlander writes with passion as she tells about German people who are caught up in an event they have no control over. I found myself crying, laughing and cheering on Lilly and Gunter. Anger was an emotion I experienced numerous times while reading about Lilly’s mother who was very neglectful and doted on her younger brother.

After the war, everyone thought their lives would return to normal and they would at last feel at peace. Once the British took over from the Americans, hope was that life would become normal and it did look good on paper, but not in real life. Lilly and Gunter’s family still had to forage for food, firewood and material to restore their bombed-out home.

There are many secrets that are kept from the families, for instance, Lilly’s father did not have to go to war, and Gunter’s brother comes home with PTSD and has a difficult time adjusting to life again.

One interesting part in the reading that stood out to me was that women were told, “they should do their part for the war.” That didn’t mean working in factories; it meant trading favors for food.

I can’t imagine all the emotions the author experienced when writing this incredible story. I hope in some way it was therapeutic, but it must have been heartbreaking at the same time. I for one am glad she shared her story with us as it gives us a look at a different perspective from those who endured this tragic time in history. “Surviving the Fatherland” by Annette Oppenlander is highly recommended reading!

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“Life Without Limits” by Ken Taylor

LifeWithoutLimitsLIFE WITHOUT LIMITS

Ken Taylor
Outskirts Press (2016)
ISBN 9781478762638
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (8/17)

“Life Without Limits” by Ken Taylor contains 100 short inspirational stories inspired by real people. Some of the stories are about celebrities whose names we all recognize, others are about little known people who have made a significant impact on those around them. The author even has one for himself. There are some very special people mentioned that passed on way before their time, yet in their short lives, still managed to make a difference and be remembered long after their deaths.

I found this book to be very thought provoking. One of the chapters that really resonated with me was, “Spend Wisely,” referring to how we spend our time. It really made me think hard about eliminating “time wasters,” from my life. I think a lot of people can relate to this one! Throughout all the stories I was also reminded about how important it is to be a positive influence for others.

Some of the greatest motivators are the people who have had to overcome the most. The author fits well into this category. I would also like to note that Ken Taylor infuses a lot of energy into his writing. As a result of this, readers will find themselves being lifted up and energized!

“Life Without Limits” by Ken Taylor should be read by people who want to learn how to live without having anything hold them back. No limits. While I read it in a couple of sittings, it would be a terrific book in which you read one chapter a day and journal your thoughts about it. There is so much valuable advice in these pages! I plan to go back and start journaling. This book would also make a great gift for others. It would be perfect for family members and co-workers. I think that all who really read it, and incorporate what they learn into their lives, will find themselves evolving. You won’t be just giving someone a gift, you will be giving them something meaningful to treasure for years to come.

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