“Poems Mostly of the Sea” by Jenne Kaivo

Jenne Kaivo
Independently Published (2019)
ISBN 9781687078186
Reviewed By Susan Violante for Reader Views (10/19)

I picked up “Poems Mostly of the Sea” by Jenne Kaivo because the cover intrigued me. The title spoke of the sea, but the imagery reflected something different. It wasn’t until I read the introduction that I realized the extent of the author’s profound message. I was glad I did because it made me understand the ‘sea’ reference in the title and understand how the poems related with each other throughout the book. At first glance the book seems an eclectic collection of poems. 

However, this collection’s eclecticism is not based on the topics within, it is based on the different styles of poetry the author uses to convey the broad message of the collection. The collection begins with ‘Prayer to Darkness,’ ‘Anglerfish,’ and other works which refer directly to the sea and its creatures. My favorite of these was ‘By the Sea it’s Safe and Quiet.’ Then the author moves to more profound topics with works like ‘When I Will Tell Children, ‘The Sickness of the Spirit,’ (one of my favorites), ‘Grazing Dinosaurs,’ and ‘For Shame’ among others. Towards the end I found more favorites like: ‘Unnatural,’ ‘The Innocent Says,’ and ‘The Life I thought I Had.’

What all of the above have in common, is the profound messages that can be absorbed from them – how different they are in style, yet how they inspired the same feelings in me as I read each one of them, and finally, how they reflect the author’s amazing flair, being able to portray her voice in so many different styles and topics, bringing this collection into a cohesive circle of life on planet Earth through time, and the physical and spiritual realms.

Jenne Kaivo’s voice reflects depth in thought and topic, playfulness in how she plays with vocabulary, rhyme and structure in so many different formats, and relatability as all readers from any time and culture will feel a connection as creatures of planet Earth. Below is a short favorite of mine which I hope it will show a little sample of what I mean:

The sky’s collapsing
from the weight
of all the light
it holds! The birds
are sweet
and sticky.
A twitter and moan
and the locusts
are gone
There is steam
on the ground and
nothing is fun

“Poems Mostly of the Sea” by Jenne Kaivo is definitely a Five-Star must-read collection for all readers who enjoy thought provoking and reflection inspiring works. I believe this book should be revisited from time to time to discover and surprise ourselves as we find new messages and meanings as we grow. Jenne Kaivo is an author to follow.

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“The Sleep Experiment” by Jeremy Bates

Jeremy Bates
Ghillinnein Books (2019)
ISBN 9781988091389 
Reviewed by Jennifer Wilson for Reader Views (10/19)

“The Sleep Experiment” is the second book in the World’s Scariest Legends series by Jeremy Bates. It is a psychological thriller that shows the darkest side of the human psyche.

Dr. Roy Wallis has dedicated his entire career to unfurling the mysteries of what happens when we sleep. Or, even more terrifying, when we don’t. The story is based on the legend of the “Russian Sleep Experiment,” believed by some to have taken place in the 1940’s. This experiment, performed by the government, was intended to engineer a super soldier that could operate without sleeping for weeks at a time. This story takes place in today’s time, with today’s technology, adding to the, “Could this really happen?” factor. Bates has spun a tale that is realistic and horrifying.

Three scientists, Wallis and two of his top students, set out to recreate the sleep experiment using a stimulant gas perfected by Wallis, which will insure the test subjects cannot, under any circumstance, sleep. Wallis finds the perfect “guinea pigs” in Sharon and Chad, two Australian tourists who have been traveling the world together. They are enticed to volunteer largely because of the hefty monetary payoff they will earn at the end of the 21-day period. They agree to be sequestered and monitored twenty-four hours a day for three weeks inside a comfortable living space that is fully stocked with everything they may need. They are able to rest, exercise, read, watch television, cook, and even play basketball. They can communicate with the scientists at any time. Anything else they need or want is available to them at their request.

Wallis’ students are excited to make history alongside the professor they respect so much. Penny Park and Guru Rampal are excellent students who appreciate the value in the work Dr. Wallis is doing. Not to mention their personal feelings for him. Park has always had a huge crush on the professor and Rampal would love to be just like him. Because of this, both are ecstatic to be chosen and trusted to embark on the 21-day journey alongside him.

When things don’t quite go the way the students expect, Dr. Wallis must stay on his toes to keep them in his corner and involved in the experiment. Wallis also finds himself struggling to keep his personal life from coming unraveled in the process. Readers will simultaneously love and hate the characters and the plot twists. Bates does an excellent job developing his characters and the plot twists move the story along at a pace you will risk losing sleep over. While reading this book, I found I was both afraid to go to sleep and afraid not to, often staying up way past my bedtime, anxious to see what would happen next.

Jeremy Bates has created a fast-paced read that will give you chills. You will strain to focus the blurred lines between what is ethical and what is not when using human test subjects for the furtherment of science. What is right and what is wrong? Where do we draw the line? I thoroughly enjoyed “The Sleep Experiment.” Any fan of horror will attest to Jeremy Bates’s ability to spin a tale that will both give you chills, and leave you wanting more.

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“This Is San Francisco: The Ups, Downs, Ins, and Outs of the City by the Bay” by Alexander Barrett

Alexander Barrett
Microcosm Publishing (2019)
ISBN 9781621068129
Reviewed by Robert Leon Davis for Reader Views (10/19)

“This is San Francisco,” authored by Alexander Barrett, explores the city of San Francisco. As stated in the subtitle, the book speaks of the ups, downs, ins, and outs of the city by the bay. Barrett explains, he’s not attempting to instruct a visitor specifically what restaurants to visit, what museums to visit, nor any other must-see sites. It’s simply an “overview” of the uniqueness of San Francisco as opposed to other America cities!

My review of this book starts with my personal visit to this city years ago. All American cities are unique, as the people who reside in these cities fabricate the uniqueness. “This is San Francisco,” is a unique summary of the whole of San Francisco. The book not only covers the obvious parts, events and places, but reveals the hidden places and events that the average tourist or visitor might not ever know!

Many of the “secrets” revealed in the book presents San Francisco as a jewel city. “This is San Francisco,” speaks of the various hues and colors of the sky taking place all in one day. Also the various homes and residences; all differently made in different shapes and different colors from house to house. And finally the strange appearance of something very unique for an American city; Fog!

What I really loved about this book is the “little known” secrets of the community that you might not find even with a tour guide. For instance, the story and history of a specific golden fire hydrant at the intersection of 20th and Church Street. Another specifies an historically rich restaurant at the corner of 45th and Sloat Street, as well as many other little-known secrets revealed by the author.

“This is San Francisco” by Alexander Barrett opened my eyes, as well as my heart, to a San Francisco that I wouldn’t have ever known. I can see through this book that I personally missed about 90% of the city’s real history! The book is simple and easy to read, with various humorous photos included in the book, strange and unusual locals, and most of all, fact-based. A very interesting read, educational, and I personally thank the author for sharing “This Is San Francisco: The Ups, Downs, Ins, and Outs of the City by the Bay.” 5 stars 

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“Right Now is Worth It” by Thomas Corrigan

Thomas Corrigan
iUniverse (2019)
ISBN 9781532073557
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (9/19)

“Right Now is Worth It” by Thomas Corrigan is a candid, tell-it-like-it-is, coming of age novel about teens in the throes of adolescence – a time when nothing is certain, and every choice seems like a make-it-or-break-it coin toss in this thing called life.

The story follows four teens on their tenuous journeys where sometimes just surviving a day of peer pressure and social media anxiety feels like an overwhelming feat.  One of the teens, Emma, just lost her older sister in a car accident. Not only does she have to deal with the grief over her sister, her abusive stepfather now focuses all his warped issues on her, while her mother looms in denial. Another teen, Shaun is shy and obsessed with his appearance. He battles overcoming his shyness, especially around Emma where everything he says comes out wrong.  Jackson is the ever-popular athlete hiding behind tough guy façade, sacrificing being his authentic self to preserve his image. Sophia struggles with stereotypes as her rich girl persona isn’t indicative of how life really is at home.

Wow, this story, written by a recent high school grad, really hits all the buttons for me. The drama, the vindictiveness, the uncertainty, the fears…everything I read made me grateful I was no longer in high school, such a tumultuous time for many. Corrigan writes with such an authentic flair one can easily imagine themselves as part of the story. The dialogue, the inner workings of the characters minds – every word paints a vivid picture of the story, and the plot keeps the reader moving forward. The topics he covers are tough, from death to bullying to body shaming, popularity, parental trouble, abuse, sex, there is no glossing over any subject – Corrigan covers these issues in such a way that teens will identify with and relate.

What impresses me most about Corrigan’s characters is the depth in which he portrays them. One really gets a sense of each character – who they are and how their minds work. I love that he breaks stereotypes, for instance, it’s not one of the girls in the story that has body image issues but one of the boys.  This struggle is just as real for boy as it is for girls, but it’s often downplayed, causing even deeper issues because boys are supposed to “man-up” and not show any weaknesses. Fantastic character development.

I highly recommend “Right Now is Worth It,” by Thomas Corrigan for teens and adults. It’s high-level reality-based fiction. Teens will connect with the journeys of the characters, but this is also an important book for parents to read – it truly is an eye-opening glimpse into what goes on as our young ones come of age.

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Book Review – “Reaper’s Lament” by Steven Lane Smith

Steven Lane Smith
Outskirts Press (2019)
ISBN 9781977209078
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

“Reaper’s Lament,” by Steven Lane Smith contains a collection of about 45 spine tingling true stories of pilots who managed to outsmart the Grim Reaper. The stories are presented by pilots from varied backgrounds which include military, airline and bush pilots. Each chapter begins with an introduction about the person behind the story. In most cases, a photograph, the author’s name, military affiliation, rank, place where educated, and current career are all listed. There is usually a list of planes in which the individual has experience. If the pilot of a story has written books, this information is given at the end of the chapter. This gives readers an excellent opportunity to read more material by an author that triggers their interest. Each adventure is told from the perspective of the individual experiencing it. I love that each one is written in the pilot’s voice, so at times, I felt like I was being read to, rather than reading the words myself. The pages truly come to life when reading such harrowing accounts of what people have survived.

Many of the stories take place in the military. Readers who enjoy history will find themselves learning a lot about the experiences of pilots during times of war. There are also other stories that are involved with topics like inclement weather. I think those hit me the hardest because most of the things that went wrong, could easily happen to me on a flight. As I read, I was amazed as to what these men did to escape from deadly situations. In some cases, it was pure luck, in others their ingenuity was the key that helped them stay alive.

It was ironic that a few days before I started reading “Reaper’s Lament,” a Marine helicopter caught on fire at my local airport. Nobody was injured, but I must look at the burned-out shell of the helicopter every time I pass by. This is less than a half a mile from where a harrier jet pilot ejected right before his plane crashed into a home. Once again, no one was hurt, but as the case is with this book, I am reminded that the grim reaper doesn’t always get people who are in the air.  There are many lessons within these pages about not taking life for granted.

“Reaper’s Lament,” by Steven Lane Smith is a must read for people who enjoy non-fiction stories about aviation. I really enjoyed it and plan on gifting my father his own copy. Having been involved with aircraft carriers in the Navy, and a private pilot after he retired, he has quite a few of his own interesting stories to tell and I know he would really enjoy this book. This is a great gift for readers who have an aviation and/or military background.

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“Independent Judgment and Introspection: Fundamental Requirements of the Free Society” by Jerry Kirkpatrick

Jerry Kirkpatrick
Kirkpatrick Books (2019)
ISBN 9780978780357
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (09/19)

“Independent Judgment and Introspection: Fundamental Requirements of the Free Society,” by author Jerry Kirkpatrick is a read that will have you re-thinking your past thoughts on independent judgment, how it impacts you and those around you, and living in a society that does not accept independent thinking and actions.

Kirkpatrick states “The aim of this book is to explore the nature of independent judgment and its relationship to the free society. Throughout the journey, we will find that psychology, especially the skill of introspection, plays a significant role in developing and maintaining independence in the individual and in generating the desire to live in a free society.”

Independent judgment is the ability and freedom to express one’s mind without the fear of what others will think of us, which might include disapproval, rejection and self-doubt. We all would like to think that we have the ability to say what we think without all the dreaded drama that comes with it, but sadly very few of us do. Choice and self-assertion are seen as a disruption of authority and disobedience. In reality, they are signs of developing self-esteem and personal identity.

Can independent judgment be taught? Yes, but it must start at an early age. Children, of course, need to be given love and support, but they also need to be given freedom, within limits appropriate to their maturity, to choose their own values. And they need to be allowed to learn from their mistakes.

The author discusses many theories and thoughts on independent judgment, one of which external control, is the belief that we know what is best for others and that we have the right to impose legislation, laws, regulations, and other edicts to force citizens to do or not do what the politicians think is best. External control psychology assumes and attempts to invoke, dependence. It is the real root of dictatorship.

Internal control psychology, on the other hand, is the foundation of independent judgment. It assumes that each of us controls our own destiny by choosing our values and behaviors. Interaction with others is conducted through reason and logic, that is, persuasion, rather manipulative behavior such as verbal, emotional or physical abuse which often starts in childhood.

I found Kirkpatrick’s book very informative, well researched with numerous examples and references. Even though it is only 206 pages it is a book one will need to read slowly to absorb the facts and information as it does read like a textbook.

Regarding the definition of a Free Society, it is stated that there are two requirements: a strong sense of self-esteem and a willingness to take personal responsibility for one’s life. Throughout the book the term, “correct perception” is used frequently.  I have some difficulty with that term as who is to say what is correct? For me it is like saying “normal behavior.”

Sometimes independent judgment may go against the will of the majority or the convictions of family, friends, or colleagues, but toleration of such convictions is precisely what defines the free society and powers it to new heights of freedom and accomplishment. Giving in, succumbing to fear, wearing blinders, going along with the status quo, and other forms of compromising what we see, and are willing to say and do, thwarts happiness by undermining our sense of identity and compels us to resort to compensating behaviors.

“Independent Judgment and Introspection” is highly informative, factual and thought-provoking. Readers will love the food for thought and self-reflection provided by Jerry Kirkpatrick. I highly recommend this book.

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“The Solar Patrol” by J.G. Miller

J.G. Miller
Outskirts Press (2019)
ISBN 9781977207166
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (08/19)

“The Solar Patrol” is an epic space opera by J.G. Miller. The adventure begins in 1995, in East Pencreek, Pennsylvania, when a young man shows up, claiming to be Tom Cobalt, who disappeared, when he was 13, with two friends in 1959. What really makes this difficult for people to believe is that Tom appears to be a young man when he should really be middle aged. Tom’s mother wants to believe him more than anyone does. He draws almost everyone in, as he tells what happened all those years ago. His story begins with his friends in high school, and then moves out of this world into the distant future where he was recruited to be in the Solar Patrol.  He provides a lot of detail when he explains the events that took place before and after he went away. He also stokes everyone’s imagination with his tales about the advancements that have been made in technology and the otherworldly beings with whom he now works.  He alludes to danger that some of them are currently facing. He has returned to try to prevent a tragedy that is about to be wrought by an evil man who was also involved with his disappearance.

I loved reading, “The Solar Patrol!” I found the protagonists to be very realistic and likeable. Their characters evolve as they face unimaginable situations. The author also does an exceptional job of seamlessly switching between times and places. When the story is taking place during the 1950’s, that timeframe was brought to life with realistic descriptions. When the adventure moves off into the future, the readers get to see a completely different, interstellar setting. The aliens and technological beings bring a great deal of fun into the story, even if some of them are evil.

“The Solar Patrol,” is appropriate for readers of all ages. This is the perfect novel to be enjoyed by a whole family. Fun, lively discussions will definitely ensue! I look forward to reading more works by J.G. Miller. I truly hope that another book in this series will follow. It would be nice to visit with these characters again, and follow along on more adventures in their past, present and future!

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