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R.P. BenDedek

Magic City Book Basket 2015 No. 12
By R.P. BenDedek
Apr 13, 2015 - 8:03:00 PM

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"Magic City Book Basket 2015" brings to the attention of readers via publication of publicity material, various new book releases. This year the frequency of publication and number of books in each basket will vary and while we still have book reviewers at Magic City we unfortunately can't do book reviews for every book. We are still offering to assist authors in promoting their books via a "No Charge - No Pay" self-promotions service. We invite authors to send in 'stand alone' articles on a topic that readership might find interesting.

  • This is not an opportunity to rehash publicity material and authors should not use their book title as the article title.
  • When we publish author articles, we do include author bios and a photograph of the book cover and additionally add the link to a purchase page.

We are extremely grateful to those authors who took advantage of this offer in 2014 and a list of those authors and their articles for July-Dec 2014 may be found here. At the end of last year our book reviewers cut back on their book requests while waiting to see what changes would occur with a new editor in 2015. With the book baskets now recommenced our reviewers have once again started requesting books and once those books are received and read, will once again be offering us their reviews. (Books Reviewed July to December 2014)

Author Articles Since Basket No. 11

  1. Does Israel's Red Heifer Have a Seat at the Prophecy Table? By Bruce Biller author of "The god-man: seed of Satan"
  2. An Exercise in Argumentative Poetry - No. 3 Essentials of Divine Morality by Yemant and Friends authors of "God, Religion, Science, Nature, Culture, and Morality: A Critical Analysis in Plain Talk"

Book Reviews Published Since Basket No. 11

R.P. BenDedek Book Review: "Extravagant Love" By Heather Smith
Apr 11, 2015

This is a very easy read that would appeal to most women and probably few men. It is what I would call a 'feel good' book. The writing is good, the personal glimpses into the author's life are inspiring, and I just know there is a big market for books of this type. "Extravagant Love" consists of a series of generally short edifying letters to the readers that provide some glimpse of the love, wonder and kindness of God as demonstrated in some event or situation in which the author has found herself. For instance: When her brother died, everyone was devastated and after the funeral she found herself avoiding any mention of him to friends and family. She writes:

R.P. BenDedek Book Review: "Tough Conversations" by Richard Tiller
Apr 7, 2015

The book is something along the lines of an instructional manual with the instructions being provided within the body of a story that the author relates. Sometimes that story is directly from the Bible and at other times it is about situations from contemporary life. The layout of the book is excellent and the author has achieved a balance between storytelling and advice giving. It is professionally written by a person whose qualifications indicate that he ought to know what he is talking about.

Milt Gross Book Review: "W is for Wasted" by Sue Grafton
Apr 7, 2015

Grafton's writing is exciting and fast paced. But I found the double story line to be a bit confusing and slowed down the action. The story involves three of a hobo crowd, and the professor had used one of them for his experiments, along with other people. Plenty of action and some suspense filled the 433 pages, which kept me reading.

R.P. BenDedek

No. 1

"Walk Along with Nostalgia"

By Ding Ding

"Walk Along with Nostalgia" By Ding Ding
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA -- Poetry writing can be therapeutic in times of distress and depression, according to an SPCSB study. Ding Ding knows this better than anyone, as a China native living in Sydney, Australia.

In Ding's new book, "Walk Along with Nostalgia," the poet provides poems of self-encouragement and tranquility. Tackling topics like nature and friendship, she gives readers a sense of peace and self-discovery. Ding includes both English and Chinese versions of her poems in the book, an ode to both her old country and new.

"Living in a foreign country alone can be lonely," said Ding.

"Poetry has helped me find both meaning and happiness throughout my time in Sydney. Everyone can learn something from my work, and I want to teach readers that many times, poetry can be the best medicine."

Ding Ding is a Chinese poet, freelance writer and translator. She has a master's degree in international studies from The University of Sydney and a master's degree in translation from The University of New South Wales. She enjoys traveling and running in her free time. She resides in Sydney, Australia.

"Walk Along with Nostalgia"
By Ding Ding
Balboa Press
Published 10/1/2014
ISBN 978-1-45252-549-5
202 pages
Softcover $15
E-book $4

No. 2

"Money, Murder, and Madness: A Banking Life"

By Forrest Russell Cook

"Money, Murder, and Madness: A Banking Life" By Forrest Russell Cook
BOSTON, Mass. -- The banking world has taken a beating in recent years. After the financial crisis and ensuing bailouts of some of the country's largest banking institutions, the general public retains little trust in the industry. But few see the banking world the way Forrest Russell Cook does: from the inside. Cook spent his career in the banking industry and used his extensive experience to write Money, Murder, and Madness: A Banking Life. Complete with personal stories from his career and a clear explanation of the true cause of the Great Recession, the book provides a comprehensive view of the American bank system.

"After reading dozens of books and papers about the financial crisis, I decided the story was incomplete," Cook said. "It needed to be told by someone who actually ran a large commercial bank and mortgage company."

Cook worked his way up through the banking world, eventually serving as President and CEO of two major banks in the New England area.

"Although many people say they hate bankers, I was proud to be associated with people who were hardworking, honest and ethical," Cook said. "But there were a few villains."

Money, Murder, and Madness: A Banking Life is not just another book about the financial crisis. Forrest Cook avoids impenetrable financial jargon and takes the reader on a refreshingly different look on why the crisis happened and who were the government officials responsible. He explains why the conventional reporting is misleading or wrong. Cook makes a convincing case that the Clinton and Bush administrations and members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, pursued an extreme affordable housing agenda that led to the failure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (Read More at Authorhouse)

Forrest Russell Cook held several high-ranking positions throughout his banking career, including Senior Vice President and Retail Division Head at State Street Bank in Boston. He later served as President and CEO at both Bank of New Hampshire (now TD Bank) and South Shore Bank. Now retired, he lives in Dublin, New Hampshire with his wife, June.

"Money, Murder, and Madness: A Banking Life"
By Forrest Russell Cook
AuthorHouse Publishing
Publlished 2/17/2015
ISBN: 978-1-4969-5961-4
226 pages
Softcover $17
Hardcover $28
E-book $8

No. 3

"What Is Salvation?"

By Bill Parker

"What Is Salvation?" By Bill Parker
ATLANTA, Ga. -- Pastor Bill Parker was convinced of his salvation -- at least until he came to realize he didn't truly understand the biblical definition of salvation at all.

Parker decided to embark on a serious examination of the Bible's words on the subject. His new book, What Is Salvation? is the result of over 30 years of study -- a deep dive into the true significance of what it means to be saved.

"This book gets to the very basic question -- 'Am I, are you, truly saved at all?'" Parker said. "It forces us not simply to live what we think is a 'Christian' life, but to examine ourselves."

Parker was motivated to pin down the reality of salvation after realizing how many Christians held contrasting opinions on the subject. He believes the idea of salvation is one of the most crucial tenets of Christianity.

"There is nothing more relevant to us as individuals than coming to understand matters of life, death, final judgment, and eternity," Parker said. "Our understanding of salvation determines how we relate to other individuals, other cultures, and other religions."

Bill Parker is a pastor at Eager Avenue Grace Church in Albany, Georgia. He has been active in pastoral ministry for over 30 years.

"What Is Salvation?"
By Bill Parker
Published Feb 25, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4834-0798-2
112 pages
Softcover $8

No. 4

"Dead Women Talking"

by Tarona Hawkins

"Dead Women Talking" by Tarona Hawkins
A PSYCHIC who gave readings to Princess Diana says she can name Marilyn Monroe's killer -- thanks to the Hollywood legend herself. Tarona Hawkins, who is also a hypnotherapist, psychotherapist and numerologist, was in contact with Marilyn, who died in 1962, for several years.

She has now transcribed the icon's own words in a new book, Dead Women Talking, in which Marilyn tells of the sinister happenings in Hollywood, solving the mystery of her death and even naming who is responsible.

The book is also the story of Tarona's communication with one of the most famous women in the world, and of how Marilyn could eventually move on after years of being lost.

Tarona, now 64, says: "Marilyn's spirit came to me while I was writing a book chapter on James Dean seven years ago. It was out of the blue and completely unexpected.

"She came through to me for a good few years until I moved her on, taking her back to Heaven through the lavender fields. She will never come back again now because she is on the higher dimension."

The writer and mum says spooky coincidences started happening after Marilyn first came through, including meeting one of the actress's look-a-likes.

Tarona discovered her psychic abilities, which she inherited from her Irish grandmother, at the age of seven when she realised her friends were not the same as her. She kept it quiet until she was older, then decided to make the most of her gift.

In Dead Women Talking, she illustrates how she is able to communicate with spirits and help lost souls get home. She says: "In this book I have written in Marilyn Monroe's own words, exactly as she said them to me. They are in no way my own thoughts or opinions. I feel it would be wrong to conceal or alter what she told me, and I ask the reader to make up their own mind."

Dead Women Talking is available now from Amazon $6.77

No. 5

"Mommy, M.S. and Me"

by Stephanie Garcia

"Mommy, M.S. and Me" by Stephanie Garcia
NEW YORK -- More than 2.3 million people worldwide are affected by multiple sclerosis, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Because of the complexity of the disease, many people struggle to describe its effects, in particular to children. Author and life coach Stephanie Garcia has had multiple sclerosis for the past 10 years. As a mother of two sons, one of whom is autistic, Garcia quickly recognized the importance of initiating conversations about her disease with her children in a clear and approachable manner.

"When I first tried to describe MS to my children, I found it difficult to discuss it without scaring or confusing them," Garcia said. "I figured there were other parents that must be struggling with a similar discussion, and I wanted to help my sons understand me, so I analyzed the disease through a child's viewpoint."

As a result, Garcia wrote a new book, "My Mommy, M.S. and Me," which describes the symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis in a kid-friendly tone, complete with colorful illustrations, superheroes and ninjas.

Told through a child's perspective, the book compares the processes of a human body affected with MS to the inner workings of a gaming system, which provides a fun, educational, relatable and accessible platform for a discussion about MS between parents and children.

Garcia serves as an advocate for acceptance of people with special needs and illnesses, and she donates a portion of her book proceeds to the Multiple Sclerosis Society to assist with the research and education of a disease becoming prevalent in today's society.

Stephanie Garcia is a life coach, motivational speaker and author and has served in the United States Air Force. She is currently working towards a degree in developmental psychology to better understand children and is planning on writing similar books to help children communicate and understand difficult diseases. Garcia currently lives in New York City with her two sons. For more information regarding her work, visit

"Mommy, M.S. and Me"
By: Stephanie Garcia
Xlibris Corp
Published 9/27/2014
ISBN: 978-1-4990-7835-6
66 pages
Softcover $29.50
E-book $8.50

No. 6

"Unleash Your Dreams: Going Beyond Goal Setting"

by Stephen Oliver

"Unleash Your Dreams: Going Beyond Goal Setting" by Stephen Oliver
United Kingdom -- Through a lifetime's passion for improving himself and others, Stephen Oliver has come to a bold conclusion -- hardly anyone sets goals effectively, if at all. Children are not taught goal-setting at school, most young adults arrive at their first job without any idea of what they actually want out of it, and millions of retirees embark on the third age having felt they got there by trial-and-error. In 'Unleash Your Dreams: Going Beyond Goal Setting', ( Stephen Oliver exposes a concrete and proven methodology to help anyone figure out what they want out of life, and provides them with a blueprint for actually getting there.

Synopsis: Once you've set your goals, do you look around and say to yourself "now what?" Do you find it difficult to know whether you're achieving your goals? If any of these seems familiar, then this is the book for you. You'll learn how to: Decide what goals you want to make reality, and pass them through the steps necessary to make them compelling enough for you to follow; Proceed from writing your goals down to actually doing something about them; Deal with blocks and lack of motivation; Align yourself around your goals to move all parts of yourself in the same direction; Learn a way to create new options and ideas; Create new beliefs to support you in achieving your goals. In this book, Stephen shows you how to do it, and illustrates this by showing how he did it. Included are 20 worksheets as well as 4 cut-outs to help you with the exercises in the book. These can also be downloaded and printed out for your personal use.

"This book covers every step, from the initial big-picture thinking to specific goal-setting strategies and laser-targeted action steps readers can take to realise their dreams," explains the author. "Most importantly, it takes advantage of NLP modalities and levels of logic, as well as ground-breaking strategies from the Law of Attraction. This is the first in a series of new resources I am producing that offer not just a paint-by-numbers approach to achieving dreams, but also a holistic examination and understanding of the background. For example, this book critiques current goal-setting methodologies, approaches to deadlines and the current approach to things such as visualisation and affirmation. Then, I present radical and proven new strategies that readers can run with."

Stephen Oliver has been interested in personal growth and the bringing out of the best of people's potential for over 40 years. Even as a computer programmer, systems analyst and software engineer since the beginning of the 80's, his aim has always been to improve the quality of life for himself and others. At the beginning of 1994 he came into contact with Reiki, attending a First Degree Reiki seminar run by a Reiki Master of The Reiki Network with his parents. Seeing the improvements that Reiki was bringing to the whole family, they quickly went on to the Second Degree. In 2004, he began a training course as an adult educator, which he completed in the following year. As part of his training, he created the written training concept that The Reiki Network now uses. He's presently working on a second self-help book, a series of smaller information products for personal development and a fantasy novel.

'Unleash Your Dreams: Going Beyond Goal Setting' is available in UK at

No. 7

"grydscaen: tribute"

By Natsuya Uesugi

"grydscaen: tribute" By Natsuya Uesugi
PHOENIX -- According to a 2014 Gallup poll, the number one crime that Americans are most worried about is the hacking of personal devices and the unauthorized retrieval of sensitive information.

Conversely, hacking has also been employed by those who claim they are acting on behalf of the American people-- in order to protect them. WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden and the hacking group known as Anonymous are all examples of what some might call "white hat" hackers.

"The struggle for information control between the government, private citizens and criminals is one that will continue for a long time," said Natsuya Uesugi, author of the new collection of short stories titled "grydscaen: tribute."

The fifth book in the "grydscaen" series, Uesugi uses his background as a systems analyst and software engineer to explore the different sides of hacking, information collection and social engineering.

"The book also deals with the problems of wider society in regards to economic and minority marginalization," said Uesugi. "I hope I can contribute to the public conversation that needs to further develop. We seem to be on a frightening path. Bringing up these issues before they 'blow up' is of the utmost importance."

In the vein of Frank Herbert and George Orwell, Uesugi uses a fictional backdrop as a means to discuss real threats to economy, freedom and prosperity that many see rising--feeling helpless as they watch the approach.

Natsuya Uesugi is a systems analyst and software engineer who has worked in the design of aerospace, semiconductor and financial systems. With a master's degree in international management and a minor in Japanese, Uesugi has been around computers most of his life. Also an art student, he would like to make a graphic novel of "grydscaen" someday. For more information, visit

"grydscaen: tribute"
By Natsuya Uesugi
Xlibris Publishing
Published 9/12/2014
ISBN: 978-1-4990-5804-8
426 pages
Softcover $24
Hardcover $35

No. 8

"Giving Up the Ghost: Let Go of Grief and Restore Your life"

By Karen Schultz

"Giving Up the Ghost: Let Go of Grief and Restore Your life" By Karen Schultz
CHICAGO -- Losing a loved one is never easy, especially when death can seem so final. Grief support counselor and spiritual medium Karen Schultz has dedicated her life to helping people understand love never dies.

Schultz has more than 30 years of clinical and professional experience as a grief support counselor and is sharing her knowledge on life after death with the intention to heal those grieving and help them restore their lives. In her new book, "Giving Up the Ghost" she explores the connection between the spiritual world (heaven) and the physical world (Earth).

In addition, she takes readers through every step of the healing process, including forgiveness, connecting to the other side, letting go and restoration. After understanding how to let go of grief and explore the connection with the spiritual world, there will be less fear of the unknown and healing can begin.

Schultz's gift of connecting with the other side allows her to acknowledge death as merely a transition from a physical form to a vibrant state. When in the vibrant state, people are able to receive signs and communicate with lost loved ones. There is another life on the other side.

Where do our loved ones go after death? What happens to them? This book explores the connection between the spiritual world (Heaven) and the physical world (Earth). This book opens up a dialog about grief and the truth about life after death communication. We can help you demystify death, offer comfort and reduce the fear of the unknown. People can learn to let go of their suffering and restore their lives. "Science tells us that energy never dies, it only changes form. (Read more at Amazon)

Karen Schultz is a licensed social worker, professional speaker, author and spiritual medium. She maintains a private practice in Hinsdale, Illinois where she focuses on psychotherapy and grief support services. Schultz also teaches classes exploring psychic/intuition development, angels, spirit guides, and how the light of the divine can help heal our body, mind and spirit. This is Schultz's fourth published book. For more information, visit

"Giving Up the Ghost: Let Go of Grief and Restore Your life"
By Karen Schultz
Xlilbris Press
Published 10/10/2014
ISBN: 978-1499077490
100 pages
Softcover $14
Hardcover $25
E-book $4

No. 9

"The Cryptic Lines"

by Richard Storry

"The Cryptic Lines" by Richard Storry
United Kingdom -- While everyone secretly dreams of inheriting a vast fortune, one of the protagonists in Richard Storry's new novel is living that reality. There's just one problem, his father is going to make him work harder for it than anything else in his life.

Synopsis: Set in a sprawling gothic mansion in a remote coastal location, somewhere in the British Isles, the elderly recluse Lord Alfred Willoughby is deciding what is to become of his vast fortune after his death. Whilst his head is telling him to leave nothing at all to his wastrel son, Matthew, his heart is speaking differently. After much deliberation, in a last-ditch attempt to try and show to his son the importance of applying himself to a task and staying with it to the end, he devises a series of enigmatic puzzles cunningly concealed within the lines of a poem - the cryptic lines. If he completes the task successfully and solves the puzzles he will inherit the entire estate; but if he fails he will receive nothing. However, from Lord Alfred's Will it emerges that Matthew is not the only interested party. The mysterious old house holds many secrets, and nothing is as it first appears...

"Matthew could be about to inherit a sprawling gothic mansion, its contents, the surrounding land and his father's rather substantial monetary fortune -- but it's going to be far from easy," explains the author, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music. "Matthew doesn't take the news well, igniting something of a bold feud, all while forgetting that simply solving the puzzles would put an end to all of his problems. Readers will explore hidden rooms in the house, underground caverns and discover maps leading them to the most unbelievable of places. The final denouement is both a complete surprise and a nerve-shredding climax. What will happen? You'll need to buy the book to find out!"

Richard Storry studied at the Royal Academy of Music for five years, between 1984 - 89, graduating with high honours and a recital diploma - the only guitarist in eight years to be awarded such an honour - and winning the Julian Bream prize. As Richard neared the end of his studies in London, he helped to found the TETRA Guitar Quartet - an ensemble with which he remained for over thirteen years, giving concerts all over the world and releasing four CDs to great critical acclaim. He composed the incidental music to Chekhov's Three Sisters, recently seen in London's West End, starring Kristin Scott Thomas and subsequently broadcast on BBC4 television, and his music for Rumplestiltskin received over 300 performances in its first year alone. In addition, to being in constant demand as a teacher and adjudicator of musical festivals, Richard has also branched out internationally, writing for the Chinese Orchestra of Hong Kong. A native of the Lake District, Richard now lives in a leafy suburb of South London, where he is working on his next novel, "Order of Merit", but he still relishes the occasional opportunity to ascend some of the more remote Cumbrian Mountains!

No. 10

"Truth to the First Power"

by Mike Thomas

"Truth to the First Power" by Mike Thomas
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- In math, anything to the power of one equals itself. Author, Mike Thomas believes that this principle should also be applied to faith. As the son of a former Pentecostal minister, his unique vantage point allows him to make profound conclusions about the positive and negative impacts of faith in everyday life.

Thomas' new book, "Truth to the First Power" tackles the idea that faith that is declared a truth that can and must be scrutinized. It explores how religions paint a perspective of life in regards to our society, politics and existence.

"The book attempts to provide truthful and insightful analysis to the claim of truth as it relates to religion and its practices, however accurate or in accurate," Thomas said.

The theories and conclusions made within the pages of this book are meant to open the minds of the religious and non religious readers to the idea that faith that is declared a truth can and must be scrutinized in order to confirm and also remove doubt has to how one can perceive the world and appreciate its wonderful burden and blessing with regards to how religion paints our perception however accurate or inaccurate. The title 'Truth to the 1st Power' is an analogy to the math equation that anything to the power of one is essentially itself. The theory is to bring to life the principle idea that truth will always remain true and it will only expand but continue to remain constant all while being scrutinized. The truth will never deviate its first position of complete logic and relevance. The author attempts to bring this theory to the topic of religion with compelling conclusions. (AuthorHouse) For more information, please visit

Mike Thomas is the eldest son of former Pentecostal ministers. Due to his unique experience as a child of former ministers he brings a new and revealing perspective to the topic of religion and the sacred practices pertaining to their significance. He is a loving husband and father of four children. His passions also include history, politics and religion. His writings are a reflection of his personal attitudes regarding life and consciousness pertaining to the human experience.

"Truth to the First Power"
by Mike Thomas
AuthorHouse Press
Published 11/11/2014
102 Pages
Softcover $14
E-Book $4

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