From Magic City Morning Star|
"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.
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. 21
Book Reviews Published Since Basket No. 21
by Gene Ferraro
The topic of sexual abuse in the clergy is one that continues to shock and reverberate in communities across the world. In author Gene Ferraro's new novel, "Ordinary Evil", he crafts a compelling "who done it" tale surrounding the troubling reality of ordained men violating the trust of their communities.
"I have spent considerable time in my life as a volunteer in Catholic organizations," Ferraro said. "As I've watched our good work contrast against the dismal and shameful reality of sexual abuse, I feel that ignoring the problem only does more harm."
"Ordinary Evil" confronts the all-too-familiar truth that sometimes the most despicable behavior is hiding in plain view. Leaders hold communities together, whether they are social, political, or religious in nature. Sometimes, it is essential to ask hard questions about how ordinary people can do good or evil.
The word "ordinary" holds a double meaning. In one sense, it refers to something inconsequential or everyday. In the second sense, "ordinary" refers to the absolute church authority of a bishop, archbishop, or priest. In the Catholic Church, these figures are to be trusted with deepest, darkest secrets. To their congregations, they can never do wrong-or can they? (Read more at Amazon)
Gene Ferraro writes and produces presentations and events for businesses and organizations. He has worked in documentary film and taught motion picture production. He is a graduate of Bowdoin College, has an MFA from Columbia University, and also served as an officer in the US Army Signal Corps. He currently lives with his wife, JoAnn, in Andover, Massachusetts.
"Retribution (Col Sec series Book 4)"
by Jan Domagala
Synopsis of 'Retribution': An explosion on Toldax at the end of Ronin, the first Kurt Stryder adventure in the Col Sec series, saw the destruction of an entire facility and the death of General Solon, General Sinclair's opposite number in the Alliance. The clean up subcontracted from MaxCorp make two startling discoveries. Shortly after that Kurt is attacked on his homeworld of Celeron by a group of strangely similar men. He easily survives but the incident raises more questions than answers. Are the discoveries on Toldax and his attack linked? Is it the beginnings of a scheme by an old enemy that will lead Kurt back to Celeron? Where Kurt must face the truth behind one of the discoveries. In his struggle to face that truth Kurt takes another step toward his enemy's endgame, and an attack on the teeth of Col Sec and the heart of the Confederation. To play this endgame Kurt and the Wildfire Team must overcome their past or face the devastating retribution of their enemy.
"The battle between good and evil has long been a hallmark of the Science Fiction genre, although it's traditionally steeped in stereotypes and clichés that authors do nothing to quash," explains Domagala. "I'm out to keep the battle alive, but in a way that readers wouldn't have come across before. It's not been easy to write, but who said compelling fiction was a walk in the park?! There are many, many more volumes in the works -- so I suggest that interested readers get started right away before Kurt's adventure gets out of control!"
Jan Domagala has never considered himself a writer, but would like to think of himself as an entertainer, a teller of stories. He hopes that the stories he writes entertains the reader so that when they are finished the book two things happen, firstly; they feel that they have had their money's worth and secondly that it makes them want to know what happens next. If that happens then he feels satisfied that he has done his job well. He recently returned to live in Staffordshire, where he grew up, after a brief sojourn in the Derbyshire Dales. At present he is busy writing the next book in the series.
by J. Gawlik
New Beginnings, a new novel from author J. Gawlik, is the story of a 40-something woman, Emma, as she faces the many struggles that accompany her quest to reestablish herself after years of demanding and difficult circumstances.
"She would like to shed the past and start over, but she wonders how to get back in touch with the girl she used to be, while at the same time continuing to grow as a person," Gawlik said.
Partly inspired by Gawlik's personal experiences, New Beginnings presents Emma as a shining example for anyone searching for identity and love after spending so much time living for others.
"No matter how many circumstances or people come in to our lives to knock us down, tell us we are less than we are or keep us from our goals, we must stay true to who we are inside, follow that and tend our own fires of optimism," Gawlik said.
Emma thought that she was finally going to get to start living her life, not that she regretted the last twenty-three years. Her choice to raise her son on her own had been an easy one to make, but as any parent can tell you, having a child means sacrifice. Working two (sometimes three) jobs, shopping thrift stores, and spending weekends clapping at Little League tournaments are all fine memories, but Emma had never really had a life of her own. (Read more at Amazon)
J. Gawlik resides in Yakima, Wash. She teaches language arts to middle school students.
by V Leigh
"Real life nightmares turn from dusk to dawn, as distant dreams are realized by a young girl, maturing from a toddler into a noble young lady of substance," Leigh writes.
Precocious follows V through her childhood, leading up to the day when her father sexually assaulted her. Leigh connects with people of all ages as she takes readers on a journey from childhood to present day.
"That one day was like 1,000 years to me," said Leigh. "I couldn't help but wonder what else his obviously tormented mind had planned to do to me next. In the end, it would be lovely to say, 'love conquers all'. If only that were true."
PRECOCIOUS is a story of resilience, spanning 5 generations, brought forward into the new millennium. It chronicles the female family history from a "herstory" point of view for a change, rather than being told from the all too often heralded patriarchal perspective. Most of the backdrop takes place in the Midwestern, microcosm of the town of "Steelton". CC, the main character, is the embodiment of her doting parents' pride and joy. She encompasses the cherished hopes of the mainly maternal side of her genealogical tree. Real life nightmares turn from dusk to dawn, as distant dreams are realized by the young girl, maturing from impish tot into a noble young lady of substance. The early demise of the young girl's mother, is only further complicated by her father's resolve to provide his motherless child with the best life has to offer; even though he has very little of his own to contribute. In the end, it would be lovely to say, "Love conquers all", if only that were true... (Book overview at Barnes and Noble)
V Leigh is a born-again Christian who believes in giving God all the glory for any and all personal success, through the guiding power of the Holy Spirit for her recently published book, Precocious. V is a retired registered nurse and mother of five. Her book, Precocious, is written in hopes of inspiring others globally who have experienced similar tragedies in their respective young lives. Read more on Author's Page
"The Cosmic Microwave Background: How It Changed Our Understanding of the Universe"
by Dr Rhodri Evans
Synopsis: Rhodri Evans tells the story of what we know about the universe and how we know it. He takes us from the early ideas of the ancient Greeks through to Nicholas Copernicus and Galileo Galilei's work at the dawn of modern science, to Jacobus Kapteyn's Island universe at the turn of the 20th Century, and the discovery by Edwin Hubble that the nebulae were external to our own galaxy, through George Gamow and his team's early work on the cosmic microwave background (CMB) and its subsequent discovery by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, to modern day satellite-lead CMB research. Results from the ground-based experiments such as DASI, BOOMERANG, and satellite missions COBE, WMAP and Planck are explained and interpreted to show how our current shocking picture of the universe was arrived at (we only understand what 4% of it is!), and lastly the author looks at the future of CMB research and what we still need to learn. Science is a human activity, and throughout the book Evans engages us with the successes and frustrations of the people involved in this extraordinary voyage of discovery. This account is enlivened by Dr Rhodri Evans' personal connections to the characters and places in this extraordinary story.
"Most people are intimidated the first time they hear of the Cosmic Microwave Background, but then become engrossed when they discover exactly how it drives our understanding of the universe and how we as humans got here," explains the author. "This book is my attempt to explain the CMB, and how it informs us about the universe, in a way that can be understood by someone with no specialist knowledge of Physics or Cosmology. With detailed references, it can also be used as background reading for more serious students of physics wishing to learn more about the subject than they'll be taught in class."
Dr Rhodri Evans studied physics at Imperial College London, graduating with first class honours, before gaining his PhD in astrophysics from Cardiff University. He has taught at the University of Toledo, Swarthmore College and Colby College in the USA, and at Cardiff University in the UK. He did post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago's Yerkes Observatory, the birthplace of modern astrophysics. He is currently a research fellow at Cardiff University, with a particular interest in infrared astronomy. Rhodri is the author of numerous academic papers as well as articles in popular science; he speaks regularly at conferences, to astronomical societies and is a frequent contributor to the BBC on physics and astronomy. His popular blog can be found at http://thecuriousastronomer.wordpress.com.
"Death of a Mill Girl"
by Clyde Linsley
The first novel in the historical mystery trilogy, "Death of a Mill Girl" follows the investigations of the retired war hero, Josiah Beede, who returns to work after a young mill girl is found murdered on his land.
Published author Clyde Linsley wants to expose readers to the period of industrialization and all it had to hold. In a suspenseful novel, he examines past racial tensions and poor industry conditions to show how such history affects our views today.
"Issues of race and class have been a continuing theme in my life, as in everyone else's in the United States," Linsley said. "We're all shaped by our history -- even the history that happened before we were born."
After spending many years working for a newspaper in Connecticut, Linsley became familiar with Old Sturbridge Village, a replication of a 19th century farming village, and wanted to bring this same world alive in his novels.
As the government addresses global issues related to industrialization, mobilization and human rights, Linsley's brave protagonist in a gripping story of crime and intrigue shows that anyone can work to bring such issues to an end.
Clyde Linsley has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from University of Missouri. His work was heavily influenced from growing up during the desegregation years in the south. Linsley spent six years writing for the U.S. Department of Transportation and many more writing for a local newspaper in Hartford, Conn. before he decided to take a turn with novels. Now a four-time published author, Linsley lives in Virginia and works to merge history with the present in action novels for all readers. He has published three other novels.
"Death of a Mill Girl"
"Petronella and the Janjilons"
by Cheryl Bentley
Synopsis: The Janjilons are not what they seem. They look like a type of monkey but they are really children. How did they turn into Janjilons? And could it happen to anyone? Behind this mystery is someone evil, Judge Ormerod who wants to be the next Duke of Westshire. With the help of three weird sisters, he has to rid the land of clever children from being an obstacle to him. The Janjilons work for him as the three sisters mete out punishment and keep them locked up. Petronella starts to look into these strange happenings. But time is running out because when the Judge no longer needs the Janjilons, they will be destroyed.
"I felt that the YA Fantasy market needed a dose of literal new blood, a re-birth into something that moved away from the vampire and zombie novels that have flooded the scene, all while retaining the classic hallmarks of the battle against good and evil," explains the author, whose first book was translated and published in both Brazilian Portuguese and Chinese. "I think I hit on a winning formula; it's a true fusion of an innovative new theme within a genre that is timeless. Early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, and book three is currently in the works. But I won't say any more than that at this stage!"
Cheryl Bentley is from Bedford. She spent many a happy hour of her childhood reading and sucking sweets by the banks of the River Ouse or in the home of her carer Marian. She has a degree in English from the University of London. By day she works, by night she writes.
"Petronella and the Janjilons"by Cheryl Bentley
"The Whispering Voice"
Dr. Maduka, Sunny Oby
Dr. Maduka, Sunny Oby resides in Nigeria and has witnessed the country being ravaged by war and rebellions for years. He wants to help bring these tragedies to the attention of westerners via his new book, "The Whispering Voice." Rather than simply focus on the negatives of current situations, Dr. Maduka aims to show the hopeful nature of the people in Africa as well.
"No matter what happens I always have faith in God and have witnessed miracles in this land," Dr. Maduka said. "We are constantly presented with trials, but we can secure our destiny and improve our situation through faith and a desire for change."
"The Whispering Voice" aims to help people realize how truly dire the situation is in Nigeria while sending a hopeful message inspiring others to take action changing systems of oppression.
A young American was engulfed with the desire to discover the truth about the sovereignty of God and had travelled extensively in search. And suddenly, Dr. Joe Musa, now an army major, discovered the presence of God in a battlefield and made a promise that activated a miraculous healing of his commanding officer, Brigadier Hayes, and the purpose fulfillment of his promise in Sudan through a plane crash. This divine intervention exposed him to a different world where poverty, confusion, war, and disorder reigned. He discovered a people that still loved even in the midst of hardship. (More at Amazon)
Dr. Sunny Oby Maduka is a loving husband to his wife-Mrs. Priscilla Swanta Maduka and a caring father to their four children-Amarachi Peace Mbanghalie Maduka, Kelechi Praise Kassan Maduka, Chimdi Princess Marvelous Kawuta Maduka and Tochi Divine Godiya Maduka. He has evergreen passion for football, traveling, listening to music, dancing, writing and exploring new ideas. Also, he is an adherent follower of Jesus Christ, committed to full service to God and humanity, and aspires to publish his other works soon, so as to further enrich lives.
"The Whispering Voice"
by Andrea Bryant
Andrea Bryant has spent her life caring for Spaniels and, acutely aware that thousands are without the forever homes and love they deserve, has embarked (get it -- em...barked!) on a wholly-unique new project to raise funds for Spaniel care homes across the country. It's a book aptly-titled 'Spaniels Rock'!
"The book features Spaniels from the UK, North America and around the world -- some have been adopted, some have been with their families since they were puppies and others that have crossed over the Rainbow Bridge are featured as a tribute to those pals no longer with us," explains Bryant. "The entire book is a pictorial tribute to the zest, high-spirits and love that lives within every Spaniel. But, of course, not every Spaniel shows it, and thousands are forced to live on the streets or in shelters. There's hundreds of people out there trying to get them happy, well and into their forever homes. I created this book to raise funds to support that mission."
Bryant will be donating 100% of all profits to her cause, and she's immensely proud of her achievement. "It costs a considerable amount of money for a shelter to take an animal either off the street of off unsuitable owners, to cover any vet bills and then go through the process of re-homing them. Most people are unaware of these expenses, and most charities doing life-saving work go underfunded. I hope my book can change that -- it's a real treat for dog lovers everywhere!"
Andrea Bryant says of herself: I have always loved dogs but in particular spaniels. My dream was to work with dogs and I trained as a dog behaviour therapist. I became very ill last august and after 4 months in hospital and being told I couldn't work with dogs because it was too dangerous for my health I had to think again. The book was born. I have a great passion and belief in the book, but couldn't have fulfilled my dream without the wonderful stars of the book (spaniels and their humans) and I'm looking forward to raising lots of money for much needed rescue homes. I am currently working on Spaniels Rock Book 2 which will be written with the same love and passion as Book 1.
"The Lean Product Playbook"
by Dan Olsen
"As we all know, most new products fail, and building great products is hard. Eric Ries' novel and valuable Lean Startup ideas, which can improve your odds of success, have spread like wildfire to product teams across the globe," says Olsen. "However, many people who are interested in applying these new ideas run into challenges because they lack specific guidance on what to do or how to do it. I have written 'The Lean Product Playbook' as an accessible, in-depth how-to guide for anyone interested in Lean Startup."
Silicon Valley expert Olsen has written the book based on years of hands-on experience building successful products as a product leader and Lean Startup consultant. With "The Lean Product Playbook," Olsen has written a comprehensive guidebook that entrepreneurs, product managers, designers, and developers alike will find valuable. Olsen's playbook offers unique insights that readers can begin to implement immediately for improved results, starting with the Product-Market Fit Pyramid, which provides an actionable definition of product-market fit. The core of the book explains the Lean Product Process, Olsen's 6-step methodology for achieving product-market fit through rapid iteration. Filled with real-world examples and two in-depth case studies, readers will walk away with concrete guidance on how to apply Lean Startup principles.
Designed to be the world's most comprehensive guide on how to build great products, the playbook brings its ideas to life with over 50 figures and tables. The playbook also includes chapters dedicated to UX design, Agile development, and using analytics to optimize your product. To learn more, visit The Lean Product Playbook website.
Dan Olsen is an entrepreneur, consultant, and Lean Startup expert. At Olsen Solutions, he works with CEOs and product leaders to help them build great products and strong product teams, often as interim VP of product. Olsen has worked with a range of businesses, from small, early-stage startups to large public companies, on a wide variety of web and mobile products. His clients include Facebook, Box, Microsoft, YouSendIt (now Hightail), Epocrates, Medallia, and One Medical Group. A frequent speaker at high-tech events, Olsen organizes the Lean Product and Lean UX Silicon Valley Meetup. Olsen earned engineering degrees from Northwestern and Virginia Tech and an MBA from Stanford. Learn more about Dan Olsen. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danolsen98
"The Lean Product Playbook"
by Irene Taylor
Synopsis: The Sinclair family, torn apart by tragedy, are exposed to media speculation. Mother Veronique is plunged into manic depression and daughter Caterine seems incapable of committing to the prospects of a brilliant academic career. Son, David, takes control, restoring family harmony and happiness. Caterine graduates with an outstanding degree, developing a ruthless ambition to atone for the guilt she feels for that family tragedy. In her subsequent business career Caterine travels extensively achieving many accolades but, in her personal life, love affairs end in sadness and disappointment. During this time, Caterine's sixth sense re-emerges to warn of danger, particularly regarding a close family friend whom she distrusts. Eventually, Caterine finds fulfillment in a loving marriage and happiness prevails. Suddenly as life prospers a mysterious danger confronts her but she fights to defend herself and finds a solution. This "solution" returns to haunt her, to threaten her marriage and her family, while the media wait in anticipation. The question: who can and cannot survive? In this dramatic tale of mystery and suspense set between Scotland and France, we find ourselves witnessing a titanic struggle between love and loyalty versus greed, jealousy and betrayal. The spellbinding conclusion excites the imagination of every reader.
"Any family would struggle to get through what the Sinclairs have, let alone enduring the whole thing in the eye of the public and a media that will sometimes stop at nothing in pursuit of their story," explains Taylor. "It's a narrative that will certainly leave readers with plenty to think about, through a twist that they'll never guess. While fiction, I designed the novel from the ground up to tackle a series of issues extremely pertinent to humanity. We'll all suffer from tragedy, struggle with redemption and be left to make quick decisions about the direction of our future. My book forces readers to ponder it all from the perspective of a family with literally no privacy."
Irene Taylor has travelled extensively worldwide and has served on the Scottish Businesswoman of the year panel. She was the first woman to lead a Scottish Trade Mission where the products in her sales portfolio even included false teeth! Her career and background influenced her debut novel The Chateau.
By Steve Scott
Following the death of his daughter in a tragic accident, Scott grappled with depression and questioned his ideas of God. His new book, Black Witch, is the story of one man battling his demons and living to tell the story.
Throughout the book, Scott recalls the days of grief that nearly consumed him. He debates the true nature of God, love, and mortality in a harrowing, yet hopeful, consideration of life and death.
Black Witch is the true story of one man's struggle with his personal demons after the tragic loss of his daughter. It is also an adventure story set in the awe-inspiring backdrop of largely untamed Alaska and British Columbia. The story takes readers on a quest for answers to the nature of the evils that dwell in the hearts and minds of mankind.
He works his way through those evils, his own heritage and the implacable nature of the soul in a search for his idea of God. What he finds will enrage you, engage you or simply make you shake your head. So take an irreverent journey with a hillbilly through the backwoods of the mind and Alaska. But remember to watch carefully for the shadows in the forest and listen for the screeching from just beyond the trees. (Author's Website)
Steve Scott has lived and traveled all over the world. He currently resides in Rice, WA, with his wife, but he considers the Alaskan wilderness his true home. For more information, visit www.steveelofscott.com.
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