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R.P. BenDedek

Magic City Book Basket 2015 No 33
By R.P. BenDedek
Dec 4, 2015 - 12:45:27 AM

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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 has varied and while we still have book reviewers at Magic City we unfortunately can't do book reviews for every book. (List of Book Reviews 2015) 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 all of those authors who have already taken advantage of this offer both in 2014 and again this year. A list of those authors and their articles for 2015 may be found here.

Magic City Morning Star is looking for more writers and reviewers and additionally we invite all book authors to avail themselves of our 'self-promotion' offer.

If you would like to join our team just send an email to me at the address below.

NOTE: Magic City Morning Star has received scant advice regarding new book releases since the end of June. We have therefore not been able to produce weekly Book Baskets and of necessity, have not been able to produce book reviews. Book Baskets will only be published if and when there are a sufficient number of entries to justify the publication.

Author Articles Since Basket No. 32

  1. Belief versus Knowledge by Arthur Tovmasyan author of "The Amusing Bible"
  2. Our American Jihad by Patrick J Fornari author of "Commoner Sense"
  3. The largest global enterprise in the world (and it's not Apple) by S.T. Stone Author of "Stepping Out"

Book Reviews Published Since Basket No. 32

Milt Gross Book Review: "Stories I Couldn't Tell While I Was a Pastor" by Bruce McIver
Nov 29, 2015

The book is a series of short stories, which reflect the writer's life. Some of them resembled my life in "the calling." Some of his stories are amusing, while some are a bit emotional. All seem to somehow convey the notion that everyone nearly worships a clergyman. This one lived in Texas but was from the Southeast. A few of his tales tell about his earlier home. Some of the tales are about his life after his wife passed away and his continuing relationship with his daughter.

Milt Gross Book Review: "Alert" by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
Nov 22, 2015

It was the kind of mystery that holds my attention, especially since after while I stop looking for typos. Or I could describe this one as "riveting," which I'm fairly sure means the same thing as "holds my attention." "James Patterson (born March 22, 1947) is an American author. He is largely known for his novels about fictional psychologist Alex Cross, the protagonist of the Alex Cross series. Patterson also wrote the Michael Bennett, Women's Murder Club, Maximum Ride, Daniel X, and the Witch and Wizard series.

Martha Stevens-David Book Review: "Raine's Rainbow Socks" by Richard Ditchburn
Nov 15, 2015

This short story is very well illustrated, very colorful and it should hold the attention of both the reader/parent and the child. The story is so well-done that it also makes the adult stop and think, about the colors of the rainbow and how to solve problems such as a child might encounter, all the while helping the child to learn how to think for themselves.

Milt Gross Book Review: "Naked Greed" by Stuart Woods
Nov 15, 2015

Theft, murder, or perilous confrontation, I did find the story a bit hard to follow, legs on the cover, Maine, criminal toughs, and all. (Maybe I should have been sitting up instead of lying on the sofa.) Priced $18.31 on Amazon.com for the hardcover, which I read, $13.99 for the Kindle Edition, and $6.13 for "used or new" editions.


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No. 1

"Granny Glitter's Christmas Story"

By Andree Siracusa

"Granny Glitter's Christmas Story" By Andree Siracusa
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Christmas is not so much about opening presents as it is opening our hearts. In "Granny Glitter's Christmas Story," artist and graphic designer Andree Siracusa (aka Granny Glitter) tells the true story of her dog Koko, a blind Chow Chow puppy she saved from euthanization at a pet store during a round of Christmas shopping for her other pets. After his rescue, Koko adjusts to his new home he shares with Venus the Doberman, Twinkie the Pomeranian, Marker the parrot, and the neighbor's cat, Scratch. After some tender loving care and some eye drops, Koko soon receives the best Christmas present of all -- his eyesight.

Through her heart-warming story, Siracusa hopes to teach children and their parents the importance of giving all pets a chance, as well as emphasize the Christmas spirit of giving.

"We, as humans, can learn from the unconditional love we receive from animals," Siracusa said. "It's important that we give that unselfish love in return."

Even though they cannot speak our language, or perhaps it is that we cannot speak in theirs, the true meaning of Christmas and unconditional love can be found within our pets.

Andree Siracusa is an artist and graphic designer in Florida. She has many pets, including dogs, birds and horses. She has published many other children's books: "A Doberman's Puppy Days," "The Hole in the Fence," "A Horse Named Charlie" and "The Egg Surprise."

"Granny Glitter's Christmas Story"
By Andree Siracusa
CreateSpace Independent Pub
Published August 13, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4969-3939-5
42 pages
Softcover $14.99

No.2

"The Amusing Bible"

By Arthur Tovmasyan

"The Amusing Bible" By Arthur Tovmasyan
LOS ANGELES -- Arthur Tovmasyan understands the title of his book will ruffle some feathers. The fact that he is a former Christian only adds intrigue to his message. Tovmasyan's new book, "The Amusing Bible" seeks to refute the Bible and its claims that he calls factually inaccurate with satire.

"My personal goal is to introduce the futility of the Bible to the masses and raise awareness of the misogyny and deception of the clergy, but with a sense of humor," Tovmasyan said.

Tovmasyan was raised in Armenia, a country steeped in religion. He identified as a Christian for the majority of his youth. His beliefs changed following a mandatory stint in the Armenian Army. While serving his country, Tovmasyan extensively studied different religions and sought to find validity in their teachings. When he failed to find facts to back up these belief systems, his views shifted. Tovmasyan's book is an English adaptation of French author Leo Taxil's satirical book "La Bible Amusante." Tovmasyan said Taxil's book left such an impression on him that he sought to translate the book to English. His book is based on Taxil's original work with Tovmasyan's own interpretations and voice. Tovmasyan has always wondered why people believe in a religion that is devoid of any factual evidence. He thinks that people should have the right to choose whether they accept religion. His book challenges the status quo and non-Christians will enjoy Tovmasyan's lighthearted approach to refuting the Bible.

"I hope to provide an alternative option to anyone who seeks it, so he or she can have the freedom to make their own choice," Tovmasyan said.

Arthur Tovmasyan is a manager for a Fortune 500 Company. Tovmasyan grew up in Armenia and attained a bachelor's degree in world economy, finance and credit from Yerevan University of Economy and Law. He resides in Los Angeles, California.

"The Amusing Bible"
By Arthur Tovmasyan
iUniverse Publishing
Published 8/17/2015
ISBN: 1491761954
536 pages
Softcover $32
Hardcover $42

No. 3

"Proclivities: A Pop Culture Odyssey"

By Jay Alan Reeves

"Proclivities: A Pop Culture Odyssey" By Jay Alan Reeves
DES MOINES, Iowa -- In "Proclivities: A Pop Culture Odyssey," author Jay Alan Reeves shares a humorous and candid series of interrelated essays and commentary on human nature, American pop culture and politics, including the relevance of social affairs, the economics of socialism and deficit spending, the questionable nature of men and women, race relations, religion and much more.

Reeves also provides commentary about the history of global warming and climate change, noting that it has nothing to do with the weather.

"There is no actual definitive or conclusive scientific evidence that man-made global warming or climate change actually exists," Reeves said. "The real beauty of climate change is that any weather extreme can be said to be evidence of a problem."

A grain farmer in Iowa, Reeves hopes his book will encourage readers to generate their own opinions separate from media and politicians and to consider the needs of the "greater good" when making decisions that affect other citizens.

"Never before has the general public been exposed to so much available information as our media provide," Reeves said. "It's important that we remain objective and critical, understanding that winning and being right means that we all do the right thing in understanding what that right thing is and why."

Jay Alan Reeves was born on an Iowa farm, and he works and manages a 900-acre grain farm with his two sons. He has eight years of experience as a court-appointed child advocate. A marriage therapy volunteer, he's a recipient of the Iowa Governors Award for volunteerism. For more information about the book, visit http://www.iamnotamused2.com.

"Proclivities: A Pop Culture Odyssey"
By Jay Alan Reeves
Archway Publishing
Published 4/13/2015
ISBN: 978-1-4808-1635-0
242 pages
Softcover $18
Hardcover $36
E-Book $4

No. 4

"Erosion"

By Julie M.

"Erosion" By Julie M.
EDMONTON, Alberta -- In her fiction novel, "Erosion," author Julie M. follows the life of Kate on her journey to new beginnings after growing up in a suffocating, controlling environment.

An unpredictable book, "Erosion" unearths challenging subject matters such as mental health, substance abuse and unhappy marriages while bundling it all together with an enchanting love story. "The power of love of those around us; parental love, friendship love, romantic love, even obsessive love are crucial to having a wonderful life," M. said.

M., a music teacher, has taken her creativity in the classroom outside to write "Erosion". Her personal experiences with the turmoil of separation and divorce have brought pain into her life as well as given her a chance for a new beginning. The main character, Kate, experiences similar struggles as well as is enlightened about her life.

"We all have the power to create our lives and to remake them as needed. We need to be self-reflective, to have courage to step out of our comfort zones, to push our limits or the expectations that we sometimes place on ourselves or the perceived expectations that others have for us," M. said.

By reading "Erosion" readers will learn that it's never too late to take control of your life. This coming-of-age- and-more novel will take readers of all ages on a journey of self-discovery to a fulfilling life.

Julie M. teaches elementary music to students in grades one through six. She received her bachelor of education degree from the University of Alberta. She lives with her two teenagers in Edmonton, Alberta. More information on the Author Website

"Erosion" By Julie M.
iUniverse Publications
Published May 15 2014
ISBN 978-1-4759-9457-5
354 pages
Softcover CDN$27
Hardcover CDN$39
E-Book CDN$7

No. 5

"Poems of a Divorcee"

By Merawyn Harrison

"Poems of a Divorcee" By Merawyn Harrison
ADELAIDE, Australia -- Women have frequently made life-changing decisions for the ones they love with the intention of fulfilling a happy marriage.

No one understands this more than Merawyn Harrison, who suspended her aspirations of an art career so her husband could obtain a law degree. Harrison's subsequent divorce prompted her to write "Poems of a Divorcee" which stemmed from her despair at the breaking of her family.

Her book is comprised of several personal poems and haikus, covering a myriad of topics ranging from grief, nature, and art to feminism. She also details her struggle as a single parent raising two sons.

"In my book I express grief and shock at the cruelty and shallowness that men can express, and for two small children whom I had high hopes for a happy and fulfilled life," Harrison said.

Harrison said she was hesitant at first to publish her work, but realized she did not wish to keep her personal thoughts hidden from her sons.

"I just felt that my poetry attempts might come together as a sort of swan song, and that my boys might be interested to learn about another side of me other than mother," Harrison said.

Her poems tug at the heartstrings of readers, especially those who are recoiling after a recent divorce. She hopes that her book will bring joy and solace to women and others who have undergone similar trying life experiences.

Merawyn Harrison lives in Adelaide, Australia. For more biographical information at Amazon.com.

"Poems of a Divorcee"
By Merawyn Harrison
Xlibris Press
Published Dec 30, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-5035-1199-6
74 pages
Softcover $16
Hardcover $25

No. 6

"Stepping Out"

By S.T. Stone

"Stepping Out" By S.T. Stone
BALTIMORE -- Converting to Christianity is an exciting rite of passage, but it often leaves many looking for guidance when it comes to unanswered questions and fighting off doubt. As someone who struggled with his faith after converting, S.T. Stone wasn't always certain where his journey would take him. Yet with time, Stone found his spiritual path and hopes his experiences will serve as a guiding light for other new converts in his book, "Stepping Out."

"After my initial conversion I felt spiritually uncertain, and I came to realize that many other new converts felt the same way. In that moment, I understood that God wanted me to help others navigate the same waters he was leading me through," Stone said.

Serving as a stepping-stone for new converts, "Stepping Out" is meant as a tool for evangelical groups and churches to put in the hands of spiritual novices while simultaneously advocating change in the Christian community as a whole. Drawing from his own observations and experiences over the years, Stone encourages all Christians to walk closer to God and remember to apply God's word in their daily lives.

"Conversion is only the first step toward salvation for a new believer. Knowledge and application of God's word has been waning. We need to put God back in his proper place. Only then can he truly lead us," Stone said.

S. T. Stone is an ordinary man who lives in a typical small town with his best friend of thirty-two years. Although he has no formal training, he loves the Lord and steadfastly maintains that "Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship. You can't serve Jesus Christ unless you love Him, and you can't love Him unless you know Him. Our job is to help folks get to know Jesus. God will do the rest." Often the first step out of spiritual darkness for a new believer can be compared to the groundhog's reaction after he sees his shadow. In the book, Mr. Stone describes what happened to him: "It was like God was playing a game of chess with me and had just taken my first pawn--a seemingly insignificant move at the time but a profoundly important event in terms of the final outcome of the game."

"Stepping Out"
by S.T. Stone
Westbow Press
Published 7/30/2015
ISBN:978-1-49088-361-8
218 Pages
Hardcover $34
Softcover $18
E-Book $8

No. 7

"Trained to be an OSS Spy"

by Helias Doundoulakis

"Trained to be an OSS Spy" by Helias Doundoulakis
NEW YORK -- Helias Doundoulakis is a former WWII spy who escaped the Gestapo on numerous occasions. As a future Greek-American engineer, he worked on the Apollo space missions, the F-14 fighter/bomber, the space shuttle, and owns the patent for the largest radio telescope in the world. His name is on the moon. Doundoulakis has accomplished more in one lifetime than many have ever dreamt.

Doundoulakis' remarkable story is finally declassified by the Office of Strategic Services and available for the public in his new book, "Trained to be an OSS Spy". It relates his experiences being recruited as a spy during WWII and the harrowing trials that followed.

"I think I can show people what it was really like to be an OSS spy during WWII," said Doundoulakis. "The cyanide capsule in case of discovery, escaping the Gestapo, risking everything for the sake of a mission . . . these were real things that I survived."

Doundoulakis is the epitome of a U.S. patriot, driving progress forward in some of the most iconic American pursuits of the 20th century, from aiding the Allies in WWII to putting a man on the moon. His book isn't just an appeal to society's natural interest in the dangerous life of spies; it's a testament and landmark to one man's indelible imprint on America's history.

Helias Doundoulakis has too many claims to fame to mention; as a young man, he befriended the august SOE operative, Patrick Leigh Fermor, and then was recruited to be a spy for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Later, at Gumman Aerospace Corporation, he became a group leader on the Apollo missions, the F-14 fighter/bomber, and the Space Shuttle. He is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Disabled American Veterans, and the PanCretan Society. He holds a master's degree in structural engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. He lives with his wife of 63 years, Rita, in Freeport, New York. They have four children and ten grandchildren. For more information, visit www.trainedtobeanossspy.com

"Trained to be an OSS Spy"
By Helias Doundoulakis
Xlibris Publishing
Published 9/19/2014
ISBN: 978-1-4990-5983-0
358 pages
Softcover $20
Hardcover $30
E-Book $4
Audio Book $4

No. 8

"Big Bad Killing Machine"

By Sally A. Allen

"Big Bad Killing Machine" By Sally A. Allen
BRADENTON, Fla. -- High school can be a challenging time for many teens, especially those suffering from teen angst. Colton Colby has a bigger problem; he's a sociopath.

In Sally A. Allen's engrossing thriller, "Big Bad Killing Machine," protagonist Colton is a star football player making his way through high school but beware of crossing him.

With no regrets, Colton will kill anyone who wrongs him and get away with it.

By emphasizing Colton's split personality and advantage of being a star athlete, Allen brings to light important issues such as the impact of misdiagnosing mental illnesses as well as the privileges and societal view of student athletes.

"Killing is wrong," Allen said. "Colton suffers from mental illness and, like many, cannot control his actions."

Find out how Colton gets away with murder in this thrillingly dark mystery novel.

Sally A. Allen is the author of several other fiction novels, including "Seeing Sparks," "Cougar" and "The Rogue." Originally from Wisconsin, she currently lives in west central Florida. For more information, visit http://www.bigbadkillingmachine.com/

"Big Bad Killing Machine"
By Sally A. Allen
Xlibris Publishing
Published 8/6/2013
ISBN: 978-1481139939
149 pages
Softcover $20
Hardcover $30
E-Book $4

No. 9

"Fit and Fabulous from Fifty Forward"

By Bobbie Horowitz

"Fit and Fabulous from Fifty Forward" By Bobbie Horowitz
NEW YORK -- According to the United States Census Bureau, 20 percent of U.S. residents will be over 65 by the year 2030, compared with 13 percent in 2010.

Unless this generation chooses to prioritize fitness, the U.S. may be faced with a potential health care crisis. Additionally, living longer could become feared rather than cherished.

Her new book, "Fit and Fabulous from Fifty Forward," Image consultant, Bobbie Horowitz details lifestyle choices older Americans can make to improve their fitness levels and personal image. She shares her own tumultuous health journey and explains why readers roads to physical and mental wellness should be paved with positive self-thought and fun.

Horowitz, now 75 years old, maintains that a simple individually geared, daily plan, a positive mindset and knowing what questions to ask should challenges come up - can keep aging Americans as fit as they possibly can be.

"This program was developed to teach an aging population how to love themselves and better care for their bodies," Horowitz said. "We're all individuals and we each need to find what foods, exercises and routines best suit our particular body."

Topics addressed in the book include, but are not limited to nutrition and supplements, exercise, goal setting and how to make a fitness plan fun, so readers will stick with it.

Bobbie Horowitz, award-winning entertainment professional and certified image consultant, needed to restore her shape and health. She relentlessly researched options and designed a plan that allowed her to lose 40 pounds and regain her health and self worth. When people asked, "How'd you do it?'. she designed a coaching system that helped them too. Bobbie is a graduate of Cornell University and resides in New York City. Please visit http://www.fitandfabulousfromfiftyforward.com for more information.

"Fit and Fabulous from Fifty Forward"
By Bobbie Horowitz
Balboa Press
Published 8/24/2015
ISBN: 978-1-5043-3770
140 pages
Softcover $12
Hardcover $29
E-Book $4

No. 10

"If Your Telephone Isn't Working, Please Call the Office"

By J.T. Victor

"If Your Telephone Isn't Working, Please Call the Office" By J.T. Victor
HARTFORD, Conn. -- There's no lack of headlines about America's teacher shortage. Reports this summer from The Huffington Post, NPR and others all agreed: the United States' education system needs to learn a lesson. In his new book, "If Your Telephone Isn't Working, Please Call the Office: The Hard-to-Believe Adventures of Teaching in a Failing School System," author and veteran educator J.T. Victor explores the many factors that contribute to the problem.

With more than 40 years of experience in education at the middle school, high school and university levels, Victor is no stranger to the serious issues schools face or how those problems manifest themselves on a day-to-day basis.

"Penny-pinching politicians, disinterested parents and school administrators pretending to be leaders make it nearly impossible for battle-weary teachers to do their jobs," Victor said.

"If Your Telephone Isn't Working, Please Call the Office" serves as a call to action for teachers still on the front lines, a wake up call for parents and a warning to future educators.

Victor hopes to encourage today's teachers to take a stand, parents to understand the power they yield in the quality of their children's education and the next generation of teachers to be informed about the struggles awaiting them so they may be proactive in fighting against those issues.

J.T. Victor has a master's degree in education. He is now retired after teaching in New England secondary schools for 35 years and at the college level for close to a decade.

"If Your Telephone Isn't Working, Please Call the Office: The Hard-to- Believe Adventures of Teaching in a Failing School System"
By J.T. Victor
Archway Publishing
Published 4/24/2015
ISBN 978-1-48081-429-5
474 pages
Softcover $29
E-Book $4


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