Monday, July 27, 2015

The American Game

The American Game
Jeff McArthur
Bandwagon Books
Burbank, CA
ISBN: 9781500420475
2014
$ 12.99
324 pages


Few things throughout the years have unified enemy soldiers.

The most memorable was the singing of "Silent Night" by opposing forces on a Christmas Eve almost a hundred years ago which became problematic for the leadership of both sides. Despite the military leaders and the politicians, most people saw this events as the joining of humanity while temporarily putting aside differences. These instantaneous events prove the vulnerability but also strength of character in all those who were privileged and fortunate enough to be part of the unexpected gifts uniting people.

Jeff McArthur researched the Civil War battles and events discovering that baseball was often successful in unification while political leaders failed with compromises. Yankees facing Rebels sometimes shared an old-fashioned game of baseball. With a variety of ever changing rules, substituting anything available for bases and bats, the game became a unifying element proving that the people are basically the same no matter where they are born or who they choose their alliances.

The American Game excelled with the sense of place and time. For example when some Confederate soldiers were relaxing, they would play a game using stale bread as a ball in a simple game with rules constantly changing to meet the current situation. How many strikes were allowed? What can be used as a bat? How far apart are the bases? These varied as much as the players. The game was called stick ball, cricket, fletch-catch, and city ball with many more other names for what would eventually evolve into baseball.

Another positive and realistic aspect of The American Game was the age of the characters. In almost every time of war, many men were really boys. Viewing the wars through the eyes of boys definitely changes the perspective of the reader. The soldiers on the ground involved with the fighting were boys, as has been frequently found in every war.

Sometimes in this novel, it is difficult to separate the Confederates from the Union soldiers. However this book was written while looking at their commonalities, not their differences. Perhaps this was intentional by the author.

This is not a book for children or teens. The language and events are only for adult readers.

The focus of The American Game is a field somewhere in the middle of Tennessee, The two sides met with a different type of combat, the winning of games. What did they have to do to play ball with the enemy? As the wagers increase so do the risks.

Jeff McArthur is a native of Nebraska. For his education, he studied the film and the television business at New York University leading him into the film industry for fifteen years in Los Angeles. Mr. McArthur has written a variety of fiction and non-fiction books including the Relic Worlds science fiction series and Pro Bono which is about his grandfather's case as a lawyer while defending Caril Ann Fugate. He then wrote The Great Heist-The Biggest Bank Robbery in History. Additionally Jeff McArthur is the author of The Table of Truth and Stolen Souls.

For a different book for the history buffs, the baseball fans, and those who enjoy fresh approaches to both baseball and the American Civil War, read The American Game.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Gateway to Intimacy


Gateway to Intimacy
Edward M. Gomez

Millstone Press
Ashland, Oregon
2013

How often do people wish they had fatherly advice?
When Edward Gomez received a phone call from his daughter to ask him to walk her down the aisle in her upcoming wedding, he was thrilled. After his divorce from Jessica's mother, contact between father and daughter was not as frequent or meaningful as a father desired. Weekly phone calls are not enough to maintain a strong relationship. He viewed her phone call as an opportunity to again establish a meaningful relationship between a father and daughter.

As he searched for the perfect wedding gift, Mr. Gomez pondered what gift would be reflect his renewed connection while still being significant, helpful, and meaningful for his daughter? His solution became this book. Sharing his years of experience, he chose to write this book based on his personal reflections, personal growth, education, and experiences throughout the years.

Originally written for a newlywed couple, "Gateway to Intimacy" is a guide for couples of all ages to share a more intimate approach in marriage to their special partner. The emphasis is on the couple as one and not as individuals.
Much of the advice is common sense but that element is frequently missing in relationships. The author spends time step-by-step explaining the foundation to the stairway of true intimacy complete with exercises for the emotional as well as the physical aspects of a strong, loving relationship. Utilizing breathing exercises, the book gradually teaches the individual and their partner how to improve their personal responses to each other beyond the sexual activity.

The first of three parts is this manual are Laying the Groundwork, Technical Assistance, and Application. Laying the Groundwork discusses the foundation of positive and profoundly intimate relationships. Technical Assistance discusses the physical sexuality aspects with Application combining and utilizing the information from the previous two sections. These are supplemented with appendices explaining Karezza, basic sexual anatomy, sexual complications, as well as a list of additional resources, glossary, and an index.
Karezza is also an important element in this relationship building. This is a special type of relationship focusing on the spiritual rather than the orgasmic ejaculation aspects in a bonding sexual partnership.

The author Edward M. Gomez practices the principals of this guidebook and is creating a companion workbook entitled “The Thirty-Day Passion-Building Workout”. He currently resides in Oregon and is a Gottman Seven Principles Program Educator.
Who is this book for? Anyone who wants to enhance their relationship into becoming more intimate would unquestionably treasure this book. There are explicit drawing and explanations which are adult oriented.





The Great Plains Guide to Buffalo Bill

The Great Plains Guide to Buffalo Bill
Jeff Barnes
Stackpole Books
Mechanicsburg, PA
ISBN: 978-0-8117-1293-4
2014
$ 19.95
226 pages

Imagine a book that explains real and present day historical tourist sites and the significance of each place in reference to one person's life from their birth to their death recording the memorable events along the way. For the legendary, William Cody who was known as Buffalo Bill, that is exact; Jeff Barnes created in The Great Plains Guide to Buffalo Bill.
Barnes combines a well-balanced biography of Buffalo Bill filtering the legend from the facts. Additionally he uses photographs and maps as he personally visited each of these sites throughout Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, South Dakota, Iowa, Oklahoma and Missouri. With each one, he tells the story while also giving current information such as directions, significance, costs involved, and even the hours and days when open and a listing of additional research for the reader about each place.
This book is a non-fiction journey into Buffalo Bill's life is written in a fascinating style while allowing the reader to draw conclusions about the personality and character of this Western legend. Barnes informs the reader about conflicting stories and sites to allow the reader to personally decide the authenticity of each event.
For Cody's family, life had to be difficult considering that most of the time he was not with them. The life of being an Army scout or being an entertaining requires constant changes of location. Cody enjoyed his position of respect in both and thrived in creating the person who became legendary.
The book is masterful in separating thi legend from the factual events and even explains events that are questionable with regards to the oftentimes larger than life person.
What is amazing about this nonfiction gem, is its readability. The author writes with a strong personal voice much like a storyteller as he reveals each home, way station, battlefield, ranch, arena and burial site into an actual image frequently accompanied by a photograph/ Barnes is your personal tour guide allowing the reader to comfortably enjoy the legend of Buffalo Bill and the numerous sites while never leaving their home. (He even mentions sites that you don't want to visit after the rain since they are basically impassable due to the mud.)
Besides the history of Buffalo Bill, many other legends and events are discussed while being labeled in the index concluding the book.
Jeff Barnes has also written The Great Plains Guide to Custer and Forts of the Northern Plains. He spends his time as an historian, trustee of the Nebraska State Historical Society, and is a former newspaper editor while residing in Omaha.
For those of us who would enjoy stopping along way on a long trip to learn about an area or to enjoy traveling from the comfort of your home, The Great Plains Guide to Buffalo Bill is the perfect companion for everyone.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Assassins

The Assassins
Gayle Lynds
St. Martin's Press
New York, New York
ISBN:   978-0-312-38090-8
Hardcover
2015
$ 27.99
402 pages

Assassins are professionals who are paid to murder others. Who are these people? Many of us demonize assassins as evil people who live isolated lives. Is that reality? Would anyone know that someone was an assassin by their appearance, their movements or their address? In the real world these people are just like you and me and surprisingly have their own code of ethics.

Judd Ryder is one of these people. He has a strange encounter. As he is walking towards his home, he sees himself leaving his house. Curiously he follows his doppelganger and actually witnesses his double's death in a hit-and-run accident that was obviously an intended assassination. As an assassin what actions do you take when someone kills you?

Added to that, what do your double is killed? Do you return to your home and just resume your life? He relies on his associates to unravel this mystery.

It is quickly revealed that a group of six assassins share a secret. Many years ago, all of them were employed by Saddam Hussein to kill his six financial wizards. These financial bankers were hired to hide Saddam's wealth in various accounts and banks throughout the world. With no one banker knowing the secrets of the other five, he felt this was secure. Quickly Saddam realized their individual knowledge of his wealth could possibly be purchased, he decided to have each one killed by a selected assassin. This way there would be no common elements to draw attention to these killings.

Now it appears that each of these assassins is being blackmailed and targeted for death. Why? By whom? Saddam Hussein has been dead for years so who would have all their contact information?

The Assassins is a riveting tale involving the world of spies, assassins, and mercenary soldiers. This is a masterful tale by a storyteller with a realistic imagination based on some actual events and happenings throughout the world. From a Russian training camp resembling an American city called Bedford to on e of the spy capitols of the world in Marrakech to life today in Iraq including much of the politics of Iraq and Iran as well as the Sunnis and Shiites, The Assassins is an adventure into a world most of us would only want to experience through the life in a book.

The characters are realistic with the setting based on research and current events regarding Iraq.

The author Gayle Lynds was raised in Council Bluffs, Iowa and is the author of many bestselling novels. Her novel, The Last Spymaster won the award of the “Novel of the Year” by the Military Writers Society of America, the American Authors Associations, and was a People magazine “Page-Turner of the Week”. Publishers Weekly has awarded her novel, Masquerade as one of the top ten spy novels of all time. She also authored three books with Robert Ludlum.

For a great page turning read, The Assassins is a thrilling novel by an author who grew up in Council Bluffs.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Book of Madness and Cures

The Book of Madness and Cures
Regina O'Melveny
Little, Brown and Company
Hatchette Book Group
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-316-19583-6
2012
Hardcover
$ 25.99
321 pages



Life in Venice, Italy in the year 1590, Gabriella Mondini is a well-respected doctor with many patients who appreciate her care as a female doctor. She was accepted as a physician in Venice because of the well-respected influence of her father who is also a physician. However brilliant, her father leaves the city, with his absence, Gabriella is no longer allowed to practice medicine.

Her father seems to be own personal quest. This might simply be an excuse for his mental illness. He frequently suffered from fits of manic behavior and times of withdrawal and depression. He views his travels as an opportunity to complete his resource book of maladies and cures.she is no longer allowed to practice medicine.

Gabriella's father had a special relationship with his daughter. His wife, Gabriella's mother had a different perspective and preferred the tradional roles of the time.

Gabriella was her father's daughter. Her mother did not understand her daughter's attraction to medicine. She was naturally slightly jealous of their relationship.Gabriella realized that she was well-respected in the community only because of her father.

With her father's leaving Venice, Gabriella is no longer allowed to continue to treat patients. She had a special bond with many women patients since she really understood their ailments. The local community of physicians do not allow her to practice without her father's support.

Without being able to practice medicine, she had no strong connections to the community. Gabriella decides to find her father and to somehow help him to return to Venice to resume his life and her life as a physician. Gabriella pursues her quest to find her father accompanied by her faithful servants Olmina and Lorenzo.

Being a woman accompanied by both a male and female servant helps in her travels tremendously but many people are wary of a female physician in this male-dominated occupation. Gabriella strives to learn as she travels creating her own resource book of maladies and the treatments.

Oftentimes, I felt that this book was closely following somewhat similar journeys and adventures of Don Quixote, especially with the supportive servants. The book excelled in character development and a true sense of the time and place. The pacing was uneven which is to be expected of a debut novel.

The Book of Madness and Cures is a wonderful debut novel for Regina O'Melveny. The intended audience is for those who enjoy historical romance novels. The strength of this novel is the historical research into the setting actually placing the reader in the time period traipsing around Europe.  There was even consideration to the Gregorian and the Julian calendars and their ten-day difference.  Gabriella and her father were well-developed characters along with her servants. Many of their adventures seemed contrived but overall it was an enjoyable book. For a debut novel, unquestionably delightful.