Category Archives: Books

Time Out of Mind


Time Out of MindTime Out of Mind by John R. Maxim

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Manhattan executive Jonathan Corbin is haunted by memories of another time — memories that do not belong to him. Then, in the midst of a raging New York City snowstorm, the inexplicable images become more vivid and real. And before he knows it, Corbin has stepped into a bygone world of gas-lit streets and horse-drawn carriages — and into the center of a nineteenth-century maelstrom of love, revenge, obsession… and death. Through the swirling snow, he can make out the figure of a woman – someone he can’t possibly recognize, but does; someone he knows he is destined to kill.

A fanciful cross between time-travel, a ghost story, ancestral memory, and a murder mystery, I gave this suspenseful thriller 4 Star because – I Really Liked It!

Make no mistake. The genes we’re born with carry memory. They carry knowledge we’ve never learned, talents we’ve never studied, even fears of things that have never frightened us…. But someone, some time, in our blood lines, had these memories. Yes, you might say that all of us are haunted to some degree. You might very well say that.

Unfortunately, I read this novel on my Kindle, which was a big mistake. The Kindle version is full of punctuation and formatting errors, and there is rarely separation of text between scenes which made the reading confusing at times. I thought this might have been a 5 Star novel for me if I had read it from a physical book. But all things considered, this was still an enjoyable read for me. The plot captivated my imagination, and as the story unfolded it held my interest with both foreboding and hopefulness.

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On the Road


On the RoadOn the Road by Jack Kerouac

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac’s years traveling North America with his friend Neal Cassady. The novel is largely autobiographical with “Sal Paradise” being the author, and “Dean Moriarty” being Neal Cassady, “a young Gene Autry—trim, thin-hipped, blue-eyed, with a real Oklahoma accent—a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” The two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.

I gave this novel 3 Stars — because I Liked It. I read this book as a participant in the Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma, Journey Stories book and discussion program.

They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

Sal Paradise, young and innocent, joins the slightly crazed Dean Moriarty on a ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for fulfillment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American dream. A blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac’s novel defined the Beat Generation.

They were like the man with the dungeon stone and the gloom, rising from the underground, the sordid hipsters of America, a new beat generation that I was slowly joining.

On the Road was written in three weeks in April 1951. The original manuscript was written on a scroll, a continuous one hundred and twenty-foot scroll of tracing paper sheets that Jack Kerouac cut to size and taped together. The scroll was typed single-spaced, without margins or paragraph breaks. Besides differences in formatting, the published novel was shorter than the original scroll manuscript and used pseudonyms for all of the major characters.

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Dark Prophecy


Dark Prophecy (Level 26, #2)Dark Prophecy by Anthony E. Zuiker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Steve Dark was once a lost soul, torn between his family and his one-of-a-kind talent for hunting and catching serial killers-especially those so-called “level 26” killers whose depravity exceeds law enforcement’s official scale of evil. In his reluctant pursuit of justice Dark once crossed the ultimate line, a line that might cause a lesser man to lose himself completely.

Not Dark. When the world took everything from him, when it destroyed the very thing Dark once lived for, it brought a moment of clarity that few before him have witnessed, and sparked a transformation that, several years later, is only just complete.

Dark is now a man on a mission. A mission that no longer requires law enforcement support. A mission unbound by authorities, moral or otherwise, and supported by a mysterious benefactor with unknown goals of her own. A mission that, at long last, allows him to embrace his destiny. Dark is finally ready — ready to take justice to the next level.

I gave this murder mystery-thriller 4 Stars because — I Really Liked It!

Usually, leaving a tarot card was the kind of thing teenagers did at vandalism sites to panic authorities—to be all spooky. You draw a pentagram, you stab a cat, you leave a tarot card. Kid stuff.
The killer was not just some creep using the tarot card for shock value, Dark thought. The killer had a deep connection with the symbolism and ritual of the cards.

I have a special connection to this book, which is why I picked it up to read it in the first place. My nephew’s wife, Angie Bare, is the photographer who took the cover photo for the book, and the man pictured on the cover is actually my nephew. His first name is also Steve, same as the protagonist of this trilogy, Steve Dark. I feel like I’m related to somebody famous.

The author, Anthony E. Zuiker, is the creator and executive producer of the most-watched television show in the world, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, as well as CSI: Miami and CSI: New York. Zuiker is a visionary business leader who speaks professionally about the future of entertainment and storytelling on multiple platforms. A mystery aficionado since childhood, Zuiker’s lifelong dream has been to write a crime novel. Dark Prophecy is the second book in his bestselling Level 26 trilogy. I was fortunate enough to read a galley proof of his third book in the trilogy, Dark Revelations.

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Animal Farm


Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus, the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned — a fairy tale for grown-ups that records an insidious progression from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible.

George Orwell’s classic satire of the Russian Revolution is an intimate part of our contemporary culture, quoted so often that we tend to forget who wrote the original words. It is an account of the bold struggle that transforms Mr. Jones’ Manor Farm into Animal Farm, a wholly democratic society built on the credo: All Animals Are Created Equal. Out of their cleverness, the pigs Napoleon, Squealer, and Snowball emerge as leaders of the new community in a subtle evolution that bears an insidious familiarity. The climax is the brutal betrayal of the faithful horse Boxer, when totalitarian rule is re-established with the bloodstained postscript to the founding slogan: But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others.

I gave this allegory 3 Star because – I Liked It.


The descriptions of violence in this novella left me a bit cold. I was expecting a fairy tale when a bloody revolution snuck up to surprise me.

As ferociously fresh as it was more than half a century ago, this remarkable allegory of a downtrodden society of overworked animals, and their quest to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality is one of the most scathing satires ever published. As we witness the rise and bloody fall of the revolutionary animals, we begin to recognize the seeds of totalitarianism in the most idealistic organization; and in our most charismatic leaders, the souls of our cruelest oppressors.

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Pride And Prejudice


Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For over 150 years, Pride And Prejudice has remained one of the most popular novels in the English language. Jane Austen herself called this brilliant work her “own darling child.” Pride And Prejudice, the story of Mrs. Bennett’s attempts to marry off her five daughters is one of the best-loved and most enduring classics in English literature.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

So begins Pride and Prejudice, a witty comedy of manners that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues.

I gave this classic 4 Stars because — I Really Liked It! I’m proud of myself for becoming a reader. Think what you will, but this was the very first classic that I’d read in my entire life, and one of the first books of any genre. It came free on my Kindle, so I only had to invest a casual effort and give it some time.

Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.

I remember reading this book, thinking to myself, how I’d missed out on this incredible experience my whole life. The experience of being able to pick up a book and to propel myself into late eighteenth-century England. I had never experienced anything like it before.

Since reading Pride and Prejudice, my first classic, I’ve been to the future, I’ve been to the past, and my next trip could very well take me all the way to another world. I have found much adventure and comfort in books. I’ve wept, I’ve chortled. I’ve found a new passion.

In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

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The Story Template


The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of StoryThe Story Template by Amy Deardon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Writing a novel or screenplay sounds like a fabulous idea. But where do you start? And how do you finish?

Award-winning author, Amy Deardon, answers these questions in The Story Template: Conquer Writer’s Block Using the Universal Structure of Story. This approach will help you focus your creativity and complete your unique and compelling story, script, or novel. With this tool and more than 100 targeted writing exercises, you will learn to:
* Ascertain the four foundational story pillars, and use the “secret weapon” of the story template, to structure your story.
* Build character depth with believable change.
* Create subplots to raise tension while you deepen and contrast story themes.
* Review writing techniques that shape your ideas into a compelling manuscript.

The Story Template is a product of Amy’s comprehensive research — as well as her personal experience — for what makes a story “work.” No matter your level of accomplishment, this book will help you build a better story.

I gave this book 5 Star because – It taught me what I wanted to know about how to structure a story for the greatest impact and reader satisfaction, and it gave me the confidence that I can actually do so one day.

When you’ve finished with these exercises, you will be ready to start writing your manuscript, with ease and flow and speed, because you will have already done the hard organizational work.
You will have a detailed roadmap that will allow you to bring your vision — your book or screenplay — to completion.

If you’ve ever thought about writing a novel, or even a short story, this book is for you. If you’ve never written anything before, have writer’s block, or just don’t know how to get started putting your ideas for a great story down on paper, reading this instructional book with its easy to follow exercises is sure to jump-start your imagination and creativity.

While I haven’t published my first widely acclaimed novel just yet, nor started writing it, reading this book has certainly gotten me to believe in the possibility.

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The Dream


The DreamThe Dream by Tyler Scott Hess

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After years of toil working his way up the corporate ladder, Tim has his world turned upside down when his boss turns his back on him and personal tragedy sends him into a tailspin. Tim is forced to make some tough personal decisions while trying to make sense of his dreams.

I gave this book 3 Stars because – I Liked It! I thoroughly enjoyed this authors writing style. The pace of the book was comfortable, and a good story line captivated my imagination and drew me in. However, the conclusion fell flat as the story seemed to cut off abruptly. An epilogue, or a resolution to wrap things up, would have made my reading experience even more enjoyable.

I knew in the deepest recesses of my core that this idea was nothing but a wonderful, impossible dream. That in reality my nightmare was about to unfold before my eyes, the one where I’m left naked on the streets to die like an injured animal that no one cared to pick up out of the gutter and rescue to safety. I am roadkill, rotting on the side of the road, there’s no way out.

As I read the protagonist’s stream of thought, I easily imagined myself in his shoes. I have not ever been literally thrown to the curb as Tim was, but I have felt that same overwhelming feeling where you just want to start walking away and leave your struggles far behind.

Maybe in some far away land there are people who know what they really want to do with their lives. They know who they want to be, then they go out and fulfill their dream.

Tim eventually discovers through his struggles that life isn’t about all the “stuff” you have, it’s about love, the kind of love found in the Bible.

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