Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book with a View October 2010

Book Title: Opur’s Blade
Author: James Ross
ISBN: 978-1-9334-4987-6
Publisher: Nightengale Press
Genre and Target Market: fiction, human drama, sports
Publication Date: 2010
Book Length in Pages: 465
Reviewer: Sarah Moore of Writers in the Sky

For the first time in my experience working in the writing and publishing industry, I have had the opportunity to read and review four books from the same author. It is such a pleasure to see the evolution of a writer’s style and message, especially when they are developed in books I have enjoyed so much. After spending hours and hundreds of pages with the work of James Ross, I have an ever-growing sense of his overarching commentary about how we relate to one another and the expectations that we place on people based on stereotypes or superficial characteristics. As with his previous three novels, in his new release, Opur’s Blade, Ross offers us his view through the prism of golf and the background of the Prairie Winds Golf Course.

Opur’s Blade tells the story of Owen Purler, Jr., a preteen boy who is raised by single mother Raylene after his dad, whose job as a trucker never had him around much anyway, leaves the home for good. Owen struggles with self-esteem and an accompanying stuttering problem until Raylene takes him to the Prairie Winds Golf Course to take advantage of free summer lessons. After only a few minutes of hitting balls with old clubs found in storage, club pro J Dub Schroeder realizes that Owen, whose names are combined by the regulars in the clubhouse to form the nickname Opur, has an amazing talent for the game.

While Ross always develops his storylines around the backdrop of golf, Opur’s Blade focuses more detail on the execution of the sport than all of his other three novels combined. Nearly half of the pages in the novel are dedicated to Opur’s participation as an unlikely contender in the most prestigious of all golf tournaments—The Classic. Ross takes his readers through the mechanics of the play and the rollercoaster emotions at every hole, as the championship title comes down to the underdog Opur and Tank Olgethorpe, a past champion who carries all of the bravado and fan support that a celebrity would expect to have. Through his writing, Ross displays an obvious expert knowledge of the game, both from a player’s perspective and for those who love to watch the drama unfold from the viewing areas or on their television screens. Readers who are avid about the sport of golf will find wonderful content to meet their interest in Opur’s Blade.

This is not to say that fans of Ross who follow his work for its characters and social commentary will be left out due to a more dominant focus on golf. Instead, I believe that this may be Ross’ most compelling and focused work yet in terms of its character development and richness in exploring human relationships. As I progressed through Opur’s Blade, I found myself rooting for Opur as he struggled to overcome a troubled and lonely childhood and eventually find his way onto the biggest stage in golf. James Ross offers the relationship I formed with Opur to all of his readers by creating a young man who is determined, optimistic, but also, like the rest of us, flawed in character. We all have been the underdog at some point in our lives, and it is wonderful to read such a touching story about someone who succeeds in spite of having the odds stacked against him.

If you have read James Ross’ previous novels, Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey’s Course, then you already are familiar with his detailed and vibrant writing style and I have no doubt that you will find the same literary satisfaction in reading Opur’s Blade. If you are new to Ross’ work, you do not need to return to his other books in order to enjoy this new release. But, I imagine that you will want to read the earlier books that take place at Prairie Winds Golf Course once you have finished Opur’s Blade. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves golf, a great underdog story, or a thoughtful examination of the fight that exists in every human spirit.

Book Title: He Blew Her a Kiss: Communications From Loved Ones Who Have Passed
Authors: Angie Pechak Printup and Kelley Stewart Dollar
ISBN: 1432760920
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Link to purchaseReviewer: Vonnie Faroqui

This wonderful collection of real life accounts will touch your heart and be the opening for many a healing moment between friends and family.

He Blew Her a Kiss is a collection of inspirational stories relating experiences of communication from loved ones who have passed. The entire volume has been compiled, with sincere and gentle treatment by the authors, from email submissions by and personal conversations with ordinary people. Accounts of after death communication [ADC] are difficult to explain in terms of religion or dogma, but are not uncommon, regardless of cultural or ethnic background. However, acceptance of the phenomenon is not necessary for enjoyment of the book. Instead of being sad or depressing the stories are touching and within moments will draw the reader into empathic resonance. The book will be especially gratifying to those who have had similar mystical experiences. Readers who have second hand or no ADC experiences to share, but for who near death and after death experiences are of interest, will also be attracted to these life affirming stories.

The idea for the book came to Angie Printup after a dear friend related what might be called, an extraordinary coincident by some and by others, a tiny miracle of after death communication. Kelley Dollar, a long time friend of Printup, was asked to assist in transforming the rough first person stories into a third person narrative form that proves to be both thoughtful and effective. The authors show tremendous sensitivity and embrace the mystery of ADC experiences with loving acceptance. It is obvious from the care and treatment of the stories that helping others overcome devastating loss and grief is the primary purpose of this work and their book. They have been tremendously successful in compiling the stories tastefully, without unnecessarily adding to or sensationalizing the individual accounts.

Believing that our consciousness continues after death, or in the possibility of communication with loved ones who are in spirit, is unimportant next to the immeasurable comfort and relief sharing these experiences bring. It is hard to refute the validity of a mystical experience one has not shared and the authors waste no time in trying to win supporters. They simply and deftly offer the stories up as messages of hope and comfort. Those with similar accounts to share will immediately relate and waste no time in debating the validity of ADC. Others will look to these stories for inspiration and as an affirmation of faith guiding the way into an afterlife full of hope and continued purpose.

He Blew Her a Kiss is a beautiful volume of collected stories that you will want to share with others. Not all of the stories are dramatic examples of after-death communication, relating instead simple and poignant moments that have brought healing in times of grief. Some of the accounts are quite extraordinary and impossible to explain; all are uplifting and demonstrate humanity’s capacity to love beyond any obstacle, even death. The book is slim, attractive, and would make a wonderful gift for conversational reading and is suitable for those suffering loss as an aid through times of grief.


Book Title: Infinite Exposure
Author: Roland Hughes
ISBN: 978-0-9770866-9-6
Publisher: Logikal Solutions
Genre and Target Market: thriller; current events; fiction
Publication Date: 2010
Book Length in Pages: 469
Reviewed by: Sarah Moore

You can imagine a suitcase exploding in the middle of Times Square, slaughtering hundreds of tourists and commuters in its wake. We have seen the aftermath of a suicide bomber who makes a violent statement at a crowded marketplace in Baghdad. But, how many of us have contemplated the possibility of a terrorist plot that does not involve a single missile or IED? In his compelling novel Infinite Exposure, Roland Hughes challenges his readers to look at a world in which technology, economics, and old-fashioned greed merge to spark the Armageddon in a way that, although perhaps much different than most of us have imagined, seems all too plausible.

At the heart of the plot in Infinite Exposure is the desire by Kent Braxton, a business school graduate eager to move up the management ranks of First Global Bank, to find some cost-cutting measures for his company and therefore earn the promotion and larger salary that he craves. His solution, marketed to him by Big Four Consulting, is to consolidate all of the bank’s data centers to one location in India. Now, one-third of the world’s money supply will be traveling through a place in which the workers receive little training and are subject to minimal security checks, and where al Qaeda can easily infiltrate. The consequences of this naïve and ill-informed decision result in a run on money and resources that is catastrophic.

Hughes lends substantial credibility to his work through the ease with which he employs the language of computer systems and data networks in his writing. As someone who admittedly is not well-versed in these fields, I found my literary comfort level stretched when reading the technical details in Infinite Exposure. However, I also realized that I was reading the work of someone who approached the dire situation he lays out in his book with the expertise to know that the scenario is not necessarily restricted to the world of fiction. While I may not have understood every reference to backup media and terminal emulators, I became convinced of the warning that Hughes sends us in the pages of his novel.

Beyond detailing the technological manipulations that take place on a global scale, Infinite Exposure puts forth questions of ethics and international policy that should result in its readers looking at the stories on the 24-hour news networks from a different perspective. How is the drive to relocate our businesses to offshore sites in order to increase the profit margin opening the doors for terrorists to infiltrate our financial systems? What happens when we allow corporate greed to take precedence over sound and informed decision-making? What are the consequences of partnering with strange bedfellows, such as Nazis who want to harvest the organs of captured terrorists, when a shared enemy is being hunted?

As someone who always has been drawn to novels with a basis in history or actual world events, I was naturally curious about the premise put forth by Roland Hughes in Infinite Exposure. It did not take long for his masterful writing and chilling use of realistic scenarios and personalities to engage me fully in the storyline. While not a book that you can curl up in a chair and read in one Sunday afternoon sitting, Infinite Exposure will drive you forward through each new chapter as the simmering tension developed by Hughes slowly mounts with sophisticated craftsmanship. I strongly encourage everyone to read Infinite Exposure by Roland Hughes and then decide if our collective fear over national security threat levels has overlooked a more dangerous attack than any of us have imagined.

White Gold Railroad: Plaster City Narrow Gauge
Charles M. O’Herin
Link Pen Publishing (2008)
ISBN 9780977627912
Reviewed by Marty Shaw for Reader Views

Providing an in-depth look at the Plaster City Railroad, “White Gold Railroad” is great for train aficionados, train model enthusiasts, and history buffs. The book provides an in-depth look at the narrow gauge railroad, complete with detailed histories and both black-and-white and color photos.

The Plaster City Railroad is an example of progress by necessity. When Samuel W. Dunaway envisioned the creation of Imperial Gypsum and Oil Company in the 1920s, a way to transport the products from the quarry to the production plant also had to be created. Unlike other railroads that have occasionally doubled as a public transportation system, the rails at Plaster City have always been dedicated to the sole purpose of moving gypsum, a soft mineral used to make plaster, Sheetrock®, agricultural soil conditioner, and some cements.

The layout of the book makes information easy to find by splitting the history into distinct categories – Historical Summary, Trains & Operations, Structures, and Flora & Fauna. Detailed indexes make easy work of locating a particular figure or photograph by providing easy-to-read lists that provide page numbers, figure/photo names, and brief summaries of each item.

I thought “White Gold Railroad” provided an interesting look into the past, providing some provocative insight into Sam Dunaway’s efforts of transforming his vision into reality. Instances such as getting the attention of potential investors by including the word ‘Oil’ in the company name of Imperial Gypsum and Oil Company, although there was never any evidence of oil being found in the area, reveal how dedicated the man was to his idea…and how lucky he was that gypsum turned out to be such a profitable product that the lack of said oil never caused any investor relationships to turn sour. The fact that the Plaster City Railroad is still hauling loads of gypsum today is another testament to the vision of a man who saw potential where others did not.

I was also impressed by the work and the challenges faced by the engineers who were dedicated to making the railroad work. The terrain and weather of the Imperial Valley in California were not forgiving adversaries and a lot of work went into designing, and re-designing, a transportation system that could withstand the harsh environment.

With “White Gold Railroad,” Mr. O’Herin set out to create a book that would “give railroad hobbyists, enthusiasts, and historians equal consideration of their interests” and I believe he did exactly that with this detailed look at the Plaster City Railroad from it’s origins to it’s present-day operations.


The Lost Secret of the Green Man: Book 2 (The Crystal Keeper Chronicles)
Tiffany Turner
Trafford Publishing (2009)
ISBN 9781426921575
Reviewed by Evan Weldon (age 8) for Reader Views

The Lost Secret of the Green Man: Book 2” by Tiffany Turner is an AWESOME book! This book is about two girls who go into the fairy world to help save the bees that the fairies are finding dead everywhere. The first chapter is a little bit slow but the rest of the book is page-turning entertainment.

The book starts out on Wanda’s first day of middle school. Wanda is no ordinary kid. She is a Crystal Keeper and has a cat named Brewford who is a sorcerer. As a Crystal Keeper she does missions for the fairies. Once she gets to school, class starts and she meets a girl named Eddie. They become best friends. But unbeknownst to Wanda, Eddie, like her, is a Crystal Keeper and has a mission from the fairies. After school Eddie said that she knew a place that Wanda would like, so they ran to the park. At the park there was a little hill with a tree which was Eddie’s special tree for entering the fairy world. Then Eddie revealed to Wanda that she was a Crystal Keeper and that the fairy queen had a job for the two of them. All the bees were dying and that since the bees helped the fairies before, now it was time for the fairies to help the bees. So the girls headed to a crystal store to do research and found a book about the Green Man. The Green Man balanced the forest life but now that most people thought he was a myth, he went into hiding. Eddie and Wanda go in search of the Green Man in hopes that he will know why the bees are dying and can help them. Will they find the Green Man? Does he know what is happening to the bees? Can they save the bees? Is some evil brewing?

The mission was more dangerous and complicated than they had anticipated. Luckily, they had the help of Chyra, a unicorn, and Brewford’s crystal-ball reading teacher who was a cat. The crystal ball revealed secrets even graver than the bees dying. Will Wanda and Eddie be able to help? Will they survive?

I would recommend this book to all my friends. “The Lost Secret of the Green Man: Book 2” book is great. There is something in it for everyone to enjoy. It leaves off on a cliff hanger, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the third book!

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