Suspense – Not My Mother’s Son

Not My Mother’s SonNot My Mothers Son
By R. K. Avery
Publisher: Brighton Publishing
ISBN: 978-1621830092
Published: November 2012
Pages: 216
Genre: Mystery, Suspense

Devious. Conniving. Deceitful. Insidious. David Miller thought he knew his mother. He thought kidnapping three children was the most appalling and horrendous thing any human being could do and she couldn’t possibly do anything more monstrous. He thought there was nothing else she could do or say that would surprise him. How wrong he was.

After Beatrice Miller, David’s serial-kidnapping mother, is sentenced to thirty years, David moves to Phoenix, Arizona; and with the help of a trust fund and an old friend, he starts the “Never Give Up” foundation, an organization dedicated to finding and returning exploited and missing children safely to their families. With all the wicked things his mother had done, David feels it is his unspoken duty to do something worthwhile.

Hesitant at first, but after reading his mother’s journal, David is determined to mend their dysfunctional relationship. Every time David visits Bea in prison, she seems deranged, insisting that people are trying to kill her. She ends each brief encounter with the chilling statement, “Remember David, things aren’t always what they seem.”

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Memoir – Noy of Nakohn Panome

Noy of Nakohn PanomeNoy of Nakohn Panome
By James Jouppi
ISBN: 9786162221248
Pages: 350
Genre: Memoir

Noy of Nakohn Panome is a Vietnam era memoir written by a former Peace Corps Community Development volunteer who was stationed in a military town in Thailand, seventy-five miles from Vietnam itself. Although it focuses on the day-to-day life of being a Community Development Department volunteer and the author’s relationships with volunteers, Thai villagers, government officials, and, of course, Thai bar girls, the book also makes mention of the larger Intelligence community controlling his Peace Corps life.

“It started after a year in-country when I submitted a report to the Peace Corps office in Bangkok,” Jouppi says. “At the time, there was no formalized contact between CD volunteers and the PC Thailand administration, and I thought that my technical advisor, at least, should know what was going on. After that, perhaps coincidentally, the CIA began to try to reign me in. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that there were more of them (CIA operatives) than there were of of us (PC volunteers) because they were all under cover. I never even knew who they were, and, from what I’ve read, they (the CIA) also had human assets. I didn’t know who they were either. There were also those who were going with the flow, and, as one volunteer told me after my tour was over, and after the operative in his province had been outed by the Thais, he was ‘staying happy by keeping other people happy’. At the time, the term CIA wasn’t even being used, and I’d believed, as a volunteer, that American Intelligence, whatever that entity was, really had our best interests in mind.

It was a bit like the Truman Show, and I felt a bit like Jim Carey. Everyone, including my girlfriend Noy, was just trying to make nice and wondering what was wrong with me that I couldn’t accept the niceness of my fantasy Peace Corps world more graciously; this after all my projects had been designated off-limits.”

The CD program Jouppi writes about is still in existence today although it’s gone through some evolution. While funding for their projects is still a challenge, the CD volunteers–unlike the volunteers in structured teaching programs–are still considered to be blank scrabble pieces who can help facilitate whatever is needed in rural settings.

To the consternation of current Peace Corps administrators, Jouppi, now forty years out of Peace Corps, still has his own ideas insofar as how the Thailand CD program should be structured. “The CD volunteers need to learn the language for a year at AUA (see algworld.com), and they need to intern with farmers for another year before they even think about projects,” Jouppi says. Yada, yada yada.

Noy of Nakohn Panome tells the volunteer story, as Jouppi experienced it, at a time when he didn’t know what was going on. He’s also written a longer memoir, entitled War of Hearts and Minds (also available from the author or online), which goes into his research more deeply.

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Children’s Picture Book – Amazing Matilda: A Monarch’s Tale

Amazing Matilda: A Monarch’s TaleAmazing Matilda
By Bette A. Stevens
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN: 978-1470187668
Published: July 2012
Pages: 34
Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Want to inspire the kids in your life to meet challenges with patience and persistence?

AMAZING MATILDA will show you how. MATILDA becomes discouraged when she is unable to fly during the early stages as a larva. But, this Amazing Monarch never gives up on her dream. Unlike her meadowland friends, Matilda doesn’t want to leap onto ledges or bound across fields, she only wants to fly. At first, Matilda’s friends laugh at her because she doesn’t have wings. They wonder: How can a creature without wings ever hope to fly. While Matilda progresses through the various stages of her metamorphosis from egg to butterfly, her friends recall how they felt before they were able to do all of the things they had dreamed of doing and how hard they had to keep trying to do all of those things. Encouraged by her meadowland friends, MATILDA learns that if she tries hard enough and long enough, she can do anything that she really wants to do.

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Travel Memoir – Touching Velvet: A Year in the Czech Republic

Touching Velvet: A Year in the Czech Republic
By Max Boyle
Publisher: Luke Sam Publishing
ISBN: 978-1475217292
Published: August 2012
Pages: 272
Genre: Travel Memoir

Touching Velvet is the tale of departing a routine job in Britain to spend a year living in the Czech Republic. The book is set largely in the charming South Bohemian town of Tabor, where, a decade after Czechoslovakia’s famed Velvet Revolution of 1989, the author casts off a midlife crisis and embarks on a new, exciting career as an overseas teacher of English, and revels in the expatriate life.

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Fantasy/Romance – World of Ryyah: Birth of the Half Elves

World of Ryyah: Birth of the Half Elves
By H. L. Watson
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
ISBN: 978-1937293420
Pages: 192
Genre: Fantasy, Romance

When Donovan was twelve years old, his village was raided by barbarians; his father killed, his mother taken, and he and the other village boys nearly suffered the same fate. But the raiders made the mistake of taking their captives through the Elven woods. The Elves killed the slavers, but mysteriously decided to spare the boys; instead, the boys were trained in the ways of the Elven Rangers under the tutelage of the beautiful Alayna. Over the years, the boys proved to be a valuable asset to the Elven king, but never more so than when young princess Brandela is taken hostage by a different Barbarian tribe. Donovan sets out to bring back what he assumes will be a haughty princess, but he never expects to fall in love with her!

Donovan & Brandela’s love, forbidden by both of their races, will change the world of Ryyah forever. The fantasy genre is already populated with books featuring Elves of all forms, but somehow Watson has succeeded in crafting a something unique with World of Ryyah: Birth of the Half-Elves. This world is not particularly well-fleshed out yet, but readers get a sense of some of the dynamics at play here: sparsely-populated human regions, fierce barbarians, several distinct groups of Elves, and a definite distrust that exists between the races. But as this novel is only the first in a promised epic series, there is plenty of time for the author to expand on these ideas.

Themes of love, loyalty, and courage are prevalent in this story, and you can’t help but be enchanted by the magic that is strongly woven throughout the world – and the story. Lovers of fantasy novels will find themselves eagerly awaiting the next in this series. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys the genre.

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YA Fantasy – Shapeshifter

Shapeshifter
By Diana Bastine
Publisher: Helm Publishing
ISBN: 978-0983010944
Published: January 2012
Pages: 222
Genre: YA Fantasy

As if Caitlin Flynn doesn’t have enough on her mind – with the impending decision of where to attend college and her budding romance with Fortescue – she finds herself involved in paying an old debt to the Tuatha de Danann, the Fairy Folk. Fairies are disappearing at an alarming rate, and when Caitlin’s cat turns out to be a shape-shifting Tuathat investigating the trouble, she, her father Niall, and their Hamelyn friends Fortescue and Mortimer quickly become embroiled in another fantastical adventure.

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