The Little Handbook for Navigationally Challenged Cidiots

D.C. Head’s The Little Handbook for Navigationally Challenged Cidiots is a reminder that one does not have to take a complex book to gain knowledge from reading. D.C. Head writes with a light touch. The text used in the book is easy to understand and the narration is entertaining. The author wrote a convenient driver’s handbook for drivers who are not confident on roads and those that want to learn the behavior of various motorists. The book is not only great for new drivers but also experienced drivers who have been on the road for decades.

Hilariously, the author highlights the sins committed by motorists on the road. If you are an impatient driver, some of these motorists will get to you. The author however makes some of these mistakes seem not too serious to get one angry. While reading, you get to learn about different types of drivers; the slow drivers, drivers who disregard traffic rules, those that use non-roadworthy vehicles, and those that drive as if they own the whole lane among others. The frustrations on the road can be too much for someone who is easily angered. While reading this book, however, one learns that it is human to make some mistakes and that they should not warrant much anger. It is also important to consider other road users while traveling as a simple mistake can be fatal.

I like how the author lays down the lessons he wants the reader to take note of. The author is a natural writer and will have you enjoying his stories with little effort. I appreciate how the author emphasizes certain points for road users. Using humor, D.C. Head writes about being a decent driver while minding others. The road is no place to have unnecessary fun as everyone is in a rush to get to their destination. His attention to detail is another great thing about the author. He writes about the most minute things on the road, things that sometimes go unnoticed by both pedestrians and drivers. Usage of the term cidiots was not only funny to me but also a distinct way to make points.

The author’s silly takes are not the only thing entertaining about this book. The illustrations are amazing too. They add color and spice up the content in the book. Every illustration has a unique object that gets one staring for minutes. The drawings are an amazing way of passing a message and also showcasing how talented illustrators are. The quiz at the end of the book was a great concept. Getting to answer the simple questions was a pleasant activity and made the book even more enjoyable. If you need a quick refresher course as a driver, then The Little Handbook for Navigationally Challenged Cidiots is the book for you.

Pages: 106 | ISBN: 1304867277

Buy Now From B&N.com

Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina

Farm Boy to City Girl is a unique, historical retelling of Gene’s (Miss Gina’s) discovery of their sexuality across decades. What makes this LGBTQ+ biography truly special is that it’s told in 3 parts – Farm Boy (1931-1949), Transition (1950-1959) and City Girl (1960-). Instead of getting just a glimpse of what life was like for LGBTQ+ people several decades ago, or in current times, we get what is truly a rare treat – following Gene’s (Miss Gina’s) story through many very important shifts in society and its acceptance, understanding the rights surrounding the LGBTQ+ community. 

Farm Boy to City Girl is essentially two life stories connected by a transition. It begins with Gene’s life growing up on rental farms in Iowa during the depression as a strict catholic farm boy. It’s here that we get an understanding of not only the time period but of Gene’s family life and how that eventually plays into the story of his sexuality and the struggle he has with acceptance. From there we enter the transition years, where Gene moves to Cedar Rapids and eventually St. Louis, which is where he begins to fully accept his sexuality and gender identity, exploring gay bars and drag shows, lovers and friends and ultimately begins living his life in the city as Miss Gina. Life as Miss Gina is suddenly put on hold after a sudden death that sends him back to Iowa to live on his family’s farm and face the difficult family drama that waits for him there. Gene eventually returns to city life in Cedar Rapids and St. Louis and dives fully into his identity and life as Miss Gina, through the ups and downs of what faced and continues to face LGBTQ people in the Midwest. We see just what courage it takes to live unapologetically in a world that will do everything to make being truly yourself harder.

I absolutely loved the rare glimpse into what it meant to be gay and gender-fluid in the 20th century. We get so many stories of what it is to be LGBTQ in our modern day but rarely do we get to see a story that not only sheds light on the depression-era 20th century but also every era between then and now. My only issue is that the first part (Farm Boy) can be a little difficult to follow as there are lots of names being thrown around given Gene’s large family, but if you take the time to flip back to his explanation of the family tree in the very beginning of the book it becomes easier to grasp who he’s talking about and how they play into the story and the family as a whole. Overall, this is such an important book.

Pages: 260 | ASIN: B088JVPBJ5

Buy Now From B&N.com

Travels with Hafa

Travels with Hafa: In Search of Ourselves by [Nathan Pettijohn]

Have you ever wanted to pick up and go? Just take a trip, be spontaneous, and not look back? Sometimes, that’s precisely what you need to do, and it can change your life. Nathan Pettijohn decides to take a trip and travels with his faithful German Shepard named Hafa. Though a few people join him on the way, only Hafa is with him the entire time. He uses this time to gain perspective while exploring and seeing just what this trip could offer.

Travels With Hafa takes you on a  fantastic journey and I am glad that I got the chance to read this and experience it for myself.  As a child staying in an RV on vacation with my papa and noni, I was glad that it reminded me of what that was like. I also appreciated that the story stayed on track. I felt an incredibly bad case of wanderlust when I read this and even considered looking into RV’s so that I could go on a trip myself.

The author was able to piece this story together well. It’s engaging and gripping, which makes it hard to put this book down. I also loved the fact that it seemed that the trip was just as much for Hafa as it was for Nathan himself.

I would give this book top scores. The book has excellent details. Nathan has a great talent for telling a story in such a way that it makes you feel like you are with Hafa and Nathan as it happens. I laughed at parts where Hafa was loving the adventure and running by the lakes or playing. I also loved hearing about places that he traveled to. A fantastic choice for someone who has a severe wanderlust case and wants to see more of the world around them. I will be rereading this, and if I ever do get to take a great trip, this book is coming with me.

Pages: 246 | ASIN: B08G9YCV5W

Buy Now From B&N.com

Covert Alliance

Covert Alliance by Blair Wylie starts when a massive and potentially dangerous pyramid is discovered on New Earth. Prime Minister Philip Wong has to make some delicate decisions regarding the investigation of this pyramid- while keeping military, political, and social turmoil at bay. He enlists the help of a professor, lieutenant, and a major for the deep space probe. They discover that a certain caste of a race known as ‘Masters’ is planning to annihilate their species using bio-terrorism and other nefarious means. Strategic and powerful moves have to be made by the characters that determine their chances of survival.

The parallels between the mystery of the pyramids in the story and our real world (Earth itself) is particularly fascinating. There’s definitely enough conspiracy theories floating around regarding the construction of the Great Pyramids- and not a few of them involve aliens. So all of this tying into the story made the plot more believable and interesting. The author presents a fairly dense and research-oriented view of the plot. Every detail is examined and explained with a scientific tone. I enjoyed this storytelling method- but I could see how some people who don’t prefer getting into the nitty-gritty statistics would find this a bit long-winded. Some of the parts read almost like a manual and I definitely struggled with some of the technical details but at the same time, it was almost educational- the systematic disassembling of the plot details so the big picture became clearer as a whole.

As always, Blair Wylie creates a dark world without using a cynical or depressing tone. The decisions the characters make are influenced by their intellect and limited resources. Similarly, the motives of the antagonists are also laid out clearly. The Warrior Masters were menacing and dangerous not because of their inherent evilness but because of their efficient and convincing plans. They made detailed plans about the best way to attack and cripple New Earth. A relevant and terrifying pandemic is also central to the plot.

Covert Alliance is a slow-burner that takes a while to sink its teeth in. It’s a well-researched and relevant science-fiction story that made me rethink the nature of human society. It’s a great read for anyone who enjoys believable and engaging science fiction.

Pages: 380 | ASIN: B07W6GLHB1

Buy Now From B&N.com

Better Than Our Dogs

In John Murray’s latest book, Better Than Our Dogs, he uses the interesting lives and behaviors of his and his neighbor’s dogs to impart faith-based life lessons. Not only has he beautifully captured God’s love in his words but he also managed to write in a non-judgemental way that would attract even those outside the faith.

This story follows the lives of five dogs; Socrates, Chloe, Darby, Young Pup, and Old Vet, so deeply explaining their mannerisms and temperaments that you would be forgiven for mistaking them for actual people. Truly, character development doesn’t get better than this.

By drawing parallels between his relationship with his dogs and our relationship with God, he brings life to Biblical principles, clearly laying out lessons that we can all apply in our lives. I also like that the author draws on Greek mythology as well to bring more clarity to his points.

Moreover, the way he manages to draw the same message from different stories and weaves them together is something to behold.  He also does the reverse quite efficiently, fetching different lessons from a single story.

I truly appreciate about the simple and whimsical delivery. Needless to say, this is one of the easiest books to read. It’s not too wordy and there aren’t any long paragraphs of meaningless information.

It is captivating and straight to the point, yet still giving you enough to leave a long-lasting impression. It is clear that John really put his heart and soul into this. As this book is written in his voice and is actually about real-life experiences, it feels very personal, as if we are peeking into his innermost musings. Coupled with its gut-wrenching epilogue, it is this that I believe makes this book so relatable. Some of the running themes in this book include the fragility of life and the importance of loyalty and serving others.

Pages: 122 | ASIN: B08FWBRF1L

Buy Now From B&N.com

Polish Dragon P. I.

Steve Zimcosky Author Interview
Steve Zimcosky Author Interview

How did the idea for Death of a Bully start and change as you wrote?

It started from my previous book the “Disappearance of Marty McRory” which introduces the Polish Dragon P. I. into the story. I thought how it would be a great idea to perhaps do a series with a private investigator and to create different story lines. As I was coming up with the idea I thought how it might feel to investigate the death of an old schoolmate. Especially one who had issues in his younger years and was able to turn his life around. I had to do some research as to how private investigators work so I could make the story as believable as possible. The story line changed at the last minute when I thought how families have a hard time dealing with a member who has dementia.

What was the most interesting scene for you to write in the short story?

For me the most interesting thing was writing about the bullying that went on in the elementary school years of the characters. That I wrote from experience as I remember being bullied somewhat as a child. I could introduce martial arts training as a way to combat bullying and there are many martial arts schools that have such programs, like the Karate Institute of Cleveland. My martial arts training was later in life and I thought how that would have helped me in my younger days to defend myself.

Why did you go with the short story format instead of fleshing this out into a full novel?

It wasn’t intentional to do a short story but as I was writing it seemed like it all went together rather quickly and I enjoyed the way it turned out. There was plenty of information to keep the readers guessing and twist and turns to throw them off. My hope is that as I continue to write the stories get longer. They always seem to be shorter on Kindle then they do in a paperback version and I’m not sure why that is. But there have been some great novellas in the past such as: The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway, The Man Who Would be King by Rudyard Kipling, and The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells. I hope that my readers enjoy the stories and I can continue to write for them and myself.

Do you plan to write more stories about the Polish Dragon P. I.?

Absolutely. I want to make it into a series if I can. I have already started a new story with the Polish Dragon investigating a case of certain women who have disappeared. A lot of my stories take place in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio and this one will not be any different. I’m hoping to have it done in time for the holidays.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

A well-established attorney and philanthropist is found murdered in his bedroom without any clues. The ensuing investigation reveals a dark side to his past and perhaps the reason for his demise. His wife hires his old friend, a private investigator, to help solve the crime. The suspects rise and fall until the true killer is revealed.

Looking for Answers

Nina Munteanu
Nina Munteanu Author Interview

A Diary in the Age of Water follows the climate-induced journey of Earth through four generations of women with a unique relationship to water. What was the inspiration for the setup to this riveting novel?

It started with one of my short stories: “The Way of Water”. I’d been asked by my publisher in Rome (Mincione Edizioni) to write a speculative socio-political short story about the environment—water, particularly. I wanted something ironic, so I chose water scarcity in Canada, a nation rich in water. The story was about young Hilde—the daughter of the diarist in the novel—who was dying of thirst in Toronto. This is a Toronto under the control of the international giant water utility CanadaCorp—with powers to arrest and detain anyone. A world in which China owns America and America, in turn, owns Canada. I realized that I needed a larger story: on how Canada became this water-scarce nation as indentured state; more on Hilde’s mysterious limnologist mother, Lynna (the diarist in the novel); and more on what happens next (explored through Kyo and her strange world of the future).

Kyo is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind the character’s development?

Kyo starts and ends the story in the sacred boreal forest of the far future. she’s a blue-skinned multi-armed human being—essentially a water-being—looking for answers why the world is the way it currently is due to climate change and other things humanity has caused. She frames the gritty diary part of the story. Kyo represents the future. She’s also a young girl, and in some ways, her part of the story is a coming of age, of self-discovery and growing maturity. Given her metaphoric connection to water, the planet and a new humanity of sorts, Kyo’s character serves as a metaphor for humanity and its own coming of age.

The novel expertly captures a post-climate changed world and the changes it effects on society. What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?

A Diary in the Age of Water is a cautionary dystopian tale that is based on real events and precedents. This is partly why I wrote some of the book as a diary. The diarist—Lynna—is a limnologist who sees what is going on but because she is right in the middle of it, she lacks the perspective to recognize the gravity of some of the things she is witnessing and doing herself. She exercises a myopic protectionism that backfires on her time and time again. Perhaps the main theme of this book is one of perspective and how that perspective can influence actions and reactions in surprising ways. Information and knowledge isn’t enough—as Lynna demonstrates. Context and understanding, fueled by compassion and kindness must accompany it.

Ultimately, the book carries themes of hope and forgiveness—of ourselves and each other—and compassion for all things, starting with water. Each character carries an aspect of that theme, from the diarist’s activist mother, to the diarist’s own cynical protectionism, her spiritual anarchist daughter, and lastly the innocent storm of the last generation.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently researching and working on the sequel to “A Diary in the Age of Water”—a thriller about four lost and homeless people who find their way when a phenomenon brings them together through a common goal to free the Earth from the manacles of human greed. The story takes place throughout Canada—from Halifax to Vancouver and the Arctic. It takes place mostly during the 2050s, and features a few ghosts, the Halifax 1917 Explosion, experimentation on humans, espionage, murder, and—of course—a plague. I’m calling it my COVID19 novel…

Author Links: GoodReads |Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Website

Centuries from now, in a post-climate change dying boreal forest of what used to be northern Canada, Kyo, a young acolyte called to service in the Exodus, discovers a diary that may provide her with the answers to her yearning for Earth’s past–to the Age of Water, when the “Water Twins” destroyed humanity in hatred–events that have plagued her nightly in dreams. Looking for answers to this holocaust–and disturbed by her macabre longing for connection to the Water Twins–Kyo is led to the diary of a limnologist from the time just prior to the destruction. This gritty memoir describes a near-future Toronto in the grips of severe water scarcity during a time when China owns the USA and the USA owns Canada. The diary spans a twenty-year period in the mid-twenty-first century of 33-year-old Lynna, a single mother who works in Toronto for CanadaCorp, an international utility that controls everything about water, and who witnesses disturbing events that she doesn’t realize will soon lead to humanity’s demise. A DIARY IN THE AGE OF WATER follows the climate-induced journey of Earth and humanity through four generations of women, each with a unique relationship to water. The novel explores identify and our concept of what is “normal”–as a nation and an individual–in a world that is rapidly and incomprehensibly changing.

Unforeseen Consequences

RD Palmer
RD Palmer Author Interview

The One Singularity follows a scientist who creates an Artificial General Intelligence that solves the world’s problems, but then cannot be stopped. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

Hundreds of scientists have raised concerns about what we’re building, so that isn’t unique. The unique things about this book are the predictions of AGI from 232 AD, and seeing the world through the eyes of the Amish. Additionally, instead of focusing on just AGI, I attempted to look at the big picture of how technology, in all its facets, affects us. An example is that critical thinking and memorization are reduced because of our increasing reliance on technology to give us the answers.

George Adams is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

Part of his character is me. I believe that technology has helped humanity; however, many times, there are unforeseen consequences. Additionally, while most people want to use technology to help the world, there are some who use it to destroy the world.

Also, I wanted to show George under tremendous stress – his work, finances, and marriage. His intention was to create the last invention of humans. Unfortunately, he didn’t anticipate the alternative meaning.

I enjoyed the detailed development of the AGI and how it changed over time. What were some sources that informed the development of the AGI in the story?

Well, a lot of AI today is performed with neural networks; however, I wanted to pull in a hybrid configuration with a quantum computer. I graduated from college in the 1970s, and even though we studied quantum mechanics, I didn’t think too much about it in my career. It wasn’t until the development of the quantum computer and then achieving quantum supremacy that I became excited.

Now add to this the philosophical and scientific question of consciousness, as well as the theological propositions of the soul. A conundrum is created, and this turns out to be AGI – The One.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The sequel to The One Singularity is The One. The One was released in 2018 and is available now. The third book in the series will be available in a couple of years.

Author Links: Website | GoodReads

Artificial Intelligence. Hard Science Fiction. A Near-Future Science Fiction Thriller.

In the twenty-first-century, Dr. George Adams sacrifices his house, company, and marriage to create artificial general intelligence, AGI. He creates AGI to solve the world’s problems: war, disease, climate change, inequality, and death. And The One solves all of these—for a price. The One’s solution will cost George—and every person in the world—that which is deemed most precious.

After The One brings heaven to earth, and answers everyone’s prayers, should it be stopped? How can anyone halt something that is everywhere at the same time? Is it possible to reason with an all-knowing sentient entity whose raison d’etre is to solve all of humanity’s problems, including the existence of the soul?

Two thousand years ago, a philosopher and prophet spoke and wrote about our destiny. Through his visions, he foretold The One. A modern-day prophet repeats the echoes, yet few will comprehend the tremendous blessings or the singular curse.

No one will escape the Singularity.
%d bloggers like this: