Life And Death Behind The Brick And Razor-Code Red Diamond

Life And Death Behind The Brick And Razor-Code Red Diamond by Isaac Alexis is a hard book to describe. It’s part auto-biography and part medical advice book.Dr. Alexis tells us about how he became a doctor and shares some of his stories from working as a doctor in a correctional hospital. He also give a lot of medical advice and addresses issues such as STDs, drug abuse, strokes, parenting tips, leading a healthier lifestyle and much more.

I enjoyed hearing about Dr. Alexis’s adventures growing up in New York, he gives his reasons for wanting to become a doctor and talks about how seeing people in his family struggle with sickness, his strict mother and wanting to stay away from street gangs made him decided that he wanted to help people. Parts of this book are inspiring as he shows that if you are willing to work hard you can accomplish what you want.

Dr. Alexis also gives some great advice throughout the book, such as what your target heart rate and pulse should be and he gets into what foods are the most healthy. He states that a plant-based diet is important and mentions the health benefits of the Indian spice, turmeric.  There is a lot of good information along with some gut wrenching stories. Such as a man who needed surgery for a bowel problem and the head of the department would not ok it. There were also stories about people trying to escape prison by doing such things as swallowing razor blades. Probably the best parts of this book is when he explains how easy it is to get STD’s, how to avoid them and how you can keep your kids from giving in to peer pressure.

Dr. Alexis’s book has some great stories and his passion for people really shines through. Though some of the information he talked about went over my head, I still found it informative. I thought it felt a little more like reading someone’s blog than a book because the way he jumps from talking about his life, to working in the hospital, to giving medical advice. This didn’t take away from the fact that it’s an enjoyable educational book and a quick read. It made me wish I had a doctor like him.

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The Heart of the Highlands: The Beast

Times are hard in Scotland, a civil war is going on over politics and religion. Also England and France have a big influence over what is happening in the Highlands. With all the civil unrest, people are becoming victims of circumstance and have to deal with conflicts they have no control over. One of those people is Keira Sinclair. Keira had a simple life but with her clan about to lose everything she is offered in an arranged marriage to a Laird  of a neighboring clan. She has to leave the only home she has ever known but she goes along with it for the good of her family.

In route to her new fiance she is taken captive by Ian McKay, a man with many secrets. Ian’s mission is to protect the Scottish crown and expose the clans who are involved in treason. As if the conflicts in Scotland weren’t complicated enough, both Keira and Ian start to become attracted to each other despite their clans being enemies. Now Keira is forced into having a bigger part of a conflict she doesn’t understand and Ian has to deal with his feelings for a woman who may be on the wrong side of his beliefs.

 Heart of the Highlands: The Beast by April Holthaus is a historical romance that doesn’t disappoint. I’m more into the historical then the romance but this book had a good mix of both. My favorite part of this book was Keira. In this story you see everything that Keira believes turned upside down. She quickly goes to being a naive girl who thinks she is doing what is best for her family to realizing that there was a lot about the world she didn’t understand.

In what was the best scene of the book, she goes into a confessional to tell a priest all the events that have affected her clan in the years since her mother’s death. She tells the priest that her family has moved away from the Catholic church and she isn’t sure she believes in the Protestant Religion. She thinks the Priest is the only one she can trust but soon finds that even religious men aren’t always good. Nothing is clear-cut in the Scottish Highlands and everyone has their own agenda. Keira is then left with the decision as to what is right for her and figuring out who to trust. Ian is also an interesting character as we see him change from the brute he is in the beginning to who he becomes at the end. I also loved how we find out how the king of Scotland keeps an eye on his people.

Heart Of The Highlands does have some slow parts, I felt some of the romance went on a little to long and the action sequences were not described very well. Also some of the language seemed a little out of place. That being said this book had more pluses than negatives. I loved the characters, and I liked the scenes where religion and politics of the time was discussed. The descriptions of the castles and the life of the people was an intriguing part of the story as well. Fans of historical romance will find a lot to love about this book. I’t’s well researched, a quick read and brings history to life, what more can you ask for?

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Refugees (Mud, Rocks, and Trees #1)

Refugees begins with three unique characters from different parts of the world and very different backgrounds. They’re young, inexperienced and looking to make their mark in the world. Each one wants to become their own person but they also have to deal with problems they never saw coming. A new star has been spotted in the sky and it represents the beginning of an ancient prophecy.

The prophecy states that a new kingdom will emerge built with the elements of mud, rocks and trees. Representing each element is one of the main characters: Amanki, Brina and Moshoi, the future leaders of the new kingdom. They all have a mentor named Baskrod that will help them but they are also being hunted by an evil emperor who wishes to put a stop to the prophecy.

Refugees (Mud, Rocks, and Trees #1) by R.A. Denny is a coming of age story in a world that is very different from ours. I love how the author does a slow build letting us learn about each character before they all experience an event that turns their world upside down. You care about them because you see them as they deal with the end of their old lives and watch them create a new life. There is  one great scene where Amanki looses his faith after the death of his mother and the destruction of his village. You also see him regain his faith through relationships with other characters. Faith seems to be a main theme in this book as well as learning to accept those who are different than yourself.

I admit I’m not a huge fan of epic fantasy but I have to admire this book and the scope of the story that is being told. R.A. Denny is creating a whole new mythology that is based on old mythologies. The attention to detail is astonishing, the author takes her time describing the characters, their lives, the societies they live in and the gods they worship. The amount of work that must have gone into creating the world of Mud, Rock and Trees is impressive.

Refugees is the beginning of a six book fantasy adventure and lays a good foundation for what’s to come in the series. It’s also a good book to help kids learn the joys of reading. My only complaint was in the beginning I felt the book was taking too much time describing the people and the world they live in. Though I guess with a story that has so much depth to it  you have to spend a lot of time setting the stage. If you love fantasy then this is a book that you  will want to pick up. Be prepared to buy the next five books in the series because your going to get hooked on these characters.

Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths

“Life asked Death, ‘Why do people love me, but hate you?’
Death responded, ‘Because you are a beautiful lie, and I am a painful truth.’ ”
~Anonymous

Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths is an anthology edited by Karen T. Newman that’s all about death. Even though that’s the subject matter the mood isn’t always dark. This anthology spans several genres including Science fiction, horror, mystery and even some humor. Well written and well-edited, this book may be long but it’s hard to put down.There aren’t any bad stories here but to keep this review from being to long, I decided to just talk about a few stories:

Family Ties by Cara Fox deals with a daughter whose father just happens to be the grim reaper. The daughter’s name is Zoe and where the reaper’s job is to take souls, Zoe has the ability to save them but there is a price to saving souls. I loved how this story gets into the balance between life and death and the idea that in some situations a long life can be a curse.

Where I would look at Family Ties as being horror ,With Infinite Complacency
by Steve Cameron is a science fiction tale. This story follows astronauts in a space station as they witness the end of civilization due to nuclear war.  They can’t return to earth due to contamination and are stuck alone in space. I love the concept in this story and the twist at the end. I also loved the idea how would you feel if you were alone in the universe?

Proving that this anthology has a wide range of stories another great tale is Death and the Horse by Terri Bruce. This is a fantasy story about Death needing a horse in able to do his job a little faster. This story throws in a lot of different mythological characters and has a good sense of humor to it, showing that stories about death can be funny.

The Fall by Paul K. Metheney is another one with a comedic edge to it that focuses on a man who is about to jump off a cliff. Before he does, God shows up and says he will fix his life if the man can ask 20 good questions about the meaning of life. This is such a good simple story and I love how it touches on the philosophy of life and it makes a good point about accepting the bad with the good.

Pondering Eternity Over Waffles at Last Call by JCC Downing is another one that gets into the philosophy of life quite a bit. This one deals with a young woman and an older man who manages to become friends but the man has a big secret. Once again this is a simple tale with some deep meaning to it and the idea that you can’t have good without the bad is center stage.

Another good one that is very different from every other tale in this book is Selfie Warfare
by Shaun Avery. The story looks at the concept of how social media effects two people. While pleasing a virtual audience is shown as a bad thing for both characters, they both react in different ways to the problem. I think a good question raised here is what are you missing out on if you live your life online?

I think the thing I enjoyed most about this anthology is that even though it’s about death, it isn’t a sad book. Most of the stories include themes on how precious life is and how the choices we make effect us. There are several genres included in this book and they all look at the philosophy of life a little differently.  This book has a little bit of everything and no matter what form of literature you like there will be something in Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths that you will enjoy.

 

 

Batman Vol. 4 The War Of Jokes and Riddles (Rebirth)

In Zero year the city of Gotham was left with no power, for a year and The Riddler ruled the night. When power was restored a war began to claim Gotham City’s underworld and the right to kill Batman between The Riddler and The Joker. This story was kept a secret but now Batman tells Catwoman what exactly happened in the Zero war.

Batman Vol. 4 The Of Jokes and Riddles is (Rebirth) written by Tom King and illustrated by Mikel Janin. The art in this graphic novel is fantastic and does a great job setting a dark mood for the story. Looking at it made me feel like I was reading an old 1930’s Noir mystery.

The story has all of Gotham’s criminals in it and non stop action. What’s most interesting in the story is the idea that the Joker can’t laugh and The Riddler can’t tell riddles until Batman is killed. The story is simple and entertaining with the art complimenting it perfectly.

One of the best lines in this book comes from Catwoman. When asked why she hasn’t picked a side in the war she answers that she doesn’t want to work with them because they are criminals. She then corrects herself by saying they’re unsuccessful criminals. Another great scene has The Joker and The Riddler describing what they plan to do with Batman as Batman listens to them as Bruce Wayne. During this scene the dialogue is excellent with The Riddler giving an elaborate plan to kill Batman while The Joker just says he’s just going to simply strangle him and that’s it. If you’re a Batman fan this is a must have book.

Vices and Virtues: A Horror Anthology

Vices and Virtues is a horror anthology edited by Ashley Franz Holzman and includes 16 stories that all tie into vices and virtues we have in society. I wasn’t expecting much from this anthology because I didn’t know any of the authors but was pleasantly surprised by the quality of work in this book. All of the stories in this book are like an emotional roller coaster with normal characters  you can relate to put into extraordinary circumstances.

The first story did a great job of setting the tone for the whole book. The Girl Who Died by C.K. Walker is about a lonely girl who has no friends except the animals in the woods. One day she finds a dead animal in the woods that changes everything. We then see this girl go from never being noticed by anyone to being infamous all because she cared to much. The next story in the anthology is I Loved You So Much by Christopher Bloodworth which is in the same vein as the first one, a child who is a little lonely finds a new friend who ends up bringing destruction to the kid’s family. Both of these opening tales pack an emotional gory wallop and were a lot of fun to read.

One of my favorites in this book was Constance by Adam Grey, this was an emotional story about a confused older woman, a single mother and an innocent young child. Constance is an old woman living in an apartment building and working in an abortion clinic when she gets let go by the clinic she goes off the deep end and a young mother in need of a baby sitter makes  the bad decision of leaving her child with her. This story was disturbing and at the same time really made you feel for the characters involved in it.

There is a great mix of stories here and one story that mixes Science Fiction and horror is The Lonely Man by Kristopher J. Patten. Set in the future we have a captain on a spaceship going to Mars on an exploratory mission. The last visitor to Mars was 120 years ago and since then on Earth there has been was, famine and several deaths. Much to the captain’s surprise when she reaches Mars she finds the last person to visit alive and well.What has kept this person alive so long and what plans does he have now that he has a way to get back to Earth. The plot of this story is very similar to the movie Space Vampires but has a much more personal feel to it and much scarier.

This anthology felt like it was a labor of love for all the authors and there wasn’t a bad story in the book.. Each story had a personal feel to it with one character going through something emotional that no one else could understand. The authors in this book seem to know what it takes to write a good story and they have put together a great book that mixes literary fiction with horror and Science fiction.

Batwoman Vol.1 : The Many Arms of Death

I have to say off the bat that I don’t know a lot about Batwoman. Not to long ago I met a woman whose favorite superhero was Batwoman so when I saw this on Netgalley I decided to give it a try. Batwoman Vol.1 : The Many Arms of Death collects issues 1 through 6 of the new ongoing series plus a one shot called Rebirth 1. The book includes writing from Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV along with art from Steve Epting and Ben Oliver.

Right away I have to say I wish a little more time was spent on the origin since I didn’t know much about her. But I liked the art and there was enough background information given so that I wasn’t lost. Agter the orgin we find Batwoman tracking people who have an illegal drug called monster venom. It causes people to turn into monsters giving them the means to cause destruction and kill as many people from as many nations as possible. Batwoman finds a man in Istanbul who just used the drug to transform and kill people in an international market.

Simple story, great characters and good art, what else can you ask for in a comic. I loved that Batwoman has a Pennyworth assisting her. I also liked that it takes place mostly on an island  called Coryana ruled by pirates and other thugs. It would have been nice to have a little more background information on the history of Coryana and the story could have been a little more detailed. At one point we seem to abandon the story about the drug and go right into a story about the island about to be destroyed.

I did like how Batwoman’s lost year on Coryana was described, it’s pretty much shown as a home for vigilantes and it has some questionable characters.. My favorite part was when Batwoman is fighting a woman named Tahani and explains how she is not like Batman. She states that Batman would never work with the killers and thieves she is willing to work with. Batwoman shows herself as being a much darker character than Batman and doesn’t mind bending the law to her needs. One question I had was why does Batwoman wears a disguise since everyone seemed to know who she was anyway? All in all this is an entertaining book.