Review of “What the Dead Fear” by Lea Ryan

WhattheDeadFearWhat the Dead Fear by Lea Ryan

Summary:  “The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where one ends, and where the other begins?” –Edgar Allan Poe

Juniper Townsend died of carbon monoxide poisoning at the ripe, old age of 22.

However, death isn’t the end. In Limbo, she finds a foggy wasteland and strange creatures. She also discovers that during night hours, she can walk among the living. But there are rules. Never influence destiny. Never interfere, because the consequences are dire.

Will she sacrifice eternal freedom to save the innocent?

Recommendation: Love it!

Review:  This is one of the best novellas I have read in a long time. It’s quick (unfortunately too quick for me) and eerie and fun at the same time.

Juniper (the protagonist) along with all of the other characters were so real, I felt as if I knew them. From the moment the story starts, the author begins building a world that is both recognizable and bizarre.

A recently deceased Juniper wanders through this strange existence searching for answers and purpose. As she does, she encounters Cricket, but although Cricket appears harmless, is she really what she seems? Juniper also runs into a man named Gareth, who, while seemingly friendly, hangs around with jackals and has claws for hands.

While Juniper struggles to figure out not only where she is, but why she hasn’t moved on to whatever lies beyond death, she decides to attempt to interfere in the ‘real world.’ Her best friend is being abused by her boyfriend, so Juniper decides to intervene. However, things don’t work out exactly as planned. The more Juniper tries to interfere in the real world, the more trouble she creates for herself in the strange between-world in which she is trapped.

The world and characters that the author built are believable, exciting, and above all, relatable. In fact, they are so relatable that I wanted to jump in and help Juniper achieve her goals. That’s the kind of writing that makes a great story.

Unfortunately, the story ended much too soon, and I had to say goodbye to Juniper, Cricket, and everyone else in this marvelous land of the dead that Lea had created.

So, if you get a chance, grab a copy of What the Dead Fear (it’s free on Amazon) and read it through. You won’t be sorry.

About the author:  

Lea Ryan is the author of several books and stories. She writes about the strange and the dark, as well as the light and love and strives to immerse readers in vivid fictional worlds. She currently lives in Indiana with assorted family members and various pets.

Website and blog – https://authorlearyan.wordpress.com/
Newsletter Signup – http://eepurl.com/dvlSxn
Twitter https://twitter.com/learyan1
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lea.ryan.12
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4113839.Lea_Ryan

 

 

Advertisements

Interview With Dr. Bob Rich

I’ve asked Dr. Bob Rich, author, conservationist, and professional granfather, to join me today. After reading two of his books and sharing a number of long conversations, which covered a multitude of esoteric topics, I thought it would be interesting to share some of his insights and witticisms with my readers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tricia, I am delighted to accept your invitation for a chat at your blog. I hope to give your visitors a few laughs, and plenty of food for thought.

You live in Australia and are passionate about conservation and improving the quality of life for everyone. Can you share some thoughts about that with us?

I currently live in two realities.

One is utterly crazy, and I stay sane by occasionally escaping into the other one.

To illustrate the crazy reality, let me tell you about a phone call yesterday. It was from a computer asking to survey me about politics.

It then asked me to push a button to indicate which of 6 options would influence my vote if an election was held today. The options were 6 different ways I might be bribed, so I disconnected.

If I’d written that survey, the questions would have addressed matters like species extinctions, climate change, the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, homelessness, wealth inequality, the toxic role of money in politics… real issues.

So, I spend considerable time and energy in doing my little best to address such things.

The other reality hides within my computer, and it’s a much better place to be.

What are you currently working on? (If it’s another book, give a short summary of it, please.)

At the moment, I am in the middle of processing a steady stream of entries for my free book edit contest.

The prize is the free edit of a book-length manuscript.

The deadline is October 15, so I expect the stream to increase to a flood.

An entry consists of a 200 word book summary, and the first 1000 words of the manuscript. (If the entrant follows instructions. I am surprised at how rare that is). I edit this approximately straight away, stuff it full of helpful feedback, and send it back. I can then feel good: even people with no chance of winning will benefit from our contact. I enjoy being a teacher.

In between, I visit my young friend Bill Sutcliffe, and his little son, Albor. This is in the 4th volume of my science fiction series, The Doom Healer. I want to finish all 5 volumes before having the first published, so they can follow each other in rapid succession. As a reader, I hate getting captivated by the start of a series, then having to wait for the sequels to drag themselves out of the author’s mind.

Bill is the Doom Healer. His task is to well, heal the doom hanging over our planet. You know: species extinctions, climate change, greed and cruelty… the list of issues in the imaginary world outside my computer. In the real world within, there are solutions, and Bill is their champion.

He achieves his aim at the end of the third volume, and now I am working toward finishing the fourth, The Prince of Light. That’s Albor, who is 2 days old at the start of this volume. My current task is to wait for him and his friends to tell me how his 5th birthday was celebrated. I know the end of the story. It’s when he turns 15. I just have to fill the intervening 10 years.

How has writing changed your life (for good or for worse)?

I don’t know!

Some people’s lives may well be like a plate of food with visibly different components: a steak, 3 vegetables and a side salad. My life is more like a stew, or to jump to a different metaphor, a symphony orchestra rather than a bunch of soloists.

That is to say, writing is an organic part of life. From infancy, I’ve always solved problems and exercised my creativity intuitively, in the background while doing other things. Since writing has become the main expression of my creativity, it’s the ideas I need to record that simmer away in the pressure-cooker of my mind. Actually pecking at keys on my computer is not writing, but documenting the result.

Certainly, I have changed enormously. I feel that in this life I have grown spiritually, and have had the privilege of helping a great many other people to do so. Much of that was through my decades of psychotherapy practice, and hopefully also through my books and stories.

Here is my take on how writing can be meaningful without preaching: “What Makes Writing Memorable?

Do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction?

Yes.

Sorry, I can’t help it. That’s my invariable answer to any disjunctive question.

Nonfiction is bread and butter (though I haven’t put butter or margarine on my bread for 32 years). You work out what you need to say, organize the material in a logical order, then say it.

Fiction is the chocolate icing on the cake of life. You create a reality, introduce some people, then become one of them, or one at a time if you switch from witness to witness.

So, I mix them. There is plenty of nonfiction even in my fantasy and SF writing. And there is plenty of creativity and imagination even in my nonfiction.

My upcoming book (From Depression to Contentment: A self-therapy guide), which is nonfiction, is designed to help people overcome depression using some self-guided lessons. One of my beta readers has already sent me an advance review. She concluded it with “All of Bob’s novels I’ve read are full of therapeutic lessons. Here is a book designed as a set of therapeutic lessons that is as enjoyable to read as any novel.”

What question do you ask yourself most often?

When I  was a severely depressed young fellow, the question was, “What the hell am I doing on this planet?” This eased off in my mid-30s, when I left a high-status, high-paying job in order to work on self-sufficiency, enjoying the benefits of voluntary poverty, and becoming effective as an activist for a better world.

In turn, my education in practicality started my writing career. I wrote regular articles for a marvelous magazine, Earth Garden on building your own house, and this resulted in my first book, published in 1986. The fourth edition went out of print in early 2018.

I actually got an answer to this question in 2007, when I recovered a few of my past lives. The story is told in fictionalized form in my novel, Ascending Spiral.

For perhaps 25 years, my most frequent question was “How?” rather than “Why?” I was, and am, a problem solver.

During this century, “How?” has expanded into “How can I be of service?” An example is my nightly meditation. An invariable part of this is sending healing thoughts. Sadly, there is a long list of targets. I have no idea if my activity is effective for them, but it’s guaranteed to be more effective than not doing it.

Sometimes I am on my list, since I am old enough to be working toward a body transplant, but then, it’s OK to be of service to yourself, right?

When I answer the phone, I typically say, “Bob here. How can I be of service to you?”

What part of your writing has improved or changed the most over the years?

I’ve always had the knack of explaining complex issues in simple words. That’s why my self-help magazine articles took off.

I’ve always had way more empathy than is good for me. Empathy is the major tool in psychotherapy — and in creative writing like fiction and biography. So, getting into a character’s reality, and putting the experience into words, was a strength even in my early fiction writing. Here is my first prize-winning short story, way back in the 1980s: “Peace for the Joker.

Having a tight storyline was a problem early on. Two or three attempts ended up going nowhere. Then I started explicitly plotting, which helped. What I found, though, was that as I gained experience, I departed from the original plot, and let my characters guide me. By the late 1990s, writing was fully organic. My first novel to win an important award was written entirely without a prior plot. Oh, the plot was still there, only I didn’t know it until it emerged. This was Sleeper, Awake.

Actually, a reader has sent me a new review of this book (https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1mC, and it’s in the October issue of my newsletter, Bobbing Around.

Beyond that, several of my fans have written to me that my most recent book was my best to date. This was after the publication of each of Ascending Spiral, Guardian Angel and Hit and RunBeing a scientist by training, I have the urge to ask three groups of people to read the three books in different orders. Perhaps each group will judge the last read to be the best?

In any case, this is evidence that my writing is improving, but I am not sure what aspect tickles these lovely people’s fancy.

What (in life) brings you the most joy?

Only one thing?

Human puppies would have to be the top of a long list. That’s kids from 0 days to 25 years old. They give me the greatest joy, and the worst heartache, which I need to handle using Buddhist equanimity.

They are all my grandchildren. That’s why I am an environmental and humanitarian activist. If I had a magic wand, I’d transform our insane society into one that will last indefinitely into the future instead of rapidly heading for extinction — and one worth surviving in.

During school term, twice a day bunches of teenagers walk past my house. I enjoy the sound of their chatter. Without being obvious about it, I watch the way they interact with each other (or don’t).

Tiny kids consider me to be funny. Whenever I capture the gaze of one, the little mite laughs at me, or at least smiles. Maybe they like the light glancing off my scalp?

I love storytelling to kids, to get a laugh, to open little minds to ideas.

Having a serious discussion with a teenager or young adult is wonderful, whether it’s face to face or via email. I often learn a lot from such exchanges.

Oh, why the heartache? When encountering a youngster, one of my frequent automatic reactions is inner grief because of the coming world. I wish for them to have a good life, knowing that a series of environmental and economic disasters is far more likely. In part, that’s the motivation for my latest book, which is waiting within my publisher’s computer: From Depression to Contentment: A self-therapy guide. It shows how I can live a GOOD life even though I struggle with this issue on a daily basis.

Ari Bob Casey reading 1507

Tricia, thank you for the honor of being here. I look forward to chatting with your visitors via comments.

To purchase his books or to read more of his articles and insights on depression, mindfulness, conservation, and other topics:

Bob’s Writing: https://bobrich18.wordpress.com
Writing showcase: http://bobswriting.com
Anxiety and depression help site: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com
Conservation and practicality: http://mudsmith.net

To contact or follow Dr. Bob Rich:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AscendingSpiral/
Twitter: @bobswriting
Linkedin:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/bob-rich-a06a3528/

Like him, but not so much the book

JustKeepMoving_bkcvr

Keep Moving by Dick Van Dyke (and Todd Gold)

Summary:  Beloved Hollywood icon Dick Van Dyke will celebrate his 90th birthday in December 2015. He’s an established legend, having starred in Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. And yet he’s still keeping himself busy, entertaining America on television, movies, the stage, and social media. Everyone wonders, “How does he do it?” For the first time, Van Dyke will share his secrets and tips on old age: Just keep moving.

In a fun and folksy way of addressing readers, Keep Moving will serve as an instruction book on how to embrace old age with a positive attitude. The chapters are filled with exclusive personal anecdotes that explore various themes on aging: how to adapt to the physical and social changes, deal with loss of friends and loved ones, stay current, fall in love again, and “keep moving” every day like there’s no tomorrow.

Recommendation: Mixed feelings (in Amazon stars, maybe 2 stars)

Review:  It’s true that the narrative is fun and folksy, and I could hear Mr. Van Dyke’s voice throughout. I also enjoyed the snippets of biography that were included, such as how he and his current wife met and dated, and the relationship between him and his brother, Jerry.

However, the instructional part was less than useful to those who aren’t as well off as the celebrity author. This also made it difficult for me to relate to him and his ‘advice.’ For instance, his instruction to get up every day and have a sing-along with your spouse while enjoying birds and sunshine on the patio are a lovely idea. But it’s not something that most people can relate to, because most people (even elderly people) get up before the sun so that they can spend their mornings fighting traffic to get to a job that they may or may not enjoy.

I don’t begrudge Mr. Van Dyke his more than adequate retirement funds, he worked hard for them. However, most of us don’t (and didn’t) get paid millions; also, many of us got hit pretty hard when the stock and housing market collapsed. That means that many of us are struggling while just hoping we don’t get laid off because we’ve reached a certain age.

So, while I appreciated his happy attitude, I found the information rather Pollyannaish. I really wished that his ‘advice’ applied more to those of us living in a ‘normal world’ rather than his more rarefied and exclusive group of the rich and the elderly.

Not Quite Up to the Hype

MeetClaraMeet Clara Andrews by Lacey London

Summary: Meet Clara Andrews… Your new best friend!

With a love of cocktails and wine, a fantastic job in the fashion industry and the world’s greatest best friends, Clara Andrews thought she had it all.

That is until a chance meeting introduces her to Oliver, a devastatingly handsome American designer. Trying to keep the focus on her work, Clara finds her heart stolen by lavish restaurants and luxury hotels.

As things get flirty, Clara reminds herself that inter-office relationships are against the rules, so when a sudden recollection of a work’s night out leads her to a gorgeous barman, she decides to see where it goes.

Clara soon finds out that dating two men isn’t as easy as it seems…

Will she be able to play the field without getting played herself?

Join Clara, as she finds herself landing in and out of trouble, re-affirming friendships, discovering truths and uncovering secrets.

Recommendation: Yes and No (maybe 2.5 stars by Amazon standards)

Review: While the first to-thirds of the book was a typical romantic farce, the last third (the ending) felt tacked on and flat. It was if the author wasn’t sure how to fix the corner she had written herself into, so she simply wrote a happy ending and forced it into the book. It didn’t fit the circumstances nor did it fit the personality of the male protagonist she had created, but that didn’t seem to matter. At least now the book had the requisite ‘happy ending’ that romance stories are supposed to have.

The other reason I can’t give it a higher ranking is the repetitive and glaring grammatical error that occurred throughout the book. The error was so jarring that it quite literally pushed me out of the story. If it had happened once, I might have thought it was just a mistake by the editor; but, the same error occurred repeatedly, which led me to think that the book hadn’t been edited at all. (Note: I have subsequently discovered that what most ‘normal’ people perceive as a glaring grammatical error, is considered all right in some less affluent neighborhoods of London. And while I might then consider that the author was trying to add some quirkiness and flavor to her main character, my perception of the main character as a university graduate made it difficult to accept that the character would use such awkward and poorly constructed speech idioms.)

As romances go, it’s a cute bit of fluff as long as you’re willing to overlook the lack of a successful ending and some huge grammar gaffs. However, I much prefer a Cathie Linz, Amanda Quick, or Janet Evanovich book when wanting a bit of romance, comedy, and charm.

 

 

Interesting and Informative

intolandofsnowsInto the Land of Snows by Ellis Nelson

Summary: A troubled, sixteen-year-old Blake travels to Base Camp on Mt. Everest to spend time with his physician father. When a deadly avalanche occurs, his dad is forced to rethink things, so sends Blake off the mountain.

Now accompanied by a Sherpa guide, and in possession of a mysterious camera, Blake undertakes a journey which will challenge everything he believes. The magic of his experience in the Himalayas, will forever change him.

Recommendation: Yes

Review:  The first thing that intrigued me about the book was the title, “Into the Land of Snows.” I found out later that the title is actually another name for Tibet, Nepal, and the surrounding Himalayan area. What a clever idea by the author to use it as the title of her book, then.

Throughout the novel, the Sherpa guide (Ang) consistently tries to engage and educate Blake (the teenage protagonist) in the ways of life. However, Blake, being a self-absorbed, typical U.S. teenager, is hardly interested. That is, until they end up in several harrowing situations that require him to pay attention so that he can learn and understand how to overcome the challenges.

During their trek through the mountains, Blake and Ang debate philosophy (primarily Buddhism), encounter differences in social mores, and work through several ethical and moral issues.

Having never been to the Himalayas or met a Sherpa, I found the descriptions and societal insights fascinating and educational. However, the conversations on philosophy seemed stilted and unnatural. Overlooking that unnaturalness, though, I did find the snippets of information gleaned from the book helpful and intriguing. Intriguing enough to get me to check out several books on Buddhism from the library.

Will this book appeal to young adults? I can’t really say. But as an adult, I found it quite interesting and very informative.

[To learn more about the author; or to purchase the book]

Ascending Spiral Book Review

AsccendingspiralimageAscending Spiral by Bob Rich

Summary: Dr. Pip Lipkin has lived for 12,000 years, incarnated many times as man, woman, and even as species beyond our world and senses. But he’s here for a reason: to pay restitution for an ancient crime by working to save humanity from certain destruction. “Ascending Spiral” is a book that will take the reader to many different places and times, showing, ultimately, that our differences and divisions, even at their most devastating, are less important than our similarities.

Recommendation: Yes

Review: “Ascending Spiral” by Bob Rich is the book “Cloud Atlas” aspired to be but, unfortunately, never was.

“Ascending Spiral” takes you on a journey through the past and present of Dr. Pip Lipkin, a psychologist and counselor. In so doing, it gives you a view of the experiences and ways in which each of us develop and grow through our different lifetimes on Earth.

In each life we interact with many of the same souls repeatedly as we learn what the expression “an eye for an eye” really means. Throughout the book, Pip experiences love, hate, war, depression, incarceration, and slavery, all while searching for that one moment when enlightenment sparks an awareness in his soul. Each moment of awareness brings his soul more light and a greater ability in making love-filled choices instead of fear-based ones.

Once I stepped beyond the prologue and into the actual story, I was hooked. The characters were vibrant and as alive as you and me. With every choice made, and every battle fought, I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know what would happen next.

Even if you don’t believe in reincarnation or past lives, you can enjoy this book by simply looking at it as an historical adventure novel. I found that the historical accuracy combined with the great pacing made for an entertaining read. The only time the pacing bogged down (for me) was toward the end when the story popped back into (almost) current time. What I mean by that is, we joined with Pip as young adult in university. However, soon after we jumped back to Pip as a child. I became a little confused with the story here, because of the age hopping, but once we got back to Pip as a young man, the story smoothed out again.

Overall, this is an excellent adventure for those who just want a good story; an extremely thought-provoking book for those contemplating the bigger question of “why are we here;” or a wonderful book for those wishing to explore the idea of past lives and reincarnation.

[Click here to read an interview with Dr. Rich.]

“War and Peace” is a Better Choice

GirlWithNoNameThe Girl with No Name by Diney Costeloe

Summary:   Thirteen-year-old Lisa has escaped from Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport. She arrives in London unable to speak a word of English, her few belongings crammed into a small suitcase. Among them is one precious photograph of the family she has left behind.

Lonely and homesick, Lisa is adopted by a childless couple. But when the Blitz blows her new home apart, she wakes up in hospital with no memory of who she is or where she came from. The authorities give her a new name and dispatch her to a children’s home.

With the war raging around her, what will become of Lisa now?

Recommendation: No

Review: I love history and I adore reading good, well-written stories about history; however, this book was neither good, nor well-written. While at the online bookstore, I read the prologue and was fooled into thinking the whole book would be as well done. It wasn’t. Not only were the characters one-dimensional and poorly developed, the author couldn’t even maintain a character’s point of view for longer than a minute. It changed at random moments; sometimes mid-paragraph, and, several times, even mid-sentence.

While the premise was promising, the writing failed to fulfill that promise. I tried to push myself to keep reading, but it was difficult when there was no connection to the characters, and, thereby, no connection to the story.

I finally gave up at page 50. That the author actually wrote another 430 pages astounds me. But what astounds me more, is that people actually persevered and read the entire thing. I say, save your time and effort for something much more pleasurable…”War and Peace” would be an easier read.