Seven Point Eight: The Second Chronicle by Marie Harbon

Second Chronicle Final Kindle CoverSeven Point Eight: The Second Chronicle by Marie Harbon is the second installment in the Seven Point Eight series. Although this book can be read as a stand-alone because the first few chapters allude to the first novel, readers may be less confused about what they are getting into if they start with The First Chronicle.

The story is about three main characters—Paul, Max, and Tahra—who have begun a project in 1967 having to do with astral projection and other dimensions. Each person has his or her own agenda, some good, others not as noble. This installment begins after the seeming failure of the project, as twelve psychics’ souls are trapped in a multitude of different worlds. Tahra, who was guiding them on their journey, must now search the ether, bringing each person back, each one changed by their experience. Tahra must also deal with the repercussions to her own psyche, as she discovers powers and instincts previously unfamiliar to her.

This futuristic pilgrimage is juxtaposed with Ava and Sam’s journey in 1994. Ava knows nothing of her past, only that she suffers from hallucinations and appears to have advanced healing powers. Twenty-seven years after the OOBE project, what does Ava’s DNA have to do with anything? And why does she feel drawn to Sam?

From the front cover to the very last page, Harbon takes the reader on an intricate journey across universes. The cover itself sets the stage with dramatic colors and a science fiction feel. The editing and formatting aid the reader in understanding the plot. There are so many different characters and worlds and timelines, that italics and scene breaks are crucial to knowing who is talking when and in what reality it is happening.

Do not begin this tale without the desire to be swept away for hours. The in-depth characterization, intricate plot, detailed worlds, and mysterious intrigue require complete attention. One moment the reader will find herself on a world with mechanical elves and in the next moment mapping genomes in the twentieth century.

Advertisements

The Complete Guide to Writing a Successful Screenplay by Melissa Samaroo

Complete Guide to Writing A Successful Screell a Winning Script, The - Melissa SamarooThe Complete Guide to Writing a Successful Screenplay by Melissa Samaroo delivers on the promise inherent in its name. Samaroo discusses everything from Hollywood/audience expectations, to developing plot and characters, to finding an agent and selling a script. The process of writing a screenplay is laid out in detail, with supporting examples that any reader could relate to.

The cover of the guide sets the mood. The colors chosen are professional and clean, the model is smiling, and there is a crew in the background. All of these elements scream success—the very thing the reader is trying to achieve. And which Samaroo is trying to sell between the covers of this book.

The editing and the format lend to an ease of comprehension and reading. Important points are set into sections by bullet points or subtitles. Key passages are highlighted or set apart from the body of the work with special indents or formatting. Thus, the guide can be read cover-to-cover by a beginner just looking for information on what to expect, or used as a sort of textbook, in which the reader flips to the sections that pertain to their individual process.

Samaroo writes a very thorough guide to screenwriting. She uses numerous examples, hoping to find something that strikes a chord with all types of readers. She gives information about less successful scripts/movies to shine a light on what to shy away from. It will even be interesting to apply knowledge about industry secrets when watching your next rental DVD.

How to Write Really Good Research Papers, Really Fast by Bob Ward

image (3)How to Write Really Good Research Papers, Really Fast by Bob Ward is a how-to guide for college students on research papers. Ward writes in a straightforward manner, so that the reader can easily follow the concepts. The cover is simply a woman sitting in front of a laptop, clearly indicating (along with the non-complex title) that this is a manual, not a groundbreaking piece of literature. Ward creates something the most basic reader/writer can follow, which is his goal—to help anyone write a good paper.

The format of the piece also lends to ease of reading. Ward breaks down the process of writing into a few distinct steps, which if followed in detail, will lead to a good paper in limited time. Each step is clearly explained in each chapter, along with clear examples. There are clear headings for each step and example, making it impossible to forget or miss a concept. At the end, Ward shares his entire paper along with notes on his process/thoughts as he was writing it.

For a student in need of a quick guide to writing research papers, Ward does a great job. For most students, the concepts will not be new (or at least, they should not be), but Ward offers a great way to organize data to make the writing process flow easier.

Many Many Many Gods of Hinduism by Swami Achutananda

MMMG-Cover

Many many many Gods of Hinduism by Swami Achutananda is a comprehensive guide about Indian culture, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Achuthananda begins his text with a note to the reader about the importance of asking questions about who we are and why we are here on the planet. He posits that Hinduism is key to addressing these issues as the literature is vast and represents thousands of years of spiritual experiences.

First, Achuthananda addresses key aspects of Indian culture, such as the idea of karma, the life of Buddha, and the relationship between India and Pakistan. For Achuthananda, to understand Hinduism, one must understand the cultural and linguistic background of the religion.

Next, Achuthananda discusses key concepts of the religion itself. He points out the many different scriptures and talks about important symbolism. Mostly, he compares Hinduism with most Western religions to show the differences between the two and to highlight the essence of Hinduism.

Finally, he addresses some controversies in the religion itself. A big one being that some Hindu scripture hints that man created God. While this seems blasphemous to a Westerner, Achuthananda explains that the Hindu concept of God is so hard to wrap one’s head around, that people needed some concrete form of reference—thus the many Gods, which are actually multiple facets of one God.

This text is all-inclusive, interesting, and educational. Anyone who wants to learn about Hinduism should pick up this book, as it is informative about the religion and the culture from which it stems. The one thing that would make this book easier to read would be more concrete examples from the culture and the scriptures. Some of the concepts are hard to understand and examples would help illuminate the ideas.

 

Shangai Love by Layne Wong

Shanghai Love Book CoverShanghai Love by Layne Wong is a masterfully crafted love story. It begins with a young, Chinese girl being prepared for her wedding day, a day that has been arranged since she was a mere child. The scene is beautiful, yet sad, and the reader soon discovers that Peilin’s husband-to-be is dead—he died fighting in the war. Peilin, just seventeen, is to be married to a ghost, forced to leave her family, and become a dutiful daughter-in-law to a tyrannical, self-important woman.

The story soon switches to Henri. The year is 1938, and he is a Jew living in Nazi Germany. Henri is a doctor, like his uncle, running an illegal practice for fellow Jews out of his basement. Foolishly, he tells his lover his secret and is chased out of the country to Shanghai.

Their two stories intertwine when Peilin, who has been taught Chinese medicine, is asked to run the herbal shop owned by her new family in Shanghai. It is here that the Western doctor and the Eastern herbalist meet by chance, and their lives change forever. The road is not an easy one, as Peilin is bound to her familial duty and Henri battles prejudice and guilt.

Wong weaves an intricate tale of two people—so different in many ways and yet so similar in others—overcoming numerous obstacles, both internal and external, to find peace with themselves and each other. The characters are extremely well developed; the culture explored in-depth. The amount of detail to both people and beliefs is staggering. The work discusses important themes such as love (both familial and romantic), culture, prejudice, and self-awareness.

Shanghai Love is both entertaining and informative. The reader will come away with a sense of satisfaction with the resolution of the story as well as an appreciation for the culture and time period of the piece. 

Split at the Root by Catana Tully

Book Cover (3)Split at the Root by Catana Tully is an intricate study of self-identity, social influences, and familial ties. The first story Catana can remember is one Mutti, her German mother, tells about her “birth.” Mutti tells Catana that she floated down the river on a leaf, and that, in that moment, Mutti knew Catana was hers to keep. This is just one of many “fairytales” that Mutti tells Catana about her life (and her history).

Catana was born to Rosa, a Black woman, in Livingston. However, she was raised by a White, German woman, who called her “Mohrle,” or “little Moor.” Catana grows up in a White household, treated as a privileged White. As such, she is uncomfortable around people of color and even begins to hate her birth mother. Throughout her life, she struggles with issues of race, identity, and prejudice. Mutti refuses to acknowledge the deeper issues, preferring to mold Catana into a likable, competent woman, who has “the right frame.”

Catana decides to flout her education and become an actress. Along the way, she meets Fred, and they fall in love and marry. All her life, Catana has been surrounded by White people. She knows next to nothing about her birth mother and even less about her father and the rest of her biological family. On a trip back to her birth village, she begins to get hints that Mutti may not have been telling her the whole truth—words like “stolen child” are thrown around in context to Mutti and Catana’s relationship. As Catana digs deeper, she uncovers secrets about her heritage and her upbringing. Along the way, she must confront her racial identity and all that goes with it.

Tully’s memoir is extremely detailed. She begins with her first memories and continues to the present day. By the end of the tale, it is as if the reader is a part of the family that Catana is trying to piece together. Her story is emotional—full of love, laughter, and even fear. The reader will watch Catana grow up and find her own identity. The story is impossible to put down as Catana attempts to unravel the complicated mystery that surrounds her biological family. It takes many years for her to learn the truth and just as long, maybe longer, for her to know herself. It may be a memoir, but at points, it reads like a detective novel. Even though it is one woman’s life and history, it touches on important racial, societal, and personal identity issues.

The House of Tomorrow by Adair Arlen

The House of Tomorrow coverThe House of Tomorrow by Adair Arlen is a tale of intrigue and romance that keeps the reader guessing until the very end. First, we meet Paul Gregory as he is closing his bar for the night. There is an elegance to this scene as Arlen describes Paul’s interactions with two different women and the ambiance surrounding them. Paul is painted as a suave heartbreaker type.  That night, he dreams of a third woman, who he saw in passing the evening before.

That woman is Lillian Greening. Arlen describes Lily as genuine and pure; she strives to see the good in people and is uncomfortable with deception. She does not know the allure she possesses for men nor the extent of her beauty. That is why she cannot believe it when Sam Meredith, one of the richest and most influential men in town, asks her to meet his family and, later on, become his wife.

Sam Meredith seems to be every woman’s dream—attractive, charming, attentive, and wealthy. And he seems genuinely to love Lily, even though his family disapproves of the match. However, things take an unexpected turn when Paul begins to insert himself into Lily’s life and Sam starts acting sketchy. Paul begins to show an interest in all things to do with Lily (and Sam), but he will not tell her why. And Sam, after proposing, becomes twitchy and distant. What is it about the Meredith family that has everyone speaking in riddles? And why is Lily suddenly of interest to two of the most attractive and mysterious men she’s ever met?

Arlen spins an interesting tale about secrets and how our past effects our present and future. Concentrating less of the details of the mystery, he focuses on the characters involved, giving them elaborate backstories and delving into their emotions. The beginning of the novel is beautifully written as the reader is introduced to the cast and the situation. Some readers may find the middle a tad on the slow side, as the action slows down and it’s mostly internal thought and introspection. But the end is fast-paced and action-packed. The reader will enjoy this story of relationships, both romantic and familial.