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review 2017-04-17 21:49
Author Dennis Hetzel Hits a Home Run with Baseball-Political Thriller 'Season of Lies'

There is nothing unusual about Hollywood celebrities speaking out on behalf of their favorite presidential candidates, but not so much Major League Baseball players. Until now, in author Dennis Hetzel’s new thriller Season of Lies (Headline Books, Inc.). 

 

 

 

Enter Trey Van Ohmann, a star pitcher hired by the Chicago Cubs, to help the team build a new baseball dynasty, following their recent World Series victory. But just as the baseball season gets underway, so does a heated, three-way presidential race, and that’s when things start getting nasty.

 

You see, President Luke Murphy, the incumbent Republican, has been keeping a secret since his college days, until one of his opponents decides to leak the dirty details to a talk radio show. With his campaign—and his marriage—in jeopardy, Murphy, a loyal Cubs fan, enlists Van Ohmann’s endorsement, much to the chagrin of his teammates and the team’s owner, who happens to support one of the other candidates.

 

What follows is a complex story about a dirty presidential campaign and a baseball team striving for another championship, told from different characters’ perspectives. With such issues as sexual politics, religion, terrorism, fake news and scandals, “Season of Lies” has more twists and turns than a curve ball.

 

“Season of Lies” is a sequel to Hetzel’s debut novel, Killing the Curse (with Rick Robinson), which also was about the Cubs. No surprise there, considering that the author is originally from Chicago. He is also a journalist, having worked for The Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin; York Daily Record in Pennsylvania; and the Cincinnati Enquirer. As such, he brings a reporter’s perspective to the political aspects of the novel and a sports fan’s passion to the baseball portions.

 

Like a tied baseball game with bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Season of Lies is full of suspense. It would make an excellent summer read, not just for those who love baseball and politics, but anyone who enjoys great thrillers.

 

Season of Lies is available on Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com and

other outlets. For more information, visit HeadlineBooks.com and DennisHetzel.com.

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review 2017-04-16 13:25
JFK - Why He Continues to Mean So Much as a Great & Inspirational Leader
ALL HIS BRIGHT LIGHT GONE: The Death of John F. Kennedy and the Decline of America - Peter McKenna

The title of this book comes from the remarks made by Jacqueline Kennedy in a March 1964 newsreel in which she thanked the nation for its expression of sympathy to her in the aftermath of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in November 1963. She spoke of her husband in the following way: "All his bright light gone from the world."

The author goes on to share with the reader how he, who had been a wayward youth in high school during Kennedy's tenure in the White House, had been inspired by JFK to become more engaged in study and public affairs, and to lead a more purposeful life. He then provides a brief biography of JFK, showing what factors in his background helped to make him a statesman of substance and a wise, charismatic, discerning, and dedicated President of the United States. In doing so, the author does not shy away from touching upon President Kennedy's weaknesses (e.g. his affairs). After all, JFK was human and subject like all human beings to err from time to time. But McKenna looks at the totality of President Kennedy and seeks to explain why, more than 50 years after his death, he continues to inspire millions of people across the world.

The author contends that President Kennedy - who had been well-traveled and a voracious reader and student of history, government, and economics all his life - understood, unlike some of the presidents who followed him, that the United States, from its inception, was a democratic republic, "the most enlightened form of government" devised by humanity. Given that understanding of the country, Kennedy "knew it was based on trust in government and the belief that the common good is more important than the enrichment of individuals or special interests." Therefore, President Kennedy made it his focus to govern wisely in the best interests of all Americans while encouraging its citizens to "embrace [their] civic responsibilities" and "to believe that politics is a noble profession." Nowhere perhaps does President Kennedy explain this position better than in the address he made to students at Vanderbilt University on May 18th, 1963.

"I speak to you today, ... not of your rights as Americans, but of your responsibilities. They are many in number and different in nature. They do not rest with equal weight upon the shoulders of all. Equality of opportunity does not mean equality of responsibility. All Americans must be responsible citizens, but some must be more responsible than others by virtue of their public or their private position, their role in the family or community, their prospects for the future, or their legacy from the past. Increased responsibility goes with increased ability. For those to whom much is given, much is required.

"Of the many special obligations incumbent upon an educated citizen, I would cite three as outstanding: Your obligation to the pursuit of learning; your obligation to serve the public; your obligation to uphold the law. If the pursuit of learning is not defended by the educated citizen, it will not be defended at all.

"For there will always be those who scoff at intellectuals, who cry out against research, who seek to limit our educational system. Modern cynics and skeptics see no more reason for landing a man on the moon -- which we shall do -- than the cynics and skeptics of half a millennium ago saw for the discovery of this country. They see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing.

"But the educated citizen knows how much more there is to know. He knows that knowledge is power -- more so today than ever before. He knows that only an educated and informed people will be a free people; that the ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all; and that if we can, as Jefferson put it, 'enlighten the people generally,' 'tyranny and the oppressions of mind and body will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.' And, therefore, the educated citizen has a special obligation to encourage the pursuit of learning, to promote exploration of the unknown, to preserve the freedom of inquiry, to support the advancement of research, and to assist at every level of government the improvement of education for all Americans -- from grade school to graduate school.

"Secondly, the educated citizen has an obligation to serve the public. ... He may be a civil servant or a senator, a candidate or a campaign worker, a winner or a loser. But he must be a participant and not a spectator. At the Olympic Games, Aristotle wrote, 'It is not the finest and strongest men who are crowned, but they who enter the lists. For out of these the prize-men are selected. ' So, too, in life," he said, 'of the honorable and the good, it is they who act who rightly win the prize.'

"I urge all of you today, especially those who are students, to act -- to enter the lists of public service and rightly win (or lose) the prize. For we can have only one form of aristocracy in this country. As Jefferson wrote long ago in rejecting John Adams's suggestion of an artificial aristocracy of wealth and birth, 'It is,' he wrote, 'the natural aristocracy of character and talent.' 'And the best form of government,' he added, 'was that which selected these men for positions of responsibility.' I would hope that all educated citizens would fulfill this obligation, in politics, in government, here in Nashville, here in this State, in the Peace Corps, in the Foreign Service, in the government service, in the Tennessee Valley, in the world! You will find the pressures greater than the pay. You may endure more public attacks than support. But you will have the unequaled satisfaction of knowing that your character and talent are contributing to the direction and success of this free society.

"Third and finally, the educated citizen has an obligation to uphold the law. This is the obligation of every citizen in a free and peaceful society. But the educated citizen has a special responsibility by the virtue of his greater understanding. For whether he has ever studied history or current events, ethics or civics, the rules of the profession or the tools of the trade, he knows that only a respect for the law makes it possible for free men to dwell together in peace and progress. He knows that law is the adhesive force of the cement of society, creating order out of chaos, and coherence in place of anarchy. He knows that for one man to defy a law or court order he does not like is to invite others to defy those which they do not like -- leading to a breakdown of all justice and all order. He knows, too, that every fellow man is entitled to be regarded with decency and treated with dignity. Any educated citizen who seeks to subvert the law to suppress freedom, or to subject other human beings to acts that are less than human degrades his inheritance, ignores his learning, and betrays his obligations. Certain other societies may respect the rule of force. We respect the rule of law."

And sadly, as the author sets out to show the reader, President Kennedy's death had "a far more profoundly negative impact on the United States than is commonly realized" or appreciated.

 

This is demonstrated through the administrations of the some of the presidents that followed Kennedy (e.g. LBJ in his support of the Vietnam War and his failure, in certain respects, to be fully honest with the public; Richard Nixon; and Ronald Reagan who promoted the belief among the public of government as enemy of the people, de-emphasized the value and importance of civic virtue and public service in a democratic republic, and extolled the virtues of corporatism in creating a strong economy and society.)

Despite some editing errors I discerned in some of its pages (hence the 4 stars), this is a book I would strongly urge anyone to read who is deeply concerned about the present state of the nation, the levels of corruption in Congress from which its leadership profits at the expense of the public good, and wishes to become more constructively and purposefully engaged as a citizen to help reverse the tide of perversion that has overtaken the republic for the past 50 years. Furthermore, study the life and presidency of John F. Kennedy and take inspiration from a man who possessed rare gifts of brilliance, wit, and compassion.

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review 2017-04-15 21:43
The Pseudo-Conservative Revolution
The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays - Richard Hofstadter

A collection of essays by the 20th century historian Richard Hofstadter, this volume contains some valuable insights into the politics of the United States in the 21st century. The title essay looks at how a paranoid theme has run through the history of American politics, with demagogues campaigning on the idea that foreigners are seeking to infiltrate the US and undermine American society. Looking back from 1963 in 50 year intervals, Hofstadter shows how Monarchists, Freemasons, Catholics, and Communists have each in turn been the bogey man of the American Right. 50 years later it is easy to see that pattern repeating itself with the current anti-Muslim paranoia in the US.

 

The next three essays deal with the rise of the American Right under Eugene McCarthy and Barry Goldwater. Hofstadter refers to this movement as "Pseudo-Conservatism" to distinguish it from classical Conservative philosophy which seeks to conserve through moderation and by maintaining the status quo. Hofstadter borrows the term from Theodore Adorno's book "The Authoritarian Personality", in which the pseudo-conservative is defined as "a man who in the name of upholding traditional American values and institutions and defending them against more or less fictitious dangers, consciously or unconsciously aims at their abolition."

 

The author sees pseudo-conservatives as driven by a conspiratorial worldview and a fear of loss of cultural supremacy. He sees it as a form of status politics in which "the pseudo-conservative always imagines himself to be dominated and imposed upon because he feels that he himself is not dominant." This goes a long way to explaining why some of the wealthiest and most privileged citizens insist that they are the victims of prejudice and have to take America back; back from a semblance of equality one must assume.

 

Hofstadter was a better analyst than a prophet. He believed the pseudo-conservative movement had reached its peak with the failed 1964 presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater. I would have loved to have read Hofstadter analysis of the presidencies of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and especially Donald Trump.

 

The remainder of the book is taken up with interesting but unrelated historical essays. The author examines the irony of the populist anti-Imperialist desire that lead America to war with Spain to free Cuba from colonial rule, which turned overnight to pro-Imperialist populism after America won control of The Philippines in the war. He looks at the decline of the Anti-Trust movement in the early 20th century as Americans lost their fear of big business and their reverence for small business. Lastly he looks at the Free Silver movement of the late 19th century, focusing on a popular pro-silver track titled "Coin's Financial School" which promised to end America's economic depression with the unlimited coinage of silver. I had never read anything about the complexity of a bimetallism, in which an economy is pegged to the relative values of gold and silver, and found it extremely interesting.

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review 2017-04-12 21:53
Book Review of Chase: The Hunt for a King (Chase (EE) Book 2) by Thomas Dellenbusch & translated by Richard Urmston
Chase: The Hunt for a King (Chase (EE) Book 2) - Richard Urmston,Thomas Dellenbusch

Translated Version from the popular German book series of Movie-Length-Theatre-Of-The-Mind-Stories

 

Scotland on the brink of independence: the government is planning its own Scottish monarchy. But when a member of the close-knit planning group reveals the identity of the candidate for the throne, suddenly people appear who want to prevent this royal ascension at all costs - including murder. When CHASE is called in to assist, Jérome and Chen Lu travel to Glasgow. Together with the Scotsman James Campbell, they hunt for his father’s murderer. A secretive wax seal leads them into a maze of ancient legends and lost manuscripts. Can they solve the mystery and save the king - or will old ruins become their grave?

 

Review 4*

 

This is the second book in an exciting new crime thriller series which has been translated from German into English. I really enjoyed it!

 

Enrique "Rique" Allmers is a wonderful character. I liked him a lot when I first met him in Hunt for a Mute Poetess. He runs a security firm called CHASE, which investigates mostly business related espionage and crimes. When his team is called in to investigate a potential murder in Scotland, he sends Jérome and Chen Lu. However, danger is not far behind and as the two delve deeper into the suspicious death, secrets are revealed that could shake the foundations of the United Kingdom.

 

When I heard that this book was available, I quickly downloaded a copy and began reading it as soon as I could. Set in Scotland this time, this book takes the reader on a thrilling adventure of danger, suspense and mystery. It is mostly told through Chen Lu's and Jérome's point of view (although some scenes are through other characters' eyes as well), it is a pulse pounding ride, with chases, gun fights and several twists that keep a reader hooked. There are several interesting characters in this story too. James Campbell is the oldest son of Ronald Campbell and brother to Peter, and is Jérome's friend from his Legionnaire days. However, he finds himself embroiled in a secret that has been kept by his family for centuries, and which could affect the monarchy of Scotland at a time when there is huge political upheaval from a referendum that could split the UK apart.

 

As the story unfolded, I found myself on an emotional rollercoaster ride. I really enjoyed it, but also found myself thinking that this story was not as strong as it could have been. The author has incorporated a medieval legend in with his story and has woven it in such a way that it sounds entirely plausible, which I liked. However, I was a little confused at the actions of one of the characters. This character was in a position of authority but acted like a greedy thug and bully. What he hoped to achieve with his tactics didn't make sense to me. Maybe I'm being too critical of this character, as he was no evil villain but a man controlled by fear and greed. Personally, I think I would have liked a stronger villain than Peacock to love to hate. Nevertheless, having said that, he certainly made me dislike him a lot.

 

I reached the end of the book with mixed feelings, sad that it had ended but happy at the way it concluded. I am not sure if I would call this a movie-length story though, as it felt too short. Having said that though, the amount of descriptive writing made me picture this book in my mind's eye with ease and it played out like a movie in my head.

 

Thomas Dellenbusch has written an intriguing crime thriller. I love his fast paced writing style, which had me turning the pages, and the flow was a lot smoother than the first book. I would definitely consider reading more books by this author in the future.

 

Although there are no explicit scenes of a sexual nature, I do not recommend this book for younger readers due to some violence and some mention of torture. However, I highly recommend this book if you love crime thrillers/mystery/suspense genres. - Lynn Worton

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review 2017-04-12 19:10
The Suffragette Scandal - Courtney Milan  
The Suffragette Scandal - Courtney Milan

Lots of people avoid Romance as a genre because
1) they don't care about women in ballgowns
2) everything they know about Romance novels is 40 years out of date
3) they assume Romance is a genre for lonely women with too many cats
4) they buy into the idea that a genre by and about women must be inferior
5) they have no idea where to start.

Let me address those concerns.
1) The ballgown on the cover is just to let you know that this is an Historical Romance, an it is available; no actual ball gowns are worn during the story
2) Although there are still stories being written about nurses falling for doctors and innocent young girls being married off to blackguards, those are by no means the most popular themes these days. This book, for instance, is first wave feminism in all its activist glory
3) And I suppose you believe that the average gamer these days is a teenage boy in his parent's basement* killing something in a first person shooter
4) Honestly I can't imagine that anyone professes this belief, even if they have it
5) Courtney Milan, but also Jezebel.com has been covering the topic with lots of good suggestions

This book is pure enjoyment, but it's the end of the series, so if this really is your first Romance in a while (or ever), go check out The Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister short 0.5)at Amazon for 99 cents. Selling shorter interstitial works in the series between novels is a genius move, by the way. You don't have to read the series strictly in order, they aren't that closely tied, but they do share some characters.

Personal copy

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