<![CDATA[The Serious Reader - TSR Home]]>Sat, 06 Feb 2016 08:56:48 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Dystopian WWIV IN THE BEGINNING is in the Spotlight!]]>Sat, 06 Feb 2016 12:56:37 GMThttp://www.theseriousreader.org/tsr-home/dystopian-wwiv-in-the-beginning-is-in-the-spotlightPicture
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.
-Albert Einstein

A single man struggles to reunite with his family, in a world that simply changed overnight. Without any modern conveniences, he must face the fight to survive – every, single, day. From now, to eternity!


Surrounded by what was once everything we could ever need, we now saw just how little we all possessed.
-Bill Carlson, WWIV – In The Beginning

PURCHASE WWIV

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<![CDATA[Review of A YEAR WITHOUT A PURCHASE]]>Fri, 05 Feb 2016 20:41:51 GMThttp://www.theseriousreader.org/tsr-home/review-of-a-year-with-a-purchase Picture
MY REVIEW

Scott Dannemillers’, THE YEAR WITHOUT A PURCHASE, is one of the best books I have read in quite a while. Filled with personal experiences and plenty of statistics to back him up, Scott explains what prompted his family to stop spending and start connecting with one another and the world at large. Often witty, but ever insightful, he takes us on a journey with his wife Gabby from their early careers, to their year as missionaries in Guatemala, to raising 2 children in middle class suburbia in a world where he with the most toys (shiny stuff) wins. 
It all starts with realizing they have more than they need, but are still consuming goods because the world tells us we are the sum of what we have. He shows the reader through his own experiences that our constant buying or consuming is an attempt to find self-worth in a society that sets its standard on what we own. We actually draw our identity all too often by what we purchase. We often buy new rather than fix, we seldom hand down items or buy used, and we fret over the gifts we give, rather than the person we are giving them to.
At the end of the year the Dannemillers’ realize their experiment, although not perfect, allowed them to increase their connection and appreciation of one another, as well as other members of their family. It wasn’t what they bought, but the time and experiences they shared. It allowed them to volunteer their time and more of their money to charities that were dear to their heart and taught their children the value of giving to others of their treasure, time and talent. It deepened their faith and allowed them to realize what we really all crave and search for is the love of God and how we can share that love with one another.
Personally, I don’t think anyone can read this book and not contemplate how we are using and spending our money. When reaching for the latest gadget in the store or the new electronic device one can pause for just a moment and ask “do I really need this or do I want this” or “will this increase my happiness”. May-be the Dannemillers’ experiment is not for everyone, but I plan to consider all my purchases with a little more careful consideration. I will also contemplate how I am using my time in service to others. And at the very least I will keep my 2016 New Year Resolution of at least sticking to my budget.
I highly recommended this book. I appreciate being given a copy of THE YEAR WITHOUT A PURCHASE for a fair and honest review.

Purchase
On Amazon

Description The Year without a Purchase is the story of one family's quest to stop shopping and start connecting. Scott Dannemiller and his wife, Gabby, are former missionaries who served in Guatemala. Ten years removed from their vow of simple living, they found themselves on a never-ending treadmill of consumption where each purchase created a desire for more and never led to true satisfaction. The difference between needs and wants had grown very fuzzy, and making that distinction clear again would require drastic action: no nonessential purchases for a whole year. No clothes, no books, no new toys for the kids. If they couldn't eat it or use it up within a year (toilet paper and shampoo, for example), they wouldn't buy it. Filled with humorous wit, curious statistics, and poignant conclusions, the book examines modern America's spending habits and chronicles the highs and lows of dropping out of our consumer culture. As the family bypasses the checkout line to wrestle with the challenges of gift giving, child rearing, and keeping up with the Joneses, they discover important truths about human nature and the secret to finding true joy. The Year without a Purchaseoffers valuable food for thought for anyone who has ever wanted to reduce stress by shopping less and living more.

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<![CDATA[Chapter reveal: The Day the Dollar Died, by Robert V Baynes]]>Thu, 04 Feb 2016 17:17:46 GMThttp://www.theseriousreader.org/tsr-home/chapter-reveal-the-day-the-dollar-died-by-robert-v-baynesPicture

Title: The Day the Dollar Died
Genre: Political/ Christian  Fiction
Author: Robert V Baynes
Twitter Facebook Website / Amazon

ABOUT THE BOOK

This is a novel about an ordinary farmer who finds that his country is changing and it affects his own life. He loses more than he ever imagined and has to make some hard choices to save his family.

The main character is John Birch and he has a pretty good life. He has a great wife and children and is doing pretty well financially. He gets to do a job he loves and still spends time with his family. He finds that circumstances beyond his control change his world so that he ends up losing the financial security he worked so hard to build up. All he has left is his family and now he has to risk everything to try to save them from an ever growing government.

This book is very realistic and follows a line of thinking  that many find very logical and possibly inevitable.

Chapter 1 

The wind coming across the open field still had a bit of a bite to it. John was thankful that his 10-year-old John Deere tractor had a heated cab. This was the first day he had been able to start planting corn this spring and it was already the 24th of April. This past winter had been one of the coldest that he could remember. It seemed to take forever for the ground to warm up and dry out enough for him to start working the ground.
Hunger was starting to make his stomach growl, but he was hoping to get this 80-acre field done before he quit for the day. At 54 years of age, he was still lean and in good condition. With his salt and pepper hair and lean muscular frame, he was thought of as handsome by women 20 years younger than him. He also still had the appetite of a 24 year old.
This field had been in the Birch family for three generations. He had taken over the family farm when his dad decided to change vocations nearly 16 years ago. His dad never did have the love of farming that he had.
The original farm that he took over was 216 acres and he had added to it over the years. At this point he farmed nearly 440 acres, most of which he owned. He never considered himself a big farmer, but he got nervous about buying more farm ground once the price went over $5,000 an acre. Maybe some of the really big farmers knew what they were doing buying ground at nearly $10,000 an acre, but he didn’t have the confidence that it would pay off.
The faint sound of a car horn interrupted his thoughts. As he looked toward the road, he could see Anna’s car parked on the side. He had just turned the tractor and planter at the end of the field and would be down there in a few minutes.
He knew His wonderful wife of 33 years would have supper ready for him when he got to the end. He was so lucky to have her! They had been high school sweethearts and they got married when he was twenty-one. She was a year younger than him, but she looked more like 33 than 53. She had auburn colored hair and though she dressed modestly, she could still turn quite a few heads.
After stopping the tractor near the road, he climbed down from the cab. She rolled down the window and hollered, “Hey, good-looking, do you have time to stop long enough for a bite to eat?”
“Boy am I glad to see you!” he exclaimed. As he climbed into the passenger side of the car, he could smell the warm food. Anna pulled out the covered dishes. Anna was one of the best cooks in the area and the aroma of her meatloaf was making his mouth water.
As he took his first bite, Anna asked, “So how’s it going so far?”
“Mphf, prett goo so fer,” He mumbled as he scarfed down his supper.
“Tommy called today.” At 19, Tommy was their youngest son. He was in college working on his teaching degree.  “I asked him if he had met anyone he would consider dating, but he just doesn’t seem very interested in that right now.”
“Well don’t rush him,” John replied. “He’s got plenty of time. He’s certainly not a confirmed bachelor yet. The good Lord will bring the right girl along when it is time.”
“Yeah, I suppose you’re right. Will you be very late tonight?” Anna asked.
“Well, I want to get this field finished tonight. I figure it will take about 3 more hours. Then I’d better get started pretty early tomorrow morning. They’re calling for rain Thursday, so I need to get as much as I can done before then.”
“By the way,” he continued, “Will the kids be coming over Sunday?” He never tired of seeing his grandkids.
“They said they would be able to make it. Tommy may have to leave early to get back to school, he hates to make the 2 hour drive late at night.”
_________


John managed to get 210-acres planted before the rain hit late Thursday morning. He spent the rest of the week working on one of his tractors that he used for cultivating. Ever since he went organic, he had to cultivate more.
He decided to go completely organic about 12 years ago. It made it harder to find non-GMO seeds and he had to travel a little farther to take his crops to market, but he got a better price for them. Besides, he felt better about growing things more naturally.
Another downside of organic farming was that he had more government inspections than before. Sometimes, he longed for the days his grandfather told him about, when farmers just farmed the way they saw best and then sold their crops for the highest price they could get.
A few years back, he had a couple hundred head of cattle also, but he sold most of those when the price of cattle got low and feed prices were too high to make it worth his while. Now he just kept a few head to butcher for their own use. He usually split them with his kids.
He had been hauling manure most of his life, but a few years ago, the government decided that farmers should take classes and have to get license to be able to spread manure.  That seemed like a little too much regulation to him. He had also heard that the EPA was toying with the idea of regulating dust that farmers created.
With the United States Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies, he was getting tired of all of the regulations and extra paper work he had to do just to satisfy some bureaucrat somewhere. After all, it is not likely that anyone in the government knew as much about farming as he did.
The crunch of tires on stone interrupted his thoughts. He decided to step out of the shop to see who was here. Visitors out here in the country were fairly rare.
He didn’t recognize the pickup truck, but when a dark haired guy got out wearing jeans and a flannel shirt, he recognized him as a farmer he had met a couple of times.
“Hello Jim, what brings you over here on a rainy day?” John asked. Jim Rush lived about 3 miles away from John. Though he was nearly 20 years younger than John, he farmed nearly twice as much ground. John had heard that Jim was willing to take more risks in some of his business dealings than most people.
“John, do you have a minute? I’d like to talk to you about something.”
“Sure, come on in to the shop, and we can talk there.” John held the door and motioned for Jim to have a seat on a stool near the window.
“So what brings you over here? Anything I can do for you?”  John asked.
“Well,” Jim began, “It’s a long story, but I’m planning on selling out and I was wondering if you’d be interested in buying my tractor I bought 2 years ago. If we don’t have to go through a dealer, I’d be willing to sell it for the same price a dealer would give me for it.”
“What gives, Jim? Are you tired of farming, or don’t you want to talk about it?”
“Well it’s kind of a long story, but if you really want to know, I could give it to you in a nutshell.”
John replied, “I’m just about done putting my tractor back together, so I’ve got time.”
“John, even though we go to different churches, I know from what I have seen and heard about you, that you are a Christian, so you might understand where I am coming from. I believe that it is time for me and my family to leave this country. I have 3 young children at home and I don’t want them to grow up here with what I see coming.”
“Now wait a second Jim, I’m not real happy with a lot of things that are going on here either, but this is one of the greatest countries that has ever been. There are still a lot of good people here. Don’t you think that leaving the country is a little extreme?”
“I’ve thought about it long and hard for over a year now. I’ve looked at the options and I don’t think I’ve got any other choice. I don’t think our national debt is a solvable problem and I don’t think many of those in power want to solve it. I also think the dollar is very shaky and it could fall drastically if anything happens to destabilize it.”
“On top of that,” Jim continued, “I think God has allowed us to have the leaders we have today to bring judgment to America. I think we have turned our back on God too many times and I don’t see any sign of repentance in this country.”
“I think before long we will have a major financial crisis and I believe we will see martial law here. At that time, I believe the government will begin nationalizing the farms and other property. I honestly believe that things will get worse from there.”
“I’m sure you think I’m probably crazy right now, but I have to protect my family, and this is the only way I can do that.”
“Wow,” John said, “That is a pretty big nutshell! I’m not sure what to say. I can see some of the problems you’re seeing, but I can’t imagine it could get that bad that soon. Not here with the constitution we have. But, I guess that is up to you. Where would you go that things would be better?”
“I’ve looked at a lot of places, but there are a couple of countries in South America that look pretty good. I will probably go down and check them out to see what seems best. I will definitely do a lot of praying about it.”
“Jim, if you are sure about this, I have thought about buying a new tractor but I hated to pay the prices they want for the new ones. I would be interested in looking at yours. Here’s my email address, if you do leave would you let me know how it is going for you?”
“Sure John, I’d be glad to. Not trying to talk you out of buying my tractor, but give what I said some thought. I’d hate to see good people caught in the disaster I believe is coming.”
As Jim left, John was lost in thought about what Jim had said. He knew Jim was a risk taker, but everything he had heard about Jim was that he was stable and pretty smart. Could there be something to what Jim was saying?
He heard the dinner bell ringing, so he headed to the house. As he was washing up for dinner, Anna asked, “Who was that you were talking to in the shop?”
“Oh that was Jim Rush. He lives over on County Rd 300.”
“What was he over here for? Seems like an odd time to come for a visit.”
As John sat down at the kitchen table he replied, “He wanted to know if I wanted to buy his tractor.”
“Well why doesn’t he trade it in on a new one if he needs one?” Anna asked.
John paused, “He’s thinking about selling out and moving.” Then John proceeded to relate to Anna everything he and Jim had talked about.
Afterward John said, “I don’t know if he’s crazy or not. It seems kind of radical to me. I’m not sure why, but I gave him my email address and asked him to keep in touch.”
“Well, he might be saner than the rest of us,” Anna replied. “He does make sense in some of his logic.”
“So do you want to leave the country too?” John asked.
“No, I could never leave the kids and grandkids.” Anna said.

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<![CDATA[REVIEW OF MEMORIES OF HEAVEN]]>Mon, 01 Feb 2016 18:56:01 GMThttp://www.theseriousreader.org/tsr-home/review-of-memories-of-heavenPicture
DESCRIPTION

Poet William Wordsworth expressed the idea that we gradually lose our intimate knowledge of heaven as we grow up, observing that “our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting” of our previous existence in Spirit.
Dr. Wayne W. Dyer and co-author Dee Garnes had often talked about how the ones who know the most about God are those who have just recently been wrapped in the arms of the Divine: our infants and toddlers. In fact, Dee had an interaction with her own young son that convinced her of his acquaintance with our Source of being. Curious about this phenomenon, Wayne and Dee decided to issue an invitation to parents all over the globe to share their experiences. The overwhelming response they received prompted them to put together this book, which includes the most interesting and illuminating of these stories in which boys and girls speak about their remembrances from the time before they were born.
Children share their dialogues with God, talk about long-deceased family members they knew while in the dimension of Spirit, verify past-life recollections, give evidence that they themselves had a hand in picking their own parents and the timing of their sojourn to Earth, and speak eloquently and accurately of a kind of Divine love that exists beyond this physical realm.
This fascinating book encourages all of us, not just parents, to take a much more active role in communicating with our planet’s new arrivals . . . and to realize that there is far more to this earthly experience than what we perceive with our five senses.

PURCHASE

REVIEW

MEMORIES OF HEAVEN is a compilation of stories, in which (most often) parents recollect times when their children were young and expressed having memories of heaven, or a time in which they were with God, prior to being born. There is also a section in the book that shares stories of children recollecting past lives lived, and not only past lives, but ones in which they were surrounded by the same people but in role reversals. For example, the boy who is a child now, recalls a life before, in which he was his mother's father.

This book wasn't entirely what I expected due to the fact that it was merely a compilation of anecdotes from parents. Some of the anecdotes were super short and many of them were almost exactly the same recollections. I suppose the author took these similarites and viewed that as "proof" or findings that there, is in fact, a time when we are in heaven prior to earth, and furthermore,. she expresses the opinion that we choose our parents. Too many of the stories were too similar and not profound enough for me to find anything concrete in them or even fascinating for that matter. In fact, after a few pages, it was hard not to get bored with the same thing over and over. In addition, my problem with this line of thinking that we choose our parents is that I find it hard to believe that a baby (or a soul) in heaven would choose a child molester or a rapist for a parent. That's just is crazy to me. My own personal feelings aside of reincarnation and the concepts in this book, the book was just okay for me. It wasn't something I would recommend buying merely from the standpoint that all of the anecdotes were almost exactly the same and the book was almost all comprised of these short anecdotes. It's something I could probably find on Google or by asking people for stories via social media. That just does not justify a book to me.
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<![CDATA[Review of A Drop In The Ocean by Jenni Ogden]]>Mon, 01 Feb 2016 18:22:31 GMThttp://www.theseriousreader.org/tsr-home/review-of-a-drop-in-the-ocean-by-jenni-ogdenPicture
​Description

On her 49th birthday, Anna Fergusson, Boston neuroscientist and dedicated introvert, arrives at an unwanted crossroads when the funding for her research lab is cut. With her confidence shattered and her future uncertain, on impulse she rents a cabin for a year on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. However Turtle Island, alive with sea birds and nesting Green turtles, is not the retreat she expected. Here she finds love—for the eccentric islanders who become her family; for Tom, the laid-back turtle whisperer; and for the turtles whose ancient mothering instincts move her to tears. But Anna finds that even on her idyllic drop in the ocean there is pain, and as the months fly past her dream for a new life is threatened by a darkness that challenges everything she has come to believe about the power of love.

Evocative and thought-provoking, A Drop in the Ocean is a story about second chances and hard lessons learned in the gentlest of ways.

MY REVIEW

​After losing her grant to continue funding her Huntington’s disease research, Anna Fergusson finds herself at a crossroad. With no job, no real prospects, and no life outside her lab she decides to embark on a new adventure completely out of her comfort zone. She becomes the substitute manager of a small beach campground on Turtle Island, a tiny coral island on the outer edges of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It is there she will begin a journey of self-discovery, let go of her past and find love in new and lasting relationships. Jenni Ogden’s “A Drop in the Ocean” left me wanting to get away on my own tropical isle. Her description of the island, its sea life, beautiful nesting birds and sea turtles were rich, colorful and easy to visualize. The coral island made a beautiful backdrop to Anna’s heartfelt and complex story. In addition to all the research on marine life I was also educated to the sadness of Huntington’s disease and the importance of research in any disease process. The story itself contained warm and compelling characters assisting Anna in transforming herself in ways she never would have anticipated. I also appreciated the addition of the epilogue. I like to know what happens to the characters I have spent time with. I enjoyed watching Anna evolve. My only difficulty was Anna’s character development at the beginning of her story on the island. She had many layers and I would have liked to have seen her open up and develop more slowly with time. In addition there were times I was given what she was feeling rather than shown. Otherwise, I enjoyed her growth from educated recluse to friend. I appreciate being given an advanced copy of Jenni Ogden’s “A Drop in the Ocean” for a fair and honest review.

PURCHASE

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<![CDATA[Chapter reveal: The Flying Dragon, by Georges Ugeux]]>Thu, 28 Jan 2016 16:28:08 GMThttp://www.theseriousreader.org/tsr-home/chapter-reveal-the-flying-dragon-by-georges-ugeuxPicture

Title:  THE FLYING DRAGON
Genre:  THRILLER/SUSPENSE
Author:  Georges Ugeux
Website:http://www.georgesugeux.com
Publisher:  Archway Books
Find out more on Amazon

About the Book: 

Celebrated non-fiction author Georges Ugeux delivers an intense, imaginative and intriguing financial thriller in his debut novel,The Flying Dragon.  Set against the backdrop of the high-energy, high-tension world of global finance, The Flying Dragon plunges readers deep into a world where power, greed, money, and passion can intersect in a most dangerous way.

The Flying Dragon introduces protagonist Victoria Leung, a beautiful, brilliant, fearless, and highly accomplished financial fraud investigator.  Responsible for taking down Sun Hung Kai Properties’ Kwok Brothers, a real estate empire, Victoria not only established herself as a formidable talent, but earned the nickname “The Flying Dragon” in the process. When she leaves the fraud department of the Hong Kong Police, Victoria accepts a position as a senior detective at Pegasus, an international security firm based in London.  The Pegasus job affords Victoria much-needed freedom, but that calm is shattered when Victoria receives an urgent message from her close friend Diana Yu. It seems Diana’s ex- boyfriend Henry Chang is in danger.  Henry’s co-worker, Bertrand Wilmington, head of the derivative trading desk of a global bank, has fallen from a window of the twenty-second floor trading room.The Hong Kong Police Force quickly concludes that the death was a suicide, but is there more to this story than meets the eye? Henry Chang thinks so—and knows that if anyone can find answers, it’s Victoria, the Flying Dragon herself. Hong Kong and Mainland authorities are unsuccessful in cracking the case, but Victoria uses her expertise to discover key clues. And Victoria, a dogged, tough, tenacious investigator, won’t back down until she gets answers. As she races to piece together the puzzle of what really happened, Victoria is swept up in a world of danger, deception, and deadly consequences.   Can she extricate herself from this perilous web of arrogance, power, money and greed? Will she expose the corruption and bring down a financial giant?  Or will time run out? The clock is ticking….

Chapter 1 

The crowd around the Hong Kong Arts Center seemed happy as they streamed out of the concert by talented Chinese pianist Yuja Wang. They enthusiastically shared their impressions about her beauty, musicality, and talent. Some of the patrons had seen videos of Yuja Wang playing Chopin at the age of six. Victoria Leung was so in sync with the music she had played tonight: Schubert’s impromptus. She also felt so close to the pianist, who commanded the keyboard and seemed on the verge of tears when the third impromptu moved from lightness to depth and passion. At twenty-seven, Yuja Wang was one of the best-known pianists of her generation and now lived in the United States. She had the same drive, intensity, and grace as Victoria herself.

The Center’s superb architecture had always given Victoria pleasure. It was modern without ostentation, and its acoustics were close to perfect. Over the years, classical music had increasingly been a source of inspiration in the Chinese world, and the public was ecstatic. For a Chinese pianist to reach this level of excellence and artistry was a source of pride.

Since she had left the financial fraud department of the Hong Kong Police Force, Victoria Leung had enjoyed the freedom attached to her new status of senior detective at Pegasus, an international firm headquartered in London. She intended to fully enjoy this period of her life. Having a family was not on her agenda. Like most thirty-six-year-old women, though, she was starting to give it some thought. Her biological clock inexorably ticked. She knew it. But at the same time, she didn’t know what to do about that reality.
Victoria was an assertive and attractive young woman well aware of the impact she had on the male-dominated financial world of Greater China. She had initially faced difficulty demonstrating her leadership and competence, partly because of her good looks, femininity, and youth. She had learned to turn these qualities into assets that she used subtly and wisely. While she remained vulnerable to some aggressive behavior from male colleagues, she knew how to garner respect. Her body was slim and strong; she exercised regularly. She liked having the freedom to wear dresses and skirts rather than a police uniform. But what struck everybody who met her was the power of her demeanor and her smile, which revealed her complexity.

++++

Wearing a short red dress, Victoria drank her green tea as she peered through the glass of her office windows into the Hong Kong morning: Kowloon Bay on one side and the old British Empire buildings and parks at the center of Hong Kong on the other.  The traffic was penetrating and created an impression of energy and intensity. Hong Kong was not a city for the fainthearted.  Victoria was an early bird, and relished the atmosphere of the office before anybody else was in. She was in control and serene.

Victoria looked down at the document on her desk:

Henry Chang is in danger. I urgently need to meet you. Meet me at 9:00 a.m. at the Mandarin Oriental for coffee.  I desperately need your help. —Diana Y. 

Victoria was stunned. For Diana Yu to send such a dramatic message was unusual.  Henry Chang was Diana’s former lover until he broke it off and publicly humiliated her. Now, Diana was asking Victoria to help the bastard. It didn’t add up. Did Diana still have feelings for him? Victoria hoped not, but it was the only explanation that made sense.
She sighed. If it had been Chang asking, Victoria would have said no. But Diana was a dear friend. If she was willing to swallow her pride and ask for help, then the least Victoria could do was find out why.

Diana Yu and Victoria had started together at the Hong Kong Police Force. Soon after, Henry Chang became Diana’s boyfriend. While she had given the relationship all she had, she was never sure whether Henry was playing or being earnest. Unexpectedly, after they had dated for a year, he dropped her for a Hong Kong socialite, Helena Lee. He then became head of the fixed-income department of the Bank of Hong Kong and Shanghai, or BHS.

The breakup had been particularly painful for Diana since Henry had been cruel enough to do it publicly at a 2012 New Year’s party.

Diana was now reaching out through a confidential police cable; whatever had happened to Henry must have been fairly dramatic. The Wan Chai Police headquarters was close to Hong Kong Central and near the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

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<![CDATA[Review of Dreambender by Ronald Kidd]]>Sat, 23 Jan 2016 20:42:37 GMThttp://www.theseriousreader.org/tsr-home/review-of-dreambender-by-ronald-kiddPicture
Ronald Kidd's YA novel Dreambender tells the story of a society without free will and the children that dare to ask “What If”.

A cataclysmic event called the Warming occurred when the days were hot and the seas rising. After many generations, when the great flood receded, people arrived at a place called The City. Here they learned to live strict, structured lives where at the age of 12 a future occupation is decided for them. Society lives without machines, music and art all claimed to have contributed to the Warming. Hope and joy are discouraged as well as thinking for yourself. Most seem content, but a few adolescents begin to question is this all there is. Callie Crawford is just one of those adolescents.

While a quiet and orderly society is maintained in The City, another secret society lives in The Meadow. They are called Dreambenders. They are responsible for changing the dreams of the people in The City. Dreams of machines, music, art or hope have to be changed for the good of society. Fear of another Warming has convinced the Dreambenders what they are doing is best for mankind. In denial, they are really controlling the minds and free will of the people. Jeremy Finn, a rising star among the Dreambenders, is not completely convinced what they are doing is morally acceptable. One night finding Callie singing in a dream, an act that is forbidden, Jeremy makes a decision that will dramatically change his and Callie’s lives, as well as the world they live in.

Ronald Kidd's Dreambender is a thought provoking novel with characters that are rich and rebellious. It’s a story of survival, learning who you are and what you are meant to be. It’s listening to that small inner voice that has long been suppressed, letting go of control and working for a bright and hope filled future. A book to make you think at any age.

I was given an advanced copy of Ronald Kidd's Dreambender for a fair and honest review.

PURCHASE

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<![CDATA[Guest post: "What Kind of Yoga Teacher Writes about Murder?" by Tracy Weber, Author of 'Karma's a Killer']]>Thu, 21 Jan 2016 17:17:15 GMThttp://www.theseriousreader.org/tsr-home/guest-post-what-kind-of-yoga-teacher-writes-about-murder-by-tracy-weber-author-of-karmas-a-killerPicture
I’ve made my living teaching yoga and running my Seattle yoga studio, Whole Life Yoga, for almost fifteen years, and I’ve certified well over 200 yoga teachers through my teacher training program. But anyone who knows me can attest that I am not a typical yoga teacher.

I came to yoga with significant back injuries, and I can’t do any of the cool poses pictured on the cover of Yoga Journal. I cringe every time I hear something woo-woo. But I love yoga. It has transformed my life, and sharing it with others brings me great joy.

Still, I’m not a typical yoga teacher.

Most of my students weren’t surprised to learn that I spend my spare time plotting murder. It makes sense if you know my warped sense of humor. After all, I’ve been known to hide books on poisons all over the kitchen where my husband can “accidentally” find them.
Yoga practitioners who don’t know me are sometimes taken aback—even a little affronted—however. How can a yoga teacher combine yoga—a practice designed to promote inner peace—with murder?

My top four reasons are outlined below. 

My light-hearted mysteries allow me to share my love of yoga with people I may never meet.

Most of my readers don’t practice yoga, which isn’t surprising. Reading immerses us in worlds we might otherwise never experience. I write murder mysteries, but I don’t expect my readers to be killers, either. ;-)

Kate Davidson, my novel’s protagonist, is a yoga teacher and the owner of a Seattle yoga studio, Serenity Yoga.  Like most of us, Kate won’t be in the running for Buddha’s successor. She has a fiery temper and often lashes out impulsively, only to regret it later. Yet she has a great heart and, like me, she believes in yoga and has dedicated her life to sharing it with others. If Kate loves yoga, anyone can love yoga—even mystery fans who have never considered trying it.

People are murdered in my work, but death isn’t the only theme.

Solving crime definitely takes center stage in my books, but The Downward Dog Mysteries are ultimately about transformation. The yoga teachings don’t promise that we won’t suffer traumas. Practicing yoga doesn’t protect us from the real world, which sometimes is violent.

Yoga does, however, give us a path to acceptance—to finding peace in the midst of chaos. It helps us to learn how to live our values.  Like most of us, my protagonist struggles with inner demons, and she doesn’t always react to life’s stressors the way she wishes she had. But yoga gives her a roadmap, and she tries to follow it, in spite of some notable traffic jams.  Along the way, she learns, she grows, and she tries to do better in the future.

If my books were movies, they’d be rated PG.

The Downward Dog Mysteries are cozy mysteries. Cozies are typically light-hearted, often funny (I think mine are!) and written to appeal to the faint-hearted. Gore is minimized; killing takes place off screen; sex happens behind closed doors. My mother has read all three books in my series, with only minimal blushing. 

Last but not least, I love it!

But if I’m honest, the real reason I write yoga mysteries is simple. I’m a huge mystery fan, my life-work is yoga, and I’m absolutely, embarrassingly, head-over-heels in love with my German shepherd, Tasha. I write about a yoga teacher who solves murders with a wacky German shepherd sidekick. Writing about yoga, dogs, and murder. What could be more fun?

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Title: KARMA’S A KILLER
Genre: Mystery
Author: Tracy Weber
Websitewww.tracyweberauthor.com
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Purchase on Amazon
About the Book:
A fun, fresh, feisty new mystery featuring Seattle yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her trusty canine companion Bella,Karma’s a Killer is a taut tale with more twists and turns than a vinyasa yoga class.   In this charming, clever and utterly captivating cozy mystery, Kate Davidson discovers that when it comes to murder, there’s no place like om. 

When she agrees to teach doga—yoga for dogs—at a fundraiser for Dogma, a local animal rescue, Kate believes the only real damage will be to her reputation. But when an animal rights protest at the event leads to a suspicious fire and a drowning, a few downward-facing dogs will be the least of Kate’s problems… The police arrest Dharma, a woman claiming to be Kate’s estranged mother, and charge her with murder. To prove Dharma’s innocence, Kate, her boyfriend Michael, and her German shepherd sidekick Bella dive deeply into the worlds of animal activism, organizational politics, and the dangerous obsessions that drive them.   And if solving a murder weren’t complicated enough, Kate will also have to decide whether or not to reconcile with the estranged mother who abandoned her over thirty years ago.  Not to mention having to contend with an almost-bankrupt animal rescue, a cantankerous crow, an unwanted pigeon houseguest, and a rabbit in a doga class. What could possibly go wrong?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A certified yoga therapist, Tracy Weber is the owner of the award-winning yoga studio, Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and the creator and director of Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program which, to date, has certified over 250 yoga teachers. She and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha.

Connect on with Tracy on the Web:

https://www.facebook.com/tracywe    http://www.wholelifeyoga.com/blog/

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<![CDATA[FREEBIE ALERT on Self-Maid: Empowering Self-Help ]]>Sat, 16 Jan 2016 11:50:57 GMThttp://www.theseriousreader.org/tsr-home/freebie-alert-on-self-maid-empowering-self-help#‎FREE Kindle download through 1/18/2016 NEW RELEASE - Ranked #1 in 2 categories of Health and Fitness on Kindle after only 2 weeks!
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You would think family addiction, abuse, homelessness, teenage pregnancy, crippling anxiety and financial struggle would be enough to put a woman in her grave. As a single mother cluttered with a messy adolescence, the author had plenty of adventure; still, it wasn't the kind she wanted. Internal disarray revealed itself as chaotic outward circumstances, including a career cleaning homes and a head just above water. Craving an existence infused with quality, she determined to robe herself in armor and face weaknesses head-on. Now a maid-turned-doctor, she easily demonstrates how to obtain abundance through a firsthand account of a miserable life altered into magical livelihood. With one foot on the humble "school of hard knocks" side of the fence, and the other firmly planted on the professional, scientific and spiritual side, she compassionately comes alongside the reader to empower a remarkable existence.

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<![CDATA[Excerpt from Psychological Thriller FIRE WAR]]>Wed, 13 Jan 2016 13:58:57 GMThttp://www.theseriousreader.org/tsr-home/excerpt-from-psychological-thriller-fire-war
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Late in the 21st century, the United Continental States of America (or UCSA), comprising the former USA, Canada and Mexico, is running smoothly: unemployment has been all but eradicated, terrorism is quashed in the country, and internal dissent diminishes by the day. Most people thank President Meyers for this. Many can no longer remember when there was last an election, but as long as he keeps the country safe from the terrorist group Hariq Jihad (‘Fire War’), this seems a small price to pay. 

 Gunnery Sergeant Anthony Jackson is the model Marine: highly trained, absolutely efficient, and unquestioningly dedicated to his country. The only thing he can conceive of putting before his nation is his family, his wife Courtney and two daughters Maya and MacKenzie. Conscripted into the personal security detail of President Meyers, he begins to get glimpses that not everyone is as content with the current situation as he is, but attributes this to terrorist agitation and fringe lunacy. When his older daughter Maya begins to question the creeping erosion of personal liberties and the revoking of democratic rights, however, he begins to fear for her safety, as well as his own and that of his family. In a climate in which entire families disappear due to minor offenses, one can’t be too careful. 
 
The tensions between liberty and safety, between family and country, will force Jackson to rethink all his beliefs, and lead to a collision with the system he has dedicated his life to serving. 
 
Fire War is a suspenseful, gripping and unnerving examination of the paradoxes of power, the price of liberty, and the dictates of conscience. The world you live in will never look the same again. 

EXCERPT

THE PAST
July 14th, 2051. 15.15 hours 
Wrigley Field, Chicago, USA

The sun burnt down on the bleachers and Tom wriggled uncomfortably on his metal seat. He was hot, sweat trickling down the back of his neck, but he didn't want to ruin this – his first real baseball game. He didn't want to disappoint his father who hadn't wanted to take him until his mother insisted. He was worried that complaining would spoil the mood and end the afternoon although it was sticky, loud, and sweaty. Seven, he thought to himself, was certainly old enough to be sitting up here watching one of the biggest games of the season – the Cubs versus the Giants. Both are big names though the Cubs were going to whoop some Giant ass today; he just knew it. He glanced over at the scoreboard, smiling to himself as he read the glowing numbers. A fanfare blared so loud that he felt the music vibrate inside his chest.

“Okay, Tommy boy?” asked his father, looking down briefly and grinning at the serious look on the boy's face. Maybe he'd been wrong and Kim was right; the kid was old enough for this. The boy was doing well. He'd try to remember to pick up some flowers on the way home to make up for the yelling this morning. It could be he'd even be able to sneak in a couple of beers with the guys before they had to get back, since Tom was behaving himself so well.

“All good,” Tom said, trying to ignore the prickly feeling of drying sweat in the small of his back and a mild, but increasingly growing, urge to pee. “All good,” he repeated, as much to reassure himself as anyone else.

Up and down the aisles, vendors hawked peanuts, beer, and hot dogs, and people milled around, getting back to their seats for the beginning of the fourth inning. Tom’s hand itched inside the big foam hand his father had bought him, emblazoned with the Cub's logo. He was more than sure that his beloved Cubs were going to win. A small breeze buzzed across the field, faintly carrying the scent of cut grass over the sweat and alcohol. Life was good. 

The breeze tickled the hair on the back of his neck and Tommy sighed. It felt nice after the heat. Suddenly, it got stronger, and a rumbling, roaring sound replaced the metallic jollity of the baseball field jingles. Unconsciously, Tom slid closer to his father, who looked down, annoyed that the boy was asking for affection now, in the middle of a manly day. Kim spoiled the kid, and he reconsidered his idea of buying her flowers. 

Tom felt his father stiffen so he pulled away, not wanting to be yelled at. However, the noises grew louder, and people stirred. Almost as one, they turned their heads to the sky. The sun seemed to have gone behind a cloud. Tommy wanted to look up, too, but he was afraid.

“Man up,” he told himself. “Man up.” It was what his father always told him, and there was nothing more that he wanted than to be a man. So he took a deep breath, filling his nose with the scents of baseball and looked up to the sky, squinting a little.

It was a plane, not far from the blimp he noticed earlier; that was all. Nothing to be afraid of. A tiny sigh of relief escaped his lips as he saw the familiar shape outlined over his head, wings spread out against the sky.

It was the last thing he saw before the explosion ripped his small body apart with the force of a hundred suns. The quiet of thousands of lives extinguished in the blink of a second took over, disturbed only by falling rubble. The sun beat down again, hot and sticky, on what remained of Tom, his father, and all the others who had been unfortunate enough to be at Wrigley Field for the biggest game of the season.  


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Connect With the Author:

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Twitter:  @ttmichael9
 

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