Author Archives: ccmal

Faith and Honor

faith-and-honoe

Faith and Honor
Author: Robin Maderich
Publisher: Blue Shutter Books

Rating: 
Reviewed by:  Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Forbidden love during the battle for independence is what historical fiction fans will find in Faith and Honor, Book 1 of the Honor Trilogy by Robin Maderich.

On the ride home to Boston, beautiful, red-headed widow Faith Ashley is assisted by a strong and elegant man in a dusty tricorne hat. Little does this dedicated patriot know, Mr. Irons is an officer in the British Army.

By rights they should be enemies; but their hearts are drawn to each other. As the battle for independence looms on the horizon, Faith and Fletcher Irons struggle to make sense of their feelings while still holding fast to their beliefs. What does loving the enemy cost? And can their love survive the rebellion?

Author Robin Maderich brings Colonial Boston alive for readers in this moving, romantic story of forbidden love. Maderich’s attention to detail, knowledge of the era, and her ability to develop complex and fascinating characters, are woven together to create a poignant tale of a man and woman who stand on opposite sides of a conflict.

This eloquently written story that captures the fashion, the language, and tense situation of Colonial Boston is sure to be a hit with historical fiction fans.

Faith is a strong, determined patriot, and Fletcher, believing that the British must squash the rebellion, continues to perform his duty despite his feelings for Faith. He is certainly an honorable hero. Other memorable characters are Ezra Briggs, a lawyer and loyalist who has known Faith for many years, and British Lieutenant Brian Upton, a fellow officer and good friend of Fletcher’s. John Colton, Faith’s father who lives in Longmeadow, will certainly leave an impression on readers, as will Elizabeth, Faith’s servant and fellow patriot.

This reader was totally captivated by Faith and Honor. The mingling of fictional characters with historical figures and events is so well done that I wanted immediately to dive back into the book as soon as I finished.

Faith and Honor by Robin Maderich is one book you won’t want to miss!

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Finding Faith in a Skeptical World

finding-faith-front-cover1

Finding Faith in a Skeptical World 
Author: Chet Galaska
Publisher: Triad Press

Rating: 
Reviewed by:  Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Some books about faith overwhelm you with complex theology and language. Some are so condescending that they turn you off. But that definitely isn’t the case with Finding Faith in a Skeptical World by Chet Galaska.

Finding Faith is a guide to what faith in God truly means. For the believer, it provides answers to questions they often feel inadequate to discuss. And for others, Finding Faith can help explain some of the most difficult concepts surrounding putting your faith in an all-knowing, all-powerful, loving God.

* Why doesn’t prayer always work?
* What is sin and why is it important?
* Why do bad things happen?
* How is the Bible relevant to me?
* Why are there so many different Christian churches?
* How are Christians expected to conduct themselves?
* Why doesn’t science prove there’s a God?

These and many more topics are discussed by a former atheist who became a Christian after several years of investigating the faith with an open mind. Christian churches should keep multiple copies on-hand and every Christian home will want to own a copy of a book that offers so much information in such an encouraging way.

An engaging and powerful book awaits you in Finding Faith in a Skeptical World by Chet Galaska.

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Saffron Dreams

saffron_dreams

Saffron Dreams 
Author: Shaila Abdullah
Publisher: Modern History Press
Rating: 
Reviewed by:  Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Saffron Dreams by Shaila Abdullah is an eloquently written and moving story of a Muslim woman living in America, whose world is turned upside down on September 11th.

Arissa Illahi is a Muslim artist and writer living in New York City with her husband Faizan. Expecting their first child, they are happy with life. But on the morning of September 11, 2001, Faizan would go to work in the World Trade Center…and never return.

Always free to live as a Muslim in America, after the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Great American Melting Pot doesn’t seem to blend so well. People who greeted Arissa with a smile before that fateful day, barely look at her. Feeling adrift after her loss, Arissa wanders through the days awaiting the birth of her unborn son, a son Faizan would never hold. The discovery of her husband’s unfinished manuscript may be the key to her survival. And perhaps by finishing Faizan’s legacy, Arissa will redeem a race.

If ever there was a book more eloquently written than Saffron Dreams, I would like to see it. The words simply fly off the page and float into your consciousness; their power touching you in a way like no other book might ever touch you again. The struggles of being a 9/11 widow and a Muslim, come together in a moving story that will find you filled with every emotion ever experienced by a human being.

Abdullah’s masterful storytelling draws you in from the very first moment and does not release you until you’ve turned the very last page. Anyone who has ever loved and lost will be touched by this heartrending, yet triumphant story of one woman’s difficult journey to pick up the pieces of her shattered life in a country that has suddenly put her and an entire race under a microscope in order to make sense of a monumental tragedy. The descriptions and details put you right alongside Arissa so that you are totally captivated by her world, her dreams, her struggles, and her triumphs.

The stunning cover art must be seen up close, as it is even lovelier and more striking in your hands than what you see posted here.

Saffron Dreams is destined to add more awards to Abdullah’s portfolio. This is a must read book for 2009!

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United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror

united-in-hate-coverUnited in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror 
Author: Dr. Jamie Glazov
Publisher: WND Books

Rating: 
Reviewed by:  Gary Mack

 

Once I was involved in a business partnership with a talented and seasoned salesperson. Often we teased my partner he was so good at what he did he could sell all the swampland in Florida. The man knew he was good at his trade and reveled in all the tricks he learned to perfect his pitch. Oddly enough, whenever a salesperson came to our office to pitch a product, my partner, so knowledgeable of his craft, easily succumbed to the tricks of his trade. He was always the first to sign on the dotted line. I could never understand that.


After reading, United In Hate, The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror, by author Jamie Glazov, I’m beginning to grasp an understanding on the phenomena of such thinking. I understand a little more how certain individuals, or entire groups, can be so close to something they cannot recognize when the tricks of the trade are being used against them. In the case of the Left, as Glazov points out from his opening chapter, it’s as if the “believer” is so close to knowing what they hate, they somehow fall in love with it. It’s just a matter of how the cause is packaged and sold to them.


For instance, if you were to announce on the “View”, to the hosts and audience, that a mystery guest was about to appear who was a mass murderer, a theocrat, a racist, a bigot, a sexist, a torturer, and a homophobe, the set of the show would instantly be filled with angry boos and jeers from the crowd. However, when the identity of the guest were to be revealed as Fidel Castro, the knees of the female hosts would suddenly quiver and an about face would occur. Barbara Walters would be the first to her feet to greet the great Leftist Dictator. The crowd would follow, taking her lead on giving Castro a standing ovation. Within minutes after the applause died down, movie pals Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola would greet their little darling via speaker phone. (Again, it’s all in the packaging. Those who work in a business of illusion and deception are easily deceived.)


As Glazov candidly points out, when it comes to the Left, Castro could easily be replaced by the likes of Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, Pham Van Dong, Mao Tse Tung, Ayatollah Khomeini, Osama Bin Laden, and the newest darling of the Left, the world’s most charming homophobe, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. These are their heroes, their leftist idols. It doesn’t matter that their heroes represent and encompass all that the Left hates. The Left is easily sold, easily caught up in the imagery and mystique, easy marks for despot trickery whenever one of their intellectuals arrives in the country of their autocratic friend. All a dictator has to do is clean up a town, dress up the townsfolk in totalitarian wear, and threaten the lives of the people if they don’t look happy while the conspicuous visitor is in town. Wow. How many times does that trick have to be done before the Left catches on? Yet you wonder how did Susan Sontag, Mary McCarthy, Walter Duranty, George Bernard Shaw, Sean Penn, Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Ernest Hemingway, Danny Glover, and a host of other western intellectuals or entertainers fall for the same scheme?


What’s worse is their glowing testimonials after their visits. It’s as if these great thinkers or performers go back to high school to write of their first love. I was squeamish and embarrassed reading the passages Glazov used to illustrate and drive his point home. Unless you are stupid, or love struck, how could all the monsters of tyranny possess such sweet and unassuming qualities as reported by the Left?


Does anyone still remember the 1981 film, “Reds”, by Warren Beatty? What a perfect example of what Glazov speaks of. Back then, as a student, I wanted to puke over the manufactured sentiment over the flick, a film many of Beatty’s associates were hailing as a masterpiece. In the most overused scene in cinematic history, Jack Reed, the protagonist prepares a meal for the married woman he loves and stole from an American capitalist. In the scene, the water in the pots boils over, smoke billows from the oven, and Reed clumsily trips around the kitchen as the romantic little communist nervously tries to prepare a meal for his girlfriend. Geez Warren. That’s an original and uncontrived scene! Such masterful film making is certainly deserving of an Oscar.


Even then I thought, is Beatty willing to give up his glamorous American Hollywood life for the meager lifestyle of the Russian peasant? It certainly appeared from the point of view of the film he was selling the Soviet or Bolshevik way of life. History has certainly proven Beatty’s romance to be false and has certainly proven he was easily sold by his leftist comrades.


Glazov’s well thought out and carefully sculpted narrative of our times is an in-your-face expose on the hypocrisy of the Left. Glazov will take a lot of heat for what he reveals but he seems like a man with broad shoulders ready to take on the burden of a good fight. He’s professional in his presentation and his arguments are clean and succinct. Based on what he’s written, there’s little doubt in my mind that if an alien ship arrived in America, most of our Leftists, from Springsteen to Spielberg, would beg to be taken away. After paying homage to our captors, and after paying their way to the front of the lines, they would get on their knees, with their arms stretched out in the direction of the sinister ship. Then they would chant, “Free us from our freedom! Free us from our freedom” over and over, hoping to be heard.


Unable to stop themselves, and always desperate for attention, our Leftist friends would continue to chant while boarding the ship, knowing they could never return, and knowing a life of darkness would be all they would ever know again.

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Divinely Inspired

divinely-inspired-coverDivinely Inspired
Author: Jerry Pollock
Publisher: Shechinah Third Temple
Rating:

Reviewed by: Cheryl Malandrinos

 

A candid and courageous memoir of one man’s spiritual journey can be found in Divinely Inspired: Spiritual Awakening of a Soul.

Jerry Pollock is born into a less than ideal family where his neglectful mother and neurotic father do not and cannot provide him with the love and nuturing all children deserve. It will not be until many years later, when Jerry begins Primal Therapy, that he will discover the repressed memories of his childhood.

Divorced from his first wife, now a full professor at Stony Brook University, and planning to marry Marcia, Jerry hears the words that will eventually change his life.

After being diagnosed with Bipolar disorder at age 50, enduring the collapse of his career, attempting suicide, and encountering a cult, Jerry returns to those words he heard a decade ago. His spiritual journey brings him past the memories, the hurts, and the disappointments of his earlier years, and moves him forward to a life of enduring richness and meaning.

If you read and enjoyed Pollock’s not-so-fictional novel, Messiah Interviews: Belonging to God you’ll want to pick up a copy of Divinely Inspired.

In true memoir form, Pollock shares his life in a candid way, holding nothing back, and the reader will be left amazed by some of the things that the author has endured. The dedication of his wife, Marica, that is also so lovingly portrayed in Messiah Interviews, also shines through in Divinely Inspired, as she supports and loves her husband through many difficult experiences.

The addition of an Epilogue that shares the author’s spiritual insights is a brave move. Having spent his life as a scientist, Pollock shares his belief that Evolution and Creation are not mutually exclusive because God is the Master Scientist. Divinely Inspired will also shed further light on the happenings in Messiah Interviews.

A true companion to Messiah Interviews, but also a book that will be enjoyed by those interested in reading how one man’s spiritual journey leads him to inner peace, Divinely Inspired by Jerry Pollock, is a unique way to discover the wisdom of God.

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The Dead Guy

the_dead_guyThe Dead Guy
Author: Doug Hewitt
Publisher: Aberdeen Bay

Rating: 
Reviewed by:  Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Looking for suspense? Looking for action? Looking for an intense read? You’ll find it in The Dead Guy by Doug Hewitt.

Jack Thigpen is sent on what he believes is a routine car insurance scam investigation. But on this one, Jack gets more than he bargained for.

His investigation targets him for death soon after Jack discovers he’s dying from an untreatable, debilitating illness. When Jack’s best friend, Hal, is caught in the line of fire, Jack vows to track down Hal’s killer, as he struggles to accept the fact that he’s going to die–slowly and painfully.

The Dead Guy is one of those books that will leave you begging for more. Jack is a likeable, tough character who is put in a position no human being should ever be–feeling responsible for his best friend’s death when he, himself, is at death’s door. Hewitt’s masterful storytelling allows the reader to experience everything with Jack as he uncovers the evil underbelly of Detroit, which is consumed by corruption, fraud, and organized crime.

Other memorable characters include Jack’s brother, Tom, the only other person who knows of Jack’s illness, and who is forced to deal with the impending loss of his brother while struggling to sit back and let Jack deal with things his own way; Octavia, a tennis champion who Jack used to mentor; and Blalock, whose own complex story unfolds in the background.

This book is a roller coaster ride of action, intrigue, and mystery. Just when you think Jack has it figured out, something throws a monkey wrench into his theory and things are no longer as they seem. The reader will unconciously be biting off fingernails as he follows Jack from car dealerships to body shops to riverboats.

If this book hasn’t won any awards yet, it should!

Riveting, intense, and action-packed, The Dead Guy by Doug Hewitt keeps you hanging on the edge of your seat and turning the pages.

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Rebel in Blue Jeans

51497bjvz2l__sl500_aa240_Rebel in Blue Jeans 
Author: Beverly Stowe McClure
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Rating:

Reviewed by: Cheryl Malandrinos

 

Rebel’s life is in turmoil. Her mother ran off with a drummer, leaving her father distraught and distracted; her friend Will seems to be wanting more than just friendship, and an older guy has taken a sudden interest in her. What should she do?

Young adult readers, especially those who love animals will find many things to appreciate in Rebel in Blue Jeans by Beverly Stowe McClure.

When Rebel’s mother decides to take off with Bo, a drummer in a rock band, she feels unwanted and alone. What is so exciting about city life anyway? Rebel trudges through the days on the ranch with the help of her best friends, Will and Sully, and spends a great deal of time talking with her animals to help relieve her frustrations. And while she’s not sure exactly how she feels about Rick, she’s caught off guard when Will seems to be wanting more than friendship from her.

When her mother calls and wants Rebel to come visit Bo and her for the summer, Rebel is determined to hate him and convince her mother to come back home. Can Rebel bring her family back together? And if she can ever believe in love again, is it Will or Rick who will capture her heart?

This is a quick and easy read, but it’s certainly not short on conflict. McClure has woven together an interesting plot and a strong and complex heroine to create a story that will be enjoyed by young adults everywhere.

Tackling the difficult subjects of separation and divorce, the desire young people have to see their parents reunited, making decisions regarding boys, and finding your way in an uncertain world, Rebel in Blue Jeans provides readers with a heroine they will love for her spunk and get frustrated with over her stubbornness.

Rebel in Blue Jeans is an inspiring and entertaining read that would make a great gift for your teen reader…whether she’s a rebel or not.

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Bleach/Blackout

bleach-blackout-coverBleach/Blackout
Author: David S. Grant
Publisher: Offense Mechanisms

Rating:   + half
Reviewed by:  Gary Mack

This raw, irreverent, raunchy, and vile saga on the party exploits of a Harvard graduate and his nitwit friends reads like the daily script from a Howard Stern radio show. With most of the dialogue beginning with the word, “Dude”, and the scenes taking place inside Wisconsin bars, the dual novel, “Bleach/Blackout,” is limited in its scope to character observations and juvenile sex talk. Though David S. Grant’s intent is to parody the social circuits of our latest generation, there are only so many tavern and sex scenes one can take in a row! On top of that, with the amount of legal and illegal drugs the main character popped in his mouth, I felt like I lapsed into a drug-induced coma by the fifth chapter.

 

It’s clear that Grant has the ability to be funny but he doesn’t know when to stop. He often over uses a line, like when he makes an observation about a woman at the airport who claims she will only drink Starbucks. The first time around, the insight left me with a scant chuckle. After the airport scene, every time a person ordered a coffee in the book, I had a strong hunch that the next line was going to make some reference to Starbucks. How funny can that be the tenth time around?

 

There are many other instances of this overplay, like the constant jabs at the band, “Wham,” George Michael, Gap shirts and married homeowners. Worst of all, there’s a running commentary from the narrator, though you clearly know it’s the author’s view, on the post 9/11 terror alerts. These attempts at satire sorely stick out and are as butchered as a joke on amateur night.

 

Grant decides to write the story in the first person present tense – always the most difficult of tasks. Often he mixes his verb tenses, like when his friend is shot and he writes, “… she was dead by the time she hit the floor.” Interspersed within the story are past tense vignettes on the drinking, smoking, and sexual exploits of the gang at New Year Eve parties. Though the parties are chronicled by the year, to me, they all seemed pretty much the same. 

 

Without a plot, the ending is a stretch. Though Grant is capable of writing believable conversations and he flushes out his characters fairly well, his writing lacks any lyrical or metaphorical buoyancy.

 

Simply put, this is not a novel that emerges on any front. Yes, Mr. Grant shows glimpses of brilliance and wit but he needs to contain himself and polish up his craft before he publishes again.      

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Born Liberal, Raised Right

born_liberal_raised_rightBorn Liberal, Raised Right: How to Rescue America from Moral Decline–One Family at a Time
Author: Reb Bradley
Publisher: WND Books

Rating: 
Reviewed by:  Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Are you tired of hearing of all the crime on our streets lately? Does it make you weary to watch the news or read it online? Are you concerned about the direction America is headed but not quite sure how it got so bad in the first place?

If you answered, yes, to any or all of these questions, then Born Liberal, Raised Right should be the next book you purchase.

In this engaging and informative book, author Reb Bradley discusses how the future of America is threatened by adults “stuck in their ‘terrible twos'”. Based upon Bradley’s personal experience as a pastor and counselor, in addition to a wealth of research, the author provides a sound argument that America’s moral decline is the result of overindulgent parents not providing their children with the self-control they need to become successful members of society. Bradley contends that parents who overindulge their children, fix all their problems, and refuse to allow their children to experience the consequences of their actions, foster young people who become adults who feel entitled to have everything they want and cannot accept life’s disappointments.

The author states that we are born with certain tendancies: a desire for self-gratification, lack of self-control, and subordination to our emotions. And it is these traits that parents must consistently help their children rein in if they are ever going to escape feelings of entitlement and the desire to always play the victim and avoid blame. Bradley also goes on to state that “magical thinking”, unchecked emotion, and an inability to deny yourself anything are traits that are “the very hallmark of liberalism”. Misplaced liberal compassion creates problems in America; it doesn’t fix them.

Well thought out, easy to read, and captivating, Bradley has penned an excellent book that could make a difference in the future of America. Liberals will probably hate it and conservatives will tout his wisdom, but in the end Bradley is truly believeable as a man who wants to preserve the American family and inspire parents to bring up inspriring and motivational leaders who will move the country to new heights of moral greatness.

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When Life Stinks, It’s Time to Wash the Gym Clothes

When Life Stinks, It’s Time to Wash the Gym Clothes
Author: Kelly Epperson
Publisher: Rockford Writer’s Guild
Rating:

Reviewed by: Cheryl Malandrinos

 

If you are looking for the perfect gift for the Mom on your list, then look no further than When Life Stinks, It’s Time to Wash the Gym Clothes by Kelly Epperson.

A compilation of Epperson’s columns that have appeared in a variety of newspapers, When Life Stinks is an often humorous look at life, aging, motherhood, and world events.

From traveling down memory lane to the hazards of parenting, from 9/11 to the death of Princess Diana, and from Live Aid to living in France, When Life Stinks will have you saying, “Yes! Finally there is someone who understands.” Epperson talks about the making and breaking of New Year’s resolutions and being a “gum junkie”. You’ll laugh right along with her as she discusses how JcPenney might have discovered that 8 out 10 women are wearing the wrong bra size and the fad of girls wearing sweatpants with words plastered across their behinds.

Granted, I may have related more to this book than a younger reader because Epperson and I are close enough in age that I recognized the name of almost every band or musician mentioned, but most of the themes flowing through When Life Stinks are universal and can be appreciated by a diverse group of readers.

A great debut for Kelly Epperson. I can’t wait to see what she’s up to next.

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