Book reviews

Book reviews

SHROUDED HORROR: TALES OF THE UNCANNY

By KC Grifant
 
Reviewed by Pennell Paugh
 
July 5, 2024 (San Diego) -- KC Grifant’s debut short story collection, Shrouded Horror: Tales of the Uncanny, will be released on July 11 at an online event at 5 p.m. Join Galactic Terrors readings at https://tinyurl.com/y4gj654q.
 
The San Diego author brings characters alive as they walk into a world of nightmares. She taps our deepest fears from the bowels of NYC to the mind-warping outer reaches of space. Her stories made me think about life, as well as the sources of our irrational fears.

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THE THREAT AND PREVENTION OF SUICIDE AND ITS CAUSES

 

The Invisible Ache: Black Men Identifying Their Pain and Reclaiming Their Power, by Courtney B. Vance & Robin L. Smith (Hatchette Book Group, New York, NY, 2023, 268 pages).

“Papa was like a shadow that was always hanging over me.”

                                    -CORY MAXSON, FENCES

Book Review by Dennis Moore

How fortuitous and ironic that I would make this book, The Invisible Ache, the last of my more than 400 book reviews written, as I now go into retirement. This spellbinding and historic book co-written by Courtney B. Vance, a member of my church here in Los Angeles, compels me to write this review.

Along with co-author, Dr. Robin L. Smith, The Invisible Ache, pulls back the covers on social taboos, and makes this book a profound and historical commentary on race and mortality, and it resonates with me for so many profound and personal reasons full of ironies.


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WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS, MEN ARE FROM MARS!

 

 

Cooked vs. Uncooked Spaghetti, by Dr. Tania Hormozi, PSYD, LMFT (Made in the USA, Muncie, IL., July, 2023, 137 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

January 12, 2024 (San Diego) - Dr. Tania Hormozi is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in San Diego, California for over 10 years. She holds a Doctorate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Alliant International University and a Master’s degree in Couples and Family Therapy from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She is in private practice and provides therapy to individuals and mostly couples. She helps clients gain perspective, understanding, and identify solutions to problems using their own strengths and skills.

With those credentials one would think that she could have saved my marriage. After reading this book(s), you will have a better understanding of the differences between men and women, how to listen, how to express feelings, and be supportive emotionally, mentally, and physically for your female and/or male partners, and reconnect on a different level. You will have the tools to understand and truly connect with your partner. Wishful thinking!


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WHEN YOUR HEART SAYS GO: MY YEAR OF TRAVELING BEYOND LOSS AND LONELINESS

Book by Judy Reeves

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

November 8, 2023 (San Diego) – In When  Your Heart Says Go, San Diego author Judy Reeves uses memories in her journals, fragments from her writing practice notebooks, short stories, flashes of both fiction and nonfiction, personal narrative essays, and poems to share a piece of her life from thirty years ago. Mourning the loss of her husband, she sold her property and belongings to spend a year on her own doing intense self-reflection and befriending people at AA meetings while she traveled through Europe.


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HOW DID I GET HERE: TRAVELING THE ROAD TO RESILIENCE

Book by Andrew Fitzgerald

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

September 14,2023 (San Diego)  -- In How Did I Get Here? Traveling the Road to Resilience, author Andrew Fitgerald shares his difficulties and determined resilience to overcome health issues. He also recounts how  he and his wife later struggled to settle in the United States. The second time they emigrated, they stayed. Then, after four miscarriages, they had a healthy boy. They live in San Diego County.

Fitzgerald begins his debut story being faced with death. His heart needed to be stopped and restarted. Doctors did this procedure twice before doing surgery on his heart to solve the problem. Over time, Fitzgerald reclaimed his strength and love of sports. 

He and his wife decided to move to the United States but initially had hardships and difficulties that drove them back to Ireland. They recommitted themselves and successfully relocated to the San Diego region, where they flourished in their second move. 


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A DAUGHTER'S LOVE FOR HER FATHER!

 

 

Charlie’s Notes: a memoir: By Cherie Kerr (ExecuProv Press, Santa Ana, CA., 2004, 367 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

August 2, 2023 (San Diego) - There is nothing like a daughter’s love for her father, and in this memoir written by Cherie Kerr, Charlie’s Notes, there is a profound love for her father throughout this well written and touching book that pulls at your heart strings. As the singer and song writer John Mayer says in his song (Daughters); “Fathers be good to your daughters”, this comes out throughout this book, and it resonates with me throughout for some very personal and profound reasons. Clearly, and in talking to Kerr, Charlie was good to his daughter!

In a recent telephone conversation between the author and me, we both shared thoughts of family life, with Kerr professing her undying love for her father, and indicating that she was the apple of his eye. That is certainly understandable. 

The author, Cherie Kerr, touches on her Italian heritage by emphasizing her father’s roots, and the family’s evolution in the jazz revolution in this country, particularly her father’s.


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“I AM SMOKE,” BY HENRY HERZ, AN ATMOSPHERE STORY

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

July 27, 2023 (San Diego) -- San Diego resident Henry Herz’s latest picture book is titled I Am Smoke. Smoke is the narrator, relating how it has served humankind since prehistory for signaling, beekeeping, curing and flavoring food, religious rites, and fumigating insects.


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STORM CROWS: BIRDS OF THE ESTUARY UNITE

Storm Crows l by Erik C. Martin

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

 

July 20,2023 (San Diego) -- San Diego resident Erik C Martin has written Storm Crows, a story about crows and their relationships.

A young crow leads his friends fleeing their flock’s oppressive leadership. They want freedom and they seek a new home near the ocean. They escape their flock’s vicious Black Wing guards and reach the coast, but their trials have only begun.


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INTRODUCING THE NEW HOST OF THE "BOOKSHELF" SECTION

                                                                           

 

By Dennis Moore

 

July 6, 2023 (San Diego) - Meet the new host of the “Bookshelf” section, Anat Tour. Tour, an East County resident and High School Math teacher, along with being an acclaimed author of children’s books, has assumed the role of host of the East County Magazine “Bookshelf” section, where local luminaries and authors come on the show to talk about their books which is video-taped and put in their book reviews online. Generally, I provide her with the guests to be interviewed. Authors are already waiting in line!

Tour, a much accomplished talent, who has been a singer and international model, which is why I once referred to her in an article that I had written in the East County Magazine as East County’s Renaissance Woman, started this process of being the host of the “Bookshelf” section in 2011 at an event that I was hosting in La Mesa, California, at Barnes & Noble for aspiring authors. I recall her coming up to me and asking me how to start getting her idea of a book published, and at the end of my session of informing others, I suggested an eBook. Now, several published books later, she is the host of a show talking with other authors.

Her first hosting of the “Bookshelf” section occurred just a week ago, and by clicking the attached link one can see how talented she is. See here.


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THE CASE OF THE FRENCH FRY PHANTOM

By Erik Christopher Martin

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

May 25, 2023 (San Diego) -- The small town of Elderton is in crisis. French fries and other forms of potatoes are disappearing from kitchens. The thief seems invisible in San Diego author Erik Christopher Martin’s latest children’s book, The Case of the French Fry Phantom.


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ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN!

 

American Carnage:Shattering the Myths That Fuel Gun Violence, by Thomas Gabor and Fred Guttenberg (Mango Publishing Group, Coral Gables, Fl., 2023, 228 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

View interview with co-author Thomas Gabor on the "Bookshelf" section with host Anat Tour by clicking here.

May 26, 2023 (San Diego) – Criminologist Tom Gabor and activist Fred Guttenberg, who lost his 14-year old daughter Jaime in the 2018 Parkland school shooting, team up to dismantle some of the leading myths on guns and gun violence in their groundbreaking book and treatise; American Carnage: Shattering the Myths That Fuel Gun Violence. Many of these myths have been promoted by the gun lobby to facilitate gun sales and normalize the presence of guns in American society.

Co-author Tom Gabor reiterates much about what is said in this book in a video above by Anat Tour, the host of the "Bookshelf" section of the East County Magazine. The interview by this excellent talent, Tour, can be viewed and listened to by clicking on the link above.

This extraordinary book resonates with me in a profound and personal way, for I am a survivor of gun violence myself, along with two of my sons, and in my more than 400 book reviews written, American Carnage has impacted my psyche more than any other. This book touches my heart and soul!


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DOOMED LEGACY BY MATT COYLE: P.I. BATTLES TRAUMA WHILE INVESTIGATING MURDER

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

May 21, 2023 (San Diego) – In San Diego author Matt Coyle’s latest crime novel, private investigator Rick Cahill has become a father and husband. Having lived a tough life as an athlete and P.I., Rick’s repeated head traumas are paying their toll. He now has chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease that gives him moments of fugues and moments of out-of-control rage. Treatments are not working out; he hides his disease from his family.

In this passage,  he shares his troubled thoughts:


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V IS FOR VICTORY BY NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR CRAIG NELSON

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

May 15, 2023 (San Diego) -- Craig Nelson makes a convincing argument that Franklin Delano Roosevelt not only saved America from the Great Depression, but was also responsible for the U.S. winning World War II in his new novel V is for Victory, which will be released May 23.

Most scholars agree that industry was the deciding factor in the war, but Nelson, who wrote bestselling books, Pearl Harbor and Rocket Men, scrutinizes the idea with an expert’s eye. FDR’s administration created an explosive expansion of industry, national infrastructure, and government-business cooperation. Using FDR’s phenomenal managerial talent, he overwhelmed our enemies with weapons, despite jealousies, back-fighting and lack of communication between America’s Army, Navy and private enterprise.

Nelson reminds the reader that FDR took office to overcome unemployment, poverty, and starvation. Unsure how to act, he tried lots of programs. Fortunately, many worked. Reading the book, pages fly by. I could imagine a narrator of an old news reportage in the 1940s, spouting facts in quick succession. To give an idea of his writing style, here is an excerpt:


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WHEN I WAS HER DAUGHTER: AWARD-WINNING MEMOIR BY LESLIE FERGUSON

 

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

March 28, 2023 (San Diego) -- Seven-year-old Leslie has a serious problem. Someone is trying to kill her-- and it’s her mother. Leslie and her little brother live chaotic, often frightening lives under the care of their paranoid schizophrenic mother.

This excerpt from local author Leslie Ferguson’s memoir, When I Was Her Daughter, exemplifies those chilling conditions:


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STRENGHTENING YOUR SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION FOR OPTIMUM HEALTH: A DOCTOR’S GUIDE TO UNLEASH HEALING POWERS

By Pennell Paugh

March 13, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) – Carrolle Jean-Murat., M.D., a Mt. Helix resident, announces publication of her latest book, Strengthening Your Spiritual Foundation for Optimum Health: 18 Ways to Unleash Your Innate Healing Powers.


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SUNRISE IN SAIGON: PASSION AND INTRIGUE IN AFTERMATH OF VIETNAM WAR

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

March 12, 2023 (San Diego) -- Sunrise in Saigon is the first book by local author Patrick Greenwood in a new series about cybersecurity, passion, and international espionage.

The main character develops a passion to travel to Vietnam as a youth. Greenwood writes:

On April 30, 1975, eleven-year-old Jack Kendall lay in his bed, listening to a radio program discussing recent events, which included President Nixon’s departure from the White House the year prior, gas shortages, and protests over the long-lasting Vietnam War. “This is WIEE 1310 AM radio—we have confirmed that Saigon has fallen. The Vietnam War has finally ended after ten years. Thank God!”

This newsflash caught Jack by complete surprise. Still, he had no idea how this event would shape the direction of his life, setting a lifelong journey in motion, driving a desire to understand what happened to the Vietnamese people before and after the war.


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MELINDA WEST: MONSTER GUNSLINGER

By K.C. Grifant

 

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

 

March 2, 2023 (San Diego) -- Sharpshooter Melinda and her easygoing partner and sweetheart, Lance, are expert monster exterminators in local author K.C. Grifant’s creative novel, Melinda West: Monster Gunslinger. They plan to retire after this last job; however, they accidentally release a demon who steals their best friend’s soul, leaving their friend in a coma. If they don’t hurry, their friend will die.

 

While fighting one of the demon’s possessed, Lance’s soul is partially stolen. On her own, Melinda is determined to fight to the last to save both her friend and lover. While fighting, she learns she will have to stop hell from taking over Earth. 


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HOOKER AVENUE: A GRIPPING LEGAL THRILLER

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

February 12, 2023 (San Diego) – Hooker Avenue is the second in the Queen City Crimes series by San Diego author Jodé Millman. Attorney Jessie Martin lives in upstate New York's Hudson Valley. Driving at night, she is on her way home during a violent thunderstorm when she spots something.


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5 STEPS TO SOLO TRAVEL: A WOMAN’S GUIDE TO TRAVEL IN HER PRIME: PART A

By Pennell Paugh

February 9, 2023 (San Diego) - Dr. Mary Travelbest’s guide book is full of tips and on the road recommendations. She helps you to get the best deals, pack light, and ensure your safety. She takes you through stages to develop a level of comfort with less and less structure. I’m still on stage one, but I now have the yen to plan a short trip.


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LEDERER’S LANGUAGE & LAUGHTER

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

February 2, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) -- Lederer’s Language and Laughter is Richard Lederer’s sixtieth book. It is full of humor from all sorts of situations from making puns about situations, to quoting signs and newspaper headings. There is humor bound to entertain everyone.


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YOUR FABULOUS FIRST BOOK: HOW TO WRITE WITH CLARITY, CONFIDENCE AND CONNECTION

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

January 26, 2023 (San Diego) - Your Fabulous First Book provides support and guidance to the first-time, non-fiction writer. By helping an author overcome writing blocks and other challenges, starting with finding a subject, San Diego author Andrea Susan Glass pulls the writer along until their book is completed and, hopefully, published.


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RED CHAOS: THRILLER FROM THE RED HOTEL SERIES BY ED FULLER AND GARY GROSSMAN

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh 

January 1, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) – Red Chaos details events across that sound very much like events that have happened across the globe. All the crimes have but one perpetrator but it’s not a person, it’s a nation.

“Hello, Mr. Reilly. Please hold for Mr. Shaw.”

 

The call was from Chicago—Nancy Barney, the assistant to E.J. Shaw, President and CEO of the Kensington Hotel chain, one of the world’s largest hotel corporations. Shaw was Dan Reilly’s boss.

 

“Dan, we have a program,” Shaw said.

 

We. Reilly immediately knew the we was about to become he, his problem.

 

“Where: What?”

 

“A murder in our Mayfair property. In a London suite.”

 

“Oh God!” Reilly’s mind raced. The hotel was hosting a regional oil conference. He stated to ask for detail, but Shaw interrupted.

 

“A visiting oil minister….”


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THE BODY IN THE BARREL: AUTHOR OF SAN DIEGO CRIME NOVEL TO HOLD LOCAL SIGNING DEC. 8

 

By Richard G. Opper

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

December 4, 2022 (San Diego) -- The Body in the Barrel is a compelling crime novel set in 1973 in San Diego.

The book opens on October 15, 1973: “I shifted the Smith & Wesson Model 10 to a more comfortable place on my hip, which was feeling tender this morning. The bay had a smell of rotting plants, and together with the smell of the diesel it triggered thoughts about the Mekong—which was not so long ago, even if it was half a world away. It was the reason my hip ached, but that life was over. I was back home in San Diego, and glad for it. Whatever I’d thought I was going to accomplish in the Navy’s swift boats turned out to be a bad dream. A nightmare. So, the fact that I ended up in the Harbor Police is a whole lot better—but still a whole lot of not much. I was out of the shit storm and into a more peaceful life, but for crying out loud, at twenty-eight here I was with nothing really going on, already going nowhere. But who cared? Other than my dad, I guess, and that only went so far.”


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THE DEVIL’S HALF ACRE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF HOW ONE WOMAN LIBERATED THE SOUTH’S MOST NOTORIOUS SLAVE JAIL

Book by Kristen Green, reviewed by Pennell Paugh

November 21, 2022 (San Diego) -- In The Devil’s Half Acre, Author and former San Diego Union-Tribune journalist Kristen Green provides details about Black lives in America, starting in 1619 and ends in recent times. Green takes us from slavery, through details about the lives of Blacks during the Civil War and after. More specifically, she closely shares details about 19th-century Richmond, the center of slave trading, giving the reader a view of slavery from an enslaved person’s experience.


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THE SPIRIT OF SHY MOON LAKE: A HAUNTING READ BY REINA LISA MENASCHE

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

October 19, 2022 (San Diego’s East County) -- The Spirit of Shy Moon Lake is a spooky, sometimes creepy, often mysterious tale, filled with tension and foreshadowing. Award-winning local author Reina Lisa Menasche is also the long-time host of the “Bookshelf” segment on East County Magazine’s radio show.


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BOOK REVIEW: HISTORIC TALES OF LA JOLLA

By Patricia Daly-Lipe

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

October 14, 2022 (La Jolla) -- Location, location, location. This is the mantra for real estate. But it is precisely “location” that helped define La Jolla. Historic Tales of La Jolla tells the story of the place: its name, even its initial creation by natural forces, followed by the people who found and fell in love with it. This is history from a personal perspective. What did La Jolla do for the people who came, and what did these people do for La Jolla and, in many cases, for the rest of the world?


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YOU GOT THIS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO MASTER AUTHENTIC PUBLIC SPEAKING

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

 

September 21, 2022 (San Diego) -- As an authority on public speaking, San Diego author Lisa Kleiman shares thoughtful and thorough advice for any time you might need to speak to a group of people, even at funerals in You Got This: Everything You Need to Master Authentic Public Speaking. The book helps anyone prepare to stand in front of any group and successfully deliver a message with clarity, confidence, and authenticity.

After graduating college, Kleiman was called on to speak often enough that she developed techniques to lower her anxiety while increasing her clarify.Actually, Kleiman did not find speaking before others to be easy when she started. “Sitting in my high school English class at age seventeen, feeling nauseous in anticipation of my turn to stand up in front of the class and give a formal presentation about a famous historical author, I never would have guessed that I’d spend many years of my life helping others improve their public speaking skills, especially in the role of instructor. The idea of speaking in front of an audience as a profession seemed awful. I didn’t understand why people would want to purposely expose themselves to possible ridicule and embarrassment. 


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'I DID IT' : GINA CHAMPION-CAIN EXPLAINS EPIC PONZI DOWNFALL TO LA JOLLA AUTHORS

By Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  La Jolla couple Barbara Bry and Neil Senturia with their new book on Gina Champion-Cain. Times of San Diego photo illustration

September 2, 2022 (La Jolla) - Gina Champion-Cain hasn’t read her own book.

The former toast-of-the-town businesswoman, whose San Diego career became toast, is the speaker in “I Did It: The Largest Woman-Run Ponzi Scheme in American History.”

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REVIEW: RESET BY SARINA DAHLAN

Review by Pennell Paugh

August 27, 2022 (San Diego) – Reset, a romantic science fiction story by San Diego author Sarina Dahlan, is thought-provoking. Reset will make you cherish your life’s loves and losses—allowing them to give your life deep meaning and purpose.


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RIVER WOMAN RIVER DEMON WEAVES A SPELLBINDING TALE

Reviewed by Pennell Paugh

August 11, 2022 (San Diego) - River Woman River Demon by San Diego author Jennifer Givhan weaves together the threads of folk magick, with personal and cultural empowerment in a first-person spellbinding psychological thriller. (The term `magick’ is used by spiritual believers in in supernatural powers, to differentiate from `magic,’ or staged magicians’ tricks.)


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