THE MASK OF SANITY by Indie Author JACOB APPEL will have readers on the edge of their seats. A 5 Star Must Read Psychological Thriller!!!

Title: THE MASK OF SANITY        

Author: JACOB APPEL    
Genre: FICTION, THRILLER, PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

Length: 256 PAGES

Publisher: THE PERMANENT PRESS  
Type of Book: HARDCOVER   

Received From: FREE FROM THE AUTHOR    

Release Date: MARCH 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-57962-495-8 

Price: $28 USD (Hardcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION:

On the outside, Dr. Jeremy Balint is a pillar of the community: the youngest division chief poorly, he reveals the depths of his cold-blooded depravity.

At a cultural moment when the media bombards us with images of so-called sociopaths who strive for good and criminals redeemed by repentance,The Mask of Sanityoffers an antidote to implausible tales of evil gone right. In contrast to fictional predecessors like Dostoyevesky’s Raskolnikov and Camus’ Mersault, Dr. Balint is a man who already has it all –and will do everything in his power, no matter how immoral, to keep what he has.

MY REVIEW: 

Jacob Appel has a true gift. His vivid descriptions of place are minimal in length but are still somehow able to paint an exact picture in the reader’s mind. His genius shines through mostly with his uncanny ability to get inside the heads of his characters and to take his readers with him. His writing makes each character seem less fictional and more real.

Jacob’s vast educational and life experience and his background in the medical field make this book even nore scary. I can’t help but wonder if this book is based on a past patient or maybe even one of Jacob Appel’s  colleagues. I really hope not.

In this book the protagonist is a respected physician. A married father of two adorable girls, Jeremy Balint seems to lead the perfect life.

However, when he discovers that his wife is cheating on him with a colleague, one he had considered to be a friend, Jeremy does not react out of anger. Instead, he calmly decides that his marriage must be saved at all costs. Instead of confronting his wife, he hatches a diabolical plan. That plan, and his execution of it will both shock readers and have them glued to the book’s pages.

Psychopaths and sociopaths have historically been portrayed as loners. They seemed easy to identify since they were seen to be “creepy” and no one was all that surprised when they found out that he (and it was ALWAYS a he) murdered someone. This gave people a sense of relief. If they stayed away from creepy men, they were safe. The reality is much more terrifying. As author Jacob Appel is aware, true sociopaths do not fit that description at all.

In fact, since sociopaths are masters of both manipulation and of adaptation, it is quite likely that all of us know or live close to at least one of them. This book brings that fact home unlike any other.

If you are a fan of psychological fiction you will LOVE this book. It is a MUST READ and I rate it enthusiastically as 5 out of 5 Stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jacob M. Appel is the author of the following novels:

Wedding Wipeout (Cozy Cat Press)

The Biology of Luck (Elephant Rock Books)

The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up  (Cargo Publishing)

And

The short-story collections:

The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street (Howling Bird Press)

Coulrophobia & Fatana Morgana

Scouting For The Reaper (both Black Lawrence Press)  

and

The essay collection Phoning Home (University of South Carolina Press)

His short fiction has appeared in numerous literary magazines, including:

– Literal Latte

 The Colorado Review       

– The Nebraska Review

– The Boston Review     

– The Greensboro Review

Jacob has taught at Brown University, Columbia University, and the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

He holds a BA and MA from Brown University, an MA and an MPhil from Columbia University, a JD from Harvard, and an MFA in Creative Writing from NYU.

(In other words, this is one incredibly  intelligent and extremely well-educated individual.)    

Jacob Appel teaches writing classes at Gotham Writer’s Workshop which hosts classes both in New York City and online.

All these “jobs” as an author and a teacher would be more than enough to keep a regular person extremely busy, but these are all second (and third, and fourth, etc.) jobs for Jacob.

In a way he is like Superman.

Jacob Appel is a mild-mannered, well-respected Lawyer, Doctor and Bio-Ethicist by Day and he turns into SuperWriterMan whenever and wherever he is needed. (As far as I know, he doesn’t own a cape or do quick-changes in phone booths which is probably a good thing since I am not sure if there are any phone booths left. 

Jacob holds Graduate Degrees from Brown University, Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, Harvard Law School, New York University’s MFA program in Fiction and Albany Medical College’s Alden March Institute of Bioethics.

He taught for many years at Brown University and currently teaches at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE   

GOODREADS      

AMAZON    

CHAPTERS          

To read my review of Jacob Appel’s fantastic short story collection “MIRACLES AND CONUNDRUMS OF THE SECONDARY PLANETS” Click on the cover below:

To read another of my reviews for Jacob Appel’s Literary Masterpiece and short story collection EINSTEIN’S BEACH HOUSE,” Click on the book cover below:   

This is one of the best short story collections I have ever had the privilege of reading. 

I am a fan of Jacob Appel’s and after reading this book I guarantee you will be too.    


* I received a free copy of this book from the author, however,  this did not effect my review or my rating in any way. 

ZENN DIAGRAM by Wendy Brant will pull you in and won’t let you go. A 5 Star Must Read Book!

Title: ZENN DIAGRAM

Author: WENDY BRANT       

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION

Length: 328 PAGES

Publisher: KIDS CAN PRESS 

Release Date: APRIL 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-792-7 Hardcover

List Price: USD $17.95, CAD $18.95

Grades: 9 To 12 / Ages: 14 to 18  

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟   

Unique. Utterly readable, with awesome characters and a guy that teen girls will have crushes on. Zenn is the latest book-boyfriend of choice.

Eva Walker’s life is unlike anyone elses. She is a loner, a math nerd, an orphan and she feels like a freak. Out of all these labels, the most significant one is Eva’s loner status.

You would think the math nerd status would be the reason she was a loner – not so. Eva is a loner by choice. Why? Well, she has a gift (curse?) Anytime Eva touches someone, or even touches someone’s property, such as a cell phone, she immediately knows all about them – including their secrets and their fears.

Now, some may think that this would be an amazing gift to have, but it never turns off. Imagine going on a date and having to listen to the guy’s dirty thoughts about you the entire time you’re with him. Yuck!

The only time that Eva is thankful for this strange ability is when she is tutoring someone in math. She just has to touch their calculator and she knows exactly what they are struggling with. This makes her an excellent tutor. It is through her tutoring that she meets Zenn.

When she is assigned to tutor Zenn Bennett, she is nervous. Who wouldn’t be? Zenn is absolutely gorgeous and he does it without even trying.

When she accidentally touches Zenn’s jacket she is rocked by what she sees. The violence of the vision is like nothing she has ever seen or felt before.

Eva must decide whether or not to confront Zenn and the horrifying vision or whether to keep it to herself and stay safe; but alone.

This novel has so many twists and turns that readers will never be bored and they will not want to put this book down.

There is romance, there is tragedy, there is guilt, remorse, fear and mystery. This book has it all.

Author Wendy Brant has written a young adult novel that will suck you in from the very first chapter. Both her world-building and her character development are top notch.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in a single sitting. I must warn potential readers that once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop, so you should make sure you set aside some time to curl up with this fantastic book.

I rate ZENN DIAGRAM as 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

*Thank you to the author for providing me with a free copy of this book.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: (In Her Own Words):

So my name alone should give you a clue that I graduated from high school when bangs were big and clothes were baggy. I went to Northwestern University and majored in journalism even though I had no desire to be a journalist. I’ve been married to a great guy for a whole drinking-aged person’s life. I’ve got two amazing and yet very different (and very tall) teenage kids. I like crappy food, pinning inspirational quotes on Pinterest, have a tendency to start paragraphs with “anyway”, and I wish I were funnier. I would love to be one of those really, REALLY funny bloggers (like Insane in the Mom-Brain) that makes you pee yourself a little bit. I am only moderately funny. I admit that. It’s one of my great sadnesses in life.

​​I started writing fiction when I was 10, but tried to be practical with the whole journalism thing. Didn’t take. Shortly after college, the fiction-writing desire reared its non-practical head and I’ve been writing ever since.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE  

GOODREADS      

TWITTER         

FACEBOOK     

INSTAGRAM   

AMAZON.CA     

AMAZON.COM               

CHAPTERS/INDIGO         

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE         

THIS IS NOT MY LIFE:Β 

Title: THIS IS NOT MY LIFE

Subtitle: A MEMOIR OF LOVE, PRISON, AND OTHER COMPLICATIONS    

Author: DIANE SCHOEMPERLEN

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHY, MEMOIR, CANADIAN NON-FICTION

Length: 351 PAGES   

Publisher: HARPER COLLINS 

Release Date: FEBRUARY 7, 2017

ISBN:  978-1-44343-420-1  

Price:  $24.99 CDN

How I Received This Book: This book was one I purchased for myself at CHAPTERS

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟   

Any memoir that begins with the words this one does is bound to be both interesting and shocking. Author Diane Schoemperlen is NOT the type of woman who I pictured as one that would fall in love with a man in prison – especially one who had been convicted of murder. I’m not sure who I thought of as the type to fall for a prisoner, I just know that a well-known author and journalist would be the furthest choice from my mind.

Diane’s memoir begins in 2006 with the following sentence:


“It is safe to say that never once in my life had I dreamed of being in bed with a convicted killer, let alone one with his teeth in a margarine container in the kitchen, his mother in the next room, and the word HI! tattooed in tiny blue letters on his penis.”

Now, if that sentence does not make you want to read more, then, this review is probably not for you either.

I was intrigued.

What would an educated and highly intelligent woman find attractive about a convicted killer? What the heck was wrong in her life that she would see prison as a viable dating venue? How could she ever feel safe around him?

Diane met Shane at a soup kitchen where they both volunteered. He was still incarcerated, but he was allowed out while escorted by a nun to work at the soup kitchen. No one, Diane least of all, had any idea what his crime had been or how long he had been in jail. In fact, at first, she thought he was just another volunteer.

Eventually Diane and the rest of the volunteers learned the reason he was in prison. Diane describes the moment like this:


“This was when we finally learned why he’d ended up in prison in the first place and that he’d been there for almost thirty years. Now we understood that in the language of tattoos, the tear-drop below his left eye meant he had killed someone. Now we knew he was serving a life sentence for second-degree murder. Whatever initial alarm we might have felt about this was tempered by the fact that it had happened so long ago and that he had become an essential and popular part of the kitchen crew. We saw him as a person who had paid his debt to society and deserved a second chance.”

This blows me away. I cannot say for sure what my reaction would have been, but I doubt that learning Shane had killed someone is something that I would have been able to overlook. But, that is the exact reason why I wanted to read this book. Well, that and the fact that author Diane Schoemperlen is not only Canadian, but she and I live in the same province (Ontario) and our homes are only a three hour drive apart.

I found this memoir to be compelling reading. Diane does not shy away from difficult topics. She opens the readers eyes to what life is like for those incarcerated in Canada’s prisons and how these prisoners become institutionalized. What I had never considered before was how the loved ones of these inmates end up institutionalized as well.

Yes, this book contains details about the often ridiculous world that is Canada Corrections, but it is ultimately a story about the desire for love and acceptance and to the lengths people will go in their quest to achieve those feelings and the seemingly bizarre choices they make that they normally would not. 

Diane Schoemperlen’s memoir is beautifully written and well thought out. Since it is written after the relationship ended I do however believe that she has glossed over many of the events. But I also believe that she did not do so with the intention of deceiving readers, rather because, in her own mind, she didn’t want to sensationalize her fear. It is human nature to downplay fear-filled moments after the fact – I believe this is an unconscience psychological defense mechanism. 

Clipping from THE TORONTO STAR



MORE THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK


*** Caution – This section may contain spoilers ***

I have done some research and I believe I know exactly who “Shane” is and if I am right, he committed multiple murders, multiple prison escapes and multiple robberies. However, whether he killed one person or three people, he is still a murderer who was sentenced to life in prison. I also do not believe the bit about his “teardrop tattoo.” I think this was included to throw off those who might be curious as to “Shane’s” actual identity. 

Despite the sentence of life in prison, somehow “Shane” is now allowed to live and work amongst the rest of us. WHY?

Personally, I used to naively believe that when someone was sentenced to life in prison, that they would actually remain in prison until they died. SILLY ME!!! I guess I should have known better. I could probably rant for many, many more paragraphs about why I think it is wrong to allow murderers to be free to walk the streets of my home  province, but I will refrain from doing so here in my review of THIS IS NOT MY LIFE by reknowned author Diane Schoemperlen.

Suffice it to say that Diane’s book/memoir is a MUST READ. This is true not only for those who love a good read, but also for everyone who has even a passing interest in Canada’s jail system and what I perceive to be its fallibility (which should be every Canadian of voting age.)


I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Diane Schoemperlen is the Governor General’s Award winning author of twelve works of fiction and non-fiction, most recently By the Book: Stories and Pictures, a collection illustrated with her own full-colour collages, which was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. She is a recipient of the Marian Engel Award from the Writers’ Trust of Canada.


ACCOLADES, MEDIA AND PRIZES won by “THIS IS NOT MY LIFE” 



– One of five finalists for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize 

  
 – Mar 02, 2017 – 41 minute video

About this Video: 

Three memoirs and two biographies are nominated for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize. Max Eisen writes about surviving Auschwitz; Matti Friedman recounts his combat experience in Lebanon in the mid-1990s; Ross King examines Claude Monet’s fascination with painting water lilies; Marc Raboy reveals Guglielmo Marconi as a global communications pioneer; and Diane Schoemperlen remembers her six-year relationship with a convicted murderer. The Agenda welcomes the five non-fiction finalists to discuss what impelled them to write their books.

Dianne Schoemperlen’s book has been nominated as part of the #ygkChallenge    


MACLEAN’S MAGAZINE ARTICLE with video interview        

An Amazing Book Coming Soon – THE LAURAS by Sara Taylor 5 out of 5 Stars just is not enough – LOVED THIS BOOKΒ 

Title:  THE LAURAS   

Author: SARA TAYLOR

Genre: FICTION, LGBTQ

Publisher: CROWN PUBLISHING, HOGARTH  

Release Date:  AUGUST 1, 2017  

EDITION: HARDCOVER

ISBN: 9780451496850

Price: $26.00 (USD)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟    

Wow! I have just finished reading the final page of THE LAURAS and I can already tell you that this book is going to be on my list of the BEST BOOKS OF 2017.

Although this book will not be officially released until August, I urge everyone that reads this review to put the date on your calendar and not to miss out.

This is one of those extremely rare books that is worth standing in line for  – at midnight, on the eve of its release. Yes, IT IS THAT GOOD.

THE LAURAS is a tale that will take readers on a journey of dual-discovery. It is a tale of a mother and child who set out on a cross country trip during which the mother makes multiple interesting side-trips.

These trips could last a day, a month, or even several months. They could be boring (in Alex’s opinion), they could be strange, and sometimes they were even downright terrifying.

Alex is a child (less due to her age, and more due to her limited life experience) when this story begins, but as the cross-country Odyssey continues Alex grows into a young adult. Thanks to the fact that Alex is the narrator, readers are brought along on Alex’s unique journey into the perils and delights of becoming the person who was always meant to be. And, trust me – this is a coming of age story unlike any other.

I wish there was a way to give more than 5 out of 5 stars, because this book is a masterpiece of fiction and I have no doubt that it will win many awards and will end up on Bestseller Lists everywhere. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

THE CHARACTERS:

How do I describe Alex’s mother? It’s a dilemma, but perhaps I will let Alex  describe her since that expanation will be so much better than mine.

“Ma’s mood had perked up; I could see the happy on her face and the weight was rolling off her shoulders like stones … and it looked like she might start singing at any moment. If she’d been the kind of person that sang. Really, she’d be more likely to start spontaneously handing around shots of tequila as an expression of happiness, but singing sounds better.”

Some people might think that having a Mom like that would be fun – and maybe it would be; for a little while, anyway. But, a parent is meant to take care of their child, not act like a child herself.

Alex is a conundrum wrapped in an enigma. When the reader learns more and more about Alex’s life and personality, it is impossible not to root for this interesting and inscrutable character. Readers will find themselves second guessing what they think they know about Alex and this mystery remains until the very end of the book.

MORE

This would be a terrific book to feature in a Book Club setting since there is just so much in it that readers will want to talk about.

I also think that this book just might have some people questioning their own stances on many issues. I would love to say more here, but I refuse to ruin this story for anyone.

FAVORITE QUOTE:
“But I didn’t have the child’s blind trust in the omnipotence of parents anymore: I had eaten the apple, knew that Ma was no different from me, that she probably didn’t know what to do right now anymore than I would, that her only advantage was a rapidly narrowing gulf of experience.”

IN CONCLUSION:

ADD THIS BOOK TO YOUR TBR (TO BE READ) LIST AND MARK AUGUST 1st, 2017 ON YOUR CALENDAR. You will be glad you did.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

SARA TAYLOR is a product of Virginia and the homeschooling movement. She traded her health for a BFA from Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia, and her sanity for an MA in Prose Fiction from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England.

Following the MA her supervisor refused to let her leave, so she remains as a PhD candidate at the UEA where she researches censorship, writes fiction, and is occasionally entrusted with the teaching of undergraduates.

 She spends an unprecedented amount of time on delayed trains between Norwich and her husband’s house in Reading, and tends to get lost, rained on, and chased by cows with unsettling frequency.

Her short fiction has been published electronically and in print in The Fiddlehead, The Fog Horn, and Granta, among other places. Her novels are published by William Heinemann in the UK, Hogarth in the US, and Bond Street Books in Canada.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE    

BLOG 

GOODREADS     

CHAPTERS / INDIGO BOOKS    

AMAZON   


Read an interview with Sara Taylor HERE.


  

MY LIFE HEREAFTER by Lynette Ferreira is a Young Adult book with an interesting take on what the afterlife looks like. 4 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟 

Title: MY LIFE HEREAFTER 

Author: LYNETTE FERREIRA  

Genre: FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, SUPERNATURAL FICTION

Length: 252 PAGES

Publisher: SELF-PUBLISHED

Release Date: NOVEMBER 7, 2016

ISBN: 9781326846404

Price: PAPERBACK  $10.99 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK (FROM NETGALLEY): 

EVERYTHING LOOKS THE SAME EVEN THOUGH IT SHOULDN’T. Everything is exactly the same as before that day which she can now only vaguely remember. The day her school bus ran over the cliff. The day she and most of her fellow students ended up here. The twins, Mark and David, were also on the bus, but David did not come here with them. David was sent across the valley to the other side. Mark convinces Sunel to help him find his brother, no matter what the dangers might be. Fiction: Supernatural Thriller

MY REVIEW: 

This is a Young Adult / Middle-grade fiction novel that imagines a possible scenario of just what is waiting for us in the afterlife.

When young teenager Sunel finds herself and sixty of her former classmates have died, she is initially in a state of shock. 

To make matters worse, she is the reason the bus crashed. This means she is the reason everyone is dead. 

As the shock wears off she finds herself in a world that is very similar and yet very different from the one she left behind.

My favorite scene is when the teens are led into the Hall of Judgment and are told they will be called in one at at a time. Upon entering the testing room Sunel sees three doors.

 “The first door says Recycle. Next to Recycle, there is Rehabilitation. And next to Rehabilitation, there is Rapture.” I thought this was very clever.

This book touches on many interesting and important topics. It is not often that you find a YA book that openly discusses the afterlife. It seems to be a topic that Young Adult authors do not embrace for some reason, and the few authors who do write about the topic choose ghost story-type tales. 

Kudos to Author Lynette Ferreira for tackling such a controversial topic.

This book also has elements of other issues important to today’s youth such as bullying and peer pressure as well as taking responsibility for one’s actions.

With the variety of characters, readers should be able to find at least one that they identify with. I think that young teens and middle grade readers will enjoy this book and hopefully it will open up dialogue about the issues detailed in it’s pages.


*Thank you to 
Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

 

Lynette Ferreira is the author of more than twenty fiction novels.

She writes stories about first love, really cute boys, kissing and all the drama.

Her stories always address social issues and are most times set in a supernatural world.

She does not really like the cold, is afraid of the dark, and loves anything in, on or smothered with chocolate.

She lives in Northern Ireland with her family.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE 

GOODREADS       

TWITTER    

FACEBOOK   

AMAZON   

4 Stars for the unique middle-grade novel BRAINWALKER – Ever wondered what it would be like inside your father’s brain? Now you can find out. πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

Title: BRAINWALKER

Authors: ROBYN MUNDELL and STEPHAN LACAST

Genre: FICTION, MIDDLE-GRADE

Length: 260 PAGES

Publisher: DUALMIND PUBLISHING

Release Date: OCTOBER 1, 2016

ISBN: 9780997652505   

Price:  $9.99

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟


BOOK DESCRIPTION (From Amazon)

One teen’s incredible journey may just blow his father’s mind…

Fourteen-year-old Bernard thinks outside the box. The only problem is that neither his school nor his ultra-rational physicist father appreciate his unique ideas. When he reacts to a stressful situation at school by mooning the class, his suspension sends him straight to his father’s workplace. After his frustrated father leaves him unattended, Bernard does what any teen would do: wander into the particle accelerator and accidentally get transported through a wormhole! 

Edit It doesn’t take long for Bernard to realize he’s in deep trouble. Not only did the wormhole drop him in the middle of a civil war over a depleted resource, but the battle is actually taking place inside his father’s brain. Bernard has one chance to save the dying side of his father’s creative brain from the tyrannical left side. Can he use his outside-the-box thinking to save his father’s life?

Brainwalker is a young adult sci-fi fantasy novel that turns the world of neuroscience on its head. If you like incredible fantasy worlds, fast-paced entertainment, and the human mind, then you’ll love Robyn Mundell and Stephan Lacast’s amazing journey inside the brain. 


MY REVIEW:

 This middle grade novel is wonderfully written and readers from ages 8 – 12 will love this book.

The author has imagined an entire world inside the brain of a boy’s father.

I loved the fact that the boy and his father were very different and that they had trouble communicating and understanding each other.

When the boy is sucked through a wormhole and ends up inside his father’s brain, he finds himself on a mission to save his father’s life.

During his quest he ends up learning more about his father and more about himself in the process.


A great read with a terrific message.


I rate this as 4 out of 5 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟

  


FAVORITE QUOTES:


“Blind faith is stronger than truth. Far stronger.”


“Remember, what you call luck is the meeting of opportunity and flexibility.”
 


ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

 

Robyn Mundell is an award winning playwright. A graduate of New York University, she performed in dozens of plays in New York. She studied with such theater legends as Uta Hagen, Lee Strasberg, and Stella Adler.

Robyn wrote and performed in several of her own plays including Pieces of Oand Traveling Bowls of Soup, produced by Pulitzer-prize winner Beth Henley.Traveling Bowls of Soup opened at the Met theater to rave reviews and received several Drama-Logue awards. Robyn has since been selling original screenplays and TV pilots to major film companies and networks. She is the daughter of Canadian Nobel laureate Robert A. Mundell, and is married to actor-playwright Raymond J. Barry. Together, they have four children.

STEPHAN LACAST

French-Born Stephan Lacast likes to think of himself as a geek, which depending on your  dictionary means either β€œknowledgeable about computers”, or β€œboring social misfit.” At the age of twelve his idea of fun was building computers and programming, and by fifteen he was a contributor to a computer magazine. A graduate of Paris-Dauphine University, he holds a Bachelor in Economics, a Master in Business Administration, and a Master of Advanced Studies in Information Systems.

After teaching at Dauphine University, Stephan went on to work as a consultant and engineer for one of the top ten Information Technology services companies in Europe, before deciding to leave Paris and move to the United States.

To learn more about BRAINWALKER visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

TWITTER

FACEBOOK 

INSTAGRAM 


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VIRAL by M.A. Barrett is one of the best books of 2016 and is an absolute MUST READ.Β 

Title: VIRAL

Author: M.A. BARRETT

Genre: FICTION, CONTEMPORARY FICTION, LGBTQ, SOCIAL COMMENTARY

Length: 260 PAGES

Publisher: KIN(D) PRESS

Release Date: NOVEMBER 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9983602-5-6

Price: $15.99 USD (SOFTCOVER)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

This may not be a very professional way to start a book review, but HOLY CRAP!!!! This book is AWESOME!!!

Scarlet Battell, an ex-reality television show producer is not only an anti-heroine, but she is a hopelessly flawed and ultimately believable character.

Scarlet, or Scar as she is known may have once been an up and coming hotshot tv producer, but now she lives a hardscrabble life as a waitress – barely making enough money to pay the rent on her crappy little apartment.

Trying to find some way to reclaim her previous persona and her position behind a camera, Scar comes up with the idea to do a bit of investigative reporting. However, when she is confronted with the choice between intervening to save a coworker from a horrific attack or recording the event as evidence, Scar chooses the more cowardly option.

That action (well, inaction actually) begins to haunt Scarlet whose conscience begins to scream at her – eventually leading to an all-out breakdown.

This book flashes between two timelines; Scar’s past life as a story producer on the reality show The Real Real Life and her new reality as a waitress struggling just to pay her re t, which is as far away from her old life as it is possible to get.

VIRAL is one of the best examples of exactly what to do right when using flashbacks in a story. M.A. Barrett has some serious writing chops and they are used to perfection in this book.

My favorite quote from the book is:

 “…there is no truth, unless I tell it.”

 The reason I picked this quote as my favorite is because it speaks not only to the book itself, but also to the way people seem to view the world today.

 The invention of cell phone video, combined with the public’s strange fixation and fascination with reality television is, in my opinion, NOT a good thing. People seem to try to experience their ’15 Minutes of Fame’ through videotaping events (usually they are taping something rather than actually helping the victim). I was raised better than that.

This book touches on so many topics relevant to today’s readers that it is almost eerie in its ability to inspire the desire to talk about it with other readership. If I could pick any book that I have read in the past year as a Book Club selection, VIRAL would be my choice.

There are a multitude of “What would you have done?” scenerios that will bring out lively discussions, as well as many other talking points which include (but are not limited to):

* The videotape everything phenomenon that is sweeping our world

* Money and the fact that those who have a lot of it seem to be able to get away with saying and doing just about anything they want to (just ask Donald Trump if you disagree with me)

* The value of “Spin” and how putting the right spin on a situation can sway public opinion and can even create reality from nothingness

* What would you have done in Scar’s situation? Would you have helped if you knew that it would likely have not done any good and would probably have ended up with you becoming a victim as well?

I could go on and on with more discussion ideas, but I think you get the point.

The character of Scar is brilliantly rendered. She is complex and at times she makes the wrong choices in life. But, this just makes her seem more real. At times readers will find themselves angry with her, but ultimately it is difficult not to cheer her on.

This book should be added to every adult’s TO READ list.

I rate it as 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I will be adding VIRAL to my list of the Top 25 Books of 2016. The fact that this is author M.A. Barrett’s debut novel is astounding and I can’t wait to read her next book.


**Due to scenes and situations of an adult nature, I recommend that VIRAL be read by those 18 and older.**

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

 

 M.A. Barrett is a writer, photographer, screenwriter, and poet. Her works have appeared in the New York International Film Festival, The Academy Awards, and in publications such as the Huffington Post, The April Perennial, Visibilities Magazine and IN OUR OWN WORDS: A Generation Defining Itself. She lives in Boston with her wife and French Bulldog.

Her debut novel, Viral, is now available anywhere books are sold online.

To learn more about this amazing Indie author, you can click on the following links:

GOODREADS 

MEDIUM      

TWITTER      

PICTARAM    

INSTAGRAM      

AMAZON 

BARNES & NOBLE    


STUPID by Kim Firmston is a Young Adult book that will get you talking

Title: STUPID

Series: SIDESTREETS NOVELS

Author: KIM FIRMSTON

Type of Book: PAPERBACK

Genre: YOUNG ADULT CONTEMPORARY FICTION

Length: 208 PAGES

Publisher: LORIMER & COMPANY LTD.

Release Date: 2014 

ISBN: 978-1-4594-0611-7

Price: $9.95 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Martin wishes that everyone would quit calling him stupid.

Just because he isn’t on the honour roll like his younger sister doesn’t mean he’s stupid.

No matter how hard he tries, Martin just can’t seem to improve his grades at school.

Martin’s father constantly belittles him; calling him lazy and stupid. As it would with any teenager, this devastates and frustrates Martin.

Out one night videotaping he captures surprising video of someone jumping from roof to roof at an abandoned brewery. When security spots the person on the roof, the two teenagers  team up to help each other escape.

From that night on, Martin and Stick becomevgood friends. Asking Stick what he had been up to that night introduces Martin to the world of parkour (free running).

Seeing correlations between Stick’s jumps, flips and tricks and the way words move around the page when he tries to read, Martin decides to make a movie that will prove he isn’t so stupid after all.

I love the fact that this book addresses issues that other authors are afraid to take on – like the fact that parental verbal abuse can be as bad (and sometimes worse than) physical abuse.

That topic alone would be enough to tackle in a single book, but not for Kim Firmston. Her writing is absolutely fearless (kind of like Stick when he is doing parkour.)

Additional topics talked about in very realistic ways include: learning disorders, dyslexia, ADHD, the foster system, the sale of ritalin in high schools, depression and the frustration of giving something your absolute best effort and still coming up short.

If a reader cannot find a way to relate to either Martin or Stick then they must have been brought up in complete isolation from others.

This is the second book I have read by KIM FIRMSTON and I am now officially a fan. I love the realism in her books and I love that she is not afraid to bring up hard topics. Her books are perfect for Young Adult Reading Groups and in fact, I think that it sbould be required reading for parents of teenagers.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

* I received a free paperback copy of this book from the author but this in no way influenced my rating or my review. All opinions are 100% my own and 100% honest.

I am looking forward to reading Kim Firmston’s next book called BOILED CAT which is to be read while also experiencing it’s website at the same time. It sounds like a lot of fun. (Don’t worry, its not a horror. BOILED CAT is the name of a rock band.

ADD “STUPID” TO YOUR GOODREADS ACCOUNT BY CLICKING THE LOGO BELOW: 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

WHO is this so called KIM FIRMSTON?

Kim says she is a real life mutant β€“ though one without any cool powers. When she is not writing or cursing obvious villain mistakes, she warps young minds in her Reality is Optional Creative Kids’ Programming, at WordsWorth Writing Camp and through the ACS Dramantics Theatre Camp, among other places. 

Her short story, Life Before War, was short listed in the 2008 
CBC Literary Award and published in FreeFall MagazineReturning Home, was published in the Alexandra Reader Anthology. Her children’s plays (many of which were co-written with children) have been produced across North America, the Calgary Fringe Festival, and as far away as the UK and Egypt. She has published six YA books which can be seen here, has been the Writer in Residence for Open Book Toronto, toured Labrador as part of TD Book Week, and was even interviewed on CJSW.


Kim is dedicated to sharing writing with children of all ages including those not able to write yet and promoting youth who wish to make it their career. 

Other websites where you can find Kim: 


http://www.boiledcat.com/

amazon.com/author/kimfirmston

THE CREEPING by Alexandra Sirowy will have you checking behind you in fright.Β 

​


Title: THE CREEPING 

Author:ALEXANDRA SIROWY 

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, HORROR

Length: 400 PAGES 

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER 

Release Date: 2015

ISBN: 9781481418874

Price: $9.99 USD (PAPERBACK) 

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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The fact that THE CREEPING is Alexandra Sirowy’s debut novel is astounding. Not only is it creepy and cool, but it also contains characters who are so believable that, at times, readers will wonder if this is actually fiction.

Twelve years earlier Jeanie and Stella were playing near the woods close to home when something really bad happened. Stella came back, Jeannie never did.

Now Stella’s seventeen and looking forward to her last year of high school. Sure, she may not have any memories of what happened to her on that long ago day and sure, maybe sometimes she wonders if it was somehow her fault, but summer is here. And Stella and her best friend plan to have the best summer ever.

Unfortunately, it seems that fate has other plans for Stella.

When the body of a little redheaded girl – who looks an awful lot like Jeannie – turns up, Stella’s memories begin to come back.

Has an ancient evil reawakened? And if so, is it angry at Stella? And why kill red-haired little girls?

Something or someone took Jeannie, and now that it knows Stella’s memory is returning,  will she be it’s next victim?

THE CREEPING is an apt name for this novel because it registers highly on the creepiness metre. With 100Γ· believable characters, a town that has seen much more than its fair share of tragedies, and a mystery that must be solved before anyone else dies, THE CREEPING will grab you by the hair, drag you off into the bushes and will only release you once you reach the final page. Even then, this book will stay with you.

This book is filed as Young Adult Fiction which is fine in my opinion, however, I recommend it only for readers ages 13+ due to violence and sexually suggestive situations.

If you like to feel the hair on the back of your neck rise from fright, this is the book for you.

I can’t wait to read her next book: THE TELLING.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars.🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photo by Vivian Sachs

Alexandra Sirowy is the author of The Creeping and The Telling.

She was born and raised in Northern California, where she attended a women’s college as an undergraduate and received her MA at the University of San Francisco.

Some interesting facts about Alexandra Sirowy:

* Alexandra is a voracious reader
* She is the oldest of three children
* Is an avid traveler
* Is a record-holding high school long jumper
* a gourmet cook
* a feminist,
* and is forever grateful to her parents for reading to her as a child.

Alexandra now lives in Northern California with her husband.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE   

GOODREADS  

TWITTER

FACEBOOK      

PINTEREST    

TUMBLR     

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SCHIZO by Kim Firmston offers a glimpse into the life of a teen whose mother is mentally illΒ 

Title: SCHIZO 

Author: KIM FIRMSTON  

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, MENTAL HEALTH, BULLYING 

Length: 150 PAGES

Publisher: LORIMER  

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 2011

ISBN: 978-1-55277-871-5

Price: $9.95 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟  

Dan and his little brother Dustin live in a single-parent household. Dan is a fifteen year old boy who is just trying to live his life. He has all the normal teenage concerns and desires. There is a girl he really likes and his favourite thing to do is to play his base guitar.

BUT there is one thing that distinguishes him from the rest of the kids at his high school and it is so time-consuming and so emotionally draining that he is exhausted and sleep-deprived every single day. This is obviously affecting his grades.

The difference between Dan and his friends is his mother. She isn’t like the mothers that his friends complain about. They all think their mothers are psycho and  complain about them bitterly. If they only knew!

They may call their mothers “psycho” but they have no idea what life is actually like with a mentally ill mother.

Dan’s mother is a schizophrenic and she has recently stopped taking her medication. This makes her unpredictable and can lead to her becoming violent.

Dan feels powerless and as if he is all alone in the world:

“I wonder, sometimes, if anyone else has a life like mine. I’ve never heard of it. Not once.”

Dan is doing his best to hold his family together and to protect his brother. But soon things begin to spiral out of control. Will Dan be able to keep himself and his brother safe? Or is his mother’s schizophrenia going to tear the family apart?

WHEW!!! What a book. I started reading and couldn’t stop. I read the entire book in a single sitting.

Author Kim Firmston should be applauded for writing a book that directly tackles the issue of mental illness. Unfortunately, even though we are making progress in bringing the issue of mental health out of the shadows, there is still a long way to go.

In the story Dan is tormented by a bully who often says: “…You’re a schizo-nutbar. Like your schizo mom.”

Dan replies by saying: “Don’t call my Mom that. She’s sick. You wouldn’t call someone with cancer names, would you?”

Dan makes a great point. Schizophrenia is an illness, and until people start to believe that, things will not really change. Talking about it and having books like this one available is an important step towards understanding.

 According to Dan, “…mental illness isn’t just something you announce. People think it rubs off.”

As ridiculous as it seems to those of us who are aware that mental illness is NOT a choice, there is still a large segment of the population that believes that everyone can choose how they act and react. This needs to change.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I highly recommend it to teens and other young adult readers. It is especially important that books like this are available in all high school libraries so that they are easily accessible to those who need them.

If this book reaches just a single young adult and makes him or her feel less alone then it has done its job.

Thank you to Canadian author Kim Firmston for providing me with a free copy of this book. 

To find out more about mental illnesses or to find links to places where you can seek help, click on the following logos:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

WHO is this so called KIM FIRMSTON?

Kim says she is a real life mutant β€“ though one without any cool powers. When she is not writing or cursing obvious villain mistakes, she warps young minds in her Reality is Optional Creative Kids’ Programming, at WordsWorth Writing Camp and through the ACS Dramantics Theatre Camp, among other places. 

Her short story, Life Before War, was short listed in the 2008 
CBC Literary Award and published in FreeFall MagazineReturning Home, was published in the Alexandra Reader Anthology. Her children’s plays (many of which were co-written with children) have been produced across North America, the Calgary Fringe Festival, and as far away as the UK and Egypt. She has published six YA books which can be seen here, has been the Writer in Residence for Open Book Toronto, toured Labrador as part of TD Book Week, and was even interviewed on CJSW.


Kim is dedicated to sharing writing with children of all ages including those not able to write yet and promoting youth who wish to make it their career. 

Other websites where you can find Kim: 


http://www.boiledcat.com/

amazon.com/author/kimfirmston