Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Summer of 72 by Theodore Carl Soderberg

The Summer of 72: Haight Ashbury to Alaska
Theodore Carl Soderberg
American Book Publishing (May 15, 2010)
276 pages $19.95

Theodore Carl Soderberg tells the tale of his journey on an Alaskan fishing boat during the summer of 1972. A Navy veteran on his summer vacation from college, he is looking to find his way in the world.

Soderberg starts off his summer in true 1970’s fashion: a midnight trip on LSD. After describing this in detail, he proclaims that he is going to be a commercial Alaskan fisherman. In his quest to get a crew together, he finds that no one shares his dream of getting on a fishing boat heading up north. He does, however, find a couple of girls to drive him up to Seattle.

Once in Seattle, it takes him a couple weeks to find a boat to take him, but he does. The boat is called the Ranger and Captain Jim is in charge. Ted’s first days of being a fisherman consist of just him and Captain Jim preparing the small, 30-foot boat. Eventually Ted finds out that two others will be joining him: Lenny and Frank. As soon as young Lenny, fresh out of juvenile hall, arrives it is time for the small fishing boat to head up to Alaska. Captain Jim has given Ted the job of keeping Lenny in his place, but in the meantime, Ted also quickly learns his place on the small fishing rig.

Soon Frank arrives and proves to be nothing like Lenny and Ted and here the true adventure begins. Friendships are made, experiences are had, and Ted makes a little bit of money to end his summer.

The author’s interesting personality and ability to vividly describe his experiences and the people he met caught and kept my attention throughout the book, leaving me wanting more. I highly recommend The Summer of 72 to those who enjoy reading memoirs.

By Alexandra Grunberg for Reader’s Choice Book Reviews

Available at

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Salute to Spanish Poetry by John Howard Reid

A Salute To Spanish Poetry: 100 Masterpieces from Spain & Latin America rendered into English verse
John Howard Reid (April 1, 2010)
154 pages

A Salute to Spanish Poetry presents 100 works of art originally written by leading poets, and those little known in their time, from the 13th to mid 20th century in Spain and Latin America, now painstakingly translated by John Howard Reid.

Choosing the right pieces can make or break any anthology. Mr. Reid has succeeded here as there isn’t a weak selection in the group. Covered is a varied assortment of topics as diverse as the poets themselves. It would seem as though these titles were meant to be together despite the fact the creators worked continents and often hundreds of years apart. There are themes of love and broken hearts, sadness, longing, the beauty of women, and quirky humor as well.

A few favorites:

Mountain Song by Marqués de Santillana is one of several where it appears the author has fallen under the spell of women. “I forced myself not to look too long at her great beauty, for fear of losing my freedom and becoming her prisoner.”

Timid Love by Amado Nervo about a pain not yet healed. “But to fall madly in love was something I feared. I’d no desire to open old wounds that were still prone to bleed.”

Those who enjoy rhyme in their poetry will enjoy For the Love and Praise of a Lady by Alfonso Álvarez de Villasandino. “Lady of gladness take pity on me, for I live in Sadness desiring thee.”

An intriguing look at love by Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas in Defining Love. “Burning ice. A fire that chills the soul. Sanity. Madness. A freedom in chains.”
After so many serious pieces, an amusing look at thoughts on marriage by Gil Vicente in They Tell Me I must Marry. “I’m a choice flower, of maidenhood, that’s true! But should a flower marry a weed?”

The majority of the poets in the collection are men. However, no fewer than six of Rosalía de Castro’s best showcase one of Spain’s greatest female poets. I found that her works stood out throughout the book. In Hour After Hour Day After Day. “Who can call back the waves that caress the beach and then die in that embrace?”

Translating poetry is no easy task. Too literal a translation and the rhyme and rhythm are lost. Too much embellishing and the meaning and emotional impact are altered forever. I believe Mr. Reid has done an outstanding job in both regards, successfully breathing new life into these timeless gems. These artists and their masterpieces would have remained unknown to most English speaking poetry enthusiasts if not for Reid’s diligent work.

If you enjoy great verse then treat yourself to A Salute to Spanish Poetry. You won’t be disappointed. Highly Recommended.

By William R. Potter for Reader’s Choice Book Reviews

Available at Amazon in print and Kindle

Friday, August 20, 2010

Renters Win, Home Owners Lose by Tom Graneau

Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America-a book review and blog tour stop for "Pump Up Your Book Promotion."

AuthorHouse (June 17, 2009)

Renters Win, Home Owners Lose by Tom Graneau flies in the face of conventional wisdom, questioning the long standing belief that the American Dream—home ownership—is the path to success and financial freedom.

Mr. Graneau begins the book with a detailed examination of how Americans are obsessed with home ownership and how the lower risk and often more affordable renting route is believed to be a bad financial choice. Society in general, our parents, and peers have instilled in our brains that renting only makes landlords rich. Now Mr. Graneau asks us to think about whom mortgage payments make wealthy. Bank shareholders win while home owners turn to credit cards when cash flow doesn’t equal expenses. Buyers are told to use our equity to take out loans to cover upgrades, remodeling, and repairs and we do it—because it’s an investment—or so we believe.

Most of us gauge our lives by our careers and by our homes. Owners want to own bigger homes and renters want to buy no matter how much financial burden it puts on the family. Owning is believed to be better as the sacrifices today will pay off later when the home is sold. Home builders associations, realtor associations, financial institutions, and governments each have done their bit in instilling the belief that home ownership guarantees success.

I believe the author has done a wonderful job making his point with sufficient evidence to back up his claims. His thoughts are presented clearly in plain, understandable language. He doesn’t preach or condescend and I quickly began to see how his suggestions could work for my situation. The back cover outlines the meat of this book as it poses the following five questions:

· Is home ownership simply a huge economic scam designed to keep you broke?
· What if this popular, “best investment” choice is nothing more than a dangerous dream?
· Could you be working to pay a mortgage that makes your lender rich while you stay poor?
· What if “home equity” is only an illusion?
· What if people who rent are in a better financial position than those who own?

Soon after reading Renters Win, Home Owners Lose I was talking to my wife about selling our apartment and renting a larger home. The savings from a lower monthly rent compared to mortgage payments, and no longer needing to pay property taxes, repairs, and condo fees could be invested in our family’s future. Over the length of a 25 year mortgage, I believe we may be further ahead as Mr. Graneau has effectively shown here.

I highly recommend Renters Win, Home Owners Lose to anyone considering buying a home and to owners tired of experiencing financial hardship. Available at

By William Potter for Reader’s Choice Book Reviews/Pump Up Your Book Promotion

Tom Graneau has been a home owner for more than 30 years. During that time, he bought three homes, the value of which increased with each purchase. Today, he is a “proud renter” and plans to rent indefinitely. He is the author of two books: Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America, and Are You Financially Checkmate? You live in an economic culture designed to keep you broke. Discover how to take control and free yourself from financial bondage. Tom is a personal financial management coach and educator. He has conducted extensive financial counseling and workshops with people in the civilian community, government agencies, and the military.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lodestone Book Two-The Land of Ice and Stars by Mark Whiteway

Lodestone Book Two: The World of Ice and Stars
Mark Whiteway Publishing (August 2, 2010)
312 pages

Return to Kelanni where a band of rebels reunite to locate an instrument that will disarm the evil Prophet’s powerful weapon. Lodestone Book Two: The World of Ice and Stars picks up where Lodestone Book One left off in this thrilling science fiction/fantasy series.

Shann finds herself alone with the six-limbed creature named Boxx. Boxx, the Chandara, as his people are called, and Shann were swept overboard during the harrowing journey across the barrier in Book One. Shann first notices two things about her new surroundings; Lyall and the others are nowhere to be seen, and this side of Kelanni is very different from her home—stars fill the night sky and an icy white powder falls and sticks to the ground. After fending off an attack from several creatures, Shann and Boxx take refuge for the night inside a strange vehicle.

Meanwhile Lyall, Alondo, and Keris have run the sailing vessel aground and set out on foot. Lyall is injured and Keris leads Alondo to a village to find help. Despite Keris’ attempt to sabotage village vehicles, Alondo quickly befriends the villagers and the three are taken in as Lyall recuperates.

Shann meets a boy about her age, an awkward scientist’s apprentice named Rael. Shann learns that this side of the barrier is known as Kelanni-Skell; the far side (her home) is called Kelanni-Drann. The technology of Kelanni-Skell is far superior to Drann with flying machines and floating transport vehicles. Shann depends on Rael’s knowledge of the area as she decides to continue the mission to find the necessary components to defeat the Prophet and his people.

Alondo and Lyall struggle to come to terms with the thought that Shann and Boxx did not survive the journey across the barrier. Keris is eager to carry on the quest and decides that the first step is to find the Chandara living somewhere in Kelanni-Skell. More is revealed about the Prophet and his powers, his followers and their origin.

Author Mark Whiteway has a knack for developing an epic saga while keeping the pages interesting, entertaining, and believable. The reader can’t help being enthralled by Whiteway’s characters’ tireless passion to save their world. Captivated from the opening pages, I felt unable to stop reading as I became truly engaged in the story. Lyall, Shann and the others are tested for worthiness. The tests are unique to every one and push each to their physical and emotional limits. The result is a mesmerizing read that showcases Whiteway’s considerable imagination and creativity. Book One was an enjoyable sci-fi adventure. Book Two is a powerful, poignant story of unyielding determination. Book Three—I can’t wait!

If you liked Book One: The Sea of Storms, then Book Two: The World of Ice and Stars is a must read. If you are a science-fiction/fantasy fan you should read the wonderful prequel knowing that the follow-up is even better.

Reviewed and highly recommended by William Potter for Reader’s Choice Book Reviews.

Available at

Mark Whiteway (1959- ) lives in rural West Sussex, England, near the former home of H G Wells and is a lifelong devotee of H G Wells and Jules Verne. The Lodestone series of novels is built around the concept of negative matter-an extension of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. Mark lives with his wife Sandra.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Funny side of Lung Cancer by Thomas Palfy

The Funny Side of Lung Cancer

Thomas Palfy
CreateSpace (June 3, 2010)
40 pages

The Funny Side of Lung Cancer by Thomas Palfy is part memoir and part inspirational. In the days after lung cancer surgery, Mr. Palfy was keeping his visiting family and friends in high spirits with his unique sense of humor while he himself faced a long journey of treatment with no guarantee of a successful outcome. If laughter is the best medicine—then Mr. Palfy is well on his way to recovery.

The book begins with an introduction to the author, who was born in Hungary in 1936, and then moves forward to a hospital in Melbourne, Australia in early 2010. There, Mr. Palfy is in a bed shortly after surgery, struggling for breath, and wondering who might attend his funeral service. Instead of giving in to self pity, he is inspired by the idea to write a funny book. Having published several photography and travel adventure books, he is more than up to the task of this new project. The difference with this book is where it was planned and written—his travel books are set in the wilds of Australia—this one was jotted down while waiting for doctor and nurse visits and treatments.

In order to photograph wildlife, Mr. Palfy would first need to get beyond his fear of snakes. He did that by sheer determination and researching the animals. It is this type of willpower that Mr. Palfy advocates to those suffering from cancer as he writes, “We can overcome our fears and live happily ever after - we only need to make up our mind about it!” He advises that we shouldn’t worry needlessly and that we should prepare for, and then face, adversity head on.

Lung cancer has not been kind to Mr. Palfy’s family, as he lost two uncles and an aunt to the disease prior to his own diagnosis. Despite this deep understanding of the disease, Mr. Palfy, with his wife, family, and friends at his side, confronts the disease, treatments, and prognosis with courage and his sense of humour intact. We can all learn from his optimistic attitude and his ability to look at cancer as just another challenge in life to overcome. This is a small book with a large message—well written and sure to enlighten and brighten your life.

I highly recommend The Funny Side of Cancer to anyone facing cancer, whether they are the patient, family member, or friend. To Mr. Palfy, I would like to say good luck with that next book and many more.

Available at

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Book Review: The 19th Element by John L. Betcher

The 19th Element-A James Becker Thriller
John L. Betcher
Createspace (June 23, 2010)

Told from the point-of-view of a former elite U.S. military intelligence operative, and the perspective of an Al Qaeda-backed terrorist cell, The 19th Element by John L. Betcher is a first rate psychological thriller that will hook your interest early and keep you reading non-stop until the final page.

Although this is the second release in the series, The 19th Element takes place a few months prior to the author's debut, The Missing Element. James "Beck" Becker has settled into retirement and is attempting to live a normal life, putting his law degree to use with a legal practice in his hometown of Red Wing, Minnesota. Not much happens in the small town so when a scientist-professor of agriculture is found murdered and the only suspect, a lab assistant, is missing, Beck takes notice. Beck may be officially retired from government intelligence work, but he cannot ignore his training, experience, or gut reactions. When he discovers that the assistant is Arab he brings his theories to the local police.

Ottawa County's Chief Deputy Sheriff, Doug Gunderson, is somewhat aware of Beck’s background and the pair has a friendship that goes back to school days. However, Gunderson is leery about starting a "terrorists in Red Wing panic" based on Beck's gut feelings and little hard evidence. When not one but two fertilizer trucks are hijacked, Beck begins to put the pieces together. He envisions an Oklahoma City-type bombing and the only target worth hitting would be the nearby Prairie River Nuclear Power Plant. Fearing a Chernobyl style meltdown, Beck continues his investigation despite the lack of support from any government agency or Gunderson. Beck has no faith in the FBI, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), state police, or power plant security to ward off a terrorist attack and calls in his ex-military friend, Terry "Bull" Red Feather, for help.

We meet perhaps the strangest sleeper cell imaginable. An Arab lab rat (desperate to show his worth to Al Qaeda) who is capable of turning a truck load of pot ash into a powerful bomb, and a pair of brainless, redneck anarchists led by a bitter and dying survivor of the 1979 Three Mile Island incident.

The author brings all the players together for a tour de force final few dozen pages that make The 19th Element one of the most entertaining, exciting thrillers I've read in a long time. Becker is a character that you can cheer for. The banter between Beck and his wife, and Beck and Gunderson shows the author’s substantial talent for writing dialogue. A relentless pace, quirky yet realistic dialogue, and fascinating, believable characters keep the pages turning. Considerable research, attention to detail, and a well-plotted story make this a memorable read. Highly recommended.

By William Potter for Reader’s Choice Book Reviews

John L. Betcher holds a Bachelor's Degree, cum laude, in English from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Minnesota Law School in Minneapolis. He has practiced law for more than twenty-five years in the Mississippi River community of Red Wing, Minnesota. He has also been a long-time supporter and coach of youth volleyball there.