A Ghost for a Clue – Immortology Book One by C.L.R.Draeco


Are ghosts real? Can they be proven and communicated with, whether you’re psychic or not, with the help of advanced technology?

Set in the year 2032, A Ghost for a Clue takes place just far enough in the future to make you wonder if some parts of the story could actually happen by then. Robotic waiters and cops are just two elements that belong to the time period in the book.  It has a strong beginning, several intriguing side stories, and keeps readers wanting more.

Main character Bram works at a company that makes robots – sophisticated ones that are capable of far more than we have in the present time. Yet in spite of this, he is saddened and shocked at the fact that his friend and co-worker Franco has just been killed in something as simple and outdated as a car crash. Franco’s death triggers the beginning of an exploration into ghostly activity. At first it appears to be a hoax when Bram hears Franco’s voice, but as time goes on, things appear more real.

Bram has been dreaming of a career as an astronaut, though he’s been turned down three times. Then, he is offered a job working at an offshoot of NASA, on a project called PANGAEA, the International Space Exploration Alliance. It would mean leaving Earth for good to work on the mission. He’s seriously considering the job but feels it would only be worthwhile if he can convince the love of his life, his former girlfriend Torula, to give up everything and go with him, even though they haven’t seen each other for years.
 
When Bram returns to the town where he once lived, he’s determined to re-connect with Torula and see if she will make this commitment.  But before asking her, he has more ghostly encounters and Torula seems involved in them.  The story is fascinating and well written. The best part? There’s a Book Two on the way!  I can’t wait!

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Take Your Mark, Lead! By Kelly Parker Palace

Take Your Mark, LEAD!  by Kelly Parker Palace

Kelly Parker Palace seems like the perfect person to write a book about being a champion and a leader. She’s been a champion athlete and swim coach, and then became a top figure in the corporate world.

There’s no question she calls on her sports background in writing this book, beginning with a Foreword by Bob Bowman, coach for Olympic legend Michael Phelps. But in the process, she relates how winning – in life, in love, in your career – can apply to anyone.

With advice from top business leaders and champions in the sports world, as well as quotes from General Douglas McArthur, Nelson Mandela, Mark Twain and many others, she motivates the reader to be their best. She reveals top attributes of a champion, recommends books to read, lists resources to follow and gives simple but powerful advice.

Her honesty about her own life is inspirational and motivational, including her experiences on 9/11 and living through (triumphantly) a bout with breast cancer.

Whether you want to break a bad habit, manage pain, set better goals, improve your communication skills, and of course if you want to be the best leader you can be, I highly recommend this book. I took away information I will remember and apply in my own life from now on.

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Moments Like This – by Anna Gomez and Kristoffer Polaha

Moments Like This reads like the perfect premise for a Hallmark Channel movie – sweet, exciting and deeply romantic. Actually, that’s not a surprise, since it was co-written by Kristoffer Polaha, a popular film and television actor who is often a favorite in Hallmark movies.

He and co-author Anna Gomez give readers a romance set in idyllic Hawaii. It’s like a breath of fresh air, enticing you to relax, unwind and enjoy.

In the story, high-powered venture capitalist “Andie” Matthews collapses during a traumatic work meeting, ending up in the hospital with exhaustion. In a fortunate turn of events, her dear friend Api invites her to take a break from her power career to run Api’s island coffee shop while she’s away. Andie agrees. It’s not exactly the money-making enterprise she’s used to, but something about the island lures her and awakens her creativity.

She quickly makes friends with the staff and meets a mysterious man named Warren. They share a special, unexpected moment on Christmas Eve, leading to many other moments on their way to a blossoming love. But Warren holds a secret. When Andie finds out – will it change everything?

I immediately “cast” Polaha as Warren as I was reading, and it worked beautifully. This is the first pairing of established author Gomez and new but highly-talented writer Polaha, but they promise more books in the future. Readers, I’m sure, will be eagerly awaiting them. And perhaps the Hallmark series will come about , too?

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Griffin’s Heart by Reagan Pasternak

If you’ve ever loved an animal, and perhaps more importantly, if you’ve ever suffered the devastation of losing one, this book could be the first step in your healing process. Just as the author points out in the book, some people will get this, and some will not. For some, losing that dog or cat or any other creature is something you “get over quickly” – it was “just an animal.” Author Reagan Pasternak is not addressing those people here. And rightly so. They aren’t the ones needing help.

But for the rest of us, and there are many, who feel our beloved companion animal is actually a member of the family – perhaps our best friend or our saving grace in life – the grief process is real. And painful.

The book is a guide to dealing with the loss, accepting it and feeling free to not only grieve, but mourn. This means being able to openly express your sadness with a chosen few people who won’t judge you, who won’t expect you to “recover” at warp speed.

Griffin was the author’s cat, who in 7 short years found a way into her life. The heart in the title takes on a double meaning – Griffin suffered from a heart condition, but also gave and received enormous love during those years.

What makes this book special is its interactive nature. The author relays her heartfelt feelings during her own process, but then incorporates them into exercises designed to help readers heal, whether through journaling, attaching photos of a beloved “Being”, as she refers to a pet, answering questions, going through meditation, and other very gentle but hands-on techniques. The book itself becomes a memorial of sorts for the Being who has passed. Each topic and section is short, so you can move at your own pace, not feeling overwhelmed by the contents. Do a little, do a lot, it’s about the journey. Essays from others as well as quotes about grief, life and loss from famous persons help to offer comfort and inspiration, as well.

She covers topics about disenfranchised grief, guilt, seeing our pets as babies who never grow up, even as their bodies betray them, and how they are to many of us a guardian angel. I speak from experience about this, having lost several feline and canine companions over the years. And I feel that my current dog Wally, as I often tell friends, literally saved my life. My life partner Kenny passed away and I’m not sure how I’d have gotten by without the gentle kisses and warm fur that Wally provides. I know he was sent by my partner, three weeks after his passing, as a way to slowly heal me.

How I wish I’d had this book during past times of loss. But I have it now, and dread the day when I might need it again, though I also treasure it. There couldn’t be a more perfect book, either for a friend or family member who is going through pain, or for yourself as you struggle to deal with the very real mourning process.

My heart goes out to Reagan Pasternak for writing this book, and to little Griffin, who inspired it.

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THEY SAY I COME FROM HOLLYWOOD ROYALTY…SO WHERE’S MY CROWN? by Cissy Wellman

For many people, they may best remember Cissy Wellman for her 5 seasons on the classic TV show, “The Waltons.” And while it was a fun and memorable role, there is so much more to her. Of course, there are numerous acting roles (and some dancing ones, too!), including appearances on “Hart to Hart”, “Charlie’s Angels”, “Chips”, and many more.

But it’s her personal life that is the main subject of this book, and what a life it’s been! She grew up the “good-natured one” in a show business family. Her mother was a Busby Berkeley dancer, her father was famed director William Wellman (his films include “Wings”, the original “A Star is Born”, “Public Enemy” and “Beau Geste”, to name just a few classics. Family friends included the “Who’s Who” in show business. You’d think with this pedigree, her life has been only sunshine and roses – but that’s not the whole truth, as she details in the book. Cissy often thought she didn’t fit in with the family.

Still, the book is not a sad tale. Far from it – she delightfully tells happy Hollywood stories about some of her experiences with truly the biggest names in show business. It’s a delightful reading experience, and should be included in the reading list of anyone interested in a Hollywood book with a twist – no seedy stories here.

And by the way, this reviewer definitely thinks she deserves that crown she mentions!

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Discover Why Smoking Has Nothing To Do With Nicotine… by Crispian Jones

This is my go-to stop smoking book recommendation from now on.

I never smoked. But I’ve had friends who did, and my late life partner did (he didn’t pass due to smoking, full disclosure). As a result, I’ve read books on the subject in an effort to offer help. But it became clear that there were just so many different theories about how to stop smoking. It was – take this pill, wear this patch, just toughen up, use your willpower and go cold turkey. Eventually, my friends, and my partner, all stopped, but had this book been available then, things could have gone a lot smoother for them.

This book explains in a very conversational tone why the traditional methods don’t work. There is just enough medical information to back up ideas, but the author focuses more on the psychological reasons behind the smoking habit. I enjoyed the interactive exercises he provided and really learned about cravings, distraction, and how the subconscious and conscious mind work. There were several “Aha!” moments, even as a non-smoker. There’s still one friend of mine who’s a holdout to the smoking habit, thus my interest in the book, and you can be sure I’m recommending it right away!

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Robert Wise – The Motion Pictures (Newly Revised and Updated Edition) by J.R. Jordan

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One of my favorite films of all time is ‘The Sound of Music.” It holds a special place in my heart and of course I’m not alone – it’s one of the most beloved movies in history. Because of the number of times I’ve seen the film, the name of its director, Robert Wise, is happily burned into my memory. In the years since then, I’ve been drawn to many of his other movies, including another classic musical, “West Side Story.”

But Wise directed 40 films in his career – most of them, in fact, NOT musicals. There were mysteries, thrillers, sci-fi and horror films. This book explores each of those films with a brief plot synopsis, behind-the-scenes stories and special interviews with cast members and others who were involved in the production. They paint a picture not only of Robert Wise the director but also Robert Wise, the man. There’s even an unexpected and delightful Foreword by actor Gavin MacLeod (yes, “The Love Boat” TV Captain!), who appeared in an earlier Wise film, and a heartfelt Introduction by Wise’s nephew, Douglas E. Wise.

From the origins of the story idea to the screenwriting process, from casting stories to pre-production and filming tales, information about post-production to the film’s premiere, author J.R. Jordan’s extensive research shines through on each page.

The book is a must-read for movie buffs and should be a part of anyone’s film history book collection. It’s also a fascinating look at the earlier days of Hollywood. Not only is Robert Wise an important part of filmmaking history, this book should also be part of movie history literature.

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My Life with Helen by Diane S. Nine

   Dean of the White House Press Corps, first president of the Women’s National Press Club, first female officer of the National Press Club – Helen Thomas was revered, perhaps at times feared, but almost always highly respected.

This is the image that was known to the world during her decades-long journalistic career.

But there was a human side to her that not many knew, and that’s what is so special about My Life with Helen, written by her longtime (30+ years) literary agent and friend Diane S. Nine.  Author Nine, and Helen’s small group of friends dubbed “The Ladies”, knew her perhaps better than anyone – not only as a journalist but as a woman.

Insider stories about Helen’s interaction with presidents, first ladies and presidential families from the administrations of John F. Kennedy through Barack Obama are fascinating, to be sure. But equally fascinating are tales of how this seemingly all-business trailblazer openly called out comments during movie screenings or stage plays, loved to sing, broke down in tears the first time she returned to the Shenandoah Valley cabin she’d shared with her late husband Doug, and kept going through a series of illnesses and hospitalizations that few people ever knew about.

Nothing is off limits in the book,  including the scandal created by Helen’s inappropriate, hateful comments to a rabbi which tarnished her career  when the contents leaked in audio and video form. Yet, in the hands of author Nine, even this is handled honestly but without aiming for sensationalism.

As a journalist myself, I’d always admired Helen Thomas, associating her with her role as a powerful force in White House history.  After reading My Life with Helen, I’ve gained an insight into her as a human being, as lovingly revealed by her dear friend.  This book is a glimpse of history that few knew and I can highly recommend it!

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Unclassified – My Life Before, During, and After the CIA by Richard James Kerr

Former Deputy Director of the CIA Richard Kerr has found a way to demystify the CIA and make it seem interesting and human. Unclassified is his memoir of the many years he spent at the Central Intelligence Agency, beginning at the young age of 25 as an analyst. It was 1960, in the era of President Eisenhower, just after the U2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers was shot down, and shortly before the Bay of Pigs incident, to put things into historical perspective.  The amount of history he lived through as part of this agency is astounding, yet he makes the book friendly and easy to read. At times, I had to stop and realize that the words I was reading came from this once powerful and influential man who is still highly respected.

The stories he relays are not classified information (thus, the book’s title) but they are very much an inside look at some of our country’s most pivotal moments. He served under presidents from Eisenhower to George H.W. Bush, meaning he was very much present during the time of the Vietnam War, the Iranian oil crisis and the taking of hostages, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iran-Contra scandal, and the troubles in Northern Ireland, to name but a few. And even after his 1992 retirement, he was involved in other projects, including assessing the pros and cons of a war with Iraq in 2001.

Mr. Kerr shares a humorous story about J. Edgar Hoover, insight on how each president preferred their briefings, and even a couple of slightly less favorable opinions about Admiral “Red” Raborn, Donald Rumsfeld and Donald Trump, though it’s all done in a tasteful way. A very telling chapter titled Colleagues gives great insight into what some of his colleagues thought about Kerr, and it’s clear he was very much admired in the CIA and beyond.

What’s charming is that, in spite of the positions he held, culminating as Deputy Director of the CIA, he was still humble and down-to-Earth. He talks of feeling like he was living in the film “Mr. Deeds Goes to Washington”, and never ceased to be amazed when he went to the West Wing and had the chance to look at the pictures there. What’s refreshing, and should be, in this reviewer’s opinion, the motto of those in Washington, D.C. to this day, is the fact that he says whenever he was told by White House officials that he was not being supportive enough of “the President’s policy”, he responded that the best support he could give the President was by giving an “unvarnished presentation of facts.” He says that even today, when asked if he worked for the government, he says, “No, I worked for the CIA.”

The book is an easy read and a refreshing look at history by the man who says that in his opinion, the best job in Washington, D.C. is being the Deputy Director of the CIA. Thank you for your service, Mr. Kerr, and for this book that readers of all types would enjoy.

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LIFE on the Road by Ryan Kelly

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My Irish heritage drew me to the singing group Celtic Thunder several years ago, and from there to the duo Byrne & Kelly. Ryan Kelly is a delightfully talented singer with both of these groups, and his hobby of taking photos while on the road performing has now been transformed into a photo book, LIFE ON THE ROAD.  I’ve long admired his photography – stunning scenes, beautiful colors and each one capturing a moment he experienced while on runs that he’s taken along the way.  I’ve often thought, as have countless fans, that he should compile some favorite photos and put them into a book. This coffee table sized book is exactly that.  There are shots from North America, Australia, Nepal, Uganda and his homeland of Ireland. The “reader” is transported to San Antonio, TX, Central Park NYC, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC (where you would think Mass is just about to begin and you’re right there), Duluth, MN and then Nepal and Uganda (which he visited on a charity mission). And of course, his beloved Ireland, where the greens are as bright as you’d think they’d be, and where this Irish descendant (great grandparents) hopes to visit one day soon.

Many more photos grace the book, some almost pastel in nature, some vividly bright. It’s a travel experience just looking at them.

For anyone who enjoys this singer or has seen his posts of photos on social media, it’s really something to treasure to have this book.  And for anyone who just loves good photography, it’s a treat as well.  Kelly calls himself an amateur but his photos are unlike anything the typical amateur could ever hope to achieve.

The book is available at http://www.ryankellymusic.com.

 

 

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