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Great Expectorations, by Dr. Charles Dickens (humor)

2 May

A young man of no prospects goes to the big City where, thanks to poor urban planning and non-existent labor rights, he suffers a multitude of bronchial infections brought on by smoke, pollution, fungus and virus.

Pip, an orphan of poor prospects, can’t complete his apprenticeship in a blacksmith shop because of an allergy to horseshit. His patron uncle sends him to London to live with the reclusive Miss Havisham who, jilted many years ago on her wedding day, still wears her bridal gown. Her wedding cake, which she’s saved all these years, has turned to mold and infected the entire house.

Pip falls in love with Estella, a beautiful young girl with a phlegmy cough. Pip has a nasty reaction to the fungus in the house and develops a bronchial infection whose coughing nearly turns his lungs inside out. Miss Havisham takes an interest in Pip’s future and introduces him to better society. In their company, Pip takes up smoking, which further aggravates his cough. Some of his newfound friends take to calling him “Spit”. When his sister dies of coal cough, a common ailment among residents of poorly-ventilated homes, Pip goes home for her funeral.

Returning to London, he’s approached by the convict Magwitch whom he’d helped escape from chains many years ago. Magwitch, who’s made a fortune running an opium den in Australia, is back in England seeking medical attention for viral pneumonia, but wants to bequeath part of his fortune to Pip. Soon after, Pip learns that Miss Havisham has been secretly planning to marry his beloved Estella off to a rival suitor, and they quarrel bitterly. Miss Havisham’s dress catches on fire and Pip is only able to save her by ripping her dress off. Exposed, Miss Havisham is traumatized and falls into a catatonic state. Magwitch is captured by the police and sentenced to die.

While visiting him in his damp prison cell, Pip develops an allergic reaction to moldy rodent droppings, and falls seriously ill. He spends a month in hospital, wracked by violent coughs, filling spittoons with fragments of his ravaged lungs. When he recovers enough to travel, Pip relocates to the dry climate of Cairo for eleven years. When he returns to London a rich man, he finds Estella now a widow with a mild case of whooping cough, and he rekindles their friendship by gifting her with a family-size bottle of expectorant.

Mutual Reception: Book review by Donna Van Toen, ISAR

2 Apr

Mutual Reception by Alan Annand, Sextile.com, 2016. Paper 339 pp. Price: $6.99 digital, $19.95 paper.

Mutual reception has been around for 2000 years or so, and yet very little has been written about it. Sure, you’ll see mention of the fact that two planets in mutual reception will “help one another out,” but that’s about the extent of what most books tell you. So this book is a welcome addition to our literature. However, before you dash out to buy it, you might want to know how Annand works with them. Specifically, you need to know that he does not include the outer planets. He also uses the sidereal zodiac and a whole sign house system. Aspects are not taken into account in mutual reception. All you need to see is what signs and houses the planets occupy.

Now, you can try this in the tropical zodiac, but Annand cautions you that his experience leads him to believe the information here works better when you’re using the sidereal zodiac. I tried the interpretations in both systems and also with traditional and modern rulers. I had hit-and-miss success with the modern rulers and with the tropical zodiac. I had good results using Annand’s system, though I have to say that in many respects I have trouble relating to my sidereal chart as a whole. Whether this is simply my conditioning (I am a tropical astrologer though I have studied sidereal) or because my tropical chart fits better is a moot point and not necessarily relevant to this review. Suffice to say, I got results in both systems, possibly a bit more with the sidereal, though. And I would note that you get different results – and different receptions – in both systems.

And what is this information I was playing with? Pages and pages of interpretations for each mutual reception by house [66 in all], along with a case study for each position. Oh, and an opening interpretation from Parashara, just to put things in perspective (Annand is a Vedic astrologer.) And from what I can see, these are very good interpretations, no matter which way you use them.

There is also a glossary. Numerous useful tables are scattered throughout. I found these particularly helpful in regard to the jyotish material Annand includes at the end. This, by the way, lists some other types of receptions that are relevant in Vedic astrology.

Regardless of what flavor of astrology you practice, this book could be a very good addition to your library. And if, like me, you’re a Western, tropical astrologer, there’s a good chance you’ll pick up some new knowledge even if you aren’t ready to fully embrace sidereal or give up the outer planets as sign rulers just yet.

– Reviewed by Donna Van Toen, ISAR Journal, Volume 45, Issue #3.

How to post a book review on Amazon

24 Oct

dirty-dozen

How to post a book review on Amazon

If you’ve never posted a book review on Amazon before, here are the simple steps to follow (and make an indie writer’s day):

First, go to Amazon.com, because that’s where all of the readers are.

See the search field at the top of the Amazon page and use the pull-down menu on the left to select “Books.” Type in the author’s name, <enter> and this will take you to the author’s books.

Click on the book you want to review. This takes you to another page, with a description of the book and some information about the author. Scroll down to the review section, where you’ll see a graph showing reviews with 1-5 star ratings. Click on the “Write a customer review” button to the right.

That takes you to the book’s review page. If it’s a novel, you’ll see questions. (If the book is non-fiction, these questions won’t appear):

  • How would you describe the plot?
  • Which of these words best describe the mood?
  • How would you describe the pace?
  • How would you describe the characters?

Several boxes are provided under each question to cover your probable responses. Click one under each question and move on.

You’ll next be offered to submit a 1-5 star rating. As soon as (but not before) you click a number of stars, a comment field will appear just below that, where you can write anything from a sentence to a few paragraphs of review.

As soon as you start writing comments, another field will appear below that, with space to write a headline for your review. Write something brief and/or catchy, so that all three items (headline, body, rating) will appear together once posted.

Once you’ve entered all the requisite fields, click the yellow “Submit” button in the lower right, and that’s it.

Thank you for your support!

 

SOMA COUNTY: book review by ISAR’s “International Astrologer” Journal

28 Aug

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00006]If the title looks like it belongs on a novel, well, that’s because Soma County is a novel. Specifically, it’s a crime novel. If you’re now wondering why a crime novel is being reviewed here [ISAR Journal], well, possibly you’ve never encountered Alan Annand before. Annand is an accomplished writer of suspense novels; he is also an accomplished Vedic astrologer with a solid grasp of Eastern and Western astrology, palmistry, and more.

He has imbued his protagonist, Axel Crowe, with this knowledge and set him loose in what he calls his New Age Noir series. This is the third book in that series, but you don’t need to have read the other two to understand Crowe (though, as with an old friend, his character has deepened and become more clear with each novel). And Crowe for the most part is a likeable guy – as is his former guru who is an invisible but very definite presence in this book.

newagenoir 3The plot? A beautiful woman dies at a wine tasting at a California vineyard owned by the woman’s close friend and the friend’s husband. The police assume it was a tainted batch of wine. When Crowe is called in by the friend, he suspects otherwise. Who would want to put the vineyard in jeopardy? Hmm… There are several possibilities – a developer, assorted workers (one of whom turns up missing), and perhaps other vintners hoping to capitalize on this vineyard’s ruined reputation.

But this is no simple whodunit. The action takes you from the Napa Valley to India and back again. And along the way, a black market in body parts adds to the intrigue. Am I going to tell you more? Only that the characters are well developed, the plot is rich and fast-paced, and Crowe is very generous in relaying snippets of astrology, numerology, and Vedic lore. Consider this a painless introduction to some very basic astrological principles as well as a thriller you won’t want to put down.

NewAgeNoir3aaNon-astrological readers tend to appreciate Annand’s books every bit as much as we [astrologers] do, so if you want to sneakily pique somebody’s interest in astrology, do leave this book lying about. And if you haven’t read the first two in the series, consider getting them as well if you like this one. Scorpio Rising and Felonious Monk are equally good.

– Reviewed by Donna Van Toen, August 2016 issue of ISAR’s International Astrologer Journal. (International Society for Astrological Research)

~~~

Alan Annand is an astrologer and writer. You can find his books on Amazon, Apple, Barnes&Noble, Kobo and Smashwords.

Felonious Monk: Axel Crowe is an astrologer action hero

14 Apr

AA_FM_1“Axel Crowe, hero of Alan Annand’s New Age Noir mystery series, is the perfect blend of detective, astrologer, mystic and martial artist. Felonious Monk, the second of the series, engages and entertains in just the right proportions. The intricate plot involves a dead guest at a Vermont ashram, a serial killer of Asian women in New York, and a golden Buddha stolen from a Bangkok temple.

Annand weaves his story with irony, wit, information and insight, not to mention some high action scenes. Crowe is a steady, humble, highly brilliant and somewhat fearless hero. But despite his attractions, he feels no need to prove himself a James Bond, rather, he’s sexually circumspect. (Think hot, but restrained.) It’s hard not to respect the way he lives, with a spiritual practice as rigorous as his martial.”

~ Julie Simmons, Astrology Toronto

Felonious 4http://www.amazon.com/Alan-Annand/e/B0052MM0POhttps://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/alan-annand/id442957999http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/alan-annandhttp://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/Search?Query=Alan+Annandhttps://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/AlanAnnand

Trump’s new book on American immigration…

25 Nov

AppleMark

TRUMP’S NEW BOOK ON AMERICAN IMMIGRATION

I was walking through the mall yesterday when I saw a Muslim bookstore. I was wondering what exactly was in a Muslim bookstore, so I went in to look around.

As I was wandering up and down the racks, the clerk stopped me and asked if he could help me find anything.

I asked him if he had a copy of Donald Trump’s new book on America’s immigration policy, in which he discusses Muslim “refugees” and illegal immigration to the U.S.A.

The clerk replied, “What the hell? Get the fuck out and stay out!”

I said, “Yes, that’s the one. Do you have it in paperback?”

Book review Al-Quebeca: “Annand is a master craftsman of reader anxiety.”

9 Sep

thumb_AQA book review of Al-Quebeca recently appeared on the Serenity Now website, written by Val Tobin. Following is an excerpt:

For Sophie Gillette, Detective-Sergeant Homicide of the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), it starts out as a routine investigation of a hit-and-run during a January snowstorm in Montreal. It ends in a terrorist plot to disable the electrical grid, behead a visiting governor, and kill thousands of hockey fans with poison gas. These two events sandwich between them a generous filling of biker wars, arms smuggling by First Nations warriors, militant student activists, drug financiers, and a rogue professor with a doctorate in chemical toxicology.

As if that weren’t enough to keep Gillette occupied, she’s recently suffered the loss of her brother to a covert military operation in Afghanistan, and her mother has turned to the bottle to assuage her grief. She also has to deal with being an attractive woman in a male-dominated work environment. As with author Alan Annand’s other novels, the lead character in his latest offering, Al-Quebeca, has more than a heaping helping of issues with which to deal.

How his detective, Sophie Gillette, follows the trail of brain matter and paint chips from the hit-and-run scene to the terrorist cell makes riveting reading. Annand is a master craftsman of reader anxiety. Much of his magic lies in his painstaking research. As with his other novels, he’s been meticulous in attention to detail, and ensuring what he writes is credible.

He also faced the challenge of writing from a female perspective. When asked about it, Annand says that he’d wanted his protagonist to “face the challenges of discrimination, physical struggle and self-doubt that made the choice of a female lead seem appropriate.” Annand succeeds in not only making Gillette a believable character, but also manages to make the reader forget she was written by a man.

All of the above make Al-Quebeca an exciting, suspenseful novel with well-rounded characters and richness of setting and plot. But what makes it particularly compelling, as well as frightening, is how plausible it all seems. In an April 2013 blog entry, Annand talks about the likelihood of something like this happening, and says, “I wrote the first draft of Al-Quebeca in 2009 and revised it several times since then. Each time it all seems even more inevitable.”

Fans of astrologer/palmist/private investigator Axel Crowe will be delighted to hear that Annand is currently writing a sequel to Scorpio Rising called Felonious Monk. He’s also rewriting his first published novel, an SF mystery set in post-apocalyptic New York, called Antenna Syndrome.

Get Al-Quebeca in Kindle or paperback at www.amazon.com/Al-Quebeca-ebook/dp/B00CHQOY8O 

All other digital formats at www.smashwords.com/books/view/309140 

Read the full original review at:

http://www.serenitynowgifts.com/resources/articles/al-quebeca_book_review.php 

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