Monday, November 30, 2015

The Question

The full title of this thriller by R. Breuer Stearns, which is dedicated to Katie, always in the author’s mind, and is preceded by a Buddha quote about how all we are is the result of our thoughts, is “If you could have THE answer to only one QUESTION what would you ask?” The writer further asks who would attempt to prevent the reader from asking said inquiry, and to what extremities they would go. This thriller delves into a new form of contemplation which is forceful enough to resolve the universe’s important mysteries, mayhap resolve the great unknowns of Earth’s major religions.

THE QUESTION also crosses genre into the adventure genre, with readers potentially hoping that this work of fiction is somehow true. The setting is present day, with the story’s publication date being May of 2015, and contains various settings in locations such as the State of California; Washington, D.C.; Paris, France; Shanghai, China; New York; and even Afghanistan. The target audience is high school students and adults, given mature sexual and violent material, and is further pitched as a work of “scientific fantasy,” and in general wants readers to think and be curious about the great unknowns of society.

THE QUESTION stars a diverse cast of characters such as the fast-swimming Jake, the football-loving Nate, and surgeon Dr. Sidney Wexler, who all become embroiled in a new form of thinking called Unity, when two people simultaneously see the answer to a complex question in their minds, and an event known as Unity Day gradually draws near when the whole world will be engaged in this scientific discovery. Ultimately, this is an enjoyable novel that crosses various genres and deals with issues such as terrorism, although the many acronyms that the story uses aren’t regularly defined throughout the text, their meanings easy to forget. Even so, this is a good book this reviewer would certainly recommend.

Author's Bio:

R. Breuer Stearns is an investor and author.

Mr. Stearns graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover (1970), Harvard University (AB, 1974), University of Chicago (MBA, 1977), and DePaul University College of Law (JD, 1979). He rapidly ascended on Wall Street in the 1980’s, serving as Managing Director, Mergers & Acquisitions at Lehman Brothers and Head of Investment Banking (North America) at UBS Securities.  While living in New York, he founded “Terrific Teachers, Inc.,” a foundation dedicated to identifying and rewarding the best of the best of the city’s public high school teachers.

Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Mr. Stearns launched a private investment bank in the former Soviet Union.  He spent the early 1990’s seeking to marry emerging science, primarily emanating from Russia’s Defense sector, with Western capital.  During this period, Mr. Stearns made a small fortune, albeit from a larger one.  The venture provided a remarkable lesson in hubris, a tremendous reservoir of internal strength, and first-hand source material for Mr. Stearns’ first book, Winning Smart After Losing Big (Encounter Books, Beijing University Press).

Subsequently, Mr. Stearns served as Chief Financial Officer of The Dial Corporation, Chief Financial Officer of Columbia/HCA Corporation, Chief Financial Officer of PacifiCare, Inc., President and Chief Operating Officer of Vascular Genetics, Inc., and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Quepasa Corporation (QPSA:Amex).

Mr. Stearns is a Founder of VestaPoint Capital LLC, a family of investment funds focused on real estate development.  He lives in Arizona with his wife, two dogs, two cats, and a horse.  He travels extensively and is intensely curious.

Connect with the author:   Website

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Murder on Safari

This thriller, which author Peter Riva dedicates to friends thinly disguised in the story and his family which is patient as he travels, is the second novel of East African tour guide Mbuno of the Liangulu, the first being A Tribal Rumble: A Safari Campfire Tale, and focuses on a reality television producer named Pero Baltazar and Mbuno being charged with stopping terrorism. Joining them is Mary, the daughter of television evangelist Reverend Jimmy Threte, with a terrorist cell targeting them with no escape, after which they’ll need to put their production aside to halt the al-Shabaab terrorists from harming the Reverend’s Christian gathering numbering in the hundreds of thousands in Nairobi, Kenya. However, Pero’s past in working as a secret carrier for the United States State Department, if revealed, could jeopardize the entire group.

Preceding the main text is a useful map of Kenya and the territory of its neighbors in the African continent, which is helpful given the many exotic locales presenting through the story. The novel itself opens in 2002, with Pero meeting a tribal chieftain named Methenge early on. Some references to contemporary events such as the U.S. bombing of a supposed al-Qaida camp in Sudan during the late 1990s that killed only four camels occasionally abound. There are also occasional factoids about Kenyan locales such as the Ramu airstrip being used for both small civilian airplanes and the country’s military. Overall, this is an enjoyable novel that gives good insight into the climate and culture of Kenya that remains engaging throughout and contains a satisfying conclusion.

Author's Bio:

Peter Riva spent many months over thirty years in Africa, many of them with the legendary guides for East African white hunters and adventurers. He created a TV series (seventy-eight 1-hour episodes) in 1995 called WildThings for Paramount TV. Passing on the fables, true tales and insider knowledge of these last reserves of true wildlife is a passion.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015


For his novel, author Ronald L. Ruiz thanks various individuals such as Jay Amberg, who he says made the book possible, Amanda for her support, and Ren McClellan for his insight and encouragement. Jesusita tells the story of legal and illegal Mexican immigrants, with the lonely and impoverished titular protagonist struggling to care for her four children, The fifteen-year-old Sergio, the thirteen-year-old Yolanda, the eleven-year-old Paulina, and the three-year-old Concepcion, after her husband Rogelio dies in a truck accident the previous month, finding support from Father Montes at St. Teresa’s Catholic Church, although her face isn’t exactly essential in solving her clan’s problems.

Before the main text, Ruiz gives many historical notes, indicating that by 1975, the State of California had the eleventh-largest economy in the world, its chief industry of agriculture built upon the backs of both legal and illegal Mexican immigrants. Afterward he goes farther back in history to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, which granted citizenship to thousands of Southwestern Mexicans newly part of the United States. The author further adds that tens of thousands of Mexicans immigrated to America between 1850 and 1910, and although the Immigration Act of 1917 implemented immigration quotas, it exempted Mexicans, who would later labor by the millions during the Second World War, afterward finding better jobs in towns and cities and more being considered illegal then.

The forbiddance of Hispanics men from marrying Caucasian women plays some part in the chief narrative, beginning in October 1945 with Jesusita and her children working on a ranch near Fresno, California, her family having crossed into the country at Mexicali, and ultimately moving into the city proper for winter the same month, and dealing with various familial issues. The story is generally enjoyable, although there are many points where the author uses pronouns, even in the beginning of new chapters, without actually identifying whom exactly he’s talking about anywhere nearby, although this reviewer would most certainly recommend this story to those interested in history, chiefly focused on Hispanics.

Author's Bio:

After reading Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment at the age of 17, I knew I wanted to be a writer. But I knew nothing about the craft. My first novel, Happy Birthday Jesús, was published 36 years later. Surprisingly, it received good reviews

For many years, I was a criminal defense attorney and at the end of my career a prosecutor, but I always managed to find time to write. What I saw and experienced during those years often serves as a basis for my writing. For me, learning how to write has been a long, continuous and, at times, torturous process.

Now retired, I try to write every day and I feel fortunate that I have found something in writing that sustains me. I’m glad I persevered during all those years of rejection. More than anything, writing about what I see and experience in life has given me a sense of worth.

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