Monthly Archives: March 2017

Near Death / Near Life


By Dennis Maulsby


Once again, I caution everyone to please not send me requests for poetry. I will turn them down. This is one of those very rare instances where I was intrigued by this man’s work and decided to give it a shot.


This book is a collection of poems and haiku. Many deal with war and most of those center on Vietnam. The non-war selections deal with…well, life. Beauty, women, the little idiosyncrasies we can look at and admire, or be amused by. There is a nice mixture of death and life poetry and not all of the death shows in the war poems.

I thought the mixture well presented. Too much of either would be a drag or depressing. Granted, the war poems are not happy go lucky, but it’s understandable. War in the real world isn’t fun.


The only character in this book is the author himself. His ideas. His thoughts. His personality. His daydreams. His memories. His view of certain moments in history, of life.


It’s poetry folks, not conversation. However..

Poetry IS dialogue in a sense and lest you think I dive too deep, just think about it for a moment. Or two. The author speaks to us in his words, his phraseology, his thoughts on paper. He speaks to us and we either listen or put down the book and go to something else.

Sure, there are pieces of quotation. In some of the poems somebody speaks. These times fit with the individual poem.


What can I say? I’m not a huge fan of poetry. I took a poetry class in college only because I liked the professor and understood/enjoyed very few poems that we read.

I don’t ‘get’ poetry, let alone haiku. I think trying to develop a three line piece of writing where there are rules on the number of syllables is too difficult.

I don’t buy poetry books. I don’t read poetry.

Having the above in mind, I can still comment on the author’s writing. He presents his work ‘as is’. What I mean is, he doesn’t spin the material into something that’s it’s not. Most of the poems are one page or less so I didn’t have to keep track of the gestalt throughout pages and pages of lines.

The author uses words very well. While I understood what he was trying to present in all of them, there were a few that I found notable because of his writing style.

– Kill Zone Requiem: very well done imagery.

– Omaha Beach: this presented a different view from an individual, other than what is oft seen in movies.

– Journey Music: a history of music throughout the eons.

– Soldiers’ Dream of Myrtle Beach 1966: gritty and realistic

– They’re Alive, Alive… & Bad Santa: Two poems that show the author’s whimsical, humorous side. Bad Santa was my favorite in the book.

– In the Slow Flow: again imagery and the last two lines really bring it home.

So, the anticipated rank. How do I rank a book of poems when I don’t read poetry? How do I rank a bunch of non-rhyming lines about wars I never knew, about experiences I’ve never had?

Like so many other books, it comes down to the like-ability factor. Did I enjoy the book? Would I read more of this author’s material?

I know the author wouldn’t want anything but honesty from a reviewer so the answer to both questions is: yes.

My Rank:

Brown Belt



How To Catch Your Mate


By Michael Goldenberg


Please don’t send me requests for reviews on how-to books or self-improvement or anything akin to this book. Once again, this is a rare occasion where a book struck my interest. I don’t read these on a normal basis, but I was emailed a list of reviews that were desperately needed and this one caught my eye.


Women, are you looking for a mate? Well, this book gives you tips you can use to up the odds of catching that right man.

This is written by a man to women, based on ideas collected from men. I thought it was going to be more in depth but a lot of the topics covered are skimmed. However, a lot are common sense.


Well, none, really, unless you want to include the author who is married with children.

I thought there might be more anecdotes but there were only a few examples of bad dates.


Well, none, really, except for a few lines thrown out.


Titled chapters. Really, really short chapters. Some illustrations. One instance of mild profanity.

The author takes the first several chapters setting up the rest of the book.

I thought there might be more humor and although it was written in a light-hearted manner, I didn’t find any ha-ha moments.

Some of the topics covered include: Being wary of the ‘C’ word; preparing the man’s attraction through a messenger; preparing for the first date; using compliments; knowing how to cook; cleanliness; and preparing for sex.

As mentioned, this doesn’t go in depth and is a very quick read. Many of the tips are common and common sense. I had a minor disagreement with one of them only because I’m a traditionalist with an open mind.

Still, a pretty well written book…with a guaranteed certificate at the end…

My Rank:

Camouflage Belt


Dream State


By Charles R. Hinckley



Augustus Chase has a unique ability. He is able to dream of future deaths. After he sees first a man and then a women die in his sleep, then read about their actual deaths after he tried to warn the victims, he decides to become a private investigator in order to help people. Chase’s first client, Frank, wants to know about his sister…who died when she was ten. His second client is the sister of the victim Chase saw before. Can Chase use his ability to solve the cases?

I accepted this book because I thought the premise interesting. However, once into it, I discovered this plot had more holes than Swiss cheese and more problems than my math teacher assigned in high school.

1. Chase doesn’t have total control over his ability, but discovers later that he’s akin to a psychic in that if he touches something personal he’ll go into the ‘dream state’.

2. Speaking of, he doesn’t like the word psychic yet that’s what he puts in his newspaper ad.

3. At the beginning of the book, he dreams a man dies. Then he dreams a woman dies. No time element as to when each died, so I’m assuming-as would be natural-that the man dies first. However, the man becomes the suspect in the woman’s death and no explanation to the time element is explained.

4. Chase is constantly unsure whether he wants to be a detective. (Probably should be in the Characters section, but I just wrote them down as I caught them.)

5. The time(s) he wants to be a PI, he resists Frank’s payments but doesn’t charge the sister of the woman who was killed.

6. He buys how-to books on private investigation, but apparently never reads them.

7. He is upset when people don’t believe his ability.

8. There’s an element to the mystery dealing with an experiment with a professor (which is completely unbelievable that the assistant wasn’t suspicious of all the down low attitude of the professor and code words having to be used.)

9. There’s another element that deals with a company and fraud, but I didn’t understand it and it wasn’t a big enough deal to care about because it wasn’t played up as such.


August Chase: 35, museum exhibition technician, attended NYU

Frank Cosh: 300 lbs., owns a cat, thin hair, gray beard, former answering service company owner

Carla Donati: sister is dead, nurse, tall, dark hair

Millar Milford: tin, long straight hair, wears glasses, divorced (or just about to be), computer techie, wealthy, owns a ‘67 Camaro

Allen: bartender

To be honest, I didn’t like anybody. Frank was all over the map going from desperation to philosophical. Allen was okay, but he was grumpy all the time. Carla sends out wrong signals for romance, then backs away when the moment is nigh. Chase gets angry at her a couple times because she won’t believe his abilities yet keeps coming back and doesn’t seem too affected by his attitude. She’s a part time nurse at places, but that isn’t explained properly enough and I thought her bouncing around was part of the mystery. Millar was okay but he has a cousin who is a cop and way over the top in playing the ‘bad cop’.


Millar was the only one who kept it constant. I did like the jibes Chase and he exchanged. Frank was, again, all over the place.


Unnecessary profanity. Titled chapters.

Some punctuation problems and a misspelled word here and there.

Basically, this entire book was a mess. I thought about Yellow Belt for awhile, but decided to go two steps lower.

My Rank:

White Belt


Ghosts And Shadows


By H. Max Hiller



2009. Louisiana Police Investigator Cooter Holland is called to an arson scene in New Orleans where the evidence of a super hot fire makes for a strange case. The incident and others like it soon attracts Homeland Security and a company that specializes in military and domestic spy products. Holland finds himself in the middle of federal authorities, local and Mexican gangs, an election, and if he doesn’t put it all together and stop the coming explosion, he may not live to see the Saints in the Superbowl and Mardis Gras is going to be a deadly celebration.

This plot just keeps growing in intensity and complexity as the pages turn. I expected an interesting murder mystery with an arson thrown in. Who knew the feds and gangs and bombs and a tracker dog and family relationships were also included? This one has a lot and is well presented.


Cooter Holland: Nickname Cadillac, owns two Cadillacs, Louisiana State Police investigator, 42, part owner of a bistro, father dead, former military intelligence, has a sister

Clyde Wheeler: State fire Marshall, thin, 50s, short

Bill Avery: Chief of detectives, overweight

Katie Reilly: state attorney, Holland’s girlfriend, long brown hair, divorced

Bradford Skincare: Deputy Director for Homeland Security

There are a few other characters who pop up from time to time and I like them all. Very different personalities, attitudes, and hints of good guy/bad guy in several. I think the characters were well developed. Family ties for Holland came into play and that was well handled.


Some issues with punctuation in the dialogue going to the tags. Periods instead of commas. The issue that caught my attention with dialogue is the author tended to explain the meaning/relevance of the statement just said. At times it was okay, but I think it was overdone. Let the scene and the dialogue explain rather than the narrator tell the reader what somebody’s words meant.


First person from Holland’s POV.

No profanity, which surprised me because this would have been a book I would have expected some. This doesn’t make it an unrealistic book and I enjoyed how the author kept the reader interested with the plot and the action without profanity.

Some tense problems that didn’t work for me.

Other than that, it’s a longer book than most. Not too bad but it took me awhile to read through it. Still and good mystery, good action, a bit of New Orleans culture thrown in and enough believe-ability to show that the author had done some homework and knew about the material.

My Rank:

Purple Belt