Tag Archives: anthony avina

Delays…

Update

Hey guys! I know there was no new post today. I’m busy getting my house ready to be listed for sale and the realtor is coming out tomorrow, which means lots of work for me today. I will be back hopefully tomorrow and I’ll have not only the typical book related content, but my review of the latest Conjuring film, and some new listicle content. You guys will not be disappointed. Thanks for hanging in there with me and I’ll be back again soon.

Soraia, Child of the Sea by Leen Lefebre Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young girl who dreams of life outside of her castle walls finds solace with a new friend whom she hides her true identity from, but soon discovers another adventure awaits her in Leen Lefebre’s “Soraia, Child of the Sea”. 

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The Synopsis 

On an island in the Atlantic Sea lives Soraia, Princess of the Azores. Father cleaves through the waves with his war fleet but she is never allowed to go along. From her balcony, she dreams of one day sailing those waters herself. Out of sheer necessity, she now finds joy in a book with hero stories.

Soraia soon falls ill with a desire for adventure. The lady-in-waiting and jester agree that she may go explore. A chance to be free presents itself. In the dale, she meets a shepherd boy. After a day together in the mountains, they are in love. But then, totally unexpectedly, King Netuno returns home.

The Review

This was a beautiful and memorable new fantasy tale like no other. The author does an incredible job of crafting a wholly unique story with a classic fairy tale vibe and memorable characters that keep the reader invested throughout the narrative.

Soraia is a fantastic protagonist, who portrays the classic princess stuck in her castle who dreams of a life beyond the home she’s forced to live in. Readers can instantly sympathize with the protagonist as she dreams of adventure and finding her place in the world. The irony of her journey and how it brings her to her dream of life beyond her island and castle, but comes at the cost of losing the relationships she has built over the long years isolated on the island, showcasing that destiny and life often come at the cost of the past we all hold dear to us. 

The Verdict

A short yet beautifully written fairy tale come to life, this Norse-driven mythological story is a must-read for middle graders and up. The characters are wonderfully written, and the theme of isolation, dreams and destiny are explored in-depth and honestly in this tale, making for a truly incredible reading experience. If you haven’t yet grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Leen Lefebre grew up in West Flanders where she works at the Local Heritage Service. As a kid, she threw herself upon each book that was available. Later, she turned around and settled on the worldwide web. She then emerged as a true explorer of literature, music, and sports. Leen is a dreamer and a doer – and this is how her stories rose up as charming and lively fairy tales for adventurers of all ages.

Journey of Hope and Tears by Dieter Ryckewaert Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A nurse and a soldier must work together to escape a nefarious army in a dystopian landscape in author Dieter Ryckewaert’s “Journey of Hope and Tears”. 

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The Synopsis

If you were a refugee, would you be able to move on when your loved ones have all perished?

Jill lives with her parents and brother in Greenwood. She longs for freedom, far away from the Seers Dynasty and their tyrannical regime. She works in her father’s practice as a nurse, and this brings her some joy in her life – a simple but meaningful life.

When Jill’s homeland is attacked by Cerynean soldiers, her dream of finding happiness shatters into a thousand pieces. Jill and her brother are summoned to defend their homeland, but the war is short-lived. Latania falls, and all hell breaks loose.

As soon as the Cerynean soldiers march into the streets of Greenwood, Jill’s father brings her to safety. Aboard an old boat, the Sabrielle, she can flee, but her parents and brother are left behind. Tormented by pain and agony, Jill sees no way out…

Sam, a foreign soldier of the Freedom Pact, lost and miles away from his unit, becomes her salvation. Onboard the Sabrielle, they both realise that they can only survive if they work together. Hunted by the Cerynean army, they begin their journey with only one goal: to escape Latania.

JOURNEY OF HOPE AND TEARS: an unusual story about the true meaning of love, set in a dystopian world, reflecting our own challenges as humankind. 

The Review

A beautiful and emotional dystopian read, author Dieter Ryckewaert does an incredible job of blending brand new mythology with a memorable cast of characters that really showcase the horrors of war and the pain that comes with loss. Protagonists Jill and Sam are the heart of this story, each showcasing a different aspect of the world the author has created and highlighting the various aspects and impacts that war has on different people involved, from the soldiers on the front lines to the innocents who must witness their lives being torn apart. 

The emotional pull of Jill and her story is what really drives this narrative forward in a great way. The relationship between her and her family, as well as the growing relationship with Sam in the midst of all this death and tragedy all around them, help elevate the stakes in regards to the novel’s action and more integral scenes. The author’s ability to craft this whole new world and narrative allows readers to gain a sense of imagery that really showcases the magnitude of the novel’s intense plotline as well, making this book excel above so many other dystopian reads. 

The Verdict

An evenly paced, emotionally driven action & adventure/romantic dystopian read. The character growth of this novel is hauntingly beautiful, and the dystopian setting and deep cut in new mythology help this story stand out above the rest in the genre. Author Dieter Ryckewaert’s “Journey of Hope and Tears” is a must-read novel, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

When an author writes about his characters, or about the magical worlds in which they live, his or her pen never gets empty. Ask an author about the background of his or her latest protagonist, and the next hour you’re guaranteed not to get a letter in between.

What could be difficult about writing your own biography, you might think?

The answer to that question is already written in the question itself: the ‘own’ biography. Most authors write about everything and everyone, but mostly not… about themselves.

But anyway, let me introduce myself.

My name is Dieter Ryckewaert (1984) and I was born in Poperinge, a small town in West Flanders, a stone’s throw from the Belgian coast. When I was about three years old, we moved with our family to Zonnebeke, where me and my sister had a carefree childhood. The house in which we lived bordered a field and a forest, the dream playground for every child of my generation.

Together with the children of the neighbors, we played outside, and risked our lives several times in the branches of the trees. The garden of the neighbors was separated from our garden by a nine-foot high hedge. In the middle of that hedge was a hole big enough to give passage to an adult person. On day one of our time in Zonnebeke, my parents wanted to close the hedge, so we had a little more privacy in our garden. Of course, that didn’t match our idea about the hole (us as in: me, my sister, and the three children of the neighbors). The hole functioned as a passage from and especially to the new playmates. So close it? No way!

Eight years later, when we moved back to Poperinge, the hole was still there.

Back in Poperinge I was first confronted with my ‘writing itch’ when we got the chance at school to work on a collection of poems about love. As a fourteen year old adolescent I found the idea as corny as it could be. Really, shouldn’t we be tough like men? Well, I gave it a chance… and it turned out that ‘writing’ was much more fun than I first thought. When the words flowed out of my pen (we didn’t have a computer yet), ‘poetry and rhyming’ became quite fun.

From poetry, it logically turned into short stories. And I remember my first short story very well. I was so proud of my little Sci-Fi work! In hindsight, the quality was way below par, but one has to begin somewhere, right?

Many short stories followed, and as the writing itch continued to rise, I ventured into my first ‘real’ novel.

Once I graduated, I wanted my writing to blossom further. Bringing new worlds and characters to life and sharing them with readers gives me enormous satisfaction. Not only that, but also the fact that stories with a positive note inspire people and give them a chance to escape from the – hectic or not – life. 

Guest Post by Roje Augustin

I first learned about Sarah Breedlove — or Madam C.J. Walker as she would come to be known — in my early 20s. I remember it clearly because when I read her story in A’Lelia Perry Bundles’ wonderful book Madam C.J Walker Entrepreneur, my jaw literally dropped. Prior to reading her book, it never occurred to me that a woman like Walker could even exist. African American history, such as it was taught in my early school years, was biased and flimsy at best. That her life story was not a standard part of the curriculum was offensive to me.


I was taught about Anne Frank, Amelia Earhart, Florence Nightingale, Susan B Anthony, Joan of Arc… But where my people were concerned, all I learned was that we were slaves and one day a slave named Harriet Tubman chose to devote her life to freeing her follow slaves from bondage. An important and inspiring story no doubt, but as a black girl, it would have been so edifying to have learned about Madam C.J. Walker, too.

After discovering her, I devoured everything I could find about Madam Walker, which included a second biography, On Her Own Ground The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker, also written by her great-great-granddaughter, A’Lelia Perry Bundles. There were also a handful of other biographies and two novelised accounts of her life.

Fast forward to 2018. When I started to write Out of No Way, I returned to these biographies as well as material I found on online, namely old Walker advertisements for her hair care products. On Her Own Ground proved invaluable for providing timelines, dates, locations, events, and names, which became the foundation for my poems: the who, what, when, where, and to some degree, the why. But the thing that became clear to me in re-reading the books a second time around was how starved I felt for personal details, for a more intimate voice, particularly with regard to Madam Walker’s relationship to her daughter, A’Lelia, as a working mother. Because of my deep desire for more intimate knowledge of their relationship, the mother/daughter dynamic became the overarching theme of Out of No Way, the lens through which all the poems were written.


Like any successful entrepreneur, Madam C.J. Walker was driven. How else as a black woman could she have become America’s first self-made female millionaire during one of the most racially violent periods in American history? As a mother myself, I’ve always been intrigued by highly successful working moms. Knowing that great achievement requires great sacrifice I wondered, what were Madam Walker’s sacrifices?


I started with this question, and it led to many more: What did money mean to Sarah? How did her daughter feel about their journey from rags to riches? What, if any, were the drawbacks of their wealth? Did Sarah’s ambitions have an impact on Lelia’s sense of self? Could the death of her own mother when she was a child have compromised Sarah’s more nurturing instincts? And how did they really feel about their hair?

I took all these questions and attempted to answer them through verse. While I enjoy a lot of contemporary poetry, I felt her story would be best served by turning to the kind of poetry that relied on meter, rhyme, and structure. So I re-read a lot of my favourite ‘old school’ poets (Hughes, Cullins, Poe, Angelou, Yeats, to name a few) as part of my research as well.


I then organised the research into themes, or issues, that were relevant to their lives. Then, in thinking about my overarching theme of the mother/daughter relationship, a flash of inspiration hit me. The words Mother and Daughter gave way to a kind of acrostic structure that allowed me to divide the themes into chapters so that the entire book itself became an acrostic poem.


Money

Orphan

Travel

Hair

Envy

Resilience

Death

Art

U…

Generations

Hatred

Transcendence

Education

Regrets

Once I landed on this structure, I had another flash of inspiration — to write each chapter in a different form of poetry. This made the task infinitely more enjoyable. I love working within a defined structure. I am most creative when I have boundaries, and working within the boundaries of say a haiku or a sonnet meant that I had to focus my research into a fine point for each poem, which in turn helped me to stay on theme. The experience gave me a newfound appreciation and respect for poetry and for great poets, from Shakespeare to the rapper Stormzy.


It is my hope that Out of No Way will introduce readers to Madam C.J. Walker’s incredible legacy while also serving as a kind of instructional guide to different poetic forms. At the very least I hope it will introduce young readers to the joys of structure, rhyme, and meter.

About the Author

Rojé Augustin is a native New Yorker who grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Her first novel, The Unraveling of Bebe Jones, won the 2013 National Indie Excellence Award in African American fiction. She wrote the novel while living in London and Sydney as a stay-at-home-mom. She established Breaknight Films shortly after her move to Sydney in 2009 to develop and produce television projects across a range of formats, including television, web, and audio. Her first Sydney based project was a podcast and visual web series called The Right Space, which explores the relationship between creatives and their workspace. Rojé continues to work as a television producer while also writing in her spare time. She is an Australian citizen who currently lives in Sydney with her Aussie husband and two daughters.

Add to GoodReads:

Out of No Way

Available on Amazon.

Blog Tour Schedule:

Sept. 9: The Book Connection (Review)
Sept. 16: Anthony Avina Blog (Guest Post)
Sept. 18: Anthony Avina Blog (Review)
Sept. 23: Impressions in Ink (Review)
Sept. 24: The Book Lover’s Boudoir (Review)
Sept. 29 Diary of an Eccentric (Guest Post)
Oct. 5: Jorie Loves A Story (Interview)
Oct. 8: Everything Distils into Reading (Review)
Oct. 14: Suko’s Notebook (Review)
Oct. 20: True Book Addict (Guest Post)
Oct. 26: CelticLady’s Reviews (Review)
Oct. 29: True Book Addict (Review)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #OutofNoWay #MadamC.J.Walker #RojeAugustin

Enter the Giveaway:

2 copies available (digital for international entrants; print for U.S./Canada entrants) Giveaway ends Oct. 31, 2020.

Disorder by Israfel Sivad Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A truly unique memoir tells the story of a young writer who struggled with addiction and mental health, and found a way to overcome it all through love in author Israfel Sivad’s “Disorder”.

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The Synopsis

Disorder is the story of Michael Adams, the man behind the pen name, Israfel Sivad. At 37-years-old, Michael wasn’t sure any longer if he was hipstered out or truly beat. He was a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. He’d been in psych wards, and he’d spent almost a decade writing his second novel. But then, he found himself inspired in a whole new way. He believed he might be falling in love…

Disorder traces Michael’s experiences from a period of homelessness at the age of 32 through his battles with alcoholism and psychosis back to his birth in Southern California. Simultaneously, it weaves a tale of the relationship Michael is trying to build with his girlfriend, Pam.

In this story, the author develops a groundbreaking, nonlinear style that captures both the disjointed madness of psychosis and the natural rhythms of memory. He reveals the reality behind what many of us believe we would never be able to live through: drug addiction, alcoholism and psychotic breaks… and his ability to overcome those demons to discover love, even when it seemed he was already too damaged to let that emotion take hold.

The Review

The author does a fantastic job of conveying a powerfully painful and harsh period of time in their lives, using a non-linear style storytelling device to convey the author’s life. From memories of childhood having lost a grandfather and best friend to dark times living in and out of psych wards and the streets of Richmond, the author doesn’t hold back on the physical and mental toll his life took when he was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and the psychosis that he endured as well. 

The imagery really conveys the struggle the author had in his life to the reader, while the story between himself and Pam is the beginning of a path to redemption that anyone who is struggling in life can hang onto and see for themselves that the trials and tribulations in their life aren’t forever. While the writing style can change sometimes throughout the narrative of the author’s life, it adds to the allure and interest of the non-linear storytelling, making this a fascinating read.

The Verdict

Powerful, emotional, and a brilliant read, author Israfel Sivad’s “Disorder” is a truly one of a kind memoir both stylistically and intellectually, giving voice to the struggles of those with mental health struggles and addiction in a way that few have ever really captured before. Grab your copy on September 8th, 2020, and see for yourselves how this amazing author came to be.

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About the Author

Israfel Sivad is the founder of Ursprung Collective, which has been referred to as “fantastic brain food” on ReverbNation. His first novel, “Crossroads Blues”, has been compared to the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky (Palmetto Review). His second novel, “The Adversary’s Good News”, was a finalist for the 2016 Chanticleer Paranormal Book Award. His stories and poems have appeared in the Santa Fe Literary Review, The Stray Branch and Badlands Literary Journal. 

https://israfelsivad.com/

Weekly Comic Book Roundup #13

Justice League Dark, Volume 1: The Last Age of Magic

(Justice League Dark (2018) #1)

by James Tynion IVAlvaro Martinez (Illustrations), Daniel Sampere (Illustrations)

The Synopsis

The new Justice League Dark is here! Led by Wonder Woman this team of Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Man-Bat and Detective Chimp (?) must bring the fight against all supernatural foes too big for the World’s Greatest Super Heroes!

From the pages of JUSTICE LEAGUE: NO JUSTICE comes writer James Tynion IV’s epic new series JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK! Earth’s magic once belonged to them. Now they want the magic back. But who exactly are they? It’s up to the new Justice League Dark to find out and stop this nightmarish new threat at all costs! After the events of NO JUSTICE, Wonder Woman guides the misfit magic mix against enemies too fantastic even for the Justice League. Plus, what awful things are coming through the Tree of Wonder? Dark days ahead…

Written by James Tynion IV (Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) with phenomenal illustrations from Alvaro Martinez (Detective Comics), this bold new graphic novel series is one of the most anticipated in years! Collects issues #1-3 and 5-6.

The Verdict

A brilliant new dive into the world of magic for DC Comics, everything fans thought they knew about this world is turned upside down. The emergence of new magical threats, as well as the rules of magic being rewritten and magic’s origins all come into play here as Wonder Woman finds herself leading a team into a world she only partially understands. Shocking betrayals and amazingly horror-themed artwork make this a must-read for DC Comics fans.

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Old Lady Harley

(Old Lady Harley #1-5)

by Frank Tieri

The Synopsis

After liberating New York City from her now-feral Gang of Harleys, poor Harley wants nothing more than to slip back into retirement in her coastal (and heavily guarded) paradise. But the Laughing Boys Gang has another idea–they’ll follow her to the ends of the Earth, to drag her back to their leader!

If you think that’s a big problem, just wait. The Joker couldn’t possibly still be alive, could he? After all … Harley killed him with her bare hands! Should she turn to President Power Girl for help? Or flee to the 51st state, Atlantis? Step into an insane vision of a future DC Universe we all better hope we don’t live to see!

In this dystopian-future tale, Harley’s quest to find out how The Joker could possibly still be alive has taken her back to their old stomping grounds, but Gotham City is very different nowadays! Nobody’s allowed on the streets without the Batman’s permission–but who is this Batman, anyway? Harley’s only choice is to return to Arkham…the Arkham Home for Criminally Insane Retirees, that is! Fancy a round of bingo with the Riddler? Or some pool aerobics with Killer Croc? Collects Harley Quinn #42 (Rebirth Series) and Old Lady Harley #1-5

The Verdict

A hilarious and gritty dystopian future for the world of DC Comics, only a zany character like Harley Quinn could appropriately bring this story to life. Seeing the state of the world in this apocalyptic world is fascinating to see, with a nation of zombies on one side and a nation led by a villain on the other, the United States is in a state of chaos, and Harley must navigate it her way to find out if the Joker has truly returned. Dark secrets and shocking revelations await for this amazing series, with fantastic artwork that is reminiscent of Mad Max. 

The Hellblazer, Volume 1: The Poison Truth

(The Hellblazer (2016) #1)

by Simon Oliver (Writer), Moritat (Artist), Andre Szymanowicz (Colourist), Sal Cipriano (Letterer)

The Synopsis

John Constantine, the hard-hearted Hellblazer returns home to London to face an impossible choice: live an immortal life bonded to a demonic curse, or shift that curse to eight million people–killing each and every one of them! What to do, what to do…

The Hellblazer is back in the first volume of the continued story of one of DC’s most iconic and long-lasting characters by writer Simon Oliver (FBP) with art by Moriat (The Spirit).

CollectingHellblazer 1-6

The Verdict

A true testament to the character of John Constantine, the fantastic gothic artwork compliments the story of one of DC Comics most fascinating magical antiheroes. The story focuses on the character’s ability to con his way out of any situation, and the consequences that come as a result. A marvelous look at the delicate balance John walks between the real world and the magical one just beneath the surface. 

The Batman Who Laughs

(The Batman Who Laughs #1–7)

by Scott Snyder (Goodreads Author), James Tynion IVJock (Illustrator), Eduardo Risso (Illustrator), David Baron (Colorist)

The Synopsis

Left rattled by the events of Dark Knights: Metal, Bruce Wayne must come face to face with the ultimate evil spawned from the Dark Multiverse. One part Batman one part Joker. The Batman Who Laughs.

“A Batman who laughs is a Batman who always wins.”

The mastermind behind Dark Nights: Metal, Scott Snyder, gives you a look inside the most terrifying version of Batman ever! He and superstar artist Jock (Batman: The Black Mirror) kick off a chain of events that makes Dark Nights: Metal seem like child’s play.

The Batman Who Laughs not only survived his fight with The Joker at the end of Dark Nights: Metal, but is now enacting a sinister plan across the Multiverse–something both terrifying and oddly familiar. When Bruce Wayne realizes the only way to stop this madman is to kill him, he must consider violating the very rule Batman can’t ever break … the rule that created this insatiable villain–the Batman Who Laughs!

As Bruce begins to deduce that his current life is somehow wrong and that all the mistakes he’s made are somehow connected, the Batman Who Laughs unleashes a brand-new evil. Enter one of the most punishing Batmen of the Dark Multiverse: the Grim Knight!

Collects The Batman Who Laughs #1-7 and The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1.

The Verdict

This marks the next chapter of one of Batman’s darkest chapters. After the events of Dark Nights: Metal, Batman got a grim look at the darkest aspects of himself across the dark multiverse. However things aren’t what they seem, as the most evil of them all survived and is now haunting Batman and the DC Universe. The Batman Who Laughs is a fantastic and dark new edition to the DC Universe villains, and this story sets up several future storylines in the multiverse. 

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Thor, Vol. 1: God of Thunder Reborn

(Thor (2018) (Collected Editions) #1)

by Jason Aaron (Writer), Mike del Mundo (Illustrations), Christian Ward (Illustrations)

The Synopsis

LET SOUND THE CRY – THE GOD OF THUNDER HAS RETURNED! Thor Odinson has regained his mantle – and with it, a wild new world of trouble on his mighty hands! The artifacts of Asgard have been scattered across the Earth, and to reclaim them, Thor will have to face some ugly truths. Like the production cost on hundreds of new hammers! And the Thunder God is going to need every last one of them if he’s going to stop the unstoppable Juggernaut. Jason Aaron takes the Prince of Asgard in a whole new direction with YOUNG GUN artist Mike Del Mundo joining him at the helm! And don’t miss the latest chapter of the King Thor saga with acclaimed BLACK BOLT artist Christian Ward, as the Thor of the far future encounters an old friend who’s undergone some startling changes.

COLLECTING: THOR (2018) 1-6

The Verdict

A new era of Thor kicks off here with this original story that sees Thor and Loki on an adventure straight to Hel. With the War of the Realms nearly on them, the two brothers and adversaries must traverse Hel and find a way of stopping a fiery army hellbent on taking over the realm for themselves, all in the name of Malekith. Exploring Thor’s complex family and his path to reclaiming the mantle of Thor, this was a visually stunning and exciting read. 

Tony Stark: Iron Man, Vol. 1: Self-Made Man

(Tony Stark: Iron Man (Collected Editions) #1)

by Dan Slott (Text), Valerio Schiti (Illustrations), Gang Hyuk Lim (Illustrations)

The Synopsis

From the cusp of tomorrow’s dreams to the forefront of imagination, one man always soars on the cutting edge of adventure! You know his name. Everyone knows his name! Tony Stark is Iron Man. And Iron Man…is an idea. Always changing. Always evolving. Now Dan Slott and Valerio Schiti propel the ultimate self-made hero to new heights of inventiveness! But Tony has been holding back an enormous secret since his return, and there’s only one person on Earth he’d trust with it: James Rhodes?! This will change everything. Plus: Jocasta! Machine Man! The Gauntlet! The Wasp! The arrival of Tony Stark’s new rival…Sunset Bain! And the Manticore, the most powerful assault vehicle in the Marvel Universe! Tony Stark is Iron Man. The future is now. Strap in!

COLLECTING: TONY STARK: IRON MAN 1-5

The Verdict

Tony Stark is back! The new and improved Iron Man takes the world by storm as he adds new team members to his company and he begins his work as Iron Man once more. However his new lease on life comes with a cost, and he begins to question just how much of himself returned to the land of the living. A bustling new series that has a great focus on the tech side of the Marvel Universe, and the age old question of rights and morality for the AI heroes of the universe. 

The Immortal Hulk, Volume 1: Or is he Both?

(Immortal Hulk (Collected Editions) #1)

by Al EwingJoe Bennett

The Synopsis

THE RETURN OF BRUCE BANNER! You know Bruce Banner. He’s quiet, calm, never complains. He’s a man who believes he can use the darkest elements of his personality to do good in the world. If someone were to shoot him in the head… All he’d do is die. But the horror lives deeper. A horror that refuses to die. When night falls something other than the man gets up again. The horror is the Immortal Hulk. COLLECTING: IMMORTAL HULK 1-5, MATERIAL FROM AVENGERS: NO SURRENDER 684

The Verdict

The story of the Incredible Hulk returns to a more horror-centric story, as the Hulk gains a new persona in the Immortal Hulk. The many horror motifs are present throughout this comic, and it was refreshing to see Bruce Banner and the Hulk on the run, hitting the road much like he did in his early years. This was a fantastic first run in the new Hulk’s story.

Black Panther, Vol. 6: The Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda, Part One

(Black Panther (2016/2018) (Collected Editions) #6)

by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Text), Daniel Acuña (Illustrations), Jen Bartel (Illustrations)

The Synopsis

A bold new direction for the Black Panther! For years, T’Challa has kept foreign invaders out of his homeland, protecting his people from everything from meddling governments to long-lost gods. Now, he will discover that Wakanda is much bigger than he ever dreamed…across the vast Multiverse lies an empire founded in T’Challa’s name! Jump on now and learn the truth behind the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda! Ta-Nehisi Coates welcomes aboard fan-favorite artist Daniel Acuña for a Black Panther story unlike any other!

COLLECTING: BLACK PANTHER (2018) 1-6

The Verdict

First and foremost, I want to extend my deepest condolences to the late and great actor and the King himself, Chadwick Boseman, aka T’Challa of the MCU. It was a devastating loss to not only Marvel fans but the world and his family. My deepest sympathies to everyone impacted by this loss.

This comic does a great job of taking Black Panther and the lore of Wakanda into a whole new direction. A great blend that puts the world of Marvel Comics into a galactic setting like no other, the story behind how T’Challa found his way into a whole other galaxy is both fascinating and engaging. This is a story not to be missed in the Marvel Universe.

Amazing Spider-Man by Nick Spencer, Vol. 1: Back to Basics

(Amazing Spider-Man (2018) #1)

by Nick Spencer (Writer), Ryan Ottley (Illustrations)

The Synopsis

An alien invasion attacks New York City and the only one who can stop it is…Spider-Man?! But that’s far from all you’ll find here – a revelation from the past puts Peter Parker’s job, relationships and whole life in jeopardy! And if even that’s not enough, you’ll see a new roommate, new love interests and a new villain!

COLLECTING: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 1-5, FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2018 (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN STORY)

The Verdict

Back to Basics is an appropriate title for the brand new Spider-Man series. Peter Parker is back to his life as Spidey, and dealing with the complications as a result of it. Being framed as Wilson Fisk’s new buddy by the Mayor himself, all the heroes see Pete as a sell-out to one of New York’s worst villains. Meanwhile, Pete’s job is in jeopardy and his newest roommate is a shock even to himself. This is a great new start to one of Marvel’s most iconic heroes. 

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Venom by Donny Cates, Vol. 1: Rex

(Venom (2018) (Collected Editions) #1)

by Donny Cates (Writer), Ryan Stegman (Artist)

The Synopsis

An ancient and primordial evil has been awakened beneath the streets of New York. With it, something equally evil has been awakened in that most wicked of web-slingers: Venom! The symbiote may still be a Lethal Protector of innocents in New York, but this never-before-seen threat could possibly force Venom to relinquish everything it holds dear — including its human host, Eddie Brock! As Eddie and Venom summon the strength to defend New York against the most powerful foe they’ve ever faced, there’s one more thing standing in their way: Miles Morales, Spider-Man! Two of the hottest creators in comics today, Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman, join forces to deliver a Venom adventure a thousand years in the making!

COLLECTING: VENOM (2018) 1-6

The Verdict

The origin story of Venom and the Symbiotes takes a dark and cosmic turn as the true nature of this alien race is revealed. As Eddie Brock bonds with his symbiote once more, he discovers that an ancient and powerful force deriving from the Symbiote’s origins is awake, and is setting it’s sights for Earth. He must fight to stop this powerful force before everything is consumed by the coming of a dark god. A gritty and twisted new spin on the Venom mythos. 

Absolute Carnage

(Absolute Carnage (Collected Editions))

by Donny CatesRyan Stegman (Illustrations)

The Synopsis

After turning Venom’s world upside down a year ago, DONNY CATES and RYAN STEGMAN are about to put the Sinister Symbiote through hell again, only this time CARNAGE has come calling, and everyone who’s ever worn a symbiote is dead in his sights! He’s skirted the periphery of the Marvel Universe for months, but Cletus Kasady at last stands poised to make his grand return to New York in a blistering, action-packed story…and he wants to paint the town red! And there’s NOTHING anyone can do to stop it!

COLLECTING: Absolute Carnage 1-5 

The Verdict

One of Marvel’s deadliest and most terrifying crossover events in recent years was also one of its best. The development of the Venom/Carnage mythos is fascinating to see unfold, and treating the Carnage event like a more terrifying zombie apocalypse was an inspired choice. Definitely a must-read for Marvel fans. 

Occupy Avengers, Vol. 1: Taking Back Justice

(Occupy Avengers #1-4)

by David F. Walker (Writer), Carlos Pacheco (Penciler), Rafael Fonteriz (Inker), Sonia Oback (Colourist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)

The Synopsis

Super heroes – they’re a privileged class. Doing what they want, when they want, and suffering no consequences. They have no regard for the ordinary people who are left behind to suffer in their wake. Who will stand up for the little guy? There is a man. If you can find him, and if he believes in your story, he and his friends will put things right. Some call him an outlaw, rebel, Robin Hood. To others, he is a hero. No powers to speak of – just skills, smarts and a burning drive to take back justice. The man’s name is Hawkeye. He doesn’t look for trouble, but trouble finds him – and he’ll quickly drag Western hero Red Wolf into it as well! It’s a shame that they’re facing certain death; they would have made a great team.

COLLECTING: Occupy Avengers 1-4 and Avengers (1963) 80-8

The Verdict

A refreshing new vision for the famed archer and classic Avenger, Hawkeye gets to hit the road and become a new kind of hero. Righting wrongs wherever he goes, he seeks to make a difference for those who have no one to fight for them, all while being haunted by his slaying of his friend Bruce Banner during the Civil War II events. It’s a great introduction for some new heroes like Red Wolf and a great new direction for Clint Barton overall. 

A-Force, Volume 1: Hypertime

(A-Force (Collected Editions) #1)

by G. Willow Wilson (Goodreads Author) (Writer), Kelly Thompson (Goodreads Author), Marguerite BennettJorge Molina (Artist), Jim Cheung (Illustrator)

The Synopsis

What do you do when a sentient cosmic event rampages through Japan? ASSEMBLE A-FORCE! Marvel’s newest hero, SINGULARITY, has escaped Battleworld and found her way to the Marvel Universe! But she didn’t make the journey alone. To combat the villainous ANTIMATTER, Singularity will call upon Earth’s mightiest team of Avengers. And one thing’s for sure: They are A FORCE to be reckoned with!

CollectingA-Force 1-4, Avengers 83, A-Force 1, material from Avengers 0 

The Verdict

A fantastic new direction for some of Marvel’s most powerful female heroes. The dynamic between characters like She-Hulk and Medusa are fascinating to see unfold here, and the new hero Singularity is a great new character to include in the Marvel Universe. Beautiful artwork and a much deserved all-female heroic team make this a must-read comic. 

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Falcon: Take Flight

(Falcon (2017) #1-8)

by Rodney BarnesJosh Cassara (Illustrations)

The Synopsis

LEGACY! In the wake of SECRET EMPIRE, Sam Wilson has laid down the shield and taken to the sky once again! Reborn and recommitted, THE FALCON takes flight on a personal mission to reconnect with the American people and train his new partner THE PATRIOT. But when a gang war overtakes the streets of Chicago, Sam finds himself stuck in the middle of a situation far more dangerous than he could’ve imagined-one with its roots in an unexpected corner of the Marvel Universe! COLLECTING: FALCON 1-5

The Verdict

A brilliant follow-up to the events of Secret Empire, the personal journey of Sam Wilson and the anger he harbors for the betrayal he felt after Steve Rodgers (actually a faux-Rodgers at the time) led a HYDRA invasion. With the true Steve Rodgers returned as Captain America, Sam begins his life as Falcon once more. Introducing the character to the world of the supernatural while also showcasing the racial tension and violence in our world today made this an instant must-read for Marvel fans.

Blackacre Rising (Ivy Spires #2) by John C. Adams Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Loyalties will be tested and lines will be crossed as the fight for humanity wages on in author John C. Adams’ latest entry in the Ivy Spires dystopian series, “Blackacre Rising”. 

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The Synopsis

From Horror Tree reviewer and double Aeon Award Longlister John C Adams comes a disturbing tale of scientific experimentation and sadistic cruelty. The sequel to ‘Souls For The Master’, ‘Blackacre Rising’ features a stunning cover by Fiona Jayde Media.

Leaving the chaos erupting in the Metropolis behind, Gerald speeds north to his cousin Brett Flint’s farmhouse, Blackacre. He is certain that their vehicle is being followed, but returning to the capital with Don and Ivy is simply too risky now that Janus Fidens has taken over the Resistance and declared the pair to be outlaws who have betrayed the Revolution. Arriving at Blackacre, Gerald begs Brett and his wife Radclyffe to shelter Ivy and Don under their roof without asking too many questions about why his young companions have had to flee to the sparsely populated uplands and need their presence there kept secret.

Distraught at saying goodbye to Gerald, Ivy admits how much she has come to care for him since they have been battling the authorities together. They snatch a few moments alone together to say a private farewell before Gerald drives back to the capital, hoping to persuade Janus to drop his pursuit of Ivy and Don. En route, Gerald is followed by the same car that tailed them northwards. Lured into stopping to assist at the site of a road traffic accident, the trainee surgeon is captured and transported to a shadowy underground scientific research facility, where he is disturbed to discover that Sinister Tungsten, sister to his arch nemesis Hendra, awaits him.

In the Blackacre library, Don is welcomed by the Seven. This mysterious group includes the Master he fought to defeat down in the Metropolis, five other strange figures with bizarre powers and, of course, the malignant farmhouse itself. Brett, Radclyffe and their twin baby sons reside in the oddest place Don has ever encountered. He reluctantly agrees to become involved in the Seven’s project to assassinate Dr Luther Honigbaum, who funds the facility where Gerald is being held prisoner and runs the asylum in Austria which supplies its young female test subjects.

Learning how to transport herself from one location to another shocks Ivy. Unlike Don, who has wielded great power his whole life, her skills as an assassin are more practical in nature, and she worries that having shifted safely to Austria she’ll be unable to return safely. Finally, she is ready to undertake her mission to kill the evil man behind the gruesome experiments that serve no purpose other than to gratify the rampant cruelty of Honigbaum and his acolytes.

Meanwhile, the Seven show Don another facility, this time in Antarctica, where equally cruel experiments take place upon men. When the Seven tell him he is too young to witness exactly what it taking place, he uses his unique powers to advance his age by three years so that he is now eighteen. He gladly sacrifices a part of his natural life to rescue the men kept prisoner there and tormented by sadistic experiments with no scientific value whatsoever.

Arriving in Austria, Ivy is horrified to discover that her cover is already blown and Honigbaum lies in waiting for her. He has a sinister agenda of his own and will stop at nothing to eliminate anyone who resists both his sadistically cruel medical research and his repulsive sexual advances. When Brett Flint’s cousin Henry turns up at Ubersneller, Honigbaum locks him up in one of his asylums high up in the mountains to ensure his silence. He has particularly dark designs on Ivy, and is determined that her close friendship with Don will enable him to reach out to his estranged son. Drugged and forced to comply, Ivy is young enough to provide the ageing Honigbaum with everything he wishes. Gerald’s imprisonment ends when Sinistra’s elder sister Hendra returns and the authorities brutally re-establish law and order, but he is no safer with her than with her sibling.

The Review

A truly gripping, intense, and engaging dystopian sci-fi read. The author does a brilliant job of creating a large mythos in this dystopian world rich with a multitude of main and side characters that readers will be able to both loathe and root for. 

Although I had not read the first book in the series, the author writes in a way that allows readers both new and established to be able to delve into this new narrative, as the central characters find themselves split up and fighting brutal battles all on their own. Each finds their path fraught with horrifying trials and monstrous adversaries, all while their own abilities grow and develop over time. 

The story really benefits from a strong character arc for the central protagonists and antagonists. This lengthy read delves into the hardships and struggles each character undertakes in this world divided by class and exposed to horrors unlike anything seen before. In the midst of powers and action, the author really brings about complex characters that readers can identify and support throughout this narrative.

The Verdict

A must-read dystopian sci-fi thriller, author John C. Adams’ “Blackacre Rising” is a fantastic sequel in the Ivy Spires series. Emotionally driven character arcs and action-packed scenes all come together under strong mythology and ends on a cliffhanger that will leave readers wanting more. Be sure to preorder your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I’m a non-binary author and critic of fantasy and horror.

I review for Schlock! Webzine, the British Fantasy Society and Horror Tree, as well as placing reviews and articles across a wide range of blogs and magazines.

I have a Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Newcastle University. I’ve been a Contributing Editor for Albedo One Magazine and the Aeon Award since 2016. Before that, I was a Submissions Reader with them.

My debut horror novel, ‘Souls for the Master’, is 99c on Smashwords retailers and 99p on Kindle. Likewise, my debut fantasy novel, ‘Aspatria’, is 99c on Smashwords retailers and 99p on Kindle. The sequel to ‘Aspatria’, ‘Dagmar of the Northlands’, is out now on Kindle and Smashwords retailers.

Although I write mostly long fiction, since 2015 I have had stories published in anthologies from Horrified Press, Lycan Valley Press, Fantasia Divinity and Jersey Pines Ink. My short stories have also been published in the Horror Zine, Swords & Sorcery, Sirens Call, Blood Moon Rising, Lovecraftiana and various other magazines.

Every emerging writer needs plenty of encouragement right at the start, and entering lots of competitions early on made a real difference to my confidence to press on with writing longer fiction and think about submitting short fiction to magazines and anthologies in due course. In 2012, I was longlisted for the International Aeon Award Short Fiction Contest for ‘The Visitors’ and again in 2013 for ‘We Can Finish Your Baby’s Brain For You’. My writing was also recognised by the Enrico Charles Literary Award (runner up in 2012) and by the University of Winchester Writers’ Conference in both 2012 and 2013, including a Commendation in the First Three Pages of a Novel category, and other nominations in poetry and short fiction.

I read PPE at Somerville College, and I am a non-practising solicitor. I live in rural Northumberland, UK, and I combine my career as an author and critic with raising my kids and caring for a severely disabled relative. I’m always busy!

http://johncadams.wix.com/johnadamssf

Twitter: johncadamssf

Unchecked Capitalism is Killing Us!: How unfettered corporate greed and corruption have made us poorer, fatter, sicker, less tolerant of others and more dangerously exposed to the coronavirus by Earl B. Rynerson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Earl B. Rynerson takes readers on a journey to discover how capitalism and greed have utilized eight different industries to impact our health and way of life in the book “Unchecked Capitalism is Killing Us!: How unfettered corporate greed and corruption have made us poorer, fatter, sicker, less tolerant of others and more dangerously exposed to the coronavirus”. 

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The Synopsis

This book shows in detail how eight specific industries (banks, health care, processed foods/sugar, autos, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, military contractors and the media) have harmed us over the years, driven by their greed and quest for profits. For example, did you know that:-Drug companies and their lobbyists actually wrote government legislation in 2002 that gave them the unlimited ability to raise future prices on medications? -A Supreme Court ruling in 2010 essentially destroyed our democracy by allowing the wealthy and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on bribing and funding politicians.-There are over 100,000 different lobbyists in Washington today, each one trying to control our elected representatives with cash and bribes!-Our US defense budget today is larger than the next nine largest countries’ defense budgets, combined!-Our healthcare is a mess. All hospitals are profit driven. A trip to a hospital today can bankrupt even those of us who are insured.-Until Tesla came along, auto companies were content to produce essentially the same type of polluting car with the same gasoline mileage as the Model T. -There are eight specific US institutions that could normally help protect us during a pandemic. But unchecked capitalism (coupled with corporate greed) has infected all eight institutions, enabling the virus to infect more people here than anywhere else in the world.The problem is much worse than you realize…

The Review

This was a well-written, detailed, and focused book. The author does a great job of outlining a long list of industries and history that showcases how greed and corporations have wormed their way into American politics and have led to some of the most damaging effects on the American people. 

What really stood out to me as a reader is that the author utilizes a long career of experience without approaching the subject from either a Democrat or Republican Party viewpoint, instead of taking a non-partisan approach to this subject to find the root of the issue no matter what. 

While I myself am not well-versed in economics and the gritty world of politics as a whole, it was refreshing to see the author’s study of so many different industries that have an impact on the average American’s health, finances and so much more. Living in the world we do have right now, the growing pandemic has left many wondering why our nation is failing so badly in stopping this virus in its tracks, and this book highlights the decades of corporate greed that are now preventing the right measures to come forward and help stop this from getting worse than it already is. 

The Verdict

A must-read non-fiction related book that delves into both American politics and finances while also detailing the various industries and the issues that plague them, allowing readers to easily understand how unchecked capitalism is affecting us all. The author’s years of experience and the references utilized her showcase a well-researched book that drives the author’s excellent points home. If you haven’t yet grab your copy of this spectacular and fascinating read today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Why I wrote this book-

I started this examination of unchecked capitalism back in 2018 after I began hearing of all the corruption, lying and cheating that Wells Fargo Bank had been engaged in with their clients. What I found was that not only Wells Fargo, but all of the largest banks had for years been engaged in many of the same offenses, including even money laundering!

Curious, I started looking at other industries. Of course, the pharmaceutical Industry and the Healthcare Industry are huge examples of how unchecked capitalism has directly harmed us and our families, with health insurance that is too costly and drugs that are ten times or more the price that other nations pay. Hospitals, insurance companies and “Big Pharma” pocket billions of dollars in profits annually from us. They pay their executives huge salaries that are tens of millions of dollars annually, with stock options and bonuses that make their income even higher. We, on the other hand, have to decide whether to pay for rent, our medications or even if we can afford to go to the hospital.

But it’s not just those industries. Processed Foods/Sugar, Oil and Gas, the Auto Industry, the Defense Industry, even the Media, are all examples of how major industries (and those huge corporations within those industries), regularly cheat and lie to us, bribe those who are supposed to represent us, and regularly make our lives miserable, all the while pocketing hundreds of billions of dollars in profits every year that they often move offshore, paying little to no taxes.

Over a two-year period, I researched and maintained files of hundreds of examples of corporate corruption. I found that what you will often hear or read (in snippets about certain companies lying, cheating or engaged in other illegal activity) is actually a flood of corruption that has been going on for more than 20 years, activity that huge corporations (with their billions in profits and thousands of dedicated paid lobbyists) engage in to lobby Congress and to bribe our elected representatives. It is such a powerful force today that our own government is unable to stop or even regulate what is going on.

When you hear “We need to lower our taxes and reduce regulation“, it is simply a manipulative statement made up by the corporate elite decades ago to get the average American voter into a mindset that ends up weakening our government and increases our national debt. The taxes they are referring to are corporate taxes. These behemoths could care less about the taxes that you or I pay; they only care about taxes that they have to pay. Their tax rates by the way, are a fraction of the rates that you or I pay today. They are a fraction of the rates businesses once paid in the 1950s and 1960s, taxes which enabled our nation then to build roads, schools and airports and provide meals and services to the less fortunate. In many cases today some of the biggest corporations pay no tax at all!

The regulations they refer to are regulations that were put in place (usually by a bipartisan and thoughtful effort within Congress), to insure that businesses play fair with each other, and don’t provide products that kill us. Those are the regulations they want abolished and are the regulations they are constantly trying to get reduced or modified. Doing so will make them even more profitable which will enable them to spend even more money on corporate lobbyists.

For the record, I believe in capitalism over any other form of government, but we have allowed capitalism to get out of hand in America. When lobbyists for special interest groups and corporations start writing legislation and telling our elected representatives to “Pass it or else”; when the corporate heads spend tens of millions of dollars in bribes to get their chosen sycophant selected to run a major Federal Department (when they know nothing about that department), well, that’s capitalism run amok. Our government needs to be free of this incessant lobbying and the uncontrolled flood of corporate money flowing into Washington. We MUST take back control of our Democracy!

Who am I? I am an American-

I am a former Democrat, then Republican and now Independent. But today, I avoid affiliating myself with any political party. They all feel dirty. Political parties today do very little for the American People; they have succumbed to the will and the greed of of special interests, and corporations with their billions of dollars in profits and thousands of lobbyists. Politicians from both main parties have run our nation into the ground over the last 30 years, with our national debt now approaching (or even exceeding!) 30 TRILLION DOLLARS!

That’s why I call myself an American, not a Republican or Democrat. I choose to think of today’s issues as to how they affect the poorest among us. If we can help the poorest, then the rest of us will benefit as well. If we can start to think of what we can do to help others among us, instead of continually bashing those from the other political party, well, then maybe we can overcome some of our pettiness and focus on the real problems today, problems caused by unchecked capitalism and how those forces control how we live our lives today. It doesn’t matter which political party you think you are a member of; you are being harmed every day by the forces of greed and corruption coming from unchecked capitalism.

My background-

I am a retired Air Force Lt. Col. (I served in the military for 20 years), a small business owner for 17 years, Professorial Lecturer in MBA studies for Business Management and Marketing in San Francisco, and have been active in writing about problems that affect those around me. Back in 1999, I wrote and placed on the ballot in San Francisco a measure to stop handing out cash to the City’s addicts and alcoholics. While it didn’t pass then, it was dusted off a few years later by then City Supervisor Gavin Newsom who was able to get his measure passed. It helped him become Mayor of San Francisco, then Governor of California.

For years (2006 to 2015), I wrote a local blog about the wasteful spending in the City of Fort Lauderdale; millions of dollars spent every year on non-essential items rather than on improving the City’s aging infrastructure. Now, with budget cutbacks, the City now has to pay for repairs of numerous sewer and water breaks that are plaguing residents today.

My efforts to expose the dangers of unchecked capitalism in this book are similar to my efforts to expose the problems of handing out city cash to addicts and alcoholics, or the problems of wasting money on nonessential city services while letting the infrastructure rot. It’s the same effort, except my writings now are about a national problem, not a city problem.

The problem is worse than you think and getting worse every year. You will see how bad the national problem has become by reading my book. You will also see what steps you can take to start to better control the problem.

What do I want to do next?

My next book? I think I would like to write about the “Forgotten Generation”; those men and women aged 40 to 70 who lost their well-paying blue collar manufacturing jobs in small and medium sized towns in New England, the South and the Midwest 20 years ago due to Clinton’s “Free Trade Agreement” with China.

Once our government signed that horrible agreement with China, corporations fell all over themselves to close up their manufacturing facilities here, abandoning their workers. They instead moved offshore to find cheaper labor in China. Those Americans who previously were able to support themselves and their families with honest and reliable work suddenly had no job; they usually were left economically stranded, often bankrupt, depressed and often times addicted to pain killers and other drugs to mask their depression. That heartbreaking scenario has happened to millions of American families over the last 20 years.

Those folks remember what “Achieving the American Dream” had meant to their parents and grandparents, and are bitter and angry now. They have every right to be angry. Our country has abandoned them. They are having to work two or more low paying service jobs just to keep food on the table; trying to stay out of the hospital for fear of becoming bankrupt; trying to ration their medications due to the cost; often not having healthy food available to eat and watching themselves become obese. And all the while they see their country slowly rot and go into deeper debt while their elected leaders scream at and blame each other on national television..

This is what our nation has become. It is frankly, embarrassing and shameful.

So if you know of someone who has a story to tell about their troubles and how our country has abandoned them, please let me know!

My email address is: Bonneau@capitalismiskillingus.com.

Earl B. Rynerson

July 4, 2020