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PlayDHD: Permission to Play; A Prescription for Adults with ADHD

Kirsten Milliken. Bookbaby, $5.99 trade paper (146p) ISBN 978-0-9970045-0-2

When psychologist Milliken realized that she had ADHD, she set out to improve her personal and professional life by observing how play affected her attention. She incorporated what she learned into her work with ADHD clients and now shares these discoveries in this entertaining guide. She examines studies that indicate symptoms of ADHD may result from low, premature, or inefficient dopamine transmission in the brain, resulting in lower engagement in unrewarding activities. While acknowledging that multiple approaches to alleviating ADHD’s symptoms exist, she favors increasing the space for play in one’s life, on the basis that it activates reward pathways in the brain, enabling people with ADHD to pay attention for longer periods of time. Milliken begins by comprehensively addressing what ADHD is, giving detailed explanations of its possible causes and known symptoms, before delving deep into the origins of play and why it is beneficial. She then breaks down the remaining chapters into stages of approaching play: cultivating a playful mindset, looking back at key “fun” memories from childhood and beyond, understanding what “play personality” type you are, and generating a prolific and sustainable “playlist” for all realms of life. This book is a must for those with ADHD and their loved ones. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Longest Road: The Whinburg Township Amish

Adina Senft. Moonshell Books, $4.99 e-book (360p) ISBN 978-1-939087-49-2

Senft’s (Balm of Gilead) novel begins on a late November day 13 years ago, with two little Amish girls and their older brother Samuel going walnut picking. When Samuel runs into friends and becomes distracted, the young girls disappear, never to be seen again. Samuel cannot recover from his guilt and abandons his home and the Amish community, leaving their mother, Rebecca Riehl, with three empty place settings at her dinner table “until God in his wisdom and mercy did bring them back.” Meanwhile Megan and Ashley Pearson grow up thinking they have no connection to the missing girls, but Megan is plagued by nightmares that indicate a mystery in her past. While Ashley is eager to enter college, Megan spends her days gaming and working at a coffee bar. The girls’ identity is divulged early in the book, with their mother, Janet, revealing where they were found in the woods; faced with this newfound truth, Megan is eager to hit the road to discover their true family while Ashley reluctantly comes along. In this first book of a new series, Senft, a prolific author of 36 books, has crafted an appealing tale of searching for one’s true identity. There is also an interesting study of the two mothers and how they have coped—one with her loss, the other with her guilt, and the role of faith in that process. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Christmas Tree Keeper

Tamara Passey. Winter Street, $12.99 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-0-9909840-6-1

Angela Donovan, the heroine of Passey’s innocuous debut contemporary, is a single mother, down on her luck but anxious to make Christmas memorable for her eight-year-old daughter, Caroline. When Angela and her daughter visit a local Christmas tree farm, they meet the elderly owner, who promises that each of his trees comes with a miracle; this delights Caroline but annoys her skeptical mother. Angela is mortified when someone pays for her tree and suspects Mark Shafer, the heir to the tree farm. But Mark has problems of his own: he is interested in a music career, and he and his lovely girlfriend do not want the burden of inheriting the farm, but negotiating with a developer distresses his family and makes him feel guilty. When things get worse for both Angela and Mark, their unexpected friendship helps them find their faith and weather some challenging times. Readers can do better in the annual pilgrimage for holiday stories: the family tree farm provides a piquant setting, but the main characters come across as self-centered and one dimensional, and even a Christmas miracle doesn’t render them very appealing. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Destiny Lingers

Rolanda Watts. iUniverse, $27.95 (266p) ISBN 978-1-4917-6864-8

When Destiny Newell Nelson finds strands of red hair on her husband’s pillow, she immediately suspects that he is having an affair with their friend Eve. Before she can confront him, the stresses of her job as a television journalist send her from Harlem to her childhood summer home on Topsail Island, N.C., where her aunt Joy is waiting with comfort and her parents with criticism. Amid the wreckage of her marriage and the strains of dealing with family, Destiny reconnects with Chase McKenzie, her childhood crush, who’s now the town’s chief of police, and does her best to decide what she wants out of life. Her parents, who were two of Topsail Island’s first black residents, think Destiny should steer clear of Chase, who’s white; she retorts that it’s not his fault he “grew up the poor boy of racist parents.” The narrative is one of self-discovery more than romance; Destiny’s emotional connections are the basis of the plot, but her relationship with her parents is given as much weight as her relationships with her husband and Chase. Occasionally inconsistent characterizations and oddly stilted dialogue are forgivable in Watts’s debut, since it so powerfully depicts racism and classism, as well as love lost and regained. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Kingmaker: A Powerplay Novel

Selena Laurence. CP Writes, $3.99 e-book (249p) ASIN B01BXUKUMS

Finely tuned political intrigue meets intense sexual chemistry when Washington, D.C., power broker Derek Ambrose catches presidential candidate Jason Melville, one of his clients, having too good a time with London Sharpe, a high-priced escort. Derek is willing to pay a bundle to convince London to stay out of Jason’s life, but soon Derek is obsessing over her himself. She’s happy to take the money and run, since a scandal could ruin her own carefully constructed double life. No one in London’s social circle knows where her money comes from, and in order to stay in business she needs to keep it that way. So when a reporter learns that London spent an afternoon in Jason’s hotel suite, everybody has a lot to lose, and there is only one way to save the day. Laurence’s tightly woven story is a superb mix of sexual and political tension that’s certain to please fans of both. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Auckland Allies

Mike Reeves-McMillan. C-Side Media, $2.99 e-book (171p) ASIN B01694XVP6

The first installment in seasoned fantasy author Reeves-McMillan’s new series is a fun romp through a supernatural Auckland, New Zealand. Tara, a maker of magical items, and Sparx, her nerdy magic practitioner compatriot, have tried to live their lives out of the public eye, but when one of Tara’s customers, Sally, begins to use Tara’s devices and her own psychic powers to win big at gambling, she raises the ire of the wrong people. Soon, the trio are enmeshed in a plot concocted by demonologists to summon an unstoppable demon force. Tara, Sparx, and Sally are as entertaining as they are flawed, and they continue to grow as the tale progresses. An exorbitant amount of exposition brings the reader up to speed but slows down the plot. The popular culture references are heavy-handed and take color away from the adventure rather than adding to it. Reeves-McMillan does attempt to refresh the urban fantasy genre by moving it to the Antipodes, but the novel still feels like a familiar retread of well-established territory. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Beyond the Mist

Ben Zwycky. Sci Phi Productions, , $2.99 ISBN 978-0-9945163-0-5

The setting of a colonized planet in the far future doesn’t quite fit this story centered on Christian values, free will, redemption, forgiveness, and repressive roles for women. Zephyr Walker had his memory wiped. He falls through a mist yearning to learn the truth of his past, and trusts a white-suited man covered in light to show him the way out. He is told that the choices he makes from now on are what matter. His first trial is avoiding lustful temptation in a savage tribal wilderness. He then must choose between safety in a peaceful village or following a tunnel into a city where he will be reeducated in the ways of civilized life. All the while he is puzzled by the memory wipe, asking how he can learn from his mistakes if he doesn’t remember what they are, but when someone offers him a memory refresh, he questions whether the past should remain hidden. The fascinating premise eventually lags as Zwycky (Nobility Among Us) exacerbates uneven plotting with long-winded descriptions; one-dimensional characters; women whose only goals involve cooking, marriage, and babies; and a detour into a whodunit. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Latency Paradox of Barret Trufflehard

Ultra Kwon. CreateSpace, $15.99 trade paper (276p) ISBN 978-1-515-02940-3

When Inspector Amelia Pillowspoon tells Eldridge Kane, Lord Chief Executive Officer of the Ekonomy, “We’re all feeling the Latency Paradox of Milton Grainjar,” Eldridge is as baffled as the reader. Still, Kwon’s debut is wonderfully imaginative, clever, and funny in a madcap, just-go-with-it sort of way. Protagonist Milton Grainjar, a disgruntled employee of the XYZ government agency, lives to track down members of the secretive and illegal Jade Association, who (mercifully offscreen) eat babies and sacrifice virgins. But it’s not clear who are the true Jadeites—or who Grainjar is. Kwon’s knack for giggle-worthy names and inventive gizmos (a plutonizer, the Zwylx Q-Ten gurgle machine) work well with mild romance and themes that include totalitarianism, rival dystopias, and the true purpose of Grainjar’s blighted life. The plot doesn’t entirely make sense, but the book is a fun read, and comic fantasy fans will look forward to more adventures in this world. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Outreach Committee

C.L. Woodhams. Woodhams, $14.95 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-0-9908924-0-3

Woodhams (Sweet Justice) capably crafts a tale of vengeance with a clever central concept. Since Mora Rey’s abusive husband died years ago in a skiing accident, she’s gone from being a belittled and controlled wife to doing empowering work at Los Angeles’s Battered Women’s Escape Foundation, which assists women fleeing from their dangerous husbands and rebuilding their lives. Yet Mora knows from experience that sometimes a more final solution is in order. She launches the Outreach Committee, helping victims like her colleague and friend Carol Ewald to escape their husbands by staging “accidents” like the one that took her own. As Mora and Carol gain confidence in their services, logistical and psychological complications arise. Unfortunately, Woodhams’s heavy-handed focus on the ubiquity of marital violence begins to overshadow the more subtle features of the story, such as the tender interactions between domestic abuse survivors. Male characters come across as cartoonish villains, lessening the impact of the violence. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Land Uncharted

Keely Brooke Keith. Edenbrooke Press, $12.99 trade paper (310p) ISBN 978-0-692-26751-6

The simple life of physician Lydia Colburn expands with the introduction of an enigmatic stranger in Keith’s (Aboard Providence) chaste Christian romance that insufficiently blends science fiction with Amish-style culture. In 2025, a world war rages over natural resources. Navy pilot Lt. Connor Bradshaw ejects and parachutes into the Land, an isolated, pre-industrial island in the South Atlantic Ocean. The settlers are descendants of pioneers who left America in 1861 and maintained a society of horse and buggy and prairie dresses. Unfortunately, it’s also a society in which Lydia fears that her reputation will be destroyed because of deranged stalker Frank Roberts. Meanwhile, Connor embraces his peaceful new life and virtuous courtship of Lydia. He also encourages local inventors to stop experimenting with electricity, so the outside world won’t discover the Land and its abundant fresh water. Science fiction elements intrude on the idyllic life of the villagers adding little to the story of a peaceful people and their homespun troubles. An inadequate background for Connor leaves his character and his quick adoption of the Land incomplete. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 08/19/2016 | Details & Permalink

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