HE WHO LEADS, an e-book by M.A.N.

Fifteen year old Amare, as the oldest son of the Akachi Clan, becomes the leader when his father insists he leave off fighting and go save the clan while he continues to battle fearsome demons who eventually kill him. He takes over his leadership role and almost immediately makes costly, leadership/political mistakes. He constantly faces tremendous odds in battling other clans with mysterious magical talents of his own and those exhibited by members of other clans and more demons who ‘cannot die’. But gradually he manages to bumble through with the help of a very intelligent warrior wife, her even more intelligent younger brother, his warrior mother, and most assuredly from his childhood friend, Ime.

Reviewing this book provides something of a challenge. The style of writing is quite unique but often confusing, especially when determining who is telling the story and the shifts that occur from the present to an earlier event, often by adding further detail. But the challenge arises largely from a section “About the author” because as just described, this book, along with others he has published all appear to offer stories in the “action-adventure fantasy” genre. I have not read any of the others but the section explains that “M.A.N. is an aspiring entrepreneur that uses his creative writing and original ideas as an outlet to express his imaginative vision. M.A.N. uses his discipline and experiences to provide a world of fun, and at times deep thought for the reader.” The provision of “fun” is evident in this offering. Additionally, the stress placed upon the importance of preparation and inclusion of mental activity in war, as well as other activities, is an obvious plus for young minds. Regrettably, I was not able to discern any ‘deeper meaning’ from the stated “(he) uses his creative writing and original ideas as an outlet to express his imaginative vision” and “ … his discipline and experiences to provide … at times deep thought for the reader.” My disappointment in not finding a deeper level may result from my misinterpretation and greater expectations or possiblely simply an inability to do so.

Conclusion: Primarily the author presents an excellent fantasy adventure with a plot that is relatively cohesive and moves at a fine pace with wildly fanciful action figures indulging in just as well-described and lengthy battle scenes. As such, it is exactly the type of story that should appeal greatly to young teens. Beyond this, the reader’s expectations raised by the author’s note may be rather disappointing.

4* Fantasy adventure for young teens; questionable for other readers as described.

Sketches of a Black Cat

Sketches of a Black Cat ISBN: 9781535054881 Riverdale Press, a biography by Ron Miner.

This is the “Story of a night flying WW II pilot and artist” written by his son in a forthright manner. It chronicles the daily experiences of his father and the group of men who participated heroically in the largely unknown and little recognized but extremely necessary activities of disrupting enemy supply lines and rescue of downed flyers at sea. Occasionally additional bombing of enemy targets and similar duties also were assigned. And because their ‘flying boat’ PBY’s were not easily maneuverable and of slow airspeed, their missions were flown almost exclusively at night throughout the Pacific. The author states: “This book is built primarily around my father’s words and writings and gleaned from his extensive collection of documents, news clippings, war records, and keepsakes. My aim has been to remain true to his voice…” He departs from this only where: “I felt a particular reference or anecdote might benefit from additional clarification, expanding, or the simple weaving in of a little history for context. Where this required research, I have tried to include and give credit to those sources.”

This is a biography where, unlike many, it has been relatively well written and paced so it reads like a novel and provides recall of action associated with names such as Tinian, Guadalcanal, Peleliu, Tarawa, Leyte and more for those few who remember, and an introduction for those who are interested in the history of the early days of war in the Pacific Theatre and a little remembered part of aviation. A few unfortunate parts of the presentation are that the pictures often are difficult to see and fewer than expected and a disconcerting concurrent presentation of a caption often running alongside of the main dialogue. Otherwise, you will not be disappointed.

4* Biography that reads like a novel but with minor disappointments