Parabellum by Greg Hickey: A Book Review by Christina Knowles

After finishing Our Dried Voices by Greg Hickey, which I very much enjoyed, I was excited to receive his new book, Parabellum, in exchange for an honest review. Parabellum (the title is brilliant) starts off with a massacre on a beach in Chicago, then flashes back one year, introducing us to four characters, one of whom we presume to be the mass shooter. This idea was very intriguing and had me instantly interested in these characters. What follows in the majority of the novel are the in-depth psychological studies of four potentially dangerous people and what might cause them to become a murderer. Unfortunately, a too-blatant clue eliminates one of the four right away, which I found immediately disappointing.

The characters are unnamed, which probably serves as a trope to present them as a kind of everyman, but for readability, I found it a bit more difficult to immerse myself in their stories because of this. We know them only as the student, the ex-athlete, the veteran, and the programmer, and their personalities and problems are given to us in detailed and poignant vignettes that are realistic and recognizable. I was able to empathize with all except the programmer, whom I found repugnant. As the lives of the four progress and come full circle back to the present, we are introduced to the victims of the beach massacre in what seems to be an attempt to humanize them and dramatize the event in greater depth. However, it’s too little, too late, and what we get is equivalent to a list of victims’ names and occupations we will not remember in five minutes’ time. While Hickey seems to have a strong understanding of the psyche and is clearly a talented writer, in this case, the end result is a somewhat engaging novel that starts out with a primal scream and suddenly peters out and ends with a disappointing and anti-climactic whimper. An original idea ends all too predictably, never doing justice to the incredible psychological insight of the previous chapters.

And though I was disappointed in the end, I still rather enjoyed the journey through the minds of these all too real characters. I definitely look forward to reading future novels by Greg Hickey. Three out of five stars for this one. —Christina Knowles

Trump’s Taxes Are a Legitimate Concern by Christina Knowles

We all know that Donald Trump lacks the basic qualifications to be president—intelligence, thoughtfulness, reflection, kindness, compassion, empathy, humility, morality, and human decency. We know he is a racist, a misogynist, an alleged rapist, a coward, and a liar. We also know that he is a business failure and a criminal, but now we have the documents that could prove it. The IRS has bought down many powerful men who committed tax fraud, so it shouldn’t be hard to bring down a petty and unintelligent character like Trump.

But, it seems, Trump supporters believe that although he is a repugnant human being, he is a rich and successful businessman. They seem to be misled. Trump’s tax avoidance (which I’m sure will be upgraded to tax evasion) is something every American should find appalling and unacceptable. For those supporters who think Trump is just being a good businessman by taking advantage of tax loopholes, I don’t believe you are seeing the whole picture. First, if his golf courses and hotels are losing millions every year, they would not exist. It is more likely that he is embezzling funds from these businesses and pretending that they are losing money to avoid paying taxes. This is tax fraud and is definitely illegal.

Here’s what I know about claiming a loss from personal experience. I have a freelance writing business, and I am an independent author. My husband is a musician and receives royalties for his music. We have to be very careful taking any deductions related to our businesses because if we claim a loss more than a couple of times, the IRS considers the business a “hobby.” It sounds like Donald Trump has several expensive “hobbies.” Either that or he’s the worst businessman in history. Again, it’s obvious that he’s syphoning the money out of these businesses to support his lifestyle, and in addition, relying on debt to support the illusion of success.

The second thing you may be missing as a defender of Trump is that it’s immoral and unethical to be so privileged while relying on the poor and middle class to pay for your needs. These needs are the roads Trump drives on, the police he thinks he owns, the military he claims he’s expanded, and the Secret Service keeping him alive. We are paying for that. He pays for none of it. And don’t even mention the pittance he donates that is his salary. That doesn’t cover a fraction of the taxes he should be paying—it barely covers his and Melania’s haircuts.

The third thing you are possibly overlooking, Trump-excusers, is the fact that people who carry debt are national security risks. If Trump was a civilian employee on an army base, he would not be granted a security clearance because his debt makes him vulnerable to blackmail and bribery and temptations of illegal activities to relieve the debt. Hmmm, that might explain a few things about his relationship with several undesirable foreign leaders.

Look, I know you may not want to face these difficult facts, but it’s time to do the hard work and look at yourselves and your motivations. Do you care that your president is a criminal? Do you care that people who make $18000 a year pay more taxes than this spoiled, bloated wind bag who has never done an actual day of work in his life? You may think liberals want a free ride from the government. No, that would be Donald Trump. The real freeloader sits in the White House with a blank check.–Christina Knowles

My Brother’s Keeper

Disturbing the Universe

As a high school English teacher, I have my students write essays on controversial topics to teach persuasive argument.  It has come to my attention throughout discussions regarding various issues on which they are writing, that many of the next generation of voters are startlingly selfish, uncaring, and downright hostile to the idea of helping others. Of course, it is not true of all of them, but many of them express this hostility openly, and it scares me. Is this a result of the current political climate, in light of such hot-button topics as the Affordable Health Care Act, the increasing deficit, or the bleak outlook of the economic situation in America? Are they simply regurgitating frustrations voiced by discouraged and over-stressed parents?

Apparently, these students do not believe in helping the poor, the elderly, or the disadvantaged in any way. This lack of compassion made me curious as to…

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The Ezekiel Project by Christina Knowles

Final Book CoverShe knows a secret; he knows the future. Together they will expose the truth.

The Ezekiel Project by debut author, Christina Knowles–Wow, this was a ride and a half! A fast-paced, interesting, thought provoking, edge-of-your-seat story about clandestine military medical experimentation, telekinesis, mind control, abuse, and love. Knowles is a master of pacing… Impossible to put down … highly recommend … This just-released suspense novel is a sleep-robbing page-turner!” –Lee Fullbright, award winning author of The Angry Woman Suite.

A young mother risks everything to expose a top-secret government project with the help of its most important test subject, a dying Gulf War veteran with paranormal abilities .  .  .

Eleven years after the bombing of his battalion in Iraq, Joel’s nightmares continue. But when a beautiful young mother enters those dreams, he knows he must do everything in his power to save her from those who want to silence her, including stopping the man responsible for his nightmares, her husband and the man who has been keeping him prisoner in a top-secret government facility in charge of The Ezekiel Project.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Ezekiel-Project-Christina-Knowles-ebook/dp/B00E5TLHPE

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