Birthrights

“Infant Secrets”

Review by Joey Madia

There are few things as sacrosanct as a mother’s rights when it comes to childbirth and issues of custody. The maternal instinct—although it is hard for fathers to acknowledge (I am one, three times over)—is nothing less than a force of nature only mothers can truly understand. The “momma grizzly” label for a fiercely protective mother expresses something very real and nothing less than vital for the evolution of humankind in times of great stress and trial.

This intense energy is the driving force of Carly Rheilan’s well-written, compelling novel, Birthrights. The motherly instinct is not reserved here for biological mother–child relationships only—the true strength of this dark page-turner is the expansion of the maternal instinct to protecting one’s siblings and the health practitioner–patient relationship.

In the dedication, Rheilan writes, “For Joan Davis, who encouraged me to write what I knew.” This is the advice given to all writers at some point in their development. Although we all write about things we do not know about, or simply make up—we are fiction writers, after all—there is great authenticity here. Rheilan’s experience as a psychiatric nurse working for the National Health Service in England, research into criminal justice, and teaching background serve her well in giving this novel—and her others—a chilling realism. Continue reading

On the Trail of the Nephilim, Vol. 1

“Outing ‘Intellectual Fascism’”

Review by Joey Madia

       Subvert the dominant paradigm. —Dr. John Mack

On the heels of the hollow, disappointing lack of real Disclosure in the Pentagon’s recent “disclosure” report on UAPs, those who have devoted their time, money, and expertise to the various fields of the paranormal have more motivation than ever to keep pushing in the way alien contact and abduction researcher Dr. Mack urged us all to do.

One of the leading researchers doing just that is Dr. L.A. Marzulli who has been on the trail of the Nephilim—the offspring of fallen angels and human women—since the 1980s. Marzulli is relentless, and has earned the trust of some of the most respected—or controversial, depending on where your zeitgeist resides—experts in the fields of the paranormal, such as alien implant doctor Roger Leir and world renowned sculptor and expert on Native peoples, Brien Foerster.

I highly recommend that you engage with both the book and the DVD/streaming if you are at all interested in the elongated skull phenomena, North American mounds, and the Nephilim. This is only one facet of a sizable diamond of knowledge pursuits Marzulli and his team—The Watchers—have been undertaking and, if you want more, there is an 11-part Watchers documentary series (I recently watched it in its entirety) and plenty of books. Continue reading

The Year before the End

“A High-Action Space Adventure”

Review by Joey Madia

In 2020 and early 2021 I wrote a number of reviews of novels in the dystopian future genre. As we were all locked inside and the future of the world grew more uncertain day by day, I had to add the caveat—although, to me, it is value-added—that these novels were in many ways less fiction and more handbooks for increasingly possible/probable futures.

Although I have been a paranormal investigator for 12 years—a situation I fell into after a very strange encounter in 2009—I never thought I would put a novel like Vidar Hokstad’s The Year before the End in this same category. However, after the big (public—it was well known and whispered about for years) unveiling of the U.S. Space Force, the recent and by and large hollow “disclosure” report, and the billionaire space race to colonize Mars and the Moon, this Old West–style space adventure is a cautionary tale about how it will most likely be corporate oligarchy meets military–industrial–intelligence complex business as usual in the, to borrow from Star Trek, “final frontier.”

It is also a well-paced, entertaining ride.

As the story opens, Mars and the Moon are colonized, with millions of inhabitants.

In 2105, SETI received a communication from outer space that let Earth know for sure that it was not alone. Similar to Carl Sagan’s Contact, the message—consisting of advanced math and physics elements—is an extended loop that takes months to decipher. A “gate” (portal or wormhole, if you’d like) was built eight years later, at the request of beings from Centauri, who embedded the plans in the cipher (but not Alpha Centauri—the origin point here is not disclosed). Continue reading

The Cuts that Cure

“Intriguing Inevitability”

Review by Joey Madia

Authors, publishers, story analysts, reviewers, and readers often speak about a book being a “real page-turner.” Rarely do we elaborate on what that means. To me, having decades of experience in these areas, it’s about two things: (1) posing and answering Big Questions (without doing so too quickly), and immediately posing (and answering) new ones and (2) taking full advantage of the human mind’s tendency to think in terms of inevitability.

In the case of Arthur Herbert’s page-turner (I got up early or stayed up late most days while reading it), The Cuts that Cure, the inevitabilities lie in the trajectories of the individual characters (based on their considerable flaws) and on how masterfully Herbert keeps storylines separate and motivations secret for so long. That’s precisely how the posing and answering of Big Questions also serve to keep the reader engaged.

The opening scene finds the protagonist, Dr. Alex Brantley, “deep in the weeds,” in writer’s parlance. A highly skilled surgeon, he works exhausting hours, is up to his eyeballs in college loans, and is navigating the destruction of his marriage. After saving a life that a less skilled surgeon might have lost, Alex wants nothing more than to go home and hang up his doctor’s coat. Fate, however, intervenes. He is summoned to attend to a child who is the victim of obvious and brutal parental abuse. Understandably (and our understanding of how good people can do less than good things is key in this novel), Alex loses control, which serves as the inciting incident, leading him to the position of “stranger in a strange land” or taking the first step in the Hero’s Journey—Separation. Continue reading

Mysteries of Honolulu

“Vampires, Ghosts, and Hawaiian Island Lore”

Review by Joey Madia

Originally published in 2012, this collection of eight spooky tales combines the author’s considerable skills as a storyteller specializing in ghost walks with the intimate knowledge he has of Hawaii’s legends, myths, language, and lore. Having been the creative director of a ghost walk on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina for several years, I deeply appreciate the amount of work that goes into researching, memorizing, and performing sometimes as much as ninety minutes’ worth of material on a walk or tour. True storytellers also have much more than that in their heads, waiting for the opportune moment to share a particular story that is perfect for that moment in time.

Kapanui’s writing holds the energy of the master storyteller that he is. I had the pleasure of seeing him on a podcast several months ago, where he shared several Hawaiian legends and I was quick to book him on my own weekly show for June 2021.

Mysteries of Honolulu begins with a story that could very well be true. “Ke Ala Mehameha: The Lonely Road” is a classic Woman in White tale complete with a traveler who picks up a young woman by the side of the road, only to realize that she is a ghost. This one has an interesting revenge component and an extra layer of haunting that gives it a refreshing twist.

The second story, “‘Aina Hanau: Land of My Birth,” begins with the death of the main character’s brother while the former is on vacation in Hawaii. Coming from a close-knit Irish family, the main character, Daniel, helps them prepare for the wake by phone (all agree he should finish his vacation), before talking to a friend about possible communication with his dead brother. Continue reading