Top of the Hill – Learning To Think and Grow Rich at Napoleon High School By Jim Stovall – A Book Review

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

Introducing Napoleon Hill’s Personal Analysis System to a New Generation of World Changers

“Top of the Hill – Learning to Think and Grow Rich at Napoleon High School” is the second book in Jim Stovall’s Homecoming Historical Series. “Top of the Hill” is an amazing story of what can happen when a mastermind group or dream team discover and put into practice the Napoleon Hill’s 17 success principles.


Philip Madison, a former student and High School English teacher at Napoleon Hill High School, in Wise, Virginia is currently the principal of the school.  Madison is recognized for his community service and is considered the anchor of Napoleon Hill High School (NHHS).


Philip was greatly disturbed by a letter, from Ronald Slade, chairman of the state school board, announcing the closing of the NHHS, at the end of the present school year. The closing was due to a drop in enrollment and the loss in tax revenues from the distressing economic conditions; the result of the closing of the local mine.


When Philip arrived at his school office, greeted Amanda Cornett, a senior, possibly the best all-around student ever enrolled at the high school, was already at work as an office assistant.  Amanda already completed all her required courses and is working as a volunteer in the principal’s office to develop business skills. She is also taking college courses at the local university.


Amanda’s tears betrayed the fact that she had read the letter from Ronald Slade, still in her hand. Ronald Slade. Principal Madison attempted to console Amanda. Amanda took note of a poster on the wall containing a list of Napoleon Hill’s 17 Success Principles. Principal Madison was reminded of Hill’s philosophy that “Opportunity often comes, disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat.” Philip went on to show Amanda how setting a goal is the first step toward solving a problem and of the importance of putting together a mastermind group to help solve the problem at hand.


Amanda immediately set about recruiting a “Master Mind Group” or dream team from the class of seniors NHHS to commit themselves to keep their school from being closed.  The group included a unique group of talented high school seniors.

The maintenance engineer of the school, Philip and his wife Helen, who worked as an officer at the local bank, and Robert Campbell, an attorney rounded out the team.


One by one each of the dream team members contributed their talent as they discovered a challenge from Napoleon Hill’s Personal Analysis. The elements of celebration, disappointment, and intrigue add to the suspense of a well-structured plot, the growth of individual characters, and an unexpected surprise ending.


Stovall has created a fast-moving, plot, driven by an unforgettable cast of characters. Stovall uses a combination of fact, fiction, and core beliefs. Each of the chapters of the book builds on the theme of one of the principles included in Hill’s Personal Analysis System.


Stovall writes with an upbeat attitude, often using “tongue in cheek” humor. His writing awakens all five senses with vivid metaphors which describe sights, sounds and smells. Other mental images are formed through his picturesque expressive phrases. These ingenious word pictures create vibrant images which stimulate the reader to move from personal application to positive dynamic action.


“The Top of the Hill” is written to encourage anyone going through a period of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, or overwhelming adversity. High School seniors, college students, or young entrepreneurs, will benefit from this introduction to Napoleon Hill’s writing.

Sound Wisdom, P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 9781937879914, $ 14.95, 2017, 192 pages



Curse of the Coloring book – A Novel Inspired by a True Story By Howard L. Hibbard – A Book Review

Curse of the Coloring book – A Novel Inspired by a True Story

By Howard L. Hibbard

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Combat Veterans and the Frightening Long-Term Impact of PTSD

Howard L. Hibbard, a Viet Nam combat veteran has chosen to relive his experiences through the eyes of his fictional protagonist, Herald Lloyd, in “Curse of the Coloring Book – A Novel Inspired by a True Story.”

Hibbard masterfully incorporates the elements of good storytelling as he draws the reader into Herald’s life. Tired of living in the shadow of his father’s academic accomplishments as a student at MIT and his reputation as a highly successful status as a doctor; fun loving Herald struggling with his studies, quit school and enlisted as a combat infantry lieutenant headed for Viet Nam. On a whim Herald purchased a GI Joe Coloring Book and a half-gallon of whiskey to celebrate with his fraternity brothers.

Through flashbacks and vignettes, Hibbard relates his experiences of serving a year as a platoon leader in an infantry unit on the Cambodian border. He tells of life after the war, trying to adjust to a normal civilian life, his marriage, building a law practice and the ongoing battle with PTSD while defending himself in a malpractice suit, which was the result a clerical error.

Hibbard writes with authenticity, sensitivity, and with eye-opening reality as he describes the intense terror of serving on the front lines, He writes with a balance heartwarming insight and humor as he speaks reverently of the comradeship and loyalty brought on by the uncertainty of life, death, and the heartache that accompanies survival.

The action-packed account of combat and courtroom tension combine to make ‘Curse of the Coloring Book’ a must-read for the aficionados of both/courtroom drama and frontline warfare.

“Curse of the Coloring Book” is an important book for combat veterans and will resonate with the veterans and their families. Hibbard’s account should be must reading for anyone suffering from PTSD. I have read several books of veterans coming home with battle fatigue and PTSD Hibbard’s account is among the best; one that will linger in the mind of the reader long after closing the final page of the book.

Ghost Dog Enterprises, Inc., 1450 Southgate Avenue, Daly City, California, 978-0985634469, $16.95, 2016, 384 Pages










Rule of Law By: Randy Singer – A Book Review

Rule of Law

By: Randy Singer

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

A Legal, Political, and Military Thriller – A Behind the Headlines Look at International Events

By the end of page one, critically acclaimed author Randy Singer had my attention. I was hooked.  I knew I was in for a good read, a real page turner. By the end of chapter two Randy had my adrenaline flowing. Randy Singer’s new book “Rule of Law” takes a look behind the International headlines to ask some very pertinent thought provoking questions:

  • Are our country’s leaders acting outside the Rule of Law?
  • What is going on behind the scenes that are creating International headlines?
  • Who is to blame for the spectacular failures when secret missions fail?
  • Is the saying on the Supreme Court Building Still True? Is there justice under law?

Singer, a master story teller, has developed an exciting multifaceted plot, with twists and turns that adds suspense and keeps readers guessing. His characters are strong and believable, is made up of an amazing roster, which include: Amanda Hamilton, president of the United States, key White House staff members, attorneys and judges, military personnel, members of the Supreme Court, important foreign leaders, and members of the media.

Readers in the genre of intrigue, suspense and adventure thrillers with courtroom scenes will resonate with “Rule of the Law.”  Enthusiastic fans of John Grissom and Joel Rosenberg are destined to add Randy Singer to their favorite author list. A gripping novel relevant in the midst of today’s partisan political scene, Singer has created a riveting, page turner, a filled with timely insights.

A complimentary copy of his book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Tyndale Publishers Inc.,  Carol Stream, Illinois, 978-1496418166, $ 16.98, 2017, 462 pages



The Blue Curtain By: L. G. Metcalf A Book Review

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Suspense, Fantasy, Magic, and Romance

“The Blue Curtain” by Author L. G. Metcalf is a suspense novel with a plot that weaves two stories together; spanning over 500 years, beginning in Southern England in the year 1549.

The first story begins in the midst of a brewing revolt Mitchell, son of Duke Keats, was in love with Marigold, the daughter of the Lord Protector; whose rule was being challenged by Duke Keats, Mitchell’s father, and other revolutionaries. Mitchell and his father were both killed in a battle fighting for their cause.

The second story takes place within the current timeframe in Portland, Maine. Emily Bliss is distraught by the murder of her father and is determined to find his killer. The trail takes her into unexplored territory. Her obsession, leads to a romantic touch, in the midst of revealing family secrets, and a lover tormented by demons. Emily is introduced to a nether- world of a secret clan of vampires, bloody conflicts, and fear.

Metcalf has masterfully developed a plot that puts his characters in imminent danger, with mounting tension. Metcalf’s characters are well developed establishing reader empathy, allowing them to become engaged with the story, and identify with the characters, while sustaining suspense.

The Blue Curtain will resonate with fantasy readers in the genre, and those who appreciate the creative genius and imagination of successful writers on subjects of the unknown, alluding to magical powers, with a hint of the supernatural from a period in recent or ancient history.

Metcalf’s debut novel is destined to win awards in the genre and will assure him of an impressive fan base. The promise of a sequel adds another level of expectation of a growing readership.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Molecyco Press, Toronto, Canada, 978-0995858602, $ 14.95, 2017, 314 pages




The Fourth Vow by Richard T. Dolezal – A Book Review

The Fourth Vow

By: Richard T. Dolezal

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

A Diabolical Plot – Clandestine Meetings – Political Corruption – International Intrigue and Realism in the genre of Fiction

Repercussions were felt around the world within hours of the news flash of a nuclear explosion at the American Civil Liberties Union holiday fundraiser in San Francisco, California. An estimated 500 or more ACLU leaders, supporters, and innocent bystanders were killed in the blast.

Members of ACLU Headquarters top executives in New York City, and Staff members of the ACLU office Washington DC are in a state of shock. Pope Benedict in the Vatican sets plans in motion to discredit rumors of scandal among the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

The President of the United States feels the pressure of an ongoing barrage from the news media; pressing for an immediate update on what government agencies have uncovered, competing for headlines, generating a tirade of hatred through groundless insinuations, under the guise of the public’s right to know the facts.

As United States Attorney General, Tom Owens is in charge of the investigation. Owens calls on a personal friend, Blake Elliot, a brilliant and successful former attorney, to review the evidence. Chapter by chapter the international intrigue thickens as a sinister complex plot become more far reaching.

Dolezal understands the important building blocks of a good story. He delivers a well-crafted, fast moving, action packed plot, filled with diabolical conspiracy, and hair raising suspense. I found myself reading into the wee hours of the morning, a definite page turner. Richard has created a master piece of political corruption, diabolical evil deception, and fictional realism.

Author Richard T. Dolezal skillfully weaves into his story insights from his experience working in the Department of Justice as an Assistant United States Attorney. Dolezal’s “The Fourth Vow” is destined to attract fans from the political, legal, and suspense genre of adventure thrillers. I am looking forward to more from Richard Dolezal

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, North Charleston, South Carolina, 9781540337122, $ 15.00, 2016, 414 Pages



Sammy’s Broken Leg (Oh No!) and the Amazing Cast That Fixed It, By Judith Wolf Mandell– Illustrated by Lise C. Brown – A Book Review

Sammy’s Broken Leg (Oh No!) and the Amazing Cast That Fixed It

By Judith Wolf Mandell– Illustrated by Lise C. Brown


Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

The Fall, the Break, the Cast, the Whooshing Kisses, and the Recovery

Sammy (Samantha) ignites friendships through her rebounding spirit, response to love, her resolute determination, and her encouraging empathy for others.

Judith’s story telling skill and whimsical approach draws the reader’s and the child’s attention, stimulates their imagination, and teaches valuable lessons; on the benefits of following the doctor’s instructions, and on the importance of giving and receiving. . I especially enjoyed the “Whooshing Kisses” symbolic of the thoughts and prayers, and of love and concern family and friends. The book is filled with the concept of comfort, the need for patience, relief from anxiety, and reality of suffering.

The story prepares kids for the stages of recovery and recuperation from a broken bone, a short or long term illness, or any emergency department or hospital situation.

Lise C. Brown’s clever colorful artwork magically depicts the action of the story from Sammy’s waking “YAWN and s-t-r-e-c-h,”  the excitement of going “higher and faster” on the trampoline, Mommy’s warning, the painful fall, arrival at the emergency room,  right up to the time  the doctors wrapped Sammy in a wet fiberglass cast, and sent Sammy and her parents’ home with “The Rules for Sammy’s Cast.”

The whimsical nature of Judith’s writing adds a note of family fun, togetherness, and lighten the “emotional hurt” and physical pain of recovery. “Sammy’s Broken Leg” is encouraging, educational and entertaining.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Harpeth Ridge Press, Nashville, TN

978-0997444919, 2017

Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart – A Book Review

Some Kind of Courage,

By Dan Gemeinhart

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

A Courageous Journey While Finding Home

“Some Kind of Courage” is an action adventure story filled with drama and suspense for readers ages 8 – 12 in grades 3-7. Gemeinhart reveals amazing insight and understanding into the feelings of his target audience.

Young Joseph Johnson has lost is dad in an accident, his mom and young sister through illness, and when an evil man stole and sold his Indian pony to an unscrupulous trader, Joseph vowed to get her back. “Some Kind of Courage” is the story of Joseph’s efforts to find and reclaim his pony and of the lessons he learned on the trail to finding family and home.

Dan Gemeinhart’s writing is highly imaginative, delightfully entertaining while stimulating character building traits and ideals. He demonstrates a depth of feeling, gripping the heart of the reader with a tenderness, and compassion, seldom captured in preteen fiction. His characters are believable, his protagonist, young Joseph Johnson, is multi-dimensional revealing growth and development by carrying out the core values of bravery, trust, honesty, loyalty, and always hope. His descriptions are vivid

“Some Kind of Courage” is ideal for family night reading. The story is rich in material for stimulating questions for application and discussion for children of all ages. Heartwarming, deeply moving adventure, a page turner, highly recommended.

Scholastic Book Service, 557 Broadway, New York, N. Y. 10012, 978-0545665834, $ 16.99, 2016, 240 pages





Realm of the Drells, by Kenneth Zeigler – A Book Review

Realm of the Drells, By Kenneth Zeigler

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

A Fast Moving Adventure Combining Suspense, Action, the Supernatural, Science Fiction Fantasy, and Spirituality

Debbie and a group of teenage friends meet to participate in a séance. In the midst of what is planned to be an innocent experience, Debbie is mysteriously transported back in time into the dark underground world of the Drell’s. She finds herself in the midst of a melting pot of youth from all nations working as slaves, in ankle shackles, ruled by a taskmaster who uses a whip to inflict fear and pain.

Unknown to Debbie, a group of scientists on earth are working on a plan to save her and her friends from the evil realm of the Drells. In response to a dream, Debbie makes it her mission to free these new friends from bondage, and to abolish the barbaric cruelty, oppression and spiritual darkness of the Drells.

Ziegler’s inventive word pictures stimulate creativity in the mind of the reader adding a unique dimension to a fast moving plot, with a diverse cast of characters. The genres of science fiction and fantasy open the door to the intriguing possibilities of verifiable fact, and a Biblically based message through a fictional approach to spirituality, the supernatural or any reasonable theory of science or medicine. His well-developed dialog encourages thought provoking questions as to the existence of mystical beings, witches, curses, magic and other popular beliefs accepted as the norm in the seventeenth century regardless of personal bias of the reader.

Recurring themes in areas of faith, sacrifice, personal mission, redemption, and deliverance from bondage will inspire the reader, regardless of personal bias. Ziegler is an excellent communicator with amazing insight into the Scriptures, scientific theories, and the art of storytelling.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 978-0768408126, $ 17.99, 2016, 347 Pages



Friends of the Wigwam – A Civil War Story by John William Huelskamp – A Book Review

Friends of the Wigwam – A Civil War Story

By: John William Huelskamp

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

True Life Characters, Flawless Research, Historical Fact, and a Creative Historical Plot

“Friends of the Wigwam” is set in the state of northern Illinois in the years 1857 and 1865. The locations, battles, and other events are based on historical fact and come alive throughout the development of the narrative.

One by one six young friends become bonded together through the discovery of the hidden cave, “The Wigwam,” near the shore of the Pecatonica River. This fictional account of their lives is a testament of their value for principles of loyalty, of uniting behind a cause, dedicated to bigger than life heroes. It is a story of bravery and sacrifice, where the innocence of youth is stolen in exchange for the atrocities of war.

Will, Aaron, Allie, Jenny, T. J. and Trick are intertwined throughout the chronology of the events of the Civil War. These remarkable incidents are representative of their struggles, successes, determination to make a contribution in unifying our nation. Their efforts are told in a way that will be indelibly imprinting on the memory of the reader and will not be soon forgotten.

Huelskamp has an amazing ability for using descriptive words and phrases that form distinctive images and inspire the reader to use all five senses; to capture a scene that matches the action, to listen for the quiet, to feel the muddy slime of the riverbed, or taste the “grass stem” between the lips.

Reading Huelskamp’s “Friends of the Wigwam” has given me a new appreciation for the insight and research necessary to create the right balance of historical accuracy, realism, and creative license. “Friends of the Wigwam – A Civil War Story” is an important dramatic reminder of sacrifice, dedication, and courage of the heroes of American history.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Burlington Group Publications, Chicago, Illinois, 978-0692348826, $ 16.95, 2016, 372 Pages






The Jerusalem Secret by Ron Cantor – A Book Review

The Jerusalem Secret – Identity Theft Series – Book Two

By: Ron Cantor

Destiny Image Publishing, Inc., 978-0768409260,  $ 15.99, 2016, 304 Pages

God’s Unfolding Plan – Revealing Jewish Roots in the Ne

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

God’s Unfolding Plan – Revealing Jewish Roots in the New Covenant, the Message of Yeshua and Christian Messianic Judaism

“The Jerusalem Secret” opens where “Identity Theft” left off. David Lebowitz, a young and successful journalist has progressed from skeptic to seeker, becoming a believer that Yeshua is the promised Messiah. Just as the implications of what it means to be a follower of Yeshua are becoming clear, David gets the news that his father has been taken to the hospital and is in critical condition.

As David sits by his father’s bedside, grasping his hand he begins a prayer “In the name of Yeshua” he suddenly finds he has being transported into the heavenly realm; standing in a large bright room in the presence of the angel Ariel, his angelic guide and companion, in earlier supernatural experiences.

Ariel informs David that he has been summoned for a purpose; he is to take the message of Yeshua to the current generation of Jews and non-Jews to awaken Israel to errors prevalent in religious teaching and practice today. Ariel immediately begins a training program that takes David back into history-shaping events and the prophecies of Isaiah, Daniel, and other Old Testament prophets.

David is than supernaturally taken back in time to Jerusalem and Rome to learn directly from the Apostles Paul, and James, and from other early disciples, of the culture, religious, and political environment of the day and the implications this had on the writing of the scriptures in the original Jewish context to better understand the questions raised and issues being addressed.

Although Cantor is using the medium of fiction as a platform, his research into the background sources are thorough and well documented in his chapter endnotes. I have been personal challenged recently to be more intentional about my verbal my sharing of the Gospel message. While reading the book I have had several open doors for dialog on the Jerusalem secret and message of Yeshua.

“The Jerusalem Secret” must reading for all those seeking clarification and a better understanding of the mission and message of Christian Messianic Judaism.