New Chess Book for the “Raw” Beginner (published in 2015)

By Jonathan D. Whitcomb

If used as a gift, this new chess book may be more likely to please the recipient, compared with other books on the royal game. The main requirement is that the reader is a true beginner in chess, knowing the rules but not knowing much about winning.

From the Introduction in the paperback book Beat That Kid in Chess, we read:

Have you had trouble with a kid who was too smart, beating you in a game of chess almost before you knew what hit you? I can probably help you teach that kid a lesson, but I make no absolute guarantee: You know that kid and I don’t. If you know the chess rules but almost nothing about how to win, this book is for you. We’ll keep to the basics that you need most, when you are still learning how a reasonable chess game works.

Yet this book is not actually about winning a game against a child. It was written to help raw beginners learn to beat other beginners, regardless of age, and it may be one of the best publications for accomplishing that modest purpose.

It’s for most readers older than 10-12 years, including teenagers and adults.

front cover of paperback book on chessNearly Identical Positions or NIP

Beat That Kid in Chess uses a new method of instruction in the royal game. Tactics can be more easily and quickly absorbed from the expert use of nearly-identical positions. The NIP system avoids the pitfalls found in almost all chess books, for the reader can accidentally memorize a chess position by irrelevant factors. This clues the brain into remembering a precise application of a tactic (such as a knight fork or double attack) in a wrong way. That memory can come from something in the position that has nothing to do with the combination itself. That problem evaporates when the NIP system is used.

The key to the effectiveness of NIP is in the way a typical beginner learns chess from a book. Very few novice readers spend many hours intensely studying tactics in a chess book before playing an actual game. Yet how few authors of chess books appear to understand that fact! Many more readers will want to spend a little time in moderate concentration. A few well-orchestrated chess positions, using the NIP system, teach what the beginner most needs to learn in preparing to win games. The essence of each tactic will be learned quickly, ready to be recalled in over-the-board competition.

It’s been estimated, by one grandmaster, that hundreds of thousands of books on chess have been published. This particular one, Beat That Kid in Chess, may be in a class by itself, in its regular use of nearly-identical positions. This chess book may actually make it easy for a raw beginner to quickly learn to win his or her first game.

Part of an Amazon Customer Review

This book is perfect for someone who knows the basic rules of chess but needs additional help to actually win. I learned chess as a child, but as someone who hasn’t played in over a decade, this is a great refresher.

I love the way this book is organized: It’s starts with a few simple chess terms, progresses to chapter topics . . . then ends with simple and advanced exercises . . . This is going to help me get back into the game, so to speak, as well as help me know in what order to teach my own children, so that they too can enjoy the benefits that come with playing chess.



New Chess Book as a Gift

Reviews of three paperback books on chess (one for beginners):

  • Smerdon’s Scandinavian (advanced)
  • Beat That Kid in Chess (beginner)
  • The Dragon – Volume One (advanced)

Beginner Chess Book for Teenagers

. . . carefully crafted for the raw beginner who wants to win a chess game as soon as possible . . . who knows the rules but not much else.

Chess Book for Beginners

Three books compared


New Paperback Books on Chess

We now look at three new chess books: two for intermediate or advanced players and the other for beginners.

Taming Wild Chess Openings (paperback version here reviewed)

It has the subtitle How to Deal with the Good, the Bad and the Ugly over the Chess Board. This chess book may be a great gift for an intermediate-level tournament player. Here is a listing of chapters in the first section of the Table of Contents:

  • Halloween Gambit
  • Grunfeld Defense: the Gibbon
  • Grob Attack
  • English Wing Gambit
  • Orthoschnapp Gambit (French Defense)
  • Benko Gambit, Mutkin variation
  • Zilbermints – Benoni Gambit
  • Boden-Kieseritzky Gambit
  • Drunken Hippo Formation
  • Kadas Opening
  • Cochrane Gambit
  • Nimzovich Defense: Wheeler Gambit

The above section of this chess book is called “Bad White Openings.” The following are all the sections, including the above:

  1. Bad White Openings
  2. Bad Black Openings
  3. Ugly White . . .
  4. Ugly Black . . .
  5. Good White Openings
  6. Good Black Openings

paperback chess book on strange openings

Taming Wild Chess Openings

Author: John Watson

Publisher: New In Chess,Csi (August 15, 2015)

304 pages — ISBN-13: 978-9056915704


Beat That Kid in Chess (paperback)

The subtitle is for the early beginner to win games, meaning this chess book is for the beginner who knows the rules but not much beyond the rules. This could be a wonderful gift for such a novice. Here are the chapter titles:

  • Checkmate
  • Power Grabbing
  • Defending the Fort
  • Tactics in Battle
  • Remember the Order
  • The End Game
  • The Middle Game
  • The Opening
  • Simple Exercises
  • Advanced Exercises

front cover of paperback book on chess

Beat That Kid in Chess

Author: Jonathan Whitcomb

Createspace Publishing Platform: September 2, 2015

194 pages — ISBN-13: 978-1508856221


Risk & Bluff in Chess (paperback)

The subtitle is The Art of Taking Calculated Risks. This chess book is not for the beginner. The following is from the first Amazon customer-review of this publication:

Tukmakov describes in a very entertaining prose different ways of unsettling the opponent, by playing outrageous moves. . . . The author insists on the psychological aspect of the game, tells many stories and try to interpretate the thought of both players, with open subjectivity and humour.

"Rish & Bluff in Chess" book

Risk and Bluff in Chess

Author: Vladimir Tukmakov

Publisher: New In Chess,Csi (October 7, 2015)

240 pages — ISBN-13: 978-9056915957



New Titles: Chess Books on Amazon

  • Smerdon’s Scandinavian (opening book)
  • Beat That Kid in Chess (for the beginner)
  • The Dragon, Volume One (opening variation of the Sicilian Defense)

One of the above could be considered as a gift chess book

Three Possible Gifts of a Chess Book

Two of these three publications could be a good gift for a beginner, especially the new book Beat That Kid in Chess.

New Chess Book for Beginners

The new paperback Beat That Kid in Chess may be the first publication to systematically use the teaching method called “nearly-identical positions” (PIN).

Chess Book for the Beginner who Knows the Rules

This book has been carefully crafted for the raw beginner who wants to win a chess game as soon as possible. It’s for the beginner who knows the rules but not much else. [The title is “Beat That Kid in Chess”]

How to Beat Your Dad at Chess

[Rather than for the raw beginner] How to Beat Your Dad at Chess may be most useful for more advanced players, those rated class-D or better by the United States Chess Federation, or those with similar skills in chess. [It’s not nearly as good a book for beginners.]


Comparing Two Chess Books for Beginners

October 2, 2015

We review two paperbacks for novice chess players: Beat That Kid in Chess (BTKC) and 1001 Chess Exercises for Beginners (1001CEB).

Chess-Board Diagrams

These two chess books differ greatly in their use of board-diagrams: BTKC uses large diagrams; 1001CEB uses tiny ones. Two of the seven Amazon reader-reviews mention the tiny size of the diagrams (in 1001CEB) as a significant weakness. BTKC can be used without any chess set, for most of the 194 pages have one diagram per page, filling up the entire width of those pages. Many chess books have diagrams that are only about half of the page width, making them too small for some readers. Beat That Kid in Chess may appear to go too far with full-width, but anyone who has remembered to take a chess book on a trip and forgotten reading glasses will probably not complain about that book.

Suitable for Chess Beginners

Beat That Kid in Chess is for the “raw” beginner, the novice who knows the rules of the game but has little or no experience actually playing a chess game. The reading level is for teens and adults (and possibly older children), yet the concepts are easy for a wide range of readers.

About 1001 Chess Exercises for Beginners, one Amazon reader-reviewer said, “Although it was ostensibly written for beginners, only the first three chapters (Mate in One, Mate in Two, and The Missing Piece) are suitable for that audience.”

Depth of Materials in the Books

BTKC has two levels of exercises at the end of the standard chapters, twenty-six total exercises, which compares poorly in number with 1001 exercises in . . . you know what book. Yet the way the material presented in BTKC may be more effective in teaching chess beginners. And the whole book is ideal for beginners in BTKC.

On the Cover

front cover of paperback book on chess

"1001 Chess Exercises for Beginners"


Table of Contents for the two Publications

contents - "1001 Chess Exercizes ..."

Table of Contents in 1001 Chess Exercises for Beginners (above)


chess book table of contents

Table of Contents in Beat That Kid in Chess (above)



Chess Books for the Novice and Post-Beginner

Before analyzing that paragraph from the back cover of How to Beat Your Dad at Chess (it’s not without error), consider what a chess-book-author competitor has said about this publication by Murray Chandler . . .

Chess Book for Beginners

The title choice is doubtful for this chess book for beginners. Beat That Kid in Chess gives practically no emphasis on winning a game against a child. It that sense, it resembles the book How to Beat Your Dad at Chess, which is not really about how to win against your father.

Queen Versus Rook in Chess

This is very similar to the Philidor position, with the white king just one move away from its key square

A Chess Combination by Paul Morphy

The American chess master Paul Morphy (1837-1884) was regarded by many as the greatest chess player in the world, during his tour of Europe in 1858 . . .


A Bestselling Chess Book

May 27, 2015

How to Beat Your Dad at Chess has been called the best chess book and the worst, and that evaluation comes from the same reviewer. Part of the problem is with the title, for this is nothing like a broad approach to improving a beginner’s chess skill. If your father always beats you in chess, and you are only a beginner (or with the skill of someone rated lower than about 600 by the United States Chess Federation), you will not be able to completely turn around your performance against your father, after studying the checkmating patterns in this book. In that sense, the title can be misleading.

Checkmate Patterns

This is a chess book with mating patterns, the shapes of 47 types of checkmate. It tells you nothing about how to get to such positions, which are essential for carrying out those checkmates. Here is a sampling of the names of some of those patterns:

  • Anastasia’s Mate
  • Arabian Mate
  • Philidor’s Legacy (Smothered checkmate)
  • Taimanov’s Knight Check
  • Blackburne’s Mate
  • Boden’s Mate
  • Rook Decoy Sacrifice on h7
  • Queen and Bishop Mate
  • Greco’s Mate


nonfiction book "How to Beat Your Dad at Chess"

Beginner Versus Beginner

Those with limited chess competition experience, in other words beginners, may benefit from studying the mating patterns in this book. But what immediate return can they get from it? Less experienced players need to learn many things, to switch from losing 60%-80% of their games to winning 60%-80% of them. They need to learn to avoid throwing away material. They also need to learn to win endgames that are theoretical wins and draw endgames in which they are at a disadvantage but which are theoretical draws.

How to Beat Your Dad at Chess may be most useful for more advanced players, those rated class-D or better by the United States Chess Federation, or those with similar skills in chess. Beginners may get a long term benefit but not likely with any big improvement in the win/loss column, in the near future.


For the raw beginner, a better chess book is Beat That Kid in Chess.



How to Beat Your Dad at Chess

It was the best of books; it was the worst of books. For chess beginners or the lower-intermediate-level players, how can this book simultaneously be the best and the worst, this bestseller on the royal game: “How to Beat Your Dad at Chess?”  It’s complicated.

A Less Worthy Chess Book

I would still find serious problems with “Conquer Your Friends With Eight Easy Principles,” even if I was not writing a book on chess. I’ve owned and borrowed dozens of chess books over the past six decades. This one could be the worst.

With that said, for a chess player who only wants an easy reading experience, without much mental effort requires, Conquer Your Friends With Eight Easy Principles may be satisfying. Just don’t expect to win many games from that satisfying reading experience.

Fourth Edition of SFRFG

January 22, 2015

A limited revision of Searching for Ropens and Finding God, the fourth edition, does include new material at the end of the appendix, an interview I had with Professor Peter Beach and with the nonfiction author Milt Marcy. Consider now the following, taken from the book itself.


Yet this is not mainly about religion, not in the usual sense. It’s less likely to take you to church than into the lives of ordinary persons who have encountered extraordinary flying creatures, and into the lives of Christians who have risked their health, even their lives, in searching for living pterosaurs. Our disbelief in the General Theory of Evolution has freed us to search far and near, and for years, with a firm belief that God’s purposes will prevail.

Chapter One

My interest in tropical reptiles extended beyond my caimans. I sometimes visited the Alligator Farm, then located by Knott’s Berry Farm, to gaze at crocodilians from around the world. The largest was a Nile Crocodile, resembling a man-eater; most were American alligators. But I felt my hunger unfulfilled, photographing reptiles in cages. Why was I fascinated by those creatures? Even today, I’m unsure. The point? I read all I could about them, feeding on books not only about crocodilians but about their habitat: the tropics.

Chapter Two

In one of the interviews, Eunice, a school teacher’s wife, described to Carl Baugh an attempted grave robbery. One night, in April of 1993, near the northwest coast of Umboi Island, after a large funeral procession arrived at the burial location, from the sea approached a flying creature with a tail that glowed red like burning embers glow. About two hundred mourners were awake when it flew overhead. The islanders banged pots and yelled, whereupon the intruder flew into a nearby swamp and the light disappeared.

Chapter Three

I realize that a flying fox fruit bat can be thrown at any report of a living pterosaur in the southwest Pacific; I also realize that I may have been negligent in failing to ask Mr. Hodgkinson if he had seen such bats in New Guinea. But what difference does it make, really? No flying fox has a tail longer than about an inch or so, and nothing could make the puny tail of a fruit bat look like a tail at least ten or fifteen feet long.

Chapter Four

Soon after I had questioned Hodgkinson, an Australian lady told me about a flying creature she and her husband, who wish to be anonymous, had observed near the coast of Perth. . . . “We do know that it was definitely a living creature. . . . It was very big . . . looking at it from the ground as it soared over to the right of us. We would not have been able to see what it was if the ground lighting had not lit its underside as it was a huge dark shape in the night sky. . . . We could clearly see it coming and stood rooted to the spot watching it as it drew closer and, as it came to a point to the right of us and above, the ground lighting lit it up and that was a stunning moment for the both of us.” [wingspan estimated at 30-50 feet]

Chapter Five

She rarely sat for long; but one evening, as she leaned over the veranda, gazing at the distant hills, deep in a tropical rain forest of New Guinea, a light caught her attention. Why was it below the top of the ridge, below that village? It disappeared but another light appeared, then more. But why in a horizontal line and why were the flashes four to five seconds long? She became fascinated by those lights.

Chapter Six

For me it was not for adventure, and I doubt that adventure was the big motivator for the other eight men, although occasional adrenaline probably helped each of us get moving. Something deeper was pulling me forward and I know myself best, so I’ll try to explain, as best I now recall, some of my thoughts at the time . . .

Chapter Seven

Four flights, beginning at the Los Angeles International Airport, would take me to the final urban destination, the city of Lae. The first leg was across the Pacific Ocean, and I’ll never again sympathize with the person who doubts the Flood of Noah, asking what happened to all the water.

Chapter Eight

My offer of 200 kina per week (equal to $70 US) was accepted gladly, but Joe and Luke wanted to know my plans. They had never heard of the ropen, and when I mentioned the size of the creature, their faces spoke volumes, without any reference to a 65-million-year-old extinction. Luke suddenly realized why a stranger was offering him an easy job with generous pay. Joe’s face said, “Will I ever see my brother again?” I told them my camera worked from a distance; still, it took some explaining before they felt assured that I valued safety.

Chapter Nine

As Luke and I settled in, many villagers came to meet us, so I gave out the gifts from Paul Nation and me: magazines for Rodney Newman, who enjoys reading English; colorful bed sheets for Delilah Kau; guitar strings for two Baptist teenagers who accompany church singing; paper, pencils, and things for the Gomlongon elementary school; and supplies for the nearby first aid station.

Chapter Ten

My zeal to find a ropen made the weight on my shoulders light . . . for a few minutes. One of the men insisted he carry my backpack. This later proved fortunate, as we tread a precarious path along a stream and up a steep hill. . . .

Descending to the streambed, we were  struck by the smell. Further upstream we rested at the hot springs where odorous gas bubbled to the surface, evidence this really was a volcanic island. After pumping the water through my purifier and enjoying the surprisingly mild flavor, I wondered how far the stream would lead us up toward Mount Tolo and Lake Pung.

Chapter Eleven

On Sunday, October 3rd, according to Mark’s request, I videotaped meetings of the Baptist Church. These humble Christians practice the teachings of Jesus. One day, for example, my rations were low, and when the Kau family learned that I wanted to buy food, they were disappointed, thinking I wanted food from a store—there is no nearby store. When they realized I wanted only fruit, another Opai woman heard and gave me, not a banana, part of the tree, with countless bananas. Luke and I ate well for days.

Chapter Twelve

On October 6th, routines were interrupted by a surprise. Mark delivered the news: We were summoned—not a request—to Gomlongon. Although he did not say “court,” I noticed an air of formality. I’ve had enough experience with jury service and even with testifying as an eyewitness in court. I can smell that air.

. . .

Chapter Twenty-Two

The sighting of a glowing “dragon” in England, around 1987, could be dismissed, for it was just a ten-year-old girl watching the stars, and that’s just one story. The two sightings of huge glowing flying creatures in the San Fernando Valley could be dismissed, for they were near Hollywood (the land of fictional creations), and that’s just two stories. The glowing creatures flying in the Caribbean could be dismissed, for they appear like nothing in any biology textbook, and that’s just two sightings. But scan the landscape of sighting reports and see what few other humans have seen for the past two centuries: Trees connected by underground roots, revealing the edge of a forest. How many eyewitnesses there must be who never contacted me about appearances of glowing flying creatures!


In the summer of 2007, in clear daylight, a giant ropen appeared to be chasing a flock of birds over a wildlife sanctuary near the University of California at Irvine. That may relate to the two “dragons” reported in California newspapers in 1891, creatures that were also called “pterodactyls.” They were reported to have devoured mudhens in a pond “at two or three champs of the jaws.”


4th ed. of "Searching for Ropens and Finding God" by Whitcomb

Nonfiction paperback Searching for Ropens and Finding God


Dragon or Pterodactyl in California

“I scared it because when he saw me he jumped off the telephone wires, and when he opened his huge wings they sounded like heavy fabric (like you would imagine out of a dragon movie). I watched him fly across to a large tree and go inside. I saw him very closely and know what I saw!!”

Fourth Edition of a Cryptozoology Book

Expect answers in this book: why my associates and I traveled to a remote tropical island to search for living pterosaurs and why only a few professors have given us any hope that they still live. What about adventures, with danger, failure, and success? Yes, expect those, but I hope my readers will discover more than adventure—a purpose in life—as worthy a purpose as I have found.

Brief Introduction to Living-Pterosaur Investigations

Youtube video to introduce people to this work in cryptozoology

Strange cases of people disappearing

Why do so many of these disappearances involve two-year-olds?

Dinosaurs Living With Humans

According to Dr. Dennis Swift, who in recent decades has specialized in these discoveries of ancient artifacts, thousands of these works of art were excavated, turning Julsrud’s mansion into “the museum that seared scientists.”


Searching for Ropens and Finding God

August 11, 2014  [Attention: The fourth edition is now available]

This third edition of the nonfiction book surpasses earlier versions in focus and depth, concentrating more on the eyewitness sightings of apparent modern pterosaurs, commonly called “pterodactyls.” Religion is mostly in the background, with a cross-genre of true-life adventure and spiritual-inspirational and cryptozoology. Searching for Ropens and Finding God has been called the “Bible of modern pterosaurs.”

Beware, skeptic, of thinking only briefly

Since you’ve gotten this far in this book, you may be the last person I should worry about. The careless skeptic worries me most. How easy for him to browse a web page, find a report of a single sighting, and grab the first negative reaction that comes to mind! It takes but a few seconds to think of a rebuttal to something that contradicts ones assumptions; but the briefness of those few seconds is not necessarily evidence for ones cleverness or the foolishness of what one thinks is easily refutted. Beware, skeptic, of thinking only briefly. [pg 170]

“Pterodactyl” Sighting in Rhode Island

“Hi, I have seen a pteradactyl in my backyard. It was the second week of October [2001], and I was having a cigarette on the back deck of my house. It was a cold night, and I heard a loud whooshing noise moving in the air to my right. I saw a huge pteradactyl. It circled my house six times and once it turned its head and looked at me.”

PB estimated the wingspan at about fifteen feet. I told her, “There is another case somewhat similar to your own. A man who lives in a coastal community many miles north of you saw a creature that may be the same one you saw. I believe that it really is a pterosaur, though this is very difficult to present to the news media at present. . . .” [pg 177]

Rhamphorhynchoid Pterosaur Sighting in Florida

Florida also has a brave eyewitness who reported his sighting on a blog and has revealed his real name: Professor Steven Watters.

“Today, I was blessed with a sight that will never be forgotten. It was 11:45 a.m. . . . solid grey dim overcast- about 60 degrees out—Wednesday November 14 2012—Crestview, Florida. . . . It was flying west to northeast close enough it could’ve been shot down. I . . . ran to the door . . . Had an estimated wingspan of 8-12 feet and a tail as long as its torso with a large bulb or lump at the tail very diamond shaped, no feathers and all colored the same whitish-grey color with a pointed beak. . . .” [pg 205]

Sighting in Mississippi

“I was in Meridian, Mississippi, around the year 2001. I was outside . . . around 9 pm so it’s dark. It’s a full moon . . . when I turned my head to look to the right, I caught this shadow of a figure floating over the top of my sisters apartment building. . . . The wing span had to be 25 ft across and from head to toe at least the same. I was yelling and screaming for my brother-in-law or nephews to look . . . I ran about a block and a half until I came to a fence row where I couldn’t go any further. At that time this creature lifted above some maybe 75 ft trees and continued to fly away. I watched it for about another minute until its silhouette disappeared from my sight. . . .” [pp 211-212]

Ropens are not Rare

Ropens are nocturnal but not rare. Sightings of those creatures are not rare. An American who reports observing a live pterodactyl—that person is rare. When somebody does speak out, however, it encourages other eyewitnesses to admit that they’d seen those creatures themselves. When two eyewitnesses are close friends or family members and one of them talks, the other takes courage and also talks. That’s why it can appear that we have strange coincidences, only a few dozen publicized sightings per year but with a few eyewitnesses knowing other eyewitnesses from different sightings.

ISBN-13: 978-1484911396

Nonfiction, 354 pages

Whitcomb's nonfiction true-life adventure "Searching for Ropens and Finding God" - third edition published in April of 2014

Searching for Ropens and Finding God



Third Edition of Searching for Ropens and Finding God

It looked like a dead pterodactyl, not fossil bones but with skin, like it had died recently. Could those creatures, non-extinct, still fly?

Maze Runner

Editorial Review (School Library Journal)

Grade 6–10—Thomas wakes up in an elevator, remembering nothing but his own name. He emerges into a world of about 60 teen boys who have learned to survive in a completely enclosed environment, subsisting on their own agriculture and supplies from below. A new boy arrives every 30 days. The original group has been in “the glade” for two years, trying to find a way to escape through a maze that surrounds their living space. They have begun to give up hope. Then a comatose girl arrives with a strange note, and their world begins to change. There are some great, fast-paced action scenes, particularly those involving the nightmarish Grievers who plague the boys. Thomas is a likable protagonist who uses the information available to him and his relationships (including his ties to the girl, Teresa) to lead the Gladers. Unfortunately, the question of whether the teens will escape the maze is answered 30 pages before the book ends, and the intervening chapter loses momentum.


Science fiction for young adults and teens and older children: "The Maze Runner" by James Dashner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Review by “zoeish ‘Curiouser and curiouser'” [giving it two stars out of five]

Others have compared this novel to Lord of the Flies because it is a survival-mode group of boys, trying to figure how to live together . . . I think that Lord of the Flies was less about survival-mode, and more about how humans relate to one-another, a much more complex story told, based on a premise /backdrop built to illuminate same.

This is more about circumstance, and survival and the unraveling of this mystery. It drags us blind, kicking and screaming to its “revelations”.

. . . pretty much foretelling what and why these young people are here. And, as expected, the answer leaves this book open-ended enough for a #2 to come. Yes it’s a “dark” book, but that doesn’t necessarily make it good.

I think this could translate better as a film script, with exciting visuals and foreboding music and special effects, as the humanity of these characters are never truly explored to any satisfaction, nor are they very likable.

Review by K. Hernandez “DailyReadz – One Great Book . . .” [giving it five stars]

I actually read the first books of James Dashner’s “13th Reality” series, The Journal of Curious Letters, a couple of years ago and was quite impressed. Then my library never got the 2nd book, so I sorta forgot about him for a while, until everyone in the whole world started talking about The Maze Runner. And…. Whoohoo! What a story. Imagine you wake up in a dark elevator-type thing, rising slowly for a long long time (like, half an hour) and you have no idea where you are… or WHO you are. Thomas has zero memory when the elevator (The Box) deposits him in The Glade, a large area enclosed between 4 hundred-foot-high stone walls. It is large enough for a few rough buildings, a small forest and a farm, of sorts. And living there are about 50 or 60 other boys, all who arrived at The Glade via the box, with an equal lack of memories. Outside the walls is an enormous, ivy-covered maze, which appears to have no exit. Every night the doors in the walls close to enclose the boys in The Glade, and protect them from terrible creatures that lurk in the Maze. Why are they there? How did they get there? And more importantly, how do they get out? No one knows.

Review by Craig Everett [giving it five stars]

The Maze Runner is a tremendously gripping work of young adult science fiction. Dashner pulled me into it in chapter one and never let go. In terms of literary parallels, I would say that The Maze Runner could best be described as Ender’s Game meets Lord of the Flies.

The character arc of the protagonist Thomas was brilliant. The story begins with Thomas entering a dystopian civilization (called “The Glade”) populated by unsupervised teenage boys. Thomas has no memory of anything prior to that moment. He soon learns that each of the other boys had arrived the same way over a two year period. The Glade sits at the center of a massive and unsolvable maze filled with horrifying and deadly creatures called grievers.

Throughout the story, Thomas’ character is slowly revealed to the reader as it is being revealed to himself. It was very effective. Throughout most of the book, neither the reader nor the character himself really know whether he is the hero or the villain.

The story moves at a blistering pace, barely leaving the reader time to breathe. Dashner has a very crisp and enjoyable writing style, filled with vivid description that puts the reader directly in the middle of the sights, sounds and action. The plot twist at the end took me by surprise. I had thought I had it all figured out…

Parents will like the fact that there was no sexual content and the violence did not achieve the level of gore. The fake profanity was somewhat excessive, though. Instead of using real swear words (which of course would have been worse), Dashner made up a brand new lexicon of fake profanity. He then used it fairly gratuitously, which was a bit distracting at times.

The Maze Runner is a truly great work of YA science fiction – the best I’ve read in a while. I would be very surprised if this book does not become an instant classic of the genre.

Throughout the story, Thomas’ character is slowly revealed to the reader as it is being revealed to himself. It was very effective. Throughout most of the book, neither the reader nor the character himself really know whether he is the hero or the villain.

The story moves at a blistering pace, barely leaving the reader time to breathe. Dashner has a very crisp and enjoyable writing style, filled with vivid description that puts the reader directly in the middle of the sights, sounds and action. The plot twist at the end took me by surprise. I had thought I had it all figured out…

Parents will like the fact that there was no sexual content and the violence did not achieve the level of gore. The fake profanity was somewhat excessive, though. Instead of using real swear words (which of course would have been worse), Dashner made up a brand new lexicon of fake profanity. He then used it fairly gratuitously, which was a bit distracting at times.

The Maze Runner is a truly great work of YA science fiction – the best I’ve read in a while. I would be very surprised if this book does not become an instant classic of the genre.

Science Fiction for young adults, teens, and older children, especially males

ISBN-13:  978-0385737951

Amazon ranking for books in print: #787 on May 17, 2013

New Nonfictions on Modern Dinosaurs and Pterosaurs

The latest book on extant dinosaurs or pterosaurs, Chronicles of Dinosauria, by David Woetzel (and illustrated by Richard Dobbs), explores “legends, mythical sightings, and intriguing explorations from around the globe.” The first Amazon review for this Biblical-Creation nonfiction includes, “It was only a few years ago that I learned the Bible and Dinosaurs went together and they didn’t really exist millions of years ago. This [is] a must read for adults and children.”

Let’s take a brief glance at some of the newer nonfictions in this narrow genre within cryptozoology: books about the existence of living dinosaurs or pterosaurs in human times.

  1. Chronicles of Dinosauria, Bible Creation genre, 88 pages, $16.99 SRP, hardcover
  2. Live Pterosaurs in America (3rd ed), cryptozoology genre, 154 pages, $13.65 SRP, paperback
  3. Dragons or Dinosaurs, Bible Creation genre, 250 pages, $14.99 SRP, paperback
  4. Dinosaur Challenges and Mysteries, Bible Creation genre, 175 pages, $19, hardcover
  5. Untold Secrets of Planet Earth: Dire Dragons, probably Bible Creation genre, hardcover
  6. Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea, cryptozoology, $3.99, (not print format) Kindle


1) Chronicles of Dinosauria

Nonfiction Biblical-Creation cryptozoology book by David Woetzel and Richard Dobbs - a picture book of "The History and Mystery of Dinosaurs and Man"




Page 12: “Although the great flying and swimming reptiles are usually presented alongside the dinosaurs, they are classified differently by scientists. Dinosaurs are reptiles that walked on land and the Bible describes their creation just a few verses later, lumping them in among the ‘creeping things’ and ‘beasts of the earth.'”





2) Live Pterosaurs in America (3rd ed.)

non-fiction cryptozoology book on living pterosaurs in the USA




Title Page: “How do some apparent nocturnal pterosaurs pertain to bats, and how are bats irrelevant? How could modern living pterosaurs have escaped scientific notice? These mysteries have slept in the dark, beyond the knowledge of almost all Americans, even beyond our wildest dreams . . . These mysteries have slept . . . until now.”






3) Dragons or Dinosaurs?

Nonfiction cryptozoology book - Creation or Evolution? - title: Dragons or Dinosaurs - by Darek Isaacs





Page 1: “What a remarkably expensive word dragon has proven itself to be. No small number of Biblical translators has assumed a daunting debt on their conscience due to this creature’s stubborn presence in the native languages of our scriptures. We must fully calculate this cost.”






4) Dinosaur Challenges and Mysteries

Nonfiction book - "Dinosaur Challenges and Mysteries" - by Michael Oart - cover




From the Amazon book description: “In this landmark book, based upon many years of patient fieldwork and literature research, Michael Oard surveys and explains the dinosaur evidence, and proposes a viable mechanism for how all this may well have occurred during the Genesis Flood.”






5) Untold Secrets of Planet Earth: Dire Dragons

Cover of the book "Dire Dragons" - "Untold Secrets of Planet Earth"



Amazon review: “. . . a very good book with excellent artwork. It shows proof that what is now called dinosaurs is what used to be called dragons. It also shows that people and dinosaurs existed throughout history together. So much for the evolutionary propaganda that dinosaurs died out millions of years ago. …”





6) Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea

Digital Kindle book - "Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea" - nonfiction cryptozoology book by Jonathan David Whitcomb




From Introduction: “Are you a lucky eyewitness who has seen a living pterosaur? . . . well, maybe a cursed eyewitness? This is for you: eyewitness reports of large featherless flying creatures seen over the past few decades in Australia and in Papua New Guinea. You are no longer alone.”







Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea

My first digital ebook has just been published in the Amazon-Kindle format: UPDATE: This digital book is now available FREE, as an easy download on the alivedragon site: Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea.

Chapter Five: “Another Expedition on Umboi Island”

Jacob Kepas, years before Blume’s sighting, observed more than just a glow. In his 2004 interview with Guessman, Kepas described his encounter on the mainland when he was about twelve years old. A “whoosh” of wind caught his attention one night. He saw the flying seklo-bali briefly—the back of the wings and tail. He also saw “sparklers” that fell from the creature; that is a bad sign in his village in Morobe Province, for it is said that when the creature’s glowing particles fall upon a person, the seklo-bali will return for that person.

Chapter Six: “The Perth Creature”

In Australia, eyewitnesses also see large flying creatures unlike any bird or bat; unlike natives of Papua New Guinea, however, most Australians have no common tradition of any extant flying creature larger than any bird or bat. Most Australians do know the Western assumption that all dinosaurs and pterosaurs became extinct millions of years ago; but that Western tradition slaps eyewitnesses in the face. How do you tell a friend, neighbor, or relative that you saw a live pterodactyl?

Chapter Nine: “Other Sightings in Papua New Guinea”

A few days before my interview with Paul Nation in November of 2006, I consulted with Neil Mandt and some of his associates, in their Hollywood office. Their production company was planning an expedition for several episodes of the Destination Truth television series. I stressed the reality of the ropen, that it was not just a native legend but a living creature.

Ebook on Pterosaurs Living in Papua New Guinea and in Australia

Why do these large long-tailed flying creatures sometimes appear in daylight, when they are nocturnal? Why do natives in Papua New Guinea report their encounters but Australians rarely talk about them? Get the details from the world’s most prolific nonfiction author on this subject of modern living pterosaurs.

Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea

“Are you a lucky eyewitness who has seen a living pterosaur? . . . well, maybe a cursed eyewitness? This is for you: eyewitness reports of large featherless flying creatures seen over the past few decades in Australia and in Papua New Guinea. You are no longer alone.”

Ebook Soon to be Down Under

The first discovery of a pterosaur fossil by a Western scientist, in 1784, was decades before Charles Darwin began writing about his ideas on extinctions and evolution. Before Darwin, Western scientists had assumed that all species of pterosaurs were extinct for a simple reason: Those who discovered the fossils had no experience with any similar animal that was living.

“Dragon-Pterodactyl” in California

On June 19, 2012, at about 11:45 a.m., over a storm channel in a residential neighborhood of Lakewood, California, a 38-year-old lady saw a “dragon-pterodactyl,” at least as her first impression. She searched online and found that she was not the only eyewitness of this kind of featherless long-tailed flying creature. She soon learned the name for it: “ropen.”

The eyewitness, who chooses to be anonymous, said:

“I scared it because when he saw me he jumped off the telephone wires, and when he opened his huge wings they sounded like heavy fabric (like you would imagine out of a dragon movie). I watched him fly across to a large tree and go inside. I saw him very closely and know what I saw!! . . .

“I ran in the house to my husband and we jumped in the car with a camera and binocolars to try to catch a picture or further glimps of him. I have a waterway in the back of my house so he was probably looking to eat fruit rats or possum.”


Lakewood, California, neighborhood storm channel where a dragon was reported

Storm channel near where the featherless ropen was seen perched on a telephone line

Soon after her sighting, she sent me an email and I interviewed her and her husband in person, verifying their credibility. I have no reason to doubt the lady did indeed see a living pterosaur, perhaps even the same species that has been often observed in other areas of California.

I have since found three other indirect evidences that a ropen, perhaps a juvenile, lives in this neighborhood of Lakewood, and flies up and down this storm channel at night. None of those three encounters, however, compares with the daylight sighting of June 19th. Ropens are normally nocturnal, making this sighting most fortunate. I suspect it had come out to try to catch a squirrel.


"triangle" at the end of the tail of the dragon or ropen in Lakewood, California

The eyewitness drew this sketch of the end of the tail of the ropen

What Files Along Storm Channels?

Fighting the urge to run away into her house, the terrified woman was just curious enough to stare at the long-tailed featherless flying creature. The “dragon-pterodactyl” was more frightened than curious from the encounter and flew away into the canopy of a nearby tree.