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The David Embrace
9781590060223 Kindle eBook: $7.95; Paperback: $9.95
Aaron Lazar, Reviewer
I love Warren Adler's books - I've read and totally enjoyed some of the "Fiona" series, recently read and delighted in FLANAGANS DOLLS, and have four books waiting in the wings to read.
This book - while engrossing and beautifully written in many sections - was quite different from the others. There were sections of inner dialog that might possibly have benefited by being punctuated with some action or live dialog, which we all know Mr. Adler does with great proficiency and class, but aside from this mild criticism, the book is well worth the read.
That said, there were plenty of masterful elements in THE DAVID EMBRACE. The panoramic lush scenery was totally captivating; the sense of place - superb.
Aunt Emma was one of the most delightful, passionate, and endearing characters I've ever grown to love, reminiscent of the "fountain lady" in UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN (I can't remember her name, but if you've seen the movie, you know who I mean!). Emma is full of life, unafraid to love, open to the world of pleasure, and the one who motivates Angela Ford to spread her wings and embrace love.
But most powerful of all were the erotic scenes painted with a tender yet fiery brush by this master. Mr. Adler has the ability to bring one into the carnal centers of each character - male or female - and truly engulf the reader with their passion. Yet he does so with class and artistry - no crass or vulgar descriptions are found in this writing.
The character arcs of John Champion and Angela Ford grabbed me by the heartstrings and had me cheering all the way. The metamorphoses of both John and Angela were equally compelling, believable, and uplifting.
In addition, Mr. Adler brought to life Michelangelo's famous "David," a marble man who figuratively invades the mind and soul of Angela Ford in a cosmic and complete fashion, embodied by the humanity of John Champion and oddly enough linked to a long ago memory of her father.
THE DAVID EMBRACE is an interesting amalgam, and a fascinating read.
Voices from Exile A Book of Poetry
Ballysillan Drive, Belfast BT14 8HQ
9781907276484 $10.00 / $5.00 (Digital Price in PDF)
From his blog, African poet Tendai Mwanaka speaks: "Sometimes the beautiful colours of the rainbow myth are a pointer telling you to look beyond their poetic-singed about beauty and the hollowed hauntings of those rainbow colours results in one colour ultimately playing the god-insect function."
- May 1, 2011
Tendai Mwanaka, is a creative writer, worldly anthologized poet, short story writer and non fiction writer. At publication time for Voices from Exile, he was a Zimbabwean citizen staying in South Africa on temporary visas. Though he has had poetry published in over 50 countries, this is his collection about political exile in South Africa. His political exile.
Beginning his writing career when he was twenty years old, Tendai has had his work published in the USA, UK, Southern Africa, India, Italy, France, Spain, New Zealand and Australia. He is also a songwriter.
"Brutal Times," leads the collection by introducing the reader to one of the dark sides of being a political prisoner.
The arrest and slammed doors
In a cell, in Harare
The beatings, gorging, chopping
In the throes of a shape-shift
The walls of my cell in Chikurubi
Slanting backwards with weights
Of a cracked head, gorged flesh and chopped
Limbs of my own body.
And my steady howling and gnashing cries.
"The CIO's beatings, questions,
Sexual and psychological abuse
Trying to bleed answers from me.
Also from my next cell's occupant.
Talk, talk, talk the insistent hammer
Of those words repeated again and again.
Where are your handlers? Where are the weapons?
What was the plan...that I never had?
That I never knew of, and in the next cell
The green bombers rage at the cell's occupant..."
From The Brutal Times, Voices from Exile, page 7.
The poems are plenty and run a gamut of emotion. Perhaps one of the most touching poems is one entitled "That Child," which describes the horror of coming of age in a war-riddled place and searching for meaning from the sad conditions.
The words here paint pictures that the reader can touch. Some good pictures and some not so good pictures:
"They hit me with those sticks, gun butts, belts, etc, on my stomach. The child I was carrying broke to pieces inside my stomach. The baby girl died inside me. Though my husband died that night, it was God's desire that I did not die too.
"It was at the hospital that the child was born afterwards. The doctors had to cut my stomach to remove those pieces. A head alone, then a leg, an arm, the body, piece by piece."
--Breaking the Silence, Voices from Exile, Pg 12
This book will be enjoyed by poetry lovers and anyone wondering about what has been going on for the people in certain parts of Africa. Though the countries are war torn and seem a mystery to those of us lucky enough to be somewhere else, Tendai furnishes us with a portrait of the place he calls home.
Whistling Shade Press
17368 W Sunset Blvd #405A
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
9780980037593, $12.00, www.whistlingshade.com
Deanna Reiter, Reviewer
Tao-Zen Verses is a spiritual and poetic masterpiece that combines the Chinese philosophy of Tao (the "way" or the "path") with the Japanese philosophy of Zen (a meditative state). Zedek has combined Tao and Zen together with his own philosophy, The Philosophy of Nothing, which focuses on emptiness and space from which we can access everything.
In 127 short verses, Zedek articulates his experience with the ancient wisdom of both Tao and Zen and how he has seized the opportunity to paint and sculpt the self and ultimately discovered complete release of the self, the mind and the ego. Zedek realizes that life is an art and humans are that work of art. Tao and Zen allow that art to supersede the limitations of the current world construct to bring you to a space from which anything is possible.
Within these verses, you are transported to a place of power and depth. You find yourself not only reading the words, but also letting the words read you. This book is an opportunity to become the real you.
Zedek beautifully blends the two forces of Tao and Zen in verse 13:
It is not speed that determines, when
It is not strength that determines, how
It is not wisdom that determines, what
It is not history that determines, why
It is not you that determines, where
The Tao listens to itself
And Zen knows itself
All truth is determined by these two as one
Tao-Zen Verses is written in a similar vein to the Tao-Te Ching by Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu, giving the reader an opportunity to delve deeply into one line or one verse or read through the entire book in one sitting. It is a vade mecum (Latin, meaning "go with me") or pocket reference that can be carried with you every day, to serve as a constant reminder that there is something greater and more powerful that we can experience beyond what we currently perceive in the day to day world.
I do not prevail because I have a goal
I do not achieve because I have a purpose
I see nothing ahead of me, nothing behind me,
And nothing inside of me
Therefore I am Natural and True
Tao-Zen Verses is Zedek's first book. He is a well known and respected international speaker, shaman and teacher. He has more than forty years of experience in the Psycho~Spiritual, Metaphysical, Esoteric, Performing and Martial Arts. He is known for his cutting edge application of these and other arts using and teaching only what is effective and useful. Hanakia can be contacted through his website: www.hanakiazedek.org.
The Pumpkin Field
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781461044819, $10.95, www.createspace.com
Strange things happen on Halloween night or do they? In this picture book it is a chilly and misty night. It's a perfect night for spooky things to happen. It's a perfect night to be full of fright!
Do scarecrows jump from their posts and dance around on Halloween? Do pumpkins dance from their pumpkin patch? Or is it just shadows in the misty night air?
What was that flying through the air? Was it a bird?
In this delightful children's book, we find out just what the answers are to these questions and more. Linda's watercolor illustrations really bring the story to life!
A child will love this book. It explains the spooky things you see and the creepy sounds you hear. Adults will enjoy reading this to their children as it brings back memories of their own Halloween celebrations.
To learn more about Linda Nance, you can go to a couple of different places. You can go to Linda's fan page on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Nance-Fan-Page/162224753802546. You can also learn more about The Pumpkin Field and Linda Nance at: http://linda-nance.blogspot.com/2011/05/what-is-pumpkin-field.html.
This entertaining book is sold in several places. You can pick The Pumpkin Field up at http://www.amazon.com or http://www.barnesandnoble.com in the US, at http://www.amazon.ca in Canada or http://www.amazon.co.uk in the United Kingdom. You can also purchase this directly from the publisher at https://www.createspace.com/3588264.
The Authentic Salesman
Brown Books Small Press
c/o Brown Books Publishing Group
16250 Knoll Trail, Suite 205
Dallas, Texas 75248
9781612547640, Kindle Edition $9.99, www.amazon.com
Emanuel Carpenter, Reviewer
There's something to be said about a book from an experienced salesperson that feels genuine. "The Authentic Salesman" by first- time author Michael McIntyre is one of those books. Written from the perspective of an experienced business-to-customer insurance salesman turned CEO, this book displays something that lots of sales books don't: stories. There are stories about overcoming objections, stories about failures, successes, and even a tragedy that motivates the author to become a success.
Don't get me wrong. "The Authentic Salesman" does reveal some of the characteristics of a how-to book. There are sections like The Five-Point Close divided with parts such as : Let Them Be Right, Overcome the Objection, Provide a Selling Point, Create a Sense of Urgency, and Ask For the Order. There's stuff on active listening, preparing presentations, and tons of life lessons sprinkled in for extra flavor. But to be honest, it all sounds a bit too familiar. Nothing new or earth-shattering there. Just good-old fashioned advice from a seasoned salesperson. Sure it might be new information for a novice but not so much for more experienced salespeople.
Though the book was probably meant to be an instruction manual, it borders on autobiography. McIntyre shares with readers how he landed in the sales profession, how a death in the family forced him to run a company on his own, and many secrets of success. Rather if it's a story about his days in Basic Training in the Air Force, sitting at the kitchen table trying to sell an insurance policy to a reluctant couple, finding faith, or getting that first huge commission check and hungering for more, it's the stories that make this book a good read and the title ingenuous.
The bottom line is this, unless you're new to sales; don't expect a lot of new information on how to sell when reading this book. Instead, expect to relate to an experienced salesperson who has lots of life experiences to share and enjoy. And who knows? You may just pick up a tip or two that might help you close the next deal.
Summer with Morrison
Dennis C. Jakob
Ion Drive Publishing
9780981714387, $17.95, www.IonDrivePublishing.com
At the end of 2010, outgoing governor of Florida Charlie Chris pardoned Jim Morrison for convictions for alleged indecent exposure and profanity at a 1969 Miami concert, charges believed now to be fabricated out of political motivation. Had he not died in his bath in Paris in 1971, Jim Morrison would now be 67. Hard as he might be to visualize as a geezer today, "Summer With Morrison" reveals a sensitive, gifted, albeit conflicted young man before ever becoming iconic as "Lizard King."
The 12-chapter first part of "Summer" opens in 1964, a year before the formation of the Doors. Like two arrows meeting mid-air, Jakob and Morrison became roomies while at UCLA Film School, as this section unspools, with some surprising side trips "on the road." Then, an appendix records over a dozen eclectic, brilliant, fascinating conversations between the author and Morrison. The final third part is a gallery of photos of Morrison, never seen before, taken by the author, in b&w and color. The dynamic impact of the canny structure, as a whole, evokes a dynamic, palpable resonance, a presence lingering long after the last page.
Though the author would go on in film-making, he shrewdly refrains as narrator from philosophizing about fame, or media, or any of that - choosing, instead, to allow his native wit and clear presentation of the situations themselves to evoke their own meaning. And he's not a neutral, faceless narrator. His first book is as much memoir as biography. At times, his vernacular and freeflowing prose style sparks with flashes and twitches of deep insight and true vision. Even the unedited typos add to the quality of fresh, often urgent aura of immediacy. Sure to light fires in the imagination of fans of the Doors, as to the actual living wellsprings beneath what became a creature of hype - yet with a greater interest beyond the scope of the spectacle of rock and roll, and media - this one flies under the radar, and packs many pleasurable, provocative, and eye-opening surprises.
Behind the Zines: Self-Publishing Culture
edited by Robert Klanten, Adeline Mollard, and Matthias Hubner
9783899553369 $60.00, www.gestalten.com
With no outer spine covering, the book's signatures and the twine binding them together (for a solid binding) exposed at the spine and the linen front and back covers exemplify the improvisational nature of many self-published publications. The more than 100 self-published works showcased are published regularly or periodically. The mostly illustrated interior with captions for the visual matter on nearly every page and occasional backgrounds on an editor or designer or short statements expand on this improvisational and in most cases energetic, adventurous, and artful style of the "zines" as such are called, short for "magazine". The large majority are European with a number from the United States.
Although there are cultural and political implications in the zines done outside of the corporate media selection, production, and promotion, the focus of the many and varied zines in this visual anthology is contemporary, mostly postmodern art involving photography, graphics, typography, and figures and faces.
Erik Van Der Weijde, publisher of "4878ZINE", is quoted, "To me, working with photography implies that I don't make things up. I just take what is already there, scoop it out of its context, and then present it after some selection and editing." Urs Lehni, publisher of Rollo Press, remarks, "Rollo Press is all about restrictions. The device itself is limited to a certain format, color, aesthetic, etc. I try to sound out the possibilities with these given limitations."
There are no basically literary, political, minority, feminist, or gender zines, kinds Americans are most familiar with. Although there are few of these found in America these days. Nonetheless, in the U.S., part of the image of zines involves their appearance in the cultural and political turmoil of the 1960s. This historical connection has been pushed into the background however as in the U.S. as in Europe, self-publications have changed with the growth of visual culture and concomitant aestheticized mentality and interests.
Even so, the periodicals are instructive for publishers of zines in any field--for design is a priority for such publications. Standing out visually denotes standing out in content and often perspective. Early American zines were important in breaking ground for today's graphic novels, avant-garde and popular art, and visual style of many leading mass-market magazines. As publications featured here in this generation of zines will no doubt be looked back on at some time as precursors of elements of that day's media. The index gives each periodical's website for further study by interested readers.
P.O. Box 36253, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236
9781934851302, $14.95, www.amazon.com
Katie Farris's BoysGirls, on Marick Press, is a remarkable collection of stories filled with rich images and language that invites you into the moment of each story. From the first moment Farris engages us,
"People are forever falling for the girl with a mirror for a face. And why not? They think, not unaware of the irony. Of course, one has to be careful in direct sunlight. But imagine: if stranded on a desert island, who could resist the siren song of the girl with a mirror for a face?" from mise en abyme, the first story in the collection.
Her work is fearless. She recreates the fairy tale with fresh and visceral themes. Stylistically, Farris employs symbolism throughout the book, just as many of the great fairy tales we read as children. She has a female narrator throughout the book to tie it all together. This is no children's collection of short stories, though. With moments like,
"Every morning, the girl picked her grandmother up by her red splintered handle, cradling her silver head in the crook of her arm, and carried her to the kitchen table, where she sat and smoked with gale force while downing cups of coffee." from her mother's mother was a machete.
The imagination soars! Her tales have the familiar feel of Greek myth, but move far beyond what we expect of them. Farris's work challenges us to suspend our disbelief, shocks us into looking at the naked truth of the stories, and sets up riddles for us to solve. Farris's girls are presented in an almost violent light, while the boys are discussing creation and love,
""But never a wing for a Boy with One Wing.
You are singular," he says this with mixed pity and
zeal. "But I could invent you."
"Do you believe in love?"
"I hope someday to believe in love."
from the invention of love.
Farris bends the culturally defined roles of girls and boys to bring us this collection that will have you mesmerized from the moment you open the cover to the last words. If you are ready to embark on a fantastic journey into the world of the new fairy tale, then BoysGirls is a must read!
Aldric and Anneliese
Harry E. Gilleland, Jr.
PO Box 6482, Edmond, OK 73083
9780982659403, $14.99, www.amazon.com
Harry E. Gilleland, Jr. has written a thrilling novel set in the 6th century entitled Aldric and Anneliese. This book depicts 6th century Eastern Europe when chivalrous knights abounded and ladies supported them. It was a lawless age where barbarian tribes traveled the countryside killing and plundering as romances flourished and knights fought wars with honor.
Aldric is raised with Edmund who was to become king of the unified regions. Unfortunately, Edmund's life ended soon after he became king in a battle through treachery instigated by his wife's brother. After Aldric recovers from the wounds he received in the same battle, he sets out to avenge the death of his friend and king.
Aldric's adventures eventually lead him to an occupation he had never considered.
"Aldric was preparing to leave camp and head for the nunnery and Anneliese when Nikolaus sought him out. "You mustn't leave yet. There is no one to unite the clan leaders and regional chieftains without Edmund. They are all talking about dissolving Edmund's one unified nation.""
With these words from Nikolaus, Aldric, through a series of circumstances, including winning battles and the counsel of Nikolaus becomes the new king and strives to unite the six regions under one Christian rule. Anneliese, Aldric's first love, dies a tragic death. in due course he falls in love with and marries Ursula, Edmund's former wife.
In his quest to avenge his friend, King Edmund, Aldric solves problems of the newly united regions of the country, including putting down an insurrection in the last region and avenging the death of Edmund. Nikolaus, Aldric's long time companion, helps Aldric administer the new country and provides valuable support.
You will enjoy this book and the adventures of Aldric as he travels his newly united country to stabilize the region into one unified country. You will also enjoy his romances with the two women in his life, Anneliese and Ursula, as well as his adventures in war and peace.
I found this book to be a "page turner" that will entice several age groups. I hope Mr. Gilleland will follow Aldric and Ursula as they continue their journey through life with their family.
Harry E. Gilleland was born and raised in Macon, Georgia and now lives in Shreveport, Louisiana with wife, Linda. Retired from a career as a Professor of Microbiology at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, he now devotes himself full-time to his writing of poetry and prose.
How to Write a Sentence and how to read one
10 E. 53rd St., New York, N.Y. 10022
9780061840548, $19.99, www.amazon.com
Lois Wells Santalo
This book has an unfortunate title which sends a message that it's designed for beginners, a grammar for dummies. I almost didn't read it--which would have been a great mistake and my loss. Actually, though it starts off by breaking down sentences into their basic components, it builds to an extremely sophisticated analysis of sentence structure and good writing.
The author starts off with a critique of Strunk and White, claiming that the famous grammar book is understandable only to those already knowledgeable about grammar. Sentences like "The number of the subject determines the number of the verb" is gibberish to the non-grammarian. You're in trouble from the start if you don't know what subjects and verbs are, or what a grammarian means by number. And presumably, since the teaching of grammar has dwindled in our schools, many people don't know.
Author Stanley Fish goes into detail, in layman language, about the structure of a sentence. The great surprise is that his analysis is not only helpful but readable. Chapters define the addidtive style, the subordinating style, the satiric style, offering examples of each from literature. The quotes are mostly a new look at old knowledge. Passages from texts familiar to us from high school reading suddenly leap out, seen in a new way. I kept thinking, as I read, "I never before looked at it in that way."
I've always used Strunk and White as a reference book but it never occurred to me to sit down and read it through. Stanley Fish's book, on the other hand, is actually a good read. It's an adventure through literature in which author and reader explore together the techniques of great authors as they build their works from the basic building blocks of sentences.
When I was in college during WWII, all of us wannabe writers had as our role models recent writers like T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, who all used poetic language, not to tell great adventure tales but to highlight the everyday, the ordinary of life, and raise it to importance. A family gathering, a dinner party, a trip to the nearby lighthouse, became cosmic experiences when one found the right words to lift them out of the mundane and into the universal. We would gather in the local sandwich shop to sit for hours over coffee just exploring words and seeking the most poetic way to elevate some small event in its many relevances.
Then the men returned, bent on describing the war not in poetic terms but in the raw blood-and-grime language of the trenches. Beautiful language, enjoyable for its own sake, went out of style and stayed out. Writers vied with one another to become more powerful, more graphic. Poetic expression was labeled "precious" and everyone feared to use it. Hemingway and Faulkner rather than Eliot and Joyce were the new role models. Strong language and disturbing imagery were applauded by the critics. Those of us trained in the earlier tradition could only stand by and wonder why we wasted so much time trying to find novel ways to describe the commonplace.
Perhaps it's time for a Stanley Fish to come along and remind us that beauty and symmetry and poetic thought and expression are important, too. Perhaps we need to learn again to enjoy words and sentences for their own sake. Perhaps life doesn't have to thunder and crash about us quite so blatantly after all.
Box 5814, Harlan IA 51593
9780824946319, $4.99, www.amazon.com
Molly Martin, Reviewer
Daily Guideposts 2011 Books, a Spirit Lifting Devotional 35th Anniversary Edition is the latest offering in this highly respected series of study guides fitting for daily inspirational use.
Filled with dialogue and motivating guidance, scripture text and encouraging messages all intended to strengthen, center reflection upon God and advance concentration, perception and aspiration for study of sacred text offered by a multiplicity of Christian leaders, scholars and authors are presented on the pages of the 2011 Guideposts Devotional work. Guideposts Devotionals, are always suitable for gifting, or buying for keeping.
I do not pick up a new Guideposts edition each year; I do try to get for myself a new edition every 2 to 4 years. During the intervening years I revert to one of the old ones much as I reread a different edition, version, translation or revision of the Bible itself each year.
Guideposts inspirational Devotionals have been used for over 3 decades by Bible scholars, neophyte and long time religious minded students alike. Back in 1977, Fred Bauer was motivated to institute a study devotional series presenting fresh material to be used for thought provoking reflection, prayer guidance and deeper investigation into scripture. He was convince such work could be just what the Bible reading populace may perhaps embrace.
Bauer developed that first edition as well as the one in 1978, including all 365 devotions penned by himself. He was accurate in his thinking. The Bible reading populace was indeed pleased the pioneering concept.
Among much of Christendom the term - Bible- has long been thought to refer to the King James Bible and Bible study has been conducted with reading King James. Any one courageous enough to suggest use of another version of the Bible could anticipate a visit from the pastor. Study guides were frowned upon pretty much as might be comic books placed on the pew in church.
Subsequently, as more and more of the Bible reading populace began to benefit from daily Bible reading, many of us found we were not always certain what the beauty of the 1600s English actually meant, and we began to realize that we needed some help.
Study guides and the necessity for more editions of the Bible itself presented in modern English, based in additional study of the original writing began with Bibles themselves frequently presented as daily reading editions leading the reader through the Bible in a year came into their own.
I have found that the year listed on the cover of a particular Guideposts edition is not so noteworthy as is the substance found between the covers. Each adaptation from 1979 onward is as appropriate, jam-packed with thought-provoking messages crafted by a grouping of writers and other religious leaders. I find each one page devotional work tenders a segment of scripture taken from a wide-ranging grouping of Biblical works including old stand bys including King James and the New King James, New International Version, Revised Standard Version, and the like.
Daily devotional material is offered in lucid, comprehensible rhetoric allowing the novice Bible Reader to apply the offering without needing to carry a dictionary along with the Bible and the Guide Posts text.
Since many of the contributors have been submitting daily devotions for numerous years; some of the names listed on the page seem to be those of old friends, while others are analogous to meeting a new one.
Using Guide Posts for daily devotional study is akin to using a roadmap. The tome is not intended to replace Bible Reading, it is designed to supplement individual reading, devotion time and study.
I do have a number of specific books including bible study guides, concordance, a series of Guide Posts as well as other Bible related works all intended to help me unknot a thorny portion of scripture. I often find first one bit or another portion of scripture does lead to a little more digging before I move on.
I enjoy Bible Reading, have done so from my teens, read a miscellany of Bible editions and versions and use a mixture of Bible reading helps including Guide Posts.
Happy to recommend Daily Guideposts 2011 edition.
Red Serpent: The Elemental King
1710 First Avenue, Suite 169, New York, NY 10017
9780982952368, $29.99, www.9ineinc.com
Paul Lappen, Reviewer
This is Part 3 of a projected 10-part series about humanity dealing with an invasion of Earth by a race of humanoid vampires. Things are not going well; what is left of humanity has been pushed onto a giant space station called the Regnum.
In this book, the Regnum is being evacuated. Everyone knows that a vampire attack is coming, and that the Regnum will be the first target. Humanity is moving, not without fighting amongst themselves, to the Moon where living quarters have already been constructed. A number of people resent John Howe having taken dictatorial control over humanity. He feels that the survival of humanity is more important then democracy. Alex, his nephew, is The Falsifier, the one who is destined to lead humanity to ultimate victory over the vampires.
The vampires really want Alex, for a number of reasons. There are several human armies trapped on Earth, numbering over a million men each, so an agreement is reached between the two sides. In exchange for Alex, one of the human armies will be allowed safe passage off the Earth (of course, it's not that simple). They do go to war on a grand scale, with thousands of ships on both sides, and millions of men. The humans have an immense cannon on the Moon that shoots an energy beam at the Earth which laces the atmosphere with silver (vampires and silver do not mix). A person could be forgiven for thinking that the Earth itself has had enough; suddenly, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes are everywhere, killing millions more vampires. The vampires have a secret weapon of their own, called the Hydra Project. For every vampire who is turned into ashes by an energy weapon or silver sword, those ashes instantly re-constitute themselves into two fully functioning warriors. The death toll on both sides is huge.
Meantime, humanity is in open revolt, with strikes and bombings happening all over the Moon. More than once, John Howe has to speak to the people and practically plead with them to stick together. Things get interesting when the planet Migra, the vampire homeworld, suddenly shows up on Earth's doorstep. Along with Migra comes Anaxagoras, the Supreme Leader of the vampires; he is also Alex's grandfather. Alex is the only one with any chance of stopping Anaxagoras.
This is another really good novel. There is plenty of action, and Armstrong does a fine job from beginning to end.
If I Bring You Roses
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446571531, $13.99, www.amazon.com
Sandra Shwayder Sanchez
If I Bring You Roses is more than a love story powerfully and insightfully told. It is also a story about how class and ethnic discrimination impact relationships between men and women. The message is important; the writing is masterful. The entire novel is written in third person narrative but the narrative voice changes with the perspective of the completely believable and engaging characters.
In Part One, the author uses exquisitely poetic and rythmnic language to tell the story of a simple Puerto Rican country girl, Felicidad Hidalgo and leads the reader into the growing girl's pure and loving heart so we not only observe but experience the anxieties, and the yearnings in her life. In the next part she tells the story from the perspective of the more psychologically complex Anibal Acevedo, a young Puerto Rican man who has come to the U.S mainland with big dreams only to be disappointed, exploited and disrespected in the workplace.
The author then moves into an authentic male voice that allows the reader to understand the conflicts in the heart and mind of a man who uses sexual conquest to assuage the pain he feels over his inability to become the man he dreamed of being. Subsidiary characters are rendered with the same authenticity and detail as the two primary characters so every interaction rings true. Using vivid descriptions of places and events and very real dialogue, the author immerses the reader in the Puerto Rican culture both on the island and in the Chicago neighborhood where Felicidad moves to be with Anibal.
We see these two within the contexts of their families and communities and we see how these families and communities sometimes guide, sometimes complicate and sometimes assist the two young people who must learn to navigate not only the cold, unfamiliar terrain of Chicago but the frighteningly unfamiliar terrain of a constantly changing future. In the end both of them are guided by their essentially good hearts into a future that the reader has hope will be a rewarding one.
I highly recommend this book to readers interested in romance grounded in reality, in Latina culture, in civil and human rights for all people regardless of gender, race or ethnicity and to readers who are just interested in reading a really good, engrossing book. I also think it would make an excellent addition to reading lists for college classes in Womens' Studies, Latina studies and classes in Latin American literature.
Downward Dog, Upward Fog
Meryl Davids Landau
Alignment Publishing Company
P.O. Box 880256
Boca Raton, FL 33488
9781936586356 $15.00, www.amazon.com
Downward Dog, Upward Fog by award-winning writer Meryl Davids Landau, is a very nice little book. Landau wrote it because she wondered, "Where are the novels for women like me?" after realizing that there were numerous non-fiction books on the best-seller list for spiritually seeking women, but no novels reflecting their goals. She added, "There are many faith-based Christian and Jewish novels, but hardly any geared to women pursuing a non-religious spiritual life." Downward Dog Upward Fog, a Novel fills that gap beautifully. Although her book is the story of its thirty-three year-year-old heroine, Lorna Crawford's, journey to spirituality, it holds the attention of readers from beginning to end, regardless of their presence or absence of a religious affiliation. As an example, while the reviewer is in no way a spiritualist, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Downward Dog Upward Fog, a Novel, and must admit, I may even have learned something.
The story begins with Lorna's struggles with life, including the horrendous relationship with her mother, who greatly favored Lorna's angelic older sister, Anna (who, fittingly enough, changed her name to Angelica when she became an interfaith minister). Although Lorna has a delightful boyfriend, great friends, and a well-paying job as a special-events coordinator of an ice-cream coordinator, she is filled with self-doubts, which do not subside until she learns to remain on the difficult path to spirituality she has undertaken.
One of Lorna's problems was that she found it difficult to get along with certain people. The theme of the book is that we are all plugged into the universal energy that animates all of life, and if we can only get through to it even in people we don't care for - such as her neighbor, Ruth, her colleague, Carletta, and Brendan Bunker, her firm's top-accounts liaison with whom she had to work side by side a lot and whom she disliked intensely - we will find a connection to everyone. As if to prove the universal truth of the theme, Anna quoted Deepak Chopra to her sister to the effect that there are no coincidences, that "coincidences are messages. They are clues from spirit, urging you to open yourself beyond your familiar patterns of thinking." Lorna didn't believe that for a minute, but was at a loss to explain the impeccably timed appearance of Brendan Bunker just as she was thinking of him. Of course she eventually gets in touch with her genuine feelings for Brendan, which lurk underneath her dislike.
Lorna also learns to listen to her senses, which helps her to live in the moment. For example, she writes of her reaction to an ordinary breakfast (p. 85): "I focus on the feel of my fingers on the warm, porcelain teacup and the cool metal handle of my spoon. I take a sniff of the oatmeal, inhaling deeply.
"Touch and smell now urging me onward, I add sight. Like a baby spying her first banana, I examine its deep yellow color, brown freckles, and oddly shaped tip; I notice the oatmeal, its snowy slopes with moguls and dips."Lo and behold! the breakfast no longer is "ordinary." Landau writes, ""I lift my spoon to my lips, and in one swift motion, I experience the merging of color, smell, texture; and flavor. The result is sublime."
Lorna's newfound spirituality is put to the test when Anna is in a serious automobile accident, and is close to death. Lorna finds some help in Eckhart Tolle's book, The Power of Now, in which he writes, "Surrender to the grief. Embrace it. Then see how the miracle of surrender transmutes deep suffering into deep peace (p. 228)." While the reviewer does not feel Tolle's advice was of much use to her in a similar instance, it seems to have helped Lorna come to terms with her sister's accident.
The author also has a good sense of humor. For example, Lorna says aloud to a radio speaker, "You should have to work with the piranhas in my department. You wouldn't have to wonder if people were talking about you behind your back. You'd know they are."
If there is any shortcoming in the book, it is that the author portrays Lorna's mother more as a characterature than a person. Surely nobody could be that bad! Adding a few desirable traits would have made the lady seem more human. Nevertheless, despite this failing, Meryl Davids Landau's Downward Dog Upward Fog, a Novel, is a delightful, valuable book, which I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a good read and wishes to learn about an important neglected subject in American fiction.
About the Author
Meryl Davids Landau has been published in many top magazines, including O, the Oprah magazine, Reader's Digest, More, Glamour, U.S. News & World Report, Self, Redbook, The Huffington Post and Whole Living. Last year, her work was nominated for a prestigious National Magazine Award. She is also a certified yoga teacher. Meryl lives with her husband and two teenage children in South Florida. This is her first novel. Although Meryl tries to meditate, do yoga, and connect with spirituality on a regular basis, like Lorna Crawford throughout much of the novel, Meryl sometimes falls short. For more information, visit:www.downwarddogupwardfog.com.
The Other Side of the Window
9781458162724 www.amazon.com $3.99
The Other Side of the Window, by Chloe Bierge, is a very interesting book. Not only is it a good story, but it is highly educational in a psychological sense. Savannah Bloom is a small town reporter who handles all the news that a town of 10,000 people is interested in reading. Her big problem, the theme of the book, is that she suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). As a psychoanalyst who has treated patients with OCD, I would like to say that Bierge gives a fascinating study of the disease, as good as any case history I have read in psychiatric journals.
Savannah has to wash her hands continually, take lengthy, boiling hot showers, scrub her body until it is raw, and disinfect all her surroundings, not once but three times each. To say she fears germs is an understatement: her panic has taken over her life. Savannah begins a pilgrimage to seek help, and goes through a series of doctors whom she makes appear ridiculous. They all want to put her on anti-depressants, which do her no good. She feels she needs antibiotics to help fight the infection she is sure has entered her brain, but none of them will prescribe it for her, as apparently they are making money from drug companies for selling anti-depressants. Finally, we discover that Savannah was right all along, that an infection she probably caught from her fiance Chase who was serving with Doctors Without Borders in Africa, was responsible for her illness.
As a psychoanalyst, I cannot go along with Savannah's conclusions. In my professional opinion, the Exposure Therapy she is subjected to often is greatly helpful to OCD sufferers. Nevertheless I found The Other Side of the Window a fascinating, educational tale, which should be of interest to people who want to learn about a painful disease and those who simply like a good story.
About the Author
Stacie Zoe Berg
Contributing Editor, Consumers Digest
Credits in the New York Times, Washington Post,
Consumer Reports, The Scientist, Marie Claire, and others
Member, American Society of Journalists and Authors
Dr. Alma H. Bond
Against All Enemies
Tom Clancy with Peter Telep
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780399157301, $28.95 hardcover, Kindle & Nook eBook: $12.99
Against All Enemies: Tom Clancy . . . Back in the mid-80s, what kept me running regularly was a tape of The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy's first thriller. As it flowed to my ears through my Walkman, I ran longer and farther than I ever had before - or since.
Now fast forward to today. Just a few minutes ago, I finished Against All Enemies, Clancy's latest mystery/thriller. And, let me start out by saying that it's vintage Clancy. It's a cross between an engineering course, a military and/or spy-craft training manual, and a race across the world in a chase-'em-down-shoot-'em-up spy style. The body count keeps growing throughout, good people and bad people, and some deaths almost brought me to tears, others I cheered when they met their inglorious ends.
This novel is up-to-date and touches on almost every issue we read or hear about in the world we live in today. One truly remarkable section of the story deals with Navy SEALS. All of us who followed the story of the SEALS and Osama Bin Laden couldn't help but wonder - how in the world do they do those kinds of things?
Tom Clancy will tell you. And what you read will only increase your appreciation and admiration for what they do in service to their country. His central character in this book is a former SEAL. Clancy includes exhaustive - no pun intended - detail about the unimaginably grueling training SEALS undergo. After reading it, I was not only worn out myself, but I swear my muscles actually ached in sympathy. Clancy's research for his novels is so thorough and his connections in the various fields he writes about are so extensive that I am certain what he's described is truly what SEALS go through.
The story connects two of the major concerns in the intelligence community, law enforcement and the military today - terrorism and drug smuggling. The story reaches across thousands of miles and wildly different cultures and offers a really scary scenario of what can happen when evil-doers of different stripes find common cause even though toward differing ends (think of how a tunnel between Mexico and the U.S. could be used).
Clancy's fictional stew mixes people from Pakistan, Mexico, the U.S., Columbia. He throws in drug dealers and cartels, spies of various nations, law enforcement good and bad, engineering marvels, and describes in Clancy-style detail an entire panoply of the most modern weaponry available today.
Some of his so-technical descriptions of weapons, ammunition and their uses doesn't, in my estimation, do much to move the story forward. It's a very long read, but there is enough excitement in it overall for almost anybody's entertainment.
If I were the youngster I used to be, I'd get a tape and go running, no, actually, I'd walk. But I did read much of this while on an elliptical strider at my health club. Time flew . . . .
Against All Enemies has just about everything a Clancy fan would expect.
A Darker Place
Laurie R. King
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307567352, $7.99 pbk / $23.95 hc, www.amazon.com
Laurie R. King is well known among mystery fans for her popular series of Sherlock Holmes pastiches, featuring Mary Russell, who becomes Holmes's partner in mind and heart. She also writes the Kate Martinelli mystery/detective series.
King's own background is unusual in that it includes, as she tells us, "such diverse interests as Old Testament theology and construction work . . . ." And the mind-set that can encompass such breadth is brought to bear in "A Darker Place." It's a novel that is as fascinating as it is challenging.
A DARKER PLACE, by Laurie R. King . . . In this novel, King creates a world that will be unfamiliar to most of us. The story follows its own unique path, building a sense that there are things here that we don't want to know, yet there they are, just below the surface of the action. King, a skilled writer, weaves fact with fiction and uses this growing sense of discomfort to keep us hanging on, looking forward to the next revelation.
King has chosen a fascinating and unusual way of introducing each section of the story. She uses headings taken from a book written in 1652 about "alchymie," in archaic English that she has modernized. The headings, the definitions of the headings, and the "Notes from Anne Waverly's Journal" throughout the novel, add much to its other-worldly feel. Readers who skip over these will lose some of the sense of the novel.
The central actor in this story, Professor Anne Waverly, teaches undergraduate courses in religion, and occasionally works incognito with the FBI, primarily in breaking up cults. She is now risking her mental equilibrium and possibly even her life, to become Ana Wakefield, and go undercover to find the truth about an unusual cult-like organization called Change. The commune/cult - what it really is is unclear - is named after its founder, who calls himself Steven Change.
Each of the members is searching for some sort of change in his or her life, some for themselves, some for their children as well. Ana is particularly sensitive to the plight of the children, having lost her beloved child and husband to a cult some years earlier. When she gets to know two children, one a teen, the other a small girl who reminds her of her dead daughter, both grab Ana's heart and become central to her thoughts and actions.
Ana carefully and gradually immerses herself in the odd, mysterious, and murky culture of Change and its quirky inhabitants, people of various ages and degrees of education and sophistication. The characters King places in the story are not just the people, but the place itself. For example, imagine a "meditation" room, huge, high ceilinged, along whose walls are platforms set at various heights, on which members sit during "meditation." All the property that encompasses Change is itself part of the action.
Bit by bit, over the weeks, Ana watches and listens, works to gain the confidence of others in the group, snoops around the property, inside and out, when she can get away with it. Eventually she pieces together what she believes is happening within the walls of Change. She then sets about to learn whether what she surmises is actually what it is. Soon enough, she realizes that it is up to her to get the two youngsters out of the commune and the danger she suspects it poses.
From beginning to end, the reader senses that there is a real threat to Ana, not just a physical one, but that the memories of the loss of her family through another cult may affect her judgment in ways that can put her and the two children in jeopardy.
As the introduction to Part one suggests, alchemy, the centuries-old search to find a way to change lead into gold, plays a role in the novel. There is much to ponder in the book. A reader wonders: at what point does the desire for good become evil as it plays itself out? King leads the reader through the maze to a conclusion that maintains suspense until the last sentence.
When I finished A Darker Place, I had not only had an interesting and engaging experience in Anna/Ana's world, but had many a philosophical discourse with myself, learned a good deal about alchemy and science, cults and what they are and are not - and what may inspire people to attempt to hide themselves away from the world. I hope you'll have a similar reading experience. It's not an easy book, but one well worth the time.
Mount Vernon Love Story
Mary Higgins Clark
Simon & Shuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
0743233808 hardcover $22.00
e-book; $7.99, audiobook $19.87
I'll Walk Alone
Mary Higgins Clark
Simon & Shuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
1439186790, Hardcover; $14.84
Kindle/Nook e-book: $12.99, audiobook: $21.59
Two Mary Higgins Clark Reviews: Suspense & a Love Story
My husband and I recently read two Mary Higgins Clark books at the same time. We both used modern technology, but of different modes and for different reasons. The two books were by the same author but of distinctly different time frames and cultural issues.
My husband, Jim, "reads" digitally recorded books from the NC Library for the blind, since he has lost most of his vision to end stage macular degeneration. I order his books online and they are mailed to him. This service is a blessing that can't truly be appreciated until you have lost your sight as he has. In my case, I do much of my novel reading on an e-reader, a Barnes and Noble Nook with both WiFi and 3G technology. I order books from the Nook section of B&N, and they're downloaded directly to my reader, usually within minutes.
The book Jim read is the first novel Clark published, in the 60s. It was reissued in 2002 under the name Mount Vernon Love Story. The one I read is Clark's last novel to date, titled I'll Walk Alone.
Mount Vernon Love Story is the sweet romance of a young couple - Martha (Patsy) Custis and George Washington - and their marriage in 1759 at her estate, called the White House. Bride and groom were both 27 at the time of their marriage. The book moves back and forth in time and paints a picture of the two young people - George and Patsy Washington - that fascinated and astonished me.
I was fascinated by the historical elements of this semi-biographical tale, and astonished that Mary Higgins Clark started her wildly successful suspense-and-mystery-writing career with what is in essence a romance, not a bodice-ripper, but a warm and human love story that made a real person out of a man who in my mind lived only in history books. GW was commander of an army, crossed the Delaware, surveyed much of our country, rode horses as well as any Indian, and built a beautiful estate called Mount Vernon.
But never did I imagine the father of our country as a young man goin' a'courtin'. Never did I think of him as having tender feelings toward his beloved and her children, and accepting and helping raise them as if they were his own. A Mount Vernon Love Story is a warm, gentle story. I recommend it to anyone as an antidote to some of the ugliness of our world today.
While Jim was reading a tale of the 18th century and its culture and mores, I was reading, on my Nook, about a most modern threat - identity theft, one of those ugly things that exist in our world today. As if we don't have enough to worry about in phony mortgages and loans, money stolen from bank accounts, and all sorts of other financial mischief, Mary Higgins Clark's novel, I'll Walk Alone, adds extra dimensions to identify theft - possible kidnapping, and murder.
At the center of the story is a young woman whose life has been deeply shadowed by the disappearance of her toddler. As time goes on, some unknown someone seems to be making a serious and deliberate attempt to strip her of everything that matters to her - her successful business, her family, her freedom, what happiness she has managed to make for herself.
Clark is a master at muddying the waters, and throughout the book, the reader is convinced first that this person, then that person, then - who knows who - is the villain. Or maybe villains. I especially enjoy the suspense of time and again making an assumption about where the plot is going, then finding out I'm wrong. This book has good twists and turns, and red herrings that may or may not be that.
It's a good read, relatively fast. Definitely worth the time.
The Jefferson Key
c/o Random House Publishing Group
9780345530165 $13.00 hardcover
Kindle & Nook eBook: $12.99
The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry . . . The story Berry tells moves up and down much of the eastern seaboard of the United States - New York City, Washington, DC, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, Richmond, Virginia, and the tiny town of Bath, North Carolina, once a hotbed of pirate activity.
It has as diverse a cast of characters as anyone could want, almost too many to easily keep straight. It offers history, mystery, presidents and lesser politicians, assassinations real and faked, double-dealing, a secret code apparently beyond deciphering, privateers and pirates both "old-school" and modern. The action ranges through hotels, Jefferson's Monticello, Grand Central station in New York, pirate coves, wealthy estates, and an alphabet soup of intelligence agencies, some you know are real, some maybe not.
Cotton Malone, a recurring Berry hero, returns to the U.S. after overseas adventures, and finds himself pulled unwillingly into some American-style intrigue. The central villain in this piece is a loosely-knit confederation of modern-day privateers calling itself the Commonwealth, which has as its base land allocated centuries ago and divided among the four families who make up the Commonwealth. First organized in 1793, the Commonwealth and its gathered treasure has remained in the hands of its founders' descendants for all generations since.
Berry mixes fact and fiction so skillfully that the reader needs the writer's notes at the end of the book to be sure which is which. The Commonwealth becomes so real that you begin to wonder why you haven't heard these names before in all the financial upheaval of recent years - although Berry makes their secretiveness and sense of entitlement a necessary part of their activities.
They consider themselves privateers serving their country, rather than pirates serving only themselves. Yet here are the private thoughts of one leader of the Commonwealth when he has been accused of acting like a pirate:
"Sea monsters, hellhounds, robbers, opposers, corsairs, buccaneers, violators of all laws human and divine, devils incarnate, children of the wicked one." All labels for pirates. Was he one of them? "If that's what they think of me," he whispered, "then why not?"
In the novel, Berry makes clear the difference between pirates and privateers, and offers a good deal of interesting and factual information about the life of real pirates. One of the most astonishing facts to me was that pirate life was very different from what we imagine, living as we do in a "Pirates of the Caribbean" world. Here's what Berry says (in his author's notes):
"A pirate's world, though raucous, stayed orderly thanks to agreed-upon articles that governed key ventures. A pirate ship is one of the earliest examples of a working democracy."
Central to the plot of The Jefferson Key is the Jefferson Wheel, a set of 26 wooden disks which have the letters of the alphabet carved randomly into the disks and can be used for secret messages if both sender and receiver have disks. The secret message in this case is the location of some missing documents of tremendous potential value to the Commonwealth as well as the U.S. government, and getting to the documents first is the goal of all the characters. The body count on the way to that goal is substantial, and methods are varied, and in some cases horrifying.
Berry has a knack for description of buildings and places that brings them to life. This is essential for this kind of novel, since much action takes place in these structures, with chases up and down stairs in hotels and other buildings, and through Grand Central station. His description of Jefferson's Monticello is described in a compelling and enticing manner and, if you've never toured the place, it will make you want to hit the road to Virginia as soon as you've finished the book.
I hope that readers won't stop at the end of the novel but continue on through the writer's notes. They are not only interesting, but they will answer a number of questions that I think some readers will have about what is fact and what is fiction. Mixing the two ingeniously and effectively can result in a thoroughly twisted tale where the plot changes almost wear out us wondering what's next.
Berry's twists and turns don't stop till the game is played out.
A good summer read. Or for a wintry day.
Pyramid and Four Other Kurt Wallander Mysteries
The New Press
38 Green Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10013
1565849949 Nook eBook: $14:82, $25.93 hardcover
Henning Mankell's Pyramid and Four Other Kurt Wallander Mysteries . . . Henning Mankell is Swedish and has - who would have guessed it - created a Swedish detective in Kurt Wallander. Sweden is a very different country culturally and politically from the U.S. and its policing is different in some respects, similar in others. That gives these short stories and their central character, a police detective, extra dimensions that add interest to each of the different plots.
Putting these mysteries together as they are is, to me, almost a stroke of editing genius. These mysteries were written at different times, some have run in newspapers, two have not seen the light of day until this book was published. (Mankell, in his foreword, sets the tone for the stories in the book. Please don't miss it.) Mankell wrote Wallander's First Case long after the others, in response to readers who expressed interest in knowing some back story of Kurt Wallander and how he got to be who he is.
The stories, all with good plots and intriguing mysteries, are an easy read; Mankell's style, at least in these mysteries, consists mainly of short sentences, and he wastes few words on long expository or descriptive passages. (They have been translated from the Swedish and that possibly has some bearing on the style.) Each of the stories is very different, although of course each is a mystery and each involves murder. They also vary greatly in length. Pyramid is the longest of the five, The Man with the Mask the shortest; my e-book page count for the latter is about 17 pages.
I first read the book not intending to review it, so I skipped the foreword and just started reading. But the first story grabbed me, and as I read through the rest, I began to see what was going on. At least what I thought was going on. This is a series-in-a-book, not an anthology or an aggregation of disparate short stories. Each story neatly follows the other in an almost novelistic manner, despite having been written at different times.
Mankell uses this technique to show the reader how Kurt Wallander evolves from a young cop (Wallander's First Case) on his first job to a full-fledged detective (Pyramid) with 20 years experience to his credit. At the beginning, Wallander is hoping to marry his Mona, no matter the difficulties their relationship presents. By the final story in the book, he is newly divorced from Mona, still yearning for her, and missing their daughter. But he soldiers on, trying to find but somehow always failing to create a new love for himself.
Each of the five stories grows Wallander, in age, in wisdom, and in his professional life as a respected but generally insecure finder of clues, solver of puzzles. While many fictional detectives unerringly pick up on clues and relationships that elude others, Wallander is a fallible, usually apprehensive, thoroughly human guy in his approach to his job as a detective. As he works his way through each crime in each story, in the back of his mind there is always some elusive, worrying "thing" that he can't quite grasp and that he believes could be important.
We also see the evolution, for better or worse, of Wallander's painful and awkward relationship with his father, his falling into and out of love - and marriage - with Mona, and his deep love for their daughter. He keeps himself to himself, and his generally somber outlook on life reflects the countryside and the climate. Apparently the insecurity that Wallander manifests is not unusual in the Swedish population. Here is how Mankell, who gave life and personality to Wallander, says it:
"It was only after I had written the eighth and final installment in the series about Kurt Wallander that I thought of the subtitle I had always sought but never found. When everything, or at least most of it, was over I understood that the subtitle naturally had to be 'Novels about the Swedish Anxiety.'"
It would be inappropriate for me to address in this review Swedish culture and politics, but Mankell's words can easily be translated into the daily back-of-the-mind anxiety that afflicts Wallander. I might even say these stories could be subtitled "Mysteries about an Anxious Detective."
But whether Wallander is riddled with "Swedish Anxiety" or just the anxiety that in our troubled world today afflicts all of us, unless we are living in a cave somewhere, he makes an interesting detective and these are interesting stories. The plots and the crimes are inventive and have unusual elements and odd twists and characters that kept me - and of course Kurt Wallander - wondering until the last paragraph.
An interesting read. Because it's made up of short and connected mysteries featuring the same detective, it's an easy book to read awhile, put down and pick up again, without losing any plot points. Read it, and listen up! Do not neglect the foreword.
Firesong: A Gus LeGarde Mystery
Aaron Paul Lazar
Twilight Times Books
PO Box 3340, Kingsport, TN 37664
1606191640, $9.63 Paperback, Nook eBook: $3.25
Professor of Music Gus LeGarde, the central character in Firesong, is a man of many roles - devoted husband, father, grandfather, leader in his tiny, impoverished Methodist church, trusted friend of many. Gus has seen a bit of the world in past days, done his share of traveling, had some unusual experiences in a variety of places.
Now he's back where his real home and heart are, in his small town in New York's Genesee Valley. It would seem, at this time and in this place that means so much to him, Gus should be living a well-ordered, peace-filled life, tending his gardens and feeding his extended family from the bounty of his own efforts. But instead of peaceful days and quiet nights, Gus and the town experience a confluence of troubles the like of which it hasn't seen for many years. If ever.
Lazar's love for this part of the world radiates throughout his writing. Firesong is an unhurried novel, despite the growing number of crises Lazar sets up for this community. He takes the time necessary to make events real for the reader as they happen to Gus and his family and friends:
In a tornado, you can hear the howling of the wind, the sounds of glass breaking and walls collapsing; you can feel the terror of the trapped people wondering if they will survive.
In a forest fire, you can smell the smoke, hear the crackling of the flames as the fire leaps from treetop to treetop, getting ever closer.
In a cave, you can sense the dankness, the deep dark of the under-world, the strange sounds that may be strange creatures running about.
As water suddenly begins to flow and grows deeper around your ankles, you wonder frantically what it might be like to drown.
And this is by no means a complete list of the harrowing experiences set forth for Gus and others in the town. How does the Civil War underground railroad figure in all this? Why do native Americans, college kids, and environmentalists plan possibly dangerous protests? Why is the minister in a heroin-induced coma? Who is the person whose grave is opened by the tornado? Is there a room behind the fireplace in the LeGarde house?
Thus goes Gus's quiet summer. Instead of pleasant, easy-going days, he finds danger, challenge, painful revelations, ongoing problems that come to a head, all seemingly at once. Lazar, though, won't let Gus off the hook, won't give him easy solutions.
But he does provide solutions. Satisfying ones that make sense for Gus and the others who people this small town in the Genesee Valley. Lazar explains in his afterwords his personal relationship with that part of the country, and we know he'll never cause it any lasting harm.
There's lots of good stuff in this book, sweet, realistic family stuff, people stuff, that will give you a smile and touch your heart, as if these were real people (they are for the length of the novel). Gus's relationship with his grandson Johnny is a delight. Parents will likely recall their own children's infancy through Lazar's description of Gus's twin baby granddaughters, their teething, sniffles, attempts to walk, all the kinds of things babies do. Nice to feel a part of this family.
Read the book. Find out how it all ends. It's a nice story about nice people - I take that back, they're not all nice - but overall it's a good and satisfying read.
Marcia K. Applegate, Reviewer
Cries Of The Heart
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781617777752, $14.99, www.tatepublishing.com
Poetry has a unique ability to convey emotion through both the spoken and the written word. Poetry has capability to evoke, inspire, entertain, or simply take us out of ourselves and into the realities and metaphysics of the human experience. Perhaps better known for his western novels such as "Saga of a Comanche Warrior" and "Chief Red Nose", Max Oliver is just such a poet as evidenced by his work anthologized in "Cries Of The Heart", a 222-page compendium of his verse. This is a body of extraordinary work that can be confidently recommended to anyone with an affinity towards the well chosen word and our contemporary world. 'Puzzlements': Have you ever wondered at the ways of man? / Why he does the things he does / And tries to understand / What causes the CEO to cheat on his expense / It's small change there / When you compare / His salary for a year / Why does the broker lie / To clients he advises / Their confidence die / And he a market make / For his livelihood sake / More confidence break / Why does the contractor / Bid on fixed specifications / And cheapen the factor / By supplying the lesser / Why does the public servant / Take an oath to serve / Then use most of his time / Vacations, holidays to observe / Even the highest would / Feather his nest / And build a "war chest" / It seems he would battle with God / To gain his party's nod
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456775339, $13.32, www.authorhouse.com
When a parent seems to be two people, so many questions can confuse a young mind. "Bipolar Parent" is Anna Burley's own recollections with her father who she believed to be bipolar, and trying to understand that if it is her fate to struggle with such a disorder. A story of facing family with their struggle and trying to understand it all, "Bipolar Parent" is a moving and thoughtful read of the crisis of bipolarity.
Americana: A Civics Handbook
Straight from the source is one of the best ways to understand America's documents. "Americana: A Civics Handbook" is a resource that presents direct information straight from the archives, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Amendments to the constitution. With other miscellaneous info, "Americana" is worth considering for a simple compilation of resources.
Going with the Pitch
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781460919897, $12.99, www.amazon.com
The pressures on college athletes is quite intense. "Going with the Pitch: Adjusting to Baseball, School, and Life as a Division I College Athlete" is memoir from Ken Jacobi as he recounts his journey from playing baseball in high school, the scholarship he gained, and how he struggles to be some of the best among it all. Speaking on the experiences he has faced both on and off the field, his story is one that many youths face as they pursue their athletic dreams. "Going with the Pitch" is a strong pick for those looking for a youthful sports memoir.
Tale of Betrayal and Little Ditties
419 Park Ave., South
New York, NY 10016
9780533163427, $12.95, www.vantagepress.com
Facing fifty years of marriage requires a bit of wit and humor to survive. "Tale of Betrayal and Little Ditties" is a collection of humor and poetry from Ellen Browning, passing seven decades of life and spending most of them fortunately or unfortunately married. Spinning life's lessons and politics into it all, "Tale of Betrayal and Little Ditties" is a touching and highly recommended read, not to be overlooked.
A Dad's Point of View
June David Publishing
9780983316602, $19.95, www.brucesallan.com
A father is more important than is given credit for. "A Dad's Point of View: We Are Half the Equation" is a parenting guide from Bruce Sallan about being a father in today's world. He speaks on being in a second marriage, connecting with estranged children, connecting with children from a second marriage, dealing with the teenaged years and the rising phenomena of the stay-at-home dad. "A Dad's Point of View" is a thoughtful read with plenty of wisdom for fathers that reminds fathers that their impact is more important than they think.
Next Time Lucky
9781456392444, $12.80, www.nextimelucky.com
It's easy to throw other people at each other, but it isn't so easy for yourself. "Next Time Lucky: Confessions of a Dating Guru" follows Cherie, professional matchmaker who takes on the very difficult case of finding someone for her. As she wades through the weird, creepy, and unusual, her journey to make the most of it all often proves ineffective. With a bit of wisdom blended in, "Next Time Lucky" is a fine read and very much recommended reading.
Four Years of Hungering
419 Park Ave, South, New York, NY 10016
9780533163052, $8.95, www.vantagepress.com
College is just one last stop on the road to harsh reality. "Four Years of Hungering" is a college memoir-driven novel from Dalton Stephenson as he tells his tale of the rapidly changing set of life that comes with the college years. Touching on the loves and losses, and the know it all but know nothing nature of college, "Four Years of Hungering" is a thoughtful read of college life, highly recommended.
And God Said, "Let There Be Evolution!"
Charles M. Wynn, & Arthur W. Wiggins
9780984639250, $16.99, www.amazon.com
Who says faith and science needs to be mutually exclusive? "And God Said, 'Let There Be Evolution!': Reconciling the Book of Genesis, the Qur'an, and the Theory of Evolution" is a meeting of science, faith, and more as Charles Wynn and Arthur Wiggins as they try meet the three Abrahamic with the commonly accepted theory of evolution. Presenting a picture which science and God are not enemies, they remind readers that they do not have to abandon their faith for science. "And God Said, 'Let There Be Evolution!'" is a strong pick for any fan of both faith and logic, highly recommended.
Champagne and Roses
Arthur J. Benson
419 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016
9780533164172, $22.95, www.vantagepress.com
Cancer destroys many lives with its affliction, and not just of the sufferer. "Champagne and Roses: A Story of Love and Cancer" is a memoir or Arthur J. Benson recalling the struggle he faced with his wife Sandy, as she faces the cancer that she fought for nearly two years before succumbing to it. A chronicle of love and the effects of cancer, "Champagne and Roses" is a touching tale of facing cancer together.
Let's Shoot for Friday
Daniel S. Goodman
1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100
West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
9780741465030, $13.95, www.infinitypublishing.com
Pun and wit can come together to resemble something like poetry. "Let's Shoot for Friday" is a collection of poetry-like bursts of language and wit from Daniel S. Goodman who offers many twists of language, observations and much more into a unique picture. "Let's Shoot for Friday" is worth considering for humor collections. "I Wonder": if the waterboy for the New Orleans Saints/passes out holy water to the players/just before the games begin.
Old Loves Die Hard
9781460935132, $14.99, www.projetoonline.com
Murder isn't a very good house warming gift. "Old Loves Die Hard" is a mystery following Mac Faraday, who through everything life throws at him, inherits millions from his mother. With his recent divorce, he finds that he's suddenly wanted back in his ex-wife's life. When the Ex and her lover show up dead on his new estate, he finds the find the fingers of blame on him for the deaths and that he must think quick to clear his name and keep hold of his new found fortune. "Old Loves Die Hard" is an excellent and fast paced read that will keep the readers guessing.
Sustainable Weight Loss
D. Lee Waller
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462001606, $23.95, www.iuniverse.com
Maintaining a good weight is something you need to be mindful about. "Sustainable Weight Loss: The Definitive Guide to Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight" is a guide for readers in trying to attain a reasonable and usable weight loss system that is realistic and realizes that most people are not going to be mister or miss America. Balancing calories, lifestyle changes, and much more, "Sustainable Weight Loss" is a well reasoned read that should be considered for anyone planning their life for weight loss.
The Tea Party & the Tyrant: Liberty vs. Tyranny
Felton (Toby) Williamson, Jr.
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463560492 $7.95 print / $2.95 Kindle http://commonsense21c.com
Enhanced with humorous black-and-white cartoons symbolizing the struggle between "liberty" and "tyranny" on virtually every page, The Tea Party & the Tyrant: Liberty vs. Tyranny is a compilation of thirty-three brief articles encapsulating the talking points of America's Tea Party movement. Severely critical of President Barack Obama and his political decisions, which are accused of paving the way to tyranny or even Nazi-like fascism, The Tea Party & the Tyrant runs down a long list of hot-button social issues, from gun control to marriage and family values to thorny economic issues. So many modern problems are covered that The Tea Party & the Tyrant cannot focus in-depth upon any of them, but as a whole it provides an excellent snapshot of the Tea Party's social, cultural, and fiscal outlook on contemporary politics.
Willis M. Buhle
Hunger, Nakedness, & Cold
419 Park Ave, South, New York, NY 10016
9780533163595, $24.95, www.vantagepress.com
The resiliency of the human spirit is terrifying when you see it to its fullest extent. "Hunger, Nakedness, & Cold" is a memoir from Claudio Plazas, as he tells his story of coming up as an illegitimate son in a small rural village in Columbia, scraping away struggling to survive through it all, struggling to survive, joining the military, before taking he and his children to America in hopes of finally finding happiness. "Hunger, Nakedness, & Cold" is a moving story of the drive of the human spirit to find something better, for themselves and for their future.
The Fantastical Mystery of Ritterhouse Fay
Lemon Gulch Books
9789197918862, $15.40, www.lemongulchbooks.com
A new neighbor brings some changes, but the people around Fay don't know what their in for. "The Fantastical Mystery of Ritterhouse Fay" follows the unusual nature of Fay, the woman who alters everything around her in her rows of flats. Voices, witches, and much more spin into a very entertaining novel, making "The Fantastical Mystery of Ritterhouse Fay" very much worth considering.
Death Rides a Palomino
9780557367382, $15.95, www.amazon.com
The fight for justice is never easy in the old west. "Death Rides a Palomino" is a novel from Thomas McNulty as he brings an old west thriller of Sheriff Bob Carter and the unusual characters of his town. As a stranger comes in, evil has come with him, and it's up to Sheriff Carter and his wits to bring justice back to his town. With an additional western short story, "Death Rides a Palomino" is worth considering for any western lover.
God's Perfect Plan
Mark Paul Bishop
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781617398421, $18.99, www.tatepublishing.com
Realizing one's destiny is important for embracing one's relationship with God. "God's Perfect Plan" is a Christian memoir from Dr. Mark Paul Bishop, who discusses his faith and his profession and how they intertwine. Stating that the absence of God in our lives leads to an emptiness, he states his own experiences as a physician and seeing this come alive. "God's Perfect Plan" is a spiritual and recommended memoir, not to be overlooked for Christian readers.
When Once I Lived
John S. Oney
9780981809014, $17.95, www.amazon.com
History is filled with the clashing of brilliance and mistakes. "When Once I Lived: A Meditation on a Period of Time Less than Eternity" is a musing of philosophy and life, blending in philosophy and fiction throughout. John S. Oney touches on many subjects with a very pro-religious message. For those looking for an unusual work of faith, "When Once I Lived" is very much worth considering.
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450282833, $16.95, www.iuniverse.com
As science grows, life's challenges become all the more complicated. "Time Travelers: Quantum Magic" is a science fiction novel following Danville Chandler, who pushes science to finally enable the possibility of time travel, as well as travel to alien worlds. But the first experiences with this new technology are ones of uncertainty and challenge, as well as revealing of the mysteries of Atlantis. "Time Travelers" is a unique story with plenty of twists growing out from our own world and its legends.
Journey of Hope
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781617396298, $15.99, www.tatepublishing.com
The tenacity to survive may be what you need to overcome your condition. "Journey of Hope" is a spiritual memoir from Barbara Colby as she discusses her own challenges, facing an ailment that was looking to destroy her life. As traditional medicine wasn't able to help her, she looked to faith. "Journey of Hope" is very much worth considering for those considering alternative and holistic medicine.
A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind
9781906998905, $12.95, www.parthianbooks.co.uk
What is at first unusual may be followed with legend. "A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind" is a unique story of a small Belgian town who are pelted with dead fish by the wind. As the town deals with its dead fish problem, the people ponder what it means. Blending in folk legend of small European towns and the effect it will have on their lives, "A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind" is a moving and thoughtful read, very much recommended.
Thorns in the Heart
9781456585495, 14.99, www.amazon.com
The disease of addiction one that must be beat by will, making it one of the toughest to overcome. "Thorns in the Heart" is a Christian driven guide to facing addiction from Steven Stiles as he advises readers on how to deal with the mental, physical, and spiritual task that is overcoming addiction. He weaves spirituality into it and explains how faith inserted into one's life can make all the difference. "Thorns in the Heart" is a top pick for anyone who wants to look faith to conquer the pain of addiction.
The Blackberry Bush
9781609361167, $14.99, www.summersidepress.com
Even when the world is handed to you, there can be something missing. "The Blackberry Bush" spins a story of two individuals, separated by an ocean but feeling incomplete. As their lives are incomplete, one chance encounter could change both of their lives forever, as they dance with the concepts of fate and destiny. "The Blackberry Bush" is an intriguing work of looking for what is lost in one's life, highly recommended.
Resurrecting the Street
9781456519896, $12.99, www.amazon.com
9/11 was not only a shock to the people, it was a shock to the financial world. "Resurrecting the Street: How the U. S. Markets Prevailed After 9/11" analyzes the financial story behind 9/11, how key people in the markets being lost or killed and the massive shut down of business and other places led to a very unique period of business. Through dedication and drive, the markets recovered, but their road to recovery is one unique in history. "Resurrecting the Street" is well worth considering for anyone who wants another angle to the crisis of 9/11.
The Ultimate Bar Book
H. F. Ullman
9783833148033, $39.95, www.ullmann-publishing.com
The taste for liquor is one that is far and wide, because liquor now offers many tastes. "The Ultimate Bar Book: The World of Spirits and Cocktails" is a guide to seeing and understanding everything that the world of alcohol has to offer, detailing countless spirits, vodkas, rums, brandies, and other alcoholic beverages to give a more complete understanding about how varied the world of adult beverages can be. Presented in full color, Andre Domine offers a fine study that acts as both a curious read and a solid reference, making "The Ultimate Bar Book" very much recommended reading.
Vibrance for Life
9780983314806, $14.95, www.vibranceforlife.com
Good health is the first step to a happier life. "Vibrance for Life: How to Live Younger & Healthier" is a self-help guide that focuses on finding how to make the changes in one's life to live it with more vigor, stating that physical and mental health blend well to find greater health through it all. With additional information on understanding genetics, "Vibrance for Life" is a fine read and very much recommended for those trying to get the thrill and youth back into their lives.
A Conspiracy of Mirrors
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432771331, $26.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Everyone is the sum of their lives, a reflection of those around them. "A Conspiracy of Mirrors" is a collection of poetry from David McLeod who discusses these reflections and their impact on our lives as a whole. Also blended in throughout the poetry is color artwork from Patrick Coyne & Paolo Sabella. "A Conspiracy of Mirrors" is worth checking out for poetry fans.
Michael J. Carson
Rasner's Revenge: The Rasner Effect III
376 West Quarry Road, London, Texas 76854
9781603183437, $15.95, http://www.lldreamspell.com
Two weeks after the breakup of the Duke Organization, its leader, Rick Rasner, is incarcerated in a mental asylum with a roommate who claims to be king of an African island. Rick plots his escape with one goal in mind: to kill General William Straker, the man who put him there, before Straker can kill him. Teenager Clara Blue, whom Rick helped escape from the Brookhill Psychiatric Institute, is trying to rebuild the Duke organization so she can rescue Rick, but not having much luck. Clara has a secret, one which will be the end of her life if Rick finds out, but she is willing to take that chance in order to help the man she perceives as her surrogate father. She ultimately decides the only one who can help her is Rick's nemesis, Jake Scarberry. Although Jake has tried to kill Rick twice before, Clara hopes if she offers him enough money, his mercenary skills can be bought and he can put aside his hatred for Rick long enough to save his life.
Once more, Rosendorf fills the book with unlikeables, bringing to life characters who are merciless and cruel and whom readers will not feel much sympathy for. However, this ingenious strategy works for this series, and redemption hovers for some. The plot moves fast, packed with action and suspense and nicely tuned twists and turns.
St. Louis Hustle: 'Nam Noir Series
376 West Quarry Road, London, Texas 76854
9781603183062, $15.95, http://www.lldreamspell.com
In this second installment of the 'Nam Noir Series, Elvin Suggs and Dimond "Di" Redding, along with their friend, fellow Vietnam vet Cobra Glynes, have begun a new chapter in their lives: moving to a new home and starting the Grapevine Detective Agency. Their first case is to trail Nick Davies, husband of Emily, who suspects Nick is having an affair. This is confirmed when they follow Nick to the Coral Court Motel, a cheap place popular for secret love trysts. There's something about Emily Di doesn't trust, and this is borne out when Emily is spotted at the same motel her husband utilizes. The investigators come up against a block wall when they try to question the secretive desk clerk, who refuses to divulge any information about the motel's regulars. After Nick's girlfriend is found dead, the police zone in on Nick. When the bodies of two other women are discovered, Detective Reggie Combs has his hands full trying to figure out if the murders are connected, who is behind them, and the possible motive. The investigators team up with the detective, ultimately placing their own lives in danger.
This mystery, which takes place in the gritty back streets of south St. Louis, Missouri, is replete with suspicious characters. The plot is a good one, offering a mystery readers will be challenged to solve. Applewhite conveys the seediness of characters and locales in a vivid, colorful manner. Her characters are fleshed out and real, enhanced with dialogue that rings true.
Christy Tillery French
Just Tell Me What to Eat!
Timothy S. Harlan, MD
c/o Perseus Books Group
11 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142
9780738214528, $25.00, www.amazon.com
Dr. Timothy S. Harlan's book "Just Tell Me What to Eat!" is for those of us who are overweight and need more than just a diet plan to lose weight! He wears many hats which amply qualify him to also be known as Dr. Gourmet. He is medical director at the Tulane University School of Medicine, a chef, professor, and Emmy-winning television personality.
There are many fad diets which we all have been exposed to over the years. Each one of them has many attributes and quirky recipe ideas. However, one thing that most of them have in common is the dieter after achieving a weight loss goal will gain the weight back plus several more pounds.
There have been the "Atkins's Diet, South Beach, Ornish, Zone, the blood type diet, detoxing, and the cookie diet." According to Dr. Harlan "I have heard it all and never had a patient truly succeed with them for the long term."
The main reason he feels is that the fad diets do not work is people do not understand food. Great tasting food needs to become a part of their lives, even while dieting. This is one book which concentrates on the idea of losing weight and enjoying it.
An outstanding feature of this book is that in simple terms you are shown how to change your eating habits by putting a variety of healthy food items into meal planning. Dr. Harlan pointed out that in order to have a successful diet plan it is necessary to have the items for meals in the house. The excuse of not having all ingredients available should not interfere with healthy meals. Shopping lists are referenced to a website which he maintains. Serving portions for the diets are to be measured by weight and the meal is prepared for all household members. Portion control can be increased for those who are not dieting and in the provided recipes are methods for adding additional quantities.
A novel twist is the interaction between the book and a website. At last we have some advance thinking and more bang for your buck!
Each week of the plan are tasteful palate openers! Two meats dishes, three fish dishes, and two vegetarian meals form the basics. Not only does the good doctor tell what you should eat, he tells how to prepare the food so that it is tasty and appetizing. From time to time we all like to eat out and get some of those meals which are made by our favorite restaurants. He not only names the restaurants to frequent, he tells you what to order and because the portions are far larger than the diet menu, he talks about getting that doggie bag so you can eat leftovers the next day. After a time on the diet you can even enjoy a cocktail if you are so inclined!
Is this a quick weight loss program? Definitely not! Dr. Harlan points out that the main pitfall of many fad diets is the loss in weight is too abrupt and this will lead to failure. Slow change in eating habits and the foods chosen will make this a program that will not only create weight loss, but will promote good health.
Exercise is always necessary as part of any diet plan. Dr. Harlan points out that walking is the first step (pun intended). If you have not been exercising for some time, start out walking 20 minutes a day and gradually build up to more time. Consult with your doctor to be sure that when you either exercise or diet he knows you are changing your lifestyle so that if something unusual happens he can easily pinpoint solutions.
"Just Tell Me What to Eat!" is just what the doctor ordered. This is a 5 Star book and shall we make an effort to "start trimming up!"
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432768461, $14.95, eBook $5.00
Boyd Lemon's autobiography, "Digging Deep," shares insight about his three marriages and his perspective on their failures. Each of Boyd's wives shared a unique place in his life.
Growing up as an only child, he did not have to compete for attention with siblings. His mother was slender and he tried to find women who would fit into his life who emulated her physically.
Each of the marriages had the same problem, which was financial. He was a successful attorney who had a penchant for spending and his wives were no better with their buying habits. Furniture, houses, and animals were his anathema. He was constantly trying to pay his bills forcing him to work long hours and his personal life suffered.
Lemon desired to live a lifestyle near the water, but felt it necessary to sacrifice what he wanted in his early relationships in order to live within his means. He acknowledged that in order for him to cope with his relationships at home he would drink far too much so that he would block out discussing with his wives how to resolve their problems of money and sexuality.
This book also delves into his sexuality and at times gets to be more specific than necessary. Lemon used this book as a cathartic diary written after events occurred. At times, he rambled on in an apparent attempt to resolve old problems.
Some of the anecdotal material is quite interesting. Especially, when he described his last marriage and how he had gotten into raising racehorses. The last wife seems to have been his real nemeses with her love of animals to Boyd's total detriment with regard to finances. One of the key themes he describes with regard to raising horses is that it was fortunate to break even when breeding or racing. One of their horses won a race and so they invested in quality training, veterinarian fees, and boarding. After ten years, Boyd and his wife invested one million dollars for the luxury of winning a minimal number of races.
When you read this autobiography, keep in mind that the problems, which he describes, are one-sided. Boyd Lemon is giving his viewpoint with regard to how the marriages ended. A collaborative effort by both Boyd Lemon and his three ex-wives would have made this a more meaningful expose'. Each could have given their insight from either a male or a female point of view, which would have given a more interesting storyline.
This is an interesting perspective of Lemon's life as he experienced it through three failed marriages. This is a two star book.
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780525951582, $27.95, www.penguingroup.com
I was asked what criteria I use for my opinions. This help me in deciding what books I should be able to devour the hours away in my reading escape. I use to belong to a mystery book club, and found out after hearing the reasons why people pick certain authors or pan others I need to keep on my own book trail and be my own decision maker. Harlan Coben has tickled my fancy for enjoyment in the former leisure chair, or any place I can curl up with a good story. I like the idea that I am open-minded when it comes to picking books and giving the new author, favorite author, or any author a fighting chance to show his plot, excitement of action, including good characters to put my mind in his setting. Coben does it again with this book.
A young good seventeen year old girl named Haley McWaid is missing from her suburban New Jersey family who is the captain of the lacrosse team and eventually slated for college in the fall. This missing sparks multiple explosive events that shatter not only the hopes of the town, but the community which fears the worse after three months. A reporter, Wendy Tynes gets involved through her investigating nature, putting herself in the political turmoil of getting into harms way of other people's agendas. She starts to find out who the youth sexual predators might be while using elaborate and nationally telecasted sting operations. She works with local police and ends up publicly shaming dozens of men by the time she approaches her latest target. Dan Mercer is a social worker known as being friendly with trouble teens. His story is very complicated as she finds out in the investigation after gets caught in a sting.
A missing popular girl stirs a community who are stunned over her disappearance. After exploring many candidate possibilities by Wendy who the predator might be, and why she was taken she learns this will task her desire even more to get at the truth. She also learns that the through the probing it makes it difficult for Wendy to trust anything of her own instincts about her loss from the community or motives of anybody close around her.
Harlan Coben is the author of seventeen novels including Live Wire. His best sellers Long lost and Hold Tight were both # 1 on the New York bestsellers list. He is the winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award, and the Anthony Award. In my book Coben can keep on writing his page-turning suspense novels based on a good old-fashioned murder thriller done gracefully with plenty of action and wit. The dialogue flows like you expect to hear people talking and helps move the story forward.
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061656019, $9.99, www.harpercollins.com
After reading Don't Look Twice with the same main character Ty Hauck, I was willing to attempt this new book for another try with Andrew Gross. I have read one of his book co-authored with James Patterson, and I see why Patterson prefers to write with him. I say both authors move a story along and tell it without any waste of time. Plenty of action even in the genre' of the financial thriller which is an accomplishment keeping that story interesting, but it is timely in this day and age.
Ty Hauck, former head of detectives, now working with the Talon Group, a worldwide security company finds him pulled right back to the detective police work of his past twenty years. NYPD was he roots, and this security firm he has become a partner heading up the Greenwich operation. He learns that an old friend and most of her family is murdered during a break-in within her home. Ty as an investigator wants to avenge her death and find out why this happened. Another suspicious death of an investment manager becomes front-page news. Millions of bank transfers in cash which Ty and the U. S. Department of Treasury notices this is no coincidence unfolding a new global terror. Ty and an agent Naomi Blum of the Treasury step into the plot of this highly improbable situation putting themselves into the line of danger to stop this crime.
Andrew Gross is now the author of five solo novels, and five number-one co-authored novels with James Patterson. The Dark Tide was nominated for the best Thriller of the Year by the International Thriller Writers. His new novel Eyes Wide Open is to be released in July 2011. I can hardly wait, after the offerings so far from him.
c/o Penguin - Putnam
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452297128, $15.00, www.amazon.com
Janie is Savannah's (Van's) best friend since childhood. Peter is the man she literally fell for her first day of college. Her biggest mistake was introducing them to each other. That is why as this book starts she is dressed up looking like a satin orange pumpkin as maid of honor at their wedding.
After the wedding hoopla she decides to drown her sorrows with a little Vodka and a Rin-Tin-Tin movie marathon. During the night she drunk orders a puppy off the internet. When the puppy arrives she finds out he is 200 pounds and has been trained with only Slovak commands.
Savannah Leone's life will never be he same.
I LIKED IT*****
I would call this a great summer read with one caveat, it takes place in the fall and winter. It is still a great "escape" novel.
I like this author's writing style, it is very mature for a debut novel. I love the characters, Joe was in a class all his own. Filled with humor and heartbreak and doggy kisses, I was almost sorry to see the story end.
It is a light fun read that animal lovers will enjoy and appreciate. It is amazing how quickly we become attached to our pets and the magically way they understand, love us unconditionally, and even save us from ourselves. All this for a little scratch behind the ears and doggy treats.
I hope to see more from this author soon!!!
A Small Fortune
P.O. BOX 400818, Las Vegas, NY 89140
9781935597650, $13.95, www.amazon.com
Celia Donnelly is overworked and downright exhausted, her marriage to her husband Jonathan, a bank president, has started to suffer, as has her relationship with teenage son. She is thrilled when Jonathan comes home and tells her they are taking a family vacation to Mexico. Getting out of the dreary weather of the Pacific Northwest to wonderful sunny Mexico is just what this family needs.
Celia enjoying her vacation decides to go for a run along the beach. She is on her way back to the condo when she is approached my a man she met earlier at the pool. He tells her she needs to come with him, something has happened to her son. She rushes off with the man, gets in his car and very quickly feels something is very wrong. The man is working for someone else, someone who has hired him to abduct Celia and hold her hostage. Celia is not a random victim. She learns someone that she trusted has betrayed her and she needs to save herself. She partners up with a very unlikely ally and finds herself on a run to save her life. Pursued into the depths of the Mexican jungle she draws on all her strength. Nothing will stop her learning the truth and finding her way home.
I LOVED IT***** I LOVED IT***** I LOVED IT*****
Yes, I know that equals 15 stars!!!!!
I started this book Sunday night at bedtime, thinking I would read a couple of chapters and go to sleep. I finished the book at about 3 a.m. There was no way I could put this book down. I was tired when I started and energized when I finished.
The story is so engaging, masterfully written. Suspenseful and yet so descriptive of the settings you can't help but feel you are almost watching a movie. Brilliantly plotted to keep you turning page after page after page. You don't realize time is even passing because you are completely, effortlessly immersed in the action.
I believe this is the debut novel for this author and if that is the case she has a fabulous future as a writer. It takes years and usually several novels published and rejected to reach this level of expertise. I am trying to find words to describe her writing style. The literary rhythm she has attained is classic and profound. I am amazed by her talent. I can't wait to read more from this author!!!
Releasing Gillian's Wolves
Bats in the Boathouse Press
PO Box 685 Minocqua, WI 54548
9780983203308, $11.60, www.amazon.com
I love featuring Wisconsin authors and books set in Wisconsin and this story has both.
Gillian has been been married to Jack Sach for thirty years. Throughout most of those years Jack has been a politician, currently he is a United States Congressman representing the great state of Wisconsin. Gillian has always been the faithful, dutiful wife. Hosting parties and fundraisers, takes care of her mother-in-law, was the parent at home for their two children until they were grown. Jack, of course travels a lot due to his job, but he has never been faithful. More affairs than Gillian can count, but she always turned a blind eye, to spare her family the public spotlight and humiliation that would occur if the affairs would be made public.
Gillian's grandfather was a very astute business man and he and his partner left their children very well off, they have a trust fund worth millions and 2 beautiful homes and property on a Northern Wisconsin lake. Edward and Gillian grew up together almost like brother and sister and they are each other's rock. Edward is openly gay, a successful photographer and in a new relationship, but has a past full of addiction and bad relationships. Gillian has ways to escape from her everyday pain. She loves to cook and garden and is a painter, she can let her despair, sadness and aggression bleed out on her canvas, but leans heavily on Edward.
Edward's life is hitting a great path and Gillian's is about to spiral out of control. She will need him now more than ever. She is starting to worry that she will never be happy and continues to worry about the effects her actions will not only have on her, but her children, her friends and even her mother-in-law.
I LOVED IT!!!!!
Gillian has a heart so big and a man in her life to stupid to appreciate it. He is a man that thinks he can do no wrong and rules, vows and laws don't apply to him.
Tara Woolpy has given us characters to fall in love with and one big character to hate. I loved it!!!!! When I started reading this book I thought it was going to be like one of my favorite television shows,The Good Wife, but Gillian blew that assumption away within the first chapters. Gillian was beaten down on the inside and hemmed in on the outside trying to do the right things for everyone but herself. When could she start living for herself not others? Ever?
This is the second book in a week that I could not put down. Both debut novels. Unbelievable!!
This story is excellently written, flows at a perfect pace, has fabulous settings and wonderful characters. A great piece of Woman's Fiction. While the book is nowhere near autobiographical the author knows her subject matter well. Her mother represented Northern Idaho in the state senate seven times. She works in the same academic field as Edward's new love and she currently lives in Northern Wisconsin the main setting of her story and I assume from the descriptions of other places in the book she has traveled a little bit in her lifetime.
Tara, I know you are teaching to pay the bills but you have a great gift given to very few, you are a wonderful storyteller. I can't wait to read more of your work.
This is a book I highly recommend. It should not be missed and you will want to read more from Tara Woolpy, I guarantee it.
Sucker Punch Press
9780615475370, $7.99 (Paperback), $2.99 (Kindle)
"Burden Kansas," a novella by Alan Ryker (Sucker Punch Press, March 2011), is probably the most unsexy vampire story ever written. However, inasmuch as it forgoes any romantic notions of vampirism, I believe its themes hit closer to home for most people.
Ryker's vampires are much more like rabid animals than sexy immortal humans. They live in muddy holes under trees, stink of death, and come out to feed primarily on cattle. But things take a turn when two of the main character's trailer-trashy enemies become vampires themselves during a botched fertilizer theft. Did I mention this was an un-sexy story?
The main character is Keith Harris, a rough-and-tumble alcoholic farmer who put his wife to sleep like an injured dog while she lay dying of cancer in the ICU. He has a niece, Jessica, who ends up an unlikely surviving hero following a brutal decapitation she does with a hatchet as a form of mercy killing in its own right. But you'll have to read the story to find out whose head rolls in the end.
Rather than detail the entire plot of this short novel (140 pages) and inevitably spoil the punch line, I'd like to comment on the main theme "Burden Kansas" illustrates. That is the impossibility of redemption.
In this story, the meth-heads (Dennis and Brandon) pay for their sins by the eternal hell of becoming rabid vampires who are hunted by hounds and farmers with shotguns. Keith the farmer meets his own torture at the hands of Dennis whom he bullied and mercilessly injured at some point in the past. Jessica, the conduct-disordered drug-addicted teen, ends up alone and facing the bloody dead bodies of all the people who ever cared about her. Thus we see a moral evolving from this theme of no redemption: you will do the crime (we all do), and you will do the time - we all do. There is no happy ending, only a burden.
Except for Keith Harris, the characters are a bit flat and some of the action is cliche if not downright out of character. With descriptions about Jessica such as "She put her hands on her hips and scowled at him." One tends to envision a spunky teen from Leave it to Beaver, not a hatchet-wielding, ex-drug addict, will-be vampire killer.
Nevertheless, this novel is dark, fast paced, original in its concept, and sells for a mere $2.99 as a Kindle book. Anyone interested in Vampire gothic would do well to pick up a copy for themselves. If there's a sequel (and there should be), I'll no doubt be reading it and enjoying it myself, just like I did this one. Personally, I think "Burden Kansas" would make a great mini-series on HBO.
Broken Mind Publications
B005BJ3M0A, $0.99 (Kindle)
"Bestseller" by Keith Latch (Broken Mind Publications, Kindle Edition, July 2011) is the story of Rob Caulder, a wannabe writer who after a car accident - and after suffering a severe head injury as a result - wakes up from a coma with the supernatural ability to write mega-best-selling novels without any effort except for the typing of them.
That's about it.
For 75% of the novel, all we get is the progression of Rob Caulder's life, which becomes decadent and immoral. But that's never presented as a particularly bad thing. The author maintains a sympathetic tone for his main character throughout the novel, leaving me to wonder if the author actually sees any problem in Rob's actions.
Even though it's billed as a horror story, the novel doesn't become a "horror" story until about the last 25% of the book. However, in the last 25%, the horror merely becomes a contrived mess of god-like characters who do battle for no apparent reason, and one of the god-like characters is then revealed to be the father of Rob Caulder, again, for no apparent reason.
By the end of the book, the plot has lost all logical connections with any semblance of a story. New characters are being introduced even in the last 20% of it. The book, in fact, becomes like an Ed Wood B-horror movie. If it were possible to see the walls of the set in a novel shaking and falling down during the experience of it, that's what you'd get. The only thing missing is Bela Lugosi and Glen/Glenda.
Okay, enough of the praise. Now it's time to critique this novel.
"Bestseller" is unedited; there's no other way to put it. The entire text is rife with spelling and grammar errors from beginning to end. At one point he spells the word "prima donna" as "pri Madonna." There's even an obvious section cut and pasted from Wikipedia in the middle of the text near the end where the author had apparently been looking up information on North Dakota. I've never seen anything like this, even from bad authors.
Normally I wouldn't critique such a novel, but in this case the author is not an inexperienced new novelist. He has fourteen novels listed on Amazon, as well as his own author's page. In my opinion, to put out such a work and take people's money for it is disingenuous at best and fraud at worst, especially when the only other rating on Amazon is a five-star rating.
All I feel at the end of this novel is disrespect: disrespect for an author and publisher who would put out such a work, and disrespected personally as a reader who laid out his hard-earned money on a book the author couldn't even bother to edit. The only good thing about the book is the cover. I'd applaud the artist, but Latch doesn't credit the cover artist in the front matter of the Kindle edition.
Some people like Ed Wood movies. Perhaps some people will like "Bestseller." I am not one of those people.
James J Kaufman
1908 Eastwood Road, Suite 324
Wilmington NC 28403
9780982587300, $14.95, www.amazon.com
An attorney tells his client that he wants him to promise to do something for him in the future that will change the client's life forever. Once he performs the task it will also change the people's lives he comes in contact with. "The Collectibles" has an interesting premise that is told with realistic characters and a style that moves the story along to its interesting conclusion. James Kaufman's first time novel reads like a seasoned pro and gives hints that this author is one who is going to be around for a long time. "The Collectibles" should please any fan of Grisham.
The Happy Hollisters At Sea Gull Beach
Illustrated by Helen S. Hamilton
The Svenson Group, Inc.
2990 Northfield Drive,
Tarpon Springs, FL 34688
9781460936887, $9.95, www.amazon.com
The Happy Hollisters in the third novel "The Happy Hollisters At Sea Gull Beach" are on a quest to find buried treasure and they solve a series of mysteries. Joey Brill shows up in the beginning still doing his devious deeds. As the story unfolds the Happy Hollisters also encounter another devious boy like Joey Brill. His name is Homer Ruffy and he is much worse that Joey. Ruffy doesn't care who he harms and is a constant threat to the Happy Hollisters. "The Happy Hollisters at Sea Gull Beach," like all the other books in the series are bound to please the many generations of readers who have read "The Hardy Boy" or "Nancy Drew" mysteries.
Don Pendleton's The Executioner Deadly Command
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
9780373643899 $4.99 www.amazon.com
The Executioner has always delivered great action adventure and "Deadly Command" continues that tradition. Mack Bolan is on a mission that begins in Miami, Florida then races across the United States in search of a ruthless group of criminals who do not care who gets in their way. It's up to Bolan to stop their evil plan. The writing is fast and furious as the story unfolds with great battles all the way through. "Deadly Command" is for anyone who wants great escapism reading.
The Fire and The Light
Tracy A Akers
P. O. Box 3212, Zephyrhills, Fl 33539
9780977887507, $9.99, www.amazon.com
The first thing that made me want to read "The Fire and the Light" was the cover. The artwork had me wondering about the three characters enticing me to know more about them. The tale is filled with multi dimensional characters that add to the fast paced novel that is the first in a series. Though geared to a YA audience "The Fire and the Light" is for anyone who wants a good fantasy to read.
The Amazing Captain Tag Book Vs The Evil Stick Man
Art & Story by Don and Lisa Eppersom II
Legacy Publishing Services Inc.
1883 Lee Road, Winter Park, Florida 32789
Captain Tag is back in action in "Captain Tag Vs The Evil Stick Man; the fifth installment of the series of books about his adventures. This time out a stick figure comes to life and causes havoc among the town's people. It's up to Captain Tag to put a stop to Stick Mans reign of chaos. "The Amazing Captain Tag Vs the Evil Stick Man" like all of the other titles in the series, is fun reading for all ages who like good comic books.
St Martins Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10010
9780312380786, $27.99, www.amazon.com
I've read Lisa Scottoline's novel for many years and I have to say that "Save Me" is very different from her previous novels. It is the story of a mother who protects her daughter from other kids who are bullying her just because she is disfigured. Rose McKenna endures the wrath of many people at the school when she was there to volunteer to help take care of the children. Something happens where one of the children is harmed and McKenna is blamed for it. Scottoline has always written a good novel, normally a legal thriller but this one is different with a powerful story of what a mother will do to protect her child. The story is a fast paced character driven tale that ends with a satisfying conclusion. Readers of Barbara Delinsky will love this fine tale.
9780974926681, $5.99, www.amazon.com
Cronin who has written comic books and YA novels now tells an adult tale of illicit cosmetic surgery, tattoos, and murder. "The Skinvestigator: Book One of the Sunshine State Trilogy Tramp Stamp" is filled with great writing and memorable characters and fast pacing that delves into an underground world that is part of the Sunshine State. The medical aspect is realistic because the author is a physician who deals with some of the conditions he details. "The Skinvestigator" is for page turner mystery fans.
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756405953, $7.99, www.amazon.com
Resnick began her career as a romance writer who later changed and started writing fantasy and science fiction. We are so fortunate she did. In "DoppelGangster" she is in top form with a story that is a fast paced fun filled fantasy novel. She introduces Esther Diamond, a Stephanie Plum type of character who gets involved in all kinds of strange things that make the book so much fun to read. "DoppelGangster" is for anyone who wants a light hearted fantasy novel with great characters that hopefully will be around for a long time in many sequels.
You Found Us
Nan Rigotti, Fred Rigotti and Judi McLean
Legacy Publishing Services Inc
1883 Lee Road, Winter Park, Florida 32789
9781934449431, $14.95, www.amazon.com
The three authors of "You Found Us" tell their side of the story of a daughter re-united with her parents after so many years. The parents found having a child would be too much of a hardship at their early stage of adult life. They decided to put their baby up for adoption. Later they come together and tell their story of their lives. The only problem with this book is that it is too short. The authors tell an inspirational journey of three people who found each other after so many years of being separated. . "You Found Us" should be read by anyone looking for a true story with a positive ending.
A History of Collectible American Record Sleeves
Jeff Marcus Foreword by Perry Cox
Legacy Publishing Services Inc
1883 Lee Road, Winter Park, Florida 32789
9781934449820, $29.95, www.amazon.com
I was surprised when I read "A History of Collectible American Record Sleeves: Volume I" how many performers the author left out for this era. Among them were, Fabian, Blood Sweat and Tears, Spanky and Our Gang, America, Freddy and the Dreamers, and Grand Funk Railroad were a few of them. Otherwise the author has told many interesting things about the covers of the records and the artists that are little known facts that make the book fascinating reading. I hope there are many more volumes by this author about record sleeves and the singers. "A History of Collectible American Record Sleeves is for anyone who wants to know more about the groups and singers of the 1950s and 1960s and for fans of these performers
St Martins Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10010
9780312659066, $26.99, www.amazon.com, www.stmartins.com
For many years Judi Dench has performed in many forms of entertainment. Now she tells all about her life in the entertainment world in "And Furthermore." Dench tells many interesting things like how she got her start in the business, behind the scenes stories about her co-stars in film and on stage, the TV shows she has been a part of and how she became M in the James Bond series. "And Furthermore" is a positive fun filled memories by one of the worlds great actresses about her life that should appeal to anyone who wants to know more about Judi Dench.
Don Pendleton's The Executioner Kill Shot
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
9780373615452 $6.99 www.amazon.com
A terror begins with ruthless precision in cities along the east coast. Innocent Americans are being targeted by assassins while helpless law enforcement agencies struggle to contain the situations throughout the nation. Mack Bolan has to locate and exterminate the radical faction that is a growing threat to the country. "Kill Shot" is another fast paced action thriller that shows why this series has been so popular for so many years.
Charles E Rawlings MD JD
Ivy House Publishing Group
5122 Bur Oak, Circle Raleigh, NC 27612
9781571975096 $49.95 www.amazon.com
I had no idea how interesting shells could be until I looked over the book "Living Shells." Rawlings brings to life with his writings and the incredible pictures of different types of shells and the animals inside them. The photography is stunning and the pieces are educational of a world many of us will never see. "Living Shells" is a perfect coffee table book that should be on everyone's table.
So Much Pretty
Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781451616750 $25.00, www.simonandschuster.com
What at first blush appears to be a bucolic setting is soon discovered to be much less innocent than it first seems. Gene and Claire Piper have moved from their lives in New York City to the small western NY town of Haeden, an isolated, hardscrabble place close to Appalachia whose residents have a median income of less than $14,000 a year. Young and idealistic doctors, they have both put in their time [at 70 hours a week] in a Free Clinic in Manhattan and had planned on seeking assignments from Doctors Without Borders.
This debut novel from Cara Hoffman is different from almost anything I've read recently. It moves at almost a leisurely pace - until it doesn't, of course - and in non-linear fashion. [Even the last portion of the book, when all has been made clear, jumps a bit back and forth by a few or several days at a time.] And until I looked back at the brief prologue, I hadn't remembered that had I not lost track of that single page, it had provided a foreshadowing of what is to follow. But no further hint of those events is found until many, many pages later. In the meantime, character studies and backstory is provided, in wonderful prose. But suddenly when and shortly after Wendy's fate becomes known, suddenly time seemed to stop as I kept reading and was then unable to -- to keep reading, that is -- and I nearly stopped breathing for a minute or two.
The major characters include Wendy White, a local 20-year-old woman, who disappeared one night over five months ago, the presumption being that she had simply run away from her boring life; Alice Piper [Gene and Claire's daughter], a preternaturally bright and athletic high school student; and Stacy Flynn, a 29-year-old reporter for the local paper who had left a job working as a journalist in Cleveland, Ohio searching for a big, important story on environmental issues she hoped to find in Haeden. As the old saw goes, 'be careful what you wish for.' What she finds are indeed those issues, as well as others dealing with the systemic and almost casual brutalization of women and the indifference of those who live in its midst. The watchword here presented is, as I believe was said by George Orwell, that "the responsibility of every intelligent person is to pay attention to the obvious," even, or especially, when doing so "becomes a horror." A powerful book, one that will stay with me, and one that is recommended.
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780425240588 $7.99, www.minotaurbooks.com
The first page of the newest book by Steve Hamilton, which brings the welcome return of Alex McKnight, describes a scene wherein the body of a young man is found hanging from a tree branch at the edge of a bay in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. For those new to the series, McKnight is a former Detroit cop and current holder of a p.i. license, although he protests that he 'doesn't do that anymore': He owns and rents out cabins to 'the snowmobile people' in season.
Three months after that first-page event takes place, McKnight is approached by Roy Maven, Chief of Police in "the Soo" [Sault St. Marie], who asks for his help. This from a man whose relationship with McKnight could at best be described as 'fraught' - as the Chief says, 'just call it a persistent lack of liking each other." The dead boy's father had been Maven's partner on the police force, and Maven wants McKnight to investigate the circumstances that could have led to what appears to have been a suicide. Having suffered horrendous personal losses himself - his partner on the Detroit police force, the woman he loved - there is no way this particular man could refuse. In what is perhaps the unlikeliest of alliances, McKnight agrees.
The place where the body was found is the eponymous Misery Bay, a fitting enough name for the site itself and for what happened there, and a five-hour drive away from McKnight's home on Lake Superior, in a town called Paradise. McKnight once again periodically turns to his friend Leon Prudell, the once and perhaps future p.i., for his unerring ability to point him in the right direction. The investigation takes some unpredictable turns, as more lives are lost and more still endangered.
The writing is wonderful - no surprise here. The long, long winter of Paradise is once again made palpable by the author: "The sun went down. The wind picked up and started howling and I knew the wind chill would be something like thirty below. Another beautiful April night in Paradise. . . [where] springtime felt like a fairy tale." [And I loved that the author tips his hat to fellow mystery writers, both from NYC: Reed Coleman and Jim Fusilli, both police sergeants in this incarnation.]
As dark as the story line is, there is just enough humor injected into the writing and, as usual for this author, it is a sheer pleasure to read, and highly recommended.
When the Thrill is Gone
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780594487811 $26.95, www.riverheadbooks.com
Leonid Trotter McGill is a 55-year-old African-American man, an amateur boxer trying to turn his life around working as a private detective after having committed many dishonest acts in the past for which is trying to atone. His marriage is troubled, with both he and his wife having been unfaithful, and his girlfriend has ended their relationship because she envisions him coming to a violent end and doesn't want to have to endure that. Prominent in the novel are memories of his radical father, who apparently "was killed in some South American revolution," not longer after which his mother "died of a broken heart" when he was twelve. His father's Communist sympathies are evident in the fact that he called himself Tolstoy, and named his sons Leonid and Nikita; McGill in turn named his sons Twilliam and Dmitri.
The friends the author created for this troubled man in "Known to Evil," the first book in the series, are back, and "LT," as he is known to one and all, relies on them heavily: "Bug," a computer genius; "Hush," an assassin who can be counted on in difficult situations; and most importantly Gordo, his trainer in the ring and his surrogate father, now fighting cancer and ensconced in LT's home.
The writing is pure pleasure. Each character is meticulously described in a very distinctive and inimitable style. As well, the author [and his creation] have a philosophical bent, e.g., "The greatest natural disaster in the history of the world has been the human brain. Get rid of us and Eden will return unaided," and "Life is nothing without its challenges and only the dead are truly peaceful."
There are two major story lines. The first begins when a woman comes into LT's office stating that the first two wives of her billionaire husband came to untimely ends, and she fears her life is in danger. [This becomes more complicated when McGill becomes convinced that most of what the woman has told him is a lie.] But she pays him with a large amount of much-needed cash, and he agrees to take on the case.
The next investigation is at the behest of a man who was a close aide of his father, known as the Diplomat of Crime, who asks LT to find a former associate, giving him almost no information other than the man's name, telling him that he doesn't expect to pay him for this job, but that he will be in his debt if he is successful.
This is not a book to be read quickly; one must take enough time to appreciate the journey en route to what at first seemed to be an abrupt ending, which I hasten to add an instant later felt absolutely right. Highly recommended.
agoraphobic, in the aftermath of the accident in the Swiss mountains in which her fiance, Daniel, fell to his death over a year ago. It was his recklessness that had intrigued her about him, but his loss has devastated her. Her two anchors to the world outside, which she has been attempting to re-enter step by agonizing step, are her sister, Ashley, and Daniel's best friend, Jake. But her home in the Boston suburbs has become her shelter from the world after the panic attacks took over that world, and those two are nearly the only ones to be allowed in.
Diana, Jake and Daniel had created an Internet-based platform called OtherWorld, a virtual universe where their avatars live, as they also created a consultancy firm resolving security issues for health care clients [a far cry from the lives the three of them had led as hackers, just as successful in that endeavor as the new business has become now, outwitting those who did as they once had, "a trio of rehabilitated black hats"]. But Diana has recently become concerned that someone out there is specifically targeting their clients, that OtherWorld "has become infested with griefers" [a new-to-me term], and the clients are pulling back just as she and Jake start to get a lead on who is responsible, telling them that their job is done. But when Ashley suddenly disappears, her focus narrows to that above all else.
Ashley could be difficult at times. As Diana says: "My sister's annoying. But truly, she's totally there for me. Except when there's a man in the picture or when she's convinced that she's deathly ill." [She tends to be a hypochondriac.] However, the bond between the sisters couldn't be stronger, and Diana is obsessed with finding her. But she has no idea where that path will take her. Neither does the reader, as the tale takes a completely unforeseen turn.
The details of hacking and then tracking down the hackers are fascinating, a whole other world, literally and figuratively. But aside from that, Ms. Ephron has written another page-turning novel that is thoroughly enjoyable, and recommended.
555 Madison Ave., NY, NY 10022
9780727869579, $28.95, www.severnhouse.com
The tone of the book, the newest in the wonderful Bill Slider series, is initially set with the very first line - in point of fact, the first chapter heading, "The Wrath of Grapes," describing as it does a thoroughly hung over D.S. Jim Atherton, as he joins his boss, D.I Bill Slider, both of the Shepherd's Bush police, for just another 'day at the office,' i.e., driving to a murder scene. The day that is just starting is portrayed as follows, in typical lovely fashion: "Shepherd's Bush was not beautiful, but it had something to be said for it on a bright, breezy March morning. Clouds were running like tumbleweed across a sky of intense, saturated, heraldic azure. The tall, bare planes on the Green swayed solemnly like folkies singing Kumbayah. All around, the residents - young, old and middling - were sleeping, getting up, planning their day, thinking about work, school, sex, shopping, footie. Some were perhaps dying. One was dead in what the police called suspicious circumstances, and that, fortunately, was unusual."
The reader is thereby immediately put into a smiling and receptive mood, the grim destination notwithstanding: When they arrive at the scene, they discover the body of a man very efficiently murdered, with a single gunshot at close range to the back of the head. As the investigation ensues, there are no suspects, no forensics, no obvious motive, and the fact that they cannot find any information as to where the dead man worked or as to the source of his apparently substantial income, only makes matters more puzzling. The police are told he was "a doctor," "a consultant," but beyond that there is no information. As Slider says, "it's astonishing what people don't see and hear, even when it's under their eyes and ears."
The second chapter is headed "Witless for the Prosecution," but that's about it for play-on-words - - well, no scratch that, for of course Superintendent Porson, Slider and Atherton's boss, is present in this book, and malapropisms abound, always guaranteed to bring back that smile. Various permutations of relationships between and among the several well-drawn characters become clear as the investigation continues. The novel is immensely enjoyable in this well-written murder mystery [there are other deaths as the tale continues], and it is as highly recommended as were the previous books in the series.
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061827037, $9.99, www.amazon.com
Kate Bannon, the Assistant Director of the FBI who readers, and ex-FBI Agent Steve Vail, first met in this author's "The Bricklayer," returns, in fact, in the first sentence on the first page of this, the second in the series. And a most welcome return it is, of those protagonists and the series itself. I am delighted to report that all the taut writing, suspense and wonderful characters of the initial book in the series are abundantly present in "Agent X" as well.
Vail, a maverick who can't/won't confirm to rules, was fired by the FBI five years previously. He has since then been working at least nominally as a bricklayer [thus the title of the first book] and had met Kate in LA when they worked together on a case which had a successful conclusion, mostly due to his efforts. [He was an 'independent contractor' of sorts in that instance for the FBI.] They had dated for a while, until Kate broke it off. Beyond the delightful banter, the two make for a terrific team as the FBI persuades Vail to head up their investigation into finding a number of agents to whom vital US secrets are just a commodity to be bartered. As if that weren't enough, Steve is asked by an agent who had been Vail's partner several years back to assist with a case involving the disappearance of a female intelligence analyst. As the tale unfolds, one thing becomes clear: Very little is as it seems.
The Vail/Bannon relationship is an ambivalent one. As is the Vail/FBI deal. Bannon tells Vail: "You have advanced degrees. The director has offered you complete autonomy if you'll come back to the Bureau, but instead you choose physical labor just so you won't have to take orders. . . Not everyone who takes orders for a living is a mortal enemy of Steven Vail." The cleverly constructed sleuthing [which was a challenge at times for this reader, I must admit], and the occasional philosophical ruminations, make for a fascinating read
Little Girl Lost
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780230753365, $16.98, www.amazon.com
D.S. Lucy Black, of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the daughter of police officers, in the midst of a search for a young girl, Kate McLaughlin, whose father is a prominent businessman, stumbles [almost literally] upon another young girl, wandering in what is termed an 'ancient woodland,' suffering severe hypothermia among other things due to her prolonged exposure to the elements in the brutal winter cold and snow. The latter child is unidentified, and remains so despite pleas to the public and circulation through print media and televised press conferences of her information and photograph. The only one to achieve any response from the girl, and that very limited, is Lucy.
Chief Superintendent Travers, of the CID, transfers Lucy, despite her desire for a post in the CID, to the Public Protection Unit "for the foreseeable future," and assigns her to the case of the unidentified child. Her position is made more complex than it otherwise might be by virtue of the fact that her mother is the Assistant Chief Constable. Only in the division a month, Lucy has taken pains to keep that information hidden, made easier by the fact that her mother reverted to her own name when her parents divorced 14 years earlier. The two investigations proceed side by side, the lines at times crossing from one to the other. As the tale goes one, the heart-tugging stories of more than one other Little Girls Lost arise.
Lucy's personal life intrudes on her work: She had requested her present assignment because her father, an ex-cop for over twenty years, is now increasingly suffering from dementia, if not actually Alzheimer's, and she has moved back to Derry after many years away. Her relationship with both her parents is strained, to say the least, and becomes more so as the novel proceeds. Derry is cited as "the birthplace of The Troubles," and however long ago that era was, perhaps inevitably its presence is still very much a force in the lives of those who lived through it. A fascinating novel, and recommended.
Jesus Potter Harry Christ
9875 SW Murdock, Tigard, Oregon 97224
9780615430935, $17.95, www.amazon.com
Jesus Potter Harry Christ is something of a misnomer. Sure it starts with a literary comparison between the Harry Potter stories and the biblical Jesus stories but that is not where the focus of the book is. The book does start with a relatively short section documenting the links people see between Harry Potter and Christianity but then the largest sections of the book compares the bible with the literature and mythology that existed before and during its writing. Murphy's basic premise is that if parts of a literary work existed before this work than it is a derivative. In a sense, he is correct but are Shakespeare's plays derivative and not unique just because they use portions of pre-existing tales?
To communicate between people you need to have shared concepts. This means that every work written or created that can be enjoyed between multiple people has to have shared concepts. In a very real sense, any sufficiently complex story can be linked to every other. Carl Sagan showed this communication linkage very well in The Demon-Haunted World. He noted that people have always recorded unusual encounters that were outside of real world experiences. Two thousand years ago people would label these encounters as visitations from Thor or even angels. Today we call them alien encounters. The difference in labels is because the culture has changed and we need different terms and phrasing to communicate the same type of events. Literatures in use when the bible was written will show us communication at that time.
Murphy uses literary clues and methods to show that nearly every portion of the bible can be linked to multiple previous tales, myths and creations -- a valid and an interesting task. This is also something that should be expected in a work as massive as the bible that has links over extensive periods of times and cultures. The bible claims to have a history encompassing Sumerian, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Canaanite, Greek and Roman cultures among a few. It should be expected that those cultures would appear in the text with shared stories, bits and pieces. Murphy does show these links in detail. His depth of knowledge in the various literatures brings enjoyable details on how the various myths and stories might have became entangled.
The weaknesses in the book come about by the disciplines he doesn't have detailed knowledge in. A complete analysis of the biblical stories has to have a literary knowledge but also requires a broad spectrum of other fields such as archeology, geology, sociology... Even number use and development becomes a factor. For example: Murphy traces the use of 12 zodiac signs, 7 levels in astrology... from more ancient literature to the bible. But those numbers are universal with people. Five fingers and two hands gives you the number 7 and two hands each with five fingers gives you the number 12. This alone makes those numbers important enough to appear over and over again in literature. He also places special significance on astrology and particular names given to star groups. This is an important factor in literature but the linkage between the celestial calendar and particular animal names is a lesser link. You can not link a particular group of stars with only one name. The small points of light in the sky are like the proverbial ink blots -- everyone sees a different picture in them. The conclusions he makes using these other disciplines about the biblical story are lacking. This opens to book to unwarranted criticism but criticism Murphy permits when he tries to bolster his analysis with these fields.
Jesus Potter Harry Christ is not a book for your average reader. It is a readable literary analysis of the bible starting with today's Harry Potter stories and bracketed in the past with ancient myths and literature. As a strict literary analysis, it is very good. It tracks a variety of myths and religions and shows how concepts, thought lines and stories became interlinked with the bible. Any biblical scholar, historian and want-to-be theologian can have fun looking into this text. Biblical literalists will have problems after the first page or two. I can recommend this book to any scholar wanting to view a literary only analysis of the bible. Since politics, religion and sports are three of the big subjects sure to cause a fight if discussed, be prepared for some intense feelings when you read this book. As for how this book frames the bible with history, archeology, geology..., you will need to look further.
The Bride Collector
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781599953724, $7.99, www.amazon.com
There are a variety of different types of authors. Some are storytellers who carry the reader along with the tale. Some are writers who use layer after layer of words to build complete and compelling scenes... Dekker is a hard edged storyteller who is also a writer. For most of The Bride Collector, this combination works to bring the reader into a uniquely twisted mystery. The intricate sentences and insights bring the reader into a world of mental illness and homicidal maniacs. The problem with the story is that its telling loses focus in the end.
Brad Raines is an FBI special agent on the trail of a serial killer. He leaves behind beautiful women, drained of blood and glued to a wall. The meticulously posed and made-upped corpses are wearing a bridal veil. Cryptic notes are left hinting at the killer's past and future plans. The notes lead Raines to a privately owned care facility, Center for Wellness and Intelligence, which cares for extremely gifted but mentally ill residents. A group of residents become involved with the case. One, named Paradise, seems to understand more about the murders and Brad becomes drawn to her and to her abilities. What neither realize is that this is what the crazed killer planned. They fall into his game of death without understanding the depth of his game.
The Bride Collector is a great serial killer mystery. It is more graphic and harder edge than most in this genre but the detailed writing softens the hard edge. Its weakness is a lack of focus in the final pages. Even with this minor flaw it is one of the best representatives in this genre. It is an easy recommendation. Make sure you schedule enough time to finish it. You won't want to put it down.
100 False Bible Prophecies
Box 36561, Birmingham AL, 35236
9780615301495, ppb, 78 pp, $10;
100 Bible Math Mistakes
9780615381732, 132 pp, ppb, $13:00,
100 False Bible Prophecies
It is not necessary to have taken a graduate course in ancient history or documentary analysis or logic, to be able to open a bible and recognize the blatant falsehoods, inconsistencies and special pleading that make Alice In Wonderland look like a documentary. And it does not take an excess of hubris for a well-meaning amateur who has never heard of such biblical scholars as Bart Ehrman, Richard Friedman, Martin Larson, or Robert Price (to name four at random), to imagine that he can write a book exposing his discoveries in the belief that they are not already in the public domain.
The problem is that a writer whose information is based solely on his personal reading of the King James Bible is unlikely to reach more conclusions that are valid and useful than are inaccurate and misleading. Robert Collins is no less accurate than the several thousand previous trespassers into an area in which he lacks expertise, but neither is he more so. Even his chosen title is unjustifiable. While he draws attention to 100 self-contradictions that could not exist if the bible was inerrant truth, they do not qualify as false prophecies. And when he does focus on a Jewish Testament prophecy, as often as not he identifies it as "failed" when in fact is was a retroactive prediction that was already fulfilled before the prophecy was composed.
For example, he quotes Genesis 49:10, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until [the anointed one] come." The Yahwist who wrote that prophecy was referring to the accession of King David - not an improbable prediction, since David's grandson was king at the time of writing. Collins gets minor details right, including that the prophecy was not a reference to Jesus. He similarly offers arguments that Micah 5:2, "Bethlehem ... out of thee shall he come forth ... to be ruler in Israel," could not have been about Jesus. He is unaware that it was also a retroactive prophecy of the coming of Bethlehem-born King David, and also unaware that Jesus was a Galilean who never visited Bethlehem in his life.
Some failed prophecies Collins does correctly identify. Malachi 4:5 wrote that the spokesman (Greek: prophetes) Elijah would be reincarnated prior to the messiah's coming. Believers seize on the assertion by the synoptics that the reincarnated Elijah was John the Immerser. But the fourth gospel shows the Immerser stating unequivocally that he was not Elijah. And the gospel author's pretence that Jesus' alleged virgin-birth was foretold by Isaiah is shown to be nonsensical when it is recognized that Isaiah wrote, c 700 BCE, that a "young woman" was going to give birth within a matter of weeks, and only in the Septuagint was "young woman" mistranslated into "virgin."
Jeremiah prophesied that the Jews would be enslaved by Nebuchadnezzar for seventy years. In fact the Babylonian Captivity ended after 48 years. Jesus prophesied that his triumphant entry into Jerusalem at the head of a legion of sky fairies to drive out the Romans and establish Jewish independence would take place within a time limit that ended during the reign of Trajan. Collins thinks Jesus prophesied a "second coming," when in fact he believed he could not die until his war of independence (the Ten Minute War) was successfully accomplished. Either way, he seems to have been delayed. Similarly his many prophecies that the end of the world would take place the day after tomorrow continue to be cited by unteachables as evidence that it will occur in their lifetimes. As for Jesus' promises that anything two or three people ask in his name will be granted, anyone who continues to take that seriously should hurry back to the Cuckoo's Nest before Nurse Ratched gives his bed away.
Given his dabbler status, Collins predictably makes many errors that would be reputation-destroying if they had come from a scholar. He attributes 2 Timothy to "the Apostle Paul." There is not a biblical historian on earth who believes that Paul wrote the pastoral letters. He refers to the injustice of Yahweh's threat (Exod. 20:5) to "visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation," even though elsewhere Yahweh is reported to have prohibited punishing children for the crimes of their parents. But it does not occur to him to wonder why Yahweh would need to punish descendants, if he had the option of inflicting posthumous punishment on the perpetrators. Newsflash: Prior to the Babylonian Captivity, Judaism had no belief in life after death.
He demonstrates the inaccuracy of Matthew's contention than prophets predicted that the messiah must come from Nazareth. But he is unaware that no village named Nazareth existed until long after Jesus' death. He spells out the proof that Herod's massacre of children could not have happened the way Matthew described it. But he expresses credulity that the myth had some kind of factual basis. It did not. He parrots the doctrine that Sodom and Khomorah were near the Dead Sea. My contention is that the cities overthrown by the last eruption of Mount Yahweh before it became extinct, c 3000 BCE (a millennium before Abraham), did exist, but were in south-central Anatolia.
Collins declares that a god that threatens never to forgive "someone who speaks against the Holy Spirit" is not practising what it preaches, since it demands that humans forgive their enemies. That reasoning is consistent with the KJV mistranslation. The Protestant Bible Correctly Translated renders the passage (Mat. 12:32), "Anyone who speaks contrary to the spirit of virtue will not be forgiven." Matthew was quoting from the Essene Covenant of the Commune, which declared that only unintentional falsehoods were forgivable. Blasphemous violations of the spirit of truth and holiness, in other words intentional perjuries, would never be forgiven.
He refers to a Priestly fable in which the Israelites assigned 32,000 captured virgins to be sex slaves, and suggests that a similar number of "male virgins" must have been sacrificed. The problem with such terminology is that Collins is writing about a period of history when "virgin" still meant a woman who was capable of bearing her owner a legitimate heir because she had never been implanted with usurper seed that would one day mix with her owner's to produce a child of many fathers. "Male virgin" in such a context is as oxymoronic as "male vagina." In light of the true meaning of "virgin," it still is.
100 False Bible Prophecies concludes with ten questions the reader should ask his religion peddler, including, "Why does penicillin without prayer work better than prayer without penicillin?" The most, perhaps only, honest answer to that question I ever heard happened to come from a priest: "I don't know." For all I know, he may still be a priest, although I seriously doubt it. Once a god addict recognizes that his religion requires him to believe that, when God does it, it is not evil, he is well on the way to being cured. Take it from a recovered Catholic.
100 Bible Math Mistakes
Collins' second book is as trivial as the first, consisting of a reiteration of the same points made in the first book, along with more of the predictable errors that an author lacking relevant expertise could not have been expected to avoid. For example, his references to "Jesus of Nazareth" reveal a lack of awareness that "of Nazareth" is a blatant falsification of Greek words that referred to Jesus' sectarian affiliation, not his place of origin.
To justify the "math" reference in the title, Collins again cites Jeremiah's prophecy that the Babylonian Captivity would last longer than it actually did. And he quotes the words put into Jesus' mouth by the gospel authors, that he would spend three days and three nights in the underworld, a prophecy that did not accord with the same gospel authors' contention that he rose after only 40 hours.
The two books are edited into different formats, but are essentially alternate presentations of the same information. To readers unaware of the scholarly books on the same subject, either one is as useful as the other. Since neither contains any accurate information that cannot be found in God, Jesus and the Bible: The Origin and Evolution of Religion, readers of that book can give Collins a pass.
The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies - How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths
Henry Holt and Company
175 Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10010
It seems highly unlikely that Michael Shermer's evidence falsifying nonsense beliefs will be understood by the believers he is trying to cure, since he does not appear to understand it himself. He clearly does not grasp that his chapter on "Mr D'Arpino's Dilemma" constitutes solid, definitive proof of Thomas Szasz's contention that psychiatry is neither science nor medicine, but is best viewed as a religion. If Shermer's examples of practitioners of the psychiatry scam seeing differences between mental illness and mental health, sanity and insanity, that exists only in their own minds, had been about religion or the paranormal, he would have had no difficulty recognizing that he had proven the discipline in question to be as fraudulent as tealeaf reading. So why does he shut his mind to the most logical explanation of the evidence he himself reports? Since his first two degrees were in psychology, perhaps he is afraid of looking foolish if he admits that he sat through such programs without recognizing them as contentless hogwash. He has also taught economics, a discipline in which, like psychology and political science, two dissertations so incompatible that for either one to be valid the other must be incompetent drivel (compare current Republican economics and Democratic economics), can both receive PhDs from the same department of the same university in the same year.
Chapter two is a detailed description of how the author of The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, with whom Shermer is acquainted, lost his mind - in other word lost the ability to go with the evidence, and consequently devolved from a nontheist to an incurable godworshipper. Shermer explains (p. 5) that, "after forming our beliefs we then defend, justify and rationalize them.... Beliefs come first, explanations for beliefs follow.... Once beliefs are formed, the brain begins to look for and find confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs." That is essentially The Believing Brain's main thesis, that far from protecting an individual from unreasonable conclusions, high intelligence boosts his ability to believe that a conclusion based on unreason is supported by reason.
Chapter three is a mini-autobiography, explaining how a "born again," proselytizing fanatic became a nontheist. The turning point was not the discovery that modern religion is simply ancient religion with the names of the gods changed (the discovery that cured me), but a purely emotional experience involving the crippling of his current girlfriend. He saw the god's refusal to heal her, not as evidence that "God works in mysterious ways ... but because there is no God."
Shermer is an admirer of Ayn Rand, and so am I. And just as I was "troubled" by Rand's portrayal of a character who was identifiably the unspeakable William Randolph Hearst as a candidate for sainthood, Shermer found himself (p. 48), "troubled by Rand's theory of human nature as wholly selfish and competitive."
He must also be an admirer of E O Wilson, since he writes (p. 48) that, "Evolutionary psychologists ... have now demonstrated unequivocally that...." When Wilson invented evolutionary psychology, he originally called it sociobiology. Only after it became widely recognized that, if sociobiology was a useful contribution to human knowledge, then the sciences with which it is incompatible, such as biology, zoology, genetics, anthropology and others, must be incompetent drivel, was the name changed to evolutionary psychology. Among sociobiology's false assumptions are that lifeforms other than humans are aware of the relationship between sire and cub (they are not), and that recognizing the advantages of a long neck is what enabled giraffes to evolve long necks. That is not the way evolution works. I could not be more disgusted if Shermer had written, "Scientology has demonstrated unequivocally...."
Shermer recognizes that the difference between science and religion is that all scientific conclusions are subject to reconsideration in the light of additional evidence, as religious beliefs are not, and even heliocentricity theory is not (p. 7) "an Absolute Truth about Reality." But he also recognizes that some findings are as close to absolute truth as it is possible to come: "The universe really did begin with a big bang, the earth really is billions of years old, and evolution really happened, and someone's belief to the contrary really is wrong." He justifies his position in the words (p. 2), "I'm a skeptic not because I do not want to believe, but because I want to know. How can we tell the difference between what we would like to be true and what is actually true? The answer is science."
Yet he persists in what I can only call political correctness, declaring that even his conclusion that there is no God could be wrong. He explains to God (p. 55), "You gave me a brain to think skeptically and I used it accordingly. You gave me the capacity to reason and I applied it to all claims, including that of your existence." My view is that, if I agreed that Christianity's Sky Fuhrer, mistranslated as "God" in English bibles, might exist, I would be confessing my inability to reason that a god with mutually-exclusive properties cannot and therefore does not exist.
He describes an encounter with Whitley Strieber, author of a fantasy novel about an alien abduction that he passed off as nonfiction. When Strieber acknowledged that, in between being abducted by humanoid aliens, he wrote science fiction, Shermer's reaction was (p. 191), "Of course ... He either made it all up or fantasized it in his creative imagination." He writes of alien abductees that, "I have little doubt that most of them are genuine in their recounting of the emotional trauma of the experience of being abducted," and accordingly leaves it to the reader to decide whether Strieber should be credited with believing his own lies. And when he describes (ibid.) how "hypnotized" individuals can be prompted into "remembering" incidents of sexual abuse that never happened, by making them up, he refuses to recognize that such playacting is one of the many available proofs that hypnotism does not exist.
In the chapter titled Patternicity, Shermer describes the imprinting of goslings on the first moving thing they see at a critical moment, usually the mother goose but sometimes an experimenter, and suggests that superstitions evolved from similar imprinting. Being imprinted into regarding A as a precursor of B can save lives when A is a rustle in the grass and B is a predator, while having no adverse effect when A is forgetting to shave and B is a home run. Consequently the pattern was reinforced of seeing a causal relationship, post hoc propter hoc, when none was present. And as B. F. Skinner demonstrated with pigeons, the more sporadically B followed A, the more firmly belief in a causal relationship was imprinted. Would humans still be resorting to prayer if no prayer was ever followed by fulfillment? Would parapsychology still exist if believers stopped counting the hits and ignoring the misses?
Unfortunately, Shermer is as capable of seeing a pattern where none exists as any believer in astrology, religion or tealeaf reading. He writes (p. 67), "A form of reverse imprinting can be found in humans in the incest taboo.... Evolution has programmed within us a rule of thumb: don't mate with those with whom you've grown up." BULLSHIT! Incest is a purely religious taboo that did not exist in humans earlier than c 2000 BCE, when it was invented for unrelated reasons(1) by persons who had no awareness of the long-term effects of generations of inbreeding. It has never existed in nonhuman species.
The subsection on "Supernormal Patternicities" (pp. 75-77) is parroted from a book by a self-confessed evolutionary psychologist (i.e. incurable ignoramus). Shermer swallows the delusion that modern humans are sexually attracted to ideals with which the species was imprinted in Paleolithic times, when an hourglass figure on a woman or a tall, muscular body on a man was allegedly an indication of desirable breeding qualities. Since the concept of paternity did not exist at that time, the absurdity of such reasoning should be self-evident.
On balance, The Believing Brain is a useful book that contains more logic than psychobabble, more reason than rationalization, and more science than speculation. Even readers who see Shermer as not always heeding his own advice (p. 336-337) that, "We must keep an open mind, but not so open that our brains fall out,"(2) will find it a valuable addition to skeptical literature.
(1) see the chapter, "Incest: The Abolition of Endogenous Marriage," in God, Jesus and the Bible: The Origin and Evolution of Religion (World Audience,2009).
(2) This observation has been attributed to Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins, but Google indicates that it preceded both and is best viewed as anonymous.
Why God Won't Go Away
Thomas Nelson Inc
P O Box 141000, Nashville TN 37214
Why is there something rather than nothing? Why does planet earth provide a Goldilocks environment that is just right for human habitation? Why did one person survive a disaster that killed two hundred others? The answer is that God did it. At least it is in the minds of adults who continue to believe in "God" after they have abandoned belief in Santa Claus, Mother Goose, the tooth fairy, Mickey Mouse, Harry Potter, and the Great Pumpkin.
When a scholar with impeccable credentials, such as a former Oxford don, writes a seemingly non-satirical defence of a book endorsing the hypothesis that the moon is made of green cheese, or that the earth is flat, or that Alice followed a white rabbit through a wormhole to Planet Wonderland, it raises the question of whether such inane drivel should be dignified with a serious rebuttal, or whether the best response is, "Consider the source." Alister McGrath is a poster boy for the god psychosis, and Thomas Nelson Inc is a self-confessed "Christian" publisher whose books make Wind in the Willows look like a documentary.
The bible McGrath defends contains fourteen anecdotes that could be true if and only if the earth is flat. McGrath's belief that his bible is nonfiction could have four possible explanations. If he is incapable of grasping that a book making 19,000 demonstrably false statements is a product of the human imagination, then he is as intellectually challenged as Ronald Reagan, Dan Quayle, and George W. Bush. If he is able to brainwash himself that a book endorsing a flat earth is Revealed Truth, then he is as rationally challenged as Joseph Ratzinger, Ian Paisley, and Pat Robertson. If he is unaware that he is authenticating a book that endorses a flat earth, then he is as educationally challenged as Billy Graham, Glenn Beck, and William Jennings Bryan. And if he is so terrified of death that only an auto-reinforced afterlife belief can get him through the day without having to be institutionalized and diapered, then he is as intestinally challenged as the authors of The Loftus Delusion, Atheist Delusions, and The Irrational Atheist, all of whom make Michael Behe's and William Dembski's inadequacies seem curable by comparison.
I searched Why God Won't Go Away for any argument that was not a reiteration of the same doublethink that had already been shot down in flames when he published it in a previous book. I did not find any. Is the term, "unteachable," too polite for a self-inflicted brain amputee? Long after he has proven definitively that he belongs in Nurse Ratched's Cuckoo's Nest, McGrath continues to provide further proof that he has as much capacity for rational human thought as a flat-earther, a young-earther, a creationist, a Scientologist, a Holocaust denier, a birth certificate denier, or a believer in extraterrestrials that resemble humans in Star Trek makeup.
But what if McGrath is fully aware that all claims of a god revealing its existence have been traced to the same bible that says the earth is flat, but also knows that he cannot quit defending the god delusion without jeopardizing his bread and butter? That would mean that he is as lacking integrity as Richard Nixon, L. Ron Hubbard, and Joseph McCarthy. I find it easier to believe that he is indeed as mentally dysfunctional as he appears. But even if he is a conscious liar, he is nonetheless not sparking on all neurons.
Alister McGrath is a Professor of Theology at the Centre for Theology at King's College, London. H. L. Mencken described theology as a blind man in a dark room searching for a black cat that is not there - and finding it. McGrath may be the strongest evidence that Mencken was too charitable. The only uncertainty about McGrath's pathetic, inane attempt to rationalize away the proof that Alice's Adventures in Cloud Cuckoo Land is fiction, is whether he should be classified as mentally handicapped or mentally deranged. Either that, or a bible that features a talking snake and a talking donkey, states in fourteen places that the earth is flat, and shows Jesus born ten years before he was conceived, really is nonfiction.
So why does God not go away? It is because moral cowards like Alister McGrath annul their terror of death with a self-inflicted afterlife delusion. And they then write books that reinforce the mindslavery of the 64 percent of the population who view themselves as the domesticated livestock of a petmaster in the sky. In view of that crime against humanity, compassionate nontheists who would like to sympathize with persons who lack the intestinal fortitude to live in the real world, find themselves unable to do so. Propagandists for godism belong on the same page of history as proselytizers for such other obscenities as Nazism, Marxism, McCarthyism, facilitated communication, and recovered memories.
Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
10 East 53rd Street, New York NY 10022
How does a god addict whose religion stands or falls on the validity of the Judaeo-Christian bible remain a believer after discovering that his bible shows God, Jesus, and their various spokespersons preaching doctrines that are morally repugnant? If he is Rob Bell, he invents a new religion that is more to his taste. But unlike Joseph Smith, Charles Russell, Mary Baker Eddy, and Ellen White, Bell does not pass off his theology as a new revelation. Instead he claims to be merely clarifying true Christianity by explaining what Jesus "really" meant. He starts by cherry-picking his bible for passages that are morally defensible or that he can accept as nonfiction, including the fable that depicted Jesus foretelling his own death (p. 75), an event Jesus believed would never happen. When that does not take him very far, he simply makes the rest up.
He writes (p. 9), "Often times when I meet atheists and we talk about the god they don't believe in, we quickly discover that I don't believe in that god either." The problem is that the god neither nontheists nor Bell believe in is the one depicted in his bible. Bell's god is nicer, but it is not the god of any bible I have ever seen.
Consider (back cover), "God loves us. God offers us everlasting life by grace, freely, through no merit on our part. Unless you do not respond the right way. Then God will torture you forever in hell." Bell adds the comment, "Huh?" That summary of dogmatic religion justifies Bell's contention that it must be rejected. What he does not mention is that the quoted theology is bible religion, and his alternative is not. He is for all practical purposes telling readers to believe in Christianity (his version), while rejecting what is in the Christian bible. But Christianity's only justification is its bible. Rejecting the theology of the bible must mean rejecting Christianity. Can he really not see that? Or is he counting on incurable godworshippers being too dumb to notice?
As a professional pusher of the god delusion, Bell is not surprisingly no biblical scholar. He quotes (p. 16) a bible translation that shows Jesus claiming, "I am Jesus of Nazareth," and elsewhere (p. 130) refers to "this rabbi from Nazareth." While all religion-authorized English translations similarly falsify Jesus' sectarian title, "the Nazirite," into "of Nazareth," Bell clearly has no awareness of how misleading such a falsification is. Newsflash: No village named Nazareth existed until long after Jesus' death.
Despite his awareness of the possibility (p. 10) that it was a "woman who wrote the Letter to the Hebrews," Bell attributes the authorship of 1 Timothy (p. 15) to Paul of Tarsus, and the authorship of 2 Peter (p. 69) to Peter. He thinks (p. 111) that John of Patmos, a Nazirite who added six chapters at the beginning and end of an Essene Revelation written a generation earlier, wrote the whole book. And he thinks (p. 108) the ultimate author of books by impersonators pretending to be Peter and Paul was "God."
He follows the party line that has Jesus instructing a potential convert to sell his possessions and (p. 4) "give the money to the poor," with no clarification that "the poor," ebionim in Aramaic, was the name of Jesus' sect. Admission to the Ebionite cult was obtained (as Acts 4:32-34 makes clear) by liquidating one's property and giving the proceeds to the cult.
Then there is this piece of doubletalk (p. 44): "That's why wealth is so dangerous: if you're not careful you can easily end up with a garage full of nouns." Did Bell imagine that he was saying something? Or was he counting on his potential readers concluding that anything they could not understand must be profound? After all, if they had the rationality to see through indefensible drivel, they would not be godworshippers.
Nowhere in Bell's book did I see the word, Yahweh (or its mongrelized equivalent, Jehovah). Instead he quotes from English bibles that falsify Yahweh into "The LORD." Is he unaware that there is no such character as "the Lord" in the Tanakh, and that Yahweh is a proper name like Jupiter, Zeus or Odin? Is he equally unaware that there is no character in the Jewish Testament whose name is Hebrew for "God," and that the correct translation of elohim, a dual-sex generic plural, is not "God" but "the gods"? He spells out the real meaning of some Greek and Hebrew words in order to make a point. Why not Yahweh and elohim? Or does he recognize that those falsifications cannot be harmonized with his thesis, and the only way to defend religion is by ignoring them in the hope that they will go away? Does that make him a liar? Given his ability to interpret black as white, he probably believes it does not. But despite Bell's compulsion to tell Jesus addicts what they want to hear, and as purblind as he is when he interprets Jesus' sado-masochistic teaching (p. 73) as "hyperbole," implying metaphor, his non-sequitur arguments do not come remotely close to the insane reasoning of Frank Tipler's The Physics of Christianity.
Bell's neo-Christianity is infinitely superior to biblical Christianity. That explains why it is being lapped up by persons who have read just enough of their bible to recognize it as the Koran's only competitor as the most obscene paean to evil ever written (with Mein Kampf a distant third), and are desperate for someone to convince them that "God" is not the most sadistic, evil, mass-murdering psychopath in all fiction. Bell's Big Lie is that Bell Christianity is bible Christianity. It is not. There is no similarity, and the only way anyone could remain a Bell Christian is by never opening a bible. But most Christians never do that anyway, or they would have already ceased to be Christians.
The God and Jesus of Bell's new religion are nicer than the God and Jesus of the Christian bible. Does that make Bell a nicer man than the bible's authors? Let us just say that the jury is still out.
The Lost Crown
Antheneum Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781416983408, $17.99, www.amazon.com
The 1918 massacre of Russia's Tsar Nicholas II and his family, and the purported escape of his daughter Anastasia (in recent years proven unequivocally false) has for nearly a century fascinated mystery buffs and conspiracy theorists. The fate of the Romanovs has spurred countless books and films. Award winning author Sarah Miller takes up the story once again, this time telling it from the point of Anastasia and her sisters Maria, Tatiana and Olga who in 1918 were, respectively, 17, 19, 21 and 23. Told in first person over the course of four years, the chapters rotate between the four sisters' voices as their family's fortune disintegrates, first with the abdication of their father from the Russian throne, then with their imprisonment and finally with their mass execution at the hands of Bolshevik revolutionists. Miller is a strong writer and put a tremendous amount of effort into ensuring that the book accurately reflects the political/historical times as well as the personalities and life positions of the young women themselves, extensively researching diaries and other resources. Unfortunately, other than perhaps the notoriously (or mythically?) feisty Anastasia, what's interesting about the Romanov daughters is their family's demise, not necessarily them. The sisters, Miller's book deftly underscores, lived a sheltered court life of diamond-studded privilege with a perfunctory education and little understanding of or interaction with the world outside their posh palace walls. Until their father abdicated they were destined to remain in that fairytale, marrying as-privileged young men. The family shows some grit as their situation worsens but there are no discernable heroes or particularly valiant actions, ultimately just naive lambs led to slaughter. Miller deserves praise for her hard-wrought portrayal but the Romanov girls just don't offer much biographical depth to draw from. They are a tool for telling the story but in the end not much more. It's their fate and the politics behind it, not necessarily them, that readers will remember.
The Betrayal of Maggie Blair
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780547341262, $16.99, www.amazon.com
Master storyteller Elizabeth Laird spins the unforgettable tale of 17th Century Scottish teen Maggie Blair, who flees a mob bent on hanging her for witchcraft and encounters over the ensuing year a rich cast of supporting characters and lots of opportunity for coming-of-age soul searching. Sixteen-year-old Maggie leaps from the frying pan into the fire after her escape, settling into the home of an uncle who's heading a dangerous Presbyterian movement to worship God in defiance of the King of England's order to adhere to state religion. From there, the novel just gets better as dire circumstances lead Maggie to traverses the countryside, seaside and ultimately, the city of Edinburgh, sometimes pursued, sometimes aided, sometimes befriended, sometimes lost and utterly, terrifyingly alone. As her adventures deepen Maggie questions her religious convictions and taps into a deep well of strength she didn't know she had. A historically colorful, geographically exquisite, deeply satisfying and entertaining life journey from page one to the open ended conclusion. With scads of ends left fluttering, we can only hope for more of Maggie Blair.
PO Box 2399, Bangor, ME 04402-2399
9781614342496, $16.95, www.amazon.com
Genre: Metaphysical Fictional Novel
Quoting from the back cover:
"Dick Byron is back! In this sequel to Lanterns in the Mist, the mystical, excommunicated priest is tracking the whereabout of a friend, Jacob Frobisher, who has gone missing. Byron's odyssey is both geographic and spiritual as he navigates his way through the northeast United States, visiting the strange, iconoclastic friends with whom Jacob has confided in the past. The journey culminates in the surreal coastal desert of Baja, Mexico where the distinctions between life and death and good and evil become a psychological and ethical blur."
Midnight Tango is Edward Fotheringill's fifth print-on-demand (POD) published novel. I have enjoyed and reviewed each one. Of all my POD authors, Edward is my favorite. His quality of writing is consistent; I like his writing style - a warp and woof of short, tight chapters ; his vocabulary is challenging; his intelligence shines through - he's a teacher of philosophy and intellectual history at the Maryland Institute College of Art; and the novels are finely edited. He can take a simple subject - the search for a missing friend - and make it into a metaphysical journey..
Typically, I do not write in or mark up the books I review because I give them to our local library when finished.. However, when reading one of Ed's novels, I just cannot help myself from marking and underlining portions that are meaningful and significant. There are always mysteries left unanswered - why did he include such and such, what was the significance of...? - and yet, there is a solid beginning and closure.
As I read Byron's odyssey in search of Jacob, it reminded me somewhat of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and what we learned through the dialogues the little prince had with the characters he encountered as he traveled from planet to planet in his quest. Midnight Tango might be thought of as a contemporary along this line.
I cannot understand why Edward Fotheringill's novels have not been picked up my mainstream publishers by now, but then, I'm a nobody...a figment of my own imagination. Edward, however, is a consummate, quality writer with something insightful worth saying in a world filled with illusions, delusions and lots of noise. Once he is discovered, all his novels (Lanterns in the Mist, Darkness Withdrawn OR Eclipse of Nietzsche's Shadow, Halfmoon Confidential, and Anaximander's Annex) will be best sellers and a cult following, along the lines of Tom Robbins, will ensue. Am I a psychic? No, not that I'd admit, but I'll make the above prophecy. Did I like Midnight Tango? Yes, and I prophesy that you will too.
A Snowy Night On Old Baldy Mountain
Edward Fotheringill, author
Jeff Moyes, illustrator
PO Box 2399, Bangor, ME 04402-2399
9781609101336, $12.95, www.amazon.com
Genre: Juvenile Literature
Rating: Very Good
Quoting from the back cover:
"Caden and Corey, young brothers and best friends, are spending the night with their dad in a teepee on Old Baldy Mountain. It is the dead of winter and the darkness and cold and snow are unrelenting. The three hardy campers cook dinner over their campfire and are about to turn in for a good night's sleep when Corey peers out of the teepee and sees something terrifying. It's big, it's growling, and it's coming to get them!"
A Snowy Night On Old Baldy Mountain is a delightful story full of excitement, danger and adventure. Considering the book has only 48 pages, you can imagine that it is jam packed and moves right along. It's believable, exciting, and entertaining. A young child would certainly enjoy this story.
Edward Fotheringill is a professor of philosophy at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland, and A Snowy Night On Old Baldy Mountain is his first children's book The cover is colorful, attractive and fun; the illustrations by Jeff Moyes add to the reality of the wintery adventure.
Other novels by Edward Fotheringill include: Lanterns in the Mist, Darkness Withdrawn OR The Eclipse of Nietzsche's Shadow, Halfmoon Confidential, Anaximander's Annex. If you like quality metaphysical mysteries by a consummate, intelligent writer, join the cult and read one of the above.
Thumpertop - The Art of Building a Moonshine Still
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781460957783, $14.95, www.amazon.com
Genre: Memoir/Short Stories/How To
Rating: Very Good
Quoting from the back cover:
"Automobiles of yesterday, moonshine runners and building of whiskey stills is an art.
"Appalachian Mountains, leaving your doors unlocked was a common thing at night. Most of the Appalachia are genuine old folks: if they like you, they like you, and if they do not like you, it is better to keep going on down the road. Once you get to know the Appalachian folks, they would carry on until you have had a little of their moonshine, showing off their handcrafted liquor still and tell you it is a dying art. These folks are not your everyday bootleggers; they just want to make them a little shine to keep on hand.
"It is the responsibility of the buyer of this book to keep out of trouble if using this information to build a liquor still."
I thoroughly enjoyed this little - part memoir, short stories and how to - book from beginning to end. There are ten chapters. The first nine are short stories and the tenth gives you plans and recipes for making moonshine. It's an interesting subject and the stories are personal and down to earth. The cover photo is of an old-time whiskey still...historic and unique. Throughout the book there are drawings of significant trucks and cars plus detailed illustrations of the stills to be built.
Robert Devillier tells a good story and does an excellent job putting it all together. There were a few editing errors but nothing significant. They certainly did not detract from the stories. I think just about anyone would enjoy Thumpertop.
Your Room at the End - Thoughts About Aging We'd Rather Avoid
Brown Books Small Press
c/o Brown Books Publishing Group
16250 Knoll Trail, Suite 205
Dallas, Texas 75248
9781612547657, currently available on Kindle - $5.59.
Genre: Non-fiction - Aging Issues
Quoting from the back cover:
"After enduring several painful months witnessing the decline and ultimate death of a loved one, author Charlie Hudson recognized that she needed to radically change her views on the realities of aging. Known for her easy storytelling style in both nonfiction and fiction, Hudson departs from her usual subject matter here, tackling aging, mental decline, and death - topics we so often avoid.
"Hudson's perspective reaches far beyond the knowledge that we will all pass away; in Your Room at the End she weaves her own experiences with advice from doctors, nurses, accountants, estate experts, and other professionals providing answers to questions we are reluctant to ask or never even knew we had to ask."
Your Room at the End is an exceptional collection of pertinent information for all aging seniors and their families. The book is divided into 2 sections: Part I - This is Not Supposed to Happen to Me and Part II - Enhancing and Sustaining Quality of Life. In Part I there are 6 chapters: 1) Aging and Death: What to Fight and What to Negotiate; 2) Defining Your Quality of Life; 3) Golden Years - More or Less; 4) Basic Financial and Other Planning; 5) What Kind of Care? Where? When?; 6) Who Gets to Choose?. Part II does not have chapters but succinct sections, i.e. Balancing Your Life Program, When Physical Rehabilitation Is Required, Building or Reinventing Your Space, What Technology Helps?, Downsizing Made Easier, Practical Pets, Galaxies and 1,000-Piece Puzzles, Considerations for Independent Living or Care Facilities, Summing It Up.
The title, Your Room at the End, is a very appropriate title and for some unknown reason reminded me of another significant book in my life, A Room of Your Own by Virginia Woolf. The cover has a poignant ambience--an artistic truthfulness - about it. The book is attractive, professionally presented and well edited.
Charlie Hudson is an consummate writer...I've reviewed many of her books. She generally does an excellent job, but in Your Room at the End Charlie has excelled beyond her norm. She's done a superb job in her research, organization and presentation of information to assist us in making difficult decisions as we become seniors. I'll be 70 myself this year and have already had to make changes, plans and decisions. None of us know what lies ahead, but we can plan to the best of our ability and financial situation with the assistance of family, and this book will help you do just that. I highly recommend Your Room at the End.
Irises to Ashes
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432773892, $16.95, www.amazon.com
Genre: Fiction - Family/Adventure/Dreams
Rating: Very Good
Quoting from the back cover:
"A BOOK FOR ANYONE WHO HAS EVER STRUGGLED TO PURSUE A DREAM.
"Young Maggie Stewart loves the beaches of the Outer Banks, but that doesn't take away from her desire to travel beyond the ocean's edge. She knows that her family expects her to marry and settle down. It is an unexpected encounter with Amelia Hatcher, the village recluse, that leads to surprising opportunities that can open a path for Maggie to find a new future. Thus begins the intertwined stories of Maggie and Amelia; a fifteen year relationship between a young woman seeking to find her own way and an older woman seeking redemption for a past she has kept shrouded in secret.
"Charlie Hudson, military veteran and author, brings a different type of book in Irises to Ashes. Her comfortable writing style and touches of humor are still present in a story that explores self-discovery and the price we sometimes pay for choices that we make. See all of Charlie's books at www.charliehunson.net."
Irises to Ashes is divided into 3 parts: Part One - Maggie's Beginning - Summer 1976 - Summer 1978, Part Two - Maggie's Time - Fall 1978 - Spring 1992, and Part Three - Amelia's Secrets - April 1992. This is not only a novel about young Maggie Stewart's self-discovery but also about the de-mystification of Amelia Hatcher. Throughout Hudson's novel the page-turning tension flows from one page to the next...starting with: will she give up her virginity to Billy Ray?; how can she get to know the recluse Amelia?; how to keep their relationship a secret; how to work around obstinate parents; how to get to Paris; will she succeed?; dealing with negative family jealousy; having to choose between family expectations and a successful career; and why no meaningful relationships? Then, you find out the secrets that led Amelia to choose the life of a recluse..
Irises To Ashes has a great beginning to pull you in, tension to keep you turning, and a satisfying conclusion to fit the title. Hudson excels at descriptive writing and character development which bring this story to life. Can you relate to her Maggie?...might you distort the truth to get what you want? And, in some ways, Irises to Ashes is a light mystery...will she break from family?, will she succeed?, what are Amelia's dark secrets? Other books by Charlie Hudson include: Your Room at the End, Parallel Worlds, Islands in the Sand, Orchids in the Snow, Shades of Murder, Parents' Guide to Business Travel. And yes, I can highly recommend this novel.
The Demise of the Horse Fairy
9781450585385, $16.99, www.laurieloveman.com
With the depression in full swing, the power of the mob radiated strongly. "The Demise of the Horse Fairy" tells the story of Bobby Darvey, a gangster with hostility and murder in his mind. Laurie Loveman weaves together a story of law, order, vengeance, family, and horses in an exciting and hard to put down way. "The Demise of the Horse Fairy" is exciting storytelling that brings its many plots together into one enjoyable experience.
Exercising Your Puppy
Julia Robertson & Elisabeth Pope
Hubble and Hattie
9781845843571, $24.95, www.hubbleandhattie.com
Puppies need good health as just as much humans do. "Exercising Your Puppy: A Gentle & Natural Approach" is a guide to greater puppy health from Julia Robertson & Elisabeth Pope, as they encourage greater health for one's puppies through natural means, such as play, tricks, exercises massage, and much more on top of that. For any dog lover, "Exercising Your Puppy" is a solid choice for those who want to make sure their puppy grows up to be as big and strong as they can.
9780615477527, $15.99, www.melissafoster.com
Guilt can crush you, even if it's not your fault. "Chasing Amanda" speaks on the guilt of Molly Tanner, who is struck with a clairvoyant vision of a young girl's demise. Brushing it off, she is devastated when her vision is true. Years later, she has another vision, and this time she is not going to let the guilt consume her again, going against anything and everything to stop another tragedy. "Chasing Amanda" is a fine psychic thriller, highly recommended.
c/o Maryglenn McCombs (publicity)
2817 West End Avenue, Suite 126-274
9781609101114, $16.95, www.maryglenn.com
To be in charge of a family is a daunting task, and can be quite taxing on the psyche. "ParentWise: The Emotional Challenges of Family Life and How to Deal With Them" is a guide for parents to keep their emotions under control and dealing with the massive endeavor of caring for another life wholly. So many worries go through a mind, and Loren Buckner does well in fully exploring anything and everything that may blight a would be parent. "ParentWise" is a fine read and very much recommended read for any parent who may find themselves struggling to breathe in the deep end.
Adventures in Political Theory
Norman Patrick Peritore
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432750190, $26.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Throughout histories there are many great thinkers who have challenged our thoughts. "Adventures in Political Theory" is Norman Patrick's walk through the many thoughts of history and how they have shaped our history. From Socrates to the raging modern political debate, their have been many who have changed the way people think and form the basis for our intellectual future. "Adventures in Political Theory" is worth considering for its wide reaching history, highly recommended.
Debbie Nau Redmond
9780615452029, $14.95, www.3lpublishing.com
Mental illness is perhaps the most misunderstood thing in today's society. "Silent Voices: The True Story of One Family's Tragedy and Journey Toward Acceptance, Grace, and Forgiveness" is the memoir of Debbie Nau Redmond as she recollects the tragedy of her son's schizophrenia and the severe impact it had on her family. Wishing for greater understanding of schizophrenia and other severe mental illness, "Silent Voices" is a much needed read for those who want to truly understand mental illness and all its problems.
Still Life with Brass Pole
9781461089001, $14.95, www.craigmachen.com
Sex sells, just that there are a lot of hurdles to go over before you can get to selling it. "Still Life with Brass Pole" is a memoir of Craig Machen as he is spurned by the loss of love, and finds himself traveling the country to understanding everything and anything that goes on in this screwed up and crazy world. With plenty of humor to be considered within life's characters "Still Life with Brass Pole" has its own unique charm and is a read that should strongly be considered.
For One More Day
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515 Parker, CO 80134
9781432771935 $18.95 www.outskirtspress.com
For One More Day is the powerful and emotional moving memoir of one woman's effort to rebuild a life shattered by child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and alcoholism. Drawn to dysfunctional relationships as an adult, the author even tried to take her own life. At her lowest moment, she asked out loud, "Dear God, for how long shall I suffer?" A miracle came in the response she heard, not as a physical voice, but as a message delivered directly to her heart and soul: "If you had known and believed that I loved you at all, you would have never suffered." This marked beginning of the painful and difficult journey to turn around her life and overcome her addiction by surrendering to God. Although the names in this biography have been changed to protect others, the story is unflinchingly true, and is ultimately an offering of hope to any and all who have also suffered unspeakable pain. For One More Day is worthy of the highest recommendation.
The Strange Life of Walenty Karnowski
Gerald R. Schimidt
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432772260, $14.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Faith can be a wonderful thing, but at the same time, it is the catalyst for violence. "The Strange Life of Walenty Karnowski" delves into a conflict of 1842 where Catholics, Lutherans, and Jews go to a subtle war over those who worship evil in the forests of Poland. Gritty, "The Strange Life of Walenty Karnowski" brings readers in without pulling any punches on faith and what people do in the name of it, recommended.
Why I Love Singlehood
Elisa Lorello & Sarah Girrell
PO Box 400818, Las Vegas, NV 89140
9781935597575, $13.95, www.amazon.com
To be free of a relationships is a wonderful burden to be free of, until you realize what you're missing. "Why I Love Singlehood" follows Eva Perino, self proclaimed single and proud woman who even blogs about it. Claiming 'experiment' after an Ex finds marriage, then her friend's marriage, and the family of her sister, she realizes that independence isn't worth a lick if there's no one to share it with. A quirky and fun spin of romance, "Why I Love Singlehood" is a fine and recommended read for any romance collection.
Tortunga Loca Books
9781936476015, $16.99, www.melissacrandall.com
To treat humanity as only a tool is a cruelty no matter the circumstances. "Weathercock" is a fantasy set in a unique world dominated by women who see men only as breeding tools. Kinner is sentenced to death, only to be rescued by his mother and mercenaries. A hero of legend is what many predict, but few know when he will truly appear. "Weathercock" is an unusual yet unique work of fiction that will keep readers reading and guessing all the way through.
A. M. Torres
10940 S. Parker Rd, -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432764111, $22.95, www.outskirtspress.com
When life is violence, it can be hard to go on. "Love Child" follows the tragedy of Tommy as he copes with his suicidally depressed mother and the abuse that is entering his life, as he finds himself under a cruel relative. Seeking to protect his sister from the cruelty of it all, there seems to be no end in sight. A tragic story of standing up for oneself and their loved ones, "Love Child" is a fine and very much recommended read.
9780969321910, $12.95, www.helenyeomans.com
The reward of a hero is sometimes unwelcome. "Owen's Day" is the story of a rescue of a nine year old boy by a hero who wants none of the attention that comes with it. The mother of the child wants to show her gratitude, but as the winter rages on, the thankful mother pursues her hero, the media pursues her hero, the hero wants nothing of it, and nature plays quite the annoying wildcard. A frank and unique yet highly entertaining novel, "Owen's Day" is a fine collection of thought, very much recommended.
9781453793831, $9.99, www.amazon.com
Even the oceans have their mysteries and brushes with the paranormal. "Remember" is the first entry into the vampire spinning series the Mermaid Vampire Chronicles as Kristella is whisked into a world of the mermaid vampires, locked in a feud with the werewolves who are out to take the newest member of the clan in Kristella. Drawing heavily on the mermaid twist, "Remember" is worth considering for modern fantasy readers.
The Wilshire Sun
Turtle Point Press
9781933527468, $10.50, www.amazon.com
Struggling to survive in Los Angles is a major challenge in itself. "The Wilshire Sun" tells of Jacob, who travels to Los Angeles to make his way. Told in a very fast paced manner about the things that make up our young lives, the challenges of creativity, and how the old becomes new, "The Wilshire Sun" has a unique and humorous spin on its subjects, very much recommended.
First Love, Last Dance
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781441580979 $19.99, www.amazon.com
Set in Atlanta and the Ohio farm region before, during and after World War II, First Love, Last Dance is the touching, heart-warming true story of Elise and Peter, a couple who first fell deeply in love in their late teens/early twenties but weren't able to reunite until their late seventies.
Told from the point of view of Elise's daughter Nancy, this memoir begins in Atlanta in the late 30s and spans several decades all the way to the present.
Elise is a beautiful Southern girl from an upper-class upbringing. At the young age of 19, she meets Peter, the man who sweeps her off her feet. They fall in love. Unfortunately, Elise's controlling, domineering and old fashioned mother has other plans for her daughter. Believing that Peter isn't the right match for Elise, she does her best to influence her daughter's decision until, tragically, she succeeds. Instead of marrying Peter, Elise marries a Navy pilot who, though handsome and smart, isn't the right person for her. As a young bride, Elise's life changes radically: her new husband takes her to rural Ohio to work on a farm. Elise is soon torn with bittersweet feelings of frustration and, at times, unhappiness. Then something happens... Each year on her birthday, Elise receives a mystery call from the South...
Though I'm not a big fan of memoirs, I must say I enjoyed reading this one. Written with special attention to detail, First Love, Last Dance is a celebration of love that will warm readers' hearts. True- love story lovers will relish the hope and optimism in it, while fans of Southern writing will take pleasure in the historical aspect of the setting and characters. The family dynamics in the story are interesting, too, portraying values and traditions particular to the South and the Ohio rural regions. The author wrote the memoir as a gift and tribute to her mother Elise. What a wonderful gift to offer a mother! If you're a fan of true love stories, you must pick this one up.
The Space Between
Amazon Digital Services
B0058W64F0 $2.99 Kindle
Sixteen-year old Anna Sullivan is an outsider at her high school. Quiet and shy, as well as cursed with a tortuous family past, she can't hope to attract the attention of popular Tyler Marsh, for whom she has a crush. How could a girl like her, a girl with a low social status, an alcoholic father and a mother who abandoned her, dare hope anything at all in life?
Then the nightmares begin... nightmares of a horrible massacre at school...
What do these dreams mean? Is Anna somehow having a glimpse of the future?
Things get more confusing when she realizes Tyler is having the same dreams. In fact, he seems to be sharing the same dreams with her, at the same time. Thus begins Anna and Tyler's dark relationship as together they try to decipher the meaning of the nightmares and in doing so discover their connection to quantum physics and multiple parallel dimensions.
I'm a huge fan of Sokoloff and have read all of her books. I was thrilled to read this her first young adult novel, which, in my opinion, is her darkest work to date. Sokoloff has a gift of pulling readers immediately into her stories. Her writing style, though simple and succinct, is exquisite. She knows how to combine long sentences with sudden short ones, thus creating a sensuous cadence and rhythm. The novel is also filled with vivid images, mystery and a strong atmosphere of danger. I also like the way she interlaces psychological elements into the plot, thus adding depth to the story.
One of the aspects of this novel I enjoyed the most was how Sokoloff incorporated quantum physics and the idea of multiple dimensions and parallel universes into her storyline. This definitely adds something different and original from other teen horror novels in the market today. It also stimulates readers' minds. The story crosses genres; it's a thriller with a bit of horror and a dash of the supernatural.
I highly recommend The Space Between to fans of dark YA thrillers as well as to those readers who like a sprinkle of science in their books.
A Job From Hell
345 Boren Ave N., Seattle, WA 98109
9781461131335, $14.99, www.amazon.com
If you love hot, paranormal romance and sexy vampires, Jayde Scott has a brand new series just for you. In this first book in the Ancient Legends series, we learn from the start the "job from hell" is a housekeeping job in the dreary old McAllister mansion far from civilization in Scotland. But all is not what it seems from the moment 17-year old Amber arrives. Soon after, her conniving brother Dallas shows up and cons her into going after a cache of gems hidden nearby. Amber goes along with it and is unwittingly infected with magical powers in the process. From then on she is drawn to her boss, Aidan McAllister and his world of vampires and Shadows and demonic angels. Amber is tough and witty. Aidan is the right amount of aloof and hungry. But beyond these two characters are Devon, Dallas, Cass, Clare, Kieran, and more - each unique and oozing with possibilities for more to come. Scott uses a cast of intriguing characters - far more interesting and unpredictable than the Twilight series - to lure readers into a supernatural otherworld full of seduction and danger at every turn.
First Second Books
c/o Roaring Brook Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781596434196, $16.99, www.amazon.com
Cupcake owns the Sweet Tooth Bakery and plays drums in a band with his best friend, Eggplant and some other delicious creatures. Eggplant plays the trombone. Life is swell until Cupcake finds out about Eggplant's upcoming trip to Turkey to meet the great chef, Turkish Delight. She is a friend of Eggplant's Aunt Abergine. Cupcake can't believe Eggplant never told him he knows his idol, Turkish Delight. Finding a way to make the journey to Istanbul with Eggplant just about melts the frosting off Cupcake's head. "Bake Sale" is a graphic novel for young readers. Varon's illustrations are both entertaining and amusing. She also includes some cool recipes, from edible Sugared Flowers to Marzipan to homemade Dog Biscuits, and even two kinds of brownies. Yum. My nine-year old granddaughter read this book two times in a row and loved it. We can't wait to try those recipes.
W. Bruce Cameron
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765327819, $22.99, www.amazon.com
"Emory's Gift" is an extraordinary story about a boy and a grizzly bear. At age thirteen, Charlie Hall's life is in shambles. He watched his mother die a long, slow death from cancer, his dad is depressed, and he dreads the eighth grade. Charlie finds refuge from the despair and embarrassment of his life in the natural world that surrounds their isolated property in northern Idaho.
One day while trout fishing in the creek Charlie is stalked by a hungry mountain lion when a grizzly bear comes to his rescue and changes his life forever. Much about the peculiar bear is mysterious. For instance he has a name, Emory. Even so, the relationship between him and Charlie comes across as authentic. Emory allows Charlie to be near him as long as he respects his space and feeds him, otherwise he ignores him. For the most part, he behaves like a bear. But Emory is a grizzly bear, which creates all the utter mayhem and anxious suspense of a loaded gun as the story unfolds. At any moment, everyone - including Charlie - expects him to act like a grizzly bear.
Cameron's witty and angst-ridden style reads easily and enticingly, like a memoir. Even though this is fiction, it contains a taste of magical realism so seductive it made me wish it was all true. The mystery of "Emory's Gift" endures beyond the last page which makes this book destined to become a classic for all ages.
Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer
The 34th Degree
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
1451612397, $24.00, www.amazon.com
During the Second World War, Hitler and his cronies searched for an ancient secret text because it contained the formula for creating Greek Fire. The original formula came from Atlantis but was secretly encoded in one of Saint Paul's testaments to the Thessalonians back in New Testament times.
With Greek Fire the Nazis could have won the war. Its unique thermodynamic formula would have allowed Hitler's regime to light afire any/all water that touched allied harbors. All ships, men, and harbor cities they could have turned into a holocaustic conflagration. But this text was kept hidden by monks deep within a secret monastery high atop one of the mysterious Meteora Mountains in Greece.
Now Pentagon officials want Sam Deker to locate this text to keep it from falling into terrorist hands because if misused, it could possibly bring about an apocalyptic event ending human life on our planet. Because of the mental torture he survived while serving in the Israeli Army, Sam Deker, who now lives in the United States, is chosen by the Pentagon to help find this lost biblical document because of what he had mentally endured.
According to The 34th Degree, in order to find the formulaic text, Deker must travel back in time to infiltrate the Nazi regime where he will use the same clues they used when seeking the text. This is an awkward story about backward time travel. Author Thomas Greanias has devised a clever method of studying the German mind during the last two years of World War Two.
How? Found preserved for posterity is the brain of Hitler's top henchman, SS General Ludwig von Berg. By systematically cutting through his brain tissue with almost microscopically thin slices, information contained on those slices will be fed into Sam Deker's brain and reassembled. He will be able to analyze that past data and rethink in mente the ideas of the dead Nazis who had allegedly located the doctrine, but not in time to perfect it and use its power.
For readers who like thrillers, this could be the book for you. But you will have to place aside any sense of reality considering all the bizarre elements assembled to make this story work. The tale includes: Atlantis, ancient Jericho, an encoded letter of Saint Paul, an atomic bomb, the Nazis, Masonic symbols, Greek Fire, brain information transference, secret texts, a secret monastery, doomed submarines, text predicting the demise of the world.
Needless to say, I did not find the book exciting because its characters are far too unreal. The first few pages are crammed with too much information needed to explain the predicament the Pentagon is in. It rushed through a thin explanation of what Deker was up against just so it could get to the real story in 1943-45.
Within a very few lines, and without a hint of disapproval, Sam Deker accepted his fate and readily climbed into the electronic apparatus that would insert probes deep into his brain so that information transfer could begin. Any concern for life or death at the hands of this experiment Deker merely brushed off.
All in all, as much as I like thriller stories, The 34th Degree was 34 degrees too far into the realm of the outlandish. Although I think it a major feat to include so much in a fictional undertaking, perhaps there is a point beyond which any sense of belief fades away in favor of the preposterous.
296 Church Street North, Concord, NC 28025
0984559817, $13.99, www.comfortpublishing.com
For many of us, there was a time in our lives when we felt very self confident, strong, potent, able to face any crisis ahead. Generally this occurred around the time of puberty when our raging hormones led us to believe we could conquer any destination even though we knew not what it was.
Charles has grown tired of a life up in the deep back country of Alabama. He has been a hillbilly teen who now wants a taste of the world's treasures: fine food, his own automobile, the big city and its lights, and above all, sexual release he feels he is missing or has only heard of or seen in pictures and magazines.
In Healing Charles, author Larry Matthews paints out in words the explosive hormonal portrait that drives young Charles from his mountain ancestry into the big city. Charles leaves home in denial of a gift passed on to him from his grandmother. The gift is healing by laying on of Charles' hands to alleviate pain and suffering from afflicted individuals.
At first, Charles wants no part of this precious bequest passed down from the ancient ones through his grandmother. Instead, he seeks city life in California where he meets a western songwriter/singer. The two men become inseparable friends that fall in love with their free-living, high-spirited, life style. But on an occasion where Charles is seen in a crowd using his bare hands to relieve the agonized suffering of a man writhing on the floor in pain, Charles is publicly recognized as a healer.
Even if Charles doesn't, his singing partner realizes the financial potential of concerts where he sings and Charles heals. The popularity of both men grows exponentially. What will eventually happen to these two "stars" and their amorous adventures I will leave to the reader. Suffice it to say that Healing Charles is not a book that will disappoint. Author Larry Matthews has a knack for creating believable, realistic characters in very unusual circumstances.
How will Charles and his talented music loving friend-for-life deal with fame? Will Charles ever recognize the real power of healing left to him by his grandmother on the mountain or will he, like so many other fortuitously famous people, become calloused and hardened by the pleasure and lucre of the world?
If you are a believer in the mysterious power of healing simply by the physical touch of another gifted human being, then Healing Charles is the read for you. You will find yourself willing this eighteen-year-old to make decent choices, maybe even devout choices. Why? Because you cannot help but fall in love with the underlying depth of his human spirit. You want him to survive. You want him to make right decisions and recognize the strength he holds within his fingers.
Regis Schilken, Reviewer
The Stoning of Sally Kern
600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746
9781616383619, $22.99, www.amazon.com
A Clarion Call to Conservative Social Action
Sally Kern, a member of the Oklahoma State House of Representatives came to National attention in early 2008 after clips from a speech given before a group of Republicans was posted on YouTube generated more than 2 million hits. This resulted in a surge of hate mail and media coverage.
"The Stoning of Sally Kern" is written in an effort to challenge the reader to recognize the principles that have made America great and to advance a Christian world view that motivates them to defend these principles.
The book includes the full text of:
- The Transcript of the January 10, 2008 speech
- The Oklahoma Citizens' Proclamation for Morality
- A Pictorial review of some of the highlights of Kern's activities
- Relevant Thoughts and Quotes from America's God and Country: Encyclopedia of Quotations, compiled by William J. Federer
- A Resource List of Suggested Reading
Kern's writing is compelling. She writes with a fervency of conviction. Her book will be welcomed by readers involved in the "battle" she describes, thought extreme by other firm believers, less vocal in their stance, and ridiculed by opponents of her cause. Kern's experience is a reminder of the responsibility, impact and influence that go with being in the political arena. Misinformation leads to misunderstanding.
I received a complimentary review copy from the publisher. My review reflects my personal observations and opinions.
Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000
Nashville, TN 37214
9781595551382, $29.99, www.amazon.com
A New and Important Biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, highly acclaimed author Erick Metaxas captures a four-fold look into the life and death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in another New York Times Bestseller.
For years I have held Bonhoeffer in high esteem as a result of the impact of his book "The Cost of Discipleship," however, I have not been exposed to full story behind his theology and commitment, and sacrifice.
Metaxas' detailed account, meticulous research, and gifted writing skills add a new appreciation for Bonhoeffer's example of the discipleship of which he wrote. I have been inspired, motivated, and moved by this dramatic look into the life of a modern day Christian Martyr.
The insights Metaxas provides into the workings of the Third Reich are shocking. I have read many other accounts regarding Nazi Germany that relate the atrocities against the Jews but have a new appreciation for the horror suffered as individuals and families.
Metaxas' account of Bonhoeffer's courage will linger as a challenge to me in my own stand for right, righteousness and valor for years to come.
I received a complementary review copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers. Providing me a free copy in no way guarantees a favorable review. The opinions expresses in this review are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411
9781934759530, $27.95, www.amazon.com
Foundational Skills for Effective Leadership and Business Performance
Dusan Djukich subtitles his book "Straight-Life Leadership" this way: "Tools for Living with Velocity and Power in Turbulent Times." He follows up with a powerful first chapter helping the reader discover their own operating position or "inner stance." He goes on to help the reader understand a language which creates the desired results.
He introduces the foundation skills of straight-line leadership and the geometry of success. He uses words and phrases like "radical self honesty" "clear distinction," "focused action," and many others which define the characteristics needed for straight-line leadership.
I appreciate the dozens of quotes from well know leaders and the stimulating probing questions begging for decision, action, or commitment. The format of the book, with short chapters, enticing chapter titles, and practical examples enable the reader to grasp the content, assimilate an application, and put these concepts into personal practice.
Djukich's writing is compelling, articulate, powerfully packed with motivation and life changing potential. He is a gifted communicator with insight into today's technology, the need for problem solving, and the skill to motivate the reader to make a real difference.
Decidedly readable, definitely practical, and immediately actionable. Highly recommended.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher. Providing me a free copy in no way guarantees a favorable review. The opinions expresses in this review are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Henry! You're Late Again
Mary Evanson Bleckwehl, author
Brian Barber, illustrator
Beaver's Pond Press, Inc.
7104 Ohms Lane, Suite 101
Edina, Minnesota 55439-2129
9781592983575, $16.95, www.BeaversPonPress.com
Pandemonium in the Morning - Dad Oversleeps - Henry is Late Again
Brilliant illustrations, impressive production and a delightful creative story combine to make "Henry You're Late Again" a wonderful reading experience for the four to eight year old child.
Dad slept in again. This makes Henry late for his first grade class. He will have to get another tardy slip and stern lecture from Miss Timberlane, the school secretary. Henry has more questions about how Miss Timberlane lives as his imagination and anxiety level increases with each additional minute he is late. Henry learns an important lesson through a delightful unexpected surprise event.
Henry's positive response to his problems provides an example for the reader and leaves them with a good feeling inside and a smile on the outside. "Henry You're Late Again" makes an excellent gift and a unique read aloud or read along experience for the classroom, bedtime, or for young readers to impress their peers or the important adults in their lives.
I received a complementary review copy of this book from the author. Providing me a free copy in no way guarantees a favorable review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
c/o Strang Company
600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32749
9781916385049, $13.99, www.amazon.com
A Collision Course to Destruction When a Search for Truth Meets up with Unspeakable Darkness
"The Resurrection" recounts the hidden secrets of Stonetree, a small coastal town in California. While attending the funeral of young Armondo Amaya, Ruby Case took her turn in line with family and friends to pay their final respect to the young boy. On an impulse Ruby reached out to touch the body. After a short prayer; when she removed her hand Mondo suddenly sat up in his coffin.
A chain of events that follow Mondo's resurrection take the reader into the conflict between a naturalist explanation and a super-naturalist viewpoint. Controversy erupts in the Stonetree community. Ruby becomes both a hero and a scapegoat. She joins forces with Rev. Ian Clark in a determined effort to find the truth.
Although Duran's characters are uniquely developed, it was hard for me to genuinely identify with any of them. The protagonists lacked dimension. Even in their strongest moments they did not come across as real.
Duran's creative imagination is contagious. A note for Christian readers: "The Resurrection" is a book for the reader who is willing to allow their imagination to take them "outside of the box" of their comfortable theology in areas of the supernatural, ghosts, demons, and the power of curses.
A challenge to live a life of genuine commitment to follow Christ and His teaching is presented throughout the book without feeling "preachy."
"The Resurrection" is entertaining, informative, and thought provoking fiction.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher with in consideration of a fair and honest review.
Undaunted Faith: Seasons of the Heart Book Four
c/o Strang Company
600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32749
9781616382056, $12.99, www.amazon.com
A Story of Faith, Hope, and Love in the midst of Trials, Dangers, and Personal Struggles
This is the fourth in the "Seasons of the Heart Series" and centers on Luke and Jake McCabe as well as Bethany Stafford from the earlier series as they begin life and ministry in Silverthorne a typical community during the period of settling in the Arizona Territory. Indians, rustlers, and townspeople all add to the drama of this engrossing story.
"Undaunted Faith" has a parallel plot in which Luke and Bethany, engaged to be married, have a series of issues and misunderstandings to work through Jake helps Dr. Annetta Cavanaugh find forgiveness, hope, and self acceptance, as he offers her protection and an unexpressed love. Boeshaar develops strong believable characters and introduces a positive Gospel message within the flow of a natural dialog.
Unexpected plot twists add a compelling element to the sheer enjoyment of Boeshaar's unique style of writing Christian inspirational fiction. Favorable reviews already indicate that the Andrea Boeshaar fans are excited about "Undaunted Faith" the final book in the "Seasons of the Heart" series.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the Publishers. Providing me a free copy in no way guarantees a favorable review. The opinions expresses in this review are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Warrior for Revival: The Life Stories and Principles of Philip Mantofa
Philip Mantofa and Ribkah M. H. (Sianne)
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
A Call for Revival to a New Generation
Philip Mantofa and Ribkah M. H. (Sianne) have collaborated in this stirring story of the life and principles of the ministry of Philip Mantofa. Delivered from a life of violence, depression, and demon possession, Mantofa has been used of God in city wide revivals in Indonesia and Asia.
Mantofa's goal is to challenge a new generation of youth with these life principles, to help them discover their personal identity, so that they can experience an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Philip uses examples of God's chosen leaders from the Bible to illustrate and develop the principles that he has discovered and practices in his personal spiritual journey.
Sianne's narrative on Philip's life story is engaging, providing important background information that reinforces the life principles presented by Mantofa. Thrilling testimonies and detailed interviews relate experiences of salvation, of being miraculously healed, and of other miracles. These stories offer exciting evidence of God at work through the life of this young warrior for revival and add credibility to the transformation in Philip's life and the consistency of his dedication, humility, and prayer life.
"Warrior for Revival" proclaims a positive message of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in the life of one fully surrendered to God's will as well as the potential of the younger generation to change the world for Christ.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's guidelines.
Encounters: Stories of Healing
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768437676, $ 14.99, 2011, 204 Pages
Believing is Seeing - Changed by the Incredible Power of God
Randy Hill is a gifted communicator. His stories open the scriptures in a new and exciting way which transports the characters from New Testament day's right into the 21st Century.
Well known and familiar regular people living in Jerusalem in the 1st century take on a new sense of humanity and become regular friends or neighbors who experience struggles and needs similar to those we experience. Randy Hill has translated these familiar stories into first person accounts to give the reader new insight and to encourage personal application relating to our own personal circumstances.
Imagine the plight of the blind man healed by Jesus. Slip into the shoes of Jarius as he walks with Jesus desperate for his daughter to be healed. Consider Jesus' call to Levi "follow me." Sense the guilt of Peter when he realized how he had denied knowing Jesus. These are samples of the two dozen individuals who had miraculous encounter with Jesus.
Whether you as the reader prefer to transport yourself in time to the dusty roads of Jerusalem when Jesus walked on earth or to fast forward to today and experience him involved in the business milieu of your home town you will be transformed by sharing these encounters allowing Jesus minister to you with His healing touch. I found the "Points to Ponder" questions thought provoking and practical for reflection, assimilation and application.
"Encounters - Stoires of Healing" can be a unique, life changing reading experience.
Note: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinons expresseed are my own.
40 Days to Better Living Optimal Health
The Staff of Church of Health Center
Barbour Publishing, Inc.
P. O. Box 719, Uhrichville, Ohio 44683
9781616262648, $7.99, www.amazon.com
Seven Step Plan to Optimal Health
Dr. Scott Morris and the staff of Church Health Center of Memphis have collaborated in producing this incredible "40 Days to Better Living" plan for discovering optimal health.
The book is made up of forty chapters designed to be read and implemented over a period of forty days. Each week introduces a featured true-to-life story illustrating how to put into practice the suggested guidelines on your personal journey to optimal health.
Each chapter includes a "Morning Reflection" an "Evening Wrap Up" and "Daily Practices" which are made up of suggestions titled: Faith Life, Medical, Movement, Work, Emotional, Family and Friends, and Nutrition. These practices include self examination questions, practical action steps, and exercise suggestions. A few lined spaced are provided for journal notes, progress reports, or reminders. Each two page spread includes colorful pictures which add a visual impact to one of the "Daily Practice" issues.
I plan to recommend "40 Days to Better Living Optimal Health" to my family and friends from the "Gen X" generation right up to the "Senior Crowd." The cover, content, and format of this book make it a perfect gift for any occasion.
I received a complimentary review copy from a representative of the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.
Dare to Dream
Mattheus van der Steen
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
A Radical Life-Changing Challenge
"Dare to Dream" is the story of Mattheus van der Steen and the ministry of Touch Reach and Impact the Nations. I was drawn to Mattheus' passionate heart concern for the underprivileged, the oppressed, widows, and orphans, and the broad scope of opportunities of ministry and outreach as he yielded to the Holy Spirit's leading in obedience to God's call on his life.
These ministries began with and outreach to un-churched youth in the Netherlands, a burden for orphans and widows in Albania, and a revival among Muslim Christians in Oman and Kosovo. Mattheus' dream is to see people set free from bondage, released to become all that God intended, through finding intimacy with the Father and seeking His wisdom.
Practical steps for realizing your personal dreams are introduce through step by step instructions. I received a deeper understanding of a personal God given call and purpose on my life and an expanded World view for missions to the Nations.
Mattheus is a gifted communicator. Reading of his experiences, Biblical teaching, and practical instruction is similar to the experience of having a personal mentor to help you accomplish your life goals. His writing is candid, passionate, and challenging.
"Dare to Dream" is the road-map for a radical life-changing walk of faith.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's guidelines.
Tithing and How to Get There: The Short Course
3101 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781257463695, $14.95, www.amazon.com
A Short Course in Stewardship, Tithing, and Financial Planning
"Tithing and How to Get There: The Short Course" is packed with suggestions, guidelines, and commentary on becoming faithful stewards and practicing generosity which encompasses our whole being. Paul Stephenson has captured insights into Biblical giving sometimes overlooked in today's teaching which often stress "seed faith" giving that are motivated by expected returns of God blessing. He also provides keen insight into traditional teaching based on Old Testament tithing.
Compact but comprehensive, the book is made up of nine chapters. Stephenson begins by introducing the duality of stewardship. Next he looks at specific Old Testament teaching on tithing providing insight into the nature of Israel's culture and economy in relation to God's precepts. He goes on to reveal the promises to one who tithes and introduces the New Testament view of the "Positive Privilege of Tithing."
I found the chapters dealing with establishing a budget and determining a foundation for tithing to be practical and extremely helpful. Step by step exercises, sample worksheets, and detailed instructions provide the reader with the necessary tools for developing a budget and an action plan for putting it into operation.
As the title indicates "Tithing and How to Get There: The Short Course," is intended to provide guidelines. In this light it is an excellent refresher course for anyone facing an unexpected cash shortfall, for those steeped in the despair of debt, or for those starting out in pursuit of establishing life-time stewardship patterns.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from a representative of the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed our own.
Richard R. Blake
A Soldier's Embrace
Bluewood Publishing Limited
Christchurch, 8441, New Zealand
9781877546136, Paperback $14.99
Kindle $6.99, Nook Book $6.99
A Soldier's Embrace by Julie Romero is an interesting and enjoyable romance that focuses on the best elements of romance, love, sexual tension and unfulfilled desires, while also providing a compelling story as the backdrop of the tale.
Elizabeth Davenport is a pampered Denver socialite whose world is turned upside down when she is kidnapped by stagecoach robbers and then rescued by handsome Army Lieutenant Eric Ryan. Pushed to the edge by her circumstances Elizabeth finds herself hopelessly drawn to the Lieutenant, but is it love, and more importantly are her feelings returned by this man who can have any woman he wants.
Eric Ryan is a man pursued by demons, convinced there is no woman he can love and plagued by remorse over the death of his first wife who died alone waiting for him to return from duty. Elizabeth Davenport gets under his skin, but his love is for the military and nothing is going to get in the way of his hard won career. Despite being drawn to Elizabeth, Eric is determined to stay away from her and let her have the type of live he thinks she deserves, that is until fate takes a hand.
Elizabeth's father is a Denver banker who has been robbed and is facing total disaster so he calls in the Feds, in the form of Lieutenant Ryan and his men, to protect his bank. Whether they will be able to keep it safe from the ruthless men seeking to rob it remains to be seen, but when Eric faces Elizabeth again he realizes what has been stolen is heart and with Elizabeth about to marry another man hand chosen by her father, he may be too late to do anything about it.
I greatly enjoyed Romero's storytelling skill and her ability to draw you into the love story growing between the characters, even when they were apart from one another. I loved her idea of setting the story in the "wild west" with brave West Point graduates, ruthless robbers and even some Indians thrown into the mix. I thought she did an excellent job and maintaining both an engrossing storyline and a well-developed romance and when it was over she left me wanting more. I definitely recommend A Soldier's Embrace to all believers in true love. It makes you believe in love all over again as you experience what it is to fall in love for the very first time and then face losing it all. A definite must read for romance fans.
Nightmare at Camp Forrestwood
Kelli Sue Landon
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432770860, $12.95, www.amazon.com
Nightmare at Camp Forrestwood by Kelli Sue Landon was a surprisingly interesting read. As it is marketed in the young adult category I wasn't expecting much of a "whodunit?" aspect to the book but I was pleasantly surprised. I also didn't see the guilty party coming, though there was plenty of explanation after the fact as to why he or she did the terrible that were done.
I found Nightmare at Camp Forrestwood to be an engrossing read. I started and finished it in the same day over a period of about eight hours. It wasn't that the story was too easy, rather it was too good, I wanted to know what was really going on at Camp Forrestwood and who was behind it. Once I was invested in the tale I had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next and to whom and more importantly to see if I could figure out who was doing it ( I couldn't ).
I thought the storyline was clever and creative and only slightly predictable, in that a bunch of kids go to camp and start turning up dead and there is no phone, no technology - which is explained - and no help available. I would have been a little more convinced of the reality of the storyline had it happened over a shorter period of time, but it went on for more than a full day so it was a little hard to believe a group of high school seniors couldn't band together and get out to find help during that time.
Overall, I thought the author did a fair job of portraying the tension of the situation and the results that tension would have on a group of teenagers. I thought the mystery was believable except for the amount of time it encompassed before help was finally reached. I thought it did a good job of showing how suspicion of even innocent people can be raised in extreme circumstances and how stress can tear people down or bring them together to fight a common enemy.
I would recommend reading Nightmare at Camp Forrestwood. I found it interesting and enjoyable and except for the setting, hard to predict what was coming next. I think it would be appropriate for even upper middle-graders as well as young adults, though I would avoid going any younger because of the gore involved in the story.
Jessica E. Subject
9781613330944, $3.99, www.amazon.com
Celestial Seduction is one of the short stories in Decadent Publishing's 1-Night Stand series. Don't be deceived, these aren't your typical one night stands, they are arranged by the mysterious, and possibly magical Madame Evangeline whose goal is to find partner for her one night stands. This time she might be a little in over her head though as her subjects aren't your average clients.
Frey is an alien from the planet of Ginnun, where his fiance has thrown him over for his former best friend. Not only does he not want to go home because of that, but he has another reason, he likes having and showing emotions, something frowned upon on his home world. Frey is determined to stay on Earth, and, much to his commanding officer's disgust, to mate with an Earth woman. Searching for the perfect companion he goes to Madame Evangeline for a one night stand, but what will happen when his one night stand finds out he's really an alien.
Carrie has been through a difficult divorce and has suffered a terrible blow to her self-esteem, she seeks out Madame Evangeline hoping a one night stand will help jump start her recovery process and get her out into the dating world again, but Carrie wasn't counting on how having s one night stand would make her feel.
I really enjoyed this story. There was just enough backstory to make it interesting from then on the characters moved the story forward effortlessly. I liked the characters and I liked that in his natural form Frey was obviously alien, but also very much a male humanoid. His reactions were the same as any red-blooded human's would have been and he was a genuinely likable character. You immediately felt a sense of connection with him and you couldn't help but empathize with poor Carrie who has been through so much and then has the date that is supposed to help her jump-start her life show up hours late. The foundational tension was all put in place well and naturally and built incrementally throughout the story until the final pay off.
I would recommend this story to fans of romance, science-fiction, and short stories. I liked it enough that I'm going to look into adding some other titles from the series to my library. If they write as well as Ms. Subject they should offer some interesting reads.
An Off Our Meds Project
Fated by Carolyn McCray was a wonderful excursion into the "what if" realms of history. I loved it. It was interesting, it was passionate and it painted a character from history - a much maligned character I must add - in a light that made him human, even if from the story's point of view he was so much more.
I loved the character of Brutus as written by McCray, a just man who believed in freedom and the individual's right to determine his or her own path. I liked the fact that Julius Caesar was painted as a man rather than as a martyr, both his good points and his bad points were touched upon. I found the arrogance of Marc Antony rang true, whether that was in fact his personality or not, McCray convincingly made it so. Most of all I loved the character of Syra, proud, strong and more than a match for any man.
I liked the premise that there are people who are more than human who are called upon at key times in humanity's quest for knowledge and growth to shape events in such a way that mankind benefits from them in the long run. I ached for the characters where their destinies could not be changed and they had to squarely take responsibility for actions they were called upon to take.
Through the pages of her novel McCray made both history and its major players more interesting and understandable to the average reader. It made me want to head for the non-fiction section of my local library and find out more about Julius Caesar and Brutus, and perhaps gain a glimmer of what made Brutus a partner in what is undeniably one of the most famous assassinations in recorded history.
McCray caught me up in her story, stimulated my mind and my senses with characters and scenes so vivid they will be etched upon the canvas of my imagination for some time to come. Once I started reading Fated I was loathe to put it down even to sleep at night and upon rising I returned to it as soon as possible on the new day, anxious to see what lie ahead for the characters so interestingly and intricately woven together into a rich tapestry by McCray. I highly recommend Fated.
Ignite the Genius Within
Dr. Christine Ranck and Christopher Lee Nutter
c/o Penguin - Putnam
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452295933 (paperback) $15.00, B001TLZEJ6 $12.99
Ignite the Genius Within is the first book of its type I have ever read. Ignite the Genius Within comes with an accompanying soundtrack designed to work with the book, help shutdown internal "chatter" and free your mind to focus on the images provided in the book. The soundtrack helps stimulate creativity, free thought and at least in my case free association. I assume it works the same way in others as that is what the book and accompanying soundtrack is designed for.
I, like many people have had some traumas in my life and a few of the images stimulated thoughts regarding them. As I was writing as I looked at the images I was able to do some free association work around the events which occurred at different times in my life. I found the process, while a tad difficult, to be cathartic. It wasn't as difficult when I was prepared for the process as I knew a particular image had touched something inside relating to the incidents, but there were a two or three other times where an image triggered a memory through the free association process when I wasn't expecting it. Overall I found it to be extremely helpful though and actually plan on periodically revisiting the images I had these experiences with to see what other healing work I can around them.
By far the biggest benefits in working with Igniting the Genius Within were greater creativity and focus. I found several of the images triggered spontaneous short stories, poems and even one idea and the early work for a longer work of fiction. Also, while this isn't specifically mentioned in the benefits of the soundtracks and book, I personally experienced lowered stress and increased focus after working with the soundtrack and book. I now use the soundtrack whenever I have to write - including this review - to shut down my "inner critic" and to allow the thoughts to flow easily and naturally onto the paper.
I definitely recommend Ignite the Genius Within to anyone who works in a field where creativity is a necessity. It is a wonderful resource. I recommend it to others to unlock your potential and discover new things about yourself. I would also recommend it to victims of trauma, but as you will be dealing with things buried in your subconscious I would recommend it be used as a tool in addition to therapy or other appropriate supervision.
A Gypsy in New York
Juliette de Bairacli Levy
Ash Tree Publishing
P.O. Box 64, Woodstock, NY 12498
9781888123081, $21.95, www.amazon.com
When I first heard the title of this book, A Gypsy in New York, I thought to myself, how can one be a gypsy in New York of all places? Juliette de Bairacli Levy brings the life of the modern gypsy in that great city to vivid life. She tells of the places and tenements the gypsies of NY used to inhabit, of their tent villages and she tells of her search to find them again after the areas where they used to live were gone, victims of urban renewal and growth.
She speaks of how the gypsies of NY spend the winters in the apartments of New York, always as close to the ground floor as they can possibly get. She speaks of gypsy magic and gypsy fortune tellers, and even of how she herself learned to read palms.
She mentions the small size of the gypsy population in Manhattan at that time, around 3,000 and one can only imagine how difficult it must have been to try to locate so small a population in so vast a space.
Her writing is divine, her prose inspired. Even when she is discussing something as mundane as the filth of sidewalks her descriptive gift vividly calls the image to life for you. As she paints the image of skyscrapers and old buildings being torn down so new, box-like towering buildings lacking all character can be put in their place you can not only see the buildings in your mind's eye, but you can feel the sense of loss she feels over the loss of beauty and history.
She speaks of the problems of the city: the constant noise, the lack of clean air, the lack of open spaces where one can get plenty of sunshine, the disadvantages of buildings overheated by steam heat and of going from the heat of the buildings to the cold and back again sometimes several times a day. She speaks of trying to keep the bulbs and buds of newly flowering houseplants warm in the apartment she was living in because the heat was turned off overnight and the temperature outside could get below zero in the winter.
She speaks of her plants and herbal remedies. She speaks of learning new ones and seeing ones she already used in a book in a gypsy tea room on "green magic". She vividly brings to mind a simpler, perhaps wiser time where she and others first turned to nature for their remedies rather than running to the doctor's office. Her book is a cornucopia of plant folklore and uses. It is an irreplaceable resource.
I highly recommend A Gypsy in New York for its herbal treasures, colorful prose and historical perspective of a city that is an American icon.
Finding Kate Huntley
c/o Amazon Digital Services
No ISBN $2.99 eBook from Amazon.com
Finding Kate Huntley by Theresa Ragan was an enticing read. It wraps romance, mystery and multiple murders in with the case of a woman who went missing ten years earlier. It was captivating for so many reasons. The sexual tension between the hero and heroine in the novel sizzles, it practically has you panting along with the heroine who just wants the hero to get on with it already!
The heroine is no laid back, come save me weakling. She kicks ass, literally. If you go after her you'd better be prepared for one hell of a fight because she's tough, determined and not about to go down easily. She has been on her own for years in the tough neighborhoods of Haiti and she more than knows how to take care of herself. She was helpless once, but she's determined to never be helpless again. That is until she gets around our hero who has her feeling all feminine and vulnerable, but in all the right ways.
Jack is as sweet as the boy next door and as hunky as they come. He's an FBI agent who's been framed for murder and is fighting back. He's gone from being an idealistic believer in the system to being a victim of the worst betrayal possible. Someone on the inside has set him to take the fall and Jack doesn't know who to trust or where to turn for help.
The story is complex, intriguing and fraught with tension of every sort. The plot is well-developed and is guaranteed to keep you turning the pages until long past bedtime. I enjoyed every moment I spent in the world Theresa Ragan created and found Finding Kate Huntley to be one extremely satisfying read.
Tracy M. Riva
Letters to Juniper
410 W. Center Street, Kaysille, Utah 84037
9780967786827, paperback $12.99, ebook $2.99
I have never had a harder time writing a review than this one. Not because it is bad, but because it is so good. Sarah is twelve when she begins to write letters to her childhood friend Juniper. They were six years old and best friends. They always had fun together. Even though Sarah parents were divorced she had a happy life.
One weekend Sarah and her little brother were visiting their dad, and he told them that their mom had been in a car wreck and died. They moved away so fast that Sarah never got to say good bye to Juniper.
You may begin to think this is just a sweet book about two girls, who begin to write to each other after so many years. Well guess again, as this book will blow you away. There is no way you can imagine how this book will end.
I was so tempted to read the last chapter of this book to see how it turned out. But I didn't and am so glad I did not. This book is totally different from any book I have read. I finished the last pages of this book and just sat there and said, "WOW."
Risk It All
Mach 3 Publishing Group
128 East Jackson Street, Hugo, OK. 74743
9780982826829 (Paperback: $14.95 / Digital: $4.99)
Mr. Stamper is a writer to watch. His second book "Risk It All," is the type of book you will want to read over and over again.
Carissa Johnson, graduated top of her class at Harvard. She has a double master's degree in business finance and international business. She is not only smart but beautiful as well. She was approached by the CIA's Mideast Bureau Chief, Quincy Carter, to work for them.
Saying no was not an option for her. She came from a family where duty to your country is an honor.
At only 28 she had accomplished what no other CIA agent working in the Middle East had been able to do penetrate the largest Hamas cell on the Arabian Peninsula, so the agency could initiate the important process of "following the money trail" that would take them to the top al Qaida operatives.
When Carissa is called home because of the death of her grandmother Anna, her world will change in ways she never expected.
This book is full of all the things that make a great book suspense, adventure, excitement and love. There is a little bit of something for all readers. This is an excellent read and I give it a five star rating.
Zest Books LLC
35 Stillman Street, Suite 121
San Francisco, CA 94107
9780981973364, $12.99, www.zestbooks.net
Annie is 14 and starting her freshman year of high school. She is filled with all the normal insecurities most girls of her age go through. Before the first day of school her brother warns her that her freshman year of high school will set the stage for the rest of her life.
Then on her first day of high school, a friend of hers that she had gone through every year of school with won't even let her sit with her at lunch time. Poor Annie is beginning to think her brother might be right after all.
The world she knew is not there anymore. Her friends are not friends, and boys are just well, boys.
I think young girls and woman will enjoy "Freshman: Tales of 9th Grade Obsessions, Revelations, and Other Nonsense". For those of us who are older we still remember what it was like starting high school. For young women you will find that your first year in high school will pass by very quickly and just think, then you will be a sophomore.
The Look Book
Zest Books LLC
35 Stillman Street, Suite 121
San Francisco, CA 94107
9780981973388, $18.99, www.zestbooks.net
I have found a recurrent theme in this book. That is that history repeats itself. Throughout this book we are shown movie stars from the silent screen and how they did their make-up and hair, to the present day stars that have used the same look.
I had no idea that you were suppose to brush your lips with a dry tooth brush to exfoliate your lips. That is just one of the many tips you will learn along the way. I also loved the mini bios' of each movie star or singer.
This book is a jewel when it comes to beauty. No matter what color of skin you have, you will find information that is just right for you. Take a look at hair styles from long ago, that seem too revolve all over again.
7015 Leslie Street
Thornhill, Ontario, Canada L3T 6L6
9780986607400, $18.00, www.amazon.com
How in the world do you begin to write a book review of a woman who has been through hell and back many times. It started when she was thirteen and her mother and two sisters were killed in a plane crash. It was devastating to say the least. She turned to her father during this time, but he could not give her the support she needed to get through the pain. Instead of reaching out to her so together they could heal, he was locked into a world of his own.
She fell asleep each night hearing her father crying. Where once was a home filled with laughter, love and joy, it quickly changed into a world of silence. Lynda could hardly make it each day. During the nights her dreams turned into nightmares.
This is just the start of "Repairing Rainbows: A True Story of Family, Tragedy and Choices", a book filled with pain, sadness and eventually happiness. But even though you will read about her happiness she is still haunted by her past. The pain will never go away, but she is lucky that her husband understands about pain. He has his own story to tell. We have read part of it in this book, and it leaves me wanting to read more.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that Lynda's mom taught her that we are to help others as much we can. Both Lynda and her husband continue to do that, even today.
Promise Canyon (Virgin River)
P.O. Box 5190, Buffalo, NY 14240-5190
9780778329213, $7.99, www.amazon.com
After his divorce, Clay Tahoma knew he needed a change in his life. To accomplish this he accepted a position as a vet technician in northern California. His new job will enable him to be closer to his sister Ursula who lives nearby.
Lily Yazhi has a reputation with horses, her skills has earned her respect in her hometown. Her first encounter with Clay Tahoma is one that leaves her skeptical of his intent. She doesn't know if it is her Hopi blood that is having her be cautious with Clay. Her previous experience with Native American men has not been positive. She questions whether she can put her trust in Clay.
Lily and Clay are brought together to care for two horses. Each one of the animals has their own set of problems. With them working as a team be able to cure them of what ails them? As Lily gets an opportunity to see Clay both as a professional and a handsome man will she be willing to let down the walls surrounding her heart down to gain a chance at love?
Promise Canyon is another exceptional installment of the Virgin River series. This is the eleventh book in one highly addictive series. Robyn Carr is a writer who knows how to keep her fans satisfied. It is always a pleasure to revisit her beloved characters. For those that may be put off by a series this long, let me assure you that you can start it from the beginning or even on the eleventh book and you will not be lost. It takes a talented author to be able to write such a large series that can be read as standalone novels.
Surrender the Night
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
9781602601666, $12.99, www.barbourbooks.com
Rose McGuire life has not been an easy one. At a young age she was orphaned and robbed of most of her inheritance by her caretaker. Five years ago, she was sent to live with her aunt and uncle's farm in Baltimore, Maryland.
At the farm Rose found happiness that she never knew existed. There she is able to work on the farm and take care of the animals. Rose is unaware of the devastating war of 1812 taking place outside her safe home. Her peaceful existence is disrupted one night when she is attacked by a British soldier. Rose is saved when British 2nd Lieutenant Alexander Reed steps in and saves her from being attacked by his superior officer; in saving Rose he is gravely wounded.
Even though Alex is her enemy, she knows that she cannot turn her back on his injuries. She hides him away and tends to his wounds. As she takes care of the injured man Rose gets the opportunity to get to know Alex. She finds out that he is a caring confident man, one who she finds herself quickly falling in love with.
As each day passes, it grows more difficult for Rose to keep Alex's hiding place a secret. She fears that the town's people will discover him and think she is a traitor. Will she be able to protect Alex long enough to allow him time to recover? Once he does will their love stand a chance with the two of them being on the opposite side of the war?
Surrender the Night is a beautiful written historical romance. With all MaryLu Tyndall's books you are guaranteed to be provided one of the best reading experiences in your life. Her talented pen knows how to write passages that take you deeper into the story. You will find that you will be experience the pain, sorrow, and joy of each one of her characters. Authors such as MaryLu Tyndall are a rare treasure to behold. Once you experience one of her novels they become an addictive drug that you can't live without. I highly recommend anyone who craves the pleasure of a historical romance to commit the name MaryLu Tyndall to memory, you want be disappointed at any of the titles that she has written.
c/o Hachette Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316081061, $9.99, www.amazon.com
Mira Grant's Deadline is a continuation of the Newsflesh trilogy that began with Feed May 2010. This post-holocaust world exists because of scientists creating lab-virus's in order to rid the world of human diseases such as cancer.
"Our story opens where countless stories have ended in the last twenty-sevens years: with an idiot - in this case, Rebecca Atherton, head of the After the End Times Irwins, winner of the Golden Steve-o Award for valor in the face of the undead - deciding it would be a good idea to go out and poke a zombie with a stick to see what happens" (pg 5). The action doesn't stop there: The After the End Times gang endures travels across the US, sees a U.S. city fire-bombed, deals with the evil CDC, and has a member of their own team die, only to find themselves facing the second rising.
The dry wit of narrator Shaun Mason and the banter between he and his deceased sister, Georgia, provide the glue between emergencies that keep the interesting cast of characters together. This book a must-read for every zombie, post-holocaust, or Grant fan.
The Company Man
Robert Jackson Bennett
c/o Hachette Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316054706, $13.99, www.amazon.com
Bennett's sophomore novel is a steampunk noir standalone that takes place in an alternate Western Washington of 1919 where airships rule the sky and World War I never happened. The company in question is McNoughton Western Foundary Corporation, and the man is Hayes - a skinny version of Chandler's famous Philip Marlowe character. Hayes has been hired to keep tabs on the union men. He is a man with "no badge, no gun, no pension, and no allegiance to the city or any jurisdiction" (pg. 15). Hayes and police detective Garvey, team up with Samantha (a woman hired by the company to keep tabs on Hayes) to solve the union problem and instead uncover an ancient alien sentient machine that has the answers about how to save humanity from certain destruction.
While Hayes is a cliche character (a haunted, addicted investigator running from his own past), with cliche actions ("Hayes would pull his face down into his collar and merge with the nearest group of people" pg. 252), Bennett draws a beautiful landscape with a juxtaposition between the steamy, socialist-type workers of the underground and the cold, straight-lined world above. The union-busting theme is one echoed in the news today, and there are even nods to Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and The Bible in Bennett's novel.
This is an excellent novel that would entertain mystery and sci-fi fans, or anyone who just wanted a really good read.
Chasing the Moon
A. Lee Martinez
c/o Hachette Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316093552, $19.99, www.amazon.com
A Lee Martinez's new novel, Chasing the Moon (May 2011), is reminiscent of the humor of Jasper Fforde and the otherworldliness of Clifford Pickover. Martinez writes in the genre typical of H. P. Lovecraft's weird fiction. In Chasing the Moon, heroine Diana finds herself chained to an apartment in an unstable, unpredictable world with three monsters: Vom the Hungering, who eats everything including packaging and the occasional end table, Smorgaz, who spawns uncontrollably, and Zap, the one-eyed destroyer. Diana's neighbors deal with their own monsters while being overseen by the mind-reading landlord, West. Chuck, the romantic interest, is kept prisoner by a vicious dog that West warns should never, ever be fed.
Diana tries to navigate this new universe, a rip in the fabric of reality, where menacing voices spoil movie endings and where at any time she could be sucked into an alternative universe where she commits genocide against gnat-sized, flying humans or finds herself prey to jet-sized mosquitoes. Species vacillate between those who devour and those who are devoured. Martinez's world is a literal dog-eat-dog environment, or as one character explains, "It's like high school, except instead of jocks versus nerds, it's things who eat civilizations versus things who eat galaxies" (97). As Diana and her compadres learn to use their magical powers to control the universe, a bigger problem is brewing as the planets align - Sharon and Calvin are dealing with Fenris, the enmity who chases the moon in order to eat it and destroy the universe.
Martinez is king of the similes; gems such as, "It was like reaching underneath all that to get to the core programming at the heart of the video game that was the universe, and using a cheat code to alter an inalterable law" (109) populate the manuscript. His imagination bleeds into the characters. At one point Diana complains about her plight to West, "If life worked like that I'd have gotten a winged unicorn when I was six, and I'd be an astronaut who hunts vampires in her spare time" (146).
But Martinez's horrific cosmos is not as despondent as it sounds. The characters exude a hopefulness that penetrates the book, leading the reader to remember why it is we get up and toil at our daily jobs even though we know we are doomed to eventually die.
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399157356, $25.95, www.amazon.com
It's not easy being a game warden, especially if your name is Joe Pickett and you keep getting sidetracked with all kinds of side issues, murders, assignments from the governor and so on. In this, the 11th in the series, there are a few twists, including a look at the issue of wind energy.
But first for the main plot: Joe's less-than-beloved mother-in-law is indicted for the murder of her wealthy fifth husband, "The Earl," who had begun the largest wind farm in Wyoming at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Joe's beloved wife, Marybeth, implores Joe to find the real killer. Meanwhile, his mysterious buddy, Nate, suffers the loss of his lover in an attempt on his life, setting up a subplot in which the two men reconcile after a falling out in a previous book.
As the story progresses, smoothly and interestingly, all is not as it seems. As usual, the author provides sweeping and beautiful vistas of the countryside, and in-depth insights into the characters.
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781439165249, $7.99, www.amazon.com
There is always the element of the supernatural in a Charlie Parker novel. And "The Whisperers" is no exception. However, reality plays an important part in the theme, giving the author the opportunity to reflect on the horrors of war and its effects - especially combat stress - on the lives of those who fought them.
There are veiled references to the condition in the Iliad; during the Civil War it was known as "irritable heart;" "shellshock" was the term used during World War I and its aftermath; for World War II it became known as "battle fatigue" and "war neurosis;" then "post-Vietnam syndrome"; and today "post-traumatic stress disorder."
The plot involves a group of Iraqi veterans (all from Maine, Parker's bailiwick), who return home to set up a smuggling operation. One by one they commit suicide, and Parker is retained by the father of one of them to learn the reason for his son's death. This leads Parker to travel an unexpected path
As a result, we meet some old friends, Angel and Louis, who always manage to cover Parker's back. But more important, Parker has to work with an old nemesis, The Collector. And the eerie Herod, a man with strange tastes, and his shadow, the Captain. The characters and the plot interweave on various levels, with prose that mesmerizes the reader. The book is highly recommended.
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780307717092, $23.00, www.crownpublishing.com
A new protagonist, Vanessa (Ness) "Michael" Munroe makes her first appearance in this debut thriller, apparently destined to be a series with the author hard at work on the next two books. Sort of a bionic woman, Munroe is capable of most anything from finding information for corporate clients to murder.
What she has not done so far is find missing persons, at least until she is retained to accomplish what others over a four-year period have failed to do: Find a young girl named Emily in Africa, or prove that she has met her death while she was traveling there with two male companions. The quest brings Munroe back to Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon where she grew up. It is a trip filled with danger and betrayal, as she seeks the missing girl with the help of Francisco Beyard, whom she met as a 14-year-old when she served in his mercenary band.
It is unusual for a first effort to be as absorbing as is this novel, with a fast pace and intricate plot. Certainly the denouement is worthy of a more seasoned author. Ordinarily, this reader reacts with apprehension when the protagonist seems super-human, but was not disturbed by Munroe's antics. So it is with no hesitation that the novel is recommended.
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590588413, $14.95, www.amazon.com
The reader of an Enzo Macleod mystery faces a formidable task: Confronted by the deviousness of the unsolved crime Enzo seeks to solve, the magnificent descriptions of the area in France in which he works to complete the task, and the culinary delights of le haute cuisine Francaise, the reader has to overcome the temptation to weigh one element against the other. Fortunately, in this novel, the fifth of seven unsolved cases on which Enzo has wagered he can bring to a successful conclusion, all three aspects are on such a high level, that the reader shouldn't even try.
The case is a seven-year-old murder involving a world renowned chef of a three-star Michelin restaurant in the central French plateau, Chez Fraysse, named after its chef and half-owner, Marc. There are no clues or forensic evidence, making Enzo's task harder. He places his daughter on the kitchen staff to give him an inside view. Working with a young, female, gendarme, Enzo plows ahead, gastronomically as well as on the case. As a side issue, some deep insight into Enzo's personal life and past is provided, giving a more rounded view of the protagonist.
A well-written novel which only gives rise to the desire to read about the sixth unsolved mystery (much less the seventh!) yet to come, and recommended.
Bank of the Black Sheep
c/o Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
255 West 108th Street, Suite 901
New York, NY 10025
9781846687457, $14.95, www.serpentstail.com
Robin Llywelyn, ostensibly a private detective, wakes up in a hospice with amnesia, handcuffed to a bed after a week-long infusion of morphine. Such a state gives him a real slow start, along with the reader. Additionally, he is told he has lung cancer with just a couple of months to live. Actually, it seems from what follows that he can go on forever.
It turns out that Llywelyn was involved in some kind of scam, but of course he can't remember what it was. And so, he sets out inadvertently to find out about his past, bumbling his way to make a final score and to atone for his past transgressions before his end. For much of the novel, to this reader, it dragged on with a lot of wearying prose and observations. It is not until near the conclusion that the novel really becomes interesting, and then we are drawn into the real story.
Bank apparently is the last in a trilogy of Llywelyn detective stories and, given the medical prognosis, it would seem to be just that.
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312573522, $25.99, www.amazon.com
A protagonist like DI Peter Shaw gives the author license to throw more curve balls at the reader than a major league pitcher. Shaw, a super-cerebral, over-intuitive detective who develops more and more theories as a case develops and he encounters more facts, certainly proves the point in this novel, which has two plot lines, both based in the distant past.
As a result of severe river flooding, graves along the bank in a cemetery are being exposed. When one is opened, a skeleton is found atop the casket which contains the remains of the landlady of a local pub. This sets off an investigation leading Shaw to discover a number of family secrets, with dire consequences to all concerned. The inquiries move back and forth, uncovering events from a decade ago.
Meanwhile, Shaw, and his partner, DS Valentine, continue to try to prove one Bob Mosse a murderer. It was Shaw's father who arrested Mosse years before, only to see the charges thrown out of court because the judge declared a crucial peace of evidence had been contaminated by mishandling. Consequently Shaw took early retirement under a cloud, and his partner, Valentine, was demoted and sent into limbo.
The story moves forward on both plot lines, more or less simultaneously, with Shaw, Valentine and the rest of the team uncovering a clue here, a fact there, until finally it all comes logically together, even if the conclusion requires a bit of manipulation by the author. Well done, and recommended.
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312672911, $25.99, www.amazon.com
This is the newest in the Sloan and Crosby mystery series, DCI Sloan and Constable Crosby, that is, the quaint English combination resembling Abbott and Costello with an accent. A couple of seemingly unrelated deaths, one of natural causes, the other perhaps murder, set off a police procedural in which a series of unconnected events and circumstances seem to make no sense.
Written in a style that befits the English countryside, the dialog is of a unique tone. The plot moves forward without a hint to the reader as to the conclusion, which, may or may not be a good thing. But it is a light and enjoyable read, and it is recommended.
Cut, Paste, Kill
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312378240, $14.99, www.amazon.com
A woman, the wife of the British consul in Los Angeles, is found stabbed to death in the ladies room of a posh hotel, a scrapbook recalling her transgression, killing a young boy leaving a school bus while DWI, nearby. Lomax and Biggs, the comic LAPD homicide detectives, catch the call. Then they learn that the FBI has been investigating two other murders with identical MO's for the previous two weeks. Each victim was guilty of some offense but had escaped punishment for one reason or another. And we have the makings of another serial murder mystery.
Additional murders take place, and the wisecracking detectives, teamed up with the FBI, are hard-pressed to solve the case. Meanwhile, Lomax and his girlfriend are pre-occupied with caring for a precocious seven-year-old girl when her mother has to go to China to tend to her dying parent, and Biggs volunteers to write a screenplay based on a concept of Lomax' dad (two ex-cops driving an 18-wheeler and solving crimes on the road, entitled "Semi-Justice").
Not only is the humor twisted, but so is the plot, which keeps the reader twisting with every unanticipated turn in the story. The one-liners come often enough to take the hard edge off a grisly subject and a detailed police procedural. A welcome addition to the series, in which this is the fourth entry, and recommended.
Twice a Spy
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780385530798, $25.95, www.amazon.com
This sequel has more action packed between the covers than a fast-paced hockey game. Charlie Clark and his father, Drummond [who suffers from the ups and downs of Alzheimer's], find themselves in Geneva on the lam. They fled the U.S. facing criminal charges and while in Switzerland, Drummond is being treated with an experimental drug, which seems to be helping reduce the effects of his disease..
All of which has little to do with events that ensue. To begin with, Charlie's lover, Alice, is kidnapped to force the Clarks to reveal where an atomic device is located, in return for her release. Then the action gets underway at an unbelievable pace, vaulting Charlie into a whirlwind of activity to frustrate the bad guy but save his girlfriend.
The tale takes us from Europe to the Caribbean and various points in the U.S. from Langley to the Gulf Coast, with the Clarks fighting not only terrorists, but the CIA, Secret Service, and everyone in between. The plot moves at an incredibly rapid rate, if somewhat implausibly. Nevertheless, it's an easy and entertaining read, and recommended.
Only Time Will Tell
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NYC 10010
9780312539559, $27.99, www.amazon.com
This aptly titled novel is the prelude to a series entitled The Clifton Chronicles, covering the lives of several characters over the span of a century. In the hands of the author, Jeffrey Archer, it follows the life of the main character, Harry Clifton, from his birth shortly after World War I to just short of WWII with more curves than a talented big league pitcher.
The story is told in succeeding chapters from the point of view of various persons, each contributing some insight into the questions raised in the last summation. It takes Harry from a fatherless tot to a school truant to a talented choir singer and his education right up to his acceptance at Oxford. Meanwhile his life becomes complicated as he grows up by virtue of his background: the mystery of his father's death, his mother's struggles to support him, his questionable parentage.
No comment is necessary regarding Mr. Archer's ability to write a solid story, and to end it in cliffhanger fashion so readers will look forward to the sequel. It remains to be seen how ingenious he can be in the next book in the series.
Translated by Charlotte Barslund
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02166
9780547483344, $24.00, www.amazon.com
This tale takes place in Norway, but the venue could be anywhere. The story has a universal base: Does the moral fit the event? It begins on a September weekend, with three long-time friends spending some time in a remote cabin by Dead Water Lake.
In the dark, they decide to row out onto the lake, with only the moon to provide some light. Only two return to shore, and they decide not to call for help until morning. Inspector Sejer is the lead detective, and he quickly forms the opinion that the two boys are hiding something. But no further clues arise and time passes, until the body of a young boy is found by another lake.
This is a penetrating look at diverse personalities, and the effect of past deeds on each. The plot is less a police procedural than a penetrating analysis of how each of the three friends' minds works. Other than what drives each of them to act finally as they do, there is little doubt that in the end justice will be done.
Did Not Finish
Crème de la Crime
c/o Severn House
555 Madison Ave., NY, NY 10022
9781780290072, $28.95, www.severnhouse.com
The advice usually given to authors (and would-be authors) is to write what you know. And that is just what ex-racecar driver Simon Wood has done. He has written a mystery with motorsports as the theme; sort of a Dick Francis novel on wheels, if you will.
It all begins the night before a big race when a nine-time champion threatens to kill his rival, who is in the lead to capture the title. When the rival actually is killed during the race under suspicious circumstances in a collision with the champion, Aidy Westlake undertakes to prove it was a case of murder. Throughout all sorts of hardships and dangers, he doggedly continues his mission, until the plot inevitably takes a sharp turn.
Filled with loads of details on the racing scene and the people and equipment that make it possible, the novel moves spiritedly apace. It is filled with suspense and startling revelations, and is recommended.
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9780061432743, $24.99, www.HachetteBookGroup.com
Tom Thorne is a troubled protagonist. More so than customary in this novel, the latest in the Thorne series, an unusual story about a serial killer, as well as in his personal life. It begins with Tom and his partner learning that the latter's pregnancy is not viable and that she needs a D&C. Tom does not quite how to react to or address the situation.
However, a grisly murder soon comes to light, diverting him to another tough case. The victim is found with a piece of an x-ray in her hand, as well as some letters which eventually provide a clue. It quickly is learned that her mother was murdered 15 years before by an infamous serial killer who had murdered six others.
More bodies are found with pieces of x-rays in their fists, and it becomes apparent that the killer is targeting children of the original victims. Now the problem becomes not only catching the present-day murderer, but protecting the remaining potential victims. This novel encompasses what is perhaps Thorne's most complicated case.
The author's ability to provide graphic detail in simple but pungent prose is clear and compelling. The writing is smooth and the plot superb; the characterizations are poignant, and the insights into Thorne's personality incisive. Highly recommended.
The Fifth Witness
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9780316069359, $27.99, www.HachetteBookGroup.com
The saga of the Lincoln Lawyer, Mickey Haller, continues, following his previous appearance as a special prosecutor. Times are hard and money scarce. To scratch out a living, Mickey is now advertising in TV for clients facing foreclosure of their homes. There is in this era no shortage of potential clients, and a thousand dollars here, a monthly payout there, and bills can be paid.
When one of his clients is arrested for the murder of a bank's home loan officer, Mickey is once again a defense lawyer, giving the author to do what he does best: a dramatic courtroom story. The drama is there, but a little bit of a potboiler, with the reader pretty much knowing not only the outcome of the trial but what follows.
Mickey, however, remains an interesting continuing character and we can be certain the sequel will take him into new territory once again. The author is excellent in constructing a plot that moves forward in a logical and careful manner, albeit with few surprises. Written with aplomb and, to a degree, the flippancy necessary for Mickey's personality, perhaps the next novel in the series will unveil more depth to the character. Make no mistake, however: this one's a good read, and recommended.
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780345505699, $28.00, www.amazon.com
Sometimes the adage "the more things change, the more they stay the same," refers to a good thing. Certainly it applies to the Alex Delaware series. For 25 novels, the basic plot has remained the same: a crime is committed and Dr, Delaware and Lt. Sturgis investigate, analyze, philosophize and eventually solve it. This 26th story in the series is no different.
A beautiful young woman, obviously waiting for a "date," first observed in a rundown hotel by Alex and his paramour Robin, is found later up in the Hollywood Hills shot in the face. Sturgis invites Alex, by chance, to witness the scene, and the good doctor is able to identify the victim by the way she was dressed. There is little in the way of clues or evidence, but that doesn't stop them from researching and theorizing ad infinitum.
One would think that an author would tire of characters and plots after so many novels, but they remain fresh and interesting, readable and enjoyable. So when's the 27th? It will undoubtedly be recommended as well.
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
978031238078X, $27.99, www.amazon.com
Bullying, and shining a spotlight thereon, is heralded as the reason this novel was written, but it plays such a minor role in the story that one wonders why it is even raised, except perhaps for the widespread publicity attendant to the subject. It does occupy, along with much extraneous and superfluous background, about the first half of the book. It is not until this reader got past that point that a modicum of interest arose.
The plot is a mishmash of twisted lines. It begins with a fire in a newly opened elementary school, in which three persons are killed and two young children injured, one of whom is the young victim of the bullying, the eight-year-old daughter of Rose McKenna. Rose, serving as a lunch mom, saves two girls (one of them the bully), ushering them toward an exit, and returns through the fire to save her daughter, who is locked in the bathroom, emerging initially as a "hero," but then criticized when it is learned that the bully was injured in the fire (how? It seems she returned to get something she had left behind) and Rose is accused of ignoring her in favor of her own daughter.
Faced with civil and criminal charges, Rose undertakes to discover the reason for the fire (officially attributed to accidental causes) when she suspects foul play. This leads to further action, somewhat beyond belief. The novel is carefully constructed and well-written, but somehow doesn't fulfill its purpose, since, essentially, it is a murder mystery, but so overloaded with superfluous subplot that it becomes burdensome to read. The author usually writes legal thrillers which I have found to be so much better, and I for one hope she returns to that milieu.
Atlantic Monthly Press
841 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9780802119797, $24.00, www.groveatlantic.com
Unlike previous novels in the series, this mystery lacks many instances of the refined palate enjoyed by Commissario Guido Brunetti's life. There is some, but not much, of his charming home life. Instead in this, the 20th entry in the series, we have a deep study of the man and his ethics drawn into a mystery he informally investigates.
It all begins when a retired school teacher is found dead of an apparent heart attack by a neighbor who calls the police, and Brunetti and his assistant respond. The medical examiner rules it a natural death, but the detective is disturbed by bruises on the woman's body, so he continues unofficially to look into the circumstances of the death. This leads to a philosophical judgment on his part, quite unlike the stickler for the law that he usually is.
Each book in the series is an enjoyable read, and this one certainly is no exception. The descriptions of Venice, its buildings and churches, continue to warm the heart of one who fell in love with the city years ago (and is about to renew the friendship in September). Let's hope we can continue to recommend the series well into the future.
The Fisher King
Hayley Kelsey Publishing, LLC
B004YQTF5C (eBook) $5.00
This book was a magician's hat. I never knew what other wonder would come from inside its pages. I was very fortunate to read it.
The characters are real and complex, no one is good the good guy, no one the bad guy, which is what makes the story so effective. The reader can understand and reason through the characters' actions, no matter how harmful they might be towards another character. I love that tugging of emotions that leave us looking around for who the "hero" really is. Nothing is black and white in this novel, just as it's not in our lives.
The writing is wonderful, with no grammatical issues, and the reader can tell the amount of careful editing that grazed the pages before the book was released into the world. The story itself is a good one, although it does drag a tad in some places. I learned so much about fishing and yet I was never bored by the explanations, since they were always balanced by astute writing and a skill for keeping the plot always nearby. There is a sense of oppression that roams the pages, from the very beginning when we begin to see the problems that plague Sonny and Gail's marriage, to the very end. It builds as the story moves along, until the reader is left gasping, turning the pages to see what else can happen. The plot also delves deeply into environmental issues caused by over-fishing and mistreating our water, which adds yet another terrifying layer to the already complex plot lines.
I really enjoyed reading this novel, and I can recommend it to pretty much anyone who loves books that make you wonder what you'd do if it were you.
Murder in the High Himalaya
Public Affairs Books
250 West 57th Street, #1321, NY, NY 10107
1586487140, $26.95, www.amazon.com
For anyone who calls himself or herself a humanitarian, this book should be on your list to read. It is the harrowing story of a young Tibetan nun trying to make it across the border into India along with her best friend and a large group of Tibetans, to gain freedom, religious and otherwise, from a stifling Chinese rule.
This is a non-fiction book but it reads so smoothly, without the endless citing of statistics or names that can make some books of that genre seem stilted. The chapters alternate between the Tibetans attempting the dangerous journey, and a group of climbers who come face to face with the secret atrocities being committed against human rights, showing the many points of view with a journalist's careful and impartial eye. The story, however, is almost incredible to read. The author has managed to cross through the red tape that China imposes, to expose a system that abuses a large part of its citizens and that has managed to hide, through censorship and violence, the real truth of Tibetans' plight under Chinese rule.
This book is not easy to read because of the violence and the cruelty inherent in its theme, but it should be read and shared with as many people as possible. We need to become aware of what is going on around us, and this includes knowing what one of the most powerful countries in the world, China, is doing to its citizens. You will not be disappointed in the book, but you might be in our species.
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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