Month: March 2013
Review: “Love You More Than You Know” edited by Janie Reinart and Mary Anne Mayer
Love You More Than You Know: Mothers’ Stories About Sending Their Sons and Daughters to War, edited by Janie Reinart and Mary Anne Mayer, is a collection of true stories that bear witness to the angst borne by mothers awaiting the safe return of their children from war. This book grew out of the two authors’ personal experiences when they began writing their stories and speaking at meetings with other mothers undergoing similar experiences, as a way to help them make sense of their emotions and fears.
This is not a book by professional authors; these stories are written by mothers who have sons or daughters who have put on their country’s uniform and taken an oath to willingly go into harm’s way for that country. Despite not being professionals, however, they are stories that could only have been written by the mothers themselves; they will touch you in ways that smooth prose written by a professional writer never could. They are stories of loss, grief, hope, and love; written from the heart.
This is a five-star book that is ‘must’ reading for anyone who wants to understand the true depth of a mother’s love. It will also help renew the reader’s faith in our culture, society, and nation. While the mainstream news media bombards us with stories of cynicism and selfishness, here you will see that we still have people among us who understand the meaning of service and sacrifice.
Review: “Flight 404” by Simon Petrie
Flight 404, by Simon Petrie, is a mystical sci-fi novel that requires close attention while reading. Creating a completely fictional universe is difficult, but Petrie has done a fairly credible job, including the arcane technology by which this universe works.
Charmain Mertz, nee Carlos Miyaki, is piloting the ship Peregrinator to a rendezvous with another pilot who will assume command in search of the deep-space passenger vessel Bougainvillaea, which has disappeared. For reasons that are not clear at the outset, Mertz refuses to make the rendezvous and goes off freelance. It takes some reading to realize that Mertz’s sister and family were on the missing vessel.
The story flips back and forth between Mertz’s efforts to elude pursuit and glimpses of her/his strange background, leading to a climactic ending that, thankfully, makes the difficulty in following the storyline worth it.
This is Petrie’s first novel, and a good first effort. It would have been a better read if some of the technology had been more fulsomely described, but the tension the author manages to infuse into the narrative somewhat overcomes this lack. I give Flight 404 three stars.
Review: “Bad Traffick” by D. V. Berkom
Leine Basso is a former government assassin who is being framed by her former boss for murders she didn’t commit. LAPD detective Santiago Jensen, her lover, is determined to prove her innocence. When Leine is hired by a movie star to be his bodyguard when he suspects someone is trying to kidnap him, she finds herself immersed in the world of human trafficking and facing a greater threat than a frame-up.
This tightly woven, suspenseful novel is full of action, twists, and gritty human emotion that will keep you sitting on the edge of your chair as you root for Leine as she tries to rescue 12-year-old Mara, who has escaped the clutches of the traffickers who plan to sell her to a rich pedophile, and who will stop at nothing – including murder – to achieve their dastardly ends.
Author D.V. Berkom’s Bad Traffick, takes us into a world that might seem hard to fathom for the average person, but a world that is all too real. Tight dialogue and nonstop action marks a novel that establishes new benchmarks for action thrillers. This is a solid five-star novel that you won’t want to miss.
Review: “A Broken Ring” by C.L. Cappetta
A Broken Ring: Part one of the ‘Ride to Liberty’ Trilogy, by C. L. Cappetta, is hard to classify. In part, it seems to be a thriller with psychological overtones, as it traces the tumultuous life of Lydia Castle, from precocious 15-year-old to adulthood, in part, a semi-erotic romance novel with a hint of bloody violence thrown in.
An interesting tale, it has more ups and downs than the Rebel Yell roller coaster at King’s Dominion Park in Virginia. Lydia has a problem with men, starting with Mike Webberly, who is obsessed with her and rapes her before she turns 16, and then vows that he will kill her before he’ll let anyone else have her. From Mike, Lydia moves from man to man, but the reader senses that she’s looking more for ‘herself’ than a relationship with someone else.
It would be easier to follow, perhaps, if there were fewer characters, or maybe that’s what makes it interesting. I know that I found it interesting, despite being utterly confused trying to keep track of the characters that seemed to march in formation across the pages.
I also found it difficult until very near the end to get a read on Lydia herself – and, even then I was left guessing; did she actually make that journey from abuse to empowerment? Maybe she did, and maybe she didn’t. Not a bad read, but I can only give it three stars.
Review: “Blog It! The author’s guide to building a successful online brand” by Molly Greene
If you’re a blogger, one book you simply must read is, Blog It! The author’s guide to building a successful online brand by Molly Greene. Greene is an author, blogger, and blogging coach who knows what she’s talking about and does it in an engaging way.
This is a kind of nuts and bolts recipe book of blogging, covering everything from building a stable of regular readers to how to sell your books on your blog. The reader is taken from the basics; where should you establish a blog, setting up a writing and publishing schedule; to more advanced techniques such as search engine optimization (SEO) and blog design.
Written in a direct, no-nonsense manner, this book will, if you follow Greene’s advice, make you not just a better blogger, but a more successful blogger. There are a lot of books out there on blogging, but this one is without doubt the best. I give this book an unqualified five stars!
Review: “Bad Moon Rising” by Helen Haught Fanick
Bad Moon Rising is a delightful collection of short stories by San Antonio-based writer Helen Haught Fanick. The three short stories feature the unnamed narrator who, with her sister Andrea Flynn, gets caught up in a series of mysteries – the murder of the mayor of the town of Pine Summit, the murder of their Aunt Libby, and a plot to kill a relative – which Andrea solves a la Jessica Fletcher. Written with wry wit and pithy dialogue, they hang together well, giving a good sense of place and character. The narrator’s identify is finally disclosed in the second of two excerpts of novels Ms. Fanick has written; Moon Sight and Moonlight Mayhem. Kathleen Williamson, is a cross between Dr. Watson, who is somewhat passive observer and chronicler of events, and Mike Hammer, who can dive into action when necessary, is a delight to get to know, as are the stories in Bad Moon Rising. I give this book four stars.
Review: “The Stranger,” a Novella by Chris Martin
Chris Martin’s The Stranger is a disturbing story. We start with an introduction to Dillon Bledsoe, a resident of Seal Bay, a one-horse town with a secret. We are then taken on a journey with more twists than a Coney Island roller coaster. Despite some clichéd dialogue and description, Martin weaves a compelling tale with a skillfully concealed ending that just might leave you breathless.
A well-written novella with, as mentioned, dialogue that is a bit cliché, but which still manages to entertain right up to the ending. I give this work three stars.
Review: “City of Pillars” by Dominic Peloso
Mitchell Sinclair is an up and coming young lawyer. He has a good house in Marin County, north of San Francisco, a trophy wife, Sarah, and a shiny black 1958 Cadillac Sedan. He’s living what one would describe as ‘the good life,’ until one day, while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on the way to his law firm, a strange toll booth collector tosses an even stranger package into his car.
The package contains a sheaf of documents written in strange languages, and as Sinclair struggles to translate them, his life is turned inside out and upside down. This ‘chance’ happening – or, so it seems at first – sets him on a journey that spans the globe, from San Francisco to Machu Picchu in Peru; but, even more importantly, a journey into his own tortured consciousness. As he flees the mysterious ‘men in black,’ Sinclair finds himself at times doubting his own sanity – or insanity.
While it is often thought that a thriller needs lots of dialogue in order to be truly effective, Dominic Peloso, in City of Pillars, shows the beauty of narrative. He deftly puts the reader inside Mitchell Sinclair’s head; for, this is his story. It’s difficult to pigeon-hole City of Pillars. It’s part thriller, part science fiction; with a lot of philosophy thrown in for good measure. This is the kind of story you won’t want to put down; which you, in fact, can’t put down. Highly recommended reading for that next long flight when the in-flight movies are boring, or for curling up over a long weekend. A definite five-star story that anyone can appreciate.
NRA’s Opposition to UN Arms Trade Treaty: Shameless!
Today in New York, negotiations began at the UN on the Arms Trade Treaty, which would require countries to determine whether the weapons they sell might be used to commit serious human rights violations, terrorism or transnational organized crime.
The Obama administration has indicated that it will support the accord, although US support has been lackluster at best in the past. Predictably, the Neanderthals of the National Rifle Association (NRA) have come out against the treaty, fearing that the treaty will be used to regulate civilian weapons. Among the treaty’s most vocal opponents, if the NRA fails in its efforts to sabotage the ongoing negotiations and gut the treaty, one can be sure that it will redouble its efforts to ensure its staunch supporters in the Senate block US ratification.
Whether this is true or not, one has to take a step back and analyze what’s happening here. It’s really simple, when you peel back the layers of this stinky onion. The NRA, and other gun nuts around the world, don’t seem to care if human rights violations, terrorism, and crime are committed using civilian weapons – just don’t even think about limiting their right to have their phallic substitutes handy and in large numbers. That this treaty is a common sense approach to reducing gun violence around the world, that has the support of many individuals, is lost on these tone-deaf fools who are still mentally inhabiting a world of wild animals and log cabins, and who don’t seem to know the difference between a muzzle loader and a 15-round automatic magazine with steel jacketed slugs.
I wonder if they’ll push for no limits on private ownership of anti-aircraft weapons to protect against those black UN helicopters that’s trying to invade and install a world government behind our backs.
Review: “The Phoenix Girls: The Conjuring Glass: Book 1” by Brian Knight
The Phoenix Girls: The Conjuring Glass, by Brian Knight, is a tale of magic that will delight young readers. Penny Sinclair moves in with her grandmother, and has to make the transition from the big city to the small town. She becomes friends with the school outcast, Zoe, and the two set off in search of adventure. They find a magical grove near Penny’s new home, complete with a talking fox. While there’s a bit of violence in this story, it thankfully doesn’t go over the line.
It’s unusual for a male writer to be able to successfully get into the mind of a character of another gender, but in this case, Brian Knight has not only done it well, he’s done it with an adolescent – that species of homo sapiens that few adults comprehend. Written primarily for a young adult audience, it’s not a bad read for adults who still believe in magic.
I give The Conjuring Glass four stars, and look forward to Book 2.
Review: “Poisoned Pawn: The Fall of the Altairan Empire, Book III” by Jaleta Clegg
Dace is a merchant ship captain. She has a talent for getting into the most amazing fixes, and this interests the enigmatic Commander Lowell who heads a secretive organization and who wants to recruit her. She also has an unfortunate resemblance to the daughter of the head of a large trading syndicate who is the target of takeover from a ruthless criminal. Lowell assigns Major Clark to infiltrate Dace’s ship as a pilot to keep an eye on her and keep her safe.
Unfortunately, Clark falls for Jasyn, Dace’s partner, and in a moment of inattention allows Dace to be kidnapped. The action, pretty tense from the opening chapter, really goes into high gear as Lowell tries to locate and rescue Dace, and she tries to survive long enough for him to do just that.
A well-written story, although some of the technology is a bit far-fetched, with lots of adventure, romance (tastefully done) and humor. A few ends are still loose as the story closes – for instance, there’s Dace’s love interest left only partially resolved – but, given what we see of her personality as the story unfolds, that’s perhaps to be expected.
Jaleta Clegg’s Poisoned Pawn was a fun read. Unfortunately, even though I was able to get a copy of the Kindle e-Book version for review, I can’t find it on Amazon or LibraryThing, which is really too bad, because this is a book worth reading. I give it four stars.
The Kind of Review You Want To Receive
We all want to have out work reviewed favorably by readers. This is, after all, why we write – well, we actually write to be read, but it’s nice when those who read are positively impressed by what we’ve written. Over the years, I’ve received comments, both positive and negative, from readers. I don’t solicit comments – somehow, that is one step I’m reluctant to take. It’s far better when readers comment of their own volition, whether or not they like my books.
Sometimes, the shortest comments have the greatest impact. I think the review that has really made me feel good, was a sort of backhanded compliment, but, as it was unsolicited, I feel it really reflects the feeling of the individual who wrote it. Furthermore, in a few short words, it summed up my writing style. This, my friends, is the kind of reaction I think we, as writers, should be striving for.
This was a reader review of my latest Al Pennyback mystery, Death From Unnatural Causes.
It kept my interest and was an easy and quick read. I liked the main characters.
Not a fantastic piece of literature, but I might read this author again.
Was I wrong? You tell me.