Literature

Review of ‘In Search of Robinson Crusoe’

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Since the time the sun never set on the British Empire, and despite having a rather gray and lackluster cuisine, Brits have excelled as travel writers. Tim Severin’s In Search of Robinson Crusoe is but another example of that excellence. An intrepid explorer and excellent scribe, Severin traveled the lands described in Daniel Defoe’s books to see if he could discover the identity of the real life castaway upon whom Defoe based his book, or if it was based upon the voluntary castaway, Alexander Selkirk, as many believe.

Moving back and forth in time, with summaries of the past interspersed with descriptions of his own often hazardous, sometimes hilarious, journeys, Severn effectively debunks the myths, and comes to the conclusion that Defoe based his character upon an entirely different castaway. I won’t spoil the book for you by identifying that worthy. I’ll just suggest you get the book and find out for yourself.

Severn writes in a vivid style, complete with self-deprecating wit that will make this  perhaps one of the best travelogues, historical narratives, adventure books you’ll read in a while. I give it five stars!

Review of ‘The Words We Use are Black and White’

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Lucy sells weekend cinema tickets in Evian, on the shores of Lake Geneva. Along with her brother Jean-Luc, and their childhood friend, Fabrice, they struggle with learning to communicate with each other. Lucy’s life is complicated by the arrival of Alain, who has come to Evian to escape human contact that has bedeviled him in Geneva. Alain and Lucy develop a relationship that complicates both their lives, and the lives of everyone around them.

Simon Holloway’s The Words We Use are Black and White is an epic tale that shows how words fail to convey the meanings in our hearts, as these hapless characters struggle to make themselves heard and understood.

Holloway has written a profound book that addresses the prejudices and misconceptions that we are often unaware of, and except for a bit of confusion caused by the expansive cast of characters and some annoying similarities in naming – Lucy, Lucie, and Lucien, along with Jean-Luc and later Luc – which caused me to have to re-read some sections to get myself oriented, it was thoroughly enjoyable. I give it four stars, only because the name confusion keeps me from giving it five.

Review of “A Majority of One” by Robert Lamb

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Mark Twain
Cover of Mark Twain

When Anne Brady, a high school English teacher in a rural South Georgia town, answers the door to a strange woman who presents her with a framed copy of the Ten Commandments, which she wants Anne to post in her classroom, her life changes forever. Soon, Anne begins to receive anonymous, threatening letters accusing her of corrupting her students and afterwards, she is pressured to stop teaching Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn in her English class.

A Majority of One by Robert Lamb is a gripping tale of prejudice and insanity on a mass scale, and a condemnation of single-minded bigotry in all of its pernicious forms. In a narrative that is both compelling and instructive, he shows how zealots who are willing to go to any extreme to force their views on others can destroy a society.

Lamb paints a picture that is not pretty, because, even though this is a work of fiction, it could very well have been ripped from today’s headlines. This is a book that religious zealots would prefer you not read, the very reason it should be recommended reading for any rational person.

This is a definite five-star work!

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Review: “The Rising: The Lost Children of Managrail, Book One” by Aron Joice

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Aron Joice’s The Rising: The Lost Children of Managrail, Book One, is a fantasy that is chock full of adventure. When the twins, Lila and Simian of Managrail, fall from the heights upon which their city is located, and find themselves lost in the forest inhabited by the night-prowling, flesh-eating Fergay, they set in motion an epic struggle between and among powerful forces that threaten to overwhelm them and destroy their way of life.

The impetuous Lila becomes central to all that transpires, despite her more mature brother’s every efforts. They are soon joined by Medack and Cayda, who are hunting the marauders who destroyed their village of Dirth and slaughtered all their kith and kin.

The action in The Rising is non-stop, with a combination of sword and sorcery that is sure to please fans of the genre. Despite some excellent writing, the story is somewhat marred by the introduction of too many characters without ample description of their origins or motives. A good story would rise to greatness if the reader had a better understanding of the interrelations of the various factions as they move inexorably to a showdown after Managrail is destroyed by the Fergay.

While I found the book enjoyable, I’m giving it only three stars because of this. Joice is an excellent craftsman when it comes to dialogue, but needs to give more background to help one navigate through the intricacies of her tale.

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The Kind of Review You Want To Receive

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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.

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Review: “A Wind Doth Blow” by Daniel Kelley

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Daniel Kelley has written, in A Wind Doth Blow, a romance story with a different take, and one that will keep you turning the pages until the very end. The protagonist is an artist with what has to be called an obsession with his oboe-playing neighbor that quickly begins to consume his every waking moment, and causes him to doubt himself as a person. A fully fledged, well-rounded character, you find yourself pulled into his existence, cheering him on to take the plunge and declare his affections for the enigmatic Elise. I won’t spoil the ending for those who have yet to read this masterpiece, but trust me, it will leave you gasping for more.

A Wind Doth Blow is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/A-Wind-Doth-Blow-ebook/dp/B00AC8B6F8/

A Wind Doth Blow

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