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Wicked by Any Other Name
9781402217739 $6.99 www.sourcebooks.com
Amy J. Ramsey, Reviewer
In the year 1313, a devoted group of young witchlings at the Witches Academy, were banished by the Head Mistress, Eurydice, due to a fellow witchling that had cast a nasty spell on a member of nobility. Since none of the witches admitted to the transgression or named the transgressor, every one of them was sentenced to spend a century on the mortal world, before returning back to their realm. Seven hundred years later, the witches have grown accustomed to the mortal world and was actually enjoying their time living amongst the mortals and other supernatural's beings.
Anastasia and Blair have remained best friends ever since the Academy. Over the centuries, they have traveled vast areas and have had many adventures, but when they came across a beautiful, serene lake, the color of moonstone and sensed its magical pull, they decided to stay and make it their home, but that was a long time ago, in the gold mining days of the 1800's. Currently, the Town of Moonstone Lake has gradually developed over the ages and the townspeople are now aware of Stasi and Blair's true identities, along with the knowledge that other supernaturals do exist. The two witches have befriended the majority of the townspeople, but of course, there are a few who dislike them for what they are.
Stasi is known for being the nice, timid witch, who specializes in romance spells, which comes in handy considering she owns a very sensuous lingerie shop. Stasi loves to use a little of her power to boost her customers self esteem and confidence, hence the special sachets she adds to each of her customer purchases. Only one time has she altered the spell and only because she wanted to do the right thing, not anticipating the fact that the vindictive customer, Carrie, would file a lawsuit against her in Wizards Court complaining Stasi destroyed her marriage and wanting to strip Stasi of her powers.
It's assumed that wizards and witches don't mix, so when Carrie's lawyer, Trev Barnes, enters the shop, Stasi is furious. What's even more distracting is the animated red hearts circling his head and Trev notices the same about Stasi. Cupid must be playing some kind of sick joke! In the midst of fighting against their sexual desires and Blair in hot pursuit of the town's handyman, Jake, there is something wickedly evil brewing in the air, encircling the town, affecting the townspeople, the weather and their beautiful lake.
There will be no time for budding romance or celebrating Samhain with their friends, if they do not act swiftly to stop the past from recurring. Stasi will have to show bravery and overcome her fear in order to set things right with the world. But will she be able to conquer true love or is it just cupid trying to punish her for trespassing into his territory?
Wicked by Any Other Name is a Wickedly Awesome read! Mrs. Wisdom has imagined a sensational, enticing and fascinating realm which contains an abundance of mystery, excitement, humor and desire. Mrs. Wisdom is a new author for me and I most definitely will be immersing myself into all of her novels very soon. This is the third book in the Jazz Tremaine series and it can be read as a standalone book. So, if you are in the mood for a bit of romance, magick, mystery and laughter, this is the book for you. I also recommend to those readers who are interested in Paranormal Romance, Supernatural and Shape Shifter genres.
Linda Wisdom was born and raised in Huntington Beach, California. She majored in journalism n college, then switched to fashion merchandising when she was told there was not future for her in fiction writing. She held a variety of positions ranging from retail sales to executive secretary in advertising and office manager for a personnel agency. Her career began when she sold her first two novels to Silhouette Romance on her wedding anniversary in 1979. Since then she has sold more than seventy novels and one novella to four different publishers. Her books have appeared on various romance and mass market bestseller lists and have been nominated for a number of Romantic Times awards, as well as two-time finalist for the Romance Writers of America Rita Award. She lives with her husband, one dog, one parrot, and a tortoise in Murrieta, California. There were three romance writers living in town. At this time there is just Linda. So far, the police have not suspected her with any wrongdoing.
The House of Wisdom
Ann Skea, Reviewer
Baghdad: 'The Round City', 'The City of Peace'. This doesn't sound much like the city we hear of today. Nor do we think of Baghdad as one of the most important centres of learning in the world. So it is timely for Jonathan Lyons to remind us that all this was once true of Baghdad and to demonstrate how much the ancient Arabic-speaking world influenced the development of Western, non-Arabic-speaking, knowledge and culture.
In 762, the Abbasid Caliph, Abu Jafar al-Mansur, influenced by the geometrical teachings of the Ancient Greek, Euclid, set about designing the new capital city of his empire as a perfect circle. Learned astrologers (one a Zoroastrian, the other a Jewish convert to the Muslim religion) were consulted; a mathematically gifted overseer was appointed; various rites were performed, and The Round City grew up on the site of the old Persian city of Baghdad. Al-Mansur and his scholars then began to collect knowledge from wherever in the world they could find it. Persian, Greek and Indian knowledge was searched out, translated, studied copied and disseminated, and the city grew into a rich and important place which, according to one traveller, had "no equal on earth" for prosperity, luxury and learning. The great library of Baghdad, which housed the accumulated knowledge of the Empire also housed an academy of scholars and translators, and it was the resort of experts in astrology and scientific experiment. It became known as 'The House of Wisdom', and large sums of money were devoted to expanding its endeavors, accumulating valuable texts, and undertaking related cultural and intellectual projects.
Al-Mansur was not the first to so value knowledge and learning. The Umayyad dynasty, whose armies al-Mansur's brother had defeated in 750, were equally interested in 'scientific' enquiry. Astrology, logic, law, philosophy and medicine, all were studied, and when the most important surviving Umayyad Prince, Abd al-Rhaman, fled to Southern Spain, he took this love of scholarship with him. So Muslim Spain, too, became a important centre of learning.
Meanwhile, the Western non-Arabic-speaking world had lost the language skills which would have allowed them to learn from the Ancient Greeks. Latin had become the language of scholars in the few centres of learning. And Christianity suppressed Greek philosophy and independent thinking to such an extent, that only Aristotle's influence survived in the formal teaching and practice of logic and rhetoric. The Crusades soon made the free exchange of knowledge between Muslims and Christians almost impossible. However, contact with the Arab world, however bloody, did expose some Western men to Arab culture and a few, like Adelard of Bath, set out to learn more.
Adelard is one of the heroes of Lyons's book. Born in about 1080, he had influential church patrons, a thirst for knowledge, a flair for languages and, apparently, a penchant for flowing green capes, green being a new dye colour discovered by the Alchemists. In about 1100, Adelard left his native England for a cathedral school in France. From there, he headed East, possibly by way of Spain and Sicily, spending at least seven years studying in and around crusader lands before returning home. He learned Arabic well enough to communicate with other scholars, and he read and translated (from the Arabic) the works of Classical Greek philosophers and mathematicians. When he finally returned to England, he brought back with him knowledge of geography, astronomy and astrology, as well as his own translations of a work on the use of the astrolabe and, most importantly, Euclid's Elements.
Euclid's work was of seminal importance in the West. It covered geometry, number theory and such sophisticated mathematical concepts as irrational numbers, plus the logical method of stating a problem, hypothesizing a solution, demonstrating proof, and presenting a final conclusion. This 'scientific' method was, and still is, applied to every aspect of the search for knowledge. Adelard's work, Lyons notes, became the benchmark for Twelfth-century learning.
Other scholars similarly sought out Arab knowledge and brought it back to the West. In 1230, the Scotsman, Michael Scot, brought back the medical work of Avicenna, and the philosophical work of Averroes. In twelfth-century Italy, Leonardo of Pisa, better know as Fibonacci, produced his Book of Calculations, which provided a detailed account of the use of the Arabic numbering system (which had, in turn, been learned from India) and so the nine figures 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 and the sign 0 (which we still call by the Arab name 'zero') came to the western world. In the thirteenth century, English scientist and philosopher, Roger Bacon, brought from the East the knowledge of alchemy, which was the precursor of chemistry.
Lyons's charting of these changes gives us an important insight into the major sources of our knowledge today, and the strong influence of Arab learning is still clear in every aspect of our lives. Music, manners, gardening, geography, religious debate, magic, all were strongly influenced by Arab learning. They gave us not only our number system but also many of the words which are in everyday use: 'alcohol', 'tariff', 'monsoon', 'algebra', and many more.
The House of Wisdom is a timely reminder of the debt we owe to these early lovers of learning: the Arabs who searched for it, treasured it and transmitted it so freely, and the adventurous Western scholars who were fascinated by it, saw its value, and brought it back with them from their travels.
Lyons writes well and his knowledge of the Muslim world is extensive. My only quibble, is that he tends to jump around in time in his book and, since history and dates were never my strong point, I often lost track of which century I was in. However, this was a small price to pay for the knowledge I gained.
Philip K. Dick
1745 Broadway, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10019
In the near future on the over-crowded Earth, there is a colony. It is supposed to be a paradise. The only problem is it takes 18 years to get there. Oh, you can teleport, but it is only one way and you cannot come back. Sound suspicious, the people on Earth are too...
Then rather abruptly, the story takes a strange turn where there is an extremely vivid LSD trip...The main Character also appears to be in two places at once...The story is in fact very confusing and many people have questioned whether it makes any sense at all. Several people have also brought up whether this might be a flaw in editing or if maybe Philip K. Dick had ever intended to publish the two stories together (The first part of the story was originally published as The Unteleported Man)...I think what most or all people are missing is the time-warping construct that is disguised as a tin of prophoz. He has this tin both at the end of the story and when he teleports on page 73-74 (where he is in two places at once). What I think was Dick's intention (and yes I find it weird that he never elaborated on it) is that the main character Rachmael had somehow jumped into the past (via the time-warping construct) to try and save Freya Holm, but then was hit with an LSD dart, and captured. We will never know however since Dick died of a stroke in 1982. The editor Paul Williams does not explain the book, but does insist that this was the way Philip K. Dick intended to publish it.
Peace Week in Miss Fox's Class
Albert Whitman & Company
6340 Oakton Street, Morton Grove, Illinois 60053
Originally I looked into this book based on a recommendation, and then the aesthetic appeal of the book drew me in further; the more I read the more I was intrigued and enjoyed the journey of this class learning to become empathetic towards others. Spinelli has outlined a great lesson in her book in relation to treating people well. And treating everyone well, whether they treat you well or poorly first, or whether they have asked for your help or kindness at all. This book is well written for a young audience; it has a rhythmic tone to it at times, and she plays with different words, different literary devices, and grammatical rules. In addition, the book pushes home the idea of "Peace Week" through the repetition of different students remembering and utilizing the class-constructed parameters of "Peace Week." At the same time the book is light-hearted, silly, welcoming, and fun. The page following Polecat's not-so-nice comments on Bunny's yellow sweater demonstrates these features: "Bunny wanted to poke fun at Polecat's green sweater. She wanted to say, "Here comes Pickle-puss." But this was Peace Week. So Bunny said, "My yellow sweater is cozy-warm, Polecat. Your green sweater looks cozy-warm, too."
In addition, the illustrations enhance these features in both the images and the text within them. They depict the real struggle that these students have in acting out their "Peace Week" and the positive outcomes that result from their actions.
Although this book is written for a younger audience, there is no reason it could not be used at a variety of levels. I personally think there is a wide variety of individuals that would benefit from a reading of this book! It presents a great message in a very simple way that leaves the reader inspired to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
The success of this title is preceded by many other books from the creative mind of Spinelli, some of which include: Callie Cat, Ice Skater; When You Are Happy; Hero Cat; and Wanda's Monster.
Beyond the Occult: Twenty Years' Research into the Paranormal
Simon & Schuster Australia
Lower Ground Floor, 14-16 Suakin Street (PO Box 33)
PYMBLE NSW 2073 AUSTRALIA
9781905857692 $AUD 34.95
Rose Glavas, Reviewer
Since I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first book in this series, I was really looking forward to reading 'Beyond the Occult'. I wasn't disappointed… it was, again, well written and interesting: hopefully it will also get you thinking about occult subjects in a different light and understanding their common thread.
As I did in my first review, I think it is important first to understand what is meant by 'the occult'. According to www.dictionary.com, occult is described as:
1. Of, relating to, or dealing with supernatural influences, agencies, or phenomena.
2. Beyond the realm of human comprehension; inscrutable.
3. Available only to the initiate; secret: occult lore.
4. Hidden from view; concealed.
After reading this book I feel that Colin Wilson does an excellent job in examining 'topics that are beyond the realm of our current comprehension'.
Colin Wilson has written a wide variety of titles and is one of the most prolific, versatile and popular writers at work today. Books on subjects such as philosophy, the occult (obviously!), crime and sexual deviance as well as many novels have been written. After he had spent years working in various industries his first book The Outsider was published in 1956. It became an immediate bestseller. Wilson's work has been translated into many languages.
To give you an idea of the breadth of 'Beyond the Occult', some of the chapter titles are: Mediums and Mystics, Memories of the Future, Minds without Bodies?, The Truth about Magic, Visions, and plus many more. There is an enormous amount of information covered in this book that will interest anyone with even the smallest interest in the unusual.
Considering the breadth and depth of the topic that Wilson covers in this title, I think he has done an exceptional job of weaving in many differing fields and subjects in a cohesive way. The end result is a finely crafted theory that has been well thought out and researched in depth. Once again, the author has done an exceptional job in bringing together the many different fields under the umbrella of 'the occult' successfully, and helping the reader to understand the similarities that bring these together: rather than the differences that set them apart.
The Occult is a title that will appeal to the reader who is even remotely interested in the mysteries of life. Whether you intend to purchase it for yourself or as a gift it is sure to please the reader who is looking for a very thorough investigation of the supernatural aspects of life and/or unexplained aspects of our lives. This is DEFINITELY a must have for your library if you are interested in occult subjects.
841 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10003
Virginia Woolf may have advocated for a room of one's own, but what if you had a world of your own instead? Jonas, a thirty-something living in Vienna, inherits just that when he wakes up on July 4 and finds that he may be the last person on Earth. In Night Work by Thomas Glavinic, Jonas is not only the last person left, but the last living creature. There is no one to be found in Vienna - not a person, not a dog, not a cockroach.
The crux of Night Work doesn't rest on finding out what happened to everyone else. Night Work is an intense study of how one survives, though certainly not thrives, on one's own. What happens when you are left to your own devices, your own thoughts - both of your conscious and subconscious mind?
Glavinic deftly and subtly conveys Jonas's growing paranoia. When Jonas is confronted by such things as his conjured wolf-bear and an intensely creepy character called The Sleeper, his brain realizes he is only paranoid, but it is a constant struggle to keep that paranoia in check. "He must cling at all costs to what existed. To what was definitely verifiable and beyond dispute." If he can't do that, there is no way to survive in this new world.
One of the ways Jonas copes with this new world is to examine his life through deeply existential questioning. As he goes through old photographs and visits places from his past, he constantly compares his past self to his current self. There is at once a longing to return to the past, as played out when Jonas recreates his childhood home, and an almost remorseful sense of fulfillment at what he has experienced and accomplished since that past time.
Night Work may leave many readers unsatisfied. Those looking for a resolution to what happened to the world will not find one. It is an existential book following one man into the depths of despair. If readers can keep that in mind, they will find Night Work to be a gratifying, if not deeply disturbing, read.
The White Snail
Vasilis Savvanis Publications
Dassia, Corfu, Greece 49100
9789609864800 GR 5,50 euros
Maria Gouna, Reviewer
Very Highly Recommended
Iliana Metallinou (aka Liana Metal online) is an ELT teacher and freelance writer from Greece. She has been writing articles, children's stories, non-fiction books and short stories, as well as ELT books for classroom use for a very long time. Among her books are: " The Hostel", "Bedtime stories", "Writing Basics", "Flowers for Women". You can visit her at: http://LianaMetal.tripod.com
and at her blog: http://Lianastories.blogspot.com.
The White Snail is about a snail that differs from the others in that he is not brown but he is white, and so he thinks that he is not as beautiful as the rest of the snails. As a result, he decides to paint his "house" brown! But what will happen? Will he be able to achieve his goal? Will the other snails laugh at him or accept him as he is? And finally, will he ever realise that to be different is not bad?
Written in a simple language without difficult verbal images or exaggerations and double-spaced, it is a book that is suitable for very young children as well as for the older ones. Moreover, it is fully illustrated by the writer herself and this is an aspect that makes the book more interesting and entertaining. Most important of all is the fact that the writer tries and succeeds in introducing young readers to concepts such as discrimination, racism and love for animals in an amusing and easy way. It is absolutely a book that caters to everyone!
Get the book from the publisher's site at: www.aggelia-online.gr
(Click on EKDOSEIS on the top red section, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Or email the writer for an autographed copy at email@example.com
to get it via paypal. It will soon be available on online stores.
The Project MKULTRA Compendium: The CIA's Program of Research in
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
In the 1950s, a group of men on the east and west coasts spent months dosing random people with LSD. They dosed them in public, in bars, or lured them using prostitutes back to an apartment, where they were slipped drugs and watched from behind a two-way mirror. They were not only interested in the effect of LSD and other drugs on people, but also potentially embarrassing sexual secrets that could prove useful in the field. Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of the true story was that it was completely funded on the taxpayers' dime.
The men in question were from the Bureau of Narcotics, on assignment and funded by the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA's program was called MKULTRA, but the Narcotics folks somewhat jokingly called their own work "Operation Midnight Climax." When the CIA's Inspector General got wind of the project, he recommended shutting it down, writing that if it were discovered that the Agency was committing illicit and illegal acts, it would have severe consequences both in terms of public reaction and causing diplomatic problems internationally. The operation, however, continued and was eventually discovered, due at least in part to the fact that two employees died as a result of the "experiments." What harm the project caused to the public is unknown, though it is known that at least one other person ended up in the hospital because of it.
MKULTRA came to the public's attention through a series of investigations into the CIA by the United States Congress, led by Nelson Rockefeller, Frank Church, and finally, Ted Kennedy in 1977. The Project MKULTRA Compendium chronicles these investigations and the CIA's own look through the remainder of project files in their possession (the majority of files were destroyed a few years before the operation was publicly revealed). The project spanned from 1953 to 1964 and contained a total of 149 subprojects, varying in scope from research into hypnosis to testing deadly chemicals.
The book makes for fascinating and chilling reading, giving insight into what goes on in the shadows when the law is out of sight and the powers that be believe they have right and the national interest on their side. One aspect the book could have included was part of the aftermath, which included a successful lawsuit against the government by a group of hospital patients subjected to CIA experimentation in Montreal, Canada. The book is helpful in shedding light on a largely forgotten and disturbing aspect of U.S. history. As one Bureau of Narcotics employee wrote to Sidney Gottlieb (head of MKULTRA) after the project's conclusion, "I toiled wholeheartedly in the vineyards because it was fun, fun, fun. Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal, rape and pillage with the sanction and bidding of the All-Highest?"
9781600543463 $2.75 Ebook www.loveyoudivine.com
Although the process of trying to have a baby has worn on Ben and Allison, they decide to do whatever they can to make that precious baby. After they realize the tedium has brought their marriage down, they begin to explore ways to make themselves happy and are able to recapture their love through sexual and emotional healing.
Ben and Allison are extremely likable characters and the reader is able to root for them to get whatever they want. The passion they feel for each other is evident and is an integral part of the story. The author offers many interesting details from the Jewish religion and it was interesting how she seamlessly integrated those details with Ben and Allison's sexual coming together. Coming Clean is a fun story with crisp writing.
I Am the Mummy Heb-Nefert
Eve Bunting, illustrations by David Christiana
6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777
9780152024642 $7.00 www.harcourt.com
Once there was a woman of privilege in ancient Egypt known as Heb-Nefert. She dreamily recounts her memories of that time long ago as she hovers next to her mummified corpse and her mummified cat, who the ancients believed she would take with her to the next world. This well woven tale, with beautifully rendered art, evokes thoughts on mortality as well as brings new knowledge about ancient customs and culture.
Some Babies Are Wild
Marion Dane Bauer, Author
Stan Tekiela, Photographer
820 Cleveland Street S., Cambridge, MN, 55008
9781591930846 $14.95 www.adventurepublications.net
Enjoy a stolen moment in nature with little baby animals in Some Babies Are Wild. Magical pictorials present individual stories of Mother Nature's youngest creatures caught off guard. Furry paws, fuzzy faces, prickly bodies and big round eyes consume each spread with their activity, vulnerability and innocence. Author, Marion Dane Bauer's rhythmic text leads readers down a breathtaking nature trail of remarkable photography. Photographer, Stan Tekiela and his camera has opened an extraordinary window for readers to peer through. The flash of his shutter has captured animals in their private habitats, on their own and with family, in the wild. Readers will delight with the Animal Extras and Did You Know? educational section included in the back of the book. Fun and surprising baby animal facts highlight each animal pictured in the story. Some Babies Are Wild will fill readers with the joy of nature and family. This is a must have book for animal lovers of all ages and children who are interested in wildlife.
The Lost Recipe for Happiness
The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O'Neal transcends the typical Chick Lit novel with a sumptuous tale of loss, love, and redemption. It is an indulgent read, resplendent with vivid details and clean, well executed prose.
Set in restaurant kitchens and mainly Aspen, Colorado, O'Neal captures the tranquil beauty of Aspen while mirroring the fiery, passionate realm of the kitchen in the people who make it come alive.
Elena, the main character, is given the opportunity she has worked her whole life for - the position of head chef in a restaurant that she will both develop and run. Obstacles to Elena's success include the angry former chef still employed at the restaurant, earning the respect of a primarily male kitchen, the physical strain of working in a demanding environment with a body mangled by a massive car accident, and last, but not least, having fallen in love with the restaurant's owner, Julien - a movie director who is way out of Elena's league.
Magnifying Elena's challenges are the literal and figurative ghosts of her siblings and boyfriend, who were killed in the aforementioned car accident. Dealing with her loved ones deaths and her own survival is a demon Elena wrestles with on a daily basis.
Readers will enjoy the tight plotting and easy flow of the novel, as well as appreciate O'Neal's expertise at characterization. These are people who we are drawn to, despite their flaws and foibles.
Foodies will be tempted and entertained by the starring role food plays in the novel. Just because a novel is set in the restaurant world does not necessarily mean that the food will be a major player. Here, O'Neal weaves savory, decadent, and comforting recipes throughout the story, functioning in many ways as plot points.
The richness of the recipes mirrors the rich lives of the characters that we come to fall in love with, while the spices and peppers contained in the abundance of Southwestern food punctuate their trials and tribulations.
The Lost Recipe for Happiness made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think. Most of all, it made me hungry for more.
In Love with Jerzy Kosinski
University of Wisconsin Press
Zinta Aistars, Reviewer
Whatever the form of abuse, wounds take a long time to heal, if ever they do, and the scars remain forever. The work of novelist Agate Nesaule often handles the theme of abuse and its long-term repercussions. In her acclaimed first book, Woman in Amber, Nesaule examines her own experiences of living through World War II and losing her home, Latvia, then becoming an immigrant - a stranger in a new land (the United States), coping with exile.
All wars are the epitome of abuse, but for women, this abuse extends to deeper levels yet, as women historically have been viewed as a kind of "prize" in war - too often, even by their own countrymen. War in all its chaos unleashes the predator in Man, no holds barred, and women as war bounty up for grabs. And so, long after the war has ended, it continues in its aftereffects, leaving women as the walking wounded, susceptible to other forms of abuse - domestic, for instance.
If Woman in Amber revealed to the reader the emotional and psychological devastation of war and exile for a woman, then Nesaule's new novel, In Love with Jerzy Kosinski, delves deeper into the psychology of a woman in her life after war. The opening scenes in both books resemble each other, only whereas Woman in Amber opened on a bedroom scene in which an older couple has made love in true companionship and intimacy, leading to pillow talk of unfolding memories … In Love with Jerzy Kosinski opens on a bedroom scene in which Anna Duja is faking orgasm to please (or appease) her abusive husband. She goes through the motions, makes the obligatory sweet moans, assures her man how "great" he is in bed. He doesn't have a clue. His ego eats it all up, while she has learned to protect herself in fakery, preserving her own peace. Women, after all, have been taught in a man's world that she is here to serve, here to please, and should he ever stray - it is her fault.
And so the scene unfolds upon a life of wearing masks in self-protection, even while it is the mask, paradoxically, that holds Anna back from true healing and connection with others. Dishonesty of any kind, even when in self-protection, can never lead to any good. Certainly not to a good relationship. Stanley, Anna's husband, is portrayed as the typical abusive husband. He is no wife-beater; his abuse comes in more subtle forms - hints of humiliation (she won't leave if he keeps her feeling unworthy), control over car keys (he maintains control over her ability to move freely), schedules (his needs always come first), friends the couple keeps (his), patronizing insults that eat away at Anna's self-esteem (his control depends on her submission). It is precisely this type of emotional abuse that can be most poisonous, because outsiders see only a polite and caring, even charming, if somewhat overbearing Stanley. Her friends tell her how lucky she is.
Anna lives in a world of lies, and because she comes from an abusive past, not only the war, but also a father (the original role model for all men) whom she could never please, she allows the degradation to continue while going out of her way to preserve and protect the public image of Stanley as a "great guy." Anna is the classic enabler. She has connected her own self identity to his. If people knew how Stanley really treated her, in her mind, it was not his shame, not his failure, but hers. Anna represses her feelings in whatever way she can, to survive, but those feelings emerge in other ways, as in, for example, obsessive compulsive housecleaning. It is as if she could clean up the mess that her life has become, but for all the cleanliness and order on the outside, the dirt and chaos on the inside of this relationship cannot be swept away.
Dignity is so important to a man, Anna reminds herself. She does all that she can to suppress her own dignity while protecting the dignity of her man. She sweeps away his copies of Playboy, ignores the evidence of an escalating problem, even as she finds her husband is posting single ads and personals (he waves this away as mere flirtation and tells her she is being "too sensitive"). When for all her efforts, he cheats on her anyway, more than once, she blames herself. She is "not enough." Even so, her plans to leave Stanley begin to take shape, tugging her away, then back again, tossed about by doubt and guilt.
"How could she go back like that to certain humiliation? …Did she fear or love the man who tormented her, or did guilt and pity keep her chained to him? Why did she not pull herself together and start taking care of herself?"(p. 61)
Meeting other women with similar refugee-immigrant backgrounds, Anna recognizes herself in their "exile eyes." These are women are exquisitely polite and kind, even flirtatious with the men around them, as if to prove that life is nothing more than a fun game. Their giggles mask their fear and pain.
"They all had exile eyes: eyes that had lost everything and seen the unspeakable but were determined nevertheless to keep looking, eyes that remained wary and disillusioned even during shy smiles and suppressed giggles. Anna had seen those eyes before: in photographs of Latvian women and men who survived Siberia, and on TV as Rwandan girls were being questioned by a journalist. A Hmong woman passing on a Greyhound bus, the Chilean woman doctor who used to clean Marge's house, and Anna's father - they all had eyes like that." (pg. 73)
Ironically, it takes the attention of another man to help Anna ultimately break free from her abusive husband. While being around Stanley had always made her feel "not enough," even ugly, being around the attractive Andrejs wakes Anna up to the lies she's been told, the lies she had accepted as truth. The way he looks at her, the way he treats her, the way he romances her, all work a small miracle on the beaten psyche of the battered woman, until she too sees: she is an attractive woman with much to offer.
Alas, as is so often the case with the emotionally battered woman, she loses the ability to detect truth from lies. No one charms like the man who wishes to seduce and control. Andrejs turns out to be just another version of Stanley, and Anna finds herself in yet another cycle of abusive behavior. Anna swears to herself, she will not "lie with her words or her body again," and when at last she recognizes that her new lover is a narcissist, initially attentive, but then increasingly cruel, she struggles yet again to loose herself. He plays mind games with her, telling her one thing one day, the opposite the next day, until she cannot tell what is real and what is imagined. In a poignant scene in a public women's bathroom stall, she overhears two women talking and recognizes herself in their exchange. "He's a liar," one woman says in frustration to the other. Bipolar, dysfunctional childhood, addicted to his vices, a jerk, a bum … but the other woman in meek voice responds only that her man needs more time. Time, patience, love, these will be her cures for what ails him. Listening, Anna has an epiphany of the part she has played in this all too common scenario of domestic violence.
No one can save us from ourselves, but ourselves. Anna has looked for answers and healing in other women, but she finds the man-bashers repugnant, her own ethnic community too stuck in their own denial and bitterness, the feminists too disinterested in getting along with men at all, her women friends to be mostly guilty partners in enabling society's mistreatment of women.
What does this all have to do with Polish writer Jerzy Kosinski? one might ask. Kosinski, a literary hero of Anna Duja's, is the thread that weaves through this story as a kind of mascot for the damaged soul of those spit out by war. Neither dead nor fully alive, living lives of quiet agony, sometimes producing great art, imperfect and battling various vices to escape their isolation and pain - these are the children of war. The framework for Anna's own story, Kosinski is rumored to be an abusive man if brilliant writer, and Anna remains doggedly devoted to his image as it is constructed in her mind. Deep inside her are words. She, too, wishes to write. And while much of her life she has looked to Kosinski to write the story of those damaged by war, having survived time and again her own personal war as an emotionally battered woman, she now realizes … she must tell her own story. When news reports come to light that her literary hero has committed suicide, beaten by his own demons, she suddenly realizes that she is free.
"She would have done anything for him … But even as she formed the words, she knew they were not true. She was finally beyond doing everything he or another man might demand. She would not lie for Jerzy. She would not collude with him … to uphold a false version of his childhood. She would not write his books. She would not give him her story. She would write it herself.
"She knew now she was not powerful enough to save another person … Only he could have received the miraculous grace that helped some survivors to open their hearts, to forgive, and to find peace … she knew the real reason he had killed himself: he was a child during the war; he was one of the hunted; he was one of the millions marked for death.
"He would never write the book she had wanted him to write that would explain why wartime lies continued for years afterward."(pg. 199)
Anna will write that book herself. No one can tell her story but Anna herself. She hears rumors of her ex-lover Andrejs telling other women she was "no raving beauty" but an intelligent companion to him, eventually a disappointment. When friends ask her if she misses him, she says, honestly, no. She does on occasion miss the companionship of a man in her life. A man as he should have been, might have been. But she has now chosen her "final solitude." Within this solitude, she plans to write her book.
"But maybe stories can help. Maybe those who have suffered more will listen to those only on the margins of the great horrors. Maybe all will be able to rest in the compassion of others. Maybe instead of clashing and competing, all the stories will weave together into a great tapestry, each thread part of an intricate, somber pattern. Maybe tenderness will prevail." (pg. 210)
One after another, Anna has been disappointed in the men in her life - her father, her husband, her lover, and finally, even her literary idol. She will always be the child of war. She will always be a survivor.
Nesaule's book is a heartbreaking story of women everywhere, fighting their own silent wars. Whether combat on the battlefield, or combat behind the closed doors of many homes, women suffer the wounds, and men with them, of a lack of dignity and compassion for the human condition. Her stories may seem simple enough, but they accomplish what Anna dreams about: a linking of people, both genders, in a better understanding of what we all need - forgiveness.
The Dumari Chronicles: Year Two
Anne Patrice Brown
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440109911, $21.95, www.iuniverse.com
Witchcraft is a complicated thing, and when you add in hormones, it only gets more so. "The Dumari Chronicles: Year Two" continues the story from the previous book following Moira and the twins, Brody and Braidy. Dealing with coming of age in a situation where magic is being thrown around, author Anne Patrice Brown places an American spin on the concepts spawned by the Harry Potter series. "The Dumari Chronicles: Year Two" is a definite purchase for fans of the first.
The Heritage Tree
Robin K. Johnson
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
9781436335577, $29.99, www.robinkjohnson.com
Personal growth happens every day, and people change as time goes on. "The Heritage Tree: Planted by Mom, Dad, and the Girls" is a collection of short fiction focusing on the family and the personal growth that constantly occurs. Characters that are living, changing people are author Robin Johnson's focus, and he executes his stories quite well. "The Heritage Tree" is something to be enjoyed by those who relish character-based fiction.
Lord of the Ringless
2180 West State Road 434, Suite 2140, Longwood, FL 32779
9781604777116, $20.99, www.lordoftheringless.com
Faith and dating are not always the easiest things to mix together. "Lord of the Ringless: Women Devoted to God and Desiring Marriage" is a guide for single woman of faith who wants to keep their faith as they hunt for their other half. Applying the lessons of scripture to dating and coping with being a single woman in the modern world, author Dee Aspin draws on her own experience and hopes to help other women see the light at the end of the tunnel. "Lord of the Ringless" is well worth the investment, and is highly recommended to Christian singles.
Mathair an Fhiaigh/The Raven's Mother
Dairena Ni Chinneide
c/o Dufour Editions, Inc.
PO Box 7, Chester Springs, PA 19425-0007
9781905560271, $18.95, www.dufoureditions.com
Bilingual compilations of poetry allow the reader to not only understand the words of the poems in their own tongue, but to also appreciate the sounds and rhythms of the poet's verse in their mother tongue as well. Such is very much the case with "Mathair an Fhiaigh/The Raven's Mother", the second bilingual collections from Dairena Ni Chinnedie who draws inspiration for her verse from her homeplace in Corca Dhuibhne in the Kerry Gaeltacht -- as well as her work with the European Parliament. With the Celtic originals on the left-sided page and the English translations on the right-side page, this 245-page compendium of original work is Dairena Ni Chinneide's second published volume and highly recommended for personal, academic, and community library collections. Sun in Strasbourg: Dry city heat/Splitting the stones/Reflections in sunglasses/Among European Parliamentarians/At home it is cloudy/At home it is wet/I read RTE news/On my mobile/A button between us/And a few thousand miles/I seek the sun/In this foreign city/Counting the days/Until I can return home.
Leven Betts: Pattern Recognition
David Leven and Stella Betts
Princeton Architectural Press
37 East 7th Street, New York NY 10003
9781568987828, $40.00 www.papress.com
18 selected projects from the Leven Betts firm illustrate a diverse portfolio of projects and offers analysis and visuals on form, structure, and various architectural achievements perfect for college-level and arts libraries strong in modern architecture. Black and white and color photos accompany diagrams, patterns, and detailed explorations of storefront displays, schools, museums and more. The text analysis is in-depth and well detailed for any aspiring student architect to follow.
Rapid Review of Exotic Animal Medicine and Husbandry
Karen L. Rosenthal, et.al.
Manson Publishing, UK
c/o John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5773
9781840760552, $99.99, www.amazon.com
College-level libraries strong in veterinary science will relish Rapid Review of Exotic Animal Medicine and Husbandry, a survey of care of pet mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish. Color photos liberally pepper a compendium of animal facts including details on symptoms, management, treatment options, and prognosis, making this a perfect choice for college-level libraries strong in exotic animal medicine.
Seat of Power
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533160396, $23.95, www.vantagepress.com
Power is used in strange ways to get jobs done. "Seat of Power" is a novel following Dan Gerard. Covering a story where the Vatican is harboring a well known terrorist, Gerard watches and tries to make sense of events, as the President of the United States is forced between a rock and a hard place. The President must deal with both terrorists and the Pope - a man whom millions in the United States still hold in very high respect. The church becomes involved in international politics, and Gerard uses his investigative skills to uncover even more that the surface isn't showing. "Seat of Power" is a riveting thriller of power abuse, highly recommended.
Vigilante Witch Hunter
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432712136, $17.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Marriage is a meant to be a bond of trust. "Vigilante Witch Hunter" is the story of a bond that wasn't completely trustworthy. Melissa thought she had found the one, and dived right into marriage, but her husband had many secrets that he did not reveal to her. Her husband's secret life soon comes to her attention, and love cannot easily conquer all. "Vigilante Witch Hunter" is a fine adventure, sure to please readers looking for fantasy thrillers.
A Gift From the Grave
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595467778, $17.95, www.iuniverse.com
A lot can happen during a trip through the Indian peninsula. "A Gift From the Grave: An Incredible True Story" is the personal memoir of Brent Bittner, chronicling his journey through this region and what he learned about spirituality during his time there. When his father passed on during his trip, Bittner had a great epiphany about the world and what's really important. Crafted out of love for his son, "A Gift From the Grave" is a fine read for those in search of spiritual memoirs.
Out of the Rain
Stephen P. Redic
9780981783086, $11.95, www.briobooks.com
A taste of something very New England. That what poet Stephen P. Redic offers readers with his anthology "Out of the Rain: Conversations With Spaces Between Leaves". Poignant, humorous, entertaining and not pulling any punches, Redic's work is something to enjoy for many a poetry fan. "Out of the Rain" is worth the purchase, and is highly recommended. "Lullaby": Sing me a lullaby,/In the slow sweet rhythms/Of the sea./Let my heart rest,/On fingers of swaying evergreens,/Tickled by shy young winds.//Hold me in your arms,/As mountains cradle valleys/As we slumber with the sly grins of youth./In the peace of our love/And cool shadows of our souls,/Sing me a lullaby/Softly and slow.
Willis M. Buhle
Dance of the Matador
Steven E. Slack
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432726317, $17.95, www.outskirtspress.com
So often detective fiction is criticized for not being true to the job. "Dance of the Matador" is former investigator Steven E. Slack's dive into the world of detective fiction. Following a Texas Ranger, "Dance of the Matador" gives readers an authentic police story which in many respects proves superior to the fantasized versions all too commonly put forth in today's detective fiction. "Dance of the Matador" is a fine story from a man who knows police work.
Run into Trouble
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781438923505, $14.49, www.authourhouse.com
How can so much balance on a race through the California coastline? "Run Into Trouble" follows the pair of Drake and Melody as they deal with an undercover mission for a questionable company during the cold war. It is 1969, and a race through California is about to be run with the prize of a million dollars. In what seems to be a harmless sporting event, Drake and Melody uncover something far more sinister. A fine mystery that genre fans will enjoy, "Run Into Trouble" is highly recommended.
Nice Guys Finish First
c/o Milton Kahn Associates
PO Box 50353, Santa Barbara, CA 93150
9781439210413, $15.99, www.barriebergman.com
The image of businessmen who doesn't understand the meaning of ethics is commonly what people think of when they think of millionaire success. "Nice Guys Finish First: How to Succeed in Business and Life" is author Barrie Bergman's call for ethics and courtesy, claiming such virtues do have their place in the modern world of business, and do not doom their champions to failure. Packed with advice to the would-be nice guy business man, "Nice Guys Finish First" is a fine and highly recommended read.
Beat the Banks
c/o Gulotta Communications (publicity)
341 Lexington Street, Newton, MA 02466
9780982192801, $20.95, www.booktours.com
A failing economy does not mean one has to fail along with it. "Beat the Banks: How to Prosper in the Rising Wave of Bank Foreclosures" is a guide to prospering in tough economic times in the rough world of real estate. As banks fail, their real estate holdings from foreclosures are the first things they sacrifice, and author Steve Dexter says those who are wise with their money would do well to snap up these cheap real estate deals. One can find a fortune even amidst possible depression. "Beat the Banks" should be read by any who have considered getting into the real estate game, yet have been waiting for the right time.
Finding God in the Shack
c/o Authentic Books
1820 Jet Stream Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
The B&B Media Group (publicity)
109 South Main Street, Corsicana, TX 75110
9781606570326, $14.99, www.authenticbooks/paternoster
"The Shack" is a novel that has caused much debate in the world of Christianity. "Finding God in The Shack" is a companion manual to the novel, urging congregations to embrace the novel as a collection of stories about how God is everywhere, and how faith takes form in all shapes and sizes. Talking on the controversial nature of the book, Rauser speaks eloquently on how 'controversial' does not mean 'ungodly'. "Finding God in The Shack" is a must for pastors who are fans of the book.
The Broken Parachute Man
Robert B. Bolin
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Phenix & Phenix (publicity)
2100 Kramer Lane Suite 300, Austin, TX 78758
9780595480395, $18.95, www.iuniverse.com
In the name of profit, there is no limit to how far some will go. "The Broken Parachute Man" follows Clyde, a big player in a pharmaceutical company, as his life is turned upside down. Thrown from a hijacked plane, he finds that his company's newest drug may have disastrous consequences and that his predicament may have not been caused by an act of terrorism. With only people of dubious merit willing to help him, Clyde has his work cut out for him as he tries to set his world straight. "The Broken Parachute Man" is an intriguing adventure of the pharmaceutical world gone wrong.
El Leon Literary Arts
9780979528538, $25.00, www.elleonliteraryarts.org
The Vietnam War is one of America's most divisive wars, both on the home front and abroad. "Matterhorn" is a novel written by a veteran of the military in Karl Marlantes. Through his fiction and prose, Marlantes discusses the Vietnam war on many levels, from the soldiers on the front lines forming tight personal bonds with one another, to the politics raging back in the states, to other sides of the conflict rarely discussed. A brilliant novel of the Vietnam conflict, "Matterhorn" is highly recommended.
Presidents, Kings, Astronauts, and Ball Players
Vernon R. Alden
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor, New York, NY 10016
9780533160211, $25.00 www.vantagepress.com 1-212-736-1767
Presidents, Kings, Astronauts, and Ball Players: Fascinating People I Have Known is the true-life memoir of World War II Navy veteran and former university president and member of numerous corporate boards Vernon R. Alden, who counted among his friends many great figures of modern history. From President Lyndon Johnson to Sargent Shriver, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Walter Cronkite, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, and many more, Alden networked with the greatest and the brightest. A fascinating anthology of vignettes about the human side of some of America's most cherished figures, Presidents, Kings, Astronauts, and Ball Players is a thoroughly enjoyable read cover to cover.
The Archaeology Of The Eastern Nevada Paleoarchaic, Part 1
Charlotte Beck & George T. Jones
University of Utah Press
1795 East South Campus Drive, #101, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-9402
9780874809398, $40.00, www.uofupress.com
Every year sees advances in data and discoveries with respect to American archaeology. One of the key publications series focusing primarily on the archaeology and anthropology of the American West is 'University of Utah Anthropological Papers' series. The latest of these papers (and number 126 in the series) is "The Archaeology Of The Eastern Nevada Paleoarchaic, Part 1", a compilation of information deftly presented by the anthropology team of Charlotte Beck and George T. Jones and has as its theme the scientific research in the geographic center of the Great Basin colloquially known as the 'Sunshine Locality' and represents the first comprehensive treatment of historical research combined with recent studies to present an analysis of the area's paleoenvironmental resources including issues of geology, flora, and fauna. Informed and informative, "The Archaeology Of The Eastern Nevada Paleoarchaic, Part 1" is a seminal and illustrated body of work which is an essential addition to professional and academic research and reference collections.
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9780753182529, $27.99, www.ulverscroftusa.com
No American author has ever been better at writing historically detailed and thrilling westerns than the late, great Louis L'Amour. Compiled and deftly edited by Jon Tuska, "Showdown" is a compilation of three L'Amour western short stories that include 'Law of the Desert'; 'Desert Death Song'; and 'Showdown on the Hogback'. These are wonderfully written stories of range wars, posse pursuits, and gunfighters with a conscience. L'Amour at his very best. This hardcover, large print edition makes "Showdown" an especially valued addition to personal and community library Western Fiction collections and reading lists. Librarians and members of the general reading public with an interest in large print titles for both fiction and non-fiction would be well advised to visit the Ulverscroft web site at www.ulverscroftusa.com for a complete listing of their hundreds of selections.
Michael J. Carson
Blueprint for Love
Wild Rose Press
9781601543455 $11.99 www.thewildrosepress.com
Embittered since his divorce, entrepreneur/property developer Paul McIvor hides his emotions behind a cold exterior. But when he meets Cathy Brown, the environmentalist leading a protest against his latest project, Paul has to work hard to hide his attraction to her. Cathy, a blunt, modern woman, sees through his ruse and challenges him, something Paul is not used to and does not appreciate. Circumstances keep throwing the two of them together, which ultimately lead to fiery clashes between them. Can an old-fashioned, traditional man and a brash, contemporary woman develop an enduring relationship? A disastrous accident holds the answer for both.
Set in Australia, Blueprint for Love offers the reader everything they could want: heartwarming romance, handwringing suspense, a bit of a mystery, and two very likeable characters who are complete opposites embroiled in conflict. Clayton's character development is excellent as is her propensity for visual imagery. Her gentle message regarding the environment is certainly appreciated in this charming romance.
William Morrow/Harper Collins
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061255717 $19.95 www.harpercollins.com
Private investigator Tess Monaghan's first official client is Luther Beale, known as the Butcher of Butchers Hill. Five years earlier, Luther was imprisoned for shooting a young boy vandalizing his car, and Luther wants Tess to find the children who witnessed the shooting so he can make amends to them. Almost immediately, two of those children are found murdered and the police target Beale as the killer. Tess's second case, which becomes a parallel investigation, involves a sophisticated fundraiser who wants Tess to find the child her sister gave up for adoption thirteen years earlier. Tess soon finds herself chasing clues on two cases based on deception, one of which will lead Tess back to her own childhood.
Tess Monaghan is a refreshing character; an athletic woman with flawed characteristics and a dysfunctional family who strives to do the ethical thing. Lippman provides two mysteries based on misconceptions and falsehoods which the reader will enjoy trying to solve along with Tess.
Death by Pantyhose
9780758207852 $22.00 www.kensingtonbooks.com
Freelance writer Jaine Austen's finances are looking pretty good until a con man, under the guise of a potential employer, takes her for a free lunch and her Toyota. Now Jaine has to come up with enough funds for a new car. Desperate for money, she reluctantly agrees to become a writer for feminist comedian Dorcas MacKenzie whose signature is cutting up a pair of pantyhose and throwing it at her audience. On and off stage, Dorcas is heckled by Vic, a mean-spirited comedian who can't keep his hands off the ladies. Luck seems to follow Vic around until the night he jeers Dorcas one too many times and Dorcas assaults him in front of a bar filled with people. Later that night, Vic's found strangled to death by a pair of pantyhose, leading to Dorcas's arrest. Jaine's on the case in a heartbeat, conducting her own investigation, trying to figure out who among the many suspects offed Vic.
Jaine Austen is a fun character, a woman who can't resist fattening foods and her moody cat, Prozac. The emails from her parents (this time over a lucky shirt of her dad's) bump the humor bar even higher, and the characters Jaine contends with while doing her amateur sleuthing generate plenty of laughs.
9781603180887 $16.95 www.lldreamspell.com
Private Investigator Lisa Martin, weary of tracking philandering spouses in acrimonious divorce cases, is intrigued when businessman Don Sekoli hires her to find his missing drinking buddy, importer/ exporter Ryan Lucas. The only information Sekoli can give her is a cell phone number and the name of Lucas's girlfriend. Aided by her partner Guy Roberts and her quasi boyfriend, news journalist Tony Miller, Lisa's investigation leads the team to Cairo and on to London, straight into a case being conducted by Scotland Yard. While Tony's busy trying to garner information from Scotland Yard, Lisa finds herself falling for her client. As the investigation unfolds, Lisa is threatened and her offices ransacked while Tony's being tailed in London. Then Sekoli disappears.
Lisa Martin is a refreshing character; a young woman with a strong personality who has confidence in her abilities to defend herself and others. Her pairing with her partner is ideal and her uncertainty regarding her feelings for her boyfriend realistic and identifiable. This international thriller delivers plenty of suspense wrapped around a mystery readers will be hard-put to solve on their own but will enjoy trying to figure out. Gordon's skill at flavoring the read with international history and geographical detail is a bonus, as is the spicy chemistry between Lisa and Sekoli, which combine to deliver an exciting, thrilling read.
G.P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
Jack Reacher travels the country with the clothes on his back and a folding toothbrush in his pocket. Hitchhiking through Texas, he's picked up by Carmen Greer, a beautiful Hispanic woman. Although Carmen's husband Sloop Greer is from a rich family, she only has $1.00 in her purse. Her husband's in prison and Carmen hopes he stays there but Sloop's worked out a deal with the federal authorities and is expected home. Carmen's been cruising the streets, looking for someone she can talk into murdering her husband because he physically abused her before he went to prison and she's afraid he'll kill her once free. Reacher agrees to go with Carmen to Sloop's ranch to protect her but tells her he will not commit murder. Just hours after Sloop's home, he's found in his bedroom, shot to death by Carmen's gun. Carmen's arrested and Reacher teams up with a lawyer from the legal mission to find out who really shot Sloop Greer.
Reacher is one of the best characters written today; a strong man who is comfortable with himself and his own personal scruples. He's a cultured man with intelligence who lives a nomadic, asocial lifestyle and can be brutal without remorse if he feels it's deserved. In Echo Burning, there are plots and subplots which Child ties together nicely, providing a boatload of suspense along the way.
Hounding the Pavement
New American Library/Penguin
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451226310 $6.99 www.penguin.com
Ellie Engleman is committed to making her own way in life sans pantyhose and power suits. The first thing Ellie does after her divorce is rescue a dog from the shelter to replace the one she had to give up when she married. Ellie's delighted to learn she can communicate with her dog and that he is the reincarnate of her former dog, who was hit by a car. She begins her own dog-walking business, where she finds herself harassed by two other dog walkers unhappy with the competition. Ellie discovers the dead body of one of her clients and quickly becomes the number-one suspect of sexy Sam Ryder, a wise-cracking detective who can't seem to convince Ellie to stay out of his investigation. But Ellie is anxious to find her murdered client's kidnapped dog, a Westminster champion, while clearing her name, and nothing's going to stop her. Not even the sizzling chemistry between her and Sam Ryder.
Hounding the Pavement, the first book in the Dog Walker Mystery series, is simply delightful. Ellie is a refreshing character, a size-16 woman finished with compromising her wants and needs and determined to live life on her own terms. Dog lovers will identify with Ellie's love for these furry creatures and will appreciate that this author is donating all royalties to Best Friends Animal Society. Readers will be entertained by the conversations Ellie has with not only her dog but other dogs who choose to converse with her. The plot is interesting and moves at a fast pace, with plenty of red herrings thrown into the mix to provide a good mystery. Excellent debut to this series.
Running from the Devil
William Morrow/Harper Collins
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061684227 $24.99 www.harpercollins.com
Biochemist, ultramarathon runner Emma Caldridge is returning to Colombia when her plane is hijacked and crash lands outside of Bogota. Emma is thrown from the plane and, hidden, watches in horror as guerrillas take the surviving passengers captives. Emma manages to text a cell phone message to her boss, relaying what has happened, and follows the guerillas, hoping her message got through and a rescue team is on the way. The Department of Defense, made aware of the downed plane, turns to Edward Banner and his specialized forces for help in what looks to be a kidnap-for-ransom scheme by the guerrillas, not knowing that Emma is the real reason behind the hijacking. Emma utilizes her skills as a chemist to survive while being pursued by men intent on capturing her for her knowledge and the secret, deadly weapon in her possession.
Emma Caldridge is the quintessential female action hero. She's smart, athletic, and tough mentally and physically. Her knowledge of plants and skills as a chemist enhance this debut thriller, which is filled with action and suspense. Freveletti weaves into the story the complex political situation between Washington DC and the Colombian government, and gives the reader a better understanding of the Colombian drug cartels and FARC, Colombia's infamous paramilitary organization known for its kidnapping attempts. An excellent debut novel.
The Brass Verdict
Little, Brown and Co.
Hachette Book Group
9780316166294 $26.99 www.hachettebookgroup.com
After two years recuperating from a gunshot wound and subsequent addiction to pain pills, defense attorney Mickey Haller thinks he's ready for work, although he intends to take things slow and easy. When his colleague Jerry Vincent is murdered, Haller, as Vincent's surrogate, inherits his active cases, one of which is garnering much media attention. Hollywood producer Walter Elliott has been accused of murdering his wife and her lover, and his trial's coming up within days. Elliott refuses to allow a continuance and Haller's scrambling to prepare for trial while butting heads with Harry Bosch, the detective investigating Vincent's murder. As the case moves forward, Haller delves deeper into the case file, revealing secrets that will place his own life in danger and forever change his views of the judicial system.
The Brass Verdict, the second in the Mickey Haller series, pits Haller against Connelly's popular series character, Harry Bosch. The two, although antagonistic toward one another, are more alike than not and make for an interesting combination. Connelly gives the reader a good mystery to solve, surrounded by characters supportive of Haller who look out for him. The plot moves at a fast pace and readers will enjoy "seeing" Bosch through another character's eyes.
The Broken Window
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781416549970 $26.95 www.simonandschuster.com
Criminologist, quadriplegic Lincoln Rhymes has been estranged from his cousin Arthur for years. When Arthur is arrested for the murder of a young woman, Arthur's wife implores Lincoln to help. The forensic evidence against Arthur strongly links him to the murder, but Lincoln's paramour Amelia Sachs is suspicious that everything is so clear-cut and suspects Arthur has been set up. She and Lincoln, with the aid of NYPD, learn Arthur isn't the first person who has been framed for a murder he didn't commit. Their investigation takes them into the world of data mining and identity theft and pits the duo against a psychopathic serial killer who manages to stay one step ahead.
This thriller hits on a subject some may find a bit disturbing, the ability of computers to follow us on our daily journeys and pinpoint our location at any point in time. Deaver offers the reader a look into Lincoln's past family life, as well as his present relationship with Amelia. Forensics are exceptional and the plot filled with suspense and terror. Another great addition to this excellent series.
Christy Tillery French
J. R. LaGreca
The privileged, Reginald and Hannah Wellington of Great Neck, Long Island, New York, make lavish preparations for the engagement party of their daughter Margo who is to marry Stephan Randall. The elegant party takes a twist of events when Cousin Walter brings his beautiful Cousin Chloe, as an uninvited guest, and jealousy brings about tragedy.
Stephan and Margo have a tremendous fight when Stephan becomes drunk and exhibits interest in Chloe. He becomes so upset that he storms out of the party, has a car accident on the freeway, and this all results in his demise. After the accident, Margo's glamorous life drastically changes when she discovers she is pregnant with Stephan's child. She becomes irrational, defiant, and exhibits strange behavior by cutting her long flowing hair very short.
This story beautifully shows contrast between those in high society with wealth and honor as against those with unfortunate humble lives in the lower class. Chloe is the simple, well-grounded one, who has it altogether. She has an amazing impact on the Wellington family and befriends Margo. An unimaginable friendship ensues between Chloe and Margo, as their lives take on peculiar circumstances. Bonding between these two women becomes interesting after Chloe marries Margo's controlling brother Rich.
Margo's parents decided it would be best if she retreated to a home for unwed mothers. The novel becomes even more intriguing as Margo continues to be unmanageable by cutting her hair once again, but this time to baldness. Chloe struggles and maintains her good common sense. Mom and Dad Wellington are totally lost as they share some life lessons, but always are careful to keep the integrity of the family name, no matter what!
J. R. LaGreca has shown that being wealthy can mean you need to keep your social standing in society and must marry into the same status. As regards the poorer class, there seems to be less self-indulgence and more wholesome qualities, showing they seem to appreciate the simple things in life.
The Gloaming means "The period of fading light after sunset, but before dark." This book is recommended for anyone who appreciates the affluent life, and for those who would like a peek into how the other side lives.
J. R. LaGreca
Jody Riva La Greca's inspiration for writing Afternoon Tea is her passion for the Victorian Age. She says, "human nature is timeless, and reveals the same dimension of emotion and intrigue in any era".
Her novel is about love, struggle, and differences of the haves and have-nots in society taking place in the year 1895. The setting is beautifully detailed in and around New England's picturesque towns. The plights of the characters were difficult at the turn of the century and you are enthralled by the descriptive prose laying them bare.
Lawrence Gray, 83, visits the grave of his beloved wife Emily, where he places red roses every Sunday even though she had died 40 years before. A neighbor, Meg Bailey, continuously watches him from her kitchen window and is intrigued by his devotion. Fanny Brund, the town historian, invites Meg to her home for tea and goes back to 1895 where she seeks the truth about Emily Gray's untimely death. She looks to uncover a secret that may change Meg's life.
Descriptions of a debutante ball, a devious 'red lady', and an old-fashioned wedding are all beautifully depicted. This was an interesting historical time when medicine was quite primitive and "tinctures" were mysterious potions which magically healed.
La Greca brilliantly develops her characters to be graceful and elegant when manners were boundless, dress was significantly important, and the adventures of all classes were intriguing. The struggles of the poor are tremendous and the lives of the rich are full of imagery.
This could be a modern day portrayal relating to challenges of success and the rewards of unwavering devotional love. Even though this is a by-gone era, the book enchants you from beginning to end. The author laces a romantic triangle that will tug at your heart with a surprise ending. J. R. LaGreca has captured the Victorian Era exquisitely, like a fine painting or a glass of aged wine.
J. R. La Greca also is an award-winning poet and ends her book with A Grain of Sand, a poem dedicated to her sister.
A must read for the amorous romantic.
Bruce and Andrea Leininger with Ken Gross
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
Writing about reincarnation brings the skeptics out of the woodwork and many people in Western culture say, "I don't believe". The Judeo-Christian ethic does not believe in coming back in the form of another person. Bruce Leininger, a Human Relations executive, and his wife, discussed their two-year-old son James' nightmares and bizarre conduct. Soul Survivor, will be released in June 2009 dispelling some of the doubts that Bruce had about the phenomenal behavior of his son. Ken Gross provides a great assist in conveying their story.
Since their son was a lot different than most two-year-olds, Bruce and Andrea Leininger sought the help of Carol Bowman, renowned author, who wrote books about vivid past lives of her children. The Leininger's needed a better way to contend with the mysterious recollections by their son with his screaming in the night as his plane dove into the ocean in flames. "Little man" James would describe his life as a fighter pilot and how he died when he was unable to get out of the cockpit of his Corsair, which had been hit by enemy aircraft in the battle for Iwo Jima.
Bruce and Andrea were unable to rationalize James' behavior. They could not explain his vast knowledge of airplanes, crew members, or recollection of actual events which had taken place during the life of James M. Huston Jr. At the age of four, James was able to name crew members who had died before him and states he met them in heaven before his birth as James Leininger. "He was a four-year-old, and he was saying things that made his parent's skin crawl," according to Ken Gross.
Bruce became a first-rate detective in the ensuing years, uncovering actual people who swore that his son James III was indeed James Jr. after many years had gone by. Bruce met with surviving crew mates, the sister of James Jr., and had his little son speak with her. Astonishingly, they had conversations which started in the 1940's, and continued as if it were yesterday. There was noticeable sibling bonding as the two of them exchanged words of affection, even though they were 80 years apart!
James will turn 11 this year and the nightmares are gone, but many of the memories linger on. Reading this book may not change beliefs in reincarnation, but may cause wonder for the skeptic. Soul Survivor is strongly recommended.
Contemporary writers sometimes hit the nail right on the head with such a forceful blow that causes readers to wonder what is really going on at the border between the United States and Mexico. Paul Levine's novel Illegal is one of the few books with such clarity of description that he demonstrates the trafficking to be more horrific than the media leads us to believe.
The main character in this novel is Jimmy "Royal" Payne. He is an attorney who from page one gets into trouble with the law, which leads to a never-ending saga of escapades back and forth across the border. Payne, even with his own problems, reaches out to provide assistance to Tino Perez, a 12 year-old boy that has illegally entered the United States. Perez's mother was separated from the boy as they tried to cross the border and the ensuing drama unfolds drawing Jimmy and Tino closer together as they follow leads to her location.
The seamy side of smuggling human cargo is deftly exposed by the clear and concise writing of the Edgar Award nominated author Levine. Previous books have mostly been centered in the courtroom with intense cross-examination, but here is a different descriptive writing style which engages an audience about the realities of living in terror. Drugs are a part of the story, but the depraved conduct by the coyotes is a shocking wake-up call. It is critical that our borders be monitored more closely to prevent inhumane conduct.
Current events are portrayed in this book as if you were reading a newspaper. What is most salient to remember when you read this book, is that even though this is fiction, the circumstances of these events are very realistic. Thousands of border deaths happen yearly and this book is a cry for helping the victims. We often read about the arrests of coyotes and the freeing of prisoners who have been held forcefully in isolation by them. More of these stories need to be told and Levine should be commended for bringing the plight of the illegally detained victims into a forum which is both entertaining and insightful. Illegal is highly recommended.
How I Got To Be Whoever It Is I Am
Springboard Press a Division of Grand Central Publishing
Two messages are delivered in this funny and sometimes serious autobiography by Charles Grodin called "How I got To Be Whoever It Is I Am". Starting at his grassroots, he tells of his family's history and then launches into his first success as the 5th grade president, who is promptly impeached because of his incessant penchant to talk in class.
No, he did not come from a wealthy background, but was from humble beginnings, and made it in spite of his stumbling around, in an attempt to find his place in the competitive world of acting in television, movies, and on Broadway. One of the messages he conveys is he's really a nice guy under the façade of being an out-of-step individual who tries to alienate all those who are near and dear to him. He tells of the numerous times he had appeared with Johnny Carson and was always antagonistic, which often rubbed audiences the wrong way. Charles was well understood by the 'master' of late night hosts to be a delightful brand of comedy.
Many times in life we reminisce about the 'do over' if we had the chance. There are occurrences which would have been addressed differently if given more thought. These are the views of Grodin, but the reality is that in real life, he is not the abrasive and caustic-mouthed person he portrays. In this book he makes up for his inadequacy by playing the Monday morning quarterback and describes how he would have proceeded in a different way in many situations.
It isn't very often we have an opportunity to look inside the life of an actor and his personal interactions with directors, actors, and producers in such a Candid Camera close-up. Pleasing to the mind and spirit, Charles Grodin is a mensch (a nice person), in his efforts to support causes he truly believes in.
By helping those who have been convicted under the provisions of the Felony Murder laws, Grodin has put his money, time, and honor to right egregious enforcement of these laws. The proceeds from this book, which would normally go to him, are being donated to charity. This book is an excellent read.
Hachette Book Group
Jack Kilborn will make your flesh creep and your blood turn icy-cold in his debut fiction novel, Afraid. Be Aware: Only the brave should read this book!
There is a military secret emerging in the small town of Safe Haven, Wisconsin, population less than 1,000, where there is virtually no excitement. The lights go out, the phones die, and there is only one road in and out of town which is blocked keeping the residents isolated. The town folks are unaware of the terrifying events that are about to happen after a helicopter crashes into a ball of fire over Big Lake McDonald. What comes from inside is an abomination, as superhuman soldiers infiltrate the town and people die, one by one, by one.
Three ordinary heroes evolve a fireman, an aging sheriff, and a single mom with her young son, whose courage is unyielding as they help others; their will to live is astounding.
An amazing excerpt from the book shows a brave mom's remarkable will to live:
"…the current pulled her under. She thrashed and kicked…, the blackness of unconsciousness mingling with the darkness…she broke the surface, gagging and coughing and vomiting water…she needed to get out of the water…her body temperature was falling…. She stood on the river bottom…sand sucking at her feet…and slithered onto land…. Dirt dug into her wounded foot…branches tore at her knees…she crawled up the embankment…until she reached the top…when she…saw the large man in the dark uniform standing on the road, staring at her."
Another excerpt to scare you:
"The sheriff of Ashburn County…steeled himself as best he could, pure will forcing emotional detachment, refusing to be swayed by the horrors that he would witness. Then he went into the bedroom. There was blood. A lot of blood…,… thrown across the bedspread, the walls, the carpet....But there were no bodies."
Kilborn vividly reveals the mind set of trained maniacal killers who have no moral conscience showing how regular people who care about others have the strength to survive.
A must read for those who really like to be scared! Jack Kilborn will have another horror-packed thriller coming in winter 2010, called Trapped, and is previewed at the end of his novel.
City of the Sun
Published by Anchor Books
A Division of Random House, Inc.
1745 Broadway Street, Third Floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307387202 $7.99 www.anchorbook.com 262-785-9000
I happen to notice the new releases in paperback, and I missed this one when it came out last year in hardback. City of the Sun is a debut novel for David Levien which I was glad I selected for my next read this spring. I like powerful stories of ordinary people thrust into the belly of the evil that lurks in our society, and this one fits that bill.
A kidnapping that a family needs help from a private detective, Frank Behr find their missing son. An added treat this book does remind me of the movie The Searchers, a John Ford/ John Wayne movie out of the Fifties that had them searching for a kidnapped girl by the Comanche's. The two, the boy's dad Paul and Frank Behr searching in this book paralleling the movie, an aging Texas Ranger and her adoptive brother trying to find the girl. Both sets of men building a bond while growing closer as the search progressed to their conclusions. Frank Behr has his own problems in his past with the death of his own son, and the parents see their marriage crumble away with as the guilt and self-blame eat away at the bond that once held them all together as a family. This is a torching gut-wrenching novel that will be hard to put down until the outcome is revealed.
David Levien first attempt a solo novel, after being a co-writer of screenplays for The Winter of Frankie Machine, The Untouchables Capone Rising, Ocean's Thirteen, Runaway Jury (John Grisham novel),Tilt (TV) Walking Tall, Knockaround Guys, (TV) and Rounders. His list of talents being producer for The Lucky Ones, The Illusionist, Tilt, The Street Lawyer, and Knockaround Guys. He was the director of Tilt (4 episodes) and Knockaround Guys. His new novel is scheduled for release in July 2009 and after this first novel I am looking forward to it.
Division of Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781599951959 $24.99 www.centerstreet.com 800-759-0190
This novel intrigued me and after reading the cover liner description of the plot, I found another novel to read and enjoy. His type of confrontations of good and evil interested me, and I was not disappointed. I breezed through the novel and finished my first novel by him. I am glad he no longer slipped under my radar but with his wealth of earlier novels written so far, I won't hesitate to got back to read them.
The storyline is all about a serial killer named the BoneMan and how he is the perfect father (in his own mind) in search for the perfect daughter. He has caused six victims of daughters who don't live up to his bill of expectation. When this happens, he breaks their bones and leaves them to die. Intelligence Officer Ryan Evans feels his marriage and daughter are written out of his life with no hope of having a reunion as a family. The plot thickens when the BoneMan kidnaps Ryan's daughter Bethany, to become BoneMan's seventh victim. The real twist comes that the FBI believe that with some new found evidence, Ryan is under suspicion for being the BoneMan. Ryan pursues his daughter, and the FBI is pursuing Ryan. The truth will allow only one man to remain providing the BoneMan is stopped in his hunt for the perfect daughter.
Ted Dekker is a New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty novels. His stories contain fast paced thrills with direct confrontations between good and evil. I will keep my eye open on his next offerings and do some catching up on past novels from this exciting author of thrillers. His powerful suspense keeps one engaged, and it is hard to put down.
World Without End
Ken Follett's World Without End is a sequel of sorts to his 1989 bestseller The Pillars of the Earth. Follett's earlier book was set in the mid-12th century and had to do with the construction of a cathedral in Kingsbridge, England. World Without End takes place in Kingsbridge also, but some two hundred years later. One of its principal characters is a descendant of the architect of the cathedral. But the connection between the two books is minimal, so that reading or remembering what happened in Pillars is not a prerequisite for enjoying this novel.
If you've read other books by Ken Follett, you'll know what to expect in this one: a strong heroine who rebels (arguably anachronistically) against the limitations imposed on her sex, a noble proto-feminist male lead; their love and ambitions are thwarted by morally bankrupt bad guys until, after overcoming innumerable obstacles, they triumph over their adversaries. If that makes Follett's novels sound formulaic, I suppose they are. But the author packs some enormously entertaining writing on this familiar scaffolding. His books are invariably page turners. And his characters are fleshed out sufficiently so that we always know what motivates them and we understand the complexities of their competing interests.
World Without End opens in 1327, when its main characters meet as children. Initially it's hard to keep the various personalities straight, but they soon become familiar. Merthin, at eleven, is the eldest, and heir to the talent that his cathedral-building forbear had possessed. Ralph, Merthin's brother, shows signs already at ten of the violence and sociopathy that would later come to the fore. Gwenda is the light-fingered daughter of a thief, and Caris the unconventional and intelligent daughter of a wool merchant. The book follows their lives for more than thirty years as they fight to improve their situations: Gwenda seeks to dig her family out of poverty; Ralph aspires to restore his family to the nobility; and Caris and Merthin devote themselves to saving Kingsbridge itself after various reverses--economic downturns, a bridge collapse, the devastating consequences of the plague. At every turn they are opposed--by scheming monks and self-important guild authorities and a uninterested or cruel nobility.
I had some problems with the book. Thomas's dramatic appearance on the scene at the beginning of the book suggests that he will play a more important role in the story than he does. And the great secret he's been keeping, when it's finally revealed, is anticlimactic. Also, while most of the story takes place in Kingsbridge and in surrounding villages, Caris travels to France in one section of the book and gets caught up there in the ongoing hostilities between the French and English. This part of the book did not add much to the story and could have been excised from it, and I also found it implausible in parts. It has hard to believe, for example, that Caris--one in an army of thousands--always seems to be close enough to hear conversations between important leaders. Finally, the onset of the plague is too often signaled by dramatic brief sentences telling us that some character or other has sneezed.
But these are minor complaints about a book that's more than 1000 pages long and held my interest to the very end. World Without End is another great read from Follett, one of my favorite authors. It's highly readable--happily lacking in the stilted dialogue found so often in historical fiction. Follett is able, too, to describe complex things--in this book often involving architectural details, which are so important to the story--in simple prose. Don't let the book's enormous length scare you off.
The Trumpet of the Swan
E.B. White's The Trumpet of the Swan tells the story of a trumpeter swan, Louis, who is born--hatched--unable to make a sound. Louis's father, concerned that his son won't be able to attract a mate, flies to Billings, Montana, and steals a trumpet from a music store. Louis spends the rest of the book playing gigs with the instrument--he masters it with implausible ease--in order to pay for the trumpet and restore his father's honor.
There are things to like about this book, in particular the character of Louis's father: he's an egocentric bird given to long-winded but amusing orations.
"'Here I glide, swanlike,' he said, 'while earth is bathed in wonder and beauty. Now, slowly, the light of day comes into our sky. A mist hangs low over the pond. The mist rises slowly, like steam from a kettle, while I glide, swanlike, while eggs hatch, while young swans come into existence. I glide and glide.'"
And I suppose the story of a youngster who overcomes adversity through perseverance and a prosthetic (which is what his trumpet amounts to) has its appeal. But the book is inherently flawed insofar as it is a mixture of different types of story.
When the book begins, the main character appears to be Sam Beaver, an 11-year-old boy who is fond of wildlife and records his discoveries--among them the trumpeter swans' nest--in a journal. But Sam soon becomes a peripheral character, and the focus switches to a swan couple, Louis's parents, who have made their home on a lake in Canada near Sam's campsite. At this point the book is a quiet and educational nature story. The swans communicate with one another, but otherwise behave in a natural, swanlike way. A quarter of the way into the story, however, the book jumps the shark: Louis flies off to visit Sam Beaver and attends school and learns to write. (He subsequently acquires the trumpet and further implausibilities follow.) If the book had started out as this kind of story it would have worked better. But the sudden switch in the book's character fifty pages in is hard to swallow.
The Ten-Year Nap
In her eighth novel, The Ten-Year Nap, Meg Wolitzer focuses on a circle of friends, four women whose lives turned out differently than they'd anticipated, and different from what the feminist movement of their mothers' generation had led them to expect. Having put their careers on hold when they had kids, the women, ten years in and now largely free from the more pressing demands of motherhood, are waking up from the nap of the book's title to reexamine their situations. Do they want to go back to work? Would anyone hire them? Are their marriages happy? Interspersed among the chapters focusing on these four are briefer sections in which the lives and life choices of a variety of other women are explored--the principals' mothers, Margaret Thatcher (as seen through the eyes of her personal assistant), Nadia Comaneci, Georgette Magritte (the painter's wife)--so that the book amounts to a sort of profile of womanhood, a consideration of the state of feminism in the present day.
My reaction to the book is mixed. On the one hand, Wolitzer is an excellent writer, peppering her pages with the telling detail, so that individual scenes come alive. Her descriptions can be lovely. And in fact she captures well the conflicted feelings of the modern stay-at-home mom--the discomfort with not contributing something quantifiable to the family coupled with ambivalence about rejoining the work force. That said, the book is vaguely depressing. Wolitzer's women seem to be perpetually morose and unsatisfied, unable to recognize that their lives really aren't that bad. And although they do come across as three-dimensional characters, it's very hard to care about any of them. Nor does the book offer much by way of plot. For all its lovely writing the novel is a chore to get through. I hate to say it, but literally only ten pages from the end I thought I might not have the stamina to finish it.
The Tipping Point
Back Bay Books
In his bestseller The Tipping Point Malcolm Gladwell discusses the phenomenon named by his title, the point at which something--an idea, a virus, a fashion--becomes an epidemic, its growth accelerating exponentially. There are three characteristics of something that has "tipped": it is contagious, the change in its growth is dramatic rather than gradual, and the change is the result of small, ostensibly insignificant changes. But little changes, as Gladwell shows us, can have big effects.
In his first chapter Gladwell lays out the three rules of epidemics, which he discusses at greater length in subsequent chapters. (1) Whether or not an idea tips depends in part on the messenger, if it's being spread by someone who is unusually connected (and can thus spread the idea among disparate groups) or unusually informed (and thus called upon as a source of information among his acquaintances), or else a very good salesman. (2) The successful spread of an idea depends in part as well on the message itself, whether it is "sticky." (3) Finally, its success depends on its context, the particular conditions--social or environmental, for example--in which it operates.
Gladwell considers numerous real-life examples while discussing the phenomenon of the tipping point--from Paul Revere's ride (a guy with connections and a sticky message!) to Bernie Goetz and the "Broken Window Theory" of policing to Sesame Street and Blues Clues and the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. It's a fascinating read, one that will likely leave readers analyzing their own situations in light of Gladwell's comments. But what I most like about Gladwell's book is not so much what he says--though that's extremely interesting--but the way he says it. The Tipping Point is an object lesson in how to write nonfiction for a general audicence. Gladwell manages to communicate complex ideas in remarkably clear prose, which is made further accessible by his repeated, timely restatements of his arguments to that point. All writers of nonfiction should aspire to communicate so clearly.
Death and the Lit Chick
In G.M. Malliet's second lit-themed mystery (see my review of Death of a Cozy Writer), DCI Arthur St. Just of the Cambridgeshire Constabulary is holed up in Dalmorton Castle, a fifteenth-century Scottish castle turned luxury hotel. The Castle is crawling with literary types, publicists and agents and mystery writers, all gathered to attend a nearby conference where St. Just is scheduled to speak on the subject of real-world criminal investigations. Unfortunately for the attendees, a real-world crime interrupts the proceedings. One of the conference-goers, the widely-detested lit chick of Malliet's title, turns up dead in the dungeon.
St. Just's lists of suspects is limited since the moat-encircled Castle's drawbridge was up for the night at the time of the murder. That should make the job of identifying the killer easier, but most of the cast have something to hide, if not murder, and the Castle itself is harboring secrets. The dead woman, darling of the lit world, is not even what she seems.
In this second outing St. Just is fleshed out a bit more than he was in Death of a Cozy Writer. He's a widower, still mourning the loss of his wife after several years, but for the first time since her death he finds himself interested in another woman, one of his suspects. I like St. Just and want to see more of him in subsequent books. Malliet's cast of supporting characters is large--rather confusingly so, but a helpful list is provided at the beginning of the book. Unfortunately, none of these secondary characters springs off the page. Much of the book is taken up with interviews of the suspects, so it doesn't feel like there's much of a plot. I'm sure it's possible to keep the suspects' various alibis straight and have a stab at ferreting out the killer oneself, but I would have needed to keep notes in order to do so. In the end, Death of a Lit Chick is an okay read, but it lacks the charm of Malliet's first book.
Debra Hamel, Reviewer
3923 Seward Avenue, Rockford, IL 61108
9780980178074 $12.95 www.publishersdrive.com
My attention was grabbed by the bizarre artwork and colors of the cover. I wanted to like this book because the author does a great job of conveying the feel of Hong Kong. He communicates very well the dialects of the Chinese characters. The conflict of the Lee brothers is also very interesting. Where I had a problem is the connection of a human character and a dragon who is terrorizing the city of Hong Kong. Another problem is that the novel is uneven because it is not clear if this is an adult science fiction tale or geared to a young adult audience. In the future I would hope the author would lock in on his target readers.
Robert B. Parker
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399155192 $26.95 www.penguin.com
Spenser is hired to accompany a woman down to an island paradise for her daughter's wedding. He is unsure of why and what he is supposed to do. Violence erupts shortly into the ceremony leaving behind a trail of dead bodies. Spenser pursues the case, finds many bizarre twists and turns. This one starts off with a bang and moves along at a rapid pace to the end. Along for the ride are once again Susan and Hawk. Parker also provides the brisk dialogue his novels are known for. Parker is still the master of mystery.
City of Fire
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765359339 $7.99 www.tor-forge.com
I loved this novel that has so many interesting plot lines. The characters are clearly defined while the novel is a rapid read. It begins with a writer of the show "Law and Order" who believes someone is stalking her, moves through an evil man's plan to torch as many buildings to put up his own complex of condos, shops and offices, to its final revealing ending. My only problem with the book is that someone should have caught all of the misuses of grammar and too many typos.
Enemies & Allies
Kevin J. Anderson
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061662553 $26.99 www.wordfire.com
I found I could not get into "The Last Days of Kripton" the first book about Superman by Anderson. I am pleased to say that is not the case here. I love how the characters of Batman and Superman are brought together. Along for the story are Lois Lane, Jimmy Olson, Perry White, Bruce Wayne, Alfred the butler, Lex Luther and a whole slew of others from the DC universe of comics. Anderson has placed the story back in the 1950s and does a pretty good job. As an added bonus there are many real people from the 1950s that fill the pages of this fine novel. One thing I noticed was when Batman is on one of his capers he thinks to himself that he feels like James Bond infiltrating SPECTRE. My only problem with that is that SPECTRE was not a part of the Bond universe until the 1960s. The author races the story along in Metropolis and Gotham City. Anderson does a great job moving the story along to its final ending in which we see Batman and Superman realize they are on the same team fighting criminals. They just have different ways to do it. Anderson has a firm handle on these characters. I look forward to his next installment. No fan of Batman or Superman should miss this one.
Kissing the Girl Next Door
Devon Vaughn Archer
9780373861156 $6.99 www.kimanipress.com
This is a delightful romance that just flows off the page. Sexy disc jockey Ian Kelly meets his neighbor Mackenzie Reese, a hair stylist and things aren't so great. They escalate when his dog destroys part of her garden. She is absolutely livid that his canine could do such a thing. Later she begins to get over her tirade and sees that Ian is really something special. The author fills the tale with other realistic conflicts that test the relationship. The author has written an interesting story that has likable and strong characters with a flow that has readers turning pages to see what happens next.
To Space and Back
A Memoir by Mark Goddard
9780595517428 $30.00 Autographed www.Mark-Godard.com
Many readers will not have a clue who Goddard is. For those of us who do know, this is a fun interesting read of one man's journey through life. Of course the book deals with his days of stardom on the hit series "Lost In Space." Until his later years he was never certain of what he wanted to do. It wasn't until he was in his early fifties that he decided to go back to college get his degree and teach for a living. It also shows that you can be anything you want to so long as you are open to change. Readers will find themselves laughing out loud at many of the things Goddard tells. I also like that this is not one of those gossip tell all books that are always so negative.
You Can Develop Pure Awareness
Outskirts Press Inc
9781432732028 $15.95 www.outskirtspress.com
The author delves into the mind and how important to know what it is. There are discussions of feelings, the self, the ego, values, feelings, and a lot more. He has a different way of approaching things we've all heard in psychology courses and books about the self image. A lot of what he is dealing with I am sure I did not get, but there are things I know I took away; the same is true for other readers as well. This is a book that will touch everyone in many different ways.
The Devil's Closet
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780843961591 $7.99 www.dorchesterpub.com
This is the first of a series that is a tense thriller that never lets go of the suspense. The author draws on her many years in law enforcement to tell a chilling tale. A bizarre serial killer is on the loose who leaves his victims looking like little dolls. On the case is Detective CeeCee Gallagher who is relentless to stop the killer in whatever way she can. What makes this story more sinister is that it is based on one of her own real cases. Ditrich is a new name to add to a readers list for this type of novel.
Mr. People All About Drawing People
Written and Illustrated by Mason Mitchell
Outskirts Press Inc
9781432728076 $11.95 www.outskirtspress.com
Want to learn how to draw? This is the book for you. The author teaches many simple ways to sketch many different things. He provides easy exercises to follow. For those of us who feel we do not have any talent, the author makes you believe you can by following his instructions.
Then Came Hope Book Two
Louise M. Gouge
Emerald Pointe Books
P. O. Box 35327, Tulsa, OK 74153-0327
9780978513733 $14.99 www.louisemgouge.com
The Civil War is over and for the former slaves now free, their lives are just beginning. The story is a tense drama that shows the perils former slaves encountered on their journey of freedom. They encounter many negatives but it is their faith in God that gets them through the worst of times. The author has created believable characters and a story that has a strong basis in fact.
Dreams The Sky Is The Limit With Zach
Outskirts Press Inc
9781432722135 $9.95 www.outskirtspress.com
The author has a cute idea to show photos of children with captions. The charming pictures of kids add to the comic book like statements each child states about where to go in life. This is a unique idea that should be fun for anyone who reads it.
All the Colors of Darkness
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061362934 $25.95 800-242-7737, www.harpercollins.com
The deaths about which much of the plot of Peter Robinson's newest Inspector Banks novel revolves occur just before the opening pages, when a particularly brutal murder is soon followed by the apparent suicide of the prime suspect. All the evidence points to that sequence of events, with none indicating the presence of any third person. The two men had been lovers, and the subsequent investigation turns up photos of the murder victim with another man, the conclusion being obvious: A 'simple case' of extreme jealousy, rage, and remorse. Banks remains unconvinced of that scenario, however, based solely on a nagging suspicion that there is more here than meets the eye; the discovery of a business card which had been in the possession of one of the dead men on which is printed a phone number which does not exist; the fact that so much effort is taken and pressure exerted to ensure that the case is closed and that no further investigation is undertaken; and the feeling that there is some kind of Othello analogy at play.
Othello is the current production of the amateur theater group performing at the Eastvale Theater, where the suicide victim worked. When Banks attends the play with his girlfriend, he describes it to her as being about 'jealousy, betrayal, envy, ambition, greed, lust, revenge . . . All the colors of darkness." Of the murder victim, he is told others only saw "a small part of him. The rest was shades of darkness, shadows, smoke and mirrors." And, as the end of the book nears, Banks perceives "all of it nothing but a distortion of the darkness he was beginning to believe lay at the center of everything."
On a lighter note, part of his investigation brings the DCI to the office of a pretty private investigator who, upon meeting Banks, exclaims with delight: "Are you Brian Banks' father?' This is a first for Banks, whose son is a guitar player in a rock band and apparently somewhat of a rock hero.
When DI Annie Cabbot says to her superior "We have to pursue the truth," she is told "Since when? That's a luxury we can ill afford." The novel deals with the unexpected and perhaps unintended consequences of lies told, or matters otherwise misconstrued. The author, celebrating the 21st anniversary of the first Inspector Banks novel, never fails to deliver a book filled with gorgeous prose, and this one is, like the others, recommended.
c/o Univ. of Wisconsin Press
19030 Monroe St., Madison WI 53711,
Distributor: Chicago Distribution Center
11030 S. Langley Ave., Chicago IL 60628, 9780299231507 $26.95 www.wisc.edu/wisconsinpress
Lev Raphael, the author of eleven books of fiction [including a mystery series] and eight of non-fiction, has this time penned a memoir with the sub-title "A Jewish Writer Returns to the World His Parents Escaped.' Reduced to its essentials, that is the basic subject matter of this sometimes harrowing but most affecting book, which is an embodiment of the exhortation to 'never forget' [what is argued should be the "614th commandment" of observant Jews].
The book recounts an indescribable time in human and personal history, literally indescribable for many, if not most, of those who were there and who survived the Holocaust. The author states "I've always had to acknowledge that you can't force someone to relive catastrophe." And because that was so, it is mostly up to the generations that came after to attempt it, the Second Generation and perhaps those to follow, if that is still possible. Mr. Raphael, a member of that Second Generation, in whose household Germany and anything in any way related to anything German was forever tainted, was persuaded to travel there on book tours when his books were translated into that language, a journey sometimes horrific but also fascinating [to the reader] and enlightening [to the author].
This memoir recounts the grotesque histories of the lives of the author's parents, the horrors faced both inside and outside of the concentration camps. Searching faces in old photographs of a place where he knew his grandfather had been, thinking "Weren't all these men my grandfather?" Bits of stories he remembers, that "slipped into my life like an unseen cat that suddenly springs to slash your hand. They didn't happen to me, yet they're mine now, or at least what I can remember of them. And so they live inside of me . . . " It would have been impossible for him to imagine the impact that actually being in Germany would have on him, as indeed that reaction was at first- - but only at first - - difficult to imagine for this reader. I hasten to add that this is not an unrelentingly depressing book. It is an important one in the annals of Holocaust literature.
The memoir, wonderfully written and diligently researched, so vividly describes the emotions stirred before, during and following Mr. Raphael's trips to Germany and other countries where his parents had lived, been interned, met and survived, that the reader cannot help but be stirred to many of those same emotions. I could not put the book down, and it is highly recommended.
Dog On It
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781416585831 $25.00 www.simonsays.com 800-223-2336
It has been done before - a non-human protagonist/narrator who does the sleuthing and finds the criminal before the mentally inferior, two-legged person who gets paid to do it. But make no mistake: This is not one of those books. Except for the very first part of that scenario. Bernie Little, West Point graduate, veteran of the Gulf wars and ex-cop, is the human component, and Chet the K-9 schooled canine with mis-matched ears who communicates with his owner and partner in his own doggie shorthand, an ability that can be confirmed by any dog owner.
Don't let the title mislead - this is not a cozy as I think of that term. There is plenty of suspense, a well-plotted and fast-moving tale when the Little Detective Agency is hired to find a 15-year-old girl who has disappeared one afternoon, only to re-appear before the day is out. But when she disappears again shortly thereafter, it appears to be more than a case of a teenager who has taken off for reasons of her own. Bernie overcomes his initial reluctance to take the case when his 'cash-flow' problems and a generous retainer persuade him. And Chet, after all, specialized in missing kids, and gets a chance to demonstrate his skills.
There is a hint that this is the first in a series - there are references to bits of back-story which will be imparted to the reader 'if I have a chance,' which would definitely be something to look forward to. As Chet would say, "was this the life or what?" The book is wholly original and hugely entertaining, and is highly recommended.
A Night at the Operation
Berkley Prime Crime
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425228159 $7.99 800-847-5515 www.penguingroup.com
Elliot Freed returns in the third book in the Double Feature series. The protagonist [as, I suspect, is his creator] is an aficionado of comedy classics, and the owner of Comedy Tonight, New Jersey's only all-comedy movie theater, which exclusively shows the older films, alongside newly-released films. The theater is showing its age, however, and while Elliot still has his devoted, albeit small-ish, audiences and staff of three, the latter number is currently problematical, as is the condition of the theater itself.
As the book opens, Elliot's ability to keep the theater open is threatened by plumbing problems, and his equanimity is threatened by the disappearance of his ex-wife who, unusually, he still loves, the fact that she left him for another man notwithstanding, especially since she is now divorcing the latter. [The divorce was cordial, as has been their post-divorce relationship.] Dr. Sharon Simon-Freed is missing. Moreover, she appears to be a suspect in the murder of a patient. Elliot goes into a frenzy to find Sharon, and to prove that she had nothing to do with the murdered man's death.
Elliot Freed's [and the author's] love of and knowledge about classic comedy lore is generously sprinkled through the book, and some specific notes about three gems in particular are included at the end. As much as one may think one knows about such things, it's not as much as Elliot [and Mr. Cohen] know, and it is all delightful. For that matter, that would describe the entire book. There is mystery and suspense in full measure, the author's wonderful humor as well, with nary a page going by that doesn't elicit a smile, grin, or hearty laugh [sometimes embarrassing when reading in public]. Thoroughly enjoyable, and highly recommended.
Death Takes the Cake
Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin, 375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425226421 $7.99 www.penguingroup.com 800-847-5515
Della Carmichael returns in the second book in this delightful series by Melinda Wells. Della is the 47-year-old widow of an LAPD cop who died two years before the start of the novel. She is the owner of a cooking school in Santa Monica, CA, and more recently the host of a cable TV cooking show. She is persuaded by her precarious financial condition to enter a cake baking competition/reality tv show with a $25,000 cash prize. Mickey Jordan, the owner of the cable tv network, envisions the contest as a great way to publicize Della's cooking show.
All Della has to do to win the contest is to 'come up with the best new cake in the United States.' The only other catch is that the cake mix company sponsoring the show [and paying half the cost of its production] is a woman who was a sworn enemy of Della's since their college days decades earlier. But things take a somber turn when Della discovers that woman's dead body in the test kitchen, face down in a bowl of her own cake batter. When the husband of Della's best friend is suspected of the murder, Della takes it upon herself to try to find another viable suspect on whom the police can focus. And then things become more complicated when another body is found.
The well-drawn cast of characters includes Eileen O'Hara, the [gorgeous] 20-year-old variously described as Della's semi-permanent houseguest, as well as her honorary niece and honorary daughter - it's complicated; Eileen's father, John, who was Della's late husband's partner on the LAPD; and Nicholas D'Martino, a crime reporter and the present man in Della's life, among others. And of course there's Tuffy, Della's standard poodle who joins her on the cable tv show and gets his own fan mail. In addition to learning some of the lesser-known facts about a tv cooking show, I discovered not only that there is such a thing as a "cake coach," but also something called "furniture repurposing' - stuff one might wrongly think is junk, I gather. [It should be noted that 14 pages of easy-to-follow recipes are included at the back of the book, and are sure to be savored - dual meaning here - by readers.]
The next book in the series, "The Proof is in the Pudding," is due out in the Fall of this year, and it is to be expected that it will be just a delightful as this one. A terrific protagonist, a good mystery, a surprising ending [and interesting food talk] - what more can one ask?
C. J. Lyons
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780515145830 $7.99 800-847-5515 www.penguingroup.com
C. J. Lyons, in her second book in the series, brings back her four female protagonists: Amanda Mason, doing her last year as a medical student on rotations at Angels of Mercy Medical Center in Pittsburgh; Gina Freeman, her roommate; Lydia, an ER attending; Nora, described as a "by the book charge nurse," all sympathetic and strong woman but each vulnerable in her own way. The author presents a medical mystery which presents a challenge to her gutsy protagonists, who must try to find the answers before it threatens the life of one of them. Amanda, at twenty-five years of age, is a long way from home, but coming into her own. Gina Freeman, a third-year emergency medicine resident, is still recovering from the trauma she sustained at the end of the prior book, "Lifelines," and trying to duck her EMS rotation after being shot at during her first time riding with an ambulance crew, as well as dealing with commitment issues when Detective Jerry Boyle presses his marriage proposal. Nora Halloran is trying to deal with the aftermath of her break-up with her ex-almost-fiance Seth, a fourth-year surgical resident.
A recurring theme is when, or even if, rules which are in place for excellent reasons, be they medical or personal, should be ignored.
Two patients in the hospital have exhibited strange symptoms, and when one of them dies and the other goes into a coma, and research indicates there have been others as well presenting with similar issues, the women, with assistance from Dr. Lucas Stone, put their heads and their skills together before things get any worse.
The story lines at times seemed a tad unrealistic to this reader, but the author's extensive medical background would certainly indicate she knows whereof she speaks. The protagonists are each distinct and interesting. The story builds to a suspenseful conclusion, and this fast-paced novel will leave readers looking forward to the next entry in the series. Recommended.
Exceptions to Reality
Alan Dean Foster
Del Rey Books/Ballantine Books
A division of Random House, Inc.
New York, NY
One of the things lacking in modern publishing is short stories. Just a few decades ago, short stories were the core writing style in publishing. Short stories have so much going for them it is hard to understand their disappearance. Financially the move from short story into novel length has many reasons. But less understood is how the reading public has permitted the short story market to dry up. Foster is one of the few authors who has both the readership and credentials to produce on a regular basis short stories. Exceptions to Reality is a well deserved addition to this missing market.
I like to keep a short story collection near by for the times when I have a few minutes that need to be filled. I have kept Exceptions by my reading chair for about a month. When I finish a novel, project or am just waiting from my loved one to come home, I opened the book and lose myself in a story for the few minutes between. The only slight disappoint was the obligatory Pip and Flinx short. It read closer to an excerpt from the next novel and less like a short. A pleasant surprise was the Spellsinger short.
Everyone wants to put a genre label on a work. Short story collections defy labels. They permit both the reader and author to explore. You could call all writing a fantasy of a writer. You could label Exceptions as fantasy but less the sword and sorcerer kind, although there is that genre in the collection, and more the tall-tale kind. You know the type; when a twinkly-eyed friend, who always seems to pull a grin from your face, sits back at a gathering and everyone hushes to listen to a spinning of words that travels to a point no one is quite sure of.
Buy and read short stories. You will not be disappointed and maybe the penny pinchers at the publishing companies will start putting more of these great literary explorations into the market. Foster is a good short storyist. Exceptions to Reality has more than enough twists and turns and pure enjoyment to be worth the time to find and read.
Uncle Daniel's Den
Futures-Past/Page Turner Edition, a label of
Renaissance E Books
2930 Shattuck Ave. Suite 200-13, Berkeley, CA 94705
97816000892615 electronic download price: $4.99 www.renebooks.com
Contemporary readers are familiar with paranormal horror stories that have a touch of dry tongue-in-cheek humor with stories such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Dresden Files. Now you can add Uncle Daniel's Den to the list. The blending of a bit of humor with supernatural horrors is a well proven mix. The need to temper the fear with a smile is nearly a primal reaction built into humanity. Most fans of J.D. Crayne expect the humor so the darker story of the Den might surprise them but the deft touch between humor, romance and terror shouldn't.
Pianora Duvall is a 27 year-old divorcee living with her lead singer mother and the rest of her mother's country/western band. The middle-aged group, Grand Old Gullywumpers, needs the adult hand of the daughter to function both in society and on the music road. When her millionaire Uncle Daniel is run over by a motorcycle gang followed by a fully-loaded cement truck, Pianora and her mother, Winnie, inherit his mansion and money. Winnie has always been scared of Uncle Daniel and his huge mansion but Pianora knows that the inheritance is a godsend to the financially strapped Gullywumpers. She pushes the unruly group into moving into the Brentwood mansion. The mansion comes equipped with a dark, mysterious and sullen caretaker, a friendly cook, with a mentally challenged fifteen-year-old granddaughter Patsy-Anne, dark and strange curios, a stuffed bear and a crocodile hanging from the ceiling. Pianora finds a locked door in Uncle Daniel's den that leads somewhere but not anywhere she can find in the real world. As she herds her mother and the other Gullywumpers into making the mansion their new physical and business home, the supernatural strangeness keeps building up to a complete eruption into terror and death.
Uncle Daniel's Den is a hard story to define. It stretches across genres and forms. It reads like a novelette but is a short novel in length. It is filled with supernatural terror and death but is funny and romantic. An oldtime Brothers Grimm meets rhinestone cowboyfornia noir? If you can handle the contradictions, Uncle Daniel's Den is a must read. Even if you think the contradictions are too much, you will love seeing how a writer can take this paradoxical mix of genres and styles and still create an enjoyable tale.
S.A. Gorden, Reviewer
Escape From Hell
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
175 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10010
Jerry Pournelle's depiction of Hell is precisely what one would expect from an author so morally and rationally retarded that he is able to believe that such a sadist's wet dream really exists - and is authorized and accredited by a Fuhrer of the Universe whom Pournelle has brainwashed himself into believing is nicer than Adolf Hitler! Isaac Asimov once politely denigrated Pournelle - without identifying him by name, since Pournelle was a friend and colleague - for his incurable belief that the fairy tale character, "God," was more real than such other fairy tale characters as Mother Goose and the Great Pumpkin. That was after Pournelle had revealed that, "there are none so blind as those who will not see," in his 1980 novel, King David's Space Ship. That novel portrayed the Jesus and Mohammad delusions as still existing, and the social and economic reality of marriage still controlled by a self-appointed priesthood, 1,000 years in the future.
But Asimov stopped short of suggesting that, while religious beliefs can be attributed to causes as innocuous as ignorance of the falsifying evidence that is no further away from anyone in the Western world than the nearest university library, the modal explanation of incurable godworship is that it provides moral cowards with an afterlife belief that annuls their terror of death and gets them through the day without having to be institutionalized and diapered. As for Pournelle's intellectual and scholarly capacities, not only does he lack the ability to deduce why religious belief has dropped from 85 to 64 percent in his own lifetime; he once wrote that the resurrection of Jesus is as fully attested by reliable eyewitnesses as the Battle of Waterloo. If he believes that, I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn that I think will interest him.
More than ninety percent of science fiction writers are nontheists, for the logical reason that anyone with a sufficiently unbound imagination to come up with scenarios far removed from observable reality is highly likely to recognize religious beliefs as equally far removed from observable reality. SF writers who are godworshippers are an aberration. Fortunately, that does not mean that their ability to write good SF is annihilated. Pournelle's talent in the field is assuredly beyond dispute, and his superstitious ignorance does not get in the way of his ability to tell a good story - usually.
All science fiction starts with some kind of "What if?" speculation. If Gene Roddenberry had not wondered, "What if humans could travel faster than light?" there would be no Star Trek. "What if immortal souls really existed?" and "What if Hell really existed?" are as valid a basis for fantasy literature as such exercises of the imagination as, "What if hobbits really existed?" or "What if the world of Harry Potter really existed?" When Bram Stoker fantasized that vampires really exist, he unconsciously filled his vampire universe with products of his religious brainwashing. In postulating that anti-vampire charms could only be Christian crosses rather than stars of David or crescents, it did not occur to him that such "my god can lick your god" propaganda constituted intolerant bigotry.
Similarly, it did not occur to Jerry Pournelle that, in peopling his imaginary Hell with persons whose only crime in Pournelle's eyes was that they had NOT been brainwashed into believing Christian fairy tales, it did not occur to him that he was confessing his status as an intolerant, ignorant, bigoted, unteachable, hate-ridden evolutionary throwback to readers who did not already know that.
There is nothing wrong with passing off a personal moral philosophy as science fiction. Robert Heinlein, in Stranger in a Strange Land, spelled out the evil of America's anti-sex brainwashing by picturing it through the eyes of an immigrant from Mars. Pournelle demonstrates the evil of his own moral philosophy by his choices of whom he believes belong in Hell.
For example, Carl Sagan showed the human race that science has made the god hypothesis unnecessary, and pointed out that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, obviously including the claims for which Pournelle demands no proof. Hugh Hefner showed the world that consensual, considerate, non-coercive, non-procreational, non-consequential sexual recreation has no more moral connotations than tennis or golf. Pournelle places Sagan and Hefner in Hell. By identifying such persons, neither of whom ever hurt anybody in his life, as deserving eternal damnation, Pournelle reveals his moral and intellectual evolution to be somewhere between Tomás de Torquemada and Lenny Small. I can only assume that, in depicting nontheists as automatic Hell fodder, he was able to overcome the objections of his agnostic coauthor, Larry Niven, by arguing that he was merely emulating Dante-think. Shame on you, Mr Niven!
But from the science fiction perspective, the authors' morally-evolved versus morally-retarded philosophies do not constitute the biggest difference between Stranger in a Strange Land and Escape From Hell. Whereas Heinlein's masterpiece was written with a plot, climax and denouement, Pournelle's imaginings resemble nothing so much as a James Fitzpatrick Travelogue of early 20th century Hollywood: "And as Charon's ferry sails slowly into the sunset…" Pournelle's delineation of Who's Who In Hell is written with all the narrative adventure and imagination of the ingredients chart on a box of Corn Flakes.
Not everyone will see Pournelle's status as an evolution denier, a global warming denier, and a supporter of vigilante justice in a country with an armed military and armed police that obviate the necessity of the citizen militia mandated by the Second Amendment, as grounds for revoking his kindergarten graduation. But every sane reader should agree, that a moral bankrupt who judges an individual's worth as a person on the basis of his beliefs rather than his treatment of other people, has a bed waiting for him at Bellevue. Madelyn Murray in Hell for being a "public atheist"? The woman had negative qualities, but a willingness to defend the First Amendment was not one of them. Peter Lawford, for lending his residence to John and Bobby Kennedy so that they could "sleep with" Marilyn Monroe? Newsflash: Neither JFK nor RFK ever slept with Marilyn Monroe. They copulated with her and others, but they only SLEPT with their wives. As for the culturally conditioned belief that came into existence some time after the publication of Le Morte d'Arthur, that non-procreative recreation with an unmarried woman constitutes adultery, the crime originally defined as fraudulently impregnating another man's wife, all persons who accept that equation have been brainwashed into believing an illogical distortion of a once-logical taboo, not just Pournelle.
Characters in fiction express incompatible beliefs, clear proof that they cannot all be speaking for the author. But when a bit player, commenting on "the hundred-mile-high club," asks (p. 221), "Did you know there's no gravity a hundred miles up?" the absence of any response or rebuttal raises at least a suspicion that the fictitious character might not be the only person whose ignorance is thereby revealed. The same applies to the absence of any disputation when a "medium" claims (p. 240) that she really does have powers that the educated know do not exist. And when Carl Sagan's extrapolations from science are equated with fortunetelling (ibid.), context strongly suggests that such equation also exists in the mind of the author. Pournelle's vicious savaging of Sagan, even questioning his intelligence and integrity, is incomprehensible. Perhaps some time before Sagan's death and after Pournelle's brain-death, the two had a close encounter of the disputational kind, Pournelle defended his equation of fairy tales with reality, and Sagan was unable to conceal his awareness that anyone who has actually read a bible and failed to recognize it as an obscene paean to evil is not sparking on all neurons. The bullshit suggestion that Sagan was a hypocrite (p. 243) was probably inserted to satisfy Niven that mere atheism was not the reason Pournelle wanted him in Hell.
"Mohammed and his son-in-law" in Hell for being schismatics who sowed discord (p. 292), but not Jesus or Paul? Take a wild guess which god perversion Pournelle professes. Hint: Escape From Hell is dedicated to C. S. Lewis, whose masturbation fantasies have moderate Christians wondering, "With a friend like C. S. Lewis, who needs enemies?"
A scene that clearly reveals the extent of Pournelle's godphuqing is an alleged truthsayer's statement about the Catholic Church, an organized crime syndicate that has changed its infallible dogmas as often as Giacomo Casanova changed bedfellows (p. 122): "The Church has no power to change eternal truth, only to discover it." Equally indicative of Pournelle's pathetic doublethink is his desperate attempt to argue that the failure of contemporary historians to mention Herod's massacre of infants does not mean that it did not happen. And his capitalization of pronouns and possessive adjectives that refer to the three-headed god, two decades after even liberal believers have stopped doing so, merely confirm his incurable status.
In contrast, there are passages that show an awareness that "God" is a capricious, sadistic, psychopathic serial killer who could learn morality from Vlad the Impaler (p. 315), that a universe containing both an omnipotent, omnibenevolent god and Hell is an oxymoron, and that creationists' imagined Intelligent Designer "could have planned a better universe by throwing dice" (p. 325). I can only conclude that such awareness of reality emanated from Niven.
Propagandists for the god delusion selectively quote biblical passages that support their position and ignore passages that refute it. Creationists quote the opening chapters of Genesis as evidence of a very young universe, while pointedly ignoring the fourteen passages that could be nonfiction only if the earth is flat. Pournelle (p. 250) puts into the mouth of Aimee Semple McPherson - whom he portrays as an honorable soul-saver, more akin to the fictionalized Aimee played by Jean Simmons in Elmer Gantry than Faye Dunaway's portrayal in The Disappearance of Aimee, damned only for indulging her appetite for recreational sex - the passage from Daniel, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." But he carefully avoids quoting Ecclesiastes 9:5, "The living are aware that they are going to die, but the dead neither know anything nor have any further reward, for their awareness has ceased to exist."
Jerry Pournelle is a repulsive, despicable, self-inflicted brain amputee, with no more ability to tell right from wrong on a rational basis than a tapeworm, an AIDS virus, or Pope Ratzinazi. But what else should one expect from an incurable victim of the contagious insanity of godworship, as everyone who has had the disease and recovered knows it to be? The saddest part is that Pournelle will never make the posthumous discovery that the Hell of his sadistic fantasies does not exist, because he will be totally, permanently, irreversibly dead.
The Case For a Creator
Grand Rapids. Michigan 49530
Lee Strobel states as fact (p. 105), "In recent years, a diverse and impressive body of research has increasingly supported the conclusion that the universe was intelligently designed. At the same time, Darwinism has faltered in the face of concrete facts and hard reason." If he believes that, I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn that I think will interest him. Since a close perusal of Strobel's kindergarten-think produced nothing else worth citing, let me quote from a couple of reviews posted to Amazon.co.uk:
"Many of the 'experts' that Strobel interviews are not widely accepted as experts at all." "making the same 'arguments from ignorance,' then not give the same opportunity to those on the other side of the debate. Experts that generally hold advanced degrees in theology [a discipline that starts from predetermined conclusions and then distorts the evidence to whatever degree is necessary in order to make it fit]." Anyone who thinks I am quoting only reviewers who reached the same conclusions as myself - is right.
The whole of this book - indeed all of Strobel's books - is a catalogue of circular doublethink that a five-years-old might mistake for logical arguments, for the simple reason that either the book was designed for five-year-olds, or it is a reprint of papers Strobel authored in kindergarten. If this is the kind of writing that can win Gold Medallion Awards (since renamed Christian Book Awards), the author of the Dick and Jane stories must have won Double Platinum.
Picture a man who, even if he has never travelled outside of his home state or county, is familiar with the around-the-world voyages of Columbus and, more recently, politicians of many nations. He has encountered people who have traveled around the world. He has seen photographs of the earth taken from outer space. He has grown up aware that the earth is an oblate spheroid. But somewhere along the line he developed a fear of falling off the edge of the world, became a born-again flat-earther, and wrote books that he seriously believes "prove" that the earth is as flat as a dinner plate.
There you have the likes of Alister McGrath, Michael Behe, William Dembski, C. S. Lewis, Antony Flew, Timothy Paul Jones - and Lee Strobel. And of the seven, Strobel is the one most other creationists ignore in the hope that he will go away and stop embarrassing their cause. In Strobel's favor is that his non-belligerent approach makes him less of an embarrassment to the god delusion than the fatuously arrogant ignoramus J P Holding or the educationally handicapped Kirk Cameron.
It is an observable reality that sixteen percent of the human race are chronic moral cowards, so terrified of the permanence of death that, without the mind-deadening opiate of an afterlife belief, they would have to be institutionalized and diapered. Their cowardice has little to do with educational inadequacy. With few exceptions, they are fully aware that there is an inverse correlation between education and religious belief. The less education an individual has, the higher the probability that he is a godworshipper. A majority of high school dropouts are addicted to the god delusion, whereas less than eight percent of the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science have such beliefs.
There is an inverse correlation between intelligence and religious belief. The higher an individual's functional intelligence, the less likely he is to believe in fairy tale creatures such as Mother Goose and her male counterpart, God.
There is an inverse correlation between rationality and religious belief. An individual capable of understanding that "A" and "not-A" cannot both be true, eventually comes to realize that religion is the most oxymoronic doublethink the human imagination has ever concocted.
So why are persons who show no other evidence of being stupid, insane, or uneducated in an absolute sense, able to abandon rationality and start believing fantasies that scientific researchers have falsified beyond sane rebuttal? The Occam's razor explanation is that incurable believers are pathological cowards who live in constant terror that an imaginary Sky Fuhrer, a monster that anyone who has read a Tanakh/Bible/Koran with his brain in gear can recognize as the most sadistic, evil, mass-murdering psychopath in all fiction, will posthumously torture them with flamethrowers for all eternity in an underworld Auschwitz that can only be described as a sadist's wet dream if they dare recognize its nonexistence. In the case of former rationalists like Flew and Strobel, who "get religion" in their declining years, the "coward" explanation for their sudden retreat into insanity is particularly strong.
For make no mistake. Religion is a form of insanity. I have never encountered anyone who has had the disease and recovered who does not know that. Anyone who was not insane before he started believing that mass murder was evil when Hitler did it with gas chambers, but is not evil when Osama bin Laden's imaginary playmate does it with disease, famine, religious wars, natural disasters, transportation accidents, and old age, is certainly insane once he does acquire such a belief. All godworshippers claim a "right" to be insane. But only the intestinally challenged believe that insanity is a virtue, and put their brains in OFF in order to write books justifying their inability to tell right from wrong by arguing that they have an imaginary Lawgiver to make the decision for them.
Books by self-inflicted brain amputees such as the abovementioned, that attempt to rebut the unassailable reasoning of Charles Darwin (Strobel), Bart Ehrman (Jones), Richard Dawkins (McGrath), Victor Stenger, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens, serve a useful purpose. They show the world that, whereas debunkers of religion have functioning human brains, apologists for the god psychosis have as much capacity for rational human thought as a pickled cabbage. Strobel is the poster boy for the truism, "There are none so blind as those who will not see."
All persons who think that arguments for the validity of religion have any merit whatsoever should read this book. It will convince anyone but a fellow brain amputee otherwise. Not only does Strobel belong in the same kindergarten for the intellectually dysfunctional as the above-named ID proponents and creationists, flat earthers, astrologers, UFOlogists, conspiracy freaks, believers in psychics, Scientologists, and other denizens of Cloud Cuckoo Land; so does everyone who can take his fatuous inanity seriously. Strobel fails dismally to make a case for a creator. He also fails to make a case that doublethinkers who can argue that one plus one plus one equals one should be free to walk the streets instead of being confined to cages with padded walls where they cannot pass on their mind-AIDS to the uninfected. The Case For a Creator makes Alice in Wonderland look like a doctoral thesis. The difference between Lee Strobel's fairy-tale-think and that of Harry Potter is that, in Harry Potter's universe, the magic that motivates him really exists.
Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot, And Other Observations
1540 Broadway, New York NY 10036
Al Franken does not prove that Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot. The person who proved that was Rush Limbaugh. All Franken did was report an observable reality. And when Franken warned in 1996 that Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich were trying to remake the Republican Party in their own evolutionary throwback image, it probably did not occur to him that they would still be doing so thirteen years later. By now Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot should have become a historical curiosity. Instead, it is an observation of reality that could have been written yesterday. As of 2009, Al Franken is now a United States Senator, and Rush Limbaugh is still a big fat idiot.
Unlike Franken's 2003 book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, which he accurately subtitled, A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, his 1996 book, Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot is satire. His title chapter includes a parody of a tactic Limbaugh used in order to pass off out-of-context statements by Hillary Clinton as an interview she gave Limbaugh, by inserting Limbaugh's comments in between her statements. So Franken does likewise, inserting his comments between statements Limbaugh actually made at various intervals, thereby creating the same sort of pretend-interview. The difference is that Franken's scissors-and-paste "interview" is intended to demonstrate the fraudulence of such a procedure, as Limbaugh's was not.
Franken's chapter, "One giant leap toward solving the budget crisis," may not equal Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal, but it is written in the same vein and could conceivably convince the moral retards of the Religious Right (tautology) that he was being serious.
Franken does stick to Joe Friday's "Just the facts, Ma'am," when he writes (p. 71), "Frankly I'm getting a little sick of cranky Republicans who can't keep their own families together telling everybody else about family values. Quick. What do Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Phil Gramm, and George Will have in common? Answer. They've all been married only one less time than Rush Limbaugh." While I cannot applaud Franken's implication that someone who terminates an unsatisfactory marriage and tries again is somehow inadequate, he is quite right to draw attention to the hypocrisy of persons who preach a religious view of marriage while not practising it.
In a chapter defending his middle-of-the-road politics (he cites arguments for and against affirmative action), Franken writes (p. 87), "I hope it's clear to you by now that this book is a satire…. But I want you to know that I admire everyone I'll be making fun of in this book. Except Pat Robertson. He's a lunatic. And I really don't like Limbaugh. And Pat Buchanan, let's face it, is a racist…. And Gingrich just plain scares me." While those same names would be on my own list of persons Will Rogers never met, I would have been less polite.
Franken's half-page chapter, "I get letters," is a masterpiece of understatement. After reprinting a letter that called him a fag Jew, and described in graphic detail the activities in which the writer believed Franken indulged, he summarizes, "He could tell all this from one little [C-SPAN] interview?"
Franken shares my distaste for weasel words used by the squeamish to say the opposite of what they really mean. In quoting Newt Gingrich's preference for oral sex so that he could say he didn't sleep with another woman, he points out (p. 221) that, "I slept with the woman sitting next to me on the red-eye down to Dallas." Saying "sleep with" to refer to an activity in which at least one of the participants must be awake, is like saying "right to life" to mean "right to be born and then neglected."
In discussing Joycelyn Elders' firing by godworshipper Bill Clinton for advocating masturbation as a safe, sinless need-fulfillment, Franken disputes the Christian Coalition's assertion that sex education created promiscuity and an alarming rate of illegitimacy. I thought the concept of illegitimacy was flushed away by the movie, Blossoms in the Dust? And denigrating willingness to evaluate every offer to share joy on its merits as "promiscuity" also suggests that Franken was more brainwashed by superstition in 1996 than I hope he is now. But his evaluation of his sex life, while having all the appearance of simply reporting a fact, raises at least the possibility that he is again being satirical (p. 74): "Actually, I have had quite a sex life…. I have had three hundred and twelve sexual encounters! All with my wife. And we've been married nineteen years. So not bad!" Once every 22.25 days is "not bad"? Mr Franken's statistics may be the best argument for divorce that I have ever heard. Either Franken is chronically lacking normal human needs, or he has a strange concept of, "If it aint broke…." Come on, Al. You were being satirical, right? Right?
That was 1996, when Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich were both trying to become America's head Republicanazi. Thirteen years later Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich are still both trying to become America's head Republicanazi. The difference is that in 1996 mainstream Republicans did not recognize them as sick jokes, and their self-serving lies did not come close to wiping the Republican Party from the face of the earth. Today only hardcore Republicanazis refuse to recognize that they are on the brink of doing exactly that. It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of pithicanthropoids.
10 Books That Screwed Up The World: And 5 Others That Didn't Help
Regnery Publishing, Inc
One Massachusetts Avenue SW, Washington DC 20001
Benjamin Wiker is a Senior Fellow with the Discovery Institute, an organization dedicated to repealing the 2nd Millennium and forcing schools to teach that the universe is less than 10,000 years old, and that urine, excrement and menstruation were intelligently designed by a benevolent creator. He is the author of Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Richard Dawkins' Case Against God, which he seriously believes proves that Dawkins was wrong. If those two facts are insufficient to convince anyone with a functioning human brain that he is dangerously, criminally, incurably insane, this book should finish the job. Among the praise for Wiker's mentally challenged drivel on the back cover is an endorsement from the author of How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, a rewriting of history comparable with the Republicanazi Gestapo's rewriting of the eight-year Fourth Reich of George W. Bush. It should surprise no one that Wiker's publisher, Regnery, is a self-confessed pusher of "our legacy of Judeo-Christian faith and learning," and has published such blockheaded unteachables as William F. Buckley, Chuck Norris, Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter, and most recently, The Case Against Barack Obama, as well as a pretended "unraveling of the dogma of Darwinism." What next? An "unraveling of the dogma of round-earth geography"?
The law of averages says that even a brain amputee like Benjamin Wiker is bound to get something right. After all, a stopped clock is right twice a day. And so he does, by taking on such easy targets as Adolf Hitler, Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Sigmund Freud (for the wrong reasons), Niccolò Machiavelli, and Margaret Mead. But he also rubbishes authors whose capital crime, in his view, was their recognition that the god hypothesis is neither defensible nor useful: Friedrich Nietzsche, John Stuart Mill, Rene Descartes, Charles Darwin, Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Margaret Sanger, and Alfred Kinsey.
Wiker says of one of his targets that "[his] revolution was intensely personal, a revolution rooted in his own epic sexual perversity" (p. 196). It would be difficult to dispute that that is an accurate description of Sigmund Freud. But Wiker was writing of Alfred Kinsey. He goes on to attack Kinsey for counseling his readers to "discard the Judeo-Christian notions of right and wrong" (p. 199). Clearly Wiker believes that right and wrong are whatever his imaginary Sky Fuhrer says they are, heads it's a sin and tails it's a virtue.
In his chapter on Freud, Wiker ignores Freud's imaginative fantasies about dream interpretation and his imbecilic delusion that infants who have no awareness of sexuality want to kill their same-sex parent and copulate with their opposite-sex parent. Instead he tries to refute the only book in which Freud got everything right, The Future of an Illusion. He describes Freud's book (p. 165) as, "a fundamental attack on religion, dismissing it as mere illusion, foolish wish-fulfillment by infantile minds." Since that is precisely what religion is, Wiker's disagreement with Freud on the point provides further proof that there are none so blind as those who will not see.
In accusing Darwin of advocating the extermination of hereditary weaknesses by not permitting the afflicted to breed, Wiker believes he has thereby invalidated Darwin's observation that evolution by natural selection is an observable reality. But his real purpose in attacking the co-discoverer of the fraudulence of the opening chapters of Genesis is revealed in the line (p. 91), "Darwin believed that morality was neither natural not God-given, but was itself the result of natural selection." In other words, Darwin's crime was not that he was wrong but that he was right.
That Mein Kampf was a book that screwed the world, I do not dispute. But in what I can only describe as a calculated lie (or is Wiker a self-made Manchurian Candidate who has brainwashed himself into believing it?), Wiker writes (p. 152) that, "Hitler's philosophy was a practical culmination of modern atheism invested with quasi-religious fervor." While acknowledging that Hitler spoke "sometimes as a friend" of Christianity, he scrupulously avoids such quotations from Hitler's speeches, as, "I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord's work." Newsflash: Far from being atheistic, as pushers of the god psychosis habitually claim, the Nazism of that good Catholic, Adolf Hitler, was Catholicism carried to its logical extreme.
The one book I naively imagined Wiker would be able to refute without resorting to lies, red herrings and doublethink was Machiavelli's The Prince. Boy did I get a wrong number! Machiavelli did urge that a successful ruler "should appear all mercy, all faith, all honesty, all humanity, all religion. And nothing is more necessary to appear to have than this last quality." And Wiker correctly observes (p. 12) that, "In politics, some things never change." Certainly the appearance of being religious won elective office for George W. Bush and Mike Huckabee, and kept them out of the funny farms where they really belong.
But Wiker quickly returns to his role of apologist for the god hypothesis that has been the cause of 90 percent of all manmade evil for at least 3,000 years when he writes (pp. 12-13), "The kind of advice Machiavelli offers in The Prince is only possible for someone … who believes that, since there is no God we are then free to be wicked if it serves our purpose…. Since this advice occurs in the context of atheism, then there are no limits on the kind of evil one can do if he thinks he is somehow benefiting humanity." A more accurate observation would be that there are no limits on the kind of evil one can do if he thinks he is somehow benefiting an imaginary god. Is it possible that Wiker has never heard of Osama bin Laden, or Tomás de Torquemada, or Pat Robertson, or Pope Pius IX, or Ian Paisley, or Fred Phelps, or Benjamin Netanyahu, or the Moral Majority, or the Taliban?
Anyone who still doubts that the incurably godphuqt are not sparking on all neurons should read this book. It makes the point more effectively than Dawkins, Harris, Stenger and Hitchens combined. I strongly urge Benjamin Wiker to hurry back to his Cuckoo's Nest before Nurse Ratched gives his bed away.
Natural Security - A Darwinian Approach to a Dangerous World
edited by Raphael D. Sagarin and Terence Taylor.
U. of California Press,
Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA
9780520253476 $49.95 www.ucpress.edu
Two editors from the fields of biological sciences compile 15 articles which make a consummate book on national security. A few of the authors are in the fields of politics and government; but most are in the field of life sciences, with a couple in the field of anthropology. So smoothly is the subject of national security brought together with natural security that after poring through the essays, one has to check the title to see that if one hasn't misread it. Yes, the title is "Natural Security"; but the real subject is national security.
The authors look to behaviors, attributes, anatomies, evolution, environments, and networks of the world of nature with the intention of describing overt, inherent, disguised, practical, and ingenious ways different kinds of life forms protect and defend themselves. The authors don't attempt to go far in recommending or inventing means of security. Most security measures derived from their analyses of natural phenomena are plain; or they depend on individual and group behavior and decisions the authors cannot possibly predict, regulate, or control; nor can anyone else. The primary aim of the articles is to give a new, timely perspective on national security; to outline a new conception of national security which is at once realistic (consummately realistic), nonideological, relevant, optimum, and efficient.
The articles reflect the latest research and ideas in the areas of sociobiology, physiology, immunology, neuroscience, and related areas. As ones aware of the directions in these fields know, the contemporary fields are not limited to traditional scientific subject matter or methodology. One wants to be aware that the book is not an application of the theory or phenomenon of evolution to its diverse subjects as might be gathered from the reference to Darwin in the subtitle; but rather the book embraces all of the natural world in its diversity, interconnections, symbioses, order, and vital continuation as "Darwinian" is today regarded by the editors and authors.
The openness of the approach along with the knowledge of the authors and originality of considering national security with an in-depth study of the survival of biological species leads to all sorts of unfamiliar links and associations, intriguing perspectives, and glimmerings of new ideas. The fascination of the material is not only from the general connection of biology and security, but also lines of development, coming at fundamental sociological and political matters from new angles, and finding new lessons in more familiar concepts such as considering corporations and bureaucracies as organisms. For example, the article by Luis Villarreal of the Center for Virus Research at the U. California-Irvine is "From Bacteria to Belief: Immunology and Security." Daniel Blumstein of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, U. of California-Los Angeles, writes about "Fourteen Security Lessons from Antipredator Behavior." Another article with three authors is "The Infectiousness of Terrorist Ideology: Insights from Ecology and Epidemiology."
Never has metaphor been used to more illuminating and persuasive effect. But it would be a mistake to limit the book's relevance by seeing biology as just a metaphor for national security in today's world. For with the holism of globalism, large number of migrants moving between and within regions, computer networks, the historical weakening of the nation-state, diversified loci of power, new initiatives either predatory or defensive by organizations such as gangs and communities, and related continually-changing phenomena, the contemporary world reflects the states, processes, and principles of the world of biology. And each human being and thus in many ways and to some degree society and relationships with others have biological characteristics. One sees, for instance, that medicine as pertinent to strength, prevention of disease and injury, and necessary for diagnosis and cure better presents practical, worthwhile, and hopeful action regarding global terrorism and other types of threatening violence than the size, weaponry, or capabilities of armed forces.
Through all of the diverse natural phenomena examined from all of the unusual angles in the articles, the editors spot that the "critical organizing principle for security system [is that] successful organisms rely on a system of multiple semiautonomous units that sense the environment and devise solutions for environmental problems." This essential principle for optimum, though never absolute security goes against the grain of the modern nation-state. Such natural, inbred and communal security systems are not based in any bureaucratic architectonic; nor do they fall within the paternalistic, patriarchal, semi-totalitarian framework seen by those in power as allowing for the greatest efficiency in ruling and accepted by a easily distracted, negligent public. Moreover, one surmises that those with power in the modern state would see "semiautonomous units" involved materially and to a considerable degree independently in local and systematic security as threats.
It's hard to see how the government would embrace or promote the most effective types of security systems modeled on those in the natural world as these would be unpredictable and impossible to institutionalize. Nor would they depend on government officials, regulations, etc., which are the heart and soul of government. Nonetheless, many of the systems explored can be adopted or adapted by individuals and smaller social groups such as neighborhoods for increased security. Leaving aside the thorny questions of practical application of human security systems modeled on natural ones, the collected articles make fascinating reading. They are almost like science fiction with their view of alternate worlds and scenarios both primeval and futuristic.
Mercy Otis Warren, Selected Letters
Edited by Jeffrey H. Richards and Sharon M. Harris
U. of Georgia Press
9780820326801 $44.95 279+xxxiv pages www.ugapress.org
Letters of Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814) have been published elsewhere. However, these were limited mostly to her letters to important figures in American history such as Martha Washington and Abigail Adams. A few of these letters are published here. But the aim of letters of this volume is to make available Warren's equally informative letters to others during the momentous era including the Revolutionary War.
The editors "focus on two groups of correspondents, women and family members." There are letters to over 19 women, plus ten letters to family members, most of these to her second son. The total of 106 letters reflect the relationships, thoughts, and values of a well-to-do woman in the Boston area during this formative period of the United States. The editors' introduction gives a biographical background of Warren and assesses her as a prime example of the place of the common practice of letter-writing in her time.
Beyond Architecture - Imaginative Buildings and Fictional Cities
edited by Robert Klanten and Lukas Feireiss
9783899552355 $65.00 www.gestalten.com
Editor Feireiss's reference to Alice in "Alice in Wonderland" being led by a white rapid into a different world is apt. For "[t]his book sees itself as a portal into an unpredictable and marvelous realm" of experimental and futuristic architecture.
The direction to the more than 100 artists whose works are shown might have been, "Let your imagination run wild." Only a few are architects. From such a bevy of graphic, commercial, and fine artists working in a neighboring field of art, yet one in which the purposes, scales, and challenges are radically different from architecture, come ideas and works which have the intriguing blend of habitability and exoticism of cities in science-fiction movies.
The works range from the dystopian to the utopian; from rough immediacy to sterile remoteness; from the everyday to the visionary. Most of the works are individual buildings or clusters or parts of a city's network such as bridges and transportation sites. Some are chairs and tables and other objects for interior design. All, even the ones referring to the familiar and proletarian, seek to revise and in most cases enlarge the necessities and possibilities of architecture.
Hemingway - Eight Decades of Criticism
edited by Linda Wagner-Martin
Michigan State U. Press
East Lansing, MI
9780870138393 $34.95 www.msupress.msu.edu
The 26 collected critiques extend to five the series started in 1974 with the title Five Decades of Hemingway criticism. The most recent one before this Eight Decades was the Seven Decades published in 1998. Like the previous collections, the essays in this volume are within the broad, seeming inexhaustible stream of Hemingway criticism in academia.
As with the previous volumes, this one includes research since the previous volume. Most of essays reflect particular interests of their time concerning Hemingway's writings and aspects of his life or contemporary movements in literary criticism. Hence in this volume, one finds critiques on the relationship between Hemingway's physical injuries as a reporter covering the Spanish Civil War and his themes of mourning and loss and studies women characters reflecting the field of gender studies. There are also essays taking a look at The Old Man and the Sea, a Hemingway work which has been drawing more interest in recent years. And this collection, like the earlier ones, gives attention to new scholars entering the field of Hemingway studies.
All the five volumes have been published by Michigan State University Press. With the diversity of the critiques ranging from highly-focused scholarship to topics involving popular culture, the volume holds something for anyone with an interest in Hemingway or American literature.
My Germany - A Jewish Writer Returns to the World His Parents Escaped
Terrace Books/U. of Wisconsin Press
9780299231507 $26.95 www.wisc.edu/wisconsinpress
Lev Raphael is the author of 19 books. He is regarded as a "pioneer in writing about the children of Holocaust survivors." He is one himself. His mother and father both survived the Holocaust. Raphael was born in America after his parents emigrated from Germany after the War. He told himself he was never going to go to Germany. But this changed when a book tour for one of his books translated into German was planned by the German publisher. With two other books in German to follow before long, Raphael decided to go to Germany to publicize his cosen field of abiding human and historical interest to a German readership.
The book however is actually only incidentally about Raphael's book tour. This is little more than an explanation for why he was in Germany in relation to his thoughts about why he didn't want to go to Germany from his parents' treatment there. The book tour also provides the book's chronology. But the chronology itself isn't important either except as a kind of binding for the varied material.
Reading the book is like watching different panels of scenery moved on and off a stage. The different panels are Raphael's personal experiences and memories; family memories, mostly of his mother and father, told to him as with oral tradition; historical facts and scenes of the brutalities of the Holocaust (like ones seen in documentaries) and vignettes of Nazi Germany; and vignettes of today's changed Germany. These aren't simply woven together, or the book would be simply a memoir. It's more than a memoir though: it's a sad remembrance of what the author knew happened to his parents (as well as millions of others) and a true account of personal change, and in this coming to the hard-to-admit realization that the past does not and should not define the present.
In the Presence of History - The Authoritative Guide to Historical Autographs For Collectors, History Enthusiasts and Investors, A publication of The Raab Collection
Steven S. Raab and Jonas Raab, with Nathan Raab
The Diamond Press
9780982338902 $33.50 www.raabcollection.com
Readers have the benefit of the authors' unmatched expertise in the field of collecting autographs along with the pleasure of viewing lifelike illustrations of notable historical documents. The Raab Collection which is the business of the authors is a leading dealer in historic autographs. With their reputation going back over 30 years, the Collection has relatives and others associated with important historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson and Dwight Eisenhower coming to them to handle or purchase written memorabilia. Among documents the Raab Collection has dealt with are Abraham Lincoln's order to blockade Southern ports at the start of the Civil War and the first mention by Theodore Roosevelt of his famous phrase "Speak softly and carry a big stick" in a letter. Such autographed items are connected with major points in American history. They are also indicative of the exceptional Americana the Raab Collection concentrates in.
The book is a reliable, up-to-date, comprehensive guide for newcomers to the field. Experienced dealers and collectors would profit much from it as well, not only in being brought up to date on certain subjects, means of authentication, purchasing or marketing items, and such, but also in the expert guidance and commentary on somewhat arcane, yet nonetheless important subjects for serious collectors and dealers. The authors don't stress this: But with its numerous clearly-presented illustrations of signed documents and some close-ups of signatures, the book can also be used to some extent as a reference for authenticating autographs or at least as a starting point for this.
The introductory chapter and ones following it on assessing the value of autographs, authentication of documents and signatures, and basics of buying and selling are essential for newcomers. Subchapters on the details of the art and science of authenticating signatures, comparisons of different kinds of documents in relation to determining authenticity, and a strategic approach to collecting autographs including investment considerations are chapters for advanced individuals in the field. As presidential autographs is one specialty area of the Raab Collection, there is a section on this; and the large majority of the illustrations are presidential documents.
The work is highly recommended for its concrete, dependable guidance accompanied by high-quality illustrations of varied historical documents as teaching tools. It makes the field enticing for beginners; and for veterans, it reminds them of the continual challenges and delights which sustain their involvement in the field.
Yucatan Through Her Eyes - Alice Dixon Le Plongeon, Writer and Expeditionary Photographer Lawrence Gustave Desmond, Foreword by Claire L. Lyons
U. of New Mexico Press
9780826345950 $45.00 unmpress.com; 800-249-7737
Alice Dixon Le Plongeon went from London with her husband the noted Maya archaeologist Augustus Le Plongeon for an expedition in Central America. But she soon established herself as a equal partner with her husband especially in photographs of the Mayan ruins. Together they revolutionized the taking of photographs of the ruins so that an incomparably improved, detailed, and multifaceted visual record was made. Before the Le Plongeon's, archaeologists were satisfied with a few photographs of particular ruins taken on large glass plates. This was hardly a visual record of discoveries and fieldwork or of much use for other archaeologists or the interested public. The Le Plongeons, by sharp contrast, systematically took photographs of all parts of ruins and also of field work operations on hundreds of small glass plates.
The photography project alone is enough to make Alice Le Plongeon noteworthy. Biographer Desmond in his aim to create a full picture of this accomplished woman of the late Victorian period brings in her outstanding activity in other endeavors as well. Settling in Brooklyn with her husband in 1884, Le Plongeon was soon lecturing on the Mayan ruins and culture. She was also visibly involved in social and political issues of the late Victorian era, including feminist interests. Epic poetry was another one of her accomplishments.
To a considerable degree, Desmond presents the rounded-out picture of Le Plongeon through passages from her work logs or diaries and letters of hers. The work logs contain much colorful material describing archaeological tasks and living conditions, activities, individuals of the team in the field. Most importantly though, the revolutionary photography work is also contained in the work logs.
Le Plongeon's archaeological photography work is what is heavily concentrated on with her other educational, writing, and activist work secondary against the backdrops of the state of archaeology and the Victorian society of the time. Desmond and the book designers add nice touches which contribute to the picture of Le Plongeon as a respected, memorable person of her day for many reasons. On some of the pages of the larger-size book are decorative elements; and there is a good deal of visual material, including photographs of ruins by Le Plongeon and her husband and of Le Plongeon. In appendices are a poem by a British poet reminding relatives of Le Plongeon of her, letters of hers to her parents, and other ancillary, yet illuminating material.
Jack London's Racial Lives, A Critical Biography
Jeanne Campbell Reesman
U. of Georgia Press
9780820327891 $34.95 www.ugapress.org
Jack London was a self-avowed proponent of the late Victorian/early 20th century "scientific racialism" supposedly derived from Darwin's theory of evolution. The "scientific racialism" held the superiority of the white race. Nonetheless, London's racial views as depicted and implied in his writings were much more complex; to the point of raising questions about whether London really did believe in "scientific racialism. The U. of Texas English professor Reesman sees this author's racial views conventional among whites of the era as associated with the rough conditions of his childhood, but as demonstrably being considerably modified or even abandoned as London moved to and wrote about far-flung parts of the world. It is in London's fiction, Reesman notes, with the characterizations, settings, interplay of characters, and resolutions of fiction, where his complex feelings and observations about race are most evident.
London was a pioneer in the realistic/naturalistic style of literature coming about in the early 1900s. He wrote journalism about the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, the heavyweight championship boxing match pitting the African-American Jack Johnson against the white man Tommy Burns in 1908, and the Mexican Revolution in 1914. Reesman follows how in London's series of writings on the heavyweight fight, his regard of Johnson underwent a sea change. Settings of London's fiction were the wilderness of Alaska or the Klondike, the remote islands of the South Pacific, or some other unpopulated place where individuals had to use their wits and their strength to survive in direct contact with nature. London's stories drew the interest of movie studios for their adventure and drama of survival.
Reesman relates London's ambivalence and changing views toward race as a sequence of "homes" corresponding to the actual homes the writer lived in different parts of the world. The organization of her book is thus biographical, not thematic or theoretical reflecting some school of literary critique. This seems only natural considering London's rootedness in journalism and naturalism. The literary critique places London alongside Conrad and Kipling as a late Victorian/early 20th century white author whose works shed much light on the era's insubstantial, largely fanciful theories of white superiority and portray alternate views on other races inhabiting the settings of their books. This book also has the special treat of more than 40 photographs taken by Jack London. Reesman is at work coediting a major book of collected photographs of London to be published by the publisher of this work.
Arrowheads - Early Man Projectile Points of North America, Identification and Values
9781574325942 $29.95 www.collectorbooks.com
Ken Owens is an expert in the field of Native American artifacts. Arrowheads don't fetch near the highest prices in the field of antiques. Six hundred to eight hundred is about the top of the range, with many valued at only $50.00 or below. The field draws enthusiasts like Owens for the fun of the search in the outdoors, the connection with the romance of Native American life throughout the Americas, and what the arrowheads disclose about aboriginal cultures.
The terminology of arrowheads is the guide to what to look for with them, defining features which in many cases are the basis for the value of an arrowhead. Accordingly, Owens begins his reference with terminology using illustrations--hafting area, biconvex, collateral flaking, etc. The bulk of the text, however, is the catalog of types of arrowheads in different areas of the Americans. The arrowheads are identified by names for the respective areas, which names are also used for a particular culture or tribe. The types of arrowheads in this catalog are from the B.C./Before Christ era, though many of the cultures or tribes survived to the European discovery of America. With each of the arrowheads of this catalog named Gallery of Points covering from 28,000B.C. to 1,000B.C. are photographs of typical arrowheads of the type and annotations on description, distribution and association, age and culture affiliation, and additional remarks.
At over 120 pages with one type of arrowhead for each page, there are patently many different types of arrowheads and much to learn about them. In addition to all of this in the Gallery, there are several appendix-like sections which besides the illustrated price guide go into narrower areas of arrowhead identification and collecting (e. g., the Southwest); offer smaller illustrated guides for identification; and define many more relevant terms in a glossary. With Owens' guidance on what collecting arrowheads is all about--which requires some knowledge of geology--the author's annotations on the type of arrowheads, and the countless photographs and illustrations, one sees that such interest in arrowheads is a part of the broader field of archaeology.
Cunard, A Photographic History
distributed in U.S. by Casemate
Drexel Hill, PA
9781848680647 $34.95 www.casematepublishing.com www.amberley-books.com
The long history of the famed Cunard ocean liner company is brought together in photographs. The Cunard name is associated with elegant transatlantic steamship travel in the early years of the 20th century. Today, the name is associated with cruise-ship vacations mostly in the Caribbean. In 1998, the remaining Cunard fleet was purchased by Carnival Corporation so that it could claim to be the owner of the world's largest cruise ship. By this time, parts of the Cunard steamship company had already been sold off; and Cunard was seen mostly as a remnant of a bygone era of ocean travel. The growth of the jet-plane industry after World War II brought the near-demise of Cunard.
Cunard's history goes back further than its heyday of the early 1900s. The British company was founded by Canadian Samuel Cunard in 1939. The first steamship was launched the following year. The company was named the British and North America Royal Mail Steam Ship Packet Company. But it soon came to be known simply as Cunard after its founder.
The most interesting photographs are the older ones of the early generation of ships with masts for sails in addition to the steam pipes. Photographs of Cunard liners in their World War II roles as troop carriers and hospital ships are of particular interest as well as this side of the company's history is not so widely known. The ships were not only luxury liners throughout the company's history of about 170 years. Color ads of various types including posters attract special interest too for artists' dramatic and fetching pictures of the impressive liners.
Most of the photographs are black-and-white ones from different periods. Many of these are straightforward photographs of different ships, possibly for nothing more than identification. There are photos of ships near docks with a waiting crowd or pulling into or leaving busy harbors which convey the excitement generated by the huge ocean liners, an excitement still aroused today. The text follows the overall course of the history of Cunard and highlights the moments of change. The balance of diverse period photographs, complementary illustrations, and informative text make for a companionable general history and visual record.
What Virtue There Is in Fire - Cultural Memory and the Lynching of Sam Hose
Edwin T. Arnold
U. of Georgia Press
9780820328911 $28.95 www.ugapress.org
The horrific 1899 murder of Sam Hose in Georgia by a white mob for allegedly killing a white farmer and raping his wife is the jumping off point for this look at the segregated Southern culture of the time where such incidents were not uncommon. Steeped in the history of Southern culture as a professor of English at Appalachian State U., author of nine books on Southern literature, and editor of the Faulkner Journal, Arnold is especially attuned to the workings of the late 19th century Southern society. His book is not a sensationalistic rendering of the notorious incident, as in a popular true-crime book for example. It is a perspicacious, detailed sociological study of the conditions and forces of the Southern culture and relationships between blacks and whites.
The author's aim is not to judge, shame, or moralize--but to understand how such a horrific incident and other similar atrocities could happen so often with the local Southern society seeming to take them in stride and so readily and easily return to seeming normalcy. Varied newspaper articles on the Hose torture and lynching and other lynchings account for much of the research for and content of the book. In seeking this understanding, Arnold analyzes the social structure and profiles prominent individuals such as instigators and sheriffs and other public officials on opposing sides of the contest between law and vigilantism. While the local society dominated by whites could appear to return to normalcy, Arnold probes deep senses of uneasiness, hollow denials of responsibility by individuals and communities, and attempts at cover-ups which attest to feelings of guilt and led eventually to a changed culture where such incidents were acknowledged as the inexcusable atrocities they were. This investigative reporting frame of mind and aim of getting the facts and progress of the story right makes this work particularly engaging.
Red Light Women of the Rocky Mountains
Jan MacKell, Foreword by Thomas J. Noel
U. of New Mexico Press
9780826346100 $34.95 800-249-7737 unmpress.com
This is a sound history on the presence of prostitutes in the Rocky Mountain region in the latter 1800s and into the first couple of decades of the 1900s. No racy photographs or snide comments. During this time, the area was mostly in the early stages of its development. Areas of it were still territories, not yet states. Yet the areas were settled enough and populated enough to support the prostitutes' trade. One vein of MacKell's history is the changing attitudes toward and position of prostitutes as the area became more developed and new waves of populations moved in. At different times, prostitutes could have an important economic role in a community, exert political influence, and in ways not acknowledged or much studied contribute to the growth and stability of location.
The book is in a popular style with an academic underpinning of extensive research well-documented in over 60 pages of notes. MacKell focuses attention of the presence, activities, and effects of prostitutes in the several territories/states of the region in chapters with witty titles such as Amazons of Arizona, Illicit Ladies of Idaho, Nubians of New Mexico, and The Undoing of Utah's Soiled Doves. One learns a good deal about prostitutes in the western states in this era of their early development. With economical biographies of many madams running establishments and of particular prostitutes, including true-crime like stories of some, the history is as colorful as any about the Old West. Wyatt Earp consorted with a prostitute for a while, and there were ones involved in murders, robberies, and other crimes. The changing acceptance, views, visibility, influence, etc., of prostitutes in the several territories/states--a dimension of the subject MacKell also gives attention to--reflect the varying levels of development in them and also their varied particular paths of development.
Despite the acceptance of prostitutes and in some cases, invitations for them, they inevitably remained on the margins. Even when they were politically influential or economically important, their standing was always contingent and almost always discreet. The author has some fun with the subject, which is fun for the reader. But basically her work is a solid history to go alongside others on particular aspects of U.S. western history and lore. The amount of experienced research and great volume of content mark this book as a fundamental work on the subject.
Shrines in Africa - History, Politics, and Society
edited by Alan Charles Dawson
U. of Calgary Press
9781552382462 $39.95 www.uofcpress.com
While the six articles focus on shrines in areas and cultures in west Africa, they nonetheless open a window onto the animist, tribal, and Islamic cultures found to varying degrees throughout most of Africa. These cultures have different roots and different values and forms than the modern nation-state with its elaborate memorials (e. g., the Lincoln Memorial), concept of patriotism, multiculturalism, and values and processes of integration and assimilation. The ethnographic, anthropological articles thus reveal why Western democratic ideas are so foreign to African societies--although this political question is not the point of the pieces.
The simplest African shrines are not places of worship, but they are places of reverence. The shrines have special places in the African societies for internal, community-oriented reasons or for external, outward-looking reasons. Some shrines can embody both orientations.
Shrines for family members and leaders serve an internal orientation by strengthening bonds within a family or community. Pots of different sizes in a wall of a room of a dwelling or partly buried in a field are kinds of shrines for such individuals of group importance in the Mandara Mountains region stretching through parts of Cameroon and Nigeria. Larger shrines which are relatively large earth formations signify not only tribal or group memories, but also territorial claims. The "saints' shrines" of Morocco are the most elaborate kind, and ones which would be most familiar to Westerners. These shrines have a resemblance to churches in appearance and representation. While the saints' shrines of the Islamic culture of North Africa are places of public and private worship, they are not religious centers of parishes or archdioceses for example; for such shrines "form a country-wide network of signifiers that symbolically and structurally mediate ideas of the local and the national, the rural and the urban, and heterodox and the orthodox in a manner that projects the identity of places and peoples over great distances and that reconfirms the Islamic identity of the country." Though over the past 50 years, modernism with its spread of literacy and weakening of traditional bonds has adulterated this "system of knowledge and meanings," it continues to be effective in maintaining Moslem identity and unity over a wide area.
The African shrines are ancient practices which have survived into modern times. The collected articles shed light on aspects of African culture not given much attention and only barely alluded to in the modern media.
Julia Gillian (and the Quest for Joy)
Alison McGhee, author
Drazen Kozjan, illustrator
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
It's impossible not to love the character of Julia Gillian, her St. Bernard Bigfoot and their daily struggles.
In the follow-up to last year's "Julia Gillian (and the Art of Knowing)," author Alison McGhee's experienced hand again melds humor and poignancy with situations that will instantly resonate with young readers.
This time, it's the start of fifth grade and Julia is surrounded by things that should make her joyful. Instead, things seem to be falling apart. Her best friend has become distant, the long-time lunch lady has been replaced with a too-strict counterpart and she can't seem to get one note out of her trumpet.
Sometimes Julia handles rough moments with courage, and sometimes she sinks. That she -- like regular children -- sometimes finds herself deeply discouraged and unable to pull herself up make her wonderfully real. That she is surrounded by loving friends and adults who help her figure things out lends depth, as they offer solutions that readers might apply to their own lives.
And that McGhee throws in great humor - among the best is a moment where Julia defies the new lunch attendant and stuffs a forbidden cookie in her mouth, hang the repercussions - keeps the story enlivened.
A superb second installment to a series that hopefully will continue, carrying Julia and her friends into middle school.
Siobhan Vivian, author
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
A few pages into "Same Difference" you get a sinking feeling that Siobhan Vivian's second novel may be little more than superficial cliche --- wealthy teens with pools and maids, sipping lattes and heading off to summer art camp.
But Vivian quickly digs deeper, and while socio-economics remains key to the plot it takes a backseat to the globally applicable concept of simply stepping outside what is familiar.
The story follows 16-year-old Emily, who decides to commute on summer weekdays to art classes in Philadelphia from her home in a posh, gated New Jersey suburb.
She's quickly caught between two worlds - the brash, urban teens in her art classes and a long-time best friend in New Jersey whose life revolves almost exclusively around her wealthy boyfriend.
At first, Emily moves back and forth between the two existences, believing that they are too different to ever mix.
Meanwhile, she tries new clothes, new hairstyles and new attitudes and begins to feel increasingly suffocated at home.
Soon, she has all but discarded her old friends for galleries, clubs and the whirl of the city.
Of course, things collide. Then, with achingly believability, Vivian explores whether it's possible to forge a new life yet still hold onto the things that previously defined you. Do you have to throw out everything from the past to move forward?
Great writing, great characters, a deeply satisfying novel about growing up and finding your way.
Yes, I know the Monkey Man
Dori Hillestad Butler
1700 Chattahoochee Ave., Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
"Yes, I Know the Monkey Man," has on the surface all the makings of a television movie. A father fakes his 3-year-old daughter's death, hides her for 10 years… then her twin sister discovers the truth. All that's needed is a trite conclusion.
But Hillestad Butler's long-awaited follow-up to 2005's "Do You Know the Monkey Man?" doesn't go pat.
Rather, her portrait of a 13-year-old girl whose life is upended when her mother and sister reappear is full of wonderful depth.
T.J. is a street-smart yet true-to-life girl whose attempts to be brave when her grandmother goes into a nursing home and her father is hospitalized after an accident are palpable.
She ends up headed to the home of the mother and sister she didn't know existed until three weeks before. They have spent the past 10 years believing she died in a boating accident - the first of a tangled web of lies that T.J's father spun to keep her to himself after divorce split the family.
From her struggle to take her dog with her on the bus to her mother's home, to her concern about her grandmother to her ultimate realization of how much her father has stolen from her, T.J. is every bit believable. Strong, yet afraid. Sharp-edged, yet emotional. Hating her father, yet loving him.
The complexity of the character keeps the story from sinking into predictable pap. Vividly real.
Wire Rim Books,
118 Spring Valley St., Hutto TX 78634
9780980225365 $14.95 www.wirerimbooks.com
Henry Melton has once again released a great adventure /mystery science fiction novel that will entice his readers worldwide. Learn more about the author's books at http://www.HenryMelton.com
Falling Bakward (no, there is no spelling mistake!) is about the adventures of a boy, Jerry, who is digging at a certain spot in the family sunflower fields to find Indian artifacts. But he discovers some mystery skeletons instead, and then a flying saucer. Trying to search the alien shuttle he gets trapped in that and right then his adventures begin as he travels to the world of the Bak who are probably his own ancestors. What will happen to him? What is the relationship between his parents and those aliens? Jerry has to find out that and a lot more to satisfy his curiosity.
This novel is as exciting as all the previous mysteries Henry has created and I could also say that this one is even more fast-paced and tightly written. Once the reader starts it they will not put it down. The plot is compelling from the first chapter to the last. The language is as always vivid and appropriate for young readers helping the characters look real and act like real people. This demands a great skill but the author knows very well how to combine reality with unreal situations in order to evoke this effect.
Science fiction mysteries have always been exciting not only for young people but for older ones too, so this book could easily target a wider audience. The way Henry describes scenes is unique; he does not use long adjective-crammed descriptions but plain dialogue, which is more effective and direct. This is a highly enjoyable novel that will not only entertain readers but educate them as well as regards the cultural aspects the author mentions in the story. It is a great read for everyone in the family. Get it from the author, the Amazon and other online stores.
Bubba and Giganto
Odds Against Us
PO Box 6482, Edmond, OK 73083-6482
9780979751363$ 10.99 www.4rvpublishingllc.com
Lea Schizas, a multi published award winning author and editor, is a mother of five living in Montreal. Visit her at www.LeaSchizas.com
Bubba and Giganto is the story of Bubba, a newcomer in a school, who befriends a huge boy called David (Giganto) and together they are a good team. They soon have to confront the bullies of the school; what will happen? Is Bubba going to surrender?
The story is told in the first person in a diary like style, so it is direct and vivid, thus attracting the readers' attention immediately. The language is fresh and casual and the descriptions skillfully brisk and alive. The author uses an original humorous way to describe things happening to Bubba so the story is highly enjoyable to read. This story is also exceptionally moving at times while highlighting the benefits of true friendship. The issue of bullying the author focuses on in this book is a common problem prevalent in most schools nowadays and should be dealt somehow by both parents and teachers. Therefore, this book should be read by families and educators as it might help them understand kids better. Lea tries to analyze the characters' inner feelings by offering readers a close look into their behavior. This is an interesting read that caters to all the family. Get this book from
Liana Metal, Reviewer
Manners & Morals of Victorian America
Native Ground Books & Music
109 Bell Road, Asheville, NC 28805
9781883206543, $14.95, www.nativeground.com
The Victorian era of American history was a time of rapid technological advancements and concentrations of wealth that were to transform America from a rural to an urban society. It was also a time of class distinctions in which proper etiquette could establish oneself as a person of quality -- or the lack thereof. In "Manners & Morals of Victorian America", author Wayne Erbsen presents an informed and informative text superbly enhanced with just under 500 historic engravings and illustrations as he details every aspect of Victorian life from the rituals of courtship, to dealing with rejected suitors, to the duties of husbands and wives, to the priorities and conduct of spinsters. From advice for young ladies, to unmentionables on the dinner plate, to women's suffrage, to the 'do's and don'ts' of wearing hats, "Manners & Morals of Victorian America" is a fascinating and enthusiastically recommended window into the morals and manners of an American past that will never come again.
Scott Haugen & Tiffany Haugen
Frank Amato Publications
PO Box 82112, Portland, OR 97282
9781571883322, $19.95, www.amatobooks.com
Cooking meals using a plank is a very special and ancient culinary art incorporating the natural and aromatic qualities of wood that can be practiced in a kitchen oven or on an outdoor grill with equal efficacy. In "Plank Cooking: The Essence Of Natural Wood" is a compilation of amazing recipes drawn together by the husband and wife team of Scott and Tiffany Haugen. Spiral bound to lay flat upon a kitchen table, counter, or just a rock out in a campsite, "Plank Cooking" features more than one hundred palate pleasing, appetite satisfying, gourmet quality recipes enhanced with detailed cooking tips making it thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly'. The ingredients for each of these outstanding dishes can be readily acquired at any good grocery. Profusely illustrated throughout, the recipes range from Roasted Black Bean Dip; Grilled Halloumi Cheese; Chilled Salmon Sticks; and Petite Sirloin with Maple Onions; to Pastrami with Green Tomato Relish; Beef Chimichangas; Sumatran Satay; and Apple Walnut Tart. For any dining occasion from a simple family dinner to an elaborate cookout party, "Plank Cooking" is a welcome culinary reference and one that is highly recommended for personal, family, and community library cookbook collections.
J. H. Martin
Rivers & Lakes Press
No ISBN, 5 Euros
The editor came into possession of the poetry compiled in this small. slim chapbook when he encountered J. H. Martin one night when the poet was blind drug and not all that coherent. Martin subsequently vanished and hasn't been heard of since. But to mark his passing has left behind some remarkable and memorable verse chronicling his journey through China, wandering from town to village to countryside to city seeking the kind of wisdom to be found in the solitude of mountain peaks among the hermits that live there. These are poems whose style is reflective of a Zen-like influence as Martin notes and emphasizes the lives of the people he encountered -- especially in the rural areas of the China mainland. "Spring Wanderings" has no ISBN and the review copy coming unannounced in mails was absent publisher address -- only an email contact. But the quality of the poetry comprising this 40-page chapbook surpassed those missing elements and the result is an enthusiastic recommendation to those who prize original free verse giving voice to the human condition that is both unique and universal at the same time. 'Guanxi': In the end,/It will all be paid for in blood./Kill one to save a hundred.
Murach's ADO.NET 3.50 And The Entity Framework With VB 2008
Mike Murach & Associates
4340 North Knoll Ave., Fresno, CA 93722
9781890774523, $52.50, www.murach.com
Computer technology continues to advance with a rapidity that takes time and effort to keep up with by professionals, researchers, and academia alike. That's why "Murach's ADO.NET 3.50 And The Entity Framework With VB 2008", expertly compiled and deftly written by Anne Boehm, is such an invaluable do-it-yourself training manual and reference work Readers will learn how to utilize data sources and datasets for rapid application development of Windows Froms applications; build 3-layer applications by writing reusable, maintainable, and scalable ADO.NET code; fully exploit LINQ to query datasets and work with SQL Server and XML data; and effectively explore an entity framework allowing the mapping of business objects to database objects through employing an Entity Data Model. Enhanced with downloadable files to make learning as 'user friendly' as possible, "Murach's ADO.NET 3.50 And The Entity Framework With VB 2008" is a seminal and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, and academic library reference collections.
The Sublime Restaurant Cookbook
The Book Publishing Company
PO Box 99, Summertown, TN 38483
9781570672279, $19.95, www.amazon.com
The Sublime Restaurant of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is regionally and nationally famous for its fusion-oriented culinary creations that draw from Asian, Latin, and Mediterranean influences to present vegan dishes that are as palate pleasing and nutritious as they are appetite satisfying and 'kitchen cook friendly' to prepare. Expertly compiled by Nanci Alexander, "The Sublime Restaurant Cookbook" showcases recipes ranging from a Mushroom Ceviche; a Baby Aruglula Salad; and a Seven-Layer Pizza; to a Portobello Tenderloin; Olive Oil Whipped Potatoes; and a Coconut Cake. "The Sublime Restaurant Cookbook" is enthusiastically recommended for vegetarians and vegans, and offers dishes that will appeal to anyone who enjoys gourmet quality dining at home.
The Tight Budget Cookbook
Heidi Smalheiser, editor
E & E Publishing
1001 Bridgeway, #227, Sausalito, CA 94965
9780979160653, $15.95, www.amazon.com
If ever there were a 'kitchen cook' friendly compilation of low-cost, nutritious, delicious recipes guaranteed to be as palate pleasing and as appetite satisfying as their ingredients and preparation are easy on the pocket book, Heidi Smalheiser's "The Tight Budget Cookbook" is the one! Featuring a culinary wealth of terrific breakfast dishes for as little as 4 cents a serving, combined with main dishes that include meat for as little as 51 cents a serving, "The Tight Budget Cookbook" truly lives up to its name. Along with the usual list of ingredients as cooking instructions, each featured recipe is enhanced with serving size, individual serving cost, number of servings, as well as a breakdown of calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates, cholesterol, and sodium per serving. The cornucopia of recipes themselves range from Quick Skillet Lasagna; Butternut Squash with Black Beans; Roasted Herb Potatoes; and 5-a-Day Salad; to Baked Lemon Chicken; Veggie Bean Wrap with Avocado and Mangos; Microwave-Baked Apple; and Pineapple Rice Bake. "The Tight Budget Cookbook" is the ideal addition to any personal or family cookbook collection for those affected by the current economic recession -- and beyond!
The Last Pioneer
Samuel W. Taylor
564 West 400 North, Salt Lake City, UT 84116-3411
1560851155, $19.95, www.amazon.com
John Taylor, the successor to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young as president of the Mormon Church was the great-grandfather of this reviewer's step-father. As such I was privy to family historical records. That's why I read Samuel W. Taylor's biography of "The Last Pioneer: John Taylor, A Mormon Prophet" with intense interest and appreciation. This is the story of a many who was first contacted by a Mormon missionary in 1836 and soon moved his family from Toronto to Ohio where the church was headquartered at the time. From there John and his family migrated to Missouri and became enmeshed in the 'Mormon War' of 138. Drawing from personal letters and speeches, as well as the diaries and journals of his contemporaries, the reader is provided with John's full career, adventures and hardships as he moved west to what became the Deseret Territory with Brigham Young after the murder of Joseph Smith at the hands of a Missouri mob. Eventually becoming the third president of the Mormon Church, he presided over an expanding Mormon colonization, receiving visions and revelations in his own right with respect to leading the Mormon Church during continued troubled times, and leaving a legacy that would include revelations that would foster fundamentalist schisms over the theological practice of plural marriage (polygamy) that continue to this day. Samuel Taylor writes with a special expertise as the grandson of John Taylor and the son of John W. Taylor (who became an Apostle of the Mormon Church). "The Last Pioneer" is informed and informative reading, making it a highly recommended addition to personal, academic, and community library American Biography Collections in general, and Mormon History Studies supplemental reading lists in particular.
Making the Grade
PO Box 645910, Pullman, WA 99164-5910
9780874222999 $19.95 www.wsupress.wsu.edu 1-800-354-7360
Making the Grade: Plucky Schoolmarms of Kittitas Country collects the first-person testimonies of thirteen Kittitas County schoolmarms who served from 1914 to 1942. In those days, schoolmarms did everything from janitorial work to building fires, hauling waters, treating injuries or sickness, and even cooking lunch in addition to teaching. The schools were a gathering point of social activity, featuring holiday programs, plays, spelling bees, box socials, picnics, and dances. Local hazards ranged from coyotes and cougars that cast a pall on possible school trips, to rattlesnakes that lurked in rocks behind the school, to smallpox, the measles, the flu, and unruly older boys! A captivating real-life portrait of what it was like to teach in the first half of the twentieth century, Making the Grade is highly recommended.
Dr. Mayo's Boy
Brown Books Publishing Group
16200 N. Dallas Parkway, Suite 170, Dallas, TX 75248
9781934812235, $24.95, www.brownbooks.com
Three generations of doctors offer three complex pictures of how American medicine has evolved. "Dr. Mayo's Boy: A Century of American Medicine" is the biography of a man whose father and grandfather took on the practice of healing, and how that has shaped his life into becoming a doctor of his own. Reflecting broadly on his grandfather and father's times, he blends their stories in with his own, offering a vivid picture to how medicine has greatly changed, and how much it has stayed the same. "Dr. Mayo's Boy" is a must for anyone who studies the history of modern medicine.
The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy
Luke Cuddy, Editor
Box 300, Peru, IL 61354-3000
9780812696547, $18.95 www.opencourtbooks.com
Video games have been elevated in status from games and toys to works of art in and of themselves, and any familiar with the Zelda universe will find this analyzed and considered in this first philosophical investigation of the rules of Hyrule and the elements of Zelda's universe. Adding to the series linking modern experience to classic philosophy, this is a 'must' for any who seek to link gaming and modern experience to philosophical elements.
Quentin Tarantino and Philosophy
Richard Green and K. Silem Mohammad
Box 300, Peru, IL 61354-3000
0812696344, $17.95 www.opencourtbooks.com
Any who love Quentin Tarantino should find the reflections of some seventeen philosophers on his art to be thought-provoking. From questions of miracles and self-destructive revenge to how characters in his films are doomed, this survey is fast-paced and thought-provoking - and perfect for high school classroom date by any who have viewed Tarantino's films.
A Creative Guide to Exploring Your Life
Graham Gordon Ramsay and Holly Barlow Sweet
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Box 960, Herndon, VA 20172-0960
9781843108924, $29.95 www.jkp.com
Psychologist and professional photographers join to provide a unique guide to exploring and understanding your life in a book packed with exercises and examples pairing art with writing for self-discovery. Any who would keep a journal or use writing as a catharsis for personal evolution will find this a fine survey making it a key pick for general-interest collections as well as high school to college-level libraries.
Early Pyschosocial Interventions in Dementia
Esme Moniz-Cook and Jill Manthorpe
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
400 Market Street #400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781843106838, $39.95 www.jkp.com
For those diagnosed with dementia, early stage support can change their lives - and this provides examples of interventions known to benefit people and their families. From changing daily life to ways of supporting diagnosis with coping mechanisms, the experience of professionals from the UK and Europe make for an important set of case examples perfect for medical libraries.
Riches Among the Ruins
Adventures in the Dark Corners of the Global Economy
Robert P. Smith with Peter Zheutlin
AMACOM, American Management Association
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
Robert Smith's new book Riches Among the Ruins sheds important light on an often over-looked or under-reported part of our global economy; downtrodden economies-economies racked by war and revolution. Mr. Smith knows first hand about how to invest in promises of governments, in the form of debt. Brokering these transaction are not for the weak at heart, and the authors gritty first-hand stories contain drama no screen writer could ever imagine. If you are interested in foreign investments, this riveting new bok is for you.
Chapter titles are: El Salvador: Bullets, Bombs, and Bonds, Vietnam: The Early Education of an Economic Warrior, Turkey: Selling the Letter "M" for a Cool Half Million, Guatemala/Panama: Risky Business, Nigeria: Promises, Promises, Russia: Boom to Bust and Back, Iraq: Mission Not Accomplished, and American Twilight. Additional features include acknowledgments, about the authors, and an index.
Riches Among the Ruins offer valuable lessons from an expert on how today's investors in our highly integrated global economy. Applying his perspective as a global citizen, Smith culminates with an objective diagnosis of the current economic condition and future promise of the U.S. In his view, our own country, like the whole global economy, needs to focus on the narrowing gap between the rich and the poor. An excellent book, a must read for those in the financial business and individual investors alike.
Young Guns: The Fearless Entrepreneur's Guide to Chasing Your Dreams and Breaking Out on Your Own
AMACOM, American Management Association
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
Our current economy with growing job losses poses a large opportunity to start your own business and give self-employment a try. But, before you hang out your shingle, pick up Robert Tuchman's new book Young Guns. It will provide you with a guide and a thorough in-the-trenches coach. The authors shares with his readers real, practical strategies to get your new business up and running, and staying strong for years to come. Mr. Tuchman offers great call-out boxes peppered through the book called "reality check", which offer you related information.
Chapter titles are: Why Not Me?, The Decision, The Big Idea, The First Test...and the First Plan, The Partner Principle, Gut Check: Getting Started, Priorities for That First All-Consuming Year, Your Are the Company, Technology: Our Generation's Great Equalizer, Service Is What You're Selling, Back Up Your Sell, Inside Player's: Your Team, Celebrate Failure, Reward Success, Your Vendor Relationships, By the Numbers, and Why Not You?. Additional features include Online Resources and an index.
Tuchman's "How to Launch a Business during a Recession" is reason enough to purchase this book. He explores starting with self financing, borrow, but with caution, do business from home, don't delegate all the grunt work, know when to show a loss, invest in the right software, stay on top of your numbers and hire inexperienced people with lots of passion. As a small business owner and entrepreneur myself, this book is a must have for anyone considering starting their own business, especially in 2009.
William C. Dietz
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0441013260 $24.95 http://www.penguin.com
In the far future, mankind has spread throughout the galaxy, via a system of portals between star systems. Now their location has been forgotten, so mankind is reverting back to a state where magic becomes very important, and each star system is on its own. The little interstellar travel that is left is handled by a rapidly diminishing fleet of aging ships. Only the brave, the foolhardy or professional couriers called runners make such journeys.
Jak Rebo's mission is to deliver a young boy to a faraway planet, to find out for sure if he is a legitimate religious apostle (based on present-day Buddhism). This religion has two sects, and members of the other sect have plenty of reason for wanting to make sure that Rebo and his human cargo never reach their destination.
Things get more complicated when a female "sensitive," (a clairvoyant and channeler) named Lanni Norr joins the group. With the reverting of mankind away from interstellar travel, science has been reduced to the level of a religious cult. Milos Lysander, the long-dead founder of the Techno Society, seems to have chosen Norr as his way to communicate with this world. The present-day members of the Society want Norr very much, because they think that Lysander has the secret to the location of the long-lost interstellar travel portals. If necessary, they are more than willing to kill anyone who gets in their way.
First of a series, this one is very good. The author has written a number of military/action SF novels in the past, so he very much knows what he is doing. This novel does a fine job of keeping the reader's interest.
The Truth War
Thomas Nelson Books
P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
0785262636 $22.99 http://www.thomasnelson.com
A person either accepts the revealed truth of Scripture through Jesus Christ, or they don't; there's no middle ground. An increasing number of "good" Christians are unknowingly choosing the latter option.
False teachers in the Church are nothing new; they have shown up all throughout history. Jesus even predicted their appearance in the Bible. Unfortunately, such people are not easy to spot, then or now. They don't wear signs around their necks saying "I am an evil person. Don't listen to me." The modern-day Emerging Church movement asserts that God is actually some sort of unknowable force in the universe, which is about as far from Church teaching as one can get.
Among the lesser-known, and shorter, Books in the Bible is the Book of Jude (not Judas). Originally, it was going to be all sweetness and light, but Jude turned it into an alarm against false teachers and heretics in the early Church. The author spends considerable time talking about the Evangelical movement. He has no problem with churches occasionally bringing outside trends into the Church. But, a church that jumps from pop culture trend to pop culture trend, forgetting what "church" is supposed to be all about, should be viewed with great alarm.
Christians should learn to pick their battles; don't engage in a life-or-death struggle over every little religious disagreement. But, when the stakes are big enough, don't be afraid to fight back, hard. Which is worse, ruffling some feathers and damaging some egos, or losing the Word of God?
For anyone in the evangelical church, pastor and churchgoer, this book is very much recommended. Those in mainline churches should also read it, and keep an eye out for false religious teachers.
Heidi Lampietti, editor
P.O. Box 633, Bayside, CA 95524
1892619091 $10.00 http://www.redjackbooks.com
This is a collaborative novel (each chapter written by a different person) about a medicine show traveling around Europe in the immediate aftermath of World War I.
Professor Bernhard Freedomhowler's Internationally Acclaimed Traveling Exhibition of Medicinal Wonderment consists of a very disparate group of individuals. Calliope is a boy with smooth skin, a snout-like nose and a tail, who can whistle from his mouth, his nose and even his ears. Norris is part-human and part-dog, who is brought on stage as a snarling, ravenous beast ready to tear out someone's throat. After he is given a dose of Freedomhowler's Pan-Herbal Restorative Elixir, he immediately turns into a calm, erudite person quoting Shakespeare.
Lady Bodicaea (real name: Heather McInnerney) is Scottish, and the show's strongwoman. Grenadine is an English nurse who is the show's medium/fortune teller. The leader of the group is Bernhard Freedomhowler (his real name is Tarbottom), an American from Kentucky. He learned the business as part of Wild Bill Hickok's Perambulatory of Astonishing Wonders. Wild Bill has become a figment of Freedomhowler's imagination, and constantly talks to him.
The group spends much of its time just trying to make enough money to eat and to make it to the next town or village. There is the always-present need to make a quick exit should the local townspeople decide that the group has worn out its welcome. Freedomhowler also tries to stay away from Drake, part of the American forces, who orders him to give up the medicine show and return to America (Freedomhowler is an ex-spy).
With any collaborative novel like this, some chapters will be better than others. It's a good story, and for those interested in the history of World War I, this book is worth checking out.
Traces: Birth of Alexander the Great
P.O. Box 818, Kingston, TN 37763-0818
0976250039 $14.95 http://www.ki-eea-key.com
Set in the world of Ancient Greece, this book gives an alternative view of the rise of Alexander the Great.
Told through the eyes of a fictional physician named Wallis, this looks at the political and social climate of the time. Traveling all around the Aegean and Adriatic Seas, he brings food that is desperately needed by an Athens suffering from a major drought. He organizes the Merchant's and Artisan's Guild of Athens into something like a labor union; together they can get better prices for their wares than separately. Trained as a physician by Hippocrates himself, Wallis (also known as Daneion Pelos) heals the sick as best he can.
Wallis spends much of his time worrying about Olympias, a Princess of Epirus. She is living in the court of Philip II, and she is pregnant with Alexander the Great (the gods have said so). It's no secret to anyone that it would not be good for Olympias to produce a female baby. Wallis gets word of a very high-level plot brewing in Philip's court. If Olympias produces a male heir, it will be switched at birth with another newborn. At some point, Philip will publicly decree that this is his rightful heir. Suddenly, the real heir will be produced, Philip will be publicly humiliated, and will be forced to give up the throne. During all this, Olympias will mysteriously "die during childbirth." Wallis is Olympias' only friend in the area, so it is up to him to keep anything peculiar from happening while Olympias is busy with giving birth.
This is a good piece of historical fiction. My only problem with this book has nothing to do with the actual book. When reading a series, I am one of those who has to do it in order; I don't like starting in the middle (this is Part 2). For those who are interested in ancient history, this has plenty of good writing, and is worth reading.
Paul Lappen, Reviewer
Wild Ink: How To Write Fiction for Young Adults
Cottonwood Press, Inc.
109-B Cameron Dr., Fort Collins, CO 80525
Most readers will find that reading "Wild Ink" is like attending a workshop dedicated specifically to writers who write for young adults. For me, reading "Wild Ink" was almost like being at an author schmooze. Among the pages, I re-connected with several good writer friends and I even bumped into my agent. I ate my lunch with all of them.
Amid the plethora of writing books in the world, this one stands out because of Victoria Hanley's talent as both teacher and author. Do the exercises in Chapter 1: Finding Your Writing Self, and you will know whether you really want to write for teens. Only then will you be able to face Chapter 3's Obstacles and Demons. While Hanley presents a realistic picture of today's publishing industry she is generous with advice, compassion, and humor.
This book is not just for beginning writers because of all the interviews with writers, agents, and editors. While Hanley features such well-known authors as Chris Crutcher and Lauren Myracle, she also includes some "not yet published" in the YA genre authors, like Coleen DeGroff and Olgy Maria Aleu, plus interviews with self-published authors, like Becky Clark Cornwell. These writers' stories give this book a feeling of "we're all in this together".
As a professional for 30-plus years in the field of children's literature, I am impressed with Hanley's thoroughness, accuracy, and honesty. All writers whether beginners or experienced professionals, published or unpublished, will find themselves in good company. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
Momma Loves Her Little Son
John Carter Cash, Illustrated by Marc Burckhardt
Little Simon Inspirations
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
John Carter Cash's first children's book is a touching ode to that very special bond between mothers and sons. Momma and son sail far away to China, then climb a rainbow, and fly over the earth back to a familiar riverside and back home again. Cash's poetic prose reads like the lyrics of a soothing ballad.
Every illustration is a two-page spread of Marc Burckhardt's watercolor paintings. His magical artwork contains exquisite details and vivid colors conveying the real action and emotion in this story. A child who doesn't yet know how to read words can easily understand the story by reading the pictures. Burckhardt is a gifted picture book illustrator who knows how to bring prose to life in a whole nother dimension. I hope he will illustrate more children's books.
"Momma Loves Her Little Son" is a comforting bedtime story that Momma can read aloud then leave with son so he can discover his own story in the enchanting pictures.
Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer
Dr. Bob & Debbie's Guide to Sex and Romance
Dr. Robert DeMaria and Debbie Maria
Drugless Healthcare Solutions with Destiny Image Inc.
P. O. Box 136, Avon, Ohio 44011
Putting the Spark Back into Your Romance
Husband and wife team, Robert and Debbie DeMaria join forces in their book "Dr. Bob & Debbie's Guide to Sexual Romance: Drugless Principles to Enhance Your Sex Life" providing guidelines for improving their readers health, marriage, and romance
Dr. Bob is a firm believer in using natural health practices as proactive and preventive measures to eliminate the need for prescription drugs and the risk of their many destructive side effects.
Debbie addresses issues related directly to women. She gives counsel drawn from her own experiences as well as examples of others who have applied the same principles set forth in DeMaria's natural health clinics and seminars. Dr. Bob addresses applications for men in his own unique and straightforward communication style.
Helpful insights and tips reveal the impact of health, nutrition, and hygiene on romance in courtship and marriage. The authors emphasize the sacredness of God's plan for intimacy and the sanctity of finding fulfillment and bonding in the sexual relationship in marriage and the pleasure this brings into the union.
This is a book for Pastors, marriage counselors, and laymen. "Dr. Bob & Debbie's Guide to Sex and Romance" is a helpful guide for young couples planning on marriage and for parents to naturally talk to their kids about sex, abstinence, and the rewards of discipline. This is a book for anyone wanting to restore romance into their relationship naturally without using drugs.
Eat This and Live
Don Colbert, MD
Siloam, A Strang Company
600 Rinehard Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746
Key Principles to Healthy Eating
Approaching a stage in life when exercising discipline in good choices is becoming a mandate and not an option for me, Dr. Don Colbert's new book
"Eat This and Live!" provides me with the keys to making right choices.
Similar to his approach in his earlier New York Times best selling "The Seven Pillars of Health" this work focuses on anti-aging alternatives, nutritional, and preventative medicine.
The mouth watering color photos of attractive and enticing foods portray good and bad choices from every food group. These powerful pictures convince the reader to engage in and adapt the sound advice offered by Dr. Colbert in this intriguing guidebook. Dr. Colbert introduces key principles for making better choices in menu planning at home and for menu choices when dining at out. He incorporates helpful suggestions, charts, and nutritional information, showing what foods to avoid, shopping tips, better ways to prepare, serve, and store food. He also includes winning tips for raising healthier kids.
A descriptive table of contents makes the book user friendly enabling the reader to quickly find areas of specific interest. I found the chapter on antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals enlightening, as I am currently monitoring these in light of prescription medications my doctor has recently suggested.
"Eat This and Live" weaves a spiritual perspective throughout the book with an emphasis on recognizing the mind-body-spirit connection. Colbert's purpose in writing and his prayer for the reader is that they will develop the determination and willpower to follow through in pursuing the eating strategies included in the book. And, that they will care for their body, God's temple, while living a full and bountiful life.
Dr. Colbert inspires and leads the reader providing guidelines for making food choices that will enable them to feel better, look better, and live longer. Colbert's writing is highly inspiring, motivating, and is packed with important information for making better food choices. Highly recommended.
2180 West State Street, Road 434, Suite 2140, Longwood, Florida 32779
A New Perception on Purpose
Shawn Easton provides the key to unlocking your purpose in God's kingdom in his book "Divine Connections." This is a book for everyone with a desire to move to a new spiritual plane in experiencing God. Easton offers the reader insights into an understanding of the benefit of being a member of the "Body of Christ." He sees the church as being made up of interconnecting divine links of individuals who are joined together to support each other in fulfilling His divine purpose.
Easton discusses the importance of the divine connection between New Testament personalities, Elizabeth and Mary, Ananias and Paul, as well as Paul and Barnabas. He draws attention to the impact of the stoning of Stephan on the life of Paul and the consequence of this divine encounter.
Examples are also taken from the Old Testament. The friendship that developed between David and Jonathan illustrates how individuals are prepared for divine connections. Easton uses David's experience with Goliath to alert the reader to be vigilant for giants in their lives that keep them from discovering God's purpose for them. Easton calls attention to the weapons God provides to defeat their enemies.
Other divine connections suggestions include: Godly marriages, friendships, and family relationships. Easton puts an emphasis on the importance of passing on generational blessings and also imparting the blessing down within the Body of Christ. He alerts the reader of the dangers of racial boundaries and of the importance of using time judiciously.
The book is user friendly and well formatted for ease in reading, understanding and appropriation. "Divine Connections" is a well-timed, significant book, challenging the reader to step out in faith, to move beyond their comfort zone and to determine their own God ordained divine connections and purpose.
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Mike Toy & Audrey Jung
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Striking the Match Made in Heaven
Mike Toy has a knack for incorporating a serious subject and a light humor to create a book turning dating into an adventure in fun and laughter. In "Peanut Butter & Jelly" he converts amusing circumstances into dating guidelines, practical tips, and thought provoking spiritual applications. He provides pointers on finding true love, important qualities to look for, and things to avoid. The text is enhanced with attention getting quips and meaningful stories of real life people which illustrate important issues in giving love a chance.
The book focuses on the importance of putting God first in every thing you do before getting involved in any earnest dating. Mike includes, topics like: Preparing your heart, how to be a scintillating conversationalist, un-breaking your heart, social etiquette for the clueless, and defining the relationship, directed especially for the guys.
In the section for girls Mike has drawn from examples shared by a cross section of Christian friends from the female gender to provide answers to: Putting God first, getting a guy's attention, communicating, expectations, and how to tell if a guy likes you.
Striking, attention getting illustrations created by Audrey Jung capture the essence of the text and come to life to reinforce Mike's narrative, lists, questions, and stories. Audrey's artwork is incredible. The witty "balloon" comments that accompany the art work are hilarious.
"Peanut Butter & Jelly" is filled with fun and purpose for young men and women willing to put God first in their dating relationships. It is a book for bashful guys, enthusiastic girls, and for guys and girls wanting God's best for their lives. Highly recommended.
Hired Guns in Iraq
Pleasant Word, A division of Winepress Publishing Group
P O Box 428, Enumclaw, Washington 98022
From Personal Struggle, to the Conflict of Battle, to a Changed Life
"Hired Guns in Iraq" is an eye-opening revelation of the aftermath of war. Brogan Kessler, an ex-military family man, found himself failing in a dream to build his own business in South Africa. In desperation he realized that he could no longer justify the sacrifice and hardship he was putting on his family. A former friend from military days, Peter, enticed Brogan to take a job with a security detail contractor working to rebuild Iraq. The job offered high pay which provided Brogan with the opportunity to be able to resume his dream and get out of debt in a very short time.
Shaun Schutte graphically articulates the carnage of war in Baghdad, Iraq. He describes how ignorance of the local language and culture, and the difficulty in differentiating between combatants and non combatants often leads to offensive behavior by multinational forces, security contractors, as well as mercenaries. The tragic deaths of innocents oblige insurgents to attack coalition forces to avenge the deaths of their relatives. Through incidents of irrational decisions and careless actions, Brogan and his team learn the critical need for teamwork as the key survival tactic in a country where religious zealots and avenging family members wage a holy war against infidels and occupational forces.
Brogan miraculously escaped from an exploding vehicle only to be taken hostage by insurgents. As a result of these circumstances he learns to listen to the voice of God through life or death struggles as a target of insurgents who are intent on his destruction.
Schutte incorporates the essence of his personal faith throughout the story as he relates the message of God's love for sinful man, His redemptive plan of love and grace in sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for those sins.
Schutte's writing is riveting, packed with suspense right up to a surprising climatic finish.
Striking word pictures left me with an ineradicable glimpse into the frailties of man. Schutte powerfully describes the repercussions of war, the fear, courage, and anger. He understands, from personal experience, the drive for survival in the life and death struggles of an environment where little value is placed on the life of an individual by opposing idealogies. "Hired Guns in Iraq" exposes the cost and sacrifice of rebuilding a country destroyed by bloodshed and war. The book is timely and relevant.
Praying for Your Second Chance
Elmer L. Towns
Destiny Image, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
Walking Through the Wilderness with the Israelites
Elmer Towns continues in the "Praying the Scriptures Series" penning prayers drawn from prayers found in the Old Testament books of Numbers and Deuteronomy in "Praying for Your Second Chance." Known for his poetic style of transliteration Towns goes through the narrative of the scriptural passages chapter by chapter in his unique style of paraphrasing and filling in background with personal observations. He incorporates a prayer or prayers that relate directly to an application, a question, or an insight from the Biblical reference.
I particularly enjoyed the prayers under the title "My Time to Pray," as they encapsulate the essence of the specific lessons and concepts God wants the reader to personally take away from the passage.
These prayers also lead the reader into a sense of personal worship, as they experience the presence of the God of Israel, the God of creation, and the God who sent His Son to atone for man sinfulness. These are humble prayers of submission, prayers of thanksgiving, and prayers offering praise to a majestic and awesome God.
Towns introduces an up to date relevance through the messages of this series. His detailed descriptive phrases bring the scriptures to life. The historical summary of the book of Numbers reads like current events including familiar names and places.
The message recorded in the book of Deuteronomy calls for obedience, warns of judgments, and offers covenant renewal. Towns writes in a style easily understood while emphasizing personal applications for everyday living.
"Praying For Your Second Chance" is a valuable book for Pastors and Bible Teachers. The message and prayers also offer an important resource for every Christian looking for a meaningful Bible study with applications to incorporate in their daily devotional reading.
Praying Your Way Out of Bondage: Prayers from Exodus and Leviticus
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
The Troubles, and Triumphs Encountered As You Pray Your Way Out of Bondage
"Praying Your Way Out of Bondage" is the tenth book in the "Praying the Scripture Series" created by Dr. Elmer Towns. Throughout the series Towns uses an unique story form, which he has tagged transliteration. Passages from the Old Testament books of Exodus and Leviticus become fresh with new meaning through Towns gift of communication, and creative and imaginative writing. He begins the book by relating a fictional visit by Moses to Job. Moses wants to know more about the history of the Hebrew people from Job.
As Towns transliterates the book of Exodus he includes the birth of Moses and continues the chapter by chapter as he tells of God's call on Moses' life. The message of hope and deliverance for the people of Israel held in bondage by the Egyptians comes to life through the genius of Town's writing. He captured the joy, praise, and worship expressed by the Israelites as they lifted their voices in a "Song of Deliverance" after being released from the bondage of Egypt. The call to holiness, the offerings, and practical lessons on life are emphasized from the book of Leviticus.
The powerfully worded prayers express worship, thanksgiving, and praise. The book is filled with personal applications for the modern reader. These prayers touch the heart, impact the mind, and call for commitment. When prayed from the heart they will result in Christ likeness in the one praying.
"Praying Your Way Out of Bondage" is an exceptional book for Bible study and reflective devotional reading.
The Fast Way to Heal For Life
Halanna Matthew, Ph.D.
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon 97411
Making Choices Will Improve Your Health, Environment, and Relationships
World acclaimed leader, Dr. Halanna Matthew, known for her work in the field of fasting and rejuvenation, bases her book "The Fast Way to Heal for Life" on the premise that healing power comes from within and although old age is inevitable, disease is not.
Dr. Matthews warns of the dangers toxic infusion has created in our environment through the use of chemical fertilizers, food preservatives which result in mal-metabolism, and the introduction of medical remedies using toxic drugs. Matthews advocates the restoration of health and prevention of disease through the natural law of nutrition, fasting, exercise, sleep, as well as taking other proactive measures. She describes fasting as a restorative process. The book also addresses inner healing and the importance of developing a purposeful lifestyle through a spirit of forgiveness, self control, and by following fundamental biological principles
Case studies from Doctor's published articles and the testimonies of those who have experienced the rewards of fasting motivate the reader to pursue and practice these inspiring examples. Dr. Matthews explains in lay terms how the reader can experience the miracles of fasting while achieving and maintaining perfect health in a polluted environment. Her work is thoroughly researched and well documented. She cautions the reader with existing health problems to seek individualized counsel from a doctor or health care institution that understands the principles set forth in this book.
Dr. Matthew's writing is inspirational and informative. "The Fast Way To Heal For Life" offers alternative choices for maintaining health while discovering the healing power that comes from within.
Ready, Set…Grow By: Dondi Scumaci
600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746
Fulfilling the Life the God Designed for You to Live
"Ready, Set...Grow!" is jam packed with poignant stories of real people who have found fulfillment in their personal lives. Dondi Scumaci offers hope, inspiration, motivation and practical action steps to help the reader renew their passion, overcome uncertainties, and become the person God designed them to be as they also find success in their career goals.
The book is made up of three groups or themes: Preparation, planting, and producing. Scumaci includes principles on how to recognize self-limiting beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. She provides keys to replacing anxiety with anticipation, and how to be optimistic in the midst of tough circumstances.
The book is well organized, user friendly and follows a natural progression of information and content. I found the charts, illustrations, and bulleted lists helpful in assimilating the material. The journaling exercises with thought provoking questions helped me formulate stimulating entries in my own daily journal. "Reflections" at the end of each of the three sections of the book help the reader internalize the principles presented in the previous chapters.
The chapter describing the concept of mentoring offered me a significant challenge. The potential promise, satisfaction, and personal growth in establishing these relationships offers a reward in benefits beyond the time and effort invested.
"Ready, Set...Grow!" is a book of discovery, inspiration, and motivation. Scumaci presents action steps and life changing principles for the reader to cultivate in their daily lives while realizing their personal dreams and goals.
Dondi Scumaci models the leadership development skills she advocates in her own personal and business life. She is an articulate communicator with a refreshing writing style.
When Pigs Move In
600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746
Ministering Deliverance to Those Possessed by Demonic Oppression
Don Dickerman gives a powerful challenge to the church to get involved in Biblical principles of deliverance for individuals plagued by demonic oppression in his book "When Pigs Move In." He writes about his journey from a conservative ministry to miraculous demonstrations of a loving God at work today through anointed men and women empowered with unique spiritual gifts of healing and deliverance.
"When Pigs Move In" parallels New Testament examples of healing and the casting out of demons with stories of healing and deliverance today. Dickerman introduces principles Jesus taught as He healed and ministered deliverance to the sick and oppressed. He tells how he was given a holy boldness in his first confrontation with Satan, the kingdom of darkness, sickness, and of disease as he moved into a ministry of deliverance.
Dickerman explains demon "access points" which permit access into believers through: Generational curses, mental turmoil, addictions, religious spirits, early childhood trauma, anger, pornography, immorality, un-confessed sin, lust, and the occult.
He includes substantiation of demon activity and illustrations of modern day demon possession. He recounts real life examples of miraculous healing with powerful testimonies of deliverances and provides freedom principles, and warns of the dangers of pledges and oaths of secret organizations.
"When Pigs Move In" offers important and timely attestation of the believers call to participation in spiritual warfare, recognizing the cause, resisting the devil and remaining free of Satan's bondage. The book is a resource and training manual preparing pastors and layman for spiritual battle, for delivering and healing men and women bound by oppression, and held in the strongholds of evil and tormented by demons.
Don Dickerman delivers a powerful wake up call to the church today. His message is unmistakable, authentic, dramatic, and persuasive.
Dead Man's Rule
P. O. Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
Intrigue, Suspense Action Thriller
"Dead Man's Rule" is a fast paced adventure novel. Rick Akers has combined conspiracy, courtroom drama, biochemical warfare, and plot twists throughout the story. These include the Russian Mafia, terrorist activities, the FBI, the CIA, and the implications of activity by the KGB twenty-five years ago.
Dr. Mikhail Ivanovsky an eccentric Russian scientist engages attorney Ben Corbin, newly established in his own legal practice, in a matter regarding the legal ownership of a safety deposit box and its contents. Before the case goes to trial the other party in the case suddenly dies. His death is attributed to a drug overdose. His attorney, Anthony Simeon, invokes a technicality of law, the Dead Man's rule. This law bars one party of an oral contract from testifying about an agreement if the other party is dead. Ben was without his key witness reducing any chance of winning the case.
When Ivanovsky discloses information of a virus designed for bioterrorism the case takes on a new significance. A team of colleagues from Ben's college and law school days become join Ben in collaborating to gather key information through FBI and private channels. A terrorist plot is uncovered directly related to the contents of the safe deposit box. The non stop action, recurring conflict and a complex plot kept me trying to outguess Acker's plot as he built intrigue and suspense.
Ackers writing is well researched. He is knowledgeable of legal matters and familiar with the Chicago locale. His plot is imaginative and creative. His characters believable and well developed. Engaging dialog adds to the integrity of a complex story line, investigative procedures, courtroom protocol, and legal ethics.
Ackers carries a strong theme of man's search for meaning, confronting death, and of man's imperfections. He brings a postitive message of God's forgiveness which is evident throughout the book. Rick Acker is destined to make an important impact on the future trend in this genre of Christian Fiction.
Unleash Your Purpose
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
Set free the Plan God Planned For You
Dr. Myles Munroe, founder, president and pastor of Bahamas Faith Ministries, International writes to empower his readers to discover their purpose and to develop their true potential in his book "Unleash Your Purpose."
Munroe draws from personal experiences and real life stories to provide motivation and challenge to commitment as he helps the reader regain their sense of purpose, to unleash their talents, skills, and their unique God given gifts to set in motion the full potential available through God's Holy Spirit. Dr. Munroe explains how without purpose and significance a person will be filled with confusion, frustration, and disillusionment. His writing as always is based on a solid Biblical foundation.
Three basic principles are emphasized in the book: Discover who you are and be yourself. Purpose is the starting place for fulfillment. And, third find your personal special niche and work toward your dreams.
The book is written for those who are desirous of living a purposeful life characterized by worth, effectiveness, and self realization. Dr. Munroe invites the reader to join him in a journey that will help them live up to their full potential by helping them ask probing questions about themselves.
Dr.Munroe summarizes eight basic principles of purpose in each chapter. He addresses the final chapter to the peoples of the Third World with a challenge to maximize their potential and fulfill their purpose.
"Unleash your Purpose" will challenge the reader to a resolve, to change their personal sphere of influence, their world
In the Footsteps of Paul
P. O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
Follow the Footsteps of the Apostle Paul
"In the Footsteps of Paul" is a photo-journal presentation of the life of the Apostle Paul as written by his traveling companion, Luke. Selected passages taken directly from the book of Acts follow Paul's life chronologically. The story of Paul's conversion, his call to ministry, and the diverse trials he encountered on his three missionary journeys are all dramatically conveyed in photos, art, and narrative.
Paul Duncan follows Paul's life with magnificent panoramic views of Damascus, Caesarea, Antioch, and Cyprus, with hundreds of other photos of locations mentioned throughout Luke's account, as recorded in the New Testament book of Acts. The photos of the Roman Road depict the area Paul passed through as he traveled to his final path to imprisonment in Rome.
I was enthralled with the inspiring photos of classic artwork taken in monasteries, churches and museums located in Italy, Greece, Israel, and other Middle Eastern locales. Contemplative quotes from well known and respected Christian leaders accompany Duncan's own comments and add to the devotional quality of the book.
If you are looking for a book of religious studies, theology, or a history on first century Christianity look elsewhere. If you are looking for "spectacular" photography, inspirational art, and reflective devotional insights, Ken Duncan's photography and inspiring narrative is the answer.
"In the Footsteps of Paul" is ideal for gift giving and can be a stimulating conversation starter when displayed prominently as a coffee table book. The book will be especially appreciated by anyone who has personally followed the footsteps of Paul while visiting these locales or for anyone planning this experience in the near future.
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P.O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
Keys to Living Naturally Supernatural Lives
"Unlocking Heaven" is a packed with exciting stories and evidence of the Holy Spirit's miraculous supernatural power. Kevin Dedmon is on the staff of Bethel Church in Redding, California. He travels internationally providing practical training, equipping, activating, and empowering the church for supernatural evangelism through signs, wonders, miracles and prophetic insights.
Dedmon's goal in writing is to help ordinary believers who are hungering to experience a new level of supernatural living to become ambassadors for Christ. He writes with clarity, power, and conviction. I appreciated his personal candidness, openness, and the inside glimpse into his person, his family, and his ministry.
Dedmon draws heavily from Biblical lessons and incidents to document the logic and reasoning behind the keys to unlocking heaven presented throughout the book. Kevin pointed out Biblical examples by introducing regular men and women from the Old and New Testament who demonstrated the power that they received when they took advantage of the privilege of access into the presence of God. Kevin frequently explained word meanings from the Greek and Hebrew to give a clearer understanding of a passage.
I became fascinated with the thought of everyday Christians stepping out in faith, praying for the sick and hurting, bringing about extraordinary healing of shattered bodies, delivering freedom to the oppressed, and demonstrating extraordinary miracles operating within the authority given by Jesus.
"Unlocking Heaven" provides the keys to living naturally the supernatural life. Kevin Dedmon helps the reader discover the dynamic of face to face intimate encounters with God in their relationship with Him.
Breaking the Jewish Code
600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746
Twelve Keys to Understanding the Jewish Torah Mysteries
Perry Stone reveals twelve dynamic keys to understanding Jewish success principles from the mysteries of the Torah in "Breaking the Jewish Code." The book is the result of over 20 years of Stone's dedicated research and study of the Jewish language, history, and culture. In the process Stone has made over 30 trips into the holy land.
This dedication and passion are evident in his presentation. His work is well documented and his writing scholarly, yet he writes in a style that is reader friendly and easily understood.
The many illustrations, listings, and graphic charts add to the understanding of the narration. The book is filled with practical instruction for daily living providing important keys to prosperity, physical well being, creative skills, bringing up children, and commemorating life cycles.
The celebration of Mezuzah was of particular interest to me. This ceremony of dedication is a tangible reminder that a house has been dedicated to God, and of the commitment of those living within to walk in accordance with God's Word.
Stone's writing is fluent. He is articulate and a gifted communicator. "Breaking the Jewish Code" discloses hidden truths and Jewish traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. This is a profound study of the Hebrew Covenant between God and His chosen people detailing spiritual principles, feasts, Sabbaths, and annual celebrations.
Perry Stone writes to help the church understand the Jewish people, and the Jews to understand that authentic Christians love the nation Israel as well as the Jewish people. "Breaking the Jewish Code" is timely, providing important and significant insight into understanding the mysteries of the Torah.
R. W. Schambach
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
Testimonies of Supernatural Miracles Today
" R. W. Schambach recounts dramatic and powerful stories and testimonies of supernatural miracles of salvation, deliverance, healing and astounding provision of financial needs in the book "Miracles. Testimonies from around the world attest to the fact that God is working miracles in the lives of men and women today.
Schambach is distressed by the current trends found within the conventional and contemporary church's trend to exchange form, ceremony, and ritual for the miraculous and supernatural works available to believers. He puts forward Biblical principles and fundamentals that will open the door to seeing of God's spirit moving in miraculous power.
Known for his animated worship and Bible centered sermons Schambach writes as he preaches. His homespun practical style has endeared him to his audiences and parishioners throughout his over 60 years of revival ministry. He challenges the reader to "let faith come alive in your heart, and get ready to receive your miracle.
Each story, testimony, and anecdote stands alone. The book can be adapted as a book to supplement personal daily devotions. It provides inspiration and material for reflecting and contemplation for individual or corporately use. I was so captivated by the stories and their relevance that I read the entire book straight through. I found myself disappointed as I reached the last page.
"Miracles" is for pastors, Christian leaders, and for all who want to experience the miraculous for themselves. This is a timely book, filled with poignant stories and exciting testimonies relating the ways in which God is still working in supernatural ways today.
P. O. Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
Biotechnological Thriller and Courtroom Drama
Fast paced action, courtroom drama, and surprise plot twists are the key elements in Rick Ackers novels. "Blood Brothers" features, attorney, Ben Corbin matches wits with a successful but sometimes shady attorney, Bert Siwell, in a courtroom legal struggle between feuding brothers, Karl and Gunnar Bjornsen, founders of the Bjornsen Pharmaceutical Empire.
The Bjornsen Company is on the verge of introducing a revolutionary neural stimulant which increases brain intensity and astuteness. The legal ramification of the case centered on the Illinois Trade Secrets Act. The setting begins in Chicago, moves to Norway, and becomes international in intrigue and action.
Ackers moved the story line forward while he developed his characters and through the use of stimulating dialog. He carefully incorporates characters from his previous novel "Dead Man's Rule." Sergi, Elena, and Ben's wife Noelle again become his investigative support team. He also uses a distinctive pattern of including low key characters which play an important part in carrying out his complex plot and the building suspense. Embezzlement, internet drug crimes, black market pacts, arson, and aggression are all infused into the intense drama as the story unfolds.
Rick frequently focuses on the importance of core values and the character traits of honesty, justice, and the worth of the individual. His character development is thorough. He includes a thread of spiritual interaction woven throughout the story as he contrasts greed and avarice with selfless fidelity. Rick inspires hope and faith in the providence God both to the characters within the novel and in his reader.
"Blood Brothers" is predictably another award winning novel for Rick Acker. Rick is articulate, gifted with a creative imagination and as a wordsmith. His biotech and medical research added to his legal training and experience give him a writing edge which appeals to avid readers from diverse interests and preference. Another faced paced biotechnological thriller filled with legal twists and courtroom drama.
Adventures of Rusty Son of Tall Elk
1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
Born Irish Growing Up As Cheyenne
Rusty has lived as a Cheyenne for three years with his adoptive father Tall Elk and his family in "Adventures of Rusty Son of Tall Elk" the sequel to "Rusty Son of Tall Elk". Rusty is now 13 years old. He has awed Tall Elk and the Chiefs with his gift of reading, his technical proficiency, his gift for lip reading, and the wisdom he has gained from his white heritage. Often misunderstood and resented by his peers Rusty is faced with earning the respect of the young braves as he learns the ways of the Cheyenne, their culture, their customs, and their ceremonies.
Meeting head-on with a grizzly bear, horse trading with the army officers, bargaining with trappers, coaching young boys the skill of using a sling, telling stories to love-struck young Cheyenne girls, or dealing with a wagon master are all a routine part of Rusty's on-going adventures.
As in the first story Setting Sun, his adopted sister, an Irish girl, has an important part in creating and solving the conflicts Rusty faces in his challenge to become a young Cheyenne Brave. Together they experience many narrow escapes in an era of American and Indian history when suspicion and chaos, the frantic rhythm of Indian drums, blazing fires, celebratory festivals, ceremonial dancing, guns and gun powder create and dominate a fierce atmosphere of conquest. As the white man aggressively moves in to take over Indian Territory through torment, killing, and bloodshed, Rusty is disturbed and conflicted by the deceit, revenge killing and torture.
Bertram integrates other Native American Indians, the Crow, the Sioux, the Comanche, the Blackfoot, and the Pawnee throughout the story. He includes
Indian Lore as well as information on the various gun's being traded and used by the Cheyenne. The importance of the introduction of horses into the Cheyenne way of life was informative and interesting as this related to their pursuit of buffalo herds.
"Adventures of Rusty, Son of Tall Elk" is Rusty's story of growing up in the Cheyenne Culture and the challenges he faced as a redheaded Irish boy adopted by Tall Elk and the difficulties of proving his manhood to the Cheyenne by honoring their customs as he while have a personal struggle with accepting of the Indian tactics of waging war with the white man. It is Rusty's search his own personal identity while remaining true to himself.
Suspense and fast action engage the reader right up to the final surprise climatic ending. A great read for the early teen reader.
House of Tarot Cards
Albert M. Albers
Extortion, Psychics, and Murder
"House of Tarot Cards" is a unique combination of magic, mystery, and suspense. Alfred M. Albers brings back his character John Michaels from his earlier book "Of Ghosts and Things" and begins by taking the reader back three years in time to revisit a crime buried deep in the "cold case-files." In reopening the unresolved murder of Psychic Mrs. Sylvia John Michaels finds that he is pitted against a ruthless underworld character plotting to extort money from the local psychic community. Michaels pulls some tricks out of his hat to expose the intent and guilt of his adversary.
Threats, intimidation and bullying tactics are all a part of the plot which includes anonymous letters and threatening phone calls to terrify the victim.
The next step adds property damage, broken windows and slashed car tires. One by one the psychics began paying the tyrant his demands. There was one hold out, Mrs. Sylvia, who was avid in her determination not to pay protection money to the villain. Her tenacity resulted in a first-degree murder, hers.
Albers uses a brilliant combination of suspense, conflict, and drama to create a climatic atmosphere as he leads the reader to an unexpected surprise conclusion of the case. I enjoyed the remarkable glimpse into the psychic community.
Albers is uniquely qualified to create and write this fascinating approach to the genre of mystery novels as he draws from his 30 year career as a part time professional magician..
"House of Tarot Cards" is entertaining and engaging, integrating a fast paced narrative, with strong characters, colorful word pictures, and attention-grabbing dialog. Albers has a unique approach to deduction and crime solving by using the fictional world renowned magician John Michaels.
Albers' writing keeps getting stronger. Mystery fans, professional and amateur magicians alike will enjoy the suspense of "House of Tarot Cards."
Die Laughing! Lighthearted Views of a Grave Situation
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P.O. Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411
A Light-Hearted Look at Life and Beyond from Underground
"Die Laughing" is not an ordinary book dealing with how to handle grief, but a tongue in cheek unusual approach to looking at death. Steve Mickle and Rich Hillman are downright funny as they poke fun at the warped and exaggerated perceptions society dictates and man accepts.
There is a natural progression and a logical sequence to the material presented through illustrations and narrative, moving from general quips and observations on dealing with death to preparation for the memorial service, during the service, and the burial itself. Sandwiched in between are witty and clever quips, quotes, and illustrations with laughable one-liners directed at sex and romance, health concerns, coping issues, religion and philosophy.
These whimsical glimpses into a "grave" situation are accompanied with clever illustrations created by Kyle Edgell Mickle. The cartoon like-pictures add to the hilarity of an already funny remark.
The glossary, at the end of the book, left little room for misunderstanding any puns dropped earlier. A catalog of "Suggested Viewing" films dealing with death from "Death Takes a Holiday" with Fredrick March and Evelyn Venable in 1934 to "Ghost Town" with Ricky Gervais, Tea Leoni, and Greg Kinnear in 2008.
There is healing in laughter. The media today is filled with gloom, doom, and the realities of a world gone mad. "Die Laughing" offers a brief respite from the individual struggles and conflicts we all face. Mickle and Hillman are humorous, entertaining, and insightful. Their combined creative genius is unique and brilliant.
Richard R. Blake
Laura Rider's Masterpiece
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446538954 $22.95 www.hachettebookgroup.com
Laura Rider has taken her green thumb and turned it into the profitable Prairie Wind Nursery. She has been married to Charlie Rider for twelve years and has lost sexual interest in their marriage. She still loves Charlie - no one is like Charlie - but her sexual desire waned and soon became non-existent. Consequently, when her idol, Jenna Faroli, a public radio star moves to their town, Laura sets up a romance between Jenna and Charlie in motion. While his may seem a bit quirky for a married woman who still loves her husband, Laura has a motive to her madness.
LAURA RIDER'S MASTERPIECE by Jane Hamilton is a story of greed and self-centeredness. Laura Rider wants to write a romance novel. To put it in her words, "I've been trying to study, to study what, in my opinion - in my humble opinion? - an ideal woman, a brilliant and amazing woman, actually wants in a man, what kind o f hero she needs when she's already sort of perfect. Because, today's women are superevolved. I don't need to tell you that! They run their own businesses, they raise children alone, they take charge of their own learning. If women need men, why do they? What kind of man can improve the new model? What kind of partner can take her to new heights? That's what my research is all about. And if the artist has to snoop a little bit and create opportunities, if you have to listen very hard to the people around you and watch, that's all part of the process." Laura is of course, speaking about her own research for the great masterpiece she intends to write.
This is a romance novel, of sorts, a character study, of sorts, and an easy read. This would make a good book to take with you to the beach this summer. It doesn't demand a quick read but keeps you reading until the end.
The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University
Grand Central Publishing
Hachette Book Group
Bringing to the forefront one of the most debatable subjects, i.e., religion, Kevin Roose, author of THE UNLIKELY DISCIPLE: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University, shares his experiences as a student of Liberty University, one of the largest Christian universities. As a student of Brown University, Kevin arranges to attend Liberty University for one semester so he can research a book on the Christian university culture. When he adjust to the "Liberty Way" some weeks into the semester he realizes that he is opening his mind to what some would deem "a cult environment."
What Roose discovers both about himself and Liberty is that there is good and bad in most situations. Founder of Liberty University - Dr. Jerry Falwell - is well known worldwide. He made the statement during the building of Liberty that he wanted this university to be "as far right as Harvard is left." One brochure describes the university as having a "strong commitment to political conservatism, total rejection of socialism, and firm support of America's economic system of free enterprise." Not only does Falwell teach strong political views, he also condemns homosexuality and other social issues. At Liberty University there is only one way to think - the Jerry Falwell way.
Roose has hurdles to jump due to his belief that, "I could never become an evangelical if it meant condemning homosexuals or proselytizing aggressively to non-Christians or believing that the Bible is infallible." The thing is Roose finds Liberty a supportive, warm environment and this causes some confusion in his attempt to remain neutral about the subject matter taught at this university.
Roose ends up writing the last written personal interview with Dr. Falwell. He didn't intend to happen that way and found himself somewhat upset by the fact that this brought him so much notoriety after Dr. Falwell's death.
So, does Roose convert to Liberty's description of a Christian? Does he find it difficult to fit into the strict belief system required to participate fully in the school's activities? Has his experience at Liberty University provided a life changing opportunity? Read the book and draw your own conclusions.
Gladwell has a way of looking at the world that's different from the way most of us do. A large part of his talent lies in his ability to see things that, even though they're there, we tend to miss. He displayed that unique ability in The Tipping Point and in Blink and delivers, in spades, once again in Outliers.
The book explores people who do things out of the ordinary by delving deeply into how and why they were able to do what they did. Using his unique way of looking at the world, Gladwell offers surprises few would even think to look for.
In dealing with who gets to the top in the hockey world in Canada, Gladwell looked at the player roster of the 2007 Medicine Hat Tigers. The salient feature of the roster is that seventeen of the twenty-five players were born in January, February, March or April. Looking deeper, he shows why that's so. The eligibility cutoff for age-class hockey in Canada is January 1. "A boy who turns ten on January 2, then, could be playing alongside someone who doesn't turn ten until the end of the year-and at that age, in preadolescence, a twelve month gap in age represents an enormous difference in physical maturity.
This being Canada, the most hockey-crazed country on earth, coaches start to select players for the traveling "rep" squad-the all-star teams-at the age of nine or ten, and of course they are more likely to view as talented the bigger and more coordinated players, who have had the benefit of critical extra months of maturity.
And what happens when a player gets chosen for a rep squad? He gets better coaching, and his teammates are better, and he plays fifty or seventy-five games a season instead of twenty games a season like those left behind in the "house" league, and he practices twice as much as, or even three times more than, he would have otherwise. In the beginning, his advantage isn't so much that he is inherently better but only that he is a little older. But by the age of thirteen or fourteen, with the benefit of better coaching and all that extra practice under his belt he really is better, so he's the one more likely to make it to the Major junior A league, and from there to the big leagues."
Turns out that in hockey, in Canada as in so many other endeavors, besides talent, timing, circumstances, and luck play a big part in separating winners from losers.
The book is filled with similar stories chronicling what elements, in the lives of people like Bill gates and groups like the Beatles, illuminate how and why they became so spectacularly successful…such outliers.
To be sure, talent is an important and necessary ingredient but, in and of itself, it is almost never enough.
Gladwell's singular strength is the way in which he sees the world. His writing ability then creates a lens through we get to see the same things he sees.
This is a good read and I recommend it without reservation.
The Age of the Unthinkable
Joshua Cooper Ramo
For more than fifty years we've been lulled into thinking that what's coming will, more or less, be more of the same.
Science and technology had much to do with that. We became so comfortable with our understanding of the world and how it works that we fell into a kind of societal sleep. Then, seemingly suddenly, everything changed. Where once we could rely on State power and change as dictated by the laws of physics we woke up to the disquieting reality that what once worked so well didn't work at all. And worse, doing what we did before not only didn't work any more it made things worse.
Not that long ago we felt safe and believed we could trust our leaders but when they declared war on terrorism, instead of getting better it got much worse.
Past epochal changes like the end of World War II and the collapse of the Soviet Union helped establish a linear mind set which caused us to become inured to predictability associated with change. But now we find that change has morphed into something that defies predictability and threatens who we are and the way we live.
In this book Joshua Cooper Ramo helps us to understand why this is so. He disabuses us of our reliance on how well we think we understand the physical underpinnings of what's happening all around us by introducing us to the sandpile as viewed through the perspective of the Danish physicist Per Bak. Bak asked if we pile sand, grain by grain, until we get a cone about the size of a fist, how long will it take for an avalanche to occur? It seems like a simple question but the answer turns out to be mind numbingly complex. Bak believed that once the little cone formed it organized itself into a state of instability so extreme that just adding one more grain could trigger a devastating avalanche or have no effect at all. He hypothesized that while these little sandpiles looked relatively stable they were deeply unstable. He called it organized instability and that flew in the face of the bedrock physical principles we'd come to rely on for so long. Using the sandpile as metaphor Bak explained that large systems have a tendency to evolve into a poised critical state, so out of balance that minor disturbances can lead to events called avalanches of all sizes. And he wasn't just talking about sandpiles. He was talking about the underlying physics of the world.
Bak's sandpile view of the universe wasn't quiescent. It was violent and history making. For Bak, stability in the world was a passing phase, a pause in a system that was incredibly dynamic and impossible to understand "Bak's world was like a constantly spinning revolver in a game of Russian roulette, one random trigger-pull away from explosion."
What Bak had proposed was a thought experiment. Glen Held, an experimental scientist decided to try it out in the lab. He built a machine that could build sandpiles one grain at a time and reliably keep track of how many grains were dropped. His work demonstrated that Bak was right.
Using this information Ramo shows why the sandpile is a suitable metaphor for the situations we find ourselves in now. It's the reason our current ways of thinking about ourselves and the world don't work anymore.
He invites instead to think like Silicon Valley venture capitalists, Islamic terrorists, spy masters, unconventional physicists and game designers. And he suggests that to the extent we can reorient our thinking along these lines we can achieve a state of Deep Security that takes into account the startling reality that stability truly is a passing phase and that we will hopefully be able to avoid that one chamber in the constantly spinning revolver that holds the bullet.
Read this book. It will change the way you see the world.
The Ascent of Money
The Penguin Press New York
In THE ASCENT OF MONEY Niall Ferguson illuminates a universal truth: Everybody is familiar with money but very few truly "know" anything about it. This is interesting and, viewed from the appropriate perspective-frightening.
If you don't believe that, think about the recent global financial collapse.
Adoption of and adaptation to the innovation of credit and debt was as important to civilization as any technological innovation and, even though that's as true today as it was when the ideas first germinated, money, for all its power and majesty is a myth.
The only reason money or its legal representation in the form of stocks and bonds has any value at all is because we choose to believe that's true.
Ferguson paints a vivid historical perspective of what money is, why it's so important and how it has come to define civilization.
More than anything else money is an idea writ large; as transformative as the renaissance and the industrial revolution and more dangerous than the atomic bomb.
It is and always has been representational. In ancient Babylon, money was represented with clay tablets. Today it exists primarily as ones and zeros residing on disk drives scattered around the globe.
Large financial transactions be they personal, national, international or global rarely involve the exchange of anything physical. Certainly pieces of paper come into play but, more often than not, they simply serve as a receipt which represents ones and zeroes writ small on the iron oxide substrate of a hard disk drive.
The power and fragility of the money myth are what enable civilizations to prosper and to go horribly wrong through the creation of bubbles that create enormous wealth when they inflate and dystopian devastation when they burst.
In this book Ferguson helps us to understand why this is so. The key benefit of reading it is, after you have, you truly will "know" a lot more about money than you did before you read it. Read this book and dare to know.
The Inner History of Devices
Edited with an introductory essay by Sherry Turkle
The MIT Press
This is a book that invites you to reexamine not only what you think of every day devices and things like cell phones, personal computers, computer games and implanted defibrillators; it asks you reexamine how you think about them and why.
The approach is interesting in that uses ethnography, memoir and clinical cases in the form of essays written by individuals who've interacted with and, in some cases treated people who established relationships with devices most of us would never consider and not be able to see, even if we were to interact with those described in the essays.
One I found particularly thought provoking is entitled: The Internal Cardiac Defibrillator
An internal cardiac defibrillator is a device implanted in your chest and connected by wires to your heart. It constantly monitors your heartbeat and if your heart goes into cardiac fibrillation, which is life threatening, the device shocks you, much the same as depicted in scenes on medical shows like ER. But, instead of a doctor or EMT placing paddles on your chest, yelling "Clear" and pushing the button to shock you it happens automatically, inside your chest. The ICD shocks you and, when it does, the experience is as painful and traumatic as when it's done with paddles.
It's impossible to understand what it means to have an ICD implanted in your chest without talking to people who do have one. Here's an example:
"I died and then…" "This is the peculiar grammar of stories told by people with ICDs. The internal firing of the ICD is painful and brings one back from death, a repeated boundary crossing that writes a new narrative of life and death."
On one level, having an ICD is comforting because it's there, just in case you need it to save your life. But, there's also a dark side.
"My independence was gone. And yet, they say that this thing gives you more independence. Because you can be assured that you won't go into cardiac arrest and die when you take a trip and all that. My thing is, we take a trip, and I'm wondering, okay, I wonder which one of these exits is a hospital. Or, you know, something like that."
Darker still is the story of Stan who is forty-two and received an ICD when he passed out while running.
When he thinks back to that event, he realizes if he had died it would have been an easy death. "Like blacking out on the road, dying like that would be nothing. There would no pain whatsoever…"
Now that particular option is gone. Should he go into cardiac arrest the ICD will shock him back to life. On one occasion he received multiple shocks while swimming. He felt a funny feeling in his chest that made him stop. "And all of a sudden, wham, I got shocked-damn, I gotta get out of the pool." He was shocked about three times.
After the incident Stan asked his doctor how many times the ICD would shock him before it "would stop trying."
About nine times his doctor told him.
That kind of information is comforting, troubling and frightening, all at the same time.
Examples of other things explored in this book are a prosthetic eye, computer games, a dialysis machine and video poker.
I found this book to be like a bag of potato chips. Once you've read one essay you'll find it difficult to stop until you've read all of them.
Stephen J. Hage
The Templars: The Secret History Revealed
116 John Street, New York, NY 10038
The Templars is Vatican secret archives historian Barbara Frale's discovery of the truth of the history of the Templar order. Using historically grounded scholarship on which many recent fiction books have been based, Frale contextualizes the historical significance of assuagement of guilt surrounding the Templar's accusations of being heretics and occultists.
Despite its firm academic foundations, the book is easily accessed by lay people. Frale includes interesting historical tidbits such as Louis VII running out of cloth for the Templars crosses the first night he rallies his troops because so many men answered the call. The non-fiction book is full of the kind of sordid historical facts that make it read like a thriller: subterfuge and back-stabbing royals, intrigue, hordes of attacking Muslims, and the ever changing power of holy cities.
The book could be served by including maps of the eleventh century regions to which it refers and possibly a facsimile of the Chinon Parchment. However, even without the visual aids, the book is an interesting and valuable piece of Catholic scholarship that will grab the attention not only of historians, but anyone with a nose for thrillers.
Lili St. Crow
345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
Strange Angels is Lilith Saintcrow's first foray into the young adult genre; hopefully it won't be her last.
Dru Anderson, 16 year-old, living in the Dakotas, finds herself parentless and fighting zombies, suckers, and werewulfen. Along with her new "friends" Graves and Christophe, two not-quite-human characters, Dru attempts to solve her father's murder and find out what creature is hunting her.
Saintcrow crafts a life-like 3D character in Dru Anderson who exhibits un-heroine like characteristics. She gets nervous and has to pee, falls and screams, but simultaneously she can also be unfailingly brave, has kick-ass martial arts moves, and knows how to use a gun. Dru is plagued by the insecurities of every teen-age girl: zits, body odor, greasy hair, school angst, and embarrassment and wonder over a boy's affection toward her while also being a superhuman who is smart, fast, and who wields telekinetic abilities. Dru must struggle against her fears (being unworthy, being a kid, being alone), the big bad of The Real World (aka, the supernatural), the impossibility of practicality for teens (renting a house), and the weather.
Saintcrow doesn't dumb-down her language for her young adult novel. In fact, the graceful supernatural vs normal contrasts ("The mall was as brightly lit as Heaven and people were wandering around, shopping like there wasn't a decomposing zombie in my living room" p. 56)*, her unusual turns of phrase that never disintegrate into cliches ("She shrieked with laughter, the sound as bright as new spilled pennies" p 63, ". . . the garden of bruises and scrapes all over my body" p 177, "I was a song of different aches and pains" p. 181), and colossal hyperboles ("I was so tired, even my eyelashes hurt" p 110) are exactly what you would expect from the literary Saintcrow's beautiful language.
Strange Angels has the feel of Saintcrow's Watcher series book with a pinch of Stephanie Meyer (Twilight) and James Patterson (Maximum Ride) imbued in it. Saintcrow writes with a subtle sense of humor that will especially appeal to the teen crowd ("I mean, suckers aren't the only thing that can turn people into hungry walking corpses. It happens all the time, Voodoo, burial in contaminated ground, black sorcery, working a big chain retail stores - there were endless ways someone could end up reanimated" p 170).
Writing for young adults is much more demanding and difficult than writing for the adult population. Strange Angels will appeal to teens and adults alike, and will be a new feather in Saintcrow's hat.
*All quotes and pages are taken from the uncorrected, advanced reader copy.
Hey, Girlfriend: 75 Monologues for Girls
Kimberly A. McCormick
Meriwether Publishing Ltd.
PO Box 7710, Colorado Springs, CO 80933-7710
All 75 monologues in Kimberly A. McCormick's collection Hey, Girlfriend are written in the same voice with nearly the same character: a white, middle-class, college bound "good girl." Despite the homogeneity of the monologues, they are better written and are about more titillating subjects than monologue books put out by Kristen Dabrowski.
Despite the lack of different characterizations, McCormick's monologues handle delicate topics with aplomb including teen pregnancy, divorce, peer pressure, cheating, and other subjects teens must face during their high school years. While many monologues are obviously gender specific (such as teen pregnancy), others could easily be about male characters. There is no reason to limit this collection of monologues to only females.
McCormick includes discussion questions relating to the topic after each monologue that would be useful in a group counseling session or classes in civics, sociology, or psychology. The monologues would mostly appeal to high school aged students, as all of the scenarios involve older teens.
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780812977776 $15.00 800-726-0600 www.mortalis-books.com
There are many types of psychological thrillers, but none encompass the body of knowledge which permeates this series featuring Detective Inspector Oskar Reinhardt and his friend and colleague, Max Lieberman, the psychiatrist who applies the principles of Freud, Adler, Kraft-Ebbing, et al, to their investigations. Set in turn-of-the-century Vienna, as the previous two novels in the series, the plot begins with a dead cadet at a military school.
The hint of sadism and bullying arises and Reinhardt suspects foul play. Additional complications, with hints of other motives, lead him and Lieberman to look further into the possibility of murder. The plot incorporates politics, history, music and social customs, in addition to giving insight into Lieberman as a person, torn by his affections for two women and analyzing himself as a person.
The author deliberately names the headmaster of the school Eichmann, laying the groundwork for an underlying theme, "The Banality of Evil": how ordinary people can be led to commit acts of brutality such as committed by the Nazis before and during World War II. In a short essay following the conclusion of the novel, Tallis expounds on the subject with significant understanding. As its predecessors, "Fatal Lies" is a very good read, and is highly recommended.
Death of a Witch
Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10169, 800-759-0190,
9780446196130 $14.99 www.HachetteBookGroupUSA.com
Hamish Macbeth, the simple but efficient constable of Lochdubh, returns from a Spanish vacation to his beloved village to find a surprise. There is a newcomer there, a pretty woman, being visited by a stream of men at all hours. What's going on in the quiet highlands town? Before that can be determined, she is murdered and her house set on fire.
Subsequently, three more murders lead Hamish to believe they were all related. Originally he believed the men were visiting the woman for sex. In a strange way they were, but not in the way he had thought. Meanwhile, Hamish's sex life becomes more complicated with his two time-honored girlfriends as well as a new forensics specialist who has her eyes on him.
The series, in which this is the 24th entry [or the 25th, depending on which publisher info is correct], still amuses and enchants. Written with the full flavor of the Scottish language and the vistas of the highlands, the novels continue to grow and entice readers. Hamish may seem to be a silly character, but he gets the job done, and is ultimately a serious and successful investigator. Recommended.
c/o HarperCollins, 10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022, 800-242-7737,
9780061432668 $24.95 www.harpercollins.com
Welcome back to the wacky world of Serge A. Storm and his love of Florida history and merry antics. In this latest escapade (it's the 11th in the series), Serge travels up and down the state nominally feeding his internet travel site (legitimate travel sites keep firing him and his nutty submissions).
Along the way he encounters a band of jewel thieves who have inside information on the location of couriers delivering gems. Some of them are murdered by the gang headed by someone who calls himself the eel, although he has another nickname, the jellyfish, derived from an incandescent tattoo on his chest.
The novel, as usual in this series, is filled with all the off-beat humor and crazy inventions created by Serge, augmented by the silliness of his cohort, Coleman. Adding to the fun, the Serge-obsessed detective, Mahoney, is back, this time in quite a different role. Lots of fun and written with the customary gusto, the book is recommended.
The Silent Man
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399155383 $25.95 800-847-5515 www.penguin.com
John Wells, in preceding novels, has managed to save the world from a Sino-American war, spent 10 years in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban, and now is asked to rescue the United States from a nuclear explosion. How much can be asked of one guy? This tight, intricate plot begins with the theft of two atomic bombs from a Russian facility as part of an Islamic terrorist plot.
The story traces the journey of the two devices and the various people involved in using the uranium in them to create one bomb intended to be exploded in Washington, D.C., during the State of the Union address, or alternatively in Manhattan or some other target. It is up to John Wells (not to mention the rest of the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security and other domestic and foreign agencies) to find the plotters and the bombs.
About the only criticism about the plot is the relative ease with which two atomic bombs are removed from the Russian depot. It's hard to believe security is so lax. But it's necessary for the story, and can be overlooked. The story is dramatic, and holds the reader's interest throughout, and is recommended.
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061236229 $9.99 800-242-7737 www.harpercollins.com
Presidents of the United States have been accused of many transgressions, but being a serial killer - so far - has not been one of the accusations (unless you include undeclared wars. However, that's the gist of the plot of Mr. Margolin's fascinating 10th novel [the 11th, "Fugitive," will be published by Harper in hardcover in June of 2009]. To give any further detail would give away too much of the plot. Suffice it to say that the portrayal of the characters is real, and the story moves forward at a rapid pace.
The descriptions of the FBI procedures and insights into the appointment and actions of a Special Prosecutor investigating a high ranking executive are superb, indicative of the author's legal background. Highly recommended.
Careless in Red
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061160905 $7.99 800-242-7737 www.harpercollins.com
Following the shocking murder of his wife, Thomas Lynley resigned from Scotland Yard and returned to his native Cornwall, where he began a walking tour from one end to the other--not bathing or shaving and living in only the clothes he wore. In this state, he attempted to insulate himself from the tragedy and escape. But along the way, he finds a body at the foot of a cliff, and, as a result he is forced to awaken to his police background and relationships with people.
Thus begins this detailed story of various family histories, past and present mistakes between and among the family members and the possible reason for the death of the person Tommy finds, which is soon judged to be a murder. The investigation soon uses Tommy in a semi-official capacity, and later his old Met partner, Barbara Havers, is sent to Cornwall by her superiors in an effort either to protect him or entice him to return to the fold.
In this rather long novel, the author's eye for detail is exhibited to a faretheewell. The reader is engulfed in all kinds of minutiae, about geography, history, personal backgrounds and other aspects of the story. But however buried the reader may be, one is not overwhelmed, nor hardly bored. The novel is so well written, the pages turn quickly, as the reader is drawn forward to find out the next revelation. [It should be noted that this author's next book, "Two of the Deadliest," will be issued by Harper in hardcover in July of 2009.] Very highly recommended.
Whisper to the Blood
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312369743 $24.95 646-307-5560 www.minotaurbooks.com
The continuing saga of Kate Shugak (this is the 16th in the series) continues as Kate reluctantly takes over as chair of the Niniltna Native Association, much against her will. It is the Board's function to look after the interests of the native shareholders, most of them "park rats" living in the 20-million-acre Alaskan park territory, filled with natural resources, salmon, timber and plenty of snow and ice in the winter.
The murder of the contemptible Louis Deem in the previous novel in the series haunts this book, but plays a minor role. The major part of the plot involves the discovery of close to the world's largest gold deposit in the southern portion of the park, threatening the very way of life of the inhabitants. Can progress be forestalled? After all, with gold at around $1,000 an ounce, it isn't likely. The company starts a public relations effort to woo the people, with a popular biathlon woman acting as spokesman. When she is found murdered, questions arise as to motive. Another murder, that of a man at the proposed mine site, leads Kate and her lover, trooper Jim Chopin, to believe both are related to the proposed gold operation.
The reader gets the full flavor of the Alaskan tundra in every Shugak novel, with the plot moving forward and slowly building in tension like the snow drifts covering the ground. The writing is as smooth as the ice in the streams and rivers. And Kate continues to grow as a character and as a person.
Pleasing the Dead
Deborah Turrell Atkinson
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590585979 $24.95 www.poisonedpenpress.com 800-421-3976
In this, the fourth novel in the series, attorney Storm Kayama once again finds herself in the midst of a dangerous situation despite the fact that her journey from Honolulu to Maui begins innocently enough. All she has to do is some perfunctory legal work on behalf a client setting up a new business, a dive shop. But she no sooner lands there than she is witness to an explosion at a restaurant, which kills an official.
Then an employee working on the new dive shop shoots his two young daughters and himself. From that point, Storm becomes involved in the various personalities and interrelationships way beyond the simple task if setting up by-laws and establishing insurance criteria. These include the Yakuza, intertwined interests of local businesses, real estate, prostitution and politics. It makes for exciting reading.
As in past novels in the series, the book is filled with broad glimpses of the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, as well as its past history and customs. Fast-paced and smoothly written, the novel is entertaining and a good read, and is recommended.
Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781416558828 $26.00 www.simonandschuster.com 800-223-2336
Just when you think just about everything that could possibly be written about the Third Reich has already been published, along comes this very different and inventive novel recounting the role of the four Loerber brothers, identical quadruplets who fascinated Berlin in the 1930's with their vaudeville act. Jugglers, acrobats and magicians, the four go their own way during the war: One becomes masseur and personal advisor to the notorious Himmler (while spying for Russia and the British), another is involved with Albert Speer in his effort to prevent the destruction of the Ruhr industrial facilities on Hitler's orders in the last days of the Third Reich, another is a respected U-Boat Captain, and the fourth disappeared during the '30s and is "presumed" dead.
The plot picks up steam after Hitler commits suicide and his picked successor, Grand Admiral Donitz, establishes a government in Flensburg which lasted three weeks. During this period, the brothers play an even more active role and their efforts to rescue their brother from the clutches of Himmler escalate. The amazing part of their various roles is that they are Jews (and one a homosexual), and their Nazi bosses look the other way as to these ideological 'transgressions.'
Well-researched about a little-known period at the end of World War II, the novel is populated with well-known real-life persons from Eisenhower and Montgomery to George Ball and John Kenneth Galbraith. It is well-written and fascinating, and highly recommended.
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780143114055 $14.00 800-847-5515 www.penguingroup.com
The Sicilian Inspector Salvo Montalbano likes to eat, but the sweltering August heat, for the most part, keeps him mainly sticking to cold dishes. His girlfriend, Livia, pressures him to find a seaside house in which she and her friend Laura, her husband and son, can spend a two-week vacation. Oh, he does as he's told.
Unfortunately, the vacation is ruined when the boy disappears. Salvo finds him in an illegal apartment beneath the house. Moreover, he discovers a corpse. It turns out the victim was a beautiful 15-year-old girl, who was apparently murdered six years before. And there is no shortage of possible culprits, leading Montalbano on a perplexing investigation.
The series in as interesting for its observations as Montalbano is for his philosophical musings and humorous asides. The characters are well-drawn. The translation, once again, is superb, and the book is recommended.
DeKok and the Dead Harlequin
A. C. Baantjer
c/o Fulcrum Publishing
4690 Table Mountain Dr., Golden, CO 80403,
9781933108278 $14.00 800-992-2908 www.speckpress.com
Inspector DeKok, as he says, "with a 'kohk'," apparently is one of the longer-running mystery series, with at least 60 novels so far. It is among the more popular crime novels in The Netherlands and is the basis for a long-standing TV series as well. Speck Press, an imprint of Fulcrum Publishing, has stated that it is committed to printing the entire series for United States readers.
In this novel, DeKok and his foil/sidekick, Vledder, encounter a most unusual situation. An accountant writes to ask for an appointment, and when he arrives he requests that DeKok help him plan the perfect murder, since he is planning on killing someone. He, moreover, offers to admit to the murder after the fact.
Later, two murders take place in the same hotel room, but DeKok's visitor has an absolute alibi: he was in the Inspector's presence each time. Each victim was found lying on the floor, stretched out like a harlequin. From that point we are treated to a most unusual police procedure, following the somewhat incongruous lines of thought reflecting DeKok's mental processes.
The publisher is to be congratulated for bringing this gem of a series to the United States, and readers have much to look forward to in the future. Apparently, the next book will be in hardcover for a July publication date, entitled "DeKok and the Mask of Death."
Spade and Archer
Alfred A. Knopf, 1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780307264640 $24.00 800-726-0600 www.knopf.com
When the author first proposed to write a prequel to "The Maltese Falcon," his offer was rejected. Later, he was asked to write a sequel. When he pointed out that all the characters were dead, he got the go ahead for this volume which lays the groundwork for the one and only Sam Spade. It consists of three episodes beginning in 1921.
We pick Sam up in Seattle, still working for a detective agency, but soon going to San Francisco to set up his own one-man shop. Before he even enters his small office, Effie Perine has established herself in his life, shooing away all other applicants before Sam ever has a chance to see them. We are introduced to his lawyer, Sid Wise, his soon-to-be partner, Miles Archer, and his wife (and Sam's one-time girlfriend and future mistress) Iva.
Written in the short, staccato sentences created by Dashiell Hammmett, the hard-boiled Sam Spade's foundation is carefully established in each sequence. About the only fault this reviewer found in the text was when Sam first sees Sid, he is dictating a complaint and says to send it by certified mail. No such thing in 1921 (at least not for several more decades). Otherwise, the Hammett style is faithful, with detailed descriptions of people and places.
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
978159058606-8 $24.95 800-421-3976 www.poisonedpenpress.com
In this frightening scenario, the world is confronted with an act of bio-terror that could surpass the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 or the Black Plague during the Middle Ages. It brings back Dr. Margaret Campbell and Beijing detective Li Yan in the fourth of Peter May's China Thrillers in which they have been teamed as lovers as well as to solve mysteries.
This time, they are in the United States: Margaret as the medical examiner in Houston and Li Yan as a liaison officer in the Chinese embassy in Washington. They are reunited as part of a task force put together when illegal Chinese immigrants are found to have been inoculated with an unknown virus. The immigrants were found suffocated in a truck near the Mexican border.
In a race against time, Margaret and Li Yan, along with other members of the task force, endeavor to identify the virus and how it could be activated to potentially infect millions with unbelievable consequences. At the same time, the two have to deal with their own relationship and come to terms with the impediments. Over-all, it is a provocative story, keeping the reader on the edge of his/her seat. Recommended.
Valley of the Lost
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale AZ 85251
9781590585955 $24.95 800-421-3976 www.poisonedpenpress.com
The small town of Trafalgar, BC, somewhere near Vancouver, is supposed to be idyllic, with all the friendliness and charm that such places are supposed to have. Then why do so many strange, and even terrible, things continue to happen there? There are even big-city problems like a drug culture, with heroin trafficking and large patches of marijuana growing all around.
At the heart of the plot of this latest chapter involving probationary constable Molly Smith and Sgt. John Winters is the death of a young woman of a drug overdose. Near her was a three-month-old baby, who is thereupon taken in by Molly's mother, Lucky. Who was the woman and where are the baby's relatives? Was the death just another drug deal gone wrong? Or is there more to the story?
Meanwhile, the customary themes of the first installment of the series: environmental issues, the closeness of the community, and Lucky's radical beliefs, permeate as background, as do the Canadian mountains and glaciers surrounding Trafalgar. The traditional mystery moves forward at a deliberate and well-measured pace. It is well-written, and recommended.
In a Gilded Cage
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312385347 $24.95 646-307-5560 www.minotaurbooks.com
In the midst of a suffragist demonstration, Molly Murphy, Irish immigrant PI in New York City at the turn of the 20th century, is arrested with a number of Vassar graduates for "disturbing the peace" at the Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue. She befriends a few of the women, and two retain Molly: one to discover whether her husband has a mistress to give her grounds for divorce, the other to discover her origins.
Molly proceeds to look into the two assignments. However, the wife checking up on her husband quickly dies of flu-like symptoms. A few days later two of her friends also die with similar symptoms. Meanwhile, Molly discovers the truth of her other client's birth. Unfortunately, she also comes down with the same illness, and she suspects all the women have been poisoned.
Meanwhile the relationship between Molly and her beau, police captain Sullivan, continues on its merry way. This latest novel in the series is equally as charming and poignant as its three predecessors. It is always good to read about the Third and Ninth Avenue Els and trolley cars, with a flavor of Old New York, and the book is recommended.
Agenda for a Sustainable America
John C. Dernbach
Environmental Law Institute
2000 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
"Sustainable development is among the most important ideas to come out of the 20th century--and it may be, in the long run, the most important."
Experts from around the country weigh in on a sustainable America. How can we as a country learn to live in harmony with nature? To survive we must learn how to do it. It's not an option, but a necessity.
Discussion ranges from what progress, if any, we've made to where we must go and some of the steps needed to achieve such goals. Promoting sustainability would improve our lives in so many ways. In turn we would be improving and saving our badly damaged environment and ultimately ourselves. "Sustainable development would make the United States more livable, healthy, secure and prosperous."
Some of the many subjects discussed, include: Results of urban sprawl and lack of regional planning. What sustainability means for businesses and what actions some companies are taking. Poverty is talked about with recommendations to reduce it. Other subjects include: energy efficiency, conservation and management of natural resources, population growth, hazardous chemicals, toxic waste, climate change, education, and much, much more.
The book covers so many areas that it's hard to put it all into words. The best action to take is to read it yourself. The message is clear and our leaders should heed the warnings and embrace the solutions it offers. All of us must take part for these ideas to work. Wake up people-before it's too late.
Dark Haven, Book Three of the Chronicles of the Necromancer
Gail Z. Martin
Games Workshop Ltd, Willow Road
Nottingham, NG7 2WS, UK
There's a new ruler in the kingdom of Margolan. Martris Drayke, or Tris, as he's known to his friends, has taken the throne his brother Jared seized by murdering their father and the rest of the family. All is not well, the kingdom is in a shambles and war threatens Margolan once again, not only from without but from within by former supporters of his brother. To add to the turmoil, a rogue segment of the undead, or Vayash Moru also threatens the stability of the kingdom.
Tris is about to marry but his future wife is under attack in her own country because of the new alliance with Margolan. The danger worsens after their marriage. Pressure is on to produce an heir, as the evil Jared's illegitimate offspring could be a contender for the throne.
The characters and plot keep me coming back to the series. Gail Martin's books are always a pleasure to read, this one's no exception, but I have to say that Dark Haven is my favorite book in the series and I can hardly wait for the sequel. Ms. Martin is on my list of favorite authors. Excellent Fantasy is hard to come by.
For more information go to: http://www.chroniclesofthenecromancer.com/
The Prosecution Rests
Edited by Linda Fairstein
Little, Brown and Company
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Twenty two stories from a wide range of talented authors bring the mystery lover a special treat. I'm only going to mention my favorite stories. Designer Justice by Phyllis Cohen is about a criminal who thinks he's gotten away with murder. The Letter by Eileen Dunbaugh takes the reader back in time to the Great Depression. Find out what a lawyer does when an old flame comes to him for help in Death, Cheated by James Grippando. My Brother's Keeper penned by Daniel J. Hale tells us the lengths a man will go to save his brother and find justice. And finally, Quality of Mercy written by newcomer, Leigh Lundin, is a touching story that made me sad and thoughtful. It reminded me that life doesn't always turn out the way we think or hope it will.
All the stories in the anthology are entertaining and kept me turning pages. Each tale has its own uniqueness that contributes to the book's charm. For more information go to http://www.mysterywriters.org
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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