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Posts Tagged ‘book-review’

Appalachian Justice

by Melinda Clayton

copyright 2010 by Melinda Clayton, published by Vanilla Heart Publishing, print edition ISBN 978-1-935407-92-8, print edition 245 pgs. $14.95, eBook AISN B00466HSEK, $4.99 from Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Rarely has a character stuck in my head the way Billy May Platte of Appalachian Justice has. Melinda Clayton does such a rich job with the character you can hear her speaking plain as day by the end of her first chapter and her voices resonates long after she leaves the pages of the book behind. Other characters in the book are just as deeply drawn out, especially the antagonist who will make your skin crawl, almost literally.

Appalachian Justice is a tale of the cost of prejudice, the value of love and the price of courage. It is the story of everyday characters who happen to be settled in the Appalachian mountains during a period of time from the forties through modern day, though the vast majority of the story covers two critical times, one, a single day in the life of Billy May Platte that would change her forever, the other a few critical weeks, in the lives of four families that will once again change the face of the small mountain town and the lives of those living in it.

Appalachian Justice is visceral, reaching out to grab your emotions and senses from the first pages until the last. The tension is well-developed growing exponentially until it finally reaches the breaking point. It is a wonderful début album for Melinda Clayton and deserves to be read by every family trying to teach tolerance and the cost of prejudice. The story, set in the past unfortunately still happens today in community after community, most of which aren’t able to find a little Appalachian Justice.

Open the pages, but be prepared, while Appalachian Justice works to break down barriers and to bring about understanding of a few key issues it is raw and at times violent though both factors are critical to the story and are not done simply for shock value. It is a crucial story for our time and for the ages to come, by reading it we may evolve enough as a people to never need Appalachian Justice.

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A Cure for Chaos

By Alan Tucker

Copyright 2011 by Alan Tucker, published by MAD Design, Inc paperback $14.99 from Amazon or Barnes and Noble ISBN 978-0982686430, eBook from Smashwords $3.99 ISBN 978-0-9826864-2-3

A Cure for Chaos is Alan Tucker’s much anticipated sequel to A Measure of Disorder the premier book in Tucker’s Mother-Earth series. A Cure for Chaos reacquaints us with beloved characters from A Measure of Disorder including Jenni Kershaw, now a freshman who still wants nothing more than to be an ordinary teen and who finds herself being forced into situations that repeatedly require her to rise above the ordinary into the extraordinary.

A Cure for Chaos takes you across America and into Mother, a world beyond ours where beings from our fairy tales and mythologies come to vivid life, offering a unique glance into a world that offers a chance to experience what life could be like if all these things were real.

Jenni Kershaw, one of our heroes/heroines finds her kind, helpful, giving nature keeps landing her in difficult and often dangerous situations. Newcomers to Mother find themselves undergoing transformations and Jenni makes an unforeseen sacrifice.

A Cure for Chaos offers Tucker’s unique and fantastical perspective to children, teens and adults alike in a wonderful world where dreams can come true and where they can be magical things. It is a visit to the best places in the human spirit, where good prevails and uniqueness is celebrated. It’s a stellar trip into the world of imagination and a voyage you will never want to return from. I can’t wait till the third volume comes out!

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Triumphs and Tragedies: Twenty-five aspects of the life of a Liverpool Sailor

By Peter Wright

Copyright 2009 by Peter Wright, published by iUniverse, 1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403, http://www.iuniverse.com, 1-800-Authors (1-800-288-4677)

$16.95 softcover, ISBN 978-1-4401-6814-7, $6.00 eBook 978-1-4401-6815-4 available from Amazon and iUniverse

Triumphs and Tragedies: Twenty-five aspects of the life of a Liverpool Sailor by Peter Wright may well qualify as one of the most interesting memoirs I have read. It is written in a straightforward, engaging manner that immediately worms it way into your mind. Going back and forth between memories of adult life and childhood at first,  Wright takes through his memories of such great events as both World Wars, and his reactions to them, as well as his childhood reactions to the Great War (World War I). Even though World War I took place prior to Wrights birth it deeply impacted his life, leaving emotional and psychological wounds that would never heal.

Wright offers honest recollections of his life and experiences that are at humorous, painful, loving and full of every emotion in between. Wright doesn’t spare himself at all but opens himself up and lets the recollections and stories flow not only from his memory, but from his heart. What follows is an excerpt dealing with Wright’s days as a Catholic school boy:

“When I was in the fourth form, about fourteen years of age, the head sacristan appointed me thurifer for the upcoming high mass on Palm Sunday. The thurifer is the guy who carries the thurible, the brass sensor hung on chains which contains burning incense. Some of you reading this can imagine how I felt, especially when Sunday morning dawned – horrible. I knew I was going to make a mess of it. If I’d known exactly how I would have made a mess of it, I would have caught the next train back home…

…I had had a few lessons in mastering the art of manipulating the thurible and was, perhaps, less fearful of taking it off the hook in the sacristy than I might of otherwise been, but I doubt that anyone noticed or cared…

…Trading ever-so-carefully, almost on tip-toe, I led the procession into the chapel. I was amazed how much noise boys make when they simply stand up; snuffling, sneezing, farting and generally being clumsy. Everything went well, even when I handed the thurible to the priest so that he could bless the missal and whatever other objects had to be blessed. When he handed it back, however, I got my two middle fingers where they were supposed to be, but somehow only got the thumb-ring halfway over my thumb. The result was inevitable. With my full attention on manipulating the thumb-ring halfway over my thumb. The result was inevitable. With my full attention on manipulating the thumb-ring farther onto my thumb, I allowed the device to wobble, and while I frantically lifted and swung it, the beveled bottom of the incense cup struck the edge of one of the flagstones ejecting hot coals onto the altar carpet, and onto the white habits of some of the monks kneeling at the altars’ side.

There was a little pandemonium. While the monks put their own fires out, I tried to scrape the embers back into the brass container. Without even thinking, I picked up a piece of hot incense. Burning and hot, it stuck to my finger of course, and I said, ‘Jesus.’

‘Don’t apologize to Him, Wright, get on with mass.’ One of the monks with a sense of slapstick, helped me stay fairly calm. The damage was slight, and little was said by the clergy. A couple of them smiled and one or two raised their eyes. For the rest of the school, however, it was a hilarious topic. ‘Couldn’t have seen a better show at Blackpool,” one Lancashire lad remarked.”

As you can see the recollections are vivid and Wright has no problem, in pointing a self-recriminating, if at times humorous, finger. The stories in the book made me laugh, cry and cringe in empathy with the author. If I were to be asked to recommend one memoir this year it would be Triumphs and Tragedies: Twenty-five aspects of the life of a Liverpool Sailor. It is brief, highly enjoyable and at the same time very informative of both the lifestyles and events of a bygone era and way of life understood by only a select few.

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Abby: Finding More Than Gold

By Sharon Poppen

copyright 2010 by Sharon Poppen

published by Awe-Struck Publishing, an imprint of Mundania Press, LLC

6470 Glenway Avenue #109, Cincinnati, OH 45211, ISBN 978-1-58749-731-5

Abby: Finding More Than Gold is one of those young adult books that’s a pleasure to read, regardless of your age. It follows the dreams and adventures of a young Irish girl, Abby Barron, from her home in Chicago across the Great Plains of America and finally into the Yukon, where like so many others she pursues her dream of striking it rich with a big gold find.

Abby, a girl not yet eighteen, sets her mind upon fulfilling the dream she and her cousin Liam had of going to the Yukon to find gold, along the way Abby discovers many new and exciting things about herself and the people around her. Abby will never be the innocent ‘colleen’ who set out from Chicago a short time before.

Reading Abby: Finding More Than Gold leaves you longing for a sequel to the book, but according to author Sharon Poppen a sequel, if there is one, is quite a way in the future as she is currently under contract for other projects related to her book, After the War, Before the Peace. Still, you’ll want to know more of the fate of Abby, the Finleys and the rest of the family and friends from Abby: Finding More Than Gold.

Poppen does an excellent job with characterization and voice, although there is a touch of stereotype in the characters, it is not enough to detract from the story. Generally speaking there is a rich canvas of characters, action and story that fully and logically moves from beginning to conclusion with just enough tension to keep you eagerly turning pages.

What follows is an excerpt from early in the book:

“Abby took a deep breath and entered the darkened interior. The lobby was surprisingly clean and welcoming. She walked atop a faded Oriental rug runner, passing several divans and overstuffed chairs on her way to the hotel desk. A man wearing a green-shaded visor looked up from a newspaper and smiled broadly.

“Well, well, little lady.” His leering smile heightened Abby’s anxiety.

She laid the newspaper on the desk and pointed to the ad. “May I see Mr. Finley, please?”

He waved toward a room off to his left. “I believe I saw him come back a bit ago. Try the dining room. He may be having his lunch.”

Abby looked in the direction he pointed. “Can you tell me what he looks like?”

The clerk stepped from behind the desk and motioned for her to follow him. He led her to a room just off the hotel lobby. The room was bathed in the warmth of the January sun. At four of the eight or nine small tables, covered with white tablecloths and surrounded by four chairs each, sat lone male diners. The room was bright and stark in contrast to the dark of the lobby. The white walls were devoid of decoration. Only two potted ferns brought any color into the room.

The clerk pointed to a man who was sitting with his back to her at a table by the window. “That’s him.” He returned to his desk to talk with another woman. Abby noticed that the newcomer wa an unnatural blonde and was wearing far too much make-up. Her silk, red dress was inappropriately garish for this time of afternoon, or anytime actually. Abby watched the clerk and the woman exchange suggestive smiles before the blonde headed toward the stairs.

“Seat yourself girlie.” A chubby man wearing a greasy apron barked at her as he headed toward Mr. Finley with a bowl of soup and a pile of crackers.

Abby gripped the newspaper tightly and attempted to follow the waiter, but found her feet stuck to the floor. They refused to budge. Her terrified mind admonished her to turn and go home. She took two steps back. The newspaper fell from her hand.”

Just what happens to Abby from this point on is both a wonderful and terrible story of pain, hope and new beginnings. Abby: Finding More Than Gold is a joy to read regardless of your age.

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2012: Creating Your Own Shift

Copyright 2011 by Hunt Henion, published by Shift Awareness Books http://www.ShiftAwareness.com

The coming of the year 2012 brings curiosity and a touch of fear to all of our minds. Unlike the Y2K fear, 2012 has been foretold in prophecy for thousands of years from ancient and aboriginal people. What does it mean? Who will it affect? Is it the end? What will happen to us?

These are a few of the many questions 2012: Creating Your Own Shift answers, or at least lays the foundations for the answers while giving you additional resources to turn to for more in-depth study.

2012: Creating Your Own Shift is an anthology from some of the foremost minds regarding the 2012 phenomenon, the belief systems attached to it and the modern quantum physics that may support the underlying 2012 theories.

2012: Creating Your Own Shift helps you prepare for the coming entrance into the age of Aquarius and the alignment of 2012 that is believed by many to bring an end to existing polarities and paradigms while opening up a higher existence to those on earth.

2012: Creating Your Own Shift allows you to meet the coming of 2012 and the era it foretells without fear but with full knowledge beforehand of what you should expect and do to prepare. It is not a fatalistic survivors’ manual but a real handbook of spiritual preparations to purify your body and spirit for the days ahead. If you have any level of interest in the 2012 phenomenon then 2012: Creating Your Own Shift should be on your bookshelf.

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Witch & Wizard: The Gift

By James Patterson and Ned Rust

Copyright 2010 by James Patterson, published by Little, Brown and Company, Hachette Book Group, 237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017, ISBN 978-0-316-03625-2

Witch & Wizard: The Gift is the second installment in James Patterson’s Witch & Wizard series. I loved the first book in the series, Witch & Wizard. I thought the story was great and the characters were wonderful. I’m not as enthused about Witch & Wizard: The Gift. The cast of characters remains essentially unchanged, but they digress from the form they had in the previous book. Also, this book doesn’t, in fact, pick up from the same spot the where the previous book ended. It’s rather confusing.

I liked the combination of Patterson and Charbonnet in Witch & Wizard. I don’t think the combination of James Patterson and Ned Rust in Witch & Wizard: The Gift works as well. The story really diverges from the direction it seemed to be heading in the first book. Maybe Patterson wanted to change directions but the story ended up losing some of its character and ability to be related to. Instead of being a sequel it feels like a different story that just happens to have the same characters as another story. Little remains to bind it to the first book other than the names of the people in it.

I don’t want you to get me wrong; I still feel Witch & Wizard: The Gift is worth reading. It still carries on the story of Whit and Wisty, just not in ways you would have foreseen, but maybe that’s not all bad. The story doesn’t allow you to settle in a comfortable rut and say, “Oh yes, well this is absolutely what this story is about and this is what is going to happen.” There’s no point where you’ll find yourself saying that. But if you’ve read both books you’ll probably like the first better.

After reading Witch & Wizard: The Gift I’m still curious about what is going to happen to Whit and Wisty, but I don’t know if it’s a strong enough desire to make me read the next book in the series, especially if it’s another Patterson/Rust collaboration.

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Split Image

By Robert B. Parker

Copyright 2010 by Robert B. Parker, G. P. Putnam’s Sons publishers since 1838, published by the Penguin Group, ISBN 978-0-399-15623-6, From $15.93

Parker’s Split Image is a Jesse Stone novel. Stone is the chief of police in the town of Paradise. Stone’s character is interesting, well-developed, with just a touch of cliché in spots that actually tend to add to the character. Sunny Randall is a private detective who is working closely with Jesse on a case requiring his input, the two develop a rapport as they each use the other as a sounding block for theories regarding their respective cases.

The rest of the characters are typical of their respective roles: There are muscle-bound body guards with the IQs of snails; mob-boss thugs; ex-con heads of security; wolves in sheep’s clothing and a set of twins, wives of the respective mob bosses who give new meaning to the term “dynamic duo.”

Few of the characters are spectacular, but the writing shines through despite this flaw resulting in a good story that makes skillful use of the technique of foreshadowing. The build-up of tension is very good. The pieces of this murder mystery artfully woven together into a coherent pattern that leaves no loose ends when the story is finally completed. Also, there is a wildcard, or two, thrown into the mix that will keep you wondering how the story is going to turn out in the end.

I hold everyone up to the historical greats: Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple and of course, Hercule Poirot. Who can hope to compare to the icons of the crime/murder genre?

Still, Split Image held my attention. It made me want to keep turning pages. It was a great way to pass several evenings. The story itself was well-developed and presented in an appealing manner. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. It didn’t keep me up at night wondering what was coming next, but it was good. If crime novels are your thing I think you’ll enjoy Split Image. I did.

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