Friday, December 28, 2012

Greenwood and Archer-Marlene Banks

Greenwood and Archer

Marlene Banks

Lift Every Voice Books (LEVB)/Moody, Sep 20 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780802406217

In 1921 in Tulsa, taking advantage of the rage of the white community over a newspaper accusing black Dick Rowland of raping white Sarah Page, the racist White Glove Society screams for the lock up of all colored especially in the affluent Greenwood District. Their bigoted shrill wins causes a race riot in Greenwood leaving over 300 dead (see Son of a Preacherman).

Engaged couple, son of a preacher Billy Ray Matthias and oil heiress Benny Freeman are dismayed since the former’s brother Ethan defended Rowland. Benny’s ex-fiancée Jordan Franks returns; his dumping her turned her into a recluse until Billy Ray intervened. While believing God wants him to preach, Billy Ray prays for his beloved.

Federal agent DP Dooley believes the race riot affirms his rage with God. He vows to destroy the “Godly” White Gloves Society even as they gain new supporters. Ignoring immense pressure to lock up the colored, fervent racist Police Chief Jake Gilbert saw the Greenwood massacre first-hand. He joins with Dooley to end racial hate crimes in his city with support from the newly created Interdenominational Christian Clergy who wants God in everyone’s life; while the Chicago mob sees an opportunity to expand their operation into Tulsa.

This is a powerful historical that looks deep at the aftermath of the Greenwood race riots. With a present day relevancy, the underlying irony of the tale is the diverse cast believes that God is on their side as so many invoke the Lord’s name in defense of whatever they do. Besides a fabulous look at devastated 1921 Tulsa, Marlene Banks makes a case that claiming Jesus has your back is not soul-deep believing in Jesus.

Harriet Klausner

Greenwood and Archer-Marlene Banks

Greenwood and Archer

Marlene Banks

Lift Every Voice Books (LEVB)/Moody, Sep 20 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780802406217

In 1921 in Tulsa, taking advantage of the rage of the white community over a newspaper accusing black Dick Rowland of raping white Sarah Page, the racist White Glove Society screams for the lock up of all colored especially in the affluent Greenwood District. Their bigoted shrill wins causes a race riot in Greenwood leaving over 300 dead (see Son of a Preacherman).

Engaged couple, son of a preacher Billy Ray Matthias and oil heiress Benny Freeman are dismayed since the former’s brother Ethan defended Rowland. Benny’s ex-fiancée Jordan Franks returns; his dumping her turned her into a recluse until Billy Ray intervened. While believing God wants him to preach, Billy Ray prays for his beloved.

Federal agent DP Dooley believes the race riot affirms his rage with God. He vows to destroy the “Godly” White Gloves Society even as they gain new supporters. Ignoring immense pressure to lock up the colored, fervent racist Police Chief Jake Gilbert saw the Greenwood massacre first-hand. He joins with Dooley to end racial hate crimes in his city with support from the newly created Interdenominational Christian Clergy who wants God in everyone’s life; while the Chicago mob sees an opportunity to expand their operation into Tulsa.

This is a powerful historical that looks deep at the aftermath of the Greenwood race riots. With a present day relevancy, the underlying irony of the tale is the diverse cast believes that God is on their side as so many invoke the Lord’s name in defense of whatever they do. Besides a fabulous look at devastated 1921 Tulsa, Marlene Banks makes a case that claiming Jesus has your back is not soul-deep believing in Jesus.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Uses for Boys-Erica Lorraine Scheidt

Uses for Boys

Erica Lorraine Scheidt

St. Martin’s Griffin, Jan 15, 2013, $9.99

ISBN: 9781250007117

Anna loved life with her single mom when she constantly would ask the “tell-me-again times” and be reassured that her mother only wanted a single girl, her. However, when she turned eight, Anna learns she is too old for fairy tales as her mom seeks her next husband. Deserted in plain sight in a world she no longer understands, Anna proves a chip off the maternal block as she obsesses over a psychological need to belong. She uses sex to make boys her surrogate family. A boy rapes her and she drops out of school to the taunts of slut from her peers. Still a teen, Anna moves in with her latest boyfriend. Anna meets and envies Toy, whose boys are much nicer than those in her life. When she meets Sam and his family, Anna knows what she wants in life is not the Uses of Boys, but the love of a caring “tribe” like she once had when she was very young with her mom.

This is a deep decade in the life of a child-teen using an inner strength to survive her feelings of maternal abandonment. Anna is a wonderful individual who goes from adored child to surviving slut to caring about people. Readers, especially teens, will appreciate Anna’s captivating coming of age tale realizing the importance of looking past derogatory labels into the heart and soul of others.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Italian Woman-Jean Plaidy

The Italian Woman

Jean Plaidy

Touchstone, Jan 1 2013, $16.00

ISBN: 9781451686524

In Florence, her father Pope Clement VII arranges for his fourteen year old daughter Caterina de' Medici to marry the second son of the King of France, Prince Henry of Orleans; forcing her to leave behind her beloved Ippolito. That political marriage also broke the heart of Jeanne of Navarre who hoped to become Prince Henry’s wife.

Patient but bitter, Caterina accepted the affronts by her husband and others in his circle who bowed to King Henry’s beloved mistress Diane de Poitiers instead of the mother of his children. When Henry died, Queen Regent Caterina watches her ailing oldest son Francis become king. However, she prefers her second son hale Henry to replace his sick older brother on the throne in order to insure her dynasty. Jeanne, married to Antoine de Bourbon, supports the Huguenots as civil war breaks out in France with Caterina manipulating all sides to strengthen her family hold on the throne.

This reprint of the 1950s published middle historical in Jean Plaidy’s Catherine Medici trilogy (see Madame Serpent) is an engaging sixteenth century French intrigue. Although the action feels tame compared to contemporary written historical biographic fiction (see The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner), fans will enjoy Ms. Plaidy’s saga as the enjoyable storyline enables fans to understand what motivated the key rivals.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 17, 2012

1356-Bernard Cornwell


Bernard Cornwell

Harper, Jan 8 2013, $20.99

ISBN: 9780061969676

The war between the English and French on France soil continues unabated. However, in 1356 as the hostile forces prepare for bloody hand to hand combat at Poitiers, Black Friar Ferdinand allegedly steals La Malice from an old coffin. La Malice is the sword that Jesus ordered Peter to hide in the garden of Gethsemane and everyone wants Saint Peter’s blessed blade as the legend is the person yielding this sword will rule.

Pursuing Ferdinand is Avignon papal enforcer Father Calade and his hooded hawk. The Earl of Northampton orders his mercenary Sir Thomas “La Batard” Hookton and his band to find Saint Peter’s sword. Having just switched sides over payments due, Sir Thomas obeys the order leading his troop across France fighting his former allies, treacherous friends, and warlord hordes and duplicitous churchmen. At the same time major forces prepare for a bloody hand to hand combat at Poitiers with Sir Thomas and his mercenaries joining the deadly battle.

1356 continues the exciting epic medieval era escapades of Sir Thomas Hookton (see the Grail Quest: Archer's Tale, Vagabond and Heretic) as the pivotal battle of the Hundred Years War looms. Though the myriad of subplots never quite cohesively gel in spite of the various factions converging on Poitiers, historical fans especially of the Grail Quest series (though this is apparently a sidebar tale) will relish this deep at medieval combat with incredible bloody battle scenes as everyone wants to claim through la Malice that God supports their holy cause.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Real Wifeys: Hustle Hard-Meesha Mink

Real Wifeys: Hustle Hard

Meesha Mink

Touchstone, Jan 1 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781451688979

Sophie “Suga” Alvarez and Daniel “Dane” Greenley met and fell in love while attending college. Though total opposites in outlook as she believed in hard work while he took the hustler’s route, they became an entry. A few years after their first meeting, they remain a couple, but Suga, a junior account executive is disappointed on the path of their relationship. She wants to drop the “Y” in her status by becoming his wife Sophie rather than his wifey Suga. However, she also refuses to marry her beloved until he ends his loan shark career by going straight.

Dane swears to his Suga he will go legit, but his vow proves too late when the couple is arrested and appear heading to prison; her only escape is betraying her Dane. Suga’s life is in turmoil, but more tsuris hammers her when she learns her father’s felonious secrets and their impact on her relationship with BFF Luscious; and decides to run Dane’s business.

The latest Real Wifey street lit is an exciting fast-paced urban noir as the wifey tries to prove a chip off the old man’s block by taking control of her mate’s loan shark operation. Although the overall premise is similar to the previous Lucious entries (see Real Wifeys: Get Money and Real Wifeys: On The Grind), Suga brings freshness with her seemingly off the streets’ outlook. Fans will enjoy this gritty tale of an urban wifey turning cement jungle warrior.

Harriet Klausner

The Death of Bees-Lisa O'Donnell

The Death of Bees

Lisa O'Donnell

Harper, Jan 3 2013, $25.99

ISBN: 9780062209849

In Glasgow, fifteen year old Marnie Doyle comes home to find her father dead from suffocation inside the family house and her mother hung in the outdoor shed. Marnie tells her eleven year old sister Nelly. Neither wants foster care; so they agree to inter their negligent abusive parents Gene and Isabel in the yard and pretend the deceased are in Turkey until Marnie turns sixteen and can legally become her sibling’s guardian. Knowing the druggies that Gene and Isabel are, everyone including Mick the ice cream vender drug dealer demanding payment from their dad buys the temporary abandonment belief.

Their lonely gay neighbor Lennie the “pervert” pariah realizes what is going on and begins feeding and sheltering the sisters. Meanwhile Mick finds the passports of his two missing customers so he knows something is not right. When Lennie’s dog finds the buried bones, he reinters them in his yard. Finally the kids’ estranged maternal grandfather Robert T. MacDonald visits his offspring seeking redemption from his daughter for abandoning her twice but is nasty towards his grandchildren. As their plan unravels, Marnie and Nelly also navigate school.

The Death of Bees is a fascinating relationship drama starring two young victims of parental neglect and abuse. The intriguing storyline rotates perspective between Lennie and the sisters so that the audience receives a more rounded view of events. Although Nelly’s voice feels off key, readers who enjoy a gritty extended family Scottish street lit drama will appreciate redemption vs. abuse of two young sisters trying to shine brightly in a dark environs.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Two Week Wait-Sarah Rayner

The Two Week Wait

Sarah Rayner

St. Martin’s Griffin, Dec 24 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9781250021489

In Brighton, Lou and Sofia are a happy couple residing in the B&B owned by the former’s mother. Lately Lou has had bladder issues so she accompanied by her partner go for tests where she learns she has a large fibroid cyst on her womb. Lou undergoes surgery to have the nonmalignant tumor removed.

In Yorkshire, Cath survived a cancer scare but at the cost of becoming infertile. She wants desperately to give her caring husband Rich an offspring. Investigating alternatives Cath thinks the costly egg sharing procedure is the best choice though there is no guarantee of success; as the child will have Rich’s DNA and that of another female.

Lou wants to be a mother too though Sofia detests the idea of raising a child. Investigating options, Lou believes the egg sharing concept is the way to go as she could share motherhood with another woman. Soon the dreams of Lou and Cath will converge.

The Two Week Wait is a fascinating look at how individuals share the same life-changing desires though seemingly polar opposites (especially when it comes to their respective sexual orientation); Cath and Lou share the same dream of motherhood. Although the character driven storyline can slow down at times due to the deep look at the emotions of the lead two women, fans will respect both females (and Sarah Rayner) while relishing their angst-laden efforts to become mothers.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Cove-Ron Rash

The Cove

Ron Rash

Ecco/HarperCollins, Nov 6 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780061804205

The Cove lies near the Appalachian North Carolina village of Mars Hill. The villagers fear the Cove as a home for ghosts and fetches. Living near the Cove on the same farm where they grew up are the Shelton siblings. Due to a birthmark, locals ostracize Laurel as a witch who they believe belongs with the shadows of the Cove while her brother Hank has just returned from the front minus a hand. Thus working their family farm is almost impossible as no one will accept a job on land where Laurel Shelton resides.

While at the creek doing laundry, Laurel finds a severely injured Walter Smith, who suffered massive hornet stings. She heals the mute flutist and soon nurse and patient fall in love. At the same time, Army recruiter Chauncey Feith decides Walter is a dangerous adversary working for the Kaiser. An ultra-patriot, Chauncey, emboldened by alcohol, decides to take matters into his hand and eliminate the enemy threat to Mars Hill.

This late WWI drama is a deep atmospheric thriller that warns readers to beware of patriots who claim the flag belongs only to them and those who think the same way as they do. Anyone with a differing opinion is a traitor (mindful of Iraq circa 2003 with Congressional Representatives Ney and Jones changing House cafeterias’ French fries to freedom fries). The Shelton pair and Smith are fascinating fully developed characters while the townsfolk represent uneducated superstitious rural folks; with Feith over the top of Mount Mitchell as a super-patriot flag waiving stereotype. Readers will enjoy Ton Rash’s strong look at the home front during WWI.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Sublime Transformation of Vera Wright-Rea Nolan Martin

The Sublime Transformation of Vera Wright

Rea Nolan Martin

WiaWaka Press/Lulu, Apr 10 2012, 25.00

ISBN: 9780557074952

In Canaan, New Jersey, sixty-three year old beautician Vera Wright and her husband Monk attend services at the Church of St. Jude the Apostle as they do every Sunday. Father Max Alter’s sermons encourage his flock to let God into their life. Heeding her pastor’s advice, Vera begins coming to church for the daily mass

One day at the church, Vera sees a light shine through the glass window of Jesus. She notices the light reflects that half the attendees seem redeemed while the rest stained with the blood of salvation. Having let God into her life, Vera is shocked with what the Lord wants from her; as the Divine Father picked the least (in her mind) to lead the world to a new spiritual revelation.

The Sublime Transformation of Vera Wright is a thought provoking tale that uses humor to remind readers what matters in life. The profound storyline focuses on the awakening of the heroine who must overcome her doubts and the doubts of others including those who know her as the baby boomer beautician. Rea Nolan Martin provides a wonderful inspirational story as Vera “almighty” affirms what eighteenth century hymnist William Cowper wrote: “God Moves in Mysterious Ways.”

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Anonymity-Janna McMahon


Janna McMahon

Koehler Books, Jan 1 2013, $15.95

ISBN: 9781938467233

Teenager Lorelei arrives in Austin by bus. She heads to the Tumbleweed Street Outreach young adult center where she can get some chow, pick up clothing and even shelter. She enjoys the food and selects some items to wear, but rejects the cot.

Twentyish Emily works as a bartender. When she meets David the reporter investigating the gutter punks who live as an unwanted underbelly of the city, she agrees to be his photographer. Emily meets Lorelei and wants to help the teen. The two women becomes friends, but Emily learns the true meaning of good intentions as every time she tries to get Lorelei off the street, danger surfaces from the teen’s past; Emily also tries to assist other young lost souls by bringing attention to their plight through her unforgiving harsh camera.

This is a deep look at the teen homeless living on the streets of Austin. The insightful storyline rotates perspective mostly between the two women though others like Emily’s mom Barbara take the lead at times. This character driven urban tale driven by a strong cast has readers wondering whether Emily has found her groove with photographing the gutter punks.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rosemary Opens her Heart-Naomi King

Rosemary Opens her Heart

Naomi King

NAL, Nov 6 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780451237972

Friends and family from nearby and other states arrive in Cedar Creek, Missouri to attend the wedding of Zanna Lambright and Jonny Ropp. The bride’s sister Abby, who thought she loved the groom, sits with James Graber. Zanna’s brother Matt enjoys the company of James’ sister Emma though he feels attracted to single mom Widow Rosemary Yutzy.

Matt tries to court Rosemary, but she declines as apparently she still loves her late husband. Knowing he loves Rosemary and her three year old daughter, Matt continues his pursuit of the two females. Abby and James consider becoming an entry, but each has a schedule that leaves no room for courting.

The second Home at Cedar Creek Amish romance follows up on Abby Finds Her Calling as two couples find the path to happiness contains many detours. The cast is fully developed as readers understand the motives of the protagonists. Readers will relish Rosemary Opens her Heart, but that may not be enough for her and Matt.

Harriet Klausner

The Ghost Of Christmas Present-Scott Abbott and Amy Maude Swinton

The Ghost Of Christmas Present

Scott Abbott and Amy Maude Swinton

Howard/Simon and Schuster, Oct 23 2012, $16.99

ISBN: 9781451660395

In Manhattan Widower Patrick Guthrie still grieves the death of his wife Linda from an enlarged heart only he learns that the other person he loves in this world, their eight-year-old son Braden, is dying from the same condition. Adding pressure on Patrick is the loss of his job as a drama teacher and his affluent angry father-in-law Tom Cake is filing a custody suit based on his son-in-law’s inability to care for Braden; just like he feels his son-in-law failed his beloved daughter.

Child Protective Services social worker Rebecca Brody reviews the case at a time when a procedure could save Braden’s life. Thinking his son may be better offer with his grandfather, Patrick considers suicide, but concludes Braden needs him and he will do anything to be there for his beloved child. Needing a Christmas miracle, Patrick turns to Shakespeare and street performing to raise money before he appears in court.

The Ghost of Christmas Present is a charming holiday tale starring a desperate father seeking to make his own Miracle on 34th Street. His efforts change the attitudes of many as those who watch his performance are tenderly touched even coldly efficient Rebecca and Ted the scrooge begin seeing him in a different light. Readers will enjoy this warm Christmas tale.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Winter Dream-Richard Paul Evans

A Winter Dream

Richard Paul Evans

Simon & Schuster, Oct 30 2012, $19.99

ISBN: 9781451628036

In Denver, Jacobson Advertising is a very successful firm in which the four-time married patriarch Israel employs his twelve sons and one daughter. Israel’s favorite offspring is number twelve, twenty-nine years old Joseph AKA JJ. Joseph’s siblings are jealous of him especially when their dad names him as his heir though JJ is the second youngest. Joseph is not very close to his older half-siblings, but is with his younger full brother Benjamin.

His brothers mount an attack on JJ who finally succumbs and leaves his family, fiancée and home for Chicago. There Joseph succeeds at an advertising firm at a time many companies including Jacobson are in trouble due to the recession. He also meets and falls in love with April, but he feels betrayed again when he learns of her secret at a time his family begs him to come home and save the company.

The latest Richard Paul Evans’s holiday novel (see The Christmas Box) is a modern day rendition of the Genesis story of Joseph. JJ is superb holding the storyline focused while the support cast in Denver, Colorado, New York and Utah enhance the plot. Fast-paced from the moment JJ goes into exile, fans will enjoy this engaging contemporary version of the Old Testament tale as the Jacobson clan learns lessons on being a loving family.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Sins of the Mother-Danielle Steel

The Sins of the Mother

Danielle Steel

Delacorte, Oct 30 2012, $20.00

ISBN: 9780385343206

When Olivia Grayson was eighteen years old she went to work at her widowed mother’s local hardware business. She widened the scope and eventually replaced her mom as the CEO of the world wide home products The Factory. Worth billions, Olivia married Joe and had four children with him. While she ignored her kids as they were growing up, Joe and his mom raised them with love.

Now five decades since she joined the Factory, widowed Olivia wants to make amends with her adult offspring and her grandchildren; previous efforts having proven fruitless. With Joe dead from a heart attack and his mom in a nursing home Olivia has no buffer. Olivia arranges a super two-week vacation on a luxury yacht that will sail the Mediterranean. Her two sons (Phillip and John), who work for her look forward to the trip but their wives want out. Her oldest daughter Liz also wants no part of the sailing adventure as anytime she gets together with her mom and siblings, she feels ashamed of what she has done with her life. Finally her other child Cass outright refuses to join the family on any vacation. As the five adults battle their internal demons, the grandchildren enjoy the gala.

The Sins of the Mother is an entertaining dysfunctional family drama starring an ensemble cast that Cecil B. DeMille would be proud of though the exorbitant numbers overwhelm the storyline (keep a scorecard handy to keep score of who’s who). Still the insight into the theory that adult is the child makes for an engaging tale as the four offspring customize the error their matriarch made with them in how they relate to others.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Christmas in Cornwall-Marcia Willet

Christmas in Cornwall

Marcia Willet

Dunne, Oct 30 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9781250003706

With the sudden unexpected death of his wife, Clem has no time to mourn his loss; as their five year old son Jakey struggles with the loss of his mom. Deciding he cannot be a single dad with no help, Clem, accompanied by Jakey, moves to his hometown of Cornwall so they can be near his loving mom Dossie.

Successful caterer Dossie showers her son and grandson with plenty of love. As Clem and Jakey acclimate to life without their respective wife-mom in Cornwall, each finds solace with the kindhearted Sisters and Father Pascal. Jenna tales care of the crazy nuns she considers beloved family who act like eccentric aunts needing protection from the unscrupulous. She falls in love with the grieving father and son, but fears for the Sisters as a Grinch arrives for Christmas in Cornwell with development plans for the convent.

This is a warm, humorous holiday romance starring an engaging ensemble cast. With a touch of whimsy and an a sort of fairy tale quality, fans will enjoy this fun Christmas tale as a family is not defined by DNA but by being there for others while knowing they will be there for you.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Collateral-Ellen Hopkins


Ellen Hopkins

Atria, Nov 6 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9781451626377

San Diego State University graduate student Ashley Patterson and Marine Cole Gleason meet at a bar as do their respective best friends Darian and Spencer. They share in common their love of poetry and attracted to one another begin a relationship over the next five years in spite of his four overseas deployments.

At the same time Ashley and Cole struggle with long periods of dangerous absence, Darian and Spencer becomes a couple. However, unlike Ashley who has met temptation at college, Darian seeks lovers when her mate is deployed.

Collateral is a fascinating look at the impact on loving relationships by the constant long periods of out of bed deployments and by what Cole mentally faces in a war zone. The storyline is leisurely paced with poetry written by both an intricate part of their partnering. At times overdramatic, readers will appreciate this deep look at the cost of endless war on a couple of marines and the women who love them.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Young Henry: The Rise of Henry VIII-Robert Hutchinson

Young Henry: The Rise of Henry VIII

Robert Hutchinson

Dunne, Oct 30 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9781250012616

This is an interesting biography of King Henry VIII that uses household accounts to provide insight into the monarch up until the birth of Princess Elizabeth in 1533. In his latest Tudor nonfiction (see Elizabeth’s Spy Master and House of Treason: The Rise & Fall of a Tudor Dynasty), Robert Hutchinson makes a case that the ruler was not the debaucher that fiction depicts him to be though he was very hedonistic. Instead he makes argument that as a pampered second son, Henry understood enjoying life to the fullest cost be damned; as the shakiness of ruling England could end your rule and your head. Thus Lord Chancellor Wolsey ran the kingdom while Henry hunted, played and gambled like he did before taking the throne. Nothing changed in his lifestyle except Henry also knew he needed to eliminate all rivals, and produce the heir and the spare as that was more important to longevity than governance. Well written with some jocularity that enhances the fascinating portrayal, Tudor fans still are left wondering how such an influential historical figure seemed to do little more than self-indulgence.

Harriet Klausner

The Winters-Betty J Cotter

The Winters

Betty J Cotter

Swamp Yankee Publishing, Jul 26, 2012, $14.97

475 Woodruff Ave, Wakefield, RI 02879

ISBN: 9781938517082

In 1978, Jim Winter, his wife Helen and their two children (Joyce and Don) live in a dilapidated farmhouse with a fabulous view of the Atlantic. On a wintry morning, Jim commits suicide stunning his family who were unprepared for their beloved patriarch taking his life. Feeling pressure as a failure Jim knew his family would grieve, but concluded they were better off with him dead than alive as his life insurance will pay bills he could not.

Heartbroken Helen knows their beachfront property owned by the Swamp Yankee family for over three hundred years needs to be sold as the land is valuable to affluent gentrification developers, but hesitates with ending the tradition though there is pressure on her to sell. Ludlow her cousin the realtor hires Helen but also pressures her to sell. Fran her new neighbor wants her antiques. Loretta her sister-in-law wants to donate the land to the Audubon Society. Her daughter cannot cope with her dad’s suicide or what appears to be the imminent loss of her heritage. Finally, her best friend Camille is on a quest to learn about her Narragansett Native American roots.

This profound family drama focuses on the impact of a changing world on a long time tradition. Character driven by a fully developed cast, readers will relish the trials and tribulations of each individual while they cope with an affluent invasion superseding the Swamp Yankee subculture; money talks, heritage walks.

Harriet Klausner

An Amish Gift-Cynthia Keller

An Amish Gift

Cynthia Keller

Ballantine, Oct 30 2012, $16.00

ISBN: 9780345538130

When Shep Davis lost his job, he, his wife Jennie, their two teenage children (Tim and Willa) and Scout the dog move to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where the family patriarch inherited a home and a bicycle shop. The Davis brood looks at the relocation as a fresh beginning as they reside among the Amish.

However, in spite of starting over tensions remain stratospheric between the parents. Jennie becomes friends with her Amish neighbor Mattie Fisher as they share brisk walks. Mattie’s optimism even when life seems most dire lifts Jennie’s spirits while a Tim comment inspires his mom to start a candy business. Instead of abating the tension, her success and his struggles lead to more intense arguments as Christmas arrives along with a special visitor who brings hope.

This is an engaging family drama that looks deep into how people deal differently with adversity especially when their loving relationships fracture. Character driven, fans will enjoy this entertaining holiday fable as Jennie and Shep receive a wonderful Amish Gift of friendship.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Merry Ex-Mas-Sheila Roberts

Merry Ex-Mas

Sheila Roberts

Mira, Oct 23 2012, $15.95

ISBN: 9780778313922

In Icicle Falls, Washington Gingerbread Haus Bakery owner Cass Wilkes wonders how one of the most beautiful events in her life could turn ugly. Cass has looked forward with joy to her daughter Dani’s wedding until she learns her ex-husband will walk their child down the aisle. To make matters even crueler, Dani would like Daddy and his second wife to stay at Cass’ house.

Recently divorced couple Jake and Ella O’Brien share the same residence with plans to go their separate way once they sell their house. However, at times they act like a married couple leaving both confused.

Charlene Albach is stunned when her former husband Richard the deserter is back in town. Richard knows he made the error of his life when he ran off with the hostess from Charley’s restaurant Zelda's. He wants his ex-wife back.

The second Life in Icicle Falls' family drama (see Better Than Chocolate) is an engaging humorous tale of three sets of ex-couples coming together over the holidays. The ensemble cast makes for a fun frothy frolic as the ghosts of Christmas past reunite in a Merry Ex-Mas story.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Shortest Way Home-Juliette Fay

The Shortest Way Home

Juliette Fay

Penguin, Oct 30 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780143121916

When their mother died from Huntington’s, their father dumped his three kids on their Auntie Vivvy in Pelham, Massachusetts. The oldest Sean became a nurse providing medical care in the worst areas of the world. Now in his forties he comes home from the democratic Republic of Congo after learning that his younger brother Hugh died. Sean is shocked how old his thirtyish sister Deidre the actress turned surrogate mother to their nephew Kevin looks. She informs him their aunt is beginning to show signs of senility.

He tries to help Deidre with Kevin, but parenting is something he never dealt with before. Sean feels attracted to his childhood friend Becky, who reciprocates. However, though he suffers from PTSD, Sean feels unable to stay home.

Though there is some similarity to the relationships in Shelter Me (also in Pelham), The Shortest Way Home is an engaging family drama as the aunt, siblings and nephew each have personal issues. Character-driven, love may not be enough to heal this dysfunctional quartet as Juliette Fay provides readers with an engaging warm contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

The Elephant Keepers' Children-Peter Hoeg

The Elephant Keepers' Children

Peter Hoeg

Other, Oct 23 2012, $28.95

ISBN: 9781590514900

Pastor Konstantin preaches to his flock on Fino Island. With him on the tiny Danish isle is his wife Clara the organist and computer guru, and their children (Hans, Tilte and Peter). When Konstantin and Clara disappear, their three kids think nothing of it as their parents have vanished before after a spiritual con. The trio knows their parents are Elephant Keepers of the faith.

However, the teens become concerned when they conclude that Konstantin and Clara plan to steal artifacts at the Grand Synod of faiths in which the major religious leaders from around the world will meet in Copenhagen. They begin an intervention odyssey before the world comes after their con artist parents.

This is a satirical amusing thriller which makes a strong case that adult moral leadership is lacking as substance does not matter in an instant media information age. Peter tells the tale in an all over the place manner as one would expect from a fourteen year old adolescent on his first sojourn. With odd names and strange scenarios that border on teenage Monty Python quirkily escapades, The Elephant Keepers' Children is for those who appreciate “And Now for Something Completely Different.”

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

An Amish Holiday-Cynthia Keller

An Amish Holiday

Cynthia Keller

Ballantine, Oct 30 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780345528766

“An Amish Christmas.” James Hobart makes a lot of money so that he, his stay at home wife Meg and their three kids (teenagers Lizzie and Will and tweener Sam) live in luxury beyond what he brings in. When he makes several bad investment decisions after being fired, the family's finances collapses. Swinging between self-debasing and denial James faces irate Meg who blames him for their tsuris, argumentative spoiled teens, fearful Sam and scornful relatives. Adding to their woes is an accident in Pennsylvania as the five were moving to upstate New York. Stranded the Lutz family welcomes them into their Amish home. This is an engaging reprint of a holiday tale that compares internal relationships between a selfish materialistic family to that of a nurturing caring family.

“A Plain and Fancy Christmas.” Gil and pregnant Nina Lawrence were traveling through Lancaster County, Pennsylvania when she went into labor. She gave birth to her daughter Ellie before the trio continued on to New York. Also in the hospital giving birth is Amish Leah King who with her husband Isaac name their child Rachel. Nurse Violet Thompson realized her husband the physician mixed up the babies. Over three decades later, a dying Violet tells the families of the error. Both are hesitant about meeting their biological parents. Although switched at birth is not a new premise, Cynthia Keller provides an interesting spin to the nurturing vs. naturing debate with the cultural differences between the two families in this reprint.

Harriet Klausner

Peaches for Father Francis-Joanne Harris

Peaches for Father Francis

Joanne Harris

Viking, Oct 2 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9780670026364

Several years have passed since Vianne Rocher brought her magical sweetness to Lansquenet, France (see Chocolat). She now happily lives on a houseboat in Paris with her husband Roux and her daughters (Anouk and Rosette) with no plans to return to the village where the clergy condemned her and her confectionary delights.

However, her Lansquenet ally, Armande sends her a letter stating the villagers desperately need her magical sugary intervention. Now deceased, Armande offers no further explanation as she knew her friend would come. Vianne, accompanied by her children, arrives in Lansquenet where she learns her most fervent adversary Father Francis Reynaud needs her help as the Bishop has replaced him with a Microsoft priest. After publically arguing with the Imam of Les Marauds, Reynaud was accused of setting fire to a Muslim fundamentalist girls’ school established by Inès Bencharki, sister to the Imam’s son-in-law; ironically in Vianne's candy shop. Reynaud saved the Imam's granddaughter Alyssa from drowning and Vianne takes her into her temporary home. As the priest and the confectioner team up, people begin to die leading to deeper trouble between the two religions.

The latest Rocher tale (see The Girl with No Shadow) focuses on the fractured relationship between the long-time Christian residents and the new Muslim community. For the most part, the storyline lacks action as the plot centers on the conflict between the two religions until an incredible climax. Still fans will enjoy the Chocolat mage using her magic to foster more than just tolerance of others; she wants everyone to embrace each other as Vianne believes both cultures bring positives to a melting pot in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Harriet Klausner

A Wild Goose Chase Christmas-Jennifer AlLee

A Wild Goose Chase Christmas

Jennifer AlLee

Abingdon, Nov 1 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9781426752490

Six months ago Gran moved into assisted living after fracturing her hip. Her granddaughter Izzy Fontaine moved into Gran’s house to take care of Bogie the dog. She always assumed Gran would come home, but two days ago Gran died.

Virgil arrives claiming to be a friend of Gran and bearing a gift from Izzy’s late relative. He gives her the Wild Goose Chase quilt that he kept safe for Gran from people who believe the pattern is a treasure map. Her family learns of the quilt and they decide to find the treasure. Museum curator Max Logan claims Grandma Isabella promised to give him the quilt so he demands Izzy honors her late relative’s vow. Wondering what is going on, Izzy starts her own wild goose chase on a quest that will lead her not to Gran’s treasure, but her own.

The second Quilts of Love (see Beyond the Storm by Carolyn Zane) is a warm whimsical contemporary tale starring a likeable heroine. The eccentric dysfunctional support cast adds humor and depth as they turn the holidays into a mad world with their Wild Goose Chase Christmas escapades. Fans will relish this wonderful entry as Gran knew what the treasure her beloved granddaughter needed to find.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Merry Little Christmas-Anita Higman

A Merry Little Christmas

Anita Higman

Summerside, Oct 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781609366889

By 1961, thirty-three year old Franny Martin expects to die lonely on her family Oklahoma farm that she tried unsuccessfully to sell for a dozen years following the tragic deaths of her parents during a storm. Charlie Martin arrives only to frighten Franny who starts to fall in the muck; he rescues her radio instead of her to her joy as she loves to sing along with Sinatra and others. Charlie offers to purchase the dilapidated spread, which she accepts but not before explaining how run down the farm is. Still he wants to prove worthy of his affluent father Alfred though he knows nothing about farming.

Franny plans to move to Oklahoma City, but agrees to stay on for three weeks to mentor Charlie, who knows nada about farming while he hires an experienced hand. As the city slicker and the country bumpkin fall in love, his father, threatening to commit his other son Willie to an asylum arrives to end Charlie’s inanity.

This is a wonderful historical tale starring an unsinkable woman who bravely defends the oppressed like welcoming Willie and also defends other races. The romance between Charlie and Franny is entertaining as both have obstacles including their backgrounds to overcome but are united in love. Although the ending seems unlikely and rushed, fans will enjoy Sinatra singing A Merry Little Christmas as “two lonely people, we were strangers in the night up to the moment when we said our first hello little did we know love was just a glance away, a warm embracing dance away.”

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Things Remembered-Georgia Bockoven

Things Remembered

Georgia Bockoven

Morrow, Oct 16 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062195166

When their parents died, their maternal grandmother Anna raised the three sisters. The youngest Grace is a wannabe actress living in Southern California. The middle sibling pregnant Heather seems contented raising her two and a half children. The oldest Karla owns a coffee shop in Northern California.

When she learns Grandmother Anna is dying, Karla leaves for Rocklin to insure the affairs of the woman who raised her and sisters are in order. She does not want to see her relative as their relationship was combative. Both are obstinate ready to fight at the slightest nothings though the dying elderly woman prays for reconciliation with the granddaughter who is most like her. They find common ground since Karla needs to know Anna's memories of her mother and Anna needs to know Karla's memories of her daughter. As they begin to respect and cherish each other, Karla meets and is attracted to single dad Mark Taylor, a divorced veterinarian, but fears her feelings.

This reprint of an engaging family drama remains fresh as readers will enjoy the dysfunctional yet loving relationships between the three siblings and with their grandmother. Obviously the prime focus is on Karla whose life gets further complicated with her feelings for father and daughter. Although the reasons for the discord between Anna and Karla are never fully explained, fans will enjoy the pair sharing Things Remembered about the loved one who binds them.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sad Desk Salad-Jessica Grose

Sad Desk Salad

Jessica Grose

Morrow, Oct 2 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062188342

Alex Lyons avoids the commute as she works from her home as a blogger for Chick Habit the women’s on-line gossip fanzine. She knows hits equal employment as her job requires a million per month so she constantly searches the net for the latest celeb scandal as ten minutes away from the cyber means missing out on a celeb death. Her frustrated boyfriend Peter not only has to remind her to shower, eat and go to the bathroom, he has to beg her as well.

The writer saves her best nastiness for the Sad Desk Salad crowd who eat physically healthy but mentally depressing lunches at their desk. A tip points her to a great scandal as Becky, the MIT daughter of parenting guru Darleen West, is caught snorting. Alex knows this feeding frenzy will end the young woman’s future before it begins so she has doubts about its release. However, her British tabloid trained boss sends it out anyway. As a BTCH (Break the Chick Habit) attacks Alex and her colleagues, feeling guilty she obsesses over finding the missing Becky, ask an angry Peter for forgiveness and regain her self-respect lost since she graduated from Wesleyan.

This is a jocular intelligent look at the instant internet destructiveness of uncaring blogs and competitive media as freedom of information supersedes personal privacy with a click of a cell phone. Fast-paced, readers will relish this exposé as nothing is sacred in the reality of the virtual world.

Harriet Klausner

What Happens At Christmas-Victoria Alexander

What Happens At Christmas

Victoria Alexander

Kensington, Oct 16 2012, $16.95

ISBN: 9780758255686

1886 Lady Beryl questions the wisdom of her twin sister widowed Lady Camille as her sibling’s plan seems harebrained to her but brilliant to its creator. Lady Camille plans to marry Prince Nikolai Pruzinsky, but believes she needs to invite him to a traditional English Christmas. The problem is the rest of the family are scattered around the globe so a resourceful Camille hires a troupe.

A second issue surfaces when her former best friend Grayson Elliott arrives after a decade plus absence. Elven years ago, he told her he loved her just before she married someone else. He vows this time to win her heart. Compounding her already collapsing scheme is her family including her deceased dad arrives for Christmas.

This is an amusing late Victorian Christmas as the heroine validates that Robert Burns was right (with a slight modification) as the best laid plans of mice and Lady Camille go awry. The charming storyline is a fun comedy of errors compounded by more comedic blunders. What Happens At Christmas is a zany historical tale that fans will enjoy year-round.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Choices-Galia Ryan


Galia Ryan

Fanny Press, Oct 15 2012, $12.95

ISBN: 9781603815147

After years of exorbitant spending on luxurious fashion that she rarely if ever uses, Anna faces personal bankruptcy; which is a horrible scenario for anyone, but exponentially worse for a banker. She no longer can use her credit cards as they are maxed out due to her spending addiction. Her efforts as a born again miser trying live frugally in order to pay off her debt barely have an impact as the accruing interest continues to overwhelm her. Anna needs an additional revenue stream, but ponders what part-time occupation would pay enough to reduce her bills.

Like many financially strapped females before her, Anna knows of only one job that could prove lucrative; she becomes a private escort with plans to retire once her cards are cleared. However, though Anna makes plenty of money enabling her to pay off her debt, she finds a new addiction especially with Jake and Adams.

Anna’s apparent addictive personality makes for a strong character driven BDSM tale as she goes from the ecstasy of serial shopper to the ecstasy of serial sex. The two men she likes enhance reader understanding of Anna as they are opposite sides of the same coin. However, this is Anna’s awesome adventure with her bouncing from one decision to another only to find new daunting options await her while she learns life is a series of Choices.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Last Newspaperman-Mark Di Ionno

The Last Newspaperman

Mark Di Ionno

Plexus Publishing, Sep17 2012, $22.95

ISBN: 9780937548745

In 1999, octogenarian Fred Haines tells the young reporter about his time working for the now defunct New York Mirror in the 1930s and how he never expected to look forward to lunch in a nursing home with an eighty year old broad. As the new kid on the block he got the crap that no one else wanted. In 1932, Fred is stuck covering a kidnapping in “Sticksville” on the wrong side of the Hudson, he assumes he is wasting him time even when the father allegedly is Charles Lindbergh; as he assumes someone is pulling a stunt. When he realizes the report is genuine, his name is made with this story and the follow-up when he goes mano a mano with Hauptmann. He covers the Morro Castle and Hindenburg disasters; as well as Orson Welles' eye opening radio version of the War of the Worlds in which James learns the true influence of the media to create the illusion of the reality of a false situation. Over the years while covering the Jersey beat, his ambition leads him to create false stories and other amoral actions until the mainstream media exiles him. James thrives anyway as the tabloids love his exposés not caring how he got them or whether they are real.

This is a strong nostalgic look at a time when the print media was the powerful fourth estate keeping a vigilant watch on the three other estates instead of imbedded journalism as seemingly practiced by the mainstream media today. The metafiction technique of Fred’s story within a story is deftly handled reminding readers how far reporting has changed as The Last Newspaperman is a deep character driven epic.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Beyond the Storm-Carolyn Zane

Beyond the Storm

Carolyn Zane

Abingdon, Oct 1 2012, 12.99

ISBN 9781426745973

The EF5 tornado rips Walterville before heading to the heart of the Midwest, Rawston. Several people die as much as the small town is devastated. Those who survived feel fortunate but fear for the uncertainty of their respective future.

Twentyish Doo Drop-In Hair Salon owner Abigail Durham finds a piece of a wedding dress. She begins a quest to find other items from the rubble that were part of other people’s lives. She is attracted to contractor Justin Girard, but feels emotional raw with what happened to her and her neighbors. Meanwhile octogenarian quilt shop owner Selma Tully encourages making a memorial quilt honoring the townsfolk by using swatches from especially those who died.

Paying homage to the victims of the devastating 2011 Joplin and the 2007 Greensburg tornados, Carolyn Zane opens up the Quilts of Love with a strong character driven drama. Although there is stereotyping, the deep look at the aftermath on the survivors is insightful as Abigail wonders if the Lord abdicated as she ponders where in the hell was and is God?

Harriet Klausner

Too Far To Say Far Enough-Nancy Rue

Too Far To Say Far Enough

Nancy Rue

David C. Cook, Oct 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781434764904

In Saint Augustine, Harley-Davidson rider Allison "Miss Angel" Chamberlain may have found Jesus seven years go, but recently felt more like Job than a modern day female Jonah. Big Al feels she has done what the Lord wants of her with two Sacrament Houses and the Sisters’ second hand clothing boutique she opened, but that irritant God keeps nudging her to do more. Even her successful adaption of teenage Desmond does not silent the heavenly pest though she admits to herself making the teen her family is good for her.

Big Al insists to the Lord she got the message that he nudges her to go an extra mile, but that he needs a better suited runner as his holy prophet to lead the straying flock back to the Promised Land. What Big Al fails to grasp is that she must lose the bone marrow deep loathing and anger in order to truly embrace God with her heart, enabling her to understand too far is not far enough.

The third Reluctant Prophet inspirational (see Unexpected Dismounts) is a wonderful whimsical contemporary tale held together by kick butt Big Al. Though the overall entertaining storyline contains some scenes that feel too long, the trials and tribulations of the biker make for a strong redemption thriller.

Harriet Klausner

A Sweethaven Christmas-Courtney Walsh

A Sweethaven Christmas

Courtney Walsh

Guideposts, Oct 1 2012, $1399

ISBN: 9780824931827

The Sweethaven scrapbookers are looking forward to the holidays until each faces a personal issue. At the Grotto for Thanksgiving, Lila notices a woman staring at her while her parents act odd until a few days later she learns the stranger Charlotte is not her dad’s latest lover but his daughter on a mission. Adele finds an old scrapbook on her bookshelf, which reminds her of the boy whose heart she broke years ago; she arranges for them to meet. Campbell panics when she sees Luke holding a ring. Jane feels like the shy overweight tweener when she encounters Lori for the first time in years. Meghan struggles with balancing her singing career with raising her family as Christmas nears.

The latest Sweethaven Scrapbookers’ tale (see Sweethaven Homecoming and Sweethaven Summer) is an engaging drama that rotates perspective amongst the fab five. Although the degrees of intensity and pathos greatly vary, readers will enjoy this entry.

Harriet Klausner

The Mirrored World-Debra Dean

The Mirrored World

Debra Dean

Harper, Aug 28 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780061231452

Her family knows that Xenia is an eccentric who dances to her own uplifting passionate beat. However even her sister Nadya and their cousin Dasha who grew-up with the independent Xenia are taken aback by her behavior at a royal ball. At the gala, Xenia and acts foolishly without any regard when she meets Colonel Andrei. Xenia does not care what the empress, the aristocracy or her family thinks as she envisions him as her husband.

After they marry, Dasha moves in with them. However when their infant dies followed by Andrei’s death while wearing her long gown at a cross dressing ball, Xenia suffers a breakdown. a lightly fictionalized retelling of the life of the Eastern Orthodox St. Xenia, who left her comfortable home in 18th-century Russia to live as a "holy fool" among the poor. Grieving, she breaks the law by giving away much of her material goods and begins wearing her late husband’s clothing while calling herself Andrei. Dasha, who married and became a widow too, somewhat follows her cousin’s example of helping the poor with donations. Xenia vanquishes for years until she returns as a saint to the impoverished masses.

This is an intriguing look at eighteenth century Russian St. Xenia that provides the audience with how much the protagonist is differed from her horrified St. Petersburg peers. Dasha tells most of the engaging storyline in a distant dry manner so that the reader never feels the passions of the heroine. Still fans will enjoy witnessing The Mirrored World of a “fool for Christ”.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Mermaid Collector-Erika Marks

The Mermaid Collector

Erika Marks

NAL, Oct 2 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780451237927

Thirtyish woodcarver Tess Patterson has a schizoid relationship with her hometown of Cradle Harbor, Maine. On the one hand, the artist wants to leave without looking back; while on the other she desperately needs acceptance from the townsfolk who consider her a chip off her bohemian mom who committed suicide years ago by walking into the ocean.

Tom Grace thinks he might as well be dead ever since his parents died when he was eighteen and saddled with caring for his foolish brother Dean. He inherits the town’s historic lighthouse, which he thinks is his Hail Mary last attempt at helping his addicted sibling.

When Tess and Tom meet, they share a night of bliss with both wanting more. Meanwhile the town celebrates the annual Mermaid Mutiny of 1888 when four men including the lighthouse keeper strolled into the ocean to join their mermaid lovers.

This is an engaging poignant character study that looks at the benefits and costs of fulfilling dreams especially those that cripple a person mentally. Although a major subplot seems unnecessary padding, fans will appreciate this deep tale that deftly switches between the present and the late nineteenth century as desires can lead to self-esteem or self-destruction.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 14, 2012

Whispers in the Wind-Lauraine Snelling

Whispers in the Wind

Lauraine Snelling

Bethany House, Aug 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780764204166

Many years ago in South Dakota, Ivar Engstrom and Adam Lockwood were partners who used gold to buy a ranch. When their mine collapsed Adam left while Ivor worked the ranch hoping his friend would one day come home. In 1906, Ivar’s widow Mavis informs her sons Ransom and Lucas that the family Bar E Ranch is co-owned by the late Adam’s daughter Cassie. She arrives at the spread with friends from the Wild West Show in which she was a trick shooter performer. Whereas Ransom distrusts the outsider as he has doubts about her claim; Lucas believes he loves her. (see Valley of Dreams).

Used to traveling, Cassie and her extended “family” (Micha, Chief, her trick pony and dog, an ancient buffalo and a few tag-along steer) struggle to adjust to living in one place. When they become victims of shooters with her wounded, the townsfolk led by Mavis come to their aid.

The second enjoyable Wild West Wind early twentieth century inspirational epic is an engaging tale starring the residents of the Bar E Ranch. As the person who knew both partners, Mavis sets the tone of the series. She strongly believes her reliance on God to guide her and make her and her children strong sows the power of faith. The storyline moves leisurely forward, as two families adapt in diverse ways to the renewal of the paternal partnership.

Harriet Klausner

Walk with Me: Pilgrim's Progress for Married Couples-Annie Wald

Walk with Me: Pilgrim's Progress for Married Couples

Annie Wald

River North, Aug 24 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9780802405937

Most residents of Slouching City have forgotten the King of Love exists. One of the few who remember recently died leaving his guide to his beloved granddaughter Celeste, who begins reading the tome. Feeling uplifted by the book, Celeste seeks anything she can find on King and His Son the Servant.

Peter grew up in Upright Village where he and his family attended the weekly reading of the King’s guidebook. He learned as a child to adhere to the King’s rules though ironically his Peter’s parents never traversed the path to the King’s City.

Celeste and Peter meet and become a couple whose unity is as strong as the three strand bracelet cord tied around their wrists. Devotion reminds them this bracelet is as strong as their relationship is. The pair begins an odyssey to King’s City passing through places like the Swamp of Selfishness, Meadows of Intimacy and the River of Unfaithfulness, etc.; at reach location their cord could be cut.

Applying John Bunyon’s classic everyman allegorical Pilgrim's Progress, Annie Wald escorts readers on a journey for Married Couples through a metaphysically dangerous land filled with relationship distractors. The lead couple faces difficult challenges that place their love for one another in peril and their devotion to the King in danger from temptations. Readers will enjoy this engaging epic as a successful marriage is a long joint journey of the soul.

Harriet Klausner

Lifting the Wheel of Karma-Paul H. Magid

Lifting the Wheel of Karma

Paul H. Magid

Point Dume Press, Sep 23 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780984016006

In Montana, Joseph Connell suffers from horrible visions that he believes are meaningful but has no idea what he should do with them. Whereas eighteen year old Joey turned to martial arts, his older brother Billy works closely with their dad in the family bottling business. Billy tells Joey that he will soon be a dad.

At a tournament, Tom batters Joey sending him to the emergency room where he lives for several months in a vegetative state fighting three warriors in his head. Suddenly he announces to his parents he wants to go home. Wheelchair bound Joseph believes that mystical elder Lahiri can help him find answers to the crippling visions. The wise India native begins mentoring Joseph on a journey on balancing his karma deep in the Himalayas.

Lifting the Wheel of Karma is an engaging allegorical tale that focuses on the importance of spiritual awakening and balance. Joseph’s journey is a terrific trek that physically takes readers to India’s Himalayas but more significantly inside the soul of a man. Lahiri and the protagonist’s dreams bring mysticism to the storyline while Joseph’s family provides western values as caring sensible people. Readers will appreciate this engaging metaphoric reflection on life as the game is fixed.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Purple Shroud: A Novel of Empress Theodora-Stella Duffy

The Purple Shroud: A Novel of Empress Theodora

Stella Duffy

Penguin, Sep 25 2012, $16.00

ISBN: 9780143122258

Early in the sixth century in Constantinople, daughter of a bear-keeper, Theodora became the star of the Hippodrome when she was eighteen. She gave up the stage to become mistress to the Governor of Pentapolis. When that tryst ended, Theodora turned to religion. At twenty-one, the Patriarch of Alexander Timothy sends her home to Constantinople to meet the new Consul Justinian. Shocking everyone, they fall in love. When Justinian succeeds his late Uncle Justin as the Emperor, Theodora becomes his Empress.

However two years into their reign, they know ruling an empire proves difficult with special interests everywhere and internal and external enemies probing for weakness. In Constantinople, rivals the Blues and the Greens unite to protest rising taxes. Their rage leads to terrible violence with thousands dead and landmarks destroyed. Theodora guides her beloved Justinian to help the people regain their belief in his rule while they grieve. Symbolizing their renaissance is reconstructing the Hagia Sophia destroyed during the deadly riots. Besides the riots, the Church remains divided and troublesome and other nations covet conquering Byzantine. Believing that life is a series of roles, Theodora plans to be buried wearing The Purple Shroud.

The sequel to the early years of Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore, continues the biographical fictional account as the married royals have sat on the throne for a couple of years before this tale begins. The storyline brings to life the Byzantine Empire during the early reign of Justinian and Theodora as they learn governance while dealing with threats to their kingdom and their rule. The Purple Shroud is a fabulous ancient historical tale.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Confessions of an Angry Girl-Louise Rozett-

Confessions of an Angry Girl

Louise Rozett

Harlequin Teen, Aug 28 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780373210480

High school freshman Rose Zarelli is upset with life ever since her father died as a civilian contractor in Iraq. She resents her mom ironically a teen shrink who buries herself in her work rather than deal with her daughter’s grief; and Rose is irate with her brother who buries himself at college rather than deal with the grief of his family females.

At school, she suddenly feels like a loser. She depends on her BFF Tracy, but her buddy, a wannabe cheerleader, has new nasty friends whom Rose prefers to avoid. A party incident makes Rose a pariah. The one exception to the too cool crowd is Jamie who Rose likes and wants to be his girlfriend though Regina claims that honor. At the same time, Rose’s pal Robert wants to be her boyfriend.

Putting aside the title as Rose rarely seems angry as she feels despondent and alone while she grieves her loss. Although much of the support cast is stereotypes of high school dramas (i.e., the mean head cheerleader), Rose holds the interesting storyline together as Louise Rozett provides a deep look at a teen struggling with getting on with her life while dealing with a tragedy and monstrous changes in her key relationships.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 10, 2012

I, Jane-Diane Haeger

I, Jane

Diane Haeger

NAL, Sep 4 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780451237897

In 1514 the Seymour family travels to France as part of the marital party of Princess Mary (see The Secret Bride for her tale). Young Jane Seymour is included in the now French Queen’s retinue. After a couple of years in France, Jane and her family return home to Wiltshire following the death of French King Louis XII. His widow, Queen Mary, sister of English King Henry VIII, arrives in England with a baby sired by her sibling’s most trusted ally. Jane expects to marry her childhood protector William Dormer and raise a family in rustic serenity.

However, his family rejects her. Instead Jane becomes a lady In Waiting to beleaguered Queen Katherine of Aragon, who is losing her spouse to bodacious Anne Boleyn. While remaining loyal to Queen Katherine when everyone deserts the royal, Jane loathes Anne for what she is doing. However, to the shock of everyone, King Henry VIII turns to plain Jane for comfort making her his third wife after executing Anne for treason. She gives him his only male heir, but dies two weeks after her son’s birth.

The latest In The Court Of Henry VIII historical (see The Queen’s Rival) is a fascinating account of I, Jane Seymour. The title character’s detesting of Anne Boleyn is a unique premise though when considering Jane’s loyalty and honesty seems plausible. However, the treatment of Anne as an amoral wicked seductress, even through the loathing filter of Jane, feels unbalanced. Still this is an engaging look at the third wife of Henry VIII.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lifeblood-Ann Funk


Ann Funk

Fithian Press/Daniel & Daniel Publishers, Sep 10 2012, $16.95

ISBN: 9781564745330

In 1856 Thomas Austen, his wife Emma and their twelve year old daughter Sarah sail on the great Western steamer from Liverpool to Boston. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, their destination is to join other Mormons in the Great Salt Lake City area. After settling in their new home, Tomas informs his wife and daughter that he is marrying Rebecca Humphries. This upsets both females but especially Emma. Accompanied by Sarah, Emma leaves for Carson Valley.

In Genoa, Nevada Territory, they obtain household work for Saxon rancher Walther Rottenburg. At the same time, Giovanni Corveddu flees Sardinia after stealing to keep poor families from starving. He arrives in the Nevada Territory working for a mining firm. Over the next few years, Sarah provides medical help to people in the area even as the ranchers and miners fight over water. Walther and Gio admire brave Sarah and each wants to marry her, but she chooses neither preferring to attend medical school in San Francisco as she plans to practice medicine as a licensed physician in Nevada.

Lifeblood is an engaging Americana saga starring a wonderful heroine supported by the people she meets on her journey from an English tweener to a Nevada territory medical doctor. The leisurely paced plot enables the audience to feel we accompany intrepid Sarah as her helping others enables her to help herself achieve her goal. Ann Funk provides a vivid picture of two decades of life in Nevada.

Harriet Klausner

Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan-Robin Maxwell

Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan

Robin Maxwell

Tor, Sep 18 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765333582

In 1912 Jane Porter gives a presentation at the Chicago Public Library. After the not well received talk on the missing link, she meets wannabe writer Edgar Rice Burroughs. He admits to her that he has written some minor pulp fiction. In spite of his literary résumé, Jane agrees to tell him her story.

In 1905, the only female student female student in the Cambridge University medical program, Jane prefers cadavers to tea socials. Her dream is to be a paleoanthropologist and her long term goal is proving Charles Darwin is right. American Ral Conrath asks Jane and her father the scientist to join his expedition to West Africa to find the alleged white skinned ape. In the Gabon jungle, Jane realizes that the leader is an avaricious treasure hunter. When a leopard attacks Jane, the white skinned ape rescues her from the beast and helps her heal. He calls himself Tarzan.

Jane is a terrific retelling of the Edwardian Era classic with much of the changes occurring to the heroine and the Waziri. The storyline starts off slow as Jane is turned into a modern day feminist rather than a spirited Edwardian heroine; for instance her telling Burroughs personnel matters in her relationship with Tarzan seems doubtful as part of an otherwise deft metafiction premise. However, once she and Tarzan meet, the biographical thriller soars into a great rendition of The Woman Who Loved Tarzan.

Harriet Klausner


Ann Funk

Fithian Press/Daniel & Daniel Publishers, Sep 10 2012, $16.95

ISBN: 9781564745330

In 1856 Thomas Austen, his wife Emma and their twelve year old daughter Sarah sail on the great Western steamer from Liverpool to Boston. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, their destination is to join other Mormons in the Great Salt Lake City area. After settling in their new home, Tomas informs his wife and daughter that he is marrying Rebecca Humphries. This upsets both females but especially Emma. Accompanied by Sarah, Emma leaves for Carson Valley.

In Genoa, Nevada Territory, they obtain household work for Saxon rancher Walther Rottenburg. At the same time, Giovanni Corveddu flees Sardinia after stealing to keep poor families from starving. He arrives in the Nevada Territory working for a mining firm. Over the next few years, Sarah provides medical help to people in the area even as the ranchers and miners fight over water. Walther and Gio admire brave Sarah and each wants to marry her, but she chooses neither preferring to attend medical school in San Francisco as she plans to practice medicine as a licensed physician in Nevada.

Lifeblood is an engaging Americana saga starring a wonderful heroine supported by the people she meets on her journey from an English tweener to a Nevada territory medical doctor. The leisurely paced plot enables the audience to feel we accompany intrepid Sarah as her helping others enables her to help herself achieve her goal. Ann Funk provides a vivid picture of two decades of life in Nevada.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Life of Objects-Susanna Moore

The Life of Objects

Susanna Moore

Knopf, Sep 18 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9780307268433

In 1938 in County Mayo, Ireland seventeen year old Beatrice Palmer meets Countess Inéz Hartenfels. The visitor likes the teenager’s intelligence, enthusiasm and her exquisite lace handiworks. Because of the lace, the Countess invites her to accompany her to Berlin as a lace maker for the wealthy Metzenburg family.

Beatrice arrives in Germany to be welcomed in the midst of chaos as the Nazi leadership is irate with Felix Metzenburg for rejecting an ambassadorship. He, his Jewish wife Dorothea, Inéz, selected staff and Beatrice leave their Berlin house to the Nazis and relocate to their country estate taking with them their fabulous art collection. Over the next seven years, Beatrice watches the couple trying to live their lives in their style while the horror of war encroaches. Beatrice realizes her employer quietly protects a local Jew and other refugees while also hiding treasures for friends and trading personal items for food. As the war winds down, the Soviets interrogate Felix while the three females continue to show their inner strengths in different manners.

This is a fascinating WWII character study of survivors as told through Beatrice’s filter. The low-keyed storyline focuses on a resolute aristocratic couple quietly risking their lives by doing whatever they can below the radar screen to help others though Beatrice’s account is biased by her hero worship of Felix. Readers who appreciate a discerning slow-paced historical will appreciate Susanna Moore’s novel.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Better Than Chocolate-Sheila Roberts

Better Than Chocolate

Sheila Roberts

Mira, Sep 25 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313458

In Icicle Falls, Washington Samantha Sterling has no time to grieve the death of her stepfather Waldo Wittman as her family-owned Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company is nearing bankruptcy thanks to his incompetency. As the oldest daughter and now CEO Samantha must find a way to resuscitate the dying business.

She tells her mom and two sisters (Cecily and Bailey) that their last hope is to host a chocolate festival with other nearby businesses joining them. The four females are resolute with their obsession to save what several generations of ancestors created. However, her archenemy banker Blake Preston stands in Samantha’s way as he offers her something much sweeter than chocolate.

The first Life in Icicle Falls contemporary romance is an engaging tale as a band of females resolutely tries to save their family’s business. Each learns independence and assistance are not mutually exclusive. Though the resolution seems too easy, with a bit of whimsy from beyond and irony re the male lead, fans will enjoy chocolate and love making life sweet.

Harriet Klausner

Heaven Should Fall-Rebecca Coleman

Heaven Should Fall

Rebecca Coleman

Mira, Sep 25 2012, $15.95

ISBN: 9780778313892

The unexpected death of her mother in a plane crash emotionally rips asunder Jill Wagner’s world. The grieving college student turns to her boyfriend Cade Olmstead for mental stability. Needing family, Jill wonders why Cade refuses to introduce her to his New Hampshire farming parents though she meets his brother Eli back from a tour in Afghanistan when he visits them in College Park.

When Jill becomes pregnant, Cade takes her home to keep costs down. At the Olmstead homestead, she meets his parents and sister while observing Cade change from caring mate to an angry paranoid. Jill becomes frightened by him, his father and others while only PTSD sufferer Eli remains her tentative friend. She concludes she and her baby must leave soon as she distrusts her mate when it comes to the safety of their baby yet passively delays her escape.

Heaven Should Fall is an intriguing family drama that rotates perspective between several characters as the female protagonist finds herself residing amidst raging long time hostilities. The insight into the family members from their perspective brings to life the belief system of this New England clan. While Jill’s codependence and acceptance appears reasonable, Cade’s abrupt metamorphosis feels improbable. Still Rebecca Coleman provides an insightful regional tale.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Breaking News-Fern Michaels

Breaking News

Fern Michaels

Kensington, Sep 25 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780758266064

In Charleston, South Carolina Toots, her friends (her daughter Abby’s Godmothers - Sophie, Mavis and Ida) and her new bakery partner Jamie, takes her care of her former housekeeper and friend Bernice recovering from bypass surgery. Ida owns Drop Dead Gorgeous Cosmetics; Mavis owns Good Mourning Clothes; Sophia is a psychic; and Abby is in Los Angeles editing the Informer tabloid owned by her mom. Toots hopes her stepson Chris and her daughter marry.

Ida says she has a new cosmetics line Seasons that removes wrinkles. She wants her three BFFs to model it on the Home Shopping Club, but warns Sophie to behave. Sophie likes her boyfriend private investigator Goebbels while Toots is attracted to Bernice’s cardiologist Phil who asks Toots out on a date and she accepts. He picks her up at her home, but Bernice tells them that the dog next door Frankie was abandoned and injured. Phil takes a look and says it is a spinal injury. He arranges a chartered fight to take Frankie to a specialist in Naples, Florida.

The ex-owner of the Informer Rodwell Archibald “RAG“ Godfrey has paid a fortune to radically change his appearance. Abby goes to the Informer where RAG abducts Abby leaving behind a note demanding $10 million. Phil arranges a flight for them to go to Los Angeles. The three Godmothers also fly there.

The camaraderie of the four friends remains very powerful in the latest Godmothers contemporary (see Deadline) while Toot’s concerns for her daughter shows an emotional side of her. Although there are too many flashbacks and the RAG subplot seems improbable, fans will enjoy Breaking News as the four BFFs succeed in business and relationships without seemingly trying.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Bloodletter's Daughter-Linda Lafferty

The Bloodletter's Daughter

Linda Lafferty

Amazon Publishing, Sep 4 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612184654

In 1606, King Rudolph II is concerned with the violent depraved behavior of his illegitimate offspring Don “Giuglio” Julius. At first ignoring his son’s destructiveness as youthful foolishness, the monarch finally takes action at controlling his offspring’s madness for fear Giuglio’s scandalous behavior will foment rebellion. Thus the King exiles Giuglio from Prague to an isolated castle in Bohemia, and assigns priests and physicians to cure the lad or face punishment for failure.

In Cescky Kreumlov, Marketa Pichlerova works at the bathhouse she loathes. When her father barber-surgeon Zigmund is sent to bleed the ill humors from prince Giuglio, Marketa joins him. Giuglio is stunned by Marketa as she looks similar to an illustration in the Book of Wonder that the mad royal uses as his link to sanity. He must have her.

Based on a true murder that shook the Hapsburg Dynasty, The Bloodletter's Daughter is a fascinating look at the reign of King Rudolph II as his patronage for science and intellectual thinking (by supporting Kepler and Brahe) is contrasted with the limitations of a teenage female in a remote village. The storyline reads like two novels that never gels as the plot rotates focus between Marketa and the prince, and Matthias’ revolt. The inclusion of the mysterious coded Book of Wonder (The Voynich Manuscript) enhances this engaging historical fiction.

Harriet Klausner

Journal of a Schoolyard Bully: Cyberbully-Farley Katz

Journal of a Schoolyard Bully: Cyberbully

Farley Katz

St. Martin’s Griffin, Sep 4 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9780312606589

In Boulder egotistical, obese bully Niko Kayler attends a reform school until God the ultimate bully transfers his mom to Boulder. Thus he transfers into the Organic School for Local Children as a new student. He takes a day to recon the land seeking the means to pick on others and not just students without repercussions. Though he rejects calming medicine as he insists his psychic is perfect, he does keep the journal as prescribed by his mom.

Niko works at Radio Shack for cellphones that he uses to send terrorist attacks on his victims. Staying current, Niko next turns to the Internet to bully anonymously, but his sibling Alex turns his cruel brother’s efforts into a video that goes viral.

Reverting back to bullying form (see Journal of a Schoolyard Bully: Notes on Noogies, Wet Willies, and Wedgies), Niko is an intriguing adolescent as he comes across as mean and sad at the same time; his journal entries with line drawings seem insightful and genuine. When the satire focuses on the serious impact of bullying by discern looks into the psyche of the antagonist and his victims, the storyline is super; when the plot tries to be comedic, it mostly deters from a fascinating look at a born again bully.

Harriet Klausner

The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets-Kathleen Alcott

The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets

Kathleen Alcott

Other Press, Sep 11 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781590515297

In California Ida grew up surrounded by two J’s, her neighbors the brothers Jackson and James. The trio is very close to each other since they were infants as if she is their sister I to their J. They do everything together even communicate silently as a family would and she encourages Jackson to sleep-chats with James while she listens.

As an adult, Jackson struggles to sleep as the night frightens him. His sleepwalking turns violent while James increasingly is turning insane. I fears her idyllic family is falling apart and feels helpless as she realizes that there is nothing she can do to prevent the demise.

The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets is a fascinating but not easy to read drama that focuses on what a “family” is. The three protagonists are fully developed characters with their interrelationships complex and convoluted but loving. Readers who appreciate something different will enjoy the relational triangle of I, J, and J.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Other Half of Me-Morgan McCarthy

The Other Half of Me

Morgan McCarthy

Free Press, Sep 4 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451668230

In 1988 the Anthony siblings (seven year old Jonathan and his six years old sister Theo) are best friends as they live in Evendon Manor in Wales. Both know their mom Alicia and their nanny Miss Black dislike and for the most part ignore them. Still they have each other as they explore the estate especially the secret garden with its mysterious pool.

Brother and sister know their family has many secrets, but this pair cares about one in particular; what happened to their father. When their alcoholic mom collapses, their maternal grandmother Eve arrives. Eve insists their father died years ago, but Theo thinks she lies to them. Over the years Jonathan worries about his sibling. Theo seems to behave increasingly mentally ephemeral as slowly she is losing her grip on reality.

The Other Half of Me is a dark character driven family drama as the past haunts the present in vivid rustic Wales. Effortlessly rotating between 1988 and 2008, the storyline grips the reader who needs to know what happened to each member of the extended Anthony family.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Space Between Us-Megan Hart

The Space Between Us

Megan Hart

Mira, Sep 4 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778313083

Tesla Martin enjoys serving lattes to her loyal regulars at Morningstar Mocha. Though she likes all her customers, her favorite is charismatic Meredith. The woman can charm a story from anyone; for instance Carlos the writer admitted to jerking off to old people porn.

Meredith turns her magnetism on Tesla. Like all the caffeine addicts at Morningstar Mocha, Tesla relates her wild child history, who along with her brother Cap, is the offspring of commune living swingers. Magical Meredith and Tesla begin seeing the town together. Eventually Meredith persuades Tesla to sleep with her husband Charlie while she watches as a Peeping Thomasine. Tesla is attracted to both of the married couple; while Charlie wants both women; and bored Meredith remains a thrill seeking watcher who lives precariously through the lovers.

The Space Between Us is a deep but strange character study that looks closely at the wants and desires of each person in a threesome. Childhood flashbacks enable readers to understand Tesla’s imprint while Charlie’s need for two women is also understandable. However, it is the enigmatic charismatic Meredith who makes the contemporary fresh through her obsessive need for an emotional high from the stories of others. “There are eight million stories in the Naked City…” (Naked City) and Meredith needs to hear every one of them even as she leaves her narrators emotionally nuked.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Haven-Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Haven

Suzanne Woods Fisher

Revell, Aug 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780800719883

Lancaster County Game Warden intern Will Stolz arrives at Stoney Ridge to protect two endangered Peregrine falcons and their eggs. Will stays at the farm of widower Amos Lapp whose daughter Sadie has just come home accompanied by a baby after visiting her older married sister Julia and her sibling's husband Roman in Ohio. Amos’ youngest daughter Mary Kate and their housekeeper Fern Graber also reside on the family farm.

Sadie expects her reputation torn asunder due to the infant given to her at a bus station. Meanwhile, Twin Creeks' teacher Gideon Smucker loves Sadie, but has been shy about courting her. When he learns of her baby, he fears he waited too long while Will makes it clear that he is attracted to her.

The second Stoney Ridge Seasons Amish family drama (See The Keeper) is an exciting tale starring a strong cast as readers will enjoy the interactions between the caring heroine, whining Will, gossipy M.K., helpless Gid, wise father and the common sense housekeeper. Although the ending feels rushed, readers will enjoy Sadie’s saga.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Three and a Half Virgins-John Blumenthal

Three and a Half Virgins

John Blumenthal

Farmer Street Press, Dec 22 2011, $8.99

ISBN: 9780967944418

As her husband turns forty with the middle age bulge beginning to show, Deirdre wishes her spouse Jimmy Hendricks (“No relation”) a happy birthday by informing him she is divorcing him. Stunned as if he is trapped in a Purple Haze and feeling almost as alone as he felt when he and Deirdre were allegedly happy over the last few years, Jimmy recognizes that he is a recovering idiot. He muses about what could have been if he was not an idiot when he attended high school and college and dreams of a reunion with any or all of his ex-girlfriends.

He decides to visit them to ask them to forgive his stupid troglodyte behavior though he also hopes for a heated tryst or three too. His best friend Morris the Orthodox Jew accompanies Jimmy on his redemption tour. Jimmy starts with the minister’s daughter Laura Beasley of Rimbaldi High School. Next up is Samantha Jane Conrad at Fryman College. Third at bat is Molly Martinez also at Fryman College. Then there was Christine while Molly was away at a family funeral.

With a nod to Denis Leary’s Bad Boy movie, Three and a Half Virgins is an amusing character study of a man looking back at his transgressions towards women. Each female owns a chapter so that the audience knows how they felt about Jimmy during and after. Although the storyline is thin, readers will enjoy Jimmy Hendricks’ forty years old idiot gig.

Harriet Klausner

Hemingway's Girl-Erika Robuck

Hemingway's Girl

Erika Robuck

NAL, Sep 4 2012, $16.00

ISBN: 9780451237880

In 1935 Florida, the Bennet family American patriarch dies leaving behind a Cuban widow, three young daughters and no money. The oldest child nineteen years old Mariella Bennet bets on a boxing match in which Ernest Hemingway referees. She loses but meets the famous writer, who, accompanied by his second wife Pauline and their two sons, recently moved to Key West.

Hemingway hires Mariella as a housemaid. He takes the teen to a fight where she meets pugilist WWI veteran Gavin Murray who is working on the Overseas Highway. He is attracted to the spunky young lady as is Hemingway. As the thirtyish males vie for the attention of the much younger maid, she likes both of them but Papa is married as a Labor Day Hurricane batters the Keys.

The key to this engaging historical drama is Hemingway seems real as he transitions into “Papa” while the rest of the key players come across as genuine too. Although the enjoyable storyline starts slow while the characters, relationships (including unneeded ones) and the setting are introduced, the plot accelerates once the two overlapping triangles form. Fans will enjoy Depression Era Papa Hemingway’s Girl.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Dangerous Inheritance: A Novel of Tudor Rivals and the Secret of the Tower-Alison Weir

A Dangerous Inheritance: A Novel of Tudor Rivals and the Secret of the Tower

Alison Weir

Ballantine, Oct 2 2012, $27.00

ISBN: 9780345511898

Katherine Plantagenet believes her father Protector Richard Plantagenet is a great man though she is illegitimate. She detests the rumors she hears about him at his court while her stepmother fears what Richard will do to his nephews. When Katherine falls in love, though she is a bastard, her beloved is unacceptable to her father; and when the princes vanish inside the Tower with her father named monarch in 1483 she loses faith in her sire King Richard III.

Her family pushed her older sister Lady Jane Grey on the thrown after King Henry VIII died. Lady Jane lasted less than a fortnight as Queen. Her younger sister Katherine Grey is somewhat persona non grata due to her family’s machinations though she is heir to the throne of Queen Elizabeth I. When she marries without her Majesty’s permission she becomes pregnant and Elizabeth incarcerates her in the Tower to insure no male threatens her still uncertain rule.

Rotating the tales, Alison Weir provides a fascinating historical as each shares in common being too close to the throne for the respective royals to ignore. Separately the plots are well written with plenty of the Ms. Weir trademark sense of readers being there. However, the move back and forth between the lead females, who lived several decades apart, requires constant adaptation to whose tale is being told; I would have preferred the first half being Katherine and the end of the Plantagenet reign, and the latter part focused on Katherine Grey and the rise of Elizabeth. Still Ms. Weir provides a strong look at the fate of two women with one deadly degree of separation from the throne.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 20, 2012

Westward Hearts-Melody Carlson

Westward Hearts

Melody Carlson

Harvest House, Sep 1 2012, $13.99

ISBN: 9780736948715

By 1856 widower Elizabeth Martin and her two children (Jamie and Ruth) visit her parents for Christmas. Her younger brother Matthew Dawson arrives late filled with rage. His fiancée eloped with his BFF. Soon the four adults agree to head west, a dream Elizabeth shared with her late husband James.

The extended family travels in three wagons modified into prairie schooners as they leave Kentucky for Kansas City. There they join a wagon train. Elizabeth and guide Eli Kincade are attracted to one another, but she has doubts as his past is shrouded in mystery while she fears the impact on her children and feels she betrays her beloved Jamie. Eli has issues too

The first Homeward on the Oregon Trail is an enjoyable western romance that brings to life the dangerous trek across Pre Civil War America. The cast is fully developed especially the Dawson-Martin brood, who each possess different personalities; while Eli brings enigma to the mix. Filled with action, readers will enjoy traversing the Oregon Trail with Melody Carson as our wagon master.

Harriet Klausner