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