Monday, February 25, 2013

The Garden of Stones-Sophie Littlefield

The Garden of Stones

Sophie Littlefield

Mira, Feb 26 2013, $14.95

ISBN 9780778313526

In 1978 San Francisco, someone murders fifty-nine year old Reginald Forrest in his office near his gym in the basement of the De Soto Hotel. SFPD Inspector Torre visits Forrest’s acquaintance Lucy Takeda as a witness placed someone who looks like her with her pink scarred face at the gym when the murder occurred. Lucy admits knowing the victim over three decades ago.

Lucy tells her upset daughter Patty about what happened to her when she was fourteen and to her mom Miyako. Her father just died when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Japanese Americans were taken to internment camps. Mother and daughter went to Manzanar Relocation Camp run by ruthless George Rickenbocker, who rapes and impregnates Miyako. When he targeted Lucy, a distraught Miyako scarred her daughter’s beautiful face to try to keep the guards from raping her child. She then kills Rickenbocker and herself.

Rotating between the 1978 mystery and the WWII internment in the California desert, Garden of Stones is a deep historical that shines a timely spotlight on a dark period in American history; the terrible mistreatment of American citizens rationalized by homeland security needs. The three generations of Takeda women are fully developed with Lucy connecting family and eras. Although Rickenbocker is stereotyped as a ruthless individual, he also brings a belief that the interred are not real Americans so are subject to abuse. Readers will relish this profound storyline as one must “Never Forget” the heritage horrors caused by “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one” (Benjamin Franklin).

Harriet Klausner

Three Sisters-Susan Mallery

Three Sisters

Susan Mallery

Mira, Feb 26 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778314349

Besides humiliation and pain of standing alone at the altar in front of 300 friends and family including both moms, Andi Gordon is also left paying the bills and returning the gifts. Thus three months later, Andi decides she needs a major makeover so buys one of the Queen Anne historical “Three Sisters” houses on Blackberry Island in Puget Sound with plans to open up a pediatric practice in her new home.

She meets her neighbor artist Boston King, whose husband Zeke she already met. Boston and Zeke struggle to move on after the death of their baby, but increasingly they appear to be moving on separately.

Also residing in one of the Three Sisters’ homes are Deanna Phillips, her husband Colin and their five daughters. Deanna fears Colin is having an affair. When she confronts him, he confesses but blames her; sadly she agrees with him.

The return to Blackberry Island (see Barefoot Season) focuses on three women with emotional issues bonding like the Three Musketeers with each believing in “All for one, one for all” mantra; as the trio knows they have “sisters” who have their back during their personal crisis. The ensemble cast is fully developed due in part to the rotating storyline and mostly because of the “Three Sisters” sharing their tsuris with each other and readers.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Where The Peacock Sings: A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home-Alison Singh Gee

Where The Peacock Sings: A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home

Alison Singh Gee

St. Martin's Press, Feb 19 2013, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312378783

Alison Gee lived the good life as an American journalist based in Hong Kong writing for the top magazines. Though dedicated to her work, she also enjoyed the best that Beverly Hills, Hong King and other locales offered. However, her self-perceived perfect lifestyle crashes when Alison meets Indian reporter Ajay Singh. Falling in love, he takes her to meet his royal family living in a dilapidated historical palace Mokimpur in the rural village with the same name. As his family doubts that a Southern California American “princess” has the grip to be their Ajay’s mate, she wonders also especially dealing with the plumbing. This is a terrific memoir that looks deep into what a family and a home are; made interesting by Alison Singh Gee’s ability to blend humor and seriousness into an enjoyable read. The road to the so “happily ever after” ending leads to Ms. Gee feeling bipolar with highs and lows; and readers to wonder whether his family is right that an American (even one in love) cannot slow down long enough to enjoy the peacocks singing.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Truth About Love and Lightning-Susan McBride

The Truth About Love and Lightning

Susan McBride

Morrow, Feb 12 2013, $14.99

ISBN 9780062027283

In 2010 inWalnut Ridge, Missouri, single mom fiftyish Gretchen Brink lives on her family farm with her blind twin sisters when a tornado rips through the property. After the storm leaves, Gretchen goes outside to investigate the damage. She sees nuts on the ground near a fallen walnut tree that has not been fruitful in years. However, Gretchen has no time for the nutty mystery as underneath the tree is a man who sort of looks familiar.

Fearing her forty-year lie will be exposed, Gretchen wonders whether the man suffering from amnesia could be the love of her life Sam Winston who vanished in Africa four decades ago. Meanwhile her fortyish daughter Abby comes home pregnant and single; believing that she finally meets her biological father.

Rotating between different eras, Susan McBride provides a warm drama that focuses on how even a little white lie can have a snowball running down a hill gathering mass effect and what a family truly is. Although amnesia is an over used device, readers will root for the likable fully developed cast who are on the brink of either disillusioned dissolution or beautiful bonding.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cold Light-Traci L. Slatton

Cold Light

Traci L. Slatton

Parvati Press, Jun 27 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780984672684

The white miasma Mists burned except chlorophyll. Billions died when the Mists sucked out metals from humans and other beings on the planet during the Day. Arthur saved Emma, her young daughter Mandy and seven lost little orphans attached to her when he dispatched the Mists and brought them into his safe camp. Emma assumed her husband Haywood and their oldest daughter Beth are dead. She and Arthur become an entry while leading their settlement. However, Haywood found his wife and child in France and brought them home to Edmonton leaving Arthur behind despondent from his loss (see Fallen).

In Canada, raiders abduct Beth. She and Haywood search for their child. Clues lead them to Arthur and his townsfolk; all of whom are angry at their former first lady for leaving them. Still everyone joins in on the quest to find and rescue Beth; while Haywood and Arthur demand she choose between them as neither will voluntarily leave her. At the same time, everyone mentally prepares for the confrontation with the Mists knowing many of their loved ones will die in the final battle for survival.

The second exciting “After” post-apocalyptic thriller moves forward on two fronts: Emma’s relationships and the anticipated suicidal Armageddon Mists war as Traci L. Slatton deftly blends both subplots into a superb dystopian tale through her quality cast. The triangle participants fear the repercussions on the young at a time when nightmares are prevalent yet none of them can leave. Readers will wonder who will quote Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

Harriet Klausner

Iscariot-Tosca Lee


Tosca Lee

Simon &Schuster/Howard, Feb 5 2013, $22.99

ISBN 9781451683769

With the death of King Herod, Jerusalem turns into a deadly tinderbox as revolutionaries take down the Eagle. However, soldiers go after those who defiled the Eagle. Six year old Judas flees with his family to Galilee as his Father was one of the conspirators. While nearing Sepphoris, they learn thousands of their Father’s compatriots were slaughtered by the new king Archelaus at the Temple. Rebellion explodes across the kingdom, but is put down with Judas’ Father dying on a Roman cross. The child vows to never follow his Father’s fate.

Judas becomes a Zealot studying the Torah. When he meets Jesus, Judas believes he met the Messiah king of the Jews who will end Roman rule. Feeling euphoric, Judas breaks his youthful commandment of never joining rebels when he becomes a disciple of the Nazarene. However, his hero rejects any religious dogma, which leads to a dispirited Judas believing he erred as Jesus is no Messiah planning to free the Jews but instead has a different plot.

This is an insightful exhilarating bibliographical biblical fiction that looks deep into the soul of the man history paints as the greatest betrayer as well as how Judas changes his opinion of Jesus and the disciples. Inside an entertaining tale that brings to life first century Judea, Tosca Lee makes the arguments that the child is the adult and that the victors write the history books (and Gospels). The childhood flight culminating in his Father’s execution haunts the adult Judas while his changing beliefs as to whether Jesus is good for the Jews is not different than the doubting denying disciples. Iscariot will leave the audience to wonder how we would have acted wearing Judas’ sandals.

Harriet Klausner