Archive for February, 2010

The Lumby Lines-Gail Fraser

February 28, 2010

The Lumby Lines

Gail Fraser

NAL, May 1 2010, $14.00

ISBN: 978-0451221391

Forty years ago when their lives were tanking, Mark and Pam Walker knew they needed a respite together.  They had planned to visit historical inns, but kept kicking the can until they decided this was no longer acceptable.  So each year since, they have visited rundown due to a fire Montis Abbey in Lumby in the Northwest, built in 1893, but the Church and then the affluent allowed it to deteriorate.  Now the Walker pair wants to turn the edifice into an inn with them running a restaurant there.

Nothing occurs in town that gets passed the notice of The Lumby Lines owner William Beezer.  He opposes the outsiders moving in and forming a business as he fears what makes his town quaint and quirky will soon be inundated by other “fungi”, which will drive the long time families away.  The mayor is silent on the issue as the burned down Montis Abbey is not a nice place to do his business in public

The reprint of the first Lumby rustic village family saga is filled with fun subplots over the top of the Rockies.  Whimsical, uplifting and warm, The Lumby Lines’ newspaper makes the tale enjoyable with columns like the Sheriff’s Complaints and quoting the mayor barking out orders.  Although rural conquers urban too easily and with a nod to Mossy Creek, Gail Fraser does so with humor as Beezer steals the show from the outside upstarts with his amusing commentaries.

Harriet Klausner

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On Shadow Beach Barbara Freethy

February 28, 2010

On Shadow Beach

Barbara Freethy

Pocket, Mar 30 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439101575

Lauren Jamison vowed to never return to her hometown of Angel’s Bay, California where her sister Abby was murdered thirteen years ago.  However, her dad suffers from Alzheimer’s while her brother David is on the East Coast and mom refuses to take care of her ex husband whom she divorced eleven years ago.  Thus, Lauren comes home to find nothing changed except the empty nest; not even the room she shared with her late sister.

Her former boyfriend Shane Murray, who was accused of killing Abby and condemned by the locals as guilty, is also in Angel’s Bay.  At the same time, Mark Devlin is making a movie about the death of Abigail Jamison.  Lauren thinks the cold case requires a villain for a film so if none is forthcoming she will choose the still perfect fall guy; the boy and now the man she loves but let down when she refused to believe Shane’s claim of innocence.  Someone must agree as a car runs over the filmmaker.

Although the Angels’ limited roles seem forced into appearing in the plot, fans will appreciate the return to Angel’s Bay (see Suddenly One Summer) as Barbara Freethy provides a strong entry filled with remorse and angst.  The characters are fully developed especially so the lead couple who remains restrained by their love as their relationship died along side Abby.  Readers will enjoy this fine second chance at love romantic suspense as Lauren learns you can go home, but do you really want to?

Harriet Klausner

Glaen-Fred T. Lybrand

February 27, 2010

Glaen

Fred T. Lybrand

Barnabas Agency, Feb 14 2010, $14.99

ISBN: 9780578046525

College grad student Annie is shocked and confused when her mother calmly informs her that she is divorcing Annie’s dad.  She had thought her parents were happy together and there for one another.  As she looks around her, Annie notices the downside of her younger sister’s relationship and those of her BFF Jennah.  Relationships make no sense as a person gives up so much in return for being hurt so conceals the truth to abate the hurt.

Annie signs up for a class on Original Non-Fiction 101 taught by Professor Glaen Breuchis.  On her first day in class, Annie looks around to find she is the only pupil.  Professor Glaen explains that the administration is well aware he is teaching a class with only one student attending.  He begins mentoring her to learn what is important in relationships is the truth.  By being honest with others, Annie finds out that others will respect and admire you and most will reciprocate with veracity.

This is an interesting approach to encouraging and mentoring people to be honest and sincere in their relationships with others.  The cast is solid especially the professor and his sole student while the fascinating story line simplistically focuses on Annie (and readers) learning how best to relate.  Using a character study fiction, Fred T. Lybrand provides an engaging self help primer.

Harriet Klausner

The Hittite-Ben Bova

February 27, 2010

The Hittite

Ben Bova

Forge, Apr 13 2010, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765324023

The Empire of the Hatti had defeated the Babylonians, Egyptians and many more, but face defeat from within by treachery.  The emperor was stripped of his clothing by his sons and hence the Gods abandoned Hatti.  Lukka leads his military unit home seeing the capital Hattusas ablaze from a distance.  When they arrive inside the burning city they see gangs of drunken youths looting and killing.  Lukka finds his dying father who informs him that his wife and sons might live, but are gone as property of the slavers.

He concludes his family would be sold in Troy.  Leading his force to Troy, he finds the city under seize by the Achaians, whose lack of discipline makes Lukka ill to need them as an ally.  He learns his spouse is a slave and vows to rescue her anyway he can and to learn the fate of his sons.  Thus he begins the construct of a wooden horse that if he understands human nature should enable him to see “the face that launched a thousand ships”.

This is an interesting retelling of the Trojan Horse with the above description only the beginning as the reader also for instance obtains Helen’s side of the saga instead of the usual male machismo as she is all these super hunks’ Achilles heel.  Lukka is a fascinating military leader who understands war has three offspring: death, maiming and slavery.  He knows when his men fight, some will die, some will be maimed, and maybe a few captured and tortured as slaves.  Fans will enjoy Ben Bova’s rendition of part of Homer’s the Iliad

Harriet Klausner

Cool Like That-Nikki Carter

February 27, 2010

Cool Like That

Nikki Carter

Kensington Dafina, Mar 2010, $9.95

ISBN: 9780758234421

Her mom Gwen has some doubts about Gia spending the summer in New York City especially since Ricky is going to attend the same enrichment program although the pair are just best friends.  Gwen and her spouse Gia’s stepdad LeRon set rules for the two high school seniors as does Ricky’s mom.

Gia desperately wants her crush Ricky to make a move on her, but so far he has not so she prays the summer with no parents or siblings will encourage him as she wants to be his squeeze and not just his BF.  When he does not and another cutie Rashad makes a move, Gia apparently adopts a new crush.  Ricky is crushed as he wants her to be his girl.

This is an engaging young adult romance starring a teen drama queen and the two hunks in her life.  Once Rashad forms the triangle, the fun begins and never slows down until the final beach scene.  Readers will enjoy Cool Like That as Gia’s soundtrack in her head includes Chrisette Michele, Beyonce, Ledisi and Mraiah Carey, etc, but should also have her singing ancient history’s Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind? (Lovin’ Spoonful)

Harriet Klausner

Matthew’s Story-Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

February 26, 2010

Matthew’s Story

Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

Putnam, Feb 2010, $24.95

ISBN: 9780399156212

In Bet Guvrin, eight years old Levi diligently studies to become a priest.  He is a happy child who loves God, his parents and adores his baby brother Chavivi.  One night soldiers of Herod the Great arrive at his home and kill his sibling; as they have all killed all infant males since the Magi claimed the Christ was born.  Herod insists he is the King of the Jews and not some pretender.

Levi still believed in God but his adulation turned to loathing as he blames the Lord for his baby brother’s death.  He rejects the priesthood and instead becomes a Roman tax collector.  His people detest him as he becomes wealthy at their expense, but he feels empty inside until he meets Jesus.  He becomes his disciple and changes his name to Matthew and follows him loyally. Jesus tells him he will feel the pain Matthew felt when He follows his Father’s wishes.

Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins use a contemporary interpretation to tell Matthew’s Story, a disciple who transformed from youthful pious believer, to odious sinner to saint thanks in part to Jesus.  The use of modern day vernacular makes it easier on the audience to understand the message and power of Christ especially in altering Matthew’s life; though in fairness some readers might question free will.  As with Mark, Luke and John, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins provide a strong biblical biographical fictional account of a disciple of Jesus.

Harriet Klausner

The Girl Who Chased the Moon-Sarah Addison Allen

February 26, 2010

The Girl Who Chased the Moon

Sarah Addison Allen

Bantam, Mar 16 2010, $25.00

ISBN: 9780553807219

With the death of her mom Dulcie, Emily Benedict moves in with her maternal grandfather whom she never met in Mullaby, North Carolina.  She hopes to better understand what motivated her mother to abruptly run away from home and never return.  However, not everyone welcomes the daughter of Dulcie while the newcomer finds life with her gentle giant grandfather kind yet odd especially accentuated by the changing wallpaper.

Julia Winterson welcomes Emily with a cake.  She hopes to pay off her dad’s debt, which would enable her to shut down his restaurant and leave town to open a bakery elsewhere.  Sawyer hopes she will stay and give him her heart as she owns his.  Win Coffey and Emily are attracted to one another too, but their families are at the heart of the secrets that the outsider seeks to learn.

This is a warm whimsical tale with a strong message of don’t relive past transgressions forever especially when the present provides a chance for a different future.  Readers will be hooked to learn the Dulcie-Coffey secret and root for the two couples to make it.  Not even Dean Smith paints Tarheel magic as well as Sarah Addison Allen does (see Garden Spells).

Harriet Klausner

One Hundred Great French Books-Lance Donaldson-Evans

February 25, 2010

One Hundred Great French Books

Lance Donaldson-Evans

BlueBridge, Mar 31 2010, $15.95

ISBN: 9781933346229

This is a terrific introduction to French literature from the Middle Ages to modern times.  Each entry is summed up briefly with a commentary so that no more than two pages are provided on those included.  Starting with the classic Song of Roland and including well known works by renowned authors like Sartre, de Troyes, Pascal, Moliere, Racine, Hugo and others; One Hundred Great French Books is a great introduction to some of the best works ever.  However, what makes this so complete is genres normally ignored by English literature anthologies, but not by Lance Donaldson-Evans.  For instance the editor also includes the comic book Asterix by Goscinny and Uderzo.  With a wide gamut of genres, formats and centuries including twenty-fist century works like W, or Memory of Childhood by Perec, readers will relish this fine easy to use guide that says oui oui Francais.

Harriet Klausner

His Best Mistake-Kristi Gold

February 25, 2010

His Best Mistake

Kristi Gold

Harlequin SuperRomance, Mar 2010, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373716241

In Houston, magazine sportswriter Kevin O’Brien learns he has aplastic anemia, a disease that can prove fatal.  He also learns chemo treatments leave half of the patients sterile.  Panicking, he decides to do what he believes is the right thing by his girlfriend of eight months Dr. Leah Cordero.  He dumps her so she does not have to grieve his death.

One year later, Leah visits Kevin to tell him he sired a daughter Carly with her.  However, before getting to the point, she tells him she is going home to Mississippi to practice medicine there and is seeing another man.  He is stunned and pleads with Leah to move into his new house at least until she completes her residency and goes back with Carly to Mississippi.  Although in love, she remains distrustful and irate that he hid his health issue from her

This is an entertaining family drama starring a likable lead couple and a supporting cast who enhance the understanding of Kevin and Leah.  Leah is great as her ire seems genuine; on the other hand Kevin’s concealment appears false as he has no reason except perhaps fear to do so.  Still fans will enjoy his efforts to win the trust of the mother of his baby as he already has her love.

Harriet Klausner

Freedom by any Means-Betty DeRamus

February 24, 2010

Freedom by any Means

Betty DeRamus

Atria, Feb 2010, $15.00

ISBN: 9781439126752

These fifteen well written true stories focus on courageous individuals trying to either escape from slavery or applying extraordinary methods to enable blacks to escape from slavery.  The first entry “The Big Bluff” sets the tome when freeman John Bowley arrives at a Maryland Slave auction to take his family with him as they are up for sale.  In “Waters of Hope” slave Arnold Gragston rowed escaping slaves across the Ohio River to safety; others like black barbers Daniel Strawther and Jerry Jones did likewise.  Others are equally brave like Nelson Gant who risks his life and freedom for his love of Anna Maria Hughes or putting their money where their mouths were like James Henry Cole and Clara Brown as economics was as big if not bigger roadblock to freedom.  Although some of the record is missing requiring Betty DeRamus to speculate, the overall courage is documented.  Divided into three sections, this is a winning historical as readers obtain a wider perspective of the risk people took for freedom not just for themselves, but for loved ones and even strangers; summed up in the last entry of “Don’t Call her Mammy” re Mary Ellen Pleasant, the “mother of the civil rights movement in California”.

Harriet Klausner