Archive for April, 2013

Taking Chances-Molly McAdams

April 30, 2013

Taking Chances

Molly McAdams

Morrow, Apr 16 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062267689


Harper leaves North Carolina to attend San Diego State University with a sense of freedom and adventure as she escapes from her father the marine who home schooled her at the office even when he was away on a deployment.  On the California campus Harper rooms with Bree.  Her roommate introduces Harper to her brother Chase and his house mates including Brandon.


All the males adore Harper and treat Harper like a waifish princess who they fear hurting.  Harper is attracted to Chase and Brandon though the latter prefers distance from Harper.  When Chase dies, a grieving Harper learns she is pregnant while turning to Brandon for comfort.


This is an engaging character study of a military dependent seeking independence for the first time when she goes off to college.  Readers will root for Harper to achieve her objective, but also find her frustrating as she makes no progress; instead she depends on a civilian semper fi support group in which everyone holds her up even at the expense of a loved one.


Harriet Klausner


The Honey Thief-Najaf Mazari and Robert Hillman

April 30, 2013

The Honey Thief

Najaf Mazari and Robert Hillman

Viking, Apr 18 2013, $26.95

ISBN: 9780670026487


This thirteen interrelated story collection provides readers with a strong discerning glimpse into the Hazara people though the oral tales handed down through generations for centuries in their part of Afghanistan.  The opening tale “Hazara” provides background into a minority people living in a landlocked nation who believe the “tribe is a world.”  In the title story young Abbas stole honey hives before becoming a hive-keeper apprentice.  “The Life of Abdul Khaliq” revolves around his assassinating a murderous king; followed by “The Death of Abdul Khaliq” when the dead monarch’s son becomes ruler and has the assassin and his extended family and friends hung.  “The Cookbook of the Master Poisoner Ghoroob-e-astab of Mashad” is filled with poisonous treats that diners including royals would die for.  During the Soviet occupation, Hazara leader Abdul Ali Mazari sends Abbas the beekeeper on a mission of forgiveness; his traveling companions die during an air assault yet he saves the life of “The Russian” enemy combatant.  This is a great look at the resiliency of the Hazara people though a rich story-telling tradition.


Harriet Klausner

Mo Said She Was Quirky-James Kelman

April 30, 2013

Mo Said She Was Quirky

James Kelman

Other, Apr 23 2013, $15.95

ISBN: 9781590516003


In London, Helen works extremely hard as a night croupier at a casino in order for her Pakistani Muslim mate Mo and her six year old daughter Sophie to survive.  On the way home by cab from another grueling day of work, Helen notices a homeless drunk leisurely crossing in front of the taxi with a companion.  The disheveled man looks like her brother Brian; a sibling she has not seen in years since she and her family became estranged over her choices.  She muses over her mom, her brother, their Glasgow home and her boyfriend Mo who insists “she was quirky” though all she feels is tired and fearful that if she falls further down she will land in the ooze of failure never to rise until the next day when her cycle begins again.


This is a fascinating character study of a Scottish woman trying to keep from drowning though she wants to give up but others depend on her so she keeps treading.  Most of the storyline focuses on Helen’s internal thoughts, which are bleak and depressing; as life is a combat sport not worth the fight.  Polar opposite of Sutherland’s 24 when it comes to action as there is none; instead we get inside the head of a seemingly ordinary person for one day after a potentially shocking encounter as readers will agree with Mo she is quirky.


Harriet Klausner

From Ashes-Molly McAdams

April 29, 2013

From Ashes

Molly McAdams

Morrow, Apr 16 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062267726


In California, Ty and Cassie grew up as BFFs.  Whereas Ty’s parents are nice and supportive; Cassie’s mom and stepdad are abusive drunks.  For the next decade Cassie’s parents batter her, but she made her buddy promise not to tell anyone.  Ty leaves for the University of Texas at Austin where he will room with his cousin Gage.  Cassie goes with him.  When Gage and Cassie meet, they each are stunned by their reaction.  He also sees bruises on her body.  Ty explains he feared leaving her behind with her abusive parents. 


Gage feels protective of Cassie and lectures his cousin for not interceding to keep his girlfriend safe.  Ty shows Gage pictures he took over the years in which Cassie shows no emotion.  Ty sees how Gage and Cassie look at each other.  When he tries to kiss her, he upsets her.  Ty tells Cassie that Gage sees her as a sister and hates chauffeuring her to work like he does every morning.  Cassie is upset but drives herself to work, which upsets Gage who likes taking her to her job.  Gage tells Ty he loves Cassie.  Ty says he loves Cassie too.  Eight months since Cassie crushed Gage’s heart when she ended his driving her, he tells his concerned family he loves Cassie but she loves Ty. 


Cassie’s resiliency makes her an inspiring heroine as she grows up a victim, but refuses to remain a victim although excessive melodramatic tsuris is piled on her.  The key support cast like Cassidy’s BFF, her mom and a cop act out of character at pivotal moments, but fans will enjoy the touching relationship between Gage and Cassie.


Harriet Klausner

Amity and Sorrow-Peggy Riley

April 29, 2013

Amity and Sorrow

Peggy Riley

Little Brown, Apr 16 2013, $25.99

ISBN: 9780316220880


The First Wife, Amaranth did the unthinkable when she fled with her bound to each other at the wrists daughters (Amity and Sorrow) from her husband Zachariah as he did the one thing she rejected.  Four days of no sleep constant driving in fear that her spouse will come for her and their kids as none of his fifty wives ever fled the patriarch.  The road escape ends in a crash in Oklahoma on Bradley’s farm.  


Grieving the loss of his wife, Bradley allows the strange three females to remain on his failed farm though he cannot understand their odd polygamous belief system.  Amaranth feels welcome by the farmer; while Amity enjoys the chance to see the world beyond the confining compound; but suffering with stomach problems. Sorrow misses her home desperately.  As the foursome forge a family of sorts, each struggles with a faith that is tested by the others.


Amity and Sorrow is an intriguing look at the effect of a polygamous lifestyle on the next generation.  The sisters make the tale as their different reactions to the outside world seems deftly genuine as do the flashbacks to life in the compound.  Although the fascinating storyline turns too twisting and complex at times; overwhelming the insightful glimpse at what a family and a community is, readers will appreciate Peggy Riley’s deep character-driven novel.


Harriet Klausner

The Sultan of Byzantium-Selçuk Altun

April 29, 2013

The Sultan of Byzantium

Selçuk Altun

Telegram Books, Apr 16 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9781846591488


In 1453 Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI led the defense of Constantinople against the Ottoman horde.  He died in combat and the over millennium old empire died with him.  However, his body was never found; leading to a mythos of the Immortal Emperor who escaped death and the beleaguered city by ship.


Over five centuries later, a thirtyish Istanbul professor reflects on his growing up as the child of a Turk and Canadian who divorced when he cheated on her.  However, his look back at his child hood ends when sexagenarian Nikos Askaris meets with him to lecture him on the true history of the Byzantine Empire after the Ottoman conquest.  The professor begins to research all he can on the empire until he finally ventures to the ruins of Tekfur Palace in Istanbul where he meets the Nomophylax Guardians of the Law who have kept the Byzantine throne and treasure safe in secret as decreed by the will of Constantine who died over two decades after the defeat.  They give him a box in which he must find six tiles that fit the slots.  If successful, he will be the next emperor if he fails he will be dead.   He begins his global quest for the tile.


The Sultan of Byzantium is a fascinating deep way to tell the history and influence even today of the Byzantine Empire.  Nor for everyone as the action in spite of the quest is muted, readers will relish the Byzantine heritage and historical information though that supersedes the professor’s journey as Selçuk Altun, using metafiction, provides a deep look at the once thriving empire.


Harriet Klausner

Daughter of Jerusalem-Joan Wolf

April 28, 2013

Daughter of Jerusalem

Joan Wolf

Worthy, Apr 16 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781936034673


Due to the jealousy of her beauty by her stepmother Judith, Mary is exiled from her family home in Bethany, Judea.  She knows she will miss her younger stepsiblings (Lazarus and Martha) who love her as much as she does them.  Her father Jacob escorts her to live with her widowed Aunt Leah in Magdala on the Galilee.  Mary knows that the Galilee is a barbaric place where Jews are lax in their faith unlike in Judea. Leah’s nephew-in-law Daniel greets her and she begins to care about him.


Over her objections as she loves Daniel and her chosen mate emulates the pagan Greeks, Mary is forced to wed affluent Aaron in a family arranged marriage and moves to Sepphoris, the capital of the Galilee.  Unhappy Mary turns from the Lord as she suffers a string of tragedies leaving her a despondent widow.  .  Disappointed in her marriage, Mary moves to the Capernaum where she learns of John the Baptist who helps her return to God before he is assassinated.  When she hears rumors of a miracle worker, Mary goes to meet this Jesus, who claims to be the Son of God.


Daughter of Jerusalem is an entertaining “autobiographical” fictionalized account of the life of Mary Magdalene.  Though there are some questionable liberties, the engaging storyline depicts the variety in first century Jewish life which Mary learns is not very monotheistic.  Mary is a terrific protagonist who evolves as miserable circumstances caused by others like her father, Leah’s brother-in-law and her spouse impact and shape her until she becomes the most devoted true believer of the Son. 


Harriet Klausner



Josiah’s Treasure-Nancy Herriman

April 28, 2013

Josiah’s Treasure

Nancy Herriman

Worthy, Apr 16 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781936034796


In 1882 San Francisco, the late Josiah Cady leaves his home to young Sarah Whittier.  She wants to convert it into an art studio for women with no moral choices.  However, she lacks financing and potential backers ignore her plea.


Daniel Cady seeks his father Josiah who deserted him, his mother and two younger sisters almost a decade ago.  When he finds his father died but left his estate to a gold-digger instead of his family, Daniel is irate.  However when someone breaks into the home searching for the alleged treasure buried there, Daniel, used to protecting vulnerable women, instinctively reacts to keep Sarah safe even though he distrusts her and she likewise him; neither trusts in love.


Josiah’s Treasure is an entertaining late nineteenth century Americana romance that timely brings to life the plight of the working poor especially immigrants.  Daniel is a fully developed character with anger towards his late dad and his father’s endowment recipient; while Sarah is more fascinating with her do-gooder obsession though more insight is needed as to why she is motivated to help the helpless.  Still fans will enjoy the treasure Josiah left behind sought by enemy combatants.


Harriet Klausner

His to Command-Opal Carew

April 28, 2013

His to Command

Opal Carew

St. Martin’s Griffin, Apr 16 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780312674632


Two years ago, Kate left Matt and Manhattan without a word.  She quietly moved to Connecticut where she became a successful businesswoman.  However, near the Cavendish Mall, Kate thinks she sees her greatest fear, Matt.  As she scrambles away from him, Kate thinks back to his betrayal at a party after she gave him her heart and also her body as his submissive.  She will avoid him and not learn why he is in Connecticut


Matt cannot believe he saw his Kate at the mall; worse he also witnessed her flight from him as if he was infected by the plague.  Though he holds her culpable for deserting him as he felt they had a great dom-sub relationship, Matt compulsively needs to know why she abandoned him with nary a word.  He will find her and learn why.  Taking advantage of a need for an investor, Matt gets Kate to agree to time together at his mansion as she once again becomes His to Command.


This BDSM romance is a heated tale that originally was a six-part e-book serial, but now is in one erotica novel; the above two paragraphs come from the first chapter, the second chance encounter The Chase.  The enjoyable storyline flows smoothly as Kate and Matt explore their feelings (and each other) as they communicate; and not just sexually.  Though Kate’s fleeing New York two years ago seems unlikely overkill as Matt is not a Neanderthal, erotica readers will enjoy Opal Carew’s torrid tale.


Harriet Klausner

The House That Love Built-Beth Wiseman

April 24, 2013

The House That Love Built

Beth Wiseman

Thomas Nelson, Apr 2 2013, $15.99

ISBN: 9781595548894


In Smithville, Texas single mother of two children, Brooke Holloway still grieves the death of her beloved husband Travis though two years have passed.  She supports her kids (ten year old Travis and six years old Meghan) by running the family-owned hardware store.


Acrimonious divorcee Owen Saunders moves to Smithville after buying the Hadley Mansion.  He and Brooke meet when he comes to her store.  They become friends as he reassesses his vow of no women and she wonders if there may be life after Travis.  As the pair investigates the mystery of Hadley Mansion, they fall in love though he has doubts after being burned by his ex and she feels guilt that she betrays her Travis and fears how her kids especially the older one will react.


The House That Love Built is a delightful inspirational second chance at love romance.  Character-driven with a touch of mystery that is more a suspense device to bring the lead couple together, readers will appreciate Beth Wiseman’s enjoyable contemporary as the protagonists know love may not be enough as Travis and Meghan must come first.


Harriet Klausner