Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Given Time Living Our Last Months Together-Helene Park Bigelow

April 15, 2014

Given Time Living Our Last Months Together
Helene Park Bigelow
Fithian Press/Daniel & Daniel Publishers, Apr 7 2014, $14.95
ISBN: 9781564745538

In 2005, seventy-one year old Helene and sixty-eight years old Ed, a couple for over three and a half decades, enjoyed walks on the Maui beach though he always wore a hat to keep sun radiation off a spot on his head. When he went to the doctor for a routine biopsy of that spot, neither were concerned as both had skin biopsies before that came up negative; though Ed was warned as a teen that this spot, probably harmed by swimming and sunning at Lake Michigan and he diligently protected for fifty years, could someday be a problem. Ed’s prognosis was the dreaded “M Word” Melanoma. He soon found out that the cancer had spread and with chemotherapy he could live a few extra months. Wanting to spend as much time as he can with his beloved Helene, Ed chose chemo.

This profound memoir provides a powerful look at a loving couple sharing their last few months together as much as possible in the same upbeat manner they had for the thirty-five years before Ed’s death sentence. Besides a brief look into their shared lives together (including raising three children) before the M Word, Helene Park Bigelow provides a deep glimpse into the impact on the caregiver as she watched Ed’s deterioration; if God forbid I am in the same situation as her I hope to be as strong as her. Though the Bigelow’s wanted another thirty-five happy healthy years together, they know what the Navaho told Ed at Window Rock that “There are blessings, there are blessings , there are blessings”; and they surely were blessed.

Harriet Klausner


Turtle Recall: The Discworld Companion … So Far-Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs

April 13, 2014

Turtle Recall: The Discworld Companion … So Far
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs
Harper, Apr 8 2014, $27.99
ISBN: 9780062292551

The latest edition of the Discworld companion book (previous edition published in 2003) targets diehard fans of the phenomenal series as four hundred plus pages are an enormous glossary of terms, biographies, geography (including maps) and illustrations taken from the forty or so books. These are fun to read entries (over an extended time as it can turn tedious) reminding us of the brilliance of the puns and quips making social commentary that satirizes and puns our world in novel format for the last three decades. In addition to the enormous amount of information, the reference tome contains two small segments published in the 1994 original companion: an interview with Terry Pratchett and how he deals with readers and fan snail mail (stored in cardboard boxes); and an updated essay on translating the saga into other languages. Finally there are also rules for playing “Cripple Mr Onion.”

Harriet Klausner

Inside The Hotel Rwanda: The Surprising True Story … and Why It Matters Today-Edouard Kayihura and Kerry Zukus

April 4, 2014

Inside The Hotel Rwanda: The Surprising True Story … and Why It Matters Today
Edouard Kayihura and Kerry Zukus
BenBella Books, Apr 1 2014, $24.95
ISBN: 9781937856748

Over a period of about 100 days in 1994, the Hutu genocidaires slaughtered one million Tutsi and left many other Rwandans injured and displaced until Paul Kagame led an army from exile in Uganda to end this Holocaust. In 2004, the movie Hotel Rwanda was released to critical acclaim and a fixture since in school curriculum, describing the Hotel Milles Collines as a safe haven and its manager Paul Rusesabagina as a hero. In that same year, Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, who had been UN peacekeeping mission commander during the atrocities, wrote his harrowing memoir Shake Hands with the Devil. Now Edouard Kayihura provides readers with a grim insider look at what truly happened to those 1200 plus refugees like the author living in the Hotel Rwanda during the horror. Adding to Mr. Kayihura’s first-hand account are disturbing comments from other occupants telling what occurred to them and their family outside and within the hotel.

Inside The Hotel Rwanda: The Surprising True Story … and Why It Matters Today aligns closely to General Dallaire’s haunting account rather than the film. Furthermore, Mr. Kayihura (and other survivors) shockingly makes a strong case that Mr. Rusesabagina was not the African Schindler-like savior risking his life to protect others, but as a profiteer in cahoots with those committing the genocide. Not an easy read as this insightful memoir is much grimmer than the haunting Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, but important at a time when Holocaust deniers rewrite history as if “Never Again” never happened in Nazi Europe, Cambodia, Rwanda and elsewhere.

Harriet Klausner

The Black Sheep’s Inheritance-Maureen Child

April 4, 2014

The Black Sheep’s Inheritance
Maureen Child
Harlequin Desire, Apr 1 2014, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373733071

At a law office in Wyoming, the family and some employees of deceased affluent J. D. Lassiter gather to hear the reading of his will. The terms anger and shock everyone especially when the late patriarch left his nurse Colleen Falkner three million dollars and placed his son-in-law Evan McCain in charge of Lassiter Media instead of the obvious choice his daughter Angelica who deserved the CEO role rather than her husband.

A fuming Sage accosts Colleen accusing her of manipulating her dying patient into turning her from a nurse into a millionaire in three months. Irate Colleen, who has been attracted to her accuser since she first heard about him from J.D., makes it clear she is surprised too. Deciding to learn what Colleen had on his adopted father and why J.D. shorted his daughter who he trained to run Lassiter Media, Sage investigates only to learn the truth sets the heart free if one takes a chance.

The first Dynasties: The Lassiters Wyoming romance (there is a prequel e-book Beauty and the Best Man; not read by me) is an engaging contemporary starring a stunned in the headlights lead female and a scornful suspicious male. The premise has been used often, but fans will enjoy Maureen Child’s leisurely-paced storyline as innocent Colleen embraces love while skeptical Sage ignores his name with his “I’m Not In Love” (10Cc) denial.

Harriet Klausner

Waiting On You-Kristan Higgins

March 24, 2014

Waiting On You
Kristan Higgins
Harlequin HQN, Mar 25 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373778584

A decade ago in Manningsport, New York, Lucas Campbell broke Colleen O’Rourke’s heart. He left town and she became a matchmaking spinster while running O’Rourke’s Tavern with her twin Connor. Her current matching effort involves Paulie “The Chicken Princess” Petrosinky and Lucas’ cousin Bryce Campbell.

Lucas’ Uncle Joe calls to ask him to come home from Chicago as his every other day dialysis may have kept him alive but his lung cancer has gotten to the point he will die very soon. With little time left Joe needs his son Bryce settled, but believes only his nephew can achieve the seemingly impossible. Knowing he would do anything for Uncle Joe and musing about his first return home in ten years, Lucas thinks of how he will react when he sees Colleen. When she sees Lucas for the first time since he devastated her heart, Colleen realizes she still loves him; but fears déjà vu all over again (Yogism) outcome.

The third Blue Heron madcap romance (see The Perfect Match and The Best Man) is an entertaining contemporary. The engaging second chance at love plot is enhanced by the support cast while flashbacks to when the leads were a youthful entry add better understanding of their present day personalities.

Harriet Klausner

Through A Venetian Looking Glass: A Novel of Remembrances-Hans Peter Braendlin

March 14, 2014

Through A Venetian Looking Glass: A Novel of Remembrances
Hans Peter Braendlin
Fithian Press/Daniel & Daniel Publishers, Mar 10 2014, $15.99
ISBN: 9781564745514

Thirteen years ago, ten year old Frederic Petitfeu died in a drowning accident caused by stormy weather. Time may heal all wounds, but his parents Jean-Pierre the artist and Claire the California English teacher still grieve their loss. Married for thirty-five years, the couple, encouraged by their daughter Frankie, went on a come together healing car tour of Mediterranean Western Europe that culminated with marital renewal and solace in Venice. Since that first trip not long after the funeral, they have returned to the watery city annually for five days.

On their twelfth trip to Venice, Jean-Pierre finds an early sixteenth century manuscript hidden in their room. The document contains the memoir of Giovanni Pietro Pofoco written not long before he apparently died. In contrast to the journal kept by Claire since her beloved son died, Pofoco’s life is filled with violence as personal and city brouhahas are the norm abetted by corruption; yet he also balanced the ugliness with plenty of pleasures filled with vino and women.

Not for everyone, this is a fascinating yet convoluted look at people, past and present, struggling to make the best of their lives. The twisting storyline keeps readers guessing as to what is going on with Pofoco as nothing is what it first appears; or for that matter second and third assertions either. Character-driven to include the sixteenth century and modern day city, fans who appreciate something radically unique and fresh will want to read this rambling “Novel of Remembrances.”

Harriet Klausner

By The Grace Of Todd-Louise Galveston

March 2, 2014

By The Grace Of Todd
Louise Galveston
Razorbill, Feb 27 2014, $16.99
ISBN 9781595146779

The victim of bullies, BFFs Todd and Duddy pray they live through their sentencing as sixth graders at Wakefield Middle School. While cleaning up his environmentally hazardous room with help from his home schooled neighbor Lucy, Todd finds a colony of pint-sized humanoids thriving on one of his smelliest socks. Lucy the scientist congratulates Todd for creating life through the cosmic cesspool of the most fundamental building block: grossness.

At school, Todd’s prime tormenter Max learns of the existence of the “Toddlians” and decides to use them in a science project that would most likely leave the new species extinct. The Toddlians trust that their creator “the Great Todd” will keep them safe from mad Max, but their adulation may not be enough for him to say no to the bully.

With a nod to The Borrowers (by Mary Norton and illustrated by Joe & Beth Krush), By The Grace Of Todd is a wonderful satirical middle school tale. Rotating between Todd and Toddlian Lewis, the character-driven story line focuses on the tweener victim of bullying who knows he must stand up to his tormenter to keep the little people who believe in him safe. Although the two subplots don’t blend smoothly together, tweener fans will appreciate the journey.

Harriet Klausner

Fortune & Fame-Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley

February 28, 2014

Fortune & Fame
Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley
Touchstone, Feb 25 2014, $15.00
ISBN: 9781476747170

OWN TV casts Rachel, Jasmine, Mary and Natasha as the stars of a new reality show First Ladies. Rachel and Jasmine are frenemies; while the former and Mary are 200 proof enemies; and likewise the latter with Natasha.

Unlike her rivalry with Jasmine re being the First Lady of the American Baptist Coalition (see Sinners & Saints), Rachel focuses on kicking off the show born again Mary, the biological mother of her son and ex-convict married to an ambition un-godly preacher. Jasmine concentrates on getting rid of her husband’s ex-fiancée Natasha, who plans to win back her Reverend Hosea.

The latest collaboration feels like a wrestling battle royal as readers wonder who will be the last woman standing. Seeking Fortune & Fame, the four fierce frantic females make for a fun tale as Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley once again provide an entertaining over the top of a church steeple romp that spins one hell of a reality TV show.

Harriet Klausner

Blood on Copperhead Trail-Paula Graves

January 27, 2014

Blood on Copperhead Trail
Paula Graves
Harlequin Intrigue, Jan 21 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373697403

Ridge County Public Integrity Officer Laney Hanvey is assigned to investigate how deep the corruption within the Bitterwood Police Department is after the late former Chief of Detectives Rayburn was exposed for being on the payroll of Wayne Cortland. Part of her inquiry is to recommend whether BPD be folded inside of the county’s Office of the Sherif or left independent run by newcomer Doyle Massey.

The murdered body of Missy Adderly is found on Copperhead Trail. Shocked Laney knew the deceased but fears for her younger sister Janelle who went hiking with the Adderly siblings. Leaving his detectives to work the homicide, Doyle accompanies Laney as she begins a search and she prays rescue mission for missing teens as a storm and human danger threaten their effort.

The fourth Bitterwood P.D. romantic police procedural (see Murder in the Smokies, The Smoky Mountain Mist and Smoky Ridge Curse) is an exciting S&R drama that contains a strong storyline yet also moves forward the overarching theme as more of Cortland’s empire is revealed. The harrowing suspenseful rescue effort supersedes the attraction with saving the heroine’s sister and surviving the storm and miscreants in the Smokies coming before the protagonists’ desires.

Harriet Klausner

She Shall Be Praised-Ginny Aiken

January 23, 2014

She Shall Be Praised
Ginny Aiken
FaithWords, Jan 7 2014, $15.00
ISBN: 9780892968466

In 1883, following a trip to London, upper crust Emma Crowell stops at the home of her aunt and uncle in Hope County, Oregon. Heeding her father’s plea, Emma accepts Joshua Hamilton’s proposal. About to leave on a business trip to Paris, Joshua gives his fiancée a poodle.

On the coach to Portland without a chaperone, Emma demands the driver stop because her dog Pippa needs a break. Once the socialite and the canine leave the coach; the driver leaves them behind in the wild. Two outlaws capture the deb and the dog until rancher Peter Lowery and his manager Colley, searching for sheep rustlers, rescue them. He takes the females to his home, but explains he cannot escort her to Portland due to his ranch obligations for a few months. Instead Peter offers her a place to stay if Emma becomes the housekeeper and his son Robby’s caretaker. As Emma adapts to working guided by the Proverbs, she falls in love with her host and his child. Although she believes Peter reciprocates Emma must persuade him to let her stay with them instead of taking her to Portland.

The third Women of Hope Americana romance (see Remember Me When and For Such A Time As This) is a wonderful 1880s Oregonian inspirational. The key cast comes across fully developed; especially Emma who starts off as a debutante out of place in a rustic lifestyle after years in ballrooms (though I doubt she can change her spots, Ginny Aiken makes a compelling case). Ironically, Colley and Pippa bring freshness to She Shall Be Praised while the protagonists need to overcome their respective first impressions of each other.

Harriet Klausner