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Monday, November 24, 2008

Nox Dormienda - Kelly Stanley

I'm sure this new-fangled genre of so-called 'roman noir' requires a certain audience to attract interest and keep it, but I was not a part of that audience.

The only way I could possibly tell you what the book is about is by reading the back cover, and even then, it isn't completely clear. The invention of a brand new genre of literature is great and all, but if you can't back it up with some good can't-put-it-down, balls-to-the-walls reading, it's not going to do much good.

So, here's what I got from my 94 pages of reading - this Agricola governor dude has gotten himself into a coliseum full of poop and is now being called to resign by this spy, whose married to a chick that Agricola's friend and doctor fancies. Okay, first off, I didn't know they had 'spies' back then, and two, it's already a bit too Bold and the Beautiful for me. But oh, wait! The spy ends up dead. Woo hoo! Gladiator brawls for all!

Not exactly. This lovelorn doctor guy suddenly becomes Sherlock Holmes Jr. and takes it upon himself to find out who murdered this spy. Sure, it may help clear the governor's name if he does that, but I thought 'governors' and emperors and all them were pretty powerful people on their own. Can't they just have their accusers buried in a pyramid or something?

I wasn't thoroughly impressed with what I read, but that is one person's opinion. If this sounds like your type of reading, hitch a chariot and go for it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We Call you Saint.

The name ignited a light in Carl’s mind. Saint. He’d been covertly recruited for Black Ops and given his life to the most brutal kind of training any man or woman could endure. He was here because he belonged here. To the X Group. An assasin. The most effective killer in the world. And yet . . . Carl Strople struggles to retain fleeting memories that betray an even more ominous reality. He’s been told part of the truth--but what’s the rest? Invasive techniques have stripped him of his identity and made him someone new--for this he is grateful. But there are some things they can’t take from him. The love of a woman, unbroken loyalties to his past, the need for survival.

From the deep woods of Hungary to the streets of New York, Saint takes you on a journey of betrayal in a world of government cover-ups, political intrigue, and one man’s search for the truth. In the end, that truth will be his undoing.
- Publisher's Description

Well, wow. That's about I can say about this fast paced thriller. I couldn't put it down. The 2nd book in the Paradise collection continue the story of Project Showdown. It's like a psycholigical Bourne Identity, with a Christian tilt. You can't trust anyone, nothing seems true and everything is out of place for "Carl." Luckily a few people come into his life and help him see the truth. And the Truth will set Carl free.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Civil General by David Stinebeck and Scannell Gill

'A Civil General' is a fictionalized account of the General George Henry Thomas story. Thomas earned his reputation as one of Civil War's toughest fighting generals in battles like Chickamauga, Chattanooga and Ringgold. His story is told through the first person point of view of a friend and subordinate - Colonel William Swain, a regimental commander.

Great pains were taken to make this book as historically accurate as possible. This accuracy extends all the way to language the characters use. The dialogue is well done and reads easily. The scenes from the section of the book dealing with the Battle of Chattanooga, the campaigning in Tennessee and its aftermath are very interesting and detailed. The illustrations that are used to depict them use enticing, historically accurate imagery.

The first person telling of the story develops and become more interesting as the pages turn. The second half of the story reads very quickly as the Col. Swain develops a love interest, Neala, and goes to visit her. The romance between them is tender and very well done. He communicates with her by letter and eventually marries her.

With all the sound and fury of the battles through Tennessee coming to a climax in the middle of the book, the death of General Thomas shortly thereafter unfortunately transforms his funeral into the climax of the story. The unfortunate way that several of the Washington elites and senior generals handled themselves before and during the funeral is jaw dropping and embittering. The epilogue notes that Mrs. Thomas never attended a military event. After reading this account of what happened, I can't say I blame her at all.

A Civil General by David Stinebeck and Scannell Gill (Sunstone Press, 2008).
ISBN: 978-0-86534-663-5
Price: $20.95, Softcover, 6x9, 160 pages.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dear John by Norma Betz

Dear John
~Norma L Betz

This is a delightful first novel from an author who shows great promise.

A young woman is faced with the death of her last relative - the aunt she was named for and who helped her when her parents were tragically killed when she was nineteen. Through love, support and financial assistance, her aunt made sure she completed college and graduate school. As young adults do, Suzanna allowed the distance to grow between them as she established her life and career. Now, her only family was gone and she had to face the obligation to sort through the life that is gone. Any adult who has faced becoming an orphan can relate to the multitude of emotions that one suffers through.

With her companion, Quincy, a five-year-old Weimaraner, Susanna heads to the home she has inherited from her aunt. When she arrives, she meets the people who have shared her aunt's life and the haunting questions about her past. She inherits a treasure trove of history from their ancestor Abigail Adams, including some of the letters she wrote to John Adams in the beginning of the Revolution. Susanna becomes inspired by Abigail's letters. And, she becomes inspired by her aunt's life as she gets to know her aunt's friends, and finds that they are embracing her as a friend as well. It is the story of the strength of a family of women... the quiet strength that keeps them going through life. While Suzanna is admiring it in Abigail and her Aunt Suzanna, she comes to realize that it is something else she shares with them.

Unfortunately, the wealth of the treasures become a target for someone unscrupulous and causes grave danger to Susanna and Quincy and their new friends, as well as the beginnings of love.

Anyone who is interested in American history will enjoy a journey into some of the letters of Abigail Adams during the early years of the Revolution. The journey is memorable and a remarkable window on the world of 1775.

I really enjoyed this book!

The critical side of me has to complain loudly about the font used for the letters of Abigail Adams. It was nice to have a font change to distinguish the letters from the story, but the one used was difficult to read, which made it harder to enjoy the wealth of the letters and to enjoy the book.

If I were to give any advise to Norma Betz, I would say DO NOT HOLD BACK. I felt like she was always trying to neatly package and contain her characters, yet she had created these wonderfully deep characters who wanted to breathe. Let them breathe! Quincy, too!

I hope Norma Betz follows with a second book!

Her website is found here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Must Have for the Writers on the Elusive Agent Hunt!

Authoress, the anonymous champion of all aspiring writers, has done it again! Her latest endeavor is a no nonsense guide to starting that agent hunt and the tools to avoid pitfalls that so many of us fall into.
Many of you are familiar with her blog and her Hook the Agent contests. She also has many crit opportunities for her blog followers.
Over-all, she's just one of those really helpful people that try and make a difference by sharing her time, words of wisdom, and giving other's a chance to get a leg up in the elusive agent hunt. That being said, her new e-book release is now available:
This can be purchased for $9.99 on Authoress's blog (the link is above). It is an e-book, so talk about instant gratification!

The resources that she gives you are priceless. You could spend months and months researching these things on the web, read books on getting published (which are certainly not going to be cheaper), and would still be left wondering where to start.

Authoress has given you the tools, the lists (I so love lists), and the places to go so that you can too can find an agent, and then how to go about getting an agent that is right for you.

If you have written, are writing, or even thinking about writing something, this is a tool that you NEED. Go visit her blog, look around, and order her book. I promise you won't be sorry!

Oh yeah, and tell her Terri sent you...not that I get a kick-back, but I have a secret fantasy that maybe she's Nora Roberts, or JK Rowling, or Diana Gabaldon and I'd like to have brownie points!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lady Flatterley - Linda Wagner

Who knew a caterpillar could be so self-conscious?

In this adorable, well-illustrated tale, Wagner's yellow jacket caterpillar Lady Flatterley longs for the wings that many a friend and passerby ride the winds on, but is a bit afraid of leaving the safety of her leafy nest and unaware of what to do to obtain her own wings. A knowledgeable butterfly informs her of the wonder of the cocoon, and soon, though not without trouble, Flatterley bears a pair of wings all her own.

The colorful, whimsical illustrations by Pearl Ollie add a child-like grace to the fluent rhymes, while photographer Jerry Hanzl's cloudy backdrops add an undeniably beautiful canvas for the story. Further, Ollie's additions of emotional expression to each present creature, whether fish or flyer, had relatable, human-like qualities to otherwise strange, placid nature-dwellers. 

An excellent read for the children of youth and the children of heart.

Monday, November 3, 2008

In A Time of War ~ Bill Murphy Jr

In A Time of War:
The Proud and Perilous Journey of
West Point's Class of 2002

By Bill Murphy Jr

When September 11, 2001 happened, the senior class at West Point was to become the first class to graduate during the War on Terror. At their graduation, they heard President Bush deliver the speech that became known as the 'Bush Doctrine' - America would take the fight to the enemy. They were destined to become the junior officers on the front lines of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Bill Murphy's book follows a small group of the graduates of 2002 - friends who stay close through West Point, advanced training, deployments, marriages, children, wounds and death. From around the globe, their friendship bonded them together.

The book follows these young officers in many settings and experiences. As life unfolds, Mr. Murphy shares the all too human successes and disappointments, the wounds external and internal, the death of friends and the mourning of friends and family. They serve. They sacrifice. And, most of all, they stay friends.

Since this is a true story, nothing fits tidily in a box for the plot. But, the people are so memorable that you will never forget some of them....

Drew Sloan -
Drew was wounded in Afghanistan, after many surgeries to rebuild his face, requested deployment to Iraq. He is currently at Harvard in graduate school.

Todd Bryant
Todd lost his life in Iraq - October 31 2003 - leaving behind his new wife Jen.

Tim Moshier
Tim was an Apache helicopter pilot who lost his life in Iraq on April 1, 2006

Their stories should be on the front pages of newspapers in this nation. Unfortunately, they are not. But, Bill Murphy tells their stories in this remarkable book that everyone should read.

The author's web page is

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Ark, the Reed, & The Fire Cloud - Jenny L. Cote

Even a non-religious person like myself can appreciate the beauty of this wonderful read.

Max, a Scottish terrier, and Liz, a beautiful black cat, are called from their individual homes to lead an ever-growing group of animals to Noah's recently-finished Ark. Along the way are many obstacles that, with a little help from the Maker and his trail-blazing fire cloud, the slew of furry creatures successfully cross. But once they board the ark and settle in, a controversy starts to brew. Are the reclusive wolves causing all the chaos that is slowly severing the friendly ties between the animals and the humans? If not them, who could be responsible for such a task? It's up to the brave and intelligent pairing of Max and Liz to find out before it's too late. 

This book had me flipping through chapter after chapter, anxiously following the creatures from distant and nearby lands to the Ark. Each character, no matter how big a part, has their own personality that shines through, providing humorous relief or a jaw-dropping twist to the story. Cote flawlessly links the details of the trip with the recordings of the Bible. The closing of the adventure is beautiful and tear-inducing. An amazing literary work. 

Otis the Musical Owl ~ Joseph N Chappelle

Otis the Musical Owl

Joseph N Chappelle

This is the story of an owl who is injured, taken to a rehab facility and then escapes and begins a quest to find his family. This children's book is part fact, part fiction and lots of fantasy, but there are no illustrations to assist the gaps in the story line.

One must suspend all logic while reading this book. It flits from reality to fantasy and back again. I felt that many pages had fallen out - that the story was denied its destiny to flourish. There were too many sections where the story never finished and went off in a different direction. There is amazing creativity here, but the story should have been fuller and longer.

It is a shame, as it raises many philosophical questions that are good for children to ponder.