Finding Flipper Frank

Finding Flipper Frank by Patrick Garry

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Running by S.C. Bryce

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Mask of the Verdoy

Mask of the Verdoy: A George Harley Mysery (Book #1) by Phil Lecomber

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Ox Herding

Ox Herding: A Secular Pilgrimage by Jackie Griffiths

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The Antigone Poems

The Antigone Poems by Marie Slaight and Terrence Tasker (Artist)

Described by The Washington Independent Review of Books as ‘terrifyingly brilliant,’ The Antigone Poems is a powerful retelling of the ancient Greek tale of defiance and justice. An intensely personal invocation of the Sophocles tragedy, it questions power, punishment and one of mythology’s oldest themes: rebellion. Click Here to Purchase More »

My Best Friend and Loyal Companion

My Best Friend and Loyal Companion
by Nancy Eaton

About six months ago, I had to have my Shih Tzu euthanized. She was very ill and did not want to eat. No one wants their beloved pet to suffer. I was devastated. Today, I am still not over the hurt I feel over her loss. When I tried to More »

Finding Flipper Frank by Patrick Garry

Finding Flipper Frank

Reviewed by Rich Stoehr

One of the first things I wondered, before I started reading ‘Finding Flipper Frank,’ was just who (or what) “Flipper Frank” was. Fair warning – if you’re wondering about that, you will find out about it, but it won’t be until about two-thirds of the way in. And by the time you get there, you’ll likely be so involved in the unfolding story that you’ll forget you were looking for it in the first place.

On its most basic level, ‘Finding Flipper Frank‘ is the story of a road trip. Three people, mostly strangers to one another, linked by the need to get from Montana to Baltimore…or thereabouts. On the way, they share the same space and get to know one another. There’s Izzy, an older man full of stories about his youth and more than willing to tell them at any time, whether his audience wants to hear them or not. There’s Moira, a woman in her thirties on her way home, bringing with her an air of optimism and hope in everything she touches. And there’s Walt, our uncertain hero, who mostly listens and doesn’t feel he has much to contribute. Middle-aged, kind of aimless, not sure where he’s coming from or where he’s going, Walt is headed to Baltimore to see Cal Ripken break a baseball record in a game he’s not even sure he wants to be at.

Running by S.C. Bryce


Reviewed by Douglas Cobb

Running by S.C. Bryce is an intense, page-turning novel set in 1983 about a teenage girl, Kate, 16, who finds herself on the streets with her younger brother, Tosh, 8, and six-year-old sister, Ellie, after her mother abandons them. She and her siblings are taken in by a shady alcoholic man named Mannis and they live in a drafty, derelict “bungalow” that had been a warehouse or factory at one time. Their future outlook is far from being safe and secure, and Kate, Tosh, and Ellie live in fear from many dangers, like a mysterious person they know as the “woodcutter.”

Life is hard for Kate, Tosh and Ellie in the small town of Medswell. She relates in Running that, when they first arrived at the bungalow, Mannis wrenched the gold-plated chain Kate had about her neck. He had told them they could just stay a “couple of nights” adding “You’re not my responsibility.”

World Gone By: A Novel (Joe Coughlin Series)by Dennis Lehane

World Gone By

Reviewed by Allen Hott

This is the final book in a Lehane trilogy about Joe Coughlin and his life as one of crime’s top figures before and during the early stages of World War II. Although Joe is from Boston he now pretty much resides in Tampa where in many eyes he is a respectable businessman doing business with shipping, longshoremen, and other pieces of commerce.

In actuality he is a top gangster who has risen to his place just barely beneath Meyer Lansky, one of the era’s top mobsters. Joe is not down in the trenches anymore as he basically sits on the decision board of Commissioners for Lansky. However Joe has been involved so long that he knows all of the players and their areas of responsibility.

Joe’s wife died around the time of the birth of his son, Tomas, who Joe practically worships in his own way. He doesn’t want the boy to know everything but he does want him to never want for anything. Tomas is raised in amongst the gang members who he believes to be friends or relatives of his dad. Now Joe and Tomas spend their time somewhat split between Tampa and Cuba where Joe runs rackets under the knowing eye of Colonel Batista who is in charge of the island.

When the wife of the mayor of Tampa meets Joe at one of the in-crowd gatherings both seem to feel a special pull that she tries to put aside while Joe relishes the potential pairing. His hopes work out and they begin and then keep an affair going well under the eyes and ears of both the everyday world and that of the gangster world.

However there are problems in the mob on the level below Joe where several of his underlings (and former peers) are having problems as to who is charge of what types of crime and in what areas. No one seems to be happy with the changes that continue to appear. One of the most cantankerous seems to be some internal squabbling when a black leader pulls away the black side of town and sets up a separate gangland. What he is doing is not a problem for Joe as the job is still getting done and very well but it is a problem for one other boss especially. Joe works to hold that one down in his own way but in the meantime Joe gets some very distressing news.

Supposedly someone is planning to take Joe out! It appears to be slated for a specific date….Ash Wednesday. Joe begins living the life of one who expects to be shot at any time. As he works to find out who is behind this supposed attempt the battle within the entire Tampa gang seems to escalate.

Lehane has really constructed quite a tale and the detail with which he describes some of the action is breath taking. I can easily understand why this book is already ticketed for a movie. The scenes will be worth the price of admission without even considering the breath-holding the audience will be doing throughout the action. The description in particular of one killing event and that of a major gun are battle is truly worth reading the book for alone.

Not sure I am quite happy with the ending but I suppose it is fitting. What a great read!

Click Here to Purchase World Gone By: A Novel (Joe Coughlin Series)

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Death by Autopsy: A Toni Day Mystery by Jane Bennett Munro (Review #2)

Death by Autopsy

Reviewed by Elizabeth Sheehan

On a cold night in Twin Falls, Idaho Toni Day, a pathologist, is returning home from the airport after picking up her Mom and Stepfather who are visiting Toni. A car, a short distance ahead, suddenly slips into a deep canal. Toni, hoping to help, goes into the frigid water but the current is too strong and she’s unable to open the car door. Help arrives and the driver, Beulah, is taken to the emergency room and is then declared dead.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir by Bill Bryson

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Probably should be titled Living in the 50’s. Bryson has put together an autobiography or part of one as he relates many of the happenings in the 1950s. Most of these happenings occur to him, his fictional self (Thunderbolt Kid), family, and friends.

However he does sprinkle in a goodly assortment of the items that were popular at the time. He mentions many of the songs that were popular and the top movies of the era. And he brings in many of the things that were happening in the world not only in Des Moines where he lived but also places like Cuba and Russia.

As a matter of fact he pretty well catches the mood of most Americans at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. He also gives a pretty good insight to the launch of Sputnik by the Russians and how America and especially the American government responded by hurrying up our own missile program.

Revival: A Novel by Stephen King


Reviewed by Allen Hott

Though not a reader of true horror or supernatural stories I have ventured into the world of Stephen King once before. I read Mister Mercedes which turned out to be a really great story and was not really much of a horror/supernatural tale.

Revival, however, does lean a little further into that genre of storytelling. And though I cannot say that I am a fan of those types of stories I do have to admit that this one did hold my interest and I am sure it will keep many a reader turned on to it to the final ending.

It is not a tale of goblins and other types of strange folks but because of some of the happenings there definitely is a solid touch of the unknown or strange universe.

Stay Another Night by P.S. Meronek

Stay Another Night

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Perhaps one of the strangest books that I have ever read or at least in a long time. Coco Stevens, a young seventeen year old, gets busted while dancing in a strip club. Because of her age the club gets shut down but a side effect of the whole shutdown is that Coco gets to meet Sam Spielman, the owner of the club.

Not only does he own the club but he has many other businesses, some of which are legal but the majority are probably not. He is in fact a true Mafia boss.
However he is, although more than twice her age, struck with the beauty of this young girl and as they grow closer over time he is even more struck with her knowledge and charisma.

Licensed to Dill (Pickled and Preserved Mystery) by Mary Ellen Hughes

Licensed to Dill

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Piper Lamb returns in the second “Pickled and Preserved Mystery.” Having successfully launched Piper’s Picklings, her shop of all things pickled in The Pickled Piper, Piper’s life seems to be back on track. Her relationship with Will is going well, her business is thriving and she has settled into the comfortable rhythms of small town Cloverdale, New York. But things seldom remain the same for long and unfortunately for Piper, the changes that were to come caused some pretty big upsets in her life.

First, her former fiancé not only wants back into her life, he wants her life. After leaving her to wander the world he is not only back in the country, he has decided to move to Cloverdale and open a legal practice just down the street from her shop. Repeatedly she tells him there is no “them” as a couple but repeatedly he manages to wiggle into her day to day life, leaving Will to wonder where he fits in to all of this.

The Bishop’s Wife (A Linda Wallheim Novel) by Mette Ivie Harrison

The Bishop's Wife

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

When Carrie Helm walked out and left her family in the middle of the night, the Mormon community of Draper, Utah was stunned. Wives did not leave their husbands. Mothers most definitely did not leave their children. Yet Carrie had done both.

The book opens with Carrie’s husband, Jared and their 5 year old daughter Kelly showing up at Bishop Wallheim’s house early one morning. Jared had come to inform the Bishop that Carrie had left them and to seek both advice and help. While Kurt Wallheim spoke to Jared, Linda, his wife cared for Kelly. When Jared and Kelly left, Kurt and Linda compared notes. Kurt tended to accept Jared’s version of what had happened completely at first, but even from the beginning, Linda sensed there was more to the story than Jared had shared. As a mother, she could not fathom what would cause such a vibrant young mother to leave her daughter behind.

Black Horizon (Jack Swyteck Novel) by James Grippando

Black Horizon

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Black Horizon tells quite a story about not only the oil industry but about relations between Cuba and the United States. And especially right now with all the hub-bub that is going on between the two countries and possible relaxing of past conditions. Grippando uses one of his favorite characters, Jack Swytek, as the main man in this one. Swytek is an investigative lawyer who early on in the book marries Andie Henning the FBI agent that he has been involved with in previous books. And of course Jack has his sidekick, Theo Knight, whom Jack had saved from not only prison but also from wrongful execution in prison.

Shortly after the wedding and honeymoon get started everything gets discombobulated as Andie, after a somewhat startling announcement to Jack, gets called off on one of her secret missions for the government. What seems at the time to also be just a side note is that an explosion on an oil drilling derrick in Cuban waters is without a doubt going to cause a huge oil slick that will shortly hit U.S. soil somewhere around the keys.