Monthly Archives: May 2011

Just a Few Seconds: A Story from the Hidden World of Music and Beyond by Nemo James

Just a Few SecondsReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

The autobiographies of famous rock & roll icons like Nikki Sixx, Sammy Hagar, Ozzie Osbourne and Patti Smith make for some very fascinating reading. But, what about the lives of the other members of various bands, which may/may not hit the Big Time in such an explosive way? Just A Few Seconds by Nemo James is an autobiography that is captivating, written with an ironic and witty sense of humor, and though the author never became as well-known as someone like Eric Clapton or Jim Morrison, his life story is a very interesting and engaging one, indeed. This book is proof that the lives of the members of bands who never quite hit the Big Time for whatever combination of reasons, or who are largely itinerant musicians, going from one band to another, are often also well worth reading about.

Most guys and many teen girls have had dreams growing up in the 1960’s and even now of becoming someone famous, like an athlete with tons of endorsement deals, and actor, or a rock musician. Few have the talent and perseverance, not to mention the luck, that it takes to forge onwards to see their goals realized. Sometimes, though, it all works out for the best, and one can at least have a taste of the glory, a slice of the pie, a glimpse of what it’s like to be one of the elite in one’s field, and can enjoy a quite pleasant retirement with many memories and anecdotes. That’s what Nemo James’ life as he writes about it in Just A Few Seconds is about. His autobiography has already been sold out at Amazon once; perhaps ultimately, the author will become more famous for his writing skills than as a musician. As Nemo writes:

Yes, it’s been quite a journey. I failed in nearly everything I did and yet always loved life and ended up enjoying the kind of success that the rich and famous only dream about. All that effort and hard work and yet it was nothing more than blind luck that brought about my success. No amount of talent or hard work can replace luck.

The book starts with a chapter called “The End.” Why, you might ask? Just A Few Seconds is written in the first person, and the chapter is the author talking to us literally from beyond the grave (though he’s of course today quite alive & well), and he’s wondering such things as if he’s getting a big turn out for his funeral, and how many times the church bell is tolling for him. He tries to think of it as not really an ending, but a “new beginning.” This is how he approached every setback in his life, as we’ll learn as we read, so why not act the same way about one’s afterlife? The rest of the autobiography is fairly linear, though the final chapter is titled “The Middle.”

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Crooked Letter, Crooked LetterReviewed by Julie Moderson

I absolutely loved Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. This is a novel that you will have a hard time putting down because it is such an amazing book. It was a very interesting, well-written book about two young men.

The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair

The Girl in the GardenReviewed by Julie Moderson

Ten-year-old Rakhee Singh was taken on a trip to visit her mother’s relatives in India. She was nervous about the trip because she didn’t understand the culture or dress but came to love her cousins.

She was a curious child and seemed to be one who found trouble. Her beautiful mother tried at times to explain the traditions and religion but her father was an atheist and didn’t believe in any religion. Her mother Amma kept a windowless room in their house that was really a big closet and every morning she would go into her special room and pray even though her husband Aba didn’t like it. The room made Rakhee nervous but she didn’t understand why.

Scones & Bones (A Tea Shop Mystery) by Laura Childs

Scones & BonesReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The Heritage Society’s Pirates and Plunder opening party comes to an abrupt ending when one of the jewels of the exhibit, a skull that supposedly was Blackbeard’s, is stolen. During the crime, one person is killed and another seriously injured, but no one remembers seeing anything unusual before or immediately after the attack. Of coarse Theodosia Browning and her co-worker Drayton start nosing around looking for clues. The skull is one of three Blackbeard artifacts that supposedly together leave the exact location of the legendary treasure Blackbeard supposedly left behind somewhere in the Low Country.

Author Childs does an excellent job of placing readers in Charleston. This is a series that just could not happen anywhere else. Each of the twelve books in the series focuses on some part of Charleston or the Low Country’s past or traditions. Bones & Scones is built around the fascinating legends surrounding the pirates-specifically Blackbeard, who terrorized the Carolina coast in the 1700’s. While taking readers on a tour through the architectural history of the city, the rise and fall of the antiques market and lands us on one of the barrier islands that line the coastline.

Besides giving readers a fun look into Charleston’s past, the series is also filled with interesting tidbits about tea of all kinds. On the tea side of this book, Theodosia’s Indigo Tea Shop is preparing for the Charleston’s Food and Wine Festival by planning to host a tea and cheese tasting. As most readers I’m sure, I’ve never thought of those two items as going together, but by the time I’d finished the book, they seemed like the perfect fit.

Wounded Spirits by April W. Gardner

Wounded SpiritsReviewed by Jane Squires

It took a little while to get to the point where I could not put the story down. Yet as one who has Indian blood in my background, I love reading books that don’t just paint them as the bad guys.

I love the title. Both the Creeks and the White Man dealt with wounded spirits. One will realize how God can bring healing and hope regardless of the troubles one walks through.
There are always effects in war but faith in God can help one survive.

The battles that rage within a person are so real. Adela wages a battle within about whether she loves Phillip and should marry or not.

The Sixth Man by David Baldacci

The Sixth ManReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are on their way to meet Attorney Ted Bergin and his client, Edgar Roy when they find Bergin murdered in his car along a deserted road. Roy is being held at a federal maximum security prison for the criminally insane in a remote part of Maine because he supposedly is a serial killer. Six bodies were found buried in the floor of his barn. This is a huge loss for the defense department because Roy has what is known as a eidetic mind meaning he can process huge amounts of information visually in seconds-and he remembers everything he sees. Before his arrest, he was asked to sit and watch multiple screens streaming data from all over the world and quickly analyze the meaning. Whether Edgar Roy killed the people buried in his barn or not becomes fairly clear to the reader early on. Who-or at least the broader category of who- turned the police on him is also relatively clear by midpoint in the book.

There is quite a long list of characters that play significant roles in the plot. One of the biggest challenges for readers is to figure out who is playing on whose team-an answer that may well shift several times throughout the book.

This book is definitely a “ripped from the headlines” type thriller centered around government contracts awarded for defense intelligence and it will leave the reader thinking about how exactly our intelligence is both gathered and analyzed. While this is clearly a work of fiction, the plot is built on the supposition that although government satellites may gather images from around the world and spooks my turn up information from far flung regions, who exactly is processing this data? In essence, this is a story about who is connecting the dots.

It is not necessary to have read any of the previous books with Sean and Michelle to follow this one. While little bits and pieces of their past is sprinkled throughout the book, this is for all practical purposes a stand alone book with in a series. In fact, there are some elements in this book that readers who are fans of the duo may not really enjoy.

The Burning Lake by Brent Ghelfi

The Burning LakeReviewed by Patricia Reid

When Alexei Volkovoy, a Russian agent, learns of the death of Katarina Mironova, he is horrified. Katarina was a prominent journalist known as Kato and Volk has close ties to Kato. The two had an intense personal relationship that they had managed to keep very private. Kato had trusted Volk with information that she needed to pass on. Volk immediately begins to plan how to avenge her death.

Volk manages to get his patron, The General, to give him an assignment that will allow him to move freely and conduct his own investigation into Kato’s death. Kato was shot on the banks of Russia’s Techa River near the radioactive village of Metlino. Kato had made friends in the area and as Volk makes inquiries, he is shocked at the condition of the people living in the area. Volk is convinced that Kato’s was killed in order to cover up a story.

Volk’s determination to find Kato’s killers and reveal the story she wanted to tell takes him from Russia to the United States where in the company of Grayson Stone he begins to uncover secrets that puts his life at risk and ends his personal relationship with Valya, his long-time lover.

The Worst Thing by Aaron Elkins

The Worst ThingReviewed by Patricia Reid

Bryan Bennett has a happy and successful life and his worst thing is something that he manages to put on a shelf a big percentage of the time. Bryan’s worst thing is panic attacks but he has learned to deal with them, at least in his opinion. Bryan works at Odysseus Institute where he specializes in issues relating to kidnapping and extortion. His panic attacks are a result of his abduction and imprisonment in a Turkish dungeon as a young boy.

Bryan’s wife, Lori, loves to travel but Bryan is not comfortable when traveling unless he can manage to do so without getting on a plane. Enclosed places bring on his attacks and Xanax helps but the pills are a crutch and not a cure. When Bryan’s boss suggests that he make a trip to Iceland to teach a kidnapping seminar, Bryan senses Lori’s disappointment and decides that it is time to face his problems and allow Lori to enjoy an expense paid trip to Iceland. Lori is thrilled with the idea of the trip but insists that it is time that Bryan consults a professional regarding his fears.

Bryan agrees and makes an appointment with Zeta Parkington, retired professor, whose specialty was anxiety disorders. Zeta met with Bryan and among other things told him that the only real cure for anxiety problems was to face the fear and conquer that fear. The time for facing his fear was not far away for Bryan.

The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War by Andrew Roberts

The Storm of WarReviewed by Cy Hilterman

Anyone who lived through any war, but especially WW II, needs to read this greatly detailed and informative book that gives details, stories, actions, and facts many of which were never published. The author writes in a way that draws you to each page because, while the book is fact, it never gets boring. From the very beginning of the book where, in April 1934, Hitler met with the German minister of Defence to make a secret pact where the army would support Adolph Hitler upon the death of Paul von Hindenburg (then leader of Germany). Most of us have in our minds that the war started in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland but the plans for Hitler’s demonic plans to control the world had started with the plans for his leadership years earlier.

Several things I advise to all readers of this complete book; remember to refer to the maps at the front of the book as campaigns in different areas occur, and do not think you will skip through a page because the book is extremely long. If you skip you will miss some important and interesting tidbit. I had forgotten the maps and now I wish I had remembered them to allow me to know exactly where certain battles occurred. I also tried to read by skipping and I found out it doesn’t work. How Andrew Roberts garnered all the information and wove it into a terrific resourceful book I will never know. There is no way a review could ever do this book justice. I will hit a few highlights but you must physically read it to gain the knowledge it contains.

Hitler had been a corporal in the German army in WW I so he had felt war first hand and was twenty-nine years of age when that war ended in 1918. Hitler had a huge war machine in place. Two major factions were the OKH and the OKW, both strategic in running the military. Many leaders changed throughout the book. Hitler would have high expectations for various campaigns and when the result was not to his liking he took no remorse in immediately changing generals. Hitler controlled all the many units of might such as the Wehrmacht, the SS, the Luftwaffe (air), the Panzers (tanks), and a naval branch that, had Hitler allow it to develop fully, could have made the war much longer and given Germany a huge advantage. The German Generals, some of whom were Field Marshall’s, were many; Jodl, Keitel, Himmler, von Runstedt, von Manctein, Goebbels, Rommel, and, in general were very brilliant men but too many times Hitler forced them to do his method, not theirs.

Darkest Fear by Harlan Coben

Darkest FearReviewed by Allen Hott

An oldie but goodie by Coben. Myron Bolitar, one of Coben’s continuing characters, is really entangled in this one. First his father has just suffered a heart attack while Bolitar was in the Caribbean and now the outlook of both of Bolitar’s parents has changed. Since he has lived in their basement since before and after college any disruption in their lives affects him.

Even complicating things further is the fact that an old flame of his in college (who dropped him for his biggest competitor) informs Myron that he is the father of her thirteen-year-old son. She and her husband have split up and even worse the son has been found to be in need of a bone marrow transplant. As readers would expect she goes to Myron for help.

And actually the timing is extremely bad as MB Enterprises (Myron’s sports agency) is not doing well and needs his full time commitment to reestablish some ties as well as build some new ones. His partner, Esperanza, and his buddy, Win, are both working to help him but they are not advised of the paternity situation.