Monthly Archives: August 2011

In Search of Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault (Review #2)

In Search of Rose NotesReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

As In Search of the Rose Notes opens, sixteen years have past since the event that shapes this novel. Nora, through whose eyes we follow the story, has just heard from Charlotte for the first time since the girls left for college. Charlotte has contacted Nora to let her know that a skeleton has been found that is believed to be Rose, their long missing babysitter. Nora returns to the town she grew up in and stays with Charlotte during the re-opened investigation.

Sixteen years earlier, Nora lived with her single mother on the same street with her classmate Charlotte. Since Nora and Charlottes’ mothers worked together and the girls were best friends, Charlotte’s family hired Rose, a local teenager to watch the girls after school each day. Their after school activities follow the expected path of snacks, homework and television, until the girls discovered a set of Time-Life books on various supernatural subjects in Charlotte’s older brother’s closet. From then on, the world of hypnotic states, dream interpretation, Ouiji boards and communicating with ghosts consume the girls time.

One evening after Charlotte’s father came home, Rose walked Nora home as usual, and continued up the hill to her house-or so everyone thought. Rose not only didn’t arrive home that evening, she was not seen again. Charlotte and Nora decide to investigate by using the Time-Life books.

Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane (Review #2)

Midnight Mile by Dennis LehaneReviewed by Allen Hott

The song Moonlight Mile written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards is used to aptly describe this Dennis Lehane mystery. “But I am just about a Midnight Mile down the road” pretty well sums up where the supposedly lost girl in the story is.

About 10 years ago Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro had worked as private investigators finding a four-year-old girl who had been kidnapped. Happily they were able to find her but then unhappily she was reunited with her mother who was worthless and the girl was actually worse off back home.

Since that time Kenzie and Gennaro had married and had a daughter of their own. Angie had become pretty much a stay at home parent while Patrick worked hard at finding steady employment. He was trying to get on with an agency which would afford him better benefits and stable income but that was not that easy.

One night out of the blue the aunt of the girl who had been kidnapped years ago called Patrick and told him that Amanda was again missing. Not for sure if kidnapped again or more than likely just a runaway. The aunt badgered Patrick into hunting for Amanda again because the aunt felt that Patrick should have known that the kidnappers years ago offered Amanda a much better chance at a good life than her own mother offered her.

Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts by Claire LaZebnik

Families and Other Nonreturnable GiftsReviewed by Julie Moderson

What a wonderful, pleasant book! it is the kind of novel that you love from beginning to end.

Keats Sedlak has an odd family; her father is a Harvard professor and 20 years older than her mother. Keats has been dating and living with Tom; they started dating when she was 15 and Tom was 21. Keats has an older sister Hopkins who is a neurosurgeon and a younger brother Melton who seems to be a recluse. Keats and her boyfriend Tom really don’t like her family so they spend as little time as possible with them. Keats thinks her family doesn’t like Tom and she is right They think he isn’t good enough for her. She has always felt inadequate to her family because everyone is more intelligent than she is or so she thinks.

Hey Kids, Want Some Chocolates? My Family’s Journey to Freedom by Melitta Strandberg

Hey Kids, Want Some Chocolates?Reviewed by Cy Hilterman

During WW II the Germans performed many experiments on humans. Just the thought of this makes me cringe and wonder how any human can experiment with another living human and not care what suffering would result from such a thing. Melitta Strandberg was one of these babies. Unknowingly Melitta’s birth was at a hospital from which Hitler took babies without the parents’ permission in order to perform his many experiments, many of which are believed to be switching around the reproductive parts of very young as well as older children. They would then give another baby to the parents without telling them it was not their own child. Gisela, Melitta’s mother, knew it wasn’t her own baby but was forced to take the baby she was given. She would never give up until she found her own baby, which occurred after searching and asking questions of many people. Melitta was on her doorstep one day and Gisela knew immediately that this was her own baby girl.

The family, Oskar Mohr and Gisela, lived in Romania. They were both born just before the beginning of WW I. They made plans to move to Germany not knowing the events coming in a few years. They did make the move but they had to dispose of almost every possession since they had no way to move any goods with them except the clothes on their back and one suitcase. One prized possession was a sewing machine the family could not leave behind, so they broke it down and hid all the parts in a baby buggy for their travel to Weimar, Germany.

The war years went on with much of Germany being bombed, decimating most of the buildings making most of the residents leave for a safer place, if one could be found. The family eventually settled in Augsburg, Germany, a beautiful town that became their home in the west. Any travel was dangerous. One never knew how many or of what attitude would be held by the Russians, then in control of East Berlin, during the many stops required to go anywhere. The family got on to the last train leaving East Berlin traveling to West Berlin, controlled by the Americans. Most of the book contains the story of the entire family and explained mostly through what Oskar and Gisela had passed along to Melitta. The book is short but full of details of life as the family was forced to live it. Read it and learn about the wonderful life Melitta has had since.

Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane

Moonlight MileReviewed by Elizabeth Sheehan

The story takes place in the Boston, MA area. Twelve years earlier Amanda McCready was kidnapped. This was actually done by rogue police who then placed her in a loving home. She is found by PI’s Patrick Kenzie and his wife Angela Gennaro. Patrick insists on returning her to her mother Helene who to be honest is a poor example of a parent. He has always questioned his decision. Amanda now 16 along with her friend Sophie are now missing again. Patrick & Angela are again asked to investigate. Then a mystery begins with Patrick being beaten and his laptop taken by someone associated with the Russian mob.

Shards of War — Fleeing To & From Uzbekistan by Michael G. Kesler

Shards of WarReviewed by Cy Hilterman

Many books have been written about the inhumane killing of the Jewish people during WW II by the Germans. This book tells first hand about the horrible atrocities committed not only by the Germans but also by those working with the Germans.

Michael Kesler and his sister, Luba, were raised in Dubno in the Ukraine and fled their home on June 24, 1941, ahead of the advancing German armies, leaving their parents behind. Michael tells the story of their dangerous travels deep into the Soviet Union to avoid the conflagration. They spent the brutal winter months in a town near Stalingrad where they nearly perished from hunger and cold. Next summer, they had to flee again and reached Stalingrad, where they were able to miraculously escape from the city under siege and subsequently made their way to central Asia, where Michael became a veterinarian assistant living among Uzbeks. Two years later, Luba became critically ill with typhoid and, comatose for over a month, nearly died. Upon her recovery, the siblings moved to Samarkand, where Michael became a weaver.

By Other Means (Defending the Future Series Book Three) by Mike McPhail

By Other MeansReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

If you enjoy reading Military Science Fiction (MilSF), and want to check out the best short stories by some of today’s most renowned MilSF authors, then the anthology By Other Means (Defending the Future series Book Three) is definitely for you! I have read & reviewed the first two anthologies in the Defending the Future series, Breach the Hull and So It Begins, and really liked the short stories in it, and By Other Means continues in this trend. The only difference that I can see is perhaps a thematic one, as many of the stories in By Other Means are related to achieving minor or major victories over foes not necessarily through raging battles, but by–as the title suggests–other means. I can’t get into each of the fifteen excellent stories in the collection, but I’ll touch on a few of the anthology’s highlights.

By Other Means opens with “Mother of Peace,” by James Chambers. Something went horribly wrong with the Centry program, which wedded mobile weapons of war with human brains of soldiers who died in battle and still wanted to continue at least a partial sort of existence and serve their country. All of the human brain-directed machines shut down at the same time, and this resulted in prolonging a lengthy and costly war. Dr. Bell (one of the original scientists behind the Centry program), Corporal Dolan, Sergeant Tanner, and the telepathic being Calypso try to locate one of the machines and figure out why it and the others stopped, and how to reactivate them. If possible, her main objective is to find not just any of the Centry machines, but one that houses the brain of Captain Bowman, who was the love of her life. None of their individual nor collective lives, to Dr. Bell, is as important as reactivating the Centry machines and bringing about an end to the war.

The second story is “Cybermarine” by Bud Sparhawk. This is somewhat similar to the first story, in that soldiers at the very point of death have the option to continue to serve their countries, but not in mobile machines. Instead, they are given new seven-foot-tall bodies, with multiple eyes that can see different ranges of light. They are stronger than the other soldiers, and are kept segregated from the rest of the crew in general because of their rather monstrous appearances. The first-person narrator relates some of the ways they help in battle, and the story shifts between the chasing down of an enemy spaceship and its attempted capture, and what happens to the narrator when he has to face the decision to become a cybermarine, himself. “Winslow, Harold,” is a cybermarine who the narrator is especially struck with, and who influences the narrator’s ultimate decision.

Pursuit of Happiness by Sheldon Greene (Review #2)

Pursuit of HappinessReviewed by Cy Hilterman

I had read the description of the book as written by the author and expected to find myself “grabbed from the first page” but I was not so grabbed! The beginning and for quite a few pages was used to describe the books characters, surrounding nature, the description of the clothing, and in general, the times. However, after the first part of the book things got very interesting as more of the Revolutionary War and the characters of that war were introduced making the reader then “be grabbed”! The authors’ descriptive writing made the story very intriguing. You will meet George Washington and many of the military and government leaders of the day.

Amelia Sayre was married to Duncan seemingly in name only. Duncan promised much but rarely followed through, such as the six-months in Europe that never materialized. Duncan also wanted no parts of children, a fact that Amelia found so wrong for a married couple. Amelia would look out to the sea waiting for ships to sail into port hoping that something new would arise from that arrival. Amelia had her friends and Rachel was probably the closest. Slavery was very much a part of the times. Some slaves were given some freedom within the family they worked for but were never totally free. They took their unbearable punishment if they did not obey to the letter of their masters.

Joshua Rutledge was a Quaker and Quakers are pacifists, or are supposed to be and Joshua strongly believed that that was the way to live during these times of war. He would not fight even though many in the government tried to talk him into helping the Americans, knowing what a leader he was. General George Washington and some of his military leaders figured they could get Joshua to help by conveying information back and forth. This would give them valuable information that only a select leader like Joshua could dig for. Reluctant at first he gave in and started valuable trips to areas where he could ascertain figures, materials, ammunition, weapons, and many other sorts of information not available in normal ways. One of his first assignments was to find a ship to transport munitions back to America. Joshua’s family was barrel makers. The barrels sometimes were shipped with no content but usually containing various kinds of goods, including munitions. He became involved in various shipments while he tried to find the “right” ship to carry his cargo. He was taken to many parts of the globe and met many interesting people from many nationalities. Joshua’s love was Amelia. Even though she was married he wanted her for his wife. The love would not leave him. He would be with several other women in friendship and for sex but Amelia never left his heart.

Act of Deceit: A Harlan Donnally Novel by Steven Gore

Act of DeceitReviewed by Julie Moderson

Steven Gore improves every time he writes another book and I wouldn’t have believed that he could improve. Each of his novels becomes my favorite until the next one comes out.

Donnally is a former detective and he is asked by a dying friend to find his younger sister that he hasn’t seen since he was young. Donnally promises to find her and deliver a letter to her. Little does he know that this promise will take him on a wild adventure to find the young woman. Donnally finds himself doing battle against very powerful and wealthy people on both sides of the border. He is driven to keep the promise to his dear friend and discovers demons he never imagined he would find but keeps going until he knows what really happened.

In the Time of Bobby Cox by Lang Whitaker

In the Time of Bobby CoxReviewed by Allen Hott

If you like baseball this is a good book. If you like the Atlanta Braves this is a great book. If you like Bobby Cox this may be one of the greatest books you will ever read.

Lang Whitaker is and has been a die-hard Atlanta Braves fan for many years. He followed them before they became “America’s Team” and he is still following them today. In his book he explains how he and quite often his Dad have sat on their couch and watched the Braves win and, oh yes, sometimes lose.

He explains how he has “helped” Bobby Cox manage the Braves from his couch. Not always agreeing with Cox’s moves but always still a fan and a believer in Cox overall.

While going on about the Braves and Cox, Whitaker also gives you an up-close and personal look at his life. How and why he did what he did and how and why he became a sports enthusiast, commentator, writer, and blogger. He has written for many of the top magazines and newspapers in the country as well as being a columnist for His credentials are varied and well deserved.