Daily Archives: September 20, 2011

Green Pearl Odyssey by Reilly Ridgell

Green Pearl Odyssey Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Ridgell is an author with a mission. He has composed a travelogue of Micronesia while throwing in some adventure and thrill. The intriguing descriptions of the culture, the politics of several different islands, and living the life of an American in the South Pacific provide a rich tapestry upon which the author weaves his story.

Scott Taylor, a former Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV), married an island native. They returned to the U.S. and tried to start a new life there. All these plans were cut short by a drive by shooting aimed at Scott’s brother, and Scott’s wife was killed as collateral damage. Scott’s mind is numb with the pain and loss. He executes the killer who happens to also be the son of a Mafia boss.

Scott runs away from the consequences of his actions and attempts to hide with relatives and friends throughout Micronesia. On the way he rediscovers himself, his love of the islands and the islanders as well.

Although character development is lacking in all but Scott himself, the breathtaking vistas and relaxing island culture make this indeed an odyssey worth following. There is a great development in Scott’s character and maturity as he lucks out time and again in being pursued by various lackeys and hit men.

There are several conversations where philosophies and reasons for service in the Peace Corps; in Micronesia and the effect of American Manifest Destiny on the islanders as a whole are discussed and very reasonable arguments are made.

A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard

A Stolen LifeReviewed by Nancy Eaton

I knew A Stolen Life would be a difficult book to read due to the subject matter. I wanted to read this book to see how a young girl could survive so many years of abuse. There were also many questions in my mind such as why didn’t Jaycee try to escape from her captors. I was more determined to read this book after watching the interview Diane Sawyer conducted with Jaycee.

Phillip and Nancy Garrido kidnapped Jaycee one morning while she was walking to her school bus stop. She was eleven at the time. During these years, Jaycee learned what to do and what not to do to upset her captors. Her days were filled with loneliness. As the years passed, Jaycee learned how to plant a garden and help Phillip with a printing business. She cared for many animals that Phillip brought to her. She lived in a tent and had no real toilet. It is chilling to think she lived like this for so many years! All through the book you will wonder about the authorities that are supposed to prevent things like this from happening.

Jaycee wrote this book in her own words. Granted, she is not a professional editor but she does an excellent job of telling her story. It amazes me that Jaycee writes so well considering the fact that she had a fifth grade education. In writing this memoir, she was very frank and gave very detailed descriptions about what happened to her during all those years of captivity. Yes, all of my questions were answered. What helped her most during all of those years was remembering the love she has for her mother and the hope that one day she would be reunited with her again. Another factor that helped to give Jaycee the strength to go on was the love for her two daughters who were born during her captivity. They helped to fill the void that caused her to be so lonely.

The Accident: A Thriller by Linwood Barclay

The AccidentReviewed by Teri Davis

Sometimes one event in your life can seem like a domino with it causing more problems than you could ever imagine. This one event is the domino that causes everything else to collapse.

Glen Garber owns his own company which builds houses. Unfortunately with the recent economic problems and the downward spiral in the housing market, it is causing some money problems at home. His wife, Sheila, is taking a business class at the local college so that she can assist with the bookkeeping for Glen’s business and might be able to get another job on the side to help with the family finances.

However, their lives change dramatically when Sheila is killed in a car accident. Apparently, she was drunk and attempted to drive. Her car was involved in a head-on collision facing the wrong way on an interstate on-ramp killing Sheila and two people in the other car.

Glen is home with his daughter, Kelly, when the accident happens. His wife is suppose to be at class but apparently she skipped class tonight. As Glen looks for her vehicle, he sees the police and immediately sees the situation. The police let him know that the accident was his wife’s fault and they already know that she was intoxicated.

Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff

Lost in Shangri-laReviewed by Cy Hilterman

A true historic story of survival in the jungles of New Guinea amidst natives whose lives and actions with outsiders was probably non-existent. I am sure this is but one unknown great story that occurred during WW II. Amidst tales of the type of people that live in this remote area on earth, some military pilots wondered over the area as low as possible to see what they might discover, only to find the area almost completely covered in growth of some type with a tiny glimpse of what was thought to be native villages here and there. They knew there were people living there but were they friendly? Were they cannibals? What did they eat? What did they wear, if anything? Would they be receptive to outsiders? All those questions are mostly answered in this story. There were also some Japanese troops rumored to be on parts of the island, which created a double danger.

When messages started to be delivered telling the loved ones of military lost or missing in action, the families involved were deeply saddened and were left “on hold” for a final answer regarding their loved ones. The Patrick Hastings family in Owego, NY was one of those families. Their daughter, Margaret Hastings, was missing in Dutch New Guinea and any further information would be “promptly” sent. Margaret was a beautiful young woman who enlisted in the WAC’s (Women’s Army Corps) to do her part in the war, which for women was generally ferrying airplanes from place to place, to free up the men. The Air Force wanted to build a landing strip on the island so they sent several planes over the island to determine a site for the strip. A pilot thought he saw such a place for a landing strip so another pilot followed his flight and decided to fly into a deep valley surrounded by treacherous cliffs and mountains. Colonel Ray Elsmore dropped down to investigate the valley and ended up making a fast climb up to avoid the mountains that were mainly shrouded in fog or mist. But he did see the valley fairly well noting many villages surrounded by walls and containing deep vegetation. He took many pictures to show the area to his superiors and for his own future use thinking he would like to investigate this beautiful but dangerous terrain.

Act of Deceit: A Harlan Donnally Novel by Steven Gore (Review #2)

Act of DeceitReviewed by Jud Hanson

For Harlan Donnally, it begins with a dying friend’s last request: to find his sister that he took to a commune after he discovered their father abusing her. Donnally agrees, not knowing if he’ll be able to find her or if the commune in question even still exists. He discovers not only was the sister murdered but her killer was never brought to trial, due to his supposed mental incompetence. Donnally digs deeper and finds himself caught up in a conspiracy that crosses international borders involving the Catholic Church, crooked cops and the abuse of young children. He’s made a promise, however, and won’t give up until gets the answers he seeks.