The Extraordinarily Ordinary Life of Prince: Everybody’s Good at Something by Prince A. Sanders

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Several things make a children’s book iconic, like addressing pressing social issues, speaking to adults and children alike, and the test of time. The only box that “The Extraordinarily Ordinary Life of Prince: Everybody’s Good at Something” has left to tick is the test of time. Freshly out of the press, Prince A. Sanders’ book continues building a magically creative universe.

This is the second piece of a puzzle that reflects the author’s childhood. The series is infused with a strongly personal note that immediately disarms the reader, leaving them open to the full magnitude of the experience. The short book is more than just a read; it is an experience of how the world of adults and children intersect.

Seven-year-old Prince is at an age driven by exploration. He spends many recesses chasing after the secrets and wonders of nature. It soon dawns on his classmates that Prince does not follow the script. While his older brother is a star athlete at the school, Prince fails to prevail at sports and live up to his brother’s reputation. Shortly, Prince starts feeling more of an outsider and, worst of all, a stranger to himself.

Prince grows to accept that his path is different from his brother’s and what others might expect of him. But he is yet unaware of where his own path will take him. The road ahead is cleared when he least expects it, at a ballet performance. When the whole family goes to watch a show, Prince becomes entranced by the organic movements of the performers and longs to be part of the magical universe.

Mystery at the Blue Sea Cottage: A True Story of Murder in San Diego’s Jazz Age by James Stewart

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Reaching back in time to the roaring 20’s in southern California, author James Stewart’s debut work, Mystery at the Blue Sea Cottage, offers a compelling view of the intricacies of an unsolved homicide, the murder of young and beautiful, interpretive dancer, Fritzie Mann.

Based on years of research, this true-crime narrative poses an adept tracing of the history of this once sensationalized murder mystery brought forth through a multi-faceted lens which explores not only the murder but journalistic behaviors, the investigative processes during that era, and a Hollywood sex scandal connection as well as exploring the culture of the time.

Piquing the curiosity from the outset, this work of true crime immediately draws the attention into the fascinating backstory of Fritzie who, for the most part, was a seemingly sensible but “modern” woman in her early twenties who worked to help with her sick sister’s medical bills by dancing. However, to her family, there was an air of mystery in her life when it came to her romantic associations, relationships or dating.

Daughter Of Careful-ish: What Have We Learned? Nothing! by Honey Parker

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Daughter of Careful-ish: What Have We Learned? Nothing! pulls on readers’ heartstrings. It focuses on a group of young adults who are dealing with the vicissitudes of emotions from being socially isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Honey Parker has created an appealing group of characters who come from diverse backgrounds. Each of the characters has been instilled with their own distinctive likes, dislikes, and idiosyncrasies. The group of friends live in New York and participate in weekly video calls filled with both amusing and serious conversations. Readers get a clear picture of what the characters are going through and the motives behind their reactions to emotionally draining circumstances. Part of the story takes place in Florida as one of the characters travels to Florida to stay with her mother, who is recuperating from an accident. The author does an excellent job of showing the different ways in which the characters deal with the stress of being sidelined when it comes to the deprivation of face-to-face contact.

Daughter of Careful-ish will resonate with readers in this fictional accounting of how people deal with an epidemic that blindsided the population. Parker has crafted a book that artfully shows how unforeseen life-altering events can affect people’s jobs and career choices, lifestyle, and social behaviors and interactions with others. The story will reach readers on a deep level and appeal to their emotions. Throughout the story, the characters are riding on a roller coaster of emotions while they are facing unprecedented challenges both in their socioeconomic status and in the effects on interpersonal relationships.

Reprise: A Memorious Tale of Things Present by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Reprise, by Simon Plaster, continues his series of humorous and satirical novels about Henrietta Hebert, who has gone from being an investigative reporter to now being a Private Eye. She figures that being an investigative reporter is not that much different, in that she digs up the dirt on the people she writes about, just like detectives discover all sorts of secrets about whoever they are investigating, and she might as well get the credit for solving a crime or mystery that some inept detective would claim. otherwise.

The trouble is that, at the start of Reprise, Henrietta is not getting any bites. That is, not until one day, a fateful knocking at her door and buzzing at her doorbell launches her new career. When Henrietta answers the door, she sees a woman standing there who introduces herself as Dr. Gloria Stern, and she explains that she has been searching for Wynona Sue Lehough, namely, Henrietta’s mother. Though Dr. Stern admits that the last time she saw Henrietta’s mother was three years ago, because she is “downsizing her practice,” she suddenly is concerned about Wynona Sue’s whereabouts and wants Henrietta, listed on old paperwork as Wynona’ Sue’s “next of kin,” to find the so-called missing woman, who has been without her meds for a period of years by then. Unbeknownst to Dr. Stern, right at that very moment, Henrietta’s mother is trying to reach her via her daughter’s “eye-phone.”

Dr. Stern has some rather potentially serious news to tell Henrietta. Based on her knowledge of Wynona Sue’s somewhat flighty and unstable mental state, Dr. Stern says that she believes Wynona Sue likely is responsible for having killed her husband, Henrietta’s step-father, Professor Alexander Lehough. As it’s also been reported that Wynona Sue fired a gun into the floorboards of her house, when her husband of five years plus was underneath the house tending to some of his insect “pets,” that idea is not, in theory, beyond the realm of possibility.

Who, Me? Fog Bows, Fraud and Aphrodite: Macavity and Me Mystery Book 2 by Charlotte Stuart

Reviewed by Daniel Ryan Johnson

Who, Me? Fog Bows, Fraud and Aphrodite is a classic who-done-it. Bryn Baczek is a consultant living on a boat in Seattle with her strong-willed cat Macavity and an ailing goldfish who is fourth in line to the name of Bubbles. Due to too much coffee resulting in a late-night need to use the bathroom, Bryn overhears a heated argument on a neighbor’s boat, followed by a splash and silence.

From there, Bryn is not-so-reluctantly pulled into a mystery involving a missing woman, Captain America pajamas, questionable taste in art, scuba diving in the dark, a non-profit organization, a post-it note, a poker game, a stuffy auditor, and a pseudonym. While Bryn tries to play the part of a witness who is just trying to do her duty for justice, it is clear that she is very much enjoying her chance to play Sherlock Holmes. Bryn takes the one loose thread that lies in front of her and keeps pulling until the whole sweater has come unraveled. While Bryn continues to share her knowledge with the police throughout, she does so only after investigating each clue herself.

Charlotte Stuart presents us with a fun mystery, which, despite moments of darkness, generally plays as a light-hearted caper. Stuart has created well-rounded, intriguing characters to populate her story. Told from the first-person perspective, we get a thorough look into Bryn’s psyche and discover more about her than she is even willing to admit to herself.

The Bubble by Joseph Patenaude (Author) Mauro Lirussi (Illustrator)

Reviewed by Teri Takle

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to experience the freedom of complete weightlessness and to float on gentle wind currents? Unfortunately, to experience total relaxation as if you were a bubble can only be imagined if you were a bubble. The Bubble is that story.

Blowing bubbles is a delight for people of all ages. It is hypnotic to follow their paths as they maneuver through the air. This thought captured Joseph Patenaude’s thoughts as he observed his children blowing bubbles and developed those memories into a children’s book, The Bubble.

The Bubble is a read-aloud book for children aged two to eight. The basic setting is a coastal environment, so it is an excellent opportunity to enrich different types of places people live.

Lush illustrations match each text word perfectly, emphasizing the environmental settings such as autumn leaves, new springtime life, mountainous regions, stormy seas, colorful marine life, forests, lakes, and fields.

For example, as a storm approaches, the reader experiences the sheer fear of being a bubble encaptured inside its surroundings, being pushed by the wind, crashing into waves, and even hiding in the water. This picturesque perspective is an illustration of the story.

The Storm by Val Bardash

Reviewed by Timea Barbaras

The Storm” by Val Bardash is a beautifully written tale about intimacy in its many forms. Intimacy between family, friends, even strangers… and also the empty space between us. But above all else, the void that we all carry around within us. A bottomless black hole that we try to fill with love, tenderness, adventures, or writing.

The book follows two main stories that become interwoven, that of youth and of aging. A young aspiring writer tries to find himself and his estranged father through writing. Perhaps the one thing that connects them, beyond blood. The books written by his famous father, John Stark, become a window through which the son can glance at an image of a father figure. But the figure is distorted. It is uncertain which features are real and which are carefully crafted by the Stark’s pen.

The author showcases throughout the pages how years of life and living transform some raw innate elements while washing over others without leaving a mark. The characters seem to be lost souls aimlessly wandering in the modern wilderness desperate to reach a clearing. For the main protagonists, the coveted clearing was, in fact, a mountain, a place of solitude, rest, and death. They were drawn to this beacon of resolution for similar reasons, and on their journey, they discovered not only themselves but each other as well.

They Call Me Ms: A Vic Carella Mystery by Terry Adcock

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

They Call Me Ms. takes place in the Washington metropolitan area and introduces readers to Private Investigator Vic Carella. Mitch Goldberg hires Vic to locate his stolen luxury yacht. What Vic thinks is just a simple problem of tracking down a missing vessel turns into a challenging and dangerous adventure as Mitch was not forthcoming when Vic agreed to take on the case. It comes to light Mitch is tangled up with a criminal organization that engages in arms smuggling, money laundering, and human trafficking.

Mitch’s dead body turns up before Vic figures out who might have hidden the yacht and its location. Vic’s inquiries to determine who killed Mitch and his involvement in illegal and nefarious activities bring her to the attention of miscreants. She comes up against seemingly inescapable and life-threatening situations. Concurrently with Vic, law enforcement officials are investigating. Who will prevail? Will the individuals engaged in unlawful activities get away with their crimes or be stopped by Vic and/or police and government agencies?

The novel is a terrific debut in A Vic Carella Mystery series. Vic, the newly featured female private detective, tells the story from her point of view. Terry Adcock’s writing style lets readers get a first-hand look into Vic’s emotional and behavioral responses to ethical dilemmas. All the characters are imbued with distinctive personality traits, which affect their approach and reaction to situations. New challenges and more complications for the characters make readers want to know what will happen next. How complicated will their personal lives become? Can they overcome obstacles in their way? The profanity chosen by Adcock suits the characters.

Third Watch: A Tracy Crosswhite Short Story by Robert Dugoni

Reviewed by Allen Hott

A short but very interesting one by Dugoni about Tracy Crosswhite, whom Dugoni has written about previously. She is a police officer in Belltown a suburb of Seattle and has been doing a very good job. On this particular night she had spent some time being interviewed by a local newspaper reporter who was doing an article not only about women police officers but those who worked Third Shift.

Tracy worked it because she liked the overall peace and quiet on the latest shift of the day for police officers. And she felt like she was doing a job that needed to be done….policing the streets not only late at night but into the morning hours.

However on this night it became more than just a normal policing of the streets. Tracy got a call to follow up on a call made to the police about a loud argument and what sounded like a major disturbance. On arriving at the scene she finds a woman who had called in and who then told Tracy that a man, woman, and two small girls were in an apartment where the argument was going on. She was fearful for the woman and the girls.

From there the story gets very into the happenings at the scene when Tracy hears where the apartment is located. She heads for that spot after telling the reporter who was accompanying her to stay in the vehicle.

Unfaithful by Natalie Barelli

Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

Anna is very happy with her world. She is married to Luis and they have two children. Anna is an associate math professor and Luis is an artist.

Anna has been working with Alex, one of her students, on solving a math problem. They are both convinced that this is going to change their lives. Something went terribly wrong when Alex is found dead. Was it suicide? Was it murder?

When Anna heard about Alex’s death, she desperately wanted to talk to Luis. She called him several times but got no answer. She went to his studio and he was not there. However, she did see two wine glasses. Was Luis having an affair? When he returned home and she asked him where he was all evening, he told her he was at the studio. She knew he was lying.

Anna accompanies Luis to one of his art exhibitions. It is here that she realized what was going on. She could see how taken Luis seemed to be when he looked at Isabelle. She now knows that her fears about an affair are true. Anna decides to confront Isabelle. What happens is shocking!

Now You See Her by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The story is pretty much all about Nina Bloom who today is a mother with a teen-age daughter who live in the New York city area but Nina has many ties to south Florida. She works now in a highly paid job and lives very well but always in the back of her mind the trials and tribulations of the past do reappear to remind her of the past.

Her past seems to have consisted of her hitting/killing a man while she was inebriated. That incident never seems to leave her mind as she grows older, marries, divorces, moves north and then back to Florida. All this time although she is doing well and appears to be a pretty much good mother to her daughter and a great worker in her law firm. She learns that her former husband has worked his way through the police department and is now chief of police in the south Florida town. She doesn’t understand how he got away with what he did and hid it so well.

Henry, Himself: A Novel by Stewart O’Nan

Reviewed by Allen Hott

This is quite a different book. No violence, no sex, just very good interesting writing about a 75 year old man and how he lives his life. Henry Maxwell is a retired engineer and former soldier who lives with his wife in the Pittsburgh area and stays busy by “puttering around”.

He is well educated and also is a good do-it-your-selfer. He and his wife, Emily of fifty plus years, have children who are somewhat distant but still relevant in his life. He spends most of his time walking his dog, Rufus, and doing all types of maintenance jobs around his home especially the yard and fence area.

Much of the time his mind is working as to what kind of life did he live and was it a good one for those connected to him. He worries that he wasn’t a good man but all indicators say that he was and is. His children all love him, his wife loves him, and the folks in the neighborhood think highly of him.

Stone Cold (The Camel Club Book 3) by David Baldacci

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The famous Camel Club belonging to David Baldacci’s series of books comes back in Stone Cold. As is usually the case Oliver Stone is the main character and as a government investigator he is knee deep in a story of wealth and murder. Stone himself is quite different in this one as he is not known by that name but was known as John Carr, another longtime investigator.

And as John Carr he was supposedly killed and buried! But then someone dug that body up and the grave is now empty so is John Carr alive and well or was someone else buried in the grave? That whole mystery is only one part of Stone Cold as Oliver Stone works his way around trying to solve murders and save folks from being murdered.

One of the main culprits happens to be Jerry Bagger who is the casino king. At the present time Bagger is very interested in finding Annabelle Conroy, a very pretty con woman who managed by hook or crook to get a tremendous amount of money from one of his casinos! She has since disappeared and is no doubt on the run with the cash.