Category Archives: Fiction

Grasp: Poems, Prose, and Essays by David Yuen

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

A penetrating observation of life portrayed through the lens of an astutely perspective awareness, David Yuen’s Grasp offers a collection of his literary mentations through poems, prose, and essays.

The variety that author Yuen presents makes for a creative mixture of literate inserts flowing with emotions, life lessons, spirituality, and intelligent inspiration. Meanwhile, there is no particular order to the book as a whole, but the reading still flows well with each narrative in the book bringing forward engaging food for thought.

Initially, what captures the attention within this book is the demonstration of author Yuen’s engaging writing skills starting with “Grasp” a chronicle that flows well while vividly setting the thoughtful framework of the interconnected elements of life, both seen and unseen, for the remainder of the work. In total, this is a work rife with the spiritual and worldly complexities of living life in this modern world. Flowing with insightful works like The Lessons So Far, as well as the emotionally inciting Death To Self, this is a book that is overall easily engaging and often keeps one rapt with intelligent dives into the light and dark aspects of being human in an often inhumane world leading to instances of quickly becoming disconnected from one another, as emphasized by his poetic excerpt of life in his poem-Rifts.

Time Off for Good Behavior by Lani Diane Rich

Book Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

It all starts when Wanda Lane was testifying for a case involving the Hastings Gas and Electric Company. They were responsible for the explosion three years ago that destroyed Whittle Advertising. At the same time, the explosion nearly killed Wanda.

After a heated exchange with the defense attorney, whom Wanda called pencil face, she pulled back to take a swing at him. He did not see her swing coming as he turned to look at other Hasting Gas and Electric guys. The witness stand railing gave out and slammed Wanda’s head to the floor. She ended up in the hospital with a concussion and some swelling of the brain.

This was only one of Wanda’s problems. She kept getting calls from her ex-husband. He wanted her to forgive him – other times he would threaten to kill her. Wanda’s parents haven’t spoken to her in years. On top of all this, she lost her job. She is also “hearing” music as a result of her fall.

What can she do? She decides the only answer is to start over.

Behind Closed Doors by Susan R. Sloan

Book Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

When Valerie O’Connor met Jack Marsh, she fell head over heels in love. She met Jack while visiting her sister, Marianne, in Boston. They had several dates and when the time came, Jack just said goodbye to Valerie and told her he would write.

Valerie was unhappy. She had very strong feelings for Jack. In November, Valerie had a big surprise. Someone knocked on the door. Valerie’s father answered. It was a man who said, “Hello, sir, my name is Jack Marsh and I’ve come to marry your daughter.”

Everyone believed this was the beginning of a fairy-tale marriage. Or was it?

As time goes on Valerie realizes how little she really knew about Jack. She was Catholic and believed in her principles of being an ideal wife and mother. Jack, now an airline mechanic, arrives home many times late with the smell of perfume on his clothes. Many times, he is drunk and violent. Valerie puts up with this for some time.

Then, one day, something happened. Jack did something that Valerie could not ignore any longer. What did Jack do? How did Valerie respond?

Sam’s Letters to Jennifer by James Patterson

Book Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

Jennifer has been through a difficult time in her life. Her husband, Danny, and baby were killed in an accident. Jennifer receives an urgent phone call informing her that Sam, her best friend, and grandmother, was in the hospital. Sam packed and was on her way to Lake Geneva where she grew up. When Sam arrived at the hospital, her grandmother was in a coma. Reverend Farley gave her a key to Sam’s house.

When Jennifer arrived at Sam’s house, she was getting ready to place her bag on the vanity table and noticed something already there. It was a stack of about a hundred envelopes each numbered and addressed to Jennifer. Jennifer told Sam that she would like to hear her story one day. Apparently, this was the way Sam wanted to tell Jennifer about her life. Sam explained in the letters that she made a decision to tell Jennifer the secrets that she never told anyone before. As Jennifer began to read the letters, she was in for a big surprise. What was it?

Good Grief by Lolly Winston

Book Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

Sophie Stanton never expected to be such a young widow. She was only thirty-six years old when her husband, Ethan, passed away from cancer. After all, as Sophie states, “widows are supposed to wear horn-rimmed glasses and cardigan sweaters that smell like mothballs”. She had only been married three years. Sophie has a difficult time dealing with her loss and turns to items like Oreos and ice cream to comfort her. She falls apart if a telemarketer calls to ask for Ethan or when she receives mail with his name on it.

Her psychiatrist suggested she attend a form of group therapy to help with her healing. She was thoroughly disgusted with her mother-in-law who wanted to come over and help her clean out Ethan’s clothes so they could be given to Goodwill.

Run for Your Life (Michael Bennett, Book 2) by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Book Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

What has Michael Bennett done to deserve this double whammy?

A psychopath is killing people in New York. He seems to be hung up on his victims’ manners. What do all these killings have in common? The killer, who refers to himself as The Teacher, has a list of people he wants dead. Why?

Detective Michael Bennett is assigned to this case. Just as Michael was set to begin work on this case, his children get sick with the flu. Michael’s wife died a few years ago and he has 10 adopted children. He gets help from his grandfather Seamus who is a Catholic priest and Mary Catherine, the nanny. Could there be a future romantic interest between Michael and Mary Catherine starting to take place?

Case of a Puzzling Book: A Maximo Morgan Mystery by William LeRoy

Book Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Case of a Puzzling Book: A Maximo Morgan Mystery by William LeRoy is a tricky mystery told in a uniquely creative format. Readers are immediately drawn into a rollicking adventure set off by the actions of a baldheaded stranger who goes into the Twisted Sister Coffeehouse in the small town of Henryetta, Oklahoma. Popo Crowder owns the coffee shop that includes a free library book exchange with erotic novels and similar literary fiction as part of the collection. The literary works on the bookshelves are regarded with antipathy by Eppie, her twin sister. Eppie is part of a group that “edits” books of an “objectionable” nature. The differing points of view between Popo and Eppie have created a rift in the sisters’ relationship, which comes into play in the story.

When the baldheaded stranger takes Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence and leaves The Same Old Story by William LeRoy in its place, Popo is perplexed as to why words and sentences are missing from pages in the book. Popo hires private detective Maximo “Max” Morgan, whose role model is private investigator Brad Runyon, a character created by novelist Dashiell Hammett. Popo asks Max to look into why The Same Old Story is the target of intentional defacing of parts of the text. Is there more to the case than meets the eye? Will Max figure out who might be responsible for the vandalism and the purpose behind it?

The Day of the Ferret by Michael Woodman

Book Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

A witty, satirical romp through the political world of the President of the United States, author Michael Woodman’s The Day of the Ferret, craftily intersects politics, intrigue, comedy, and a cast of well-devised, skewed characters into a memorable and overall humorous journey into presidential politics.

Aiming for the jugular of this specific political machine, in this case, the presidency of the United States, this is the type of book that you either dislike or love, due to its undeniable relatability to a former president (especially judging from the front cover of the book) as well as some similarities to some of his antics while in office. Personally, I loved the provocative nature of this book and found it easy to laugh at its often-comical moments.

The story starts out with a sarcastic bang as characters are brought into focus beginning with (ahem) President John Thomas Rump.   He’s narcissistic, gross and a character that you may grow to have a love-hate relationship with. Moreover, facing low approval ratings, and sexual harassment accusations Rump needs something to alter the public view of him and the answer to his political dream comes in the form of an idea from his lawyer and “yes” man Benedetto Luigi Capone, which involves an intriguing entanglement of characters.   In particular, Eve Coronata is beautiful, intelligent and a former beauty queen looking for some payback when it comes to President Rump . The exchange between the two men is hilarious and sets the tone for the rest of the book.  As well, the additional characters who follow, as the story progresses, offer their own unique personality quirks, issues, and machinations into the fray of this wholly engrossing satire.

Overall, I truly and resonantly enjoyed The Day of the Ferret. It was a gritty humorous jaunt into politics, which while reading often made me laugh or smirk. But most of all, this was a story that showcased (to me at least) the human or inhumane conditions that can be brought on by excesses of political privilege and wealth told in a dark humorous way.  Essentially, ensconced in adept storytelling, and told through characters that were gritty and often morally challenged. Overall, author Michael Woodman brought forth a well-written narrative, replete with seedy politics, plot twists and turns, affairs, backstabs and strange friendships, which ultimately made for a great adult themed read which was very entertaining. This is a definite must add to the “want to read” list.

 

 

Grind Slowly, Grind Small: A Big Ray Elmore Novel by Thomas Holland

Reviewed by Daniel Ryan Johnson

Grind Slowly, Grind Small is the second novel by Thomas D. Holland set around Big Ray Elmore, a small-town police chief from Split Tree, Arkansas. You don’t have to have read the previous novel in the series, Their Feet Run to Evil, in order to enjoy this gritty crime drama. However, once you have finished reading, don’t be surprised if you find yourself immediately looking to get more of Big Ray Elmore in your life.

Grind Slowly, Grind Small primarily takes place in 1960 and focuses on the discovery of some old bones dug up during a construction project. The discovery leads Big Ray on a dark path to uncover the truth and bring justice to the long-dead victim. As one would imagine in a small-town murder case, Big Ray is tasked with investigating people he has known his entire life.

Thomas D. Holland does a superb job of making the reader feel like they are in the room with Big Ray every step of the way as he pursues answers about this mysterious skeleton. The picture painted of a small Arkansas town in 1960 is vivid, and the reader is transported back in time. The characters that Holland creates are well fleshed out and easy to visualize. You can almost feel the summer heat and taste the refreshing iced tea as sweat rolls down your cheek.

The Nosferatu Conspiracy: Book Two, The Sommelier by Brian James Gage

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

The Sommelier is the second book in The Nosferatu Conspiracy series by Brian James Gage. A synopsis of the first book, The Sleepwalker, provides an excellent framework for readers in this riveting, chilling, and hair-raising tale that is both unsettling and addictive.

German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II, the ruler of the Prussian Empire, is working toward world domination and searching for the bottle of Vlad Dracula’s blood so that he and his mistress can achieve immortality and conceive a superior and untouchable child personified by evil. Augusta, Wilhelm’s wife, has stooped to devious measures in the hopes of stopping the mistress from becoming her successor.