Category Archives: Novel

Augie’s War by John H. Brown

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Pretty interesting story about Augie Compton who though he is in Vietnam seems to spend a lot of “thinking” time about his life back in Riverview, West Virginia. As the days and weeks go by away from home he continues to go back in his mind to his very close Italian family and his adventures growing up while working part time in his grandfather’s bakery. Those “lookbacks” do a lot for developing this story and keep it moving. Anyone who has spent time not only in the military but also out of the United States while in the service knows how often the reminiscing goes on in the mind.

Augie lucked out in many ways when after graduating from college with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature. First off he was quickly drafted into the Army. Because of his background, however, after basic training he was assigned to Advanced Individual Training. On completion he attained the rank of quartermaster. He had hopes of going to Germany or someplace like that but as he feared he got assigned to Vietnam. Along the way to make matters worse two of his former friends who were already over in Nam were killed and this really made his thoughts grow even darker.

The Ashorne’s Ingress by Seamus Eaton

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Truly a prolific read, Seamus Eaton’s The Ashorne’s Ingress excites the imagination with a multifaceted, and complex fantasy epic which proffers to readers an enticing narrative rich with the craftily blended elements of fantasy, horror, gore, magic, science fiction, and sex.

Initially, events start out on earth, the year is 2020 and we are introduced to the focal character William Gentry, who is in the midst of a softball game when his whole world comes tumbling down as he receives the news that his family was severely injured in a freak kitchen accident, that leaves his wife and son dead, and his daughter’s life hanging in the balance. Meanwhile, as he struggles with his emotions and the devastation of the loss, William finds himself approached by two beings claiming to be ambassadors from a land called Arba, located on another world. Claiming to have knowledge of his true identity and legacy, they extend to him a very odd offer, that if accepted would lead to saving his daughter’s life, and possibly more, they only catch is he has to drown himself in a specific river, at a specific time and carry with him an odd triangle they left with him called the Germ of Reismyl. Distraught, in disbelief and teetering on the edge of insanity, he initially misses the opportunity to take the plunge, resulting in the unfortunate death of his daughter.

Don’t Wake Up: A Novel by Liz Lawler

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Imagine waking up stripped of your clothes, strapped to an operating table, and threatened with unimaginable physical cruelty. This is what happens to Dr. Alex Taylor, who works at a hospital in Bath, England. After Alex’s terrifying experience, she is convinced that she was violated, however, no physical proof exists that supports her story. Alex’s life takes a downward spiral, as she tries to convince everyone the attack was real and not a delusion. She starts drinking too much. When a pregnant nurse dies, Alex is convinced the same person who tortured her is responsible. No one believes Alex’s allegation. It appears as if Alex needs psychological help, and deadly incidents involving her only make things worse. Relationships with her colleagues and boyfriend suffer, and Alex worries she is losing her grip on reality.

In Don’t Wake Up, Liz Lawler expertly utilizes multiple third person point of view. Lawler only switches character perspectives between chapters or scenes, and it is clear whose eyes readers are looking through. The majority of this engrossing story is told from Alex’s perspective, but readers are also shown the viewpoints of key characters and their reactions to Alex’s claim of an attack. The different viewpoints pull readers deeper into the heart of the story in which Lawler skillfully interweaves not only things such as criminal acts, police investigations, prejudice, disloyalty, jealousy, violence, and dedication but also the effects of psychological trauma, overindulgence in alcohol, and reliance on anxiety medication.

The Dumb Class: Boomer Junior High by Mike Hatch

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

The Dumb ClassAuthor Mike Hatch delivers originality and spunk with his The Dumb Class: Boomer Junior High; a retrospective coming of age story that unflinchingly provides readers with a gritty, humorous, and boldly creative romp through life with a group of Junior High school friends.

Taking place in the 1960s, the story follows “baby Boomer” friends Bill Jones, Eddie, Jeff, and Harley through their formative years in Boomer Junior High school. Events are detailed by Bill Jones who is also the story’s protagonist. As a whole, the teens are a cast of tenacious, drinking, smoking, sexing and scheming set of youth whose friendships and wit carry them through many escapades and life experiences. Jones, in particular, makes for a captivating character to follow. He has wit and a peculiar charm and albeit. Although in the lowest of the class designations in the junior high school, “the dumb class” he seems to be one of the smartest and conniving.

Instantly intriguing from its outset the story draws your attention along with piquing the interest with an opening scene of a crudely humorous debate about the female anatomy, being held by the group of friends, which serves to bring the diverse main players into focus and sets the tone for the story as one replete with humor, raw depictions of life and teen behavior. As the story progresses, it follows their adventures, experiences, and explorations fueled by raunchy desires, cursing, teen angst, drugs, alcohol as well as other diversions like revenge. As characters, their unique personalities and interactions drive the story forward, while heralding authenticity via infused bits of historical and cultural references.

In Her Bones: A Novel by Kate Moretti

Reviewed by Allen Hott

In Her BonesThis is a very different book. Edie Beckett, the daughter of Lilith Wade, has a hard time understanding and accepting her mother’s killing instincts. Supposedly Lilith has killed as many as five different women and possibly more. She is now in prison on death row and Edie’s brain seems to be deteriorating every day because of the whole situation.

Edie can’t seem to get enough of the families that have been hurt by her mother’s actions. However as she begins getting closer to them (under pretenses of course) she discovers many things.

In most cases Edie pretty well stays away from too close a contact because she doesn’t want them to know who she is. She actually becomes so infatuated however with one of the men that she meets up with him and things go very far.

Other than that one Edie does seem to just hover in the background scoping the families out. And all the time Edie’s own brain appears to be getting more and more confused. She begins having problems staying in touch with her own brother with whom she has been very close her whole life.

Not too unusual is the breakup, however, as her brother is also having many problems with his own thinking and behaving. The two of them do remain somewhat close, in a strange way, up to the end when everything appears to be falling apart between them.

That breakup at first seems to be really bothering Edie but she not only moves on pretty much on her own but she seems to almost be getting better in some of her actions.

However when she does hook up with that one man from her mother’s past everything seems to not fall apart but actually blow up. And none of it is good for Edie.

Quite a book overall, that I attempted several times to put down and quit reading. Mainly because of all the different characters who kept popping up. Not only did they seem to appear for no reason but they also did not seem to fit in the part of the story where they appeared.

I am not sure that I would recommend this one but also not sure that I would degrade it. So much of it turned out very well in the end but it seems like there were lots of problems getting to that place. Give it a good read (don’t quit on it) and see what your thoughts are!

Mighty Mary by Tony Scaringe

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Mighty MaryMighty Mary is a fascinating work of fiction, based on real-life events, that encompasses the sport of international yacht racing and the first all-women’s team to vie for the America’s Cup in 1995. Tony Scaringe expertly portrays the obstacles faced by the women who were breaking new ground by competing in a male dominated sport. Readers gain an inside perspective into the concerted undertaking and unwavering commitment necessary in order for this momentous event to take place.

The prologue, chapter and section headings, and epilogue are integral to the storyline. The prologue provides readers with a brief history of the America’s Cup and introduces Dan Cook, the motivator behind the establishment of the women’s team. Interviews with Cook are skillfully interwoven into this story that exemplifies a noteworthy occasion in history. The chapter headings, as well as section headings within chapters, do not interrupt the flow of the story. Specifically, the headings are an invaluable source of information by giving readers each chapter’s theme, along with making it easy to follow changes in locations, events, and timeframes. The epilogue includes uplifting and appreciative comments in recognition of not only the women’s team but also their advocates. Moreover, these remarks are made by men who are instrumental in changing the perception of women’s ability to compete against men in yacht racing. In addition, the epilogue includes a meeting with the press in 1995. This encounter brings into question whether or not a man may have negatively affected a key performance.

Bollywood Invasion by Ricardo Alexanders

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Bollywood InvasionAt once engaging and cleverly creative, Ricardo Alexanders’ Bollywood Invasion enrapts readers with a fun and fantastical coming of age story, set in a well posed merging of reality and fiction which surpasses the reaches of time and continents.

Instantly the story draws you in, as initially, we meet John Palmieri living in modern times in Brooklyn; he’s a nerd and Beatles lover in high school and unsatisfied with his lower middle class existence. Things start with him in the throes of a dream, once again being bested by his arch-enemy Frank Castellano. He loathes Frank, who seems to have so much more than John; smarter mouth, bigger house, more friends, better stuff, including, the attention of the girl he secretly loves -Samantha.

The real adventure begins when fate crashes into his life, via an accident, knocking John unconscious. When John awakes, he finds himself in a parallel existence, where he has been transported back in time to late 1950’s, India. He wakes up as eighteen year old Raj Scindia, a prince in the Indian royal family. Naturally, he’s initially confused by his sudden transportation to a completely foreign life and culture with many humorous moments ensuing as he tries to wrap his head around what has happened to him.

Ward (The Ward Triumvirate Book 1) by Kyle Waller

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

WardFar from just another dystopia, Kyle Waller’s Ward creates an immersive universe of inviting darkness. The action packed pages will easily grip your attention.

To begin with, this story has no heroes, in the classical sense, only villains. After the main character is faced with the following proposal: Up the river? Or down in the dirt? He ends up in the prison-city of what once was Sacramento California. The Ward is a place of no redemption, only survival. On one hand, the condemned must face nature, as ash keeps snowing over the land. But on the other hand, far more dangerous are the people who inhabit these parts. As the inhabitants are divided into several groups competing for some very limited resources, the power-plays that emerge are the main threat. Well, Kyle Waller throws his main character in the midst of this ongoing war, thus allowing the reader to jump straight into the action.

However, beyond all the action and thrill of Ward, there is a more serious issue underlining the entire narrative, mental illness. While at certain points its presence becomes blatantly obvious, at other times, it is much more subtle. It is this subtleness that I found more impressive. In these cases, it resembles an invisible presence, something that you can’t see, but can only feel. And this sensation of uneasiness is masterfully woven into the pages of the novel. Setting aside the story line, the book can serve as an incentive to prompt more dialogue on this often ostracized subject, which in reality as well, lurks mostly in the shadows.

On The Corner: A Novel of Lifelong Friendship by S.J. Tagliareni

Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

On the CornerDid you have a best friend who was there for you during the good times and difficult times in your life? This is the story of On the Corner.

Sal and his childhood friend, Michael have been there for each other. It is difficult to imagine what would have happened had they not been there to provide the emotional support to each other during the many events that took place over the years.

The reader will follow the story of these two men as they face many situations in life; marriage, deaths of loved ones, going their separate ways to college and reconnecting again.

Once you read On the Corner, it will make you really appreciate someone you might have known like Sal and Michael. Sometimes we take friends for granted but this story will make you take a second look at your close friends. Even if you have lost contact with a close friend, On the Corner will make you want to search for that person so you can reconnect again.

The Eagle Has Flown by Jack Higgins

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Eagle Has FlownQuite a story about an event that supposedly happened during World War II. It is fiction but all the happenings could have taken place unbeknownst to the world at the time.

An attempt was made to kidnap Winston Churchill by a segment of the German Army. There seems to have been a difference of opinion among the higher-ups as to whether it would be a good idea or not. However not only did it not work but in the end a very well- known and highly respected colonel in the German Army was captured. He was then supposedly put into the Tower of London but this too was not a publicized event. In fact both the Germans and English kept that part of the operation a secret. The Germans especially wanted it kept quiet because it was a plot by Himmler and not by Hitler.

Sometime thereafter a group of Germans decide to retrieve Colonel Kurt Steiner from captivity. Himmler pretty much had his own group that was somewhat loyal to Hitler and the Fascists. However another group including a General Schellenberg, was more loyal to Germany and not so much to Hitler.