Category Archives: Novel

Chanting the Feminine Down by James C. McCullagh with Roy McCullagh

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Chanting the Feminine DownOddly enough, when an author subtitles his book it is often more about the author then the book. However, McCullaugh here declares this to be a “Psychological, Religious and Historical Novel,” he is not being disingenuous.

This story is well researched and well documented. It is a tribute to the author’s dedication and abilities in research and correlation of large amounts of data and information. The author provides source references and other interesting information at his website, Chanting the Feminine Down.

The Perfect Match by T. Wayne Bloodworth

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

The Perfect MatchA narrative, both sincere and touching, The Perfect Match by author T. Wayne Bloodworth focuses on the complex and emotion ridden journey of Dr. Zack Folsom, a man living life so mired in doubt, sorrow and guilt, that it takes twisted fate for him to let go and start living life as he should.

Central character, Doctor Zack Folsom, a talented cardiac surgeon, loving husband and father, becomes a man preoccupied, after suddenly losing his wife Emily in a fatal car accident. To avoid the pain of his loss, he throws himself into his work dedicating the majority of his time and energy to his medical practice gaining him the reputation of being “all business” while he constantly wields an irascible and crudely sarcastic disposition.

Although he experiences great success as a competent surgeon, he also deeply feels the emptiness of the void left by his wife’s death. Meanwhile, his only son Brody who is very much in need of a loving relationship with his father especially after the loss of his mother is now raised and cared for by Emily’s family. Consequently, the relationship between father and son eventually festers into a dysfunctional and emotionally fractured relationship as Brody feels ignored and essentially parent-less, and in turn grows to hold onto a deep and resounding resentment against his father.

Dead Wrong (Jason Justice Mystery Book 2) by Ralph Zeta

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Dead WrongJason Justice is a “simple” divorce attorney in West Palm Beach, Florida. He is content with his position and his status. However, he seems to have a predilection toward getting involved in some more mysterious intrigue than would be thought for a divorce lawyer.

He goes to meet a potential client who happens to be a celebrity of note in the area. He doesn’t know what it is about, but assumes Milton Lowry wanted to discuss a divorce as that was his specialty. When he arrives at the designated location, he finds a BMW in front of an old mansion in the middle of the Okeechobee Lake region. There is music playing but nothing else to indicate other people are present.

Naturally, Jason investigates. He comes upon the apparent murder of Mr. Lowry but is knocked unconscious before he can aid.

Thus, begins a great mystery. It is neither obvious nor easy to determine who did what to whom and for what reason.

Jason is an unlikely investigator, but with the help of his private investigator, Sammy Raj, and a few other unlikely participants he seeks justice for Mr. Lowry.

Mr. Lowry comes from money, lots of money, from land investments all over southern Florida. His father was “Bull” Lowry. Apparently, the nickname was more than just a convenient shortening of a name. “Bull” spent a lot of time spreading his genes among many women in the area. The speculation is that there are upwards of 20 offspring that do not fall under the legitimate inheritance laws. Then the story gets more convoluted with the illegitimate children and their mothers getting involved.

That Which Remains: A Novel of Ghosts and Murder (Hometown Ghosts and Legends Book 1) by Terry Daly Karl

Reviewed by Ray Palen

That Which RemainsSet in the upper Western New York State town of Akron, located outside of Buffalo, is the Akron Hotel. This is the location for this outstanding, atmospheric story. To refer to THAT WHICH REMAINS a horror, supernatural or mystery tale would not be enough of a description. This novel contains all of those elements and more.

Author Terry Daly Karl is a resident of Akron and clearly knows the territory. She imbues her story with rich detail while at the same time using a modern-day time-frame to tell a tale that contains the rich elements that have made up classic ghost stories for centuries. THAT WHICH REMAINS includes ghost hunting, séances and a murder mystery which includes an other-worldly character as a potential suspect.

The novel opens with an employee of the Akron Hotel, Jenny Shenandoah, cursing as she has to travel to the upper floors of the Hotel which she firmly believes to be haunted. She believes she sees a ghost and runs to the Hotel Manager Steve and bartender Joe for protection. When the small team investigates things further on the 3rd floor they do not find a ghost. Instead they find the corpse of one of their missing employees, Wendy Kulbrick.

Stainer: A Novel of the ‘Me Decade’ by Iolanthe Woulff

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

StainerHow many friends can a freshly 21-year old Jewish man make in a few days or at least in a few months? Benjamin Steiner is just such a person. He has just turned twenty-one, and he is a junior at Columbia. He lives in a Jewish hostel-type building with several others. The building, Rabbi Yitzhak Teller Memorial Residence Hall, is a converted abandoned building that houses Jewish scholars from Columbia. It is known as Beit Yitzhak or “B.” This is the focal point for much of the action here, but don’t believe for a minute that young Ben, embarking on his 21st birthday celebration, is going to be hampered by old traditions. Tonight is the time to get experience that has been denied him so far in life.

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The story begins as Ben journeys to the “B” for the party that comes at the end of finals week. It is the highlight of the “B’s” season and one where Ben hopes to at least meet an attractive girl before the end of this birthday evening.
In a strangely prescient encounter, Ben meets a street evangelist with a sign, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap, Galatians 6:7.” This night is going to be one of Ben’s most memorable.

So comes the party. Ben is an active participant and anxious to see what new people might show up. This fateful night, Ben meets two very particular people. Rebecca Glaser is the girl of his dreams that comes to the party and eventually moves into the “B.” P.T. Deighland is the friend of a younger brother of a resident at the “B.” This explains the major thrust of the story.
The tale starts slowly but actually builds through the slowness into an in-depth analysis of a young man messing up his life in celebrating his 21st birthday.

Things keep getting worse and worse. There are times when Ben looks like he is destined to become another statistic but always a redeeming factor brings him back.

Mock My Words by Chandra Shekhar

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Mock My WordsMock My Words is comprised of three storylines. Each one of them is interconnected with a plot that involves a renowned author by the name of David Tan, who left China to live in the United States. The main storyline not only revolves around David’s struggles and challenges as a new teacher at John Steinbeck University in Northern California, but also portrays the stress and anxiety that David experiences while trying to survive a rough patch in his marriage. The secondary storylines involve David’s wife, Laura, and Melissa, a student at the university.

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David is worried and nervous about whether or not the students in his writing course will accept and respect him. This dilemma is due to the disconnect between his writing and his speaking. Although David writes beautiful prose, he speaks English very poorly, which makes it difficult to communicate with people. Even though he wants to share his love of classical literature with his students, they are ill-mannered and rude towards him. It does not get any easier for him when some of his colleagues rebuff him. In addition to work issues, whenever David is at home, he always feels that he has to tread carefully around his wife’s feelings in order not to upset her and possibly ruin any chances at intimacy.

The Surgeon’s Wife by William H. Coles

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

The Surgeon's WifeThe Surgeon’s Wife is split into three parts. Vivid illustrations on the book cover and also preceding the text for each part perfectly complement this engaging story. The book is told from multiple viewpoints which provides valuable insight into the feelings, perceptions, and motives of each of the pertinent characters in the story, and how they are affected by the circumstances in which they find themselves.

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Mike Boudreaux is the chief of surgery at a prominent hospital in New Orleans, and he is called upon to make tough decisions about his partner, Clayton Otherson, who is making life-threatening mistakes in surgery. Mike owes the success of his career to Clayton and wants to help his colleague and friend, a distinguished and influential bariatric surgeon, avoid suspension by the hospital operating room committee. Mike can impact decisions made by the committee since he is the chair, and Clayton believes that Mike should make any complaints about his competency as a surgeon go away. However, the safety of patients is Mike’s top priority. When the committee puts some restrictions in place that affect Clayton in his surgeries of obese patients, this action puts up barriers in Mike and Clayton’s friendship.

Legacy: Book Three of the Fire Chronicles by Susi Wright

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

LegacyThis Young Adult fiction is the 3rd in the Fire Chronicle series. It is very good and thoughtful uplifting even when presenting unsurmountable evil and odds.

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In a fantasy world where races of creatures, usually humanoid, are often fighting each other, order has come to much of civilization. The Alliance was formed in fire with a great battle where Lord Luminor was injured deeply. He leads this group of people beneficently with powers that have been unmatched until now.

There is danger now, a new and fearful evil has begun to invade the Morvians. These people live beyond the Impossible Mountains. Although, this does not affect his domain, Luminor must defend these people from the encroaching menace. He forms his army, the greatest so far, combining many groups into a single fighting force. He heads North leaving hearth and home behind protected by a regent and wise Elders to protect his domain and his family.

This leaves Espira, Essie familiarly, and Ardientor sitting at home and worrying about their father. As hybrids, combining human and Gaian ancestry, they are the first and possibly the only salvation of the domain, but they must overcome sibling rivalry and a confining spell placed by their father. When all seems lost, they find the way, Espira especially, to reconcile the personalities and the powers, first to summon assistance from the Ancient Realm and then to lend its use to the army across the Impossible Mountains.

The Spirit of Want by William H. Coles

Reviewed by Teri Davis

The Spirit of WantThe year is 1984. Widower, Dr. Luke Osborn works as an eye doctor specializing in retinal surgery for the new Eye Institute. For a new doctor it is a privilege to be apart of mingling with the ultra-rich whose generous donations created this new facility, but Luke feels that he does not belong. He has never possessed that much money or lived twitch extravagance.

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This new institute is A. J. MacNeil’s dream project as the institute’s leader. Naturally at this event, his wife, Agnes as well as his grown daughters, Lucy and Elizabeth astute do. Strangely the two daughters are very different. Lucy is a lawyer who is dark, slim, drunk, and angry. Contrastly, Elizabeth, a teacher, is fair colored, a little overweight, sober, and pleasant.

One of his first conversations with Lucy had her complaining about eye surgery, “It’s not just mistakes that piss me off, it’s the coverups.” Would you want to converse with her if you operated on eyes?

McDowell by William H. Coles

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

McDowellWilliam H. Coles’ McDowell doses readers with literate medicine for the mind and soul, with a distinctive and engrossing work of dramatic fiction that craftily embeds a story of self-discovery within the world of the modern medical profession. It delves into the life and psyche of surgeon Hiram McDowell, a medical professional at the pinnacle of his success who dwells at the lowest points of morality.

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From the story’s outset, readers will find they are immediately engrossed in the life of protagonist Dr. Hiram McDowell. He lives a dual existence in his world which teems, with wealth, opportunity and privilege. To the outside world he wears the facade of an ambitious humanitarian and expert in his field, but to those who know him more intimately he is morally flawed with only his own interests and needs at heart. Altogether, McDowell severely lacks in common human decency; he is crude to his family, ignores and openly cheats on his wife, looks only to serve his goals within his profession, revels in deceptiveness, steps on the toes of colleagues and misappropriated charitable funds. Moreover, the focus of the story is not just mainly on McDowell; it also brings into focus his family dynamic and the effects that his behavior therefore has on his family, particularly his two closest children.

Ultimately, he makes enemies out of those that once trusted him and perpetuates conflicts of self- esteem within those that attempt to love him. An almost seemingly hopeless cause, it piques the curiosity to see where things go for him. Eventually McDowell’s moral deficiencies become his complete downfall and he is consequently forced to live a life of poverty and solitude with his wealth, fame and power far removed from his life. Forced to live as an itinerant fugitive, and meanwhile, surviving by his wits, he gradually learns, to humble himself and become a more humane human for his survival among everyday folk.

Wholly, enjoyable McDowell was a richly realized and realistically detailed read that was character driven and moved at a balanced pace. Hiram McDowell turned out to be a strongly posed, despisable and simultaneously engrossing character whose ethical flaws catalyzed his journey to his self discovery. Overall, author William H. Coles writes with a literate aplomb that is both evocative and entertaining especially when it comes to detailing aspects of the medical profession and facets of human nature. My only contention about this read is the presence of some minor editing issues. But, issues aside, this was a worthy read and I do recommend it.