Coldwater Revenge: A Coldwater Mystery by James A. Ross

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Coldwater Revenge takes place in 2002 with the setting in a lakefront community along the Canadian border. Tom Morgan, a high-powered New York lawyer, has taken a break from his job to spend time with his family. He is at a crossroads in his life and trying to choose the path he wants to follow. Shortly after his arrival in the small town of Coldwater, the body of a local man is discovered in the lake. Sheriff Joe Morgan, Tom’s younger brother, recently lost his staff and is the sole police officer in the town. Joe enlists Tom’s help in what turns out to be a high-profile murder case. During a meeting at Tom’s law firm, he finds out that a case from years ago in which he was only peripherally involved could cost him not only his job but also jail time. Time is critical for proving his innocence, but Tom refuses to leave Joe without support.

When Joe becomes critically ill due to his exposure to a deadly toxin, Tom takes over the investigation, and his theories and probing questions put him in the uncomfortable position of questioning the likelihood of whether his brother or Susan Pearce, the sister of the victim, could be involved in the complicated case in which a bio-research company is also entangled. Career choices along with personal and family relationships all point toward Joe’s and/or Susan’s possible guilt. While working on the case, Tom not only is dealing with inner turmoil, possible career implosion, family differences, and his feelings toward Susan, his ex-girlfriend, but he also winds up in precarious situations that lead to life threatening danger. Will Tom escape perilous predicaments and identify the killer? Is there a potential bio-terrorist plan afoot and can it be stopped? Will Joe’s body succumb to the poison?

Weeping Goes Unheard: Sacred Tears for Indigenous Victims of Racial Genocide by Lucia Mann

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Weeping Goes Unheard” no longer as more and more voices speak up through a variety of channels. Lucia Mann contributes to this unveiling of a hidden (or as she argues, a covered) past of Canada by voicing those who have passed away, gone missing, or are still among us.

The author heavily relies on her journalistic investigation skill to document centuries of injustice against the First Nations of today’s Canada. However, she takes the uncovered data and weaves it into a compelling narrative. In my view, the book is a written embodiment of a documentary film with a series of reconstructions of events.

Lucia Mann has proven time and time again with her previously published novels that she is a highly visual writer. Therefore, reading “Weeping Goes Unheard” is not that much unlike watching a documentary. What is more, she is equally a soulful writer, passionately driven by helping and voicing underprivileged communities of all races. This passion clearly transpires throughout the text.

The task set by the author was far from an easy one, as in front of her lay a long history of injustice that seeps into present days. In the book, different aspects of this monstrous manifestation are tackled, like forced deportations, residential schools, institutionalized abuse (mainly from figures of authority who should offer protection), and serial killers to mention just a few.

Fade Away (Myron Bolitar Novel) by Harlan Coben

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Myron Bolitar has been one of the main characters in several of Coben’s books and in Fade Away he again comes to the forefront. The last team Bolitar played for (he is/was a pro basketball player) was the New Jersey Dragons owned by Clip Arnstein. Clip now has called Myron and asked him to not only find Greg Downing, a top Dragon player, but he also wants Myron to rejoin the team in Greg’s spot. Myron had never actually gotten to play in any regular season games due to his injury.

Strangely enough Greg was the cause of Myron’s severe injury which caused him to quit playing. But now Greg is missing and Clip needs help. He feels Myron as an investigator could be a help in finding Greg but also help as a former player returning to the court. Myron decides to give it a shot although he is very leery of his ability due to the injury.

Hit the Road Jack by Willow Rose

Reviewed by Allen Hott

I thought that this was a follow up to Slip out the Back by the same author and it was. BUT it was not a good follow up. It is a terrible book all the way through. It had high spots and I thought I would keep at it but overall it was not a good read.

It was about Jack who is raising his kids with the help of his parents who own a motel right next to Jack’s house. He is a detective and is searching for someone who is killing women he assumes. Sometimes he finds bodies and sometimes not. But all the women turn out to be women who have lived their lives having affairs with men all around.

The book is too long, too many characters, and has too many loose ends.

Overall it is just a poorly written book as far as I am concerned.

Blue Moon: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child

Reviewed by Allen Hott

By now if you have read Jack Reacher stories by Lee Child you are aware of how they start out. Reacher is traveling (always) and going nowhere in particular but he doesn’t want to stay in any one place very long. As a retired military police officer he feels he has seen the world in that capacity and so now
he wants to see it as an individual. Never travels with someone, always alone, and never really trying to get somewhere in particular. He just likes to move around, meet people and see different locations.

It turns out that the area where Reacher ended up on this bus ride was a municipality that basically was split in two halves. One half was run by the Ukrainians and the other by Albanians. Each leader kept control over his area and didn’t mess at all in the opposite area. About the time Reacher got there it appears that there is about to be a blow-up of some type between the two groups but no one knows exactly why. And Reacher is completely unaware of the situation for the time being.

An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence by Barry Spivack and Patricia Saunders

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence” is not your casual mid-afternoon read. It is a thought-provoking and in-depth presentation of a still-controversial topic, Transcendental Meditation (TM). The authors, Barry Spivack MA and Patricia Saunders Ph.D. have created a monumental piece by critically analyzing decades worth of scientific research on the social effects of the practice. After a careful evaluation of evidence, the authors conclude that there is indeed an antidote to violence.

This universal antidote is accessible to all and completely free. While this might sound like oversimplifying a vastly complex and far reaching issue, that is not necessarily so. While researchers have linked group meditation to measurable growth in social welfare (under different forms), they do not consider the TM effect the sole cause of these measures. Rather, they view it as part of a complex web of forces which govern the world and life as we know it, yet, often fall beyond our regular conscious grasp.

To those less familiar with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his teachings, there is ample opportunity to acquaint yourself throughout the pages of the book. Barry Spivack and Patricia Saunders take a peek behind appearances and explore the science behind this elusive phenomenon. They gradually walk the reader through different scientific experiments and statistical analyses of growing complexity to answer a set of questions and consequently ask new ones.

By bringing to the forefront a series of socio-psychological experiments that offer perceivable proof of decrease in violence and increase of social welfare, “An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence” aims to attract the attention of both individuals and governments to this feasible antidote. Organized groups have ventured into volatile war zones to bring outer peace through their inner tranquility. And they seemingly succeeded time and time again.

The authors discuss in-depth the implication of paradigms in the history of ideas, mainly paradigm shifts. Discoveries and systems of thought that did not conform to the mainstream view of the time were often first ostracized before being accepted as groundbreaking leaps. The historical contextualization outlined by the authors acts as a possible explanation of why the TM continues to be met with resistance by so many. It simply does not comply with our modern Occidental view on reality and the self.

An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence” is somewhat similar to a meta-analysis, in that it collects a vast body of academic literature and analyzes the data and results presented. However, it is far from being a sterile statistical account, as it is deeply infused with the passion of the authors. Although starting from different fields (Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and Music respectively), both Barry Spivack’s and Patricia Saunders’ life journeys merge in the blossoming universe of Transcendental Meditation.

Saw the Forest: A Novel by Patrick L. McConnell

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

A read which keeps your heart as invested as your mind, Patrick L. McConnell’s Saw the Forest explores life through a multi-faceted lens, bringing attention to aspects of the human condition, wrapped in layers of emotion and motive through the experiences of life. Presented with a grove of eclectic characters, each on their own life’s journey but whose paths cross in dynamic and life-altering ways.

A deft storyteller, author Patrick L. McConnell, captures the attention quickly with his literate narrative, which features a well-drawn cast of characters, each as interesting as the next to meet, as well as somehow entangled within the same web of a diverse community collective. Moreover, the story divulges uniquely posed aspects of human nature, exemplified through the characters, inclusive of traits like love, bravado, religion, violence, as well as politics. Moreover, skillfully presented amidst relatable interactions which create an interwoven mosaic of human frailty and strengths, making exciting fuel for this evocative, character driven read.

Immediately, this literate, detail focused narrative brings into view the Right family; father, Artemus a doctor, Mother Taniaz, and their sons, Philip and Adam. The brothers are a unique pair, in that, younger brother Adam takes care of his elder brother Philip, who is considerably larger and stronger than him, but his mind is that of a child. As the family dynamic changes over time, after having lost both parents, the pair of brothers live humble lives as adults, still sharing a close bond. Adam, quietly stalwart, socially awkward, even reticent but well-meaning remains his brother’s faithful keeper who at times can become an unintentionally aggressive and intimidating handful.

The Last Agent (Charles Jenkins Book 2) by Robert Dugoni

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Robert Dugoni is a good author and in The Last Agent he has continued (I would not say completed) the ongoing story of Charles Jenkins, former CIA agent. Jenkins is the type of person who accomplishes much but he does always seem to rely on others to give him lots of help. This story pretty much shows how Jenkins though retired and now living at home with his family, cannot stop returning those previous favors. A current CIA supervisor shows up at Jenkins’ door and after several conversations about the CIA and Russia the agent drops a bomb! Literally not figuratively. He explains that a Russian woman who worked with seven other women for the United States as spies in Russia is still alive and imprisoned by the Russians.The name of the woman. Paulina Ponomayova immediately gets Jenkins’ attention. Paulina is the person who helped Jenkins escape from Russia years ago.

Jenkins thought so much of Paulina and her assistance that he named his daughter after her. The thought of her now being held in isolation in Russia very much disturbs him. With the consent of his wife and her prayers Jenkins with help from the CI A heads back into Russia to see how he can somehow get Paulina out of isolation and to the United States or the free world. To make this work Jenkins begins not only working with the CIA but also certain Russians that he had known and worked with while over there. One of them is Viktor Federov who at one time was Jenkins’ arch enemy.

Widowmaker: A Novel (Mike Bowditch Mysteries Book 7) by Paul Dorion

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Mike Bowditch, a Maine game warden, notices an automobile pull up and park opposite his house which is pretty well tucked away in the deep outskirts of an off the road town named Sebago. Even though at first he is somewhat confused by why the driver parked there he becomes much more confused after her goes out to the car. At first the woman driving kind of puts off telling him why she is there by saying she needs to use a restroom.

But when she does actually begin talking sense to Mike she explains that she, Amber Langstrom, had some years ago had an affair with Mike’s father. Mike could believe this because he and his father never got along due to his father’s style of living. Now however she is looking for Adam Langstrom the son that came from that affair.

It seems that Adam is missing and his mother is hopeful that Mike will be willing to help find the person who appears to be his half-brother. As she explains more of the story it turns out that Adam had been sent to a minimum security prison for having sex with a fifteen year old girl when he was 18. He has since been released but she cannot find him as he has basically not only hidden from her but is probably living with the girl in some unknown hideaway.

She pleads with Mike to hunt for him and help her straighten Adam out since they are related (according to her). Mike explains that he cannot do anything full time since his work as a game warden more than keeps him busy especially in the severe winter that Maine is suffering. He does say that he will ask around and keep his eyes/ears open for possible information.

After Mike gets back to work and talks with his girlfriend, Stacey, it seems that Stacey thinks he should do more to help find his half-brother. However at about the same time Mike gets very involved not only with helping folks out with problems due to the terrific winter but he also gets word that a wolf has been spotted. Supposedly there are no wolves in Maine as they have been pretty well eliminated and are outlawed due to their demeanor and effect on other wild life. Turns out that Mike pretty well adopts the wolf that he went to check on since Shadow, the wolf, became very friendly with Mike.

That part of the story goes on while Mike now gets involved with other problems. These problems occur in the extremely mountainous wilderness of Maine. And they involve sexual predators who are actually living in a colony that is tucked away in the woods. However there are also vigilante-type folks

who want no part of the predators and work to not only keep them contained but also hopefully eradicated.

While Mike is doing all of his work around Widowmaker (the name of not only a monstrous mountain that is always covered in deep snow drifts but also a small town in the area), things get very involved with the predator squabble. And all of this goes on while Stacey has gotten herself quite mixed up in her daily life while working at her government job.

Overall a great read with lots of various plots, various characters, and some really great descriptions of what winter/snow is like in Maine. Doiron continues to write well with Bowditch as his main character who is always involved in various happenings!

The Living Room: A Lung Cancer Community of Courage by Bonnie Addario with Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

“It’s not treatable,” one doctor said told Bonnie Addario in 2004.

As you’ll learn in THE LIVING ROOM: A Lung Cancer Community of Courage, though, the book’s author Bonnie Addario is not one to give up. Diagnosed with stage 3B lung cancer at age 55 in 2004, the hard-charging Addario, a genuine force of nature, took on the disease with the moxie and resolve of an underdog boxer facing down the champion in the center of the ring.

The upset she ultimately scored is wondrously chronicled in THE LIVING ROOM, along with the stories of twenty other survivors of advanced stage lung cancer. I plunged into this book figuring it must be more fiction than fact. After all, other than the occasional miracle, no one ever beats lung cancer, right?

Wrong.

As we learn in THE LIVING ROOM, lung cancer has very much become a survivable and manageable disease—not always, but often enough to provide hope where none existed just a few short years ago. But that’s not the only surprise the book offers and not all of them are nearly as positive. Did you know more non-smokers get lung cancer than smokers? How about the fact that many of those non-smokers are under the age of thirty?

Neither did I. THE LIVING ROOM, named after a decade-plus in-person (and now virtual as well) support group Addario started, is a myth-buster of the highest order in that respect. And that’s mostly a good thing, as we get to know the survivors profiled as if they were long-lost friends.

Like Gina Hollenbeck, a not yet forty-year-old and the non-smoking mother of two boys, who looked the picture of health when she walked into the ER holding her X-rays under her arm and had to convince the doctors that something was seriously wrong with her. Or Matt Hiznay, a lifelong nonsmoker was only twenty-four when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Early treatment saved his life. Then there’s Juanita Segura, a 51-year-old healthy eater and active in a training regimen known as CrossFit. The first doctor diagnosed her with asthma and prescribed an inhaler. Then the wheezing turned into a horrible cough. The next doctor had to deliver the news that she had lung cancer.

“Dude,’ she told him, “I don’t even smoke.”

The positive nature of those profiled is truly mind-boggling, making this is the perfect book for someone living with cancer of any kind, not just lung, as well as those close to them—in other words, just about everyone. THE LIVING ROOM is a seminal triumph of storytelling that tugs at our heartstrings even as it brings a smile to our lips with its overriding message of hope over despair and triumph over tragedy. When it comes to books that matter and bear long-lasting relevance accessible to tens of millions, this one is off the charts.