Tag Archives: book review

Still the Night Call by Joshua Senter

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Joshua Senter’s Still the Night Call traces a memorable and emotionally rending journey to self- realization, with a tale which rattles the heart and mind into giving pause and reflecting on how you may value your life and the world you live in.

Told through the lens of central character Calem Honeycutt, a dairy farmer, whose whole life is centered around making a living through farming which he does mainly by helping his father work his farm. Moreover, at thirty-two years old, Calem is a man who has lost hope. A quiet man of few words, the narrative is fueled by his internal mentations, more so than his face- to-face interactions. Ultimately a bit of a loner, he does not often venture far from his life as a dairy farmer; however, for the most part, he seems to enjoy his life that way and sees his life as nothing worthier than that.

Immediately the curiosity is piqued when Calem, who comes across as an intelligent, determined and sympathetic character, seems convinced he is living his “last day”. Consequently, the story traces the events of his self-prophesied last day counting time down, to his final “night call”, a time known when your activity ceases to go to bed, but for his intents and purposes it would mean much more. As he lives out the hours of his last days he ruminates over his life’s events, experiences, and memories as well as comes across a life altering experience which would teach him the hardest lesson of all to value your life, live it your way no matter what is happening in your world externally.

Enough to Make the Angels Weep by Ernesto Patino

Reviewed by Daniel Ryan Johnson

Enough to Make the Angels Weep is an intriguing and well-researched mystery novel. The novel features P.I. Joe Coopersmith as he investigates the murder of his client’s grandmother four years prior. However, as his investigation progresses, it becomes clear that this murder is a small piece in a much larger mystery involving the Mexican-American War, a group of Irish-born soldiers known as the Batallón de San Patricio, and a missing diary.

The primary mystery that will keep you turning the pages is not identifying the killer but rather the motivations behind the killing, which can be traced back over a century and a half. Ernesto Patino uses his narrative to shed light on a period of North American history that few people in the U.S. know much about but which is far more well chronicled in Mexico.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.