Sunday, February 7, 2016

By the Break of Dawn

"By the Break of Dawn"
B. J. Betts
Prairie Rose Publications
February 2015
Kindle edition $ 0.99
60 pages

"On the morning of Valentine's Day, a young maiden must go to her window and look out just before the dawn breaks.  If she sees a man walking below her window, he is the man she will marry before the years is out."

What if the man you see is not the man you love or long to marry?  What if he is not the love of your life?

Isabella Bellini has loved Eli King most of her life.  Now that both of them are graduating from high school, they both feel that it will soon be time for them to become husband and wife.  They have both been dreaming of this for years.  They can't wait to begin their lives together in Council Bluffs, Iowa in this year of 1880.  Now that Eli was of age, finally, he could properly court her.

Everything seems set in place for the two lovers.  Why does Isabella suddenly marry Chace Monette, an older, wealthy man with a questionable reputation?

This tale is a light romantic tale involving a little of the historical Council Bluffs, Iowa with cameo appearances by James Rue and R. J. Kattleman and the legendary Ogden House.  Also incorporated in this novella is a discussion of the Mormons trek and how the town changed after they left on their journey to Utah.  Numerous people of questionable businesses moved into town including many brothels.

Also historically is the short discussion of the Morganatic Marriage held in a Catholic church.  It is amazing that this practice ever existed.

Being born and raised in Council Bluffs, author B. J. Betts now resides in Missouri Valley but still feels a close kinship to her hometown.  She has previously published other romance novellas and novel: Saigon Moon, Echoes in the Night, Snowflakes and Teardrops, Mile Marker 59, Belle's Crossing and A Moment in Time.

"By the Break of Dawn" is a Valentine story with the simple gift of a Valentine threading through the tale to show the way to true love.

Kat and the Bone

Kat and the Bone
Tom Hoch
Dog Ear Publishing
Indianapolis, Indiana
ISBN: 978-1-4575-4215-2
2015
$ 17.97
275 pages

"In order for your circumstances to change, YOU must change."

Bullying is a common problem facing schools and neighborhoods.  Unfortunately it usually does not end at graduation and carries into adulthood.  How can anyone stop it?

Fortunately retired teacher Tom Hoch has written a fictional novel utilizing his years of experience in coaching and teaching social studies to offer a slightly different perspective that exhibits wisdom every person can value.

Jim Snertzbaum has been bullied for years.  His parents died in a car accident forcing Jim to live with his grandfather.  His new parent is concerned but is seldom home since he works as a trucker. Jim was bullied at his old school.  Now in addition to losing his parents, he is a new student with a strange last name.  He already was not very athletic due partially to being overweight.  With few friends and no adult support, he is an easy target for the bullies.  Jim quickly learned to ignore those who made fun of him and the putdowns but he did remember them, reflecting on those comments during his frequent loneliness.

As Jim is entering the eighth grade, he is determined to change his life.  By chance, he discovers a paper outside a classroom which gives him an opportunity to change his life.  No, this is not a fantasy but a page of mature advice with quotations that every person can use throughout their lives.

Jim wants to play high-school football.  He is heavy enough but has never played the game.  Also, Jim realizes that just showing up for fall football as a freshman with no experience, skills, or friends could possibly make his situation more difficult.  He does not want to be the object of additional bullying.  How could he possibly become a part of this well-respected group?  How can he learn football without being part of the team.

Kat and the Bone allows the reader to accompany Jim as he attempts to overcome being a victim.  This is his journey as he learns to take control of his life.  Jim knows that his success at achieving this goal will set a foundation for his future.  Through setting goals for himself, he learns how to deal with the everyday challenges of being a teenager who is not popular or respected but is taking steps to change himself and those around him.

This novel is a gem.  With a character who really is a "diamond in the rough."  The story is progressively logical and well-organized with realistic characters.  While Jim is facing his day-to-day challenges, the author encircles his experiences with a wealth of wisdom appropriate for people of all ages even though the intended audience is young adults.  Kat and the Bone provides role models for teenagers as well as adults.

The value of friendship is a strong throughout this story .  Respecting each person for their own individual gifts and talents is the underlying supporting theme.

A surprising aspect of this novel is the mentoring.  Jim doesn't wait for a mentor to magically appear, he learns how to find a mentor who can assist him to achieve success with his life.  He finds the person and people that he needs to be successful in life.

Tom Hoch who has also written under the name T. L. Hoch, writes novels for young adults about sportsmanship.  Kat and the Bone is his fourth novel following Chasing Normal, Discovering Balance, and Divot Dogs.

Kat and the Bone has no profanity or sexual incidents.  There is some fighting with football players on and off the field.  What is unusual is that this book is appropriate for young adults and anyone who enjoys realistic characters becoming role models in a variety of awkward situations.

Kat and the Bone is a wonderful novel for all readers. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Wrong Man

The Wrong Man
Kate White
Harper Collins
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-235065-7
Trade Paperback
2015
$ 15.99
322 pages

Kit Turner wants more in life.  She wants excitement. She longs for more.  Then again, who doesn't?
As co-owner in a Manhattan interior design firm, Kit always searches for new ideas in attempting to best meet her client's needs.  She has pride in meeting the needs of her clients and feels that she knows how to perfectly match the interior furnishings and decorations with the personality of her client while staying within a budget. 
Her priorities for the last few years have always been business.  It takes time, talent and dedication to become a successful interior design company in a business with immense competition.
She dreams of a more fulfilling personal life.  So why not take chance?  What does she have to loose?  Isn't it time for her to have a little fun with having a personal life?
While at her hotel on a vacation at the Florida Keys, she meets the possible man-of-her-dreams.  With plans to continue their relationship back in New York,  Kit is full of hope.  After all, with the perfect man, what could go wrong?
Still hoping for the best, Kit agrees to visit him at his apartment in New York.
However the man who lives here is not the man she was with in Florida.  Quickly Kit is catapulted into a life of adventure, treachery, deceit.  She learns that her life is definitely more interesting but also extremely dangerous/ With one misstep resulting in death, Kit fears for herself, her friends, acquaintances, and clients.
What happened to the man of her dreams?  Who is this man?  Why is it that the more questions she asks, the more people who are in danger of losing their lives?
Will she discover the truth and/or love before another death, or her death?
The protagonist Kit Turner is a character that is heroic while still being a realistic person.  While searching for the identity of the antagonist, Kit discovers a maze of twists and turns.  Fortunately she takes the reader along with her at every discovery, wrong move, misdirection and clue until the last page.  This aspect weaves a fast-paced racing thriller leading the reader down the road while holding the hand of the protagonist every step.
Well-written, logical, organized, The Wrong Man is a gripping tale the delights all readers, even though the intended audience is for women.
Kate White has been the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine for the last fourteen years.   Besides that, she is a New York Times bestselling author of ten novels, including six Bailey Weggins mysteries as well as three suspense novels, Eyes on You, The Sixes, and Hush.  Also she is the editor of The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook.
The Wrong Man is a chilling read that warms every reader on a cold winter's night.

Losing Faith

Losing Faith
Adam Mitzner
Gallery Books
Simon & Schuster
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-1-4767-6424-5
Hardcover
2015
$ 26.00
368 pages

"It is common narcissism that people view their lives like novels in which they are the protagonist.  It's a comforting thought, because it means that even when the story twists and all looks lost, there remains the unshakeable belief that a happy ending awaits."
When a federal judge is beaten to death, the most likely suspect is Aaron Littman, the chairman of a prestigious New York City law firm.  He is guilty of many things, but he probably did not kill the judge.  Unfortunately, even if he is found not guilty, he will probably lose his wife and his career even if he wins his freedom.
For his defense, his mentor and colleague, Sam Rosenthal has the task of finding the real murderer, or minimally showing that there are others who could be guilty of this crime.
The characters are believable, flawed but logical in their actions.  The pace is racing to the last page.  The story is well-organized and developed page-by-page relying on a setting that perfectly fits. 
One of the positive aspects of Losing Faith is the realism.  The inside view of the legal system is astounding, as well as frightening to those who have never needed a criminal lawyer. 
Another special gift in this thriller are the authentic life lessons regarding justice in this country. 
"There's one thing I never say to my clients: that I'm with them all the way.  The reason I don't is that I know it's just not true.  The truth is I'm with them until prison...and then, that's something they have to do on their own...And whether or not I was innocent or guilty wouldn't be the only consideration, because the sad truth in that innocent men do get convicted."
This short paragraph quickly strips all the television programs and novels of idealism, stating the reality of life.
Many of these lessons are hidden within the action of the story but are lessons everyone should know.
"Trials aren't about the truth.  They're about winning."
"One thing that Faith learned early on as a lawyer was that there is no such thing as good and bad people.  There are just people, who sometimes do good things and other times do bad things, and the idea that the guilty are punished is just something that people say; it isn't even remotely true."
The author, Adam Mitzner is and experienced defense attorney in New York City.  This is his third attorney novel with high action and revelations inside the justice system.
Losing Faith is an enthralling journey into the world of those who need a defense attorney.  This novel if for anyone who hopes they will never need the lessons learned in this thriller.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Newsmakers

The Newsmakers
Lis Wiehl with Sebastian Stuart
Thomas Nelson
Harper Collins Christian Publishing
Nashville, Tennessee
ISBN: 9780718037673
Hardcover
January 2016
$ 26.99
352 pages

Are news stories ever planned?   Can a race to have the "exclusive" story of a disaster be planned to promote a particular broadcasting station or the career of a reporter? When a news crew happens to be at the right place at the right time, can it really be coincidental?  Even if this would happen once, could it logically happen twice?  Would anyone be suspicious?  
How many of us are just pawns in a master scheme?
Erica Sparks is receiving a gift.  After driving drunk with her daughter in the car, her life spiraled down.  Now she has the chance of a lifetime to redeem her career, her relationship with her daughter, and her one chance for happiness. 
As a news reporter, Erica has just been selected by Global News Network in New York as their newest star.  The network knows that it needs a new face and a new approach to gain their top place in the ratings.  Living in New York has one downside.  She must leave her eight-year-old daughter, Jenny in the custody of her ex-husband.
Life is exciting in New York.  With this boost to her career and a possibility of a new love life with her boss, this new beginning is just what she needs.  Of course, the money, fame and success are unquestionably perks that she is learning to enjoy.
Erica's first assignment is certain to be successful, an interview with Kate Middleton.  That interview never happens when Erica witnesses a ferry accident with her camera crew. She has the scoop by being the first to report the story.  Her journalistic value though make her want closure, discovering the cause of the accident.  However, the station wants her to focus on other stories.  Why?  Don't they see the value in closure?  Wouldn't her investigation improve ratings more than another story?
The Newsmakers is a collaborative novel by two well-known authors Liz Wiehl and Sebastian Stuart. Sebastian Stuart is also an author who has written numerous novels, plays and screenplays.   Liz Wiehl is a Harvard Law School graduate who worked as a former federal prosecutor.  She is a legal analyst and commentator for the Fox News Channel while also hosting her own weekly radio shows. 
The Newsmakers is a riveting story in the world of journalism at a news station showing their day-to-day lives with realistic characters who view their co-workers as competition. The conflict of loyalty to the station and staff as opposed to self-preservation and self-promotion is frighteningly authentic.  The pace is racing in this page-turner with flawed characters who are believable.  The reader is with Erica every step of the way as she discovers her dream career and the actual costs to her personal self.