Sunday, October 16, 2016

5 Days of Landfall

5 Days to Landfall
Robert Roy Britt
Ink Spot Books
Phoenix, Arizona
November  2016
312 pages

Living along the Pacific Ocean in South Carolina, most people know how to prepare for hurricanes.  Their communities understand the potential disaster and work well to minimize the amount of damage to the communities.  They know that nature always wins.  These communities almost can write a book about storm preparedness including evacuations.
Not all cities near the Pacific Ocean are that way, especially those further north.  For New York City, a hurricane was recorded in 1821.  In 1938 another one devastated the area fifty-five miles east of Manhattan.  

Since the Northeast seldom experiences hurricanes, they are not prepared. Hurricane Sandy could have caused exponentially more damage. These communities were not prepared then and still lack a plan for this possible disaster.
5 Days to Landfall is a fictional account of what could happen if a hurricane struck this highly congested area. Infused into this thrilling novel is authentic science interlaced with history, real technology, and political realism. 
Amanda Cole works at the nation’s Hurricane Center as a forecaster. She is one of the meteorologists who study every aspect of each storm and based on the information from several forecasting models, predicts the paths and intensities of these possible hurricanes. She has the responsibility of notifying cities if they are in the path of destruction.
This enormous burden is complicated. No community wants to shut down, especially if the storm diverts at the last minute. Many will only close and evacuate residents only if they are one hundred percent confident. In the Carolinas, people understand. In the Northeast, with few tropical storms becoming a hurricane and causing destruction, most just ignore the warnings.
Like many people, Amanda daily excels with a challenging life raising her daughter, Sarah. Her ex-husband shares the curious youngster just two weeks a year. These are difficult times for Amanda during this short separation.
Amanda knows that this particular storm will hit the York City area. Her daughter is in the area with her ex-husband while her father resides near the ocean at a retirement home. Who should be taken to safety first? Strangely, someone is playing the stock market prices; specifically, insurance companies who work with communities in these possible areas. With no plan in place for this disaster, the politicians refuse to inform their constituents of the impending danger. She is also aware of the numerous homeless will not have a chance to survive while living in the tunnel system around the subways under the city. 
The author, Robert Roy Britt, is a journalist who has authored a mystery series featuring Eli Quinn in Closure, Drone, and First Kill along with the prequel, Murder Mountain.
5 Days to Landfall masterfully blends a fictional thriller with science and history. Britt weaves a page-turner while educating the reader about past hurricanes, the science of hurricanes, a guide to surviving during these storms, and even a little research into preparing a home for these attacks. All of this, as well as interspersing political corruption, thrills, romance, and realism are thrown into an actual political meltdown.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Shelby's Creek

Shelby's Creek
Mark Matthiessen
Wave Cloud Corporation
Charleston, South Carolina
ISBN: 978-1-62217-755-4
$ 16.99
306 pages

"The way a person treated nature was the way a person treated human beings."
Everyday farming life in Shelby County, Iowa during 1943  was idyllic.   As an Iowan farmer, life it seems too tranquil for Valentin Schmitz.  Responsibly he farms his 160-acres of fertile farmland near Council Bluffs, refusing to use pesticides, helping his neighbors in need, and contributing to the war effort through rationing, collecting scrap metal, and nurturing his own Victory Garden.
Valentin is a 33-year-old college-educated bachelor who recently separated from the woman he believed was going to be his wife.  While time heals, the challenges of the world and the community frequently occupy his thoughts.  He relaxes by playing his flute and enjoying his art collection.
Valentin longs to enter this war.   He has grandparents currently residing in France where the Nazi occupation has begun.  As his grandfather is arrested and working at a concentration camp due to his religion, Jehovah Witness, Valentin's grandmother hides witnessing the everyday life in this occupied country.  Dealing with the day to day rationing, living under the military law of the Nazis, being dependent on others for your life, is part of the daily routine.
Two thoughts make him hesitate to rescue his grandparents.  The first is that farmers are not to be conscripted since they supply the food the fighters and the nation. 
Secondly, Valentin suffers from certain anxieties.  He has a fear of the dark and has separation anxiety disorder.   To help himself, Valentin keeps flashlights with him at all times. 
How could he possibly serve again in Europe or help his family?  Why would he leave the safety of being a farmer to enter the war in Europe?
His grandparents taught Valentin many life lessons demonstrating words of wisdom to guide him through the challenges of life.   Besides raising Valentin after the death of his parents, he feels indebted to both.
Shelby's Creek enters the world of the French people working behind the scenes fighting for their country during this time with their constant fears and practical problems which unified their citizens with a common enemy.   The part of the French underground is part of the personal voice in this engrossing tale.
Mark Matthiessen knows this story as it is personal to him.  This Shelby County native was born and raised on the1 family's 160l-acre farm which is now operated by the fifth-generation.   He has worked with a computer company while writing their technical manuals.  Recently he is writing articles for national and international magazines.
Shelby's Creek is the first book in this new series by Mark Matthiessen with the next book in this series available this fall.
Shelby's Creek is a work of love of family and the farmland of Shelby County.  The characters are realistic with authentic problems of the time placing the reader into each situation.   Each setting vividly exposes the time and place making the reader feel as if they are the character, creating an enthralling historical journey.  

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Senile Squad

Senile Squad: Adventures of the Old Blues
Chris Legrow
CL1557 Publishing
Omaha, Nebraska
Lexington, Kentucky
ISBN:  978-0-9977036-1-0
Trade Paperback
$ 16.95
302 pages

'We're all undercover now.  Cops playing cops that people think aren't cops.  It's given all of us a new lease on life.  We were just rotting away.  Nobody needed us to do what we've done for most of our lives.  It's just so good to be needed again and to help fellow cops even if they don't know it. To tell you the truth, that's what makes it fun.'
What happens when people who have worked all their lives in law enforcement retire?  Do they miss the danger, the excitement, getting their adrenal pumped?
Wouldn't it be great if somehow their years of experience and the expertise each one possesses could be utilized rather than just having a younger, cheaper recruit replace them?
Wouldn't it benefit the community if someone could find some way to use their years of cumulating all the knowledge into one think tank?  Naturally, no one would want to place these retirees in danger, but could former undercover cops now go undercover to benefit local law enforcement?  Not officially, but off-the-books, behind the scenes?
A group of wealthy Omaha-based business people is discussing this possibility to have a home for retired police officers.  They would fund the home with the medical staff needed and also supply it with anything an undercover officer would need.  These would be law enforcement officers without the active law enforcement community being aware of their existence.
After all, who would suspect old men wandering around assisting the police?   Yes, they have weapons but not the type used by active duty officers.
Senile Squad is a fun read.  The protagonists are delightful, comical, and unfortunately, too realistic.   With picturesque action, the book has everything, danger, romance, conflict, resolution, death, and most importantly a sense of doing the right thing.
Detective Chris Legrow is part of the Omaha Police Department's Special Victims Unit.  When not working, with his wife, he raises nine children.
Who would enjoy Senile Squad? Naturally, law enforcement but also retirees would thoroughly enjoy this delightful gem that is just fun.

Monday, September 26, 2016


Rainbow Rowellli
St. Martin's Press
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-1-250-04937-7
$ 24.99
310 pages

"Georgie. You cannot be jealous of Dawn- that's like the sun being jealous of a lightbulb."
Wow!  You mean the former girlfriend is a lightbulb, and I am the sun to you?
Relationships are usually complicated, in particular between a husband and a wife.  It takes a rare talent to capture a glimpse of the inner workings of any marriage through the eyes of the masterful author, Rainbow Rowell who neither glamorizes or simplifies the reality of being married.
Georgie McCool has one of those difficult choices in life where whatever she chooses will cause her to have regrets. There is no right here, just the logical solution even if it is at the expense of her family.
Georgie along with her longtime friends, Seth and Scotty, have been together since college.  The three have learned how to capitalize their relationships into writing successful comedy shows.
Their dream is just around the corner with their idea of a new show being possible.  Finally, a network executive is looking at their prospective dream, Passing Time. 
Naturally, Georgie needs to take the leap and devote her next few days to writing.
It is a week before Christmas,  Georgie, Neal and their two daughters have plane tickets to Omaha to share the holidays with her in-laws.  Logically, Georgie needs to stay in Los Angeles to write forcing her to miss Christmas with the family, her husband, and their daughters.
How will her husband react to this choice?   Will this be the beginning of their separation? 
Landline is a masterful narrative revealing Georgie's thoughts, insecurities in a real-life situation.  After many years of marriage, many people value those rare romantic memories of the past while secretly dreaming that they happen again.  They don't.  Over many years, all relationships evolve due to work situations, children, stress, money, and numerous other challenges.    Does that mean that your marriage is over?
Added to that, Georgie possesses guilt that her husband, Neal, gave up his career dream so that she could pursue hers.  Is it Neal's turn for his chance to dream?
Rainbow Rowell is a best-selling author who resides in Omaha with her family.  Her previous novels are Fangirl, Eleanor and Park, and Attachments. 
Landline is a unique glimpse into personal relationships between co-workers, siblings, parents, in-laws, children, spouses, and even former girlfriends without being a romance novel and surprisingly, being utterly fascinating. 
How Rowell weaves this tale is astonishing.  
Landline is one book that you never want to put down while you are reading and continue to mull over long after you complete the last page. 
What can anyone learn from reading this novel?  The answer is to discover what holds a family together and what breaks them.  Could this be what some call love?  Read Landline for the answer.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Elf The Musical Jr.

Santa and his elves love their jobs.   Making toys brings happiness to them.  However, things change.  Santa realizes that his elves are hard-workers, but sometimes even Santa needs a break.   Santa is feeling the stress of the upcoming holiday and needs a break.   It is two weeks before Christmas; the production lines are behind and the holiday spirit is down.
Added to that is one rather large elf, Buddy who is just getting on Santa's nerves.   Buddy is always happy, maybe just a little too much.  Unfortunately, he is also lagging behind the other elves with his toy-making duties.  So far today, he has only made eighty-five Etch-a-Sketches.
There is a reason for this.  Buddy isn't  an elf even though he lives it at the North Pole.   Buddy is human, and he is just discovering the reality of being an orphaned and accidentally falling into Santa's bag when he was a baby.
Elf Jr. is a fun, family-oriented show.  The actual performance time runs about eighty minutes, so this fast-paced production is perfect for children of all ages.
What is special about these "Jr." shows is that the oldest performers are only eighteen-years-old!  These are unquestionably extremely talented youngsters that everyone in this area should feel privileged to see before they become well-known.    Surprisingly there are forty-two performers in this particular show, all under the direction of Denise Putnam and Jerry Gray who was in charge of the music.
As with all shows, the behind-the-scenes support is phenomenal with David Podendorf in charge of the sound system, Darrin Golden with the lighting, Ann Coombs as the costume master, and Ariel Ibsen-Bauer with the inventive choreography.   The scenes, props, backstage and technical crews perfectly blended into the show.
Undoubtedly Matthew Hansen commands the stage in this role of Buddy.   He sings, acts, tap-dances and thoroughly engages the audience making everyone believe this is his real personality.  
The entire Hobbs' family were all phenomenal performers.  Nick Haats as Walter, Riley Pope as his wife Emily, and Atticus Paul Coombs Walker as the son, Michael all are great singers who I would have love to see and hear from in future shows.
Also, notable performers were Kira Watson as Jovie, Kyla Mittan as Deb, Conner Mowery as Santa and eighth-grader Grace Garrigan as the despicable Miss Greenway.
These forty-two enthralling performers unquestionably show the best of today's youth.   These are the future Tony, Oscar, and Emmy winners of tomorrow.
Elf, the Musical Jr., opens this year's Chanticleer season.  Upcoming shows are "Witness for the Prosecution" in November, and in 2017, "Steel Magnolias," a surprise musical, and "Carousel."
The show continues through this weekend on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and at 2 p.m. on Sunday.  Prices for tickets are $20 for adults, $16 for seniors over 60 and $10 for students and children.  Tickets can be purchased through the box office by calling (712) 323-9955. show .
Why see Elf The Musical, Jr.?   Matthew Hansen is an outstanding talent that likely will be exceptional in future years since he already excels as a performer.   Nick Haats, Riley Pope, and Atticus Paul Coombs are names to know and watch as they age, mature, and grow.  You will be privileged to know that you saw these outstanding individuals.8:35 PM 9/18/2016