Monday, April 17, 2017

The Spirit of Want

The Spirit of Want
William H. Cole
Story in Literary Fiction
Salt Lake City, Utah
E-book
Third edition
ISBN: 978-0-9976729-9-2
September 2016
$ 2.99
302 pages

The 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.

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?

At the party, Luke is offered the position of being the director of clinical research. He is hesitant with accepting this position since he views himself as a surgeon, not an administrator.

As he leaves the party, Luke does have a shock. His vehicle is stripped. Tires, wheels, bumpers, mirrors, and radio are all missing. How will he get to his home, which is two and a half hours away?

Lucy agrees to drive him home. She is somewhat drunk and drives her expensive sports car erratically and way too fast. They swerve to miss a dog, hit a bump and colliding with a tree. Luke and Lucy looked for whatever caused the bump, but do not find anything.

The next day, a woman’s body is found. She happens to be a judge’s wife. Since she died of blunt trauma. Since the police were not called, the logical conclusion is than Lucy was likely drunk and is being charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Lucy needs Luke to convince the grand jury that she was not intoxicated as she drove to Luke’s. This is how their relationship begins and quickly evolves into the two being married privately by a justice of the peace. Did she marry him for love or to control his testimony? Or is Luke marrying the boss’s daughter for his career advancement?

Luke comes from a family where his father was domineering, his mother was passive and he has five siblings. He is a little skeptical in beginning this relationship since his first wife killed herself. However, he allows Lucy to quickly take the lead in their marriage.

As a lawyer, Lucy is placed on a case of defending a television evangelist of the Apostolic Church of Christ accused of rape of a minor. Hower Bain is on video surveillance of being alone with the girl. How can anyone defend him?

Hower is separated from his wife, son, and daughter. He states that this is because of their faith differences. Could it be that he is unfaithful?

This case requires Lucy to travel and to spend much time away from Luke.
Lucy does become pregnant and gives birth to Jennifer prematurely, weighing less than three pounds. With two highly regarded professional careers, they decide to hire a nanny to care for their daughter.

However, taking care of Hower Bain seems to be more of a time commitment than a newborn. He is demanding, rebellious, establishing his own rules that are not helpful, such as against his lawyer’s advice, giving a five minute television interview. Or is more going on with her commitment to the case?

Luke has his own challenges. Sandra Perez has been dismissed as a fellow. Luke’s colleague, Modesto Sanchez, had been ordered to give her a poor evaluation. Apparently, Sandra had witnessed Luke’s father-in-law, A.J. causing harm to a patient, completely blinding him, by performing surgery on the wrong eye. He believes Sandra. How does anyone confront his boss and father-in-law who demands loyalty, even if he is in the wrong?

The Spirit of Want is an event-driven account of Lucy and Luke. The pace is extremely fast with the book covering several years. A hidden gem within the story is the artwork reflecting the story created by Betty Harper.

Do some people use others only as long as they receive benefit from the relationship? How do you go on whether you are the giver or the taker? Or could each of us be both at the same time or does it depend on each relationship?

As a former ophthalmic surgeon, he understands his topic. This resident of Salt Lake City, Utah has won numerous awards and nominations in the Sandhill Writers Competition, The SEAK Competition, The William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.

Read The Spirit of Want for the answers.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Integrity

Integrity
Anna Borgeryd
Translator from Swedish: Cindy Kite
New Internationalist
Oxford, U.K.
ISBN: 978-1-78026-235-2
2016 English
2013 Swedish
$16.95
512 pages

'You have to want to change. And that doesn't have anything to do with me. Nobody else can change you-it's something you have to want to change."
Peter has a problem.  A truthful impression about him is, "Good-for-nothing without direction and 'a bit of a reputation,'" perfectly describes him.  He is spending part of his summer teaching a beginning economics class since his father will not give him money unless he is working at his father's office doing currency hedging.  This seems like the perfect temporary solution to avoid his a domineering parent.
He is not focused on school, enjoys partying, women, as long as he can stay in his father's good graces.
Peter's favorite book is The Game educating the nerdy male about females.   Getting the girl drinking is part of the book's first step towards success.
Vera, at the age of thirty, is returning to Sweden after volunteering her services and skills as a nurse in Columbia. Unfortunately, she returns to her home with a knee injury causing her tremendous pain and difficulty in walking.
From her experiences, she now views the world slightly differently and realizes the importance of economics in health care.  Does your health insurance determine your level of care?   Does economics determine your personal health care everywhere in the world?  Vera's perspective globally connects the two as she now pursues university classes in this new field.
Vera has Peter as one of her first instructors, pushing, questioning, and challenging the basics.   With his inexperience he resents her smudged glasses, clumsiness and overall grayness of her appearance.  However there is something attracting him to this odd elf-like creature?   This is not Peter's usual type of woman.  He prefers more flash and color.
Integrity is phenomenal with taking an event, being with either Peter or Vera and understanding their prejudices and logical decisions. Depending on the sounds and limited visual witnessing, frequently conclusions lead to erroneous conclusions.   Do all of us tend to do the same thing?
One aspect of the book is the discussion about the indigenous Kogi people living on Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria in northern Columbia which happens to be the world's largest coastal mountain contains all the climates of the world in a few thousand square kilometers.  These people who live as the time before Christopher Columbus is their isolated agricultural village always moving upwards as more people inhabit aged the area.
Integrity educates the reader into the realistic world of economics throughout the story that is completely enthralling.  By including the financial managers who are irresponsible but exude arrogance along with an access of ambition, our global situation is approaching a critical impass incorporating poverty, welfare, disease, women's inequality, climate change and prejudice while intermixing romance.  This is masterful from both the author and translator to so smoothly incorporate into the story.
This is a phenomenal novel intertwining numerous subjects into a wonderful journey for all adult readers.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Cabaret

"If you aren't against all this, you are for it."
Life in the early 1930s was changing quickly for the residents of Berlin, Germany.  After losing the "War to End All Wars," the hope of a "new" Germany invigorated the people especially with the creation of the Nazi party.
For those employed in the Kit Kat Klub, life is a little risque, even seedy for those surviving in a very tight economy by any way they can.  Here all the LGBT men and women, life can be enjoyable with the support of each other while being "tacky, terrible and everyone having a good time."
"We have no troubles here.  Here life is beautiful."
As the Master of Ceremonies, Emcee, Jon Flower embraces the sliminess of his character.   He hypnotically commands the stage in demanding the attention and affection of the audience through his delightful singing and dancing, even in disguise.
Ryan Eberhart is the gullible American, Clifford Bradshaw, a would-be novelist.  He is almost destitute, lonely and has a personal secret.  Ryan is perfect in this role. Magnetically, each audience member accompanies him naively into the world of the Cabaret.
As the seductive Sally Bowles, Madison Hoge is phenomenal.  She sings, dances, and commands the stage in her mesmerizing role always confident even when a situation would be overwhelming.
The Kit Kat Girls are humorously breathtaking, each with their unique personality.   Lauren Anderson, Michelle Adkins, Nadia Williams, Brenda Smrdel, and Tessie Flower are all great dancers, singers, and performers.   Katie Miller as Kit Kat Girl-Kost is marvelous.  Between her humorous preference for sailors and her gorgeous songs, she is unquestionably a masterful artist.
Fraulein Schnieder, portrayed by Therese Rennels is superb in her role as the lonely spinster running a boarding house.  Sam Bass as Herr Schultz has an incredible singing voice and pulls on the heart-strings in his pursuit of marrying Fraulein Schnieder.
However, Herr Schultz is Jewish.  With the current political influences in Germany, a Jew is not considered German even if they are German-born.  Will they marry?
In the role of the antagonist is Karl Rohling as Ernst Ludwig.  His character is to have the innocent Clifford do his dirty work of smuggling.  Karl is phenomenal in this role, even his accent somehow has an undercurrent of danger.
I love the Kit Kat Boys who expertly sing, act, and dance.  Tyler Kliegl, Tony Schneider, Jorge Ambriz, Luke Glaser, Matthew Hansen who also makes a fantastic female gorilla and Tyler Roberts who also plays his violin beautifully.
This orchestra is superb.  Jerry Brabec is the musical director and also plays the keyboard.  Playing trumpet is Curtis Pelster or Joel Edwards, the trombone is Noel Johnson, woodwinds is Stan Harper or Willie Karph, drums is Ben Sampson, and on bass is Tom Miller.  Their music is so integral to the play that the orchestra almost seems to have its personality.
The songs are outstanding with superbly energetic choreography that makes this a top-notch professional performance.   Debbie Massey-Schneweis is phenomenal in working with the performers and planning these incredibly complex and creative dancing.
One of my favorite song is "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" with the song beginning with just on beautifully clear tenor voice and the other men joining in mesmorizing harmonies.  Ironically though, this song is a symbol of the Nazi party.
This adult musical has Gary Bosanek as the director and Tyler Ovis and Denise Putman as co-producers.  Practical sets encompassing six different scenes with minimal transitions are designed and constructed by Joey Lorincz with other builders, Denise Putman and Mati Phelps.
Cathy Bass portrays both Frau Gunnel and a club patron.
For any successful show, there are numerous people in the crew.  Kim Alger is stage manager with Johnnie Richards being the assistant and Rhonda Hall in charge of props. 
Also in the area of choreography, Tony Schneider is the fight choreography and Matt Hansen, the dance captain.
Mati Phelps as the dialect coach made each character believable as speaking German or being British.
In charge of the sound design Dave Podendorf.  Occassionally, the orchestra overpowers the singers but that also depends on the acoustics of the room and where you sit.  Balancing all those individual microphones for each character has to be a daunting task.
Darrin Golden is masterful at the light design with Mati Phelps and Riley Pope working additionally with the spotlights and light board.
The costumes were supplied by Dwayne Ibsen of Ibsen Costume Gallery.
What was almost unusual in this musical was the use of silence.  Those few seconds have an extremely powerful message.
The first part of the show lasts about ninety-minutes followed by a fifteen-minute intermission and concluding with an additional forty-five minutes.
The show concludes this weekend with curtain times of 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.  Tickets cost $ 20 for adults, $ 16 for seniors over the age of sixty, and $ 10 for students. Call the box office at (712) 323-9955 for tickets.
I strongly suggest the you arrive early as with this large cast and crew, parking can be a challenge.
Cabaret is an intense musical about change.  Some changes are our choices, but they have consequences that can be either positive or negative.  Some changes are beyond our control.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Tightening the Thread

Tightening the Thread
A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery
Lea Wait
Kensington Publishing Corporation
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-1-4967-0628-7
Paperback
2017
$ 7.99
301 pages

A true friend is there when you need them.
Sarah Byrne is in a situation where she needs the friendship of Angie Curtis.   The two have discovered their mutual love of antiques and needlepoint.
Sarah recently found her real heritage.  Since a single-mother in Australia raised her, she valued her short time with her.  When her mother died, she moved in with her grandmother in England.   It was wonderful for her to be in a loving relationship again.  Fortunately, her grandmother also shared the information leading her to her silent father in Maine.  This was the first time his identity was revealed to her.
Her plan was to again move to another continent to meet her father.
Unfortunately, he died just months earlier.
Sarah discovered a love for her new home, Haven Harbor, Maine and decided to open her antique business in her new home, the home of her father. 
How does anyone inform the surviving members that she is also part of the family?
Finding her uncle without revealing her true identity was difficult, but Ted Lawrence quickly figured out her true identity.  Ted wisely insisted on a DNA test as proof for the rest of his family.  This wasn't for either Ted or Sarah but the expected disbelief and doubt from Ted's children.
Ted has cancer and knows that he does not have long to live.   He has called his children together.  Ted plans a family reunion including each of his three children's families.  His hope is to mend fences, reveal then new relative and to discuss his intended changes to the will.   His expectations quickly become an impossible task. 
Ted's father, Robert Lawrence had been an outstanding artist. Teaching many of the techniques to Ted as he grew.  Ted is now a reputable artist but will never be the legend of his father.
Sarah is apprehensive about meeting Ted's three grown children.   She knows that the do not get along and their lives take them in varying directions.  For support, her friend Angie agrees to go along and assist in any way she can.  So how would you react to a new will that is now going to include a new cousin?   Apparently, this means that each of them will now receive less inheritance.
Surprisingly Ted dies from possibly eating a bad clam.   Did one of his children purposely give him a clam from a restricted area?   Did Ted complete the new will?   What will happen to the paintings he gave to Sarah?
Lea Wait writes from what she knows.   She lives on the Maine coast and is a fourth generation antiques dealer, much like her characters.  Her mystery series, Shadows Antique Print have been nominated for the Agatha awards.
Tightening the Thread is a fast-paced cozy mystery that is fun to read.   The story is viewed through Angie's eyes as she unweaves the complex lives of Ted and his children.  As an outsider, she does not have the long history of their animosity towards each other. 
Tightening the Thread is a fun, quick, and enchanting mystery woven into a marvelous tapestry.

Through a Yellow Wood

Through a Yellow Wood
A Catskill Mountains Mystery
Carolyn J. Rose
Amazon Digital Services
Lexington, Kentucky
ISBN: 978-0-9837359-4-6
Trade Papercraft
2012
$ 16.49
468 pages

'She was a reminder that there are a hundred little forks in our roads every day and each choice can affect the next one.  If we don't think before we step, we might end up a long way from where we intended to be - from where we wanted to be.'
Sometimes you are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. 
Imagine a small New England town where it seems as if everyone is related to each other. 
Dan Stone is asked to check-in on Clarence Wolven, his mother's second cousin.   Since Clarence always came into town in the first, he is now two days overdue, and that was odd for him.  Also, his phone line is dead.
Dan finds Clarence dead on his front steps.  Also dead are the dogs Clarence was training, except for one small pup who is hiding in the back of his kennel.
Dan arranges the funeral since Clarence had no close relatives and took the dog to the vet, who amputates a leg. 
When the sheriff's investigation has no leads, Dan, and his friend, Jefferson Longyear return to the cabin to look for further clues to the murderer.
Unfortunately, the three-legged dog, now adopted d by Dan's family and called Nelson, leads the two along a trail only to discover three women's dead bodies, posed as if in a play.
As the summer continues, Dan's life becomes more complicated with rebuilding his home, living with Camille, and having a teenaged girl becoming part of his homelife.
Through a Yellow Wood is a continuation of the first, reading Hemlock Lake is a prerequisite to enjoying the book.
I discovered both of these books to be intriguing with the mood.   The story line is depressing, but the author so compassionately cares for the characters that this is hypnotically addictive reading.
Carolyn Rose is the author of the Catskill Mountain mystery series; the Subbing isn't for Sissies series, and numerous other novels and publications.
She now resides in Vancouver, Washington where she works as a substitute teacher.  From growing up in the New York Catskill Mountains, to attending the University of Arizona, to working with Volunteers in Service to America in Arkansas, to being a television news researcher, producer, assignment editor and writer in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington.
These characters are realistic and humanly flawed while still being likable and wanting to do what is right in their minds while revealing insights into their morality and values. The pacing perfectly matches the story making the reader feel as if they are accompanying Dan throughout the investigation.
Through a Yellow Wood is an unusual book with a novel approach to a dark story in a caring manner.