Monday, November 30, 2015

The Bookseller

The Bookseller
Cynthia Swanson
Harper Collins Publishers
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-06-233300-1
$ 25.99
339 pages

"My whole life, in these dreams, turns on an event that happened eight years ago."
Rene Descartes stated "I think, therefore I am."   Does that mean then, if you can think of an existence, it exists?  
That is the problem for Kitty Miller.   She is an old maid, thirty-eight years old, never married, and part owner of a bookstore.  Her life is consistent from day to day.  It is safe.    She is fairly content with her life until she begins to dream.
Each night these dreams place her in an alternate reality where she is Katharyn Andersson, wife and mother of triplets. During the day she is the bookseller Kitty.   Every night when the dreams begin, more of her life as Katharyn continues.  Living two lives can be exhausting. 
It all ted eight years ago. Kitty responded to a "lonely hearts"  ad in a local Denver newspaper.   She was to meet a young architect, Lars Andersson but he never showed up at the restaurant.   So why is she dreaming of her life with Lars when in reality they never met?    So how is it in her dreams that he sweeps her off her feet into another life? 
Kitty's days are fairly calm but Katharyn's nights as a wife and mother of triplets with  one having special needs can be overwhelming.
How could she be married to this man?  Who are these children?  Will Kitty/Katharyn be happy?   Will she know what is real and what is a dream?
Author Cynthia Swanson has published short fiction and even was a Pushcart Prize nominee with her story 13th Moon. The Bookseller is her first novel.
The Bookseller in an intricately engaging novel forcing the reader to question reality and to begin to wonder whether Kitty/Katharyn in schizophrenic.   The characterization is phenomenal with the reader feeling and reacting along this journey.   This is an outstanding page turner that is aimed at a female audience but a story strong enough and engrossing, that all adult readers would enjoy this book.
The Bookseller blurs the lines between sanity and insanity, between dreams and reality.

The Pocket Wife

The Pocket Wife
Susan Crawford
William More
Harper Collins Publishers
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-06-236285-8
$ 25.99
305 pages

Who is a pocket wife?  Any wife who feels that she is as useful and wanted as forgotten loose change in a pocket, no longer practical, just a weight dragging down.
Unfortunately this is how Dana Catrell feels.  Her husband is a tax lawyer and values her as much as loose change. 
Years ago she was the one who was the one who was valued.  She was the one who taught her husband to become the success that he is now.  
So how does he show his appreciation?  When he receives a phone call from his devoted and loving wife, he drops the phone into his pocket.   There are obviously more important things than their relationship.
Dana has an additional problem.  She is bipolar.  She realizes that she has problems due to her mental illness, but daily works to keep herself balanced and well.  Part of her problem is her memory lapses.
Dana's problem is her neighbor, Celia who was just murdered.  Guess who is the only one with a key to Celia's house and who was probably the last one to see Celia alive?  Could she have killed Celia?   With a murder of her friend, the breakdown of her marriage and the mental illness, how does Dana discover these answers before the police arrest her for murder.
The Pocket Wife reveals the investigation into Celia's death through Dana.  Dana knows that she is intelligent but fears trusting her husband or the police. She knows that her husband would quickly blame her for killing Celia, even though she believes that she is completely innocent.  She even wonders if he had an affair with Celia which would give her a reason to be the murderer.   She also cannot explain to the police that she is bipolar and while Celia was being killed, she had a blackout.   She is fairly certain the police would not ignore that but target her as the most likely suspect.
Susan Crawford is a native of Florida.  Through her adult life, she has lived in New York City, Boston, and now Atlanta with her husband, daughters, and cats.  The Pocket Wife is Ms. Crawford' debut novel.
The Pocket Wife is a fast-paced page turner, well-panned with realistic characters that all mystery readers would enjoy.

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor
Julie Iromuanya
Coffee House Press
Minneapolis, Minnesota
ISBN: 978-1-56689-397-8
$ 16.95
292 pages

"So I must find my way back to my old dreams.  And you must find your way to yours."
We all have dreams and perceptions of who we really are.  If you believe you are someone, does that make you into your own personal perception?   What about reality?   Can you afford to be whomever you decide?
Job Ogbonnaya frequently lives his dreams, then there is reality.   Job is a descendant of an
He came to America at the age of nineteen with dreams of becoming a doctor.  His plan was to become a doctor, arrange to marry a wife from his home village in Nigeria , either have his wife become a nurse or start a family, get wealthy on the American dream sending money home, eventually return to Africa establishing a medical clinic and retiring there.  As simple as that seems, there are many things which can go wrong? 
After all, Job is the son of a chief.  Since the death of his older brother, Job realizes that it is his obligation to fulfill his father's dreams. It might be fate that named him Job.
Mr. and Mrs. Doctor is a unique creation combining dreams into reality and discovering that the two  cannot easily coexist.  Being one person in your daily life, another to your friends, another to those in a far away country and another in reality can be overwhelming, even to the ever patient, Job. 
The problems and challenges of immigration is an underlying motivation throughout this novel.  With bringing up the idea of marrying strictly for citizenship, the continual challenges of the immigrants is shown in a realistic light. 
The prejudices revealed in Mr. and Mrs. Doctor are uncomfortably honest showing racism in many forms.  By having this novel in the genre of African American, it is limiting the scope of the story which should be general fiction.
Mr. and Mrs. Doctor is the debut novel for Julie Iromuanya.  She currently works as an assistant professor at Northeastern Illinois University where she teaches Africana literature and creative writing.  She earned her doctorate from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
Mr. and Mrs. Doctor is a well-written tale of an immigrant.  What is refreshing in this novel based in the Omaha, Nebraska area is the honest realism in the character of Job who is attempting to constantly be someone else.  This unique twist is what is special. 
Mr. and Mrs. Doctor surpasses genre limitations and is a brilliant debut novel for author Julie Iromuanya.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Box of Pandoras

A Box of Pandoras
Steve Brewer
Creat Space Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN: 978-1481807739
$ 12.99
308 pages

Everyone has dreams.
Loretta Kimball is the wife of Harley who owns a hardware store in the rural community of Pandora, New Mexico.  This is her hometown and she still has a few unpleasant memories from her high school days, but for the most part, Loretta is a content person.
What makes her passionate if being the founding president of the International Michael Girard Fan Club.   Michael has been a leading actor for years and she has meticulously and carefully devoted endless hours to her idol as his most loyal fan.  Throughout the years, she has never neglected her obligation to this man of her dreams.  Even from her rural home in Pandora, New Mexico, she has successfully maintained her loyalty via the computer and her website dedicated to her idol.
Her devoted and loving husband, Harley is extremely understanding and patient with this labor of love.  He also is secure in their relationship.
A dream is about to happen for Loretta.  She has the chance to meet this man who will be at a new film festival just a few hours away in Albuquerque.   Even her ever-patient husband, Harley, plans to take a few days leave from his hardware store to accompany his wife.  What could possibly go wrong?
First is a death with the most likely suspect being Michael Girard.  Oh no, could the idol be a killer? 
And then there is her high-school classmate who seems to be competing for Michael Girard's affection.  It seems that there is a devious plan to upstage Loretta with every little act of devotion. 
A Box of Pandoras is fun reading.  This cozy tale is a light mystery, well-organized, with characters that are easy to visualize, understand and succeeds in making the reader a close friend to the protagonist.
Steve Brewer is a former journalist who has written over twenty novels while also teaching at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
Who would enjoy this novel?  Anyone who likes quick, fast-paced cozy mysteries would enjoy A Box of Pandoras even though it leans more towards a female readership.   Sometimes you want to read something a little less intense, but fun.   Read A Box of Pandoras.

The Children Act

The Children Act
Ian McEwan
Nan A. Talese/Doubleday
Random House
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-385-53970-8
221 pages

"When a court determines any question with respect to the upbringing of a child...the child's welfare shall be the court's paramount consideration."
Even though this is a quote from from Section 1(A) of The Children Act of 1989 in Great Britain, very similar laws, rules, procedures values and ethics exist in much of the world.  Even though this novel deals with the British legal system, it is relevant in the United States.   The actual name of the number and the act might differ, but the ideas are the same.
Changes in society cause numerous problems for families.
For High Court judge, Fiona Maye this idea of change also applies to her life.   In her early years of being married to Jack, she expected to have children.   That never happened.
Now Jack wants to have an affair which a much younger woman, one who can be passionate.   She is not passionate?   Years of marriage and devotion is not passionate?   Loyalty and devotion mean nothing?  Does this mean divorce is next?   Fiona has no idea how to fix her broken marriage.
A traditional Jewish family has two daughters.   When their mother becomes educated, she causes changes in her family.   The mother wanted the daughters to be sent to a coeducational Jewish secondary school exposing them to boys, the internet, pop music, fashion and today's culture.   In this family, when the mother and father married, the mother was to stay at home to raise the children.   The father wanted many children but due to the difficulty with the birth of the second daughter, the mother was not capable of bringing more children into the world.   To compensate, this mother took classes at the local university and earned a degree to become a teacher.   So who should raise the children?
A seventeen-year-old boy is dying.   Due to his religion, his parents will not allow him to have a blood transfusion which can save his life.   He believes his parents are correct. What is the right thing for a judge to do?
Ian McEwan is an award winning best-selling author.   He has won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the W.H. Smith Literary Award, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Award.
The Children Act takes place in England but the laws in this summer are similar.  This story could take place anywhere and opens everyone to consider how our lives change and to question if the rules and laws of years ago will be relevant today.