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

Sunday, August 28, 2016

When the Music's Over

When the Music's Over
Peter Robinson
William Morrow
Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-06-239478-1
$ 25.99
421 pages

'When the music's over, it's time to have some fun.'
For Detective Superintendent Banks, his new promotion is overwhelming.   He is in charge of the Danny Caxton case. 
Danny Caxton is now an elderly, retired celebrity who now faces accusations of rape from fifty-years-ago.   Obviously, there is little evidence so till available from that time and fewer witnesses.
One victim, Linda Palmer has come forward.  She has lived a fruitful and well-adjusted life, working as a poet who vividly remembers the event.  As a young fourteen-year-old with dreams of stardom, this could be her chance to audition and to become a star.   Caxton appealed to her ambition, but the cost was being a victim of sexual abuse.   She was young and inexperienced.   Caxton took advantage of her through his charismatic personality on television.
With the media appeal, Banks realizes that this is a delicate investigation requiring immense patience in building a case to prosecute Caxton.
On a rural road, a young woman is found, dead.   Her body is naked and after being sexual with three different partners, and possibly thrown from a vehicle and then beaten and killed later.   Who is she?   Why has no one identified her after days of her discovery?
These two cases consume Banks and those investigators working with him.
When the Music's Over is a realistic investigation involving many of the problems of today such as poverty, immigration, prejudice, racism, ignorance, and drug abuse.  With no easy solutions, these problems frequently spill over into the criminal world.
The characters are well-developed in this tightly-written mystery.  The pacing is superb running parallel to the revelations throughout the investigation.
Author Peter Robinson resides in both Toronto and England while writing his twenty-three Inspector Banks novels winning numerous international awards and honors including the Edgar Award, the CWA Dagger in the Library Award.
When the Music's Over is for an adult audience.  The book has descriptive events and tragedies not appropriate for children.  These are events that are natural in the life of a law enforcement officer.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Lone Wolf

Lone Wolf
Book Two of The Oldenglen Chronicles
Robin Mason
Tricklewood Press
Brooklin, Ontario
ISBN: 978-0994837127
Trade Paperback
$ 13.99
348 pages

"Hunted.  That was the sensation: the feeling of being hunted.  Hunted down. Terror gripped his wolven side.  But even the part of him that was human felt the loss of freedom.  He felt suffocated."
For Jackson, being a new student entering the seventh-grade at Bear Creek Valley Middle School in Ashland, Oregon is challenging.  Even though English is the common language between the U.S. and England, he feels like an alien in this different land in the foothills of the mountains.
His summer w as an adjustment learning to live with the wildlife in their remote home away from the small town.  The magic of nature and this particular place developed into a friendship with the granddaughter of his nearest neighbor and landlord.
Making friends is always a little awkward for Jax.   He is comfortable with animals, but teenagers can be a challenge for anyone. 
Noah observes Jax holding a wren on his finger in the middle of a group of girls.  He states that he is saving the girls and throws the wren against a  window.
Jax immediately verbally attacks Noah revealing a part of him that needs to stay hidden.  Noah is much bigger and older.
Miraculously, after Jax holds the injured bird, it can fly away.  Jax feels relieved.  Noah, angry, calling Jax, a Freak.  Is Noah jealous of Jax's attention from the girls or did he see something that scared him?
Noah wants revenge.  For what, saving a bird?  Making him look bad in front of a bunch of girls?
Noah also is good friends with three other boys who like to bully other students.  Four against one are not great odds for Jax.
For tweens, having thirty-one chapters is perfect for young readers.  Also unique about this series is that the books are boy-oriented.  Most literature for this age-group is girl-based.
Lone Wolf is an excellent fantasy adventure for eight to twelve-year-olds.   The story is appropriate for tweens with issues of bullying and an overlying theme of friendship.  Learning the value of being one with nature and preserving the wildlife and their habitats is also a major component throughout this series.
While recommended for young readers,  Lone Wolf has lessons for everyone of all ages.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Asssault with a Deadly Lie

Assault with a Deadly Lie
A Nick Hoffman Novel of Suspense
Lev Raphael
Terrace Books
University of Wisconsin Press
Madison, Wisconsin
ISBN: 978-0-30230-6
Trade Paperback
$ 26.95
176 pages

"And how much longer would our relationship last with a minefield like that between us?  If was as deadly as the death of a child, which many couples never survive.  Tragedy didn't always unite complex-often it sundered them forever even if they went through the motions and pretended they could go on together."
Nick Hoffman enjoys his life as a professor at SUM, the State University of Michigan in the English department.  His partner, Stefan Borowski also is living his dream as an author.
Their lives change when a SWAT team enters their home, arresting Stefan.  The police are responding to an anonymous tip regarding a hostage.  Armed with a warrant, while Stefan is being arrested and taken to the police station, Nick is handcuffed.
Fortunately, a neighbor happens to be passing by who is a criminal attorney.  Is this a helpful kind acquaintance, an ambulance chaser, an opportunist, or does she is behind this attack?   The lawyer is dressed well for the middle of the night.
Nick and Stefan have no idea why this is happening as they are not criminals or engage in unlawful activities.
The realism of being accused of a crime and the fall-out is, unfortunately, authentic.  Just suspicion can cause others to believe inaccurately of your guilt, including employers who often search for a reason to terminate people.
The author, Lev Raphael have written twenty-four novels in various genres while currently teaching creative writing at Michigan State University.  Apparently, he chooses his plots based on his setting and experiences.
Theses characters are realistic, flawed and up-to-date with American society being that the two men are partners.   The intended audience is for adult readers due to the police activities.   Similar events mentioned in this book have been part of our modern culture.
The book is from Nick's perception almost daily journaling the attack on their house and their reputations.  From the feeling of paranoia to wanting to purchase a gun and learn how to use it while still curious about who and why this is happening are all relevant to both the story and living in a post 9/11 world.
What is unusual about Assault with a Deadly Lie is how it reveals how these attacks can harm relationships which are usually solid.  Tragedies frequently break families apart as each person must individually process the accusation and resolution within themselves.
Assault with a Deadly Lie is a glimpse of many people's lives who are unjustifiably blamed or attacked.  
Personally, I loved reading this gem and am delighted to experience these feelings only through this book.