Sunday, September 20, 2009


Author: Chris Kuzneski
Penguin Group
G.P. Putnam’s Sons2008
First edition: Penguin UK 2008
First US edition: August 2009ISBN: 978-0-399-15582-6 $25.95512 pagesFiction

“The monk felt the wind on his face as he plummeted to his death, a journey that started with a scream and ended with a thud.”

Since THE DaVINCI CODE, there seem to be a multitude of books attempting to reproduce the action adventure success. THE LOST THRONE would fit perfectly in that category.

A man with an apparent stroke collapses on the streets in Italy in 1890. He is taken to the nearest hospital where he mutters intermittently in German and ancient Greek while his words are recorded. However, the recorder is not masterful in the languages and so the translation and the recording might not be completely accurate. Oh, if only someone could have understood what the man’s dying words meant to those who value the treasures of the past.

Nick Dial, Interpol’s head of the homicide division, is investigating the decapitation of seven Greek Orthodox monks at one of their monasteries in a secluded mountainous area. Being that there is no obvious reason for the murders, Nick is completely perplexed and searching for any reason for the violence.

Added to these events, Jonathon Payne discovers that he has missed numerous calls from a number that is unfamiliar to him. He also listens to a message regarding a life or death situation that has him wondering about who would give his number to someone who needed his help. With his partner, D.J. Jones and their training from special military forces, they investigate the call to discover a female in distress and romp from St. Petersburg, Florida to St. Petersburg, Russia.

Another plot thread weaves in the people of Sparta and how they have maintained the values to the former-times reputation. Somehow, all of these are interconnected in this swashbuckling adventure. Yes, at times even with the swords.

I personally enjoyed this novel. The short chapters, the rotating characters, the development of the story, and the experience of violence without my personal involvement of being bloody, endangered, or dirty works perfectly for me.

I did wish that the author included an afterward to make it clear the facts from the fiction. I found myself wondering if the area of the former Sparta does exist and do the people really believe in their former glorious days. Also, are there monasteries in Greece similar to the ones in this novel?

Chris Kuzneski resides in Florida. His previous novels are THE PLANTATION, SIGN OF THE CROSS, and SWORD OF GOD. I look forward to his next adventure with Payne and Jones.

Teri Davis September 20, 2009

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Saturday, September 12, 2009


Author: Bill Scheft
Simon & Schuster
April 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-9934-0
$ 24.00
275 pages
“Let’s get something straight. Phil Camp had not set out to become a fraud, or, as it turned out, to prevent himself from perpetuating the fraud that he became. That’s just what happened.”
Phil Camp desperately needed to pay-off his ex-wife. So, what is a simple way to acquire that much money? Write a book. Yes, that worked perfectly, even though he used the pen name of Marty Fleck. Yes, everything worked out perfectly except that the book was such a success that it evolved into a bi-weekly syndicated newspaper column written by Marty Fleck.
It has to be difficult to become someone else twice-a-week. What Phil didn’t plan on was that this fictional existence lasted for about eight years.
Added to that, his own brother became a radio personality at the time. Petty jealousies aside, it seemed as if the brother enjoyed ripping apart every column the newspaper had printed written by the fictional Marty Fleck to his growing audience of listeners. This wasn’t quite the life that Phil would have chosen for himself.
Then the pain began. It only happened when he walked, ran, turned over, sprawled out, or felt stress. Sometimes it lasted for weeks and then would disappear and create a sense of well-being again only to reappear at that most inconvenient times.
Anyone looking at possible surgery can sympathize with the need to search for a possible miracle such as a particular philosophy in a self-help book on managing pain called, THE POWER OF “OW”. The book came complete with even telephone support and visits with the author. You just have to believe and if your pain reappears, you are doubting your beliefs and need to refocus yourself. EVERYTHING HURTS is Phil’s journey through the pain.
The characters were well-developed and realistic. The pacing was too slow for my tastes in the first half of the book. To me, I don’t enjoy even reading about constant pain. I much preferred the second half where there was a glimmer of hope in Phil’s depressing life. Dry humor though, made the book readable and actually, enjoyable. Also, the ironic turns of events made the book almost seem autobiographical.
Bill Scheft is the writer of the novels, THE RINGER and TIME WON’T LET ME which won the 2006 Thurber Prize for American Humor. He is also a stand-up comic, a columnist and a television writer. He lives in Manhattan where he is the lead monologue writer for David Letterman.
Teri Davis September 12, 2009
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Sunday, September 6, 2009


Author: Chris Grabenstein
Random House Books for Young Readers
May 12, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-375-84698-4
325 pages
Fiction, Young Adult Fiction,
Ghosts-Stepmothers-Guilt-Traffic Accidents-Moving household-Family life-Connecticut
“Have you ever seen a face hidden in the bark of a tree and known that the man trapped inside wanted to hurt you?”
While Zack’s mother was dying of cancer, she also vented her frustration on him, creating a child who was constantly criticized and could never seem to do the right thing. After her death, Zack still felt her presence in the apartment and her disappointment of his actions. He felt that he could never make her happy.
Zack’s father quickly remarries and Judy seems to be the perfect stepmother, They are starting their new lives and in a new town in Connecticut where his father grew up. Zack’s dad is constantly working, so Zack is pleased with having a positive relationship with Judy. Living in a new house, trying to make new friends, and in a new family situation makes life for Zack lonely. His dad attempts to help the transition by giving Zack a dog, Zipper.
Then he meets the reclusive Gerda Spratling. For fifty years she has weekly visited a tree to remember the only man whom she ever loved. This tree is located at a major intersection, a crossroads, but now it is actually located on the land where Zack‘s family lives. Zack is bothered by a feeling of evil when he looks at the tree and wonders if somehow the tree could hold the spirit of the dead man.
Zack’s only friend seems to come from another time with another sense of values. Davy has great ideas, like how to build a tree house, but for some strange reason, only Zack does the actual work. Davy just watches and advises.
THE CROSSROADS, is definitely a page-turner. I could not put the book down. It was terrifying . With the ghosts and wondering how they are connected, the story is riveting. This is a great novel for anyone and especially for those in the tween years.
Chris Grabenstein was an improvisational comedian and has worked for advertising agencies writing commercials. He became a writer by taking a Writing Aptitude Test and James Patterson recognized his brilliance instantly hiring him. He has written screenplays, made-for-TV movies, Muppet scripts, and a variety of other texts. Winning the Anthony Award for “Best First Mystery” given at Bouchercon 2006 for TILT A WHIRL was the beginning of his successful writing career.
This story continues in the sequel, THE HANGING HILL.


Author: Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen Press
July 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59058-632-7
$ 24.95
268 pages
Fiction, Mystery
Phryne Fisher is a liberated, modern, and gutsy woman living in Australia in the year 1929. Having been involved with previous criminal investigations and solving them, she has a reputation for being intelligent, trustworthy, and persistence. She will not give up until she has answers to your questions.
When an antique-shop owner apparently commits suicide, his mother is not convinced and believes that he was murdered. She hires Phryne. Penetrating his inner circle of wealthy and privileged families and friends who all feel that they are above the ordinary people, Phyrne’s wealth and own upbringing allows her access and respect to this group that feel they are above the laws of the common people.
During this same time, she is asked to find the illegitimate child of a wealthy matron much to the concern of the legitimate side of the family. How will this change their inheritance?
To truly enjoy this novel, you do need to have the background of the previous books in this series. You cannot truly understand her household situation or her personal relationships without knowing the characters and experiences in this series.
Whenever you read a Phryne Fisher mystery, it’s like being reacquainted with an old friend. Kerry Greenwood successfully transports you to a different time and place with each investigation.
Kerry Greenwood has experience in the Australian legal system. She has written over forty novels and this is the sixteenth Phryne Fisher installment.
MURDER ON A MIDSUMMER NIGHT is a delightful jaunt into another place and time. The characters are realistic and Phryne Fisher is the perfect, liberated, stylish investigator for solving a crime or asking awkward questions to sensitive and secretive suspects. This is the person I would want if I ever needed someone in those uncomfortable situations.
Teri Davis September 7, 2009
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Author: Russell Hill
Caraval Books
Pleasure Book Studio
ISBN: 978-1-929355-53-2
$ 15.00
197 pages
Passionate. Sometimes it seems that you were placed on this planet for a purpose and somehow you are drawn to it. Jake Hamrick has always had an interest in birds and one becomes his obsession in life, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, also known as the Lord God Bird. There is an unnatural attraction which becomes his quest to seek out this bird.
Knowing that the bird is believed to either be extinct, or near-extinction, Jake and his girlfriend, Robin, sell their possessions so they can search for the bird in the bayou in southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana. The daily searching is a constant battle with the mosquitoes and the meager subsistance of hot dogs and beans.
Being the year is 1949 also creates some problems with the racial issues and not being a native Southerner. Understanding the people of a particular geographical area along with the post war era actually is traveling back into a different time when values and thoughts were unquestionably black and white. Or are they?
Robin decides that since she has a bird-like physique, she will attempt to resemble this rare woodpecker in order to attract others of the same species. Climbing dead trees is a constant safety concern, but when nearby hunters see Robin, they begin to hunt her while Jake and Robin are still on their quest to find the bird. The quest sometimes defies common sense, but what is the right thing to do when the real endangered bird is shot?
How do you continue your quest when you become the prey now with a predator on the loose? Who did the right or wrong thing?
THE LORD GOD BIRD is a novella that I did could not put down. The intensity 0f the personal voice strengthens with each word. The tale is haunting. The sense of time and place is outstanding. You can feel the sweltering heat and are almost itching from the mosquitoes. THE LORD GOD BIRD is an example of excellent writing.
Usually I tend to shy away from purchasing any book that can be read in one sitting. With the economic situation of our times, I don’t like purchasing any book that is only 197 pages and costs fifteen dollars. THE LORD GOD BIRD is definitely the exception to my reluctance. I am actually purchasing additional copies for family and friends to read. The book is that good. Yes, it is a little strange, but writing this superb needs to be shared.
Teri Davis
September 6, 2009
For more reviews by Teri Davis go to her blog at: Http://
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