Sunday, February 28, 2010


By B. J. Betts
February 2009
ISBN-10: 0595531377
ISBN-13: 978-0595531370
208 pages

Most baby boomers and those older seem to have strong opinions regarding the Vietnam War. Those times of civil rebelliousness caused tremendous and permanent change within our country. Everyone had an opinion about whether or not our soldiers should fight in this foreign land.

Rick Jameson, a small town Iowa boy, did what he believed to be the right thing by serving his country in Vietnam. His plans were to marry his high school sweetheart, Vickie Richards, following his tour. However, life doesn’t always follow the logical path that each of us chooses.

While in Vietnam, Rick daily witnessed the horrors of fighting in a war. During a skirmish, Rick was wounded and was fortunately discovered by Hang Le, a young woman from a small Vietnamese village. She bravely risked her life and that of her brother in order to save Rick while hiding him at the same time.

For those who fought in Vietnam, when they returned, nothing was the same. This was also true for Rick. Everyone and everything had changed. Even the relationships with others affected him. He felt more loyalty and a sense of belonging with his battle buddies than with his family. He didn’t fit into anyone’s expectations anymore.

SAIGON MOON is a predictable love story. Fortunately, it is more than that. This is the story of the times for those who lived through the Vietnam War and for those observing from half-a-world away. This is from the viewpoint of someone who actually lived and experienced the displacement and disappointments of this time period.

SAIGON MOON is from a self-publishing agency, i-Universe. As with many self-publications, it needs an editor to better develop the strong voices in the story and to check for the typographical errors.

B.J. Betts married her high school sweetheart. While raising a family, she only dreamed of becoming an author. In December on the Romance Customers Recommended Top 100 Ebooks on Ebook Mall, she was listed in the number 2 position. SAIGON MOON has been chosen to be displayed at the Book Expo America 2010 in New York City.

Teri Davis February 28, 2010


Author: Kate White
Copyright: March 2010
Harper Collins
352 pages

Lake Warren has an uncanny sense of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. First, her husband becomes distant and then wants a divorce. Now, he wants full custody of their two children. Is this the best time to be attracted to another man? Well, Dr. Keaton is attractive, attentive, and a fertility doctor. Who will find out?

This one-night-stand is romantic and exciting for Lake. She awakens to find out that she fell asleep on the penthouse terrace. However, when she awakens and reenters the apartment, she discovers that the doctor is dead. His throat was slashed. In a panic, she grabs her coat, clothes, and frantically leaves. Now, how do you contact the police without admitting that you were at the apartment?

Lake is conflicted by missing her children who are at camp and feeling the need to check on them. She also is uncomfortable about her soon to be ex-husband. Why does he need to keep getting things from her apartment? Is there a new woman in his life?

Lake works as a marketing consultant for a fertility clinic. Lake’s job is to discover better ways to promote this clinic. What makes this clinic special? The more Lake learns about the clinic, the more she becomes suspicious that something is not right. Was the doctor killed because of something at the clinic? Why does there seem to be an undercurrent of secrecy?

Her only outlet to relax is Molly, Lake’s friend. Without the kids around and just work, Lake feels the need to reach out to Molly. However, Molly doesn’t seem to be available when Lake has free time. What’s going on? Molly is usually available. Why the change? Molly doesn’t admit to having a new boyfriend, but she is really pushing Lake to find a special man.

Now someone is following Lake. Who is this? Why? Is this because of the divorce, the murder, or the clinic, or something else?

The action in HUSH is non-stop. This is a fast-read that easily could be read in a night. You can’t put the book down once you are inside this story. The characters and action are believable. You truly feel that you are Lake Warren.

Kate White is the editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine and has worked with other magazines such as Glamour, Child, Working Woman, and Redbook. She lives in New York City with her two children and her husband. She was written WHY GOOD GIRLS DON’T GET AHEAD BUT GUTSY GIRLS DO, 9 SECRETS OF WOMEN WHO GET EVERYTHING THEY WANT, and YOU ON TOP in the nonfiction category. In fiction she has written IF LOOKS COULD KILL, A BODY TO DIE FOR, “TIL DEATH DO US PART, OVER HER DEAD BODY, and LETHALLY BLOND.

This is not recommended for recently divorced single-mothers. If you want to read a good, fast-paced mystery, read HUSH.

Teri Davis February 28, 2009

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Swan Thieves - NYJ


by Elizabeth Kostova

(Little, Brown and Company//Hatchette Book Group,2010)

Artists don’t always think the same as the general public. What makes them special is their viewpoint of the world through their eyes that most people can’t see. To understand and see the beauty, the masterpiece has to be viewed in order to begin to see the world through these “rose-colored glasses”.

The story revolves around an artist, Robert Oliver, who was arrested while attempting to destroy a painting in the National Gallery. Immediately, he was disarmed and sent for a psychiatric evaluation. Being that Oliver refused to speak, the psychiatrist was astute enough to realize that perhaps a psychiatrist with an art background might be more effective in understanding the personal motivations. He recommended an old-acquaintance, Dr. Marlowe.

Changing perspective is how the story progresses with the narrative of each chapter revealing a small segment that directly affected their life with Robert Oliver. Through Robert’s wife, mistress, or Dr. Marlowe, each chapter uncovered a little more of the artist. Interspersed with the perspectives were historical letters regarding a small group of artists and their lives in France from 1877-1879. What relevance do these letters have on Robert Oliver now? All of these together, unveil how Robert Oliver lived and his motivations.

SWAN THIEVES revolves around Dr. Marlowe’s obsession with Robert Oliver’s past, artistic gift, and his daily life. Initially, he looked into Robert’s life with his wife, Kate.

Kate had been a promising artist when she first met Robert. She felt that she had found the man of her dreams. Once married, life changed slowly as the needs of the family were more demanding than their artistic needs. During this time, Robert became obsessed with painting a portrait of a mysterious woman, repeatedly in different perspectives, backgrounds, and circumstances. He also became more secretive about the identity of this mysterious woman. He also then began his habit of frequent disappearances for varying lengths of time. Who was she? Was he having an affair with her? These thoughts were daily upsetting his relationship with Kate and their children.

SWAN THIEVES is the story of why an artist would want to destroy a piece of art. Why is Robert Oliver obsessed with this woman? Who is she? Why? What does this artist know that he will not share with others? Will this talented and gifted artist ever paint again? These are the questions that motivate this story.

Will everyone understand this story? No, those are probably people who have difficulty realizing that you can’t always place a monetary amount on art. True artists have difficulty understanding the narrow-minded in our general society. Their purpose is to awaken others to the beauty of the world. Elizabeth Kostova expertly wove this story into an art form in itself. This is the world of an artist.

Reviewer: Teri A. Davis


Author: Michael Burke
Copyright 2009
Pleasure Book Studio: A Literary Press
Caravel Books
Paperback $ 15.00
ISBN-10: 1929355505
ISBN-13: 978-1929355501
175 pages

If you were a private investigator, would you wonder about a family relationship if a wealthy father hired you to investigate his only son’s possible affairs? Added to that, the son is engaged to a wealthy, educated, intelligent, and beautiful woman who appears very proper. Why would he chance that relationship for a one-night stand, or is there another woman who means more to him?

Most private investigators have relationships with local law enforcement officials and apparently the local police recommended this family to use Blue. Blue has formerly been a part of the local law enforcement. Since he needs to pay his bills, Blue quickly agrees. However he soon realizes that even though the family can afford to pay him, they haven’t been completely honest with him and want their own secrets to stay hidden.

Johnny “Blue” Heron decides to take the case but wonders about the family when the fiancée’s father temporarily bullies him into his personal limousine and offers to pay him off if he drops the case. Huh? Her own father apparently does not want Blue investigating his future son-in-law. Why does it seem like the wrong families are investigating the wrong people?

Do the priorities seem a little confused? That is exactly how Blue feels throughout this investigation which has a variety of twists involving numerous crimes including embezzlement, perjury, incest, and murder. As Blue discovers more truths, the problems tend to grow geometrically.

While “Blue” is wondering and investigating these bizarre relationships, he unfortunately discovers the son’s dead body. Was he having an affair with this woman? Was he poisoned? How? If there was poison wouldn’t others at a party also possibly be endangered?

SWAN DIVE is seen through Blue’s point-of-view. His eyes, while wandering to attractive females, always deceive him when it comes to meeting attractive women. Blue’s persistence and curiosity are his traits that are the driving force throughout the novel.

In the case of SWAN DIVE, good reads do come in small packages. The only flaw was in the shortness of this precise gem. As a reader, you are constantly wondering what Blue will find and the strangeness of the situations for whom he is working.

Michael Burke shows his artistry is literature with his first novel, SWAN DIVE. He definitely has a varied past from being a Harvard graduate, being in the army, working as an astronomer, studying urban planning, and finally becoming an artist through painting and sculpture.
THE MUSIC OF THE SPHERES will be the next book in the Johnny”Blue” Heron series is due to be published this year.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Bad Book Affair

Author: Ian Sansom
Copyright: 2010
Harper Collins
Trade Paperback
350 pages

Being a vegetarian who is Jewish, English, and a mobile librarian, makes Israel Armstrong seem to be displaced while living in Northern Ireland on the coast of the most northern part in the small community of Tundrum. In actuality, his natural attraction and awkwardness in social situations makes THE BAD BOOK AFFAIR a comical and relaxing reading experience.

Since Israel allowed a 14-year-old, Lyndsay Morris, to check out a book from the unshelved section of the library, he finds himself as a suspect when the girl is missing. Why would he allow her to check out from this censorable book section? How would you know that a girl is only fourteen when she appears older from both her appearance and actions?

What do you do if you are suspected of being involved with the disappearance of a politician’s 14-year-old daughter? Being that Israel doesn’t always avoid conflict, he decides to investigate himself into the girl’s past, earning him problems from his superior and the respect of a local reporter.

Israel Armstrong is humanly plagued of being a realistic character. The depressed mobile librarian recently split from his longtime girlfriend and has the unfortunate ability to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. However what makes this quirky character so delightful is his non-magnetic character who in real-life would not ever be considered as a protagonist. Being this is a novel, knowing Israel, no one feels envious of him, but in each of us, Israel is the perfect example for everyone’s insecurities. He is the typical Charlie Brown without being in a “Peanuts” cartoon.

Being the fourth book in a series, it has to be difficult to meet the needs of a continuation of a series and to be able for the story to be successful as a single novel. THE BAD BOOK AFFAIR accomplishes that and more. This particular novel exceeds the previous ones in that Israel is more human, depressed, and definitely troubled.

For an antagonist, the ever optimistic sidekick, Ted, the driver and heart of the mobile library who knows everyone’s past and secrets, has difficulty constantly lifting the spirits while motivating his comrade. All the characters are realistic in that none of them are perfect and the story revolves around all their flaws.

Ian Sansom resides in Northern Ireland. He contributes regularly to THE GUARDIAN and the LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS.