Sunday, April 11, 2010


By Simon Noel
Xlibris Corporation
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-4500-3809-6
246 pages
$19.99/Hardcover $29.99

Do brilliance and psychological defects occur together? That often does happen. It definitely happened with Ada Stein who was an outstanding student while studying German in college, but decided it was best to change schools her senior year to be near her father who suffered from a heart attack. The new school though, did not have the needed classes for her so they agreed to allow her to complete her work through independent studies under the direction of a long-time professor. The situation became awkward though when the professor suddenly died and no one at the faculty level had enough expertise to teach German. It was decided that Ada could temporarily teach the class due to her excellence and recommendation from her former school.

Ada, although brilliant, becomes entangled personally and sexually with all types of people, including a student of hers. She has no sense of morality and expects no consequences either positive or negative for her decisions. Also Ada is Jewish and becomes involved with anti-Semitic activities.

OHIO STORY tends to wander at times and seems directionless especially in the beginning. For instance, much of the story involved a state college becoming a private school. It also gets bogged down in legalities. The story does improve as it progresses. Also, I expected more about the history of Ohio since it was called OHIO STORY.

What was lacking in OHIO STORY was the attachment to the characters. After reading the novel, I did not care for any of the characters. They seemed cold and detached. Since this book is supposedly viewing the idiosyncrasies of the people of Ohio, are they all this uncaring and strictly looking out for themselves? What was needed was someone to demonstrate a little compassion somewhere through the events.

I was wondering if this story was based on any real event that might have occurred in Ohio or elsewhere in the turbulent 1960s. The freedom of the main character in terms of her sexual relations without any emotional ties bothered me. The characters were cold and unfeeling.
The author, Simon Noel, bases this story from his experiences at college in Ohio. He works as a lawyer in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
I strongly feel that if the author found a publisher, not a self-publishing agency, that has real people as editors, this could easily be rewritten into a dynamite novel. The basic story line is unusual and the actions are not predictable. The story does need more attachment to the characters in developing their own unique voices and not utilizing “lawyer talk”.

Teri Davis April 11, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010


By Amy Greene
Alfred A. Knopf
Random House
ISBN: 978-0-307-26986-7
304 pages

BLOODROOT is the story of four generations living in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee during the twentieth century.

The story begins with Byrdie Lamb who is challenged by raising a wild daughter, Clio who enjoys testing limits. Frustration is what she feels when Clio at the age of seventeen marries. Seeming to always be living just a step above the survival level, Clio and her husband are killed in an accident leaving their child, Myra with Byrdie. Myra inherits some of her mother’s traits but is different while still worrying Byrdie.

When you feel that you have failed as a parent and you get another chance, you do things differently for the next one and that was Byrdie’s plan, to raise Myra based on the mistakes with Clio. However, life doesn’t always agree with our plans and when Myra meets John Odom, The attraction between the two is obvious and seems like fate. What Myra chooses to ignore is his philandering, abusive behavior, and alcoholism.

Much of the novel centers on Myra’s twins, John and Laura. Myra raises her small children in isolation and literally hides them from their father and the authorities. As the two grow and begin to discover their natural gifts and abilities, they also search for relationships that frequently do not meet their needs.

At the beginning, the story seems disjointed and tends to wander. The story is told from multiple points-of-view which can be a bit confusing at first. However, when the story begins to connect, that is the strength of BLOODROOT. The connections of their lives and their stories is what makes this novel exquisite. You can feel the challenges, failures, and successes as if you were actually part of their lives.
BLOODROOT is Amy Greene’s debut novel. She bases her book on the life she has witnessed in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. Her next novel will be LONG MAN also from Knopf.

Teri Davis April 5, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010

DutchII: Angel's Revenge

By Teri Woods
Grand Central Publishing
Hatchette Book Group
2005/ 2010
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-446-55155-7
304 pages

Angel Alvarez is out of prison and plans to get back into her old culture and regain her life. She discovers herself in position to take over where Dutch left off. Yes, she has been gone three years and others have taken over some of the area, but none of them have the savvy, the smarts, and the cunningness to take out her challenges to the number one spot.

Brother Rahman and One-eyed Roc are torn between their old lives and their new commitment to the Muslim faith. Living back in the old neighborhood makes it more of a challenge with everyone expecting the old reactions, habits, and leadership. Rahman now wants to do the right thing for his community and dreams of a peaceful future for all.

Nina is working in a bank and has finally found a new love, but then there are new gifts that could only be given by Dutch. So where is he?

The book is violent and is concerned about the differences between the street life and life of living by the Muslim standards. This is the part that is the strength of this novel, the conflict and the dream for a better life for this particular black community.

Much of the book is written in the natural dialogue of the black gangster community. This makes the realism distinctive for the entire story. The words are the language of the people who are in the story.

I was disappointed in that Dutch was not more a part of this story. I realize that this book is a prelude to the release of the recent third book in this series. Hopefully, Dutch will make more appearances in that one.

Teri Woods is an East Coast native living in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and now New Jersey with her three children. She had difficulty being published and after years of rejection, she started selling her own book out of the trunk of her car. Now she has her own publishing and production company, Meow Meow Productions.

Teri Davis April 3, 2010


By Peter May
Poisoned Pen Press
February 2010
ISBN: 978-1-59058-604-4
348 pages
The Olympic Games have changed in the recent past. Now we have witnessed athletes who deal with drug tests, hormonal injections, and a variety of methods to increase their personal performance. With so many new advancements in medicine, how are we ever certain that an athlete’s scores are genuine rather than the result of some medical enhancement?
First Li Yan is asked to investigate the death of one of the top Chinese swimmers who apparently committed suicide. It just doesn’t feel right to him. Then added to that, one of the top Chinese weight lifters dies on top of his mistress, who happens to me married to a high-ranking Chinese official. Also are the previous deaths of other athletes in a car accident. Why are these Chinese athletes dying and why?
Fortunately, Li Yan is engaged to an American pathologist, Dr. Margaret Campbell who begins to assist in the autopsies. The two often are working in complete opposite directions while attempting to discover connections between the athletes. The skills of both of these professionals are needed to discover the correct solution to these deaths.
The strength of THE RUNNER is the human relationships. The trials of Margaret and Li Yan is having their parents meet, Margaret’s pregnancy, their upcoming nuptials, and the morality and diplomacy of the Chinese government make this novel exceptional and more than just a mystery. This is true storytelling.
THE RUNNER is a fast-paced engaging novel. Personally, I am not well-acquainted with many of Chinese descent and especially not Chinese names. I found that making a character list helped since I am not personally accustomed to the numerous two letter and one syllable names. For me, it was easier to distinguish and continue the characters.
Peter May who is a Scot has been made an honorary member of the Chinese Crime Writers’ Association and the only westerners who is a member. His approach to the evolution of the Chinese people in their emergence of becoming a world power again, is unique in his understanding of the people with their challenges and triumphs. I look forward to further novels by Peter May.

Teri Davis April 3, 2010