Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Ghosts on 87th Lane

Author: M. L. Woelm
Copyright 2007
Llewellyn Publications
Paperback $ 12.95
ISBN 978-0-7387-1031
278 pages

Most people really do not believe they have ghosts in their home. What would you do though if there seems to be evidence that you have one or more of these creatures living in your house and treating you like you are the guest in your own home? What if you cannot afford to move? How do you make peace with the other questionable entities abiding in your abode?

That is the problem this author had beginning with her move to new home in Minnesota in 1968.

Living in an apartment with a husband and two small children is a challenge. Needing space for the family prompted Paul and Marlene Woelm to begin the house hunting process. They finally discovered a bungalow that needed some work and the owners were definitely motivated enough to lower the price. Everything now should calm down in their lives. Shouldn’t it?

Marlene, as a stay-at-home mom was puzzled after the family moved in by the voice asking for mommy. Her children called her, “Momma”. Granted that wasn’t a big issue, but it was a concern. Then things began to disappear. Things began to be dropped. There were loud noises where the house should be silent. It felt like someone was watching her. The house just didn’t feel right. Added to that was the discovery that one of the children who had previously lived in the house had died of a ruptured bowel. Could that child be a ghost?

The author, Marlene Woelm, has stated that she has always been “sensitive” to the supernatural. As a child, she saw what others were incapable of seeing. Did this make her more inviting then to the ghostly world?

THE GHOSTS ON 87TH LANE is Marlene’s tale of living with what she believes to be a variety of ghosts through almost forty years of their occupancy of this house. The problem the author had was how to constantly get rid of these squatters. (Or was her family the squatters?) From denial to seeking ghost busters, Marlene has tried them all.

Overall, the story was enjoyable and engaging to read. There were a few difficulties with the sequence organization which was perplexing. Also, THE GHOSTS ON 87th LANE is an experience, but not a hair-raising haunting. Think of this book as a kind of everyday haunting that is if haunting exists.

Do you believe in ghosts? Read the book to look for the evidence.

Maybe This Time

Author: Jennifer Crusie
Copyright September 2010
St. Martin’s Press
Hardcover $ 24.99
ISBN 978-0-312-30378-5
352 pages

Andromeda (Andie) Miller feels that she has successfully placed the past in the past and has moved on with her life since her divorce ten years ago. In fact she feels so confident about this, that she decides that it is time to face her past and to return all the alimony checks to her former husband. She doesn’t need or want them. She chose not to cash them. This confrontation is what she needs to move to her new life with her soon-to-be husband who happens to be a well-known and successful writer.

However Andie did not expect her ex-husband, North, to offer such an intriguing temporary job. She is to be a nanny to two distant relatives who have been orphaned and apparently are convincing people that their estate is haunted. The twosome has successfully eliminated nannies recently. North would like her to settle the children so that they can be moved closer to his home. The clincher is when he offers to pay Andie ten-thousand a month for this challenge. How awful can this situation be for that much money?

Andie agrees to this arrangement and discovers the estate to be run-down with an eccentric and aged housekeeper, Mrs. Crumb, a distant and silent preteen, Carter, and an eight-year-old fashion-disaster, Alice. Added to this is what appears to be ghosts which Andie has difficulty believing really exist.

Andie is just beginning to develop a relationship with the two children when South, North’s brother, appears with a local television celebrity and her camera man who are anxious to exploit the house and the children for a story.

Yes, this is a predictable romance novel but the methodology is definitely intriguing. The running ghost story and the relationships between the housekeeper, the children, and Andie make this a delightfully quick read. Also, the conflict between the ghost believers and the reasoning for the haunting is a continual drive within this novel.

Jennifer Crusie has also written many novels including TELL ME LIES, CRAZY FOR YOU, WELCOME TO TEMPTATION, FAST WOMEN, FAKING IT, and BET ME. Yes, I would say that the book is female oriented and for those who enjoyed well-written romance novels. Crusie is a pseudonym for Jennifer Smith. She has lived the life of an Air Force wife as well as being a public school teacher.

MAYBE THIS TIME is an updated version of Henry James’ TURN OF THE SCREW. Personally, I enjoyed this unpredictable story within a predictable romance.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Language of Trees

Author: Ilie Ruby
Copyright July 2010
Harper Collins Imprint
Paperback $ 14.99
ISBN 9780061898648
368 pages

“Trees are the most trusting of all living creatures between they trust enough to put their roots down in one place, knowing they’ll be there for life.
-Author unknown”

Grant Songo is having difficulty finding out his purpose in life. He has moved back to his family cabin that he inherited after the death of his parents. This past year as a teacher was not successful and he was given a leave of absence allowing him time to heal from two broken marriages, the second one failed following three miscarriages.

Unfortunately, this cabin is the surrounding the lake where years ago a small boy drowned during the night when in a small boat with his sisters. However, Luke, the boy, continues to haunt the area and continues to intermingle with the community leaving dimes and small yellow paper airplanes in the town. Added to the mystery is that this area is in upstate New York near the Finger Lakes which were at one time inhabited by the Seneca and also are known to have their own spiritual ghosts.

The story of Luke and how his family continues to deal with their guilt and grief along with Grant’s guilt about his personal life, the return of Grant’s first wife are beautifully overlapping into this novel. Additionally in the story are literally a lone wolf, the haunted area, and most importantly the disappearance of Luke’s sister, Melanie. As each day, the community varies between searching for her and wondering if she ran away again while Lion, her long term lover, continues to care for their child and fearfully wondering if she is back using drugs. These are all beautifully interwoven into an entrancing tale while rooting the characters to this mysterious area of Canandaigua Lake.

THE LANGUAGE OF TREES is a debut novel by Ilie Ruby who has published numerous poems and short stories in a variety of literary and online magazines. With her three children and her husband, she currently lives near Boston.

The characters are believable. The choice of words is truly masterful and poetic. The multiple storylines perfectly overflow each other while intermixing and developing. The flaws of all the characters, as well as their personal abilities and gifts, are lovingly blended into this mystery with both real and remembered hauntings that are not as a horror or a thriller but as a way of caring and remembering. This is not a romantic love story, but a story of realistic love and caring for other people.

THE LANGUAGE OF TREES is a story of eloquence revealing the raw nature of humanity growing in trust with those who care and learning how to extend their own personal roots to become the trees of this community.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Bone Chamber

By Robin Burcell
Poisoned Pen Press
December 2009
Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-06112-229-3
400 pages
Mass Market Paperback

You can be killed if you have the third key. What is the third key to? What about the first and second key? Sydney Fitzpatrick quickly feels the need to answer these questions in THE BONE CHAMBER. She also has the feeling that she is always in the wrong place at the wrong time.

THE BONE CHAMBER begins with Sydney being summoned to Quantico to create a drawing from a skull of a possible victim who was obviously murdered and so extremely disfigured that she was not recognizable. Since she is a forensic artist for the FBI, this does not seem unusual except that the FBI is not involved with investigation. No one will tell her who is in charge or why she is to work with another agency.

To complicate matters, Sydney’s colleague and friend is also killed in a hit-and-run incident once she has begun this investigation. She is being followed but has no clue as to why. Added to this is the hunky, Zach Griffin who just wants her safely out of this case.

The victim turns out to be an archeological student who seemed to have made a recent discovery or to be near a discovery. To complicate matters, this particular student is also the daughter of the ambassador to the Holy See. Supposedly, she had found one of the three missing keys left by the Templar Knights and seemed to know where to find the long-hidden map to their treasure.

THE BONE CHAMBER is written as an action/adventure where no one ever sleeps. The characters are believable. It also leaves you frequently wondering who are the good guys and the bad guys that greatly added conflict and excitement to the story.

Personally, I think authors need to look for other hidden treasures and give the Templar/ Freemason connection a rest. There have to be a multitude of worldly treasures lost that have never been found with secrets that could upset many people just waiting to have someone write about them.

Robin Burcell actually trained to be an FBI-forensic artist and has worked for over twenty years in law enforcement. She has previously written the novels EVERY MOVE SHE MAKES, FATAL TRUTH, DEADLY LEGACY, and COLD CASE. THE BONE CHAMBER is actually the second book in the Sydney Fitzpatrick series. It works as a standalone but I think I would have been more attached to the character if I had read the first book, FACE OF A KILLER which I do intend to read now.