Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Boy in the Suitcase

The Boy in the Suit Case
Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis
Translated from Danish by Lene Kaaberbol
Soho Press
Random House
November 2011
Trade paperback
ISBN: 978-1-56947-0
320 pages

Doing the right thing is not always easy. For Nina Borg, her daily struggles with balancing her family and work are not always smooth or easy. Working as a Red Cross nurse often conflicts with being available for her family and a husband who does not understand when the family takes second place in her priority list.

Nina receives an unusual request from a friend asking her to pick up a suitcase in a locker at a public train station. The suitcase is heavy and she does wonder what is inside. After struggling to get it into her vehicle, for some strange reason Nina feels the need to return to the locker. There she sees a large man opening the locker and hitting it when he realizes that it is empty. Unfortunately, he also sees her.

After frantically running to car and racing away, she finally finds a place where she can open the suitcase. Inside is a small child, naked. She is surprised to find him breathing. What do you do? She is fearful that the police will place the child in a refugee or foster care situation. Is this better for the child? Who is chasing her? What do they want with the boy?

The Boy in the Suit Case is a page-turning intense action-adventure story. The characters are realistically flawed and their personal problems obviously continue after the story ends. The plot is well-developed and organized. The system of governmental influences on a child really exist and Nina’s choices and situations are easy to understand.

The Boy in the Suit Case is part of a bestselling crime series from Denmark by Agnete Friis and Lene Kaaberbol and translated into English for the first time. It has also earned the 2008 Harald Mogensen award for the best crime novel and was short listed for the Scandinavian Glass Key Award for crime fiction when against The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The Boy in the Suit Case has now been translated into ten languages with more the two million copies of the book available. With many Scandinavian novels being translated into English, I hope to read more by either of these two gifted authors.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Releasing Gillian's Wolves

Releasing Gillian’s Wolves
Tara Woolpy
Bats in the Boathouse Press
August 1, 2011
Trade paperback
ISBN: 978-0-9832033-0-8
280 pages

How many people give up their dreams in order to support a spouse or raise children? For women, it is often expected.

Gillian gave up her dreams of being an artist when she married Jack Sach. Being that Jack wanted to enter the field of politics, Gillian was the devoted wife in helping with the campaigns and providing food for many of the meetings throughout the past thirty years. She has also had the problem of letting go of her anger towards Jack with his constant affairs.

The latest conquest is a young intern, naturally, who also showed interest in their son. After witnessing the breaking of her son’s heart because of her husband’s indiscretion, Gillian wants time to decide what to do. Fortunately, she inherited money so that makes life easier for her.

Gillian has a long-time gay friend, Edward, who has always been there when she needed a shoulder. Now Edward’s life is changing and Gillian is taking charge of her life, her way.

Releasing Gillian’s Wolves is Tara Woolpy’s debut novel. She has published poems and short stories in a multitude of publications. Currently she is a professor of aquatic sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She has also published under the last names of Reed, Danaan, and Reed-Andersen.

This story is definitely geared towards a female audience. It also leans to the romantic genre. Parts of the story are autobiographical in that Tara Woolpy’s mother was involved with politics in Idaho.
For a first novel, the story was very well-written, well-organized, and logical. The characters were believable and definitely human. The inner voice had a strong feeling of authenticity.
All of us have wolves inside, hidden talents that need to be released or at least tested. For those who have ever wondered, “What if I had…” you need to read this. I look forward to future novels by this author.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Just a Bunch of Crazy Ideas

Just a Bunch of Crazy Ideas
Pardu S. Ponnapallli
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-4568-8239-6 $24.99
Softcover ISBN: 978-1-4568-8238-9 $15.99
Ebook 978-1-4568-8240-2 $7.69
78 pages

Crazy ideas??? If you were living in the 1940s most people would have considered the idea of men walking on the moon as a crazy idea. At that time, the thinking was crazy, thinking outside the box.
So, what’s to say that thinking crazy isn’t the way to solve our present day solutions?

Pardu S. Ponnapalli earned a doctorate degree in physics. Upon graduating, he could not find a job which matched his education so he became an IT specialist. From his life experiences, he has some thoughts written as short essays about a variety of subjects, some more reasonable than others, and some being a possibility.

The importance of this book is to get people to think about the present day problems and to find realistic solutions. He mentions his proposals, but more importantly wants others to start pondering on solving the problems. After all, the first step to solving a problem is recognizing that there is a problem.

Some of his ideas are extremely practical such as the luggage problem on airplanes and the energy conservation. Some need more research with what has already been considered such as the gas tank placements and the chess differentiation of games. Some could cause more problems, such as the flexible seating in vehicles would bring another complete dimension to the insurance industry.

Explaining the difference between the National Debt and the deficit was well-done and clear. I am concerned about the simplistic view though of solving this problem. There are many more components of this problem, but he does have insight about where to begin the solution.

Other thoughts discussed are the idea of a space elevator, promoting ice hockey, alternatives for controlling the cat litter box smell, laptops and their constant need for replacement or repairs, space exploration, the stock market, the world of IT workers, hiking injuries, and improvement for dishwashers.

The essays were well-written and mostly thought through. Based on his personal experience, they were enlightening and at times, laughable. More importantly, they make the reader take the time to think about our future, ponder on the problems, and look for the solutions we need.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lily Hates Goodbyes

Lily Hates Goodbyes
Jerilyn Marler Illustrator: Nathan Stoltenberg
March 2011
ISBN: 978-1460960707
$ 6.95
32 pages

What can any of us do to help a military family who has to deal with being sent overseas?

Jerilyn Marler wondered about that exact thing when her granddaughter was having difficulty with her
father’s deployment with the Navy. From four-year-old Lily’s perspective, her life was ending.

This book allows a young child to talk about their temporary loss and feelings through Lily in the book.
Dealing with a deployment is difficult for any family, Lily Hates Goodbyes even guides the family
through this time and how to effectively deal with it.

Particularly for military families, this little book is excellent. Guiding through with some survival skills
such as looking at the moon and talking to it as if it were her father, talking to her mom, hitting a pillow
allows strategies for trying times. Also, the memory box for her father is a wonderful way for sharing
for any parent that has to be gone for any time.

Also available is a coloring book that accompanies Lily Hates Goodbyes. The illustrations are
wonderful. The story is well-told and perfect for any four-year-old to understand. The suggestions in
the story and the back of the book are well-thought out for any family loss, particularly deployments.

Jerilyn Marler resides in Oregon and has been a writer in the technical world for years. Nathan
Stoltenberg also lives in the Northwest and is an up and coming artist in numerous fields.

Lily Hates Goodbyes is the perfect gift for every military family.


Ted Bell
Harper Collins Publishers
July 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-185931-1
$ 9.99
681 pages
Fiction – Action- Adventure

Thank goodness that somewhere in the world there is one extremely gifted person who can be trusted
to do the right thing, even if it involves risking their own life. They truly feel that this is their sense of
duty and service to others. These people are rare but those few who feel this commitment are highly
valued by their peers, their superiors, and those everyday folks who need a champion. Fortunately for
us, Alex Hawke is that person in this fictional novel.

Mr. Smith has a long history of terrorism and now seems to be instrumental in the unification of two
known terrorist groups, the IRA and the Sword of Allah who interacts with the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
This Mr. Smith seems to be British but was somehow involved with the death of Lord Mountbatten in
1979 as well as Diana’s accident. Now, his target is the royal family beginning with the princes.

Being that Warlord is the sixth in the Alex Bell series, there are continuations regarding the
progression in their personal lives. Warlord begins with the James Bond-like character in his Caribbean
retreat reflecting on his personal loses from the previous novel, Tsar. Wallowing in his grief, Alex
receives a call from Prince Charles who asks for his help in protecting his family who has been
threatened. Alex instantaneously changes his attitude in response to his long-time friend that
reignites his sense of duty.

Added to that is a missing nuclear weapon which leads Alex and his associates to the Afghanistan desert
and into the mountains along with Mr. Smith.

Warlord is action/adventure with a James Bond attitude. Alex Bell seems to be a more focused Bond-
like character who only needs to focus on one woman. There is humor and a sense of being realistic in
that the characters do need to sleep and eat. Even without having read the previous novels, this one
is easy to understand and the characterization does not suffer.

I enjoyed reading this fast-paced novel. My criticism regards the Epilogue which obviously is leading
into the next novel. With most of the writing being tight and conclusive, this was wandering and
unevenly paced. It really didn’t blend well with theprevious story.

Ted Bell is a former chairman of the board of an advertising agency. He lives in Florida and Colorado
writing his adventurous novels featuring Alex Hawke.

I look forward to the next in this series.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Durham Deception

The Durham Deception: A Cathedral Mystery
Philip Gooden
Severn House
ISBN: 978-0-399-15722-6
248 pages
Fiction, Newlyweds, Lawyers, Mediums, Magicians, Murder Investigations, 19th Century

Sometimes the only way to stop a family member from doing something possibly stupid is by an intervention from a family member, even in nineteenth century England. That is the situation for newlywed Helen Ansell and her husband, Tom.

Helen’s aunt, Julia, lives in Durham, away from the rest of the family in London. Julia, although never married, managed to make many fortunate investments in her younger days, and now money is not a concern. Julia is fascinated by an older gentleman who is a medium for those dearly departed from their loved ones. Can Helen stop her spinster aunt from marrying this fraud?

Conveniently, Tom has also been sent to Durham on an assignment as a young lawyer. He is to meet with the stage magician, Major Sebastian Marmont who wants an affidavit verifying his ownership of an unusual and valuable weapon, the Lucknow Dagger. Both Helen and Tom are pleased when their purposes coincide.

This was a logical and intricate mystery that was not predictable but was easy to follow. Especially outstanding were the references to life in the 1800s such as working with the gaslights. This allowed a true picture into the daily life of this time period.

The story is a well-written page turner. The characters are believable and the references within the setting were true to the time period. The mystery is fast –paced while still being plausible. Added to that are the intricate details important which support the setting.

Being The Durham Deception is the second book of Philip Gooden’s Cathedral series, many readers might be hesitant because many important elements in character development and relationships are only in a first novels. This particular novel is easy to understand without having read the first one.

Philip Gooden has written two separate mystery series. So far, he has six novels in the Shakespearean Murder Mystery series, and two in this Cathedral series. Originally The Durham Deception was published in England in 2008 as The Durham Disappearance. He has also written The Mammoth Book of Literary Anecdotes, The Open Door: and other Ghost Stories, Faux Pas, Who’s Whose?, Name Dropping: A No-Nonsense Guide to the Use of Names in Everyday Language, and The Story of English: How the English Language Conquered the World.

The Durham Deception is a delightful quick mystery. Personally, I plan to read other novels by this British novelist.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife
Paula McLain
Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-03421309
336 pages

“Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another. “ Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway is remembered as a phenomenal author but also as a person who lived and died by his own set of rules. With four wives, bull fights, friendships or enemies with other authors, and suicide, all of these set his life apart from anything but normal. In The Paris Wife, Paula McLain magnifies one section of Ernest Hemingway’s life, the time with his first wife, Elizabeth “Hadley” Richardson.

This story revolves around when Hadley and Ernest first meet through when they divorce. Hadley was twenty-nine years old when she met the twenty-one year old Hemingway. There was an instantaneous attraction. They quickly married and moved to Europe, centering mostly in Paris. At this time, numerous legendary authors formed a close-knit community here and spent much time together with the couple such as Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, and F. Scott Fitzgerald as well as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, and Juan Gris. Most of this time, Ernest worked as a journalist while being a financially struggling writer on the side. Their experiences and the visits to Spain for the bull fighting and the runs became much of the content of the memorable novels.

Pauline Pfeiffer, eventually the second wife, becomes an interesting character as she befriends both Ernest and Hadley and is a close and valued friend to both. This awkward friendship eventually caused the dissolution of the marriage.

The Paris Wife tells the story from Hadley’s perspective. Yes, I would consider this to be an advanced chic lit book. Men, you won’t enjoy it unless you enjoy reading romances. The idea to write this book came from when the author read Hemingway’s memoir, A Moveable Feast. One of the last lines about Hadley stated, “I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her.” That is the basis for this story.

I enjoyed this novel. However, it came already installed on my Kindle. It flowed easily. It is not a guy novel at all. The Paris Wife is for those who enjoy an involved and realistic love story.

Withering Tights

Louise Rennison
Harper Teen
Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-06-179931-0
288 pages
Fiction, Interpersonal relations, Camps, Performing arts, Self-confidence, Yorkshire, England

Many fourteen-year-old girls desperately are trying to fit in and to become popular. It is difficult when you grow unevenly and feel like you are all legs even if you’re living in Britain.

Tallulah Casey is thrilled to be able to fulfill her dreams since she has been accepted to spend the summer at a Performing Arts College. Being that her application was accepted late, there wasn’t room for Tallulah in the dormitory. The school does arrange for her to stay at a nearby home with an eccentric local family.

The theme for the summer program is Wuthering Heights in this moorland of the Yorkshire Dales. Where sheep abound in the town and squirrel slippers keep you warm on chilly mornings, Tallulah begins to awkwardly grow into her height, starting to understanding embarrassing families, kissing boys, making friends, and discovering if she has any talent for this performing arts school.

Making new friends seems fairly easy. The school itself is a challenge since none of her teachers seem to think she has any talent, just clumsiness. Also interesting is that there is an all boys school also in the town. So knowing that boys are around, maybe Tallulah will be kissed for the first time. More importantly, maybe she will finally begin to fill out and need a bra.

Withering Tights is the first book in a new series by Louise Nicolson who is known for her Georgia Nicolson stories. This is a fun-lighthearted book for those girls who are not in high school and enjoy the companionship of a fourteen-year-old girl point-of-view, complete with her mistakes and ungraceful life. Also, most importantly, is the learning from Tallulah about learning to laugh with others, even about yourself. The reading audience is for girls who are in their early teens.

Withering Tights is a funny and realistic journey into the life of a typical British fourteen year-old girl.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pole Shift 2: The Ribbon Years

Pole Shift 2: The Ribbon Years
Albert Samuel Tukker
Lulu Press
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-557-37369-7
$ 29.28
457 pages
Science fiction

As a continuation from the first book Pole Shift, this novel continues. As a quick refresher, Pole Shift is
the thrilling action adventure novel about the change of our planet’s magnetic poles due to the
galactic alignment and change in the gravitational forces that actually shift our magnetic poles which
level the mountains and create the Plains Sea in middle America.

Forrest Woods, along with Claire, is continuing his search for survivors in the area of what we now consider as Arizona, Kansas, and Nebraska and being guided by the spirit of his former wife in the form of a blue firefly. He is also looking for the changes in geography as well as the changes in the wildlife such as carnivorous rabbits and cows.

Forrest and Claire are constantly wondering about the people they meet along their journey. They are surprised that there seem to be either those who are evil or good. There is no middle ground. They are constantly rescuing those who need help and attempting to eliminate those who take advantage of others.

There are also many realistic health and injury challenges which are believable with anyone being exposed to the elements and fighting with others. The grieving of personal losses also is considered and varied as it is in real life.

Forrest seems to have a restlessness that is balanced by his wandering and searching. As the story progresses, he changes as his personal needs evolve. The strength of this science fiction/almost western is the characters and their relationships with each other. Sometimes though, it seemed a little too black and white with no regard for the areas in-between.

The ending was forced with skips in time as the chapters progressed. Being that this was not present in the earlier parts of the novel, it is unsettling and seems contrived. The author obviously wanted to end this series.

I loved Pole Shift and would recommend that this be read immediately after it. Albert Samuel Tukker is an extremely talented author who seems to be overlooked by the publishers. His previous novel, Rage, won third place in the Mystery/Suspense/ Thriller category by Premier Book Awards for 2009.

Read anything written by Albert Samuel Tukker. You won’t be disappointed.

Prophecy of the Guardian

Prophecy of the Guardian: Guardian of the Seventh Realm Part I
J. W. Baccaro
Whiskey Creek Press
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-61160-024-7
$ 17.95
320 pages

Darshun Luthias was born for a purpose. As a infant, he was almost a sacrifice when he was rescued, as foretold in a prophecy. Now, he has the distinction to fulfill this prophecy with a world hoping for his victory of the Light over the Dark.

Prophecy of the Guardian is the story of Darshun and his childhood. Being one of the few surviving Nasharin warriors, Mirabel senses the existence of another of his almost extinct race. Carefully, with Seth, another Nasharin, he stealthily views a small child who will soon be a Cullach sacrifice. Cullachs physically have piglike faces, gray skin, and are slightly stooped. They are creatures who serve the
Dark. The two of them, successful ly rescue the infant. Mirabel becomes Darshun’s adopted father and mentor.

The story is fast-paced and a fantasy lover’s delight. The traditional conflict between good, the Light, and evil, the Dark is a constant struggle with the god of Light, Abidan, and the opposing god, Abaddon. Notice the word “bad” inside Abaddon. There is a quest, a race between the two forces to find the four crystals of the earth forces which we know as elements. Whoever possesses them, rules the world.

Personally, there were too many characters, tribes, and gods. The book needs a character list to help keep them all straight. If you make one as the story progresses, this greatly helps because you do need to refer back to it due to the author’s favoritism of certain letters and having a multitude of fictional proper nouns with very similar letters. Also, sometimes the character’s name changes from ending in an “a” to ending with an “um”. There are also some problems with noun/verb agreement and staying consistent with the verb tense.

Prophecy of the Guardian: Guardian of the Seventh Realm, Part I is an ambitious multi-book plan for novel ist J. W. Baccaro who resides in New York.

This series beginning has many human-like creatures and races that are battling among each other. The action is constant with this race for the crystals and good reigning over evil. If you are patient with the names, you will be richly rewarded with this first installment of a wonderful and memorable tale.

Strangle a Loaf of Italian Bread

Denise Dietz
Five Star
Gale, Cengage Learning
May 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59414-760-9
$ 25.95
269 pages
Cozy Mystery

Many normal people with ordinary jobs dream of their one chance for greatness. Sara Lee, not her real
name, had her own dream. With a voice that sounded more like Barbara Streisand than Barbara
Streisand, Sara expected to win the part of Dolly in the local production of “Hello, Dolly” at the l
community theater. However, someone did not want her to audition. While taking a smoking break as
a waitress, she was rehearsing in the back alley behind the restaurant, she was strangled from behind by
someone grabbing her Daffy Duck necktie which was part of her uniform.

Who would want her dead? “… nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.” Was that true?

Ellie Bernstein loves sleuthing with her fiancée, Peter Miller who works as a detective in Colorado
Springs. Peter is concerned about Ellie endangering herself by sticking her nose into possibly
dangerous situations. Daily, she works as a leader with Weight Winners making many friends and
acquaintances through her connections.

One of her friends, Rachel Lester, is frustrated with learning about her husband’s cheating with many
different women. She needs to make some decisions for herself. She tells everyone that she is visiting
her ill sister in Texas, but in she is seeking shelter in a friend’s cabin.

Ellie agree to dog-sit for Rachel. She hopes that Scout will get along with her Persian cat, Jackie

Strangle a Loaf of Italian Bread is a short cozy mystery. This is a light fun story with numerous
twists and turns. The characters are realistic and act in a believable manner. The mystery is
fast-paced with constant real life challenges intermixed with the investigations in an almost
real time manner.
Denise Deitz has written other culinary mysteries Throw Darts at Cheesecake, Beat Up a Cookie, and Chain a Lamb Chop to the Bed which also feature Ellie and Peter. With the main character Ingrid Beaumont, she has written Footprints in the Butter and also the stand-alone, Fifty Cents for your Soul. As Mary Ellen Dennis, she has written The Landlord’s Blackeyed Daughter, Stars of Fire, Heaven’s Thunder, and The Greatest Love on Earth. She wrote Finding Bess with her husband, author Gordon Aalborg. She resides at Vancouver Island.
Strangle a Loaf of Italian Bread is a logical but not predictable mystery that is delightful to read.