Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Pirate King

THE PIRATE KING: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes
(Russell & Holmes, Book 11)
Laurie R. King
September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-55-380798-1
320 pages

Being Sherlock Holmes’ wife can be challenging. What with Sherlock’s eccentricities and brilliance, Mary Russell constantly needs to balance her own interests with his. She finds that this places her in the position of having to be involved in investigations even without her husband’s assistance.

Mary’s newest investigation is to join Fflytte Films, a silent film producing company. There are suspicions about this film crew smuggling of drugs and guns. Working as a director’s assistant should make it easy for her to combine with her massive daily duties. Since the former director’s assistant has disappeared, this is also a concern. Her job is to be a part of this group as they film in Lisbon and Morocco. What she did not plan on though was the demands of being a director’s assistant and quickly finds that she has no time for investigating. She writes to her husband back in England when she finds the opportunity or time. One of the first things that she tells him is the demands of being a mother to the crew and no time to investigate.

The story is to make a silent movie made about making Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Pirate of Penzance”. The complications come when the director, Fflytte, plans to have triplets play each of the daughters and when he manages to hire real pirates for the pirate parts. Imagine working with thirteen blond teenaged-girls and meeting their various needs in an attempt to live in temporary harmony along with real pirates playing both pirates and constables.

Although somewhat predictable, this is a fun light-hearted adventure with numerous references to “The Pirates of Penzance” in which ironically, the pirates are really Englishmen who fall for the daughters. So, this has real pirates pretending to be pirates and constables who are also showing interest in the blond beauties.

With no one being who they really are, the story has numerous twists and turns. When Holmes joins those on the ship, the story changes slightly with more planning involved since naturally, Holmes has taken the part of the Major-General. I still wonder how Holmes managed to get on the ship with the communication and transportation at the time of silent movies being not the most efficient.

If you are expecting Laurie King’s The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. You will find this a disappointment. If you are looking for a fun, light, mystery, you will thoroughly enjoy The

The Redbreast

Jo Nesbo
Translator: Don Bartlett
Harper Paperbacks
September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-206842-2
544 pages

How long does it take for someone to finally succeed with revenge?

Harry Hole is a former alcoholic Norwegian detective that believes in doing the right thing, even if it is not politically correct. Harry is searching for a neo-Nazi, Sverre Olsen while also stopping an assassination of a world leader. Having to make a split-second decision, Harry shoots a Secret Service agent, possibly paralyzing the man permanently. True, the Secret Service agent should not have been where he was, but should he have been shot? Harry did not see that he had any choice.

In World War II, Norwegians were in a touchy situation with wondering whether to side with the Germans or the Russians. Many realized that they needed to be on the side of the victors, but it was difficult to tell which side would win.

The Redbreast was voted the best Norwegian crime novel ever written by members of Norwegian book clubs. The Redbreast is a novel that was confusing for me for the first hundred pages. When a novel is translated from its original language, I always wonder if what I am reading is the skill of the writer or the translator. It moved from the Norwegians fighting in World War II, to Harry Hole searching for Sverre Olsen in present time, to Harry at the police station, to Harry investigating with his female partner, and seemed to make few connections. After that, the novel was completely mesmerizing.

The story lines combine in a present day terrorism situation based on events resulting from World War II. The history of Norway’s involvement with World War II is fascinating and informative from a perspective that has not formerly been addressed. The duality of Norway’s geography placed them in a treacherous situation constantly between two powerful adversaries or allies, Germany or Russia. The characterization is a little weak but this is the third book in a series. Possibly this development is in the first two novels.

Jo Nesbo’s books have already been translated into forty languages. Currently The Redbreast is the third book in a series of nine featuring Harry Hole. The first two are not available in this country yet but most of the other ones are published in English.

The Redbreast is definitely one of the most intense and enthralling novels I have read this year. I plan on reading many more novels by this gifted author, Jo Nesbo.

Timmy's Bedtime

Written and Illustrated by Tim and Toni Williams
Strategic Book Group
ISBN: 978-1-61204-171-1
28 pages

How many of us were scared of the dark when we were little? What lurked in the dark corners of our bedrooms? Did you feel safer sleeping when your closet door was closed? What unseen danger hid under our beds as we slept?

In Timmy’s Bedtime, Timmy has this same fear. He would rather stall than to go to bed and face the danger of the monster under his bed. While continuing his nightly denial of going to bed, his father addresses the issue of a monster and how to effectively overcome this impending danger.

This story is aimed as a read aloud for children between the ages of three and eight. The language of the story requires an adult to read it. This is not to be considered for beginner readers. Also included in the book are two pages where the child can color the bear. Future owners of this book can also order an accompanying teddy bear with a sash entitled “Monster” across him. This bear of indeterminate size can be purchased through the author’s website and costs $27.

By using a clever poem within the story and a bear, this story succeeds in comforting Timmy and allowing his to safely sleep at night. This is definitely a book which should be considered for a time to cuddle with a parent to read aloud.

The married team of Tim and Toni Williams jointly have written and illustrated this delightful story. Toni is the illustrator while Tim provides the light-hearted humor and poem within the story. They currently live in South Carolina.

This story was originally thought-up by Tim Williams to reassure his daughter about the monsters under her bed. Seeing the success in this approach, over the years their friends tried the same method which also was worked well for them. This started their stories of Monster Bears.

Timmy’s Bedtime is wonderful for the reassurance of any child who is even slightly scared of the dark. With delightful water-colored illustrations, this tale is perfect to read to any child who fears those monsters under their bed.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Baker's Wife

The Baker’s Wife
Erin Healy
Thomas Nelson
October 4, 2011
ISBN: 978-1595547521
352 pages

The Baker’s Wife is the perfect novel to demonstrate the some occupations require more than others. Some people are burdened with their personal lives reflecting on their job performance. This is especially true for ministers.

Geoff and Audrey were forced to leave the church after their son, Ed was accused of making a member pregnant. Added to that, supposedly, Geoff, the minister, paid for the girlfriend, Mirilee, to have an abortion.

As a hobby, this ministerial couple baked and made bread for themselves and those in need. This was comfort to the couple and they decided to turn this hobby into a business in this same town. Adding to the kicked out of the church disgrace, Ed, their son, lost his college scholarship.

As Audrey was driving to work one foggy morning, she could barely see the road, but wasn’t as cautious as she should have been. She was shocked when she hit a motorcycle that she had not seen in the fog and was covered with the blood of the rider. Strangely, though no one can find a body.

Diane Hall is returning to her home town after spending a quarter of a century in prison, right before the accident, she found a cell phone on the road. She picks it up and keeps it even though she is uncertain about how to use it. Diane murdered her twin sister and has not been in contact with her family since then.

Strangely enough, Miralee, the girl who had the abortion now discovers that her family is now involved in the accident. It turns out that the person missing and supposedly on the bike was Julie who is now missing and the head detective, Jack, is her father. Was this accident on purpose?

The Baker’s Wife is spellbinding. Once you begin this enthralling novel, you cannot put it down. The writing is excellent with outstanding character development. This unpredictable tale in haunting but also carries a life lesson about what to do when you are in a troubled situation and about not letting go of anger.

The Baker’s Wife is one of those adventure novels that is in multiple categories. It is definitely a thriller but also in the Christian category. The story is so well-told that the strength is the pull of the plot which never loses intensity. If The Baker’s Wife is an example of Erin Healy’s writing, I definitely want to read more by this phenomenal storyteller.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dear Priscilla

Dear Priscilla
Mark Schweizer
Fainting Goat Press
Tryon, North Carolina
ISBN: 978-0-9844846-1-4
320 pages
$ 23.95

Dear Priscilla is a perfect example of proving that life in Chicago in 1943 had to be difficult. For Merl Cahill, former Chicago Bear who retired from football due to being injured, his life now is quite different since working as a detective on the police force. This is one of those times in history where many of the laws and punishments were not always through the justice system but by those who took it upon themselves to be judge and jury.

Merl has a reputation for his short temper to go with his large size of six foot seven and weighing easily at two hundred eighty pounds. With some obvious facial scars, he also isn’t the prettiest.

Merl’s partner, Fish Biederman finds that being a detective is his third source of income. His most lucrative income is from his bookie business and then singing as either a canter for the Jewish synagogue or for funerals. Fish tends to keep his priorities straight while always keeping his police business in third place.
The two are racing to stop a serial killer who tends to favor killing women of medium height and weight with brown hair. All the women were separated from their heads and then split into seven parts and stuffed in an anonymous army duffel back.
Added to this is an addition to the detective squad, Gloria, who is a wealthy, attractive, and inexperienced with this all male group which tends to make their own laws as they go.
Quickly in this investigation, it is discovered that the killer has some connection with the local newspaper and the “Dear Priscilla” advice column. Through Merl’s sticking his nose in where it doesn’t belong, he ends up writing this advice column and greatly expanding the readership subscriptions by his no-nonsense advice as well as his own income.
This is a down-to-earth old-styled detective novel loaded with realism and humor that equalizes the horrors that the characters experience. Although this is much darker than Mark Schweizer’s liturgical St. Germaine mysteries featuring Hayden Konig, these are definitely written from a masterful storyteller with a unique gift to write in a truly “gritty” style.
For those who just want an enjoyable well-written mystery that keeps you wondering until the last page, read Dear Priscilla.

The Tides of Avarice

The Tides of Avarice
John Dahlgren
Editions Didier Millet Pte Ltd.
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-981-4260-53-4
464 pages
$ 14.95

The Tides of Avarice is about Sylvester who lives in Foxgrove which is quiet and safe community. This town is a little unusual in that it is inhabited by common everyday lemmings instead of humans. Yes, they are the creatures known to occasionally go over a cliff in a mass suicide.

Sylvester Lemmington enjoys his daily challenge of being a librarian who translates historical documents and dreams of a future life with his childhood friend, Viola. Two events though are quickly going to change Sylvester’s life. First is when he discovers an injured, dying ferret that is in possession of part of a pirate map. The other is that Sylvester has been selected to be part of the next Great Exodus, where the lemmings go in mass over the cliff into the sea. Sylvester has his doubts about this tradition since no one has ever returned from this and also feels a personal loss since his father disappeared from a previous Great Exodus years ago.

The Tides of Avarice is a delightful journey following Sylvester as he leaves the safety of his home into the adventurous life with pirates and searching for a treasure. Besides finding the treasure is also the question of what is the treasure. This is an in-depth adventure with extremely well-developed three dimensional characters. The writing is enthralling and a constant page-turner. John Dahlgren is a masterful storyteller.

There are some aspects of other well-known tales in this in that I could easily find resemblances to Treasure Island, The Pirates of the Caribbean, Watership Down, and The Wizard of Oz all within this one novel.

The dialogues perfectly reflect the characters which are realistic, human-like, and definitely integral as delightful characters that are interesting with a true mixture of personalities, complete with flaws but also charm.

For Sylvester who only read about adventure, being a part in a real-life daily dangerous situation can be a challenge and the reader is privileged to join him during every crisis.

John Dahlgren was born in Sweden and currently lives in Switzerland working as a psychologist and a marketing director for a pharmaceutical company.

The Tides of Avarice is a wonderful adventurous fantasy in the world of Sagaria. Being the first of a trilogy this is a wonderful journey that is aimed at a young adult audience, though anyone older would enjoy this tale of life and death by the truly gifted author, John Dahlgren.

1. What influenced you to write The Tides of Avarice?
2. Which books have influenced you the most?
3. Your character of Sylvester finds himself questioning his religious
beliefs. Does this reflect your personal doubts?
4. Your characters are extremely well-developed. How long have you been
pondering about writing this tale?
5. When did you decide to begin to write this trilogy?
6. Why did you choose lemmings as your main characters?
7. The Tides of Avarice has many strong female characters who are without
husbands but definitely non-compromising with the male gender. Who have
been the strong women in your life and how have they influenced you?
8. With The Tides of Avarice being a pirate adventure, what other adventures
are planned for the future novels of this trilogy?
9. Which character do you view yourself most like? Are there real people
that you based your characters’ personalities on?
10. With being employed and being a father, how do you find the time to write
such an expansive fantasy adventure?