Thursday, June 28, 2012

The President is a Sick Man

The President is a Sick Man:
Wherein the Supposedly Virtuous Grover Cleveland Survived a Secret
Surgery at Sea and Vilifies the Courageous Newspaperman who Dare
Expose the Truth
Matthew Algeo
Chicago Review Press
ISBN 13: 978-1-56976-350-6
$ 24.95
255 pages

Whenever someone reads a non-fiction novel that is as engaging as
fiction, that is obviously a worthwhile novel to read. Added to that
is the fact that this particular book also teaches history and makes
economics easy to understand, even engaging to the average person,
that is definitely a book to notice and read. That book is The
President is a Sick Man.

Grover Cleveland is the only U.S. President to serve two non-consecutive
terms. During this time, he was well-known as being an honest man
even when being accused of having a son out of wedlock and openly
providing for the boy even though it was questionable if he was the
father. This was a President who truly thought about the financial
difficulties of his country and he frequently vetoed bills from Congress
that were spending money in what he viewed as wasteful during this
time of economic strife.

What is unusual about this historical novel is that the author goes
beyond just telling the story. He successfully writes about the
surrounding events and happenings which allow the reader to better
comprehend the actual event and circumstances of the time.
At first this seemed like unrelated sidebars, but was masterfully
woven to assist the reader to better understand the circumstances
and the far-reaching effects of the decisions of the time.

The President is a Sick Man is an easily read historically accurate
perspective of an event, but more importantly a time that had different
procedures and technology than today and these influences during this
period. From the perspective of the vice president to the economy
with the feuding factions of silver and gold based monetary
systems, to the outlook of cancer at the time, to the press, to political
honesty, this viewpoint is informative and allows each reader to make
their own judgments based on the facts as presented by the author.

Matthew Algeo is a noted journalist and author. He previously has
written two novels. Last Team Standing: How the Pittsburgh
Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles - - "The Steagles" Saved Pro
Football During WWII and Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure - The
True Story of a Great American Road Trip were his two most recent
novels. He is currently residing in Mongolia while his wife works
as a Foreign Service officer.

During our country's present economic challenges, it is refreshing
to read about a similar, but earlier time, with the very decisive
President Grover Cleveland.

Definitely read The President is a Sick Man.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

All the Pretty Hearses

All the Pretty Hearses
Mary Daheim
Avon Books
Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-135159-4
$ 7.99
304 pages

Judith McMonigle Flynn stays busy owning and running Hillside Manor, a local bed-and-breakfast. Besides that she cares for her highly overly opinionated mother who does not like Judith's present husband. Fortunately, her cousin Renie, is a great friend and helps out even though she is known for being a horrible cook and wants to submit her special recipe of Shrimp Dump for the fund-raising cookbook of the local parish school.

Judith also has an uncanny ability for solving crime. This seems to come natural even though her husband, Joe, is a retired policeman who now works as a private investigator.

Judith is reluctantly remembering her upcoming obligation for the B & B in which she offered the facility to the top bidder at the parish school fundraiser. The winning family whose name is Paine is planning on filling the house but have numerous requirements such as one that eats no meat and one that has to sleep with a special pillow.

Joe currently has a surveillance job for insurance fraud when he is
arrested. The person he was observing is shot with Joe's gun. Added to that, Joe does not want Judith involved so he basically is hiding out at the police station as the investigation continues.

While preparing for the Paines, Judith has two wealthy neighbors appear who need somewhere to stay for the night. The Beard-Smythes are overbearing, overly demanding, and call a neighbor so they can have a ladder to sneak out without paying.

All the Pretty Hearses is a realistic mystery with interwoven threads that connect eventually. The problems Judith encounters are normal for someone who daily runs a B & B.

The story is well-developed, well-edited, and well organized. Mary Daheim obviously spent much time planning each of these threads, interweaving, and completing each one.

Mary Richardson Daheim is from Seattle, Washington and sets her stories involving Judith in her own locale. She even owns a century-old house like the one used in this bed and breakfast mystery. She has published well over twenty books with this A Bed- and-Breakfast Mystery and her Alpine Mystery series.

All the Pretty Hearses is a hectic, but enjoyable and fun book to read.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy
E. L. James
ISBN 978-0345803481
Paperback reprint 2012
Price $15. 95
528 pages

Whoever said, "Sex sells," should be given some of the royalties for the best seller, Fifty Shades of Grey. Basically, the book is a fictional sex manual. This is not well written literature with sex in it like Tropic of Capricorn.

With Fifty Shades of Grey, the trilogy, all three books have been the top of the best sellers' lists for weeks now. Usually that tells me that this is a special book with excellent writing for the general public. That would mean to me that the overall population would benefit from reading this novel.

Fifty Shades of Grey is about a naive literature student, Anastasia Steele, nearing her graduation from college who fills in for her roommate in interviewing the young enigmatic entrepreneur, Christian Grey. She uses the questions that her roommate wrote for this interview which includes asking Mr. Grey if he is gay. She feels embarrassed after actually asking and the two naturally become magnetically attracted to each other, the perfect example of an opposite attraction.

Christian Grey is slightly older and very experienced sexually. Anastasia is a virgin. Fifty Shades of Grey is mostly about their sexually encounters, very graphically described.

Who is the intended audience for this trilogy?

With this best seller, I have concern about any person picking up this book without knowing about the sexually explicit content. I would hope that the intended audience is married females in their mid-twenties to fifties. If single men or women read this, I am concerned about whether they would set these novel experiences as an expectation. I
am very concerned about inexperienced teenagers reading this and considering this to be a guide for relationships.

There is not much of a story. Rich boy meets poor girl. They are interested in each other. Do they fall in love? Does sex equate to love?

He buys her a computer, a car, and clothes. She does not want to be used so she says that these things are a loan. Is this love?

At first, this novel reminded me of a more mature Twilight which is a teenager romance. Actually Twilight is better written and has more character development and action that is not sexual.

Why is this book on the best sellers' lists? I have a problem believing that the general public, men included, would enjoy this book especially if they are accustomed to well written literature. Apparently sex sells as shown by the ranking of Fifty Shades of Grey. For further books like this, go to your local adult book store. (No, I will not be there.)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Parrot & Sweeney

Parrot & Sweeney - # 2
Alan Roberts
Outskirts Press
ISBN: 978-0-9827550-8-2
$ 15.95
307 pages

Parrot & Sweeney is the new realistic series involving three case stories investigated by two detectives in London. The experienced Chief Superintendent George Parrot and Detective Inspector Daniel Sweeney collaborate in questioning those closest to the crime to solve each whodunit.

These tales contains crimes involving kidnapping, blackmail, and murders which are both riveting and enthralling as the readers discover the reasons and circumstances along with the trained investigators.

This enthralling collection of stories, Parrot & Sweeney is actually the second book by this same author with the same title. Please carefully look at the copyright dates and the ISBN numbers when ordering this collection. Each book involves the same investigators with three crimes that unfold through the direct skills of these two detectives.

"Dark Justice" is the first mystery in this hard-core, realistic trilogy. In this particular challenge, the two officers are faced with the decision of choosing between what is legal and what is fair in the eyes of justice. Is there ever a reason to kidnap a child? These two detectives quickly realize the unfortunate difference between the two.

With "Reckoning for a Harpy" the two detectives have to discover who would murder a nasty socialite who seems to have deserved some consequences for her treatment of people, but did she deserve death? How do you investigate a crime against a person when the more you discover, the more that you find yourself siding with the murderer?
This particular story bring the purpose of law enforcement which is the legality while the court will deal with the justice later. That is not a choice for law enforcement.

The final story is The Bankers Payoff regards the death of a banker and his brother which again shows the conflict of obeying the law and justice.

All three stories help the reader better understand the detectives and the realistic investigation while still maintaining a somewhat normal personal life. These storing have the feeling of an original voice with genuine cases in these fictional stories.

Alan Roberts currently resides in Florida after retiring from the banking business in England. Previously, he has written the first Parrot & Sweeney book with the same title as this one. Please notice the different ISBN numbers when ordering or purchasing this book which is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Outskirts Press.

Parrot & Sweeney is a realistic and riveting read for everyone.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Treble Wore Trouble

The Treble Wore Trouble: A Liturgical Mystery
Mark Schweizer
St. James Music Press Books
June 20, 2012
ISBN: 978-0984484669
208 pages

Most churches are not crime scenes. It's just that most of us are not
comfortable with our church being the center of an investigation, especially a
suspicious death. Something just seems wrong about any crime in a place of
holiness, sanctity and forgiveness.

For organist, Hayden Konig, being a part of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church is
part of his life, just like having a gun in the organ bench. Hayden has always
idolized the legendary writing style of Raymond Chandler and even actually using
Chandler's Underwood typewriter in the hopes of replicating that definitive
style of the hard-boiled detective embraced in similes. Hayden is also the
police chief in this quiet village of St. Germaine, North Carolina

However, this quiet, secluded, town's church seems to be a place that is related
to numerous crimes. Why else would he need the gun?

In towns like St. Germaine, everyone knows everyone and everything. There are
no secrets in this town. When there is a crime, someone will know something
that will assist in solving the crime. All you need to do is to ask the
right questions and give some time for the right people to respond.

With the The Treble Wore Trouble, the eleventh book in The Liturgical Mystery
series by Mark Schweizer, refreshes many of the characters and relationships
from his previous ten novels. This is a great way to allow new readers to
jump into this series without having read the previous books while refreshing
those who loyally read these books.

The Treble Wore Trouble is entertaining reading. The story is easy to follow
with nothing inappropriate but still having crimes that need to be solved. The
characters are well-described and logical in their actions. Even with a
hard-boiled detective mystery novel embedded with an abundance of similes
within the story, this is still an enjoyable, down-home, Sheriff Andy Griffith
type of life in the South.

The Treble Wore Trouble is a laughable diversion from the heat this summer and
is delightful to read.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Returned

The Returned
Dr. Laurence B. Brown
Create Space
ISBN: 9781466227477
$ 15.99
366 pages

When a tragic experience does not have closure, you try to go on. In the back
of your mind is that nagging need. of something wrong, unfinished. How do
bring an event to a close when you barely escaped with your life? Do you ever
get over the guilt about your twin brother's death? If you had it all to do
over again, would you have made the same choices?

Nathan Jones has a successful academic life but he is bothered by his past.
Remembering back forty years, he relates the adventurous tale that killed his
twin brother now to his own sons. He feels the need to record these events for
his family.

Forty years earlier, Nathan and Mark Jones were teenagers at Cornell University.
They vividly realized that they were part of a changing culture as being among
the first black students at this prestigious university. They believed that
life was theirs for the taking truly living the idea of "Seize the Day". So
when an opportunity to be a part of a prospecting expedition to the Amazon in
South America, they were excited about the upcoming expedition during their
summer break.

The expedition group consisted of twelve men, a geochemistry professor, his
assistant, a representative from the sponsoring mining company, four grad
students, three natives who were guides and a translator, and the two boys,
Nathan and Mark, who were twin brothers and the only blacks in the group.

In practicality, most expeditions are failures with the prospectors returning
home frustrated and broke. The fictional adventures like Indiana Jones are
rare. With this group, they do not realize the odds or the dangers that they are
truly facing. All the members viewed the expedition as an adventure and
definitely a benefit for their future resumes or reputations.

Quickly the two discover that they are extra pack mules and slave labor for the
expedition along with the burden of others' prejudices.. Another discovery
is that to all the members of this non-cohesive group, the Amazon is a constant
threat to their lives and just having guns does not make everyone safe as the
members of this group begin to die in a variety of ways.

The Returned is the story of this expedition's journey from their first day to
their final rescue. It tells of real people with different perspectives about
solving their daily problems involving complicated relationships regarding trust
and reliability. The tale is a page-turner that is a realistic action-adventure
through the Amazon.

Dr. Laurence B. Brown has previously written the fictional bestseller, The
Eighth Scroll. He has also written four non-fiction books, The First and
Final Commandment, MisGod'ed, God'ed?, and Bearing True Witness which deals with
his conversion to the Muslim faith. He lives in Saudi Arabia and works as an
opthamalmic surgeon.

The Returned is a fast-paced action-adventure tale with realism. This is a
well-written story that will make you glad to have only read it and not to have
actually experienced it.

Want a safe adventure? Read, only read, The Returned.

Seussical, the Musical

"Sometimes my thinks are what gets me in trouble." Who hasn't thought almost
those words at some time? This is wisdom from one of the many tales of Dr.

Seussical, the Musical features Horton the Elephant who heard the Who people in
Whoville or who also sat babysitting Maysie's egg. Everyone can find a little
of themselves in Horton as well as Gertrude McFuzz. Who could not symphathize
with Gertrude McFuzz and her sparse feathery tail?

Seussical, the Musical is a combination of many of the Dr. Seuss stories,
particularly Horton Hears a Who, Horton Hatches the Egg, and Gertrude McFuzz.
With a few of the other Seuss classics woven around these tales, Seussical is a
toe-tapping, phenomenal musical for all ages with reminders about certain

The Cat is the Hat, portrayed by Kevin Ehrhart was delightful, while still being
a little creepy. The motley looking costume with the whitened face as well as
the knack of appearing from nowhere and having no boundaries to his stage,
perfectly matched this creature. He truly was a delightful and entertaining

Kevin Mikuls was wonderful as the naive JoJo. For being a child, Kevin
commanded the role with confidence never missing a step, note, or a line.
Jacks Erbs as Horton the Elephant quickly connected with the audience to
truly feel, "A person's a person no matter how small", and definitely with,
"An elephant's faithful 100%." He actually became the character of
Horton the Elephant with a wonderful singing voice.

I loved the character of Gertrude McFuzz portrayed by Rochelle Pickett,
with her yellow outfit and various tails, she could sing, act, while still
exhibiting her love for Horton. All the birds were outstanding,
including the eagle.

Mary Carrick played Sour Kangaroo along with Baby Roo played by Stella Ehrhart
both belted out their melodies with phenomenal voices. I just didn't like
Sour Kangaroo for not being nurturing to Baby Roo. Can you be sour while still
nurturing? That definitely would be a challenge.

However, the show's heart was definitely with the people of Whoville who were
expressive, regardless of the age, obviously immensely talented, and whose
costumes were outstanding. Including the Grinch, this group was the
intertwining storyline with the entire Whos moving and acting as a unified
component which reminded everyone of their significance to the story. With
monkeys, jungle people, a bird trio, and a host of other Seuss characters, all
were outstanding in performance with colorful and enthralling costumes.

Seussical, the Musical has superb costumes, wigs, make-up, and movements
to make all the fictional characters being easily recognizable. The
sets, props, lighting, special effects, and sound system were all perfect
while still being practical and artistic.

Seussical, the Musical, is not just a show for kids even though it is at The
Rose, this is a show for everyone who has ever tried to do the right thing but
found it to be unpopular. The music and message are well-worth the cost of
this delightful adventure.

The Rose Theater will continue with this show through June 17th. The shows
will be on Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays at 2
p.m. Children and adults would enjoy the show more if they have a little
background of the Horton stories from Dr. Seuss. Ticket prices are $25 for
the main floor and $20 for the balcony with Rose members having a discount
of $5 per ticket. Contact The Rose Box Office at 402-345-4849 or online at

Rave On

Rave On: The Buddy Holly Experience

Would you go to a concert by Buddy Holly if you had the chance? Since he
actually died in 1959, that would be difficult. What if you could see someone
who looks, acts, and sings like Buddy? What if this person seemed so real that
they have made this their career for the past ten years and performed over 1500
concerts and over 400 performances of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story? What if
this person also even performed with the members of the legendary Crickets?

Billy McGuigan possibly has performed more as Buddy Holly than the original
Buddy Holly. He originated his persona at the Omaha Community Playhouse in
the fall of 2002. Since then, he has become Buddy Holly.

Rave On is a Buddy Holly concert with Billy McGuigan as the writer, producer,
director, and definitely the actor. He is the character. He is the excellent
musician with an ear for rock and roll and having a gift for stagemanship.

One difference though is the band. This band has phenomenal musicians with a
little more contemporary sound to truly show the combination of country and
blues that created this marvelous rock and roll sound. George Laughery
demonstrated true musicianship with singing and playing the keyboards, guitars,
and the mandolin. Jason Ferguson showed mastery as the lead guitar player.
Matthew McGuigan plays a strong bass guitar while also singing back-up vocals.
Rich Miller showed flexibility between steadily playing the drums, box, and even
his leg. Darren Pettit added his blues and rock saxophone along with playing
supplementary percussive instruments and singing backup vocals.

Billy McGuigan plans to retire his role as Buddy Holly at the conclusion of this
show at the Omaha Community Playhouse. The Playhouse has added two
additional shows on Wednesday nights due to the sales of tickets. With the
show in the Howard Drew Theater, all the seats are great for seeing and
enjoying this show. There are no bad places to sit in this venue.
Even the balcony, is perfect for the audience to thoroughly enjoy
this once in a lifetime experience.

The show runs through June 24th with additional shows being added on
June 13th and 20th. All the shows begin at 7:30 p.m.

To purchase tickets to the wonderful concert, contact the Box Office at
402-553-0800 or 1-888-782-4338. Tickets can be bought at the Box Office at
6915 Cass Street in Omaha or online at Ticket
price is $38 paid in cash, check, traveler's check, Mastercard, or Visa.

This is a once in a lifetime experience. Go see "Rave On."

The Lower River

The Lower River
Paul Theroux
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-547-74650-0
323 pages

The Lower River is a dream of the past for Ellis Hock. Years ago, to avoid the
draft for Vietnam, he joined the Peace Corps. He spent four years during this
time establishing a school in a remote area of Africa in village named Malawi.
Thoroughly enthralled with the people at this time, he felt that he was helping
the world , he felt fulfilled and needed. He had discovered a home.

When his father died, he was called home to take over the family business
running a men's clothing goods store. Falling into the traditional pattern of
life in the U.S., he married and had a daughter. Life was fairly predictable
and uneventful for years. All that changed when his wife gave him a smart

Deena, his wife, had the best intentions when buying this phone. She was
shocked when she downloaded all of Ellis' e-mail for the past year and
discovered his correspondences with female customers. Ellis attempted to let
her know that it was all words with no action, but Deena insisted on counseling
and then a divorce. Their grown daughter was fearful of being deprived of
money in an inheritance if her father remarried, so she also insisted on having
all her money now. With the changing times, Ellis sold the store, paid his
wife and daughter, and dreamed of a time long ago in Africa.

He decided to go back to that remote area of Africa and to continue what he had
started years ago when he felt like he belonged to these people.

However, life is not always as we expect.

Ellis arrived at the village to find things changed from when he was left, but
not for the better.

"And so from the beginning he saw that they were different, and what was more
disturbing, they saw that he was different-utterly unlike themselves, a visitor
from a distant place that was unknown but whispered about, impossibly far,
unreachable from here, where they laid buried in their below ground river

Ellis discovered quickly upon his return that everyone expected money from him,
an infinite supply. The one person who was different from everyone was Gala,
his unrequited love from years ago and her granddaughter, Zizi. These two,
with Ellis, were isolated in that they continued to believe in doing the right
thing and to not take advantage of others.

The only other advantage that Ellis had was his natural attraction for capturing
snakes and everyone else's fear of them. This was an attraction that had
continued from his visit here years ago.

The Lower River is truly an example of living out your dreams only to discover
that they can never be fulfilled because life changes whether you want it to or
not. The intensity of this novel is addictive reading even when you really
don't want to know what happens next. It also gives a strong lesson about our
tendency to create a romanticism of past events to the point of being
unrealistic in your own daily expectations.

Paul Theroux is a true storyteller that keeps you reading to the very last page.
His highly regarded novels include The Mosquito Coast and Dead Hand.

Even for those of us who never plan to visit Africa, The Lower River is a lesson
in human nature and is a must read for every traveler with a realistic
expectation of all our dreams..