Monday, December 24, 2012

Spyder Hole
Bob Nesoff
Strategic Book Group
Durham, CT
ISBN: 978-61204-044-8
$ 19.95
317 pages

Once in a while you read a book that is exceptional. Spyder Hole by Bob Nesoff is that book. Did our country have the knowledge of the attack on the Twin Towers before it happened? Could anyone have stopped this attack?

Before the 9-11 attack on the Twin Towers, the government agencies knew that there was to be an attack but were unable to figure out the details. They learned from their mistakes with a degree of guilt and the hope and diligence to never allow this to happen again.

Since then, how many attacks could have happened?

After the distractions from a two-career family, Hesh Whitman is finally able to enjoy his honeymoon with his gorgeous wife, Shoshanna on a Red Sea resort beach. What he never planned on was the attack the killed his wife and seriously wounded him when terrorists opened fire on the beach. He was one of the few survivors after this attack. Why would any group send terrorists to open fire on innocent women and children? Is this an act of revenge?

For Hesh as a Mossad agent, this is one of the many questions that he plans to answer. His boss, Dan Halevi is a former Green Beret who now works as a Mossad agent. The two frequently collaborate with the C.I.A. and MI-6 and SAS from Great Britain. Trying to break the attack/revenge cycle between the Israelis and the Arab terrorist groups is difficult and seems to be never ending. How can it stop?

Through unofficial channels, the agencies from the three countries collaboratively work together when they learn of the possibilities of nuclear attacks in the U.S., Great Britain, and Israel. How do you prevent further disasters from happening? This tale, based on some real events, explains the possibilities through this fictional account.

Bob Nesoff is a former Army Green Beret sergeant who resides in New Jersey.

Spyder Hole is exceptionally well-written and relevant in today's society. Using real events and filling in the background to these tragedies, even fictionally, gives the reader a broader understanding of world issues. This author thoroughly understands the relationships between the terrorist groups and the various agencies that collaborate around the world allowing the reader to actually understand the conflicts between the groups.

This well-researched novel is extremely detailed and intense. Spyder Hole is not a quick read but an intense experience that completely engages the reader.

As with many books today, Spyder Hole sometimes had typos and editing errors that distracted from the story. Overall though, this is an outstanding novel with constant action and intensity.

The Canadian Tenors

It is unusual to go to a concert where almost every song is so outstanding that the audience reacts with a standing ovation. That was the case last Thursday night at the Holland Center with The Canadian Tenors. (The Tenors actually joked about being “booed” in Omaha as a headline when they threatened to end the show.)

Following last week's blizzard, the audience was not as full as usual and even the members of the group had difficulty arriving in Omaha. For those who were there though, the night was spent in the splendor of the music of these four outstanding tenors.

The Canadian Tenors repertoire for this performance was from their two previous recordings one entitles The Canadian Tenors, their Christmas album called The Perfect Gift, and their new release on January 15th, Lead with Your Heart. From their Christmas recording, they sang "O Come, O Come Emmanuel", "What Child is This?", "The Perfect Gift", "O Holy Night", and their a capella version of "Silent Night". Individually each of the four sang a selection perfectly matching the tone quality of their voice such as "Ave Maria", "Forever Young", "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables, and "The Lord's Prayer". Each of these brought the audience to their feet with exuberant bravos.

The audience thoroughly enjoyed the immense talent of this group which included Fraser Walters, Clifton Murray, Victor Micallef, and Remigio Pereira. Each voice has its own unique sound and together this group beautifully harmonizes in four part harmony within the tenor range. Clifton Murray has the highest voice resembling an Irish tenor. Victor Micallef is unquestionably an accomplished operatic singer. Remigio's voice is also operatic but having a warm relaxed quality to it. Fraser Walter sings beautifully as an accomplished musical singer. Together their sounds are glorious.

Prior to their visit in Omaha, The Canadian Tenors were in Las Vegas to promote their upcoming PBS special with their new album, “Lead with Your Heart”.

My complaint about the show, like the "booing" audience, was that it ended. It is believed that either P.T. Barnum or Walt Disney once stated about a performance to "always leave them wanting more". Yes, I wanted more of their fabulous singing and look forward to more from The Canadian Tenors.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Beauty and the Beast

Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" which was at the Orpheum last weekend was a completely enchanting musical. Normally. a musical has a high standard of musicians, actors, and dancers. However, this Disney musical excelled in all aspects. This well-known tale set to song literally had the audience bewitched.
What was truly amazing was to listen to the audience response of awe to the musical performances, the phenomenal dances, the exotic and lavish sets, all perfectly timed even with some simple magic acts. The elaborately detailed sets were perfect for the storybook to come to life effect. The special effects of the witch cursing the prince as well as the wolves in the woods combined the sets, music, and actors with the mastery of puppetry.
As Lumiere. Hassan Nazari-Robati artistically created his character of a candlestick with James May as Cogsworth the clock, both masterfully combining their talents throughout the show with their multiple antics turning their supporting roles to being as important as the leads. Joe Hager as Gaston was perfect in this role while actually resembling a cartoon character in his bullying pursuit of Belle. Mrs. Potts, the teapot, played by Erin Edelle wonderfully demonstrated her talent through singing the theme song and explaining the importance of being part object and part human. Hilary Maiberger and Darick Pead portrayed the leads in this wonderful production.
This production of "Beauty and the Beast" unquestionably was spectacular with the costumes. Yes, this show did win a Tony Award for their costumes but to actually witness this extreme magnificence was phenomenal. For the number "Be Our Guest", the energy and dancing along with the numerous costumes easily proved to everyone why this show earned the Tony. Picture girls dancing with foam plates on their heads and instantly folding the plates down on their backs as part of the dance.
Particular songs did stand out such as "Be Our Guest" and the haunting tune, "If I Can't Love Her". Would I ever go to another Disney musical? If "Beauty and the Beast" is an example, then definitely. This show delighted all the members of this mostly adult audience who thoroughly loved this night of music, song, and the Disney magic.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Out of the Shadow

Out of the Shadow
J. S. Winn
Create Space
Charleston, SC
ISBN: 978-1480043176
$ 13.95
365 pages

How does one get over a tragedy?

Becca Rosen knew that something just wasn't right. Sure she loved her husband, but she really didn't feel that he was her soul mate. Then again, isn't that only in romance novels? Every couple has squabbles. Having a husband sleep on the couch is not unusual in most normal households.

Then the night happened. Becca awakened to feel her husband in bed with her, but it wasn't her husband. The scent was wrong. A masked man was in her bed having sexual relations with her. She fought, screamed. Where was her husband? She discovered him dead, stabbed in the living room where he was sleeping on the couch. With no evidence, who is most likely to be suspected to have killed him?

While being questioned by the police, Becca takes a leave from work to recuperate from this trauma. Realizing that she needs help, she chooses Dr. Sarah Abrams who quickly realizes that Becca is suffering from Repressed Memory Syndrome.

Becca's story is told through Dr. Abrams who is the keynote speaker at a conference regarding Repressed Memory Syndrome. For confidentiality, Dr. Abrams tells the story of Rachel as the anonymous person, Becca Rosen, as part of the conference.

This story is extremely-well organized and well-written novel. The tale of Becca/Rachel is gripping as she begins to discover her past that prevents her from having a healthy relationships. This particular psychological thriller is an engrossing tale of personal terror. The characters are believable and realistic, even when they are not likable. The family relationship is genuinely flawed but a true situation in many lives.

The plot line is gripping but unfortunately predictable, leaving the reader feeling like the ending is contrived within a small list of characters. Even though this is a thriller, the format reads similar to a romance novel.

J.S. Winn lives in California. She earned degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Metaphysical Sciences. She has also published poetry and a screenplay.

Out of the Shadow is a thriller for those who enjoy romantic noveels.

Yesterday and Today

Why do you love certain music? For many that influence is from their parents. For the McGuigan brothers, that lifetime influence was from their father and his love of the Beatles. While other school-aged children were going to the movies on weekends, these brothers were singing Beatles songs.

“Yesterday and Today” is a concert of Beatles music. No, they do not perform every song or even attempt that feat. They do perform prepared sets of traditional Beatles music from various time periods and take requests from the audience. (You need to stop by the table outside the theater to place your requests. Also list the reason since that is a criteria to have your song selected.)

The McGuigan brothers are led byy Billy who sings, plays guitar, and the piano; Ryan who sings and plays the acoustic guitar; and Matthew who sings and plays bass. Supporting the brothers is a group of amazing musicians. Leon Adams on the keyboards is wonderful. Jason Ferguson as lead guitarist is truly an exceptional guitarist who can literally play anything masterfully and artistically. George Laughery sings, plays guitars and keyboards/ He is a truly gifted musician with everything. Rich Miller as the drummer and occasional singer is an asset to any musical group.

Having a band in a small theater has to be a sound engineer's nightmare. The band wants to and should be loud. Keeping the balance is difficult with the multiple amplifiers on stage and determining who is singing the lead, the harmonies, and constantly having to instinctly know which mikes need to be louder than the others. With this group who seem to know every Beatles song, the task had to be daunting. Sometimes the balance was off which is to be expected.

I was amazed at the young children in the audience and their love of Beatles music. Naturally, I expected the older people who grew up with the Beatles to love it, but to watch children and young adults to be as thrilled with the music as well as the older ones, was exciting and really allowed me to see relevant this music is today, many years after it was written.

From songs from the Beatles' Christmas album, to “Octopus Garden”, "You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello”, “When I'm 64”, “Ticket to Ride”, “Yellow Submarine”, “Blackbird Singing”, “Yesterday”, “Here Comes the Sun”, “Elinor Rigby”, “She Loves You”, “I am the Walrus”, “Twist and Shout” which had everyone on their feet, “Hey Jude”, amd more this was a wonderful show with the performers constantly interacting with audience for the entire family.

This is the fourth year for the McGuigan brothers, "Yesterday and Today" at the
Omaha Playhouse. This show will continue through December 31st with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 pm. and Sunday at 2 pm. at the Howard Drew Theatre. Tickets are $38 with discounts for groups and for the special New Year's performance. For tickets contact the box office at 402-553-0800, or, or

Monday, December 3, 2012

Simply Christmas

Simply Christmas
Robin Harper
featuring Marvin Goldstein
Robin Harper & Solarium Studios
MP3 format
$ 8.99

Who doesn't enjoy Christmas music? Those old familiar tunes help each of us to
relive those delightful childhood dreams of this magical time of year.

Robin Harper has chosen many of these tunes for her Christmas album. As she
sings the old familiar tunes, Marvin Goldstein masterfully accompanies with varied arrangements showing creativity and musicianship.

The songs included in this CD are The Christmas Song, (Everybody's Waitin' for)
The Man with the Bag, Grown-Up Christmas List, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem,
White Christmas, Santa Baby, Mary, Did You Know?, I Heard the Bells on Christmas
Day, I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm, Silent Night, and a reprise of The
Christmas Song.

So what is new and different about this album? Marvin Goldstein is superb with
his piano accompaniment. There is no listing about who wrote the arrangements
for these Christmas tunes. Don't you have to give recognition to the composers and pay a royalty if you use their works and are possibly profiting from their songs in any way? Credit was given to the hair dresser, the make-up artist, the photographer, and the cover design, but nothing to the actual song writer, arrangers, or studio engineers. Also slightly confusing is whether Solarium Studios actually musically engineered these recordings or if they were just recorded at a studio with no mixing. On the recorded label is Solarium Studios. However, the pianist, Marvin Goldstein, is a client of Soularium Studios. Is this a misspelling or a copycat studio?

Simply Christmas does have soothing relaxing Christmas music. However, shouldn't a recording be more responsible about its sounds rather than the appearance of the artist?

A Moment in Time

A Moment in Time
B. J. Betts
Boroughs Publishing Group
Short Story
$ 0.99
47 pages

Jake Houser is happy to be finally arriving home in Chicago after a two week business trip in Japan. Yes, the trip was a success and a foreign country is exciting but the comfort of home is always welcome. He quickly hails a cab at the airport after the landing and retrieving his bags. However, the icy streets are dangerous and this particular taxi driver seems to be careless rather than cautious. What he doesn't know is that this particular situation is the catalyst that will change his life forever.

Is there such a thing as a ghost who is not scary but who feels that need to complete a promise? Do near-death experiences allow an entity to communicate with the other side? Does having some unfinished business stop someone from their final destiny? Can a ghost use a person to help them communicate between the two worlds?

No one seems to truly understand the world of a comatose patient. Do they hear what is happening around them and what people are saying to them? It seems that we know so little about the brain and especially the injuries to it. Is a coma really a temporary station between life and death?

Unfortunately but realistically the choices for caregivers with a loved-one in a coma completely depend on the insurance. Even then, the choices can be tough. Finding a home-health nurse who believes in doing the right thing for the patient is truly a gift.

These are all issues in the story, A Moment in Time. This is a well-organized well-written short story for those who enjoy romance with real issues of everyday life.

Author B. J. Betts lives in southwest Iowa. Having married her high school sweetheart, she thrives in writing romance stories.

A Moment in Time is a fast-paced story for those who love romantic stories of fate.

The Right Hand

The Right Hand
Derek Haas
Mulholland Books
Little, Brown and Company
Hachette Books
ISBN: 978-0-316-19846-2
November 2012
272 pages
$ 25.99

Using the philosophy of most spies, the right hand should not know what the left hand is doing. Most successful spies basically work alone while accomplishing their goals.

For everyone's protection, the right and left hands of any mission do not communicate especially if illegal actions are needed. The only one who has some idea is the mission handler who even then, only knows the bare necessities of
these activities.

For Austin Clay, he is the right hand of the C.I.A. usually being assigned the most dangerous and critical missions possibly even illegal. His current mission is to find a missing spy who has been captured by the Russians. The C.I.A. Is fairly certain that the missing man is being tortured and with previous dealings with the Russians, they are certain that at some point the man will be forced to reveal secrets. With Clay's background, intelligence, and skills, he is the most likely one to be able to fit into the setting to get close enough to actual succeed in the rescue.

However, reality is that things are not usually as simple as they seem and he quickly discovers a multitude of related issues surrounding this situation, all of which involve the Russians. Along the way he finds himself looking for a young woman who the Russians are also racing to find and eliminate. Inside Russia, he will do anything to successfully keep this woman alive, but there are costs to everything. Added to that , Clay discovers the planned assassination of the new European bureau chief branch of the C.I.A.. This is obvious to Clay that the assassin is someone within the agency. How can he possibly achieve both goals.

The Right Hand is an enthralling page turner with action/adventure as well as time for personal friendships and relationships. The characters are well-described and authentic with their choices and actions. The story is logical and organized in this gripping tale. Definitely the strength of this novel is the character of Austin Clay as a James Bond like character, who has the courage and wisdom to do the right thing in this riveting tale.

Derek Hass has co-written three books and has also published the novels, The Assassin Trilogy: The Silver Bear, Columbus, and Dark Men.

For a fast-paced riveting tale of adventure, The Right Hand by Derek Haas is definitely the “right” choice.

The Nutcracker

How do you tell if a performance is outstanding? You just need to listen to the audience. When the audience is completely silent and not moving for an entire program, you know that the show has perfectly entertained everyone.

That was the situation with this year's Nutcracker at the IWCC Arts Center last Friday night. Spellbound would best describe how the audience reacted to this engaging rendition of Te Nutcracker. Personally, having seen numerous productions over the years, I was amazed at how this year's show was fresh and different while still using the traditional music of Tchaikovsky. The Nutcracker proved to possess that magical mix that makes this production definitely one of the best that I have ever seen.

As the recorded overture began, the dancers approached the stage through the audience in family groups to become part of the party. With elaborate costumes, each group approached the stage as a family unit for the annual Christmas party. For those not acquainted with ballet, this entire production is told strictly through the motions of dance. With numerous children acting through dancing, the story completely possessed the theater.

The sets were elaborate and detailed, moving smoothly and almost invisibly through their dances. The costumes were phenomenally elaborate and expressive to the individuals and the story. Added to that were the wigs and makeup which
were perfect for those with multiple roles and actually masterfully changed each person's appearance. The lighting and stage management were both outstanding as being integral parts of the production all with the purpose of telling this timeless story.

As Clara, Emma Browning excelled as an actress. She constantly stayed in character displaying realistic reactions of awe to each dream as they beautifully became part of the story. She definitely displayed maturity much beyond her years and talent that is outstanding. The North Wind singers were "ah"-some and beautifully in tune. The party children, toy soldiers, mice, little Drosselmeyers, and angels were superb in their performances.

As adult dancers, there were numerous superb performances in this outstandingly choreographed show. Denis Vezetiu as the Snow King literally "wowed" the audience through his magnificent and graceful leaps. Albert Liberatoscioli, dancing as a Russian was wonderful and enchanted the audience with his kicks. Natasha Grimm as both the Ballerina Doll and the Rat Queen showed her creativity with graceful artistry in both these roles. Erika Overturff as the Sugar Plum Fairy was enchanting. Matthew Carter and Sasha York always are wonderful in their various roles.

This particular Nutcracker was extremely well-planned and designed. Every movement appeared relaxed and natural as well as truly graceful and artistic. The planning of the costumes, wigs, make-up, sets, choreography, and the overall professional confidence easily was communicated to the audience.

My one criticism is in the storyline. If the story in named The Nutcracker, shouldn't The Nutcracker be in most of the performance?

Still, I hope to attend next year's performance by Ballet Nebraska. Knowing that they continually add more each year to make the show even better, how can they possibly top this one?

As I was walking to my vehicle after the performance, the parking lot was filled with young girls twirling as they dreamed of being the graceful and beautiful ballerinas and the adults wishing that they could move like those wonderful dancers.

Travels with a Road Dog

Travels with a Road Dog
Hitchhiking Along the Roads of the Americas
R. K.
Create Space Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN: 978-1-4783-4846-7
364 pages
$ 19.95

"...I had decided my own future."

What do you do after you flunk out of college? Some people get a job, some join
the military, some move back home to continue to live as children, and then
there are the few who are daring enough to take to the road. For a young woman, the idea of hitchhiking can be threatening, but with a little luck and learning who to trust, what a thrilling way to find out about themselves and to learn some life lessons while becoming what is known to hitchhikers as a "road dog".

R.K. decided that she wanted to see the country. With few financial resources,
she departed from her mother's home for a life of possibilities, deciding to
hitchhike along the way.

One of her first rides was with an old man who was drinking. After being
rescued by the police, she made the decision early on to never ride again with
someone who was drinking.

She quickly discovered the world of the Rainbow Gatherings around the country.
Either walking, riding with acquaintances, or hitchhiking she found a way of
life that perfectly matched her current ideals. This communal gathering excited her with the gypsy lifestyle at first, taught her much, and allowed her to discover certain qualities in herself and others. Along the way she met many generous people and managed to travel with two extraordinary dogs for companionship and protection.

This book is her memory of particular events and places she experienced through
her naive and adventurous eyes. While looking for safety, shelter, and
companionship, this young woman also discovers much about herself relying on her
personal instincts. The lessons learned as solutions to particular problems changed her life especially in the area of natural medicine. Traveling without much money but literally by her wits, she finds that there are numerous ways around the bureaucracy of passports and visas. Also, learning about people, problems, and trust makes Travels with a Road Dog an educational, but enlightening read through an unusual perspective.

Most of the names of the characters were changed. However, there was one place
where the changed name was confused with the real name, making the recounted
memory a little confusing for this one episode. For the most part, the book was well edited and especially well-organized. The strength of the writing was definitely the author's passion with her choices at this particular time in her life.

This account was wonderful in experiencing another lifestyle through someone
else. Her experiences and problems are informative and uplifting with her
solutions and sometimes, learning with her from the failures. Travels with a Road Dog is the true account and lessons learned from a young woman while discovering more about other people, places, and most importantly, about herself.