Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Girl from Home

The Girl from Home
Adam Mitzner
Gallery Books
Simon & Schuster
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-1-4767-6428-3
336 pages

"...I loved my penthouse and the East Hampton oceanfront house I was going to buy.  But it was all in the same kind of way, I loved what I thought they said about me.  That I was successful, I guess.  That I mattered."

Jonathan Caine is living the life he dreamed of living.  He is a well-respected and successful currency trader earning huge bonuses annually and in command of a team of advisors and underlings.  Outside of work he has the beautiful trophy wife, wears designer suits, drives a Bentley and can't imagine a life that he is not currently experiencing.

That is until his success begins to implode.  What happens when everything you believed in is stripped away?  What then really matters in your life?

As his world begins to shatter, Jonathan's father is dying.  Because he needs a distraction and to temporarily escape from reality, he returns home.  Surprisingly even to him, he decides to attend his
twenty-fifth high school reunion.  He is proud of his accomplishments, especially compared to his classmates.  No one appears as successful as him.  Unfortunately he is aware that soon his slowly descending world could come crashing down.

He is delighted to finally have the attention of the former prom queen, Jacqueline Williams.  During high school, she had not been aware of his existence.  Life for Jacqueline is not as she dreamed.  Yes, she married the football star but this dream man from her teen-aged years has turned into a drunken, abusive husband.

As Jonathan's father is dying, he gives his son some advice.   These few words change his life forever.

The Girl from Home is an addictive novel that is difficult to put down. The story progression is realistic, problematic for the main characters, and unpredictable.  The characterization excels with the reader having a strong visual image of every person with difficult choices in their lives.  With a tightly written and well-organized plot progressing logically but with what feels authentic, as if the story was based from reality.

Adam Mitzner resides as a lawyer in New York City.  His previous novels are Losing Faith, A Case of Redemption, and A Conflict of Interest.

The Girl from Home is a true psychological thriller keeping every adult reader racing to the conclusion on the last page.

The British Lion

The British Lion
Tony Schumacher
William Morrow
Harper Collins Publishers
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-06-239459-0
$ 25.99
450 pages

"Chess wouldn't work without pawns."

Are we just pawns in the game of life?  Like the game of chess are we just moved about or sacrificed in a scheme where we do not completely understand the rules or even the purpose?

In a world where Germany won the war during WWII and is currently occupying England, The British Lion offers readers the rare opportunity to judge the characters not by their national allegiances but by their actions. 

Ernst Koehler is a German SS officer working in Great Britain. Recently he lost his index finger and thumb.  Over the years he has spent much of his time away from his wife and daughter who reside in Germany.   He is thrilled that both of them are now visiting him. 

John Henry Rossett is in a hospital recovering from being shot while attempting to save a Jewish boy and getting him to safety in America.  Rossetti is known as the British Lion, the Fuhrer's favorite Brit.  However, Rossett does not enjoy this honor.  Germany is thrilled with the positive collaborative publicity of their former enemy.  Koehler chooses to not disclose how Rossett was really hurt so that he will be allowed to return to his life as a police officer.

These two form a team when Koehler's wife and daughter are kidnapped.  Their unusual partnership hinges on a  level of respect but not friendship.   Koehler values Rossett's expertise while John is sympathetic to Koehler's situation.. 

Koehler's family is being held by the Americans.  He is now being blackmailed.   The ransom for his family is a female Jewish scientist.   Sounds simple but this one scientist holds the key to the atomic bomb.  Whoever has the bomb, rules the world.

As with most plans, things don't work as smoothly as planned.  These complications greatly affect every aspect of this trade.  

What is amazing is this novel was my prejudice towards nationalities as to who were the protagonists/antagonists.  The role was constantly changing in my mind and fortunately each character had to be judged by their actions.  

The alternative view of a Europe possibly unified by the Nazis was fascinating to see a perspective which possibly was a dream and goal of many Germans at the time.

The British Lion is the sequel to Schumacher's previous novel, The Darkest Hour.  Reading this previous novel is not a requirement to understand this plot.  The story was almost hypnotic even though a little difficult at first due to the alternative history aspect.

The author, Tony Schumacher has written for both the Huffington Post, The Guardian and both the Liverpool and Manchester Confidential magazines.  He has also spent time as a performer and stand-up comedian. 

This book is for adults with violence, strong language, and requiring a sense of the history of World War II being essential to truly appreciating  what a unique and phenomenal novel has been created by the artistry of author, Tony Schumacher.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Mail-Order Kid

Mail-Order Kid
Marilyn June Coffey
"out West" Press
Omaha, Nebraska
ISBN: 978-0-9626317-2-6
$ 15.95
264 pages

From the years of 1854 to 1929 many children left their homes in New York City to become a son or a daughter to a new family somewhere in our country.  Naturally the hope was to be adopted by a loving family.  The name for this movement was usually through  by train.  This became known as the orphan train.
Like all children, some were fortunate and loved by their new families.  However some of these children had horrific experiences, being beaten and even slaves to their adopted family.  Probably most of these orphaned and unwanted children lived with families that were somewhere between these two extremes.
Teresa Martin was three-years-old when she became a passenger of the Orphan Train.  Having lived in the orphanage for awhile, she never really knew the identity of her parents but relied on the nurturing nuns who had so far mothered her. They sent her away with the hopes of a better life.  Although very young, she remembered many impressionable events from her life in the convent.  These were her earliest memories, never knowing her parents but fond thoughts of loving nuns who favored, mothered and truly loved her.
Unfortunately for Teresa, she was assigned to a German family in Kansas.   This petite, dark-haired, olive-skinned beauty did not easily fit into the life of two older adults who had grown children.  She did not speak German and they did not speak English.  Living with a different language and customs was difficult for Teresa who truly felt that she did not belong.  Fortunately she befriended a German priest who nurtured her while also teaching her the language of her new life.  Even though she lived in the U.S.A., English was not the preferred language of this town. 
Teresa lived with this family who fed, sheltered and clothed her.  However her new parents were not affectionate or loving.  Their relationship was always strained which resulted in her being sexually abused and even whipped.
Later as an adult, Teresa frequently still felt isolated and unconnected resulting in her search for who were her parents.  Who was she?  What happened to her parents?   Why?
Author Marilyn Coffey was relocating to Nebraska after spending thirty years in New York, She decided to become a speaker for the state humanities council but she needed a specialty, a unique topic.  Someone mentioned the orphan trains and she immediately discounted the thought.  Who would put orphans on trains and send them to unknown destinations? 
Surprisingly as she began to research this topic, she was surprised to discover that more than half of these children actually were not orphans but had at least one parent with one quarter of them having both parents.  So why?
Marilyn Coffey was hooked.  The topic was fascinating.  She searched for an actual orphan train survivor but most were elderly or deceased.  While lecturing about the orphan train, she received a letter from an actual orphan train rider who asked about why she had no first hand experiences. 
This led to an unusual friendship that became this biography.  
Mail-Order Kid is the product of this phenomenal friendship allowing the readers to become a part of this historical and memorable experience combining Teresa's life story with Marilyn's writing gifts.
This collaboration is an enthralling biography capturing the past into a loving and reflective novel between Marilyn Coffey and Teresa Martin. 
This book is for everyone to read, reflect, learn, and enjoy.