Sunday, October 23, 2016

Three Sisters, Three Queens

Three Sisters, Three Queens
Philippa Gregory
Simon and Schuster
New York, New York
ISBN: 9781476758572
$ 27.99
550 pages

"You can't do what you want when you are a princess,...You are doing the work of God,  you are going to be the mother to a king, you are one below the angels, you have a destiny."
Can anyone possibly imagine what Margaret Tudor's life was like as a child?   Author, Philippa Gregory, her natural curiosity to this character has created a marvelous, insightful perspective to the infamous and long-lasting events of the time.
Margaret adored her older brother, Arthur who was to be the next King of England.  Along with her younger sister, Mary, the two sisters joined by a third, the intended wife of her brother, Katherine of Aragon from Spain, these three united in a sisterly bond lasting most of their lives.  Her parents were Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, the ones who sponsored the expedition of Columbus.
As with all sisters, loyalty is fierce but not always consistent and not always meeting their personal desires.  The sisterly bond between Katherine, and the Tudor sister, Margaret and Mary is an unusual relationship involving death, riches, power, debt, as well as moral support as each discovers and completes their royal duties, as God, the King and men allow.   Throughout the years, none of these ruling women lived a life of leisure with each enduring hardship and pain. 
Margaret and Mary have a unique lineage combining the Lancaster and Plantagenet into the House of Tudor along with their brothers Arthur and Henry.  Because of this, each one's future is carefully planned to benefit the English crown.
Arthur marries Katherine.   Margaret is to become the Queen of Scotland after marrying James creating peace between the Northlands and England.  Mary, who is much younger, is to become the wife of the Holy Roman Emperor or the Queen of France. 
However, life changes for all of them when their beloved brother Arthur dies of the sweating sickness leaving his wife Catherine, childless and widowed.  Henry is only ten-years-old and now is heir to the throne in England.
Eventually, Henry marries his brother's wife to begin their ruling of England.  All that is needed is a male heir to complete their destiny.
Three Sisters, Three Queens, is an unusual novel in which the lives of the royals is realistic showing how these women who believed their birthrites led to power, riches, and happiness in actuality suffered immense pain, humiliation, debt, and suffering.  These women could never live the life of their dreams.
Three Sisters, Three Queens is an outstanding novel based on real history revealing many of the explanations for many of the conflicts even in today's world.

The Candidate

The Candidate
Lis Wiehl and Sebastian Stuart
Thomas Nelson
Nashville, Tennessee
ISBN: 97800718037680
$ 26.99
October 2016
352 pages

How can you be certain that who you vote for as President is the person the country needs and who you believe is the best person?
Erica Sparks has worked hard to overcome her personal problems with alcohol to become one of the nation's highest rated cable news host.  It isn't easy to be on the top since logically at some time, you know that you have to come off that mountaintop. 
Now she has the responsibility and privilege to get to know the two Presidential candidates.   One is a woman, Lucy Winters who appears sincere, down-to-earth, genuine and trustworthy.  The other is a handsome veteran who also was kidnapped while on a humanitarian mission to Iraq.  This man, Mike Ortiz at times appears charismatic while often his eyes look empty and coached by his wife.   Who would get your vote?
Erica's life is not all glitz and glamor.  She is a single-parent of a precocious and questioning daughter, Jenny.  Unfortunately, the time demands of her career require her to be separated from Jenny longer than either of them likes. 
Erica is bothered by the relationship between Mike Ortiz and his wife.  There is not anything the is noticeable, but she is questioning the possible control of the candidate through his wife.
Author Lis Wiehl knows the world of news broadcasting by being a legal analyst and commentator for Fox New Channel while appearing weekly on The O'Reilly Factor, Lou Dobbs Tonight, Imus in the Morning, Kelly's Court and numerous other programs.  She bases her books from being a graduate of Harvard Law School and being a former federal prosecutor.  She has authored and co-authored many book series with the Mia Quinn Mysteries, the Triple Threat Series, the East Salem Trilogy and the novel, Snapshot.
Sebastian Stuart is the author of four books:  The Hour Between, The Mentor, To the Manor Dead, and 24-Karat Kids.  He has also written under the name Kendall Hart while writing non-fiction e-books, and a senior editor for the book publisher, New World City.
The Candidate is the second novel in Wiehl's series entitled The Newsmakers, with the first book being a novel of the same name.
The Candidate is a fast-paced page-turner following Erica day-by-day as she researches into each candidate while attempting to have a long-distance relationship with her fiance, occasionally reconnecting with friends, and doing her best to be a good parent for her daughter.  Realistically, the constant demands on her time forcing her to make choices placing her career over her personal life applies to every parent, as the guilt accumulates.
The Candidate is what every person should read as they make decisions about the upcoming Presidential election.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

5 Days of Landfall

5 Days to Landfall
Robert Roy Britt
Ink Spot Books
Phoenix, Arizona
November  2016
312 pages

Living along the Pacific Ocean in South Carolina, most people know how to prepare for hurricanes.  Their communities understand the potential disaster and work well to minimize the amount of damage to the communities.  They know that nature always wins.  These communities almost can write a book about storm preparedness including evacuations.
Not all cities near the Pacific Ocean are that way, especially those further north.  For New York City, a hurricane was recorded in 1821.  In 1938 another one devastated the area fifty-five miles east of Manhattan.  

Since the Northeast seldom experiences hurricanes, they are not prepared. Hurricane Sandy could have caused exponentially more damage. These communities were not prepared then and still lack a plan for this possible disaster.
5 Days to Landfall is a fictional account of what could happen if a hurricane struck this highly congested area. Infused into this thrilling novel is authentic science interlaced with history, real technology, and political realism. 
Amanda Cole works at the nation’s Hurricane Center as a forecaster. She is one of the meteorologists who study every aspect of each storm and based on the information from several forecasting models, predicts the paths and intensities of these possible hurricanes. She has the responsibility of notifying cities if they are in the path of destruction.
This enormous burden is complicated. No community wants to shut down, especially if the storm diverts at the last minute. Many will only close and evacuate residents only if they are one hundred percent confident. In the Carolinas, people understand. In the Northeast, with few tropical storms becoming a hurricane and causing destruction, most just ignore the warnings.
Like many people, Amanda daily excels with a challenging life raising her daughter, Sarah. Her ex-husband shares the curious youngster just two weeks a year. These are difficult times for Amanda during this short separation.
Amanda knows that this particular storm will hit the York City area. Her daughter is in the area with her ex-husband while her father resides near the ocean at a retirement home. Who should be taken to safety first? Strangely, someone is playing the stock market prices; specifically, insurance companies who work with communities in these possible areas. With no plan in place for this disaster, the politicians refuse to inform their constituents of the impending danger. She is also aware of the numerous homeless will not have a chance to survive while living in the tunnel system around the subways under the city. 
The author, Robert Roy Britt, is a journalist who has authored a mystery series featuring Eli Quinn in Closure, Drone, and First Kill along with the prequel, Murder Mountain.
5 Days to Landfall masterfully blends a fictional thriller with science and history. Britt weaves a page-turner while educating the reader about past hurricanes, the science of hurricanes, a guide to surviving during these storms, and even a little research into preparing a home for these attacks. All of this, as well as interspersing political corruption, thrills, romance, and realism are thrown into an actual political meltdown.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Shelby's Creek

Shelby's Creek
Mark Matthiessen
Wave Cloud Corporation
Charleston, South Carolina
ISBN: 978-1-62217-755-4
$ 16.99
306 pages

"The way a person treated nature was the way a person treated human beings."
Everyday farming life in Shelby County, Iowa during 1943  was idyllic.   As an Iowan farmer, life it seems too tranquil for Valentin Schmitz.  Responsibly he farms his 160-acres of fertile farmland near Council Bluffs, refusing to use pesticides, helping his neighbors in need, and contributing to the war effort through rationing, collecting scrap metal, and nurturing his own Victory Garden.
Valentin is a 33-year-old college-educated bachelor who recently separated from the woman he believed was going to be his wife.  While time heals, the challenges of the world and the community frequently occupy his thoughts.  He relaxes by playing his flute and enjoying his art collection.
Valentin longs to enter this war.   He has grandparents currently residing in France where the Nazi occupation has begun.  As his grandfather is arrested and working at a concentration camp due to his religion, Jehovah Witness, Valentin's grandmother hides witnessing the everyday life in this occupied country.  Dealing with the day to day rationing, living under the military law of the Nazis, being dependent on others for your life, is part of the daily routine.
Two thoughts make him hesitate to rescue his grandparents.  The first is that farmers are not to be conscripted since they supply the food the fighters and the nation. 
Secondly, Valentin suffers from certain anxieties.  He has a fear of the dark and has separation anxiety disorder.   To help himself, Valentin keeps flashlights with him at all times. 
How could he possibly serve again in Europe or help his family?  Why would he leave the safety of being a farmer to enter the war in Europe?
His grandparents taught Valentin many life lessons demonstrating words of wisdom to guide him through the challenges of life.   Besides raising Valentin after the death of his parents, he feels indebted to both.
Shelby's Creek enters the world of the French people working behind the scenes fighting for their country during this time with their constant fears and practical problems which unified their citizens with a common enemy.   The part of the French underground is part of the personal voice in this engrossing tale.
Mark Matthiessen knows this story as it is personal to him.  This Shelby County native was born and raised on the1 family's 160l-acre farm which is now operated by the fifth-generation.   He has worked with a computer company while writing their technical manuals.  Recently he is writing articles for national and international magazines.
Shelby's Creek is the first book in this new series by Mark Matthiessen with the next book in this series available this fall.
Shelby's Creek is a work of love of family and the farmland of Shelby County.  The characters are realistic with authentic problems of the time placing the reader into each situation.   Each setting vividly exposes the time and place making the reader feel as if they are the character, creating an enthralling historical journey.  

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Senile Squad

Senile Squad: Adventures of the Old Blues
Chris Legrow
CL1557 Publishing
Omaha, Nebraska
Lexington, Kentucky
ISBN:  978-0-9977036-1-0
Trade Paperback
$ 16.95
302 pages

'We're all undercover now.  Cops playing cops that people think aren't cops.  It's given all of us a new lease on life.  We were just rotting away.  Nobody needed us to do what we've done for most of our lives.  It's just so good to be needed again and to help fellow cops even if they don't know it. To tell you the truth, that's what makes it fun.'
What happens when people who have worked all their lives in law enforcement retire?  Do they miss the danger, the excitement, getting their adrenal pumped?
Wouldn't it be great if somehow their years of experience and the expertise each one possesses could be utilized rather than just having a younger, cheaper recruit replace them?
Wouldn't it benefit the community if someone could find some way to use their years of cumulating all the knowledge into one think tank?  Naturally, no one would want to place these retirees in danger, but could former undercover cops now go undercover to benefit local law enforcement?  Not officially, but off-the-books, behind the scenes?
A group of wealthy Omaha-based business people is discussing this possibility to have a home for retired police officers.  They would fund the home with the medical staff needed and also supply it with anything an undercover officer would need.  These would be law enforcement officers without the active law enforcement community being aware of their existence.
After all, who would suspect old men wandering around assisting the police?   Yes, they have weapons but not the type used by active duty officers.
Senile Squad is a fun read.  The protagonists are delightful, comical, and unfortunately, too realistic.   With picturesque action, the book has everything, danger, romance, conflict, resolution, death, and most importantly a sense of doing the right thing.
Detective Chris Legrow is part of the Omaha Police Department's Special Victims Unit.  When not working, with his wife, he raises nine children.
Who would enjoy Senile Squad? Naturally, law enforcement but also retirees would thoroughly enjoy this delightful gem that is just fun.