Sunday, July 23, 2017

Without Fear or Favor

Without Fear or Favor
Robert K. Tanenbaum
Gallery Books
Simon and Schuster, Inc.
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-1-4767-9322-1
Hardcover
August 15, 2017
$ 27.00
384 pages

The black community vs. the police is not a new idea in today's social environment.
Tony Cippio is an ideal New York Police Officer who attempts to create positive relationships between the community and law enforcement.   This white policeman enjoys playing basketball with neighborhood teens.
Tyrone Greene is a thirteen-year-old with basketball skills that surpass the officer's successful high school and community college recognition.   Tony sees the possibilities for this talented youngster with dreams of playing professional ball.   Considering how well Tyrone could play with an old over-inflated ball, the teen was thrilled with the gift of a new ball.
Unfortunately the game is witnessed by three black men seated nearby.   As the three approach, Officer Cippio, his partner is still resting  by the car.   First they inform Tony that he is not welcome in this neighborhood and shows his intent by pulling a gun pointing at the poiceman's chest, shooting a bullet both in his chest and head.
This incident begins the reign of the black terrorist movement in New York by their leader Nat X propelling animosity between law enforcement and the black community.
Although personal prejudices greatly influence their perceptions of reality, the truth seems more difficult to uncover.
Robert Tanenbaum is an extremely successful trial lawyer who has never lost a felony case.  He has been Chief Council to the Congressional Committee investigations into the death of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as being the Bureau Chief of the New York Criminal Courts, worked with the Homicide Bureau for the New York District Attorney's Office as well as teaching at the University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law.
Encompassing the issues of black vs. white, homelessness, justice, reputations , survival skills, threats, lifestyles, and right vs. doing what is best for your family and yourself.
Without Fear or Favor is the 29th book in Tanenbaum's Butch Karp/ Marlene Ciampi thriller series. With superb characterization, non-stop action, and realistic present day problems and social challenges, Without Fear or Favor is an enthralling experience keeping the reader completely engaged to the last word.



Giant of the Senate

Giant of the Senate
Al Franken
Twelve
Hatchette Book Group
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-1-4555-4041-9
Hardcover
2017
$ 28.00

Senator Al Franken of Minnesota has quickly become one of the most well-known U.S. Senators of the United States of America.
Giant of the Senate is an autobiography of Al Franken beginning his journey as a child growing up in Minnesota, to becoming a writer of Saturday Night Live and finally becoming a respected Democratic U.S. Senator.
"Here in America, of course, we're all immigrants.  Except, of course, for Native Americans against whom we committed genocide."
With the present policitical leadership in Washington, this quote is gutsy.  Remember, he is a reflection of the Democratic Party.
Who could imagine a comedy writer being the unlikely Democratic candidate for a congressional seat?  
Being a child of typical middle-class America from the liberal state of Minnesota gives a young Al Franken a strong, independent foundation for his future life choices.  When his older brother became the first in the family eventually graduating from MIT with a degree in physics, Al made his own way  by attending Harvard.   Surprising, his brother became a photographer and Al, a comedian.  How would your parents feel about those outcomes from a college education?
After becoming part of a comedy team, Franken and Davis, perceived as an updated Bob and Ray Radio Show, both were asked to submit a writing sample which was considered for a new comedy show being created and  produced by Lorne Michaels in becoming Saturday Night Live.  
Franken and Davis became part of the original show along with Chevy Chase, Garrett Morris, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Laraine Newman, and John Belushi.  Combining the current day news and politics into a comedy show pushing the limits of political correctness with a multitude of social challenges.
After being in comedy for thirty-five years, Al Franken made the choice to enter into politics.
The book concentrates on this unlikely candidate into along his journey to being a United States Senator.    Now, he is unquestionably memorable with a strong contributing social agenda, into being a possibly Giant of the Senate.
Giant of the Senate is a fabulous book to read.  It combines Franken's humor, family, passions, dreams, and ambitions perfectly reflecting the author's personality as monitored through his staff.  His unlikely journey to success has made Franken a legend, now for the Senate.
Whether or not you are a Democratic, Republican, or Independent, Al Franken's Giant of the Senate is a story for every American.



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Deadly Occupation

Deadly Occupation
A Michael Stoddard, American Revolution Mystery
Suzanne Adair
Raleigh, North Carolina
Printed in Columbia, South Carolina
ISBN: 978-0988912939
2015

Imagine living in the year 1781 in North Carolina.  Our country is just beginning  but is still fighting for its independence.   For many settlers, they are choosing whether their allegiances are with the British as Loyalists, the colonists as the rebels, or being neutral with no preferences.
At the time, no country had ever successfully broken away from a mother country to be independent as a new nation.
A British officer, Lieutenant Michael Stoddard is part of the Eighty-Second Regiment, currently occupying the small town of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Many of those loyal to the colonists are associated with the Regulators who were protesting The Stamp Act.  With the British Invasion of this area, they flee the area along with the horses, carts, and ammunition.
For those who remain must surrender to British officer, Major Craig after their articles of surrender had been rejected.  Now all the residents are prisoners of war.
One of their scouts is a free Negro named Teal.   He is questioning the safety of the homes in the area, especially the possibility of traps as the troops inspect and move into the town.   He reports of a nearby home owned by a loyalist merchant whose home is being attacked by about twenty men on horseback who are setting the out buildings on fire.
Michael is given ten men to assist in saving the Farrell home.   Fortunately, their training gives them the advantage even while being outnumbered.
As Major Craig takes over command of the area, he assigns Michael as his lead criminal investigator answering only to him.  With this unstable occupation, the Major needs someone he can trust.
Michael is allowed to hire an assistant to help investigate his many new duties.   Among the rebel leaders leaving the area, their families still remain.  Will their spouses return?  Where do the family loyalties lie?
His assignment also includes the creation of a church which does not seem Anglican.  Women are allowed positions in this church going against the teachings of the Anglican Church.  The Major needs to know what Vicar Spivey if really doing which he expects is taking advantage of the local residents.
Added to that is the disappearance of a gunsmith's wife, Julia Garrett.
The Major expects these tasks to be completed within the next day or two.
How can an outsider possible accomplish all this within such a short length of time?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

If You Were Me and Lived...on Mars, in Germany, in the American West

If You Were Me and Lived on Mars
Author: Carole P. Roman
Illustrator: Mateya Arkova
ISBN: 978-1540869722
2015
$ 12.99
44 pages
If You Were Me and Lived in Germany
Illustrator: Kelsea Wierenga
ISBN: 978-1539135942
2017
$ 14.99
58 pages
If You Were Me and Lived in the American West
Illustrator: Paula Tabor
ISBN: 978-1532877841
2016
Create Space Independent Publishing Platform
North Charleston, South Carolina
Paperback
$ 10.99
36 pages

If You Were Me and Lived on Mars allows you to think into the future, maybe the year 2054 when you might be able to walk on the planet, Mars.
To be travel to and from Mars would have to be only when Earth and Mars were lined up for a quick trip which would take about two years.   Children could also go there with their parents.
How can anyone possibly consider living on the red planet of Mars?   The air pressure is too thin with too little oxygen and too much carbon monoxide and little atmospheric protection allowing too much radiation for humans to survive.
Also on the planet are no natural resources to provide housing as will as water, food, extreme temperatures, air and all of the everyday necessities.   Outside the living area would uninhabitable without a special suit to compensate for the differences between Mars and Earth.
For this imagined book to be possible, all of us on this planet now need to aware of the facts of what we now know about Mars to make this dream a reality.
If You Were Me and Lived in Germany allows every reader to experience life in the country that is the most populated in the European Union.
What I adore about this book is the influence of the German people into the English language with words like league, cuckoo, folk, marinated, observatory, Oktoberfest, sauerbraten, throne, vinegar, and wurst.
If You Were Me and Lived in the American West has a  setting in the Willamette Valley in Oregon which was a possible destination of the Oregon Trail in 1835.
Life was frequently difficult for many Americans settled along the east coast of the United States.   Living off the land, made people depend on luck with the weather whether dealing with droughts or floods. 
The dream of the Oregon Trail gave people hope for a new better life.  With the possibility of finding gold, many settlers left their old lives for the east coast of the United States. 
It is hard today to imagine putting everything you own into a covered wagon and slowly walk the distance across the country on trails, but not paved roads.  You also needed to carry all the food and supplies needed along the route as well as to begin this new life while traveling with a group of people similar to you.
Would you want to be part of this experience?
Near the end of this book, a list of the well-known people associated with this time.
The illustrations perfectly match the text of theses educational and informational books.  All three books include an appendix with the vocabulary and pronunciation guide unique for each.
With these three books of living in another place in the future, present, and past, Carole Roman transports readers of all ages into a realistic time machine of their imagination with her as their travel guide.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Carousel

When life seems overly demanding, what do each of us find within ourselves to carry on,?
Hope.
"Though your dreams be tossed and torn,
Walk on with hope in our heart, and you'll never walk alone."
At an amusement park somewhere along the New England Coast is late May sometime in the mid-1800s, Julie Jordan and her best friend, Carrie Pipperidge found themselves in a daring situation of riding the carousel.  A risky adventure for the two since the barker, Billy Bigelow, is incredibly handsome and touches the girls around the waist.
Billy has the bad-boy attitude while mildly flirting attracting women of all ages.  He is accustomed to being swooned over.
Somehow he is attracted to Julie who is willing to stay out late after curfew to be with him causing her to lose her job.
Will her adoring love for Billy conquer all?
Ariel Ibsen-Bauer is Julie Jordan with Joshua Lloyd Parker as the handsome bad-boy Billy Bigelow.   The two individuals became the unlikely couple to be married and have a child.
Enoch Snow portrayed by Kyle Avery is fantastic especially when I found myself holding my breath as he hit those incredibly high notes perfectly and beautifully in his falsetto voice.  With his onstage wife, Lauren Anderson as Carrie Pepperidge Snow whose soprano voice floated in the soundwaves these two are phenomenal performers in every aspect.
Shawn Cannon as Jigger Craigin is outstanding as the antagonist always pushing Billy to the criminal side.  His singing, acting, and acrobatics left me in amazement.
I thoroughly enjoyed Brenda Smrdel as Mrs. Mulligan who owns the carnival.  Her constant attraction to Billy Bigelow added a dimension to the show I had not realized before.  She is an outstanding performer in every aspect.
Nettie Fowler portrayed by Denise Putman has a demanding and exceptional stage presence.  When she sang "You'll Never Walk Alone," it was so beautiful, I cried.
I adored Mike Harvey as the heavenly friend and local doctor.   I don't know if he was supposed to have a southern accent, but I loved his "skeered" for scared.
The ensemble for Carousel is outstanding.  The blendings, harmonies, intonations, and expressions are perfect.  Their voices in short sections prove that each one could easily play the lead roles.
The dancing choreographers Robin Putnam and Patti Zukaritis excelled with the various routines that are engaging and dramatic.  Personally, I love the sea/boat dances which are creative, different, intricate, and completely enjoyable.  (I almost felt seasick.)
Bob Putman excelled with creating an incredible set, especially the carousel horses.  I was amazed at how well they moved as well as how useful but beautiful each scene appeared.
As with any musical, the musicians are important to those on stage.   Cheryl Langer and Keefer Peterson are outstanding on keyboards keeping control and setting the moods and tempos for the entire show.  Nicholas Swoboda is great on percussion. Along with the musical director, Jerry Gray these hidden performers deserved the spotlight.
As normal with Chanticleer, the behind the support crew are invisible but exceptionally talented in creating the best performance possible.   Leading with Dwayne Ibsen as director, Beth Rutz as stage manager, Ibsen Costume Gallery for the beautiful costumes, Rhonda Hall as props designer, Darrin Golden for light design, Jaycie Wetenkamp and Dave Podendorf for sound, Sue Wheeler as program editor and the outstanding staff and volunteers are all that makes this show great.
As in any live performance, each show is slightly different depending on various factors on stage, backstage, and even the audience.   Often, the audience has a significant impact on each performance.
Carousel is a show for everyone school-aged and older and continues this weekend with shows on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m.  Ticket prices are $ 20 for adults, $16 for seniors over sixty, and $ 10 for students.  Tickets are available by contacting Chanticleer Community Theater at 830 Franklin Ave. in Council Bluffs by calling 712-323-9955 or e-mail at chanticleertheater@gmail.com.
What happens when your dreams are destroyed?  Ride the Carousel this weekend at the Chanticleer Community Theater to find out.
Everyone one of us daily needs a little extra "hope in our heart."

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Boob Girls: Ten Little Puritans & Learning to Love Willie

The Boob Girls VII: Ten Little Puritans
ISBN: 1-56123-252-9
2015
182 pages
The Boob Girls VIII: Learning to Love Willie
ISBN: 978-1-56123-262-8
203 pages
Joy Johnson
Grief Illustrated Press
Omaha, Nebraska
$ 14.95

Benjamin Franklin once stated, "...in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."  However, there is that says that at least you can have fun along the way.
That is the thought behind Joy Johnson's delightful Boob Girls series.  For most retirees in a home, life is not uplifting
Author, Joy Johnson has discovered that aging does not mean that life ends.  With a few close friends, their lives now consist of humor, excitement, mystery, romance and making the most of each day.
Home is Meadow Lakes Retirement Community for Mary Rose McGill, Marge Aaron, Robinson Leary, and Hadley Joy Morris-Whitfield.  These women seem at first to have little in common except for their love of life and learning to enjoy each day sharing their friendships and adventures.
Scooter McKooter has invited the ladies to help at her Bed and Breakfast in Salem's Crossing, about one hundred miles away, serving a group of Puritan descendants.  She hopes the women will help with the cleaning, cooking and whatever else is needed.
With Ten Little Puritans, the adventure is a little reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel of Ten Little Indians.
Representing each guest is a Puritan doll resembling their human counterparts with names like Diewell Barbones, Patience Evenow, and Abstinence Evermore. 
Almost as soon as the guests arrive, they begin to disappear as well as their doll.  When one of the girls also vanish, the mystery only intensifies with the appearance of an expensive carriage pulled by a black horse and a writer appearing at the Shut Up and Drink Tavern.
Learning to Love Willie is the eighth book in the series.  
How should nightwear for older women look?  Most of us can imagine granny gowns for grannies but is there something a little revealing, enticing perhaps?
The BOOB Girls and all the female residents at the retirement show are to be models wearing Winkie Wear created by the designer, Willie Winkie for a charity style show.
Mary Rose is the most reluctant of the girls to model and refuses to wear any of the designs that have actual dead squirrels on the shoulders.  
Why has Meadow Lakes Retirement Community agreed to this?   Simple, money.
Part of Willie's reason for choosing Meadow Lakes is because of Marge who is a retired homicide detective.
Willie has multiple problems.  First, someone is trying to take over his business.  Also, his friend Jack Sprat who owns an Italian Restaurant called Lotsa Dimples has someone who is always stealing all their lettuce from the salad bar.  He also believes Dr. Fell is responsible for these crimes and is trying to kill him.
Does this resemble a nursery rhyme?
You need to read the book to find out the relationship.
These books can be read out of order and by themselves but are much more enjoyable if read in order.
Joy Johnson is the co-founder of Centering Corporation which is North America's oldest and largest bereavement resource and Ted E. Bear Hollow located in Omaha, Nebraska for grieving children.   She has written over one-hundred books mostly for children about grief.
These books are fun to read.  With the protagonists being people who most of society feels their lives are over, it is invigorating to see how these characters enjoy the most life has to give each day.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Gertrude and Toby

Gertrude and Toby Save the Gingerbread Man
Book 2 in the Gertrude and Toby Fairy-Tale Adventure Series
ISBN: 978-1-9969679-4-5
Gertrude and Toby Meet the Wolf
Book 3 in the Gertrude and Toby Fairy-Tale Adventure Series
ISBN: 978-0-9969679-7-6
Author: Shari Tharp
Illustrator: Jim Heath
Atlas Publishing
Solana Beach, California
Hardcover
2016
$ 16.99
48 pages

Gertrude is a goat and Toby is a turtle who are best friends and live at McFarland Farms.
They are in the farmyard observing Farmer Sam and his son, Ryan trying to load their prize pig into a trailer to show at the county fair.
Anxious for adventure, Gertrude and Toby decided to follow Farmer Sam, his son, and the pig.
As they were walking, they noticed a flying carpet that seemed to be following them.   Almost immediately a girl and boy leaped onto the carpet while being chased by a witch.
Curious, Gertrude tossed Toby onto her back in pursuit of the children.
Surprisingly this how Gertrude and Toby meet Hansel, Gretel, and the Magic Carpet including additional visits from The Gingerbread and The Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk.
If Gertrude and Toby Meet the Wolf, the two friends sneak off the farm every Friday while the farmer is shopping.
This time the two decide to go fishing. 
As they near Trout Lake, a boy rushes by screaming, "Wolf."
Quickly they hide in the nearby bushes for safety.
As they continue, the boy runs by again screaming.
After he passes, the twosome walk to the lake, enjoying their fishing.
Again they are interrupted when the boy shouts again only, this time Gertrude and Toby see the wolf dragging the boy.
That is when they decide to help.
They followed the wolf to his cave which is very brave for a goat and a turtle.
In Gertrude and Toby Meet the Wolf, the story intermixes The Boy Who Cried Wolf along with The Three Little Pigs.
Author Shari Tharp won a silver medal from  IPPY, Independent Publishers Book Award for the first book in this series as an illustrated e-book with Gertrude and Toby's Friday Adventure.
Illustrator Jim Heath is a graphic artist and California resident.
The Gertrude and Toby books are for children from preschool to age eight who have a little background with the traditional fairy tales.   The books are fun with vocabulary appropriate for the age level and the illustrations perfectly matching the text.
These are great books for expanding imaginations with young children and a creative step-off point into having the readers write and illustrate their own Gertrude and Toby fairy-tale adventure.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Brooklyn Graves

Brooklyn Graves
An Erica Donato Mystery
Triss Stein
A Worldwide Mystery
2017
First Published by Poisoned Pen
2014
ISBN: 978-0-373-28403-3
Mass Market Paperback
$ 7.99
280 pages

Who would steal a window from a family mausoleum?
Even more perplexing, why would the management attempt to cover it up and not report the problem to law enforcement?
Erica Donato has a busy life.  She is completing her doctoral project, a single parent of a teenaged daughter, and working part time at the Brooklyn Historical Museum at a job that is one-step above an intern.  Erica is to complete any task assigned to her at the museum.
Her newest project is to assist in an assessment of old letters and sketches long-ago forgotten in an attic.  These appear to be related to the company, Tiffany. 
Dr. Thomas Flint is a Tiffany expert.  She is to assist on escorting him to a mausoleum.  
As the rainstorm is subsiding, the two enter the cemetery only to be told of its closure.   Through the sloppiness of recent rain, the two arrive at the neglected Konick Mausoleum.  Although the damage seems to be more damaged by humans than nature,  
Erica is in awe at the inside of the museum in viewing a window made by Tiffany.  Even knowing of the Tiffany reputation, actually seeing the beauty of the glass reaches beyond her wildest expectation.
Now Erica has another challenge, her daughter's long-time friend, Dima is shot with his body left in front of his home.  The family has been close to Erica for years.  Why was he killed?
Brooklyn Graves is the second book in the Erica Donato series but can easily be read and understood without having read the first book.  Book One is entitled, Brooklyn Bones, book three is Brooklyn Secrets and the fourth books, Brooklyn Wars will be released in August.
Brooklyn Graves is a fascinating and engaging novel as the reader accompanies Erica with her entire investigation and attempting to discover who killed Dima while still learning about the phenomenal Tiffany art, especially in windows.
Brooklyn Graves perfectly balances history of the Tiffany windows into a fictional and engaging story interwoven masterfully.

Out of the Black

Out of the Black
John Rector
Thomas & Mercer
Las Vegas, Nevada
ISBN: 9781477805046
2013
$ 14.95
235 pages

Money can make people desperate.   For Matt Caine, the is exactly his life now, desperate.
Matt's wife died in a car accident.  His wife survived, but his daughter was permanently damaged requiring much rehabilitation and therapy.  
Unfortunately, providing for Anna's special needs now requires this time and money.   Another disadvantage is that now this single-parent has the challenge of also providing for his daughter and his night.  Most businesses are not very understanding.
An old friend is now meeting with Matt, offering him a solution.    
Jay believes an acquaintance of his has money.  So now he has developed a scheme.   He just needs Matt's help for it to be possible to solve both of their problems.
Added to his problem, Matt borrowed money to pay for Beth's funeral and his daughter's hospitalization and care.  However, the mobster that he borrowed the money from, now wants it paid back. 
His old time friend, Jay, is just out of jail.   Matt also spent time in prison, but now hopes to rebuild his life now into a successful life where he can live comfortably with his daughter.
Matt has another problem.   He is unemployed.  His wife's parents have what he needs, time and money.   They are extremely willing to care for Anna while he looks for another job.  Their hope is that this is temporary, just until he gets on his feet.
Matt agrees to Jay's plan which involves kidnapping his wife.  Naturally, the scheme doesn't quite work as expected and what begins as one small change, ends in disaster.
What happens when you are in trouble way to deep, and there is no solution now?
John Rector lives in Omaha, Nebraska.   His book Already Gone was nominated for the 2012 International Thriller Award.  His novels Lost Thing, The Grove, The Cold Kiss, The Ruthless, and recently released The Ridge are all best sellers.
Out of the Black catches the reader on the first page and does not release you until long after the book is finished.  The problem of having no easy solution to the problem, without swallowing your self-respect by giving in to his former in-laws.  They mean well but it 's hard to lose your pride.
The story is compelling, well-written and perfectly organized with characters that are very human in just looking for a better life.
All adults would enjoy this book.  Even though dark in tone, there is a part of each of us that can easily relate to Matt's situation.
Read Out of the Black for a fast-paced and memorable novel.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Midwife's Sister

The Midwife's Sister: The Story of Jennifer Worth by her Sister
Christine Lee
Pan Books
Pan Macmillan Publishers
London, England
ISBN: 978-1-4472-8264-8
2015
$ 14.95
341 pages with additional photographs

Christine Lee is the sister of Jennifer Lee Worth who is the author of Call the Midwife series.   Her perspective on their lives is quite different from her sister's viewpoint.
Jennifer is three years older than her sister, Christine.  The two had a close relationship in their early years, relying on each other for companionship. 
While their father was daily working, their mother was not nurturing, and for Christine, Jennifer was her big sister/mother.
Much of the novel regards their childhood, which privileged, was problematic with their mother suffering from a stroke when she arrived home early one day to discover her father with his secretary in their bed.
The girls' lives spun into turmoil as their parents split and their father remarried which eventually causes the sisters to be separated.
Christine states their lives as being middle-class.  However, the girls were sent to boarding school and had servants in the home.  Money did not seem to be a concern.
Although the book is subtitled, The Story of Call the Midwife's Jennifer Lee Worth, the story is as actually more about Christine with most of the pictures about her life and including her art when she met the queen, not about Jennifer.
I also felt that very little was written about her "midwife" time and much about Jennifer's isolation from her sister.
An issue I have with the book was that it was written and published until after her sister's death.   It is not fair to Jennifer to have her life revealed strictly from Christine's perspective.
Besides the misleading title, the book is a reflection of Christine Lee as the little sister of the author and creator of the "Call the Midwife" series.  
The story reads quickly but concentrates more on Christine's marriages, children, and life rather than Jennifer's.
Who would enjoy the book?  
Call the Midwife fans are the obvious audience but would be disappointed in that the relationships are not at all like the series.
People who begin to read the book without the expectation of revealing the Jennifer Lee Worth story can enjoy the story of Christine Lee, artist.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I Wasn't Invited to the Party

I Wasn't Invited to the Party
Author: Susanna Kern
Illustrator: Adolfo Serra
Consortium Book Sales
China
ISBN: 978-84-944446-4-7
2016
$ 16.95
32 pages

"You can't always go to all the parties.  But this doesn't mean that we should be sad, and we shouldn't enjoy ourselves."
For all children, a birthday party is exciting.   When the invitations are delivered to each person in a class at school, the anticipation of each child is thrilling.  
However, what if one child is left out. 
Mark is not invited to the party.
The afternoon of the party, he goes into the park, but it appears vacated, even the birds are gone.
Surprisingly, Mark discovers two of his classmates also in the park who were not invited to the party.  Yuna and Adrian begin to climb a tree with Mark.
From their high perch, they quickly view the nearby sea which is rising rapidly around nearby buildings.
As the water levels increase, it becomes so deep that a whale who is wearing a tiny hat maneuvers itself to the tree.   He quickly offers the threesome a ride while picking up other children who were not invited to the party as they journey through the water.
The whale transports the children to a village in the clouds on a tall mountain.
The residents are animals dressed in clothes, wearing shoes, glasses, and watches.  These creatures are having a celebration since they were not invited to the ostrich's birthday party.
The children had so much fun that they had completely forgotten about the birthday party.
As night falls, the whale whistles to return the children to their homes.
Imagination is a wonderful thing.
Author Susanna Isern is a writer and child psychologist whose books have been translated into many languages.  She was awarded the Silver Medal in the Moonbeam Children's Books in 2013.
The illustrator, Adolfo Serra has won numerous awards for his beautiful illustrations.
Everyone is left out sometime in their life.   Making the best of any situation is the most positive and learning how to make lemonade when life gives you lemons.
I Wasn't Invited to the Birthday Party is for children from preschool to at least second grade, or older if exclusions are causing problems for children.   This book could easily be a fast read aloud in any elementary school classroom and continue with both journal writing and discussions.
The illustrations wonderfully match the text enhancing the story as it progresses making this an enjoyable book that can be read multiple times.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Racing the Devil

Racing the Devil
An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery
Charles Todd
William Morrow
Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-06-238621-2
2017
$ 26.99
341 pages

Wartime comrades frequently form unusual alliances.   Former rivals can become lasting friends through bonding over life/death experiences of any war. 
It was June of 1916 when a group of seven English officers who while sharing could be their final drink, they discovered that all of them had lived within one-hundred miles of each other in southern England with each of them being very passionate with motorcars.
Realizing that this could their last relaxing drink before returning to the Front to fight the Germans, these men agree to a challenge if they survive the war.  
The agreement is for each of the men to meet in Paris one-year after the war ends and to each bring a vehicle to race all the way to Nice, whether their car is a racer of not.
The race occurs with only the five survivors and becomes dangerous as the drivers approach Nice with one accident, severely injuring the former officer and another vehicle almost pushed off the road.
One year after the race another death occurred of a clergyman who died in an accident.   It appears that someone hit his car while pushing it off the road while he was driving.
How does this connect to the racers?   The owner of the car was one of the officers.
Inspector Ian Rutledge represents Scotland Yard in investigating the clergyman's death.   Unfortunately, the community seems to have many secrets that they are extremely reluctant to share with law enforcement.
Will he be able to solve this case and to prevent others from dying?
The secrets of two villages complicate Rutledge's investigation with two completely different personalities.   These small towns are close regarding proximity but one is completely separate, even isolated due to the lack of transportation in 1920, and both are fighting for jurisdiction and not thrilled about Scotland Yard's involvement.
Charles Todd is the combined named of a mother-son writing team of Caroline Todd and her son, Charles. 
The two are well known for their series of novels directly after World War I with protagonists Inspector Ian Rutledge, Bess Crawford, and Hamish MacLeod winning multiple mystery novel awards throughout the years.
Racing the Devil is an extraordinary adventure transporting every reader into the post-war years following the World War 1.

Desperate Housedogs

Desperate Housedogs
A Pampered Pets Mystery - Book One
Sparkle Abbey
Bell Bridge Books
Memphis, Tennessee
ISBN: 978-1-61194-050-3
2011
$ 12.95
192 pages

Being a pet psychologist has to be a challenge.   One must depend on behavior rather than a common language to communicate.   Even though animals are known to talk, you have to understand them to translate.
For Caro Lamont, this is her career.   Previously she lost her license to work with humans caused by her husband and ending in divorce.
Caro moved on to another place in an exclusive area in southern California, Laguna Beach; she now deals with slightly different clients, the non-human kind.  This community has more dog residents than children.
Her first client of the day is Kevin Blackstone who is having difficulties with his two German Shepherds.   They are upset and overly excitable, refusing to calm.
Two hours after her visit, Kevin is dead.  Caro knows that she is not the killer being he was alive when she left.
What about the shifty gardener who observed her?   Why was he not working and watching?  Why don't the dogs like this man?
If you are not certain if the police will clear your name as a person of interest, politically correct way of saying suspect, what do you do?
Sparkle Abbey is the combined work of two central Iowa authors both being owned by their pets. Mary Lee Woods writes for her cat, Sparkle.  Anita Carter is commanded by her dog, Abbey.
Desperate Housedogs aims for a female audience of light, cozy mystery readers.   The book is simplistic in form and organization while establishing the characters for many future books in this first book of the series.
Desperate Housedogs is fun to read while in pursuit of a murderer and to have to deal with a close-knit community including gossip and running a small business while maintaining personal relationships.
Does anyone lose business if they are a person of interest in a murder?
Why does the police, even a handsome officer, insist that Caro stay out of the investigation when she has more relationships and access to the real suspects?   Why can't they trust her?
I thoroughly recommend Desperate Housedogs to any reader who enjoys a fun, fast-paced, light mystery.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Midnight Watch

The Midnight Watch
David Dyer
St. Martin's Press
New York, New York
2016
First Published in Australia
ISBN: 9781250080936
Hardcover
$ 26.99
323 pages

"The midnight watch: a time of loneliness, demons, and trances".
The night the Titanic sunk, April 14th, 1912,  was also the same night that the closest ship, the Californian had difficulty itself fighting the constant enclosing ice and avoiding icebergs.
During the midnight watch on the Californian, a distress call was sent to them by the Titanic.   The Californian's captain,  Captain Lord, chose to ignore all communications including lanterns using Morse Code, telegraph communications, and the sight of eight white rockets from the sinking Titanic.
The rescued survivors of the Titanic in the rowboats actually could see the Californian in the distance and expected them to save them and those in the frozen ocean.
Fortunately for those in who were rescues, another ship, the Carpathian was further from the Titanic and collected those lucky survivors.
Unfortunately, thousands died in the ocean while hoping the nearby ship; the Carpathian would rescue them quickly.
However, the Carpathian did not come to their aid.
Eventually, communication between Carpathian and the Californian was established with directions for the Californian to search for bodies.   For some reason, the Californian found none, of course, the location they supposedly looked was not correct.
The Midnight Watch is based on the investigation both in the United States and England regarding the role of the Carpathian and the choices made by Captain Lord.  
Lord's crew was torn between honesty and loyalty.    On shipboard, everyone is expected to follow the captain through all situations even when he is either wrong or lying.   For many of the crew, this conflicted with their values of honesty and the rules of the sea with loyalty to their captain.
The Midnight Watch is the fascinating story from various perspectives of the actual historical events.   Viewing the disaster from different people in varying roles allows the reader to decide whether or not they agree with the final decisions.
Even with the disastrous event happening more than one-hundred years ago, The Midnight Watch is an investigative mystery into the past.
The author, David Dyer, writes what he knows best.  Having worked on various types of merchant vessels, and graduating from the Australian Maritime College, he worked as a lawyer at a London legal firm whose parent company represented the Titanic's owners in 1912.  Currently, he is employed as an English literature in Sydney.
Dyer has created an utterly enthralling journey in the Titanic's disastrous past.

If You Were Me and Lived in...The Ancient Mali Empire, Ancient China Han Dynasty, The Mayan Empire

If You Were Me and Lived in... The Ancient Mali Empire
Illustrator: Mateya Arkova
ISBN: 978-1540337276
2015
78 pages
If You Were Me and Lived in...Ancient China Han Dynasty
Illustrator: Mateya Arkova
ISBN: 978-1532875243
2015
76 pages
If You Were Me and Lived in...The Mayan Empire
Illustrator: Paula Tabor
ISBN: 978-1535046213
2017
64 pages
Author: Carole P. Roman
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
North Charleston, South Carolina
Paperback
$ 16.99

If You Were Me and Lived in the Ancient Mali Empire begins in the year of 1322 and covered much of the area of Western Africa from the Atlantic Ocean to the Sahara Desert including the current area of western Sudan.  
Reflecting on both the time and the area is a typical Islamic family including a father with many wives.  For this particular family, there is a total of seventeen siblings with the perspective from a favored daughter.
Essential to both the time and area were the trade routes uniting Asia and Africa in their exchange of gold, salt, silk, and slaves.
If You Were Me and Lived in...Ancient China was about life in the year 150 A.D. and life in China about two thousand years ago.  The Han dynasty of this time is considered to be the Golden Age of Ancient China with people reading and writing literature and poetry as well as the creation of porcelain china.
Life here was very involved with The Silk Road connecting cities throughout all of China creating the new positions of merchants.
 The development of the entire silk industry began at this time, explaining how silk is made starting with the moth, with the worms feeding all the mulberry bushes, worms spinning cocoons, killing the moths, and spinning their silk into threads.  This process made many people wealthy and was a secret which if revealed was punishable by death.
If You Were Me and Lived in the Mayan Empire takes occurs in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico about 1500 years ago.    These people are the only ancient American society that wrote of their history that prospered by establishing trade routes.
These Mayans were attractive if their heads had been flattened from birth and crossed eyes.  The idea was to resemble an ear of corn.   A jewel was tied between the boards around the head to cross the eyes.
Included with this book are the many contributions these people gave to the world that were foundations of today's modern society throughout the world.
Each book has its glossary regarding the book including pronunciations and definitions for their particular time and place.
All three of these books are outstanding in enriching readers of all ages of individuals living in different times and venues with a multitude of various experiences unique to their culture.
The only way any of us can be more accepting of others from other places is to be educated in their way of life and to discover their lives are not so different from our own.

The Bitter Season

The Bitter Season
Tami Hoag
Dutton
Penguin Random House
New York, New York
ISBN: 9780451470072
Mass Market Paperback
2017
$ 9.99
480 pages

Supposedly change is good for us, but unfortunately we do not always adjust as well as we could, or should even if it our choice to change.
Detective Nikki Liska has this problem.   She chose to leave homicide due to the long and unpredictable hours which are difficult for a single-parent of two teenaged boys.
This was her choice.
Now she is a part of the newly formed cold case unit in Minneapolis.   Now she has predictable hours, at least that is what she believes entering this position.
Each member of this team is going through the extensive files of cold cases, choosing what case they can successfully solve.  With newness, each member is acutely aware of the need for success in order to continue and be of value to the force and to the taxpayers.
The selected case is the murder of a police officer, Ted Duffy which happened twenty-years ago.   If the police could not solve it in all those years, why would the cold case unit now be able to find new information?  Nikki is not pleased with this decision.
Strangely, Nikki quickly discovers that Ted's widow married his twin brother.   Also the former investigating detective seems to want to be too involved with this new investigation.
Her former partner, Kovac, who is still in homicide is trying to find a new partner.   That is not easy for an experienced detective accustomed to his own procedures. 
His newest case is the brutal murder of a college professor of East Asian history and his wife.   The killer had used a samarai sword and nunjucks.
The professor was due at an interview that morning to become head of his department.  Would anyone kill over a promotion?
The pace of these two alternating storylines creates the perfect  page-turner with characters thoroughly developed with complex relationships complicated with both their personal and professional lives.
California resident, Tammy Hoag, is the best-selling authors of more than thirty books published into over forty million copies of their books translated into more than thirty languages.
The Bitter Season is a fast-paced novel the 480 pages go by.  This book is enthrallingly addictive as you accompany the converging investigations combining past and the present.
Who would best enjoy this mystery?   Any adult reader who delights in a well-plotted and organized story that is a complete distraction from a busy life would be entirely engrossed in this complex real-life novel.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Rogue Wolf

Rogue Wolf
Book Three of The Oldenglen Chronicles
Robin Mason
Tricklewood Press
Brooklyn, Ontario
Canada
ISBN: 978-0-9948371-6-5
2016
Trade Paperback
$17.45
384 pages

Oldenglen  is a special place near Jax’s home in southern Oregon. Having his life uprooted from life in England was difficult for him. However, school wasn’t his salvation, but the magical relationship he discovered with this unique forest and the creatures who live within as well as the trust and friendship with each other.
Keeping the area protected is always a constant challenge. With the ever-expanding new housing developments for humans threatening the natural habitats of the wild creatures while keeping the balance of nature between the expanding population of people and nature.
Balances within Oldenglen are also difficult to maintain. Providing food for all creatures requires just the correct proportion between predators and prey. Too many prey demands massive amounts of plants and small creatures, while predators must depend on an abundance of prey, otherwise they starve.
Oldenglen now is facing two challenges.
The first involves some new visitors, eleven wolves. The problem is that this area of the glen cannot possibly feed that many without decimating the population of the prey animals.How does anyone convince the wolves to leave the area? How many creatures will be food for this pack?With their needs for food, the local ranchers raising sheep and cows are fearful for the survival of their herds. They see the only solution is to have the wolves killed.
Another problem bothering Jax and Sarah is the existence of two nearby poachers who are renting from Sarah’s grandfather. Can they possibly save the young eagle that was captured?
Rogue Wolf is the third book in this projected five book series. This Oldenglen series should be read in order. Minimally, all readers need to read the first book, Oldenglen to understand the characters and their relationships and history individually and with each other.
Oldenglen, the first book in the series has been the recipient of many awards including a Silver Medal at the 2016 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards for The Bill Fisher Award for the Best First Book: Children’s Young Adult, and Second Place in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2015/2016 for ages 12-16.
Book Two, Lone Wolf also won numerous awards. It was a Red Ribbon Winner in The Wishing Shelf Book, a finalist in the 2016 Foreward Indies for Juvenile Fiction, a Silver Medalist in the 2017 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards for Young Readers, and an Honorable Mention in the Readers Views Literary Awards 2016/2017.
In all these books, including this one, all the characters are believable and realistic including the animals which stay true to the creature and have personalities while magically communicating with Jax.
With the theme of balance, friendship, and anti-bullying, the pace is quick with the reader wanting more with their cliff-hanging chapter ends and the book truly expressing the harmony of nature.
Even the cover is beautifully illustrated by artist, Chris Beatrice.
The Oldenglen series was begun by author Robin Mason and his father, Michael Mason. Robin completed books two and three completely by himself. Robin was born in England but spent considerable time in his childhood exploring an estate in British Columbia while his father read to him numerous books including The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, The Wind in the Willows, The Hobbit, and The Lord of The Rings trilogy.
This book is recommended for children from ages eight to twelve. Personally, I would find this book challenging for an eight-year old to read independently and believe this age level would thoroughly enjoy it as a read-aloud.
I also recommend this book be extended to readers through high school. In actuality readers of all ages, adult and children would completely enjoy Rogue Wolf.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Spirit of Want

The Spirit of Want
William H. Cole
Story in Literary Fiction
Salt Lake City, Utah
E-book
Third edition
ISBN: 978-0-9976729-9-2
September 2016
$ 2.99
302 pages

The year is 1984. Widower, Dr. Luke Osborn works as an eye doctor specializing in retinal surgery for the new Eye Institute. For a new doctor it is a privilege to be apart of mingling with the ultra-rich whose generous donations created this new facility, but Luke feels that he does not belong. He has never possessed that much money or lived twitch extravagance.

This new institute is A. J. MacNeil’s dream project as the institute’s leader. Naturally at this event, his wife, Agnes as well as his grown daughters, Lucy and Elizabeth astute do. Strangely the two daughters are very different. Lucy is a lawyer who is dark, slim, drunk, and angry. Contrastly, Elizabeth, a teacher, is fair colored, a little overweight, sober, and pleasant.

One of his first conversations with Lucy had her complaining about eye surgery, “It’s not just mistakes that piss me off, it’s the coverups.” Would you want to converse with her if you operated on eyes?

At the party, Luke is offered the position of being the director of clinical research. He is hesitant with accepting this position since he views himself as a surgeon, not an administrator.

As he leaves the party, Luke does have a shock. His vehicle is stripped. Tires, wheels, bumpers, mirrors, and radio are all missing. How will he get to his home, which is two and a half hours away?

Lucy agrees to drive him home. She is somewhat drunk and drives her expensive sports car erratically and way too fast. They swerve to miss a dog, hit a bump and colliding with a tree. Luke and Lucy looked for whatever caused the bump, but do not find anything.

The next day, a woman’s body is found. She happens to be a judge’s wife. Since she died of blunt trauma. Since the police were not called, the logical conclusion is than Lucy was likely drunk and is being charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Lucy needs Luke to convince the grand jury that she was not intoxicated as she drove to Luke’s. This is how their relationship begins and quickly evolves into the two being married privately by a justice of the peace. Did she marry him for love or to control his testimony? Or is Luke marrying the boss’s daughter for his career advancement?

Luke comes from a family where his father was domineering, his mother was passive and he has five siblings. He is a little skeptical in beginning this relationship since his first wife killed herself. However, he allows Lucy to quickly take the lead in their marriage.

As a lawyer, Lucy is placed on a case of defending a television evangelist of the Apostolic Church of Christ accused of rape of a minor. Hower Bain is on video surveillance of being alone with the girl. How can anyone defend him?

Hower is separated from his wife, son, and daughter. He states that this is because of their faith differences. Could it be that he is unfaithful?

This case requires Lucy to travel and to spend much time away from Luke.
Lucy does become pregnant and gives birth to Jennifer prematurely, weighing less than three pounds. With two highly regarded professional careers, they decide to hire a nanny to care for their daughter.

However, taking care of Hower Bain seems to be more of a time commitment than a newborn. He is demanding, rebellious, establishing his own rules that are not helpful, such as against his lawyer’s advice, giving a five minute television interview. Or is more going on with her commitment to the case?

Luke has his own challenges. Sandra Perez has been dismissed as a fellow. Luke’s colleague, Modesto Sanchez, had been ordered to give her a poor evaluation. Apparently, Sandra had witnessed Luke’s father-in-law, A.J. causing harm to a patient, completely blinding him, by performing surgery on the wrong eye. He believes Sandra. How does anyone confront his boss and father-in-law who demands loyalty, even if he is in the wrong?

The Spirit of Want is an event-driven account of Lucy and Luke. The pace is extremely fast with the book covering several years. A hidden gem within the story is the artwork reflecting the story created by Betty Harper.

Do some people use others only as long as they receive benefit from the relationship? How do you go on whether you are the giver or the taker? Or could each of us be both at the same time or does it depend on each relationship?

As a former ophthalmic surgeon, he understands his topic. This resident of Salt Lake City, Utah has won numerous awards and nominations in the Sandhill Writers Competition, The SEAK Competition, The William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.

Read The Spirit of Want for the answers.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Integrity

Integrity
Anna Borgeryd
Translator from Swedish: Cindy Kite
New Internationalist
Oxford, U.K.
ISBN: 978-1-78026-235-2
2016 English
2013 Swedish
$16.95
512 pages

'You have to want to change. And that doesn't have anything to do with me. Nobody else can change you-it's something you have to want to change."
Peter has a problem.  A truthful impression about him is, "Good-for-nothing without direction and 'a bit of a reputation,'" perfectly describes him.  He is spending part of his summer teaching a beginning economics class since his father will not give him money unless he is working at his father's office doing currency hedging.  This seems like the perfect temporary solution to avoid his a domineering parent.
He is not focused on school, enjoys partying, women, as long as he can stay in his father's good graces.
Peter's favorite book is The Game educating the nerdy male about females.   Getting the girl drinking is part of the book's first step towards success.
Vera, at the age of thirty, is returning to Sweden after volunteering her services and skills as a nurse in Columbia. Unfortunately, she returns to her home with a knee injury causing her tremendous pain and difficulty in walking.
From her experiences, she now views the world slightly differently and realizes the importance of economics in health care.  Does your health insurance determine your level of care?   Does economics determine your personal health care everywhere in the world?  Vera's perspective globally connects the two as she now pursues university classes in this new field.
Vera has Peter as one of her first instructors, pushing, questioning, and challenging the basics.   With his inexperience he resents her smudged glasses, clumsiness and overall grayness of her appearance.  However there is something attracting him to this odd elf-like creature?   This is not Peter's usual type of woman.  He prefers more flash and color.
Integrity is phenomenal with taking an event, being with either Peter or Vera and understanding their prejudices and logical decisions. Depending on the sounds and limited visual witnessing, frequently conclusions lead to erroneous conclusions.   Do all of us tend to do the same thing?
One aspect of the book is the discussion about the indigenous Kogi people living on Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria in northern Columbia which happens to be the world's largest coastal mountain contains all the climates of the world in a few thousand square kilometers.  These people who live as the time before Christopher Columbus is their isolated agricultural village always moving upwards as more people inhabit aged the area.
Integrity educates the reader into the realistic world of economics throughout the story that is completely enthralling.  By including the financial managers who are irresponsible but exude arrogance along with an access of ambition, our global situation is approaching a critical impass incorporating poverty, welfare, disease, women's inequality, climate change and prejudice while intermixing romance.  This is masterful from both the author and translator to so smoothly incorporate into the story.
This is a phenomenal novel intertwining numerous subjects into a wonderful journey for all adult readers.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Cabaret

"If you aren't against all this, you are for it."
Life in the early 1930s was changing quickly for the residents of Berlin, Germany.  After losing the "War to End All Wars," the hope of a "new" Germany invigorated the people especially with the creation of the Nazi party.
For those employed in the Kit Kat Klub, life is a little risque, even seedy for those surviving in a very tight economy by any way they can.  Here all the LGBT men and women, life can be enjoyable with the support of each other while being "tacky, terrible and everyone having a good time."
"We have no troubles here.  Here life is beautiful."
As the Master of Ceremonies, Emcee, Jon Flower embraces the sliminess of his character.   He hypnotically commands the stage in demanding the attention and affection of the audience through his delightful singing and dancing, even in disguise.
Ryan Eberhart is the gullible American, Clifford Bradshaw, a would-be novelist.  He is almost destitute, lonely and has a personal secret.  Ryan is perfect in this role. Magnetically, each audience member accompanies him naively into the world of the Cabaret.
As the seductive Sally Bowles, Madison Hoge is phenomenal.  She sings, dances, and commands the stage in her mesmerizing role always confident even when a situation would be overwhelming.
The Kit Kat Girls are humorously breathtaking, each with their unique personality.   Lauren Anderson, Michelle Adkins, Nadia Williams, Brenda Smrdel, and Tessie Flower are all great dancers, singers, and performers.   Katie Miller as Kit Kat Girl-Kost is marvelous.  Between her humorous preference for sailors and her gorgeous songs, she is unquestionably a masterful artist.
Fraulein Schnieder, portrayed by Therese Rennels is superb in her role as the lonely spinster running a boarding house.  Sam Bass as Herr Schultz has an incredible singing voice and pulls on the heart-strings in his pursuit of marrying Fraulein Schnieder.
However, Herr Schultz is Jewish.  With the current political influences in Germany, a Jew is not considered German even if they are German-born.  Will they marry?
In the role of the antagonist is Karl Rohling as Ernst Ludwig.  His character is to have the innocent Clifford do his dirty work of smuggling.  Karl is phenomenal in this role, even his accent somehow has an undercurrent of danger.
I love the Kit Kat Boys who expertly sing, act, and dance.  Tyler Kliegl, Tony Schneider, Jorge Ambriz, Luke Glaser, Matthew Hansen who also makes a fantastic female gorilla and Tyler Roberts who also plays his violin beautifully.
This orchestra is superb.  Jerry Brabec is the musical director and also plays the keyboard.  Playing trumpet is Curtis Pelster or Joel Edwards, the trombone is Noel Johnson, woodwinds is Stan Harper or Willie Karph, drums is Ben Sampson, and on bass is Tom Miller.  Their music is so integral to the play that the orchestra almost seems to have its personality.
The songs are outstanding with superbly energetic choreography that makes this a top-notch professional performance.   Debbie Massey-Schneweis is phenomenal in working with the performers and planning these incredibly complex and creative dancing.
One of my favorite song is "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" with the song beginning with just on beautifully clear tenor voice and the other men joining in mesmorizing harmonies.  Ironically though, this song is a symbol of the Nazi party.
This adult musical has Gary Bosanek as the director and Tyler Ovis and Denise Putman as co-producers.  Practical sets encompassing six different scenes with minimal transitions are designed and constructed by Joey Lorincz with other builders, Denise Putman and Mati Phelps.
Cathy Bass portrays both Frau Gunnel and a club patron.
For any successful show, there are numerous people in the crew.  Kim Alger is stage manager with Johnnie Richards being the assistant and Rhonda Hall in charge of props. 
Also in the area of choreography, Tony Schneider is the fight choreography and Matt Hansen, the dance captain.
Mati Phelps as the dialect coach made each character believable as speaking German or being British.
In charge of the sound design Dave Podendorf.  Occassionally, the orchestra overpowers the singers but that also depends on the acoustics of the room and where you sit.  Balancing all those individual microphones for each character has to be a daunting task.
Darrin Golden is masterful at the light design with Mati Phelps and Riley Pope working additionally with the spotlights and light board.
The costumes were supplied by Dwayne Ibsen of Ibsen Costume Gallery.
What was almost unusual in this musical was the use of silence.  Those few seconds have an extremely powerful message.
The first part of the show lasts about ninety-minutes followed by a fifteen-minute intermission and concluding with an additional forty-five minutes.
The show concludes this weekend with curtain times of 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.  Tickets cost $ 20 for adults, $ 16 for seniors over the age of sixty, and $ 10 for students. Call the box office at (712) 323-9955 for tickets.
I strongly suggest the you arrive early as with this large cast and crew, parking can be a challenge.
Cabaret is an intense musical about change.  Some changes are our choices, but they have consequences that can be either positive or negative.  Some changes are beyond our control.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Tightening the Threads

Tightening the Thread
A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery
Lea Wait
Kensington Publishing Corporation
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-1-4967-0628-7
Paperback
2017
$ 7.99
301 pages

A true friend is there when you need them.
Sarah Byrne is in a situation where she needs the friendship of Angie Curtis.   The two have discovered their mutual love of antiques and needlepoint.
Sarah recently found her real heritage.  Since a single-mother in Australia raised her, she valued her short time with her.  When her mother died, she moved in with her grandmother in England.   It was wonderful for her to be in a loving relationship again.  Fortunately, her grandmother also shared the information leading her to her silent father in Maine.  This was the first time his identity was revealed to her.
Her plan was to again move to another continent to meet her father.
Unfortunately, he died just months earlier.
Sarah discovered a love for her new home, Haven Harbor, Maine and decided to open her antique business in her new home, the home of her father. 
How does anyone inform the surviving members that she is also part of the family?
Finding her uncle without revealing her true identity was difficult, but Ted Lawrence quickly figured out her true identity.  Ted wisely insisted on a DNA test as proof for the rest of his family.  This wasn't for either Ted or Sarah but the expected disbelief and doubt from Ted's children.
Ted has cancer and knows that he does not have long to live.   He has called his children together.  Ted plans a family reunion including each of his three children's families.  His hope is to mend fences, reveal then new relative and to discuss his intended changes to the will.   His expectations quickly become an impossible task. 
Ted's father, Robert Lawrence had been an outstanding artist. Teaching many of the techniques to Ted as he grew.  Ted is now a reputable artist but will never be the legend of his father.
Sarah is apprehensive about meeting Ted's three grown children.   She knows that the do not get along and their lives take them in varying directions.  For support, her friend Angie agrees to go along and assist in any way she can.  So how would you react to a new will that is now going to include a new cousin?   Apparently, this means that each of them will now receive less inheritance.
Surprisingly Ted dies from possibly eating a bad clam.   Did one of his children purposely give him a clam from a restricted area?   Did Ted complete the new will?   What will happen to the paintings he gave to Sarah?
Lea Wait writes from what she knows.   She lives on the Maine coast and is a fourth generation antiques dealer, much like her characters.  Her mystery series, Shadows Antique Print have been nominated for the Agatha awards.
Tightening the Threads is a fast-paced cozy mystery that is fun to read.   The story is viewed through Angie's eyes as she unweaves the complex lives of Ted and his children.  As an outsider, she does not have the long history of their animosity towards each other. 
Tightening the Threads is a fun, quick, and enchanting mystery woven into a marvelous tapestry.

Through a Yellow Wood

Through a Yellow Wood
A Catskill Mountains Mystery
Carolyn J. Rose
Amazon Digital Services
Lexington, Kentucky
ISBN: 978-0-9837359-4-6
Trade Papercraft
2012
$ 16.49
468 pages

'She was a reminder that there are a hundred little forks in our roads every day and each choice can affect the next one.  If we don't think before we step, we might end up a long way from where we intended to be - from where we wanted to be.'
Sometimes you are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. 
Imagine a small New England town where it seems as if everyone is related to each other. 
Dan Stone is asked to check-in on Clarence Wolven, his mother's second cousin.   Since Clarence always came into town in the first, he is now two days overdue, and that was odd for him.  Also, his phone line is dead.
Dan finds Clarence dead on his front steps.  Also dead are the dogs Clarence was training, except for one small pup who is hiding in the back of his kennel.
Dan arranges the funeral since Clarence had no close relatives and took the dog to the vet, who amputates a leg. 
When the sheriff's investigation has no leads, Dan, and his friend, Jefferson Longyear return to the cabin to look for further clues to the murderer.
Unfortunately, the three-legged dog, now adopted d by Dan's family and called Nelson, leads the two along a trail only to discover three women's dead bodies, posed as if in a play.
As the summer continues, Dan's life becomes more complicated with rebuilding his home, living with Camille, and having a teenaged girl becoming part of his homelife.
Through a Yellow Wood is a continuation of the first, reading Hemlock Lake is a prerequisite to enjoying the book.
I discovered both of these books to be intriguing with the mood.   The story line is depressing, but the author so compassionately cares for the characters that this is hypnotically addictive reading.
Carolyn Rose is the author of the Catskill Mountain mystery series; the Subbing isn't for Sissies series, and numerous other novels and publications.
She now resides in Vancouver, Washington where she works as a substitute teacher.  From growing up in the New York Catskill Mountains, to attending the University of Arizona, to working with Volunteers in Service to America in Arkansas, to being a television news researcher, producer, assignment editor and writer in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington.
These characters are realistic and humanly flawed while still being likable and wanting to do what is right in their minds while revealing insights into their morality and values. The pacing perfectly matches the story making the reader feel as if they are accompanying Dan throughout the investigation.
Through a Yellow Wood is an unusual book with a novel approach to a dark story in a caring manner.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye

Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye
Author: Tania Del Rio
Illustrator: Will Staehle
Quirk Books
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
ISBN: 9-8-1-59474-803-5
Hardcover
2015
$ 16.95
225 pages

Some people just seem to be doomed.
Warren is a typical twelve-year-old. 
Unfortunately, both his parents are dead.
Fortunately, his Uncle Rupert is his guardian.
Unfortunately, his Uncle Rupert is married to Aunt Annaconda.
Warren is responsible for his ancestor's hotel.   Warren the 1st planned the building with his son, Warren the 2nd, who built the hotel.
For years, Warren's ancestral line has managed and kept the multitude of secrets hidden within its walls, even the all-seeing eye.  Being that Warren is a descendant of this prestigious lineage, he works endless hours maintaining his legacy.
Unfortunately, Uncle Rupert is lazy, and Aunt Annaconda is a witch.
Fortunately, the hotel has not a customer for five years.
Unfortunately, or perhaps, fortunately, an automobile is approaching the rambling, broken-down hotel.
The visitor doesn't speak, just communicates with cards.
Can the new tenant speak?   Why here?  Why now?
Why is the hotel suddenly full of customers?
Warren is a laughable children's book recommended for third to sixth-grade students.  Part Cinderella, part Wizard of Oz, part Series of Unfortunate Events, part comic book, part chapter book. Warren is just a fun book to read with a happy ending for everyone older than eight.  It might be scary to younger ones.
With a little bit of magic, Warren is an enchanting novel with an ordinary protagonist.   He is not handsome, smart, or charismatic, just hard-working and completely average.
As an adult, I could not put down the book.   The story pulls you in and just doesn't release you until the last page.  Even then, I wanted more.  (There is a sequel.)
Tabia Del Rio writes for Archie  Comics, Dark Horse, and Marvel.  This Los Angeles resident has also written and drawn the 42-issue of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.
Illustrator Will Staehle has been an art director for Harper Collins Publishers creating book covers for many authors including Michael Chabon, Michael Crichton, and Christophe Buckley.  He now has his art studio in Seattle.
Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye is the perfect book for everyone with an intriguing storyline, illustrations that continue the visualization of the text, puzzles, riddles, mazes, the feeling of hope in good overcoming evil, all bundled up in a novel with a wicked sense of humor.





Alaskan Queen

Alaskan Queen
Richard A. Heininger
2016
Amazon Digital Services
Digital format
$ 2.99
234 pages

Lieutenant Cody James is living his dream.  He is a U. S. Navy Officer who has the responsibility of following ships via GPS throughout the world.
Throughout the years of military schooling, his dream changed from being a pilot. His moral character drove him to continue to succeed, just in a different field.
Now Cody is on loan to the U. S. Coast Guard to assist in the development of a global fleet tracking navigational system.  The focus is the Caribbean Sea.   The system follows the usual paths of various legitimate shipping routes and is searching for anything the could be involved with smuggling or a terrorist attack.
One ship, Island Pearl, is drawing his attention by changing its regular route.  Why? Could they be smuggling?  The ship has always passed inspections. Obviously, tracking this boat is a priority.
Cody just hopes that this is not a time-consuming detail since he is soon to be married.   Starting out with your career taking precedence over your wife is probably not a good habit.
Fortunately, Cody's bride-to-be is Abbie who happens to be the daughter of Rear Admiral Stewart.   She obviously understands a military life.
Cody is thrilled that his family from childhood can attend this particular time in his life.   Being an orphan, his family consists of other children with similar backgrounds who bonded into a family throughout the years.
The newlyweds plan to spend a few days at a luxurious hotel, have a few excursions, and then a cruise on the Alaskan Queen.  Plans seldom work out perfectly, and it seems as if danger is constantly in the path of the newlyweds.  Are they destined for disaster?
Juan Ernesto Degato is also fulfilling his dream, being rich. Coincidentally, he shares a similar background with Cody, being orphaned.  However, his choices led him in the opposite direction.
He just needs to complete one job assigned to him by the embassy.  Completing this job will give him enough money for the rest of his life.  Unfortunately, failure is not an option.
Cody and Juan seem destined to be on a collision course.  For both, it is a life or death situation.
Alaskan Queen is the debut novel for Richard Heininger, a retired lawyer who resides in Council Bluffs, Iowa most of the year, and in Texas to avoid Iowa winters.  The basis for this novel is from an Alaskan cruise he took with his wife.  Fortunately, that ship was only attacked in his imagination.
Alaskan Queen is a fast-paced novels that all readers would enjoy.   The reader accompanies Cody through each challenge.
I personally would prefer to read this novel after a cruise, not before, and definitely not during.
You definitely need to read Alaskan Queen.  
I look forward to more thriller from new author, Richard Heininger.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Searching for Gatsby

Searching for Gatsby
A Ronnie Lake Murder Mystery
Niki Danforth
Pancora Press
Amazon Digital Services
ISBN: 978-1946403001
Paperback
2016
$ 13.99
320 pages

Ronnie Lake is a fifty-six-year-old woman beginning her new business as a private investigator.   While at a party sponsored by some wealthy friends, she listens to her friend, Marilyn's suspicions about whether her husband Win, is having an affair.  She is a little hesitant accepting the position being that she is friends with both Win and Marilyn.
Marilyn is suspicious of a gorgeous woman, Katya Alessandro who just left the party.
Frank, Ronnie's brother and Juliana seem like they are still honeymooners.   Frank's first wife, Joanie died, and his new wife appears to fulfill all her brother's dreams and wishes.
Ronnie still has the grief of having a son die in Afghanistan.  Fortunately, she adopted her son's K-9 partner from the military.  Warrior is very protective of her and is a great partner in sharing their sorrow. 
Jamie Gordon has a charismatic quality attracting Ronnie as he joins the party.  His handsomeness certainly draws everyone's attention.
Suddenly a commotion is outside with the sound of breaking branches as an older man dressed in black falls through the dogwood tree.  While hanging in the tree, while moaning, Frank calls 9-1-1 just as the branches again break dropping him to the ground,   The man looks at Jamie and whispers, "The book."
"I always said...if it was the last thing...I ever did..."   These are the man's last words.   Why?   What did the burglar steal upstairs while the people were enjoying the elaborate party downstairs?
While waiting for the police, Win notices a bulge in the man's pocket.  Would you look?  It's evident that the man was stealing something from upstairs.  
Ronnie ends up investigating much more than Win's loyalty to his wife in Searching for Gatsby.
Niki Danforth, the author, resides in New Jersey with her dogs and husband.   Notice, the dogs are listed first.   She believes her desire for excitement is from being the daughter of a covert intelligence officer of the Cold War.  She previously has worked as a television director.
Searching for Gatsby is a fast-paced, tightly woven, cozy mystery.  The characters are believable and intriguing.   With a little touch of romance, a smattering of thrills, and mystery with as many tentacles as an octopus Searching for Gatsby is a fun, fast novel for mystery fans.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

If You Were Me and Lived in...Middle Ages, Viking Europe

Author: Carole P. Roman
Illustrator: Mateya Arkova
Create Space Independent Publishing Platform
North Charleston, South Caroling
Paperback
2015
If You Were Me and Lived in...Middle Ages
ISBN: 978-1533673244
$ 19.99
98 pages
If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe
ISBN: 978-1532875304
$ 16.99
76 pages

Imagine living in England during the year 1072.   To help you, former social studies teacher, Carole Roman along with illustrator, Mateya Arkova, have created the perfect tool for transporting each of us into that time and place through the pages of this exquisite book.
The paperback explains how life changed from when the Romans controlled the country and their contributions to the change of the Renaissance period beginning around 1400 A.D. 
By taking a reading journey into each fiefdom, you learn about the world of knights who sold their services and life as a servant or vassal.
This book is through the eyes of a daughter whose father was a knight in William of Normandy's army and rewarded with land for being victorious with the invasion of England.   Describing life inside the keep is picturesque.
Also, well-represented is the perspective from being a peasant.   I find the section regarding the medical field fascinating, but obviously not the healthiest.
In the back of the book are listing about famous people of the period as well as a glossary with definitions and pronunciations of common words of the time.
For the book, If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe, the time period is around 870 A.D. and set in Norway, along the coast. 
I was surprised to learn the difference between Scandinavians and Norsemen.  The difference is that they are from the same area, but the Norsemen was used for the people who moved to the foreign lands explored.
Also explained are the patterns for family last names describing the use of ...son and ...dottir. 
The class system for the Vikings is defined and easily pictured due to the illustrations which perfectly match the text.
The descriptions and pictures of the houses are fascinating transporting you to another time and place.
The section about your grandmother is both educational and entertaining.  "She had a loud voice, and when she was irritated about something or felt that the community was insulted, she would nag and harangue the men into action.  She worried about the town's honor and was known to use her magic to keep them safe."
Listed at the end is a guide including pronunciation and short description of some of the better known Norse Gods.  Also included is a list of some of the great Vikings throughout the period of exploration. As usual, the book is completed with a glossary of common words for the book, including a pronunciation guide.
Both of these books transport the reader into other times and places with the texts in each book perfectly matching the illustrations.
These books are intended for elementary children but readers of all ages can both learn and enjoy the time traveling journeys of a past time.

Playing with Fire

Playing With Fire
A Daniel Jacobus Mystery
Gerald Elias
Severn House
Sutton, Surrey, England
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8614-9
Hardcover
2016
$ 28.99
218 pages

Why did you purchase a musical instrument?  Did you dream of playing music?   Could you imagine yourself in Carnegie Hall playing to standing room only audience embracing the melodies and enriching every listener to a once-in-a-lifetime experience?
Surprisingly, not everyone views the purchase of a musical instrument this way.
Daniel Jacobus is a crotchety blind violinist.  Years ago, he lost his vision just as the opportunity for greatness opened for him.   Perhaps there is a reason for his being upset with life.
Christmas Eve is a special time at Daniel's home with his good friends, Yumi, a concertmaster and masterful violinist,  Nathaniel, a longtime friend who works as a musical instrument and art fraud and theft agent, along with Trotsky, his temperamentally huge bulldog.
Amadeo Borlotti calls Jacobus asking if he can come over to talk with him.   Amadeo repairs violins for school children.  Why would his voice sound as if visiting with Jacobus is important?  Why would he need to consult with Daniel?
The next day, Daniel is feeling guilty when he learns that Borlotti's house has burnt down and Borlotti is missing.
Why?   What has happened?  Could Jacobus have prevented the loss of his home?  Where is Borlotti?
Jacobus, Yumi, and Nathaniel begin to investigate while being thrown into a world they never knew existed.
Playing with Fire is the fifth Daniel Jacobus' mystery following Devil's Trill, Danse Macabre, Death and the Maiden, and Death and Transfiguration.   Unlike the other four novels which all encircle one musical selection, Playing with Fire does not connect to any one piece of music.   This book educates the reader about the world of rare violins made by outstanding and legendary master such as Stradivarius while loosely based on the real-life crimes of Dietmar Machold.
Gerald Elias is the Musical Director of the Vivaldi Candlelight concert series, first violinist of the Abramyan String Quartet,  Associate Concertmaster of the Utah Symphony since 1988, and an Adjunct Professor of Music at the University of Utah. 
He previously played the violin for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Playing with Fire is a fast-paced novel continuing the story of Jacobus.  The book can be a standalone without reading the previous books in the series.   However, firmly believe that everyone would enjoy the book more if they have read the first novel, The Devil's Trill to better understand the character relationships.
Playing with Fire is a thrilling journey into the world of exquisitely valuable violins interwoven into a enthralling mystery.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Shattered Tree

The Shattered Tree
A Bess Crawford Mystery
Charles Todd
William Morrow
Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-06-238627-4
2016
$ 25.99
287 pages

Bess Crawford is a hard-working battlefield nurse.  It is October of 1918 and working in a field hospital in France is exhausting as well as dangerous with combat nearby. 
For one soldier, it is even stranger.   One single soldier is holding onto a single tree.
Somehow, a man is hiding behind a battered-up tree with no shoes and with little left of his uniform.  The rescuers have to pry his fingers from the bark of the tree.  Not knowing whether the man is dead or alive, they place him on a stretcher, covering him with a blanket. 
At the hospital, shivering is the only symptom proving that he is alive.  The staff quickly believes he is a "frog," meaning he is French.
Being diagnosed as having a loss of blood and being in shock, he is being transferred to the Base Hospital accompanied by Nurse Crawford.   While attempting to identify the patient, Bess checks his pockets.  She discovers ripped pieces of material.   Often, names are written inside a uniform for identification.   People sometimes chose to destroy their name if they are important or related to a powerful family and do not want to be identified by the Germans.
She hears him muttering in another language, German. 
Many Frenchmen from Alsace-Lorraine spoke both French and German.  This particular area had been ruled for almost fifty years by the Germans while refusing to give up their native language.
After returning to the battlefield hospital, Bess follows a man into the trenches to help a wounded soldier.  While there, she is shot in the side by an assassin who seemed to purposely miss killing her. 
Bess is sent to Paris to recuperate safely.  Coincidentally, she sees the same soldier in passing.  Is he German or French?  Is he a spy?
Bess discovers more secrets as she seeks to identify the man found by the shattered tree.
Charles Todd is the name used by a mother-son writing team of Caroline and Charles Todd while residing in Delaware and North Carolina.  Their books include the Inspector Ian Rutledge series, the Bess Crawford series, and standalone novels.
The Shattered Tree is an addictive page turner.  The character of Bess reminds me of Sybil in Downton Abbey.  Between the background of inherited wealth and the British upper class as well as an independent spirit, all brought Bess to life.  The logical but unpredictable story is the perfect fast-paced page turner. 
The Shattered Tree is for any reader who enjoys historical fiction transporting them to another time and place.

War, Spies and Bobby Sox

War, Spies and Bobby Sox
Stories About World War II at Home
Libby Fischer Hellmann
The Red Herrings Press
Chicago, Illinois
ISBN: 978-1-938733-97-0
2017

"The volume of literature about World War Two has both fascinated and intimidated me.  I suspect its popularity comes from the fact that it was the last time there was clarity between good and evil."
from the author's introduction
"The Incidental Spy" is the story of Lena, a German Jewish refugee as she begins her new life in Chicago during 1935.  Lena is fortunate to be sponsored by her aunt whose husband is a mathematics professor the University of Chicago.   Immediately, she is enrolled in English and typing classes and quickly becomes a secretary in the physics department at the University.
Naturally, it is hard knowing what is happening to the rest of her family a continent away.   With erratic communication, the constant strain of her parents' hardships, as well as her first love, are trying.   Do you move on or wait?
"P.O.W." revolves around eighteen-year-old Mary-Catherine who works on the family farm along with her mother, little sister, and brother.  With her father being drafted to fight in the war three years ago, every member of the household is needed to keep the farm being productive. 
With a prison being nearby, Mary-Catherine's mother hires the P. O. W.s to help with picking apples. 
What her mother forgot was Mary-Catherine's age and her natural attraction to handsome men, especially one's who might take advantage of her innocence.
"The Day Miriam Hirsch Disappeared" involves a beautiful Jewish woman who is murdered while living as an actress in Chicago.
Libby Fischer Hellman has written numerous novels including her  Georgia Davis series, Ellie Foreman series, a historical novel set in Cuba, a story of revolutionary Iran, and life in the late sixties in Chicago.
This Chicago resident has won numerous award including being nominated for two Anthony Awards, an Agatha, two times for the Foreword Reviews Thiller of the Year and many nominations for the Lovey Award.
War, Spies and Bobby Sox consist of three novellas in varying lengths.  The first and longest one, "The Incidental Spy" is an enthralling novella incorporating the development of the bomb while viewing Chicago through the immigrant eyes of a woman who is both German and Jewish.   Conflicted loyalties regularly trouble Lena, the protagonist.  
P. O. W. is unquestionably a story that likely actually happened in some form.   The German and Italian prisoners in this country were constantly troubled about whether their futures were here or back in Germany.  Most were treated better here than in their country.   The conflicted loyalties had to have been problematic for both those who interacted with the prisoners and the prisoners. 
The strength in these stories are the personal and realistic voices of these strong and independent women.   The plots are well-organized and  intriguing while based on actual events of Chicago between 1935 and 1942. 
Libby Hellman has created the perfect novel traveling back to another time and place.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Notorious RBG

Notorious RBG
The Life and Time of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
Dey St.
William Morrow Publishers
Harper Collins Publishers
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-06-241583-7
Hardback
2015
$ 19.99
227 pages

Like or dislike her, Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a woman who daily continues to defy stereotypes.    She's eighty-three-years-old and stands five foot and one inch.
No one questions her intelligence. 
This dynamo is a legendary force fighting for injustices to make our country a better place.
As being a Supreme Court Justice, her diminutive size is completely opposed to her immense influence of society today. 
Ginsberg always has defined life with her rules.
She excelled in school.  Unfortunately, her mother died of cancer the day before she graduated high school.  Attending Cornell in the early 1950s as a woman who married with a degree in government. 
Following her husband to Oklahoma while he served in the Army Reserve, Ruth worked for the Social Security Administration.  Unfortunately, when she became pregnant, she experienced being demoted.
Her next life challenge was enrolling at Harvard Law School being only one of nine women in the class of around five hundred.  Her husband position was in New York City, so she transferred to Columbia Law School.  She has earned the distinction of being on both the Harvard Law Review and the Columbia Law Review while tieing for first in her graduating class.
Now she suffered the challenge of being a wife, mother of a five-year-old daughter, Jewish, and in need of a job as a lawyer when women were not accepted in that career.
Facing rejections, she finally was accepted for a position as a clerk for a U. S. District Court.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg's life changed when she was chosen to co-author a book about gender equality and completing the research in Sweden where changes in women's roles were changing that country.
Finally, in 1963, she accepted a position as a professor at Rutgers Law School, and she would be paid less than her male coworkers since she was married and her husband was earning a good salary.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg views life through the eyes of the oppressed.  She asks questions that reveal the truths of the situations and the personal beliefs of defendants and prosecutors in interpreting the laws as stated in the Constitution.
Notorious RBG is complete with her background, her challenges, her work-out routine, her inspirations, and even her favorite recipe.  Also included is an index, references, and pictures from throughout her life.
Whether you agree or disagree with her, Notorious RBG is an engaging and inspirational book for all readers of both genders.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Last Night in the O. R.

Last Night in the OR
A Transplant Surgeon's Odyssey
Bud Shaw, M.D.
A Plume Book
Penguin Random House
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-14-751533-9
Trade Paperback
2015
$ 16.00
291 pages

How does someone become a transplant surgeon?
Bud Shaw became a physician because his father was a surgeon.  When his mother died of lung cancer, Bud became the son of a single-parent who had difficulty balancing raising three children with the demands of surgery.
Naturally, Bud graduated from college, then medical school.  Becoming a surgeon is challenging and demanding as well as humbling. 
1981, in Pittsburgh, a young doctor was introduced into the world of liver transplantation. 
Shaw's first experience was in the transplant world was in Pittsburgh during 1981.   Ironically,  the patient was a liver transplant surgeon from Texas who suffered from a congenital liver disease.  He had traveled to Pittsburgh to for the procedure by the most respected liver transplant surgeon of the time.  The donor's liver had just arrived from Virginia.
For Shaw, who had just graduated from the University of Utah as a surgery resident, he was an excited thirty-one-year-old thrilled with being allowed to train with this transplant team.  
For a prospective world-class surgeon, this is the opportunity of his life.
His first day was already a disaster.  He received a phone call while driving across the country.  Apparently, he was expected in the operating room last week.  So much for leaving messages with the head surgeon's secretary.
Two days later, Bud and his wife made it to Pittsburgh.  As they moved into a new home, the refrigerator broke along with his car being vandalized.  
Strangely, the nurse on the team wanted him to sign a petition stating that transplants were unethical.   With the six procedures in six months resulted in six deaths.
His first time on the team was disastrous with the surgeon completely humiliating him. 
"This was my initiation to the operating room of Dr. Thomas Starzl, and although I didn't know it at the time, these were but a few of the phrases I would learn to hate and mock and, in the distance of time and place, yearn to hear again."
How does Bud Shaw become a leading liver transplant surgeon in the country at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska?  How does his move to this midwestern metropolitan area turn this facility into one of the most respected hospitals in the country?
Last Night in the O.R. is a fascinating journey into a life that prioritizes medicine over a personal life.  The jury is out whether that is ethical or not, but I certainly want a physician that places my health above all else.
This novel is his life, his experiences, his impressions.  Sometimes I found myself in awe of the man and the next wondering what is wrong with him.    The book is well-written, at times jumping through his memories that are not always sequential, but it works.  The reflections are his personality and how he thinks. 
For a compelling memoir of an unusual person who has achieved phenomenal accomplishments in medicine, read Bud Shaw's Last Night in the O.R.