Saturday, September 27, 2008

Iodine is Brilliant but Haunting!


By Haven Kimmel

Free Press

ISBN: 978-1-4165-7284-8

221 Pages


Iodine by Haven Kimmel, New York Times bestselling author, was a very disturbing book for me. I could not say I liked it, but I feel compelled to give it high praise for what Kimmel has created in this portrayal of her character, Trace Pennington. If you dare--enter her psychotic mind:

"I never
I never had sex with my father but I would have, if he had agreed." (p. 1)

The majority of Iodine comes to us in the form of journals. The excerpt above is how Kimmel opens her novel. Certainly attention getting--certainly a setup of what may be coming. Whether or not any of the interactions between Trace and her family members ever really happened, we cannot be sure of--what we do know for sure is that Trace Pennington believed everything that she wrote--at the time she wrote it. The false starts, again as demonstrated above, are also accompanied by failure to finish thoughts, beginning new thoughts in the middle of others, and various sidetracks of her ongoing thoughts.

Trace has a form of epilepsy that is not discovered, or even considered, until late in her life. Once she is medicated, she begins to realize and investigate what has been happening to her.

Where does a brilliant woman escape to when she is delusional or hallucinating? Even earlier, and perhaps more critical--where does she go to escape abuse from her own mother, who described her as a changeling?

Readers enter Trace's life during her time at university. She has created a persona, Ianthe Covington, who is now considering various Honors courses that will not only complete her degree but also provide her various minors in fields such as Women's Studies. It is quite obvious that she has read far beyond all requirements and, in fact, has exceeded the experience of some of her professors. Indeed, readers quickly become aware of the brilliance of the author, even though it is bizarrely portrayed through her central character.

While Ianthe is steadily moving toward her degree, Trace has left home and lives in an abandoned house with little money. It is there where she writes of visiting the Underworld, to meet with Pluto or Hekate. Or she might share her dreams and then her own interpretation of those dreams--or what interpretation Freud or Jung might provide.

Trace's mind seems to never stop and readers are thrown page by page into Greek mythology to Jung to Freud and back to Jung. Fortunately, Trace has Weeds as her totem, to provide stabilization to her life--her beloved dog, given to her by her beloved father...until...

One day, Ianthe sees and meets her "fate." He is one of her professors, Jacob Matthias. And, so, she discovers where he lives, goes there and waits on an outside porch until he comes tell him so. Surprisingly, she just might be right this time! Indeed, she doesn't know how fateful he has been until, perhaps, the day she hears a doctor ask him how long they had been married. In her mind, she tried to say, four months. But she hears, surprised, when he responds "Four years and four months to the day." (p. 202)

Once I made it through some of her journal entries, I had become absorbed into Trace's life. It is then fascinating to sit back and watch her internal thoughts within the academic community, and her overwhelming brilliance as she explores Hades or her dreams and/or hallucinations of her parents. There is a realism that is beyond comprehension for many of us, yet the author has indeed placed us directly into the mind of this woman! It is truly amazing. It is disturbing. It is horrible. It is wondrous...

But no matter what, for me, Haven Kimmel's Iodine is one of the most memorable books I have ever read and it will continue to haunt me! Outstanding writing!

G. A. Bixler

for Amazon Vine Program



Thursday, September 25, 2008

New Series I'll Definitely Follow!

Baby Shark’s High Plains Redemption

By Robert Fate

Capital Crime Press

ISBN: 978-0-9799960-2-3

288 Pages


“In a spine-jolting crunch that flattened me against the steering wheel, the Mercury slid under them and their car came down on my hood, leaving my horn blaring and my engine roaring...I spun around in the seat, used both feet to push open the door, moved fast...and started forward with my pistol in my hand.” (p. 137)


Like Fast-paced? Like strong female PI’s?


Meet.... Baby Shark!


I came in on the “third act” of Baby Shark, in High Plains Redemption, but I’ll be going back to pick up the first two books...and continue on with this hot series by Robert Fate! Baby Shark reminds me of Geena Davis in my all-time favorite action movie, The Long Kiss Goodnight! If you loved Geena in some of her outrageous acts in that movie, then you’ll certainly want to meet Baby Shark:


She can take it:


“He grabbed me by my hair and pulled me around so hard I thought my neck would snap. He jammed a hand between my thighs, picked me up by my crotch and the hair of my head, swooped me up shoulder high—and then I was falling...” (p. 130)


And she can dish it out:


“I moved instantly, swinging my hands out as I fell forward, chopping my blades into their necks as if I were striking cymbals. The first cuts were to the bone, but I slashed up and pressed in, doing even more injury as I withdrew, leaving their neck wounds open wide and their heads nearly detached from their bodies.” (p. 251)


High Plains Redemption takes Kristin Van Dijk, aka Baby Shark and partner, Otis Millett into bootlegging country and two warring mountain clans, as they are hired to find and return Savannah, daughter of one of the clan leaders—hired, but not by her own family!


Baby Shark is as confused as everybody else as they try to determine exactly what is happening and who is leaving the trail of bodies behind as Savannah is located and then lost again. Baby Shark knows only onething—she must protect Savannah! No matter what or who gets in the way.


Unfortunately, that could actually be her lover, Lee, who happens to be a law officer who expects her to follow all the legal rules that he does in protecting the innocent! It is a constant struggle, for Baby Shark knows, “we work on the edge of the law, gets blurry out there were Otis and I deal with things.” (p. 198) And Baby Shark just doesn’t think she can trust Lee...


Admit it, readers! This sounds like that exciting novel into which you want to escape this weekend! Well, you’ll be right!  This book is highly recommended for lovers of action thrillers!


So, excuse me, now...I’m going back to start reading: Baby Shark—first book in what I expect will be Robert Fate’s fantastic series! You might want to start at the beginning... but, no problem, High Plains Redemption stands alone as a great addition, so wherever you meet her, I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy Baby Shark!



G. A. Bixler

Independent Professional Book Reviewer












Monday, September 22, 2008

The American Skyscraper!



By day the skyscraper looms in the smoke and sun and has a soul.

Prairie and valley, streets of the city, pour people into it and they

Mingle among its twenty floors...

It is the men and women, boys and girls so poured in and out all day

  That give the building a soul of dreams and thoughts and memories...         

      --Carl Sandburg’s Chicago’s Poems (p. 325)


Sheer serendipity brought me into the formal facilities planning and management activities I directed for many years. However, in many ways, it merged with an instinctual love of the architectural form in all of its beauty. Thus, for me, Joseph Korom’s The American Skyscraper, will become much more¾a “coffee-table” book to be picked up and read again and again.


In reality, however, it is a complete text on the history of America’s creation and use of Skyscrapers with in-depth information and over 300 images highlighting buildings across the United States. It includes over 60 pages for the bibliography, index, footnotes, and tabular presentations of celebrated skyscrapers! The author notes, “Between its covers are the stories of 287 American skyscrapers which were, or still are, located in seventy-one cities and towns...” (p. 21) Reflections of exterior details or interior shots, as well as architects’ personal pictures, create a significant historical contribution for the libraries of both students and professionals in the fields of architectural and engineering, as well as all those who, like myself, are awed with the majesty and beauty of structures.


Architect Joseph Korom earned a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he also served as mentor. He is an accomplished artist whose paintings are represented in many private collections and is a freelance writer, architectural critic, and photographer. He is a member of the Society of Architectural Historians, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Joseph Korom, who has also authored Look Up Milwaukee (1979) and Milwaukee Architecture A Guide to Notable Buildings (1995.


“Very tall buildings, those now known as “skyscrapers,” were invented here—in America.... Humans built tall for many reasons: to do so was communally satisfying, personally fulfilling and perhaps most of all it was a celebratory act—for everyone. To build tall was defiant, it was risky and it was scary but inherent in these anxieties was the conquering of height itself, to pierce the sky with a manmade object while still tethered to the ground was simply irresistible...” (pps. 14-15) Korom thus introduces his impressive text with a brief historical perspective of the brave men who began to build high and chronicles “this country’s unique contribution to architecture...” (p. 16).


Presenting Chicago’s Sear Tower as his first picture, he notes that it “is the ultimate expression of skyscraper technology and is the embodiment of vertical manifest destiny. It stands 110 floors, 1,454 feet tall, and is North America’s tallest skyscraper.” The author includes interesting factual information such as when he notes, “When the sun sets, pedestrians at the Sears Tower’s base are plunged into shade. But due to the curvature of the earth, shade covers the tower’s floors from bottom moving upward at the rate of one floor per second. Consequently, those at the building’s top enjoy approximately two more minutes of sunlight...” (p. 21)


When I explored the buildings on the West Virginia University campus, working to better manage the utilization of those facilities and then plan what was needed to meet future needs, it was always the older buildings that I found more intriguing. Exploring Woodburn Hall all the way up into the clock tower, or walking through Chitwood and Martin Halls, prior to their being gutted and renovated, I thrilled at the basic beauty we wanted to retain, while at the same time, create updated classrooms, offices, and teaching laboratories that were needed for our School of Journalism and many departments within our College of Arts and Sciences.


Thus, as I read through A Celebration of Height, it was not surprising that I eagerly studied the buildings with the older styles that were used during the “courageous beginnings” starting in 1850. (p. 22). Zachary Taylor was president “during the planning and erection of the famed Jayne Building in Philadelphia. Knowing that “Old Rough and Ready” was in charge helps place the birth of the American skyscraper in historical context.” (p. 23)


The following buildings included in the Celebration are just a few of those particularly enjoyed by this former Facilities professional/reviewer! I am sure others will choose those more modern.


  • The Palmer House Hotel in Chicago; built 1872, by the “first merchant prince of Chicago, Potter Palmer, at the cost of $200,000. (pps. 49-50)
  • Madison Square Garden Tower, 16 floors, 304 feet, New York. (P. 158)
  • Women’s Temple, Chicago, 1892, home of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. (p. 166)
  • Columbus Memorial Building, topped by a giant bronze status of Christopher Columbus, built in 1893. “In an utterly wanton act, this delightful skyscraper was demolished in 1959.” (p. 179)
  • Trinity Church, New YorkCity. Its steeple once ranked it the tallest structure on Manhattan Island. (p. 190)
  • The Carson Pirie Scott Store’s main entrance is marked by a most robust example of foliage This twisting mĂ©lange was executed in iron then painted a forest green. This building, completed in 1904, immediately was propelled into the annals of architectural immortality. The Chicago Loop was now home to a large department store, rising twelve stories, 168 feet. The building featured some of the most compelling ornamentation anywhere. (pps. 231-232)
  • City Investing Building, New York City, 1908, 487 feet, and containing one-half million square feet, making it the world’s largest office building. “If ever there was a skyscraper that evoked romance, historicism, capitalism, and the optimism of the early twentieth century the City Investing Building was it. Here was a tower that drew upon inspiration from French Baroque sources, and in so doing, cut a delightful profile on New York’s skyline. (p. 271)
  • Bromo-Seltzer Tower, Baltimore, 1911, 15 floors, 280 feet tall, with a facsimile of the original Bromo-Seltzer bottle atop its tower! (pps. 294-295)
  • Peter Cooper first manufactured structural beam for the Cooper Union Building in New York, thus setting the stage for skeleton construction and ultimately the skyscraper. (p. 25). Also in New York, the mid-19th century marked the age of cast iron architecture and is still concentrated in the “Cast Iron District, as a living museum, near the Greenwich Village. (p. 28)
  • And, of course, the history of the skyscraper must also include the invention of the elevator. Manhattan’s Haughwout Building was the first commercial building to employ a passenger elevator. “It was capable of lifting one-half ton at the rate of forty feed per minute and it was the first of its kind anywhere” when it was installed in 1857. Any facilities professional will not be surprised to hear that Elisha Graves Otis who eventually founded the Otis Elevator Company installed it. (pps. 28-29)


In addition to detailed facilities information, I also enjoyed the smaller details Korom added for interest, such as “Probably for the first time unrelated men and women worked side-by-side for eight or more hours in the same one or two rooms...skyscrapers, probably from their very inception, were places where ‘advantages were acted upon’ or there were rumors of such behavior...” (p. 137) and the various interior shots of those men and women dressed as they were at that time. Truly, The American Skyscraper 1850-1940: A Celebration of Height is a book that is highly recommended to all those interested in America’s history!


By his buildings great in influence and power...

His philosophy where, in “Form Follows function”

Sullivan has earned his place as one of the greatest

Architectural forces in America...

                                  --Memorial Mark to Louis Henri Sullivan (p. 195)


Great Romantic Suspense!

But don’t go leaving here with the idea that I don’t love you. That would make your leaving way too easy...If it’s a case that you’re expected to marry a Kentucky Blueblood socialite rather than a good, Scottish woman, that’s a different story. Then, be on your way...(p. 154)


Meet the fiery and beautiful Maggie McGregor, horse trainer extraordinaire, in Patricia A. Guthrie’s wonderful first novel, In the Arms of the Enemy. Guthrie’s book is an exciting blend of suspense and sexy romance, within the sometimes dangerous world of horse racing.


When Maggie’s fiancĂ©, Ricky Lane, showed up with a beautiful woman on his arm, along with George Blakely, owner of the horse, Black Autumn, she was suspicious and jealous. But her feelings quickly turned to anger when he left her alone to attend Black Autumn during the race. Then when the horse she had trained won, Ricky was quick to identify himself as the winner’s trainer!


It didn’t take any more than that for Maggie to finally end her engagement, quit and leave.


Even so, when Black Autumn, Ricky Lane and George Blakely, were all murdered within a week, it was Maggie that was most suspected—especially by Blakely’s son, Jonathan Adam!


As may be expected by the title, Adam and Maggie were instantly attracted to each other. Adam had come to investigate Maggie, posing as, first, a novice who wanted her to train his horse, and then later as a private investigator and also, sometimes, as an owner of a software company, aka a playboy entrepreneur. The clumsiness with which Adam tries to be undercover provides a thread of humor for readers since Maggie is quite adept at seeing the many mistakes he makes. But Maggie seems quite willing to play along with his various roles, at least until she figures out why he’s really there!


Guthrie’s inclusion of Maggie’s father as an important minor character also provided an unusual perspective to the emerging relationship between his daughter and Adam—whoever he was!


Fortunately while this antagonistic couple is falling in love, there are sufficient, real lawmen that are working to solve the murders of the two men and high-priced horse! Adam had at least been able to feed his friend and FBI agent important information, even as he struggled between wanting to prove who destroyed his father and his growing love and need for Maggie.


And then a series of accidents start—with Maggie as the intended victim! Adam now found himself the protector, rather than the investigator out to prove her guilt, as he strives to keep safe the woman he must admit to himself he loves. A scene between Adam and his former mother-in-law was one of the best in the book and revealed the author’s sensitivity to detail about her characters’ lives that was especially impressive, in my opinion.


Guthrie has a fast-paced, fluent writing style that makes reading her book fun! Only problem...I wanted more! Maybe there will be a series coming up, or at least a sequel. Maggie McGregor is too good a character and too good a horse trainer not to find another mystery to solve in her life, especially as Adam’s wife!


So, readers, are you planning a quiet Sunday afternoon for yourself sometime in the future? Grab a cup of tea and Patricia Guthrie’s, In the Arms of the Enemy! And Enjoy! You’ll be so glad you did!



G. A. Bixler

For Author’s Den











Well... I never thought I would say it! But I'm happy to be back on...dial-up!

During the last week, I was having telephone problems, so I went to Radio Shack to pick up another low-cost telephone to check out if that was my problem...

While there I was introduced to Sprint's Mobile Broadband and promptly signed up...

Fortunately, they give you a 30-day test period!

Can you think of anything slower than dial-up as a connection? Well, it was not only slower, it kicked me off so often, that I just closed up shop and turned my computer off!

Now to give the benefit of the doubt, I learned I was located where they called their service "fair" and given the time of the year, being surrounded by a lot of beautiful trees, I probably did not have the environment to use this process, so I'll not consider that I gave it a good test for anybody else's consideration.

In any event, a female telephone technician came calling at my door this morning, checked and repaired everything, and I'm back! and excited about it!

Who knew?

So, bottom line, I've missed reading you guys and have lots of catch-up! But, I'm glad I'm back online!

Have a good day...and God Bless!

Latest Poetry from Adolfo!

My circumference

by Adolph Caso

20 Spt 08


At the center of my circumference

Its immensity increases

With each virtual step

I take in any direction

From or back to the home of my life—

God becomes dimensionless!


Beyond the tree line

Delineating heaven

I enter the highway of my existence

Forever changing lanes

On roads with one Exit after another

And not one Entrance in sight.


I am imprisoned within

Virtual lines in parallel without dimensions

Within which infinity and eternity

Become one


Beyond my reach!


The center of my circumference

Remaining unmovable,

Destiny heavy on by back

I become the lonely driver

Of a Mack Truck without compass

Thursday, September 4, 2008


There are just some poets that I enjoy so very much...

Spencer is one of my favorites... He writes about everyday types of things... lots of times about relationships... others about friends of his on his street.

I enjoyed this one very much:

You'll see Spence a lot on he has quite a following. Check him out if you enjoyed this one!


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Consider the Personal Side of It!

The Clinton Diaries

By Fred Petrovsky

ISBN: 1438215649

205 Pages



Has it really been more than ten years? The Clinton Diaries by Fred Petrovsky, with dates, brings back memories as fresh as yesterday’s for many of us. What more could be said? For those who lived through the months and years of daily news announcements, together with the sordid jokes by late-night shows, we had heard enough about Monica Lewinsky’s role in the life of our President.


Still, when I saw the title of this new novel—a work of fiction, parody and satire, I was curious. Are you? Let me first tell you that the entire book is not in diary format. There are periods of dialogue and action of the events, combined with much internal dialogue that was imagined by the author. Other than the short, initial dialogue between Lewinsky and Clinton, which to me was somewhat stilted with the overuse of “nice,” I found Petrovsky’s novel to be totally believable as “the real story.” The novel is fiction--some might even say alternative historical fiction—and includes actual happenings as well as narrative in support of events.


Having read a number of books on sexual addiction during my years of reviewing books, I think Petrovsky has written an excellent representation of the agony that is felt by those who attempt to deal with internal struggles that many individuals face (no matter what addiction is involved). At the same time, the role and the rationale for Lewinsky is not so well defined. Readers discover that she had earlier been involved in a similar relationship and that she appears to have been the aggressive participant with Clinton. Was her thirst for Clinton just the thirst for those who frantically seek to be tied to power? You decide.


The interpersonal actions within the Clinton family are realistically presented, including a variety of assumptions on the intimate life between Bill and Hillary and references to marriage counseling. The book should definitely be considered adult content—even if these issues at one time were headlines!


Movement into the final time period when Congress was considering impeachment contains the most dramatic disclosures as, for instance, Clinton’s counseling sessions with Reverend Tony Campolo are presented.


This novel is available exclusively through Amazon. Petrovsky, who has a MFA in Creative Writing, has done an exceptional merge of his research efforts with his creative talents. It is written in first-person, as written by President William Clinton. This novel, although fictionalized, presents a significant historical event. I believe it presents the material in an unbiased, informative manner and is recommended as significant in exploring this traumatic event in America’s history. 


            “It began on a bitter November day in 1995.” (p. 6.)



G. A. Bixler Independent Professional Book Reviewer


Great Drama!

Webs of Power

By Darlene Quinn

Emerald Book Company

ISBN: 978-1-934572-05-4

369 Pages



Webs of Power is a work of fiction; however, if you happen to fill a high-level position in some corporate hierarchy, you may think you’re reading a story about your own company! Darlene Quinn has done an excellent job in taking readers into the fast-paced and sometimes terror-filled world of high finance and corporate takeovers. This time, for department stores, in the late 1980s.


Quinn’s note at the end of the book provides a short, helpful historical view of the rise and, to some extent, fall of the great department stores. Most of us at least recognize the name of Macy’s, which sponsors the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. Many have watched as other stores have closed and the downtowns of our cities board up the large windows that formerly provided samples of what these stores offered.


There is no doubt that Power...and the desire for ever, more Money were the main factors that drove the creation of large conglomerates. By the time of this story, there were billions involved in mergers, hostile takeovers, and the resale of smaller stores.


Webs of Power focuses on three women and those around them. Into the webs of deceit in business, they brought the only thing stronger than power and money. They brought Love.


Page Toddman, together with her husband Mark, were major players at Consolidated. They both had personal histories with the company and had contributed greatly to its growth. However, at the first sign of financial weakness, an Australian land developer, Philip Sloan made a hostile offer of $4.2 billion for the retail empire. Mark was immediately caught up in trying to prevent the takeover, but Page had something much more important that she faced—a late-life pregnancy that forced a re-evaluation of what was most important to her.


Ashleigh McDowell, engaged to be married to Conrad Taylor, one of Mark’s primary executives, had unexpectedly been asked to take over the reigns of his father’s business, commercial investments, and had to relocate across the country. Ashleigh’s career was at Bentley’s, a prestigious division of Consolidated, and was forced to stay there as everyone worked to prevent the takeover. Could love survive postponement of their wedding indefinitely?


Viviane De Mornay is the glamorous woman you want to hate, but cannot. She, too, was affected by the potential upheaval of the takeover--but potentially in a much-different way. For she is having an affair with Philip Sloan! Her tangled life could be the most affected and she dreams of standing beside Sloan as he takes over Consolidated. Besides she loves him. What she can’t quite be sure of is that she loves him for himself—or for the power and money he can provide her.


Quinn has effectively used her experience and expertise in department store management to create a thoroughly intriguing, believable, and twisted drama of deceit, love, greed—and, yes, webs of power! Once you get caught in the tangle of the lives of these three women, you will be turning each page until you know what happens to them.


One small sub-plot of a former corporate raider, who gave everything up to take care of his much-loved son when he became ill, was one of my favorite surprises. What does the power of love do to the lives of those affected by corporate power struggles? This book reveals it all! Enjoy!


G. A. Bixler Independent Professional Book Reviewer