Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Review: Sassy! By Gloria Mallette - Great Psychological Whodunit!

By Gloria Mallette
Gemini Press
ISBN: 9780967878935
312 Pages

For the umpteenth time, Sassy told herself she could not have made up this drama if she tried.” (p. 270)

Sassy Davenport is a romance novelist who sometimes has a little trouble writing her romantic scenes; that is, until she meets the man of her dreams. Norris Yoshito showed up at one of Sassy’s book signings and asked that she sign all ten books he was buying. Naturally, she was intrigued; her friend Kenneth wouldn’t read her books, nor even talk about them—especially since he spent most of his time talking about whether to financially support a plan for his brother or sister, expecting Sassy to listen and respond at appropriate times. It was quite easy for Sassy to be swayed by attention from Norris!

Not only was Yoshito drop-dead gorgeous, he quickly won Sassy over with his close attention, his caring ways, and, later, his wonderful lovemaking!

That is, until the night he showed up, kicked Kenneth out of her apartment and turned aggressively toward Sassy, scaring and hurting her with his nasty words and anger.

When Norris told her that he had not been at her apartment and that he didn’t know who Kenneth was, Sassy was caught between her love for him and what she knew had actually happened at her apartment. Although Norris worked hard to explain what he thought was happening, it still was hard for Sassy to accept.

Until Norris became involved in taking care of Sassy’s cousin/best friend, Bernard, who was dying from AIDS. Here too, she compared Norris with Kenneth, who refused to be around Bernard, and her love continued to grow and allowed Sassy’s trust to grow. This was difficult to do because the police were after Norris for murder! In fact, a number of people close to Norris had been murdered—and his father and stepmother were the latest!

Sassy is a great whodunit! Readers may begin to review the possibilities as to who is behind the murders. Is Norris a multiple personality (dissociative disorder) since there are so many witnesses that have seen the man believed to be the murderer (including Sassy!) and have described or named Norris? Is it his half-brother who has hated Norris since he was brought into his home as an orphan when his own mother died? Is it a childhood friend who had run the streets of Japan with him as a mixed-blood, shunned youth who now hated Norris for being able to go to America and it was payback time? The only thing Sassy knew for sure was that the murderer had come after her once and it was very possible that he would do so again! Had she married a murderer?

Aside from the wonderful exciting action for readers, the relationship between Sassy and Bernard adds greatly to this drama. The scene between Bernard’s son and him is beautifully created and the personal interactions between Bernard, Sassy, Norris and his son’s mother are extremely moving and realistic.

Gloria Mallette is a winner of the USA Best Book Award and the Indie Excellence Award. She just may have a winner in the suspense/thriller genre for Sassy! Check it out ‘cause it’s a great read!

G. A. Bixler

Review: New Thriller by David Levien, Hits UK on July 2nd! I loved It!

Where The Dead Lay
By David Levien
Transworld Publishers
ISBN: 9780593059340
315 Pages

Lee Child named David Levien as the new must-read thriller writer...I totally support that assessment! After reading Levien’s latest book, Where the Dead Lay: How Far Will One Man Go To Avenge A Friend’s Murder? due out on July 2nd (UK), I promptly ordered his first book!

Frank Behr is a fantastic character! A former cop who, as oftentimes happens, lost his job because his boss didn’t like him. Now that boss has come to him seeking his help! Frank had been offered a job with a large corporation to find two of their staff who had disappeared. But Frank wasn’t interested, a good friend of his, Aurelio Santos, had just been murdered. Aurelio had been Frank’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu trainer and though not many words had passed between the two, still a friendship had developed between them that had been very important to Frank—and he intended revenge. His former boss wanted him to work undercover for the corporation to find the missing men, hinting that, if he was able to help, he might be able to get him back on the force. Frank knew that if he ever wanted to reclaim his life, getting his old job back would be a big step in that direction. So he decided he could work both investigations, but his priority was Aurelio’s murder.

First of all, Frank knew that it would have taken more than one man to kill Aurelio, given his size and expertise. As he became involved and studied the scene, he knew it had to be at least three men who had taken him down. He started the routine of talking with all of the students who had trained at Santos’s Academy. Little by little names were thrown out and, in turn, it became known that Frank was “looking” to take down those that had killed Aurelio.

The murder of Aurelio Santos had not been a pretty one—and it was not the only one! There were others across town that were similar and it turned out that they were all related to private "pea-shake" gambling houses that were being “closed” through the death of those who hosted the houses. Soon Frank realized that he didn’t have two separate cases!

Most of the action in Where the Dead Lay is physical—using the moves that were being taught in Jiu-Jitsu. Frank, however, had merged those skills with street smarts that made him an opponent able to take on anybody. A good thing, because the ones who were behind the trouble used ball bats, heavy flashlights, guns, knives and anything else that could be used to hurt or kill.
In the midst of Frank’s turmoil and concentration on his cases, his lover, Susan, confirms that she is pregnant and does not plan to take care of their child alone! This only increases Frank’s frustration because he had already lost his son and his former wife had divorced him after their child died. Could he handle going into another family situation?

After all of the dangerous close encounters among the good and bad guys, you would think some explosive, thrilling final fight would have Frank standing alone over the bodies! Not so! The closing is an ironic tribute to “live by the sword, die by the sword” that creates a surprising, final impact that is much more memorable!

David Levien is one of the top screenwriters in Hollywood, and co-writer for Ocean’s Thirteen and Runaway Jury; his writing is superb! Where the Dead Lay is his second novel featuring Frank Behr. May Frank live well and continue long as one of the most formidable characters you will find in a long time! Yep! I loved it...and can’t wait to read his first book, City of the Sun!

G. A. Bixler

Click on the article title to buy direct from Random House UK!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

2007 National Best Book Award Winner, Gloria Mallette, Releases New Book - Sassy!

Releases New Book
May 22, 2009


National Best-Selling Author GLORIA MALLETTE, the 2007 National Best Book Award Winner and the 2008 Indie Excellence Award Winner for Living, Breathing Lies, is back with an edge-of-the-seat suspense—SASSY.

Fans of Mallette’s powerful dramas are once again set to get caught up in her realistic portrayal of her characters’ lives. The murder of two women in New York City has Detective Frank Keifer looking for a vicious killer while Sassy Davenport, a popular romance novelist, has finally met the man of her dreams.

When architect Norris Yoshito, on a whim, steps off the street into one of Sassy’s book signings, he is instantly smitten and Sassy is curiously intrigued. A passionate relationship develops but when Sassy’s life is threatened by a man who looks uncannily like Norris, she is thrust into a world of uncertainty and doubt. While key people associated with Norris are brutally murdered, Sassy hides away in Norris’s Blue Mountain home not knowing if she is truly safe. Norris appears to have two personalities—one is that of a violent man, the other a man of great compassion who helps Sassy with her cousin who is dying of AIDS. Unwittingly, Sassy finds herself caught up in a nightmare of deception and danger where romance takes a back seat and the real world of murder thrust her into a desperate fight for her life.

In 2000, Mallette self-published her second novel, Shades of Jade; sold 13,000 copies and was picked up by Random House. With the 2007 release of Living, Breathing Lies, Mallette’s ninth novel, Mallette returned to the self-publishing arena to remain true to the stories she is passionate about writing. Mallette has made several national bestseller’s lists; and she has been profiled in USA Today, the New York Daily News, Today’s Black Woman, UpScale Magazine, and The Pocono Record.

Publisher’s Weekly has said, “Mallette's great strength is her willingness to reveal the weaknesses and occasional petty vindictiveness of all her protagonists. . .,” and “Mallette's balanced perspective and well-rounded characters will keep fans riveted.”

For more about Gloria Mallette, click the title of this article to go to her web site!

Note: My review of Sassy coming soon!

Mini-Memoir/Interview with Spotlighted Author, R. J. Brown, Author of The Dead Husband, et. al.

RJ, Where are you from?

London, England during The War. Was evacuated to the town of Woking in Surrey into a family which already had two sons plus other evacuee children & a Land Girl to help take care of us all. After VE Day, no one came to collect me so the family adopted me along with a boy orphan who had no one to go home to. My Daddy gave me a new name & a good start to life. It wasn't until I was in my 40s, a mother myself & had done some mental health therapy & Human Potential work that I realized I needed to learn how being adopted had affected me & the choices I made. I gained much insight & comfort from Betty Jean Lifton's JOURNEY OF THE ADOPTED SELF: A Quest for Wholeness. The "mystery" of my origins, however, has remained cuz anyone who might have known Elizabeth Sepesi, the mother listed on my birth & adoption certificates, deflected my questions with scoldings about me being ungrateful & invariably shut me up with the warning I could have grown up in an orphanage.

When I was 7 we moved to West Kensington in London & I, like my older brothers, started boarding school. Eothen in Caterham, Surrey was where my Mum had gone B4 The Great War. 3 years later it quit taking boarders so I started riding the double-decker bus to Queensgate School for Girls (just around the corner from the Natural History Museum) on a daily basis. I graduated at 16 with my GCE "O" Levels with a Silver Medal in Poetry recital. I was a soloist in the school choir, the Lead Alto in the London School Girls Choir & acted in plays with Lynn Redgrave & a whiz at Ballroom Dancing.

When my Daddy died in 1959 after a long illness, my family split apart as brothers left for National Service, university & New Zealand to make a new life. With a scholarship I started at St. Martin's School of Arts & Crafts along Tottenham Court Road. There I joined the Student Union & the Anti-Apartheid Movement & met the young lawyer Nelson Mandela on his speaking tour, then marched on the South African Embassy off Trafalgar Square to protest his incarceration.

I was walking by the old Scala Theatre when a barker asked if I wanted to make five quid (that's pre-decimal £5). Inside, the place was packed with maidens all a-flutter. Up in "the gods" I watched a band of mop-headed lads play while everyone around me screamed & swooned. A HARD DAY'S NIGHT remains a favorite flick.

To earn spending money I worked in the crafts department of Foyle's Bookstore & ushered evenings at The Academy Cinema along Oxford Street. It showed foreign films each for a month so my ear got tuned to the languages as I whispered along with the dialogue. All I remember now was VIVRE SA VIE, a drab B&W French flick about a pretty damsel caught up in prostitution being fought over by pimps. As a pragmatic teenager & ugly enough so no one ever fought over me, I used to wonder why she didn't just find a new line of work someplace else. Akira Kurosawa's samurai comedy THE HIDDEN FORTRESS was more to my taste. It starred the everso handsome Tishuro Mifune, a refreshing contrast to the angry, preening European chaps.

After I'd gained intermediate diplomas in sculpture & graphic arts, my Mum shipped me off to Portugal, where she'd grown up B4 the revolution that ousted the monarchy. One of my aunties had witnessed her fiance shot dead on her doorstep & when I stayed with her she taught me Portuguese history & language, & Patience (Solitaire). All my aunties were ferocious Canasta, Bezique & Mah Jong players. For six months I was a maid in another auntie's hotel in the fishing village of Ericeira on the Atlantic coast. For the first time I ate fresh seafood & salads & lost 3 stone (about 50lbs). Meanwhile, my Mum sold the family home, bought the last 6 years of a 99 year lease on a 12 room flat (apartment) in Paddington & enrolled me at Marlborough Gate Secretarial College for when I flew home. I graduated with top honors in Pitman's shorthand, typing(manual), dictation, filing, bookkeeping, receptionist & telephones.

Now ready to leave home & join the work force, my Mum kept taking to her bed every time I packed up. Eventually, I simply left with her curses about an ungrateful daughter ringing in my ears. Those were fast times in a flat with 3 other secretaries as we "temped" in strange & exciting jobs: an Italian video juke box company, television, plumbing, travel agencies, learning how to make our wages last the week & putting coins in the gas & electric meters. Then I was accepted as Export Secretary for Sir Robert J. Burnett's 200 yo distillery in Earls Court. A purveyor of exotic liqueurs & liquors to the last remnants of the British Empire, that job reawakened my love of stamp collecting & geography. When it was dismantled in a hostile takeover, I was transferred to Gordon's Gin in their new skyscraper, & hated it. There I began thinking about seeing something of the world & after discovering I was unwelcome in any Commonwealth country due to my Anti-Apartheid association, I set my sights on The New World.

What did you do in America?

A week B4 my 22nd birthday I was sailing around the Statue of Liberty by dawn's early light in the old Italian rust bucket Castel Felice & had made my first American friend, Bitsy, who lived in Columbus, Missouri. I was to take the train down for her college's Homecoming football game & meet her family. That was a treat! After an overnight train to Chicago, the Vera Sugg International Placement Bureau had a handful of job interviews waiting for me. I basically took the least terrifying one in an industrial advertising company run by two brothers who were the epitome of slick used car salesmen. I hated it, although made fast friends with the other secretary.

Meanwhile, my oldest brother was marrying his Peace Corps fiancee in her Cleveland Heights hometown over my first Labor Day weekend, so I took the train there too. Staying at the YWCA on Division Street, I got a call from a woman who needed a live-in nanny for her 4 kids on the Near Northside. It was in the bosom of this family that I saw my first color telly & enjoyed my first Halloween & Thanksgiving. Then they invited me, all expenses paid, on their month long winter ski vacation in the then raw village of Vail, Colorado. I had to quit my day job. With knee operations as a teenager I didn't ski, so swam in thermal pools & froze the hair on my head & in my nose. Back in Chicago & unemployed, my sister-in-law's college sorority sister called saying her brother was looking for a good secretary. Rabbi Robert J. Marx was the Director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (Midwest) & it was working with him that I often met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Archbishop Cody & Senator Percy as they planned their de-segregation strategies.

A couple of years later I was in my own tiny apartment off Clark Street near Fullerton & had transferred to the UAHC's Union Institute office. It ran a year-round educational camp in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin where I met my first Israelis & the then young Holocaust survivor author Elie Wiesel. At that time suburban baby-boom teenagers were running away in droves to the Windy City & camp parents began asking me to find 'em. My searches took me into the Counter Culture along Lincoln Avenue where I volunteered at Alice's Revisited: a coffee shop oasis to which everyone eventually came for news, rides, crash pads & other unmentionable things; The Seed underground newspaper; Grace Lutheran Runaway Recovery Program & George's LSD Rescue Squad. I expanded my mind, burnt my bra, gave birth to my children, joined & left communes & earned my keep in a secondhand bookstore where I sewed happy hippy clothes while my partner, Lois, made patriotic leather vests with long fringes worn by just about every musician who came to play at the Wise Fools: BB King, Muddy Waters & Junior Walker were some.

A decade later I headed west so I could eat fresh food all year round & landed in Berkeley, California where I took Human Potential Movement trainings, put my kids in alternative schooling & started my cleaning company.

When some friends invited me to help them relocate to Port Townsend, Washington, I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest & moved up here. I continued cleaning & trained as a Children's Advocate for the Jefferson County Domestic Violence Program where I created the Stepson Walk & Talk Safety Course. Then I was offered the Managing Editorship of the Townsend Letter for Doctors which, over 9 years, I took from a 32 page Xeroxed newsletter to a 144 page illustrated magazine.

Now I'm a retired grandmum, living on the Olympic Peninsula's West End with my very much alive hubby. Together we created the book review site RebeccasReads.com & took care of my ailing father-in-law about whom I wrote in my first memoir: STANDING THE WATCH: The Greatest Gift. I'm also a contributing writer for www.seniorssunsettimes, a monthly newspaper for coastal readers.

Why is your first fiction a cozy mystery?

After the birth of my daughter at the end of a hot Chicago summer, I was bemoaning to a friend how intensely I was missing the land of my childhood. Later that day Bernie lugged his camp trunk up to my fourth floor apartment off Lincoln Avenue. In it was every single one of Agatha Christie's paperbacks. Ever since, I've been keen on atmospheric cozy mysteries. Now, I want 'em to take me someplace I haven't been to meet new people & teach me something I didn't know.

I'd been slogging away at my memoir, re-reading 40 years of journals & squirming at some memories I really didn't want to re-visit when a voice started talking in my head & I started typing. For the entire winter! By spring I had my first draft & sent it out to my Reading Group. From their feedback I knew I had the makings of a good book. Two, in fact, it was that long! So, around my hubby's by-pass surgery & long overnight trips to the VAMC in Seattle, I re-wrote a leaner version & got it in print. Now I see all the typos, so next time I'll hire a proofreader!
Sally Collier, in THE DEAD HUSBAND, is a "lowly char," a cleaner of houses & such, cuz that's something I know about & the idea of how a char would see a murder scene had been brewing for decades.

Why go with Print-On-Demand (POD)?

Cuz my rejection folder's full. I did go the traditional route for my first book, diligently scanning the Guide to Literary Agents & Writer's Market, spending time & cash printing synopses, begging letters & all. Got really tired of form letters saying thanks but no thanks or that I should change this & that. Also, I wanted to present my own material; content & cover. That's when my husband helped me start my own imprint: Big River Press, so we could retain control of our intellectual property & print our books the way we wanted 'em. Will they ever become "best sellers"? That's actually not why we write.

So why do you write?

To be able to hold our very own books in our hands. My Vietnam Veteran husband started writing at the suggestion of his therapists, & it's been an effective way to exorcise some of his ghosts. I do it cuz it's second nature & I relish the process. It keeps my brain flexible & besides, my noggin's the only part of my bod that isn't falling apart, yet. I love typing out dialogues, then reading 'em aloud for editing; creating scenes, describing images, exposing emotions. I don't do it for the fame or to become beholden to a publisher, which you are when you're "lucky" enough to be picked up by an agent. You see, they gamble on you to become the next hot author, spend a lot of money on you & then charge you for unsold copies if they miscalculate & print too many. They also send you on book signing tours. We met the author Gayle Lynds in a Seattle bookstore doing that. She was exhausted from flying all over the country, being driven by strangers hither & yon from airports, crashing in shoddy hotel rooms, needing to do some laundry & had not been home in more than a month! That's fun?

Why do you use odd language, slang?

Cuz I like it. I figure I've thought, read & written long enough to own the language. My favorite sayings about spelling are:

"It is a damn poor mind indeed which can't think of at least two ways to spell any word." From Old Hickory, Andrew Jackson, 1767-1845.

"I hold that a man has as much right to spell a word as it is pronounced as he has to pronounce it the way it ain't spelled." American Humorist Josh Billings, 1818-1885.

Erica Jong has one about spelling which I can't repeat here cuz using anatomical words might bring you trouble. Look it up & then tell me if you don't get a giggle.

My husband is the author D. H. Brown of the award-winning HONOR DUE & HONOR DEFENDED, & he uses me as his spell checker. I've deeply loved this language ever since early school when we had to read a page of a dictionary every week & then write a story using as many words as made sense. I'm not so good at those esoteric foreign words given at National Spelling Bees, just everyday to $10 ones.

R. J. What a delightful, fun time spent with you! I'm amazed at all you've done and it looks like a solid lengthier memoir will appear some time in the future! Thanks so much for sharing with me and my readers! And for those of you who missed Rebecca's article on writing memoirs, click below to review!


My reviews for The Dead Husband and Standing The Watch are also posted here...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Review: The Quest for the Prize - A Fun Read!

The Quest for the Prize
By Keith Dyne
Raider Publishing
ISBN: 1935383043
316 Pages

Do you love puzzles? Are you a code breaker? Then you might want to consider check out the “advert” for the quest! Keith Dyne, in his first book, The Quest for the Prize, provides readers the opportunity to work along with the characters—the way to get to the prize is through five difficult activities—reading and interpreting verses, finding words, breaking the codes!

The young man that has been recently selected to undertake this quest is Jerry Dumbarton. He is just like you or me! His primary skill is in any physical activities; while he has two friends who are helping him with the quest—Julia (Jules) Evans and Pete Potts. Jerry’s quest is to discover the whereabouts of the prize that will lead to his being able to assume the role of the “Good Lord” for a thousand years. The present Lord is “The White Horse” and, yes, that is literally—he’s a white horse that talks!

Of course, this all takes place in the magical realm, to which Jerry would move if he becomes the Good Lord. Interestingly, the liaison character between Jerry and his friends and the Good Lord (and his Guardians) is Mystic, a raven who can see into the future. When Jerry first meets Mystic, he and Jules can both hear her talk, while Pete cannot, although later he is able to. Yes, there is another book coming, The Replenishment” so there will be many questions still remaining to be answered—like why Pete was not immediately able to hear Mystic!

The replenishment, by the way, is the term used when the White Horse has completed his reign, can go back to his former life (and love, which in this case is Mystic!) and the new Good Lord takes over.

Yes, of course—you knew there was also an Evil Lord! Well, so far, he has found and eliminated two of the guardians and has been able to determine who the new Chosen One is who is already on the quest!

What I found most interesting was that Stonehenge is purported to be the altar upon which people could worship the first Good Lord, Gred, who was only 12 when he first found “the prize” and began to eliminate the hate and evil in the world. It is all explained for us to understand in the “Book of Gred” that is shared with readers!

Keith Dyne has created a fun quest for his readers and will certainly be of interest to teenagers and adults alike. I admit I wasn’t good at solving the clues, but, hey, it’s good practice for some future quest for me! How about you? Do you need the practice to follow clues? The Quest for the Prize by Keith Dyne brings you mind-boggling exercises, even using the computer to help.

First in a trilogy, start now to follow the tense, electrifying battles as the Evil Lord takes on... even you, the reader!

G. A. Bixler
Note: Check out Keith at Author's Den by Clicking Title of This Article!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Book Out - Waltzing Australia by Cynthia Clampitt!

Book Title: Waltzing Australia
Author: Cynthia Clampitt
ISBN: 978-1-4196-6306-2
508 pages

Available at Amazon.com and through Borders and other booksellers.

Would a sensible, successful woman in her mid-30s walk away from money, security, career just to make a dream come true? Absolutely!

Cynthia Clampitt wanted to write—and she wanted to get as far away as she could from the temptation to rejoin the corporate world. Australia was a lifelong interest, and it seemed to be the best, and farthest, place to start over.

Clampitt circled and crossed the continent, covering nearly 20,000 miles, many of them rugged. The child of that journey is the book Waltzing Australia, a journal that recounts six months of joy and adventure. It is a story about change and finding out who you are. But above all, it is about Australia: the history, legends and art, both European and Aboriginal; the beauty, the challenge, the people, the land.

Best-selling author Richard Lederer wrote of Waltzing Australia, “Cynthia Clampitt’s luminous chronicle of her love affair with Australia resonates to the heart’s deep core.” Others have compared her to Annie Dillard and Bill Bryson.

Aussie expert Barb Mackenzie wrote, “[Cynthia] paints vivid pictures of people, places and adventures. I can feel the sun, hear the crush of the bush beneath my feet and smell the salt of the sea. I know I will go back again to Australia but I can revisit anytime just by picking up Waltzing Australia and reading a few pages.”

Author/reviewer Helen Gallagher wrote, “Cynthia Clampitt surprises us with a writing talent and story-telling technique that is tough to master, yet she is consistently compelling to read.”

Waltzing Australia will encourage those who dream, as well as those who travel. It will delight those who know Australia and enchant those who do not. Readers will come to know Australia intimately, as the author leads them across the often-surprising landscape.

Australia fascinates almost everyone. Starting over and women’s adventures are also perennially hot topics. Waltzing Australia gives you all three. For Clampitt, sharing the adventure with others is part of the dream.

Click the article title to visit the Walzing Australia blog!

If you would like more information about the book or author, or to schedule an interview, slide show, or book signing, please contact Cynthia Clampitt at (847) 537-7915 or caclampitt@att.net.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Review: This Flowing Toward Me - A Must Read For Those Interested in U.S. Immigration!

This Flowing Toward Me
By Marilyn Lacey
Ave Maria Press.
ISBN: 9781594711978
207 Pages

This is a timely book about one of the most controversial issues of today that I’ve read! In my opinion, This Flowing Toward Me: A Story of God Arriving In Strangers by Marilyn Lacey is a must read for politicians, teachers, civic leaders, and anybody who is concerned about immigration activities in the United States.

Though written as a memoir, this book is really about the many, many interactions the author has had with and about refugees. “Marilyn Lacey invites those of us living behind locked doors in a world shuttered by homeland security...and...discover that where we most felt threatened, a wealth of blessings awaits us.” (back cover) This book is written as an inclusive text on all religions, for in reading of Marilyn’s experiences, we will see that it is not about religion, but about all of the millions of people who, if given the proper welcome, would become a friend.

Sister Lacey’s story begins when her convent welcomed Nhia Bee, his wife and five children from Thailand, all of who knew no English. During that visit, Marilyn realized how much the family had come to mean to her. And then she had a dream in which one of the children told her “we’re here to teach you a new way of loving.” And that was the beginning.

As an active professional woman, Sister Lacey quickly became involved and leader of many activities regarding refugee entrance into America. Many of her stories are about the people, but there is also much she shares about her personal journey. I empathize especially with her chapter about spiders—the insects we women all love to hate, even if they are God’s creatures! Imagine being confronted with a spider as big as your fist!

It is the latter part of the book where the Sister begins to speak to us, pointing out all of the Biblical stories where Jesus chose to befriend the stranger, the alien, the weary and downtrodden. With sufficient clarity she challenges—can we do less?

There is so much confusion, frustration and fear regarding immigrants to America. Let Sister Marilyn Lacey use her book, This Flowing Toward Me to help you answer the question, “What would Jesus Do?”

G. A. Bixler

Friday, June 19, 2009

Review: End of Grace Exciting Technothriller!

End of Grace
By K. Thomas Murphy
MC2 Inc.
ISBN: 9780578020624
385 Pages

"Somebody's trying to kill us. My Church is trying to kill us." (p.352)

Just finished End of Grace by K. Thomas Murphy...Wow! What a great thriller!

Rick Macey had once been in love with a young woman whose parents refused to acknowledge him as a possible suitor for their daughter. Actually the couple had been dating secretly for quite some time, so when Ashley received their response, she hurriedly decided to leave home to go and be with Rick. On the way, she was killed in a car accident.

Many years later, Rick has nothing that keeps him more involved than the revenge he seeks for losing the woman he loved so much. No, he doesn't go after her parents; he goes after the church that had created such a restrictive environment that rules prevented his obtaining her parents' blessing.

Rick's best friend stood by him and listened to his angry rants and when Rick announced his plan, Clay agree to participate. His plan was quite simple:

Become a licensed pastor and create a church that opposed and spoke against Ashley's church!

Actually, the plan was very good and because of Rick's expertise, he was able to move forward quickly once the scam had been conceived.

The method:

Whenever a church member died, Rick's church would send the grieving family a letter, notifying them that his church had baptized the family member into...the Church of the Disciples of Moroni...

Kay Summers who was a personal assistant for one of the high-ranking leaders of the church was sent to investigate. She was surprised to be chosen, as a single woman she was one of the few who actually worked in the church administration and most of the others were in clerical functions. Brian, a somewhat irreverent friend known as "computer man" worked along with her trying to find anything and everything about this new church. A web site was found; the church had been in existence since the late 1800's and well over a million had visited the site! Finally, it was discovered that M & A publishing company was handling the letters. Kay went to meet with representatives of that company first. And that's when everything started to happen!

Caught in the avalanche of a large corporation whose only goal was to make this new group go away, Kay finds that she has not only become attracted to one of the employees of the publishing company, she is beginning to question the actions of her own church!

If you're looking for a new book, with new ideas about "old" rules and regulations, this book may be just what you are looking for! I have no idea how much of the church information was factual; but I did check the hierarchical structure online and it seemed to follow it closely with a change of a few words, and the addition of a group called the Danite Knights. It is obvious that the author did significant research in order to support the establishment and credibility of the Church of the Disciples of Moroni. The book was a page turner for me; a technothriller with exciting action that captures readers immediately. I hope to see more from this author; fiction readers, frankly, I loved End of Grace by K. Thomas Murphy!

G. A. Bixler

View House Publishing Holds Short Story Contest for Aspiring Writers

Short Story Contest for Aspiring Writers

We at View House Publishing are pleased to announce our first annual short story contest for aspiring writers. The theme is open to short stories from all genres. We are looking for original, creative, and poignant pieces featuring convincing characters and great plots.

Dr. Shadrach Linscomb will be the judge for the contest.

Prizes for the Winners:

1st place $250
2nd place $150
3rd place $50

The contest is open to all
The entry fee is $8 per story (multiple entries are allowed)
Each story can be no longer than 2,500 words and must be written in English
Cover sheet or entry form must be submitted with story (Name, address, email & telephone #)
Unpublished stories should be formatted in Microsoft word or PDF (for online submissions)
Submissions will be accepted from July 1, 2009 to November 17, 2009 (Postmark)
Stories will not be mailed back to the sender and there is no refund for the entry fee
Winners will be announced by December 1, 2009
(Note: Authors retains all rights)
Entry form:

Writer’s name: ________________________________________________________
DOB: ___________________

Title of your story: _____________________________________________________________________________
Street Address: _______________________________________
City: _____________________ Zip: __________

Home Phone #: ____________________ Cell Phone #: ____________________
Email: _____________________
Signature: _______________________________________________________
Date: ________________________

Please make your check/money order payable to View House Publishing (VHP),
mail your story, a check, and this completed form to:
1305 Franklin Street,
Suite 502,
Oakland, CA 94612

(credit & debit cards are also accepted).

For more information, call (510) 350-5502 or send an email to vpublishing@aol.com.
Fax (510) 404-5278.

For online submissions:
Send your story with a cover sheet as an email attachment to vpublishing@aol.com and an invoice for the entry fee will be sent to your email via PayPal services within 1-3 days.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Review: Comparative Analysis of Two Great Political Scientists!

The Prince
By Niccolo Machiavelli
Dante University Press.
ISBN: 0937832383
140 Pages

An Essay on Crimes and Punishments
By Cesare Beccaria
International Pocket Library BB
ISBN: 9780828318006
104 Pages

Two men, living hundreds of years apart, in many ways, wrote with parallel opinions and conclusions. Most well known is Machiavelli’s The Prince; however, in many ways, the greater impact came from lesser known Cesare Beccaria, with An Essay on Crimes and Punishments—the latter being the basis upon which much of governments and laws have been established.

Both men emphasized that the virtue of man should be the basis of our interpersonal actions. Yet they also conceded that man’s seemingly instinctual appetite for power prevents that base virtue from ruling our decisions. Given the continued use of military might of one country against another, it is abundantly clear that what Machiavelli wrote in the 15th century and Beccaria wrote in the 18th continues to hold true today.

The Prince was written based upon Machiavelli’s observations and analysis of what was happening in his country. His books resulted in his recognition as the founder of political science inasmuch as he was the first to analyze various forms of government.

Many of us may also observe, perhaps evaluate and analyze, and come to the conclusion that somebody has to do something. Machiavelli, in writing The Prince did just that. He wrote and sent his treatise directly to Lorenzo De Medici, Duke of Urbino...as a token of his service. Throughout The Prince Machiavelli constantly refers to the virtues needed to be an effective leader, an effective prince. At the same time, he looks at what actually happened, using events of those days, and effectively explained what was done right or wrong. “So it is that to know the nature of a people, one needs to be a Prince; to know the nature of a Prince, one needs to be of the people.” (back cover) Proceeding on, he explained “The main fundamentals that a state...has to have are good laws and a strong army. Good laws do not come without strong security; where the army is strong, one needs good laws.” The Prince, p. 76.

One might say that it is on this point that Beccaria started. “In every human society, there is an effort continually tending to confer on one part the height of power and happiness and to reduce the other to the extreme of weakness and misery. The intent of good laws is to oppose this effort and to diffuse their influence universally and equally.” (Introduction)

Let’s further compare some of the specifics that these two great political scientists wrote, although it should always be remembered that Machiavelli wrote for a specific purpose at a specific time. Beccaria, on the other hand, had a broader history to evaluate and some semblance of lawmaking had already begun.

· There are two ways to fight: one with laws, the other with force. The first is rightly man’s way; the second, the way of beasts. --Machiavelli
· Every act of authority of one man over another, for which there is no absolute necessity, is tyrannical. --Beccaria

· The interest of the populace is more honest than that of prominent citizens who want to command and oppress, while the populace only wants to be free of oppression. --Machiavelli
· Laws ought to be conventions among men in a state of freedom and have one end in view: the greatest happiness of the greatest number. --Beccaria

· Cruelty well used (if one can ever say cruelty is good) is when it is practiced suddenly and decisively, but not prolonged. --Machiavelli
· Punishment of a nobleman should not differ from that of the lowest member of society. --Beccaria

· When a Prince rules as a man of valor, he avoids disaster, remains prepared, and serves the universal common good; he can count on the populace, will never be deceived, and will have built on a solid good. --Machiavelli
· Judges and/or juries have the responsibility to ascertain, first and foremost, guilt or innocence; if guilty, then the judges and/or juries should take into consideration the extenuating circumstances to decrease or increase the penalties. --Beccaria

Frankly, I have often asked myself, in viewing today’s world, what has happened to that which represented “the greatest happiness of the greatest number.” More specifically, is it logical for a nation, a country, or even a smaller state to rule or attempt to pass laws to meet the interests of all that they serve? Can the U.S. for instance continue to respond positively to every single “special interest” group that becomes vocal and powerful? I believe both Machiavelli and Beccaria spoke well to my questions, though stated centuries ago!

Are you involved in today’s world? Are you an active participant or watcher of politics? Then reading the treatises of two of the greatest historians of political science certainly must be part of your personal library. Read both The Prince by Machiavelli and An Essay On Crimes and Punishments by Cesare Beccaria before you next vote or participate politically!

G. A. Bixler

Note: This comparative analysis was suggested by Adolph Caso, publisher.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Spotlighted Author R. J. Brown Shares Personal Tale of Writer Deception! Memoirs - Fact or Fiction?

Writing Your Memoir
by R. J. Brown

Memoir As Fiction

Everyone's heard about memoirs which included stories or facts that didn't actually happen in the authors' lives, or were exaggerated. Oprah Winfrey had the wool pulled over her eyes twice, and when I ran my book review site, RebeccasReads.com, I got hoodwinked too.

The trouble was this author wasn't who or what he said he was. His prestigious literary agent got him a three-book contract with a Top Gun publishing house. He even won an award specific to his avowed heritage, which garnered him cash and cachet. I enjoyed his writing: it was passionate, unusual & informative. Seduced by his provenance: top-notch agent & publisher, I reviewed his books; even interviewed him, glad to give a new writer a boost so he could rise above the flood of ghostwritten ho-hum memoirs.

A year or so later, I was contacted by a reporter from one of the bigger newspapers and a college professor with impeccable and documented credentials, who warned me they were about to "out" this author as a fake cuz his books were entirely figments of his imagination rife with other writers' stories & phrases. The fallout from his deception was that his literary agent lost face & her agency, the publishing house a lot of money, and him any credibility. Had he presented his stories as novels, he'd have had a career for life, until the plagiarism caught up with him.

What's Legal?

The publishing industry has strict guidelines for this genre: A memoir must contain only true and factual representations of who you are, where you came from and what you lived through. Everything else is fiction.

That the industry and reading public insist there's a difference derives from those first stories we told around cave fires, under desert stars. What we trust and believe to be real versus what we think is made up. These Big Thoughts have changed every culture on the face of this earth from the beginning of language, religion and literacy, and is still doing so.

The Moral Is

When writing your life stories, present them either as a creative non-fiction memoir... or as a novel. If a memoir: stick to what you really remember, what really happened and can be proven.

If a novel: embellish away!

My Vietnam Veteran husband, D. H. Brown, has done this at the suggestion of his therapists, & has gained some healing & comfort because it's been an effective way to exorcise the ghosts, while spinning thrilling yarns. Does that make his novels less engaging? Not at all! Writing his memories in fictional form with his hero doing the telling, allows him to look at his life adventures through a wider prism while creating tales that everyone who's HONOR DUE & HONOR DEFENDED, says helped with their own wounds.

My Own Memoir

I've been slogging away at it, re-reading my 40 years of journals. There are some memories I'd really rather not revisit, however, a while back a voice in my brain started telling stories & I kept typing. For the entire winter! When spring came, I had the makings of my first cozy mystery with a heroine who'd lived through a lot of what I had. After I sent the rough draft out to my Reading Group, most wrote back saying how much they enjoyed it and how neat to see bits and pieces of my life in there. "Oh, and by the way, did you know you've got two books in one?" It was very long! So I rewrote a leaner version & THE DEAD HUSBAND: A Sally Sees Cozy Mystery is now available at all Internet booksellers.

So, don't discount the telling of your stories as something other than a memoir because a good story in any genre is still a good story, and the feel of your very own book in your hands is a satisfying thrill.

R. J. Brown
Memoirs & Mysteries

Monday, June 8, 2009

Review: Sicilian Tales Brings Bilingual Fairy Tales to America!

Sicilian Tales
By Luigi Capuana
Dante University Press.
ISBN: 9780937832516
382 Pages

One might say that Sicilian Tales by Luigi Capuana is really three books in one! First it presents an extensive survey of Sicilian literature and its writers, an overview of its history and even a few wonderfully illustrative pictures of the architecture there by Santi V. Buscemi. Second is Buscemi’s translation, in a bilingual edition, of short stories, providing on one page the original Sicilian and on the other an English translation. It certainly provides all interested families an opportunity to share Sicilian and Italian heritage in a significant way!

For some reason, I chose to start reading the stories first. Reading 20 fairie tales one right after the other, rather than the norm where one story at a time is shared, allowed me to evaluate the overall tone of the stories. I was not surprised, but still gratified, that my opinion followed that of the analysis by Buscemi. Indeed, in nearly all of Capuana’s tales, he portrays royalty in a less than kind manner. Not surprising, then, it is the magical creatures, a fairy or a good witch that is the one to make good things happen. Still, Capuana’s preface reveals that it was the children in his community, that daily came to pester him for a story that brought about his movement into writing these stories. As we think back to our own stories of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, magic has always been exciting for us when we were young. Shall I tell you of my favorites?

Serpentina tells the story about the Queen whose baby was a serpent!

The Penny with a Hole in It is about a poor widow, who always told her sickly infant that he was going to become a king.

The Teller of Tales is about a storyteller who has no new tales to tell the children!

The Princess tells the tale about her mother raising a louse...that winds up being involved in finding the future husband for the Princess!

Luigi Capuana was called the Father of Verismo, “the most important literary movement in nineteenth-century Italy...Capuana created a narrative technique that viewed the human personality with detachment, allowing for no sentimentality or moral posturing.”(p. 41) Additional highlights regarding Sicilian literature include:

Very little of Sicilian literary heritage is known in this country.

One of the most important writers of ancient Sicily is Diodorus Siculus, the historian who wrote a forty-volume Library of World History. Sadly only 25 of the 40 volumes of this work survive.

Sicilian poets made a number of important breakthroughs in the history of literature, including the invention of the sonnet!

Sicilians invented a new literary language, the first in an Italianate tongue.

The Sicilians wrote poetry to be read, while their predecessors had written it for performance.

Sicilians first introduced materials—images, information and language—from a variety of disciplines, studies and occupations, to write poetry of love!

Some believe that Sicilian’s poets were the first to write parodies, a completely new form.

Students of literary history will find this a mandatory addition to their reference library. For adults and children alike, the short stories by Luigi Capuana will provide a new set of tales that may not have been read since the late 1800’s! What better way to introduce a wonderful heritage than by having the original language, as well as the translation to use and enjoy at the same time. An Excellent addition for our Italian-American libraries!

G. A. Bixler

Click on the title of this article to go directly to Branden Books!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Need Short Run Orders For Your Paperback Book?


BookExpo America winds up with thousands at the New York book show. The timing could not have been better as the publishing industry tries to react to a struggling economy, and a restructuring in how books are distributed.

Large publishers have announced downsizing in the last few months as they address the declining demand. Equally important is the growth of the small independent publishers and its effect on how books will be printed.

Both influences are driving the publishers to order smaller quantities to avoid the risk and expense of maintaining inventories and incurring cost due to obsolescence of their published books.

America’s Press business model is designed to print short run orders for paperback books in the 50 to 1000 range. Digital technologies are now capable of providing quality books that compete with the older traditional print methods.

Internet communications levels the playing field for authors and independent publishers who have previously had difficulty in having their book published by the old line publishing and distribution methods.

Authors now have the means to publish their dreams.

For more information about short run printing go to www.americas-press.com.


Joel Turner
America's Press
E: joelt@americas-press.com

Provided as a courtesy, without endorsement, for benefits of authors and publishers...gb

Kudos, Congrats, You Go Shad! Congratulations Dr. Linscomb!

View House Publishing proudly presents:
Dr. Shadrach Linscomb Ed.D
May 22, 2009

Is It Ever Too Late to Send Review Copies? (Reprint of Excellent Thoughts)

Is it Ever too Late to Send Review Copies?

Often when I teach my book review classes through AME-U I get a few authors on the call telling me they didn't know they needed to send their book out for review, or perhaps they did and sent it to the wrong reviewer, wrong publication, or to a market that didn't consider their genre or (if they were self-published) didn't want to review a self-pub'd book. So how late is too late to get reviews? Well, honestly that depends on what your book is about. We're currently working with a book that's two years old and review copies are flying out the door but guess what? It's an online campaign. Online tends to be a bit more "forgiving" of time.

If you're looking for more "bounce" for your book and want to get reviews, try pitching topic-focused blogs, web sites, and magazines. Often these places won't be as inundated with review requests as book bloggers and review publications. Also, consider pitching the book as a story, rather than a review. For example our local paper, The San Diego Union Tribune, won't consider any self published book, but if I pitch them based on a story they're more inclined to consider it.

So if you're feeling like you could do more for your older book, get creative. Go after the topic, rather than the glamour blogs and web sites. Often you'll find they are not only very receptive but also when you target a web site, blog or publication that is 100% your audience you're more likely to make a sale, and in the end, isn't that what all this promotion is all about?

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

Friday, June 5, 2009

Review: New Cozy Mystery Stars Char!

The Dead Husband:
A Sally Sees Cozy Mystery
By R. J. Brown
Big River Press
ISBN: 9780979874475
272 Pages

I enjoy sitting down with a cozy mystery and a cup of tea. When you see the word cozy, you know that you'll get to know the characters very well, and that the main ones will continue into future books until you almost think they are your real friends. R. J. Brown's new series, beginning with The Dead Husband, promises to do just that!

Meet Sally Collier! The primary character of The Dead Husband is a wonderfully gregarious and funny char with a sharp eye for detail, "sees" things differently than the average person, and yet reveals a caring, loving side with her clients, her gals and her friends. I can definitely see a series with Sally as the "star char!" Yes, I said char--for Sally Collier heads up Sal's Gals and they handle most of the cleaning services in and around their area.

Have you noticed that most tv commercials and programs about facilities cleaning use Brits...you know, as Sally points out in her very much needed glossary, Americans use "Brits" to identify "anyone from anywhere in the UK." Brits seem to have a great reputation for their housekeeping abilities. And, no wonder! They had to learn early what to do in a flat or bed-sitter--when clinkers needed removed, how to deal with the loo, and to take care of that bung hole! No wireless was permitted, and they often had to work in the scullery and be responsible for all things related to the midden! From what I can see, the only thing they had going for them was that they could stop and have a loverly tea in the afternoon, after serving the Missus of the house, of course, and were regularly paid every fortnight!

Frankly I wouldn't mind having a char visit my little log cabin about once a week!

And I could just about promise to never have a dead husband around for my char to find!

For that is exactly what Sally found when she went to clean the home of Mel Birnbaum! Mel had been buried at the bottom of their garden and had been discovered by their dog Borscht (who later became Porsche, but you'll have to read the book to find out why) after Sally had found him locked in a room without water and food and had let the poor dog outside to take care of his business.

Sally has a good reason besides finding the body, for becoming involved in this murder. Her "Man" George is the Jefferson County Chief of Detectives, so when she calls him to report the body, George is the one who later requests that Sally shares what she "sees" in the house and garden. As you might have guessed, after she points out all of the unusual issues she knows are different from her last visit a week earlier, the crime scene staff are called back to go over the scene much more carefully. Yep, you guessed it, it is her help that results in solving the case!

R. J. Brown is funny and just may be sharing some of her personal history in The Dead Husband. If so, readers have the advantage of getting to know both the author and Sally Collier, both at the same time. Be assured she will invite you to join her for a cuppa, and might even tell you the whole story if you have the time! If not, I highly recommend you order a copy and add R. J. Brown to your Trackle list so you won't miss her next book! I'm already waiting!

G. A. Bixler

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Dead Husband - A Sally Sees Cozy Mystery is Out!


Cleaning up dead husbands isn’t in SALLY COLLIER's job description, so when she finds one half buried at the bottom of his garden, her work schedule gets seriously derailed. She has history with MEL and RENEE BIRNBAUM, owners of the million dollar home overlooking Discovery Bay on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, and when her beau, Jefferson County Chief of Detectives GEORGE TULLOCK, warns her to remember what all she saw when she got there, her day turns into a walk down memory lane. From her post-WWII London childhood to training as a secretary and then emigrating to Chicago and citizenship; from being a working gal to a single mom; from heading west with her kids and finally finding a good life in picturesque Port Townsend.

After Sally connects with the Birnbaums’ grown daughter, CLAIRE, she has to face down an hysterical Renee and her celeb boss, ALAN HATTON.

Sally’s proud of her mentor: "My Mum was a good char, she just didn't clean house with light heart. You know, have fun. Oh, quit sniggering! What's the first thing little girls play at? Anyway, my Mum taught me a family's home will tell you a lot about how they're getting along. For the past three years, the Birnbaums have been in trouble."

As the mystery of THE DEAD HUSBAND unravels, Sally isn't shy about her memories, her love life nor the joy she finds in cleaning "her" homes.

About the Author:

R. J. Brown, a WWII London adopted orphan emigrated to Chicago in '65 and moved west 17 years and 2 children later. She lived and worked in Port Townsend during the ‘80s until relocating to the rainforest on the West End of the Olympic Peninsula with her husband, author D. H. Brown. Big River Press published the second expanded edition of her memoir STANDING THE WATCH: The Greatest Gift: about caring for their Poppa when he came home to die. Her website can be found by clicking the title of this article!

For a signed copy please contact:
Big River Press
P. O. Box 371
Clallam Bay, WA 98326 USA

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Review: Jesus Is My Best Friend - Read Lucado's His Name Is Jesus!

"My prayer is that as you read this book Jesus will emerge...to become the touchable face of a best friend..." (Preface)

Looking for the perfect gift for your Christian family or friends? Then please consider Max Lucado's latest book, His Name is Jesus! This truly is one of the most beautiful books I've seen, both inside and out. The book has a cover that is the same as the front and back--a true coffee-table book that you will want to keep out and read and enjoy over and over. The pictures, special artistic touches and page presentation forces readers to stop at each page turn to rejoice in the beauty.

Lucado's latest book brings together his writings on Christ's birth, his mission, death, resurrection, and his legacy. Many of our favorite Biblical stories about Jesus are included; however, it is Lucado's complementary words that reveal much time spent thinking about, pondering, and discovering what He wanted us to know about His life. I found it spiritually enlightening, inspirational, and memorable!

Many of us will stop and wonder what we would have done were we living at that time. For instance, Lucado points out that it wasn't enough for the shepherds or the Magi to see the symbols of His coming, the angels singing in such splendor. Would we have been so amazed that we ran to our friends to talk about those angels appearing and thrill at that, or would we, too, have immediately gone to find Him?

And have we stopped to think about Mary changing the diaper of Jesus, burping him, helping him to learn to walk? Lucado highlights that we must remember him as human, as he intended to be--he wanted to be here in the "mire and muck" of our world so that He would relate to us and share our loneliness, our disappointments, our hunger, as well as our joys.

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Jesus had decided to continue on as a carpenter and decide not to die on the cross? We all know He didn't deserve to die there! Jesus could have had a family, become a leader in His community. He could have had a wonderful successful life! Yes, He had doubts about fulfilling His role and Lucado's words will ensure that each reader reconsiders what options He had--and what options we would have had if...God had not sent His Son!

"Jesus... The man. The bronzed Galilean who spoke with such thunderous authority and loved with such childlike humility." (p. 31)

As a woman, one of the most memorable stories highlighted is about the woman with a bleeding disease. Due to Jewish law, her life was overtaken by menstrual dysfunction--she could not touch her husband or family, she could not cook, wash dishes, or even sweep the floor. She had nobody to help her, until she went to Jesus. Because Jesus touched the untouchables, he healed them and raised the dead--and he wiped the tears of those who cried.

Would we have been willing to stoop and wash the feet of our friends as Jesus did His disciples? Could we have become humble enough to allow him? There is much to be considered and reconsidered about our favorite stories. Max Lucado in His Name is Jesus provides an opportunity to renew your spiritual connection to Our Lord. Yes, this must be a "must read."

G. A. Bixler

Monday, June 1, 2009

Review: Jesse's Girl - Wow!

Jesse’s Girl
By Gary Morgenstein
ISBN: 978-1441492241
339 Pages

Wow! I love to spend a weekend with a book that keeps me reading, happy and enthralled! Jesse's Girl by Gary Morgenstein kept me turning pages this week!

I think the thing that was so fascinating for me was that the book sounded like it was true! It is written and told as if the main character, a parent, is sitting across the table from you, having a cup of tea, and sharing about the latest issues he is facing with his son. Given that Jesse is 16, on drugs, drinking and smoking, and has gotten into trouble with the law, I think all parents will relate to much of this story. The novel is broken down into three parts about the three main characters; however, Teddy, Jesse's father, is the primary character.

Teddy had lost his wife in a car accident, but it was after they had already separated. So Jesse's opinion is that he left the family and caused everything that happened thereafter, including sending him to a boys' institution!

When Jesse runs away from that facility and Teddy is not happy with how they are handling his disappearance, he first asks to have leave time, is refused, and then goes anyway, only to be later fired.

It is quite apparent that Teddy loves his son, even though Jesse does not see it or is willing to accept it. Teddy does an admirable job in searching and finally finding Jesse. However, when Teddy learns he has a girl friend and was going to Kentucky where she lived, Jesse is quite surprised when Teddy volunteers to drive him there. Actually I was too and think most parents would be unsure whether this was what he should have done.

Actually Teddy wasn't sure either--in fact, the book effectively covers his internal debates and thoughts so well that you suffer along with him for each quandry!

Teddy is surprised when they get to Kentucky to find that Theresa, Jesse's girl, is 21. Theresa welcomes both of them into her home and wins Teddy over almost immediately. Of course, it helped to see his son smiling and happy and talking with everyone in a normal voice.

Up until this point, readers are enjoying a story about a parent-son relationship. Thereafter? You won't believe it until you read it! For all hell breaks loose! All because Beau comes home from work...

Beau is introduced as Theresa's brother; they have dinner. Beau rides off with his friend on a bike and then Teddy goes back to the hotel while the young people have some private time. When Beau comes home, a fight takes place and Jesse and Theresa believe they've killed Beau and make their way finally back to Teddy's room. But Beau is not dead and he's coming after them! Leaving bodies as he goes from place to place where Theresa, Jesse and Teddy have gone, the police have no luck with his capture.

One surprise after another has Teddy wondering what to do. It is Teddy's basic good character and honesty that results in his making the best decisions possible, except maybe for the last decision, when he decides to go after Beau on his own!

I loved this book! Highly recommended for those who enjoy action and thrills, along with real-life situations into which it is so easy to escape! A Must-Read recommendation for Jesse's Girl by Gary Morgenstein!

G. A. Bixler