Archive for September, 2012

The Sun Zebra by R. Garcia

September 27, 2012

The Sun Zebra by R. Garcia

A collection of short stories with unpredictable endings is a description of, The Sun Zebra. If anyone has ever read a review of mine, they know I value unpredictability as the key to great fiction.

The Sun Zebra is a perfect reminder for adults to open their minds and become kids again. To understand events, through the eyes of a child, is a wake-up call to the kid in all adults.

Each story is different, containing the elements of great writing. Nell is a precocious child, who possesses the ability to think critically, and analyze better than most adults. Her father is the epitome of a perfect dad, listening to her and allowing her to think. Her mother is the perfect balance to a loving marriage. Nell is lucky to be a child in this family.

My children are grown up, but this tiny book of wisdom will benefit me to augment my ability to be a better grandmother to my grandson. I thank R. Garcia for writing these pearls in, The Sun Zebra.

Tyrker’s Tale (The World’s Edge Series) by Robin Ingle

September 22, 2012

One doesn’t often think about the Vikings, from tenth century Iceland, so this is a great little story to spark an interest in an area of study, abandoned since the fifth grade.

Tyrker is a thrall, which is a slave, and he is training to be the guard of Eirik the Red’s son, Leif Ericson. It’s a story, in and of itself, how Tyrker becomes a thrall for Eirik the Red.

In less than twenty pages, Robin Ingle, has managed to write an exceptional, historical, piece of writing. So much occurs in this extremely short story; we get to know Tyrker, we learn about Viking women, slaves and non-slaves, and we are treated to an inside peek into the mind of Eirik the Red.

Tyrker is educating Eirik’s sons for combat, as he is a well-rounded man of warfare. He is such an interesting character, with an intriguing love life, and I am eager to read more about Tyrker, in the future.

Tyrker’s Tale (The World’s Edge Series), is my introduction to Robin Ingle. As a reader of historical fiction, I am thrilled to have stumbled across this author, and I’ll be looking for more of her work.

No Mercy (Sgt Major Crane Story) by Wendy Cartmell

September 22, 2012

This short story anthology, No Mercy (Sgt Major Crane Story), begins my introduction to Wendy Cartmell’s writing. The book consists of three, quick and easy to read mysteries; No Mercy features, Sergeant Major Crane.

The last story is an autobiographical piece, which I question the author’s reason for including it in a mystery anthology.

The mysteries have a ring of familiarity; I have either read similar stories or have viewed comparative TV shows.

I always appreciate the element of surprise in a good mystery. I expected unpredictable endings to the three mysteries; however bleak, I must express disappointment.

The author’s writing style is flawless for composing mysteries, and readers will notice her passion. I encourage, Wendy Cartmell, to continue writing mysteries in the future, however, adding originality to her stories.

I recommend, No Mercy (Sgt Major Crane Story), by Wendy Cartmell, to readers of all ages.

Of Stampedes, Runaway Trains, & Riverboat Scoundrels by James O’Donnell

September 22, 2012

If you can’t take a trip to Virginia City, the next best thing to do would be to read, Of Stampedes, Runaway Trains, & Riverboat Scoundrels by James O’Donnell.

O’Donnell compiled the Best of the West stories for an entertaining read adding his own twist to the tales. He included, Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, Buffalo Bill, Jesse James, Wyatt Earp, and Calamity Jane, just to name a few.

Enjoy your trip Out West!

The Moon of Innocence by Uke Jackson

September 14, 2012

The story takes place in Catalonia, Spain, in 1963. It’s far away from the city, and farming is the way of life.

Cesar is an orphan, as his mother dies in childbirth, and he doesn’t know his father. He is a budding writer and poet, because he’s lucky enough to work for a man who mentors him using books in his home library.

Maria works for Ella (Inglesa) as a maid. She is a seventeen year old virgin, and beautiful, especially to Cesar. He writes poetry to Maria trying to win her love. It takes a while, but eventually Cesar’s efforts are rewarded.

In order to see each other, they must sneak around. It is during one late night they manage to finagle, that Maria becomes pregnant. This is where the story is captivating and so much happens, you must quickly read through to the surprise ending.

Uke Jackson writes The Moon of Innocence with a unique style. The beginning of the story is the end of the story, and it is an excellent way to get the reader excited about, The Moon of Innocence.

Jackson develops his characters to be as appealing as his description of the setting. I felt like I was in Ella’s living room as well as riding on Cesar’s motorbike in the dirt. Always a plus is including history in a good story, and Jackson manages to accomplish this through his characters conversations.

I recommend readers of all ages to take pleasure in reading, The Moon of Innocence, by Uke Jackson.

I do have one question, however, what’s with the bear?

Ukulele Land by Uke Jackson

September 14, 2012

A stage production that I wish I could attend. Ukulele Land is hysterical. Not sure if it was meant to be so funny, but I laughed throughout the book.

A drug company, The Corporation, dictates people take drugs for all kinds of ailments, for example; sexual desire, where sex is illegal. There are Love Police who jail the offenders.

The music is obviously ukulele by Uke Jackson, and his lyrics are funny with specific messages. I understand the lyrics to say; stand up for yourself, and question authority.

It’s somewhat of a spoof on the music industry as a whole and of our corporate culture.

There’s no way to properly describe this musical without reading the book, Ukulele Land, by Uke Jackson. It is to be enjoyed by imagining the lyrics being sung and the ukulele being played, and the fun characters acting their part.

It is an entertaining read even though we must imagine the musical performed in our minds.

Rosemary and Antonio by Marie Fostino

September 13, 2012

Rosemary and Antonio is a brief history of the era of prohibition and gangsters, of the 1920’s, in Chicago. It’s all about the rivalry between Al Capone and Bugs Moran.

Added to the mix of violence is a couple, Rosemary and Antonio, whose story is compared to Romeo and Juliet.

Al Capone is Rosemary’s father’s cousin, and Antonio works at his father’s auto mechanic garage, and repairs Bugs Moran’s vehicles. This relationship makes it impossible to continue, as their lives are in danger, because they cannot be seen together.

It was a nice romance story mixed with the violence of the 1920’s.

I would have appreciated more of the music scene, as Rosemary and Antonio only visited a club once. It was fun reading and visualizing them dancing to the Jazz era’s music.

More of the music scene and less of the violence, would have justified the title, Rosemary and Antonio. After all it wasn’t titled, the Chicago era of the 1920’s.

The story would have been enhanced as a romantic love story with more of the 1920’s music scene, including Rosemary and Antonio.

Marie Fostino exhibits outstanding writing skills and I
would like to see her research a historical novel because her attention to detail is recognized.

Pyramid of Skulls: A Novel of Timur, Warrior and Emperor by Martin Fruchtman

September 12, 2012

I am officially up to speed on Timur, the most sadistic killer of the late 14th and early 15th Century, hence the title, Pyramid of Skulls, which was his trophy.

The story is told through the eyes of Timur’s Jewish doctor. It basically consists of a horrific war, a serial killer – killing only one prostitute a day – and typical daily political issues in Timur’s court.

There’s a lot going on in, Pyramid of Skulls, besides the style (if you will) of war during that era, and way of life. There’s philosophy and social issues of the era as in any historical fiction.

If reading between the lines, I wonder if we, as a society today, are any more tolerant than society was in the 14th and 15th Century. Food for thought, if nothing else.

As far as Timur himself, all I got from, Pyramid of Skulls, was his brutality as a leader. As disgusting a man as he was, I wonder what kind of person it takes to become such a man. I mean, it seems he was rather brilliant. To his credit, he did make Samarkand the capital of his empire, where he built a new city and populated it with artisans and craftsmen from all of the places he had conquered. I wonder about this side of him.

I am no expert in this era, or of Timur, hence my deciding to read, Pyramid of Skulls: A Novel of Timur, Warrior and Emperor by Martin Fruchtman. As I stated in the beginning, I’m officially up to speed, and it was a rough read arriving.

Messages from Henry by Rebecca Scarberry

September 10, 2012

In reading the book description before ‘flying into’, Messages from Henry, it states the story is an “edge-of-your-seat suspense thriller.” I disagree.

It’s about a homing pigeon, named Henry, who tries to save his kidnapped owner, Evelyn. A neighbor, a cop, and Evelyn’s son, depend on Henry’s notes to locate Evelyn.

A very short book of ‘thirty something’ pages, a child would enjoy the short tale. In the book description it declares, Messages from Henry, for the twelve and above age group, however, I think it is better suited to the twelve and below age group. There is minimal drama for the twelve and over reader.

Rebecca Scarberry does a wonderful job writing in present tense. I appreciate her writing style.

Messages from Henry, is not an “edge-of-your-seat suspense thriller.” However, it is a harmless, cute, little story for young children.

Thirty Something (Nothing’s How We Dreamed It Would Be) by Filipa Fonseca Silva

September 10, 2012

It must require a certain type of person to enjoy reading, Thirty Something. The story is about a group of unhappy, whiny, old college friends that never stop complaining.

All the characters are dysfunctional, putting on airs, lying to one another; nothing is ever good enough, etc. etc. This plot might be fine if integrated into a piece of writing, but it’s quite another story when it is THE story.

I realize the book title depicts exactly what the story is about. However, page after page of every single character whining about their existence, continued to be too excessive.

Readers will recognize it definitely is not what these thirty something characters dreamed their lives would be.

Filipa writes well, and she develops her characters in depth.


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