Archive for October, 2012

Second Chance Grill by Christine Nolfi

October 29, 2012

A small town community goes viral.

The town is Liberty, Ohio and the setting is Second Chance Grill. The Grill has a new owner, Dr. Mary Chance, who inherits the restaurant, and is determined to turn it into a success in about a year.

Being a doctor, Mary is a fish out of water running a restaurant. But the inheritance coincided with a tragedy. Mary lost her best friend where she lived and worked in Cincinnati. In trying to deal with her grief she takes a sabbatical and decides to go to Liberty to run Second Chance Grill.

Mary’s plans are to return to Cincinnati, in about a year, to take over a clinic, however, she falls in love – not once, but twice – first with Blossom, a spunky eleven year old cancer survivor, and then with Blossom’s father, Anthony.

Blossom is one month shy of being cancer free, when her leukemia returns. What does Dr. Mary Chance do when Anthony’s health insurance doesn’t cover a bone marrow transplant? What does the small town community of Liberty do to help? What plan do the extraordinary women of Second Chance Grill devise?

What a treat Christine Nolfi’s readers are in store for! It is great fun to meet up with all the extraordinary women of Second Chance Grill.

Christine Nolfi writes this captivating story, Second Chance Grill, applying her expertise writing brilliance. Her characters are all unique and we care about each one of them. No one is perfect in Liberty, Ohio, especially at Second Chance Grill. But everyone deserves a second chance.


Libertas Americana by J.R. Ortiz

October 25, 2012

Libertas Americana takes place in the year 2017. A terrorist plot against the United States by fascist militants needs to be prevented. Julius and Michael Stansfield are once again called upon by the CIA to stop the terrorists.

The two brothers, along with other freedom fighters, risk their lives to keep America’s homeland safe from Russian extremists. Their mission is to sink a Russian freighter into the Rhine and kill the men whose plans are to hurt Americans. The mission is called – Operation Europa.

As J.R. Ortiz takes his readers through the horror of this terrorist plot, he also integrates the family life of Julius and Michael Stansfield. Learning why they accept missions that constantly put the two brothers at such high risk of losing their lives is explained as nothing more than a desire to keep America free. They are fully aware each mission may be their last, but because of deep concepts of patriotism, loyalty to America comes before family. They feel it is for their family, that they risk their life. To Michael and Julius it is how they proof endless love for their family, and every other family in America.

Libertas Americana, by J.R. Ortiz, is Book Two of the American Amaranth Anthology.

This Little Piggy by Craig McGray

October 17, 2012

Eleven pages; a perfect nightmare

A short story that will haunt you for much longer than you’d desire. This is not the genre I read, but when I saw it was only eleven pages, I thought, why not? I wish I had put more thought into that hasty and regrettable decision.

This Little Piggy is a disturbing, disgusting story, to say the least. But as it was my choice to read it, I will review it on its literary merits.

It had a certain middle school age quality to it. With that in mind, it was well written.

The ending was unpredictable, which I always appreciate in any story or book.

This is a popular genre, but I have learned my lesson, eleven pages or not.

The Dead-Simple Guides 3-Pack: 3 Great Guides In One! By Nick Thacker

October 17, 2012

To improve your blog – to make efficient and productive, this 3 pack guide provides an excellent source of information.

The first book is titled, Amazing Headlines, the second; Guest Posts, and the third; Pillar Content.

All throughout the books, Nick Thacker includes numerous links to expand the information he has provided.

Since I read this on my Kindle, I think a printed version of the books would be beneficial while applying the suggestions in the guide.

A Parachute in the Lime Tree by Annemarie Neary

October 16, 2012

A Parachute in the Lime Tree is about four characters whose lives are deeply affected by WWII: Oskar, Elsa, Charlie, and Kitty. The war stifles love affairs, as any war does. Once again there is a couple who are separated because one is German, Oskar, and the other is Jewish, Elsa. Kitty finds Oskar, the man in a parachute in her lime tree, captivating, but his goal is to locate Elsa, who is in Ireland. He isn’t successful and lives his life without her. Charlie, a medical student, ends up marrying Elsa.

Each character has a different point of view regarding the war. Even though Ireland took a neutral stance in the war, Oskar, Elsa, Charlie, and Kitty did not think neutrality. The opinions and feelings of the characters are learned by sharing in their daily lives. A Parachute in the Lime Tree is a perfect and entertaining way to learn the history of WWII, with the emphasis in Ireland.

I experienced a difficult time reading the first few chapters, although the separations aren’t labeled as chapters. It took time to become comfortable because the narratives kept changing, followed by numerous alternating characters. I viewed it as a good challenge to sort through as I continued reading. By the end of the book I had mastered Annemarie Neary’s writing style.

The ending is unpredictable, which I appreciate the most. The descriptions are vivid and I pictured each historical setting as I read A Parachute in the Lime Tree. Annemarie Neary integrates love, suspense, and humor in her well researched novel.

As an aspiring writer, I am going to reread A Parachute in the Lime Tree by Annemarie Neary, because her style was unique and at times a challenge. I know I can benefit from reading different writing styles.

Readers of all ages who want to learn the history of WWII will enjoy this historical novel.

Tangled Ashes by Michele Phoenix

October 12, 2012

A Castle and WWII

The castle is the Meunier Manor during the Nazi occupation of France. Hitler turns the manor into his maternity ward to breed. Introduced are two teenage girls who work there and these characters enlighten readers to the daily events happening in the manor.

Fifty years later – the castle becomes a Renaissance castle, to be renovated in the city of Lamorlaye, France.

Michele Phoenix writes her historical novel with first-hand knowledge as she is from France. Her attention to details is much appreciated when reading a work of historical fiction.

Marshall Becker, from America, is the architect hired to renovate the castle. He arrives with expertise, but carries a bus load of ‘baggage’. Throughout the story, his character flaws are painfully visible, but we don’t get to fully understand him.

Becker’s relationships with his partner in America, the owner of the castle, the nanny who takes care of the owner’s twins, an old man who lives in the carriage house, and the interior designer, are how we acquire our knowledge of the characters in Tangled Ashes.

Each character is interesting, in their own way. The nanny, Jade, tries to understand Becker, and it is their developing relationship that makes me think Michele Phoenix has a sequel in mind. I say this mainly because of the ending, but I’ll let you decide.

I enjoyed the format of Tangled Ashes, reading dialogue from WWII, followed by the current time – during the renovation fifty years later. My concern with the story is plot related. There were a lot of things going on with Becker and all of his strained relationships, but there was no conclusion to the conflicts involved with them. I would have preferred the ending of Tangled Ashes to be as fascinating as the beginning.

There is a thread of Christianity sprinkled throughout the story, and it is nicely done, not obnoxious.

I recommend Tangled Ashes by Michele Phoenix for readers who enjoy learning history by reading a book, in this case, WWII history.

The Contessa’s Vendetta by Mirella Sichirollo Patzer

October 8, 2012

The era is A.D. 1645, in the city of Vicenza, Italy. The population is rapidly decreasing because of a deadly plague. To protect her family and live-in servants, Contessa Mancini quarantines everyone in her home. Against her better judgment, one day the Contessa decides to take a walk, a decision she regrets for the rest of her life. During her stroll down the street, she comes across a young boy, ill and suffering on the ground. She tries to help, and comes in close contact with him, which results in contracting the disease.

If that is not bad enough, a monk finds the Contessa, and tries to help her, as she did the child. However, thought to be dead from being in such bad shape, they bury her. The only problem is she is still alive.

Contessa Mancini wakes up, and to her advantage, because of a poorly built coffin, she is able to claw and kick her way out, ending up in her ancestor’s mausoleum. During her efforts to escape the mausoleum, Contessa discovers a secret tunnel used by brigands to hide treasures of gold, silver, and gems worth a fortune.

Once Contessa is free, she learns her husband, Dario, and best friend, Beatrice, are having an affair. Neither grieved for her death, and she becomes aware of how little she meant to both, as a wife and friend. Dario even neglects their young daughter, and proves he isn’t much of a father either.

This is where Contessa Moncini develops her strategy for revenge. She tells no one she is alive while she plans and executes her vendetta against Dario and Beatrice.

Mirella Sichirollo Patzer writes with attention and details to her characters and settings. Patzer creates this period of 17th century history to come alive, arousing my interest. All her characters bring substance to the story and I appreciate learning about Vicenza, Italy.

My personal concern with, The Contessa’s Vendetta, is that many parts are drawn-out, for example: Contessa’s thoughts repeated often, prolong the story.

I recommend The Contessa’s Vendetta by Mirella Sichirollo Patzer, to be an entertaining approach to learning history, hence my love for historical novels.

The Charter by Gillian E Hamer

October 6, 2012

Gillian E Hamer writes an outstanding Chapter One in her historical novel, The Charter. It is typical for the first couple of paragraphs in a book to hook the reader; however, The Charter’s entire first chapter is extraordinary.

As a historical novel, the story is based on the Royal Charter’s shipwreck that occurred in 1859. It is a fascinating read; because it isn’t often I travel to the rocky Welsh coast and the Irish Sea.

The storm of the century claimed many lives on the Royal Charter. The survivors in the Irish Sea, who made it to shore, were happy to possess their gold from Australia. This is where Gillian E Hamer develops her plot.

Sarah, the main character, has a father who displays odd behavior during his life. After his death, Sarah receives clues to locate his gold, at the reading of his will. In her quest to find the treasure, Sarah has to decide whom to trust and whom not to trust. Is Sarah successful in locating the gold?

Hamer adds the paranormal, crime, mystery, and murder, to her historical novel. Are crimes and mysteries solved?

The characters are captivating, and the story reads at an ideal pace. I did predict the outcome of one character, however, that was the exception. The story is unique for a historical novel, and the ‘ghost’ twist Hamer integrated with amazing skill, was not exaggerated.

Gillian E Hamer sends a subtle message in her intriguing novel, The Charter: Greed can wreak havoc on you and your relationships over time.

I look forward to reading more from Gillian E Hamer; I enjoyed her unique style of writing historical fiction.

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