Sunday, December 30, 2012

Predictable but Sweet

Robyn Carr’s My Kind of Christmas is a sweet romantic novel. It is fairly predictable from page one but, nonetheless, a nice story. Patrick comes to Virgin River to deal with his issues after seeing his best friend shot down. He’s also heading to spend Christmas with his friend’s widow and son who he’s promised to take care of. Angie is visiting her aunts and uncles to get some space from her overbearing mother. Angie is recovering from a near-death accident and is not sure if she wants to continue medical school. Both Patrick and Angie need some to heal and figure out their next steps in life. The sudden mutual attraction is something both their families aren’t happy with. But it continues until the day Paddy has to leave. Yes, it’s predictable but it’s also enjoyable. And you don’t have to wait until next Christmas to read it. It’s a sweet book any time of year.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Real Count of Monte Cristo

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Crisco, by Tom Reiss, is a wonderful historical lesson. I love reading history but admit many interesting topics become dull reads. Not so with this book. Reiss keeps the story going and makes this a very readable biography of General Alexandre Dumas. Dumas was the father of the novelist Alexandre Dumas, who wrote The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. In fact, many of the Count’s adventures and predicaments in “The Count of Monte Cristo” were developed from the real count’s life. This book begins in France and then travels to Saint Domingue where the future General is a slave. It shows how he is brought back to France by his father and is “freed” once he sets foot on French soil. It continues through his schooling and his military career. This is nothing short of splendid story telling of a true story. General Dumas overcomes obstacles yet is also given some interesting advantages due to his mixed blood. But life isn’t always rosy and he spends some tough years imprisoned before again returning to his home and family in France. This well-researched history lesson is absolutely fascinating. If you like history, this is a must read. If you’re not so sure, give it a try anyway. You’ll find it surprisingly easy to read.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

If You're Looking for a Gift for a Young Teen . . .

If you’re still looking for one more gift for that young teen on your gift list, then you may want to pick up Kathryn Lance’s Going to See Grassy Ella. This story is based on the author’s real-life sister who died of leukemia at the age of 13. The book, however, has a much happier ending. Two sisters, Peej and Annie, from Ohio manage to get on a plane and fly to New York without their parents’ knowledge (that’s a bit unrealistic these days, but who knows?). Peej, a cancer patient, reads about a faith healer in New York and figures out how she and Annie can make the trip while their parents are at a conference. Once there, life is quite an adventure. From seedy hotels to a mysterious new friend to a Mets game, they manage to keep afloat. Finally, they get to see “Grassy Ella” and through it all also help to break up a drug ring. Maybe farfetched but lots of fun to read. The younger generation in your home will enjoy this book.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Good but Over the Top

Kate McGuinness’ Terminal Ambition is a Maggie Mahoney novel. Maggie is a partner in a prestigious law firm. Married to the managing attorney at the firm, she lives a privileged life and has a promising career at the firm. But all that changes after her husband dies in a skiing accident. Returning to work she finds she’s having trouble billing hours, but is assigned to a new committee to investigate and curtail any sexual harassment in the firm. And she does find many instances of sexual harassment – some definitely over the top. Maggie does a lot of snooping around and is always there for other women to talk to about their problems with bosses or other lawyers within the firm. The basic story is terrific. And I like that McGuinness works hard at showing the reader what is not appropriate and what no one has to endure in the workplace. However, to find so much harassment in one firm and to find such extreme circumstances – well, I just think McGuinness went over the top. When I started out as a secretary in the 1960s, I knew of sexual harassment although I never experienced it myself. There were ways of handling these situations and I was always successful in curtailing any problems before they got out of hand. I did know of others who were put into difficult positions and had more of an issue. In those days, there was little support for the victim but things have changed dramatically. Now I’m not saying that these issues still don’t exist in the business world, but certainly not to the extent as this book portrays. A lawyer exposing himself in anger in the middle of a secretarial pool office? Really? Maybe I live a sheltered life but I don’t think so. Other than some of the extremes in the book, I think this was an excellent teaching tool and interesting story.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Siren of Paris

The Siren of Paris, by David LeRoy, is an interesting and well researched book. However, it is a bit confusing as it jumps back and forth from the 1930s to 1960s. Most of the book takes place during World War II in Paris, but some of the jumps are a bit disconcerting. Marc Tolbert, dual citizen of France and the U.S., returns to Paris to study art. He eventually gets stuck there during the German occupation. He and several friends get involved in the French resistance and end up in a concentration camp. There is so much to this book. Mr LeRoy has done a vast amount of research and has incorporated much of it into his story. It shows people’s conditions and fears during the occupation and war. But it is also sometimes difficult to follow. Despite this, I couldn’t put it down because I wanted to learn more both about the time period and the characters of the book.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Not Macomber's Best

The Inn at Rose Harbor, by Debbie Macomber is apparently the first book of a new series by this author. It centers on three characters. Jo Marie is a young widow who has moved to this small-town to begin her new life. She purchases an old home and turns it into a cozy bed and breakfast. Her first two guests are Abby and Josh both returning to their hometown after many years. Abby who is 30 left town after high school. During her senior year she and her best friend were driving home from the mall and were involved in an accident. Since Abby was the driver, she continues to feel guilty because her friend was killed in the accident. Now she’s forced to return to town for her brother’s wedding and she dreads facing family. friends and the parents of her best friend. Josh also left town years ago after a falling out with his stepfather. A neighbor and friend has contacted him to asked him to return because his stepfather is now dying. There is still no love lost between his stepfather and himself but he's the only one who can help. I think Macomber does a good job with three separate stories and manages to intertwine them well. However, I feel each story lacked a bit of meat. Macomber is a good author and I feel she could have done a better job with her latest book. I hope future books will be put together a bit tighter. I’m not ready to turn my nose up at a Debbie Macomber book and will give her next one another chance.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Disjointed Thriller

The Geneva Decision: Pia Sabel #1, by Seeley James is a thriller about young Pia Sabel a college soccer star. But she drawn into her father’s security business and sees her first client assassinated. She’s out to solve this murder. This book is a quick read and a good story. My biggest complaint is that the story is a bit disjointed. Pia flits from place to place around the world and there’s often little connection or segway between these episodes. That said, I believe James has what it takes to create thrilling stories. I will be tempted to read any future work from this author and hope his next book runs a bit smoother.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Make-up Mystery

Frosted Shadow is my first Nancy Warren book. At first, I was thought it was going to be a lightweight that I’d just have to get through. But as I continued reading I was roped into it. A young woman Toni Diamond (and she wears a lot of them - although fake) is the main character who is a cosmetics rep and motivational speaker. There’s a murder at the hotel where her company is holding a convention. Toni gets involved and ends up as a bit of a sleuth. As the book continues and the mystery deepens, Toni’s involved with the detective on the job. The book is light, funny and definitely keeps your interest. A great read for a snowy weekend in front of the fire!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Cartel Saga

A. K. Alexander’s The Cartel is a full-packed thriller/soap opera. Set in Mexico, it’s the story of a cartel and political family. Although it consistently outlines the story more than it tells it, it’s still quite interesting and keeps the reader glued to the book. Two close friends, Antonio and Javier, are partners in a large cartel business. Javier also a big man in politics. The story covers their business and the family with a lot of emphasis on the wives and children. There are many twists and turns and some areas of the story are barely touched upon while others have a great deal of detail. The story tells the pain of the Mexican poor, the dangers of escaping their life for better times (or not) in the U.S., and how the other half lives. This is an intriguing story if you don’t mind not getting all the details throughout the book. I have to admit I enjoyed reading it and did have a hard time putting it down, although it’s by far not the best book I’ve read. I think many will get caught up in the saga of the families themselves and will forgive the author for the lack of “meat” while also learning a great deal about the workings of the cartels. Fair warning: there is a great deal of violence but if you can deal with that you will enjoy reading about the Mexican cartels.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Motivating Story!

Rudy: My Story, by Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger with Mark Dagostio, is as enjoyable as the film Rudy was. The book tells about Rudy as a child, his family, ethics and present life as a motivator. Rudy had big dreams and few believed he could fulfill them, but he did. And he did it through hard work and perseverance. Sure, he had many failures along the way, but most of those who “make it” usually do! They just don’t always talk about it. Rudy has shared his past and present in this book. And his story can motivate anyone because his family was dirt poor and he MADE it! The book is also very easy to read and interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed Rudy’s story. You will too.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Good Light Read

Hysterical for Harvard, by M. A. Wentworth, is an easy, enjoyable book to read. Jack, an on-again-off-again actor is working as a waiter in Los Angeles – just what struggling actors do. A former friend from Harvard appears with an offer he tries but can’t refuse. It’s a lucrative tutoring job for a high school over-achiever from a wealthy Korean family. April, the young woman, is more than Jake can deal with but she becomes a challenge. Eventually, he finds there’s much more to this family than meet the idea. Jake’s funny and comes up with some ingenious ways of dealing with an impossible young woman and her impossible family. Parts of the story are a bit on the farfetched side but a good read nonetheless.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Delightful Story!

Veera Hiranandani’s new book, The Whole Story of Half a Girl, is a delight to read. Aimed at young adolescent girls, it’s full of lessons for almost anyone, male or female aged 10 to adult. It’s about a 6th-grader Sonia Nadhamuni whose mother is white and father is Indian. She’s also half Jewish and half Hindu, but the family practices neither. Attending a small private school, she doesn’t realize she’s half anything or that it really matters. But things suddenly change for her and for her younger sister. Sonia’s father loses his job and the girls can no longer attend their small school. Sonia’s entry into the public school is scary. She makes friends, but are they real friends? Other students question her color and religion. She doesn’t know how to dress “right” or handle herself. She slowly learns but there are many bumps along the way. Her father is dealing with depression. Her mother is working long hours. There are so many questions Sonia needs answered while trying to keep up her new school life with cheerleading, jealousy, and new and ex-best friends. Something has to give. And it does. Read this book and then give it to your daughter (or son). It’s a good easy read and teaches many life lessons.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

No Meat in This One

Poseidon’s Daughter, by Diane A.S. Stuckart is a book about finding Atlantis. I was looking forward to reading this book as finding Atlantis should have included some exciting adventures. And the writer’s outline was probably exciting, but the actual writing turned it into a romantic novel. And the romance was a bit farfetched as were some of the adventures. When authors work hard to research, they need to follow through and use what they’ve learned. The reader receives some knowledge but the book is mostly about a man and a woman fighting falling in love, but falling indeed. If you like romantic novels, enjoy. If you’re looking for something with more meaning, move on to something else.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pass On This One

Frozen, by Daniel Powell is a thriller and starts off okay. But then it becomes just too way out and unbelievable! Having recently moved to Colorado from Florida, Sheldon and Terri and their son and daughter are thrown into a nightmare when they meet another new neighbor. The woman, Vivian, apparently has followed the family from Florida where Sheldon was involved in a hit-and-run accident. Vivian’s daughter had been killed. Sheldon panicked and soon moved his family to Colorado. Vivian wants revenge of the worst kind. Now the sickness of this whole thing begins – kidnapping the children and leaving them stranded to freeze while setting Terri and Sheldon off to find them. Meanwhile, Terri learns more of Sheldon’s secrets and ends up searching for the children alone. It gets even worse. Unless you’re really hard up for something to read, I’d suggest you pass on this one.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thriller and Chiller

Robert B. Lowe’s mystery thriller, Project Moses, doesn’t leave you when you finally put down this book. It’s full of drama and action. Enzo Lee is a journalist who accidently gets thrown into a mystery of murder and corruption. He, along with Kate whose aunt was murdered, run around the country finding clues and dodging bullets. The story reveals a web of corruption all for the benefit of a group with interesting goals. Not to let the story out, I’ll end there. But this book will not disappoint you if you’re into thrills and chills. And the surprise ending really surprised me. I didn’t see it coming at all. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

This Pearl is a Gem!

The Puerto Rico Pearl, by J.A. Jemay, is a new Ainsley Walker Gemstone Travel Mystery. This time Ainsley finds herself in Puerto Rico because her homebound flight is diverted due to a hurricane. With hotels full, she takes a chance and goes to stay with the family of the woman sitting next to her on the plane. That’s the first chance she takes and she takes many – most of which no one in his or her right mind would take. But this is a mystery, so on with the story. Ainsley is convinced to find the family heirloom of an elderly lady. Since she’s a gemstone detective and since she’s stuck on the island for about a week, she decided to give it a try. The search brought her all over Puerto Rico including the island of Vieques. The story itself was a bit farfetched but still very interesting. I love Puerto Rico and it was fun to read about different areas I’ve visited. But Jemay included a lot of history and culture of the island people, which really made the book for me. Meanwhile, the story itself was quite good and I love surprise endings. I recommend this book if you enjoy mysteries or Puerto Rico. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Sea Empress is Back!

Return of the Sea Empress, by Ken Rossignoll. is a book similar to his first, The Privateer Clause, but shorter with far fewer incidents. Thank goodness! Not that the incidents aren’t interesting but his previous book in the series had far too many happenings. I still think he needs to add a bit of meat to some of the events happening on his ship. He seems to tell the reader the incident and move on to the next – not filling in the drama. Rossignoll has a few surprises for the reader in this book including a visit by the President of the United States. Again, a bit unbelievable but fun anyway. I think my favorite part is when Leopold Bryan, the President’s brother who is an actor on the ship, is sent to meet with Cuba’s Fidel Castro when the ship makes a stop there because of a storm brewing. But even here Rossignoll tells the story but doesn’t add the drama of showing it. It would be more interesting if he did. However, I think Rossignoll has wonderful ideas and is improving his style. Just fleshing out these stories a bit would make these incidents so much more fun for the reader. Keep working at it, Rossignoll, you’ve got a good thing going here. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cat and Mouse - Historical Fiction

Tim Vicary’s Cat and Mouse is an excellent historical fiction novel. And I love historical fiction. Set in 1914 in London and Ulster where two sisters live. One’s an activist fighting for the right to vote. The other is trying to be the good wife and mother but with a husband who isn’t interested in her – just in his career and the image of having a good marriage. Their two lives intertwine when the older sister Sarah is thrown into jail and the other sister Deborah is pregnant (by another man). They both have issues to resolve but they’re set in a man’s world and that world could be cruel in those days. This novel deals with the differences between the rich and poor, male dominance, childhood prostitution, political and labor issues. It’s well written and full of good historical fact. Yet at the same time, is quite easy to read and hard to put down. I highly recommend Vicary’s Cat and Mouse.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Plenty of Terror in this One!

Trial and Terror, by Adam L. Penenberg, is an interesting but rather rough mystery. Penenberg is an excellent writer - I just had a hard time with the tough language. I'm sure many will enjoy it though. It centers around Summer Neuwith, a public defender who defends a rapist despite her own rape history. He gets off and then begins to stalk Summer, knowing everything about her. Add to this, the prosecutor is killed and Summer's mother is missing. All these little sub-stories come together in the end - a very interesting end indeed. If you like mysteries you'll like this book. But if you're a prude (and maybe I am), the language may be a little bit much for you. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Too Many Disasters for One Novel!

Not to Us, by Katherine Owen is a well-written story. However, it’s simply too much – totally unbelievable. When I started reading the book I was very interested and intrigued by Ellie’s story and those around her – husband Bobby, best friend Carrie and best friend’s husband Michael. And the multiple marriages and bed-hopping. Oh, yes, their two oldest children are a “thing” also. And the 5-year-old speaks like a 16-year-old. Way beyond her years. Then tragedy hits, and hits again and again. Give me a break! Enough already. It became a chore to read yet another and then another awful thing that happened to Ellie. In rides the handsome millionaire and the story takes yet another turn. This book should have been several separate books – not one long one with so much happening to ONE person. Oh, did I mention the cancer and pregnancy? I do feel Ms. Owen is a good writer but she must trim her novels better. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Teens Will Enjoy The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back, by Sariah Wilson is an adorable novel for teen readers. It’s a cute romance story while teaching some good life lessons. Mattie, the “ugly” stepsister has been in love with Jake, the Homecoming King, since she was nine years old. Her beautiful, perfect and even nice stepsister Ella happens to be his girlfriend and Homecoming Queen, of course. Mattie is also the girl most picked on in school. Despite all this, she decides to run for President of her class. Mattie and Ella both live with Mattie’s dad after the death of Ella’s mom. But dad is oblivious to the girls and with Mattie’s sad life. He’s an artist and seems lost in his work while also pursuing the hobby of wife collection – he’s on his sixth. Mattie’s thrown into an English project with Jake. It certainly doesn’t go over well at first and Mattie’s in line for some other wisecracks and practical jokes by others in Jake’s social group. But Jake has problems of his own and eventually opens up to Mattie. This is a cute book and a good read for teenagers. The life lessons are good yet it’s kept light and can be quite humorous. I highly recommend it. I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my review.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Flynn Nailed this One!

Nailed, by Joseph Flynn is a gripping tale that takes place in the Sierra mountains. A beautiful town where the rich hide away and peace and tranquility greet each day. Until the murder! And a mountain lion attack. Then all hell breaks loose. The Chief of Police has his own issues but manages to hold up during the investigation of both of these side-by-side tales. The mountain lion continues to attack and is definitely not the typical mountain like as the young female game warden who leads the search. The murder is brutal and the search leads the police chief to the victim’s own father. Could he really have killed his own son? And in such a brutal fashion? Find out for yourself. This is a book that was truly hard to put down. If you’re into mysteries you cannot miss this read. I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my review.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Lomong Literally Runs for his Life

Running for My Life, by Lopez Lomong is one the amazing true story of Lomong’s run for survival. Kidnapped in Sudan at the age of six, his story tells about his capture, his escape, his time in a refuge camp and his eventual placement in an American home and then his race for the Olympics. It’s a heart-breaking and heartwarming story with the many ups and downs of Lomong’s life. But he’s come through it all and has since returned to him home village and to his family, while continuing to work hard for those less fortunate Lost Boys in Africa. A wonderful story that will hit you hard. Read Running For My Life.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Good Historical Novel

Promise Me This, by Cathy Gohlke, is a book of historical fiction. It begins in England in the early 1900s and sends two of the main characters off on the Titanic, one as a stowaway. They become friends but death quickly follows leaving the other with a promise to keep. And what a promise that is. Michael continues to Owen’s relatives in New Jersey where he works hard to earn money to bring Annie, Owen’s sister, to the U.S. But life and a war get in the way. A wicked aunt and a loving guardian bring this story together and make it interesting. Gohlke does a good job of covering the tragedies of the war yet gives us a little hope that all wlll end well in the end – at least for Annie and Michael. The book is well written and the historical aspects are well done and interesting. However, the wicked aunt is a bit over the top. Otherwise, I’d encourage you to read this book. I enjoyed it a great deal.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Short, Sweet and Entertaining

Southeast Asian Quartet: Robbie Cutler Stories, by William S. Shepard, is short, sweet and entertaining. This little book takes us to Singapore, Malaysia, Borneo and Indochina with a series of stories told by a group of diplomats over dinner. The stories tell about murder and a disappearance while taking the reader on a trip to exotic places. Escape your everyday life while reading this intriguing series of stories and enjoying a travelogue at the same time.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wedding Weekend with Issues

Seating Arrangements, by Maggie Shipstead is a well-written and humorous story, which takes place on a wedding/family reunion weekend on an island off New England. Affluent and spoiled, most of the characters have issues, whether they’re trying to find themselves or being available for others to find them sort of speak. Winn is the father of the bride but he spends more time trying to get into the local golf club and chasing one of the bridesmaids than donating his energy toward the wedding itself. Father of daughters, he thinks all his problems would be non-existent if only he had had a son. The daughters all have issues as do the brothers of the groom. If you’re looking for a quick read that will make you laugh, this is it. But if you’re looking for a plot of any kind, steer away. Shipstead did a good job developing this story but she only hit the surface. Enjoy the book – then move on to something a bit better.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Disappointing Adventure at Sea

The Privateer Clause, by Ken Rossignol was interesting in the first 50 pages, but soon became very repetitious. I felt the author had a bunch of short stories he wanted to tell and instead of developing one or two, he quickly told them all. One after another after another. Boring! I have to say one or two of the events in the book could have been developed well and made into an interesting mystery. But he jumped from one to another with the same heroes quickly ending each incident. Both the characters and the events of the book could have been developed better and it may have been an interesting and captive book. But, alas, it was not. The book was poorly written and in need of major editing. I received a complimentary copy for an unbiased review. I’m sorry I couldn’t give a better review – maybe Rossignol will take this criticism with an open mind and deliver a better novel next time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Quindlen's Memoir a Bit Dry

I so looked forward to sitting down to read Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, by Anna Quindlen. I’ve read her books and stories and have always enjoyed them. So I sat down with great anticipation, but I must say I was disappointed. No, her writing isn’t the problem. Well, not really. Her book is a bit dry but she is a journalist first so I can almost understand that. I felt Quindlen was speaking to us little folks from up on her pedestal. She began her career by speaking directly to the average woman but in this book she seems to be speaking DOWN to the average woman. There’s something irritating in that. And yet there’s an edge to her memoir – something like “I’ve made a great career for myself but I’m still not quite happy with life. Oh, poor me.” Don’t get me wrong. I still like Quindlen’s writing and will continue to read her work, but I just didn’t get that “feel-good” feeling with this book. I have my fingers crossed for next time though. I won’t give up on Anna Quindlen.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Read It if you Dare

Cruel Harvest, by Fran Elizabeth Grubb, is a horrible book to read. No, not the book itself but the dreadful story Ms. Grubb tells. It’s a true story of a young family all victims of the abuse of one very sick and evil man – their father and husband. It was a difficult book to read as it deals with the most evil of abuses – verbal, physical and sexual. Grubb tells the story of growing up travelling from farm to farm to work picking cotton all to feed her father’s alcoholism. Her mother and siblings were complete prisoners of her father. There was no escape, but one by one, the family did escape. This bright young child has grown into a woman with a wonderful husband and trying to reunite with her siblings. The book grabs the reader and won’t let go. I read it in one sitting. If you have the stomach for this, this is a book not to be missed.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Erik Larson Does it Again!

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, by Erik Larson, is a must read for anyone interested in history. As with his previous books, Erik has another winner with this non-fiction book of an American family living in Hitler’s Germany. It’s the story of William E. Dodd and his family as they set out to live in Berlin as Hitler is gaining power in the 1930s. I must say I tired a bit of Dodd’s daughter Martha’s many affairs, but these stories did add a lot to the scheme of things as she undoubtedly was in the midst of the happenings – blinded at first but later opening her eyes to the horror of the times. Dodd also was naïve but later realized what was happening and sent warnings home to the U.S. The book was disturbing in that there were so many blind to Hitler’s goals. How did the world not see? I highly recommend In the Garden of Beasts. I look forward to reading Larson’s next book as he makes history so interesting.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gregg's Cross is Slightly Pickled

My Cross to Bear, by Gregg Allmann tells all, but definitely from Gregg’s point of view. We all know he spent a good deal of his life on drugs and alcohol. Hence, that point of view is rather pickled, to say the least. He has some interesting stories and a bunch of disappointing and well-known events – all with his own personal point of view thrown in. Again, swayed by all that drugging and boozing over the years. One thread throughout the book is that he was completely affected by the death of his brother Duane. I give him credit for getting it all down in book form, but I do believe he could have done better. Maybe some stories need to be looked at again with a little more truth and not necessarily just from his skewed point of view. I did enjoy reading about his younger years in military school and living in Florida. If you’re into the Allmann Brothers, you may well enjoy this book.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Don't Bother

Only the Truth, by Pat Brown, a murder mystery. And, well, that’s probably the best thing I can say about it. It’s a story of an uneducated man who finds love. Unfortunately, his love Charlotte is supposedly a murderer and wanted criminal. Well, it eventually turns out she isn’t but it takes awhile to get to that conclusion. Without giving away the story plot, Billy Ray “investigates” on his own to find out why Charlotte isn’t what he believes her to be. He unveils the truth after being given unbelievable access to witnesses. Unbelievable may be the key word here. Only the Truth is such a disturbing and poorly written book, that I even ignored the lack of editing. This book was obviously thrown together quickly. All I can say is don’t bother.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dealing with Teens in the Crazy World

Tough Guys and Drama Queens, by Mark Gregston, is a very good guide to parenting teenagers. We’ve all been teens and know what it’s like to deal with parents. But once we have teens of our own, we kind of forget how we felt back then. We don’t want to lose control so maybe we over control or let go of the control completely. Neither works. Gregston lives with about 60 troubled teens from around the country. His program, Heartlight, is a residential counseling center in Texas. Living with and dealing with teens and their problems 24/7 is difficult work but he can report many, many success stories and few failures. So this man knows what he’s talking about I recommend this book to any parent who has a teen or a child headed that way.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Diary of a Murder

Diary of a Murder, by Jean Henry Mead, is exciting and a fast read, but it has many aspects of “this would never happen in the real world!” Dana Logan and her friend Sarah arrive in Wyoming after hearing of Dana’s sister Georgi’s suicide. Dana doesn’t believe her sister could end her own life and the amateur investigation begins. The prime suspect is Georgi’s husband Rob. But they can’t go to the sheriff who is Rob’s brother and apparently corrupt. So they investigate on their own. Sarah soon becomes ill (possibly poisoned) and Dana finds herself on her own while Sarah recuperates in the hospital. Suddenly, the housekeeper and probably girlfriend of Rob ends up the victim of a hit-and-run accident. Then an investigator who Dana was finally lucky enough to tag along with ends up in trouble. Oh, it just goes on and on. Yes, it’s interesting but not terribly realistic. But if you like murder mysteries you may well enjoy this one.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Whispering" - Predictable and Lame

Whispering, by Gerrie Ferris Finger is a quick read but also has a rather predictable storyline. Set in 1921, there is a fair amount of history and the setting of the super rich and somewhat liberated women of the time was interesting. The mystery itself was vaguely solved with Cleo Snow being the instigator in asking questions. The romance was somewhat unbelievable, but once it was established it followed a predictable course. If you’re into easy romance stories, this is for you. But I prefer something with a bit more meat and better proofreading.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Exciting New Science Thriller!

Fossil River, by Jock Miller, is a science fiction thriller – the type of book I avoid like the plague. But having received a copy of Fossil River I decided to give it a try. Thought it would help me fall asleep one night. NO WAY! I was awake for hours because I couldn’t put it down. Me? Reading science fiction? Those who know me well would never believe it. Fossil River is set in Alaska’s beautiful Noatak National Park at a time when the United States’ oil is about to run out and difficulties with OPEC causes our energy supply to be on its last legs. May not be too far off, which is scary. In a last ditch effort, the government is determined to tap into a large oil deposit in the midst of Noatak. Unfortunately, as they soon learn, there’s a colony of living fossils equally determined to protect their territory. Yes, dinosaurs! The conflict is deadly. Miller fills his novel with facts and that alone makes the book very interesting to read. But he has intertwined a storyline of a decorated ex-Marine, his Inuit friend, a museum curator, and two teenagers looking for (and finding) adventure. This is a very interesting and exciting book. Read it. You won’t be sorry. But I suggest you don’t read it at night if you need your beauty sleep!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Butler Didn't Do It!

Darker By Degree, by Keri Knutson and Susan Branham, is a classic “whodunit” mystery. Hint – it wasn’t the butler! Maddie Pryce, lead character and self-made investigator, seems to have everything happen to her or around her. Talk about curiosity killed the cat! Maddie works in an old theatre when she’s not off auditioning for acting roles. The first murder occurs at this historical theatre where she ushers and does a little bit of everything. This is also where her “career” as crime investigator begins and nearly ends. Then a series of murders, break-ins, kidnappings occur all around Maddie. She has a very close encounter with murder herself. But, in the end, she helps solve the mystery and moves on toward a, hopefully, calmer and happier life. But, guessing from her personality, I doubt if her life will ever calm down. Knutson and Branham have written a good story with lots of action. Putting down the book will be the toughest thing for the reader to do. Read Darker by Degree.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Willowtree - Mystery with Golf Tips!

Willowtree, by Mike Bove is a light-hearted mystery. It kept me interested from beginning to end with intrigue and humor. Set in Arizona, near Sedona, it is a story told from Bruce DelReno’s point of view. I truly enjoyed Bruce’s description of his part of Arizona as I’ve spent a fair amount of time visiting this wonderful state. Bruce is also an avid golfer so that was fun for me also. But the mystery is what this is all about. It begins when Bruce retrieves a golf ball and ends up finding a body! After the police get involved, Bruce decides to take it upon himself to do his own investigation. As you might expect, it gets him into a bit of trouble. But in the end, the mystery is solved and the reader, along the way, has learned a great deal about Arizona, local history, and the game of golf. The book is a quick read and I read through it quickly. My biggest complaint (and yes, I’ve said this before), there needs to be a great deal of editing to make this a professional job. Why would someone with such talent for writing not get his book edited? It definitely takes away from the story – at least for me. But all in all, it’s an excellent book and I even got some good golfing tips!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

All-Pro Dad

All-Pro Dad, by Mark Merrill, is an instructional book about being a good father. But it also contains the guidance to be a good person, husband, citizen, etc., etc. Being a good father doesn’t mean providing the means for the family to live well – providing a roof over their heads and food on the table. It goes way beyond that. This book shows how giving of yourself is so much more important. And it’s difficult but can certainly be accomplished by anyone. Mark Merrill provides seven steps to accomplishing this feat. You need to know yourself, determine your purpose, motive, method, know you’re a model to your children, know your message and your master – for what you are living. The book is full of personal stories, which make reading it so much more interesting than a book that’s simply instructional. It’s organized in a step-by-step fashion and suggests questions you can ask yourself. But, interestingly, it’s never preachy.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cute Bedtime Story - I'll Follow the Moon

I’ll Follow the Moon, by Stephanie Lisa Tara and illustrated by Lee Edward Fodi, is an adorable little book for toddlers. The illustrations are excellent and the story is sweet. It’s a tale of a baby sea turtle that follows the moon to find his mother. As the author tells her story, the little turtle chants “I’m coming, Mama, I’ll see you soon. I know just how . . . I’ll follow the moon.” It’s entertaining and soothing at the same time – the perfect combination for a bedtime story. Your child will love I’ll Follow the Moon.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Taken - Give it Back!

Taken, by Debra Lee is set in a small town in Pennsylvania. Mary, a secretary in the district attorney’s office is about to tell her long-time boyfriend that she’s pregnant. But before she can do that he announces he’s leaving her for another woman. Distraught, she goes on with the pregnancy despite the arguments of her best friend who tells her childhood stories living in foster homes. The baby is born and the ex-boyfriend Kyle realizes he’s probably the father. Oh, but he’s already married with a newborn of his own, born on the same day, of course. With his own political aspirations, he helps financially but cannot have a relationship with his daughter – his wife’s decision – not his. Then it happens – the baby is snatched from the nursery one night. Mary is devastated but also deals with the haunting memories of her own brother’s kidnapping twelve years earlier. The story continues with a few twists and turns. Many subplots are formed but none have much meat to them. I feel this story was written down in outline form and then the author forgot to fill in the details. Somewhat boring and quite predictable. It’s a shame because it definitely had a good plot but no one bothered to give it the meat it deserved. And I won’t even go into the editing (or lack of editing) issue. If you have Taken on your list to read, take my advice: give it back.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Redemption, by Bran Clay with Joel Kilpatrick, is a spiritual book about Bryan, an Olympic champion in the decathlon. Raised in Hawaii and a product of a broken marriage, Bryan seemed to follow trouble. And when he wasn’t following, trouble was still out to get him. Despite drugs and violence in his life, he somehow came through it all the way to the Olympics – a totally different person. Bryan tells of all his life experiences – good and bad – from his troubled childhood to college to sponsored training and marriage. Bryan won the silver medal in 2004 and the gold in 2008. But even when he found his faith and followed a better life track, he continued to waiver in his training and routine. He almost gave up time and time again. His faith got him though it all and he definitely gives credit to God. But he didn’t always feel God was his guidance. This is a motivating story and one anyone, no matter what your faith or lack of it, would enjoy.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Solo for Teens

Solo, by Sarah Schofield, is a fun book for teenage girls. It clearly shows issues teenagers often face – moving to a new area, meeting new friends, dealing with bullying and, of course, boyfriend/girlfriend issues. Eliana Davis has to relocate to a new area because of her father’s deployment. She faces a new home, new school and new classmates and all the problems that go with a new environment. Set in Oregon, Eliana sets out to get through her year alone. She builds a wall around her but gradually is accepted by others and seems open to friendships. She’s a good student, a great athlete and dancer, and is above the petty interactions often found in the world of teenagers. Somehow Eliana is almost too perfect. Ms. Schofield creates a delightful story and a fun read for the younger set. However, I would have hoped that the editing could have been improved so that the reader doesn’t have to stop and think, “What is she saying here?” There are many small grammatical errors but they add up and are completely unnecessary. One of my biggest pet peeves is that the characters often had “desert” instead of “dessert.” Ms. Schofield is a good writer, but she must get an editor for her next book. Despite my editorial issues with Solo, I feel it’s a great story and teens will enjoy it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Kissed in Paris - Fun Book

Kissed in Paris, by Juliette Sobanet, is a fun book despite being a bit farfetched. I still enjoyed it a great deal. With only a week left before her wedding, Chloe is asked to head to Paris to handle an event while her boss is home sick. But the night before heading back to the States, she meets a man in the hotel bar. No, this is not going where you think it is. The man drugs her drink and heads back to her hotel room. She wakes up in the morning with her passport, luggage, purse and clothing gone. All that’s left is a skimpy red dress and a pair of high heels. She runs to the lobby to report the theft and the adventure begins. Julien, an undercover agent, manages to “save” her from the police officers interrogating her as if she were a suspect and not the victim. Off she goes with this mystery man on an adventure of a lifetime. She finds that her checking account has been “tapped” and realizes her engagement ring is even missing. The adventure takes her all over France from one hair-raising episode to another. After a series of close calls, Julien finally manages to get her a new passport and she flies home just days before the big event. Then she needs to face her fiancé who isn’t totally sympathetic to her woes – just to how it affects him and his career. Kissed in Paris needs some editorial work and the ending isn’t a total surprise, but it’s still a fun story and I recommend it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Defending Jacob

Defending Jacob, by William Landay is an excellent murder mystery set within the struggles of a family. Andy is an assistant district attorney in Boston. He’s called to investigate the murder of a 14-year-old boy. Life changes overnight when he’s pulled off the case because his own son Jacob is a suspect. The book shows the struggles within the family and their sudden isolation from friends and normal life. Andy and his family have to deal with the possible “murder gene” as his own father is a convicted murderer. Laurie, his wife, finds this out for the first time. The story covers the investigation and the courtroom scenes. It covers secrets and foolish actions on their parts. What would you do to defend your child? Almost anything, I’m sure. It’s a bit drawn out but it leads to an ending that is a total surprise. A shocker, you might say. I enjoyed the book and had a hard time putting it down. Read Landay’s Defending Jacob.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Inspiring Story!

By Faith, Not by Sight, by Scott Macintyre is an amazing and inspiring story. Scott Macintyre competed on American Idol but he’s wasn’t just any contestant. Scott was born blind and later diagnosed with severe illness. He was dying when he finally got a kidney transplant. But this book about a brilliant and very talented young man goes way beyond. It’s about the faith he had throughout his ordeal and about the closeness and loyalty of his family. What a beautiful story. I literally read it in one long sitting. I couldn’t put it down. Read Scott’s story – it will inspire you.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Unbroken - Haunting

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand, will haunt you. This is the story of Louis Zamperini who came from a loving family but suffered through the depression as so many others did. After a troubled youth, Louis finds his niche – running. He eventually makes it to the Olympics. His bright future is interrupted by World War II. Louis ends up in the US Air Force and flies bombers despite a fear of flying. Eventually, Louis’ luck runs out and his plane is shot down over the Pacific Ocean. He and two other men are adrift for nearly seven weeks. But when they’re rescued their battle for survival continues. They end up in a Japanese POW camp and life just gets worse and worse. Reading about the atrocities and abuse Louis and his fellow POWs endured is very difficult, but somehow I couldn’t stop reading. After the war ends and Louis returns home life continues to be difficult. Unable to run and dealing with the nightmares of war and his captivity, Louis turns to alcohol. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. He turns his life around and even returns to Japan. I seldom read war stories. They’re just not for me. But this book is so powerful I couldn’t put it down. Anyone who has any interest in history will enjoy Hillenbrand’s beautiful telling of Zamperini’s life. Don’t skip over Unbroken!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Too Funny for Words!

I’ve Got Your Number, by Sophie Kinsella is so funny, you’ll want to keep coming back for more! Poppy, the main character, is about to get married but she loses, of all things, her family heirloom engagement ring! During the crisis, her cell phone is stolen. But, luckily she finds another phone that had been tossed in a trash can. The phone belonged to a personal assistant to a very busy and, apparently cold-hearted, executive. Poppy suddenly gets involved in his life and can’t seem to get enough of the issues of both his company and his relationship with his own fiancé. Yet she can’t avoid fibbing a bit to her fiancé and his parents about the ring. Well, the story has just begun. This book is as unlikely as it is hysterical. I couldn’t stop laughing and I couldn’t put the book down until the very end. Although not terribly realistic, it was so funny that I didn’t care. Want a quick read and a big smile on your face? Read Sophie Kinsella’s I’ve Got Your Number!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Well-written History Lesson

Thomas Mallon’s Watergate: A Novel is an excellent history lesson. Having lived through that time it was very interesting to review the events of Watergate and Nixon’s resignation in one concise book. The book is very well written and brought so much back. Despite being fictional in aspects, the main history lesson is there and very well done. I felt it kept my interest but that may be because I knew the characters and the general story. Younger folks may have a tougher time with it but it’s definitely worth reading if you’re interested in getting the facts.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Sleeper

What Came Before He Shot Her, by Elizabeth George put me to sleep about midway through the book. Generally, Ms. George is an interesting writer but she missed her mark with this one. If I were to believe this story, all Black Brits have some serious issues. Luckily, I don’t believe it.

In this case, “what came before he shot her” was sad. “He” or Joel Campbell is a boy of mixed race who, along with his younger brother Toby and older sister Ness, has lost both parents – one by death and one due to mental illness. Then his grandmother ups and leaves for Jamaica leaving the three youngsters with their aunt. So Joel has a lot of baggage although he’s basically a good kid.

This book is full of repetition and boredom. Leave it be and move on to something more interesting.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Paris Wife - Wonderful!

The Paris Wife, by Paul McLain, is a beautiful, well-written novel about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. Hadley met Hemingway in 1920 when she was 28 and had given up on love and marriage. Hemingway, much younger and an immature writer stole her heart. This is the story of their relationship, marriage and years of joy, frustration and sadness. They head for Paris where they live the life of drinking and very fast living along with many artists of that time. Their group includes F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein. Eventually, this fast living catches up with them and gets their marriage into trouble. This novel is full of history. I just couldn’t put it down. Read this book and get to know the real Ernest Hemingway.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Good Read

The Marriage Pact, by M.J. Pullen, is a quick read. Although I didn’t think it would be my kind of book when I first picked it up, I have to admit it was difficult to put down. Marci, the main character, is a 30-year-old who is having an affair with a married man. She’s also struggling in her career and working as a temp while she awaits the big job opportunity. She receives an email from her best friend from college, Jake, with the attached photo of the cocktail napkin they both signed off on – it was an agreement to get married if they’re both single at the age of 30.

There’s a lot of sneaking around with her married boyfriend and a lot of heavy drinking involved. Many secrets are hidden and some finally revealed. But after a rude awakening, Marci wakes up and grows up. I won’t give any more of the story plot away, but I do think this is a book well worth reading.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Great Story Teaches about Bullying

Short or Tall Doesn't Matter At All, by William G. Bentrim, is a wonderful story about a fifth-grade girl who deals with bullying because she’s much shorter than her classmates. Elisabeth’s main nemesis is Dominique the Dominator. She picks on Elisabeth on the school bus and at school. She’s unrelenting. We’ve all been victims of bullies or maybe have bullied others. Our children need to learn the dangers of bullying and need to know how to get help if they find they are a victim. This is a great little story showing how the victim comes to the aid of the one who bullies her. And the end result is perfect! Read it to your children. Thanks, Mr. Bentrim, for another job well done!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Good History Lesson

In The Coming Revolution Dr. Richard Lee lays out what our forefathers had in mind and how our country has evolved. There’s a lot of good historical fact in this book and is definitely easy to read. However, Dr. Lee is strictly conservative in his thinking, which is fine – for him. But it may not be for others. There is definitely no middle in his estimation – extreme left or the conservative right. Part of this country’s problems lie in the fact that people do not compromise.

If you’re conservative or if you want a good history lesson, this is an excellent book. Others may find it too one-sided. I did, but I did enjoy the history.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Interesting But Over the Top

Final Price, by J. Gregory Smith is a mystery that’s good but seems to go a bit too far. Buying a car can be frustrating but in this book, it’s downright dangerous. The salesman takes out severe revenge if his customer goes elsewhere. The Chinese detective is an interesting character. Along with his “seeing” sidekick they manage to solve the crimes. The main characters are described very well. The customers are an interesting set of folks. But there are just too many of them and these “incidents” happen too quickly. Mr. Smith should have built up the suspense with each customer a bit more and have fewer of them.

Other than that, I think this is a good book if you’re into gory mysteries.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Creepy Loser

Children of the Fog, by Cheryl Kaye Tardif is a mystery, and a mighty creepy one at that. This story was beyond unbelievable! A seemingly brilliant author tricks her cheating husband into having a son. Then the son’s kidnapped by “The Fog.” Without giving away the story to those who may feel obliged to read it, I’ll just say the ending is a surprise but it’s no illogical you may find it difficult to get to the end. Don’t waste your time.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Historical Fiction Thriller

Isle Royale, by John Hamilton is historical fiction – my favorite type of book. So I was delighted when I picked it up. The story is about two families who man a lighthouse on Isle Royale in Lake Superior. They live a quiet, some may say boring, life in this desolate area. I learned a great deal of history and detail about the area as I read. The setting is 1924 and the adventure begins when a gang of bootleggers pounce on the lighthouse keeper and his family. LeBeck, the bootlegger, is the former friend of Clarence and Collene MacDougal. He’s also Collene’s former lover. He wants to take her away from this boring life on the island. Between love letters and flashbacks, the author gives much detail about the horrors of World War I.

Despite all the history, the story itself is one of adventure complete with murder and gore. The unlikely heroes of the story are two teenagers and a bunch of old men. This thriller is a bit hard to believe but the historical facts seem to be accurate. If you’re a World War I buff or want to learn more about Isle Royale, this is the book for you.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Never Smile at Strangers

Never Smile at Strangers, by Jennifer Minar-Jaynes is a story where teenagers begin to disappear in a small southern town. There are various suspects as the author manages to show the bad qualities of each of her many characters. I found myself suddenly suspecting one character after the other but I also managed to explain to myself why each was innocent. The true criminal was not one I had questioned until toward the end of the book, but there was even more of a surprise ending, which I had not expected.

I’m not into gory details and this book is full of them. But I got through those descriptions because I wanted to get to the end of the book and find out “who dunnit!” There is one major complaint and I know I’ve written about this before with other books. The typing and grammatical errors were littered throughout the book. Self-publishing is great for those who want to get their work in print in today’s tough market. But, writers, please get someone to edit your books before going to the expense and trouble of self publishing. Believe me, you’ll sell far more books if they’re not full of errors. If I wasn’t reviewing a book and it was so full of mistakes, I would have put it down long ago. And I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else.

Other than my one big complaint of grammatical and spelling errors, I can recommend this book. It’s a quick read and full of suspense.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fast but Predictable

Ryan’s Return, by Barbara Freethy, tells the story of two families in a small town. Everyone knows everyone’s business. Or so they think. There was a fair amount of suspense but with a little imagination the end result was predictable.

Years ago Ryan left town abruptly after an argument with his father Jonas. He has a love-hate relationship with both Jonas and his brother Andrew. He’s a famous photo journalist and returns to town when he receives an invitation from Kara, the president of the chamber of commerce. The story unfolds with many secrets revealed along the way.

Ryan’s Return is an easy book to read (I read it in two sittings) and entertaining. My biggest complaint is that the storyline is highly predictable. The appearance of a ghost, however, really threw me for a loop. But if you’re ready to curl up with a light book, Ryan’s Return is for you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Baby Thief

The Baby Thief, by L.J. Sellers is an intriguing mystery about what lengths some women will go to have a baby and the lengths some will go to satisfy their greedy needs. Jenna McClure visits a clinic to pursue artificial insemination. The doctor, ironically, is looking for her perfect match so she can “steal” eggs to have her own baby. She finds the perfect match in Jenna. But that’s only where the story begins. The twists and turns of this novel are intriguing but sometimes a bit unbelievable. It will definitely keep you interested.

My biggest complaint with this book is that it needs a good editor. I hope L.J. Sellers continues to write but I hope she finds a publisher who will edit her books carefully.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Beyond Molasses Creek

Beyond Molasses Creek, by Nicole Seitz, is a story of a 60-something woman who returns to her childhood home after the death of her father. She is also returning to the first and foremost love of her life. Vesey Washington, a black man who lives across the river, was a childhood friend who turned into Ally’s true love. But it was the south in a time when black/white relationships were definitely frowned upon.

The book tells of Ally’s life as she runs away from the relationship. She becomes a flight attendant and travels the world. Eventually, she has an affair and a child out of wedlock. That child is kidnapped when Ally is “finding herself” in Nepal. The novel turns to Sunila and her life in Nepal. Yes, it’s predictable – she’s Ally’s daughter.

This is an emotional story about Vesey’s life in Molasses Creek, Ally’s life travelling the world and Sunila’s difficult life as a stone cutter and how all three of their lives intertwine in the end. The book is well written but sort of predictable. If you enjoy this type of story, you will surely like Beyond Molasses Creek.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Faith and the Mafia

This Thing of Ours: How Faith Save My Mafia Marriage, by Cammy Franzese caught my attention. Unlike similar books, it also kept my attention. Cammy was a dancer and had an opportunity to dance for a movie production. Along the way she met and fell in love with Michael Franzese. Being naïve and not picking up on hints from friends, she married Michael despite his past as a member of the mob. This book tells the story of Cammy’s life raising three of their four children mostly alone while Michael served time. Despite the hardship, she and her husband remained devoted to each other. Along the way, Michael found God and his new mission in life. Cammy, although raised by a Christian Mom, took her time in following Michael’s pursuit and testimonies. She eventually did, however, find a calling talking with other young women who were dealing with similar issues in their married lives.

This is a story of faith as both Cammy and Michael, along with their four children, go through the trials of prison life and the fairness and unfairness of arrests and red tape. Despite some very difficult times, the family that nearly collapsed from time to time, has come together and continues quite intact.

Cammy Franzese’s This Thing of Ours is a quick read. It’s entertaining, educational, inspiring, and, yes, I admit it – a real tear jerker.