Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Dance of the Spirits, by Catherine Aerie

Love can still be found even during a war

Set in the period of the Korean War we follow the lives of two people who will be drawn together through circumstance and find that they get more than they thought possible.

Jasmine is a Chinese citizen who grew up in a wealthy family and found their wealth destroyed with the advance of Chairman Mao and the Communist. She was studying to be a doctor and found that it took every last penny of their money to get her education completed because of the change in Economics. Eventually Jasmine volunteers to join the military as a doctor so that her family will be safe from harm, if she is a good volunteer the local communist will leave her family alone.

Wesley on the other hand is an American Serviceman who is smart, handsome, tall, muscular and an officer (Lieutenant). He is brave, courageous and resourceful. He is everything the U.S. Military wants in an officer.

Jasmine on the other hand is not want the Chinese Military truly wants. She serves in a POW camp treating wounded and captured United Nations Soldiers. Because she shows care and compassion and even finds medicine on her own she is reprimanded by her leaders for giving too much aid to the enemy. As a punishment and to re-train her thinking she is sent to the front lines of the war.

Through a series of events Wesley saves Jasmine's life. He rescues her and brings her to a Military hospital where they discover that she is a doctor and speaks fluent English and Chinese. She is given the task to help treat captured Korean and Chinese soldiers as well as serve some of the United Nations personnel.

The story unfolds the cruelty of the Chinese Communist take over of China. In a lengthy dissertation our author points out quite well how the upper class Chinese were forced out of power, robbed of their wealth, and replaced by the working class as the leaders. It wasn't fair and it wasn't always gentle. Even local Pastor's were treated terribly.

Wesley and Jasmine fall in love. But what can happen when they are from different sides in the conflict (yeah, Korea was never a war, just a conflict). Can they find happiness? Will they be able to remain together? Or will their love tear them apart and force each to loose themselves in the war and not care about their own well-being?

My only criticism of the writing is that Catherine has extremely long chapters. They could better be seen as Sections and the Sections broken down into shorter Chapters. Now, don't get me wrong, there is nothing bad about this, but our current culture is fast paced, quick snippets, as driven into us by television and the short time periods. Catherine is a classic writer, but just know that you are going to have some long Chapters. But don't get discouraged.

The writing is so well done that you will find yourself reading for hours without any desire to put the book down.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Maybe One Day, by Melissa Kantor

Olivia and Zoe are sophomores in high school and have been in the same dance/ballerina classes together since they were little kids. Everything has been done together. So, the day comes that the New York Ballet Club announces to the girls that they are through, they are being cut from the program. This isn't just a bump in the road it is a roadblock that says, Ballet is not for you.

How will the girls react? Zoe throws away all her ballerina stuff, Olivia though goes to a rec center for poor children and starts teaching a ballet class. Which girl handles it best? Well, that's a good question. Just one of many good questions that the book will bring up.

As most teen novels this one will deal with the issues of friendship, bullies, cheerleaders gone wrong, athletes who are snobs, geeks who no one seems to get and then the two ballerinas who spend every waking minute going to school then going to dance and dance and dance some more.

How will the girls handle the rejection of the NYBC? How will their lives change? How will they explain to friends? How will they deal with a crush on a boy that is "off limits"? All these subjects pull together to make a great read.

Add to that one of the girls coming down with Leukemia. That adds a new dimension to the story. How they deal with it is what brings the joy in reading and learning and thinking, how would I handle this situation.

Your teen will enjoy the book and it will bring up many good life lessons to talk about.

No spoilers here, just read and enjoy and let your emotions go along for the ride and see where they take you.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mystery, Child Abduction and a Love Story, all in one.

What an interesting Ruth Galloway novel.  As always Elly Griffiths writes an amazingly good novel that weaves several themes together to draw Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson back together.  Ruth is doing a dig at a location where they believe they have unearthed the infamous Jemima Green a woman hanged about 150 years earlier for allegedly killing off the young children in her care.

DCI Nelson is on the case of a missing child who may or may not have been abducted by his "childminder." Nelson, Judy, Clough and Tim are trying their hardest to solve the case before the child dies. They do work out the case only to have another child go missing.  This is Judy's child.  So now the team is on the search to find one of their own.

Now, why do I say that love is in the air?  Well, Griffiths introduces Frank Barker, an historian, from the United States.  He has come to help with the filming of a documentary on Jemima Green.  He and Ruth are going to be filmed.  But funny thing, he and Ruth hit it off and there is a good tension between them.  Frank a widower and Ruth the unattached who has never looked for attachment.

Then there is Cathbad and Judy.  Their love tension rises again and starts to get more of the story line. Oh, and there is always the love between DCI Nelson and his wife and yet his love for his daughter, Kate, who is Ruth's child.

All in all the writing is vintage Griffiths and the story will draw you in and keep you reading until the very end.

I don't want to say more because I might spoil things for you.  This is a great read.  Enjoy.

If you haven't read Griffiths works before you might want to start with one of the earlier books so that you get to know the Characters better before diving into this one, just a thought :)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Another Crime Novel with a Vigilante - really good, really intriguing, well written

Alan Brenham writes with a clear distinct style that invites the reader in and keeps them turning pages until they are satisfied with the end result (which doesn't happen until the end of the book, which is nice since some writers forget that). His research is excellent on police procedure and his study of human nature is without flaw. He captures both well and his writing educates you while also entertaining you.

Jason Scarsdale, the detective, is a frustrated depressed man. He lost his wife five weeks earlier when she was killed in a car accident (which he thinks was his fault). He lost a slam dunk case against a pedophile when the jury let him off with a not guilty verdict (actually it is the DA's office who lost the case). Now the question he has is this, do I commit suicide because of my grief and pain over the loss of my wife, or do I continue to live so that I can provide for my five year old daughter and not rob her of both parents?

Then enter Dani Mueller, the police profiler. She also is overcoming grief. She lost her 10 year old daughter to a pedophile who also got off free and clear two years earlier. But she didn't take the loss lying down. Instead she waited, found her courage (if you can call it that) and with a thrust of a knife found the revenge that she wanted. Now she thinks she should do the same for the Crowley family who lost their daughter and watched the criminal walk free.

The two lives, Scarsdale and Mueller, intersect over this case. They get to know each other and develop a relationship that is convoluted by the details of their lives, and especially by the fact that Dani wanted to kill Lastier, the criminal, and Scarsdale is trying to find who actually did kill Lasiter.

Brenham builds the suspense of the story masterfully. He continues to build that suspense, chapter after chapter and further delves into the issue of pedophiles and the pain they inflict not just on their victims, but also on their victims families.

The book is well worth the small $2.99 Kindle price. You'll have an enjoyable few days digesting the story.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Vigilante by Kerry Wilkinson

Someone is on the prowl and killing off the "scum" of the earth. This delights some, including some police officers, but disturbs others. Our Vigilante is someone who is taking the lives of criminals who appear to have beaten the system and gotten off free and clear. But the amazing thing is that the DNA samples that are picked up from the victims point towards a man that is already behind bars.

How can our vigilante be a man who is already in prison serving a life sentence? That is what drives detective Jessica Daniel's crazy. All the DNA points towards McKenna, a man behind bars. So, Daniel's sets out to prove that he is the killer. Somehow he is getting out and killing these people and then getting back into prison.

Is a guard helping him to do this? Or has he dug a tunnel? Or is he maybe being framed? These are all questions that Daniels has to answer and she is doing her best to work on this.

Wilkinson takes us on a wild ride trying to determine who the hunter/killer is. The usual DNA match that would definitely prove someone is guilty of a crime is is disturbing as it points to a present inmate and it appears after investigation that said inmate has not been able to get out of prison and do these crimes.

To up the ante in this game the killer "accidentally" kills Daniel's friend Corrie Jones. Is this because Corrie is a criminal herself or is it just being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Daniel's is also dating for the first time in forever. Her date is one of the lab scientist who is working on the case. How will she and Adam get along? Will the case mess with their relationship?

Wilkinson weaves a solid story through the many issues he will explore. Those issues are good detective work, DNA samples and how they are used and/or abused. Also through the story we find lying, deceit, manipulation and love. All these set in motion the story and it is a good one.

I believe you will thoroughly enjoy the writing. Our writer is new to us in America, but proven in his home country of the United Kingdom. So, this is not a first time author with first time author mistakes. He is accomplished and has developed his craft well. You will enjoy every minute of this Detective Novel.