Friday, February 26, 2010

Lost Love Found

Lost Love Found
© 2010 by Tim Gomes

ISBN: 978-1-4401-4867-5
Publisher: iUniverse
SRP: $15.95
211 pp.

About the book: “Although two years have passed since the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dan Jagger is still fraught with grief over the loss of his wife who was killed in the crash of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. Dan buries himself in work, family, and gardening while facing the harsh reality that he may never again experience another love like Alia.

One day Dan receives a phone call from Charlene, his high school sweetheart, whom he hasn't heard from since she broke his heart and sent him into the arms of Alia. Against his better judgment, Dan agrees to meet his former lover for dinner and soon learns that Charlene has lived a sordid life—twice married to a drug dealer and incarcerated herself. Despite all he has learned, Dan becomes involved with Charlene once again, setting in motion a course of events that leaves him vulnerable to danger. As he is unwillingly drawn into life-threatening scenarios executed by Charlene's former husband, an ex-convict focused on revenge, Dan receives the shocking news that his only son, an Army Reservist, has gone missing in Iraq.

As fear, unease, and peril surround Dan, he must act decisively before he loses everything he has ever loved.”

I think most romance fans will like this book. I liked the plot, it was interesting enough I wanted to know what happened, and it had a different ending, but there were several things that detracted from the story for me. There were too many acronyms which all had to be explained (CIB, CO, FSB, RTO, OCS, FNG, NVA, LZ, VC, FNG, PO, PTO, DEA, CONUS among others), too many street names every time the characters went somewhere (who cares about street names?), and I just didn’t think the main character was too believable. Yes, he was a great guy but how many people these days think it’s terrible to date after your wife has been dead for 2 years? And I wondered how he ever became such a business success when he let people walk over him like he did when it came to Charlene. AND, how many sons could walk into their dad’s home and bedroom unannounced, catch them in bed with a girlfriend, and the dad doesn’t react? Just not very believable to me but please remember, this is just MY opinion.

This book was provided to me for review by Bostick Communications and Tim Gomes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


© 2010 by Michael Cogdill

ISBN: 978-1-60037-702-0 (paperback)
Publisher: Morgan-James Publishing
SRP: $24.95
345 pp.

First, I have to say the author’s choice of title threw me. I guess he expected that since he gives a definition in the front of the book. “She-Rain. Scraps of fog, adrift on the ridges of Appalachia. It appears as lacy mist blown off the clouds of a high-mountain rainy day. The expression comes from the lexicon of folklore. I heard it during my early boyhood from my grandmother, Dovie Ella Crowe Keys, who adored and seemed to draw peace from the sight of it. “A little tear off a heaven gown. Fine as it can be. A little lace off the rain.”

About the book: “In the early 20th century, a pair of North Carolina mountain children sow the seed of a love that becomes their only solace in the hard yet beautiful world they know. They grow it from steep ground of poverty, ignorance, and violence. A landscape so brutal it can kill hope before claiming life.

Bloodshed years later finally sends Frank Locke on the run, deep into wilderness, abandoning his extraordinary love, Mary Lizbeth. When a whitewater river washes this desperate soul into the hands of Sophia, he discovers a luminous woman steeped in mystery, trapped in a tragically brilliant life. Far ahead of her time. Secreted from the world. As she awakens Frank’s mind, they rise to meet a love that binds three people for a lifetime.

This love triangle forms a beauty no one sees coming. From the wilds of Appalachia, crossing nearly a century, it runs deep into a lush American fortune, and lives in letters of adoration and hope of the least expected.

In a rhapsody of Southern voices, mingling hilarity and sorrow, She-Rain speaks of lives soaring beyond heartbreak, fundamentalism, and self-destruction. Through the most graceful longing, two women in love with one man ultimately prove the power of human hearts to answer high callings. They show us all how to heal – and thrive – to the very end.”

If you are a fan of Southern novels, stories of redemption and survival, you will like this book. Coghill’s portrayal of a southern mill town full of people struggling to eke out a living in the 1930’s is very vivid. Add to this the racial intolerance of the times, illiteracy, and domestic abuse. In all this chaos, Frank finds love and hope. The lessons Sophia and Mary L. teach Frank about friendship, love, respect, compassion, and tolerance help him as he tries to overcome a childhood of poverty and abuse. The book was excruciatingly sad at times and the plot turned in ways I didn’t expect towards the end but altogether it was an enjoyable story.

Michael Cogdill, the author, grew up in North Carolina and does a wonderful job setting the scenes of his book. He also had an abusive, alcoholic father (who later achieved sobriety) and was able to add so much realism to the character of Frank’s drug-addicted father.

This book was provided for review by FSB Associates.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Simple Plan

A Simple Plan
© 1993 by Scott B Smith

ISBN: 0-312-95271-6
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
417 pp.

About the book: “Two brothers and a friend find $4 million in the cockpit of a downed plane. The pilot is dead. No one is looking for the money. To keep it, all they have to do is wait. It all sounded so simple…

But from the moment their plan is set in motion, Hank Mitchell’s well-ordered life spins out of control, sending him on a downward spiral of deceit, treachery, and blackmail – total chaos leading to the unthinkable…cold-blooded murder. Doomed keep the secret of the money safe, Hank will kill and kill again, helped by the most calculating accomplice of all – his pregnant wife, Sarah.
 A Simple Plan plunges you into the world of a seemingly rational man whose descent into madness and murder will chill you to the bone. A masterpiece of psychological suspense, it will leave you wondering how far YOU would go to hold onto a dream.”

This story starts out innocently enough as Hank, Jacob, their friend Lou, and Jacob’s dog are headed to the cemetery. They swerve to miss a fox, the dog goes after the fox, and the men go after the dog. They find a lot more than they expected when they come across the downed plane. When they find a duffle with more than $4 million all in $100 bills, it doesn’t take long for them to make plans to keep it. Hank, the only educated one of the three, decides to hold the money for 6 months and if no one finds out they have it, then they’ll split it up. Can you imagine living your life wondering each and every day if someone is going to find out you have over $4 million stashed under your bed? Who would you trust? Lou has gambling debts and doesn’t want to wait 6 months. Jacob wants to buy back the family farm and stay in the area with his share. Can Hank hold things together long enough to spend the money? There is a wonderful  twist at the end that finished the book off well. After reading this book, all I can say is, if you find something, give it back! Money may not buy happiness, but it can certainly buy a lot of hell.
This book was a flea market find. ( FYI, the cover pictured is different than my copy.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dolores Claiborne

I am finally caught up on my review books and while I’m waiting for more to arrive, it gives me a chance to read some of the books I picked up at flea markets last year. Here is the first one.

Dolores Claiborne
© 1993 by Stephen King

ISBN: 0-671-84452-7
Publisher: Penguin Group
SRP: 23.50
305 pp.
About the book: “By her own account she’s an old Yankee bitch, Dolores Claiborne: foul temper, foul mouth, foul life. Folks on Little Tall Island have been waiting for thirty years to find out just what happened on the eerie dark day her husband, Joe, died – the day of the total eclipse. The police want to know what happened yesterday, when rich, bedridden Vera Donavan, the island’s grande dame sans merci and Dolores’s longtime employer, died suddenly in her care.

With no choice but to talk, Dolores Claiborne talks up a storm. “Everything I did, I did for love, “ she says, and this spellbinding novel is at once her confession and her defense. Given a voice as compelling as any in contemporary fiction, her story centers on a disintegrating marriage’s molten core, where the mind’s unblinking eye becomes huge with hate and a woman’s heart turns murderous. It unfolds the strange intimacy between Dolores and Vera, and the link that binds them. It shows, finally, how fierce love can be, and how dreadful its consequences. And how the soul, harrowed by the hardest life, can achieve a kind of grace.”

For me, this book didn’t fit the usual Stephen King mode. There was nothing supernatural or chilling about it, and no real plot surprises, but it did tell a good tale. It was also written in a different way with no chapters, just the entire book with Dolores at the police station telling what happened concerning the death of both her husband many years ago and her employer yesterday. Good story as expected of Stephen King.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Warrior: Brotherhood of the Sword

The Warrior: Brotherhood of the Sword
© 2007 by Kinley MacGregor

ISBN: 978-1-06-079667-9
Publisher: Avon Books (Harper Collins)
SRP: $6.99
344 pp.

About the book: “Lochlan MacAllister was born to lead. Ruthlessly groomed to take control of his clan, he has given his life to his people. But when he learns that the brother he thought was dead might still be alive, he embarks on a quest to find the truth.
 Catrina wants a life of freedom. But now Catrina’s royal father wants to use her as a pawn to ensure a treaty between conflicting lands,. So much so that he’s willing to kidnap his daughter to force the issue. But when she escapes, fate throws her into the path of a man she loathes.

Lochlan is stunned to find the shrewish Cat being hauled away by unknown men. Unwilling to see even her suffer, he frees her only to learn that she has her own demons to fight. When their fates intertwine, two people who know nothing of trust must rely on each other, and two enemies who have vowed their eternal hatred must find common ground, or see their very lives shattered.”

I don’t usually read historical romance but I won this from The Book Trib. (They have a daily and a weekly giveaway. Check them out if you haven’t yet.)

Lochlan and Catrina are two very strong personalities. Lochlan is a Scottish laird who does his best to take care of his clan and prove to people that he’s not the drunken, cruel womanizer his father was. Catrina is a strong-willed princess who wants the freedom to choose her own way of life. When Lochlan rescues her from her won father’s kidnappers, sparks fly. This was a fun read and the conclusion was heart-stopping.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

We have a winner!

Wow! There were 33 qualifying entries for the Michael Palmer contest!  Thank you to everyone who entered.

I assigned each entry a number (including 3 extra for Mindy by referral) in order of the posts and then had Jim choose a number. He chose #2 so the winner is Karen K….congratulations! I’ve emailed Karen and she has 48 hours to respond. If I don’t hear from her within that time, I’ll select an alternate winner.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cult Insanity

Cult Insanity
A Memoir of Polygamy, Prophets, and Blood Atonement
© 2009 by Irene Spencer

ISBN: 978-0-446-53819-0
Publisher: Center Street, a division of Hachette
SRP: $24.99
330 pp.

About the book: "In Shattered Dreams, Irene Spencer told the devastating story of her arduous life in a polygamous fundamentalist Mormon sect, sharing her husband with nine other women (and fifty-six children) in abject poverty and intense mental and emotional anguish. As harrowing as the story was, it was only just the beginning.

Cult Insanity delves deeper into her story, focusing on the terrifying acts of Ervil LeBaron, her brother-in-law and a self-proclaimed prophet who determined he had been called to set the house of God in order.

The older brother of Irene’s husband Verlan, Ervil LeBaron had a zeal for living and teaching that was at first admired but soon took on a sinister tone. Ervil’s ambitions quickly turner lethal when he uncovered a doctrine concerning blood atonement – the act of redeeming a sinner’s soul by taking his or her life. Seeing himself as God’s avenger, he used the role as a means to terrorize and destroy those who challenged him.

Irene quickly became enveloped in a dark cloud of fear and anguish. Survival for herself and her ever-growing family turned into a constant flight from one desert camp to another across the harsh badlands of Baja, California. Food was scarce and living conditions abhorrent. Irene didn’t see her husband for months, never knowing if Ervil would make good on his vow to kill him.”

Cult insanity is right! Ervil LeBaron was like so many others who see themselves as the one true leader – egotistical, charismatic, and deadly, and he was doing it all in the name of God. If the scriptures didn’t work for him, he would turn them around to meet his needs. Exceptions were always made when it came to him because he made the rules, and heaven help you if you disagreed with him.

Irene Spencer grew up in a fundamentalist Mormon family believing plural marriage was okay. She willingly became Verlan LeBaron’s second wife and sister-in-law to Ervil,  but she had no way of knowing what the future held for her and her family. Her account of what took place in the Mexican desert is truly frightening because things like this continue to take place. Ervil LeBaron was no better than Charles Manson but everything he did, he did under the guise of doing God’s will.

Ms. Spencer now lives with her second husband in California. I wish the book would have told a little more about how she got on with her life.

I won this book from Luxury Living. Thanks again Vera!