Saturday, June 13, 2015

Book Review: Journal 97 The Case Notes of E.R. Satz :The Right Side by Ben Kotyuk

Journal 97 The Case Notes Of E.R.Satz: The Right SideJournal 97 The Case Notes Of E.R.Satz: The Right Side by Ben Kotyuk
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I got a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

The book reads like a myth or fairy tale. Third person point of view. Straight forward action. No hints of deeper motivations. The characters, Vladoff and Yuri, are likable and simple. There are hints dropped throughout the story of the ending, but somehow I still found it to be a surprise.

The narrator is E.R. Satz, a theoretical historian. And the book are notes from one of his journals. It is a clever frame story to present the heart of the story, how Vladoff and Yuri found a place to settle down.

There is much humor in the book. The town that runs on brussel sprouts, the smell they leave, and the knee water that plagues them. You laugh, but even as you laugh you are caring for the characters.

The only negative I have to mention was resolved by the end of the book. It seemed to be getting long and going nowhere in particular. When I got to the end and reread that it was a book of theoretical history, it all fell into place and I laughed at myself for not remembering that as I read.

It is not a deep novel, but it is humorous. It is an easy read and rather enjoyable. Not something I would normally gravitate toward, but I'm glad I did.


View all my reviews


Seeing the price of $2.99 on Amazon makes me like the book even more!!


Journal 97 The Case Notes Of E.R.Satz: The Right Side Kindle Edition

  • File Size: 3870 KB
  • Print Length: 101 pages
  • Publisher: Kelley Lee McDonald; 1 edition (January 29, 2015)
  • Publication Date: January 29, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Tie That Bound Us: The Women of John Brown's Family and the Legacy of Radical Abolitionism

The Tie That Bound Us: The Women of John Brown's Family and the Legacy of Radical AbolitionismThe Tie That Bound Us: The Women of John Brown's Family and the Legacy of Radical Abolitionism by Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweeping and widely encompassing account of how John Brown's actions and beliefs affected the women closest to him. There is so much information about ore Civil War and post Civil War abolitionism. I feel like I have a handle on societal issues surrounding abolitionism. I also feel like I have seen into the daily lives and struggles of these some that influenced them into becoming complicated people with the heavy weight of their collective past.

I must say that this was a hefty book to get through. I'm glad I kept at it and finished, but it took me awhile.


View all my reviews

And a thank you to NetGalley for the free copy. I really am reviewing it!

One thing I want to make very clear is that this is an intellectual book. It is written by a professor and reads like a book for students. That is one reason it took me over a year to read it. I am not that great at academic reading. However, this one is so full of great details and insights that I couldn't give up on it either. I really did enjoy it. If you decide to pick it up, there is so much you will learn! Just be prepared to take your time.

I just found out that the author is a professor at EIU, my alma mater! Go Panthers! By the writing in this book, I can tell she is a great academic and probably an awesome professor.


Buy new  $28.15


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1 edition (August 6, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801451612

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Shadow Ritual by Eric Giacometti

Shadow RitualShadow Ritual by Eric Giacometti
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley for the free review copy.

The good guys are right and the bad guys are evil personified. They are chasing an ancient secret that had been lost to humanity. We all know the good guys win. In typical good guy fashion saved at the last minute by a minor character that proves to be a valued friend. The bad guys were brutal and the good guys were philosophical. I didn't really buy their philosophy, but that didn't detract from the overall book. The overt effort to make Freemasons into knowledge gathering heroes was a bit odd. However if you look at it like a superhero story, then it fits the pattern. Not a favorite, but not a regret in reading it either.


View all my reviews

My first impression as you can see was 3 stars. However this is another book that I wish I could give half stars too. This is really a 3 1/2 star book. I enjoyed reading it. I enjoyed the characters passion for history. It was brutal at times and I didn't really like that. It didn't make me stop reading as some have though.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading a well crafted book in which I knew the good guy was going to win. Sometimes you want to be assure that the ending is worth the reading. This one definitely was.


Buy New
 $13.56

Product Details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Le French Book (March 25, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1939474302

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Medium Dead by Paula Paul: A Book Review

Medium Dead: An Alexandra Gladstone MysteryMedium Dead: An Alexandra Gladstone Mystery by Paula Paul
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The good-

I loved the way she wrote a tension between science and spiritual beliefs. The idea of modern medicine and knowledge of body functions is new to many in this small English town. It really put this novel in the right time period.

The race at the end to catch the killer and keep everyone safe was great. It is not often that you can get that effect in a novel as you do on TV. Ms. Paul did and I am impressed.

The bad -

The characters were so focused on how it couldn't be one character that they weren't really looking for the murder. They were looking for ways to exonerate the one. It seemed like half the novel was obsessed with this. It was overdone and very annoying.

The main characters of Alexandra, Nancy, and Nicholas were not terribly memorable. I didn't dislike them, but I didn't really like theme either. I just didn't have a strong sense of who they were. That by itself wouldn't have bothered me too much, but that and the obsession with exoneration almost made me rate it at 2 stars.


View all my reviews


Product Details

  • Print Length: 177 pages
  • Publisher: Alibi (April 14, 2015)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English

Book Description

 April 14, 2015
Sure to delight readers of Jacqueline Winspear, Emma Jameson, and Laura Childs, Medium Dead features Queen Victoria herself—and she’s rumored to have slain a local psychic in Newton-upon-Sea. Now the task of clearing her name and catching the real killer falls to Dr. Alexandra Gladstone.Under Victoria’s reign, women are barred from calling themselves physicians, but that hasn’t stopped Alexandra Gladstone. As the first female doctor in Newton-upon-Sea, she spends her days tending sick villagers in the practice she inherited from her father, with her loyal and sometimes overprotective dog, Zack, by her side.

After the corpse of village spiritualist Alvina Elwold is discovered aboveground at a church boneyard, wild rumors circulate through the charming seaside village, including one implicating a certain regal guest lodging nearby. Tales of the dead Alvina hobnobbing with spirits and hexing her enemies are even more outlandish—but as a woman of science and reason, Alexandra has no doubt that a murderer made of flesh and blood is on the loose.

Finding out the truth means sorting through a deluge of ghostly visitors, royal sightings, and shifty suspects. At least her attentive and handsome friend Nicholas Forsyth, Lord Dunsford, has come to her aid. Alexandra will need all the help she can get, because she’s stumbled upon dangerous secrets—while provoking a deadly adversary who wants to keep them buried.


Kindle Price:$2.99

Night by Elie Wiesel: A Book Review


Night (The Night Trilogy, #1)Night by Elie Wiesel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An intimate portrait of what one man experienced in the Holocaust. He didn't add in other bits of history that he didn't experience, so if you are looking for a sweeping summary of all parts of the Holocaust, look elsewhere. I LOVED his extremely small focus. We hear one man's story of horror. We find out the true depths of horror that humanity will put itself through. I felt sick at my stomach in a several places. There are no easy answers and no tidy endings. This is simply what he went through.

In the face of the worst horrors of humanity, what is our response? Too often it is cowardice. We are not alone. Elie discovered the coward within himself. It was honest and gut wrenching. I found myself discovering my own cowardice as well. This is a life changing novel.


View all my reviews


Book Description

 February 7, 2012
A New Translation From The French By Marion Wiesel

Night is Elie Wiesel's masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. This new translation by Marion Wiesel, Elie's wife and frequent translator, presents this seminal memoir in the language and spirit truest to the author's original intent. And in a substantive new preface, Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man's capacity for inhumanity to man.

Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; Revised edition (January 16, 2006)
  • Language: English

Buy New
 $6.00

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Asylum by Madeline Roux: A Book Review

Asylum (Asylum, #1)Asylum by Madeleine Roux
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There was potential for lots of greatness in the book. The back story that the characters were discovering was great. However, the characters themselves were unimpressive. Their personal "secrets" were overblown and took away from the story. The pictures were cool but added very little to the novel. There were too many questions left unanswered and the ones that were answered were too quickly answered. The characters didn't discover the answers. The answers just fell in their laps. And some of the answers didn't make sense.

There are two more books and two novellas in this series. Maybe more answers will be given in those. However, I doubt it considering the reviews I have read. And the fact that there are two novellas needed to further explain what is going on makes me very skeptical of the "main" novels.

This is a YA novel, so maybe I shouldn't be so hard on it. Some YA novels hold adult appeal and some don't. This doesn't. In my opinion, Miss Peregrine's is a better YA novel. And Carol Goodman's books are much better for creepy locations full of dark history that is being resolved in the present.

If I was a teen, I think I would have enjoyed this book a whole lot more.


View all my reviews

Amazon information:

Book Description

 August 20, 2013
Madeleine Roux's New York Times bestselling Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-illustrated novel that Publishers Weekly called "a strong YA debut that reveals the enduring impact of buried trauma on a place." Featuring found photographs from real asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Asylum is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity, perfect for fans of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, the New Hampshire College Prep program is the chance of a lifetime. Except that when Dan arrives, he finds that the usual summer housing has been closed, forcing students to stay in the crumbling Brookline Dorm—formerly a psychiatric hospital. As Dan and his new friends Abby and Jordan start exploring Brookline's twisty halls and hidden basement, they uncover disturbing secrets about what really went on here . . . secrets that link Dan and his friends to the asylum's dark past. Because Brookline was no ordinary mental hospital, and there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.


Product Details

  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (August 20, 2013)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English

Buy New  $6.31



DISCLAIMER:
I read this book for my own enjoyment. I did not receive any perks from reviewing this novel. I linked to Amazon simply because that was the easiest place to find the information.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Stranger Bridge Strikes Again

I was challenged to write a 1500 word story based on this photo. (I went over that a little.) Enjoy!



He pulled the collar of his coat up. Not to keep out the cold, but to keep out the dark. As a ‘big city kid’, which was his nickname here in Chambliss, ‘suburbanite kid’ would have been better, but they didn't know the difference, he wasn't used to the pervasive unlit darkness. He continued putting one foot in front of another and moving forward until he saw a warm light ahead. He knew it to be the Stranger Bridge. It was one of his favorite thinking spots. The wild stories he had heard could provide an endless amount of inspiration for the play he was writing.

He found it odd that the bridge should be both celebrated and feared. The end of September would bring the Covered Bridge Festival or so he was told. He would eventually arrive at the end of September when his skills as artistic director of the Arrgus County Playhouse would be put to the test on that cold autumn day. He didn't know that yet. He couldn't know that yet. So in the meantime, he would go to the Stranger Bridge with regularity and dream up stories for the names he saw carved into its wooden beams. Some of those stories would end up in his writing. Others would end up crumpled and tossed into the mental wastebin of bad ideas.

Richard Flitner had accepted the position as artistic director of the Arrgus County Playhouse a few months earlier. The phone interview had gone well, the website, and Facebook page looked good, and he was desperate leave teaching. The life of an actor was too unpredictable, so he had gone into teaching for stability. The life of a teacher was overwhelming and exhausting. So he started looking for another job. He waited tables and sold shoes to pay the bills until his job came along. He still couldn’t believe his good luck at landing this position. He wasn’t excited about moving 12 hours away from home to a town that was smaller than the high school he attended, but the chance to have a stable position in a theater was too good to pass up. He would make the sacrifices necessary to make it work. And sacrifice he would.

Winter turned into spring which turned into summer. Late nights of rehearsals and early mornings with the books became his normal routine. A successful season had endeared him to several theater patrons and ensured his continued career at the playhouse. As summer was drawing to a close and the leaves were beginning their autumnal fashion show, the county began to gear up for the Covered Bridge Festival. The Stranger Bridge was always the star but several other bridges around would be featured. He was asked to procure period era costumes foe the tour guides to wear. He also volunteered to help with their voice and diction. There had been many rehearsals and a few meltdowns, but as the last Thursday of September approaches, Chambliss was ready to welcome the tourists. Richard’s welcome would run out and he would sacrifice his beloved career to save the town he would grow to hate.

The first Saturday of the Covered Bridge Festival began clear and sunny. The weather had a hint of chill creating the perfect day for touring the bridges, buying souvenirs, and eating lots of Chambliss delicacies. The crowds were large and the atmosphere festive. Richard was beginning to understand how people could so love this town. He greeted his neighbors as he left his rental house and walked toward the town square. He passed a horse drawn wagon full of tourists. He heard his favorite tour guide, Minny Franklin, explaining the history and architecture of the bridges. The hour long tour had just started and they would soon be coming to the White Creek Bridge. The tour always ended with the star attraction, the Stranger Bridge.

He meandered into town and shopped for various souvenirs to send home to his nieces and nephews. He bought an apple strudel from the Anderson sisters. He bought a fall spice cappuccino from The Coffee House. He chuckled remembering Sandy’s diatribe against pumpkin spice. He found an open bench and began eating. The food was cozy and warm. He enjoyed watching the crowd until he spotted the mayor in the crowd glaring at him. A second later the mayor was gone and Richard assumed he had been seeing things. He attempted to forget the look and finish his breakfast peacefully. He tried to imagine what he could have done to incur that look and couldn’t. He sat there thinking and pondering much longer than he had intended. He realized this when Minny sat down next to him.

“Hey Richie. Why so serious? Today is beautiful. The tourists are plenty and the cash is flowing.”

“I didn’t see you get back from your tour.” He said managing a smile. “I got lost in thought.”

“Well save such serious thoughts for later. We need our fearless director to be happy.”

“I’ll do my best.” He responded patting her on the knee.

“Why Richie, look at you getting fresh with me.” She said falling back into character. “Whatever am I going to do with such an unrepentant cad?”

He laughed and shook his head.

She winked at him. “If you keep this up, I will expect nothing less than an offer of marriage.”

“Well that’s a fine idea Miss Minny.” Richard said joining her character. “I would be proud if your father would allow me to have your hand in marriage.”

She leaned over, broke character, and whispered, “Then I could finally get you in the sack you sexy beast.”

An eruption of laughter from deep in his gut followed. “You always keep me guessing.”

“Yep. I have a tour starting in an hour will you be on it?”

“No other place I would rather be.”
*********************************
“The Stranger Bridge gained its moniker many years ago. In the time of our great-great-great grandparents a stranger came in to town and was welcomed with open arms. This stranger lived among them for many months. He even came to love the prominent daughter in town. On the wedding day, the stranger was caught stealing from the family. He ran from the house and toward the barn. To the surprise of everyone present, the bride was with him on the horse! The happy criminal couple rode towards escape with many townspeople on their heels. As they crossed over the old Arrgus River Bridge, the bag of loot fell from the horse and into Arrgus River. The money and jewels were recovered, the couple was never heard from again, and the town was saved. A new bridge was built to remind them to not trust romancing strangers.” Minny finished the story with a wary glance around to the tourists followed by a laugh. The rest of the tourists chuckled along with her, but Richard couldn’t get her father’s look out of his mind from earlier.

As the tour ended, he made sure to get off the wagon last. He helped Minny down as well. He continued holding her hand as he led her through the crowd and into the back door of the playhouse. “Well Richie, did you take my suggestion from earlier seriously?”

He turned to her with a serious look on his face.

She dropped the flirtatious tone and words. “What’s the matter?”

“The bridge. It’s about a stranger who falls in love with an important girl from town and then gets run out of town.”

“And it’s just a story. Daddy loves you and he loves you with me. We are to be the future of the playhouse and the town. You and I are the perfect couple to ensure his legacy will be intact for future generations.” She repeated leading him towards the office.

“Maybe you’re right.” He said opening the door. They both turned their heads to look to the interior of the room. In that moment they knew that she wasn’t right and that they weren’t okay. They wouldn’t be okay for a very long time.

Her father was taking piles of money from the wall safe. He turned to see them standing in the doorway. “Shut the door and leave.”

“Daddy, what’s going on?”

“This is where the money has been going. Mayor Franklin I’ve been asking you for months about the discrepancies in the books. You’ve told me my math was wrong, but I wasn’t wrong. Was I?”

With a scowl the mayor and theatre owner replied, “No Richard you weren’t wrong. There has been money missing and yes that money has been going in my pocket. My lifestyle isn’t easy to maintain. And neither are you my dear.” He said turning his anger on his daughter. “If you didn’t require quite so many things, then this wouldn’t be happening.”

“What? I ...” Minny voice faltered. She gave him a pained look. “I would have been happy with less.”

“Good. We’ll be one person less. Say goodbye to Richard. His thieving has been discovered and we aren’t going to stand for it.” He said crossing the room to pull his daughter into the room.

She evaded his reach. “I’ll do no such thing. You need to make restitution. Richard has done nothing wrong.”

“It’s just my word against his. Who is everyone going to believe? The man who saved this town from ruin or the stranger who is romancing us out of our money”

Minny looked harshly at her father. She gathered her courage. “And if I speak out against you? What will people think then?”

His eyes narrowed. “That you are a stupid little girl that fell under the spell of a man. You wouldn’t be the first and you won’t be the last.”

A silence fell between them. Richard stepped into the fray. He looked into the eyes of his new enemy. “I take Minny and the rap. You keep your reputation and the town.”

Mayor Franklin’s face morphed into a sneer. “You think she’s worth all that? You keep her.” He turned away from the couple and dismissed them with a wave of his hand.


Minny nearly collapsed. Richard put an arm around her waist and led her away from the scene. He spoke to her in whispers of comfort and promises. Those whispers gave them strength to pack and leave. Those whispers gave them strength to find new careers and a new home. Those whispers carried them through the tough years. And now 10 years 2 children and a new life later, they are happy. Chambliss is unchanged. They still believe the Stranger Bridge is there to remind them to be wary of strangers and keep their loved ones close.