Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review of 'The Price of Guilt' by Patrick M. Garry

The plot of this mind-bending novel consists of a brilliantly conceived and absolutely compelling set of events leading up to the most apt title: THE PRICE OF GUILT. As we soon find out: there are prisons within prisons, the worst being the obsessions of the mind. In fact, the author sets the dark penal tone with a great line about being in jail: “mealtime and bedtime — two ports of call on an endless cruise of fear and monotony.” Along with well-dispersed flashbacks — using prison as his vehicle of transition — the author serves up crisp, natural dialogue to funnel us down a path where people and situations are nothing like they seem; in fact, Mr. Garry has so skillfully portrayed spousal bickering, he raises it to an art form. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton come to mind. Here are the bare bones: While attending a class reunion with his difficult and argumentative wife, Thomas Walsh feels compelled by guilt to make up for a prank he and friends played on a classmate back in the day — the prank indirectly resulting in the classmate being left blind and orphaned. However, a complicated chain of events results in Thomas becoming a prime suspect, arrested for dealing drugs. Eventually, the book’s title says it best because it’s all about the destructiveness of misdirected guilt. The first few chapters set the tone and absolutely hook the reader. After that? Well, there’s a cast of compelling characters that keep you guessing, plus mysterious interludes, ugly politics, sexual tension, and even a peppering of steamy sex. There are Stand-By-Me-type coming of age flashbacks, many layers of betrayal, and a grand scheme of revenge. If you like to be kept guessing, you’ll love it, I guarantee. However, to be totally honest here, I gotta admit that I had a little trouble believing the main character, such a seasoned lawyer, could be so na├»ve. That is, until I thought more about it. After all, our rationality and true vision of even the smartest of us is often easily obscured by those tremendously powerful emotions revolving around guilt. Anyway, everything is explained completely in the end. Each and every loose thread is tied up nicely. I love that in a book. The book jacket tells us that Patrick Garry is a professor at the University of South Carolina. Even more impressive to fans of fiction, he’s penned no less than seven novels, which have been widely and favorably reviewed. In fact, the author has actually won ten prestigious literary awards including a National Best Book Award for fiction. One national book review radio program has called him “the best unrecognized American novelist writing today.” Recommended by reviewer: Jan Evan Whitford, Allbooks Reviews The Price of Guilt Kenric Books ©2011 Patrick M. Garry ISBN 13: 978-0-9833703-0-7 Trade Paperback 254 pages For more info: .

Monday, May 14, 2012

Review of The Cosmos of the Soul by Michele Doucette

Michele Doucette’s biography surprised me, because it almost reflects my own spiritual awakening. Michele begins with the details of her birth, her childhood and her feeling that she didn’t belong. She was always more comfortable with books and nature than with people. This is a feeling I can definitely identify with. In continuing to describe her spiritual journey she mentions several well respected authors with which I am very familiar, James Twyman, Nick Bunick, Shakti Gawain and Gregg Braden just to mention a few. Through the knowledge and guidance of these spiritual leaders, Michele began her journey to enlightenment. Michele Doucette was fascinated with and drawn to crystals and uses them in her therapies. She is a Reiki Channeler. Another book and author, Going Deeper by Jean Claude Koven had a deep impact on her life. I reviewed this book several years ago, and must agree with Michele that it is one of the best books I have ever read. It is beginning to sound like Michele Doucette’s biography is just one big book review of the spiritual masters, but these books bring us the knowledge we need to reach our own potential. Through books such as these, we can learn to let go of past beliefs and alienation and find the path to Oneness that we all seek. When the author reaches the end of her story she reminds us of three very important things: Your thoughts are energy, attracting into your life everything that vibrates in alignment with your thoughts. Think about what you want, and you attract that into your life. Think about what you do not want, and you will attract that too. Simple, easy and true! In an effort to tell her own story she provides readers with a roadmap to their own discovery. Well done, Michele! Highly Recommended by reviewer: Shirley A. Roe, Allbooks Review International Title: The Cosmos of the Soul Author: Michele Doucette Publisher: St. Clair Pub ISBN: 978-1935786214 For more info:

Review of 'For the Birds' by Aaron Paul Lazar

In the world of literature nowadays, there is a vast array of competition, with new books arriving in stores every day. It’s virtually impossible to keep up. Among the authors, there are your one hit wonders, who publish one bestseller and then disappear off the map. There are also authors who do well with their first two or three books and then just seem to lose their touch or become repetitive. Then you have Aaron Paul Lazar, who time and time again digs down deep in his pool of resources and comes out with a compelling winner every time, and he has done it again with For the Birds. When I write a book review, especially for a mystery novel, I try not to simply re-hash the plot because I don’t want to spoil the experience for the reader. Instead, I dive right in to how the book made me feel and what affect the author had on me in the telling of his tale. When I read For the Birds, my feelings and emotions bubbled to the surface right from page one. I clicked with the characters immediately and found myself relating to their lives, relationships and problems, and I was ready and willing to embark on their journey with them. I wasn’t observing them from afar or shaking my head in disbelief at their fictional circumstances. I was right there with them, experiencing the same things and feeling all of their emotions. This is because Lazar is a magician with words, and he can accomplish in a two sentence description what others take a whole page to do. His descriptions are like a beautiful picture unfolding under an artist’s brush. In the opening pages of For the Birds, we join Quinn and Marcella Hollister and Marcella’s mother, Thelma, a very colourful trio of characters, after four hours driving along a rough dirt road through the Adirondacks of Northern New York, in an old van with no air conditioning, as they try to find their way to their hotel near Lake Placid, New York called For the Birds. The hotel is hosting a bird show where they hope Quinn’s pet parakeet, Ruby, will win Best New Breed Color. Now I challenge any reader to not remember an occasion where they were stuck in a hot car with conflicting personalities where everyone is tired and patience is wearing thin. I smiled at my own memories of numerous challenging roads trips I have been on, and I empathized with the characters. This brings you closer to the characters and allows you to form a bond with them as you read the story. They are normal people experiencing normal relationship and life challenges, and they each have their own unique personalities. Thelma is an ornery and overbearing old woman who says what she feels and can be quite judgmental, and Marcella is a penny pincher and persistent and stubborn to a fault. Quinn is obsessive compulsive, and needs everything done a certain way, but he is the strength that holds the family together, and he is a very loving man. Even with their sometimes challenging characteristics, this is a family bound by love so strong that they can get through anything. I also found myself feeling their pain over the recent loss of Thelma’s husband and Marcella’s stepfather, Raoul Mendoza, who meant the world to all of them. It seems as if this trip should be the soothing balm this family needs to start the healing process with some rest, relaxation, and a little fun. Well, don’t be so sure because in typical Lazar style one event leads to another until the characters are wrapped up in a complex mystery of epic proportions. From a simple car breakdown to a bizarre accident resulting in a hospital stay, a sudden kidnapping, a ransacked hotel room, possible links to an old bank heist, and even a psychichuman/bird brain meld, you as the reader are only allowed very brief moments to catch your breath and try and assemble some facts in your head in order to try and solve the mystery before you arethrown another twist. The suspense constantly builds, and when the main part of the mystery was unveiled my jaw literally dropped to the floor. I didn’t see it coming at all. There are so many qualities that make Aaron Lazar’s writing so appealing to me. Even though you could say he generally writes mysteries, he manages to include aspects of every other genre in his books as well, which makes for the most well-rounded and enjoyable reads and awakens every emotion while reading them. In For the Birds, you have a definite mystery that is the focal point of the story, but you also have humour when watching Thelma’s brash personality interact with the people around her, and you have the clearly loving relationship between Marcella and Quinn which adds some zesty interludes to the plot, and it is heart-warming to see the support they provide to each other. I also love the way he makes the plot complex and interesting without making it a heavy read. There’s something about a heavy book, you know the kind, full of page long, overly detailed descriptions, complicated use of the English language, and complex concepts which make your brain hurt to try and follow. Sometimes, you as the reader are so wrapped up in understanding what is going on that you lose the flow of the story and fall out of the character’s world while you try and decipher a passage’s meaning. Not so in For the Birds, where I was mesmerized by the story from beginning to end and could not put it down. Finally, Lazar’s use of similes and metaphors is magical. Phrases like, “the bravado I’d worn like a Kevlar vest” and “the elevator doors finally kissed shut” and “my heart flipped like a Mexican jumping bean immobilized for a hundred years and suddenly released” never fail to make me stop and smile because they just fit so well. In a nutshell, this is an author who puts his heart and soul into everything he writes, and it definitely shows. If I imagine in my head the perfect reading scenario, like sitting in a comfy chair on a cold winter’s night in front of a fire with a hot chocolate, or sitting outside on a warm summer day with the birds singing and the wind whispering through the trees, neither picture would be complete without a book like Lazar’sFor the Birds in my hand. Aaron Paul Lazar resides in Upstate New York with his wife, daughter, son-in-law, four grandchildren, mother-in-law, two dogs, and three cats. Besides being an accomplished author, he is also an engineer by profession. He also enjoys gardening, cooking, photography, cross-country skiing, music and art, interests which he passes on to the characters of his novels. Aaron has also authored the LeGarde Mysteries and the Moore Mysteries which should also be part of every mystery lover’s collection. Reviewer: Cindy Taylor, Title: For the Birds Author: Aaron Paul Lazar Publisher: Twilight Times Books December, 2011

Monday, May 7, 2012

Review of At Risk: Passion and Peril at Sea by Jackie Ullerich

“Take a Cruise on the Dead Sea – Or is it a Cruise with Death!” Author, ‘Jackie Ullerich’ writes a chilling thriller – tosses in some romance and suspense for seasoning, and the recipe is complete. Her literary recipe has just the right amount of show and tell. Her creation of descriptive characters and striking scenery – along with believable dialogue, makes for one exhilarating read. Tracy Bradshaw is a young socialite in a troubled marriage, juggling a husband with an intense aspiration for political power, and a mother-in-law that demands perfection. Craving adventure, she books a cruise for her and her husband, Peter. However, with a full schedule on his plate, he declines – tells her it might do them good to have time away from one another. Determined to make the best of it, Tracy goes ahead with her plans. Upon boarding the cruise ship, her mundane life takes a drastic turn as she finds herself among many seedy characters. Joanne Watkins and her husband, Jack, are indeed colorful characters. Joanne is quite fond of cocktails – morning – noon and night. Who could blame the poor woman with a retired military officer – neo-Nazi sympathizer as a husband? Their relationship makes for a volatile plot in itself. Patty and Ben Redford’s marital relationship is the epitome of what marriage is all about…well, almost. Ben, a consultant for the FBI, often brought his work home. With a PhD in economics, he managed to draw attention from the bureau when he published a paper on the subject of ‘hate groups.’ Can you see where I am going with this? It is clear that Ms. Ullerich has first hand knowledge when describing the detailed beauty of the exotic locations, as her imagery is impeccable. In writing “At Risk,” the author weaves an intriguing plot of suspense and thrills. I look forward to reading more from this author. If you are a fan of this genre, you will be highly entertained. As stated in her book, Jackie and her retired Air Force JAG husband reside in Palm Desert, California where her husband golfs while Jackie writes. Highly Recommended by reviewer Barbara Watkins, Allbooks Review Int. Genre: Fiction/Thriller Title: At Risk: Passion and Peril at Sea Author: Jackie Ullerich Publisher: Brighton Publishing LLC ISBN# 978-1936587292 For more info: JAN 2012