June 20, 2012

Reader Radar #8

Publisher:     Danielle Peterson (March 7, 2012)
Medium:       Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
The Duck And The Doe is the tale of two immortal beings whose eternal love has soured a bit in the last two centuries. Written as memoir by the "hero," this novella is a musing on both what love is and how much America has changed since the early 19th century. The first volume deals with both the supernatural and the racism of the old American south. Told with humor and passion (and the occasional rant) the story of these strong characters, including a wealthy young lawyer and a clever courtsean, will change your idea of what "love forever'' really means.

Oh how I loved Our Blissful Bayou Beginnings!
First of all, how can you turn something away that has alliteration in the title?  I mean, that right there should put this toward the top of your reading list.  I love anything set in the South, because, well, even though I was born in Northern New York, I have lived in the South for close to 30 years now, and consider myself a Southerner.  This 70 page novella took me a mere 45 minutes to get through, so what better way to spend your lunch hour or wait for your orthopedic surgeon?  That is another great reason to put this on a to-read list, like toward the top. Just do it!
I actually put off reading this for a few weeks, as I got caught up in some other books and I’ve been forgetting to bring my Kindle to work with me.  I’m not going to let this happen to me again.

Danielle Peterson really brought Remi to life right from the first paragraph, which is a poor choice of words considering his issues.  I loved his bitter and condescending tone.  I loved how he was totally over being undead and quite frankly sick of today’s youth and how easy they have it.  I love how she brought the time period to life and as a reader I really felt like I was in another era.

Our Blissful Bayou Beginnings was full of description, full of wonder, and a full on love story. It tells of truly how much Remi truly loved his Ma Bichette, and what lengths he would go to in order to keep that love “alive”.  Ms. Peterson really put me, the reader, into a position to cheer on what might be considered a not so wholesome of a character.

Danielle Peterson is definitely on my Reader Radar this week!  I can’t wait to find out what happens next to the duck and the doe.  As for Remi, well, he complained about never being invited to dinner parties…I’d totally invite him and Ma Bichette!

Danielle Peterson

June 16, 2012

Pegasus Falling

Author:            William E. Thomas
Publisher:       Acute Angle Books (March 26, 2012)   
Medium:         Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:
‘Who was she, Sammy?’ 
‘Naomi. Her name was Naomi.’ 
Sammy’s nightmare was over, but his agony was about to begin. 
Arnhem, 1944. Captain Stanley Adam Malcolm Parker - Sammy to his friends - and his platoon have fought bravely, but it was always a losing battle - the bridge was unwinnable. When his men are taken away to spend the rest of the war as POWs, Sammy finds himself incarcerated somewhere all the more terrifying - a concentration camp. Spared an immediate death, he discovers firsthand the full horror of the final solution. 
In a place of utmost fear and desperation, beyond all hope and salvation, Sammy makes another entirely unforeseen discovery - the beautiful and mysterious Naomi. 
Sammy’s battle is now to stay alive, sane and keep hold of the woman he loves.
Following the successful publication of The Cypress Branches in hardback, the epic novel has now been adapted into a series of paperback books for general release, with each book concentrating on a set of characters featured in the original. 
Pegasus Falling is the first part of the Cypress Branches Trilogy to be released in paperback. A truly heartbreaking and courageous work, it follows the emotional story of paratrooper Sammy and his struggle to survive the terrors of World War II and its aftermath. 
With a sharp eye for detail and keen ear for conversation and dialect, William E. Thomas has painted an evocative historical backdrop to the intensely moving and often funny story of an unforgettable group of characters whose lives and loves are challenged by a constantly changing and volatile world.

I think there is a book inside all of us, a story that begs to be told, an idea that needs to be put onto paper, and a dream that needs to be shared.  Sometimes the story playing out in my head is more like a comic strip some days, but there is something begging me to let it out.  Mostly I ignore it.  I don’t think I have the courage.

Some people choose to listen to their inner selves, and William E. Thomas, author of Pegasus Falling was one of those people.  Like many people, Mr. Thomas waited until he retired to put his dream onto paper.  Then the daunting and difficult task of trying to find a publisher who will at least glance at the query letter before tossing the labor of love into the compost pile.  I come from a family of various artists – from painting to the written word – and they can all tell you that rejection of their medium is like being stabbed in the soul.

Through the revolution of technology the availability of being able to self-publish a book has become pretty simple and straightforward.  Unfortunately for Mr. Thomas, time got away from him, and his once sharp mind was thrust into the depths of the unknown as he struggled with Alzheimer’s.  Fortunately for Mr. Thomas, his grandson, Mike, made his dream come true.  Who wouldn’t do that for a beloved grandparent?

I have to be honest, Pegasus Falling was a difficult book for me to read, and it took me much longer than normal to get through it.  I found it very hard to fall in love with any of the main characters, and at times found myself very angry with a couple of them.  Maybe that was the point that Mr. Thomas was striving for, and I missed it.

The setting of the book is at the very end and in the time following World War II in Germany and in Palestine.  It was a bleak time for all of the characters in the book, some more than others, and that may be what lead me as a reader down the path that I took while reading it. Part of the reason for me getting bogged down was all the political turmoil, which is very important to the story, but at times distracting. There were times that I wanted to scream at the main characters, but ended up shaking my head as I normally do when people are clueless and allow themselves to be led down paths that only lead to heartache. 

One thing I really did like in Pegasus Falling was to see the "other side of the story". I saw through an author's eyes what the British really felt about the Americans in the aftermath of World War II. Most of the time it was unfavorable, which could be upsetting to some, but the raw honesty of the opinions, really made me sit back and think. As a general rule, you always carry your country in your heart and love her, but not everyone feels the same way. I actually really liked that.

The best part of Pegasus Falling for me was the last chapter.  I won’t give anything away, but this chapter was the best in the entire book!  While at times throughout the book the actions that took place were subtly hinted at, it was unexpected and made the ending of the book worthwhile, and it makes me wonder what else is going to happen in the rest of the series. Quite precisely the very smart marketing of Mike.

The real story of Pegasus Falling is the true story of the love of a family brought together by making a dream come true for their patriarch. If it wasn't for Mr. Thomas's grandson, Pegasus Falling may have ended up in the same dreadful place that one's mind goes when it is battling Alzheimer's.

While Pegasus Falling was not one of my favorite books that I have read, I am glad that I had the opportunity to spend some time with Naomi, Sammy, and Carrie, because that meant I got to spend some time with Mr. Thomas. Thank you for letting me be a part of his dream.


June 4, 2012

Reader Radar #7

Author:          Ellie Keaton
Medium:        Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:  
Meg knew exactly what she wanted: to be the Investment Director of Solomon Bank by the time she turned 30. And nothing would stop her. Not the fact that she’d be the youngest one in the history of the company. Or the fact that she’d be the first female Director. And especially not a man.

Then she met Tyler, and everything changed. It was like they were destined to be together. The attraction was immediate, and the follow-through was more passionate and amazing than she could have ever hoped for.
But Tyler was gone now. She could barely bring herself to think about their brief time together. As she stared at her wedding dress, she reflected on the fact that almost everything would be in place: a perfect gown, a perfect venue, a perfect ceremony. But not her perfect groom. 

There are moments in your life that are simply branded forever into your memory.  Memories that you take with you always, and that you revisit with others with the sentence, “I remember exactly what I was doing when…”  My most recent memory like that is of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.  The sky was a perfect blue and there was a teeny tiny hint of autumn in the Arkansas wind that was gently blowing that morning.  Mark Haines and Joe Kernen were sampling purple ketchup on CNBC’s Squawk Box, and my husband was watching while standing in the middle of the living room dressed in a suit getting ready to leave town for the day, when the segment was interrupted with Haines saying that there were reports of a single engine plane hitting the World Trade Center in NYC.

I had to leave for work and I couldn’t wait to find out what was wrong.  Mark promised to call me and keep me updated.  At the time I was working as a family practice nurse, and my days were always busy from the time I walked in the door.  This day I would prove to myself how strong I could be for others.  The television in our area was in the repair shop.  I relied on telephone updates from my husband while simultaneously taking care of patients and their families.  I held hands with some, I cried with others, all the while, not being fully able to grasp what was truly happening to my country.
When we had time in between patients we would scramble to another area to catch a glimpse of what was happening.  We’d hug each other, while making eye contact that said “remain strong”.  We put our patients first.  I remember one particular phone call from the spouse of a patient who was being seen.  I was asked to give instructions to the spouse to go by the bank on the way home and take out all of the money.  Then another patient was hysterical with grief because she lost loved ones in the Oklahoma City bombing and she was fearful that the whole country was in peril.
I also had a college world history course that night.  I called my professor to see if she was going to cancel class and her answer was something like, “No the terrorists would want the whole country to stop, we’ll be having class and showing them.”  I never really liked her or her class much, but I went.  She let us talk for a little while then got right into her lecture about ancient China or something.
By the time I made it home, I was emotionally and physically exhausted.  My husband postponed his trip, but was still in his shirt and tie when I got home.  I don’t remember eating dinner; I only remember watching the news.
Tuesday, September 11, 2001 is a day that I will never forget, so when I received an email from Ellie Keaton asking me to review The Wedding Dress, the first book in her Survivors Club Series, I was honored to do so.
The Wedding Dress is a novella that touches the heart and the mind.  It made me think and made me wonder.  I wondered how a family member can go on after a tragedy of such magnitude.  I wondered how one can get out of bed every day knowing what kind of death their loved one had.  I wondered why these tragedies happen to some people and not others.
The Wedding Dress also reminded me that it’s okay to grieve and be sad, but it’s also okay to move forward, never forgetting. I was reminded also the true meaning of friendship.  Ms. Keaton writes few words, but those few words hold so much meaning.  The story may not be a true account, but I bet that there is a shred of reality in there. It was beautifully written and very touching.
Ms. Keaton is definitely on my Reader Radar!  You should check her out.  She is also generously donating 15% of her proceeds to Tuesday's Children I think you should check them out too!