Archive for October, 2011

Oogy: the Dog only a Family Could Love-Larry Levin

October 31, 2011

Oogy: the Dog only a Family Could Love

Larry Levin

Grand Central, Oct 18 2011, $13.99

ISBN: 9780446546300

 

The Philadelphia police raided a suspected drug dealer’s home in Montgomery County.  There they found a ripped apart canine barely alive.  They took the dog to Ardmore Animal Hospital where the battered animal fought for his life while Saint Diane insists Dr. Bianco save the dog with half of his face missing.  Apparently, the “owner” assumed the dog was not a fighter; ergo useless except as training bait for his fight dogs. 

 

Larry Levin and his adopted twin sons (Noah and Don) were taking their elderly ailing cat to the hospital to be put down.  They meet Oogy recovering from surgery when he escapes his cell to kiss the boys to the amazement of the veterinary staff as Oogy should have been an angry beast instead of a gentle trusting canine.  With Dr. Bianco insisting to a reluctant Jennifer that Oogy is “Mr. Happy Dog”, the battered canine joins the Levin family where he bonds with Larry and becomes the protective “third twin” to the boys.

 

This is an engaging memoir that focuses on a dog that beats the odds to bring joy to a family.  Canine lovers will appreciate Oogy’s story as the odious abusers could not rip the heart and soul out of this remarkable canine.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Pharmacology-Christopher Hertz

October 31, 2011

Pharmacology

Christopher Hertz

AmazonEncore, Dec 62011, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612181387

 

In the early 1990s, Sarah Striker is leaving Kansas City, Missouri to attend school in San Francisco.  However, before leaving home, over grilled cheese her beloved dad informs her he has cancer, but insists she go.  She promises to send home money to help pay for her father’s medical treatment.

 

In San Francisco, Sarah rooms with six people and obtains work at the Horseshoe Café.  She makes money selling weed to her sibling bosses, which Sarah sends home so her dad can undergo radical medical treatment.  Sarah publishes the Luddite issues which leads to a high paying gig for a pharmaceutical firm peddling its attention deficit disorder elixir through a blog.  However, as she begins to learn the side effects of the miracle drug, Sarah’s ethics and her father’s expensive treatment place her in an uncomfortable position even as she alleviates some of her guilt with a zine exposé.

 

Pharmacology is an entertaining character study that captures the essences of the early states of the internet information (and misinformation and disinformation) of the Clinton first term.  The support cast in San Francisco and the protagonist’s parents enhance a look at the era and at Sarah.  However, the heroine makes the tale work as she confronts her conflicting values.

 

Harriet Klausner

Roam: A Novel With Music-Alan Lazar

October 31, 2011

Roam: A Novel With Music

Alan Lazar

Atria, Nov 1 2011, $22.00

ISBN 9781451632903

 

Nelson the half beagle, half poodle lives with Katey and Don.  The canine especially loves his Katey though he fears the marriage between her and Don is falling apart.  When Don accidentally leaves a gate open, Nelson follows his nose and wanders outside the perimeter.  However, he soon becomes lost and his frantic efforts to sniff his way back to his “Great Love” fail, but he never quits trying to find his Katey.  Over the next few years, Nelson trucks with Thatcher and joins a wild wolf pack.  As Nelson survives still seeking his beloved Katey, he loses a leg before a widower’s young son saves him from state execution leaving his dream alive.

 

Roam is an engaging whimsical tale of lost love told mostly from the ultra loyal childlike canine perspective of charming Nelson.  The hero is placed in several perilous situations, but his obsessive quest keeps him going.  With seven songs (on the internet) enhancing Nelson’s search, readers will never listen to Here Comes the Sun the same way again as we root for the determined dog to reunite with his lost Great Love.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

If You Give a Girl a Viscount-Kieran Kramer

October 31, 2011

If You Give a Girl a Viscount

Kieran Kramer

St. Martin’s, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312374044

 

In crumbling Castle Vandemere in Scotland Daisy Montgomery lives a horrific life due to her cruel Cheapside London stepmother Mona and malevolent stepsisters (Perdita and Cassandra).  She dreams of a Prince Charming coming to her rescue, but knows that inanity only occurs in fairy tales not for someone like her.  When she finds a note that says she has a Godmother Lady Pinckney, she writes in hope of a recue.  Instead of her Godmother responding, the grandson Viscount Charles Thorpe does.

 

Cut off from his family funds and after a bet with his now married Impossible Bachelors pals (see Cloudy with a Chance of Marriage) Charles travels to the Highlands hoping for an adventure of a lifetime.  She wants to save her home but he lacks the funds to do so.  As they fall in love, the pair persuades a neighbor to use his estate to host a gala for outsiders to experience the Highlands.

 

The latest Impossible Bachelor historical romance stars a Cinderella heroine and a not so charming Prince Charming.  Filled with jocularity yet containing a deep poignancy as the lead couple finds they are more than just a victim and a wastrel, fans will appreciate the tale of a Godmother giving her goddaughter a viscount to love and be loved in return.

 

Harriet Klausner

Death, Taxes and a French Manicure-Diane Kelly

October 31, 2011

Death, Taxes and a French Manicure

Diane Kelly

St. Martin’s, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312551261

 

IRS Agent Tara Holloway works white collar tax frauds.  Her small town kick butt Texas attitude works great when dealing with violent Dallas offenders.  Working a case with agent Eddie Bardin, she is forced to fire her gun at menacing felon Battaglia, shooting a box cutter knife from his hand.  Thus in spite of her cut arm, she earns the rep of Annie Oakley.

 

Tara’s boss Lu “Lobo” Lobozinksi assigns her first solo task to investigate a granny complaint that ice-cream truck salesman Joseph “Joe Cool” Cullen failed to report his profits from selling illegal drugs to teenagers.  Her other major inquiry is much more complex than a drug dealer.  She scrutinizes the dealings of financier Michael Gryder and banker Stan Shelton, who appear to be running a Ponzi scheme.  The problem is her best friend Brett Ellington is Shelton’s landscaper.

 

The first exciting Tara Holloway IRS investigative tale is an entertaining story that stars a tomboyish mascara wearing noir heroine who appreciates a French manicure.  The story line is lighthearted fun as Tara works the Dallas beat along with other agents.  Although some readers may dislike the wisecracking asides especially when facing danger; the story line is filled with humor and satire as the IRS does not care whether the gains are legal only that Sam collects its share.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Black Stiletto-Raymond Benson

October 31, 2011

The Black Stiletto

Raymond Benson

Oceanview, Sep 5 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9781608090204

 

Septuagenarian Judy Talbot resides in the Woodlands Nursing Home in Riverwoods, Illinois.  “Uncle” Thomas gives Judy’s forty-eight year old divorced son Martin the accountant a journal.  Judy gave the dairy to Thomas to give to Martin if the time is right.

 

Martin is stunned to learn his ailing mom claimed she was the famous pop hero of five decades ago the Black Stiletto vigilante.  Judy explains what happened in 1958 when she was twenty years old.  Being very tall and athletically gifted with incredible senses she dedicated herself to fighting evil.  Disbelieving her account though there is great detail and he knew his mom was a terrific athlete, the skeptical Martin changes his mind when seventy-eight years old Roberto Ranelli, just released from prison after a fifty-two year stay, arrives to threaten Judy, her son and her granddaughter.

 

This exciting thriller moves back and forth between Martin reading his mom’s diary and Judy’s description of her exploits; bridging the five decades is Ranelli who has a voice in both decades.  The story line is over the top of Wrigley Field, but fun to read especially the fast-paced exploits as accounted by a young female heroine.

 

Harriet Klausner

Not Your Ordinary Faerie Tale-Christine Warren

October 31, 2011

Not Your Ordinary Faerie Tale

Christine Warren

St. Martin’s, Nov 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9780312357221

 

Following the interspecies marriages of her BFFs, New York reporter Corinne D’Allesandro vows not her.  However, her editor assigns her on a paranormal investigative tale.  Her jaunt around Manhattan leads her to Queen Mab’s chief of the guards Luc Macinaw.  He searches for the missing royal nephew who is causing havoc that could endanger the Faerie realm.

 

Luc is stunned that his destined heart mate is human.  Corinne disregards her pledge to never date an Other, while her buddies tease her for joining their ranks after she proclaimed never her.  They team up on his quest and in the boudoir, but love may not be enough to counter the threat to both their lives.

 

This engaging Other urban fantasy is a fun investigative tale though the paranormal elements seem somewhat diminished in comparison to the previous entries (see The Big Bad Wolf and Black Magic Woman).  Corrine is a terrific heroine while Luc is her prefect mate even if she has to renege on her vow.  Fans of the saga will relish Corinne falling in love as she was adamant that never her. 

 

Harriet Klausner

Hearts of Smoke and Steam-Andrew P. Mayer

October 31, 2011

Hearts of Smoke and Steam

Andrew P. Mayer

PYR, Nov 22 2011, $16.00

ISBN 9781616145330

 

In New York, the murder by the Automation of Sir Dennis Darby has devastated the Paragons as he was their social compass (see The Falling Machine).  Without the moral guidance of Sir Dennis, the group falls apart as each of their superegos supersedes their superhero team.

 

Sarah “the Adventuress” Stanton possesses the clockwork heart of the late killing Automaton who was her friend.  She hopes to rebuild him while supervillain Lord Eschaton has other plans for the Paragons and society as a whole, but needs the clockwork heart to rebuild the Automaton.  When The Children of Eschaton assault Sarah, Italian immigrant Emelio Armando rescues her.  The genius inventor planned to live an invisible life with his sister in New York to avoid his troubles in the Old Country, but has fallen in love with Sarah, whose adversaries target him and his sibling to get at her.

 

The second The Society of Steam Steampunk Victorian fantasy is an exciting fresh tale starring a beleaguered heroine who gave up affluence in high society to join the poor Paragons of Sir Dennis.  The Fortified Steam concept serves as the base for this alternative nineteenth century New York.  However, Emelio’s choppy dialect may seem genuine but slows down the pace of an overall faster than the speed of steam pulp escapism thriller.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century

October 30, 2011

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century

Ian Mortimer

Touchstone, Oct 25 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9781439112908

 

Using the refreshing format of a travel guide, medieval historian Dr. Ian Mortimer provides a profound look at living in fourteenth century England.  Besides a sense of touring, armchair travelers will learn much about diverse lifestyles beyond the typical warriors, farmers, and religious leaders as society is not just abuser-abused relationships.  Part of the fun is how easily Dr. Mortimer explodes contemporary myths about life six centuries ago starting with the belief that squalor was the norm although cottage smog was a norm.  With insight into medicine (or lack of) as the plague devastates England and the continent, readers will learn how people worked to put food on the table and the in your face with profanities sermons.  With corpses hanging on the edge of town and in water supplies, history fans will appreciate a tour of Medieval England with Dr. Mortimer as a super guide who amongst other tidbits provides “Ten Places to See in London” a city of approximately 40,000 as an example of what to expect in this strong “Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century.”

 

Harriet Klausner

Marina Melee-Lynne M. Hickey

October 30, 2011

Marina Melee

Lynne M. Hickey

Casperian, Jun 1 2011, $15.00

www.casperianbooks.com

ISBN: 9781934081327

 

George Marshall learns the true meaning of three strikes and you’re out when his lawyer Uncle Bernie loses his third divorce case.  His father, CEO of Marshall Enterprises, is sick of his playboy son so he ends his allowance as the firm’s alleged CFO. 

 

Deciding to leave Texas, George sails the Caribbean where he learns that American expatriate Tracker is selling his Sao Jorge marina at a cheap price in order to go home.  George buys the marina unaware of its deficiencies.  He soon is overwhelmed with code violation fines and local operating fees that leave him teetering near bankruptcy.  As he sleeps with the governor’s wife, George hires three maybe capable locals while his mom hires a private investigator to check in on what trouble George has fallen into this time.

 

Filled with mirth, Marina Melee is a wonderful Caribbean adventure starring a silver spoon slacker who matures while stumbling away from home as he did back in Texas.  Character driven by a strong cast to include George, his family, the islanders, and his mom’s hirelings, fans will appreciate this jocular tale of an “Ugly” American in Sao Jorge.

 

Harriet Klausner