Archive for the ‘Non-Fiction’ Category

Flames And Smoke Visible-D. S. Lliteras

March 18, 2013

Flames And Smoke Visible
D. S. Lliteras
Rainbow Ridge Books, Mar 15 2013, $17.99
ISBN: 9781937907099

As D. S. Lliteras, he has written highly regarded novels (see Judas The Gentile); as Danny Lliteras, he was in the military and worked as a firefighter for the Norfolk FD. Mr. Lliteras combines his writing skills with his firefighting experience to provide the audience with an insightful memoir of being a first responder knowing like a marine at the front that any blaze could prove your last. Firefighters empathize with the victims who lose more than just values in a blaze; they lose part of their soul when a personal item like a family bible is gone. Knowing this helped him and his mates fearlessly face death to enter hell’s inferno. While putting out a fire in which his team is first in engine, Mr. Lliteras did his tasks until he could not breathe; he suffered a heart attack. This gave the author a firsthand look at being on the receiving end of emergency people as an ambulance took him to the hospital. His reaction to Dr. Guttimann informing Mr. Lliteras that his “cardio architect is shot” so that he no longer can do what he loves as a tailboard fire fighter sums up the memoir as he depresses over no longer being a cowboy. His wife Kathleen is elated as she no longer has to worry about the latest phone call being the final fatal one. The author uses exciting anecdotes to enhance a deep discerning look at what being a firefighter is all about, Flames And Smoke Visible enables us to get inside the hearts and souls of these brave men and women at the fire front and the impact on their concerned loved ones.

Harriet Klausner


James Madison and the Making of America-Kevin R. C. Gutzman

February 15, 2013

James Madison and the Making of America
Kevin R. C. Gutzman
St. Martin’s Griffin, Feb 5 2013, $16.99
ISBN: 9781250023193

This is an intriguing but difficult read as Kevin R. C. Gutzman provides a deep look into the life especially as a leader of the paradoxical “Father of the Constitution”, but at times like our visit to the Philadelphia Convention feels overwhelming with its neutrino level detail. Founding Father biographical fans will appreciate the insightful full picture of the fourth president who thought the document he helped write would not survive very long and that the Bill of Rights he and others authored was unnecessary; though ironically Madison developed and oversaw implementation of the separation of state and church in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. With a contemporary premise, Madison thought political parties were bad for the country as their power-seeking self-interest would supersede the nation’s need. Dr. Gutzman makes a strong argument that perhaps the most long term influential of the Founding Fathers in the “Making of America” is James Madison; as even his wife Dolly was the prototype of the First Lady. This is a winning biography; just set aside plenty of time as this is not a quick read.

Harriet Klausner

The Illustrated Stephen King Movie Trivia Book-Brian James Freeman,

December 23, 2012

The Illustrated Stephen King Movie Trivia Book
Brian James Freeman, Hans Ake Lilja and Kevin Quigley; Illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne, Cemetery Press, Dec 31 2012
ISBN: 9781587673115 (trade – $19.95); 9781587673122 (hardcover – $40.00)

Obviously for fans of the renowned author, this collection asks trivia questions involving fifty four movies based on Mr. King’s works (including Bachman novels like The Running Man), his acting roles not all based on his novels (Nightriders), film sequels and the Dollar Babies (this is new for me; I would love a film festival of them). Each film is given its own chapter with numerous almost all multiple choice questions like whose name is on the bat Wendy used on Jack in the Shining and what cartoon show is Tad watching in Cujo? With over 1,000 questions (many of which were provided by fans) and numerous Glenn Chadbourne Illustrations taken from the movies, readers will enjoy this fun entertaining compilation.

Harriet Klausner

A Home Called Your Own: A Journey Across Six Generations

December 9, 2012

A Home Called Your Own: A Journey Across Six Generations

Steve Hanna

Riverview Press, Nov 13 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780985740399


In one week, Steve Hanna was to leave Baker City, Oregon to attend school as an exchange student in Madrid.  His dad tells him, his younger brother and their mom the story of their ancestors the Belohlavy family who sent one member married Vaclav, who left behind his pregnant wife, from Nepomuk, Bohemia to American over a hundred-twenty five years ago.  Vaclav did send for his wife and during WWII, Great Uncle Leonard tried to visit them but was shot by Nazis.  Now dad wants his oldest son to fulfill the Pact by visiting the Bohemian descendants.  Steve prefers to enjoy Spain, Morocco and Europe, but not visit in a remote village in the Czech Republic to fulfill the family Pact handed down through generations.  He ignores the Pact at first, but eventually seeks his roots.


This is an intriguing memoir that has at its heart the captivating late nineteenth century Pact though most of Mr. Hanna’s European adventure has nothing to do with the family odyssey.  Still his time in Spain and elsewhere is interesting (especially to students and parents) as he showcases the good, the bad and the ugly of being an exchange student in a foreign land.  However, it is the Pact that makes this a fascinating read.


Harriet Klausner

Saving Each Other: A Mother-Daughter Love Story-Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy

December 8, 2012

Saving Each Other: A Mother-Daughter Love Story

Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy

Vanguard Press, Oct 16 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9781593157333


In 2008 Ali Guthy complained to her parents that her eyes hurt.  Her mom, cosmetic giant Victoria Jackson took her to the doctor where they learned the daughter suffered from incurable Neuromyeltis Optica (NMO), a rare disease that has struck 20,000 people around the world.  With the full support of her husband infomercial marketing guru Bill Guthy and their two sons, Victoria, applying her business model, began a campaign with one goal: save the life of Ali.  Knowing her family loves her and her them, Ali tries to keep their morale up with a Pollyanna attitude. 


Saving Each Other is an inspirational memoir that mostly focuses on a Mother-Daughter Love Story, but also to a lesser degree on the supportive love by the three males as this family bonded into a caring cohesive team in reaction to something bad happening to one of them.  To their credit mother and daughter may have customized their anguish as the only sufferers in the world, but soon realized there are others out there so formed a foundation to help each other, their family and others.  Though it affirms that affluence and influence considerably helps, this is a well written memoir as saving Ali becomes the prime obsession of her family especially her mother who switches immediately “From Mascara to Medicine.”


Harriet Klausner

Young Henry: The Rise of Henry VIII-Robert Hutchinson

October 21, 2012

Young Henry: The Rise of Henry VIII

Robert Hutchinson

Dunne, Oct 30 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9781250012616


This is an interesting biography of King Henry VIII that uses household accounts to provide insight into the monarch up until the birth of Princess Elizabeth in 1533.  In his latest Tudor nonfiction (see Elizabeth’s Spy Master and House of Treason: The Rise & Fall of a Tudor Dynasty), Robert Hutchinson makes a case that the ruler was not the debaucher that fiction depicts him to be though he was very hedonistic.  Instead he makes argument that as a pampered second son, Henry understood enjoying life to the fullest cost be damned; as the shakiness of ruling England could end your rule and your head.  Thus Lord Chancellor Wolsey ran the kingdom while Henry hunted, played and gambled like he did before taking the throne.  Nothing changed in his lifestyle except Henry also knew he needed to eliminate all rivals, and produce the heir and the spare as that was more important to longevity than governance.  Well written with some jocularity that enhances the fascinating portrayal, Tudor fans still are left wondering how such an influential historical figure seemed to do little more than self-indulgence.


Harriet Klausner

A Soul in the Wind (Excerpts from the Book of Life)-Richard Finegold

July 19, 2012

A Soul in the Wind (Excerpts from the Book of Life)

Richard Finegold

Llumina Press, Oct 3 2011, $12.95

ISBN: 9781595267504


Geriatric Gideon Fruitman reflects back on the so-called good old days.  He was born on the road to the hospital during the blizzard of 46.  His mom in spite of being related to a famous pediatrician failed to turn him in the crib so when the goo settled his head remained flat.  When Gideon turned seven he finally found someone uglier than him when he saw the film the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  In school he stunk at sports but was a haven from his cage in Revere.  The four month snows of winter gave him a respite from his family and demands of enforced socialization (except for Bar Mitzvahs and weddings) as he recalls his family was a constant war zone that finally led to a divorce.  Gideon never did well with females, which was affirmed when his wife filed for divorce while he recovered from surgery.  He enjoyed schooling and became a lawyer who made plenty of money and had plenty of sex, but felt he never achieved nirvana.


A Soul in the Wind is deep look at the life of an early baby boomer as he tells his story of living during the epic technological revolution of the latter half of the twentieth century.  There is little action as the storyline is more a delightful passive musings on what a discerning Gideon believes are his successes and failures while world changes definitions of both.  Readers will enjoy this strong glimpse into how an elderly person perceives his life as he reflects on what he has accomplished and not done while wondering whether future generations will even know his name.


Harriet Klausner

The Next President: How the Man Defines the Office-Dee J, Rammell

June 30, 2012

The Next President: How the Man Defines the Office

Dee J, Rammell

Tate Publishing, Jun 26 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781620240885


This is an excellent timely short primer with the election coming in the fall as Dee J, Rammell gives an overview of each of the presidents including their background, accomplishments, famous quotes, failures, personal lives, and more but does so in context of the era in which they served.  One of the more interesting tidbits is Hayes overcoming “Rutherfraud” and adhering to his contract with America to serve one-term; by the short entry he comes across as transitional at a time when leadership was needed yet ranked by historian polls as 24th.  The death of Pierce’s last living son left his wife blaming his political ambitions as being ungodly and probably led to his oath on a law book not a bible.  The rankings are interesting as there is a consensus that at a time of crisis, the 1850s include three great failures (Google each president’s last name to see when they show up to tell you their contemporary significance).  Including Bush the younger when he was only five years into his term and less than four years since leaving seems invalid as too soon and those like the assassinated Taylor may not have had enough time to matter.  I would have appreciated more information on the survey mechanism (questions), who participates with overarching summaries of personal biases, and comparative rankings over the decades to include theories for why radical changes occur.  Still this is a fabulous quick look at the presidents; summed up nicely by President McKinley with this wry comment over a century before Citizens United: “He who controls the money supply of a nation controls the nation.”


Harriet Klausner

Rebooting in Beverly Hills-Marcy Miller

June 26, 2012

Rebooting in Beverly Hills

Marcy Miller

Bancroft Press, Jun 12 2012, $22.95

ISBN: 9781610880466


Rebooting in Beverly Hills is a combination memoir with tips for middle aged single women deciding whether to dive back into the dating pool after a long absence.  Though the target audience in many ways is divorcees like Marcy Miller, the short, amusing and witty anecdotes can be used by any mature woman (and some discerning men).  .  The author suggests diverse business cards that either provides your real personal information, disinformation or misinformation depending on the how you relate to the recipient.  This reminds me of a tip the Army provided to my husband on answering password questions as the truth may set your information free to an identity thief so misinformation is okay (just remember the answer is the City not the Bronx).  Further short discussions surface on “Not So Mr. Big who is a good kisser and caring person, but his lover needs a magnifying glass.  The engaging guide for the forty and older crowd can be summed up by deciding where to meet dates as the maligned Internet is not what we used the first time around (shows our age).  Readers will appreciate Ms. Miller’s marvelous memoir as she focuses on rebooting the mission of finding “The One” (or not) after the previous “The One” proved the not one.


Harriet Klausner

Getting Married and Other Mistakes-Barbara Slate

May 31, 2012

Getting Married and Other Mistakes

Barbara Slate

Other Press, Jun 12 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781590515358


It has been seven years of marriage when John tells Jo he feels guilty but needs space.  Jo a wedding photographer looks back at her bride photo and wonders if even then she thought she was making a mistake when she married John on the advice of her mom.  However, the shocking finality comes from a stranger Candy who says she and John need to raise Little John as a happy family.  She ignores her mom who coached her into marital defeat while her friends (Andrea, Timothy and Georgia) suggest a good lay, and therapist Dr. Rubenstein insists Jo has low self-esteem.  Jo wonders if she is a serial follower who never sees anything but someone else’s butt until she begins to look at the photos she took of the sad brides who tell her to heed her own advice; easier said than done. 


Using insightful jocular graphics, Getting Married and Other Mistakes is a fabulous amusing yet serious look at a woman who has ignored self-actualization by adhering to mom’s spousal mantra of perfection.  Filled with pathos and humor (the boyfriends and are terrific segues), readers will root for the heroine to find her inner self besides being a devoted daughter to a control freak mom who believes a woman’s only roles are first and foremost being a wife and second a mother.


Harriet Klausner