Back on Track

New reviews coming soon! I'll be importing my work from the past two years, but in the meantime,
I'm reclaiming my small place on the web.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Biography Review

Photographer of the Early West: The Story of Arundel Hull
by Eugene A. Miller
ISBN-10: 0972851100
Review by Heather Froeschl

Early photographs have always intrigued me. Who were the people staring with solemn face into the camera and who was the person under the black cloth working so diligently to preserve history? One of America's earliest photographers was Arundel Hull. He captured images of the western frontier in the late 1800's, following the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad through Nebraska, Wyoming and Utah.

Hull was an adventurous fellow, an industrious man who set out into the brand new territories and made a buck doing it. He worked with William H. Jackson for a time and while Jackson ultimately gained more fame in the art world it is thought that Hull actually took many of the Pacific Railroad Photos that are attributed to Jackson. However, saving the images of everyday people became a career that Hull embraced amongst his various community involvements in Fremont, Nebraska where he married, put down roots and raised a fine family.

The book is biographical and most interesting. Using the diary entries of Hull's wife Florence, newspaper articles and more than seventy historic photographs, the author truly transports the reader back in time to witness the exciting times of early American growth. Eugene Miller happens to be the youngest grandson of Arundel Hull; he is the son of Arundel's youngest daughter, Nina. I am quite sure that Mr. Miller has done justice and paid tribute to his family, but also he has done great service to America by reminding us of those individuals who made our country what it is today.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Fiction Review

by David L. Fey
ISBN-10: 0974695912
Review by Heather Froeschl

The world of drug trafficking is paved with the blood and souls of its victims and quite often, the players themselves. Yet another new drug ring is under the ever-watchful eye of the DEA and things are about to get very complicated. During a planned drop some things go awry...intense explosions, shootings, missing people and missing cash in the amount of two million, not to mention the disappearance of 40 kilos of pure cocaine. The players are left scratching their heads and blaming each other, eventually losing a great deal more than a future drug deal.

Meanwhile, down in Texas, Deke Tanner is enjoying the great outdoors until a shadow from his past pays a visit. Compelled to clear the threat of exposure Deke hires a Private Investigator to do some digging. What he finds does not put his mind at ease and leads him to take actions that he wishes he didn't have to.

The character list now becomes full with diversity. From a small town cop to a mob family boss, an innocent young woman who can speak to the animals of the swamp, to her sister who is through with her lowlife criminal husband, from good old boy Deke Turner who may end up paying for his loyalty to friendship, to a mysterious female operative who is a wiz with explosives and stealth, the protagonists are anything but boring. The plot is twisted and complicated but full of suspense and intrigue.

There is a bit of repetitiveness in regards to the facts of the story. I felt that the author was trying to be sure that everyone understood what had happened, what was going on and what was coming. It would have been better to spell this all out exactly as it unfolded when it occurred rather than rehashing the facts from every main character's viewpoint, but this approach still worked and in the end the reader is pretty clear on what all happened. At least as sure as the main character is.

"Catspaw" is a fast paced, well thought out adventure that will have you smiling at the power of small town family and wondering what might really be going on out in the big world in which we live.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Non-Fiction/Self Help Review

How To Get What You Most Want In Life: Achieve Worldly And Emotional Career Success
by Richard S. Guha
ISBN-10: 0595310850
Review by Heather Froeschl

While life's lessons are best learned and better remembered when experienced first hand, Richard Guha offers a book full of lesson plans that will likely help anyone to be more successful in life and career. "How To Get What You Most Want In Life" is a quick read that will produce long lasting effects, should you heed the advice within its covers.

From knowing what you want to being open to new ideas, and from dealing with difficult people to exploring the unconventional paths to success, this guide will help you steer clear of common pitfalls and happily reach your goals. Demonstrating lessons that he has learned the hard way, giving examples of real live success stories and just as real sob stories, and spelling things out in every day language, Guha offers words of wisdom. It is up to you to pay heed, or not.

Through exercises you will do more than listen to Guha. Making the lessons your own is key to what you gain. Through his stories you will gain inspiration and understanding. Through his book you will surely come away better equipped to achieve what you desire. A career guide, life lesson plan book and an offering of wise words combined, "How To Get What You Most Want In Life" has something for everyone.

The writing is concise and direct, while friendly and fatherly. The evolution of the concepts offered is perfectly tuned to your average reader. Giving clear, helpful guidance seems to be Guha's goal here and he has achieved it.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Fiction Review

Into the Abyss
by David Marsh
ISBN-10: 0974290904
Review by Heather Froeschl

Ashlyn Miller is not your typical 14-year-old boy and he finds himself and his sister Autumn in not so typical circumstances that could change the world as we know it. Ashlyn has made contact with highly intelligent beings. They didn't come from outer space; they were here all along right under our noses.

Ashlyn and Autumn are orphaned, or so they think, and they go to live with their grandmother not far from where their father disappeared some 12 years prior. They say he went mad and then died in a tragic submersible accident under the sea. But what they say is wrong. Ashlyn is drawn to the ocean and soon he learns that he is being beckoned there. Something is calling his name; something is whispering to him to return.

What he discovers is a being that teaches him to communicate telepathically, teaches him to see with his heart and tells him that he is a good energy. Later, Autumn discovers that the being is spiritual and believes that we are all part of a greater energy. It is this discovery that puts the beings, the teens, and finally, the beliefs of Christians in danger. There are hunters out there who will stop at nothing to capture the beings and there are others who will stop at nothing to eradicate the creatures who threaten their beliefs.

Ashlyn and Autumn confront a strange man who seems to know a good deal about the beings, they commandeer a small submersible craft in order for the being they've befriended to show them something no other human has ever seen, and they begin an adventure that will ultimately change the world for the better.

David Marsh has written a novel that will delight teens and adults everywhere. "Into the Abyss" will spawn thoughtful insight and numerous discussions, all the while providing an exciting and interesting read. Readers will witness Ashlyn's growth as a person and cheer for him along the way. They will come to long for the same goals and desires that the main characters reach for and that in itself is an inspiring reason to read the book.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Poetry Review

by Michael Indemaio
Edition: Paperback
ISBN-10: 0971350353
Review by Heather Froeschl

A fresh new look at poetry, "Sui," is a collection that proclaims nothing, but exudes a feeling of delicious youth. Michael Indemaio is a young New Yorker that shares his work with the world in a way that opens the mind to poetry and the reader to enjoyment of the words.

This collection is almost rebellious in its wonderfully modern style. Focusing on the feeling of the pieces rather than stuffy rules and formulas, each poem has its own emotion and evocation. With topics as varied as a night's dreaming, "Sui" will surely touch every person who reads it.

My personal favorite is titled 64 Crayons, where a red heart valentine awaits the embellishment of unnecessary borrowed silver and gold. Capturing this moment, this realization, and this innocence of childhood is an exquisite achievement.

I applaud Indemaio his writing.

For a new look at poetry and a breath of fresh air through the written word, I highly recommend "Sui."

Monday, September 13, 2004

Mystery Review

Banana Bay: A Mattie Maitlin Mystery
by Cindy Cody
ISBN-10: 1595070311
Review by Heather Froeschl

Enter the world of Matti Maitlin, Insurance Investigator, daughter, friend, co-worker, ex-wife and one tough cookie. Join her on a trip to Panama where things are not what they seem and the lush greenery is not always welcoming. "Banana Bay" is a mystery, adventure story with a twist of romance squeezed in for good taste.

Papi Cardoza, the head of Frutas Tropicales, a very large banana empire, disappears. Mattie's Insurance Company holds a policy on Mr. Cardoza, against kidnapping and accidental death. It appears that the family thinks that both may be the case. With no body, no ransom note and no clue where to find the missing man, Mattie takes it upon herself to investigate.

The son of Papi is in charge of the empire and takes charge of the investigation. He also takes the lead when it comes to Mattie's heart, for a little while anyway. Together the two of them search for answers and eventually find a lot more than they bargained for. Will they find Papi in time? Will they be able to produce two million dollars in ransom? And what exactly does all of this have to do with Mattie's co-worker Richard, whom happens to be an old Cardoza Family friend?

This book is full of adventure and suspense, but also appeals to a woman's need for thoughtful insight and romance. The dialogue flows naturally between the characters and the plot is a well thought out web of twists and turns. A delightful read you won't want to put down!

Friday, September 10, 2004

Fiction Review

by Wells Earl Draughon
ISBN-10: 0595262287
Review by Heather Froeschl

How is it that six people, some of whom are complete strangers to each other, affect each other's lives to the point of no return? Life happens, and for some it happens in a big way. Wells Earl Draughon has done it again. He has taken a storyline and created a world where the characters come to life and make you think about them until the last page has been read.

Steven Bates is minding his own business, falling in love with his attorney girlfriend, when out of the blue a young girl knocks on his door. She claims to be his long lost daughter, returned after eight years of being out of his life, virtually in hiding with her mother. Steve is thrilled if not flabbergasted that his daughter is back. But what happened to her mother? And why is it that this girl seems to be hiding something?

After eight years Steve jumps at the thought that this IS his daughter, Shirley, returned to him. However, Traci is really the daughter of a cold, selfish woman and a domineering, disgusting, controlling stepfather. The real Shirley Bates is still out there somewhere. Coincidentally, Shirley's mother is just about ready to return to the life she knew before they ran away. Her therapy is helping her to get over her issues and she takes the first step in reuniting Shirley and her dad and recreating the little family that they had. Is Steve desperate enough to get his daughter back into his home to put up with her crazy mother too? Is he unselfish enough to thwart the real love in his heart? And what will Traci's parents do about the situation, being that their 14-year-old daughter is living with a strange middle-aged man?

Draughon takes the raw emotions of his characters and makes them laugh, cry and wring their hands over the plot. He leaves the reader in a state of suspension when they dare put down the book to eat dinner. You will find yourself reading through the night in order to find out what happens to these people who have become all too real, if not a bit crazy. His descriptive writing and engaging dialogue make for an entertaining read. It is a short-lived distraction from the real world and our real lives to read one of Draughon's books. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Fiction Review

Sex, Ghosts And Gumshoes
by Bob Gunn
ISBN-10: 1595263462
Review by Heather Froeschl

With a mixture of paranormal, sex and mystery, Bob Gunn offers a wild ride of a read with "Sex, Ghosts and Gumshoes." Beginning the story in 1933 with the life events of Kerby Brewster, a Cary Grant look-alike private investigator, and ending the tale in 2003 with a promise of more adventures to come, Gunn dishes up a heck of a story in between.

Kerby meets with an untimely demise and we meet him again as a spirit who has been lingering for 75 years in a brownstone building in New York City. Here, our protagonists get acquainted as Penny Albright has just inherited the old place from her late Aunt, whom she loved dearly. It all begins with a mid-night encounter with an Ouija board and is all quite exciting and ghostly.

Two other main characters in the book turn out to be rather bad. They are torturous, murdering, dominatrix females who have taken it upon themselves to avenge every wrong inflicted upon womankind. Kerby and Penny take it upon themselves to put a stop to the serial killings and set the lost spirits of the victims free. Getting to that point is all the fun though and Bob Gunn leads the reader through séances, historical tours of New York City, synopsis' of classic films starring Cary Grant, electrifying sexual foreplay, humorous scenes of haunting fun and gut churning episodes of murderous torture.

What research must have been done for the writing of this book! I thoroughly enjoyed the read. I was surprised to find a handful of typos, but gladly overlooked them for the content was so enthralling. I didn't want the adventures of Penny and Kerby to end, and as with a good striptease the reader is left wanting more. Fortunately, Gunn promises a series of books in the future. I look forward to that with tingles down my spine.

Monday, September 6, 2004

Non-Fiction Review

We Don't Agree, But.... How To Live In An Age Of Terrorism
by Paul Siegel
ISBN-10: 1591135044
Review by Heather Froeschl

In today's world of living with the threat of terrorism, here is a guide on how to live, love and make the world a better place. How can you defeat terrorists? How can you change our environment of terror? Live cooperatively and it will happen. Paul `the soaring' Siegel shows you how.

Historically we have been through some very trying times...times of competition and aggression that have hugely impacted the world and everyone on it. Faith against faith, rich against poor, "winners" against "losers," these conflicts have created the world of terrorism in which we now live. Through history lessons and biographies, Paul Siegel holds up a mirror for us to see what we have been. Section II of the book, Cooperation and Harmony, demonstrates the healthy relationships bring positive results, how cooperating we can make a difference.

This goal of cooperation infiltrates all aspects of our lives. From our own families to our jobs and careers, to our global infrastructure, cooperation contributes to global harmony. We really can counter terrorism right in our own homes. It all begins with you, and me.

This book is a guide to life, a reminder of what can happen and how we can change for the better. Captivating and interesting, "We Don't Agree, But..." is a must read for everyone who has been touched by terrorism and unfortunately, this is everyone - period.

Thursday, September 2, 2004

Fiction Review

By Wells Earl Draughon
ISBN-10: 0595288332
Review by Heather Froeschl

Linda cannot continue with her life as if it were normal. She can't give up like the police seem to have done. Her daughter's room is exactly the way she'd left it, with clothes on the floor and her favorite stuffed animal on the tussled bed. Only her daughter is missing, leaving a terrible emptiness behind.

Linda joins a nationwide underground organization that pulls parents together in battling kidnappers. They are trained in surveillance techniques and interrogations, self-defense and stealth. They go on missions that involve luring people, whom they are told are kidnappers, into houses run by the organization. From there the person is tortured, supposedly to get information about missing children. This leaves the parents trapped in the organization, as they have broken the law; they have hurt people in their efforts to find their children.

While she knows it is wrong, something about the organization doesn't seem right, it doesn�t add up and Linda wonders if there might be something else going on. She picks up clues here and there that lead her to further her investigation of the group. What she finds out leads her to understand how much danger she is really in. She continues her own personal search for her daughter and cautiously does her part with the organization. If she doesn't, she may disappear herself.

Wells Earl Draughon has done it again, creating a suspenseful, energetic tale that touches on the deepest fear of parents, while, in this case, also awakens a rage over white supremacy. The plot is well written and results in a page-turner that you will not soon forget. A handful of typos are easy for the reader to overlook but are frustrating to me as they do not need to be there. I trust we will be seeing more from this author in the future and look forward to that day.

"Lies" is a fast paced read that will suck you in and keep you up until the final page. From there you will be left wondering what sinister organizations are really out there and you'll likely check the locks on your doors. I highly recommend this book but I warn parents that it may haunt you.