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.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Thriller/Fiction Review

Wearing the Spider
By Susan Schaab
ISBN: 1-934291-05-6
Publication Date: June 2007

My initial reaction to “Wearing the Spider” by Susan Schaab is, “Wow.” It’s a wicked web we weave and this book will leave readers with the feeling of needing to brush off a few spiders.

This legal thriller is also a work of suspense and romance, offering a bit of something for everyone. Evie Sullivan is a hopeful lawyer up for partnership at her law firm. She works diligently and passionately, often staying in the office well into the night to get things done. What she doesn’t know, could certainly hurt her. Overhearing part of a conversation in the conference room late one night sets Evie on edge and has her looking twice at things she’d brushed off as simple errors… things like her name appearing on work she hadn’t done, strange hotel receipts in her name in her expense reports from places she’d never been, emails from clients she had no known contact with. Someone seemed to be trying to make her look bad in the eyes of legitimate clients and the partners. Could it all have something to do with a forced kiss she’d fended off months ago? Was someone trying to exact some sort of revenge? Or was this all just part of something even bigger than a suffering ego? The plot thickens to reveal the inclusion of a US Senator, a commission worth $25 million, and the murder of a woman set on giving Evie some important information. Time will tell if the spider is spotted before it is too late, through it all though, readers will feel the creepy crawly sensation of Evie dealing with something quite evil.

A nice counter to the sleazy feelings elicited by certain characters are the amorous moments Evie has with a man she meets on an airplane. Drawn together, by chance or by fate, the two have a connection. He wishes to be her knight in shining armor and she needs to feel his support and good intentions. He convinces her to take action and takes part in bringing the FBI into the mix.

Susan Schaab offers a high-tech thriller that cracks open the inner workings of a large law firm and leaves one wondering just how often sexual harassment and hostile work environments are tolerated in the corporate world. Her plot is complex and compelling, inspiring the continued turning of pages well into the night. Her characters are rich with human flaws and positive attributes that draw the reader into their world. If you’ve ever been manipulated by anyone, you surely will be rooting for Evie, and booing her adversary. The feel of the book is fast paced, well planned, and most interesting. I highly recommend “Wearing the Spider.”

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Murder Mystery Review

Witness in the Square
by Gini Anding
ISBN-10: 0595410952

In the reflective tradition of Agatha Christie, Gini Anding offers another great mystery for readers to pick apart. In "Witness in the Square," we find ourselves once again in Paris with Amy Page and Jean-Michel Jolivet, deep in a plot of murder, intrigue, and of course, passion.

Amy is always on the verge of turning out a new article for a magazine back home in the states, always taking notes for her cookbook, and always in the thick of things on the Ile Saint-Louis, in the heart of Paris. It seems too that she is always in the midst of criminal activity, occurring unbeknownst all around her. Inspector Jean-Michel Jolivet, her lover, is recovering from a gunshot wound from one of their previous escapades and is not by Amy's side when she is brought in for questioning in regards to a murder she is somehow connected to. The victim was carrying Amy's umbrella and so the web is woven. How very involved Amy unknowingly is, becomes key to figuring out what is going on. When a second acquaintance falls victim, the entire Ile Saint-Louis is turned upside down in concern. What could the clues left behind mean? Things that normally would not make any kind of sense, to Amy, is a puzzle to ponder. In her unorthodox fashion at figuring, Amy holds further clues that she isn't even aware of. Jean-Michel patiently takes on the task of drawing out what needs to be known, while trying to protect his beloved. Throughout it all the couple realizes that they are indeed, a couple, and tries to understand the importance of that realization.

The plot is bigger than imagined with twists that lead to high staked risks. With points of interest that include stamp collections, hand carved earrings, Hawaii, forged passports, and terrorist activities, this is not your typical murder mystery. Author Gini Anding goes into wonderful detail of her beloved Ile Saint-Louis, giving historical facts to deepen the reader's experience. Hawaii's history too is explored, as well as the use of the female form in classic art, among other tidbits.

The environments that Gini brings her readers to are rich with detail and breathing with life. If you can't afford to travel you can always delve into a Gini Anding book! The characters are endearing and capable of living out the plot and you will be left wondering what they are up to while not in a story in front of you. This third book in a series certainly adds to the collection but it also stands alone as a fantastic read. I highly recommend "Witness in the Square" as a murder mystery with a darker side than most.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Fiction Review

In Mother’s Hands
By Colleen Avelli
ISBN 1424100968
Review by Heather Froeschl

How long does it take for us to find our soul mate? How many lifetimes do we actually spend together? How can we truly know when our spirit’s other half has re-entered our lives? These unexpected questions are answered in Colleen Avelli’s book, “In Mother’s Hands.”

Our understanding of the main character, Susan, begins in her childhood. Losing her mother at a tender age had a huge impact on her life. It is fair to say that she became who she is through the circumstances that evolved because of her mother’s death. Her deep relationship with her brother, her turbulent relationship with her father, and her every relationship thereafter, all were affected by her loss. Discovering who Susan is lends understanding to the story as it unfolds. Susan will join the Peace Corps and discover her destiny. Her connection to the people she stays with in South America is powerful. There is a purpose to her being there that only the wise ones are aware of. Susan will soon understand that she has been brought to this place by an ancient pull that her spirit feels. Will it be enough to save her?

Colleen Avelli tells a tale of deep emotion, vivid imagery, and the pure bliss of following one’s heart. Her characters are full of life, demonstrating passions and sadness alike. Her settings are bursting with nature in all of its glory, eliciting moments of breathing in the moist river-misted air. In a plot that evokes thoughts of pursuing dreams and the unconditional love of parents, Avelli also opens the doors to mystic circumstance, the power of purposeful thought, and having faith in the unknown. “In Mother’s Hands” is a positively delightful read.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Biography Review

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time
by Greg Mortenson
ISBN-10: 0143038257

Every so often we are reminded of how much good there is in the world. In a society fraught with the strive for the almighty dollar, simply for the dollar's sake, there is also to be found a soul or two who strive for the dollar in order to make a difference. The opposite of terrorism is love, and with this powerful tool we can overcome the darkness of the world. Greg Mortenson shows us how in the book "Three Cups of Tea - One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time."

Greg, a mountaineer, a man who sets out to make it to the tops of mountains, has embarked on a journey to conquer the biggest mountains of all - ignorance, lack of education, broken promises, and facing the unknown. In 1993 Greg didn't achieve his goal to reach the summit of K2 in the Karakoram Mountains. But he did find his purpose. Reaching the impoverished village of Korphe, Pakistan, and being nursed back to health, Greg found his fate-intended destination. He promised to return and build a school for the children who sat scratching lessons in the dirt. Once back at home in California though, Greg realized he hadn't a clue as to how he was going to raise the money to fulfill his promise. He began by simply asking for it from 580 of the most influential people he could think of. One replied. What would it take to build a school in Pakistan? $12,000. But first, he must drink tea. The first cup is offered to a stranger, the second poured for a friend, and the third is a cup shared by family. In this way, three cups of tea are shared between Greg and each of the people he hopes to do business with. In this way, he learns the first lessons in what it really takes to build a school in Pakistan.

What were those mountains Greg had to cross? - ignorance on the part of the world's society for ignoring the needs of people, lack of education - in a land where the wealthiest are able to send their boys off to private school, and where the government has fallen short on promises of public schooling, and where girls are not often sent to school, and where the Taliban is recruiting young boys by schooling them for free in Madrassas, broken promises - on the part of The United States who promised to help rebuild after the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, and facing unknowns - where Greg had to learn languages new to him, struggle to not offend, drive blindly into the dark under gunfire, and accept traditions and beliefs that were unlike his own but every bit as valid and meaningful. After doing all of this and more, Greg is a much-to-be celebrated hero of the world. Fifty-five schools for girls have been built in areas the typical American has never even imagined. This outreach of love and respect is doing so much more to stop terrorism than anything else ever could. In the heart of the Taliban's incubation box Greg Mortenson offers a much different view of an American.

"Three Cups of Tea" is co-written by David Oliver Relin. It is a must read for every American. The story of Greg's struggle down the mountain and his struggle right back up a mountain of another variety is a captivating, almost unbelievable tale of heroism. It is an in-depth story of deep relevance and high importance. It reads like an Indiana Jones adventure, where the treasure is self growth for thousands, and possibly peace for everyone. To fight for the children is a noble cause, but to also be making a stand in opposition of terror, in this manner, is knight-worthy behavior. Surely, everyone who has the pleasure of meeting Greg is blessed by having been touched by this soul, by his giving personality, and by his drive to make a difference. Reading the book is the next best thing.