A lot of people have an abundance of friends that they can count on. Friends that will help you through anything, do anything for you, if only you would ask. But can you say the same thing about family? Family is supposed to stick by you through thick and thin. They stand by you whether you are rich or poor. They will also do things for and with you that can cause you to question, how loyal are you. That’s the kind of family you will meet in the book The Family Business by Carl Weber and Eric Pete.
Meet the Duncans. The Duncans are one of the richest and most influential families in the state of New York. The family business is Duncan Motors and their product is high class motor vehicles.
The patriarch of the family is LC. The mother, Charlotte, is known to her family as Chippy. There are also two daughters, London and Paris, and four sons, Junior, Vegas, Orlando, and Rio. Their mother named them after all of the cities that she would like to visit around the world.
The eldest daughter, London, is married to a lawyer named Harris, who also happens to be the family’s attorney. Paris and Rio are twins who are frequently mentioned in the society section of the newspaper. Orlando is all about the family business. Junior seems to be really laid back and likes to work on the cars that have made his family so lucrative. And then there is Vegas; he has a strong presence in the book but is not present.
LC has built his family’s empire so that the family will never want for anything and will stop at nothing to make sure that they have the best of everything. When tragedy strikes the family, closely-held information begins to leak out about just how far he will go for family. There’s much more to this family’s business than cars!
I’m always drawn to Carl Weber’s works. They are always filled with drama, intrigue, and just enough intimacy to wet your whistle. He has a way of weaving a tale around something so small and then catching your breath when that item becomes larger than life. Mr. Weber mentions places from previous books (for example, the First Jamaica Ministries church) to let you know that each tale is tied together in a common world.
You will not be disappointed when reading this novel. In fact, once you pick it up, you may not want to put it down until it’s finished. If you wind up wanting more, don’t worry. This is only the first book in the series.
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At the brink of World War II, Kurt Raeder and a team of Nazi mountaineers are sent to Tibet by Heinrich Himmler to search for the legendary city of Shambhala. Years earlier, Raeder had shared leadership of an expedition to the Himalayas with Benjamin Hood, an American zoologist and adventurer. When the United States government learns of the Nazi expedition, Benjamin Hood is recruited to return to Tibet to learn what Raeder is seeking and to stop him if necessary.
In the present day, Rominy Pickett, a descendant of Benjamin Hood, is pulled into her own adventure after she is saved from a car bomb by Jack Barrow, a reporter investigating the neo-Nazi group that set the bomb. Jack manages to convince Rominy that she must assist him in stopping the neo-Nazis' devious plans. The two stories run parallel before colliding at the CERN superconductor facility in Switzerland.
William Dietrich, known for his Ethan Gage series of historical thrillers (Napoleon’s Pyramids, etc.), has crafted a rousing tale based on historical fact, mythological lore, Nazi occult obsessions, and modern physics. Blood of the Reich has mystery, intrigue, and plenty of cliff-hanging moments, all of which keep the adrenaline high as the story rockets to its conclusion.
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There are those among the adult population who may feel that novels written originally for the young adult would not make for particularly entertaining or thoughtful reading, a sentiment that I wholeheartedly and enthusiastically disagree with. Quite the contrary, I have found many to be incredibly insightful and captivating, and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak epitomizes such a work. An intense tale, the focus is a young girl, a mere nine years of age when we first meet her, named Liesel Miminger and her experiences during World War II in Molching, a small town in the environs of Munich, Germany, and while this may seem a bit overdone, there are several aspects of this story that set it apart.
The narration, firstly, is held by none other than Death itself, and I found myself taken completely by surprise by how congenial Death was. To demonstrate:
“Here is a fact. You are going to die. I am in all truthfulness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic…Please, trust me. I most definitely can be cheerful. I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that’s just the A’s. Just don’t ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me.”
Death seems to be a narrator the reader can trust, which is certainly not always the case, both with the character of Death and the narrator in general throughout literature, and Death maintains a constant tone throughout the book that creates a sense of comfort.
In terms of observations, Death ranks among the finest of observers. When, for example, ruminating on war and the battlefield, Death says of the soldiers:
“I’ve seen so many young men over the years who think they’re running at other young men. They are not. They’re running at me.”
And it is through Death’s observations that the reader is given a sense that Death is actually gentle in the execution of its duties and has a much gentler nature than is generally portrayed.
Finally, in the realm of adult literature, war stories tend to be related by soldiers or other adult civilians. With the primary figure of this war novel being a young girl, the effect is decidedly different. When children are involved, war quickly loses whatever romance it might have been able to conjure with concepts such as valor, honor, and victory, and when the violence of war boils over and results in such “collateral damage,” one begins to lose a certain sense of who is in the right and who is in the wrong.
The Book Thief is only one example of the sort of young adult literature that successfully spans the gulf between the adult and younger reader. Other titles in this category include:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Eli the Good by Silas House
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Looking for Alaska by John Green
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Mama, Is It Summer Yet? by Nikki McClure depicts the tender relationship between a mother and her son, both anxious for the return of summer. We watch their outdoor routine alter with the progression of spring.
They go about collecting the bits that trees have lost over winter for building huts and then carefully setting out seedlings. We see squirrels collect materials for building nests, leaves budding then forming on trees, all while warm winds blow in with the singing swallows. And after so many repeats of the refrain, “Not yet, little one,” Mama finally affirms the arrival of summer and it’s on to picking strawberries and idling in plastic backyard wading pools.
Each image was delicately made by McClure from a single sheet of paper using an X-Acto® knife. After, the black and white pictures were treated to splashes of color for greater appeal to children.
Perhaps you will be inspired to enjoy the pleasure of having a nap on a blanket under a tree after reading the delightful picture book Mama, Is It Summer Yet?
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Characterization is more important to me than setting or plot when I read fiction. . Even when I read a mystery I want strong characters along with the crime solving. That is why I like series with protagonists that grow more complex with each title.
I just finished reading City of Whispers, Marcia Muller’s 29th mystery featuring San Francisco private investigator, Sharon McCone. The series started in 1977 with Edwin of the Iron Shoes and McCone is considered to be the first hard-boiled fictional female detective. McCone was a young single working as an investigator for a legal coop, but over the life of the series, she has married and formed her own detective agency. Her fictional family and friends come in and out of her books and their growth as characters are strong.
Nevada Barr’s Rope is the 17th title in a series featuring National Park Service Ranger, Anna Pigeon. Track of the Cat, published in 1993, is set in Guadeloupe Mountains National Park in west Texas. Pigeon joins the National Park’s Service after the accidental death of her husband with each mystery is set in different National Park with settings as diverse as Mesa Verde in Colorado, Statue of Liberty Park in New York and Yosemite in California. Pigeon, as she encounters the evil set in mostly idyllic locations, is reflective, turning to her sister Molly, a psychiatrist, for counsel. As Molly has faded out of the series Pigeon aligns with Paul Davidson, an ordained Episcopal minister and sheriff in Southern Mississippi, who was introduced in Deep South set on the Natchez Trace Parkway.
My favorite British mystery series is the Inspector Thomas Lynley mysteries by Elizabeth George. Starting with A Suitable Vengeance in 1991 George has also just published her 17th title in the series, Believing the Lie. Although the series is named for Lynley my favorite character is Lynley’s partner, Sergeant Barbara Havers. The interaction between aristocratic Lynley and working class Havers adds depth to the well-crafted plots.
Three different mystery series are on my radar from author J.A. Jance. Starting in 1994’s Tombstone Courage, young widow Joanna Brady runs for sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona. There are now 14 in the series, including two, Partner in Crime and Fire and Ice, with one of Jance’s other series characters, J.P. Beaumont. Beaumont, first introduced in 1985 in Until Proven Guilty has grown over the 20 volumes in the series so try to look past his early chauvinism. Betrayal of Trust is the latest addition. The Ali Reynolds mysteries are also developing but I thought the first in this series, 2006’s Edge of Evil, was not on a par with Jance’s other offerings. The 7th in the series, Left for Dead, was just released in February.
I’ve read Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries, starting with A is for Alibi up to the recent publication of V is for Vengeance. They almost always have strong plots, but I wish that Kinsey Milhone had not remained static in time. It would make her more interesting.
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