Title: The House on Bo-Kay Lane
Author: Greta Burroughs
Reviewer: Dannye Williamsen
Having read the first in this series, Gerald and the Wee People
, I was not surprised to find myself just as captured by this tale. In the first book, we were taken via a portal into another world that only Gerald could see, and he and Vernon’s time with the Wee People was filled with heroic adventures. In The House on Bo-Kay Lane
, Gerald and Vernon discover that their adventures have only just begun. Author Greta Burroughs cleverly brings the world of the Wee People into Gerald’s world this time. Gerald is joined by his friend Vernon again and by Andrew, his father, in the quest to discover the mystery that lies within the house on Bo-Kay Lane.
There is magic mixed with science, entwining the future with the present. The race to save the world of the Wee People and their own future pushes Gerald and his father to the outer edges of their willingness to accept the unknown.
The author classifies this book as one for middle grade children primarily. Apparently, the child in me was active when I read this book because I enjoyed going along on their adventure, too.
Title: The Seventh Stone
Author: Pamela Hegarty
Reviewer: Dannye WilliamsenThe Seventh Stone by Pamela Hegarty is not a story for those who are all about action and care nothing for the historical background that is spurring this plot onward. If you’ve become accustomed to a quick read, you might be too quick to judge this book. True, it is long, but I thought Hegarty did an excellent job of keeping me on track with the story. I was fascinated by how she took this piece of history and wove it into such a complex plot that unfolded in so many different corners of the world and yet came together smoothly at the end.
Years ago, when Dan Brown published The DaVinci Code
, I discovered that I was not alone in being unimpressed with his writing. The movie was much better than the book. Professional reviews of The DaVinci Code have used phrases such as “intelligent and lucid thriller,
” “a collection of fascinating esoteria culled from 2,000 years of Western history
,” “exhaustively researched page-turner about secret religious societies, ancient coverups and savage vengeance
.” The Seventh Stone
could easily be described with these same phrases. I would recommend this book to anyone who is excited to read a novel that will educate and inspire.
Title: The Gay Mardi Gras Murders
Author: Sylvia Massara
ASIN: B00BBS2R88Reviewer: Dannye WIlliamsen
Author Sylvia Massara describes her main character in The Gay Mardi Gras Murders
as a “smartarse, older chick, super sleuth,” and I have to agree. Readers of this series will not be disappointed with this book because all the memorable characters that fill Mia’s life are still around, stirring up her antagonism and her passions. Sometimes, however, I do feel the urge to shake her loose from her competitive streak. It makes her a better sleuth in many ways, but it does now and then seem to cut her nose off to spite her face on a personal level.
The murderer who has the misfortune of enacting their crime within striking distance of Mia Ferrari is brought to justice, but not without the reader experiencing a thrilling ride that takes you through the world of drag queens, transsexuals, and family dramas.
If you haven’t read the first novel in this series, I suggest that you start your adventure with Mia Ferrari by reading Playing With The Bad Boys
first and then following the Queen of Sassy into The Gay Mardi Gras Murders
. The energy that Ms Massara has invested in this series shows clearly in her writing style and quality of presentation.
Title: The Soul Bearers
Author: Sylvia Massara
Reviewer: Dannye Williamsen
Once the mystical tale of the Soul Bearers is revealed, the impending sorrow is evident. However, The Soul Bearers
is not about this loss. It is about the journey that surrounds the loss. It is about discovering unconditional love, about letting go of the past in order to rejoice in the present, about learning how to love yourself enough to be open and receptive to life. Author Sylvia Massara does an excellent job of weaving the psychological evolution of the characters into the story, drawing you into their pain as well as their joy.
Alex is a woman who was damaged by her stepfather’s abuse and left home at fifteen, eventually becoming a travel writer, which allows her to avoid commitments to people or places. Her life begins to change when she makes her first commitment to putting down roots and facing her fears because it draws her into the world of Matthew and Steve.
Matthew is the gay and extraordinarily handsome partner of Steve, who is dying of AIDS. Thrown out of his home when his father discovered he was gay, Matthew depended on friends for support until he met Steve, who became the love of his life. Despite the joy of having Steve in his life, Matthew has never reconciled his feelings about being rejected so completely by his parents or the superficiality of those attracted solely by his looks.
Steve has had to face the ultimate challenge—the knowledge that he is dying. He has developed a sense of peace around the process—a peace that allows him to offer those around him unconditional love and understanding. It is a gift that both Alex and Matthew need if they are going to survive their pasts.
It takes courage to change one’s life, and Massara’s characters exhibit this reality of change. Massara doesn’t trivialize the effort required or sugarcoat the angst involved, which makes it all the more real for the reader. You may be surprised at the turn of events in this novel, but Massara doesn’t disappoint as she takes you on an emotional journey that will touch your heart.
Title: Angelo’s Journey
Author: Angelo and Leland Dirks
Reviewer: Dannye WilliamsenAngelo’s Journey
by Leland Dirks is a tale that springs from the deep love a man has for his beloved Border Collie and the irreplaceable companionship they share. When Angelo inexplicably disappeared for five weeks, Dirks went through 4 ½ stages of grief. The final stage of acceptance was not easy, but it led him to seek out Maggie, a Lab mix. She wasn’t Angelo, but he felt a definite bond with her. Still, he could never quite make it through the fifth stage and give up on Angelo.
Angelo’s return sparked the imagination of his owner and co-author, Leland Dirks, to recount what he envisioned to be the purpose of his beloved dog’s miraculous journey home. The short vignettes of Angelo’s encounters, interspersed with Dirks’ actual blog posts, keep us emotionally connected with the passing days of both Dirks, the Man as he is called in the book, and Angelo.
Perhaps best described as creative nonfiction, this book manages to tug on a whole gamut of emotions: the anger felt towards a man who abuses Angelo counterbalanced by compassion for the dog, hope arising for a spurned woman in Stockton, Texas, the excitement building for a 71-year-old woman who gathers enough confidence to change her life—to only mention a few. Even if you’re able to stem the flow of tears through Angelo’s journey home, by the time he’s only 25 miles from home, sitting on the side of the road for days watching for a familiar face, you will not be able to hold them back any longer. Trust me.
Even though most of Angelo’s encounters are imaginary, they weave a metaphorical thread through the reader, connecting you to all the emotions that inspire us to be better human beings. This is not a lengthy novel, and its presentation is different from most; however, it will touch your heart, and who knows, you may even walk away feeling a little more optimistic about your own life. “If we were all like angels, the world would be a heavenly place.”
Author: Richard C. Hale
Reviewer: Dannye WilliamsenFrozen Past
by Richard C. Hale will surprise you. At first it seemed like the book might turn out to be a suspenseful story targeted at high school kids. The intensity, however, started to shift about 6% of the way into the book. After that, Hale skillfully drew in adult characters whose destinies were aligned with those of the kids and who were just as desperate to end the reign of terror unfolding as they were. The suspense spiraled until I was riveted to the Kindle, anxious to see how it was going to develop.
One particular aspect of Hale’s writing that I enjoyed involved the combination of the mystery with the thriller. In a thriller, the reader knows who the bad guy is, and the story revolves around catching that person. In a mystery, the reader learns more and more clues designed to help her eventually discover who the bad guy is. In the beginning, Hale takes the reader through a series of clues and misinformation on the trail of discovering the identity of the bad guy. However, once you know, that’s when the thrill ride really begins.
A Brother's Love
Author: Sandy Wolters
Reviewer: Dannye Williamsen
When Special Agent Rick Thomas is cornered into keeping his partner Pilar in the dark about a contract on her life by FBI Deputy Director Greg Olsen and Pilar’s brother, Special Agent Matthew Campos, he knows that all hell will eventually break loose. It doesn’t matter that Pilar is the target of the Snowflake Militia Group’s leader, Thorne Baker; Rick’s pretty sure that either his brother Amos, who he discovers has inexplicably agreed to let Pilar stay at his ranch undercover, or Pilar will kill each other or him. “No offense here, Matt, but my brother’s people skills make your sister look like the Queen of England. … They will kill each other within an hour. There has to be another way.”
When reading it, one might at first be caught up in the contract on Pilar’s life and the expectation of a gunfight at the O.K. corral, but this book is not really about that. It is about the strengths and weaknesses of the characters when confronted with events outside the normal boundaries of their chosen lives.
Pilar is a strong-willed, urban woman, not prone to being ordered around by men or anyone for that matter. Being the best at what she does as an FBI agent means being on the front lines. Hiding away at a ranch is definitely not her cup of tea. Amos Thomas is the male reflection of Pilar except that he is dedicated to the land, not the city lights. He has little use for the female of the species because of their manipulative nature, especially when it comes to roping a man. Both are so dead set on calling their own shots that they are afraid to let the other move past the walls they’ve constructed. Their resistance to accept what lies outside the norm for them, despite their emotional stirrings, is tearing them apart.
When Pilar’s brother Matthew and his son, the two people in Pilar’s life who had resided behind her emotional wall, are killed by Thorne Baker, Pilar’s only emotional support is ripped away from her and she withdraws into herself.. The strength of her connection to the two of them opens a channel of communication with their spirits. Her dialogue with Matthew gives her a new vantage point from which to view her life and gives her the strength to do what is crucial, not only regarding Thorne Baker, but also Amos.
Ms Wolters is a writer who emotionally bonds with her characters. She rarely treats a character lightly as you will find when you meet Mabel Forrest and Rick Thomas and even the interloper Elizabeth.
Author: Stuart Land
Reviewer: Dannye WIlliamsenEpiphany
by Stuart Land is one of those unusual works that crosses genres, but not because of the writing style or the writer’s intent, but due to the reader’s interpretation of the storyline. Like with The Matrix, which was full of metaphysical import, some may choose to classify Epiphany as science fiction; others as a thriller; some may even classify it as fantasy; but others, like myself, will call it mystical fiction. It is an allegory for what is energetically happening in our world today. The times, they are a-changin’, and as Epiphany beautifully relates, we have to be open to new experiences and new perspectives if we desire the peaceful existence we all claim to be seeking.
There are many main characters in this tale, but it is their changing relationships with each other and within themselves that will enthrall you until the end of the story, and hopefully, beyond. I usually offer the reader a taste of the story itself; however, I am reluctant to do that in this review because I want you to experience it without philosophies or prejudices getting a head start. No matter what you choose to see when you read this story, you will not be disappointed by the storyteller.
Author: Sandy Wolters
Reviewer: Darian Wilk
When first reading the synopsis of this book I was intrigued, the idea of fate pulling two people together, people seemingly impossible to fall for loves tricks, well obviously, that’s right up my alley! I was eager to dive into this one, and not at all disappointed once I started reading.
Wolters did a superb job showing the emotion, the unexplainable connection between Maggie and Michael. The characters feeling the strange sensations they both feared to ever feel, yet not being able to deny its existence, was very well described. You could sense the rush, confusion, fear and hope in the wave of their meeting. And from there, you couldn’t help rooting for love to triumph fear, and to crush Rafferty’s twisted hopes for his relationship with Maggie.
I was so pulled into this story I had to keep turning the pages. Just as I was about to cheer that love would survive, I saw how many pages were left and braced myself for heartache. In one turn after another love was at your fingertips, and then pulled away, then within reach again. It was a thrilling ride Maggie and Michael’s whirlwind relationship took me on. So much so that I finished the book in one day. Yes, neglecting everything I had on the to-do list, I plopped my kids in front of the TV and put a movie on for them – I just had to see how this ended.
I could easily connect with these characters, getting wrapped up in their every emotion came easy, and I can’t even quite say why. Which right there, is a sign of solid writing. They were real characters; flawed, broken, hopeful and scared. Much like we all have been at some point in our life.
The ending held a few surprises in it, and I won’t indulge you with whether it left me heartbroken, or embracing the excitement of a ‘happily ever after’. I will say however that it held within it many sweet moments. Overall this was an excellent read, and well worth the guilt of making my kids watch TV for an entire afternoon. The way Wolters developed the bond between Maggie and Michael, and the challenges they met to fight or accept love was, well…for anyone who has seen The Notebook, that feeling – you’ll find it in this book. If you’re a fan of love, a fan of getting sucked into the story of people meant to be together – yet almost pulled apart by circumstance, you’ll love this book. Wolters masterfully produced one of the best love stories I have read in a very long time.
Playing with the Bad Boys (A Mia Ferrari Mystery)
Author: Sylvia Massara
Reviewer: Karen Bryant Doering, Parents' Little Black Book
When an exclusive international hotel chain hosts a party for the rich and famous, everything must be perfect. The food, the service, the body on the grand piano. Wait, that's not right. That doesn't seem to be on the menu or part of the entertainment.
Mia Ferrari is a hotel executive, a frustrated detective and a woman in the midst of a divorce. The daughter of a cop, Mia always wanted to follow in his footsteps. But all is not lost. Mia has a real life murder mystery to solve, or maybe not; the police think it was suicide. Determined to prove them wrong, she enlists the help of her family friend, co-worker and ex-cop. Is she right or does her animosity against the police chief cloud her judgement.
As if investigating foul play isn't enough on her plate she has to deal with a temperamental chef, an ex-boyfriend who is the owner of the hotel and his 18 year old son who does IT on a part-time basis. Emotional complications abound.
So do drug deals, love affairs, internet intrigue, international criminals, sexy cars and younger men.
Mia is a wonderful character who at 48 has a take-no-prisoners attitude. She is witty, gutsy, brave and headstrong. To ease her mind and relax, she cooks. Italian food. For that alone she has my vote for Hotelier of the Year.
The writing is tight with good flow and character development. The dialogue moves the plot forward effortlessly without needless narration or explanation. The twists and turns in the story are well done and the clues are inserted with seamless ease.
Although the author is Australian and the book is set in Sydney, Australia, the novel has been re-edited to American English and vernacular for the U. S. market. Very well edited I might add.