Friday, May 27, 2011

Sworn to Silence

By Linda Castillo

I'll admit:  I'm not an avid reader of murder mysteries, although I tap into one now and again.  I picked up this particular book based on my interest in it's setting - Painters Mill, OH - a small, rural town set in the real-life landscape of mid-Ohio Amish country, a place not too far from my own small farm in Ohio.  I was curious about the descriptions I might find about the daily lives of Amish folks.

First Criticism:  This book is not a pleasant read about rural country life, flouncy skirts, pink cheeks, buggies and farms.  It is not a book that provides a quick peek into the private lives of the Amish.  The Amish lifestyle, and the people who associate as Amish, are not examined in any depth at all...plain and simple, this is a story about a Serial Killer and a cop who once-was-Amish.  It is a murder mystery so graphic and horrific in parts that I began to hesitate to continue reading it. After the first murder scene I read through, I woke up with nightmares.  Squeamish reader beware.  However, the good news is you can easily skim over those sections and not miss a beat of the book, which is what I quickly learned to do.

Also, I had some trouble swallowing the basic premise, or backdrop of the story.  A young girl now under a "bann" from the Amish, who has long since shucked off her bonnet and skirts for a badge..she is now a well-liked, albeit cursing and boozing Chief of Police, with a past laden with hard secrets....AND she coincidentally now presides in the same town that she was raised in - AND there just happens to be a serial killer on the loose...AND her own secrets just happen to align in a mysterious way with the serial killer.  I find the application of any one of these elements hard to swallow, much less all of them - this heroine character and events are so unlikely to occur in a small, rural Amish town in Ohio that it borders on fantasy.  All that said, if you can rise above the implausibility and the gorey yuck, you will be glad you did - it is a small price to pay for the engaging and compelling story that follows. 

And that's the beauty of this book, or any book.  A book can live in a place where few rules apply - it is a story, and Linda Castillo reserves the right to make it interesting.  Her crafty skill at story telling and character development make me want to believe the unbelievable.

And I do believe this book is now in the works to be a movie.  If I'm assured that I can cover my eyes during the murderous scenes and prolonged, slow panning of dead bodies, which I luckily will know in advance are coming since I read the book - count me in!

This review was submitted by Linda  - Linda is a busy professional and part time farmer who lives in the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.  In Linda's spare time, she reads a lot of farming and agriculture books, and tries to find novels that weave those themes into them.  Linda's current hobby includes collecting old time recipe books, and trying to learn how to bake from scratch again.

Click to purchase Sworn to Silence

False Witness

By Randy Singer
Author Randy Singer has been called the Christian John Grisham.  He lives up to this moniker in his new release, False Witness.
Clark Shealy and his wife Jessica are professional bounty hunters.  Repossessions and chasing down men and women who skipped out on bail are a way of life for the two.  Then one day, during what should have been a routine pick-up, the rug is pulled out from under Clark.  He is hired to track down an elusive professor for the ultimate price:  the life of his wife.  Using his limited resources and connections, Clark is in a race against time, a race which can only end in death.  The question is: whose?
Fast forward four years.  Third year law students Jamie Brock and Isaiah Haywood spend part of their time working for a free legal aid clinic.  Each are approached by clients with a hidden past and a perilous future.  Who are these clients? Who betrayed them? and just as important Who is after them?   The course Jamie and Isaiah start will take them (and the readers) on a dangerous adventure.  At the heart of the matter lies a seemingly impossible math equation with unprecedented value. The federal government, the Chinese mafia, the witness protection program and a law professor with a checkered past all play roles in this must read thriller. 
False Witness was previously released under the same name several years ago.  This new (and improved?) version includes changes geared at bringing a certain group of people to the minds of his readers:  the Dalits of India, the lowest in an unofficial caste system.  Just as his some of his characters do, Mr. Singer is seeking to aid these people with profits from sales of False Witness. Included in the book is information pertaining to the Dalits and their situation, as well as ways in which to help.
False Witness is a legal thriller with a subtle, yet present religious overtone.  The nature of the book goes a long way to prove that a good story can be accomplished and published without the usual coarse language and sex present in most popular thrillers of today.  Readers will also appreciate the fact that at the end of the book no questions are left remaining, no loose ends are overlooked. The story is complete, and readers will find themselves waiting in anticipation for Singer’s next release.
This review was submitted by Kristin  - Kristin is a wife, mom and the founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review over 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.
Click to purchase False Witness

The Sacred Journey

By Charles Foster
Get up.  Go.  Experience life as one only can on the road, stripped of responsibility, pressure and the burden to conform.  In this, in pilgrimage, can one only truly come to understand the Lord and gain a closer relationship with Him and with others.  This is what appears to be the message of The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster.
Based on conversations, literature and his own vast experiences, Mr. Foster presents a motivational book that challenges his readers to simply “go and seek.” See the world through new, child-like eyes.  Experience life with all of your senses and without the blindness and complacency of everyday living often brings.  See people for who they are rather than what they have to offer you.  Who would not want this?  Who would not want to simply be grateful for breath and for life without any other complexities?
The Sacred Journey takes its readers through the nomadic experiences of Abraham to Medieval crusades and modern day pilgrimages.  At its conclusion, Mr. Foster thoughtfully included questions for each chapter geared to motivate his readers to think and to absorb what he has written and shared.
This is a very well written book, however it is one that will likely offend many of its readers.  The thought that God prefers nomads to urban dwellers and that the sin of Sodom was their settlement will possibly be enough to cause some to stop their reading in the first half of the book.  Thoughts regarding the cities the Bible declares the Lord commanded to be built will enter the minds of some and will likely color their perspective as they continue to read.
Although many will not be able to simply get up and go on a pilgrimage due to responsibility and physical limitations, The Sacred Journey may still have some impact.  The idea of stripping away all the gloss and all the filth to reach the true being in each of us…the idea of giving and sharing even among strangers…the idea of seeking a relationship with the Lord without any barriers…all of these are worth dwelling on and seeking out.  The Sacred Journey may be the motivation some need to simply do these things.  Others who continue to the book’s end may find themselves challenged simply by looking at life from a previously unknown perspective.

This review was submitted by Kristin  - Kristin is a wife, mom and the founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review over 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.

Click to purchase
The Sacred Journey: The Ancient Practices

Spyder Hole

By Bob Nesoff
On a warm July morning, on a quiet beach on the Red Sea, gunmen appear and methodically kill everyone, including women and children, who had the misfortune of being on the beach.  Only one man survived.  Two months later, in a busy metropolitan city in the United States, over 3000 people are killed as terrorists hijack planes and use them as enormous missiles aimed at the heart of the city. Now, five years later, it is going to happen again.
In his new book Spyder Hole, author Bob Nesoff takes us into the world of the military’s elite. Combined forces of Israel’s Mossad, Britains SIS, and America’s CIA and special forces must piece together bits of information concerning a nuclear attack before it is too late.
Dan Halevi, an Israeli Mossad agent is haunted by the knowledge that although he had the information, he was unable to figure out what was going to happen in New York City until it was too late.  He is committed to not allowing that to ever happen again on his watch.  On his team, as his top aide, is Hesh Whitman, the lone survivor from the beach massacre at Eliat.  Hesh is blinded by a need for revenge after watching the murder of his bride on the beach.  His rage may prove to be a distraction and ultimately a stumbling block in this new race against time.
Information has been intercepted indicating a nuclear attack is imminent both on American and British soil.  With terrorists airing their demands, Haveli and his international team must find a way to get one step ahead in order to stop what promises to be a devastation unlike the world has ever seen before.  Indeed, the fate of an entire nation may hang in the balance.
Readers will find themselves holding their breath throughout the story’s twists and turns, only to let it out and have to hold it again in anticipation.  Rife with action, danger and nearly depleted countdowns, Spyder Hole is one book lovers of military thrillers will not want to miss.

This review was submitted by Kristin  - Kristin is a wife, mom and the founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review over 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.
Click to purchase Spyder Hole

The Day Before the Berlin Wall: Could We Have Stopped It?

By T.H.E. Hill
The Berlin Wall is perhaps one of the most abhorrent things constructed in recent times.  Dividing a nation, a city, and most of all, families, the wall stood as a beacon of despair, fear and hatred.
Nearly thirty years after its construction, the world watched and cheered as the wall finally came down on November 9, 1989.  What if the wall had never been built?  How would history have been changed?  How would the lives of those affected been different? What if we, as Americans, could have stopped the construction as rumors have long suggested?  That is the premise T.H.E. Hill explores in his new book The Day Before the Berlin Wall.
Marc Logan is a spy.  As an American counter intelligence agent, his job is to cross into Berlin on  a regular basis to pick up communications and information from his various undercover contacts.  It was a fairly routine life, although certainly fringed with danger.  All this changes one morning when he finds himself lying on the flood, head aching, covered in blood and wanted for a murder he knew he did not commit.  On top of this, he finds himself in possession of a key piece of information regarding a wall the German government has declared they never intend to build.  His intelligence relays information affirming the construction of a divisive wall as well as information detailing how the American forces, with very little effort, could prevent that construction from ever taking place.
Cat becomes mouse as Marc must now run a dangerous gauntlet to get the information into the right hands.  Wanted for murder, his face is everywhere and the police on all sides are looking for him.  As the deadline approaches, will he succeed or will the lives of everyone he knows and comes to meet along the way be changed forever?
The Day Before the Berlin Wall is a very interesting read.  That Mr. Hill has spent time in Germany is evident as he writes as one familiar with the layout and language of the land.  Those unfamiliar with the territory, may find themselves a bit confused by words such as Straβenbaun or Straβe, but the author thoughtfully provides a brief dictionary to aid the reader.  Odd punctuation and a cacophony of voices in Marc’s head prove to be a distraction at first, but as the story moves on, it all seems to work somehow.  A great twist of an ending caps off an intriguing work of historical fiction, leaving the reader wondering “What if…?”
This review was submitted by Kristin  - Kristin is a wife, mom and the founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review over 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.

Click to purchase The Day Before the Berlin Wall: Could We Have Stopped It?: An Alternate History of Cold War Espionage

Altamont Augie

By Richard Barager
“Sex, drugs and Rock-n-Roll” is the usual description given to the turbulent decade known as the ‘60’s. While this moniker certainly brings to mind the culture found in America at that time, it leaves out three key elements: Vietnam, protests and rioting. Enter Richard Barager’s new book Altamont Augie.
Caleb Levy is doing research for a new movie he hopes to pitch that is aimed at ripping apart the 60’s and everything his absent father held dear. In his research he uncovers a story that will change his life as well as relationships he has with those he holds dear.  It is the torrid and troubled story of David Noble and Jackie Lundquist.
Caught in a world of tense and often volatile situations, David and Jackie must make difficult and often painful decisions as their two opposite viewpoints collide and clash.  As she joins the protests to become the face of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), he joins the Marines to fight the war in Vietnam.  As they each seek something…as they each fight for their deeply held beliefs and views, the question remains: will their love stand the test of time, or will they too become casualties of a decade gone mad?
Coarse language, promiscuity, drug use and violent images are a staple in this book.  However, given the era, it is perhaps part of that which makes the book, although fiction, ring true.  One could very easily see the events depicted actually happening.  Mr. Barager does well to give a name and a multi-dimensional face to a difficult and different time in America’s history.
This review was submitted by Kristin  - Kristin is a wife, mom and the founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review over 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.

Click to purchase Altamont Augie

Case Closed? Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Science

By Susan Hughes
What happened to a missing Israeli submarine?  Did Anastasia really escape the murder of her family? How did an ancient pharaoh get lost and why did an airplane disappear minutes just before its scheduled landing?  These questions and more are discussed and answered in Susan Hughes’ new book Case Closed? Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Modern Science.
Using traditional and modern methods, nine mysteries are solved in this easy to read book.  Geared toward older children and young adults, Case Closed? presents its cases in a way which will fascinate and pique the interest of its readers.
Information on the background of the case (such as the history of Queen Hatshepsut), the investigators and the methods used to solve the mystery are given, aided by colorful and detailed illustrations and photographers.
Readers will learn about CAT scans, Shuttle Imaging Radar-B and computer simulations.  They will learn how tree rings, space shuttles, satellites, lab testing and more have all contributed to finding the answers to some of the history’s most interesting mysteries.
Each case is closed with a page-long summary of the conclusions reached by investigators.  In an effort to encourage the reader’s continued curiosity and interest each case is left with a new mystery to consider.  Where is “so-and-so’s” mummy?  What happened to the missing ships? Could someone have beaten Columbus to America?
Case Closed? would make a perfect gift for any history buff, arm-chair detective or budding scientist.  Parents be warned: your children may soon be talking of the fascinating science of DNA or begging to perform their own investigative experiments.

This review was submitted by Kristin  - Kristin is a wife, mom and the founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review over 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.

Click to purchase
Case Closed?: Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Modern Science

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Doctor's Journey

A Doctor's Journey: A Collection of MemoirsBy Dr. Frederic Mendelsohn

In “A Doctor’s Journey,” Frederic Mendelsohn shares memories of decades of his life and work as a neurosurgeon.

Broken down into several short, easy-to-digest essays, Mendelsohn’s memoirs take readers inside the hectic life of a surgeon and into the operating room, where we meet patients and their families as well as the people fighting to keep them alive.

Although television dramas and reality shows allow us to see the chaos inside a hospital, Mendelsohn’s descriptions of his real-life experiences allow us to understand the effects of the profession on the doctors and their families. 
Called into the ER on Thanksgiving to help a young epilepsy patient who has fallen on a carving knife during a seizure, he has to leave his family to save a life and inform his patient that changes in her condition mean the state will take her driver’s license. He weaves the tale of a young man injured in a waterskiing accident with his own story of saving a relative from swimming into the wake of a Coast Guard vessel. 

Mendelsohn also shares part of his journey into medicine. As a young man, he desperately wanted to play jazz – to have his instrument be an organic extension of his body and to be able to improvise the notes without even thinking. Although he never became a great jazz musician, he attended college on a music scholarship before discovering his knack for medicine. In neurosurgery, he says, he found the art he had been looking for.

The memoirs also introduce readers to patients they can relate to and pull for, from the story of a family who experiences a miraculous recovery only to wind up back in the ER facing a heartbreaking loss, to the story of a young boy who suffers a brain tumor to descriptions of a terrifying condition known as being “locked-in.”

While not technically perfect, Menelsohn’s writing is honest and turns complicated medical terminology into easy-to-understand layman’s language. “A Doctor’s Journey” is a quick, interesting insight into a profession often depicted in television but not as realistically or honestly.

This review was submitted by Jobetta  - Jobetta is a journalist and bibliophile from Oregon. Her addiction to bookstores and sales keeps her shelves well-stocked.

Click to puchase A Doctor's Journey: A Collection of Memoirs

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Unbelievable Adentures of a WW II German War Bride

By Ingeborg M. Johnston

When World War II era Germany comes to mind, thoughts of Hitler, the Nazi party and atrocities committed there inevitably come to mind. Yet it is said that only 10% of the German population were party members. What of the other 90%? What of their lives? How were they affected when their leader brought war to their country?

Meet Ingeborg Johnston. As a child, she lived in a small German town. She swam and enjoyed an idyllic, if not priviledged childhood with her parents and brother. As she grew, and the Nazi party came to power, she and her friends found themselves in a changing world as they hid from and tricked the groups of Hitler's Youth who would try to recruit them. As a teenager, instead of pursuing a course of study she had intended, she foudn herself working as a nurse, dodging bombs, hiding in shelters, aiding the sick, injured and dying in the war-torn city of Berlin.

In her new book The Unbelievable Adventures of a WWII German War Bride, Ingeborg M. Johnston shares with her readers the experiences of her lifetime.  Ranging from her journey to America as one of the first German war brides, to her experiences with the Mrs. America contest, Ingeborg invites and draws her readers in.  Whether she was teaching injured soldiers or blind children to swim, or encouraging a campaign of hugs, Inge sent her life attempting to improve the lives of others around her.  Readers will laugh with her at some mishaps, share in her grief over a brother left behind the dreaded Berlin Wall and will ultimately be in awe at the fulness of this one woman's remarkable life.

Rather than telling her account in a straightforward, chronological narrative, each chapter forcuses on a different experience in her life.  Sometimes the chapters flow in order, but often they skip from one time to another, forward and back.  While some may find this a bit disjointed or distracting, to others it will bring to mind a grandmother recounting tales of her life to her grandchildren.  In this, the layout of the book makes her accounts all the more realistic, authentic and amazing.

Closing the book at the end of the final chapter, the reader cannot help but be awed by this woman's incredible and yes, "unbelievable" adventures.  They may also find themselves motivated, perhaps to see the world from a different persective, through "Inge-tinted glasses."

Click to purchase The Unbelievable Adventures of a WWII German War Bride: Collections of Acts of Kindness in War and PeaceMotivational Books)

Birds Can Fly and So Can I

By Noa Nimrodi

Cinderella sang "A dream is a wish your heart makes.."  What child has never dreamed of flying? Who among us has never dreamed of soaring?  As a child, what was your dream? What was your fondest desire? Was it encouraged and supported, or was it frowned on, and your attention diverted to something more realistic?
Sadly dreams, particularly those sprung from the richness of childhood imagination, are often squashed by those who know that reality and dreamland do not always mix.  What if, instead of discouragement, encouragement was received when a child dreams?  Thoreau once wrote "I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

Noa Nimrodi's new book Birds Can Fly and So Can I explores this very concept.  As Giraffe watches the birds fly high above her, she dreams she could fly.  In the midst of her dreaming, suddenly she finds that her spots have become wings and she soars. She dances in the clouds and plays with her friends high up in the air. Instead of being mocked for her endeavors, or being put down because everyone knows giraffes do not fly, Giraffe receives praise from the birds she so admires. 

Of course, this is just a dream.  Giraffes - just like children - cannot grow wings and fly no matter how much they might desperately wish to.  Yet by the end of this short story, Giraffe is not sad. She does not mourn her inability to fly. In fact, she comes to realize that by pursuing her dream, ultimately she found something in herself that she loves. There was something special about her, something she could do that nobody else could. This “something” prompts the praise of both birds and friends alike.

By following her dream, Giraffe realizes potential she never knew she had.  Children, if allowed to dream, will also realize that same type of potential in themselves. Encouraging this mindset, encouraging children to dream and to reach for the stars, the author generously includes a section for children to write their dreams.  For who knows...maybe one day giraffes, er, children, really will fly.

This short story written as a rhyme will greatly appeal to young children.  Parents will find that their children are drawn not only by the rhythmic cadence of the book but by the light hearted illustrations as well. Birds Can Fly and So Can I  is one of those books that young ones will be “reading” along with you because they have unknowingly tucked away the words in their subconscious. They will absorb that subtle lesson and they will learn that they can soar, just like Giraffe. It is one of those books that that after you close its covers to put it away up on the shelf, they will be crying "Again, again! Please, just one more time." How can you resist, for you yourself once were a child, and you yourself knew what it was to dream.

For all you dreamers out there and for all you parents of young dreamers, this a book you’ll want in your nursery’s collection of favorite books.

This review was submitted by Kristin  - Kristin is a wife, mom and the founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review over 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.

Georgia Justice: Journey to Faith


By Jackie Carpenter
What would you do if you were wakened one night by a phone call that would change your world?  Who would you turn to when things seem to spiral out of control?  These are questions that author Jackie Carpenter faces in her new book Georgia Justice: Journey to Faith. 
In this book, readers are invited to witness the aftermath of a horrible and tragic accident; an accident that leaves Jackie’s youngest son sitting in a prison cell, charged with murder.  As Jackie struggles to come to grips and an understanding of her son’s arrest and upcoming trial, she shares with her readers a very real picture of her sorrow and despair.
This story unfolds in a way different from what many readers will expect or have experienced previously. Rather than receiving every detail of her son’s arrest, imprisonment and trial, Journey to Faith focuses not on everyday living, but rather on the spiritual struggles Jackie faced throughout the ordeal.
There are many different views on faith and there will be those who have difficulty understanding and accepting various aspects of Jackie’s faith.  However most will agree that faith is something that can grow and be strengthened.  That aspect is what makes Journey to Faith unique.  In this account, readers get to witness a faith grow from the depths of “I can’t do this” to the heights of “I know You, Lord are in control.”
To help describe her spiritual state through the various aspects of the story, Jackie includes passages of Scripture.  This is perhaps the highlight of the book – to watch a progression of faith using Scriptures and seeing that echoed and applied in a person’s life.  To witness the impact of a maturing faith, one cannot help but take a look at their own faith and wonder how their own faith would withstand a similar trial.  One might even be led to question “What will the Lord use to bring my faith from “The cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me” (Psalm 18:5, ESV)… to “Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress” (Psalm 71:3, ESV)?

This review was submitted by Kristin Pace - Kristin is a wife, mom and the founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review over 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.

Monday, April 18, 2011

World Made by Hands

By James Howard Kunstler

This is a book that has been out for a few years, and has already received a great deal of attention. The book is about a changed world, some 40-ish years in the future.  Society is run in an archaic and rudimentary system of survival, humans have gone back to the basics, government is mostly dismantled, and broken hearted communities struggle to regain the knowledge and skillsets that kept our ancestors alive in the 1800's. 

The decline in society is attributed to a compilation of events - terrorist attacks, the collapse of globalism, oil and energy shortages, flu epidemics, natural disasters, all leading to enough disintegration where the citizens are left with little choice but to begin again - by hand.  Most, if not all the survivors, have lost original family members and struggle to reconcile that loss. 

Yet, contrary  to other "end of the world" stories, this book paints a brighter picture, where streams are filled with fish, veggies grow in gardens, and folks regroup and attempt to regain what has been lost.  There is a resurgence in the power of the local church, in music, and in eating good food.  Those not drawn to the church are protrayed loosely as a maruading, pillaging group set on the hill, scavenging and conniving against those down below.   Good vs. Evil. 

All of this seems plausible to me.  Something I could feasibly imagine happening.  However, while the themes at the core seem real, the story line quickly strays far from anything tangibly concrete.  It jumps headfirst into a curious, mystical plot, where the main character is an ex-business exec, who hones skills as a wood carpenter AND a fiddler.  Introduced early in the story is a mysterious religious group with cultish and ambiguous behaviors - exhibiting both benevolent or oppressive antics that leave the reader wondering which side they truly represent. 

This religious cult produces the book's surprise ending - leaving the reader with "more questions than answers".  This ending hints that the book is intended to become a series and in fact, the sequel was released in the fall of 2010 - it is called "The Witch of Hebron", which I have not ventured to read yet.  I'm curious, so I intend to pick it up and give it a go, however, my greatest interest centers on the realistic themes of rebuilding the world after great disaster and destruction. 

The other aspects of the book - the mystical plot, the shallow character development - all of this I found less compelling, so we shall see which audience Kunstler caters more to  - the realistic survivalists types, or the sci-fi bunch. In any case, I find that the book still sticks with me, and I think of it often, as evidenced by my spending some time writing about it. 


This review was submitted by Linda ElderLinda is a busy professional and part time farmer who lives in the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.  In Linda's spare time, she reads a lot of farming and agriculture books, and tries to find novels that weave those themes into them.  Linda's current hobby includes collecting old time recipe books, and trying to learn how to bake from scratch again.

Click to purchase World Made by Hand: A Novel

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Final Summit

By Andy Andrews

What if the fate of humanity rests in your hands?  What if you are given only five chances to find the solution to society's decline? What if your choice was wrong?  This is the scenario author and speaker Andy Andrews presents in his new book The Final Summit.

Seventy-four year old David Ponder has had a remarkable life.  Through public trials, he - with his wife, Ellen, by his side - has endured to become somewhat of a living legend.  David has likely seen and done it all, including time travel.  From wisdom gained from conversations with Abraham Lincoln, Anne Frank, Harry S. Truman, King Solomon and even the angel Gabriel, David worked hard to create a better world for himself and for others.  Using seven decisions pertaining to happiness, responsibility, action, determination, wisdom, forgiveness and persistence, David has used what he learned to have a successful second chance, freely sharing his wisdom and sound advice with others.

Now, however, David sits alone in his penthouse suite, mourning and lost without his beloved Ellen, who had died suddenly a few months ago.  Certain his life is over, David sits in silence, solitude and contemplation, unaware of the great responsibility, opportunity and difficult about to be given to him.

David, along with a forum of history's "greats" must determine within a limited amount of time, two words that spell the solution to society's problems and great decline.  They are humanity's last hope.  Should they fail, humanity's terrible fate will be sealed.

The Final Summit is one of those books that once picked up is difficult to put back down.  Readers will feel the frustration, the urgency, the elation and the disappointment of this remarkable cast of characters.  They will find themselves caught up in the discussions, wishing to shout out their own ideas and suggestions.  Brief history lessons, surprises and the overall reality of the characters make The Final Summit a thoroughly enjoyable read.  An added bonus is a Reader's Guide which will inevitably lead reader to question, "What can I do to make my own corner of the world, if not society as a whole, a better place?"

This review was submitted by Kristin Pace.  Kristin is a wife, mom and the founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review over 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.

Click to purchase The Final Summit: A Quest to Find the One Principle That Will Save Humanity

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lily Hates Goodbyes

By Jerilyn Marler
We are a nation that is proud of the soldiers serving in the military, fighting to protect our freedoms.  We are grateful for the sacrifices of these brave men and women, and we often seek ways to honor them as we rightfully should.  However, some of our nation’s youngest citizens also sacrifice greatly.  You see, they don’t see soldiers going off to war…they see Mommy and Daddy leaving again.
Through experiences with her own granddaughter, author Jerilyn Marler has seen first hand the pain, confusion and mixed emotions our soldiers’ children experience while their parents are deployed.
In Lily Hates Goodbyes, the reader meets a young girl struggling with her emotions while her father is gone for “a billion days.”  With each emotion she experiences, she is reassured that is okay to feel that way and is offered some creative outlets for her anger and for her sadness.
Lily Hates Goodbyes is a remarkably simple, yet beautiful book in both message and illustration.  Children are drawn to the book and enjoy reading about a little girl who, like them, sometimes feels sad and sometimes feels angry and sometimes blows kisses to the moon.  The military’s Family Readiness Groups should stock up on copies of Lily Hates Goodbyes as it is a must-have for any child facing a parent’s deployment.

This review was submitted by Kristin Pace. Kristin is a wife, mom and the founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review over 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.

 Click to purchase Lily Hates Goodbyes

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shades of Gray: A Novel of the Civil War in Virginia

By Jessica James

In a nation where Northerners and Southerners alike still occasionally need to be reminded “Do not re-fight the war,” it is apparent that echoes of a war fought nearly 150 years ago still linger. It is rare, then, to look upon the war and see beyond the issues to the people, the flesh and blood, whose lives and loyalties were tested in a bitter and deadly upheaval of American history. Yet author Jessica James, in her novel Shades of Gray: A Novel of the Civil War in Virginia or Tale of the War for Southern Independence in the Old Dominion, has developed a portal, if you will, that enables her readers to peer into history and do just that.

Virginia in 1862 sees a well known Confederate officer, Captain Alexander Hunter, along with his small yet loyal group of soldiers, strike fear and awe into the minds of the Union army. Virginia also hears echoes of rumors of an unknown yet crucial Union spy named Andrea Evans, who serves as a continuous source of frustration and irritation for the Confederacy and for Captain Hunter in particular. The war soon deals the two sworn enemies an interesting hand that will change the course of their lives forever.

Bound by a deathbed promise to a mutual loved one, Alex and Andrea soon find themselves in uncomfortable territory. Equally strong in their convictions and loyalties, each are determined to defend their country and home. These two seemingly opposite individuals, forced to keep uncomfortable company, must somehow find a way to reconcile or, at the least, come to an understanding of terms if either are to survive the war with lives and hearts intact. As their unwelcome truce lingers, both Alex and Andrea must look beyond the uniform, beyond the issues, and beyond the flags. They begin looking to the shades of gray where the stark humanity, the pride of home, the love and laughter that reside in each lie.

Readers will be drawn to Andrea’s passion and Alex’s fierce (though sometimes quiet) devotion to the land that he loves. The anger and fear depicted in Shades of Gray is at times almost palatable, the intense sorrow, frustration, and ultimately love seem to transcend the pages to settle in the very marrow of the reader’s bones.

Jessica James has produced a tremendous and wonderful saga about love, loyalty and honor for which she must be lauded.

This review was submitted by Kristin Pace. Kristin is a wife and mother and founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.

The Winter Rose

By Jennifer Donnelly

Los Angeles Book Review Prize winner Jennifer Donnelly met with great success in her work, A Northern Light. It should be no surprise that her new work, The Winter Rose, also holds its readers captive in a “breath-taking, page-turning” fashion from beginning to end.

When India Selwny Jones graduates from the London School of Medicine for Women, she embarks on a journey and a life that will take her far from the aristocracy, wealth, and comfort that she has always known. Though she fully intends to take on London’s “medieval” style of practicing medicine and reform women’s healthcare, will she be able to truly leave all that she’s ever known in order to delve into the dredges of London?

As one of the few women doctors in London at the turn of the twentieth century, India faces skepticism and chauvinism on the part of would-be patients and fellow doctors. As she dreams of opening a women’s clinic for the impoverished of London, she becomes painfully aware of the inadequacy of the training and background that she has received when it applies to the city’s poor.

Chance finds India treating and ultimately saving the life of the infamous Sid Malone, a notoriously ruthless yet charming London gangster. Having previously found themselves at better ends, the two seemingly ill-fitted people, surprisingly find themselves seeking each other’s company and skills before ultimately falling deeply in love.

Sid shows India the people of London in a way and depth she had never before imagined, forcing her to see the people rather than simply treat them. In return for this special gift, India gives Sid the opportunity to dream, perhaps for the first time, of a better life, one far from the violence and danger he has always known.

Disaster strikes the couple when a string of crimes rock the city of London. When a newly elected Member of Parliament is shot in an apparent assassination attempt and the body of a former mistress of Sid is found murdered, all believe that Sid Malone has gone on a murderous spree. Can the young love that has already had to conquer an ocean of differences survive this catastrophe? Or is true that once a villain, always a villain?

Aristocracy meets the impoverished. Politicians meet constituents. Good meets evil. Greed meets self sacrifice. Donnelly has taken all of these colors and has painted them on the canvas of London in the early 1900’s. Painting imagery with an accuracy in detail, Donnelly transports her readers to a different time and life. She has painted a masterpiece of mystery, love and heartbreak that will capture the imagination and hearts of her readers. Lovers of historical fiction will agree that The Winter Rose should be recognized as one of the best books to be published in its genre in recent times.

This review was submitted by Kristin Pace. Kristin is a wife and mother and founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.

Click to purchase The Winter Rose

The Shadows of Nikki

By Christine D. Patterson

It was once said  that “child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime.” There are thousands of children being abused or neglected every year. While there are systems and policies in place to protect the children, sadly too many slip through the cracks and are either returned to or left in abusive situations or simply never receive the help, protection and love that they so desperately need.

When author Christine Patterson met a troubled young woman called “Nikki,” she had no idea the tremendous impact it would have on her life. In an effort to make the public aware of the tragedies that plague the system, using personal journals and government documents, Patterson takes her readers back over four decades in her new book The Shadows of Nikki. It is here that the sad and horrifying story of a little girl named Nikki begins.

Adopted from overseas in what appears to have been an illegal adoption, little Nikki first came to live with the Taylors at a very young age. In a family with many children, possibly 10-12, initially it appears Nikki was lost in the crowd and blessedly overlooked. Struggling with the language barrier she soon made friends with one little girl she called “Little Sister.” Horrible sounds and screams fill their nights as the other children would be beaten mercilessly. One tragic night Little Sister was severely beaten by Mrs. Taylor. Horribly sick and in pain, Little Sister is taken away by Nikki’s older brothers and sisters and never seen nor mentioned again.

Nikki’s childhood was filled with repeated physical and sexual abuse as well as neglect at the hands of her adopted parents. She was bounced back and forth through the system, being alternatively placed in foster homes, Juvenile Hall or back at home with the Taylors. A series of tragedies mark Nikki’s life: at a young age she was removed from the Taylors and placed for three years with a family who welcomed, cared for and protected the young girl. At the end of three years she was removed from the home and given back to her parents due to State law. As a teenager, it was difficult to find a loving home due to her age. A variety of group homes did not work out and Nikki ended up spending most of her teen years in institutions such as Juvenile Hall.

This is a difficult book to read. The subject of child abuse and the effect it has on children’s lives as they become adults should never be easy or comfortable. The author wisely placed warnings on several chapters noting that the material within the chapter was graphic and not suitable for those under 18.

Aside from the subject material, the author’s personal comments were difficult to read as well. Primarily because of her outrage, it would seem, attention was not focused on grammatical or punctuation rules. This may well have been intentional given that part of the theme was the question of insanity. Overall, The Shadows of Nikki is a dark book that effectively draws much needed attention to the very real problem of child abuse.

This review was submitted by Kristin Pace. Kristin is a wife and mother and founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.

Click to purchase The Shadows of Nikki

Tales of New York: Some Will Surprise You

By John Keatts

What does the Eiffel Tower have to do with New York City? Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb? What is a Knickerbocker? These questions and more are answered in John Keatt’s new book Tales of New York.

Keatts, a long-time resident and professional tour guide of New York City, fascinates his audience with little known facts and tidbits about the city and its interesting history.

Explore the Lower East Side, Chinatown, Greenwich Village, Soho and Harlem with a resident’s eye. Learn how the Staten Island Ferry got its start from the imagination of a poor, humble sixteen year old farm boy. Enjoy the competition and rivalry between the designers of the Chrysler and Empire State buildings, forcing each to build higher and higher.

From the United Nations to the Bowery to Central Park to Ellis Island, Mr. Keatts takes his readers on a captivating tour of the Big Apple. (Why is it called that, anyway?)

Tales of New York is a great read. The book is so well written, the reader will begin to feel as if they are actually seeing New York City. This city already captures the imagination and ambition of millions around the world; this book adds depth, character and appeal that is heretofore unknown to outsiders.

Written in short, easily digestible chapters, Tales of New York can be read straight through chapter by chapter or, if one prefers, a short perusal of the table of contents will direct the reader to a particularly interesting segment of the book. While the chapters rarely exceed seven or eight pages in length, they are jam packed with history and information delivered in a fashion that leaves no doubt that John Keatts loves “his” city. The depth of knowledge and wealth of information is sure to leave ever reader exclaiming “That is really interesting!”

Anyone planning a trip to New York City wanting more than the usual tourist experience would do well to read and learn from Keatts’ years of experience and knowledge. History lovers will enjoy collecting the little known facts that saturate the pages of this book. Tales of New York would be a wonderful addition to the library of anyone wishing to broaden their horizons and learn about one of the most famous cities in the United States of America.

This review was submitted by Kristin Pace. Kristin is a wife and mother and founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.

The Rainforest Grew All Around

By Susan K. Mitchell

What is a rainforest? Who lives there? Children, aged 3-7, are invited to take a closer look at the rainforest of the Amazon in Susan Mitchell’s award winning new book, The Rainforest Grew All Around.

Written as an adaptation of the childhood favorite The Green Grass Grew All Around, Mitchell leads children deep into the jungle. Along their way, children will meet a variety of animals from the jaguar to the snake, ants to the sloth, frogs to the toucan and more.

Children’s attention will be captivated by the easy cadence of this book. Additionally they will find themselves fascinated by the beautiful and intricately detailed illustrations drawn by Connie McLennan. Children will be especially fond of the unique rainforest bugs and butterflies that can be found on every page.

Parents and teachers alike will appreciate the additional information about the rainforest and it’s inhabitants included in the book. Sidebars on every other page give detailed information about both plants and animals found in the rainforest. Special attention is given to jaguars, emerald tree boas, leafcutter ants, sloths, poison dart frogs, and bats as well as to kapok trees, liana vines, and bromeliads. Questions and activities, including a recipe for Rainforest Cookies, designed to make young minds think, can be found in a special section in the back of the book titled “For Creative Minds.”

 The Rainforest Grew All Around was awarded Learning Magazine’s 2008 Teacher’s Choice Award as well as the Honor’s Award from the 2007 National Parenting Publications Award (NAAPA). This wonderful book will be especially appreciated by teachers and parents alike looking for that extra “something” that makes learning fun and unique.

This review was submitted by Kristin Pace. Kristin is a wife and mother and founder of The Book-Trotter.  She wrote her first review 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.