Archive for the ‘book review’ Category

Blood Over Badge – Wayne Farquhar

Title: Blood Over BadgeBlood Over Badge Shannon Evans Book Review

Author: Wayne Farquhar

Publisher: 3L Publishing

Date: 2010

Wayne Farquhar, former member of the San Jose Police Department, knows how to weave a good detective story. His first crime thriller, Blood Over Badge is a fast paced study of intrigue and the gritty raw efforts of detective work. Farquhar does a good job of depicting the good and the bad of the US Justice and penal system. Moving from a socio-paths trial that lands him squarely in the dreaded Louisiana penal colony Angola to the viscous murder of the mayor of San Francisco’s daughter in a seemingly unrelated crime, Blood Over Badge moves the reader swiftly from scene to scene. The soft underbelly of the evil that men do in the name of good and the good that the evil do to stay alive in the schizoid world of prison is explored through the twists and turns of this eye-popping book.

Farquhar’s police experience shines through in his realistic representation of the world of his two character homicide detectives. The twist and turns of the sub plots and the underlying back story keeps the reader hungry for more. This book is guaranteed to be a late night page turner in which the reader will be burning the midnight oil to get to the surprise ending to see if good or evil wins in the end. A good read, this is a book to share with your crime thriller loving friends. I can’t wait to see what Wayne Farquhar writes next to follow the success of Blood Over Badge!


As the Sycamore Grows By Jennie Miller Helderman

Title: As the Sycamore Grows

Author: Jennie Miller Helderman

Publisher: The Summers Bridgewater Press

Date: 2010

Every now and then a true story comes along that leaves a searing impression imprinted on your brain. The white heat of the pain and suffering of the people’s lives contained within the pages of a book can so seldom cut you to the quick and take away your breath. As the Sycamore Grows not only takes the wind from you with the brutality that only spousal abuse can evoke…but it also makes you double over and wrench with pain for all the shame, and humiliation that the wife must feel at the hands of her iron-fisted, hardheaded, Bible thumping spouse. The visceral knee-jerk reaction to the all too common human story that emerges from this work makes you grit your teeth and have to press on to get to the end of the story.

Helderman shows the reader the rise of the bully, through the verbal, emotional, and physical abuse of the victim and her children, and follows them as they escape and learn to not only survive but thrive as they claw their way to freedom. Gripping, raw, and filled with the universal story of every victim’s slippery slide down the spiral of spousal abuse’s As the Sycamore Grows chronicles the lives of Ginger, Mike, and three children from Texas to Tennessee. The pattern of abuse so entrenched in their lives that it seems normal and to be expected and creates a sense of complacency so that each can make sense of the neurotic behavior of their abuser, Mike.

Helderman does an excellent job of not just telling us the story of Mike and Ginger but shows us the story letting the truth and the details of their co-dependent relationship unfold before the reader. Her masterful mixture of fact, documents, and the stories of the abuse are recounted in such a way that the reader’s attention is raptly held. Abuse is a tough subject to write about, but As the Sycamore Grows tells more about the toughness of those that survive abuse than of the twisted events that precede it. This book is a solid read and a must have for anyone who works or volunteers with the victims of abuse.

The Knight Family Legacy – One Family’s Story by Marilyn R. Hill-Sutton

Title: The Knight Family Legacy – One Family’s Story

Author: Marilyn R. Hill-Sutton

Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc

Date: 2010

The Knight Family Legacy is an in-depth study of the world of a plantation owner and mulatto progeny in dispute with his white heirs as they fight over the legality of their benefactor’s last will and testament.  Filled with documents, transcripts, and historical records of the time, Hill-Sutton’s book is an interesting study into an unprecedented court battle between white and black heirs.

Major Knight, a decorated civil war veteran and attorney fathered several children with Violet a slave on his property. Knight’s siblings end up locked in a court battle over the fact that Knight bequeathed his entire estate to his former slave now emancipated children.  This was unprecedented as many anti-miscegenation laws were coming to fruition in the deep south out of a fear of the black majority rising up and assuming political and economic control of what was firmly clutched in the fists of white upper middle class society of the time. In order to quash the rising tide of  white fear and to promote a ‘healing’ of sorts, the lands that were previously awarded to or held by blacks under Lincoln were taken back under Johnson. Jim Crow laws and apartheid were alive and well when Major Knight died and left his estate to his black children instead of his white siblings. Perhaps what is of even more interestin this book is that Knight’s mulatto son Jacob (Jake) fought on behalf of his mother and siblings to champion his father’s final wishes.

Hill-Sutton has amassed page after page of documentation to reveal what transpired both in the life of Maj. John Knight, Jr. as well as during the fight between his children for their inheritance. While her depth of research is to be commended it was wished by this reader that more of the story telling of events would have occurred and less enumeration of price of buggies and saddles.  These are all of great interest from a historical perspective but a deeper connection to the man and his love for Violet and the children or his sense of guilt for their circumstances would have benefited the reading of the lengthy tomb.

The countless documents and the transcriptions of the court documents paint a stark picture of the realities for white and black alike during reconstruction and post reconstruction in the south. This book will prove to be an invaluable resource for Pike County, GA researchers. The Knight Family Legacy’s exhaustive study into one family’s interwoven connections will hopefully pave the way for many others to come as researchers try to unravel the cross section of multiracial family connections in the post Civil War south.

No Plot? No Problem! Chris Baty’s How to Write a Novel in 30 Days

Title: No Plot? No Problem! Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days

Nanowrimo Chris Baty Mywritingmentor

Author: Chris Baty

Publisher: Chronicle Books

National Novel Writing Month is coming up (November) and I like so many of my writing compadres are chomping at the bit to get started. We are dreaming up plot lines, characters, and all the scrapes they can get into along the way.  Those of us who have participated in years past know how exhilarating Nanowrimo can be but we also know what happens along about week two when all your friends are at all the cool kid activities and you are only 10,000 words into your 50,000 word requirement.

Chris Baty’s No Plot? No Problem! is a solid study in how to not just survive the doldrums of middle month writing but how to conquer the roadblocks and distractions that jump out at you along the way. His no nonsense approach to putting words on paper make writing 50,000+ words in a month not only possible but accomplished by even the rawest of new novelists.  No Plot? No Problem! is not a step by step book on how to write a novel. It is a survivalists guide for how to meet your word count and keep your sanity all the while not losing all your friends and maybe getting carpal tunnel syndrome along the way.

Snarky, bossy, understanding, and spunky, Baty does a superb job of making the large project of Nanowrimo seem not only ‘doable’ but something to look forward to year after year. Part therapist, part drill sergeant, Chris Baty does an outstanding job of taking a large task and chunking it down to a series of efforts that all add up to one large volume in the end. No Plot? No Problem! Is a good read to get any writer back into the right mindset to embark on their 30 day trek to a raw novel.

How to Win a Chestnut Fight By Albert Dell’Apa

Title: How to Win a Chestnut Fight

Author: Albert Dell’Apa

Date: 2010

How to Win a Chestnut Fight is an adult ‘coming of age’ story  The Desanctis family is called together to be with their father the stalwart family patriarch suddenly facing his own mortality. Andy, the successful kid brother and his brother Rick return to face their own personal demons.

The small town ‘ghosts’ of their past are reminiscent of any small town childhood of Small Town, Anywhere.  Andy and his brother Rick’s childhood foibles and indiscretions haunt them into their adulthood. The shame and fear of the memories and the potential consequences have kept Andy away for many, many years. Now he is back and those memories hit him squarely between the eyes.

Dell’Apa has done a good job of making us sympathetic to the three DeSanctis siblings; however, much of the story is merely delivered to the reader. The author, while painting a clear picture of all the characters gives us much of the back story in lengthy passages where the reader would have preferred to have the story unfold through dialogue. The story is good, rich with details, and worthy of the read. The journey that Andy takes back to find “home” and to understand and embrace its true meaning is told poignantly and convincingly.  How to Win a Chestnut Fight is a solid first effort by Albert Dell’ Apa.

Miss Hildreth Wore Brown – Anecdotes of a Southern Belle by Olivia deBelle Byrd

Title: Miss Hildreth Wore Brown Anecdotes of a Southern Belle

Author: Olivia deBelle Byrd

Publisher: Morgan James

Date: 2010

Miss Hidreth is the quintessential southern lady. She is prim and proper and full of quirky insights into the relationships of the people around her. She has peculiar tastes and magnolia tainted observations of births, graduations, weddings, and a myriad of other social gatherings so prevalent in southern culture. She is a paragon of platitudes!

Olivia Byrd had crafted a fun and giddy look into the world of Miss Hilreth. Her descriptions of southern ladies and gentlemen is a fun frolicking romp into the world of camelia scented sitting rooms served up with a side order of bourbon over crushed ice and simple syrup in silver Jefferson cups. Charming, light, and a romping good read, Miss Hilldreth Wore Brown Anecdotes of a Southern Belle is just the start for MS Byrd, it is certain that a lady of her fine breeding and cultured background has many more stories to share with her eager audience.

A Heart Apart – A Customizable Book by Melissa Seligman and Christina Piper

Title: A Heart ApartA Heart Apart - The Perfect book for a child whose parent is deployed.

Author/Illustrator: Melissa Seligman and Christina Piper

Date: 2010

Military children have so little literature out there that illustrates the difficulties and sadness that goes with repeated deployments and TDY’s. Seligman and Piper have created an amazing picture book with A Heart Apart that is perfect for the military child whose parent must be away in service to the country. Told from the perspective of a service star, this darling book tells the story so familiar to our military families: painful goodbyes, the wonder of what a parent is doing while they are gone, whether they think about their family as often as those left behind think of them, and the all important always exciting reunion.

Told through personal photos provided by family members of both the child(ren) and the service member in and out of uniform as well as customized to the service branch, this book is an excellent tool for the military family.  Use this book over and over on those really long and especially taxing days of deployment for any small military child. They really are the smallest heroes of our military. If you have a ‘brat’ in your heart…they need A Heart Apart.