The following is a list of Book Reviews published by a variety of people at Magic City Morning Star News since January 2015
Each week we publish a Book Basket in which is recorded the publicity material for 10 or more books. We cannot of course review every book but on that article page we offer all authors a 'no-pay no-charge self-promotions' deal.
Basically this deal is that in return for publishing articles at Magic City on any topic whatsoever, we will include in that article that author's latest book cover, their bio and purchase details and links. It's a case of 'you scratch our backs and we will scratch yours.
We have been quite fortunate because a few of the authors who have availed themselves of this offer have done so repeatedly. You can find the list of author articles for 2015 HERE.
We are always looking for contributors to Magic City Morning Star and would welcome regular writers as well as those interested in doing Book Reviews.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank publicists, authors, regular writers and book reviewers at Magic City Morning Star for their contributions.
Book Reviews 2015
M. Stevens-David Review: "Granny Glitter's Christmas Story" by Andreen Siracusa
Dec 30, 2015
This "children's" book "Granny Glitter's Christmas Story" by artist and graphic designer Andree Siracusa, was so beautifully written and colorfully illustrated that it takes the "reader's breath away. In my opinion, this is a story for all age groups and I'm certain that any child who has the opportunity to read this book for themselves, will cherish it too.
Martha Stevens-David Review: "A Drill Sergeant's Fame" by Kimberly Mae
Dec 30, 2015
After reading Kimberly Mae's heartfelt words and descriptions about training, battles and the on-going mental struggles she endured even after having left our military to return to her family, I really realized that even though our soldiers have been able to survive unspeakable atrocities in a war zone, these mental images never really leave them all the days of their lives. And I now understand why my two brothers, upon leaving the service, kept to themselves and never fully engaged with those who they felt "would never understand" the horrors they have lived through.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Go Set a Watchman" by Harper Lee
Dec 27, 2015
The story is well written and moves right along, but, looking back at it, I found a central part of the manuscript a work to expose bigotry. Blacks were still treated as not quite as "well" as whites, whatever that means. This central part of the manuscript appears to me to be a criticism of that white mindset. But it was in the Air Force in Biloxi, MI, where I recall the most blatant insult to blacks. A couple of white women had taken me to a Baptist church, about which I remember nothing, and on the way home as we approached the air base, one said, "They've got damn blacks guarding the base." That became my memory of Southern Baptists.
R.P. BenDedek review: "Seeing the Life" by Sophie Dawson
Dec 25, 2015
When one reads the Bible one must surely ask, 'how did they know Mary was a virgin?' Sophie Dawson provides the answer within this story. Have you ever wondered about the background story to Jesus' disappearance when he was 12 years old and how Mary and Joseph found him? That too is covered in the story. Have you ever wondered what was in Mary's mind when she asked Jesus to help out at the wedding in Cana? If so you will love the way that the author treats this issue. I burst out laughing! The storytelling was really inspired! It would I think be an interesting story even if it did not involve the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Breaking Point" by C.J.Box
Dec 20, 2015
Breaking Point was one of the best murder mysteries I've read for a long time. C.J. Box, the author, has written 13 novels featuring Joe Pickett. He has won several awards, and his books have been translated into 25 languages, according to the book cover. He lives outside of Cheyenne, WY with his family, a great place to live while writing Westerns.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Cover Story" by Gerry Boyle
Dec 13, 2015
Cover Story was a fairly typical murder mystery written by a Maine writer, a news reporter for the Central Maine Morning Sentinel. Although our first-person hero, Jack McMorrow, who in the story lived in the area of Liberty, Maine, as the reader who knows Maine can tell from his occasional comments about home. He had a girlfriend, Roxanne, who lived near his home. McMorrow who had written for the Boston Globe and the Times, was known to be a good news writer.
Martha Stevens-David Review: "A Year in the Village" by Petra Langa
Dec 13, 2015
This short story tells of the friendship of two young girls, Lisa and Eva and the different paths their lives have taken over the years. After years of separation, upon rediscovering each other, the two friends find that they still have much in common and Lisa sets out to help Eva gain control over her addiction to men, financial difficulties and alcohol.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Ashes to Ashes" by Tami Hoag
Dec 6, 2015
The first line, "Some killers are born. Some killers are made. And sometimes the origin of desire for homicide is lost in the tangle of roots that make an ugly childhood and a dangerous youth, so that no one may ever know if the urge was inbred or induced," sounds like it has a real message or guide to the plot. But I found it was as long and dragged out as the story itself. The author's photo shows her looking either serious or angry, I'm not sure which. Or it may have been to alert the reader to some of the tough story her 1999 tale tells.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Stories I Couldn't Tell While I Was a Pastor" by Bruce McIver
Nov 29, 2015
The book is a series of short stories, which reflect the writer's life. Some of them resembled my life in "the calling." Some of his stories are amusing, while some are a bit emotional. All seem to somehow convey the notion that everyone nearly worships a clergyman. This one lived in Texas but was from the Southeast. A few of his tales tell about his earlier home. Some of the tales are about his life after his wife passed away and his continuing relationship with his daughter.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Alert" by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
Nov 22, 2015
It was the kind of mystery that holds my attention, especially since after while I stop looking for typos. Or I could describe this one as "riveting," which I'm fairly sure means the same thing as "holds my attention." "James Patterson (born March 22, 1947) is an American author. He is largely known for his novels about fictional psychologist Alex Cross, the protagonist of the Alex Cross series. Patterson also wrote the Michael Bennett, Women's Murder Club, Maximum Ride, Daniel X, and the Witch and Wizard series.
Martha Stevens-David Book Review: "Raine's Rainbow Socks" by Richard Ditchburn
Nov 15, 2015
This short story is very well illustrated, very colorful and it should hold the attention of both the reader/parent and the child. The story is so well-done that it also makes the adult stop and think, about the colors of the rainbow and how to solve problems such as a child might encounter, all the while helping the child to learn how to think for themselves.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Naked Greed" by Stuart Woods
Nov 15, 2015
Theft, murder, or perilous confrontation, I did find the story a bit hard to follow, legs on the cover, Maine, criminal toughs, and all. (Maybe I should have been sitting up instead of lying on the sofa.) Priced $18.31 on Amazon.com for the hardcover, which I read, $13.99 for the Kindle Edition, and $6.13 for "used or new" editions.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Hellfire Canyon" by Max McCoy
Nov 8, 2015
This Max McCoy, book was published by Thorndike Press, Thorndike, ME in 2007 by arrangement with Pinnacle Books, imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp. My copy was a large print hardback with no price. Amazon.com lists this version at $4.79 for the Kindle Edition and the paperback at $39.80. McCoy also wrote more than one Indiana Jones thriller, The Moon Pool by McCoy and Reed McColm, Billy the Kid Beyond the Grave, Jesse, A Novel of Outlaw Jesse James, Damnation Road, Quantrill, The Even More Continuing Adventures of Max Bullet: The Chinese Food Delivery Man Sometimes (but not always) Knocks, and in case you like days farther back than the 1960s western, Indiana Jones and the Dinosaurs, and more.
Milt Gross Book Review: "The Wright Brothers" by David McCullough
Nov 1, 2015
Parts of it are almost unbelievable, like taking off from sand dunes to fly a few seconds. The pictures in this David McCullough book are also fascinating, seeing these two brothers and others as they fly and live normal lives. If you've only heard the tales of a flight on the shore, you "ain't heard nothing yet." For most interesting reading, grab this one somewhere and take a night off from the TV reruns to enjoy this spectacular tale of two guys who wanted to fly.
Laure McCourt Lopez Book Review: "Ordinary Evil" by Gene Ferraro
Nov 1, 2015
Ordinary Evil explores corruption within the established hierarchy of the Catholic Church.. Via a series of vignettes revealing the various characters preparing to converge upon the stage, Ferraro introduces the reader to a host of individuals who are all touched by a common thread. The characters are as varied as the locales they represent; from the pomp and tradition of Rome to the local parishes of Massachusetts come young seminarians, parish families, soup kitchen volunteers, stalwart Vatican diplomats and Catholic clerics of varying personal convictions. Yet it is in the Prologue that we are introduced to one that carries with him seeds of deceit that will be spread along the path of many and will test the trust of those with whom he comes in contact.
Martha Stevens-David Review: "The Life and Legend of a Polio Victim" by Dr. Cliff Edward Williams
Oct 28, 2015
Though his book is short with only seventy-eight pages, one can readily see from all Dr. Williams' awards, diplomas and credentials that this is a man who, when he sets his mind on achieving something, never gives up. Dr. Williams not only had to overcome the fact of being born a child of African descent but of being born in a "southern" state and all the "race and discrimination" that were so prevalent in that time and place. And he also had to deal with being a victim of Polio in that time and place.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Wonderland by Ace Atkins"
Oct 25, 2015
The plot is a typical Parker plot, started by him before his death, with lots of action and some humor. I won't go into it because the plots aren't Parker's strong points. Its all about following the action, as usual, wondering how our hero this time will win over the villains. He does, of course, and ends up in the last scene with long-time girlfriend Susan. "'Together again,' Susan said." That's how the late Parker's books are supposed to end, Spencer, Susan, and Pearl, the dog.
Martha Stevens-David Review: "Calico Jam" by Joanne Greene
Oct 14, 2015
This story is not a "feel good" book but it does illustrate how families react to different challenges be they divorce, illegitimate children or human beings just trying to make it in a difficult society and world. This story keeps the reader guessing and I was sincerely impressed with the writer's command of the English language.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Blaze" by Stephen King and his pen name, Richard Bachman
Oct 11, 2015
I learned a lot about Stephen King and his pen name, Richard Bachman, "King dedicated Bachman's early books -- Rage (1977), The Long Walk(1979), Roadwalk (1981), and The Running Man (1982) -- to people close to him. The link between King and his shadow writer was exposed after a Washington, D.C. bookstore clerk, Steve Brown, noted similarities between the writing styles of King and Bachman.
Martha Stevens-David Review: "To the Sun and Back" by April Awalt
Oct 10, 2015
I was so touched by the writer's ability to put her own monumental grief aside in order to complete this heart breaking task. I doubt that many parents, when faced with the loss of a beloved child, could have completed this heartfelt task, but April Awalt has. To the Sun and Back, is a sweet tale of parental love. The author lost her son at age ten to meningitis and wrote the book as a way of healing by reflecting upon the love and bond she shared with him.
R.P. BenDedek Interview with Beau Sides, author of "Unseen Tears."
Sep 23, 2015
Recently I did a quick search for statistics on abandoned babies in China. CCTV had a stat saying that in 2013 10,000 babies were abandoned in China and over 75% of them were disabled. I don't have any current accurate numbers, but I would imagine that as the total population grows there will be more children abandoned. As I mentioned earlier, baby hatches have been established and have been busy with the children they receive. From what I have read, more children were abandoned at the hatches than expected. In contrast to that, not as many couples registered to have a second child, which surprised many including myself... Man, my heart truly goes out to a person without their registration or Hukou in China! I am told that a person in that situation can't enroll in school or be legally employed.
Milt Gross Book Review: "The Last Bookaneer" by Matthew Pearl
Sep 13, 2015
A well-written story, Buckaneer, one I thoroughly enjoyed and a tale you should read if any of the details of Stevenson's life at all interest you. Bookaneers were those who borrowed or stole book manuscripts before laws protected publishers and printing houses in the early 1900s. It was a fictionalized account of Robert Louis Stevenson's final days on a Pacific Island.
Martha Stevens-David Review: "You Can Be Lucky Like Me" By Dr. Ron Deigh
Sep 6, 2015
Most people facing child abuse and abandonment would have just given up and let life over take them but not this man. He seemed to have an inner strength that others do not have and he learned from it and this intestinal fortitude has served him well, all of his days. Dr. Deigh's accomplishments are many and he has every reason to be proud. He illustrated that always having optimism, luck and determination to reach a given goal, is the best way to get what you want.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Fear the Silence" by Iain Cameron
Sep 6, 2015
The story was good in the latter part of the book. During the first part, I wasn't sure it was a story. But it got better toward the end. In fact, toward the end, it was a good, readable tale. What made it different from the rest of the self-published novels I've read is that this one is British. This means I'm lucky I know what a "boot" is...not footwear but a part of a car. Another problem that hindered this American reader was that the author used too many initials in front of names or documents. What a DC was I never found out.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Plum Lucky" by Janet Evanovich
Aug 30, 2015
Robert Parker and Evanovich are my favorite two writers, both fiction mystery, murder, and mayhem and both with humor tossed into the plot. The difference between the two is that Parker covers Boston, while Evanovich covers California and other warm places like Florida. In this one, there's crime, including kidnapping of Plum's grandmother, Grandma Mazur, as well as the horsey adventures. It's hard to imagine anyone with the courage to kidnap Stephanie's grandma! I can't loan you my copy, as its going back to Searsport's Carver Memorial Library soon.
R.P. BenDedek Book Review: "Unseen Tears" by Beau Sides
Aug 26, 2015
This book is an easy and quick read with a simple storyline and is full of cultural information and anecdotes. It would not qualify as a 'dramatic tear jerker,' but this fictional story is certainly an excellent vehicle for the author's educational purpose. Some readers may be shocked by some of the things that they will learn from this story, and that is to be expected because westerners naturally view the entire world through their own cultural perspective -- or 'rose colored glasses.' At one point in this story, Anne, the private orphanage director says, "...most foreigners have to be here a long, long time before they can begin to understand." How true that is. And I guess that is why the author has chosen to write the book. Merely quoting facts, figures and statistical information is hardly likely to engage readers with the reality of life in China.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Dog on It" by Spencer QuinnAug 23, 2015
Does a writer become better as he writes through several books? Does he hone his skills for a better tale? I've wondered that and still do. But in Dog on It, Spencer Quinn did a better job on his first, this one, than in the one of his I had read earlier, the seventh one of his dog-and-mystery series. But in Dog on It, Quinn did a much better job of combining doggie humor with the actual story. In fact, some of the story featured Chet, the dog in question, with his being the only action and Bernie, the doggie master, not being present for those parts.
M.W. Johnson Review: "Hope for the Nations" by Dr. Tom HollandAug 18, 2015
This book does not seem to be specifically designed for scholars and theology students. It is not a complicated read. The author's writing and expository style are delightful and illuminating. His presentation on the 'Law' and 'Circumcision' will surely be understood by everyone as will his explanation of the significance of 'Passover' and 'Atonement.' It is my personal belief that most Christians today have, and most Christian Preachers today preach, a poor quality imitation of Christianity. "Hope for the Nations" is not some fresh revelation of Christ but rather the 'meat of the Word of God.' It's purpose is to help the reader UNDERSTAND.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Wolf in Timber" by John Connolly
Aug 16, 2015
The first part of the story was good, a mysterious tiny church in the woods on the outskirts of the town, a mysterious preacher at the church who doesn't preach because there are no services, an evil Police Chief Morland, and a host of Prosperous locals who took in the stealthy goings on that begin the mystery. Maybe I'm just too old and numb to have followed the complicated plot, but I didn't. Parker is the lead character in a series of John Connolly novels, described in a cover page as a "thriller." You may find it really good. I hope so.
Milt Gross Book Review: "The Special Prisoner" by Jim Lehrer
Aug 2, 2015
This is an excellent book. The Special Prisoner is a novel, written by a career news journalist on public TV whose long-time job was telling the truth. John Quincy Watson, the lead characters, took part in bombing Japan during World War II. He was captured, when his plane went down, tortured and learned to hate his main torturer. Years later, as a bishop, Watson comes across the torturer by accident in an airport, follows the man to a hotel, and subsequently kills him.
M. Stevens-David Book Review: "The Curious Autobiography of Elaine Jakes" by H.R. Jakes
Jul 29, 2015
This book "The Curious Autobiography of Elaine Jakes," told by her son "H.R. Jakes" was very interesting to say the least. The book itself is not an "easy" read but the reader will learn a lot from what was written. Elaine Jakes lived in the eccentric community of New Hope, Penn., and in the 1970s and 1980s set out to discover her Welsh heritage, herself, and her God.
Milt Gross Book Review: "The Taking" by Dean Koontz
Jul 26, 2015
My impression of The Taking is that the story keeps repeating itself, the lead characters go to different places where the same gooey critters show up. This continues for most of the book, when, presto, the sun is out and the critters are gone. I've read a number of Koontz's books (for example Intensity which I reviewed in December 2012), but this one did not make the grade.
Milt Gross Book Review: "A World War I Adventure" by a group of the main character's relatives (The House of Harkness)
Jul 19, 2015
From the hype in the book, the story should have been about Harkness' chores for the British -- he was from Australia -- during the First World War. But what I found were apparently unedited (unless for spelling) page after page of the fighter's journal, including only a minor part, of interesting reading. I found the wartime stories credible, but I'm not sure I would use the word "adventures" to describe them. The parts about the early aircraft, seeming to be somewhat like a modern day Piper Cub or a bit larger, were fascinating. I would guess about 60 old photos caught my interest. Apparently some family member found Harkness' journal in an attic. And apparently the self-publishing publisher accepted good money from the family to have this non-book material published.
Martha Stevens-David Book Review: "Just Maagy" by Virginia Burton Stringer
Jul 19, 2015
First of all, I commend the author, Virginia Burton Stringer for having the insight and courage to take on a task such as this. Not only is her description of the young princess very interesting but the way she depicted this young child's feelings about her place in life, was very interesting also. I also loved the author's inclusion of a "glossary" for the reader to check the meaning of new or difficult words in the story and the drawings of each new event little Maagy encountered in young life.
Martha Stevens-David Review: "New Beginnings" by J. Gawlik
July 14, 2015
Right from the very beginning, the story carried the reader on a journey that sadly, many other humans have found themselves involved in when trying to make sense of life, love and the pursuit of happiness. The main character finds herself married with a small child and soon realizes that the man she thought would be with her all of her days, was the worst kind of husband possible.
Laure McCourt Lopez Review: "It's All about Him: Intimacy with God" By Dr. Lois Brittell
July 14, 2015
There are books that engage the reader in fast-paced adventure or melancholy drama while others offer visitations to historical backdrops but "It's All about Him," by Dr. Lois Brittell, allows its reading audience moments of reflective solitude and places of pause while journeying a road less travelled. May the reader feel inspired by the gentle prompting along the way as the tangibles of today's society such as anxiety, fear, anger, just to name a few, are thoughtfully explored; note that along the road less traveled there is ample time to put down the backpack, curl up into a comfortable spot and seek wisdom and answers in this narrative of spiritual refreshment.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Death of a Mill Girl" by Clyde Linsley
July 14, 2015
There is no information anywhere I looked about how to contact the author. I'd like to contact him, and his photo makes him appear friendly. Should he read this, maybe he'll contact me. Are you reading this, Clyde Linsley? A very interesting book based on a true setting. This is the first self-published book I've felt was really good. This book was good, a good story except that things got a bit wordy near the end so I was losing part of the story.
Martha Stevens-David Review: "A Life in Two Worlds" by Thomas Hughes
July 14, 2015
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the author's writings of having been born into a family, that due to his father's occupation and time and place, had to endure many heart wrenching incidents in order to just survive. And I was also impressed that as a very, intelligent young man, the author had the wherewithal to keep detailed diaries of what "war" really brings. As humans, we often never give much thought about how a "father's" profession might bring harm to one's innocent family members.
Martha Stevens-David Review: "Shot in the Head" by Katherine Dering
July 14, 2015
Paul, one of the boys in this Irish clan is diagnosed with Schizophrenia at age sixteen and the telling carries one through the devastation that his large family had to endure for the his sake and well-being. This work is very well-done and extremely educational because nearly every family can relate when a family member is stricken with an incurable illness. I was struck by the way the author told of her family's love for one another and I could feel their suffering and sorrow when they finally had to let Paul go.
Martha Stevens-David Review: "Death of a Mill Girl" by Clyde Linsley
July 9, 2015
Death of a Mill Girl" by Clyde Linsley held my attention from the very beginning. I found the author's "historical inclusions" to be very interesting. His ability to build the "suspense" factor in his story was also very well-done. According to the publicity material for this book two million American children suffered harsh working conditions during the Industrial Revolution but fixing the problem didn't happen until the early twentieth century.
Martha Stevens-David Review: "The Sketching Detective" by Jack McCormac
July 9, 2015
This story is a murder mystery but I found that most of the story line was combined with the story of a marriage that had gone off the road and one man's attempt to get his wife to show her love for him once again. It was not easy to understand because it has so many characters involved in the plot.
Milt Gross Book Review: "The Oregon Trail" by the late Francis Parkman Jr.
July 8, 2015
The book follows in first person a trip across part of the West, and it mentions contact with wagon trails heading for Oregon. But I didn't read of any trip in the first person of the Oregon Trail itself. The incidents in the book seem to be real, including camping with Native Americans. It's a book I'd recommend, because it shares the values or lack thereof of that period in American history, not made up from today but as the values were then. I personally am glad those values have changed. Had they not, there probably would be no buffalo alive today nor any parks of any type where the visitor can see what the land was like when the parks were founded.
M. Stevens-David Review: "A Forbidden Boundary" by Shauna Springs
July 8, 2015
This book, "A Forbidden Boundary" is an "historical" fiction novel written by Shauna Springs. Set in 1902, this work details the interactions of a wealthy inestment banker and his unrelenting control over his family and its servants. As the publicity material states: "..it teaches that some things never change. There are still issues of racism, classism and women's rights. Sometimes you have to sacrifice everything, including family, to be with the one you love."
Milt Gross Book Review: "My Own Cape Cod" by Gladys Taber
Jul 8, 2015
But Taber wrote about a quieter Cape, kind of like rural Maine was when I visited as a kid. Taber built a house at Still Cove near which is Mill Pond. She writes mostly about her neighborhood. But she does include a geological history going back 50,000 to 70,000 years, when she said the Cape was left when a sheet of ice from Labrador finally melted and, as Taber puts it, "Cape Cod was born." This edition of My Own Cape Cod was published in 1981 by Parnassus Imprints by an arrangement with Harper & Row.
Martha Stevens-David Review: "The Doctor's Stories" by Dr. Charles T. Chase
Jun 24, 2015
Dr. Chase, through his well-written stories, cited many examples of how a caring doctor can help others in dire medical need and even when circumstances were not as expected, this well-educated caring man, stepped up and did what was expected of him and more. Dr. Chase can go into his twilight years in peace.
Milt Gross Book Review: "House of Earth" by the late Woody Guthrie
Jun 20, 2015
Singer Woody Guthrie apparently wrote this book to promote building houses in Dust Bowl-era Texas from mud bricks, an improvement over the rickey wooden shacks most residents called home. Guthrie, who lived from 1912 to 1967, was an American folk song singer, whose best known song was the well-known "This Land Is Your Land." The back cover of the book states that Guthrie's "legacy" included over 3,000 songs with themes of history, politics, culture, spiritual, narrative and children's interests.
Martha Stevens-David Book Review: "Choosing to Live" by Jerry D. Campbell
Jun 19, 2015
"Choosing to Live" though small in pages, contains life changing information that all human beings should read because what Mr. Campbell experienced in the loss of his wife, can and will help prepare all those left behind in knowing what to do next. One never wishes to be "blindsided" by a sudden death as so many of us are. I was brought to tears upon reading the love-filled passages of a couple's love for one another the writer's agony in dealing with the loss of his beloved wife Veta.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Hound-dog Man, a novel", by Fred Gipson
Jun 14, 2015
This fiction novel covers a raccoon hunt by Blackie Scantling and two boys, one of whom, Cotton Kinney, is the hero of the story. It also covers home life in the Texas outback, the threats and defeat of a bad guy, a baby being born, and other typical incidents of early-twentieth-centure rural Texas. Gipson wrote it in first person...Years ago when I was teaching, I read Gipson's books, and I highly recommend this one if your sense of adventure has remained youthful.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Running with Scissors, a memoir" by Augusten Burroughs
Jun 9, 2015
The book is kind of quirky, weird, about a young man, the author, Augusten Burroughs, and his years as a teenager. Actually the book is a memoir, not fiction, and it is crass, describing many indecent scenes -- according to me -- of how Burroughs mother was mentally ill, his living a good part of the time in the house of the psychologist who is treating her, and the weird occurrences that took place.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Backpacks, Boots and Baguettes" by Simon Calder and Mick Webb
May 31, 2015
My understanding is this trail along the Pyrenees crossed many roads as well as rough places including hard climbing. Many times the two described their coming down a trail to a road and walking along the road. Their overnights were far different from the Appalachian Trail, as well. They seldom camped and spent most nights in hotels or inns with adequate meals.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Star Island" by Carl Hiaasen
May 24, 2015
I've been enjoying Hiaasen's books for years, and this one was no exception. Except for the story's becoming too complicated and some humor I found a bit below the good humor belt. This was typically Hiaasen amusing and a bit crude, a little confusing, but overall a good book. I've enjoyed Hiaasen's books more for the weird happenings than for the story plots.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Western" by Frank Yerby
May 17, 2015
In 2012, The New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote an article telling about an at-risk child whose life was turned around by reading Yerby books that one of his teachers was secretly providing to him. Yerby left the United States in 1955 in protest against racial discrimination, moving to Spain (then under the Franco regime), where he remained for the rest of his life.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Absolute Power" by David Baldacci
May 9, 2015
According to part of Wikipedia's write up, "David Baldacci was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. A graduate of Henrico High School, he received a B.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University and a law degree from the University of Virginia, after which he practiced law for nine years in Washington, D.C. "Baldacci and his wife, Michelle, are the co-founders of the Wish You Well Foundation, which works to combat illiteracy in the United States. Baldacci became involved with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society after his sister, author Sharon Baldacci, was diagnosed with MS."
M.W. Johnson Book Review: "Jewels found along the path of life" by Michael Francis England
May 6, 2015
I personally found the book to be a very good, honest, straightforward and plainly written story or testimony of this man's experiences. The first half of the book walks us through his life up until his missionary experiences overseas. He mentions but glosses over his sinful pre-salvation life; a factor which I found refreshing since I have no interest in listening to people practically reminiscing about the good bad old days. The stories and anecdotes plainly told allow the reader to directly connect with the author's experiences and for that reason this book would be ideal reading for both the unconverted and the new convert alike. For the older souls it brings back to remembrance the many different fears and burdens during the initial walk with Christ and for me personally, brought back many fond memories of people, churches and circumstances about which I had not thought of for many years.
Milt Gross Book Review: "The Mists of Adriana Book I" by Roger M. Woodbury
May 3, 2015
The author, Roger M. Woodbury, is a retired military off, decorated for service during the Vietnam War, and resides in mid-coastal Maine. The story has a good plot. In the story, the first-person unnamed lead character first meets Adriana when he stops to change a flat tire for her. His acquaintance with her leads to the rest of his adventures. Adriana says she is a lawyer, living and working in Portland. A large part of the action occurs in Portland. The title of this Kindle, The Mists of Adriana Book I, is the first thing I questioned about it. There are no mists.
Milt Gross Book Review: "That Yankee Cat, the Maine Coon" by Marilis Hornridge
April 26, 2015
The book has a chapter on tales of various Coon-cats, one of which is of a woman, Miss Lucinda, whose cat died at the age of 18. The woman "...swore she would never have her another cat, and she didn't for a long time. Then one day during a rainstorm, there came up on her porch a half-grown kitten, gold with dark orange stripes and meowed to be let in. He was all scraggly and scruffy and thin as a pencil and she couldn't resist him, so she let him n -- only for a while, she said, until she could find out who he belonged to. Of course, he took up his residence, and when he grew big, his tail fluffed out and his coat got all long and shaggy...," the homey language of this story is because it was told by another lady in a nursing home.
M.W. Johnson Book Review: "God's Trinity Demystified" by Rev. Adedeji David Adeoye
Apr 23, 2015
Now what is interesting about this book, is the way in which Rev Adeoye examines the issue of trinity, and I feel sure, that of all theological attempts to prove the posit, this book is unique in that its author does some strange investigating into the matter of creation to prove the Trinity. The author's fundamental idea is that God is comprised of three personalities consistently revealed in Genesis to be "Thought," "Word" and "Action." Using Genesis he shows that God thought the world into existence, then God spoke, and then God did actions.
Martha Stevens-David Book Review: "A Fox in the Family" by Jane King
Apr 20, 2015
This story is for more mature children and the subject matter will bring tears to one's eyes upon being read. One can only hope that there are more humans like the author "Jane King" who will step up and try their very best to save and support these wild creatures.
M. W. Johnson Book Review: "What is Salvation?" by Pastor Bill Parker
Apr 20, 2015
I found the book to be very well written and consider Pastor Parker an obviously good teacher. I would recommend the book to everyone who calls themselves a Christian, if for no other reason than to succinctly study again, what the basis of salvation is. I've read a lot of Christian books in my life, but none are as enjoyable as those which teach in simple fashion, the Scriptures as they appear. Well done Pastor.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Divine Justice" by David Baldacci
Apr 19, 2015
The author, David Baldacci, the author of 15 New York Times best sellers. His books have been published in over 40 languages and sold in over 80 countries, according to the book jacket. The book jacket relates that, with his wife, Baldacci began the Wish You Well Foundation, a non-profit organization supporting literacy efforts throughout America. They reside in Virginia from where the foundation also attempts to spread books across the U.S.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Smokin' Seventeen" by Janet Evanovich
Apr 13, 2015
I don't know if it's the location, Trenton, NJ, that has held my interest in all the Janet Evanovich novels I've read. But the location is part of it. I've only driven through Trenton once, carefully keeping my eyes straight ahead on the road so as not to see the unfriendly-looking groups hanging around on porches, steps, or from open windows.
R.P. BenDedek Book Review: "Extravagant Love" By Heather Smith
Apr 11, 2015
This is a very easy read that would appeal to most women and probably few men. It is what I would call a 'feel good' book. The writing is good, the personal glimpses into the author's life are inspiring, and I just know there is a big market for books of this type. "Extravagant Love" consists of a series of generally short edifying letters to the readers that provide some glimpse of the love, wonder and kindness of God as demonstrated in some event or situation in which the author has found herself. For instance: When her brother died, everyone was devastated and after the funeral she found herself avoiding any mention of him to friends and family. She writes:
R.P. BenDedek Book Review: "Tough Conversations" by Richard Tiller
Apr 7, 2015
The book is something along the lines of an instructional manual with the instructions being provided within the body of a story that the author relates. Sometimes that story is directly from the Bible and at other times it is about situations from contemporary life. The layout of the book is excellent and the author has achieved a balance between storytelling and advice giving. It is professionally written by a person whose qualifications indicate that he ought to know what he is talking about.
Milt Gross Book Review: "W is for Wasted" by Sue Grafton
Apr 7, 2015
Grafton's writing is exciting and fast paced. But I found the double story line to be a bit confusing and slowed down the action. The story involves three of a hobo crowd, and the professor had used one of them for his experiments, along with other people. Plenty of action and some suspense filled the 433 pages, which kept me reading.
Martha Stevens-David Book Review: "Between Two Worlds" by J.C. Woodrow
Apr 3, 2015
The story plot is well-thought out and executed and I personally found that I hated to put the novel down for any reason. This author, J.C. Woodrow , has done her research and it is clearly evident in how well this novel is put together. Personally, as a fellow author/writer, I envy her ability to tell a difficult story in such a clear, believable fashion and I hated to see the story end.
R.P. BenDedek Book Review: "Perilous Times" by Jim D. Costello
Apr 2, 2015
The author's stated purpose is to reveal what God has shown him about the coming judgment. He decries not just society but more importantly, Christianity, calling it 'lukewarm,' and blames it on the fact that prayer is no longer allowed in school and that the 10 commandments are torn down and that churches have gone commercial; focused on making money with no call to take up the cross of Christ. He calls churches "entertainment centers." There is little in the way author narrative in this book and it appears to me to be aimed specifically at Christians who would understand the meaning of a multitude of statements that are provided without Scriptural references.
Milt Gross Book Review: "The Other" by David Guterson
Apr 1, 2015
The novel, by the author of Snow Falling in Cedars, tells the stories of Neil Countryman, a teacher, and John William Barry, a friend who decides to camp fulltime in the mountains. Countryman becomes a school teacher and marries, while Barry hangs on the wild side of things. One critic thought this was Guterson's best book. I thought Snow Falling on Cedars was much better, but that may have been because I saw that as a movie at least twice.
R.P. BenDedek Book Review: "Walk Along with Nostalgia" By Ding Ding
Apr 1, 2015
In order to gain some perspective into the style of writing in Chinese, I showed various poems to my Chinese students and asked for their 'feelings.' Whilst some just 'didn't get it,' others really liked them. One student in particular informed me that one poem made her feel that the day was really sunny and everything was really good and happy. That was an interesting comment given that it was a rainy day.
Martha Stevens-David Book Review: "The Orange Trees of Baghdad" by Leilah Nadir
Mar 28, 2015
As a "native" born American, I find that we "Americans" with only having experienced the evils that war brings to one's birth country, in our "Civil War" and the "American & Indian War", we really have no perception of what "war" really means. Will the people of Leilah's country ever be "free", one can certainly hope and pray that they will, but only God knows.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Fair Blows the Wind" by Louis L'Mour
Mar 27, 2015
Although I don't usually read stories of the Old World, this one held my attention from the very beginning. It ended differently from what I expected. I thought Chanery would end in the New World. Instead he is back where his roots are, Ireland... L'Amour literally "walked the land my characters walk," states a couple of pages about the author at the end of the book. "Of French-Irish descent, Mr. L'Amour could trace his own family in North America back to the early 1600s and follow their steady progression westward, "always on the frontier," the explanatory pages continue.
Martha Stevens-David Review: "Akio & The Dream World" by Carl Snook
Mar 27, 2015
I found that the tale read well right from the very intriguing beginning about the young man getting on the strange bus, until the very lovely ending. The topic about dreams and not being afraid to question the unknown, brought back memories of when I was a small child and having to listen to my older brothers tell scary tales to each other as we all waited for sleep at night.
M. Wallace Johnson Book Review: "Putting Tradition on Trial" By Patrick Cavanagh
Mar 27, 2015
It was in Chapter 11 that the author's actual position was clearly stated, indicating which day of the week it was upon which Jesus was crucified, how many days and nights he was in the tomb, and when he was resurrected. This is something that I feel was needed at the beginning of the book. For those who might think a discourse on the chronological order of events surrounding the death and resurrection of Christ a bit pointless, it is worth noting that were the Christian Churches to adopt this author's conclusions, you would no longer be celebrating 'Good Friday' or 'Easter Sunday.'
Laure McCourt Lopez Book Review: "No Longer on Pedestals" by Carol Kuhnert
Mar 22, 2015
I was so personally moved by this book; as upsetting and disturbing were the revelations, I gained enormous insight as to not only the reactions of the Catholic Church but was shocked by the behaviors exhibited by some parishioners against the victims. Throughout the pages of the book, the author unveils the years of pain and torment her family and others endured upon learning that the family member in their midst had sexually abused an ever-growing number of young congregants of the various parishes that Fr. Christian served in.
Martha Stevens-David Book Review: "Pathways to Fight or Flight" by Rose Mae Carrier
Mar 21, 2015
"Pathways to Fight or Flight" by novelist "Rose Mae Carrier" is not a book that will appeal to every reader because its topic is very difficult to read about... Left to the mercy of her narcissistic, self-absorbed mother, the little girl is left to fend for herself in every way, shape and form. While this book in and of itself is a very difficult read, that being said, I think that the story still has merit and should be read.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Golden State" by Sichan Siv
Mar 21, 2015
To be fair, the first page lists five other of Sic's published books, and a New York Post review called it "Required reading." Just not required for me. I only read a quarter of it. It was so confusing that I realized at that point I knew nothing of what had happened. The part that I read seemed to occur all over the globe, and maybe later in the book there's a connection among them. But I found the writing so awful and going nowhere, that I couldn't bring myself to finish the trip.
Martha Stevens- David Book Review: "Love Letters for a Japanese Bride" by Stephen E. Price
Mar 21, 2015
This story, as it unfolds, filled me with so many emotions, I felt; beauty, humbleness, great love, dedication, affection, spirituality, sadness, defeat, kindness, and so many more, many more. And I wasn't prepared for the ending which made me sit and wipe a good many tears from my old reader eyes. I truthfully can't recall having read another book in all my long love of reading that touched me the way this story has.
Martha Stevens-David Book Review: "Road to Freedom" by Alfred Lenarciak
Mar 13, 2015
This book details the dangers, abuse and prosecution of their own people by the Communist leaders of Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany after the post-war days of the 1940s. This young man had a dream and that dream was to one day be free and through sheer determination and will power, he finally achieved that dream when he made his way to freedom and Canada.
M. Stevens-David Book Review: "The Belly Bug Bully" by Sabrina Panfilo
Mar 13, 2015
In all my years as a reader, writer and reviewer I cannot say that I have ever come upon another book like this. But after having read the story several times, I realized that the message the author, "Sabrina Panfilo" was trying to convey was that one must be strong and have courage to deal with all the challenges one must face and overcome in this life.
Milt Gross Book Review: "Lake News" by Barbara Delinsky
Mar 13, 2015
What looks like a quiet tale from the shores of a country lake is actually the story of a woman tricked by a city reporter to tell of a friendship with a priest. The reporter turns it into a secret romance, and she flees the city for home, a rural town on the shores of a lake. The author, who lives somewhere in New England, has seen more than sixty novels published.
Martha Stevens-David Review: "Pursuit" by Harry Taylor
Mar 13, 2015
This writer has an excellent command of words and his descriptive phrases of both the characters and story situations were believable and held my interest throughout. I was sorry to have finished both books and find myself wishing that there was another to read because my mind keeps going back to the ending and thinking, "What if..."
M. Stevens-David Book Review: "The Monster Under My Web" By Charlene Gresham
Mar 11, 2015
"The Monster Under My Web" By Charlene Gresham is a well-illustrated, colorful children's story about Annabel a spider who lives a corner of the ceiling in little Jimmy's bedroom. I found the short story charming and especially loved the stories' rhymes as I'm certain a child would too.
Milt Gross Book Review: "The Clock" by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
Mar 7, 2015
The book tells the story of a teenage girl, who in the 1800s was forced by her father to work in a textile mill. The manager at the mill attempted to assault her, but her father owed a lot of money and had her remain at her job despite that attempt. Eventually, she and a friend discovered the mill manager was stealing wool, and Annie told the wealthy owner of the mill.
R.P. BenDedek Book Review: "A Humble Hero" by Jianxin Huang
Mar 7, 2015
"A Humble Hero" is not the sort of book to appeal to the 'feel good' reader since it does not 'edify' and nor is it in any way 'entertaining,' even in a dramatic sense. It is however, for those with a thirst for real knowledge as opposed to popular fictional 'non-fiction,' an excellent insight into the changes that occurred in China during the Twentieth Century. I have lived in China for 12 years and actually live not far from the places mentioned in this tale, and I am well aware that what western people "learn from most books and other media" about China today, is quite different from reality on the ground. While this book does not have the literary merit of the two books mentioned earlier, I have to say that I was more moved by this story, and do express to the author my thanks for such an enlightening biographical tale.
M. Stevens-David Book Review: "Meet Twinkle Toes" by Faye M. Parsons
Mar 7, 2015
This author, "Faye M. Parsons" is a teacher, and she has used her background in education to do a wonderful job in depicting how the world is changing. Not only is it beautifully illustrated but the story is "in the moment" in that, it deals with "being different."
Milt Gross Book and Movie Review: "The Virginian" by Owen Wister
Feb 26, 2015
I would make the judgement that the book was better reading than the DVD was viewing, but I doubt if you can find a copy of the 1902 original book. Dolores found mine at the town's recycling center. I'm sure glad she found it and brought it home to become a part of my permanent library.....I wonder if the writer ever actually considered these ideas as he wrote. Or were these ideas added by others who read his book. Wister, it seems, was from a wealthy family, had the best education, and did a lot of writing in addition to this worthy western. He was born in Philadelphia in 1860, which must have been a good year as it also the year my grandfather was born, perhaps in Missouri.
Milt Gross Book Review: "The Fur Person" by May Sarton
Feb 16, 2015
I occasionally stared at one of our two cats as I read this. "Is what she wrote true?" I asked the furry critter with sharp claws. May Sarton (1912-1995) was an avid writer, having penned many poetry, novels, nonfiction, and childrens' books. The Fur Person, the cat in the book, was actually Sarton's real cat, Tom Jones. Sarton Copyrighted the book in 1957 and again in 1978, apparently for a publisher. It was first published by W.W. Norton & Company, etc. in 2015.
Martha Stevens-David Book Review: "Upson Downes" By Dottie Maley
Feb 24, 2015
This book, though small, contained many humorous references and incidents that only folks of the "older" generation can dearly appreciate. The community of Upson Downes is full of quirky characters and shows life can be unexpected at any age. I recommend the book as a great and quick read!
Martha Stevens-David Book Review: "Amish Scrambled Eggs With Humor" By Joseph 'Chool' Crawshaw
Feb 12, 2015
"AMISH SCRAMBLED EGGS with HUMOR" is a charming collection of short stories written by an innkeeper from the "Amish" hills of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As I proceeded through the stories, it soon becomes apparent that Joseph "Chool" Crawshaw has found his "neich" in the way he relates his often humorous experiences with his guests.
Milt Gross Book Review: "On the Road with Davy Crockett" by Bob Thompson
Feb 5, 2015
In addition to the tales of the author's travels, the author shares Crockett landscapes as they are today, the restaurants, hotels, parks, and other geographical features of today in the Crockett world. The author was a long-time feature writer for the Washington Post and the editor of its Sunday magazine. During his years at the Post, he was known for his pieces on the intersection of American history and myth.
Martha Stevens-David Review: "The Longest Distance" by David Scott
Jan 13, 2015
This is more than a simple love story, it delves deep into our hearts and psyches to reveal hidden truths and desires that many of us wanderers fail to ever deal with or acknowledge in our lifetimes. "The Longest Distance" will take you in hand, take over your heart and your mind and just maybe, leave you asking the simple question, "why not?"