Yet another wonderful installment of the Martin Preuss mystery series. This may be the shortest of the books, but it doesn’t skimp on story, character, or rich detail. As with Donald’s previous books, this story was engaging, vibrant, and filled with twists and turns. There were several occasions when I thought I knew where the end would take me, and I was wrong. I love being wrong. The twist presented in the final act had my head reeling and made me flip back a few chapters to find out how I had missed the clues. I didn’t mind that, though, the writing here is just that exquisite… re-reading passages was quite delightful.
I'm not normally a fan of this genre. It's not usually they type of book that I gravitate toward, but I enjoy the detective stories that Donald crafts. Each character is clearly interconnected, and in ways we don't often see right away. The plot itself is created in much the same way. Connecting pieces of a larger puzzle revealing secrets and also presenting clues that lay right before us... clues that we don't see because they hide in plain sight. When reading a Martin Pruess mystery, one gets the distinct impression that Donald has diligently done his homework. The police procedures, dialogue, jargon, and interactions between police, private investigators, and even the supporting cast are real, sincere, and cleverly presented.
Again, in this novel, we learn more about Martin through his close relationship with his son, Toby. There is a special bond between the two… but the best part about their relationship for me, is that in each instance that we see them interact, we learn about layers of Martin that we didn’t know were there before, and in each instance, it’s a beautiful surprise. On each occasion that Martin has with Toby, he invariably is led to a moment of clarity with the case he’s working on. It’s almost as if time with Toby is a meditation for Martin, to help him process the details, and perhaps a “normal” home life might not allow for this type of discovery.
I love that each of these books are microcosms unto themselves, and each is also connected to each of the other novels in the series. This means that each book is a wonderful adventure unto itself, as well as a beautifully connected adventure, one to the other.
I’m sincerely looking forward to reading the sixth installment, “Cold Dark Lies”, which will be launched on May 11, at the Color & Ink Studio in Hazel Park, Michigan.
Visit Donald Levin’s website HERE.
Highly Recommended: Five Stars
I met Ted at a recent book festival and he asked me to read his book. "It's a mid-grade," he said, "about two kids doing normal kid things in the trailer park where they live." Ted lied.
Yes, this book is indeed about two kids who live in a trailer park. But they don't do normal things. When one introduces the other to the power of books and story... well, that's when the adventures really begin.
This book is wonderment. I've always loved books about books, and this one hits the mark. It does two things that are exemplary; first, it proves to kids who may not yet have been exposed to books just how fascinating a few good pages can be. And second, it gives us two unlikely heroes in the form of these two young boys - brave enough to use their imaginations to be entertained, and to seek revenge - in a way where they rise above, and no one gets hurt.
This story has tremendous compassion and allows boys to be boys, while learning that there's a better way to enjoy life... using brain power rather than just brainless brawn.
I've given this book four and a half stars only because the publisher/printer didn't take into consideration the reader audience and formatted the book with a font size far too small for mid-grade readers.
Congratulations to Ted Lemon, he has created stories for boys! I eagerly await his next installment (I'm told it's a trilogy in progress.)
Highly recommended! Four and a half stars!
I was honored to have access to a preview copy of this wonderful children's book from Indie Author, Jordan J. Scavone. I was so utterly impressed with this book... the story, the characters, the art... it's a complete package of storytelling mastery.
Let's begin with the illustrations, masterfully drawn by C.N. Zing... they're beautiful. Gentle, simple, warm, and inviting. These are pictures of children and teachers we all know and love... easily. The color pallet compliments the story, reminding us that even difficult topics can be illuminatingly tender.
The best part about this book is Jordan's courage in storytelling. In today's society, it is often times difficult to discuss fragile topics within adult circles, let alone with children. Jordan takes the challenge head on and succeeds beyond measure. He presents the real-world reality of children who understand themselves not as others identify them, but as strong, self-aware individuals with sensitivity and celebration. The characters in this book are multi-generational, and multi-faceted. The layers of truth in the story are astoundingly beautiful precisely because there is no spotlight of "differentness". We understand through Addie, Adam, and Annie that being who we are is valuable and lovable, without limitation or expectation, and without need of emotional segregation
I hope this book finds its way onto the shelves of every reader in America, no matter their age or gender identity. It reminds us of what humanity should strive to be, and how we should emulate our children as they quickly learn to accept and understand.
Highly Recommended! Five Stars!
This is a delightful story for readers six years old to grandparents, that teaches children the value of spending real "one-on-one" time with those you love. Even though our modern technology may be sparkly and musical, there still is nothing like the time spent with a girl and her dog. This story is rich in its message and the artwork captivates the attention of young readers in a way that many children's books don't today.
At the back of this book is a wonderful index that lets the read know how the drawings were made, with supplies they can find right in their own kitchen, and the author's website offers a download of coloring pages, which make for a fun afternoon blending art and literature with kitchen chemistry. Surely, this will be a book the little ones in your life will come to cherish.
For me, one of the stand-out details about this book is that it was created by two sisters, one wrote the story, the other created the illustrations. I'm always impressed when the creativity of family comes out to support special family time; and this pair succeeds beyond expectations.
Highly Recommended! Five Stars!
If you've never read Magic Realism, I highly recommend this book as your first investigation into the genre. When asked, I describe this genre as "Twilight Zone" meets the written page. There are twists and turns that you don't see coming, and others that you do see coming, but don't fully understand until the end of the book. The end, by the way, is especially nifty... this particular book has the distinction of ending twice. Not like a "choose your own adventure" tale; but it actually ends, and then it ends again. This plot device makes you want to reread the book a second time, to see how both endings are connected to the main story. What details did you miss... What dialogue was more telling than you realized the first pass through?
Like a decadent chocolate cake, this story has two layers to it, and when you mix it with the delicious frosting of the subplots... it's story desert! The characters are rich and multi-faceted, even in their blandness. The love story that's hidden here is rich, and the psychological creepiness of the reality is enough to make you set it down, walk away, and return only to re-read a paragraph or two to find something new and unexpected.
This is a superb debut for this author, and I look forward to more from him!
Highly Recommended! Five Stars!
This is a fabulous children's book that introduces little ones to idioms and their use and meaning. Well crafted, easy to follow, and completely entertaining, author and artist Clay Boura delves deep into the imagination of children and how they might interpret the strange things that adults say. His art is wonderfully creative and if you ever have the pleasure of going to a reading event with him, be sure to take along your markers... he will teach you how to draw Beamer and his friends!
This is a truly delightful book, as are all the books in the series; The Elephant In The Room, Don't Let The Cat Out Of The Bag, and the Fun With Idioms Coloring Book! Perfect for four to twelve year old readers and their parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles!
Highly Recommended! Five Stars!
This is a well-crafted, creepy ghost story. The characters draw you in... you want to be invested in their lives... love them, hate them, have sympathy, and empathy for them... those who are human and those who are not. Although the story begins slowly, it builds in intensity and creepiness as the story goes on, and it doesn't let up until the very last page; and even then, it dangles precariously the hope of a sequel. The setting, a Detroit affluent neighborhood, is expertly portrayed with all its richness, it's multiple layers of people and energies, and the secrets it almost never reveals. Grab your friends, stock up on s'mores, and read this one out loud at your next campfire.
I'm told the second book in this series will be on our shelves soon. I can't wait!
Highly Recommended! Four Stars (only because there are holes that the sequel will fill, and I dislike waiting.)
This is book two in the "Legends Saga", and it is just as compelling as the first. The author has a wonderful ability to take a story and a character we thought we knew well, and infuse a new sense of tension, excitement, and detail that surely, the original author would have exploited, had he been as creative.
Put aside everything you think you know about Edgar Allen Poe and his history, for this story will introduce you to his parents and his wife in a way that you never could have imagined. Couple that with the strength of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow and continuing curse the Headless Horseman, and you’ve got a riveting tale that will not relent.
The new subplot characters we meet along the way, and the ones the author brings with her from book one, "Crane", enrich the connectivity to the old legend and add, simultaneously, a relief and an apprehension to the challenges they all must face together. This book was so compelling, that I must admit, I ignored many of my household chores simply so I could read. It is mesmerizing and the reward for the time I invested was returned to me a hundred times over.
The third book in this series, "Steam", is next on my reading list, and I am eager to discover how this marvelous author will weave everything together and deliver an ending that I am certain will live up to the wonderment of the other two books. If you enjoy a refreshing twist on a story and characters you thought you knew, this author is for you!
One of the extraordinary things about being an author is that I get the opportunity to read some pretty spectacular books by friends in my writing community. It's like playing with a friend's toy, and they get to play with yours, and at the end of the day we both feel enriched for the experience.
I met Stacey Rourke at the Once Upon A Book Author Event two years ago in Frankenmuth, Michigan. It was a fun event, and tremendously supportive for authors, myself included. I'll be going again this year, too.
By far, the best part of that event, apart from meeting readers and selling books (of course) was meeting Stacey. She is a dynamic soul who has an abundance of creativity... evidenced by her book, "Crane".
This is a delightfully spooky book that is difficult to put down. Whatever happened to the Headless Horseman, and the town of Sleepy Hollow after the days of Ichabod Crane? This story takes you on that adventure, and whets your appetite for what might come next.
It's difficult for me to write this review because I don't want to spoil the adventure for anyone. But I will say this... Stacy does a magnificent job of creating tension that had me eager to ignore work... and laundry... and a host of other things, and read her book instead! In fact, I downloaded the audiobook version just so I wouldn't have to stop reading, and yet still have clean clothes and a meal on the table. Thank goodness for alternative formats!
Her characters were well-crafted with little idiosyncrasies that made them feel like people I could easily relate to... even old Rip! I was entranced with Stacy's use of "before" and "now" settings and dialogue, and how she used those devices to enhance her storytelling. Oh, and the old crone's sing-song was a wonderful addition to her character! I found that this small detail made that particular character even more believable to me.
I felt like each scene was masterfully crafted, making the story become one that I was a part of rather than simply watching unfold from afar. I felt the air on my face, felt the softness of the horse's muzzle, felt the sting of hot coffee. It was quite invigorating to become a piece of the story rather than a passive spectator.
Stacey was also quite brilliant in her creation of the sub-plot characters. Each had a significant role, even though they perhaps participated from the sidelines. I never knew who would do what next... nothing was predictable... the best kind of cast for a story!
My To-Be-Read pile has just increased in size... as there are two more books in this series, and Stacey has written other works, too. I am excited to read what comes next in this saga!
Thank you, Stacey Rourke, for sharing the gift of your imagination with me!
Highly Recommended! I read the audiobook and rate this Five Stars for both performance and story!
This is a wonderful book for several reasons. First, the entire book takes place in an area that's no more than a half-hour drive from where I live. It's fun to read stories like this, because the immersion factor is so strong. I know where Ferndale is, and even recognized some of the streets and most of the intersections. I know where Sterling Heights is, and have friends that live there. I've been to the Detroit Zoo, Comerica Park, and I've driven Woodward Avenue, a lot. And that overpass he talks about, I've seen the panhandlers there, too. The fact that I didn't have to imagine the locations made the book so much more enjoyable for me to read.. Drake kept saying, "Hey, we've been there!" That was fun.
Secondly, this is a fantastic police procedural. It's so well crafted, that I got the sensation that the author actually hung out with the police, eavesdropped on conversations between detectives, and took copious notes. Certainly, he did his homework. It all made sense, logical sense, in a way that so many crime novels make stuff up, this author wrote with an authenticity that reflected brightly page after page.
Third, I loved the personal side of the main character, Martin Preuss. I was so much more invested in the character because the author let us into his personal life, and allowed us to experience his struggles, rather than glossing over those details as "inconsequential" to the storyline. I felt that the story was moved forward more effectively because of those personal details. Once you understand his devotion to his son, you understand his devotion to his job.
Finally, although I don't think I would call this a "riveting" or an overly "suspenseful" novel, I did find it very compelling. I was drawn to turn the pages not because I was sitting on the edge of my seat and I wanted the payoff of a surprise twist... but I was completely engrossed in the characters, their many layers, and I sincerely wanted to know what happened next. This was a compelling human drama, that just so happens to take place during a police investigation; and for me, that's what makes it such a great read!
Highly Recommended! Five Stars!
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