Friday, December 29, 2017

The Gardener's Secret by Jamie Cortland

Eddie drove south on AIA from Delray, glancing occasionally to the oceanfront homes on his left looking for laws and young women that appeared to need his special brand of TLC. As he slowed down to observe the mansion on his left, a beautiful auburn haired woman, who appeared to be in her early thirties,
opened the massive front door and walked down the curved driveway to the bright red Ferrari. Opening the door, she slid into it, turned over the engine, and pulled out of the driveway heading north. Whoever she was she needed his services. He pulled into the parking lot down the road, turned around, and drove north, slowing down long enough to take down the address of her home. Once he'd taken down the address he picked up speed. When he was close enough, he memorized the number of the license plate.
When he returned to the small apartment he was renting in Pompano Beach, he booted up his computer. After a thorough search, he discovered that the Giardinis, both partners in JVS Development Company owned the Ferrari and the home jointly. He watched the home and the two occupants for several days. When the woman left with Mr. Giardini on Friday morning, he followed them to JVS's offices. Several hours later, she left aloone to run errands and returned home without her husband. Down the street from her home, he parked in a lot by the intra-coastal and waited for her to step out of her home again. It was not long. When she did, he continued tailing her, hoping that she would go to a department store or to the post office so that he could go into the store and catch a closer glimpse of her, maybe bump into her and even speak with her. But he realized that wasn't going to happen when she returned to the office.
He sighed, satisfied. He'd seen the woman of his dreams and he intended to have her, one way or another.

The Gardener's Secret

By Jamie Cortland

This is the second book, now listed on Amazon, published by this author and her villains are similar in both books. In fact, the first chapter in this book introduces that villain, a stalker, who makes it quite clear that he has found his next "woman of his dreams." He is a gardener who uses his charm to get hired and then proceeds...

The book is a merge of two genres the author has written in...more romance than suspense but also drama.  If you enjoy watching/reading what happens in the daily lives of individual characters, then do check this out...

Dannie Giardini is the main female character, while, in the second chapter we learn that her husband was scheduled to fly on a plane that later crashed. After some investigation, there is a basis for belief that he might not have been on the plane, but, if not, where is he?

Dannie has been in business with her husband and his partner, and Sal works to help Dannie adjust to Vince, her husband, being gone.

A twist comes in fairly early as Dannie meets a stranger, who happens to have a cousin--a woman who had been in an affair with Vince and had a child... Dannie, by the way, is attracted to that stranger, but fights her feelings...

The author chooses to tell her story rather than have her characters act out more of what is happening (not recommended and referred to as the "show not tell" method). When I read a book like this, I think of daily television dramas where you sit back to watch the story unfold, but don't really get the chance to participate in what is happening. For me, there really was no suspense as each character was identified immediately as to his intent and role... Readers knew what to look for and expect--no twists or turns that were unexpected, except for perhaps one when Dannie chooses to meet Vince's lover and what she does...

Throw in a murder to provide more knowledge about our stalker and his urges... 

The ending is anti-climatic with an ending that was totally expected... It's a good story, well written... Frankly, however, from the title and cover, I expected...more...suspense. The story is laid out as if an outline was created...and then the story was written... This reader found no way to become involved with the characters...The plot is fairly simple, information presented immediately, and then developed in a pattern that smoothly flowed, so smoothly that I grew bored with the lack of any complexity beyond the basic framework included in the first chapters. If you read closely, everything, including the murder, is covered within the narrative in advance, not as a clue, but merely as part of the storyline...

Do check out other reviews for the book...In my opinion, the author needs to read other writers and see the presentation of suspense. Suspense normally heightens action and tantalizes the reader with the hope of questioning what will be happening. While those are my thoughts, it is a good concept, so you decide what kind of reader you are. I admit I have a problem with books that tells rather than shows, even though some writers do use it...


Thursday, December 28, 2017

First in New Vigilantes for Justice Series, Savannah Sleuth is Page Turner!

Patricia lifted her blond hair to cool her sweat-soaked neck. April in Savannah was normally more tolerable.She took a deep breath, cut short by her close-fitted armored vest. For the third time, she pounded on Faith Pinckney’s door.Faith had called at noon, a couple of hours ago. She had said she was ready to go to the shelter, had confirmed her husband was at work, and had agreed to be picked up at two. They were on time. So where was Faith? 

Patricia touched the holstered Kimber 45 on her hip and made sure the safety was off. She glanced at Judy, the newest member of her team, on her right, and Meredith, her closest friend, on her left. Both were grim, coiled, and pale as ghosts. Patricia supposed there was safety in numbers, but they were still vulnerable. And if the situation became life-threatening? Well, none of them had ever shot anything but paper targets.
“I don’t like this,” Judy said, her hauntingly pale blue eyes methodically cataloging the environment. “It’s taking too long. This is a rough neighborhood. We’re too exposed.”
Meredith, a woman more comfortable with financial ratios than cold steel, gestured over her shoulder toward the curb and the idling SUV. “Don’t worry, Alisa has our backs.”
“Meredith, check that front window. See if there’s anyone inside,” Patricia said, trying to speed things up.
Meredith put her face to the window. “Can’t see anyone.”
Patricia pounded on the door again. No one responded. Had Faith changed her mind about leaving? It wouldn’t be the first time that had happened.
But Faith had made the call to the rescue line and had said she wanted to leave. Patricia, the shelter’s voluntary emissary, was here at Faith’s invitation to provide transportation.
Patricia pulled her smartphone from its hip-mounted case, scrolled to Faith’s number, and pressed the call icon. Ring. Ring.
Patricia shifted weight. Ring. Ring. Come on. Answer the phone. Heightened concern for the safety of her team flooded Patricia. The three of them, armed and dressed in black tactical gear, were on an abuser’s porch in a dangerous neighborhood. A rundown realm with its own rules. They were easy targets.
Patricia snapped her gaze left and right, checking the wraparound porch once again for threats. If Faith’s husband wasn’t inside, had a neighbor called him and told him they were at his door? Was the abuser on his way back to his house? Did he carry a gun? How long did they have before he arrived to defend his property? It had happened before, and the thought it could happen again today made her jumpy.
The phone kept ringing. Where the hell was Faith?
“Hello,” finally came a weak female voice from Patricia’s phone.
“It’s two o’clock.”
Patricia let out an impatient breath. “We’re here. At your door. You wanted a ride to the shelter, didn’t you?”
“It’s time to go. Where are you?”
“In bed. I got tired. I suppose it was them painkillers they gave me down at the hospital. Just a sec. I’ll be right out.”
“Is your husband home?”
“No. He’s workin’. Won’t be home ‘til after five, if that man comes home at all.”
A couple of minutes later, the weathered door eased open on squeaky hinges.
Patricia dropped her shaking hand to her gun.
Pungent air poured from the house. The smell of decay registered. A tiny, thin, middle-aged Caucasian woman stood in the shadowed foyer.
Patricia’s heart sank at the sight.
Large purple bruises puffed the woman’s pale face and forearms. Her mousey hair was pulled back into a ponytail accentuating sad brown eyes. Though clearly a victim, Faith stood straight, projecting determination. Good for her.
“Yeah?” The woman’s voice trembled.
“I’m Patricia from the shelter.” Patricia gestured to either side. “These are my friends, Meredith and Judy.” Faith nodded at each.
"Are you ready to go?” Patricia asked.
“Guess so.”
“Okay then. Let’s do it.”
Faith picked up a stuffed garbage bag and a limp teddy bear.
Patricia stepped aside, and the woman shuffled unsteadily out onto the wide wooden porch. In the outside light, some of her wounds seemed more recent than the chaplain at Falcon Memorial Hospital had described. She must have been subjected to tremendous pain, severe enough to require prescription painkillers.
Faith looked around nervously as if ready to bolt at the slightest threat.
“You’re shaking,” Patricia said, more abruptly than intended.
The woman looked down. “It ain’t easy to leave.”
“I know. You’re very brave.” Patricia wanted to speak more words of comfort and reassurance. She wanted Faith to be happy. But the right words didn’t come. So, Patricia sighed and eased her arm around the stale-smelling woman. No more beatings for poor Faith. Ever.
Just as they moved toward the steps, heavy footfalls hammered the porch where it wrapped around the side of the house.
The Escalade’s horn erupted from the curb, signaling that Alisa had seen danger.
Patricia’s fingers fumbled for the handle of her weapon.
“Hey, bitch,” shouted a coarse male voice.
Patricia spun, put her body between Faith and the spine-rattling voice, and eased her hand off the gun. Experience had taught her that confrontation required calm focus, not panicked stiffness. She turned and looked up into a charging man’s flushed face. He stopped less than a yard away. His breath reeked of alcohol.
She shot a glance past him to see if he’d brought others. He appeared to be alone, and his stubby hands were empty.
Okay. The three of them against one riled-up drunk. Good odds.
She returned her attention to the man’s creased face. Their eyes met. His eyes were black and hard like coal. His unblinking stare bore into her.
She tensed. She hadn’t seen cold, piercing eyes like his before. Though drunk, this brute was likely as dangerous as he was ugly. She kept her face blank. “You talking to me, mister?”
“Yeah, you. What y’all doin’ on my porch?”
His porch? Must be the husband. “Your wife asked us over,” Patricia said as mildly as possible considering the situation.
His dark eyes narrowed. “Like hell she did. Sure ‘nuf she don’t know folk like y’all. Besides, you got armor on and a gun on your hip. You a cop?”
Patricia let out a long breath then shook her head. “No.”
He stepped near, gripped her arm, and squeezed hard. “Then get the hell off my property.”
Keeping her face an impassive mask, she peeled his stiff fingers from her arm, then turned to Faith. “Okay Faith. Stay beside me while we walk to the car.”
“She ain’t goin’ nowhere.”
The spit from his spewed words splattered the side of Patricia’s face. She fought the screaming urge to wipe her cheek; a reaction that would convey weakness.
Summoning all the authority she could muster, Patricia squared her shoulders and pivoted to face the abuser again. He towered over her, inches away, poised like a grizzly bear ready to fight. Smirking. Close enough to intimidate.
The Neanderthal swung an arm behind him.
Patricia’s instincts screamed, Gun! Her hand darted to her pistol, but she hesitated. Before she could decide to show her weapon, he fumbled out a small pistol of his own and shoved the barrel toward her face.
“This here says y’all are leavin’ right now, and my precious little woman is goin’ back inside.”
Patricia’s chest seized so tightly she could hardly breathe. Heart thudding, she stepped back, getting distance. The husband had given her ample warning fumbling behind his back. She should have drawn her gun. She should have maintained control; guns were about control. Now he was in charge. This wasn’t the ending she’d imagined. If they left now and came back tomorrow, would Faith be alive? And if they didn’t leave—
The man’s eyes bulged. His jaw dropped.
Judy, standing behind the man, had her gun barrel pressed against his head. “And I say,” Judy said coldly, “we let Faith make her own decision about where she’s going this afternoon. Now put your peashooter on the floor and back off.”
He laughed the harsh laugh of a defeated man trying to regain some pride as he placed the gun on the porch floor and stepped to the side. “Sure. Whatever the bitch wants. But, Faith, you leave, don’t bother comin’ back.”
Patricia took a couple of deep breaths. That was close. She gestured, palm up, to Faith. “So what is it? Go or stay?”
Faith wrung her hands. “I can’t take any more of this life. Not another minute.” Faith’s eyes danced. “Um, I gotta go.” She stretched her bruised arms toward the man. “Honey, I’m sorry.”
He scowled and swept his hand toward the street. “Go, you ungrateful bitch, and don’t even think about comin’ back.”
Judy retrieved the man’s pistol and kept her gun on him as Patricia and Meredith led Faith to the street. Once they reached the SUV, Judy backed off the porch and down the sidewalk, all the while keeping her gun trained on the man. At the curb, she placed his pistol in the mailbox and then pointed at the scowling man standing on the porch. “We know about men like you. You think harass is two words.”
Alisa covered her mouth with a hand, stifling a giggle.
Faith tossed her garbage bag into the Escalade, then, teddy bear in hand, stepped inside. Once seated, she cuddled the teddy bear like a child.
“I know you don’t have any children. Is there anyone else in the house he might hurt?” Patricia asked.
“No. Do you have kids?”
“Just one.” Patricia’s eyes followed Judy as she got into the car. “She returned to college this morning.”
“Spring break?”
“Yes. She was here for just a few days. Too short to really reconnect.”
“Is she a good girl?”
Patricia nodded.
“Don’t let you baby get mixed up with scum like my old man.”
“I hear you.” Patricia knew too well that her headstrong daughter, Hayley, was in a different world. Out of reach. Beyond control. There was no telling what she was up to.
When everyone was buckled up, Patricia gave the okay, and Alisa pulled the Escalade away from the curb. Out of habit, Patricia turned and looked back. Good. They weren’t being followed. For the first time in an hour Patricia’s tension eased.
The trip to a better life had begun for Faith, just as it had begun for countless other souls Patricia and her colleagues had transported to her mama’s shelter. Battered women beaten to the point their survival instinct finally overwhelmed their fear.

Savannah Sleuth
Vigilantes For Justice Book 1

By Alan Chaput

Alan Chaput has set his new series in Savannah, Georgia, a place I had not visited, so I checked out a couple of videos to get the feel of the city where the Savannah Sleuth operated. One of the major activities of Patricia Falcon, a social icon to many, is to rescue and help to relocate local abused women. Three of her friends help in this endeavor and while not official, they dress the part, have weapons when needed, and work to see that a new life is arranged for the victim when necessary...

Centuries ago, the first Falcon in
Savannah, Moses, made a vow to
protect the city of Savannah and
ultimately the colony. Back then it
was one of the few major ports, so
it was an important patriotic duty.
Our enemies are different today, but
no less powerful, and each time one
of them comes up against the Falcon
family, we make more enemies.
Corrupt enemies who would like to
see our family destroyed.
Possibly there were others who could do this transport duty, but Patricia was part of a much larger, secret group, the Cotton Coalition, who worked to ensure Savannah remained the safe and beautiful city that it was. Patricia's husband was a director. Being part of the Falcon family, itself, was dangerous as the family and the group had worked above and around local authorities, when things weren't getting done. One of the interesting issues that arises during the story was whether or not women should be permitted into the coalition. Made up of a selected group of families who'd lived in the city for many years, some of them were reaching older age, but had only daughters to possibly succeed them.

Patricia had been prepared for danger as soon as she married into the family, so that the transport of women needing support was a natural activity...

But when Judy, one of her team, asked her to help on a personal issue, Patricia worried about getting into something she shouldn't be involved in... specifically, helping Judy document that her husband was cheating on her... and then agreeing to negotiate a discussion between the two! 

Then there was the scruffy young man who was watching her home... Why? When she learned he knew her name and knew whose home he was watching, she was even more on edge, since he'd hinted she might need protection...

And then Patricia's mother died. She had been found in her car by security and was rushed to the hospital. But she had died. Patricia had been very close to her mother and knew she was in good health. She wasn't sure she could accept that the death was natural. And having her mother's doctor being the husband of her friend she was helping to track for an affair, made it especially of concern. Would he do something because Patricia had talked to him for Judy about a divorce?

Once the question of reason for death came up, investigations of course began with the police, but the Cotton Coalition and even the Catholic Church began to as questions. One of the questions revolved around real estate and of course money and power...

I was surprised at the complexity and breadth of the mystery--well beyond that which you might expect in a cozy mystery. A thought to consider about the genre and comparison among books. For instance, after I had read the book, I thought the front cover may also be somewhat misleading... Nevertheless, aside from these false cues, this is a well-formed mystery that certainly deserves consideration for all mystery fans, not just those fans of cozy mysteries. The Falcon team might be considered far more than amateur detectives and a group you might find in a thriller. 

I liked the concept of Vigilantes working to preserve the safety and integrity of a community. It is certainly a worthy thought as our justice system seems not to be able to keep up with the scope of coverage needed in today's world... Even then, though, can those who belong to such a group be totally trusted... The book engages readers in thoughts beyond just solving the mystery, into wondering whether something more could be effective if controlled... The story of Patricia's team is more imaginative than I've previously seen--moving safety of victims into a much-more controlled environment than usual. 

The multiple concurrent investigations creates an exciting, diverse exploration of what surrounded the death of one woman, but even then, the whodunit was an interesting surprise...which, as you know, I love when unable to identify that individual! Highly recommended!


Alan Chaput writes Southern mysteries. His novels have finaled in the Daphne and the Claymore. Al lives with his wife in Coastal South Carolina. When not writing, Al can be found Shag dancing, pursuing genealogy, or interacting on social media.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Lin Wilder's Amazing 4th in Series! Malthus Revisited!

“Any chance you two could spend another Christmas in Lausanne?” Rich and Lindsey blinked at the webcam computer image of Hank Reardon waiting for their answer. The two were shocked speechless. They’d been kidding around for the last four hours about all the kinky fun they planned to have, now that they were alone for the first time since June. They’d gotten up at three that morning to get LJ and Morgan to their nine a.m. flight to Houston for Christmas break. Now, they were drinking celebratory glasses of Cava in anticipation of an early bedtime. In contrast to their light mood, Hank’s was uncharacteristically solemn...
“Why are you laughing? What’s so funny?”
“I can’t believe we’re doing this. Again. For the third time in less than a year!” Lindsey picked up her champagne flute, drained it, and nodded a, “Yes, please” at the Swiss airlines steward who stood waiting with a refill. Turning to Rich, she held the now-full glass up in a mock toast. “Here’s to our quiet Christmas alone in Pismo Beach.” After a big swallow, she continued, a bit coldly, “Humor me, please. Exactly how did you decide that Hank shouldn’t say anymore? Who on earth would have tapped his phones or bugged his house? And why would they even consider doing that?”
Lindsey wasn’t happy about this unplanned trip to Lausanne,
and she wanted to make sure her husband knew it.
She’d gritted her teeth throughout the previous two days of
lining up Jodi Tamarack and a dozen Cal Poly grad students
to care for the Dobermans and the new batch of Agouti research mice that had finally arrived for the Longevive study.
Getting them had been far more complicated than either she
or Liisa Reardon had thought it would be.
To eliminate genetic variation among the mice they were studying, the scientists used what are known as agouti mice.
These mice had jumpstarted epigenetic research when both
the function and switchoff of the agouti gene was understood,
ending, once and for all, the myth that DNA is destiny.The agouti gene causes mice to be voracious eaters, born with abnormally yellow-colored fur instead of the usual brown. Agouti mice are prone to obesity, cancer, diabetes, and early death. Remarkably, the gene can be switched off simply by feeding pregnant mice foods rich in methyl donors, suchas strawberries, onions, and leafy green vegetables. The result is lean, brown mice. It was the agouti mice experiments thathad made the kind of epigenetic research Lindsey and Liisa were doing with Longevive possible. They had also formed the basis of Lindsey’s research with the Dobermans.
Because Lindsey would merely be duplicating Liisa’s research,
the two scientists had planned to breed at least two generations of control and research mice by mid-December. But Ariana, Liisa’s head tech, had promised their entire collection of Agouti mice to other ASL researchers, and the wait for the mice had put them behind. It wasn’t that the Longevive protocol was complicated. Quite the opposite. It merely involved separating the group of sixty-four animals into two groups, one control, the second experimental, then giving the drug to the experimental group only. They would then conduct seven simple physical measurements of both groups daily. It wasn’t that different from any Junior High science experiment, but Lindsey was nervous about it. It had been over two years since she’d conducted any animal research with mice—since before she’d been indicted.
Perhaps that was why she found herself resenting the hell out
of this interruption due to another crisis at Andrews, Sacks,
and Levine.
Glaring across at Rich in the hope of more verbal jousting to vent her extreme frustration, she saw that he was dead to the world. Good thing you didn’t hear a word I said, she thought. It’s not as if racing off to Switzerland is your idea of a fun way to spend Christmas, either. She sat back and collected herself. I hate you when you act like this, Lindsey McCall. She shook her head and smiled at her own over-reaction. The hovering Swiss steward misinterpreted the gesture and wordlessly asked if she’d like a third glass.
“No, I’ve had more than enough, thanks,” she whispered,not wanting to awaken her husband. Glancing at him, she wondered —not for the first time— just why this remarkable man had decided to marry her. Lindsey knew she was anything but easy, that there was a side to her nearly impossible to love. Both her mother and sister had detested the intellectual, unemotional aspect of her personality, but Rich seemed to take it in stride.
Lindsey knew that her shortcomings were also her strengths. It was her detachment that made her good at handling the life-threatening emergencies she faced in her job, and her exacting nature helped her understand the most complex science. But the cost of these characteristics had been devastating. This was probably why she liked that Kelly Clarkson song, “Dark Side,” and had even memorized most of the lyrics.
Humming under her breath, Lindsey thought rather than sang the words:
Will you love me?
Even with my dark side?
But she changed the first line to Can you love me?
Until Rich Jansen had come along, she’d pushed every man out of her life in short order. Rich simply wouldn’t allow it. Thank God.

The Cup of Wrath
4th in Lindsey McCall Medical Mystery Series

By Lin Wilder

I was thinking about author Lin Wilder as I finished her latest fantastic supernatural novel, that you really can't tell what an author is going to write about if you just see her picture. With Wilder's professional career behind her, she is writing exciting stories that delve deeply into the medical scientific world... And her personal love of dogs comes to play as Lindsey McCall is now at in her new job and working with dobermans! 

But just as her latest shipment of animals have come, she and her husband get a call to fly to Switzerland. Although it is Christmas, this time the trip is for helping to end a murderous scientist who is playing with...Mad Cow Disease...

...we planted one of our agents who is also a scientist in Braun’s
pharmaceutical company. Until four days ago, we were receiving daily updates from him. We’ve had no communication since last Thursday morning which can mean only one of two things: either Sebastian is dead, or he is being tortured and
soon will be.” His gaze narrowed but remained trained on Rich. “Just before he went dark, Sebastian sent evidence of a plan to weaponize prion disease.” Evan’s tone remained cool, as if everyone understood the implications.
Apparently, Rich was the only one in the room who didn’t, because all heads nodded at Lindsey’s horrified question, “You think they’ve figured out a way to use Creutzfeldt-Jakob—” glancing quickly at Rich she added, “mad cow disease—as a biological weapon?” Without waiting for confirmation, Lindsey continued, her tone dispassionate. 
“You have decided not to alert the CDC, the WHO, or any of the hundreds of other international agencies committed to the safety of humanity?
You’ve decided to keep the people who know about this to just
a handful.” Extending the fingers of her right hand, she stared,
then nodded her assent. “You’re right, of course. Making this
threat public would result in total chaos, anarchy eventually,
and...” her voice drifted off, the enormity of her words compressing her voice into a whisper.

Two delightful young girls take a somewhat leading role in this book. Lindsey (LJ) is Lindsey's biological daughter who has come to live with Lindsey as she starts college. Shortly after, she became fast friends with Morgan, who becomes one of the heroes of the story... Morgan described herself at one point, “Actually I have been diagnosed with several conditions, including autistic spectrum disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, autistic savant—those are the ones that come to mind now. But—” Morgan was already working with the team trying to stop a major disaster from happening when she supplied that response. The key, however, was that she had supernaturally been having dreams of what was happening to the trial patients being given the virus. She had also started speaking Mandarin and knew where and what was happening...She knew she had to be part of the group to stop this, no matter how dangerous...

Then there was King David who was sent by God to a former marine, turned assassin... David had first spoken to Joe Cairns at the age of six but now he was back and told Joe to prepare... He knew he might be heading to the biggest challenge he'd ever faced, but his messages were loud and clear, immediately responding that he would help and then working through how he could make it into the inside. Earlier an undercover agent had been sent into a pharmaceutical research company, to determine how and what was being planned, but his identity had been discovered. He was now held captive and it was up to Joe to discover where he was and help him escape...

Although the continuing characters from former books are all there, plus new ones needed to respond to a death threat that was so horrendous that it was hard to even consider, it was the supernatural aspect of this book that overshadows the part played by each of those characters. Each individual seems to know that this crisis is being led with the help of King David and while the adventure is especially high and exhilarating, especially when Lindsey breathes in the poison, there is still a surreal aspect that overlays the entire story. If you've ever tried to imagine what might happen when God takes control and establishes the plan of action, then this is a book that will make you feel as if you are watching His Hand, placing each individual exactly where they need to be at the time they get there, barely!

I love this latest book and can't imagine what the next book will cover. What I do know is that this latest book is the best of the far... But I would like one more miracle... to see King David back in another book...still helping Joe...

Can't recommend this book enough! I haven't shared too much of the chain of events because it is so tightly woven and complex but if you are a lover of mystery, thrillers and medical-themed stories, don't miss reading Lin Wilder! Highly recommended!


In her free time, Lin Wilder enjoys exercising, hiking, listening to beautiful music, gardening and last but certainly not least, reading. She is married to a former Marine and psychologist with 25 years of experience counseling ex- combat veterans. They reside in Nevada with their two dogs. (above) This photo was taken back in 2009. And shows the two dogs, Ally the red Doberman, and Shadow, the German Shepherd mix. These two wonderful boys hiked with me each day as I wrestled with the first book, did combat with my insecurity and fears. Until one March evening in 2014, around nine in the evening, when Shadow and I watched our barely 7- year – old Ally boy drop dead from a lethal cardiac arrythmia. Max, the red Dobie male in the books looks remarkably like Ally. And Shadow looks- and acts- exactly like Christy and Ted Ross’s dog in Do You Solemnly Swear? A Nation of Law, The dark Side.
Funny how that happens.

Best to Start from Book 1

*In Essay on the Principle of Population,Malthus proposes the principle that human populations grow exponentially (i.e., doubling with each cycle) while food production grows at an arithmetic rate. This scenario of arithmetic food growth with simultaneous geometric human population growth predicted a future when humans would have no resources to survive on. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Adolph Caso Presents Latest, Filtering Energy

Filtering Energy
By Adolph Caso

There being no answer
To the ultimate question,
That every human being with conscience
Has to become a believer
Despite the absence
Of any objective depiction
Of our image in God!
We know that neither
Two drops of water,
Two snow flakes
Regardless on how they drop to the earth,
Are equally similar but never the same,
Unless touched by man.
Only man-made things are definitive--
Changeable as we command.

I sit in front of the mighty
Adolfo Tree--its branches sprawling on the wall.
Missing from its peaks
Are samples of the typical perched raptors:
When they appear,
They produce beauty in motion.
As opposed to the awkward turkey vultures:
Their lives evolve in the manner of other forms,
And just as discriminating.

Branches run in all directions
Defying gravity in its very essence:
From the top to the bottom,
One side to the other,
Traces of water are evident everywhere:
In the smallest undeveloped leaf
To the largest tree-trunk!
From one side to the other,
All the while,
Water flows throughout.

What keeps it within the smallest leaf?
And, progressively,
How does it expand to or into the largest?
What makes each leaf flicker?
After how many steps,
How many gates,
Does it re-generate itself into the ground?
What other gates open and close?
What other filters
Allow water to move forward and backward?
When it shimmers,
Can a Raphael objectively reproduce it with his brushes?
Energy is never energy onto itself;
It exists, only,
As a-never ending filtering devise
That unconsciously goes from one cell to another.
When it creates and turns chemicals into biological forms,
Consistently and uniformly,
With no connection
Between us—
Its ultimate goal becomes evident:
The creation of a new and different form
Than had ever existed.

Why am I shouting about my defeat?
My ignorance remaining,
It is tearing at my heart!
Despite a curiosity that is running rampant.

In full view of this tree,
Am I,
The isolate I’ve been my entire life?
That I am unable to understand the tree
As a whole or in parts:
How can I understand my fellow men,
When I cannot understand who I am?

My friend, Adolfo, dedicated this poem to me...

I wondered how he knew that, I, too, like him, wonder...

How can I understand my fellow men,
When I cannot understand who I am?

Happy Holidays to All

Saturday, December 16, 2017

PEARL by Brian Kindall - Fascinating Middle/YA/Adult!

Yes, she said softly. I am a pretty girl
and my name is Pearl...
THE GIRL DIDN'T REALIZE when her dream had ended. She didn't notice that the night was over and that the darkness was giving way to the light in the water all around her. The difference between what was real, and what was dream, was so blurry in her fretful mind that she didn't understand that she was no longer in the world of her imagination. And so, since she had no memory of ever having seen a boat, when the shadow of a skiff appeared on the surface of the sea, she assumed it was merely one more unusual piece of her troubled dream. She watched with trepidation, not knowing what to expect, but seems in her belief that this experience was still only a dream. A large rock dropped over the side of the boat. The coiled line that was wrapped around the rock, and fastened to the boat at the other end, stretched out straight as the weight plunged through the water. The rock thumped with a puff of sand as it struck the floor of the sea. The tiny boat tossed in the waves, held in place at the end of the tether. 
Then the most extraordinary thing happened. A creature, unlike any the girl had ever seen, splashed into the waves beside the boat. The light glimmered behind the creature so that at first it appeared as just a gangly silhouette. The girl watched its four oddly-shaped tentacles sprawl and wave. The creature gathered itself and, bending in half, it reached down and began pulling awkwardly into the depths. From where she watched, at an angle leaning slightly back, the creature appeared to be swimming directly toward the girl's outstretched hand. Of course there was no way she could hide. There was no way she could curl her hand into a fist and hold it out of sight. In all her life, the girl had never felt so glaringly white and obvious. 


By Brian Kindall

This is a fascinating, memorable book--one that keeps you thinking about it. For our children, it is an amazing adventure. One that I think they will enjoy. But also adults? Parents? There is much to be considered in this story...
Do you encourage your children to read, to dream, to imagine? While I was reading this fantasy, I kept thinking about having the faith of a mustard seed...for surely Pearl did...

Pearl is our main character, made of stone. She has lived under the sea for hundreds of year. Though made of stone, she is able to see what is around her, hear, and think... Up until our story begins, the only living creatures around her were creatures of the sea. Although she didn't know the names of what she saw, she had learned of the difference between night and day since darkness surrounded her most of the time. Only when the sun shown brightly down through the sea could she really see and appreciate the beauty in which she lived... She loved the little yellow minnows who she thought of as friends and decided they must be pieces of the sun, that beautiful light that was the same color as the little fish which came up to her, swimming around her. 

She had been content for so long, but new feelings had been discovered when she saw large shadows on the surface, above her. She was afraid. But, more, she began to feel a longing... She wanted something more than she had...

And then the day came when a young boy came out of something sitting on top of the water and he began to come close...closer... But she could not move, she could not hide...

The creature kicked closer.
Within the pit of her solar plexus the girl felt a struggle of emotions. In one sense, she hadn't been so scared since the passing of the Shadow. In another way, she was simply curious to know how this surreal moment would end.
The creature kicked closer and closer, until it was floating in the water directly before her.
It hovered for a time, staring at her.
The girl glimpsed the reflection of her own face peering back at herself from the creature's dark shining eyes.
Then the creature reached out with one of its tentacles.
That was when the girl could see that it wasn't a tentacle after all, or even a flipper. That's when she realized that this creature had a hand - two hands! - much like her own.
With one of its hands, the creature gently grasped the girl's, lightly squeezing her fingers.
A small shock of electricity shot through her.
And with that the girl realized this wasn't a dream after all.

The boy introduced himself as Niko and went on further to explain that everybody called him Diving Boy. He proudly told her that he was now, after many years, the greatest diver in all of the Aegean Sea. He asked for the girl's name and then realized that she would not respond... Niko told her she was a pretty girl and then decided to call her Pearl, after his mother. Strange, fluttery feelings were developing inside of Pearl, the stone girl...

And after getting some rope from his boat, Niko pulled her up, out of the sea and to the surface, where the sun felt hot on her least that's what Niko told her as he directed his skiff toward a place only he knew about, inside of a mountain and there in a grotto, Pearl and Niko spent much time as Niko visited often to talk to her...

But Diving Boy grew older, while Pearl remained a girl... He had met a young woman and planned their marriage...the only treasure he had to sell...was Pearl...

Thankfully, the man who bought her appreciated her artistic value. In fact, he had already acquired two other statues... Pearl learned that Hero was one of them, while Sage, who became her teacher and mentor, was an elder man who had learned much and was quite willing to teach Pearl when she begged him to help her...

Pearl learned fast, but long before she had learned enough, it happened...

Pearl was once again alone, but there was always somebody who saw her beauty and wanted to save it...

Readers will become enchanted with the adventure woven around a stone girl who became Pearl... But for Pearl, what was happening was that she was learning more and more, yet...yearning for even more...

Still, the climax caught me off guard, even though I was thinking of how the book might end. The pace of the book is slow, more to allow what is happening and being learned to take primary place for Pearl, then the actual adventure that seems to "happen" to her. You might say that she hadn't yet learned that sometimes asking for what you want doesn't always work out! 

Dreams play an interesting part in the book and could lead to children trying to better remember their dreams and how they might be used to consider what is happening in their lives. Another possibility is that a shy child might find that being silent may be something they want to learn to get over and to begin to interact with others, even if they, too, are isolated and separated from others... In fact, all that came to mind as I read is far more than I am able to include in this review... The book is intriguing, yes, but it is also a lovely story in many ways... This would be an exceptional book to read together, even if separately, and talk to your child about what he finds of most interest... You might be surprised... Do check it out--maybe a stocking stuffer!!!


As a young man, Brian Kindall was undone by love. Oh, was she ever divine! Dark hair. Blue eyes. The smile of an angel. But then it all fell to ruin. For years afterward, the broken-hearted sap spent his time wandering about and scribbling self-absorbed tragedies that no one really cared about. His prose was impeccable, but useless to the world. Then one day, as if by magic, he matured. He peered into the abyss, became a father, got some perspective, and has been writing nothing but brilliant, entertaining novels ever since. These books - some for kids, some for grown-ups - are brimming with the absurdity, beauty, and mystery of life. Mister Kindall has become a master at playing humor against pathos, fairytales against reality, all for the sake of a good read that will surely enhance the life of any reader lucky enough to delve into the author's adventure-laden pages.

He is the author of adult fiction novel DELIVERING VIRTUE, a Foreword Reviews 2015 IndieFab Book of the Year Finalist, and middle grade novels BLUE SKY, and PEARL. Moving, memorable fiction all.