Saturday, February 09, 2008

February Book with a View

Shades of Gold
Author: Charlie Hudson
ISBN: 978-1-4327-1440-6
Publisher: Outskirts
Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 267
Price: US $12.95/CAN $13.95
Review by Yvonne Perry

Shades of Gold is MY Favorite Shade!

Murder mysteries are a dime a dozen these days but Charlie Hudson’s “Shades of Gold” combines many hues to produce an intriguing blend of colorful characters. In Hudson’s latest work, she weaves a complex yet coherent and comprehensive tale.

Hudson’s style is reminiscent of a “CSI” episode with many subplots. Her character development is personable, describing not only their physical appearance, their vocations, and interpersonal relationships, but she allows you inside the character’s head to see what makes them tick. All this could become very tedious but Hudson pulls it off with a cohesiveness of a consummate storyteller.

Drawing from her personal life experience as a U. S. Army veteran and avid scuba diver, she employs her knowledge to detail life upon the sea and beneath its depths.

The fictional town of Verde Key Florida comes alive with Hudson’s vivid descriptions even as her characters perish. She wasted no time setting up her story, as someone is found dead in the very first sentence. Before long there are four dead bodies and detective Bev Henderson ceremoniously begins her unrelenting quest of trying to solve the mystery behind the four seemingly unrelated deaths. From Boston to Chicago, LA to Miami, Bev leaves no stone unturned. She elicits the help of her friend Chris Green, dive instructor and owner of a local dive shop, who incidentally was hired to give lessons to a Hollywood star. Yes, Hollywood has come to town. Some consider it an invasion while others will prosper from the big spenders. But just as in real life some behind the scene characters are not always as they seem.

From the wife-beater found with a butcher knife in his chest, to the town eccentric that apparently drowned in the mangrove islets, to the Hollywood film crew special effects member shot dead in the dive shop, to the estranged ex-convict husband tragically taken out by a police marksman, the action is non-stop. What erupted in the quaint little vacation town? A story from the past, ghost wandering the out islands, a Hollywood movie on location, secret night dives, romantic and lustful interludes, all intertwine to reveal one most unexpected tale of fortunes lost and fortunes found.

This is the third book in the “Shade” series and has a delightful tone that blends well with the first two—Shades of Truth and Shades of Murder—while working well as a stand-alone book.

I am looking forward to a recorded personal interview with this author on Writers in the Sky Podcast February 29, 2008. See her book trailer on Youtube:

Mary Elizabeth Lloyd, M.P.F, Ed. D.
Loving Healing Press (2008)
ISBN 9781932690477

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (12/07)

There are alarming statistics that warn “every 14 seconds a Child Headed Household is formed.” Sister Mary Elizabeth Lloyd has written a guidebook to help alert concerned citizens of the magnitude of the problem and to provide the reader with answers the questions: “What should I know, and what can I do to help them succeed?” A Child Headed Household is defined as: children who have survived the death of their parents from AIDS. These households are made up of “little brothers and sisters struggling to stay alive and remain together as a family.” There are often three to eight children per household.

Sister Lloyd is quick to point out that the current view taken by most that these are victims dependent and powerless must be replaced with a vision of how these children have the courage to take control of their economic hardships, deprivations, and exploitation in positive ways so that they can remain together as family. It is this determination that became the motivation for Sister Lloyd to write this book.All regions of the world are impacted by the enormity of the plight of these children. India, alone, is faced with 3,700,000 children orphaned. Statistics indicate that China has 2,300,000. Other countries around the world afflicted with the same dilemma bring the total orphaned children to over 16,000,000.

The book provides a broad selection of photos which depict bright-eyed children, resilient, with endurance and with promise, doing their best, struggling to stay together, taking the role of adults in caring for younger siblings.

Each chapter of the book offers suggestions for actions for the reader to take as members of a growing world community of concerned citizens. Comprehensive references with additional web links to organizations working with these children offer solutions which help insure that these children will survive, and will succeed.

Sister Mary Elizabeth opens her final chapter with a challenge for the reader to respond to Mother Teresa’s call to action: “If I look at the masses, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”

“Aids Orphans Rising” will grip your heart. The needs will linger in your consciousness long after you have read the final word and closed the covers of the book. Sister Mary Elizabeth Lloyd has presented the case for these children. Now it is up to us, the readers, to decide which suggested action steps we can take to help them succeed.

Flying Out of Brooklyn
Beverly Magidi
Universe (2007)
ISBN 9780595455867
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (12/07)

The year is 1943, and Judith Weissman’s apartment neighbor has just committed suicide. Judith is not happy, and this incident makes her take a closer look at her own life. Her marriage, family relationships and work are very unsatisfying. She yearns to be living the dreams that she had as a teenager. When Bobby, the object of Judith’s high school crush, returns injured from the war, Judith reaches out to him. The secretiveness of the relationship gives Judith the illusion that life seems more vivid and that she finally feels alive. As Judith suffers through a serious tragedy in her family, she realizes what is really important to her and she learns who she can really count on.

“Flying Out of Brooklyn,” is a coming-of-age novel about a young Jewish woman from a Brooklyn neighborhood. Beverly Magid wrote this story in such vivid detail that I felt I was looking at it through Judith’s eyes and feeling it through her heart. Judith is a woman that is desperately seeking a change in her life. She makes some choices that are really not in her best interest, yet she must experience the repercussions so that she can learn from them and discover what really is important and what really matters. It was interesting for me to be able to know that Judith was making poor choices, yet understand why she did. I liked watching Judith learn from them and grow.

I enjoyed how Magid incorporated into her story, what was happening at the time. While men were away at war, women were working in once male-dominated fields. They were proud to be able to play a role in the war, and to be able to gain higher paying employment. They were working really hard and proving themselves, yet they still had to deal with issues of sexism and in some cases, racial prejudice. Families also had to deal with rationing and food shortages. Magid also incorporates aspects of the Jewish culture into the story to add richness and dimension.

I highly recommend this novel. I know that “Flying out of Brooklyn” will be enjoyed by adults of all ages and ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Read interview with authorPurchase book on

Whose Dad is this?
Book Title: My Funny dad, Harry
Author: Karen Arlettaz Zemek
ISBN Number: 978-1-4327-1417-8
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 156
Price/Currency: $12.95 USD
Reviewer: Yvonne Perry (1/08)

I had flashbacks of my grandfather when reading Karen’s book about her father. Those idiosyncrasies that characterize a man raised in the early 1900s reminded me of the fun times I had with my grandfather. He was such a quiet person. One never knew what he was thinking. I decided after reading My Funny Dad, Harry that I am not supposed to understand all the crazy things he did; I only need to accept them as part of who he was. I envision Harry and my grandfather somewhere in the afterlife having a conversation about the good old days.

Busy with his hands, ever creating something from whatever material was available, seems to be Harry’s way of passing time. Whether in the woodworking shop, or trying his hand at being a locksmith, Harry always managed to provide a descent living for his family. His family included foster children that were raised alongside his own children. He was so unconcerned about what others thought of him, he didn’t even wear a tuxedo to his own daughter’s wedding. Well, that’s just the way Harry was.

Harry was always busy, so it was no surprise that he had to have his hands into the derby race when his daughter participated in AWANA. And, the man loved cats. This was way before anyone thought of having pets spayed or neutered so there were always plenty of furry critters hanging around the house or maybe I should say the kitty condo he made for them. Did I say the man loved cats?

The book has humor aplenty, but there is also a sad side of the story when Karen’s mom, Harry’s wife, Lenore became sick. But, this was just another chance for Harry to come to the rescue and show his love for his family. He would not allow his beloved wife to be admitted to a nursing home. He personally took on the daily care for her and did not once leave her alone. He made sure someone was with her if he had matters outside the home to tend to. After a stay in the hospital Lenore finally passed on. A few months later, Harry, never admitting his loneliness, fell and broke his hip. After three weeks in the hospital he made an amazing recovery. You have to wonder if perhaps it was his concern for all those cats living alone at his house that sprang him to life again. During his recovery, he came up with a new way to do the things he used to do including weeding with a mechanism he created that didn’t force him to bend over. Such an inventor, that Harry!

Harry had a system of organization that would not be matched even by those popular design shows you see on TV where a “professional” organizer comes in and puts an end to clutter. Harry saved everything and everything had a place. He even “dated’ his food. I bet you never heard of a man doing that! When remembering birthdays, he even put the person’s year of birth on the calendar. Probably just wanted to see how old they were.

At age 89 after living a full and loving life, Harry joined his wife in heaven. Karen was the one who found him lying between the toilet and the tub in his bathroom. She made sure he was buried in his brand new underwear she found neatly arranged in his dresser drawer. The package still unopened. I felt for her. I wanted to cry, but I knew that Karen was a strong person. Not that she wouldn’t grieve for her dear dad, but that she had a handle on life and a faith that would keep her chin up through the sale of her dad’s house.

I liked the photos Karen included in her book. I’ve met all the kitties and in case I need more information about any one of them, I could resort to Appendix B in the back of the book. I cracked up when I saw the picture of Harry’s oven. He was not much of a cook, but having good organizing skills, he made good use of the space as extra storage for small appliances!

Now, you might imagine that a book about someone else’s dad might be boring, but the thing I liked best about the book was that it made me remember the good times I had with my own quirky male relatives. Zemek used a chronological method to arrange her material. That was certainly a sensible approach. After all it was a biography about her father’s life.

If you want to laugh and cry, this is the book for you. While it is light-hearted, there is a great deal of stronger emotions present as Karen pays tribute to her father. She says it helped her process her own grief. I can see why it would have that benefit for her.

I will be interviewing Karen on my podcast, Writers in the Sky. I look forward to learning more about her writing process, and her publishing experience with Outskirts Press. She will also share some marketing tips with us so be sure to join the author February 15, 2008 or listen to the archived show thereafter at

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