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Book Review: “Legacy of the Highlands” by: Harriet Schultz

We all say the words “where did time go” at on time or another. I have been saying it a lot lately.  In 2012 I took a break from blogging. This is my first time back!  Five years!!

The first book I would like to review, as I begin again, is the book I was working on when life interrupted:  “Legacy of the Highlands” by Harriet Schultz.

Legacy - Schultz

This is a fabulous novel.  It is a jam packed plot, as to rival all good mystery writers.  I am inclined to say, including your favourite authors.  The beginning lulls the reader into a false sense of security in that the beginning is not what it appears – not all pleasure and romance.  The characters are multi-dimensional, soon to be among the reader’s favourite.

Goodreads summary of this novel is as follows:

Young, good-looking, successful and wealthy. Will and Alexandra Cameron had it all until the night he went out to buy ice cream after an evening of passionate sex and never returned. When his body is discovered in a nearby Boston alley, the only clue to his murder is a Scottish sgian dubh dagger left beside it. Will’s grieving widow finds refuge in the Miami villa of his best friend Diego Navarro, who has the means, power and temperament to solve the puzzle and to avenge his friend’s murder. The sinfully handsome and charming womanizer’s feelings for Alexandra run deep, and he becomes equally determined to win the devastated widow’s heart. The attraction between them grows as they follow leads from Miami to Buenos Aires and Scotland, unraveling the Cameron family’s centuries-old secrets.

Do yourself a favour, pick up a copy of Harriet Schultz’s “Legacy of the Highlands”, and you will find joy in the written word.

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Virtual Book Kick-off Party!! for “The Guardian’s Wildchild” by Feather Stone

Monday March 5, 2012 has been an AMAZING day!! 

Feather Stone’s first book, “The Guardian’s Wildchild”  has been launched  –  pun intended!  The setting of “The Guardian’s Wildchild” is on the Pacific Ocean.   

Today, around the blog world, there have been giveaways, eBooks, bookmarks, crystals, and one grand prize of a signed paperback copy of “The Guardian’s Wildchild”.  The theme of this Kick-off Party is nautical; the theme of the book contains elements of intrigue and romance. 

“Caught in a reckless attempt to stop Dark forces, Sidney Davenport, a young, rule breaking, spirited member of the secret paranormal community of Guardians, finds herself imprisoned on a naval ship and slated for execution. Her struggle with the unfamiliar emotions of fear and anger becomes even more complicated when she can no longer fight her attraction to the very man who has orders to perform her execution. Captain Sam Waterhouse, a meticulous naval captain who’s suspected of treason, teeters on a precipice between Darkness and Light. When he receives an unusual prisoner, a paranormal journey begins to unravel his disciplined life. All the while, humanity is unknowingly at great risk when two Dark forces team up to acquire control of an elusive power. Sidney and Sam attempt to quiet their powerful feelings for each other, only to discover they can save each other, and in doing so, they might even save the world. Through stunning imagery, an intricate and adventurous plot, and a strong cast of characters, Feather Stone gives readers a fascinating glimpse into the future—a future that is chilling, yet full of hope.”  (Amazon.com)

To purchase the book, paperback or eBook, check it out on these retail sites:

Omnific Publishing for Paperback or eBook

Amazon for Paperback or Kindle

Barnes and Noble for Nook

And just to further whet your appetite and curiosity, here’s a short excerpt from “The Guardian’s Wildchild”: 

Embraced, Almost 

(from Feather Stone's website blog)

Silence took command of the captain’s office. Sam went to his window and stared out into the night’s void while Sidney waited for the razor sharp tension to soften. Sam crashed into near despair, and even though his back was to Sidney, she sensed his intense regret. He stood motionless and spoke to her only through his aura. It was saturated with pain and hopelessness. It left Sidney confused. She’d never thought of him as anything but in control, unmoved by circumstances, always knowing his next move. 

Still gazing out his window, Sam finally spoke. “So, Sidney, do you still believe that man is cut from the same cloth as you?” 

She got up from her chair and stood beside him. “Yes, without any doubt. It’s not a belief. It’s a knowing. Like I know in every plain, hard seed, a beautiful flower lies sleeping, dormant until awakened under the right conditions. It’s just a matter of time.” 

Glancing in her direction, Sam almost smiled. “You sound like a poet.” 

Sidney felt uncomfortable. She had an impulse to offer more than encouraging words. He was so close and now seemed more human than ever. He needed comforting arms to embrace him. Her hands reached up toward his arms.  

He stepped away, and his rule book sprung up from out of nowhere. 

 ———————-

Feather Stone

And of course, before we sign off, where is the Joy in this blog post?  I think it is obvious to all here, that with the launch of her first book, Feather Stone, if I may say so, will be feeling immense Joy!  Possibly enough for all of us?! 

For more information please visit Feather Stone’s website and blog:  http://featherstoneauthor.blogspot.com/

Choose Joy!! 

Patricia

.

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Book Review: J. Gunnar Grey’s: “Trophies (The Ellandun Wars)”

When his aunt is murdered, NATO Rapid Response officer Captain Charles Ellandun finds she’s left him a literal locked-room puzzle. Granted, Aunt Edith is the one who taught him to pick locks. But what he finds in her garret hauls their family’s past into the present and knocks his war-damaged brain even further askew.

Now more people than usual are trying to kill him and unless he wants to be the next one dead, he must figure out why she is—fast. But the hunt for her killer takes him and his team members to places he’d rather not visit—to the art gallery where she died, the police station where he’s a suspect, the past he’d thought safely locked away, the family he doesn’t want to love, and the memories of the war that he just can’t shake. 

(from Goodreads)

It has been a long time since I have found myself engrossed in a “modern” mystery.  The reason is simple:  I am not a fan.  With apologies to this author, J. Gunnar Grey, my favourite mystery writer is Agatha Christie.  I also enjoy Georges Simenon, Earl Stanley Gardner, Samuel Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald, and their contemporaries.  I had about given up trying to find a modern mystery writer, who wrote to my taste, until I read J. Gunnar Grey’s: “Trophies (The Ellandun Wars)”. 

At last, I found an exciting new mystery author!  J. Gunnar Grey describes herself as ‘The 1940 Mystery Writer’ – maybe that’s why I appreciate her writing as much as I do!   

Whatever the reason, “Trophies” is an excellent  mystery novel.  And even though I know the ending, it deserves re-reading. 

The main character, Captain Charles Ellandun, is quite complex, and the novel is written through his eyes, delving into different stages in his life.  It is in the current time frame that is the home of the murder, the murder of Charles’ aging Aunt Edith.  An unbelievable murder from Charles’ standpoint.  Why anyone would want to kill the one woman, who glowed in Charles’ past and present life, became a mystery for Charles to solve, before he became the next victim. 

Charles, a war veteran, who is plagued with dark memories, vivid flashbacks, and at times finds himself back at war holding a gun.  These flashbacks can occur at any time, but are strongly triggered as Charles’ find himself at the centre of Aunt Edith’s murder.  The flashbacks take him completely out of the present time zone, becoming a short blackout occurring at any moment, which could prove to be somewhat dangerous. 

We are transported back to Charles’ youth, teenage years, and as a young adult.  But always coming back to the present, the murder, and Aunt Edith’s past.  Charles uncovers family secrets and treasures, that may have been better left undiscovered!  

This type of time travel must be skillfully written, so as not to confuse the reader, and keep the novel’s story line moving forward.  J. Gunnar Grey is skilled at transporting the reader through various stages of Charles’ life, using points of view that keep the reader focused, attentive, interested, and puzzled – in all the appropriate places! 

Charles’ character is surrounded by family, friends, and foes, who supply excitement, guidance, danger, protection, and a little romance – just like the 1940 era mystery novels! 

“Trophies” does not hand the reader easy clues or background information.  The reader must stay alert to follow the exciting trails in this novel – and it is well worth the effort!  Gunnar Grey does not disappoint the avid mystery reader. 

On a more personal note, two of the characteristics I appreciate in “Trophies” are:  a lack of descriptive violence and needless offensive language.  Neither are required attributes in the telling of a story, but often are inserted.  Without those characteristics, “Trophies” is a much better read, and one that can be read and enjoyed by general audiences.  

So, if you are a mystery fan you will want to add J. Gunnar Grey’s: “Trophies (The Ellandun Wars)” to your library. 

Read and Enjoy!! 

P.S.  This book cover includes a subtitle: “Book One of the Ellandun Wars”.   ‘Book One’!   That must mean there is another book on its way!  I will keep my eyes open and keep you informed!

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Book Review: “Amazing Grace …As Christ Walks By – My Journey from Brokenness… to Wholeness” authored by Carol Cline

Carol Cline (photo Jeff Cline)

Are you living life as a prisoner to your own darkness within?

Do you find yourself feeling ashamed or riddled with continuing guilt? Do you live in fear? You can find your way to live a life of freedom…if you take the first steps of a journey that grows in love, knowledge and service for Jesus Christ. He died to give each of us abundant life, free of shame, free of guilt, free of fear. Bible scholar Carol Cline takes us on her journey from a broken, dysfunctional family life, through one act of cruel and shameful violence done to her, to her own first steps to recovering her wholeness as she learns to live with the love of Christ. You’ll learn from her the spiritual practices she uses daily and which have shaped her journey and led her confidently to Christ. Daily spiritual practice is like exercise, she tells us. At first you start with a coach or a guide or even a partner, but with continued practice you are able to deepen your intimate relationship with Christ each day yourself. Amazing Grace as Christ Walks By can lead you from being broken to being whole, in Christ. (from Outskirts Press back cover)

“Amazing Grace as Christ Walks By can lead you from being broken to being whole, in Christ”.

The above line is copied from Outskirts Press book description for “Amazing Grace… as Christ Walks By”, written by Carol Cline. While this is a very large claim to make, there are elements of this statement in the book.

I see Carol Cline’s book more as a short story collection, than a progressive autobiography. While the book is autobiographical, it also reads as a Daily Devotional – or maybe a Weekly Devotional. The book is written as a chronological telling of how Carol let Christ work in her life, and at times she is quite candid about very personal issues. The chapters are divided into years, (i.e. 1975-1980, 1983-1985, 1989-1991), but does contain some overlap – which I think is an excellent characteristic of Carol Cline’s writing. The chapters are divided, but also cross over critical topics.

One of the things I most appreciated when reading this book, was how open Cline has been about such issues as illness, rape, death, and family life. Both her biological family and the family she married in to. As I read about these often painful memories of Carol, I felt privileged to be a part of them.


There are some sections of the book that are a little disjointed and contain statements that seem out of place. For example, when speaking about one of her family moves, Carol’s paragraph includes a statement about having family members over for dinner the night Princess Diana died. I am not sure how that information fits the topic, other than giving us an additional time perspective – although I do not think that is necessary. I am not convinced this line is pertinent. This happens a few times in the book, (although not the same sentence about Princess Diana!), and I found these points to be distracting. I was left with a “what does that mean” feeling.

Carol Cline’s writing style is comfortable and free flowing – has almost a rocking sensation as the reader is lulled through up and down, back and forth, sentences. I find this writing style immediately draws me in to the feeling of “I’ve been here before” – has a familiar sound to it. This makes it easy to read.

Cline’s beliefs and emotional attraction to Christ is evident immediately from the title, and continues throughout each chapter. There is no doubt that Cline has journeyed from “…Brokenness to Wholeness”, and she wants the rest of us to acquire the feelings she has grown into and matured with. While that may not be possible during this short work, (87 pages), Carol’s energy jumps off the page, and hopefully into the reader’s heart – to be led who-knows-where! Anything is possible!

“Amazing Grace …As Christ Walks By” may seem like a short, easy read – but do not kid yourself, there is a lot packed into these pages.

As I mentioned earlier, I think this book would work well as a Weekly Devotional – one chapter each week. I also think it lends itself to a small group setting for faith discussions. The chapters can be taken in sequential order, but I do not think anything would be lost by taking the chapters in random order. After all, Christ’s movement in our lives is not always sequential!

I do think this book might be better appreciated by Christians who are at the beginning of their faith journey. Christians who are farther along on their journey might not find enough substance to satisfy their needs. I also think that, should she want to do this, Carol Cline could turn this short book into a much longer read, by getting more detailed about facts, as well as more detailed abut her faith experience.

Overall, this is a good read, and one that can be re-read as the reader sees fit. Carol Cline shares events that are deeply personal and the reader can feel her pain – and her joy – through their own eyes. It truly is “Amazing Grace”.

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Book Review: “The Silent and the Lost” by Abu Zubair

Alex Salim McKensie, a war baby of the 1971 Bangladesh War of Independence, is adopted by the McKensies, an American family that has lost their only son in Vietnam. Years later, Alex falls in love with Sangeeta Rai, but their happiness is threatened when the enigma of his birth casts a dark shadow over their relationship. The Silent and the Lost opens with the wedding of Alex and Sangeeta in Brentwood, California on a sunny Saturday in 1997, then travels back into the boiling cauldron of political clashes of East Pakistan in early 1971. Through the eyes of newlywed Nahar Sultana, her husband, student activist Rafique Chowdhury, and their friends we are immersed into the nine months of revolution that created Bangladesh. On March 25, 1971, Nahar, Rafique, Nazmul and the Rahmans find themselves in the center of Operation Searchlight at Dacca University. Miraculously surviving, they escape to Sheetalpur village. Longing for vengeance and freedom, Nazmul and Rafique leave for the Mukthi Bahini guerrilla camps in Agartala, India. In a twist of fate, in a brutal family betrayal, Nahar is captured by the Pakistani Army. Destitute and in utter despair, tortured and mad, Nahar grips desperately to her last scintilla of hope-Rafique’s return. Two generations spread across two continents, thousands of miles apart, are brought jarringly together when Alex begins his search for answers to his beginnings. He discovers that his own struggle for happiness is inextricable from the history that he finds himself part of: the genocide that in 1971 ultimately created out of East Pakistan the new nation of Bangladesh. Set in a pivotal point of time, The Silent and the Lost powerfully chronicles the history of a revolutionary change in the socio-political landscape of the sub-continent, and takes us on a sinuous journey into a passionate and breathtaking untold account of heroism and betrayal, family and friendship, love and anguish-of the lives of the characters and millions of others swept up in the unfolding unrest, mayhem and suppressed genocide.  (from Barnes and Noble)

Padma Phool - Water Lilies - Bangladesh

When I think of a descriptive word that best describes “The Silent and the Lost” by Abu Zubair, the only word that applies is “beauty”.  Beauty in the pages and hardcover binding; beauty in the picture and artwork of the front cover; beauty in Abu Zubair’s words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters; beauty in the relationships described; beauty in the flow of this incredible novel.  Once opened, I did not want to let go.  When I read the last word – I wanted more.  And the unusual, undeniable juxtaposition is that the root topic is one of deep unrest, family betrayal, and world struggle and war. Genocide.  True life facts of history wound up in a story bound to reach the heart of readers, in a way that will change the reader forever. 

Before reading Abu Zubair’s novel, my own knowledge of what happened between West Pakistan – East Pakistan – Bangladesh – was sadly lacking, even though my friend circle includes individuals whose own heritage springs from these conflicts.  That humbles me, and at the same time, makes me a little embarrassed – now having read “The Silent and the Lost”.  How could I have been so unaware of something that happened in my lifetime, happened as my high school years were ending, and university loomed on the horizon?  I shake my head in wonder that, at no time since high school or university, did I learn of the tragic events and sacrificed lives that took place in 1971. 

Abu Zubair does not leave much out of his descriptions of war and its tragedies, but nor were his descriptions anywhere near gore or horror.  Yes, there was gore in the actual historical events – there was horror in the actual events – but as with any skilled craftsman, Abu Zubair acknowledges and speaks to the gore and horror of these real life events, but he does not glorify the gore and the horror.  Which I must say, I keenly appreciated.  It allows for the storyline to remain front and centre. 

The novel takes place in two time spans: one in 1997 and one in 1971.  Each era has its own cast of characters, and there is no challenging maze of events to follow.  The reader will easily recognize when the chapter is to be about the events of 1997, and when it will be about the events of 1971.  Also, the author’s calendar dates are shown for each section of the book – very helpful. 

As I write the year ‘1971’, I am still trying to wrap my head around ‘such events’ happening in ‘this day and age’; and I am also sadly aware that tragic events like this continue to plague our world.  And those of us living in North America have so much to be grateful for, with respect to political and religious freedom.  Yes, troubles exist in our world but are nowhere near the magnitude of such battles, as the battle for Pakistan. 

There are also scenes and chapters of “The Silent and the Lost” that are filled with such love, beauty, and grace – my eyes brimmed over with tears as I transitioned from one generation to another, one chapter to another, and at times even one sentence to another.  But not all dreary and sad, this novel includes some very happy and joyful happenings in the lives of the characters.  Moments that brought smiles, not tears, to my heart. 

I was attracted to the subtle experiences of spirituality expressed or implied by the author about the characters.  Admittedly, spirituality is a grace I subconsciously (or consciously) look for no matter which book sits before me.  Nevertheless, I believe it was a real element of the story line – spirituality and the lack of spirituality. 

Although not necessarily meant in any other way than to comment on Muslim and Hindu differences, I was affected quite deeply by the following short paragraph – affected on a spiritual level, as well as on a moral level.  Based on how we need to work toward true peace, in this frequently “peace-less” world. 

                    “Remember, the enemy has penetrated our ranks and will try     to create division among us, and through looting create derisions in our ranks.  Hindus or Muslims, Bengalis or non-Bengalis, all are our brothers.    It is our duty to ensure everyone’s safety.”  (page 52) 

“The Silent and the Lost” reached me on many levels – intellectually, psychologically, spiritually, and not the least of which, emotionally.  This is a book I will treasure and re-read again and again. Because the topics which are covered in the books I read and review are so very different, I do not use a numbered rating system.  Even if I stated that the ratings held only “in the genre the book was written for”, as humans we love to compare and number comparisons between works of fiction and of non-fiction would be inevitable.  So, I steer clear of a number scale.  However, if I was to rate “The Silent and the Lost” on a number scale – it would rate the highest number possible.  When I received this complimentary book from the author, and it arrived clearly packaged with care, I knew I was holding something very special.  I am happy to be able to freely supply my review, and know this book truly is something special.

I highly recommend “The Silent and the Lost” by Abu Zubair be added to everyone’s to-be-read list, and I would be interested to hear everyone’s reaction to, and thoughts of, this book.  I certainly welcome comments be added to this post. 

Read and bring this book into YOUR life.

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