Book covers attract buyers; there is nothing new about this. We can tell a book by its cover, or at least we think we can. Fourteen by Leslie Johansen Nack communicates several ideas all at once. Fourteen, hmmm, that might be the age of the female on the cover. She is wearing a bikini. The next point that catches reader attention is the subtitle: A Daughter’s Memoir of Adventure, Sailing, and Survival. That last word is a trigger that evokes the possibility of domestic child abuse. Then there are the words “adventure” and “sailing.” Not available on Kindle Unlimited but selling for USD 0.55, I was interested in what this novel is about. I was happy. I discovered a story with meaning on many levels.
Tim Rowland has presented a collection of tales, Strange and Obscure Stories of the Civil War. Sixteen chapters are filled with many elements of history mostly skipped in high school textbooks. No trigger warnings are necessary but there would probably be objections if young minds were exposed to the prevalence of venereal disease, tales of ridiculous situations that came about due to being under the influence of alcohol, and a detailed history of a prominent political figure, Maj. Gen Sickles, who lived with a family where he bedded the matriarch while he was waiting for an infant to grow up so he could marry her. OK, maybe the last one is not so shocking. And although Gen. Sickles did not shoot someone in Times Square and get away with it, Sickles did murder the son of Francis Scott Key. And got away with it.
“Clothes don’t make the man.” In the generation according to PC, I suppose I should include women somehow in a revisionist modern statement. But if I were a woman, I would hate to have someone throw a statement like “Clothes don’t make the woman,” at me. It just sounds disrespectful to a group of folks who spend a couple of hours a day prepping to meet the world. I just change out of the T-shirt and jeans I slept into my other T-shirt and pair of jeans. For me, that is formal. I could have worn shorts. As you can see, there are dogs that dress more formal than me.
It’s playtime with another great prompt from Kat for you to create a story in 280 characters. A few weeks ago we had a prompt with nothing but pillows, a blinding white background. The prompt this week is very dark and thus very appropriate for our UK colleagues as they face a gloomy but imminent future with “The Continent.” But remember Winston and Dunkirk and the Air Battle for Britain. And afternoons of putting the kettle on no matter what the crisis. Somewhere in the background, there is the ultimate secret weapon (referred to in my tale). That weapon, backed by British grit will conquer all. Except for the rain.
Daughter of Neptune by Theresa Wisner is a memoir that might be called a coming-of-age story, but most stories of that genre stop at an age below thirty. Not a spoiler, it seems that Theresa finally does come of age and her journey was not a typical one that we would find in fiction. A clue to the success of her journey can be found in this annotation on the cover just under the main title: “… found at sea.”
Eats, Shites, and Leaves by Michael O’Mara is a parody about the way English is used and misused. A subtitle of Crap English and How to Use It assures me that I will have fun reading it. This can’t be reviewed as I do many novels because it more resembles a collection of lists. A trendy modern term which some online publications and blogs use is “listicle.” I actively avoid listicles. It is as if authors of listicles are publishing their mind maps and it is the reader (me) who must connect the dots. This parody is not a collection of mind maps. O’Mara provides short introductions to sections and explains the origins of words and phrases in the section while adding personal observations.
Filling a long-standing blank space in literature, Book Simulator by Chris Yee has finally landed. At long last Faux readers will be able to follow a well-crafted training plan that will allow them to fake out their more erudite well-read brethren. BookSi gives the impression that Faux readers are reading when in fact they are visualizing cashews on trolleys (Kindle location 118). This book has already made an impact at the highest levels of government. It is a coffee table book in most apartments at Swamp Towers.
On its surface Don’t Trust Me by Jessica Lynch is a murder mystery with an interesting puzzle. The prime suspect in the murder of Jack is his wife, Tessie/Tess/Tessa. That goes with the time-honored theory that it is more likely the spouse, or at least people closest to the victim, committed the crime. But Tessie was in jail during the night of the murder. While that mystery percolates in the reader’s mind, Tessie, although grief-stricken, seems to appreciate the possibilities of future relationships or play with Deputy Sheriff Mason who put her in jail for drunk driving on the night of the husband’s murder. She also is impressed, as in take-my-breath-away by Hamlet’s only doctor and medical examiner by default, Dr. Lucas, the guy that cremated her husband’s body.
Dating in Cyberspace by Thea Thaxton is a collection of five short stories about dating in Cyberspace. Readers should note that this was published in 2012; the speed of evolution of the internet makes the technology referenced in this short novel nearly obsolete. That is OK, however, because this is really an account of one woman’s experience with dating online. It is an examination of human behavior and different perceptions. Technology allows for different forms of display of behavior, but the basics of social interaction remain the same. Jealousy, who has the power in a relationship, different views of etiquette, resentment, anger, and disgust; all typical human behaviors play out on a new platform.
Wolf by Kelly Oliver attracted my attention because of its cover. Following the title, the cover informed me that this was a Jessica James mystery. Jessica James? Jesse James? The Amazon page claimed that this was a witty suspense thriller. The elements were there that led me to believe this would be a fun read. I purchased the novel for USD 0.99 although it is listed on Amazon at USD 4.99. The novel might be far more interesting to fans of Russian art, Russian culture, Russian expat culture, the Russian mob, and Russian slang than it was to me. I felt it dragged along with occasional contrived interjections of forced humor. Most of the humor was of the double innuendo sexual type which I felt was added later in the novel’s development during the editorial or revision process. If a reviewer with interests in all things Russian gave the novel four Amazon stars, I could understand that. But several things kept me from giving such a high rating.