Wednesday, March 9, 2011

This Time: A Novel about Richard III by Joan Szechtman

This Time: A Novel About Richard III. Joan Szechtman. Basset Books. December 2009. Pb. 343 pp. ISBN #: 9780982449301.

Five hundred years have passed. Just as Richard III is struck down at the infamous Battle of Bosworth, a time machine invented by scientists in the 20th Century transports Richard to Portland, Oregon in August of 2004. Hosgrove, the man who wants academic renown displays such an aggressive attitude to Richard that Richard is overwhelmed by the need to defend himself, a stress he certainly doesn't need as he attempts to adapt to a world that seems magical, perhaps even one step above evil. Katarina, a scholarly linguist, is the compassionate one who manages to gently nurture Richard in this startling new environment. They want information from Richard, proof of the "two missing Princes" being alive and more, evidence Richard is unclear about no matter the time or place.

The more Richard ponders the past and the present, the more he is riddled with guilt over his part in attempting to hide the Princes and his responsibility for the death of so many peers and soldiers at that final battle whose outcome he has managed to escape.

Joan Szechtman has written a novel that immediately draws the reader into Richard's adjustments to technology, clothing, food, and more. After an astonishing act of Hosgrove, Richard disappears until it is safe to return to work together with a team that is actually going to try to restore the life of a family member in Richard's original world. At the same time, the reader is thrilled to see a romance develop in his life, one that is full of formidable challenges but one that is all the more endearing for the way it evolves.

While parts of this story are obviously contrived, those events don't detract from a finely imagined story that will interest Ricardian fans and other readers who love a good historical novel.

Quite a different take, a redeeming look at King Richard III, "Dick," or "Dickon," a man and leader who continues to intrigue old and new readers! Nicely done, indeed, Joan Szechtman!

Wild Man Creek: A Virgin River Novel by Robyn Carr

Wild Man Creek: A Virgin River Novel. Robyn Carr. MIRA Books. January 2011. 368 pp. Pb. ISBN #: 9780778329312.

Public relations expert, Jillian Matlock, travels to Virgin River in Northern California, forced to leave her job because of a sexual harrassment charge. Nothing could be further from the truth, but Jillian decides this is the time to follow a new dream, one that is slowly evolving and with which she is becoming more and more excited. She's smart, sassy, and unafraid to try anything. At least she is until she meets Colin Riordan.

Colin is a wounded warrior, a former pilot blown out of the sky in a Black Hawk helicopter who has been through the mill physically, mentally, and emotionally. But all of a sudden, he's initially intrigued first and then slowly attracted toward this go-getter lady who begins to move him beyond his hobby of painting natural wildlife scenes for his own peace. The story doesn't stay in a stereotypical pattern at all and continues to thrill the reader with subplots that are offbeat, original, and engaging on every page.

Gardening, fine food, new discoveries, traveling abroad, and so much more endear and challenge Jillian, Colin, families and others!!

Love is complicated yet really simple, when all is said and done.

Very nicely done novel, Robyn Carr!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spinning by Michael Baron

Spinning. Michael Baron. The Story Plant. April 2011. 304 pp. Pb. ISBN #: 9781611880052.

Dylan Hunter is living the yuppie American dream with a challenging but successful dream. Outside of that world, he lives for bar hopping, meeting pretty girls, and basically doing exactly what he wants when he wants. He has no familial responsibilities and even quakes at the thought of ever assuming that role, albeit acknowledging that such demands might come into the picture as he approaches middle age.

Dylan is in for a profound surprise. A brief lover appears on his doorstep one evening with her three year-old daughter, and Dylan accepts her request to stay as a temporary distraction. Little by little, however, Dylan's heart is melted by this cute, intelligent and sensitive little girl, Spring. A traumatic event will shake her world as well, and Dylan is unable to connect with those who would know best how to handle what has brutally shaken Spring's world. Other female friends of Dylan drop into the picture and slowly Dylan begins to understand the shallow nature of his former world, with the additional comments by a new boss who does have his priorities very straight indeed!

Sharing more about this extraordinary story would be a spoiler that deserves to await the reader's attention and eventual enchanted reading. Michael Baron has crafted a tale that is anything but mundane, full of unexpected surprises and resonant with realizations that are presented in a touching and practical manner that isn't saccharine or stereotypical.

Keep writing, Michael Baron! Spinning is fine writing indeed!

The Promises She Keeps by Erin Healy

The Promises She Keeps. Erin Healy. Thomas Nelson, Inc. February 2011. 344 pp. ISBN #: 9781595547514. $14.99

Promise is a dying woman with a vivid dream, to become such a great singer that her name will achieve immortality. Porta Cerreto is a witch who seeks the One who will bring immortality to all. She has traveled across America, stopping in each place to present art in various galleries and telling customers that certain pictures speak truth to the viewer that will have everlasting resonance. Is she for real or is she just a quack scheming with peoples' lives in a way that brings as much destruction and death as it does life?

Chase is an extraordinary, talented artist whose gifts are more often ignored because his autism repels rather than connects those with whom he attempts to interact. His paintings are based on the identity of the one being drawn - in a rather abstract yet natural manner - and the Biblical inspiration he is inspired to incorporate into his "white on black" drawings. Chelsea, Chase's twin sister, has sacrificed much to support Chase and Wes, Chase's helper, is inching her forward to realize a new world awaits her attention and hold.

Porta's son, Zach, is a drug addict and scorner of all that is beautiful thanks to his mother's machinations which he perceives to be pure evil.

Promise's experiences with regaining health and surviving death begin to unite every character in this tautly plotted story, leading to a climax that is devastating in literal and figurative implications for all involved.

Erin Healy's latest novel is a page-flipping foray into what we so often glibly label "good" and "evil," an examination of the consequences of so-called "love," and a journey through the layers of magic and dreams that will leave the reader thrilled, questioning, and celebrating what is!

Delightful, Erin Healy!