Friday, June 3, 2011

Open Wounds by Joseph Lunievicz

Open Wounds. Joseph Lunievicz. WestSide Books. May 2011. 352 pp. ISBN #: 9781934813515.

Cid Wymann's mother died during his birth, and his presence reminds his drunken father of that loss on a daily basis. This fact earns Cid frequent beatings, which his grandmother can do little to stop. But two things are his salvation. He makes two friends, Siggy and Tomik Kopecky, who help him battle the neighborhood bullies. He discovers his grandmother is not attending church services but really is going to the movies, a world Cid comes to revere as he is weekly thrilled by scenes in Captain Blood and other Erroll Flynn movies about swordplay duels. Cid yearns to learn to be a fencer and an actor but does'nt believe those dreams lie in the realm of possiblities. He is to be quite surprised!

Abandoned by his father and losing his grandmother eventually by death, Cid is now a homeless child with no known relatives. Siggy's mom and dad take him in for a while but are forced to find a relative as they have to move themselves during this period of economic decline and loss of jobs in early 20th Century New York. So begins an amazing adventure as Cid lives with Lefty, a distant cousin who was gassed in WWI and lost his left arm and leg as well. His passion was honoring the secret love he held for Cid's mother and acting. Cid now becomes the student of that latter passion, reading all of Shakespeare's plays and imagining the duels therein each play. Lefty teaches Cid to fight and his fencing lessons then begin with Lefty's friend, Nikolai Varvarinski, who is teaching him to fight for fighting's sake and not just for acting. The scenes of this very tough training are exhilarating, and the readers senses a huge battle coming!

Finally, the old bullies reappear surprisingly in an older, more sophisticated venue, and they are out for Cid, this time with death-dealing intentions. The remainder of the novel leads up to a climax in which victory, honor, and integrity fill the pages of this story for all involved, with some head-splitting, hair-raising battles added to spice the mix!

Open Wounds is well-written, plot-driven, with cultural additions about movies, plays, and The Great War, elements that combine to make this a phenomenal piece of historical fiction! Superbly done!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Loyalty Binds Me by Joan Szechtman

Loyalty Binds Me. Joan Szechtman. Star Publish LLC. May 2011. 212 pp. Pb. ISBN #: 9781935188254.

In the novel, This Time by Joan Szechtman, Richard III and his son, Edward, were brought into the 21st Century by scientists who invented a time machine financed by a wealthy businessman who yearns to be accepted as a Ricardian scholar. Richard marries the scientist who originally created the undeveloped time machine and her daughters come to cherish Richard as the solid, caring father they never had.

As this new story begins, the family has traveled to England to pay their respects as a family to Richard’s first wife and Edward’s mother, Anne, at Westminster Abbey. It’s a journey complicated by the fact that Edward is trying to cope with a new family and living in a totally different world, and Sarah and the girls are still moving through their own family adjustments. These insecurities lurking below the surface are about to be stretched to the limit!

On their arrival in London, Richard is accosted by British authorities who tell him he is about to be charged with the murder of Edward IV’s “missing Princes,” as they have come to be called throughout history. The accusation initially strikes the reader as ludicrous, until British and American agents, a dynamic British journalist, a Ricardian lawyer, and other characters become intimately connected with this family who just want to be left alone to grow as the loving family they are becoming.

When the allegations change to something even more drastic, the unfolding scenario becomes intricately complex because of the mixed motives emerging that tell a totally different story, one packed with suspense, intrigue, and even violence.

Loyalty Binds Me is a credible, finely plotted historical mystery that encompasses all possible theories about Richard III’s motives and acts in the 15th Century. It also challenges the traditionally accepted Shakespearean depiction of this “distorted” King and provokes readers to challenge historical interpretation in an intelligent, dynamic, and adventurous way. Well-researched and well-written, Loyalty Binds Me is an exciting, surprising, yet sensitive novel that will delight every reader appreciative of excellent historical and time-travel fiction.