Midshipman Graham and the Battle of Abukir

Midshipman Graham and the Battle of Abukir ISBN: 9781946409232, Penmore Press LLC a historical thriller by James Boschert.

Duncan Graham, youngest son of a lesser member of Scottish landed aristocracy with few choices for a future, enters the navy as a midshipman. He is assigned to duty under command of the distinguished Commodore Sir Sydney Smith. The story follows his gradual maturation as he becomes involved in the brutal warfare that evolved as Bonaparte, following his defeat at Acre, returns to Cairo only again to leave to engage in the vicious fighting with the Turks whom their British allies were attempting to aid on the Abukir Peninsula. Unfortunately the Turkish Pasha in charge would not institute the defensive changes needed to be made with devastating results to the completely undisciplined Turks. As the main protagonist, Duncan’s part in the action is most prominent.

Discussion: Knowledgeable of the terrain and history of his subject, the author has set forth an interesting tale with surprisingly empathetic characters among the French as well as the British. The story moves rapidly among variously stupid thoughtless activity, vicious fighting, humorous moments, acts of heroism, thrilling storm navigation, and even a bit of romance. Minor proofing errors are annoying but are not sufficiently abundant to disrupt the narrative and the ending leaves many loose ends which assumedly will be answered in a sequel.

Conclusion: This volume presents an enjoyable historical novel for light reading.

4* An enjoyable historical novel for light reading.

MORT in CHINA

MORT in CHINA, Comic Series, Issue 1 by Vali T. C. Morrison (Author), Sun Xing (Translator), Charlie Tian (Author) and Skyla Bai (Editor)

The authors have initiated a series that has all of the indications of becoming a charmingly amusing, yet very informative string of stories. Admittedly the opening couple of pages provide some momentary initial questions with respect to the anticipated series, but the reaction quickly dissipates as Mort begins to develop. We discover him to be a mild mannered agent for Final Destination which is an ‘afterlife soul collection agency’ that unfortunately after 500 years of work, still is considered to be only ‘2nd best’. To rectify the situation, they decide to ‘shake things up a little’ and Mort’s boss sends him to root out and correct the efficiency issues in their China branch office. Upon arrival, he quickly realises that he is totally unqualified to deal with the nuances and pitfalls of Chinese culture and his personal nightmare begins.

The Mort in China project has been initiated by ALBA, a small indie-comic studio based in Beijing and is the brain child of Vali Morrison, a much travelled English/ American war veteran and Macedonian born Katerina Morrison, both of whom are fluent in Mandarin. For this reader who still enjoys the Sunday newspaper ‘Comics’, the proposed series offers not only an amusing cartoon possibility, but a huge number of possibilities for learning more about China as well. As such, it could well prove to be immensely informative at this crucial time in our country’s history with the growing intensity of our interrelationship with this country especially with respect to the Korean situation. It projects the possibility of a most interesting and worthwhile development as we learn more about this sprawling nation and its people in a laid back manner as we follow Mort’s adventures and misadventures as he attempts to adjust.

5* For anticipated series development.

Diamonds are Not a Girl’s Best Friend

Diamonds are Not a Girl’s Best Friend ISBN: 9781945330698, Telemachus Press, Book 11, Samantha Jamison Mystery Series by Peggy A. Edelheit.

As usual, Samantha (Sam) becomes involved in solving an immensely complicated mystery. This time once again it is in New Hope but now entails the theft of an antique cane. Emil, the renowned French Chef who recently has sold his famous Bistro, has become interested in these unique items and has begun a local group of similarly interested collectors. He has invited the group, along with Sam and her geriatric mystery-solving co-workers, to his home for a showing of his latest purchase. They arrive early to discover Emil unconscious with severe head wounds and the diamond encrusted merchants’ cane missing. Upon regaining consciousness, Emil can recall nothing of the occurrence. Sam and her partners embark upon ferreting out and pursuing clues in their unique manner with the help of Clay and Tony and even Tony’s mother who enters the action upon escaping from the mental institution.

The author again involves her quirky characters in a fast-moving romp replete with duplicity, deception and murder as it winds toward a conclusion. She further has provided interesting details about an unusual object for collectors as well as some interesting facts about diamonds, faux and real. A slight lack of editing detail not noticed in other of the series unfortunately is apparent in this volume and the plot appears to be somewhat more contrived than usual. But again, she has projected her zany group into the often hare-brained activity so appealing to readers of this seemingly well-received series

3* Another amusing (with reservations) romp by the regular, along with new, zany characters.

Emboozlement

Emboozlement, Laughriot Press, a McCall & Company e-book novel by Rich Leder.

Kate McCall is an actress participating regularly as a member of the D-Cup Company in their off-, off-, off-Broadway productions. She also is owner of McCall & Company, a PI firm and .45 Cal. automatic inherited from father Jimmy who had been killed by a hired killer. She was 45 years old, a superb boxer because her dad, a sports fan, had insisted, manager of an apartment complex and a teen-age mother of a now Assistant District Attorney, who, along with the NYPD were not in the least happy with her PI activities. The story follows Kate and her Zany friends/employees/neighbors/co-actors as she meanders through her theatrical performances while attempting to find the culprit who is embezzling large sums of money from a popular sports bar, developing a possible romantic attachment to the owner and also investigating murders in a high priced law firm owned and operated by two married couples with secretes of their own – the murderer employing the same modus operandi as that of her father’s murderer.

The author has a lengthy list of credits for production of humorous books, TV and big screen films and has set forth here another in this same vein with a quirky protagonist, weird plots for her zany characters’ productions, and wacky parts for them to play in her supposedly serious attempts to bring her cases to a satisfactory conclusion. A tremendous number of loose ends remain at the story’s end, but if a reader enjoys a totally unconventional, even nonsensical romp, you’ll love this one.

5* For readers who enjoy a totally oddball read.

Stones in the River

Stones in the River, Vol. 1, is a short story in e-book format by Jason Tucker.

Plot: Jamie was sitting on his couch enjoying a beer and half watching TV news after a long shift at the factory. An announcement from the Lottery headquarters began and listed a number that sounded like the one he had just purchased. He checked, was right and went quietly bananas. It seems he was the lone winner of 33 million dollars. He thought of calling Stephanie a bartender he had seen a few times, but thought better of it. But he didn’t know who to call? Living in a small mountain town was tough. If it was the wrong person, everybody would know. A call to his parents would bring aunts, uncles, their kids, etc. and besides he had to work in the morning. Finally, he called his grandmother and told her he thought he won some money. She thought that was nice but he should not drink any more beer and go to bed. At this moment he knew he would never change. He would be the same old Jamie – send his family on vacations, buy grandma a new car, nieces and nephews stuff they wanted, get the Jeep he had been wanting. In other words he would be generous but not showy. “He would go to work, pay his bills and save money. It was a shame about Stephanie, but he’d meet some nice southern girl who wasn’t wowed by money, they would have three kids and send them all to college.” Unfortunately, this is NOT what followed his winning of the lottery. Instead, as the story unfolds, the Lottery insists upon wide dissemination of the knowledge of his win, Stephanie sues him for several million, his job is given to ‘someone who needs it’ and other occurrences have him leaving for an Alaskan fishing trip that provides an interesting twist to the tale.

Discussion: This is a short story by a newer author that offers an appealing approach to a timely subject. The presentation of the story line is interesting, the pace is good and characterization is a bit sketchy, but adequate. A shift from pure narrative to a conversational approach, in the reviewer’s opinion, would have added greatly to the book’s enjoyment.

3* A short story providing a fine basis for those volumes that follow.

The Laugh Supper, A Time Defying Dialogue

The Laugh Supper, authored/copyright by Leonard Ryzman, first published by Emerald Press in 2002; this e-book edition published 2014; “Printed by CM Digital, Adelaide, South Australia.”

Description/Discussion: The book is described as “a time-defying dialogue composed of imaginary conversations crammed with wisdom and laughter.” It is “time-defying” because the dialogue is provided by a remarkable and somewhat unlikely group of time travelers consisting of Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519); Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882); Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865); Groucho Marx (1890-1977); Mae West (1893-1980); perhaps lesser remembered but at the time well-known word supremacist and witty conversationalist Dorothy Parker (1893-1967); John F. Kennedy (1917-1963); Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968); and John Lennon of the Beatles (1940-1980). There are thirteen chapters in which this perhaps somewhat strange-appearing assembly of individuals discuss a myriad of subjects that range from invention, discoveries and art, to ways best suited for weight loss, understanding differences between the sexes, to the nature of, and relationship between, time and space and numerous other topics. The discussions may best be described as an assemblage of sharp repartee where the witty remarks often may be pithy, the observations/suggestions quite apropos and amusingly expressed, but all are quite fittingly couched in language and expressed in a manner one would expect from the person who is speaking. A brief sampling from an earlier chapter. Mae West: “A husband is a person who is under the impression he bosses the house when in reality, he only houses the boss.” Kennedy; “Agreed. Arguing with Jackie goes like this: I came! I saw! I concurred!” Mae: “Naturally, give a man a free hand and he’ll put it all over you.” Groucho: “when I was in hospital, a shapely nurse once had to hold my wrist to check my impulse. Well, men will be men.” Mae: “I wouldn’t want them to be anything else.” Kennedy: “I don’t think it’s all a one-way street though. Many women know how to use their curves to advantage.” Parker; “For every woman with a curve, there are several men with angles.” Then bits from later chapters: King; “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We still have guided missiles and misguided man. We don’t need more judges, but more sound judgement. We need more warm hearts and fewer hot heads. We need to realize it is not the differences between us that is the difficulty; it is the indifferences.” Emerson: “People once shouted give me Liberty. Now they leave off the last word.” Groucho: “What’s wrong with the world isn’t the people that are trying to get something for nothing. It’s those who are succeeding.” Lennon: “Time you enjoy working isn’t time wasted. Lincoln: You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must find it.” Parker: “Time isn’t passing me by. It’s trying to run over me.” The final chapter (13) provides a most thoughtful and interesting ‘wrap-up’.

Conclusion: The author has written a book that readers who lived during the mid-nineteen hundreds should greatly appreciate. Unlike today’s most usual experiences of communicating via an electronic devise, luncheons and dinners were spent leisurely in conversation with friends/acquaintances and pleasant repartee was a treasured part of the event. People did not just eat. They dined and conversed. As mentioned in Dorothy Parker’s short biography here, she was a member of the famed Algonquin Round Table where this was a daily occurrence. This was an activity prevalent to the times and others, who were not as fortunate and perhaps not as gifted, still would look forward to these same experiences as often as available. Thus, even if the reader is not of these generations, he/she might still appreciate the mental acuity demonstrated by these remarkable people and better understand the occasional comment on some of today’s interpersonal relationships from a member of an earlier generation. But if nothing more, the author’s opening quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln provides a most fitting conclusion for this book: “For those who like this kind of book, this is the kind of book they will like.”

5* Charmingly reminiscent, even enjoyable and possibly rewarding for younger generations.