Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dirt-Mark LaFlamme

About the book:
Introducing Gov. Frank F. Cotton, a man with his share of secrets. He is a strong contender for the Republican nomination but now one fit of madness threatens to unravel his ambitions. His son, insane with grief, has removed the corpse of his bride from the cemetery and disappeared with her.

In the red hot days of the presidential primaries, such a sordid affair could spell ruin for the presidential hopeful.

Gov. Cotton will not let it happen.


This book is a delicious account of politics at its finest.

A governor, named Frank Cotton, is a staunch republican who is running for president. He has pretty tough competition, not only from his own party, but also from the democrats.

This widowed father has recently lost his young daughter-in-law to a brain aneurysm. His son, Calvin, has not taken this very well and decides to steal his wife's body from her crypt, so they can continue on with their lives. And Calvin is on the move across the northeast.

Obviously, this does not sit well with the governor. This information can not be leaked to the press. He sends out one of his henchman, Thomas Cashman, to pursue this case. Cashman hooks up with a seemingly hopeless alcoholic author, Billy Baylor, for advise. Baylor wrote about death and the macabre and had done much research in this area for his novels.

What ensues is a cat and mouse game between Cashman and Baylor and the pathetic romantic, Calvin.

This is a remarkably effective and interesting novel. It is full of wit, sarcasm, compassion, empathy, horror and brutal honesty.

You are able to see the dark side of politics in all of its glory, and you become slightly nauseous over what could really be going on in our own government. There are many cover-ups that are to insurmountable to pass.

The ending is so surprising and heart-wrenching that it almost took my breath away.

This author is a clever man with a punch. He also has a beautiful way of describing events. This book is highly recommended and certainly worth your time to read. Brilliant!!

About the author:

Mark LaFlamme is a crime reporter and columnist at the Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine. In his weekly column Street Talk he often vents his frustration with and disdain for editors, comparing them to bats, spiders, extraterrestrial slugs, and other beings too diabolical to describe. The column has been named both Best in Maine and Best in New England.
For more information, please visit
Thanks so much for Tracee, and Pump Up Your Book Promotion for sending me a copy of this book to review!

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Friday, December 12, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

About the book:

Sue Monk Kidd's ravishing debut novel has stolen the hearts of reviewers and readers alike with its strong, assured voice. Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's fiercest racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love--a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.


I found the novel to be a steadily paced read. Set in the 1960s, you are immediately brought up to speed about the "tween" named Lily. Her mother has died tragically and her father is a bitter, hard-working man who takes his aggression out on his daughter.

Eventually, she leaves with her caretaker, Roselynn, to a place she is sure her mother has been to before she died.

There she meets the Boatwright sisters, August, May, and June who live in the pink house. They offer her and Roselynn a place to stay. These are strange sisters with exceedingly different personalities. June is a schoolteacher, who follows life by the book. August is the mother lode, who raises bees. She is so eloquently intricate in her life pattern that you feel enveloped by this character as if she were your mother cuddling you to her bosom. And then there is May! Overcome by emotions from her past, she has to be protected by her sisters at all costs.

This is a charming "come of age" story about Lily and the way the author interweaves the story of life with the history of bees is remarkable. There is certainly a lot to be learned from reading this book. It is a very easy read and you will feel better about yourself when you have finished it.

About the author:

Sue Monk Kidd, author of the highly acclaimed memoirs The Dance of the Dissident Daughter and When the Heart Waits, has won a Poets & Writers award, a Katherine Anne Porter Award, and a Bread Loaf scholarship. Two of her short stories--including an excerpt from The Secret Life of Bees--were selected as notable stories in Best American Short Stories. The Secret Life of Bees was nominated for the prestigious Orange Prize for fiction in England.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Jolly Good Fellow-Stephen V. Masse

About the book:

Two weeks before Christmas, Duncan Wagner gets into his car for another attempt at kidnapping the son of his most despised enemy, State Representative Win Booker. When he drives into the wealthy Boston suburb, he is surprised to find the boy hitchhiking. So begins Wagners quest for revenge as he finds himself face to face with a real boy, and without a clue about how to run a kidnapping.

Wagner, a self-styled charity Santa Claus, comes to realize that eleven year old Gabriel Booker is truly a runaway, much more curious than scared. Gabriel has no idea who Duncan Wagner is or could be.In an old apartment in downtown Boston, the odd pair makes an unforgettable team, providing each other with what they have been missing in life.

Author Stephen V. Masse captures the friendship with a blend of suspense and humor, showing that love is a resource which can bring redemption to the most damaged souls.

This is a story about a man and a boy that is very engaging and strong.


Duncan Wagner is a man who lives in Boston and has been down on his luck for the last 10-15 years. He does seasonal work as a Santa Claus. He collects the money on the street corner, but he keeps the money for himself, so he can survive.

He cooks up a scheme to kidnap the boy of a state representative to gain some money to make it through the winter. But, on his way to kidnap this boy, whose name is Gabriel, he finds the 11 year old hitchhiking down the street and picks him up.

What ensues is the growing relationship between Duncan and Gabriel. Their relationship starts to become one of deep trust and caring. Duncan acts like the father Gabriel wishes he had. He caters to the boy and even buys him a Christmas tree to set up and decorate.

The ending is surprisingly unique with Duncan's "foiled caper". But, the message learned here will make your heart warm and happy, especially at this time of year. This book definitely has a possibility of becoming a true Christmas classic! Bravo!

About the author:

Stephen V. Masse was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Educated at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he studied writing and historical biography, and was the author of a weekly column, Out of Control. His first novel, Shadow Stealer, was published by Dillon Press in 1988. When not writing, he restores and renovates homes in the Boston area, and serves as an ambassador in the Santa Claus Anonymous fundraising benefit.
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Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

About the book:

When Laurel Estabrook is attacked while riding her bicycle through Vermont’s back roads, her life is forever changed. Formerly outgoing, Laurel withdraws into her photography, spending all her free time at a homeless shelter. There she meets Bobbie Crocker, a man with a history of mental illness and a box of photographs that he won’t let anyone see. When Bobbie dies, Laurel discovers a deeply hidden secret–a story that leads her far from her old life, and into a cat-and-mouse game with pursuers who claim they want to save her.

In a tale that travels between the Roaring Twenties and the twenty-first century, between Jay Gatsby’s Long Island and rural New England, bestselling author Chris Bohjalian has written his most extraordinary novel yet.


This is a story of a young social worker Laurel. She works at a small homeless shelter named BEDS in Vermont.

Several years earlier this avid bicyclist was brutally attacked by two men as she was riding her bike in a wooded area in Upstate Vermont. These two men were caught and sent to prison.

One of her clients at the homeless shelter is named Bobbie Crocker. He is an elderly man with a sparkling personality who at one time was a professional photographer. When he dies he leaves his mediocre photography collection with the shelter.

Laurel discovers that among his photographs are pictures of very famous celebrities of years ago. Also, she discovers two pictures of a young woman on a bicycle riding in a wooded area which she assumes could be her.

This is when she starts her quest to learn more about Bobbie Crocker and what kind of man he was.

A cleverly woven tale ensues when you learn that Bobbie is a direct descendant of James Gatz and Daisy Buchanan. A carefully intricate account of his young life is mapped out based on the F. Scott Fitgerald novel "The Great Gatsby".

But in all it's charm and glory, I found the book very difficult to read. It had a hard time holding my interest. I truly muddled through the novel. And while the end was shocking and deliberate, when all the pieces of the puzzle are put into place, I found it to be way too much too late.

Others have certainly disagreed with me on this book, so try it and see for yourself.

About the author:

CHRIS BOHJALIAN is the critically acclaimed author of ten novels, including Midwives (a Publishers Weekly Best Book and an Oprah’s Book Club selection) and his most recent New York Times bestseller, Before You Know Kindness. His work has been translated into eighteen languages and published in twenty-one countries. He lives with his wife and daughter in Vermont.

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