Saturday, August 27, 2011


Because I am a mental giant, I forgot to mention the name of A.R. Silverberry's book.  It's called Wyndano's Cloak.  Whoops, my bad.


Okay, who cares what authors I've seen anyway?  I'm only fooling myself if I think any of you want to know who was where and what he/she had to say.  Because of that:

So, last Saturday I stopped in at Barnes and Noble in the Pruneyard.  As I walk in, there is a table right near the entrance and a man standing and waiting for the next vicitim, I mean customer, to walk through the door.  I was that customer.  He asks me if I have young daughters or nieces (he was a little too nice to ask if I have young granddaughters - I do).  I told him that I might be the wrong demographic for him, but, undaunted, he proceeded to tell me about his book and who his target audience was.  It turns out that his name is Peter Adler, writing as A.R. Silverberry, and he has written a award-winning fantasy geared for female YA (young adults).  Although I am a 62-year old man with very adult daughters and very underage granddaughters, I listened politely, waiting for my chance to escape and get to the mystery section of the bookstore.  We got to talking, and I realized that this was an opportunity to engage in one of my very favorite activities - self-promotion.  I told him about my blog and even went out to the car to get him one of my Booksage cards (they are way cool).  I gave him that and told him I would stop by on my way out and pick up a book.  I figured, what the heck.  I always love having books signed by the author.  Even if it only gets added to my stash of signed books, I thought it was worth it.  I told him that I would get to it some day and let him know what I thought.  The next day, I finished what I was reading (Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken, an amazing non-fiction) and decided to read Peter's book.

(Drum roll.........) I loved it!   Yes, it's geared for young girls, but it works for adults too.  I am not a particularly big fan of fantasy (although I did like Terry Brooks' Landover series - thanks for that, Rich and Leslie), but I thought this was really well done.  I liked everything about it.  The plot (actually more of a dual plot) was solid, the characters were compelling, the writing was A-one, and the ending wrapped up nicely without being too neat.  In fact, there were moments that I got a bit teary-eyed (don't get too excited, Peter - I've been caught crying during a Buffy, The Vampire Slayer episode).  No, really.  There were some very moving scenes.  And I loved that he didn't "dumb down" the book.  It was written by an adult for young adults.  I never felt like I was reading a book that was written for children.

The two main characters are both teenage girls.  During the latter stages of the book, each one encounters some difficulty (how shocking is that!).  When Peter switches from one girl to the other, I was disappointed because I wanted to know what happened next to the one he was leaving.  This happened alternately with each girl, all the way to the end.  My favorite mysteries don't do it any better.  I would highly recommend this book, especially to teenage girls.  But if you like a tight, well-written, exciting, moving, and, ultimately, satisfying book, then this is for you, regardless of your age and gender.

Finally, a shout out to Peter's wife, Sherry, who I also met at B&N last Saturday.  Sherry drew the illustration and did, I thought, an excellent job.

Upcoming authors' events:  George Pelecanos, at The Book Passage in Corte Madera, Thursday, September 8.  I intend to be there.  This guy is really good.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Do you remember that two blogs ago I told you that the next blog was going to about some author events? And then, instead, I wrote about a great book by John Hart, called The Last Child?  Well, I've decided again to hold off on the author event blog.  I just finished W.E.B. Griffin's latest - Victory and Honor, from the Honor Bound series.  It occurred to me that I haven't spent much, if any, time talking about Griffin.  He deserves his own blog.

I have read 38 Griffins.  In recent years, his son, William E. Butterworth Griffin IV (yes, W.E.B. is III), has joined him.  I don't know how much of the books the son has contributed to (for those of you who are offended that I am finishing a clause with a preposition, tough luck), but the quality has remained high.

Here are the series names, synopses of the series, and the number of books written for each series:

Brotherhood of War - Army personnel from WWII through the Vietnam War - 9
The Corps - Marines (duh) from WWII through Korea - 10 - with one of the greatest characters in fiction (for at least Bob and me - Killer McCoy
Honor Bound - Army/OSS (precursor to CIA) in WWII in Argentina - 6
Men at War - Military in WWII - 6 - much lighter fare than his other series
Presidential Agent - Army personnel, taking place in the present - 6
Badge of Honor - Police series - 10

I have read all of each of the military series and only one from Badge of Honor.  I read the first one and decided to stick with the military.  Do I like them all?  Absolutely.  I love Brotherhood of War, Presidential Agent, and The Corps.  I really like Honor Bound, and Men at War was almost a confection for Griffin.  It was less complicated, shorter, and not as riveting or compelling as the others.

Having said that, I just finished #6 in the Honor Bound series.  When I bought it, my first thought was that at 310 pages, it was much shorter than any of his other books that I had read.  Since Honor Bound already wasn't my favorite, and since the book was so short, I didn't have high expectations.  Boy, was I wrong.  First of all, the story was so tight that 310 pages were enough.  Secondly, I didn't realize how much I have come to care about the characters.  I can honestly say that this series now rivals my three other favorite series from this author(s).  He (they) has become quite a craftsman.  His books are at least as good as they were when he first began writing and in at least one case (Honor Bound), they are better.

Griffin really knows his stuff when it comes to the military.  All of his books are dedicated to military personnel, both alive and deceased.  He was active military in WWII and was an advisor during the Korean War.  He knows a lot of military personnel from different branches of the service, which helps him with the details for his stories.  He will be 82 in November.

If you like military fiction, especially WWII, and good writing, then Griffin is your man.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Do you remember that in my last blog I said I would review a few author events next time?  Well, I lied.  I just finished a book that was so good that I have to write about it out of turn.  In fact, I'm going to add it to the list of books that I included in my Fiction for the Non-Fiction Reader post way back in January.  Since then, I have read a lot of very good books.  I have blogged about the ones that I liked - such as The Turnaround by George Pelecanos and Family Skeleton by Bobbie O'Keefe.  But this one is special.  It's called The Last Child and was written by John Hart.  It was an absolute page-turner.  I was enthralled by every character, even the bad guys.  The two protagonists are a 13-year old boy and a 30's something police detective in a small North Carolina town.  I couldn't wait to find out what happened next,regardless of which of these characters had center stage.  Wow was it good.

Now I have to give you a quick synopsis because the subject matter is not for everybody.  The story centers around a 13-year old boy whose twin sister was abducted a year earlier.  This is obviously a disturbing plot and will upset some of you.  There are also some bad things that happen that are not that pleasant to read.  If a good murder mystery doesn't freak you out, and if you can get past the premise for the story, then get your hands, digital or otherwise, on this book.  This guy can really write.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Murder Mystery AND a Romance - Who Knew?

I just finished a hybrid novel that, I have to say, was a unique read for me.  Bobbie O'Keefe is the author, and the book is called Family Skeletons.  It was a lark that I even became aware of her.  There was a double author event at "M" with her and Alex Kava.  Since I am (or was) a big Kava fan, Joni and went to see her.  O'Keefe was an add-on.  I had never heard of her, and this was her 3rd or 4th book.  Even listening to her talk about Family Skeletons, I wasn't very impressed.  However, since I was already there, I went ahead and bought her book and had it signed (wasn't that nice of me?!).

So, I read it.  It was 279 pages.  I figured that anything that short (Kava's was 288 pages and definitely too short) couldn't have much depth.  I was actually wrong (I bet you haven't heard that before!).  It was really good.  The story centers around a mid-20's woman, who is damaged from two bad marriages, and a late 20's man, who is a successful ophthalmologist.  There is also a murder (or two) to be solved.  The romance is very well done.  I really cared about the characters (all of them), and I cared about the budding relationship.  O'Keefe spent a good deal of time on the romance part and did it in such a way that it was not corny or tawdry (I like that word).  She created a relationship between the two that didn't make me think Fabio was on the cover.  It was very Nicholas Sparks.

Except that it also had a murder in it.  That part of the story, separate from the romance, was done very well.  It really wrapped up smoothly - without being predictable or shoehorned.  I can honestly say that both the mystery and the romance each stood on its own.  Both were well-developed and overlapped nicely one into the other.  I can't really say that this is "Chick Lit for the Macho Man," because not every guy wants to read a romance.  But I can say that if you don't mind some romance, then you will certainly be taken in by the mystery.  Us metrosexuals liked both aspects.

I also read the latest Daniel Silva/Gabriel Allon adventure.  I think that Silva is actually becoming a better writer as he gets further along in the series.  This is his 11th Allon, and I think it's as good as any of the others.  He is someone who has definitely not mailed it in.  He is on top of his craft.

I've got one more author(s) to tell you about.  I went to see Peri O'Shaughnessy at "M" a few weeks back.  It turns out that Peri is actually two sisters.  When they tried to get their first book published, back in the early '90's, the publisher said that he didn't want to have two authors' names on the book cover.  So Pamela and Mary became Peri in order to get their book in print.  It took them about 8 years to write book 1, but it was book 2 that got published first.  They ended up using book 1 as a prequel at a later date.  This one, Dreams of the Dead, was their 13th (and probably last) in the Nina O'Reilly series.  I thought it was okay.  I wouldn't say don't read it, but I don't think I would read another (even if they did write #14) nor would I go back and read an earlier one.  When there are so many books to read, one that's only okay doesn't get a 2nd chance.  You think that's unfair?  Too bad, I say.

Finally, this week Steve asked me if I had ever read William Martin.  It occurred to me that I hadn't mentioned Back Bay in any of my posts.  I read this a long time ago, and it's the only Martin I have read, but Back Bay was really good.  Joni felt the same way.  I don't know if it goes into "Fiction for the Non-Fiction Reader," but it's still a darn good read.  It takes place in Boston and goes back and forth between Paul Revere, the silversmith, and the present (probably 20 years ago).   Try it.

I have no new upcoming author events to report.  Next time, though, I will relate a few of the many author events I have been to in the last few months.  Don't worry, I will try to only talk about the ones that might be a little bit interesting.  The rest I will keep to myself.