Monday, October 26, 2009

A Pig In The Rumble Seat

Simply an Extraordinary Author by any standard

A Pig In The Rumble Seat by Edward Hujsak is an extraordinarily written book that simply put, is just never the same from page to page. Each story has it's own style, taste, genre & thought process; from the "Sci-Fi" style first story of Goodbye Charley to the final short story of A Visit With Oliphant there is never a repeat of style or really, even genre. The book is like taking a break from the real world, to find yourself engulfed with a potpourri of styles & genres all wrapped into one delightful package!

When I first began reading the book the first short story immediately yelled "Sci-Fi" with a touch of eclectic character. As I finished the first story and moved onto the next, I realized that this author's style is not one of typical character. The ability to appeal to a vast diversion of readers is amazing. The memoir style stories hold the attention of the reader with a "manly" style of writing that makes sure he doesn't fall short of keeping his "own kind" entertained. A touch of more technical, engineering information is weaved into the stories of his memoir style short stories, just enough to make women continue to read for the final outcome while, my guess is, men hold on tight to the ins and outs of the various information that runs amuck in the authors ingenious mind! The ability to combine to two is simply quite amazing for most any author indeed!

The various settings of each story keep the reader intrigued. We move from outer space to the beautiful surroundings of Vermont and the New England states with ease. Each story bringing with it a new and intriguing tale, whether it be of fiction of fact - future or past.
The memoirs tend to be my favorite portions of the book. While I enjoy the authors exceptional way of telling a tale, especially those of "outer space" and futuristic oddities, I found great comfort in his own tales of the past recollecting times with friends from his younger days. The tale of the author and his friend traveling through the darkness of "the middle of nowhere" after a wondrous visit with his friend & family makes one chuckle at the simplicity of days gone by. A simple break of a fan belt back then was no big deal, yet in the world of today we know a single issue with a car can mean hundreds of dollars in new computer chips. Yet this same author has a sense of futuristic intricacy that is above and beyond the average and exemplifies it with his stories of Lazarus the "treasure hunter" from the planet Tilsen & Ydek the "creator" of "mankind" in a sense in his own orbital world as he plays games with life as if it were a game; which, to him it was more or less.

You simply won't get bored with this array of tales... from the obscure to the quaint & reminiscent. The simplicity of the idea of "Short Stories" is enhanced by the complexity of the diversity of the author himself & his styles of writing.
This book is definitely one that will keep any reader intrigued, page after page... but each time for an entirely different reason.

Rated 4 1/2 Stars on a 5 Star Scale!

Check out my other Blog too.....

One Day At A Time - My Story behind losing 75+ pounds and the journey as I lose more to become a healthier me!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Test of Our Times by Tom Ridge - A Book Review

The Test of Our Times
America Under Siege... and How We Can Be Safe Again
by Tom Ridge, with Lary Bloom
Published by: Thomas Dunne Books
(copyright: September 1, 2009)
ISBN 978-0312534875

Reviewed by Beverly Pechin (10/09)

I would be lying if said I didn't approach this book with some excitement, simply based on the fact that Tom Ridge is a native of my own home town of Erie, Pennsylvania. But I would also mislead you if I said I was anxious to read "yet another one of those kiss and tell Washington politician books" that I was so vehemently expecting with this. Like it or not, here was another politician, out of office, telling it all. It was bound to be a typical story line of political gain, finger pointing and all out boring politics... right? Wrong!

Former Governor Ridge held two substantially attended "meet & greet" book signings locally & I knew it would be a plus to not only get my copy signed but somewhat of an honor to speak to the man again after having seen his actions and reactions to what happened to our country on September 11, 2001. His speech was heartfelt & dignified, just as expected, and his ability to be "real" with the crowd was inspiring.. but he was a politician after all.. isn't that what they're best at? However, this didn't mean the book still wasn't going to be one of those kiss & tell, boring, post Washington memoirs that politicians write to make their own quick mark in history; not that Tom Ridge needed to make any other real "mark" after being appointed the first Secretary of Homeland Security post 9/11. He has become somewhat of a household name without the book. I kept my expectations low & somewhat predetermined as to what to expect despite the wonderful appearance at the press releases/book signings locally.

I'm not a politically inclined person. I have my views, thoughts, ideas and perspectives on politics and those on politicians, but I'm not one to quickly get into a discussion of what they are or take on a battle of wits regarding political views. I'd be lying to say that my general view on "politicians" themselves is overly kind and loving either. I began the book with a slight predetermined idea that this was going to be a typical kiss and tell political memoir. How intriguing could it really be? How much could he "really" tell? I was surprised. I was pleasantly surprised.

Within the first 30 pages of the book I had a lump in my throat. It all came back to me like it was just yesterday... that day in history where it's one of the few times you can hear people say "I was doing this or that when I heard the news". I recalled, all too easily, that feeling of doom & fear that overtook me as a parent having to explain to two 9 year olds and a 12 year old what had just happened to our country. I recalled checking plane schedules where I worked, seeing who could or couldn't have been on any of the planes they had mentioned on the news. And I recalled people gathering around the televisions, radios, whatever means we had available, to simply get more information about what had just happened on our own soil. Within those first few pages, I had tears in my eyes and memories running rampant in my mind. I knew this was no ordinary book of memoirs. This was a book about something so BIG in the history of America that there was no way it could be "ordinary".

Tom Ridge was the Governor of Pennsylvania when 9/11 occurred. His book begins at that point, explaining how even he, as a Governor, was somewhat clueless as to what had happened, why and how. As he moves along the story line he introduces you to many different people and explains how each of these people at some point in his life have played very relevant parts in his becoming and acting as Secretary of Homeland Security - a post that was literally created for him out of need & desperation of our country's situation.

What I love most about the book is the honesty. The ability for Ridge to step up and say "I was not perfect. I was running blind and had to follow my instincts, my knowledge of what I was being told and later finding out that what I was being told wasn't always 100% correct." Ridge brings the human aspect into the situation and while he does comment on various factors which helped make his decisions, he rarely if ever takes a random stab at anyone to gain respect for the decisions he made during his reign as Secretary of Homeland Security. As he said, taking the job was probably regarded as "political suicide" by most; yet this proud, former soldier, felt not only honored but obligated to his country to take the position and try his best to make a difference.

Surprisingly, I didn't view the book as a stepping stone to gain fame & honor in hopes of someday being asked to run for President. Many have gossiped about the possibilities, some scoff at the idea, others cheer at the thought and yet there's nothing in the book to say "Hey, look what a great job I did here so now it's time to think about a 'higher position' for me maybe!" Ridge uses the opportunity to not only get information out there to the American public but by helping to get them informed, perhaps bring us to another level beyond fear & into a level of knowledge and understanding that will help us be prepared & willing to live our lives the way we now will see fit in order to remain safe on our own soil. He shows us that times have changed, people however really have not. We are a proud country, a country that bonds when needed and with education about what happened on 9/11 can perhaps prepare in a much better way to keep it from ever happening again. He somehow, in these 300 pages of memoirs, reminds us of who we are and who we must become in order to see another tomorrow as a nation.

The book is intriguing, taking the reader from the certain memories of his childhood and growing up here in Erie, PA to the days of pulling a stable life from under his family & literally moving them from all they knew... all based on his own need and desire to once again serve his country, this time in a position that nobody had a clue how to handle it or what was expected. It's not a "Republican book", it's not a "Bush Era book". It's a book of truth, honor & information. A book of honesty, something rare you will find in any politician if you ask me. I'll be honest, my roots to Erie intrigued me to want to read this book... but upon the first opening pages my role as an American encouraged me to continue to read & learn even more about this man & this country he so proudly served, in so many different "uniforms".

This is a book you not only should read, but will be thankful for reading. It will open your eyes to many things, many names, many personalities and most of all many ideas that we MUST continue to push forward in keeping our own soil safe for our fellow countrymen, ourselves, our families. It's not another "tell all" political gain memoir. It's unlike any "politician's memoirs" I've ever seen before and Tom Ridge can hold his head high in knowing that he created something that was not only unique in his "business" but honorable to his country.

Rated 4 1/2 Stars on a 5 Star Scale!

Check out my other Blog too.....

One Day At A Time - My Story behind losing 75+ pounds and the journey as I lose more to become a healthier me!

Grundish and Askew Book Review

Grundish and Askew
by Lance Carbuncle
Published by:
Vicious Galoot Books Co.(copyright 2009)
ISBN 978-0-9822800-0-3

Reviewed by Beverly Pechin, for Reader Views (10/09)

This is probably one of the most unique books I've ever read. Unique is not a bad thing, simply something you have to adjust to & realize you are no longer reading "inside the box" material!

A book of friendship and how far two young men will go for each others friendship; you quickly form an opinion on both "Grundish" and "Askew". Don't worry, these opinions will change, many times.

These punkish, bad to the bone, style young men seem to find what they need in each other to keep afloat. When one goes down, the other is there to toss the life jacket. A vow of "kill me if I'm ever arrested & going to be put away" becomes a promise made by one friend with certainty that it will never happen.. or will it?

A true story of friendship, one that most any of us will never truly find in a friend at any point of our life, tells a lot about those "bad kids" we all know. Perhaps it also tells a lot about those "goody 2 shoes kids" we all think we'd want our kids to be also? When your back's against the wall do you want a friend that will take the hit for you or run? These two know the answer and live the life.

Hard hitting, sometimes raunchy, risque and gritty... you won't find cookies and milk at the end of this storybook friendship or prince charming saving the day. You find reality, which sometimes bites, but is always very raw & real.

This book could easily be the sleeper of the year if given the chance... it will open your eyes, change your mind, change your outlook & bring you to question what true friendship is or if you could honestly be one. An excellent read & I'm seeing an audience of 20-somethings falling in love with this grunge style of writing.

Check out my other Blog also.....

One Day At A Time - My Story behind losing 75+ pounds and the journey as I lose more to become a healthier me!

Promises to Keep by Thomas Dwyer A Book Review

Promises To Keep - The Untold Story of a Family Trapped in War Torn Italy
by Thomas Dwyer
Published by:
iUniverse (May 20, 2009)
ISBN 978-0595529001

Reviewed by Beverly Pechin, for Reader Views (10/09)

Rarely do you read a book with so much intrigue, spirit and insightfulness of a family history. The intimate family pictures, while not plentiful, was a huge factor in bringing the human aspect to this amazing story of an Italian family in war torn times.

To see the characters, their depth, their will to survive and their determination to "become someone" or "something" in this world was simply breath taking. There aren't words deep enough to describe the family portrayed in "Promises To Keep" and the character of the man himself whom the story follows, Domenico Forte. To see what he gives up as a man, as a father, as a husband; all in order to give his family the best he can & better than he ever had simply portrays this man that is for lack of better words "filled with pride & strength".

The story line itself is one that is amazing but add to that the depth of the main characters and you have simply one of the most amazing stories of family history ever written. It's not a book about someone "famous", it's a book about someone "real". This could have been your own ancestors' story, traveling to the great land of freedom known as America, trying to make for a better world for themselves and those they love.

You will cry at the sorrow, you will laugh at the joy and you will most of all gain a new found respect for those days gone by when being an immigrant was something that would later make your ancestors proud - knowing you were a man or woman of character & strength above and beyond what ANY of us today could imagine.

An amazing author with an amazing story to tell & he did it well!

Definitely 4 1/2 Stars on a 5 Star Scale!

Check out my other Blog also.....

One Day At A Time - My Story behind losing 65+ pounds and the journey as I lose more to become a healthier me!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Irion Pioneers - Book One of the Marquette Trilogy

The Marquette Trilogy: Book One
Iron Pioneers by Tyler R. Tichelaar

Depth in Literature

The Marquette Trilogy: Book One - Iron Pioneers is the first work I've read by Tyler Tichelaar. Generally, I am a fan of the historical fiction genre anyways, but I chose this book in particular because of the book's setting. A novel about the building of the Marquette, Michigan area as a native of the Great Lakes area myself this book has a special spot in my heart. I've lived on Lake Erie since birth and not only love but appreciate the history behind the Great Lakes area and all it has offered to our Nation as it grew into it's current strength. The small, individual stories behind the growth will never cease to amaze and Iron Pioneers is one of the greatest tributes to these small stories you will ever find.

Iron Pioneers begins with the origins of Marquette, as the "wilderness" slowly grows into a thriving city. The story line itself is interesting enough, but the depth and strength of each and every character involved is simply amazing. As you progress through the story you slowly grow with each character, so strongly that you become one of them. Through the roughest times when there's scarcely going to be enough food to survive a winter in this new uncharted territory, to the times of wealth and richness you bond with the friendships amongst the citizens as the town grows. Simply speaking, the depth & intrigue of the characters alone is a major selling point of this book. It's rare an author can bring so many people to life so easily & so well, but Tyler Tichelaar does just that.

In the beginning, you experience the trials and tribulations of a new land, untouched, trying to become livable. Death seems to be everywhere at some points, making you wonder how or why anyone would have borne the pains they did, simply to bring new wealth & industry to a new nation. As time goes on you watch the children grow into young men and women, finding love, marriage while others find pain, death & hardship. You quickly make your own choices of who to like and dislike, who to cry for and cheer for. Slowly you see a small town come into existence and then a small city. Eventually the growth and development of the area seems amazing and while you recall the painstaking efforts that made Marquette what it became, you quickly forget that so much was lost for so big of a gain. As a reader, Tichelaar seems to be able to pull you into the characters' lives, making you appreciate everything from honorable efforts of a rich, old man who knows his time is limited to the grand ideas and changes of the industrial revolution around them.

Simply put, book one of this Marquette Trilogy is not only the first step of a love formation for the upper Michigan peninsula but for the characters who created it. You're pulled in so deeply that book one finishes with you demanding the rest of the trilogy. It's definitely going to be an addiction, so don't pick it up thinking you can stop!

Amazing writing style, intense characters, amazingly intriguing & realistic plot that's never drudged down with historical "facts" to the point of making you bored. That's a combination that many historical fictions cannot easily bring to life between the pages. Iron Pioneers will guide you through the first years of the City of Marquette and bring you to the realization that you simply want to learn more. Book Two: The Queen City is but a few moments away on my list of books to be read! I can't wait! If you're a historical fiction fan of any type, this is a must read in the genre. If you think you "hate" history & figure "historical fiction" is going to bore you to death you are so wrong! Give this one a try. I guarantee you will be turned on to a whole new genre & definitely onto a whole trilogy of interesting characters you will both love & despise! It's a must read on my list!

You can purchase this book at Amazon
ISBN 978-09791790-0-6
Published by Marquette Fiction
Retails for $25.95 U.S.

Check out my other Blog also.....

One Day At A Time - My Story behind losing 65+ pounds and the journey as I lose more to become a healthier me!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Alaskans by Tanyo Ravicz

Alaskans by Tanyo Ravicz

Wonders of a Different World

I've always loved Alaska and have had a deep felt love of the state since I can remember. When I saw Alaskans by Tanyo Ravicz I knew I had to see what it was about. It reminded me of a book I had once read called "Ozark Memories" by Pam Prier, a book I loved & actually read more than once just because of the touching stories involved. Each author seemed to be able to tell a tale of stories about a place that they loved from deep within their hearts and the people who belonged there. Tanyo Ravicz's Alaskans immediately gave me the impression that the author not only knew about Alaska but Alaska was a part of who she was. While Prier's book Ozark Memories was a book of memoirs, Ravicz's book Alaskans was a combination of fiction, reality and memoirs that you knew had to of been based upon someone the author knew during his life in Alaska itself. You could tell the stories were of true Alaskan spirit in contemporary times.

The book is comprised of various short stories, ranging from a few pages to a substantial length for each. Each story has it's own feel, it's own character, it's own magic. Whether you enjoy the "outdoorsiness" of many of the stories or the traditions of some others, you will definitely find a touch of reality within each that sets it apart from the rest. No two stories are the same. You'll find stories of men, boys, women & animal. You'll be touched by traditions, simplicity, complexity and reality. As a matter of fact the variations of each story, each character or each situation keeps you wondering "What could be next" as you move through the book.

I always enjoy books that have a group of stories to read because it allows for breaks. Busy lifestyles often hinder reading and in this case it's so easy to finish a single story in one sitting that you'll find by the end of the book, you have felt like you've read ten different ones. It was always my "take along" book for such time as doctor's appointments and waiting for children to jump into the car when picking them up because I knew I could almost always finish at least one full story and walk away feeling complete. On lucky days, I'd get 2 or 3 stories read in a day!

The variations in plot & characters made the book very easy to read and hard to ever become bored with. One moment you were reading about a young boy slowly learning to become a "man" as he raised chickens and had to make tough decisions against nature, while the next moment you were chuckling along with fire fighters while they raised heck in the "local" bar. No two stories were alike, all were filled with authentic and realistic details that brought just a touch of a whole other world, the "world" of Alaska, into your lap.

If you've ever dreamed of going to, visiting, living in or simply knowing the true Alaska, this book is for you. Filled with great stories & interesting details that only an "insider" could know and you're given the privilege of being "one of them"... an Alaskan.

You can purchase this book at Amazon
ISBN 978-0-595-44789-3
Published by iUniverse
Retails for $14.95 U.S.

Check out my other Blog also.....

One Day At A Time - My Story behind losing 49+ pounds and the journey as I lose more to become a healthier me!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

FireFly Lane

Fire Fly Lane by Kristin Hannah is the perfect "Summer Reading" book. It's a must on this summer's list.

A story of 2 friends growing up in the 70's, following their lives, both so completely different. "Kate" is the perfect, totally ignored nerd girl in school. Her mother is always haunting her about finding friends but she just doesn't fit in. Then the "perfect" girl with the "perfect" look and obviously the "perfect" life moves in across the street on Firefly Lane. "Tully" seems to have it all, everyone immediately loves the new girl, she's so strong and brave and vibrant and of course so out of Kate's league.

But one day Tully speaks to Kate and from that day on the friendship just clicks. The odd part is, while Kate had thought Tully had everything, she realizes that her life isn't what Tully always portrays it to be.

As their lives go on they remain best friends forever, through thick and thin. Battles and war wounds only add to their deep love for each other. Sometimes a little jealousy thrown in makes the friendship road on Firefly Lane bumpy but it never ends the trip.

Touching, simplistic, yet tightly woven intricacy of friendship is touched on all aspects.... from being the one who seems to have it all to being the one who really does have it all.

If you've ever had a best friend, then you have to spend a part of the summer reminiscing about the days of friendship. It's an amazing book of fiction, created by an obviously talented author.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Review for "Did I Expect Angels"

Jennifer Huffaker has been mourning the loss of her husband for quite some time now. Friends & family are tiring of her constant state of depression & inability to raise her daughter "normally". Enough is enough.

Jennifer notices herself that when her daughter is with others, she is full of laughter & smiles like a child should be. She starts to wonder if it's not best to end her own pain and leave Kaitlin with her grandparents, living a normal life again?

Henry is the "greeter" at a local department store she visits often. While they've shared greetings & quick comments, often in his native language, they're far from close friends. But tonight he senses something different & insists that Jennifer join him & his daughter at the diner down the road, promising it will only take a little bit of her time.

Henry shares his life story with Jennifer, explaining the harshness he has seen & showing that he too has felt "loss" above & beyond what one should be able to live with. Suddenly it all becomes clear to her, Henry had sensed what her mission was that night as she was checking out & he was sent to save her from her own desire to stop hurting herself & the ones she loves. He feels her pain, sees her struggle & knows her inner desire to just stop it all. They find too, that they are actually connected from Jennifer's childhood in an amazing way. This man has actually been a part of her life since she was a child & now he's here again, explaining that sometimes life is hard but you must move on. He is proof that it can be done.

Will Henry make a difference or will she realize that her child is better off growing up with people who can bring back normalcy in her life again?

Intense & intimately touching, this book won't let you down. The excellent, easy style of writing from author Kathryn Maughan makes the story flow along so quickly that you don't even realize you've read the book in literally a few short hours. Simply said, it makes one believe that perhaps we should "Expect Angels" when we need them most.

Did I Expect Angels by kathryn Maughan available at Amazon

Did I Expect Angels?