DeMille introduces a new character in ‘The Cuban Affair’

The Cuban Affair reviewKey West charter boat captain Daniel “Mac” MacCormick is made an offer he has every intention of refusing: Sail his boat to Cuba under the guise of a fishing tournament and recover cash and documents hidden during the revolution. But the lure of a $2 million payday is more than he can resist, and he takes the bait.

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‘The Heart’s Invisible Furies’ is an ambitious story of one man’s life

Review of The Heart's Invisible FuriesCyril Avery is adopted at birth and raised by eccentric and well-to-do parents who make it clear that he is not a real Avery. Nonetheless he perseveres, practically raising himself in their sprawling Dublin mansion. The ambitious novel The Heart’s Invisible Furies (Hogarth Press, digital galley) follows Avery’s entire life from the 1940s to the present day.

While away at school Avery comes to the realization that he is gay.  But given the mores of the day, he keeps that fact to himself. The novel begins and ends in Ireland and a large part of the plot deals with the fact that Ireland is unsympathetic, if not overtly cruel, to gay men. One doctor tells him there are not any gay men in Ireland.

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‘When the English Fall’ shows how to handle the apocalypse with dignity

After a powerful solar storm destroys electrical devices and causes civilization to crumble, an Amish farming community in Pennsylvania helps by supplying food to a neighboring town. But as things deteriorate, the outside world encroaches on their isolated society.

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Steampunkalypse: A review of ‘The Clockwork Dynasty’

While doing field research and trying to unlock a mystery from her childhood, anthropologist June Stefanov makes a startling discovery: For millennia automatons have lived among us, hiding their presence while trying to understand the nature of their own existence. But their time is drawing to an end and Stefanov may be a key, if unlikely, ally in their survival.

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Review of new August fiction: ‘Mrs. Fletcher’ and ‘See What I Have Done’

Mrs. Fletcher

Mrs. Fletcher reviewIf the title reminds you of Mrs. Robinson from The Graduate, it’s with good reason.  This satire explores love, loss, hookups and cross-generational relationships.

After divorcee Eve Fletcher’s son goes to college she is left trying to reinvent herself and give meaning to her life as an empty nester. She sets her hopes on a community college course on gender and society, but an unexpected text message sends her down a rabbit hole of online porn and thoughts of illicit relationships.

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‘Rescued from ISIS’ a disappointing telling of a compelling story

Rescued from ISIS book reviewIn 2013 former soldier Dimitri Bontinck’s 18-year-old son, Joe, fell under the sway of a radical Islamic mosque and traveled to Syria from Belgium to take part in that country’s civil war. Rescued from ISIS (St. Martin’s Press, digital galley) recounts his many harrowing trips into Syria to find and ultimately bring his son home.

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Review: ‘The Late Show’ introduces a fierce detective

the Late Show book reviewMichael Connelly introduces a new detective in The Late Show (Little, Brown and Company, digital galley), a fast moving police procedural that is hard to put down. Renée Ballard works the LAPD overnight shift, responding to everything from burglaries to homicides. Because she has to hand off all of her cases at the end of her shift, she rarely gets to see anything through to completion.

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Apollo 8 book review

Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon
By Jeffrey Kluger
★★★★★

Apollo 8 book reviewIn December 1968, less than two years after three astronauts burned to death in an Apollo capsule, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders left Earth to become the first humans to travel to the moon. Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon is packed with all of the drama inherent in all stories dealing with the early space program.

The mission was later overshadowed by the more dramatic moon landings, but Apollo 8 has an important place in history. The book is a concisely written account of that mission and the activities and training leading up to it. Author Jeffrey Kluger includes biographical information about all of the players involved, but the story focuses on Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman.

At just 320 pages, the book moves at a rocket’s pace (see what I did there) and helps maintain Apollo 8’s place in history.