Saturday, September 27, 2014

Moshe's War Review from MBR

Moshe's War by Debra Easterling

Champagne Books 9781771551113

$2.99 (Kindle),

Michael Thal, Reviewer

Holocaust Survivor Tales

Nurse Ilsa Michalski runs a Miami Beach boarding house filled with interesting people, a few of whom survived the Holocaust.

Dr. Ustin Jankauskas (Dr. J) receives an accident victim from a vehicle that turned over on the highway traversing the Everglades. The police believe Mr. Behrman's death was due to the accident. Dr. J recognized the mark of the Little Horn, Hauptmann Horst Bress, a sadistic Nazi captain who enjoyed torturing Jews with a Valknut spike, on Behrman's body. Ustin contacts his close friend, Nazi hunter Moshe Brodsky, to find Bress and bring him to justice.

Thus begins Debra Easterling's novel, Moshe's War. The book is set in 1967 Miami, Florida. Easterling's research brings to life the suffering of World War II survivors - Jews and non-Jews alike. The author touches on the social upheaval of the 60's as she makes a comparison between the Civil Rights Movement in the US vs the blindness of the German people to the plight of their Jewish neighbors. Her thesis statement could be summed up in this quote from the novel, "Whether it be a civilization led blind by the politics in government, or the naivety of the illiterate, prejudice is always ugly - always dangerous." As you read through this powerful book, you'll see the author's unique understanding of the pain and guilt her characters experienced as she shows it in a moving work of literature that will keep readers turning pages until the surprising ending.

Moshe's War should be required reading for all American citizens as they grapple with the significance of the Holocaust and its affect on the 21st Century. 

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Punc-EEK Part 1 Basic Dialogue

Let’s face it: punctuation is geeky. Nerdy even. But without it all our sentences would run together we wouldnt understand each other I mean itd be a big mess wouldnt it

You don’t know how hard it was for me to write that last bit! My point is, punctuation serves a purpose, just as traffic lights do. Punc keeps the traffic from tangling up, tells us when to take a mental breath, and indicates emotion.

Entire tomes have been written on punctuation. My personal fave is Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss, but there are plenty of others. I’m not going to join the crowd, but from time to time I’m going to offer some simple primers. Yes, you can still leave the complicated stuff to your editor, and yes, I will get into the serial comma. Still, your editor will love you if you get the complicated stuff right, and the serial comma is fun to argue about.

Today I offer a primer on punctuating basic dialogue. Let’s start with a simple declarative sentence.

“I’m hungry,” said Mary. Note the double quotes, the comma before the end quote, and the lower case s in said. Okay so far? Let’s try another.

“I’m hungry,” said Mary. “When is supper?” In this instance, note that we keep the period after Mary and use opening quotes before When. That’s because the two bits of dialogue are separate sentences. Also note that the question mark is inside the end quote. So far, so good.

“I’m hungry!” said Mary. Everything is the same as in the first example, except that we’ve used an exclamation point instead of a comma. ALERT: grammar check programs will often insist that the s of said should be capitalized. They are wrong. They often insist the same following a question mark (“When is supper?” said Mary.), and they are still wrong.

That wasn’t so bad, was it? Next time we’ll try splitting a sentence and see how that gets punctuated.

No homework, but you get points if you can explain the reference in the title.

Cranky Old Grammar Lady, aka Nikki Andrews, is an editor at Champagne Books and a writer of mysteries and scifi. Visit her blog here for more grammar fun.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bring It Here, Take It There

Bring It Here, Take It There
Cranky Old Grammar Lady threw the newspaper across the room yesterday. The offending photo caption read (paraphrased to protect the guilty), “The car crashed into this convenience store and the victim was brought to Central Northern General Medical Center and Wallet Removal Service Inc.” (Disclaimer: no such hospital exists in this state.)

What’s wrong with it? The misuse of the verb bring. Or in this case its past form, brought. COGL has noticed a marked uptick recently in the confusion between bring and take, and will now clarify the difference. Pay attention, you there in the back row.

Ahem. To cite Merriam-Webster, bring means “to convey, lead, carry or cause to come along with one toward the place from which the action is being regarded.” Take means “to lead, carry, or cause to go along with one to another place.”

In other words, one can bring something here, or take something there.

Incorrect: “Did you bring the outgoing mail to the post office?” he asked, as we sat at home.
Correct: “No, dumkopf, I took it to the post office. But here, I brought home a letter from your mother.”

Mnemonic--If the person or item is going there, use take. If the person or item is coming here, use bring.

Getting back to the newspaper. The victim is “carried to another place” from the convenience store in the picture. In other words, the victim “went there.” If the photo showed the ER at Central Northern etc., then the caption could correctly say the victim was brought to it--“conveyed to the place from which the action is being regarded.”

So far, so good. This being English, there is an exception, which accounts for COGL’s chronic crankiness. Actually, if you pay attention to the definitions, it’s not so much an exception as a nuance. Suppose COGL contacts her son and invites herself for a visit. In return, she offers some genuine New Hampshire maple syrup, which the poor boy can’t get in Pennsylvania. “Would you like me to bring you some? I’ll bring a gallon for you,” she says. Huh? The syrup is going there. Why is bring the correct verb and not take?

Because “the place from which the action is being regarded” is the son’s house. If that confuses you, think of it this way--because COGL has called/written/emailed/contacted the son, she has in effect put herself beside him and is regarding her own action from his location. It’s a courtesy, if you like; putting oneself in another’s shoes.

Of course, if COGL were speaking with her husband, Cranky Old Car Guy, she would say, “I’m going to take a gallon of maple syrup to our son’s house.” To which COCG would say, “You’re gonna spoil that kid.”

Cranky Old Grammar Lady, aka Nikki Andrews, is an editor at Champagne Books and a writer of mysteries and scifi. Visit her blog here for more grammar fun.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Review from LASR

A Dying Fall by John Paulits

A Dying Fall by John Paulits
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (130 Pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen
Mark Louis must solve a murder which took place on the tropical island of Illyria, but he must do it from his home on the not-so-tropical island of Manhattan.
When the AWB Theatre troupe accepts an invitation to perform on the tropical island of Illyria, they get more than they bargained for. Sudden death. Mark Louis, company member and amateur detective, suspects murder. The actors, however, must return home to New York, forcing Mark to conduct his investigation a thousand miles from the crime.
Mark Louis just feels as if there is something missing in his life. He lacks direction. He’s an actor, and an author, and he helped solve a murder several months ago, but still, he doesn’t feel focused. He confides this malaise to his girl friend, Kristy, as the small AWB Theatre Company heads to the tropical island of Illyria at the request of Mr. Barset, who is trying to turn the island into a paradise resort. The AWB company is to perform some Shakespeare to help woo investors. But as soon as they arrive on the island they are caught up in several murders. Mark is no longer lacking direction. When Kristy comments on this he says, “I should depend on different friends being murdered to keep me from getting depressed?”
This is an exciting mystery which Mark has to solve long-distance as the theatre company only stays on Illyria for a few days. Mark comes up with various explanations which his friends find very far-fetched, something that a writer might think up. But Mark never gives up, and eventually, with some help from Kristy, he solves the case.
This is the second novel in this series and I feel it is even stronger than the first. The characters are fairly well developed and the plot has a number of twists and turns. I did figure things out, at least in a general way, before Mark did, but not by much. The island of Illyria seemed very real, and a trifle sad, as it was supposed to do. I loved all the Shakespeare quotes and I agree with Mark that the Bard has a quote for any situation. The clever ways Twelfth Night contributed to the plot just increased my enjoyment of the novel.
Mystery lovers, especially those who are also fans of Shakespeare, will certain enjoy A Dying Fall.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Review from LASR

Magic Within by Sara Fitzgerald

Magic Within by Sara Fitzgerald
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, YA
Length: Short Story (120 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Orchid
Nancy, a purple-haired witch, has never fit in with the kids in town. She has always felt something was deeply wrong with her. When Josh, her best friend, is attacked by a werewolf, Nancy seeks a potion to save him from the werewolf curse within him. But Josh’s fate–werewolf or human–is his to decide, when the potion is injected during his transition at the full of the moon.
Nancy, too, must make a choice. Her mother, her best friend, and a
steadfast young man all see the magic within her. Can she finally accept who she is and give love a chance?
Male and female witches, vampires and werewolves… this is definitely a paranormal novel. Josh and his friend Nancy search for the fur from a werewolf to save Josh’s sister who has let her vampire boyfriend bite her. The dangerous mission ends in disaster and Nancy returns home alone, carrying the precious fur to make the potion cure. Josh has been bitten by the werewolf and the pack must decide whether to let him live or die.
This tale of darkness also has the angst of teenage romance. Josh and Nancy, Sandy and Eric, Rebecca and Jake. These teenagers tumble through the throes of fascination, lust and sometimes love while battling the temptations of being a werewolf or witch and in some cases revelling in the change to wolf.
Josh starts out as a brave young man but he seems to wilt as the story progresses. Nancy becomes stronger with each page but the other characters don’t change at all which tends to make the main plot slightly unbalanced.
The book is well written but in places where excitement builds, it tends to lack vitality when the peak is reached. The story is good, just needs a little more oomph.  Still, it’s a good introduction to paranormal romance for younger young adults.

Monday, September 1, 2014



Tattle sweeps into the office dressed as a ghoul.  "Five hundred count sheet!"

"And you put two holes in it?"

"I needed to see, y'know.  Besides, they are just about as old as I am, but they held up well."

"Just like you."

Tattle crinkles up her nose, not knowing if she had been complimented or not.  "Well... errr..."  Decides to let it go, and instead says, "What do ghosts eat for breakfast?  Scream of wheat!"

"Ha-ha, not giving me a chance to answer, eh?"

"Nope.  What do ghosts eat for dinner?" 

"I give."

"Spook-ghetti!  And what is a ghost's favorite dessert?

Wrye does his own iconic eye roll, round and round and off to the right. "Ice scream!  You know I've heard them all when I was about eight."

"Me too, but thought it a good way to introduce our spooktastic review."

"You are strange."

Ignores.  "You may be right, m'literary Love of Literature leaper.  Ready?"

"Let's go!"

"While reading LINDA RETTSTATT's paranormal, woman's contemporary THE SPIRIT we experienced goose bumps, chuckling, speculating, and breath catching in a continuous sequence of enjoyment."

"A grand story indeed.  Jessica Windsor is a prolific romance author and single mom who just got dumped as in kicked to the curb, unloaded, ditched, abandoned, deserted, plain ole forsaken, and not once but twice, her son's father took a hike as well." Offers a woebegone expression.  "Poor lass."

"Life isn't fair, and unfortunately, the dumping has produced that most dreaded of all afflictions ... for a writer that is... writers block!  Da da da daaaaa!"  Tattle offers a two-step to prove her point.

"And she has a deadline to finish a book, she can't seem to write.  Her agent is dogging her like an old hound gnawing on a bone."  Wrye picks up Bodie's doggie rag and pretends to chew.  "In desperation, she leaves her teenage son at her parent's farm for the summer, to milk cows, her son's words, and rents a cabin in the hills of Pennsylvania."

Flings her ghostly attire aside and with dramatic flair booms, "A haunted cabin!  Da da da daaaa!" 

"Enough with the sound effects."

Tattle pouts but continues.  "Haunted by Andrew McCabe, a famous mystery writer that the world thinks just disappeared.  However, Andrew had been murdered and now wants the truth to be known, his lost love Laura to be found, and the murderer brought to justice.  Since Jessica is the very first person who has been able to see him, in a not quite solid sort of way, he wants her to be his hands, ears, and spy to bring it all to light."

"Meanwhile, there is Ben, a hunky, yummy artist and handyman with his own bear-load of troubles, not the least of being an ex-con.  Jessica is the first woman he had been attracted to since his unjust incarceration and his wife's desertion.  Simultaneously, Jessica finds her broken heart being tugged and wrenched by the kind, caring man."

"But...."  About to implement another sound effect, she restrains herself.  "Jessica, having struck a bargain with Andrew to uncover all, has been asking one too many questions about his disappearance, putting herself in all sorts of danger."

"Da da da daaaaa!" Wrye exclaims.


"Is for horses, but this book is a wild ride that keeps pages turning and anticipation churning.  You never know if you are in for a laugh or a bump in the night, and not all the bumps are the ghostly kind.  The characters interact well, and keep you cheering them onward to their resolutions.  Ben and Jessica have that meant-to-be aura, but there is also that fear they may be doomed or star-crossed."

"Secondary characters are three dimensional and you find yourself either liking them immensely or hating them totally.  All are well-drawn and real.  Then there is Andrew, the very charismatic specter with a tragic love-lost back story that has one bemoaning his demise."  Tattle pulls out a hanky and dabs at her eyes.

"Linda has created her own romantic mystery genre with this story.  It has just the right mixture of romantic tension, mystery, and humor.  Everything in life was ignored until I read the last page, and then I was off looking for more books by the author."

"Her style is fast paced and clean.  It is a book to be enjoyed and savored.  Would love to see more like this."

"Thumbs up, Linda!  Keep them coming."

Readers, it has been a delight to share our Love of Literature Leap with all of you.  Until next time, keep reading!

Dona Penza Rutabaga Tattle, Esq. and Associate Wrye Balderdash
of Blather City, Wannachat

Created and written by
Angelica Hart and Zi

Books by Angelica Hart and Zi

Books by Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane