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Archive for the ‘Long Island’ Category

Imagine, if you will, a divorce so acrimonious that the divorcees no longer can be in the same room with each other. Add to that second marriages and a child from each of those, in addition to the three children from the initial marriage. The childrens’ relationships to each other are complicated.

TheWholeThingTogether

One more wrinkle, a shared second home purchased by wife 1’s father but saved from foreclosure by husband 1. Every weekend is a transition from one family to the next, with only the first three daughters staying the whole time. Again, never the twain shall meet.

Ann Brashares, author of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, has written a unique book, touching on many of the issues surrounding divorce and second marriages, the primary being divorced spouses avoiding each other at all costs and the impact on all the children and their relationships to each other. There are subplots which enhance the story and which I’ll let you discover for yourselves.

The issues raised in this book are probably not uncommon among divorced families. The habitation of a second home may be unusual but it does not detract from the issues raised. Brashares takes both a serious and a humorous look at divorce. I expected something more light and fluffy from Ms. Brashares and was pleasantly surprised by The Whole Thing Together.

While I’d consider Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants to be more ‘chick lit’, The Whole Thing Together is much more substantial. I’d definitely go for this one. You won’t be disappointed.

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Love and Fear is the fourth in the Gulliver Dowd mystery series (after Dirty Work, Valentino Pier and The Boardwalk) of ‘high interest-low reading level’ books by Reed Farrel Coleman. I give Coleman a lot of credit for (a) catering to a neglected segment of the reading population and (b) writing something interesting for them to read. Mystery readers, in general, will enjoy the book, regardless of reading level.

Gullier Dowd is no ordinary man. He is short (under five feet). His body is mismatched, almost grotesque, and totally opposite of his handsome face. He refers to himself as God’s Little Joke. A private investigator, he is in between jobs when there is a knock on the door…from someone he’d rather not see-crime boss Joey Vespucci’s number one enforcer, Tony. Dowd and Tony do not get along, at all.

Tony using his own initiative tells Dowd that Vespucci, unbeknownst to himself, needs Dowd’s help in finding his missing daughter, Bella. Dowd is the best person-finder money can hire and all the other investigators Vespucci hired have failed. Dowd, using a bit of psychology on Vespucci, gets his buy-in and off he goes with Ahmed, his right hand man, and Tony as Vespucci’s eyes and ears.

In a mere 150 pages, Coleman put together an interesting mystery with twists and turns and logical thinking. It certainly helps with the backstory to have read the previous books as Love and Fear does refer to the death of Dowd’s sister, Keisha, and to his current amore. Either way, Love and Fear is an enjoyable read.

As an aside, if you haven’t read Coleman’s new Gus Murphy series, book one Where It Hurts is waiting for you.

WhereItHurts

 

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What are the chances of reading two consecutive books with a character named Trent as a prominent character? Well, that is neither here nor there.

Mardi and Molly, sixteen year old twins, beautiful, spoiled, rich witches used to clubbing in Manhattan’s TripleMoonhot spots have been banished by their father, Troy, to the sedate little East End hamlet of North Hampton for the summer when their names become linked with the deaths of two students, Parker and Samantha, after a penthouse party. In an attempt to rein in their use of magic and to teach them ‘values’, the girls are babysitting Troy’s friend, Ingrid’s two children and are forced to get summer jobs like ‘normal’ kids. However, that’s like putting the fox in the chicken coup because they are exposed to two gorgeous guys who happen to be warlocks.

As the summer progresses, things get worse instead of better. The White Council of witches is seeking to censure (or worse) the two teens because of their visible use of magic which will cause attention by mortals to the existence of witches. The use of magic has been curtailed for the past ten years when mortals became suspicious of witches’ existence. In addition, there are witnesses who have come forward to say that Mardi and Molly actually pushed Parker and Sam in front of the oncoming number 6 subway train and therefore criminal charges are being contemplated against the twins. The problem is the twins have only vague memories of that night’s happenings.

However, getting their memories back and finding out who killed Parker and Sam takes a back seat in Triple Moon behind the girls hooking up, borrowing expensive stylish clothes, hooking up, drinking expensive wines, eating caviar, being jealous and secretive with each other and did I mention hooking up. Mardi races up and down North Hampton in her vintage red 1972 Ferrari. Molly rides Ingrid’s bike in stylish espadrilles or designer heels.

Ingrid and her sister Fryda, also witches, understand the seriousness of the matter and have even called in help from New Orleans in the form of Jean-Baptiste Mesomier, who specializes in regaining memory. However, the twins still remember little and do not take it seriously.

I do remember reading one of Melissa de la Cruz’s early books and liking it, however I don’t remember which one. Quite honestly, if I didn’t have to read Triple Moon for a journal review, I wouldn’t have read past page 2. I found the book truly mind-numbing and while I’m all for getting kids to read anything as long as they read, I would put Triple Moon at the bottom of the wish list. Not even the chapter names which are song titles (many of which her audience would not know) make this book palatable.

Mardi and Molly could care less about others, only thinking of themselves. Mardi drives a vintage Ferrari. Molly has a closet full of clothes. The boys in the story are gorgeous, blue-eyed, ribbed and rich…of course, rich. The girls think nothing of ‘hooking up’ and ‘removing clothing’, reneging on promises to babysit so that they can be with boys, drinking, etc. And while I don’t think every book has to have a moral, Molly and Mardi are no role models and surely project the wrong image for teens. If this isn’t offputting enough, it almost appears that Ms. de la Cruz got tired of reading her book because it hastily draws to a close with an improbable ending, even for a book about witches.

While I realize that Ms. de la Cruz is a prominent YA author and teens love to read her books, I could not in good conscience recommend Triple Moon to any reader.

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I’m a Reed Farrel Coleman mystery fan, especially the Moe Prager WhereItHurtsseries. So I was saddened when that series came to a sad but honest end. But Coleman has followed it up with a new protagonist, different but equally as good, Gus Murphy. While Moe was based in Brooklyn, Gus is based in Suffolk County, Long Island, much closer to my home and much more familiar, which always makes for fun reading.

Gus is ex-Suffolk County police. It’s been two years since his son suddenly died and Gus’ life has been a disaster. He dealt with bouts of depression. His marriage collapsed. His daughter, Kristy, once a ‘good girl’, has been acting up. He lives in the low class hotel for which he drives the van to and from the Long Island Railroad Station. Things really couldn’t get much more depressing.

When, an ex-con, Tommy Delcamino, who Murphy arrested several times, approaches him to find the killers of his lowlife, druggie son, TJ, because the police haven’t followed up on any leads, Murphy thinks he’s playing the ‘dead son’ card and tells him to fuck off. However, after ruminating over it and discussing it with his therapist, he realizes Delcamino had no one else to turn to. So, he decides to apologize to Delcamino for his insensitivity. However, arriving at his trailer, Murphy finds it tossed and Delcamino brutally murdered. So, of course, Murphy has no option but to pursue both Tommy and TJ’s murder. Being warned off by both policemen and drug dealers alike only reinforces Murphy’s resolve.

Murphy is a real person in the sense that he goes through a range of emotions. He’s lost his faith in God. He’s been wallowing in self pity for the past two years. And when his investigation seems to give him renewed life, he doesn’t understand it and finds it hard to swallow.

I particularly like Murphy’s cynicism regarding God and religion, the various inequities on Long Island, police corruption and life in general. His descriptions of various Long Island neighborhoods, the rich ones and the poor ones, is spot on, cynicism included. The ancillary characters are a mixed bunch, from honest to corrupt police, savage drug dealers, and folks down on their luck. All of this makes for good reading. I’m trying to think of who to compare Gus Murphy to, but can’t come up with anyone.

After reading the Moe Prager series, I read all of Coleman’s other series, which is probably something you should do. It won’t take long to read, but the enjoyment should keep going for a long time.

According to Coleman’s website, this is Book 1 of the Gus Murphy series. That’s good to know. It gives me something to look forward to.

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