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WRECK OF THE GOSSAMER: (The Puzzle Box Chronicles: Book 1) ~Shawn P. McCarthy

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Dark Spark Press sent me a  PDF file of Book 1 for this 5 part series that touches base with the start of electricity and radio being developed in the USA.  It is just 171 pages and right when the plot gets extremely interesting the book stops and we must wait for the Book 2 release, which happens next month.  It made me feel like I was reading a serial story in the newspaper or one of my mother’s magazines; I could hardly wait for the next part of the adventure.  I had to read the front page again to make sure it was fiction because the references to Edison and Marconi and George Westinghouse sent my mind to believing the story was historic fiction.  Well, maybe it is?


“Victor Marius, an inspired scientist and budding entrepreneur, is lost in a shipwreck off the coast of Cape Cod in the summer of 1891. But before he disappears beneath the waves he manages to release a strange box that he hopes will protect his legacy.

“Amanda Malcom, a young woman enduring a troubled marriage, is about to make a discovery that will lead her on a dangerous odyssey – one that takes her across the country, and into the heart of a rapidly changing America. Along the way, she meets Plains Indians, ex-slaves, riverboat charlatans, and secretive workers who champion the U.S. labor movement. At a time when electric lighting is spreading across the country like a wave, she also meets inspired engineers and Montana miners who dig deep to feed the country’s insatiable demand for copper.

Amanda has survived many things in her short life, but it’s not clear if she will be able to survive the first year of the last decade of the 19th century.”(From Amazon’s page)

I found the story to be unpretentious and interesting and the descriptions of the countryside and time period to be very useful and informative.  Although there is death from the ship being sunk in a storm some harshness of words and violent actions, I think my children would have loved this book starting when they were in about 8th grade.  I believe the story would appeal to a wide age range.  The depth of the characters is quite believable and moved the story forward nicely.

About the author

“Shawn P. McCarthy is the author of two nonfiction business books and hundreds of market research papers and technical articles. His first book, part of a five-book historic fiction series, will be released on February 12, 2016.

“He currently is research director for IDC Government Insights where he manages a series of research programs and data gathering operations with a focus on how the government buys from and works with the U.S. information technology market. Mr. McCarthy determines IT investment priorities for the multiple levels of government and identifies and forecasts emerging technologies and opportunities for both government offices and technology vendors who work with the government.

“Prior to joining IDC Mr. McCarthy served as a group product manager for four years at Lycos, the Internet search engine. In the early 1990s he was senior editor at Government Computer News was a 20-year writer of the Internaut column at Government Computer News magazine.

“He has a Masters degree from The George Washington University, a Bachelors degree from St. Bonaventure University and a certificate in project management for IT programs. He occasionally teaches graduate-level project management classes.

“Mr. McCarthy is frequently quoted by trade publications, and has been quoted in government IT articles in major Newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Politico. “(From Amazon’s page)

Shawn McCarthy Amazon page
Shawn McCarthy Twitter

I would recommend this story to those who enjoy historic fiction and to readers who like to imagine what a time was like and how inventions came to be.  Amanda’s adventures are cross country in a wide sweep as she experiences and works to unravel the mysteries of the puzzle box which washed ashore after the Wreck of the Gossamer

Daughter of Sand and Stone
Playing St. Barbara
A Snug Life Somewhere

ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE: A Novel ~Randy Susan Meyers

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

“There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help and what they cannot.”   (Plato)
“I think you have at least. Twenty-two things.  You shouldn’t be angry about. Everyday.”  (Page 296)

Randy Susan Meyers is a writer and a person who works with folks with domestic violence issues. ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE takes her excellent writing skills into this realm and tells us a story about a family which is developing serious violence issues and problems and how it is affecting the marriage and the children – the future.   The characters are quite well depicted and their responses to the situations and scenes are tremendously portrayed.   I read into the wee hours of the morning, because I could just not put the book down; I have thought about this story often since I finished the read and it just stays with me.

ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE is about a life changing year for the Illica family who live in Boston, MA area.  Maddy is the spirited social worker who is messy and forgetful (I think I might say stressed to the max trying to balance work and family) and vacillates between standing up to Ben’s growing rages and to placating him – always protecting the three children: Emma (14), Gracie (9), and Caleb (7).  The marriage bond did not begin with such anger issues, but as Ben became a more powerful public defender and a recognized warrior in the courtroom, he becomes increasingly belittling and critical of his wife and children; they are becoming truly afraid.  The two styles on a wet and rainy, frantic, fast drive crash into each other and Maddy ends up nearly dead with brain injuries and in a coma.

The characters are just so believable and Emma realistically portrays how a teen and her siblings would increase their anger reactions by acting out and by being scared nearly out of their minds.   ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE is about all the ways that individuals cope with major problems and violence.   The story is a good portrayal of what love is not.

TLC Book Tours   sent me a copy of this book for review and I am planning on sharing this book with several of my counselor friends.  ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE was an intense and provocative read.   Good teaching tool, excellent storytelling, excellent read for nearly every reader.

From the book jacket:

“Randy Susan Meyers is the author of THE COMFORT OF LIES and THE MURDER’S DAUGHTERS and a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award.  Her writing is informed by her work with batterers and victims of domestic violence, as well as her experience with youth impacted by street violence.  She lives with her husband in Boston, where she teaches writing seminars at the Grub Street Writers’ Center.”


Supreme Justice
The Fixer
Playing St. Barbara
Songs of Willow Frost

BELLAGRAND: A Novel by Bestselling Author of The Bronze Horseman ~Paullina Simons

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

“As CHILDREN OF LIBERTY concludes with a stunning ending – the story is just beginning.  BELLAGRAND follows Harry and Gina after the Happily Ever After.  After their whirlwind romance, Gina and Harry must learn what it really takes to mesh their families and their cultures.  Readers will be delighted to see exactly how these characters fit into the BRONZE HORSEMAN legacy.”

BELLAGRAND is quite the read, if you like historic fiction, family saga, romance, and Russian Novels you will fully enjoy cozying up to this one.   The book is quite enjoyable even without reading the first and/or upcoming third of the trilogy.  It is fascinating to look at American history through the eyes of an Italian immigrant and the Russian author’s viewpoints.

In the first book, Harry – the son of a wealthy family in Massachusetts falls in love with a young woman arrived from Italy – Gina.  BELLAGRAND is a detailed accounting of their marriage over 25 years and how they worked with differing cultural differences and political ideologies.  For Gina, she is also working on returning her husband to favor from his family and re-connection.

The book is divided into three parts.  The first section is about the relationship as it is caught up in the workers strikes at the Woolen Mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts.  Gina is attempting to work 5 or 6 jobs mending and also volunteering in order to keep the family in food, clothing and shelter.  They live with her Mother.  Harry was getting his doctorate at Harvard in Economics and going to teach there, but decides against work and joins the revolutionary Workers movement.  He is increasingly hostile to wealth and affluence, and goes to strategy meetings with the Communists, Workers Party, and those who support the Russian Revolution; wanting to emigrate.

Part two is a coming together of the remaining family members of both families, because a baby is expected to this couple.  Harry has been arrested so many times that his father arranges a house arrest in Juniper, Florida at the mansion his mother has left to him – BELLAGRAND.   The three years that they reside at this elegant house they live a relaxed and casual style. Harry’s sister and Father come to spend time with the family, savor the warmth and beauty and grow healthier in the obvious joy of this Grand Son – Alexander.

Part Three sends the family back to Boston, fine schools, an affluent lifestyle, and an attempt to finish the doctorate.   There is an abundance of society and family conflict.  Harry still does not work for money.

The historic events in this time period are dense and thorough.  The Panama Canal, Gold Coast Housing boom and crash, a hurricane, and the dynamic individuals of this time in US history are detailed and heavily integrated into the story line.  The Scopes Trial, Emma Goldman, Eugene Debs, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s daughter Rose, and many book titles and newspapers are quoted and touch base with this story.

I believe that BELLAGRAND will be a bestseller and there will be a large following of the folks who enjoyed the first book and clamor for the third.  Harry is inflexible and remains in rebellion against his family, and Gina makes so many poor decisions, topped off with the many arguments and make-up sex moments in this novel, I just got tired of reading all 550 pages.

When I was 5 years old I read Dr. Zhivago with my mother writing down the characters and their numerous nicknames on a piece of paper so I could keep track.  With this book, I had to write down characters on a 3×5 card and a few ideas to get myself back into the read, each time I had to set this book down.  I have read lots of Russian Novels and the redundancy was okay; my best guess is that this novel was the wrong time of the year for me.  A good author helps you feel the feelings and BELLAGRAND did just that – I felt a lingering sense of hopelessness even as I awoke this morning.    It is the transition book in a saga trilogy, it does a good job; I so enjoyed the look at history from a different perspective.

tlc logo TLC Online Book Tours and William Morrow Publishing sent me an uncorrected proof copy of BELLAGRAND.   It was quite an experience to read this book and it was a fine read without having read the first book Children of Liberty in the The Bronze Horseman trilogy.  I appreciate the opportunity.

“Paullina Simons is the author of the acclaimed novels TULLY, RED LEAVES, and ELEVEN HOURS.  Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, she graduated from Kansas University in Lawrence, Kansas and has lived in Rome, London, and Dallas.  She currently lives near New York City with her husband and three children.”   Wikipedia

Paullina Simmons on Facebook
Paullina Simons Online

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s  from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket. Donations also welcomed. Thank you.

Little Failure
In The Garden Of Stone
Songs Of Willow Frost
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena


Monday, May 6th, 2013

I was hooked immediately on A DUAL INHERITANCE and I hated to put it down.  The two young men in the 1960s are people I know and I lived around and I went to school with them.  This was a work of fiction but it drew compelling characters into you and you wanted to know what happened and wow did it have a great ending; it kept driving forward. It just stayed as good a read on every page.   I did not want to skip a word.

It was very helpful to be reminded of this theory and term right at the beginning: “Dual Inheritance theory (DIT), also known as gene-culture coevolution, was developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s to explain how human behavior is a product of two different and interacting evolutionary processes: genetic evolution and cultural evolution.”

The characters remained wholeheartedly on target to demonstrate this theory and I found myself saying, “oh yeah!”  I could follow it closely and carefully and yet it allowed one to escape into the story completely.  Hershon is a good storyteller, and she does not assume we will just know the details; perfectly detailed right down to the mosquitos.

Ed and Hugh meet while students at Harvard.  Ed is a scholarship student, Summa Cum Laude graduate and a Jew.  Hugh is from a long family line of Harvard attendees and from a wealthy family.  They have each lost their mothers at an early age and their fathers seemed to be determined to find fault with everything they do in a nasty way.  Ed goes into finance and Hugh plans on being a photographer for documentaries, though ends up doing humanitarian work and developing free clinics in Africa and Haiti. Each man marries within the family expectation, and each man has a daughter.  After losing the connection of their friendship, amazingly their daughters attend the same school and bring them back together when they are Grandfathers.

I have seen this pattern play out a number of times in my lifetime and although this is a fictional story, A DUAL INHERITANCE dances well with the concept of the theory and the writing is just so worthwhile.  I was reminded of how much I enjoyed reading THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, which also traces two young men on an adventure into the American experience, whereas Ed and Hugh are born years later and are already cast into the American scene.  It was just this very East Coast traditionalism which made me so happy to return to the West Coast and a very Independent State.  I am not of the cowboy rancher dynasty experience, but more of the justice and community building – let’s celebrate everyone’s experience – cooperation.   Ed and Hugh missed out on the Viet Nam and Korea experiences because of money and health; whereas I was in the thick of it from pacifists, dodgers, religious exemptions, and soldiers training, wounded, and returning home. The story is still replete with the alcohol and drug addictions of the generation.

I think this is a grand story and one many can identify with and explore.  It is going to be difficult for anyone to put the book down; A DUAL INHERITANCE is a great reading experience.

tlc logo I received a proof copy of this book from TLC online book tours and Ballantine/ Random House Publishing Group. Thank you.   I am very, very happy they shared this book with me – because I really, really liked it and I think you will too.

If you purchase anything from Amazon  or Powell’s  from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations also welcome.

Related Reading:  Look under the tab Recommended Reading there are lots and lots of book reviews there you might enjoy.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Mountains Upon Mountains
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The Swan Thieves