Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Good Book that Doesn't "Stand Alone."

I often mention how happy I am when I see that a book I have really enjoyed belongs to a series even though it stands alone. When I'm finished reading, I can choose whether or not to go back and devour all the books that came ahead of the current one I'm reading. 

Sometimes, though, the books is so dependent on everything that came before that it is not so enjoyable. My review today is of "Harbor Island: A Sharpe and Donovan Mystery."  Although it is well written, it doesn't fall into that category.

When Emma Sharpe, Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, gets a call from a woman she has never met to meet her alone on one of Boston Bay's harbour islands, she was very hesitant. But Rachel Bristol was adamant that she had some information on an art thief that Emma has been tracking. So she decided to risk the meeting. After texting her boyfriend, fellow FBI agent, Colin Donovan, she follows her informant's instructions only to find the woman shot dead in a pool of blood.

This sounds like it should be an excellent and suspenseful read and it would have been had I known anything about what came before. "Harbor Island" is the fourth novel in the "Sharpe and Donovan" series written by Carla Neggers. I felt that I would have enjoyed the book much better if I had read the earlier novels. Some sequels can easily stand-alone and still be an enjoyable read but I didn't feel this was one of them. There are too many references to people I haven't met, and incidents that occurred in the other stories without enough explanation. Other than that, the writing is excellent. The characters, once you have them figured out, well drawn, and the descriptions of a variety of settings superb.

I'm sure if I had read some of the earlier books, I would have found this a 5-star read. Unfortunately I didn't. I suggest that you go back and read the others before you try this one. I'm going to give this series another chance by reading "Declan's Cross," the first in the series.

Just a hint in case you haven't read her other books: in the copy of "Harbor Island" that I have, there is a novella at the end of the book entitled "Rock Point." I think it may be helpful to read that first. It will give you a better understanding of one of the most important characters.

Deer Island, MA
                                Boston Harbor islands from the air

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Did you ever read the novel, "The Good Earth"   by Pearl Buck? I did many years ago, but it is so long ago that I have pretty much forgotten what it was about, except that the setting was 19th century China. Now an unpublished novel written by Pearl S. Buck and titled “The Eternal Wonder”  has recently come to light.  

The hand-written manuscript was discovered in January of 2013, forty years after the 1938 Nobel Prize for Literature winner's death. It was revealed among the contents of a Fort Worth, Texas public storage unit sold for unpaid rent. When the buyer discovered both a handwritten and typewritten document written by Pearl Buck, she alerted the writer's family and after some negotiations, sold it to them. They have authenticated it as her work. Her son, Edgar Walsh, decided to have the novel edited and published even though his mother died before she was able to revise it.  

It is probably a first or second unedited draft, but in spite of the fact that it is far from perfect and not up to Mrs. Buck's usual standard, still the family feels it is important to bring this last novel to the public. This therefore is something a reviewer must take into consideration.

It is a strange tale with rather an oversimplified plot. In fact, it seemed more of a fable than a novel. The hero, Rann Colfax is remarkably and improbably clever. A genius from birth, it would seem. Learning comes so easy to him that he has mastered several languages by the time he is in secondary school. He is much too intelligent for his classmates and teachers, which leads him to wonder about the meaning of life and the part he will play in it.

When his father dies while he is still young, he decides to get his education through books and travel rather than attend a university. In the process of his adventures, he becomes fabulously wealthy through two inheritances. One of them quite improbable.

Throughout the novel, there is a fairy-tale quality. Rather like an Aesop's fable with a lesson that Pearl Buck wanted us to discover and take to heart. The final pages make it clear what this lesson is.

As I read the opening, I wasn't sure that I would like the book at all. But as I continued, it became quite enthralling and in the end, I was left with a great deal to think about. While it isn't in any way up to par with her other works, I find it still gripping enough to deserve four stars

Pearl Buck Birthplace 2

Pearl Buck's Birthplace
By Beeflower (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Little More About My Huguenot Series

The Silk Weaver's Daughter  has been available since 2011 but I just received a lovely review this week. I'd like to share it with you as it explain very nicely what the book is about.

Verified Purchase(What's this?)
What an intriguing and enlightening read! Religious persecution and survival; romance, consequences and redemption add to Ms. Kale's paintbrush of colorful characters and their life changing adventures. I was very surprised and delighted to be caught up in the painted scenes of France and England, and the poignant and captivating story of the Garneau Family and their steadfast or wavering faith as Huguenots. A story that will leave its readers much to think about if their lives were effected to make such life-altering decisions for the sake of belief, love and family devotion. Eager to read more of Ms. Kale's work.

So very nice of JHT and I appreciate it very much.

Now here is the Back Cover pitch for the new book, "Night of the Gypsies " which is the sequel to "The Silk Weaver's Daughter."

Travel in the 18th century is notoriously dangerous, but when a London tea merchant takes his wife and family to Europe it becomes especially challenging. Marc Garneau, a Huguenot refugee, faces bankruptcy and debtor’s prison unless he can retrieve his inheritance from war-torn France. His brother, Philippe, a secret worshiper still living in their small French village, agrees to help him spirit the money into a Dutch bank account. In spite of the dangers to both of them from the French dragoons, they agree to meet in Holland. A European journey in the early part of the 1700s entails perils enough without having an attractive, young daughter of marriageable age in tow. Nevertheless, when an unscrupulous London moneylender threatens his wife and children, Marc decides to take them along on his quest. Arriving in Amsterdam, they discover that, due to a difference in European calendars, his brother has been and gone. Now they must rendezvous at a Hessian castle near the Rhine River. As the tea merchant’s family set off across Europe, both Marc and his daughter, Alice face challenges that will change their lives forever. Part historical adventure and part coming-of-age, "Night of the Gypsies" brings to life the next generation in this French Huguenot family saga.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Senior Moments With Liz K: Announcing Give Away of "The Silk Weaver's Daughter."

Senior Moments With Liz K: Announcing Give Away of "The Silk Weaver's Daughter."

Announcing Give Away of "The Silk Weaver's Daughter."

To celebrate the release of the new novel in my Huguenot Family Saga series, "Night of the Gypsies," the original book, "The Silk Weaver's Daughter" will be free on Kindle for the next five days (October 1st - 5th) Here is the link:


Thank you.