Where books are chronicled from beginning to end, and never stop being read.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Princesses Don't Get Fat

A sweet story... Literally and figuratively speaking.
Princesses Don't Get Fat by Aya Ling
In today's society, young girls are often the target of vast and successful media campaigns. The power of a skinny body gracing the cover of Vogue is enough to make head-cases out of normal women, so what of a less equipped young girl with low self-esteem?

Princesses Don't Get Fat, by Aya Ling, addresses that question. I can't remember the last time I read a story where the book cover housed a less-than-perfect heroine. The cover is a telling supplement that sets the tone for the rest of the book.

The story cements its unique approach by changing the stereotypical, helpless princess-in-waiting. Every princess is allowed to find her own way in the world, including fighting off dragons and seeking indelible adventure. The food obsessed, plump Princess Valeria has become a great consternation to her mother, the Queen of Amaranta; who is distressed at Valeria's lack of self-restraint and burgeoning waist-line. In order to circumvent further weight gain and find the Princess a husband, the Queen decides to send her off to the Royal Riviera Academy of Fighting Arts.

Though Valeria has the option of changing herself to fit worldly aesthetics, she chooses not to. She chooses desserts over finding a handsome prince, and decides to forego the life of an estimable royal marriage. Regardless of where she find herself, Princess Valeria is always true to her own wants and needs. She doesn't mask them into a ball of shame, or find the need to hide her deepest desires. Perhaps that is the reason that love does not elude her completely; as she encounters Prince Ralph, who becomes drawn to Valeria's nightly jaunts to the palace kitchens.

Aya Ling has created a fun, uplifting story that encourages young women to find their own paths in life. It's okay to go against the grain, to decide your own fate regardless of social pressures. We are also reminded that as parents and responsible members of society, we should motivate and support the decisions of our youths.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Captain No Beard

Let your imagination run wild...
Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life by Carole P. Roman
"Shiver me timbers!"

Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience by Carole P. Roman
Each Captain No Beard story is a tale centered around a young boy, Alexander (aka Captain No Beard), and his imaginary pirate ship, The Flying Dragon. His crew is comprised of three stalwart stuffed animals, Mongo the monkey, Linus the lion, and Fribbet the frog. His cousin, Hallie, is the First Mate and together they sail the ocean searching for adventure. 

In Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience, the author delves deeper into teaching critical stress management and teamwork. Though each crew member on board The Flying Dragon has different personalities, they must learn to manage and accept change with patience. The author incorporates certain real-world scenarios, such as dyslexia, to the mix; displaying ways to recognize and handle such issues with kindness and encouragement. 

The delightful tales of Captain No Beard and his First Mate, Hallie, is superb for all ages. The stories are well formulated and the illustrations will keep a young audience intrigued. I speak from experience. I read both books to my three year old son and he was absolutely enchanted. 

Even as an adult I will admit that it's been a long time since I've read stories that have captivated me, with a tone and story-telling that is reminiscent in the ways of Jim Henson's muppets. The result is a marvelous, swashbuckling tale of danger and excitement! Carole P. Roman's adept story telling skills turn these books into magical creations.  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Solomon's Ring

This is a guest review from Kaeru who has, in my humble opinion, one of the best technical review sites on the web. You can check it out here. Thanks again, Kaeru!
Solomon's Ring by Raymond Beresford Hamilton

What would you do to free yourself from a life of bondage and servitude to task masters who don’t even think about your own freedom?  Well, FBI Special Agent Robert Cole and CIA Officer Amir Bloomberg have put the pieces together and are about to find out what it takes for an ancient demon to free itself from its bonds.  King Solomon was said to have a very special ring which encased the Seal of Solomon, having the power to control demons on Earth.  One demon needs a new king to serve.  

At the same time, Cole and Bloomberg find themselves tracking down a dangerous terrorist hell bent on developing a sophisticated new weapon.  Time is running out for the team to connect the dots and uncover the truth.  If they don’t, the world as we know it will change forever.

Raymond Beresford Hamilton’s new science fiction thriller is a creative fusion of biblical revelation and real world threats. Hamilton is brilliant in his newest work, Solomon’s Ring. His ability to tell this gripping story from each character’s perspective is dynamic, fast paced, and will keep you on the edge.  There is always more than meets the eye in the world that surrounds us, and Hamilton knows how to place you in the middle of the action every step of the way.  

First, I felt the frightening chill and goose bumps down my back as the demon manifested in front of me.  Next, I felt the anger and frustration of chasing down a terrorist who seems untouchable.  Finally, I felt the excitement of putting the pieces of the puzzle together, and the anxiety to win the battle and overcome the human and demon willSolomon’s Ring, by Raymond Beresford Hamilton, is a great book for both the first time science fiction thriller reader and the expert alike. 

 Book review by Kaeru.

Solomon’s Ring by Raymond Beresford Hamilton, 2010 ISBN 978-4781-9453-8

Friday, February 22, 2013

Exit Strategy

An astonishingly harrowing tale of terror and fright. The mind is a truly incredible mechanism.
Exit Strategy by L.F. Falconer
The story is about Jonas Dumar, a fugitive accused of murder, who sets sail to start a new existence. Only, there's a catch, how far can a person outrun himself?

A stroke of desperation. 

Jonas decides to venture across the Atlantic, away from the accusations of murder and deceit, he sets off with his trusty dog to find haven in a different land.  In the silence of his journey, his mind is his greatest friend and enemy. As he grapples with the emergence of new and old acquaintances, he is pushed to the brink of restraint. 

Enter Gabe and Izzy. They are two free spirits trying to work their way back to Spain. Jonas takes the couple along on his vessel, hoping to circumvent the long, quiet hours spent on the open sea. But nothing is as it seems. The ominous and hellish journey has only begun, Jonas risks his very existence as he attempts to outrun his own demons.

Exit Strategy is a fantastic, hair-raising story that will keep the reader guessing. L.F. Falconer weaves a masterful tale, both simplistic and convoluted, giving insight into the human psyche and causes us to ruminate on our own sanity. I highly recommend this new read of 2013.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It's Nothing Personal

I finished this book as my son finally began to recover from his cold. He's happy and munching cookies now, so we're back to business as usual.
It's Nothing Personal by Kate O'Reilley
Only, there's nothing usual about this book. 

The story is about Jenna Reiner, a doctor who becomes the target of a massive malpractice lawsuit that has not only ruined her unblemished career and reputation, but threatens the very fiber of her existence. Due to the actions of a drug addled, demented hospital worker who decides to infect everyone with Hepatitis C, Jenna finds herself at the center of a media frenzy that has made her a monster overnight. 

As her entire existence begins to unravel at an alarming rate, Jenna is faced with a choice. Does she lie down and accept her situation, or does she fight back? She looks to her husband and daughter for emotional grounding. Though she may have been victimized, she chooses not to be a victim.

This is a horrifying and realistic situation that causes the reader to think upon his or her own life. How safe is anyone in their current situation? What if you woke up tomorrow morning to a different world of spiteful recriminations and lunacy? 

There is no winner in the abomination of justice or in the awful pandemonium clearly displayed by the talented writing of Kate O'Reilley. There is no happily ever after. Life will always go on, but one person's thoughtless actions cause a tremendous ripple effect hurting countless people. The scars incurred from being subjected to the action or inaction of the people around us will last forever.

Kate O'Reilley has done an amazing job personifying human nature, along with the degradation of humanity itself. It's Nothing Personal is a compelling story that will captivate even the toughest critics. I recommend that you set aside some time before jumping into this book, you won't want to put it down.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

This Year At Home: A Short Story

This Year At Home is a much appreciated follow-up short story to Next Year in Israel, by Sarah Bridgeton.
This Year At Home: A Short Story by Sarah Bridgeton
I quite enjoyed Next Year In Israel, and I can't convey my absolute joy that the author wrote a story giving closure to, the main character, Rebecca. 

Though I would have been happy with my own machinations of Rebecca charging into her old life with spiteful retaliation, it really wouldn't have done the story justice. Besides the fact that such behavior would not be in line with the character, I don't think I could have done better than the author at providing Rebecca with her own sense of poetic justice.

After dealing with issues of ceaseless bullying, suicide, depression and the inability to cope, Rebecca was given time to heal in Israel. She realized an important fact that she had forgotten as a child, or perhaps lost out of sheer despair, she could fight back. Allowing others to devalue her had led to her own humiliating and heartbreaking situation.

In This Year At Home, the story has come full circle. Rebecca is no longer filling the spot of the frightened, shaking, intolerable mess of a child that she had been reduced to. She has returned a mature, brave, and more thoughtful young woman. She faces her deepest fears and no longer tolerates mistreatment from her tormentors. As such, she faces off with Derrick and deals with the consequences. Personally, I felt an immense pride for Rebecca when she chose to do the right thing, though it wasn't the easier option.

The story was a stirring revelation of acknowledgment. Yes, Rebecca is still a teenager and though she comes back changed, there will be other issues that come up in her life. And yes, she gains her own freedom by standing up for herself and taking responsibility for her own actions. But, This Year At Home, is so much more than a simple story of a girl stepping out of her cocoon and emerging as a young woman.

Rebecca's own development affects everyone around her. From an old friend to a new budding love interest, her strength has touched a cord within every individual. It seems as if her impregnable spirit has even lent courage to her parents as they attempt to rebuild their own relationship. Her mother has genuine desire to reconnect with Rebecca and to heal what bonds were strained, if not broken. 

Bullying is a serious issue. It is absolutely debilitating and when the full force of it is consistently wielded on a young, impressionable mind, the person is not always able to cope in the most healthiest of ways. I'm glad that Sarah Bridgeton chose to shine a bright light on an old, yet nonetheless, eviscerating proclivity often effecting our younger generation. 

No one should turn a blind eye. Everyone is responsible. 

This short story is a quick read, but the impact is huge and will remain with the reader. I highly recommend both Next Year In Israel and This Year At Home, but either book will stand alone on it's own merits.

Friday, February 15, 2013


I honestly don't know what I was expecting when I read this book.

I began to read it when my husband and son were laughing away in the bath like little monkeys, most likely creating a fair-sized pond on the bathroom floor.

It was all down hill from there.
Whupped by Jim Stevens
Yes, it was hilarious. Please understand, this book is no feat of literary mastery.

Jim Stevens made it something quite special. The narration differs from one chapter to the next. Every character gets his or her chance to tell things from his or her point of view. That alone would normally distract and annoy me, but it worked for this particular book.

The story revolves around Jake Dombrowski, a dependable, loyal, hard-working man who always looks for ways to save money. Jake is absolutely enamored with his beautiful, spoiled, money-wasting fiancee, Alyssa Walworth. Their values couldn't be more at odds. As a matter of fact, Alyssa practically hemorrhages money by planning a five-star, over the top wedding with no regard to Jake's feelings.

Enter the Groomsmen, Gideon and Conrad, Jake's best friends from childhood. They devise an outrageous plan to save their clueless buddy from Alyssa's calculating grasp. Jake is subjected to a number of absurd, knee-slapping situations that not only makes the reader feel sympathy for his plight, but lends assurance to the stability of genuine friendship.

I don't think this book would appeal to a large group of women. Though the story of boys who grow up together and look out for each other is touching, the writing is bawdy and, at times, brutal. It is a hard boiled male approach to romance writing. Definitely an interesting perspective.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Did I hear a gasp? A second Young Adult novel in the same month? Yes, it's true. Better yet, it was worth getting a little less sleep in order to finish it by the wee hours of the morning.
Foreseen by Terri-Lynne Smiles
Foreseen is a science-fiction romance set in the future. The novel is written in the first person, the narrative jumps between Kinzie Nicolosi and her boyfriend Greg Langston.

The main focus of the story is on 18 year-old Kinzie, who becomes aware of her latent super power. The power to influence and manipulate human thought. Suddenly, she finds herself being sent to a unique place called the Rothston Institute in Maine. The Rothston Institute houses a special group of young individuals who also harness certain abilities. They are the "adept" and  they are sanctioned with the duties of doing "good" by changing the course of human thought and cementing it for the betterment of society. An ancient governing body, also comprised of the best "adept" members, called the "Seven" oversee the entire process.

Of course, the reader must keep in mind, that when faced with such power, every individual has the choice to act upon their abilities. Kinzie is faced with a moral dilemma that encompasses a bout of self-rumination and the ponderance of ethics in serving such a group. Obviously, she is a teenager barely on the cusp of adulthood and still going through her own growing pains. As such, Kinzie lacks the self-assurance and security that often accompanies the uncertainty of youth. What she must realize, more than anything, is that she holds the power of her own destiny. Nothing is set in stone.

As the story opens up in it's deceptive simplicity, I was thrown a curve ball. The deeper I read, the more I realized that this book housed so much more than a group of extraordinary teenagers out to save the world. It addresses the human condition and the age old quandary of where the ethical line begins and ends. Kinzie and Greg develop not only their relationship but they mature into deeper individuals who can make decisions for themselves.

It was a wonderful story full of action, adventure, love and science. Categorize it however you wish, but give this entertaining read a try, especially if you have a young adult at home.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Ultimate Edition of Eloise

The fascinating world of Eloise. What can I say? I was a fan at two years old and I'm a fan today.
The Ultimate Edition of Eloise by Kay Thompson

“I am Eloise. I am six. I am a city child. I live at The Plaza.”

The precocious, rawther pseudo-sophisticated Eloise was the brain-child of Kay Thompson. There are four books in this Ultimate Edition. Each story contains the amusing, childish antics of six-year-old Eloise.

Eloise lives at the Plaza Hotel stomping and sneaking throughout, creating her own brand of mischief with her daring high jinks and fantastic imagination. Her English, live-in Nanny is her only connection to the warm love that she misses from her own absentee mother. She finds herself preoccupying her loneliness with her best friends, Weenie the pug and Skipperdee the turtle. Each book is a vibrant, fun-filled, touching story of Eloise and her adventures. From New York, to Paris, to Moscow, she travels from one place to another when her mother calls for her company.

The most compelling book was Eloise in Moscow. For current readers, I believe there will be a bit of a disconnect. But when the book was originally published in 1959, Eloise in Moscow was a brow lifting, gasp-worthy story. In order to fully appreciate Thompson's story, it is necessary for the reader to do a little historical analysis on post World War II America. The 1950's was a suspicious, communist fearing, Cold-War era. Kay Thompson brought a humorous and glaring insight into the bias of a nation that was still understandably apprehensive and skeptical. Eloise brought her own childish brand of confusion and misapprehension. It was an exquisite display of the author's ability to address a serious issue, and at the same time, laugh at everyone in general.

After all, what's the point of humor if you can't laugh at yourself first?

At the heart of it all, I can't help but feel a sense of pity for the over-indulged child. Eloise never complains. She craves acceptance and attention, often finding herself in troublesome situations at her own well-meaning naughtiness. She waits in anticipation for the next time she will see her ultra rich, extremely busy mother. Eloise is brash and adorable, creating artful worlds and adventures at the horror of countless hotel guests and staff.

Kay Thompson's flair for portraying a delightful and incorrigible child coupled with Hilary Knight's marvelous drawings will bring joy to children and adults alike. If you haven't already, give Eloise a try. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Saskia Brandt Omnibus

Grab your coffee, this is a long one. I haven't read a trilogy this engrossing in a long time. The trilogy encompasses three books, DEJA VU, FLASHBACK, and THE AMBER ROOMS. The stories were well-written, action packed and I was a bit sorry when they came to an end.
The Saskia Brandt Omnibus by Ian Hocking
Dr. Ian Hocking brings a refreshing aspect to time travel. The books are an embodiment of the terminology "technothriller". Though the Saskia Brandt Omnibus may be placed under the sci-fi category, it is most definitely in a class of it's own. I most enjoyed the fact that being a "sci-fi" book, the entire story stayed rooted on planet Earth. These three books are an obvious culmination of the time and study the author dedicated to the idea of travelling through time and addressing well-known historical data.

In DEJA VU we meet Saskia Brandt, an investigator who doesn't realize that her own actions are being dictated by someone or something else. She is in the midst of investigating David Proctor, who is accused of bombing a British facility in 2003, but he has no recollection of the incident. Proctor's genius daughter invents something that changes the course of everyone's lives. In the meantime, as Saskia finds her secretary killed at the office, she realizes that she is being hunted.

Then we smash into FLASHBACK, this is where the magic happens. As we delve into the realm of time-travel, and face human turmoil, we jump between continents and several various points in time. Saskia's character takes a bit of a backseat as the author demonstrates an intricate web of peril and outright exposure. We meet some of the characters from DEJA VU, but there are new intriguing faces that come into play. Dr. Hocking's cunning story development and quick-witted repartee made this book an absolute page turner.

And lastly, THE AMBER ROOMS. The author's vast researching skills are evident in this last book of the series. This book brings together some of the gaps from the other two books. I quite enjoyed the interesting facts about pre-revolutionary Russia placed into the story. Saskia Brandt is transported back to the last crumbling days of Tsarist Russia. Unlike the other two predecessors, this book only relies on technology to supplement the story, not to make it the main attention grabber.

The characters are well developed and brilliantly brought together. I commend Dr. Hocking for keeping the characters human. They are not above dying, feeling turmoil, or being physically and mentally injured. No one gets off unscathed. 

You can read these books independently and still find a gripping story to follow. I must admit, I finished this series in record time. I had a hard time putting it down. It's a wonder why Dr. Hocking had to self-publish these books. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a consuming, techno-induced tale of adventure, terrorism, counter-espionage and the human condition.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Next Year in Israel

First, I would like to say that I hope everyone is safe and secure during the horrible snowstorm raging through the northeast. That said, as I sit here with my tea and cheese crackers, I'm happy to state that I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Initially, because it is Young Adult fiction, I had my doubts about another sad teen book that had the potential of ending with Stephen King's Carrie-like vindication.
Next Year in Israel by Sarah Bridgeton
This was one of those times I was pleased to be proven wrong. Next Year in Israel is about a girl named Rebecca who is ceaselessly bullied and tormented by her peers for seven long years.

Now, I don't need to tell you that seven years to a child is a lifetime.

It doesn't help that Rebecca comes from a dysfunctional, broken home with no emotional support coming her way. She feels trapped and useless. In the midst of it all, she attempts to commit suicide.

Young or old, when reading this book, you feel Rebecca's pain, her sense of urgency and the struggle that she cannot overcome. It's a heart-breaking situation that happens more than we would like to admit. Fortunately for Rebecca, she gets the opportunity to take herself out of the hell that she had been living in for so long.

She goes to a boarding school in Israel and reinvents herself. She learns for the first time in her life what friendship means. Perchance because of her past struggles and pains, Rebecca is more sensitive to her peers and displays a deeper understanding in many ways. As the books draws on, the reader will notice that in typical teenage fashion, there are definite moments of raging hormones and dramatic highs and lows. And, of course, what group of teenage girls would be complete without agonizing over boys?

As Rebecca finally begins to appreciate herself and develop some self-confidence along her journey, I felt my own mood becoming more buoyant. It was a hard earned lesson that she had to travel half way around the world to learn. The author leaves the book open-ended. We never get to see what happens when she finally goes back home. But perhaps that is for the reader to interpret. In one way or another, is it possible that we have experienced or known a Rebecca in our lives? In this reader's imagination, Rebecca attained her own apex of survival with the steadfast resolve that she found within herself.

Next Year In Israel is thought provoking and poignant. It teaches us not to take things for granted. Life is always worth living.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Axis Mundi Sum

This book is strangely entertaining. It is also just plain strange. I don't mean strange as in The Well at the World's End by William Morris. No, I mean strange as in disjointed, jumbled and as fulfilling as eating warm chocolate chip cookies without cold milk.

Axis Mundi Sum by D.A. Smith
The characters are spread too thinly, though they get themselves into engaging situations, there is no real resolution. Don't get me wrong, there are moments of wit, anticipation and dark bouts of humor. But mostly, it seems depressing and full of angst.

The plot. I seem to have lost the plot. Or perhaps there was a minor summation at some point, but the main point of a plot seems lost here. Interesting characters are introduced and placed into scenes ranging from ultimate danger to the supernatural. There are too many moments of anticipation, flipping from page to page, hoping for the story to develop and realizing more disappointment. Even the author, for some reason, inserts himself as a character in the book. 

It is haphazard and almost seems like a culmination of someone's psychedelic magical mushroom ride.

All of that said, it is a book you can read and not give another thought. You can feel as entertained as you allow yourself to be and take it as it is, don't search for a deeper meaning. Seriously, don't. You'll go nuts. 

Though I was given a copy of this book to review, I honestly don't think it would have appealed to me in a book store. I can't recommend this book for everyone or say that it's the most amazing thing I've ever read, but I will say that you should give it a whirl on a snow day when you're trapped in your house with bowl of soup and a candle.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Club Rules

When you've been out of the game a while, it's hard to remember the hard and fast rules. At times, it's even a bit intimidating to dip your toe in the dating pond.

The Club Rules
I don't generally like reading self help books. Personally, I enjoy the world of fiction. But this book was a straight-forward, simple reminder of the levelheadedness that we've set aside in the real world of dating.

The Club Rules, by Kimberly D. and Johnny Mac, helps you reassess what you've been missing on the dating front. I read this book with my husband and we both had a good laugh with the advice doled out to both "girls" and "boys" in the dating world. We were even able to point out little things that we indelibly followed in the dating scene... Of course, that was eons ago. 

In our current reality, saturated with social networking and complex technologies, we sometimes forget that real-world interaction has a different set of rules. It is an insightful guide based on the author's experience and logic. After all, common sense isn't so common.

"Have fun, be wild, be plugged into your gamer mode, but know when to turn it off and have a meaningful conversation. Even video game geeks get off the couch to hang out with friends every once in a while."

If you're new to the dating scene, or even if you've been there done that, everyone can use a little refresher here and there. Give "The Club Rules" a chance. It'll make you laugh and remind you that a little human interaction is a wonderful thing.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Metamorphosis

Take time to slow down and smell the roses.
Forever, I've heard the colloquialism without giving it much credence. But after reading The Metamorphosis, I realize that perhaps it really is time to slow down and take a moment to savor life.
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
It's eerie enough that this book published in the early 1900's seems more valid now than ever. A society anesthetized on callous mediocrity exists on the pages of Metamorphosis. It's a warning of the not so distant future that encompasses a society; busy keeping their heads down and working nonstop, they begin to lose their humanity.

A deep divide is created. People are valued only by their ability to outperform their neighbor. There is no self-worth as an individual. The story predicts the future of women as the major presence in the workforce. Women become the major bread winners who have pushed out most men from high paying, lucrative careers.

Roughly characterized are individuals who epitomize two major insect categories: the beetle that keeps its head down and scurries on, and parasites that leech onto healthy host subjects and suck them dry. So is the life of Gregor Samsa, the main character. In a trifecta of evolution, Gregor begins as a vital male worker, a traveling salesman who clocks countless hours to provide for his mother, father and sister. He is never able to fulfill his family's sense of entitlement. They accrue more debt and never show a drop of sympathy for his back-breaking work loads. Instead of any love, they depict a detached tolerance for Gregor.

Gregor himself has become immune to the callous treatment of his parents and sister. He only pushes himself harder because he equates a larger paycheck to love from his family. As he comes and goes, constantly in a chaotic jumble of motion, he has lost all of his traits as a man. Then, one day, he wakes up to find himself metamorphosed into an insect. A beetle, to be exact.

Everything goes downhill from there. In twist of irony, Gregor becomes more human-like with his feelings and emotions. In place of tolerance, his father begins to abuse him. His weak mother is unable to handle his physical change and begins to ignore him. Grete, his sister, becomes more visible and begins to replace Gregor as a provider. Grete comes to resent the useless beetle that her brother has become.

Even in with his final breath, Gregor is more devoted to his family than ever, believing that his death would benefit everyone. They take everything from him. His pride, his humanity, his dignity. Perhaps society is also to blame. It has come to a boiling point where generations have indoctrinated themselves with a vicious rapacity. The ultimate goal in mind has become avarice.

The story is powerful and moving. It causes the reader to feel a deep sorrow for the helplessness of a dehumanized and neglected man.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A poem! A poem! My kingdom for a poem!

No, I am not the great William Shakespeare. Nor am I King Richard III. But what would I give to be intrigued by a present day poet?

The thought occurred to me after re-reading Send Bygraves, by Martha Grimes.
Send Bygraves by Martha Grimes
I admit, the first time I read this book nearly 20 years ago, I didn't quite grasp the delicate intricacies in this esoteric poem of Stygian-esque gloom. Then again... I was twelve.

Fast forward into present day, definitely older, if not a drop not wiser. I felt myself being drawn in to this grim tale of dark humor and bizarre mayhem.

Send Bygraves is a deceptively short poem, easy to read yet harder to deconstruct. Bygraves, the shadowy detective who exists within the parameters of every character's psyche is the immediate "go to" when there is a murder. Almost codependent upon Bygraves, are the well meaning survivors who treat him as a source of comfort. With the cry of "send Bygraves" resounding throughout the book, the reader must dig a little deeper to realize that the grand detective could potentially be the killer, the victim, the pawn.

Yet Bygraves always has the last laugh. His obscure presence has him appearing and disappearing at a moments notice. He is called at a scene of a murder, only for us to realize that he has already come and gone. If a character has something to hide, then there is a sense of looming dread at the thought of Bygraves unearthing every detail.  Beware sinister thoughts or guilty secrets, for there may be a killer in place of the detective that comes in the darkness.

Perhaps that is the ultimate factoid. Bygraves is conscience, fear, despair, hope and joy.

The poetry is whimsical and abstruse, with an underlying sensibility within the chaos. You can simply take it at face value, enjoying the prose and never delving into the realm of the author's cryptic meanings. Or you can dig deeper. But please heed this warning: it will be a great challenge to unravel this nebulous knot of mystery.