Monday, July 30, 2012

Scarlett's Review of 'I Couldn't Love You More'


  • Paperback: 432 pages
  •  Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  •  Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446584622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446584623

My Review

Jillian Medoff's poignant story, I Couldn't Love You More, is a cautionary tale of the risks of playing it safe, being the good girl, chasing after validation and being on the fence when it comes to commitment when your heart is not in it: it is trapped in the past.  When the power of an old lover holds the dangerous allure of what might-have-been, the quest for resolution and healing of old wounds becomes more important to Eliot than living in the here-and-now with a real man, his two children, ex-wife and the problems that go along with them.

Medoff teases out the dangerous trap of the 'in love' mythology as she unravels the ties that bind Eliot to each of her family members. Eliot's inability to leave the past behind begins to destroy her family.  Her fear of being left ultimately haunts her as she reacts to her old lover as if a stranger to herself. The 'real' Eliot was a wounded, misunderstood, child who would never compromise the emotional stability of her children.  Who is this new Eliot?  This stranger?  Eliot's internal dialogue pulls the reader in to this moving, human, story of a woman's confusion on her painful path to personal clarity. The ties that bind fray when boundaries stretch too far, then familiarity becomes foreign and one stands separated from those who once shared confidences.  The intimacy that sustained her is gone. Eliot senses the Earth shift beneath her when crisis confronts her family.  

I Couldn't Love You More is an incredible story! Most of the story reads in beautiful prose, with logical flow and a well developed story line. However, I must say that I felt the ending was too convenient.The resolution of all of Eliot's troubled relationships, after such a catastrophe, seemed unrealistic.  Aside from that, this story earned a well-deserved 5 of 5 hearts!

Disclaimer:  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  My review reflects my honest opinion of the work.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Scarlett's Review of 'The Innocent', by David Baldacci

A well-written, fast-paced, action-packed, thriller!

Book Description
Publication Date: April 17, 2012

America has enemies--ruthless people that the police, the FBI, even the military can't stop. That's when the U.S. government calls on Will Robie, a stone cold hitman who never questions orders and always nails his target. But Will Robie may have just made the first--and last--mistake of his career.

It begins with a hit gone wrong. Robie is dispatched to eliminate a target unusually close to home in Washington, D.C. But something about this mission doesn't seem right to Robie, and he does the unthinkable. He refuses to kill. Now, Robie becomes a target himself and must escape from his own people.

Fleeing the scene, Robie crosses paths with a wayward teenage girl, a fourteen-year-old runaway from a foster home. But she isn't an ordinary runaway-her parents were murdered, and her own life is in danger. Against all of his professional habits, Robie rescues her and finds he can't walk away. He needs to help her.

Even worse, the more Robie learns about the girl, the more he's convinced she is at the center of a vast cover-up, one that may explain her parents' deaths and stretch to unimaginable levels of power. Now, Robie may have to step out of the shadows in order to save this girl's life . . . and perhaps his own.

Product Details (per Amazon) 

·        File Size: 678 KB
·        Print Length: 433 pages
·        Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0446572993
·        Publisher: Grand Central Publishing 
·        Sold by: Hachette Book Group
·        Language: English
·        ASIN: B006VFLIYK

My Review

David Baldacci puts the reader through a fast-paced obstacle course in The Innocent, never allowing time to decompress as the story unfolds in terse chapters, averaging about 3 pages in length.  This rapid-fire delivery gives the reader a feel for Will Robie’s complicated life.  We begin to feel conflicted about Will.  He’s a “stone cold killer” and all, but, geeze, the guy’s life stinks! …and, all for the good of the country?

Hints of chinks in Will’s armor become evident as he deviates from his usual MO of kill-or-be-killed and becomes the protector of a young girl.  His humanity creeps further out from hiding when he admits his attraction to two, very different, women.  As he lets down his guard and interacts with them, his social skills are laughable.  His idea of seductive repartee is just shy of a grunt…yet, we understand.  The poor guy’s charisma has taken a beating: his charm blunted by years of trying to avoid bullets and bombs. Who has time for such nicety's? If Will reaches the ripe old age of 45, it will be a miracle …and most likely from the vantage point of a coffin.

The part of The Innocent that stretched reality too much for me was the concept that this “stone cold killer” has latent altruistic tendencies that would make Gandhi humble.  I mean, really, I’ve reared 4 teenagers and the only thing that kept me from killing them was a fear that my gene pool would die out!  So, how can I believe a killer would put up with Julie: a cheeky 14 yr-old, wise-cracking, smart-a##, girl who thinks she knows everything?  Come on, wouldn’t he just shoot her with his trusty Glock and be done with her?  I’m tempted, and I don’t have his creds. (BTW, I’m kidding about my children, of course.  I would never harm them. They are my last line of defense against Nursing Home admission.)

On the subject of ‘shooting’, there is one part of the book that, I must say, I found troubling and extremely offensive. Early in the story, Baldacci included the gruesome murder of an infant.  I almost stopped reading the book at that point. This inclusion contributed nothing to the story line and certainly distanced me from the book, and author. Aside from that disturbing fact, the book is well written and engaging.  Over-all, The Innocent earned 3 of 5 hearts from this reviewer.

Disclaimer:  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  My review reflects my honest opinion of the work.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Music of Wheels Rolls Over You...

I don’t normally write music reviews, but just try to stop me from writing this one!  Wheels, a group of five young musicians from Yellow Springs, is too exciting to over-look.  A band that shows promise of becoming a ‘super’ band began with a couple of young men, Sam Salazar and Rory Papania, tinkering around with instruments at Friend's Music Camp, when they were in elementary school.   
The duo developed into a trio when Jamie Scott added his many talents, and later became a quartet with an unusual twist when Sam Crawford added his voice and his stand-up bass.  The group rounded out to an unstoppable musical vehicle with five wheels when Conor Stratton: guitarist, vocalist, sound 'mixologist' and composer, joined the group.
Wheels has become a musical phenomenon in the greater Dayton area.  The skill of these boys is astounding. The band is so successful, I think, because each member brings not only vocal and musical gifts to the group, but each contributes written compositions.  The result is a blend of five styles, harmonies and instruments that has a unique flavor of Americana, folk and rhythm & blues suggestive of Neil Young, Bob Dylan and America. Anyone who listens to the melody and harmony of ‘Tired Eyes Waltz’ is sure to hear suggestions of the great harmonizing bands of the 60’s, particularly the Beach Boys and Beatles.  

The music of Wheels is so compelling it rolls over you, overcoming you. Before you realize it, you’ve fallen victim to a ‘hit’.  You can’t run.  You find yourself rocking and swaying, elbow-to-elbow with kids that look like they still might carry hall passes. Age, and all that nonsense, fades behind the exuberance of their music and the energy it creates in the crowd.  I must admit that I’m not one for crowds. But, standing in a crowd, listening to them, while being squished by excited fans, is quite an experience and one I would recommend. There is nothing like it. 
Just listening to Sam break out on the mandolin (yes, you heard me right) and cut loose vocally on Sticks and Stones’, hearing Rory singing about Those Days’ , or watching  Sam Crawford's fingers flying on that bass fiddle in  Only’,  was enough to make me a fan.  But, when Jamie started jamming on his harmonica in I’m Goin Back’, with its hints of gospel, and pulling at my heart with his touching vocals of ‘Sit Down’ and My Ohio’ : about his fear of leaving home, and I listened to Conor sing his haunting ballad,'O Sara… I was gone!  Memories of jamming to Crosby Stills Nash & Young (‘CSNY’ to those who lived it!) took me over any thresh hold of restraint and made me a die-hard fan. So, don’t get between me and my autographs, if you know what’s good for you! 

I’ve never been a ‘groupie’ in my life but, I realized I’d become one when a lady tried to edge me away from my turn at the autograph table after one of their recent performances, saying she’d ‘driven all the way from KY’. She wasted valuable time trying to play on my sympathy when we could have been chatting up the band. (FYI, it did her no good at all.  She had to wait her turn!) 

I’m not the only Wheels nut rolling around trying to push my way through crowds at their standing-room-only performances.   You’ll be just as hooked when you check out this site to listen to and buy these great songs.  Become a fan, share this post on your blogs, follow their blog, and ‘like’ these talented musicians on Face Book. Do what you can to promote this group of young men.  Tweet about them.  Become part of the grass-roots organization that will help these boys fulfill their dream of creating music that is true to their creative instincts and inspiring to their audience.  Treat yourself to their album and try to get admission to one of their next performances.  But, don’t get between me and the entrance.  No cuts allowed! I get mean when I’m trying to get my Wheels’ groove on.  
Buy their original CD, Fields on Fire’ on their website and look for their CD, 'Big Feeling' which is being released in AugustYou can buy the CD’s at one of their upcoming shows, or stop in and buy them at: · Brother Bear and Toxic Beauty Records in Yellow Springs
· Omega Music and The Record Gallery in Dayton
· Shake It Records in Cincinnati

Contact Conor Stratton  for details on booking Wheels for special events.  Take a look and listen to this video clip and you’ll realize booking them is a solid investment.

Here’s a sampling of what others are saying about Wheels

“Wheels (Yellow Springs, OH) have been tearing up the summer festival scene and it seems that everyone is taking notice. Even Donna Jean Godchaux of Grateful Dead fame came out to see the band perform... The guys sounded better than ever as they played tunes from their debut CD Fields of Fire.”
“They have a sound that is similar to the leaders of today’s folk revival, namely Mumford and Sons, Dr. Dog and the Avett Brothers, with vocal harmonies reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel, and instrumentation similar to American Beauty-era Grateful Dead; something to please every music lover’s sensibility.”
“When I first arrived at Canal Street Tavern Sunday, May 27, I could barely believe my eyes. We were there to see the group Wheels for the second time in less than a week so I was expecting a decent crowd. But the last time I saw a crowd like this at Canal Street was at the last Werksgiving a year or two ago... Perhaps their youth is the first thing you notice about the band, but that quickly goes away the moment the boys pick up their instruments. These guys take the stage with the confidence you rarely see from young artist... The guys from Wheels have a bright future ahead of them and it was an honor to be a part of this great night. ”
 “If Brian Wilson had started the Beach Boys in 1930′s Kentucky, they would have sounded like Wheels. The Yellow Springs folk prodigies possess a maturity and depth far beyond their years. They sing songs of love lost and nostalgic ballads for sweet home Ohio. Hearing them, you’d think they’d been playing bluegrass their whole lives.”

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