Margitte's Reviews

Margitte's Reviews

Historical fiction, mysteries, family, travel journals, memoirs, crime thrillers. I Just love a good read.


"I live life with passion, compassion, a sense of humor and some style" - Dr. Maya Angelou.

0 Stars
The 7th Woman by Frédérique Molay
The 7th Woman - Frédérique Molay, Anne Trager

Anne Trager did the world a favor when she decided to translate French crime novels for our pleasure. What a joy!

The blurb points it out very well:
"Winner of France's prestigious Prix du Quai des Orfèvres prize for best crime fiction, named Best Crime Fiction Novel of the Year, and already an international bestseller with over 150,000 copies sold."

Well, dive into the life and world of the French super cop, Chief of Police, Nico Sirsky, when one after the other female bodies appear on their computer screens. What begins as just one murder, change into six others within six days, with the victims being closer in relation to Nico Sirsky. Brutal, ruthless and macabre. That is the only words that can describe the serial murders by someone who knows his stuff. And he has a grudge against Nico Sirsky. 

Divorced, lonely, and suddenly in love, Sirsky has his hands full, especially when his ex-wife turns off on her own side track and leaves his teenage son for him to raise. The sources of his emotional pirouettes over the hot coals of doubt and desperation, are lack of sleep, as well as too many people in his inner circle becoming suspects.

A page-turner, a sleep-stealer, a grim adventure! But an excellent addition to the crime thriller genre. 

One little glitch though: the quotes from the Bible might be correct, but it is unlikely for non religious people to conjure up instantaneous memory of them. Even devoted Christians might find it a challenge so off the cuff. That was not convincing.

Nonetheless, my first encounter with Anne Trager's translations, was 'The Paris Lawyer' by Sylvie Granotier. 'The 7th Woman' can be regarded as one of the best, but not totally on the same level as far as literary mastery is concerned. It's purely a scientific, investigative tour de force, but equally enjoyable to read though. Enough to inspire me to find the rest of them! Besides, it was written in good taste, not causing the loss of one thunderous drama beat in the highly suspenseful narrative. 

This copy was provided through for review.

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
3.5 Stars
End of Enemies by Grant Blackwood
The End of Enemies - Grant Blackwood

An action-packed war novel with Briggs Tanner as the protagonist and hero. An international political drama for the drama seekers.

A few quotes from the book:"As a child, the surest way to get Briggs to take on a challenge was to tell him it was either impossible or the answer was a mystery."

As an agent of one of America's numerous government agencies, Briggs stumbled upon a man getting murdered in his presence. By probing the murder, he comes across an international crisis , instigated by a World War II secret, waiting to happen, with various countries involved, including Japan. The epicenter of the planned Doom's Day is Lebanon.

"For decades Lebanon had been the world’s chosen surrogate battlefield. Superpowers played their spy games, tested their weapons, exercised their tactics and strategies, and Lebanon paid in blood and ruination." 

"We’ve a better grasp of how funds are transferred from sponsor governments to the command structures of terrorist groups. Money is the key. We can’t dampen a terrorist’s fervor; we can’t cut off their source of training; and we can’t hope diplomatic measures will curtail covert support of these groups. "

The many typos hindered the story, but for readers interested in this kind of book, it is still a familiar and hopefully satisfying experience. It answers to the need for high-speed action, typical of modern war fare movies. It can become a good movie for war junkies indeed.

An easy read, text flowing smoothly along, characters well developed and the story line strong. It won't disappoint.

4 Stars
After Before by Jemma Wayne
After Before - Jemma Wayne

After Before by Jemma Wayne    


For the widow Lynn, her two sons John and Luke, as well as Lukes's fiancé, Vera, and Rwandan refugee Emily, happiness were abandoned a long time ago.


Secrets and hurt After Before, led them slowly and quietly into darkness. Mentally, emotionally, as well as physically, they were slowly dying because of the wounds from their respective pasts that were still mentally bleeding them dry. 


Luke found solace in his dedication to Jesus. It did not matter how his insecurities or strong urge to control, reflected on other people. He was the responsible one; the decision maker, the one calling the shots.


John found his solution in theater and making people laugh.


Lynn had her valuable porcelain collections and her paintings behind a locked door. She gave up her dreams of becoming a historical fiction writer, to fit into her late husband Philip's world and raise her two boys. She secretly treasured her own ambitions and dreams, painting it all onto multiple-colored canvasses where nobody could see them behind the locked door of her studio. 


Vera wanted her savior to be Luke. She wanted to start a new life after drugs, a tragedy, and a mentally abusive relationship with Charles. She wanted to be pure and good and keep her secret hidden from her family and fiancé. But the estrangement from her parents, her decision to become religious and her fear of losing Luke, brought her to a point where the silence became devastating.


Emily, the Rwandan Tutsi refugee, had to endure the truth behind her mother's words: you can outrun the things outside your body, but not the truth hidden inside it. Her lonely road deeper into hell was non-negotiable. She wanted to be left alone with her sorrow in her own silent world that deafened her.


" And all at once, there was an alternative" which none of them ever explored until terminal cancer was diagnosed in Lynn. 


They were forced to open up the chest of darkness, exposing their inner turmoil to searing light. None of them was able to escape while time was running out. The resentment, hatred, insecurities and traumatic memories began their ascend towards light, towards real forgiveness and redemption.


This is a powerful, intense, introspective novel. One that leaves the reader in deep reverie and retrospection. Very well written. There were gentleness, and brutality; insecurity and grace.

I think of the concept 'emotionally charged' when I think back on the experience. A beautiful read. It is a book I would like to read again and can highly recommend it. However, the ending was too much of a cliffhanger in some ways, to really complete the emotional roller coaster ride. But still a very commendable read despite of it. The Rwandan genocide places this book in the historical fiction genre, since an important part of African history is highlighter in the book. I am, however, not sure if it was meant to be classified as such. But it was done brilliantly.


3 Stars
The Truth Will Out
The Truth Will Out - Jane Isaac

Detective Chief Inspector Helen Lavery learnt a valuable lesson from her late father, James, a well-respected detective in his own right, when he said: Don't get upset or afraid with the death threats of an acrimonious criminal on trial. It is only the ‘shallow thoughts of a condemned man.’ But was he right? 

She became as successful as he in her profession, while raising her two sons, Matthew and Robert, on her own, after her husband's death ten years earlier. Life was busy, but uncomplicated for her. She was well-known as an assiduous detective in the Hampton Branch of the Homicide and Serious Crime Squad. Her colleagues were trustworthy and hardworking: Superintendent Jenkins, Sergeant Sean Pemberton. However, the same could not be said of Detective Inspector Dean Fitzpatrick. He knew how to play her like a violin and she could not resist falling in love with his melodies. That was a few years ago, and she never forgave him. And now he was back to solve a case in which they would collide as well as corroborate and things are not going well at all. 

So much changed insidiously for all of them. The past, instead of the present, was now more relevant than ever before. It predicted the future and everyone is caught off guard, so to speak.

Eva Carradine and Naomi Spence were best friends since early childhood. There was no reason for either one of them to ever distrust the other. They had a bond stronger than family. But then Eva witnessed an assault on her best friend and sharing a dangerous secret with her friend, she took off, trying to get as far away as possible. Some people were in hot pursuit, with the police not quite on par with her involvement yet. 

For those of you who enjoy the different British detective series on television and love murder mysteries, like I do, will appreciate this fast-moving, entertaining, light-read. However, it is serious enough to be noted, but not hitting the horror- or nightmare zones in any way. 

The story revolves around two murders, with every person related to it having to deal with unresolved issues from their past before the case could be solved. Even the criminals had their stories to tell. Relationships would be tested, between family, friends and work colleagues. The situation demanded of everyone to personally reconsider their motives, action as well as decisions to end the tragedy. I am not giving away any clues!

Like all books, the beginning is slow, introducing all the characters, the scenario, and the plot. But then it picks up pace and before you know it, you're zoning in on Hampton, England and growl for any interference, such as a ringing telephone, or even the cat jumping through the window! I felt like hanging a 'for heaven's sake, do not disturb!'-sign on my closed door, even though I had a strong suspicion of the outcome! 

Legend Press has never disappointed in their choice of new authors. I received this book through NetGalley for review. And enjoyed it. It is a well-written murder mystery for female readers. Definitely not chic-lit.

5 Stars
Lucky Us by Amy Bloom
Lucky Us: A Novel - Amy Bloom

"Family isn't always blood. It's the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are; the ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what." - author unknown.

This is the expression I was thinking of when I read this book. And after reading it, I had to let it simmer for a while. Yes, it is one of those books! 

Lucky Us is so multidimensional that it will take a while to think it over. There's the moral dilemmas versus the unscripted destinies; the narcissism versus altruism; the versions of history written by ourselves versus the one written for us by others. And when all these elements blend into each other, a story such as Lucky Us becomes possible. Profound, shocking, endearing, and mostly believable. It is as much relevant as historical fiction as it is about family and the bonds that are redefined: old ones negated and new ones formed out of necessity as prescribed by destiny. 

1939 - 1949
The theme of the book is not new. The Holocaust - pre- and post events. What makes it different, and worth reading, is the American history, some events in America itself, impacting the family's lives, added to the millions of books written about the subject. This story revolves around a father, Edgar V. Aton, and his two daughters, Eva & Iris, who found themselves destined for hardship or happiness when his first wife dropped off Eva at his second wife's home after the latter passed away. Iris was the daughter from his second marriage. From Ohio to Hollywood, to New York, to Germany, to Israel: the journey to finally come to terms with their own choices. Destiny would lead them through avenues of flimflammery, of surrealism, to be ultimately confronted by the truth, which none of them ever thought possible. Deception and dishonesty finally collided with reality and integrity. Hope finally wrote their own new history. 

The rich cast of characters include:

Eva: autodidact, who becomes the biggest con artist of them all: the psychic, with a sign in her shop window stating "ASSOCIATION FOR METAPHYSICAL RESEARCH" . The young girl who had to clean up after everyone else, and who eventually concluded that : "father had been a beaker of etiquette and big ideas, Iris was a vase of glamour, and I was the little brown jug of worry." 
Iris: narcissistic, yet surprisingly kind when it suited her; 
Francisco: the make-up artist, the Mexican gay man who would become Eva's mainstay;
Edgar V. Acton(né Isador Vogel): the conman, womanizer, but also wise mentor in his children's lives;
Clara Williams - twenty years younger than Edgar, the Negro woman with the magical voice and the conscience
Torellis - fairy-tale Italian family - who made their lives bearable;
Reenie & Gus (who became Karl Hauser, then Gersh Hoffman, Jewish schoolteacher) - the cook and the mechanic, who brought substance and meaning into their lives;
Then there is Carnie, Bea and Ozzie Patterson and finally Danny, the orphan, who found an unlikely bond within the newly chosen family. Love has a magical way of defining destiny for all of them.

The well-written prose (particularly the epistolary alternation in the rhythm of the tale), the story line, the surprise elements, the constant drama and the detailed history in the book, kept me glued to the story. I was constantly awed by the immense, mind-blowing, detail behind the characters' thoughts, geographical-, as well as historical surroundings, the music, cuisine, literature, day-to-day activities, political landscape, landmarks, everything! It was also my first encounter with the author's work and it will not be the last. This quality of prose does not pass one by often. 

RECOMMENDED TO EVERYONE! In fact: a must-read for the more serious reader.

The book is destined for publication in July, 2014.
It was provided as an ARC by Random House through

5 Stars
To Helen Back by Susan McBride

This is the sixth book of Susan McBride I have read, and it is the sixth time I loved every minute of doing so!

Book blurb: "In this fun and sassy new mystery, USA Today bestselling author Susan McBride introduces us to Helen Evans, a modern-day Miss Marple who must expose a murderer in a town full of suspects!"

Milton Grone was not the easiest man in town, and not a person anyone dashed off to become friends with. He is down-right scrooged, mean-spirited and sleek. Between Shotsie, his trophy bride, and Delilah, the incubator for his two sons, which he did not care about, a lot of love and admiration for him got lost as well. Then there were his parents, who did not feature him as the highest priority in their will, which embittered him even further. 

But oh dearie me, Miltie had it coming when he sold a piece of land to a developer, with many citizens up in arms. Added to this animosity, was Felicity's, his next-door neighbor's ilk about him stealing six inches of her land and harassing her daily over the fence.

So when the first bulldozers droned in to clear out the pristine natural haven for birds and plants, someone snapped in tiny River Bend, Illinois. Yes, Miltie has gone too far... or has he?

As Floyd Red Crow Westerman said: "The Clan Mothers ran everything and had the last word. I think that's the answer." 

Sheriff Biddle could have uttered the same Indian wisdom, since he had a partner in solving the mystery. Helen Evans, a modern-day Miss Marple, a puzzle-lover and busybody grandmother, who knew how to handle the hornets nest where her hen-parties played cards and networked about everything from their cats' meal schedules, to the town's latest intrigue and secrets. 

Satirical, fast-tracked, uncomplicated, relaxing, smart. That was my experience of To Helen Back by Susan McBride. This author is fast becoming my favorite author in this genre. It is, after all, not a genre I indulged in often. But she knows how to enchant readers like me with her murder mysteries. I just love the ambiance and style of her stories.

5 Stars
Busted Out by Marjorie DeLuca
Busted Out - Marjorie DeLuca

Although this is a book for young adults and not a genre I normally read, I immediately fell under the spell of this story of a group of senior high school kids who lost control over their destiny during their final school year. Within a short period of a few months, an unexpected, dangerous reality was taking over their dreams and aspirations in ways they could not have seen coming.

Kim, Katie, Nick, Jay and Mike hardly knew each other in classes. Each one of them harbored family situations which they all tried to hide in their different ways. What the outside world saw was confident young people making good grades over all. Some were regarded as arrogant party animals, and others were like wallflowers adorning the classrooms in their quiet, shadowy ways. But they all got away with the front they presented to the world, until they discovered the common goal and acted upon it with traumatic results.

All of them had one talent and that was for maths. Some were brilliant and others mediocre, but all of them found a way of using it for purposes other than academic achievements. The common goal was money. 

Between them the young people represented the results of abusive parents, driven by drug- and/or alcohol addiction, divorce, neglect, insecurity, and relationship failures, so typical of the modern collective psyche of our society, which confronts the children of the failed generations. Hope and enthusiasm were all they had to negotiate a way out of it all for themselves. And they made it! But not before someone was dead and all of them injured in some or other form. 

This is a fast-moving, suspenseful drama, keeping the reader riveted to the story from beginning to end. It highlights all aspects of parenting and responsibilities towards the children and how the parents' actions impact on the lives of the youngsters. On another level it educates a young generation on the consequences of choices they make themselves and the ripple effect it has on all the people around them. without being preachy. In fact, it is done masterfully. It is an emotionally-driven tale that captures the reader in every way possible. The author has the ability to read the reader's mind and emotions. She utilizes her skill of in-depth observation of human interaction to pull this story off successfully. I was sad when it ended. A brilliant novel. Although I did not identify with any of the characters, I loved them all and did not want them to go. But I walk away with a feeling of hope and happiness. I know they've got what it takes and will make it.

The Oak Park High School student film, All In produced by film maker, James McLellan, is based on this novel.

Anyone, of all ages, can read it. It is worth the time.


5 Stars
The Pitman's Daughter by Marjorie DeLuca

The Pitman's Daughter by Marjorie DeLuca

Rita was born and bred in Crag street, where "everything was bare and exposed. Life was raw and tough and, God knows, she’d tried hard to smooth out the rough edges she’d been left with."

The pitmen and their extended families called it home, but for most of them it felt more like a poverty trap they could not escape from. Coal mining defined everything they did or had. Black soot and dust colored their lives and stories. But Rita knew she would get away, and so did George. Despite the poverty and hardships, change was waiting to happen that would leave no one untouched. However, love was not easy to come by, but it did change everything when it happened. Sadly, it also did not happen for everyone who deserved it.

Comments: This book can be viewed as a blend of romance and historical fiction with a touch of excellence in detail that winds through the narrative from the beginning to end. The characters are authentic. It took a while to get into the story, but when it happened, reality lost out to this nostalgic tale about the inhabitants of Crag street in this small mining village in England.

Rita was one determined young lady who had to prove her ambitious dreams of escaping the circumstances and people she so despised. Nothing and no one in Crag street could ever make her happy. All she ever dreamed of was not only to get away, but also move as far away as possible. In this amazingly multileveled tale, her journey started out as the learning curve of a ten year-old girl, on her way into adulthood where she must find herself and learn unintentional, unplanned lessons on her way in searching for love and security. Some of those lessons were not supposed to be learnt by innocent young girls, but which, in the end, defined her in ways she never thought possible as an adult. It was only when she was forced to come full circle that she finally understood the real meaning of the brightly flowering lobelias and daisies in the coal miner gardens. But she first had to live out her aspirations, to understand where the strength of her own roots lay hidden and what really determined the core of her happiness.

What a thoroughly enjoyable read. It is once again one of those books that takes the reader into the intimate world of people and history that nobody, except the inhabitants, would have known otherwise. Detailed, descriptive, and fascinating, but also informative and well presented. 

The tale is rich, heartwarming, endearing, passionate, compassionate, sad, hopeful, beautiful. A brilliant piece of writing by a highly skilled author. 
!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
5 Stars
Freeman by Leonard J. Pitts Jr.
Freeman - Leonard Pitts Jr.
It is the end of the American civil war and slavery had just been abolished. People were jubilantly dancing in the streets of America. An era came to an end. 

Although it was one of the purposes of the war to establish freedom for everyone, nobody really seemed to grasp the real meaning of the concept. Those who finally gained their freedom were the least prepared for it. For most of them slavery was bad, but peace brought much worse consequences than ever envisioned. You could say the battle was won but the war was not over and some of the more optimistic celebrators did not know what was waiting on the other side. For those who never knew freedom, who were born in slavery, the thought of freedom was a highly unsettling and frightening idea. After all, people were still white, and other black. And the whites still regarded the black people as something similar to dogs or horses. Not human. No, not human at all.

"In physical deportment, intellectual capacity, and moral integrity, white men were set apart from all the other races of the world. That includes your red man, your yellow man, and most certainly, your black man.”

Bostonian Prudence Cafferty Kent's father warned her. “When this war is finished, when the Union is restored, this government will do nothing for the colored man. It will free him and then it will leave him to fend for himself in a hostile and resentful land. It will require people like us, people of means, to fill in the gaps.” 

In memory of her late father, she decided to move down south and establish a school for the newly freed slave children in a building belonging to her father. She wanted to make a difference. She felt it was her calling. Her husband gave his life to make a difference as well. She had to carry on their visions and wishes. But Prudence was an inexperienced, and a simply stubborn, mulish, headstrong person who envisioned herself as the savior of many. A person who thought that her wishes would become everyone else's commands. What she found in the little town Buford, Mississippi, would not only drastically clear up her misconceptions about life, and destroy innocent people's lives, but will also make her realize how damaging her actions were for the inhabitants of Buford she tried to help.

We have lost our homes and other property. We have lost our dignity and pride. We have lost our way of life and we have lost our country. By the holy God, how much more can you Northern people expect us to lose? Would you have us surrender our sacred place in the very order of creation? We will not meekly accept that. We cannot, if we wish to still consider ourselves white men. You will not prop the Negro up as our social or political equal. We will resist that with every means at our disposal, Mrs. Kent. We will resist for a hundred years, and more.”

The intolerance, resentment, bitterness and rebellion in the different groups are pushed to the limits with her arrival and the choices she made. 

Sam Freeman fled the south and landed up in Phillidelphia working as an assistant in a library when the good news arrived about the end of the war. He wanted to return to Buford to search for his wife Tilda, whom he left behind fifteen years earlier. It was a dangerous decision to make. He made an oath when he fled the bondage of Mrs. Louisa Prentiss down south, that he will return for his wife when he managed to establish a new life up north. He knew the time had come for him to go back to his roots in Mississippi. He walked a thousand miles and more, to honor the promise he made to himself. 

Tilda had her own story to tell. It was a life of hardship and hell that did not end with the signing of the peace treaty, since her 'owner' refused to give up his 'property'. She had no desire or aspirations to leave her master. The unknown and the uncertainty of a free life convinced her to stay, be loyal and endure. The known was intolerable, but still better than the unknown. 

Comments: Fastidious. Intense. Convincing. Excellent. What a stroke of luck it was to choose this book as my first read for 2014! I often read Leonard J. Pitt Jr's syndicated columns and had this book now for a few months stacked to be read. I love his writing style, so it was with excitement and joy that I opened this book last night and got going.

All I want to say is that it was an emotionally-charged, suspenseful read. The plot, the rawness of the events, the scenery and historical details in the book kept me reading from beginning to end without taking a break. I am not sure how well this book is received in the American psyche, but I do wish more people from all over the world can read it for the powerful message it contains about human dignity and respect and what people do to each other when one group, so often violently, is denying it to another.

There is such a wealth of pathos, character, and deeply moving moments in the book. There is the good the bad and the ugly. But mostly, there is an honesty of thought and intent rolled out in the rainbow of eloquent prose. 

I recommend this book to EVERYONE!
5 Stars
Daffodils by Alex Martin
Daffodils - Alex Martin

The first world war broke out in Europe

Young people from small, poor bucolic British families all dreamed of new possibilities and better lives if they signed up for the war. Most of them, in counties such as Wiltshire, had never been in London, many had never seen the sea. They eked out a living working for the gentry on their big estates with poverty standing like invisible perennial guards at their doors. There was hardly any escape possible until the war came.

Katy Beagle worked in the manor house as a personal maid when the son of the manor needed a little bit of fun before he departed for London to join the war effort. 

Young and inexperienced as she was, and bored to death with the prospect of being rooted to her situation for the rest of her life, Katy jumped at the opportunity to have some fun. It resulted in a huff and a lot of puff with a cloud of scandal threatening her good name and honor. Good, rock-solid Jem, the gardener, proposed again, and this time she had no other choice but to accept. And so begins the story of a young couple within the village dynamics of Wiltshire with the assortment of lovable, despicable, and delightful characters who share their lives for generations. But after the young vicar announced them husband and wife, the village openly released a sigh of relief. The scandal was short-lived and the couple could live happily ever after.

But that was not to be. Katy and Jem's paths through the deeply moving narrative exposes the highs and lows of two young people's inner turmoil with life and love, their first encounters in the adult world with heartbreak and hardship. The tale winds through a volatile time in world history and how it personally effected two young people but also their community. 

The horror of the First World War is portrayed with accuracy and emotion. The deprivations and devastation of the war is creatively and convincingly conveyed. All the elements to make this a great book is present: loyalty, weakness, betrayal, guilt, lies, sex, secrets, violence, an attempted suicide, heroism and finally love coupled with justice. All the people are real. So much so that the reader becomes emotionally attached to them and become emotionally invested in the turns and twists of the plot. Throughout the harsh reality of the war, there is still an almost ironic wholesomeness present in the young people's optimism and hope for a better future. Despite all the obstacles, the daffodils never seized to bloom among the privation and suffering of the war. 

Daffodils is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope which teaches us the power of resilience, integrity and true honor.

This book was a deeply emotional experience that managed to reach the inner core of my being. This is such a powerful story.

If you have enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, you will love this book as well.

Highly recommended.



!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
5 Stars
Sugaree Rising - by J. J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Sugaree Rising - J. Douglas Allen-Taylor

1936. South Carolina. There were talks before of the Sugaree river being dammed, but it came and went like the generations of Yay'saws in Yelesaw. "Papa’Budi, after all, had said all along the news of the dam was nothing but a whitefolks’ trick to get the Yay’saws off their land, merely the latest, in fact, in a longrunning series."

Papa'Budi announced he ain't moving anywhere. His ancestors rising, coming from the other side of the grave, will find him in his house. The house he built himself. It was the only place they knew where to find him and it was their home too.

"“Papa’Budi say the talk got so bad, a nigger from over to Sandy Station built a boat in he yard, waiting for the water to come,” Cu’n Boo had said. “Sit on he porch every evening with two or three fishpoles, waiting. Finally stopped putting out crop or fixing things up, him figure there ain’t no use iffen they going underwater. The boat stay there in that yard so long, Papa’Budi say the chicken take to sleeping in it, ‘til the nigger’ wife up and turn it to a roost. Ain’t no spillway never got itself builded, ain’t no flooding never get out to Sandy Station, and eventual, the county take that nigger’ land for taxes, and him had for move him family into St. Paul and take work out to the pulp mill.”

Now there were talks again, Bonk Jackson brought the news of the Watercoming, stirring up uncertainty and talk all over the rice fields down in the swamp communities. Only this time a mule-eyed stranger walked into the Sambuhouse, put his hand on Orry's casket and told the assemblage: “They’s a water coming, ain’t you know?” he answered, and his voice was becoming more agitated as he talked. “Water fixing to battle with Earth, and Water gon’ win, and cover all the land. This ‘uman ain’t belong down in that Water. Iffen you does try for put she in the ground , it won’t accept she.”

Why Orry died was a mystery. "Her step had seemed just as firm as always , her arms as strong, her eyes as bright. There were no signs of sickness leading up to her final days that anyone could remember, even with the great vision of hindsight. The last week of her life she scattered feed to the chickens and leavings to the pigs and sang the clothes out on the line eevery morning and hummed them back in every evening and spent long hours over her cooking and healing pots, the same as she had always done, as ever as they had known her. But something dropped Orry down low just after dark one silver-moon, sliver -moon night and she went straight to her bed as soon as she had served supper to her sister and father. She did not rise the next morning but lay with a wheezling breath and great fever sweat on her forehead and cheeks. That alarmed Budi Manigault to no end, but by the time he’d sent Soo rushing across the yard to fetch Ná’Risa, it was already too late. Orry Manigault wavered between dark and light after that, her eyes fluttering unfocused, unresponsive to queries and concerns, and never said another mumbling word. She died just before daylight four days later, after being roused by a great fit of bloody coughing. What had hurried her off, no-one could guess."

Yally Kinlaw could visualize the Watercoming. Rain and rain and rain for days on end. Torrents of rain. Buckets of rain. Barrelful after barrelful dumped down without pause on the land. 

She saw the water overflowing the Sugaree river and the Swamp and rising, rising, nothing holding it back, covering the Bigyard and then the porch steps and all the porches, then whole houses up to the tops of the chimneys, washing over sheds and chickenyards and chickenpens and all the fields out back. Blackeels and golden minnows and rainbow crappie passed by in the dim light of murky waters, gliding in and out of open windows, swimming into cupboards. 

This time the water will be for real. The delegation sent to the meeting with the State Senator, the County High Sheriff and the Probate Judge, brought back confirmation. The decision taken in Washington was as good as set in stone. Unmovable. Land belonging to the Adams Neck community, such land located between the Sugaree and the Blacksnake Rivers in Cantrell County, South Carolina will be swapped acre for acre or paid out...

It is a story about one of the isolated communities and its people, centering mostly around the trials and tribulations of the families of Papa'Budi and Papa'Tee. There is humor and hardship, long tales and short stories and women who healed the hungry and the sick with the power of their hands and minds. It tells the story of men working in their rice fields and keeping important decisions as secrets among themselves and honor a deep bond with the Blacksnake river where history was written in skeletons and songs and only the elected few would receive the visions to relate it back to the community. A place where hoodoo and the mojo-bones were the unspoken guarantee of truth.

Yally received messages from the ancestors, which she found hard to trust or relate to the community. It would take a long line of events one day to lead her to except who she was and what her purpose among her people would become. She was recognized by only one other person, Baba’Zambu, and he wasn't talking. 

The endearing and deeply-moving story is told with a wealth of colorful prose, a depth of history and a warmth of memories. Unique expressions fills the narrative from top to bottom.Maybe Pap reckon you ain’t the panicky type, no matter what we come’cross back there. You married Cu’n Ula, inna’? That took some courage, I’m’a tell you. And you come over and told my uncle you’ intention, face to face, on he own porch. Shit, son, that took nuts big as a boarhog.”

"Sugaree Rising is a work of fiction that combines two historical events that never actually came together in real life. The first was the Santee Cooper Project, the building of the Pinopolis Dam in Berkeley County, South Carolina, in the late 1930’ s that created the two lakes— Moultrie and Marion— that split the Carolina Lowcountry landscape up the middle.

The second historical event around which “Sugaree” revolves was the gradual breaking down— from the 1930’ s to the present day— of the geographic and cultural isolation that had originally created one of the most unique peoples in the United States: the Gullah of the Southeastern sea islands." - author.

I recommend this book to everyone. It is one of those treasures which accidentally appear on our walk of life and take root in our souls to stay. It is also one of the most beautiful pieces of enriching prose I have read this year, actually, in recent years. You simply must read it!

5 Stars
Blue Blood (Debutante Dropout Mystery, #1) by Susan MacBride
Blue Blood - Susan McBride

Molly O’Brien had a tough life after she chose to drop her fashion design classes at the Columbia College in Chicago where she shared a room with her best friend Andy Kendricks from Texas. They met at school when foster child Molly was admitted to a prestigious school for wealthy kids through a scholarship. An illustrious affair with a Hemmingway wanne-be convinced Molly that love could conquer all. She followed him to Paris, fell pregnant, got dropped and had to move back to Texas, where she found a job at the hot-spot restaurant "Jugs". 

She is accused of murdering the owner, Bud Hartman, and desperate for help, contacts Andy, whom she hasn't seen for ten years.

Rebellious Andy immediately steps in to help the only real friend she ever had. The friendship was not exactly what Andy's mother, Cissy, a Texan high-society dame, had in mind for her heiress daughter. Molly was from the wrong side of the tracks. But Andy made it her mission to buck the system her whole life, like refusing to be a debutante on her 18th birthday, and studying graphic design and computers when she, as a trust fund baby, never had to work.

With her unending love for Nancy Drew and the television series Law & Order, Andy gets to work on solving the murder mystery. Any bra size is possible with the right shoulder pads strategically positioned. Combined with serious hot pants, she did not have much trouble in getting a job at "Jugs" as a waitress to try and find the real killers of the dangerous owner. 

"Jugs" is more than just eye candy for men, thorns in the eyes of the Mother of Porn - ladies, the Women’s Wellness Clinic, and points of interested to Reverend Jim Bob.`

There is a lot of appetites to be satisfied in the ensuing drama, adventure, and mystery. As Dolly Parton can attest to: Jugs can be a lot more than weapons of mass distraction and feisty Andy knows how to achieve just that!

My comments: It's a chic-lit book for young women, containing all the elements to demarcate the target audience perfectly. All the young women who ever played a role as a PI, especially a contemporary element of Nancy Drew, are included. The background includes a touch of a Paris Hilton, the reality tv-seriesThe Reals Housewives of Texas, and a similarity with the restaurant-chainShooters. It is a delightful, enchanting and fun read. There's lots of love lost, but for various reasons other than romance! 

Oh, I identified the murderer right from the start. It felt good for a change!

Star rating:
Plot 1; drama 1; character building 1; satire 1; social comment 1. Five stars in this genre. 

In fact, I enjoyed it so much, it was presented in such good taste, I would love to read more in this Debutante Dropout Series of 5 books: Blue Blood (#1); The Good Girl's Guide To Murder (#2); The Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club (#3); Night of the Living Deb (#4); Too Pretty to Die (#5). 

Yes, imagine me enjoying this genre! Unthinkable, but very true in this case!

ARC received from



Review with more information is available on my blog:

5 Stars
Eyes Closed Tight by Peter Leonard
Eyes Closed Tight - Peter Leonard

Pompano Beach, Florida. Beautiful nice, hot weather, blue ocean vistas, shorts and tops, endless sandy beaches, long cool drinks, good company, delicious sea food. You get it, right? 

No, actually, you don't! Forty-five year old Oak O'Claire was happy in his retirement from the Detroit Police Force, managing Pirate’s Cove, the motel he bought on the beach front. His personal life couldn't get better with the beautiful twenty-six year old Virginia at his side who knew more about maintenance than he could ever learn. Their life was perfect, until a young blond woman is discovered in one of his deck chairs on the beach. Then another body is found. This time he knows the victim and the modus operandi reminds him of a murder case he handled fifteen years before. Once a detective...

The plot gets messy, the drama escalates, the reader gets edgy and nervous, especially being part of the psyhco killer's plans, embedded in his brain, knowing exactly what he is going to do and nobody can stop him...

A highly entertaining murder mystery! Yes, it will keep you fidgeting in your chair, never leaving the story for one second, trying to find excuses to read. I almost got myself into trouble today, thanks to this book. And of course, as with a good suspense crime drama, nothing is what it seems to be. There is an interesting twist. The murderer is known to the reader, or so I thought. It is a cat and mouse game with the reader being the willing mouse in this ingenious plot! Oh, you have no idea how willing! 

All the good characters are believable and lovable. No over-indulgence in heroics, unrealistic perfect human beings, or potty-mouth verbal diarrhea to pollute a perfect story. No clichés. Fast moving, never a dull moment. The title is so applicable! Just thinking about it sends my arteries on a shivering cruise down my spine! I hyperventilate.

Eyes Closed Tight is destined for release in March 2014. I rate it five stars for being a tasteful, exciting, light, easy read. However, do not make a mistake, this is a THRILLER! I don't think I want to close my eyes ever again!

If you need a quick, exciting holiday, read this book. Believe me, it works!


More information can be found on my blog:

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
4 Stars
The Last Savanna by Mike Bond
The Last Savanna - Mike Bond

The Last Savannah is an African action adventure playing itself out in the deserts, savannas and wildness of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

Ian MacAdam, a Kenyan farmer and former SAS officer, cannot deny his assistance when an old friend who saved is life numerous times, ask him to join a commando hunting down the poachers of the last elephants of Kenya. This request forces him to a make a final choice about his love and dedication to Africa when his wife, a lonely alcoholic, announces her departure to England for good. She never wants to see Africa again. He never wants to leave it. "He will die with his boots on" she says. Ian wants to go on this mission and use it as an opportunity to make a decision about his future. Through the aspirations of a young poacher in love, another dimension will be added to the battle, when he kidnaps Rebecca Hecht, an internationally well-known archaeologist who was also once the big love of Ian's life.

The story is constructed from two different points of view. One is the do-good group of soldiers and a few ex-soldiers who are instructed to find and kill the poachers of the last elephants in Kenya. The opposing group, the poachers, are poor, desperate Somalian men who have no other means of survival. In between the two groups are international role players, such as embassy personnel of ivory-seeking countries, local corrupt politicians and big global corporations.

“You know it won't stop till every elephant is dead. The problem's Africa—the world wants copper so Africa rips open its belly. The world wants diamonds so Africa sends its young men down mines to die for them. People want ivory and colobus skins and oil and slaves so Africa plunders herself for them.”

It's macho-lit book written for the man's man. Yes, if a term like that is allowed. The action is real, it happens everyday in Africa and the multitude of animals crossing the characters paths are real too. 

Interesting social opinions are lightly splashed over the text, which adds another level of interest to the book. For instance: "Like malaria, Africa. Once bitten you can never shake it. They used to call acacias “fever trees”, thinking malaria came from them. Now they “know” malaria comes from mosquitoes. Some day they’ll realize malaria comes from the continent itself: Africa is a fever. For Africa there’s no chloroquine. No matter if you leave it, it’s engraved in your blood."

The story also highlights the fundamental and very real challenges in Africa. Although it is also applicable to the rest of the world, it is more so in Africa which is exploited from all over the planet for its natural resources:

"Now the land, the trees, the animals are gone; the whites were right—God’s not so hard to kill. And most of the whites had gone, too, leaving behind them a plague to finish off what they began. This plague, MacAdam had reflected so many bitter times, was medicine without birth control. It allowed the weak to live, populations to explode, the limitless savannas and jungles cut into tiny shambas where swollen families burnt and hacked the vegetation, then clung to the malnourished soil till it eroded to bedrock. Without the grass and trees the soil dried, the rains died and you could see a man coming miles away by the dust he raised."

These opinions are controversial, severely oversimplified, and debatable of course. It serves a particular agenda - saying what the world wants to hear. The book also describes the desolation, yet unimaginable beauty of the natural surroundings.

Apart from the selfish greed of everyone involved, the men are also inspired into action by the loss, or hope of their love for women which drives them. A rebellion against a love that conquers and tame them. “Her influence, little cousin. Woman’s influence is impure, and spreads around her like the disease that kills the camels, except that it kills men’s honor and will.”

It was a good read. An entertaining one. Not the best book I have ever read in the African adventure genre, but well written. Some parts, which was boring and predictable, could have been cut, resulting in heightened drama, but that is my personal opinion. Some elements were a bit unrealistic. For instance, a man who was kerfuffled by a buffalo horn in the chest, resulting in six broken ribs, cannot run around shooting and shouting like it never happened, trying to save damsels in distress. I've seen the results of a buffalo encounter, and boy, the hero might be macho and God's gift to women, but his superman stunts in the story after the encounter, do not fit the real deal at all. Yes, I know, do not allow reality to interfere with a good story, right? Right you are! The end was a total surprise!

So, really, enjoy this book. It is really based on much of the reality of modern day Africa, with not too much fantasy added. Every element in this narrative is either possible or true.

It is not the last book I want to read from the author, Mike Bond. I appreciate his observations of all the countries he has covered as journalist. He has many good, as well as valid, stories to tell.

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
5 Stars
Partners and Rivals: The Uneasy Future of China's Relationship with the U.S.- by Wendy Dobson
Partners and Rivals: The Uneasy Future of China's Relationship with the U.S. - Wendy Dobson

As anyone who has visited China would tell you, it is not an open society, which welcomes foreigners under the current Communist regime. Social conditioning and prejudice towards foreigners are present in all societies, but in a competitive, closed society such as China, the chances to get away with anti-western sentiments is much nearer to 100 %, as well as safer to maintain the status quo in that part of the world. Even the internet is severely guarded and strictly monitored.

With that said, it is difficult as ordinary citizens, to make sense of the deep economic inter-dependencies of the two international gigantic economies and what the end result will be.

"Partners and Rivals- The Uneasy Future of China’s Relationship with the United States" explains the situation and opens up the uncertain world that is hard to comprehend for most people like us. The reader learns what exactly it is that the fastest growing economy, China, needs from the rest of the world.

My comments:

First off, the book has a 25-pages introduction to summarize the book. Secondly, it has a 10-page bibliography with a comprehensive index at the end of all the terms used in it. The acknowledgements: almost 3 pages long. "This book builds on my 2009 study of China and India, "Gravity Shift: How Asia’s New Economic Powerhouses Will Shape the Twenty-First Century." 

The author also visited China several times and is familiar with the core of the challenges facing both countries.

I review this book as a non-citizen of both countries and how the book contribute any new information that will inspire fellow non-citizens to read it. I am sure there will be enough inhabitants of America who will share their opinions on the book as well. 

My comments, which is summarized, center around the American-Chinese relationship and how it impacts on the rest of the world, since I am a nonresident reader of both countries and try to find the importance of this message to us. Although it is not an easy read, you need to concentrate, it does bring together the opinions of various influential players in the field as can be seen in the bibliography. 

The internal problems which the Chinese government has to face are applicable to all societies in the world, except that the restrictions posed on the citizens are far more severe than anywhere else. For instance, the one-child policy resulted in a dramatic decrease of child births, but it also resulted in the demographics becoming seriously unbalanced. A minority of young people have to support a majority of older people, with the forecast of negative economic growth as another result of the decision.

(For interest's sake: An interesting comparison with the former "Apartheid" socialist system in South Africa: a minority of white tax payers had to support a vast majority of non-white citizens. While white people had to pay high tax rates - at one time it was around 64%, they also had to pay for everything else such as schools, medical services, university, etc, while the non-white subsidized citizens got everything for free. For instance: an open-heart operation in 1985 would cost a white tax paper R50 000, while the same operation cost a non-white citizen R2.00. It was an effort to compensate for the lack of job opportunities to non-white citizens, but the burden became too heavy for the young white people, especially, to bear. Europe is getting into a similar situation with the immigration problem currently getting out of hand. A smaller tax pool has to sustain an increasing number of non tax-paying immigrant society who receive social benefits from the governments.)

Back to China: It is the only country in the world who tried to stop an uncontrolled explosion in human childbirths even though it was done in an unacceptable way. With the negative effect it had on the economy, talks are doing the rounds that it will be reversed. With the scarce natural resources, the appalling pollution problem with its associated health problems, the future does not look well for the planet. 

The USA are the biggest owners of private property, but China is the biggest owners of cash. China also owns the biggest share of the USA's foreign debts. 40% of the USA expenditure is financed by foreign loans. Both countries need a healthy growth rate to sustain their economies. It is important for China to ensure a healthy economy in America so that their imports and loan repayments can be sustained. 

From the book: "China’s leaders need a stable international environment if the country is to continue to rise. To that end the relationship with the United States is key, not just as an economic partner but, significantly, as a strategic partner in Asia, where recent re-balancing of US interests has heightened China’s sense of vulnerability, evoking fears of Cold War–like containment and prompting President Xi’s push for a “new type of great power relations.” 

China's domestic problems are the same as any other nation's, including the USA's. The loss of jobs and incomes promise revolt and instability, not to even mention the ever increasing crime rate and burden it has on the state funds. It is therefor crucial for both governments to address this threat that can lead to civil unrest.

The book provides an interesting, comprehensive and informative view on this bilateral relationship. It is an important book for ordinary American citizens to read who do not want to spend hours and days on the internet, reading the same information. I prefer to read books like these, instead of lose articles.

China's influence in the world is rising while the USA 's is dwindling. Yet China also has to take care of internal problems which could cause instability if not addressed. It can have a severe effect on the rest of the world. South American, South East Asia, as well as African countries are dependent on their export of commodities to China (they have become enslaved to it) and have little power when it comes to protecting their natural resources or economies. China, as the biggest role player in Africa, needs these commodities to ensure stability in growth for not only China, but also the rest of the world. It is a complex situation. 

With the fastest and biggest population growth on the planet, and another few billion people globally already eager to join the middle class, China(1.351 billion) and India(1.237 billion) will become the focus of job creation challenges and opportunities. There is simply no sector of industry which cannot be duplicated by the Asian countries. Manufacturing- as well as service jobs are already there. It leaves the rest of the world with huge challenges to survive economically, including Europe. The social burden on governments are becoming bigger and bigger demanding more tax increases, more loans from China to sustain their own populations' spending. China subsidizes the financially dependent countries to ensure a steady growth rate, but also inadvertently allow them a greater influence on national as well as international policies. 

“Global economies, particularly emerging markets, are driven more and more by the new world, which is exemplified by Chinese strength and contribution to global growth,” Murat Ulgen, HSBC’s chief economist for central and eastern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa said."Source 

The book discusses the situation between the USA and China, and focus on an American audience in addressing the situation. The influences and effects on the rest of the world is also touched upon. 

However, the rest of the world play a pivotal role in feeding these two monstrous economies' appetite for raw materials and minerals. For instance, Africa's development, sponsored by the big economies, are done mostly in infrastructure which benefit the outside economies, such as roads, harbors and mines, with nothing, or hardly any, restoration incentives demanded for recuperating the enormous damage to the environment afterwards when those interests in Africa fade. Lack of local manufacturing opportunities also results in a severe overutilization of natural capital to survive by the continents' own people. 

"Development" in Africa means to find the quickest and cheapest way of transport out of the continent for the raw materials. Compensation to governments gather moss safely in Swiss bank accounts while the inhabitants are starving. High taxes, as well as strict import agreements in other countries for locally manufactured goods are killing off the continents' own industries. The same for the rest of the world who are the providers of minerals and commodities. 

A non-sustainable perk for countries such as China, is the pool of uneducated, poor people who can be utilized to produce the cheapest products in the world. But as the middle-class is expanding in China, higher wages will bring China into the fold of economically low growth rate economies such as the First World group. China is also currently exporting their unemployment problem to places such as Africa. Millions of Chinese workers are brought to the continent to do the jobs on the infrastructure development sponsored by the Chinese government. Separate towns are even developed to house them and their income goes back to China, with little, if any of it, spend in the host countries. This situation is leaving the host countries poorer and deprived of all those job opportunities. 

South America: "Experts also see risks for the environmental protection. The route of the Nicaragua Canal will pass through protected areas. Environmental activists already announced protests. Environmental organizations blame Beijing and its appetite for oil for the failure of the well-known Yasuni-Initiative, which fought against the exploitation of protected rain forest.

"The Chinese expansion will damage the region if we don't talk about how to protect our nature and our traditional culture," said Thiago Gehre from the Institute for International Relations at the University of Brasilia. "But if the Chinese presence is accompanied by contracts that protect our interests, it will be positive for us."

The Partners & Rivals summarize the challenges around the ever-increasing world population but focuses mainly on two competing giants. However, this challenge does not only effect the USA (313.9 million people). The rest of the world is scrambling for the morsels falling from the table set for the two biggest players. "A powerful China is coming, and we have two choices. Either we're at the table, or we're on the menu," says Fitz-Gerald, who adds that China isn't the enemy. "Good news from China is good news for the U.S.; bad news from the Chinese economy is bad news here."(Source) That also counts for any other nation in the world today. Nobody is disconnected from this power play between the two competing Big Brothers.

My personal opinion in concluding the review: uncontrolled human birth numbers are the biggest obstacle and threat to the current world. We all know that. Decreasing the number of births impacts severely on natural, economical, personal, government as well as social services. Increased numbers will destroy the planet. It is a catch-22 situation and a serious one. We cannot blame governments for this problem that we as citizens create. 

Understanding the challenges is better than living in ignorant fear.

So, dear friends, this book is for you! For all of us. Let us read it. 

Interesting related articles to tickle your interest:
China economy
Economic influences of China
China as the USA's biggest creditor
China's Global Influence
China v the US: how the superpowers compare
World population numbers

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
5 Stars
It's All Kind Of Magic by Rick Dodgson
It�s All a Kind of Magic: The Young Ken Kesey - Rick Dodgson

"It's All A Kind Of Magic" by Rick Dodgson was born out of his doctoral dissertation on the life of Ken Kesey.

This biography documents the first part of Ken Kesey's life in great detail - from his childhood, growing up on farms in Oregon, to his later years at university and beyond becoming the famous author of " One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" and his second book "Sometimes A Great Notion".

It is interesting to know that the title for his first book, was derived from a poem his Grandma Smith taught him as a young boy:

“William, William Trimble toes, 
he’s a good fisherman, 

catch his hands put ’em in the pans, 
some lay eggs, some not,
wire, briar, limber lock, three geese in the flock, 
one flew east, one flew west, one flew over the cuckoo’s nest; "

"Cuckoo's Nest is one of the most popular novels of our time, reprinted more than 100 times in the US alone."(source:


The title for his second book was derived from the song, “Goodnight, Irene”, popularized by Lead Belly.
Sometimes I lives in the country
Sometimes I lives in town
Sometimes I haves a great notion
To jump into the river an’ drown

This book would turn out to be a breathtaking accomplishment, a genuine classic of twentieth-century American literature.

Kesey was a prankster, a jokester, a frat-boy, a jock, an author, a natural entertainer, a party animal and a dreamer. In one person lived a rebellious soul who found wholesomeness and happiness in laughter. He loved people. They loved him. He questioned everything and sought out his own personal truths away from the mainstream of the 1950's and 60's in America when the country was involved in the Vietnam War and new social trends were being born on all levels of society. The world was not ready for his approach to life. He was breaking through a well-guarded mold and was not welcomed or appreciated.

Kesey became on of the 'lab rats' for testing different drugs, including LSD, which was sponsored by the CIA. A fact that led Senator Ted Kennedy to accuse the CIA of having engaged in activities that “involved the perversion and the corruption of many of our outstanding research centers in this country.”

"The VA trials were legal and officially sanctioned, and the substances they were testing seemed harmless yet fantastic. It was typical of Kesey and his friends that they wanted others to share their good fortune with others. Initially at least, this is how the psychedelic revolution got its start, rippling out from the first few initiates to their circle of friends, and then out to their circles of friends, and so on."

Ken Kesey needed the money. At the time of participating in the drug tests, he was a speech and communications major at the University of Oregon (U of O). He never realized what a profound effect the drugs would have on him and all the people he introduced to it. He never was a drinker but managed to remain popular in his fraternity where alcohol binge-drinking sort of guaranteed anyone's acceptance into the fold. Non-drinkers, normally, were ignored.

Tom Wolfe’s book "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" (1968) describes this part of Kesey's life in detail. The book was a huge best seller and firmly established Wolfe’s career. Ken Casey was regarded by some as the “father of the counterculture”, and became a cult figure after his arrest for possession of marijuana, although he never felt comfortable with the idea.

This traveling road show of the Merry Pranksters, as they became known, would set off the hippie movement in its wake.

Photo source


"The Pranksters’ 1964 bus trip, for example, is remembered as an acidfueled odyssey, but in addition to the LSD-laced orange juice in the fridge behind the driver’s seat, the Pranksters also took along a jar containing five hundred Benzedrine pills (as well as a shoebox full of joints rolled specially for the occasion by Prankster Steve “Zonker” Lambrecht).

Kesey was well aware of the absurdity of being held up as an icon of some sort of anti-American counterculture when he actually saw himself as a defender of the American way. “I’ve always been far more conservative than Barry Goldwater can imagine,” he told an interviewer on the CBS Sunday Morning Show in 1990. “I still believe in all that stuff . . . I haven’t ever developed any kind of cynicism about the American Dream.”

He considered himself a link between the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s. "I was too young to be a beatnik, and too old to be a hippie," Kesey said in a 1999 interview with Robert K. Elder.

MY COMMENTS: The book is published by the University of Wisconsin Press and is clearly not a sensationalized account of Ken Kesey's life. It is almost a quiet tribute to an extraordinary individual's life, honoring a human being who played a great role in changing the course of history without too much fanfare and bongo drum rolls.

 Although he was, like all young men, ambitious, he was also teaching his people a new approach to life, without becoming a caricature or a clown, although his parties were beyond wild and bohemian. He always remained a fraternity boy in everything he did. His charm, for me, lies in his approachable personality; his boy-next-door-and-best-friend character. He loved to party and have fun, but he also knew how to work hard. He was highly intelligent, a visionary, who understood the psyche of the American people much more than most people around him and saw a social revolution coming, long before it happened. I personally suspect that he could have been someone much more important if he was born in a different social class. His background counted against him in many ways. The fact that he was short-changed in selling the movie- as well as theater rights to his first book, illustrates how naive and inexperienced he was in the world of big business. He did not have the right kind of people on his side to protect his interests. He was seriously taken advantage of.

Ken Kesey started and ended in Oregon. Full circle. He experienced it all: from a modest little boy building his own toys and being best friends with his brother on the farm, entertaining friends, family and audiences in his hometown as ventriloquist, actor and magician, to becoming a famous writer being wined and dined by the big wigs cashing in on his talent. In the end he chose to get away from it all. He returned to Oregon where he led a quiet life as a cattle farmer in Pleasant Hill, Oregon.  The memories of a lifetime was packed away in a dusty back yard building.

"Further" was parked in its final resting place under the tree, until the author of this biography changed its destiny. It was a very very good thing. I feel honored to have met Ken Kesey through the hard work of Rick Dodgson.

The book is slow moving, detailed, tedious. But for the reader who is interested in Ken Casey's life and times it is an excellent read and well worth the time it takes to finish the book.   The details of his boyhood on the farm, as a student, and as natural charismatic leader are well presented. Excellently researched. Rick Dodgson managed to portray a compassionate, adventurous, fun-loving rebel who lived his own version of the American dream.


Despite getting impatient with the book at times, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I became so fascinated by the subject, Ken Kesey, that I ventured off onto the internet and got lost in the world of a one-man-band who managed to make a difference just by being himself. He passed away on November 10, 2001, and was buried on his farm alongside his son who died in a car accident. I honestly wanted to cry.