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The Second Coming: A Love Story
By: Scott Pinsker
Publication Date: June 2014
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 29, 2014
Armageddon is here. People are being looked at by both ‘sides’ – as demons and angels take in the behavior, prejudice, bias, and the complete flaws of the humans around them.
In the beginning of this tale, readers meet up with an odd duo of the Archangel Gabriel and Archdemon Abaddon. Standing in the sunrise looking around at humanity, Gabriel is, as always, the intelligent one who attempts to defend, whereas Abaddon speaks of the fact that atheism still astounds him. It is a wonder, a disbelief to him that people should go about their working days, make advances in science, medicine and more, yet do not have the brainpower to figure out there is a God.
As the universal good guys versus bad guys scenario commences, readers are introduced to David Shepherd. He is a voice, a loud voice that makes sure to speak out about the issues. He loves the debate, and his boyfriend, Michael Waters, stands in the shadow of David’s voice – a man who feels uncomfortable with pain, hurt, and definitely confrontation. David gets into a debate with a minister on the corner who’s preaching and attempting to make people stop and listen – make them take the time to realize that they need Jesus in their lives. David disagrees, in his own way. However...the minister he battles is nothing but a man, and he is about to meet up with a powerful charmer who invites he and Michael to a church service. This stranger seems to be far more than just a man and welcomes David and Michael to the revolution.
From this point on, characters arise from the pages that cover all walks of life. A woman who believes in justice and worked hard to become a lawyer who actually defends those who would have been eaten alive by judge and jury simply because of bigotry; but she also is living with the fact that she has defended guilty parties along the way. A stranger appears to her, as well. Walking into the bar where she sits, he speaks words that make her give up her career on the spot, choosing to follow this man named ‘Joe.’
People become followers of a church like others that cropped up in the 20th century; an organization where a congregation of people grow larger by the day, following a leader who is more interested in the cash he can get than the actual saving of souls.
The plot is a simple one; appearances can deceive and people are different. Different backgrounds, different beliefs – some have gone through such hard times that they need support, they need someone to listen to, even if that person is a fake. And there are those who believe whole-heartedly, yet wear blinders to the negative things happening in the world. Two strangers enter these peoples’ lives. One of these men is actually the savior they’ve been waiting for; but the other is saying he is the one, and offers the same saving grace. So, which one is true and who do you follow? The point is...if two people are preaching goodness, and both accusing the other of being evil, how do you know which is which?
This book has some true nuggets of gold inside its pages. Among the frequent sarcasm and pessimism, which is warranted, the reader can find brilliance if they set aside the diatribes, and overlook the cover. Each ‘messiah’ in the novel truly pertains to something political. One messiah attracts the left-wing whereas the other attracts the grassroots followers. Therefore, religion and politics are brought together in a unique way.
Quill says: In the end, this is one book that is exactly like its own plot – you will either love it, or hate it; but either way, you should hear it.
By: Carol June Stover
Publisher: PublishAmerica, LLLP
Publication Date: March 2013
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: July 23, 2014
Carol June Stover's second novel, Surviving 26th Street, is a candid work of fiction that focuses on the life of 'good wife' character, Laura Justice. While she may be happy with her title of mom and homemaker, her dream is to do more. However, the only place for a woman in the '50's was in the home.
Laura Justice's life wasn't necessarily the life she envisioned. After college, she experienced her first taste of independence. When she reconnects with Winton Justice, the last thing she imagined was he would eventually be her husband. She couldn't figure out Winton's draw-the sex? Or maybe it was his attentiveness during their courting stage that hooked her. No matter, once married, they packed up their worldly possession and headed for New York. The year is 1954 and Winton's 'can do' attitude was all Laura needed to follow him to the ends of the earth.
In the beginning, Winton was everything a good husband and provider could possibly be. He secured the perfect nest egg for his growing family in the quaint northern suburb of Mayfair, New Jersey. After his New York based advertising business implodes, Winton wastes no time moving on to the next hair-brained scheme. It's 1954 and a warm summer day. Nine-year-old Jane Justice sits in the usual place on their front porch of their 26th Street home. She knows her job: eyes on five-year-old Denton, her brother, and wait for the shouting match between her mother and father to die down before going back inside. When Winton announces his next sure fired answer to reaping millions and that the scheme includes sloth-like Hubert Hubley, it's only a matter of time before constant chaos pays a visit to the Justice home front.
Ms. Stover accomplished the task of writing a book that (I imagine) depicts what it must have been like to be a woman/mother in the 1950's. There is more than a sublime message throughout her novel that delivers a distinct message of: Women of the 50's were permitted to covet a career, but the reality was they were destined for nothing more than rearing children and making sure dinner was on the table each night for their man. While the pace is quick, the storyline itself was a bit too predictable. There were too many passages devoted to character Laura Justice's subservience to her husband. However, Ms. Stover is spot on with her depiction of Winton Justice: cad and brute wrapped up in one package. He is a believable and credible bully of a husband. When Ms. Stover does come around to writing in a backbone for Laura Justice, without giving too much of a spoiler, I was disappointed with Laura's reaction when she learns of the egregious acts her husband Winton engages in with one of their neighbors. Again, this is a quick read and I believe it could be shortened some-currently 404 pages. I would encourage Ms. Stover to focus on dialogue and build around it in her next novel. She demonstrates a strong ability when it comes to writing dialogue.
Quill says: Surviving 26th Street is a good read for women to reflect upon - 'you've come a long way baby'!
Tracy Guzeman defies the constraints of gravity in her debut novel, The Gravity of Birds, and has penned an absolutely stunning body of work.
Sisters, Natalie and Alice Kessler, are polar opposites. Natalie's beauty is obvious. It is her weapon of choice and in subtle and twisted ways uses it against her younger sister. Alice, on the other hand, is not necessarily a wallflower, but her gift of kindness resides deep within the folds of her being. Growing up in the same household was never easy. The girls were equally loved by both their parents. Years later and after the passing of their parents, trips to the lake house each summer had long-since ended. Natalie's beauty didn't falter, but her life was not what she expected. Since the age of fourteen, Alice had been a victim to the throes of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Once their parents were gone, Natalie's beauty was shelved for the rest of her life in order to live out her days as Alice's caretaker. It is only when Natalie's untimely death occurs that Alice realizes her life could have been the life she was meant to live.
Woven into the intricacies of the Kessler girls' existence is one Thomas Bayber. Nearly twenty years have passed since his summers on the lake in the home in proximity to the Kessler's retreat. Perhaps the reclusive painter, Bayber, had planned all along to resurrect the never seen "Kessler Sisters" rendition at this very moment in time... Dennis Finch had devoted his life to Bayber. How is it after so many years and the recent loss of his beloved wife that Bayber should need him now? Long gone (and somewhat forgotten), the notion of reviving their relationship is more than unsettling for Professor Finch. However, with Bayber, there was always a caveat or condition. When Finch agrees to Bayber's summons to meet, Bayber doesn't disappoint. It seems before he will agree to commission Finch with the sale of his unknown "Bayber masterpiece," he insists Finch must seek the services of (little known) art authenticator, Stephen Jameson.
Ms. Guzeman's prolifically haunting style completely consumed me. It took less than two days for me to devour the words in this 294-page novel and it is difficult to select one passage over another to site. Ms. Guzeman's carefully crafted characters' strengths and weaknesses leach into the readers memory and carry the reader down an endless and meandering river of an amazingly beautiful (and sometimes frustrating) story of disappointments, rivalries and ultimately, hope. There is one scene in particular I was so taken with that I tested it on a few of my (voracious reader) co-workers. Each and every time, their reaction was to look at me with woe begotten eyes and render their interpretation of its meaning to be maudlin. To the contrary, this reader was not only pulled to this passage that describes character Thomas Bayber, but for the remainder of the read, I often wondered if Ms. Guzeman had shed a tear or two when she carefully placed the following words onto her page: "...I was born old. My mother told me once that I looked like a grumpy old man from the moment I was born-wrinkled, pruney face, rheumy eyes. You've heard the expression an old sole? I was born with a head full of someone else's failed dreams and a heart full of someone else's memories..." Ms. Guzeman is worthy of every bit of praise for her near perfect literary prowess and I, for one, cannot wait to read her next novel. Bravo, Ms. Guzeman...bravo!
Quill says: The Gravity of Birds is a journey of desire, loss, resurrection and the underlying premise of 'what if' things had turned out differently. This is an outstandingly beautiful example of how utterly painful it is to arrive at the end of a story that was most certainly meant to be told.