Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Book with a View November 2010

Book Title: Confessions of an Ex-Gun Dealer
Author: Ludwig Sawicki
ISBN: 143275839X
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Link to purchase: Amazon.com
Reviewer: Vonnie Faroqui for WITS

A Side Splitter with Bang Appeal.

Since we are into confessions . . . I have one of my own to make. I am a bleeding heart liberal, love animals and although I am not anti-gun I am close to it. When I first picked up this book I was skeptical about how fair I could be to the author and what kind of review I would give. That being said, I really, truly, deeply enjoyed this book.

Southern gentlemen and the Irish aren't the only natural storytellers. Author Ludwig Sawicki can spin out a tale with the best of them. Confessions of an Ex-Gun Dealer is a humorous, intelligent, straight shooting, and honest memoir that reveals much about life. No time is wasted in political correctness and yet the book has a charm about it that allows the reader to remain comfortable, even when challenged with setting aside personal bias.

Sawicki’s love of guns is infectious. His knowledge and experience is vast and yet woven into the book with such ease one hardly realizes they are receiving an education. There is an incredible level of joy and love conveyed in every character description and tale. The people and accounts shared by the author seem to come alive.

There are strange things done by men with guns, for the love of the hunting trail . . .

This is a great book for anyone who enjoys the hunting and the shooting sports but it is also a wonderful study in human resilience, determination, and character. The book is full of life experience and wisdom, business acumen, and best of all laughter. Sawicki is damn funny and an astute observer of human nature.

Book Title: How We Beat Diabetes
Author: Ronald S. Brown
ISBN: 1453541012
Publisher: Xlibris
Reviewer: Vonnie Faroqui for WITS

Useful and Encouraging

Diabetes is no laughing matter. How We Beat Diabetes is a meticulous chronicle of one family’s battle to reverse the disease. As a type two diabetic myself, I found the content of this volume to be interesting and informative. I was inspired by the quality and care taken to record the diabetes control detail and testing results. As a reference it is useful and informative, but not very personal.. The book does not include a chapter or interview with Mrs. Brown about how she felt before, during, or after making the changes in her lifestyle.

There are about 50 pages of written background information and support, with the remainder of the book being dedicated to records of the diabetes control detail. This informational section was helpful in understanding the therapeutic lifestyle changes taken. The author was able to inspire confidence that the choices made were based on proven practices, with the diabetes control detail and testing results as evidence supporting the regimen’s merit.

Although I am not a medical expert, I found the book to be encouraging and helpful. I learned a few things I didn’t know and am thankful to Ron for his work and to his family for sharing their journey.

Doctors will tell patients to keep records but knowing what information is pertinent or how to record the diabetes control detail is something a diabetic is left to figure out alone. The mental toll for a person with diabetes can be very intense and a defeatist attitude is not uncommon. How We Beat Diabetes provides an example, a model for record keeping. Being able to see the success obtained through diet changes, diet supplements and exercise as recorded in the book is inspiring. I find myself wondering if I can recreate the Brown family’s success in my own life.

Book Title: The Drawing Lesson, the first in the Trilogy of Remembrance
Author: Mary E. Martin
ISBN: 978-1-4502-2936-4
Publisher: iUniverse
Year of Publication 2010
Link to purchase: Available on Amazon.comReviewer: Sue Magee, TheBookBag.co.uk

Alexander Wainwright is the UK's premier artist. He's just won the Turner with The Hay Wagon – a painting with a luminous, moonlit landscape. He should be at the peak of his powers, but he's about to lose his muse and, more worryingly, there seems to be something wrong with his sight and the year to come is going to be traumatic. The story of it is told by his friend, art dealer Jamie Helmsworth, who has pieced together what he knows, what he's heard – and used a little artistic licence to fill in the gaps. It's a most unusual story which will take you deep into the world of artists and writers.

I loved Helmsworth – a sensitive man, conscious that he is not an artist but a man of commerce – and he tells Wainwright's story, which moves from London to Venice, Toronto and New York with a very English restraint and an obvious sympathy for his friend's predicament. There is no prize in art more coveted than the Turner and every winner has their detractors.

Rinaldo wouldn't admit to jealousy, maintaining that the time for love of beauty in paintings is past, but he takes his revenge by defacing The Hay Wagon. Wainwright could probably cope with this, but it's not enough for Rinaldo, who wants to destroy the man and not just his art.

Most troubling for Wainwright – and for Jamie Helmsworth – are the visions he has of ugly, misshapen, humanoid creatures. Seeing them in his mind is bad enough but before long he's driven to introduce them into his paintings. It's his search for their meaning which takes him first to Venice and then to North America. The people he meets, each with their own story to tell, shine lights into forgotten corners of his psyche. I loved his meeting with the man who rode a hay wagon just like the one he had painted - and the couple on a journey to remember their daughter. The meetings are like a mirror which gently distorts an image until it becomes something which can be accepted.

Mary Martin has a real skill when it comes to lifting her characters off the page in very few words. Relatively minor personalities have stayed with me long after I finished reading the book and she's equally good with places. I know London well and frequently found myself walking the streets with Wainwright and when you're in the Turbine Gallery at the Tate Modern you'll feel the vast space around you. Superb.

The plot is a real page-turner, but there were a couple of points which pulled me out of it. Jamie Helmsworth occasionally slips into North American English, which is a little disconcerting and without spoiling the plot too much (I hope!) if Wainwright was young enough to win the Turner he must have been particularly precocious in his pre-teens. Suspend disbelief though and you'll find a book which is well-worth the read. I'm very much looking forward to parts two and three of the trilogy, despite the fact that The Drawing Lesson reads well as a stand-alone.

I'd like to thank the author for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

I always feel that it can be something of a burden to compare a relatively unknown author to one of the greats, but whilst I was reading this book and as I've thought about it since my mind has been taken back to Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje because of the way that seemingly unconnected stories build to form a greater story. If you enjoy one then I think that you will appreciate the other.

Book Title: Conduct in Question, the first in The Osgoode Trilogy
Author: Mary E. Martin
ISBN: 0-595-35820-9
Publisher: iUniverse 2005
Link to purchase: Amazon.com
Reviewer Byline Norm Goldman, Book Pleasures

Toronto based author Mary E. Martin, who at one time practiced law in a small estates firm, has made a promising foray into the mystery arena with her debut novel Conduct in Question: The First In A Trilogy.

Martin's principal protagonist, Harry Jenkins, is portrayed as an honest and sincere general family solicitor specializing in estate law, who finds himself over his head, as he becomes innocently involved in money laundering and murder.

The story unfolds when Jenkins witnesses his partner Richard Crawford drop dead in front of him, as a result of a massive heart attack-leaving Jenkins the sole remaining partner in the law firm of Crane, Crawford and Jenkins.

Prior to his death, Crawford had instructed Jenkins to draw up a trust for one of the firm's clients, Marjorie Deighton. Jenkins had also just received a retainer of two hundred thousand dollars from a new client, Albert Chin, who had been referred to him by one of his colleagues. The sum was to be used to purchase several parcels of land that were located very near Marjorie Deighton's property. Jenkins suspects something fishy, however, the lure of earning some “big bucks” causes him to turn a blind eye and not to delve too closely into the source of these funds or the client's motives as to why he wishes to purchase the real estate.

When Jenkins tries to deposit the two hundred thousand dollars in his trust account, the teller informs him that the assistant manager, Mr. Mudhali, wishes to have a word with him. After being ushered into Mudhali's office, Jenkins is informed that the firm's line of credit of fifty thousand dollars is in arrears and in order for him to deposit the two hundred thousand dollars he will be required to immediately repay the arrears. Completely taken aback, Jenkins is further astonished to discover that Crawford pledged the firm's account as his own personal line of credit for a loan of five hundred thousand dollars. How was this possible without Jenkin's signature?

Placed into a very difficult situation, Jenkins realizes that if he fails to clear the arrears, the trust account would be frozen and he would be obliged to return the retainer to Chin. Against his better judgment, Jenkins uses fifty thousand dollars of the trust funds to pay the arrears and the balance he deposits into the firm's trust account.

While all of this is going on, we learn that there is a serial killer on the loose in Toronto named the florist , who after murdering his victims, carves rose petals on their bodies. To add a little more suspense, Marjorie Deighton dies under very suspicious circumstances, leaving as her legatees her two nieces, Katherine and Suzannah and a nephew, Gerry. However, complicating matters is that Marjorie Deighton's last will, that was prepared by Harry Jenkins, seems to have been misplaced, lost or stolen. The previous will had bequeathed the house to her niece Suzannah, while the last will had the estate divided into three equal shares, including the house.

Martin whips up a highly original plot spicing it with a mix of some psychological horror. All of the characters are subtly interwoven into the threads of the story, and with its quick pace and gruesome details, the novel is an auspicious inauguration to Martin's trilogy.

Norm Goldman is the Editor of the Book Reviewing and Author Interviewing site Bookpleasures.com. Bookpleasures.com comprises over 25 international reviewers that come from all walks of life and that review all genre.
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