In Skipping Christmas by John Grisham, Luther and Nora Krank typically do Christmas on overdrive but when their daughter, Blair, joins a Peace Corp trip in Peru for the holiday season they’re faced with a holiday season alone. Luther crunches the numbers and finds a vacation would save them a lot of money and stress. The Krank’s neighbors aren’t on board with their decision as it jeopardizes the block’s chances of winning the local decorating contest. With the Kranks fighting everyone, what happens when their daughter decides to come home for Christmas? Continue reading Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
Twelve Days In May: Freedom Ride 1961 by Larry Dane Brimner, chronicles the journey of 13 black and white Civil Rights Activists from Washington D.C. to New Orleans. The riders planned a protest of the southern states ignoring two Supreme Court rulings that segregation on buses crossing state lines was unconstitutional. The protest was meant to be peaceful and shine a light on the nonobservance of the rulings in the south. What met them on their journey was violence and hate. Continue reading Twelve Days In May: Freedom Ride 1961 by Larry Dane Brimner
The Physicists was written by the author, Friedrich Dürrenmatt in 1961. Dürrenmatt is a twentieth-century, Swiss playwright, novelist and essayist who is renowned for his philosophical crime novels (The Inspector Barlach Mysteries: The Judge and His Hangman and Suspicion) as well as in his satiric, tragic-comic dramas that are centered around post-World War II. The Physicists is his first classically constructed work and is generally considered his best play. It deals with the ethics of science. In 1963, the play was performed worldwide and was finally staged in New York in 1964. If you don’t mind spoilers, continue reading. Continue reading The Physicists by Friedrich Dürrenmatt
In 1951, Tobacco Farmer Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer. Before her death, cervical cells were harvested without her consent and became the first human cells to grow in a lab. They would grow an entire generation of new cells in a 24-hour period. Over the years those cells, known as HeLa to scientists, became a hot commodity in the scientific world standing at the forefront of some of the greatest medical breakthroughs, but Henrietta Lacks remained largely unknown. Unknown — until her daughter started looking to find out more about the mother she’d never known. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is her story. Continue reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
In Poolside with Brett by David D’Aguanno, it’s the 1980s in New Jersey, the age of excess. Big hair, hard drugs and lots of sex and one man who is acing the era is Private Investigator, Brett Cornell. He’s winning big and has attracted the attention of an exotic beauty who wants to feature him in one of her adult films and a wealthy woman has hired him to find her husband. Seems like life is going well until Brett finds the missing husband in the trunk of his car. Is someone trying to set him up? Brett must solve the case to get back to his charmed life. Poolside with Brett is the first book in the Brett Cornell series. Continue reading Poolside with Brett by David D’Aguanno
In The impending Sausage Sandwich of Doom by Kirk St. Moritz, Elliot Rose is the guy that makes the ghostly events happen on the television show Ghosthunters UK when he runs into a real ghost. Gordon Cole was Hapkito, a popular wrestler in the 1980s. Gordon thinks that his return is some higher elevation achieved but what’s really going on? Continue reading The Impending Sausage Sandwich of Doom by Kirk St. Moritz
Once I was a Soldier by Daniel Kemp starts with a spoiled and callus child of privledge and blossoms into a globe-trotting tale of politics, sex and deceit.
Melissa Iverson is a horrible person. Kemp opens Once I was a Soldier with the death of Melissa’s very wealthy and influential father. Kemp outlines her backstory and seeming lack of desire to connect with humans around her on a dead brother and mostly absentee and hostile mother. Rejecting an idea of friendship and using sexual partners for biological release, she is contemptuous and cynical of everyone she comes across. Her father is smart enough before what seems to be his untimely death to take the responsibility for her factories and workers off of her plate but fails to provide adequately for people who have worked in their home for 40 years. Melissa only cares if she’ll have to stoop to looking for employment and how degrading that eventuality may be. She is brusque and wholly repugnant and if I were not reviewing this book I would probably have stopped reading before the action really began. Fortunately, Melissa isn’t the only character in this tale of international intrigue.
When Melissa, who previously has never been to London, starts traveling she meets Terry, an undercover British Intelligence Officer. Terry is also involved with the wife of a politician who is looking to occupy the Oval Office. Kemp weaves their relationship in such a way that puts Melissa directly in the line of fire. Terry is not necessarily a nice guy but he’s less defined than Melissa so doesn’t come off as grating. Terry and Melissa have an active sex life between themselves and with others to the point where it’s gratuitous and reads as though perhaps the author is aiming for an E.L. James kind of flavor and that author’s healthy fan-base of middle aged women with money to burn and looking to live vicariously (I say this as a middle aged woman). Some of the more sweeping shifts in the novel read as unrealistic and while realism isn’t necessary to fiction Kemp, at point, pushes the bonds of suspension of disbelief.
Kemp has a colorful writing style that seems to lapse from time to time into purple prose. The dialogue style is quite formal which I initially thought was to indicate Melissa’s breeding but the style is maintained mostly throughout the hefty 376 page work of fiction. The author is English so one would expect a certain amount of formality but Kemp, at times, hits an Austenesque level of cultured language. Despite the far reaching settings, they don’t really read as unique.
“So did she like the novel?” you may wonder. I didn’t like the start. Once the action started going there were some interesting twists. Would I recommend Once I was a Soldier? Maybe. I’d be very selective in the reader. If you like romantic thrillers I think we’re part way to a recommendation. Kemp is a talented writer and the reviews I’ve seen of his work tend to be positive but he was just not a good pick for this reader.
If you like erotica and thrillers, you may like Once I Was A Soldier by Daniel Kemp.
Read an excerpt and buy Once I Was A Soldier by Daniel Kemp on
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