Archive for April 16th, 2013

Chance of a GhostChance of a Ghost is the fourth installment in the Haunted Guesthouse series and the first that I’ve had the pleasure to read.  While this is not how I would usually describe my reaction to a mystery novel, there’s really no other way to say it:  I was charmed.

The story picks up where (I assume), the last book, Old Haunts, left off.  Alison Kerby, a single mother and guesthouse owner, is just trying to get by and give her precocious ten year-old daughter, Melissa, a good life.  Now that right there could be the start of a romance or a drama, except for one thing:  Alison Kerby sees ghosts.  And so does her widowed mother.  And her daughter.  It’s like a genetic disease.  Alison is especially sensitive to the presence of two specific ghosts – a muscular Canadian P.I. named Paul, and the tech-savvy former owner of the guesthouse – an acid-tongued woman named Maxie.  While still amongst the living, Maxie had hired Paul to uncover who was threatening her and lo and behold, they both ended up dead.  In previous books, Alison had helped uncover their killers and subsequently got her P.I.’s license.  Needless to say, life hasn’t quite been the same since.

But Chance of a Ghost takes a far more personal turn for its freshly minted private eye.  When Alison’s deceased father stands up her very living mother for their regular Tuesday date, things start to get very suspicious.  A new ghost with a theatrical flair and a murder to solve (his own) suggests that Alison’s father may have met with other-worldly foul play.  Faced with painful memories of her father’s arduous death from cancer, Alison must determine whether her father has finally gone to the other-other side, or if something more sinister is at work.

In Alison Kerby, we readers get a wise-cracking, foot-in-mouth would-be gumshoe.   And one who has managed to crawl into that little space in my reader’s heart and set up camp.  Admittedly, I’m a sucker for a good laugh and a great ghost story, and Chance of a Ghost delivers both.  It’s not the knee-slapping, comedy club at two in the morning kind of laugh, but it is the sort that keeps an unshakable smile on your face – at least until the suspense gets dialed up.  And fear not, it does.

And there’s a sweetness to EJ Copperman’s writing, too.  He brings you into a family – a quirky, but loving family – without sacrificing what often makes a mystery most delicious, which is an off-kilter, unlucky at love protagonist with a dry wit and stubborn moral compass.

In short, Night of the Living Deed – the first in the series – is next up on my reading list.

Reviewed by Victoria Dougherty

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      PEARLPearl is a wonderful nostalgic historical fictional novel of the early years of Pearl Buck. The story weaves the story of the life and background of this wonderful writer and author. It is an inspiring and spell-binding book, one that will be read and re-read by many.

The story begins when Pearl is quite old and disabled. She feels like a black pearl but not a white one, as when she was young. She is living in an old Vermont Farmhouse all alone.  All she has are her memories. She feels like her life is getting close to the end.

Then the story weaves back in time to when she lived in China. Most of the story focuses on her home life and how they moved a lot because her father was a missionary. Her Dad wasn’t home a lot either. So, her mother had to take care of the family on her own. Pearl also remembers her teachers and what an important role and influence they had on her formation as a writer. She felt completely indebted to them for who she became later.

She was always a writer first and foremost. She kept a diary from a very early age.  One of Pearl’s favourite pastimes was to sit down and write about her experiences and feelings. Some of her journal entries are contained in the book. They are warm-hearted and the reader is able to see what she felt at the time and what was going through her mind. There are quite a few gems of wisdom in the book as well which the reader could take to heart, such as Never stop educating yourself, When you come to a fork in the road, follow your heart, and so on.

What a splendid book!  I enjoyed reading it from beginning to end. It transported me to a world of the writer and how at the end of one’s life one should take stock looking at all the good and difficult things. It is also a ponderous book that feels a bit like a memoir. All the reader has to do is to sit back, grab a java, and be transported into Pearl’s world and feelings. Thank you Ron for such a wonderful book!

Article first published as Book Review: Pearl: A Historical Fiction Based on the Early Years of Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author, Pearl S. Buck by R. Lee Salkind Merliment on Blogcritics. 

Irene S. Roth is an freelance writer, author, editor, and book reviewer. She writes nonfiction books for kids, teens, and tweens. She also has a novel in the works for adolescents. For more reviews please visit http://rothsbookreview.wordpress.com

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