Book Reviews

Book Review: “Untitled” by Jackie Chanel: Who says a white boy can’t play the blues?

 •July 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment (Edit)

Aiden Tyler knows one thing well.  His destiny is to be great.  When he declares that truth he is a fifteen year old teenager doing what a lot of fifteen year old suburban boys do – decrying his ordinary white-bread suburban existence.  Aiden didn’t know what his path to greatness would be, but was adamant about what it wouldn’t be. Being one fifth of the most average, most normal family in Mt. Vernon, Illinois wasn‘t the most auspicious launching pad for greatness but that didn’t faze Aiden.  He had more incentive than he needed. Whatever he did and however he did it he wasn’t going to be Doug Tyler.

The great irony in Aiden’s life is that his path to greatness is decreed by the person least likely to approve that particular path, his father, Doug Tyler. Rather than the Super Nintendo Aiden requested for his birthday, his father surprises him with a 1958 Fender Stratocaster guitar signed by Rolling Stones legend Keith Richards. Not having the faintest idea who Richards is and caring less, Aiden’s chief response is bored annoyance. He plans to leave it untouched in the gift box which is fine with his father who bought it more as an acknowledgment of his financial prowess and leftover dreams from his own youth.

Fortunately for Aiden and the music world, fate has other ideas.  Through a circuitous route of being in the right place at the right time Aiden discovers his gift – and his destiny. It could not have been less expected.  Foregoing the professional football career his father mapped out for him Aiden’s goal is to be one of the greatest blues guitar players in the world, no small feat for a white suburban kid in a mostly all black field.

The cost of greatness is the loss of his family or at least his parents.  Unable to accept Aiden’s choices his father disowns him and his mother complies with her martinet husband. The “family” that adopts him is the musical all-black world of blues playing Atlanta. These are the people that see Aiden’s gift almost before he does. They support him and open doors he never could have opened for himself.  Chief among his adoptive family is the crew from Rabbit’s Blues Lounge in Atlanta, known for recognizing blues playing stars.

Sunny Rain, her aunt, Kay Mays, her blues playing superstar uncle, Joey Clausen, and a host of other related and unrelated music lovers nurture and believe in Aiden’s talent when few others do. Aiden manages to avoid the most predictable pitfalls for aspiring musicians.  Plagued but not undone by the haze of alcohol, ever-present, sexually available women, screaming fans and prying paparazzi, Aiden stays true to himself and his music. His biggest obstacle –and the one most likely to doom him — is the knowledge that in his father’s eyes Aiden is a failure.

Untitled is a coming of age story.  It is the story of the power of love to both crush and inspire greatness. Chanel has created a bi-racial world that will be familiar to music lovers particularly the world of the blues.  But to the author’s credit one doesn’t have to be a musical aficionado to enter Aiden’s world. Aiden’s fears and setbacks help him become the man and the musician he is meant to be.  The story is simple, but compelling.  One only has to believe in destiny.

Review by Taylor Lee, author

Book Review: Much Ado About Marshals by Jacquie Rogers; Nancy Drew Meets William Shakespeare — A Comedic Romp Through 1892 Western Idaho

•July 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment (Edit)

Nancy Drew Meets William Shakespeare — A Comedic Romp Through 1892 Western Idaho.

Daisy Gardner is determined to be a detective.  A twenty two year old “spinster” living in the inauspicious town of Oreana, Idaho, Daisy seeks most of her information about life and love from the escapades of her dime store novel heroine Honey Beaulieu.  When a particularly thorny task presents itself Daisy turns to Honey Beaulieu Mysteries for a surefire answer.

Daisy’s parents think it is high time Daisy marries– preferably to the wealthiest man they can finagle.  Not so Daisy. To be a detective one must solve crimes and live in town quickly eliminating numerous potential husbands.  Ranchers are out, as are farmers. Don’t even think about miners. Nope, Daisy insists the single best husband for her is a Marshal — so she set out to snare one. In Daisy’s carefully planned universe, Marshals are tall, typically dark and, of course, handsome.

Enter Cole Richards. Cole fits the physical bill. Plus he is as sexy as any Honey Beaulieu hero and sends tingles up Daisy’s spine. The only problem is Cole is wanted for bank robbery. In a series of twists and turns worthy of a Shakespeare comedy, we meet not one but three “marshals” who claim to be Sidney Adler, the Marshal who answered Daisy’s call.   The most reluctant imposter is Cole.  The only reason he’s in Oreana is his unfortunate attempt to prevent his long time sidekick Bosco Kunkle’s bungled attempt to rob a bank.  Cole is shot in the botched robbery by the single person who can identify him as the outlaw — none other than Daisy’s sister Iris.  And so the fun begins.

Eager to avoid a necktie party where he is the honored guest, the wounded Cole reluctantly becomes the Marshal. Until his wounds heal his biggest challenges are avoiding discovery and beating off the amorous overtures of a most determined Daisy.  Neither are easy tasks especially since Cole is as intrigued with Daisy as she is determined to marry him.

Rogers has peopled her delightful novel with a cast of characters worthy of Rooster Cogburn and his ilk as well as Don John and Claudio. There is Doc Maybry, the town physician, Daisy’s father, Cyrus Gardner, who owns the local Mercantile and doubles as the town preacher and Mayor; Winky the dog who overturns an outhouse with Mrs. Courtney perched unceremoniously inside; and two “Widder” sisters who come to blows over the portly Bosco Kunkle  charged with the impossible task of determining which Widder makes the best raisin pie.  Finally there is the real Marshal– looking nothing like Daisy’s (or Honey’s) imagined hero.  The real Marshal is nearly bald, one inch over five feet, practices Kung fu and his heroic mount is Molly, his mule.

But all’s well that ends well. Cole is redeemed, the bad guys are captured, the town is saved and Daisy gets her man. In the process we meet hilarious characters, memorable colloquialisms, a clever, engaging plot and fine writing. .All of which recommends Roger’s Much Ado About Marshals as everything to do about a charming, well-written romp.   Reviewed by Taylor Lee, author


6 Responses to “Book Reviews”

  1. Your blog looks great, Taylor!
    I adored this read myself. Keep up the great posts!

  2. Taylor,

    Loved your review of “Untitled”. You made me want to read it even more.

    rivawriter (at) yahoo (dot) com

  3. Thanks for being a proud sponsor of M-a-B.

  4. I left the wrong email addr with my last comment, if it makes a difference.

  5. Lovely review of Untitled. Makes me want to read it all the more.

  6. This was a very good review of the book Untitled thank you for more insight into this book.

    Teresa K.

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