Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
Buon Giorno, Amici!

Our motto ...

Leave the (political) party. Take the cannoli.

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Friday, August 31, 2012

Charity Short Story Collection for Kids … Book Reviews … Movie Reviews … Broken Compass Society ...


Protectors: Stories to Benefit PROTECT (The National Association to Protect Children) … Available tomorrow, September 1, 2012. This is a charity promotion: 41 short stories from 41 crime authors … the proceeds go directly to The National Association to Protect Children. None of the writers are taking a dime (so purchase this and the kids benefit).

The Lost Children anthology:

Book Reviews:

Tequila Sunset, Sam Hawken ... the Mexican-American problems with the drug war and its offshoots meet at the border of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. In the epigraph to Sam Hawken’s latest, Tequila Sunset, the reader is alerted to the following: The city of El Paso, Texas is the safest city in the United States. Across the border, in Mexico, Ciudad Juárez is the murder capital of the world, with over 7,500 killed since 2006.

Anything involving drugs and gangs on either side of the border bodes danger for all involved—the good guy cops and the bad guy drug cartels (and their soldiers) … and too often it is innocent civilians caught in the crossfire of what war terminology labels: collateral damage.

A young man (Flip) has just completed a four year stretch, but is beholden to those inside the joint who took him under their wing (members of the Aztecas gang). Afraid of what his gang connections will lead him to (especially afraid of returning to prison), Flip contacts local detectives in El Paso and becomes an informant. One of the detectives he deals with is the single parent of an autistic kid that cannot have his day fall out of the routine she’s worked so hard to establish. She’s a detective with enough of a heart to care about her new CI, but once she’s dragged into a federal multi-taskforce operation (involving the FBI, ATF and their counterparts across the border, including local law enforcement), Flip’s life becomes one tension-filled moment to the next. He’s met a girl at a party of the guy he’s looking to help take down and they fall in love; another complication to think about while trying to take down the Aztecas. And then there’s his mother’s new boyfriend, a decent guy who gives him a job and gets caught in the web of Mob favors. The Aztecas hook Flip up and expect to be hooked up in spades in return.

Meanwhile, across the border, another decent cop does his best to fight the Aztecas, except on his turf, Ciudad Juárez, it is always open season on the law and an attempt is made on his life after he dines with his wife in a local restaurant. The intrigue is stepped up with each page and the reader is further engaged with each of the main characters and the subplots around Flip’s falling victim to good intentions. Life as a CI proves as dangerous as life as a gang member; the uncontrollable variables that people and their intentions prove to be never lead to the promises of a new life and a new start. Does it happen here? Can it happen here? No spoilers, amici ... read Sam Hawken’s second fine novel dealing with Ciudad Juárez and find out. Read Tequila Sunset.

Tequila Sunrise is a fine follow-up to Sam Hawken’s wonderful debut, The Dead Women of Juárez (review here):

About the Author, Tim Woodward

From his website: Timothy Woodward grew up in a small town in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where Saturday evening trips to the local ice cream shop were a town ritual. Later he moved to the city where he was a high school teacher and an advocate for GLBT youth with Greater Boston PFLAG. In the city, ice cream shops have been replaced by frozen yogurt stores, but Timothy still goes back to his hometown for their ice cream.

Timothy has BAs in film and writing from the University of Southern California and an MFA in Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. He currently lives in Las Vegas.

If I Told You So is a fine debut; a coming-out story of a 16-year-old living in a small town. Sean is the single child of divorced parents, lives with his mother and is dating a girl safely saving herself for marriage, except he’s not really dating anyone. Although he recognizes the signs were always there, with the help of a street saavy vacationing co-worker (whom he meets at a job he’s taken to avoid a summer with his father in Georgia), he’s able to admit to himself, and eventually his mom and the rest of the world, his sexuality. It’s a nicely told story that not only deals with some of the issues coming-out might encounter in small town America, it also presents the overwhelming feelings of a first love, a first heartbreak, and although in this story a second love appears somewhat sooner than might usually happen, there’s that as well.

I was there the day my sister came out to my father and I’ll never forget the look on his face when she told him; immediately after he and a friend of his traded gay jokes at the counter of Miteras, a diner on the corner of McDougal and West Third Streets in Greenwich Village back in the early 1970’s.

“Daddy, I thought you knew I was gay,” my sister said.

My father swallowed hard and turned pale. After she strategically gave him a few minutes to compose himself by going to grab a Sunday Times from a newsstand, he turned to me and said, “That was like a kick in the balls.”

I’m pretty sure it was what she meant it to be like ... in retaliation for the gay bashing jokes.

Sean’s support system turns out to be a more convivial atmosphere than one might expect, but no amount of help can alleviate the inherent anxiety of a 16-year-old having to face off with their family, friends and neighbors, never mind the rest of their small town. Until books with stories about gay kids are on the shelves of our school libraries, gay kids coming into their own will have more to deal with than they should.

And so long as there are lunatics out there attempting to “pray the gay away”, the likelihood of gay coming-out books finding space on school library shelves is remote ... and that will be a shame, because books like this fine debut by Tim Woodward can only help.

Movie Reviews:

North Face … From IMDb: Based on a true story, North Face is a suspenseful adventure film about a competition to climb the most dangerous rock face in the Alps. Set in 1936, as Nazi propaganda urges the nation's Alpinists to conquer the unclimbed north face of the Swiss massif - the Eiger - two reluctant German climbers begin their daring ascent.

This is a terrific movie, amici. It is loaded with suspense and some truly terrifying mountain climbing scenes …

A Woman in Berlin … From IMDb ... the Russian army enters Berlin and vengeance is exacted on the civilian population, especially the women of Berlin. A tough but engrossing movie.


Last week I learned I have arthritis in my lower back (to go along with the other arthritis I’ve learned about this year). While Momma Stella blames football, weightlifting and weight gaining, I choose to blame our genetic makeup (i.e., her). At least it’s good for a laugh every week. Today the theme is vendetta … so here are two of my favorite Scenes from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (and one of my heroes) …

Don’t you love it when a man works efficiently?

At Last My Arm Is Complete AGAIN!!!! I don’t know about yous, but I get goosebumps at the end of this scene.