Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
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"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).

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Reviews: books, movies and The Tower Journal … the Super Bust (and TK’s top 5 QB’s) … Facts that aren’t fun …


This Dark Road to Mercy, by Wiley Cash … after the sudden death of their mother, a pair of young sisters (Easter, a 12 year old and Ruby, a 6 year old) are under the care of a guardian and living in a foster home when they’re abducted by the father (Wade Chesterfield) who signed them over to their mother years earlier … but something has happened behind the scenes that has placed others people money in Wade’s hands … the people seeking that money (hire a dude named Pruitt (who has a pronounced beef with Wade). Both were former minor league baseball players and Wade once threw a fastball that caught Pruitt in the eye … the guardian (Brady Weller) is a former detective with a traumatic past that includes something that got him tossed from the police force … no spoilers … it’s a quick read made quicker by the page turning pace … it might end a bit too suddenly (it did for me), but it’s still an adventure once the chase begins. Set against the backdrop of MLB’s steroid race (cheaters Sosa & McGwire) to beat Roger Maris’ 61 home run record, this fast paced thriller is told by a few different characters (Easter, Pruit and Brady). This Dark Road to Mercy is a fine follow-up to the author’s best-selling debut, A Land More Kind Than Home.

Movies …

Ajami … a tough, moving collection of connecting stories told in no particular order (interactive, so to speak; different perspectives of the same issues) about life in this neighborhood of same name in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. This perspective may (it may) show those with a hardline pro-Israeli stance how life actually is in the occupied territories and/or the refugee camps (where these stories take place). It’s an interesting and tough movie, apparently nominated for the Academy Award (whatever that means), but that shouldn’t be held against it. Highly recommended.

The Attack … an Arab surgeon living in Tel Aviv with his Arab wife wins a prestigious award, but his wife isn’t there for the ceremony (she has to go to Nazareth to visit family) … the next day he’s at lunch at the hospital when a bomb goes off … he goes home that night and can’t reach his wife on the phone … the next day he’s brought to a hospital to identify the remains of his wife … he’s taken into custody … she’s believed to have been the suicide bomber … no spoilers here … a very good movie … another highly recommended one.

The Other Woman … this one surprised me (how good I found it). Natalie Portman is the other woman in a relationship that comes with an 11 year old boy … she’s an associate at a firm who winds up in a relationship with a partner and is eventually his wife and the stepmother of said 11 year old. She gets pregnant but then the child dies 3 days after its birth. As I said, I wasn’t expecting much, but this one surprised me throughout. Definitely recommended.

12 Years a Slave … wow, this one really disappointed me. A very compelling story (since it’s based on a true one), I thought it was dragged out in the wrong way and then suddenly came to an abrupt end that absolutely didn’t satisfy. This one is also nominated for an academy award (and that probably should be held against it). Just disappointing with all I had expected. I especially didn’t like Ridley's screenplay … not at all.

The Tower Journal  … Time restraints kept me from reading all the stories, so there are some mini-reviews with links, and then authors with links to their stories. Don’t get confused … just read on …

PLEASE NOTE: As it turns out, all the links below will bring you to the index and you'll have to click on the individual index links to get to each story (just look to your left and cursor over the author's names) ... oy vey ...

One of my favorite reads over the last few years was Merle Drown’s, The Suburbs of Heaven … reviewed here at TK (click on link). Now there’s a cousin to the wonderful characters in Suburbs, currently titled Pa … and Chapter 1 is featured (as is the author) in The Tower Journal … Pa’s had a stroke, but doesn’t trust doctors, dentists or hospitals or pretty much anything or anybody aside from himself. This next line relates directly to Suburbs … His grand-daughter had delivered her first child and was living with a seventeen year old husband, Leo Fesmire who was too lazy to work and too dumb to steal.

I loved the characters in The Suburbs of Heaven, so I can’t wait for Pa

R.W.W. Greene has a piece called The Ass Kicking. Journalism with a fun philosophical twist about lazy people vs. workers. Rick had a new motto for life (lazy people make more work for the rest of us), except Jack actually lives the working part … enter Megan, a wannabe journalist looking for and the opportunity to have her ass-kicked to make her great … All three are very well-defined characters I’d love to see/read more of this one (somebody say novel?) … in the meantime, this is a real interesting read.

Kelly Stone Gamble also has a piece in this called, MENTESSEG … a nursing instructor, a student, holocaust survivor and his proclivity to do something odd during meals. A quick and intense read.

Ted Flanagan has a story titled Grinding. This one has to do with a war veteran (Kane) working at a dull job amongst dull men doing their life’s time (not in prison—the other life’s time). When Kane learns about a fellow vet/worker who has recently died, he wants to show respect and decides to do so … there’s also a date and a discovery of cash (a life changer) Kane can’t keep for himself …

Read Grinding here:

Derrick Craigie has a piece called What They’ve Done … Isaac at ages 8 is catching beatings from his alcoholic father at home (just for being there at the wrong time) and then again from some of the boys in the neighborhood (for being Jewish). Isaac has a silent crush on Alexa (a Russian girl who is kind to him) … at age 15 Isaac and Alexa find each other more intimately, but the bad boys (Angus is one) can’t leave Isaac alone … and then Isaac nails Angus, surprising himself and a Russian gangster who has witnessed it (and who provides Isaac with an option) … Isaac goes to work for the gangster and eventually kills a man … he becomes part of the gang (vors working for the Bratva--Redfellas) and he earns his tattoos (makes his bones) … and meets up with Alexa once again (now a woman) …

Elizabeth Plourde had a story titled, Sons and Brothers …

Read Sons and Brothers here:

Sarah Caouette has a story titled, Playing Ball on the Borderline

Read Playing Ball on the Borderline here:

Yes, amici, the above include one established author and mentor at SNHU's MFA program, and the rest are establishing authors who have graduated from the same program.


To put it bluntly, Bruno Mars was the highlight from this year’s Super Bowl.

Defense Wins Championships … please take note up in Buffalo. Pretty please? Remember when you were a smash mouth football team in 1990 for more than half the season (before you flipped to the no-huddle/no win super bowls offense)? Yeah, most fans liked it (not me), and yeah, you scored all kinds of points, but then you caught a smarter coaching staff in SB 25 (it was more like a coaching clinic) and even with giving the game away, it took a missed field goal to send us on a record setting slide that will NEVER be reproduced (4 straight SB losses, the last 3 absolute embarrassments). In fact, the next three Bills SB’s were as big and bad a joke as the fiasco this past Sunday.

First off, let’s face it, statistics in 2014 are grossly inflated as opposed to the stats of yesteryear (1960’s, 70’s & 80’s). The NFL defers to what its audience enjoys, high scoring games. Phooey on them, but there’s no denying the fact that offenses today have a much easier time piling on stats than those back when their QB’s weren’t protected like the Mona Lisa, receivers were bounced around like pin-balls (when you pretty much had to mug a receiver to get hit with a pass-interference call) and never mind the fact that offensive linemen couldn’t use their hands to block back in the day (or that off-sides calls weren’t influenced by the defense moving--encroachment? Really? Please).

I’m sure I’m leaving out something else (or other rule changes) that aid and abet what was the “highest scoring offense in NFL history” this year, but let’s face it, it’s all pretty much meaningless when that type of offense comes up against a truly great defense (and, yes, defenses today, to perform the way the Sea Pigeon defense did last Sunday, have to be quicker, stronger, and more agile than they were in yesteryear, so Seattle probably does have one of the very best defense ever, if not the best).

The bottom line: The old ground and pound mentality ain’t dead yet, youngsters (Mssrs. Kelly & Marrone), and DEFENSE still wins championships.

As for Peyton Manning and his legacy … anyone who doubts he was/is a great QB is just foolish. Whether he was number 1 or even in the top 5 is a much harder sell (at least to me). I’m not a fan of statistics and/or awards (in anything), and it seems to me he’s racked up his biggest numbers under the most ideal conditions (a dome, weakened defenses, weak defenses, the golden age of PIs and defensive holding calls that provide extra first downs, etc.) … if I had to rank them, here’s my top 5 (based on QB’s I actually saw play):

1. Tom Brady (he just is)

2. Joe Montana (he might be interchangeable with the guy above)

3. Aaron Rodgers

4. Steve Young

5. Bart Starr

What? (yous say) … Where TF are Favre, Marino, Elway and Brees?

Way too many interceptions from those fellas for me to rank them in the top 5. The guys above are the ones I’d want on my team.

What about next year, Knucks?

Next year, let’s face it, my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills will be back and ready to kick ass. Hell, they haven’t lost a game yet this year and the best offense in the history of the league has already lost one.

Actually, next year I look forward to the Rangers being very used to Alain Vigneault’s system and thus being one of the very top contenders for the Stanley Cup … assuming they don’t trade Captain, Ryan Callahan and I have to switch over to the Brooklyn Islanders because of it.

Facts that aren’t fun …

See the above? Does it make sense to you because they’re job creators? If so, you need to take a look back to 2008 and all the people Wall Street sent packing (and has yet to rehire) … If it still makes sense to you, that’s just a shame.


Zimmerman vs. DMX … that’s right, amici, you’re seeing this right … a punk who shot and killed a 17 year old kid wants some from rapper DMX (whoever he is) … we’ll obviously be rooting for DMX to show up and have at least as much as the 17 year old who allegedly kicked the living shit out of Zimmerman ... so bad one might argue that the Z-man was embarrassed into using his trusty sidearm (killing the kid).

All men are created equal … well, here we go again … the 16 year old rich kid who was drunk behind the wheel and killed 4 people and maimed two others (1 of the 2 survivors is paralyzed) and then got off based on an “Affluenza” defense (he was spoiled by his parents who allowed him to flaunt the law since he was 13) … well, the same judge apparently didn’t get her copy of the Declaration of Independence … The case caused an uproar, especially since it was revealed that in 2012, the judge sentenced a 14 year-old black youth to 10 years in prison for striking a man who fell and struck his head on the pavement and later died. See more at:


Michael Shrieve’s at 19 on drums at Woodstock with Carlos Santana … Soul Sacrifice … I can’t tell yous how many times I’ve watched this video … this is a shortened version of his electrifying solo (bastards) … he plays it off-snare …

Janis Joplin … Ball and Chain …

Janis … Cry Baby …