Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
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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).

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The NHL Playoffs are here … Bookgasm on Tommy Red … CROOKED HILLARY'S stretch run toward the Democratic Convention …


Bolts take down the Red Wings in 5 games … it started with back-to-back street brawls on ice … the Lightning and the Red Wings were logging the most penalty minutes in the playoffs. A check turned into a shoving match, turned into a brawl on ice. With the Bolts ahead 2 games to 0 in the series, after winning both home games, the show went on the road to Detroit. There the Wings out-hustled and out-played the Lightning, and goalie Petr Mrazek, just like last year, shut the Bolts out, 2-0. It was a dominating performance that had Lighting fans (this one) wondering if maybe the first two games were a bit of a fluke.

And then came games 4 & 5. The rebirth of a mostly dormant power play in game 4 lifted the Bolts to a 3 games to 1 advantage. The Red Wings were thrust into a nasty hole for their return to Tampa Bay.

Throughout the series, Ben Bishop was doing what hockey fans, coaches and teammates dream of. I believe they call it “standing on his head.” This Bolts fan believes without Bishop in net, this series may well have been over in 4 games with the Red Wings moving on to the next round. Bishop was truly THAT GOOD.

Fortunately, Bishop was one of the few Lightning stars not injured. Stamkos and Stalman are gone for the foreseeable future. J.T. Brown has been out. Several Bolts players are on the ice with injuries they’re playing through. We have a bunch of kids in the lineup, and although our defense looks shaky at times, it was never worse than in game 5.

Bishop to the rescue. He stopped 4 breakaways (3 in the second period alone) in a game that appeared to be headed for overtime. The Bolts came close a few times, but not nearly as close (or as often) as the Red Wings. Still, Bishop held serve and with just 1:46 on the clock, Ryan Callahan took the puck the length of the ice, tossed it in behind the net, hustled after it, stole it from a Wings defensemen, passed it in front of the net, and Alex Killorn tapped it in for what would prove to be the game and series winner. Bishop earned his 1-0 shutout and the Bolts took the series 4 games to 1. They will appreciate the much needed rest to heal some wounds and maybe get Stamkos back if the Panthers-Islanders series goes to 7?

Not mentioned above, but impossible to overlook, was the Tampa Bay power play kill. Two times in the series the Red Wings had a 5 on 3 advantage for longer than 1 full minute, and both times the Bolts penalty-kill units stymied the Wings. In fact, the Wings were stymied throughout the series, netting just 1 power play goal in the entire series.

The things Callahan and Boyle do without reservation: block shots like nobody else in the league. In fact, it was a Rangers game I watched one night a few years ago when I first became a hockey/Callahan fan that most impressed me. Cally didn’t have a stick but was out there blocking shots and making a hit when it his time to come off the ice. I’ve seen that several times since (with him wearing both Ranges and Bolts sweaters). Same goes for Brian Boyle. He also lays it on the line each and every shift, as does Anton Stralman when he's on the ice. Think the Strangers are missing those three now?


Bookgasm likes Tommy Red …

After eight crime novels depicting contemporary East Coast mobsters, it’s tempting to wonder if author Charlie Stella can bring anything new to the setting and characters.

But if Stella’s latest TOMMY RED, published by Stark House Press, is any indication, he has far from exhausted the potential of these troublemakers. While the basic story elements of this new novel seem familiar, the depth of Stella’s characters as well as the subtle underlying themes bring a fresh perspective to the plot and players.

Tommy Dalton (known on the street as “Tommy Red”) is an experienced hired assassin. But that’s something he’d rather his college-age daughter, Alysha, not know. But Tommy’s ex-wife is on an honesty kick and insists on telling Alysha exactly what it is her father does for a living.

Alysha’s concern is genuine, but it’s the last thing Tommy needs. Especially since he was recently contracted by the Cirelli crime family to take out Dominick Farase, a convicted felon who is about to testify against the Cirelli family.

Then the Cirellis get nervous and decide to remove all evidence of the hit – including Tommy Red. But the attempt to kill Tommy fails, and now Tommy is determined to take revenge on the Cirellis, even though it will further separate him from what little true family he has left.
Stella presents the story in two main parts with sections titled by the location where the events take place. And at less than 200 pages, Stella packs a surprising amount of action into his story in a variety of locations in and around New York City.

As usual Stella’s ear for dialogue is amazingly authentic and accurate, which not only lends credibility to each of his characters but also adds to the headlong pace of the narrative.

At times, however, it is a little difficult to follow the plot; especially as Stella follows every individual involved with both Tommy and the Cirellis, and then introduces the FBI agents and local cops assigned to investigate the string of recent killings. Then too Stella includes back-story reminiscing – some lasting a few paragraphs — with only a few words to indicate the shift in time. But the small perseverance needed to keep up proves well worth the effort as Stella unites all plot and character ingredients by the novel’s conclusion.

Simmering underneath all the action and dialogue is the understated themes of change and regret. The young head of the Cirelli family knows that the days when mobsters were nothing less than stand-up guys is long past – especially whenever he deals with his father, who used to run the various family businesses. Tommy too can’t help but notice that jailed mobsters these days would rather deal their way out of a jail sentence than quietly serve their time. And all too often such deals results in ratting out previous partners and even family members. It’s this new and different world that causes the mobsters and hit men to wonder if their life-threatening efforts are worth the diminishing rewards.

These themes and the way they influence almost every character elevates the novel from a simple story of murder and revenge. At the same time they demonstrate Stella’s familiarity with present-day criminals and cops, and his mastery at presenting tales that illustrate their world and inner emotions.

While Stella’s name is not as well-known as other current crime authors whose works immediate land on national best-seller lists, he is every bit their equal and deserving of the attention.

For those who have yet to discover the joy of Stella’s work, TOMMY RED is a good a place start as any. —Alan Cranis (Bookgasm)

Get Tommy Red here:

The stretch run toward the Democratic Convention … oy vey, it looks as though the Democrats are willing to be flushed down the toilet with a candidate carrying more baggage than Imelda Marcos had shoes. So be it … but even though her nomination was supposed to be a coronation, it is more than likely that the DNC will have to resort to “super delegates” to get her above the necessary delegate total to win the nomination.

Bernie supporters are crying out for him to wait out the convention and then either walk away, run as an independent, and/or join Jill Stein and the Green Party. The DNC made it impossible for him to win this nomination, and his supporters have put in way too much time, effort, and coin to accept Bernie endorsing a candidate who fully represents the EXACT issues his campaign has been fighting all along: corruption. Bernie is unwilling to say it, but Donald Trump, and/or Bernie supporters, aren’t afraid to say it: CROOKED HILLARY is as dirty as the day is long, and we suspect the name Trump gave her will stick like crazy glue come the general election. It will remind independents across the country of Clinton fatigue and all the scandals in their wake. We don’t see how CROOKED HILLARY wins in November.

And we look forward to her defeat and the DNC getting their just rewards.


The fun this guy is going to have running against CROOKED HILLARY ...