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, July 25, 2014

Book Reviews … SNHU MFA’ers kicking ass and taking names … Tony Dungy … Political pictures of the week … Stella book deal ... Jesus debate …


The Execution of Willie Francis, Gilbert King … a wonderfully written book about one of the more embarrassing moments in American history (not just the south because this was a case that could’ve been overturned). Willie Francis, wrongfully accused and convicted and then sentenced to death twice, as it turned out, was 15 years old at the time of his arrest, 16 when he was sentenced. Without going into the details of how this poor kid was railroaded by the criminals wearing badges and sitting on benches (judges) in Louisiana in 1946 (you’ll have to read the book), Willie Francis was electrocuted during his first execution, but survived because of the chair’s failure to exact the necessary amount of electricity (faulty wiring, maybe?) to kill. Instead, he suffered electrocution just short of death and was re-sentenced to go through the same ordeal 6 days later. The book tells the tales of the battles of two lawyers working the same side of the tracks, but from different angles (an NAACP lawyer attempting to appeal on the law, and a local lawyer from the town of St. Martinsville (where Willie lived) shooting for an emotional appeal to the judges (one of which was the judge who heard Willie's case). This is a heartbreaking tale, but one that should be required reading for those in high schools across this country. The Trayvon Martin murder two years ago (I still consider it a murder), especially the law that allowed a grown man to shoot and kill a 17 year old because the grown man was losing a fight he’d instigated, is not so far removed from a state execution wherein the arrest, trial and sentence are all rigged in advance, and the result is the same thing—a dead black kid.

And remember, Gilbert King’s last book won the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction. Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys and the Dawn of a New America.

Read the New York Times review here:

Gilbert and I shared the best editor in the world, Peter Skutches (the Maestro).



Life After Life, Kate Atkinson … Your born, you die, your born again, you die again, and so on. And all the people and circumstances in life that occur between life and death (like whacking Adolf Hitler before he becomes Der Fuehrer) can alter all what might happen before your next death (in the case mentioned above, not very long as some of the future SS exacts immediate revenge). Confusing? It can be, but really isn’t once you’re into this novel about a girl/woman Ursula and her family as the forever changing tides of life ebb and flow, ultimately leading to a darkness none of us can escape. An interesting read that will leave the reader asking “what if” questions. What if there was never a village? After all, we are not born alone to die alone. Be prepared to feel stumped from time to time, at least until you get used to Ursula (and some of her family) dying off and returning with other chances at the same situations.

Recommended reading for the especially curious.

Get it here:

Next week’s book reviews include Steve Weddle’s Country Hardball and Christian Winn’s Naked Me, two short story collections.

SNHU MFA’ers kicking ass and taking names …

Kelly Stone Gamble continues on her tear through the literary world as The Choosing Game, is published in the Red Earth Review. Kelly Stone Gamble already has a couple of novels she’s shopping and one under contract. They Call Me Crazy is under contract with Red Adept Publishing. Currently in content editing, no release date yet.

Kelly Stone Gamble has a Bachelor of Arts in the Integrated Studies of History and Business Administration from Nevada State College, a Master of Arts in Humanities from California State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. Not too shabby, amici.

Check out the Red Earth Review publication here:

Kelly’s website is here:

Mike Hancock … The release of his debut novel, Fallen, happened yesterday. Mike is a graduate of the SNHU MFA program and has an incredible story behind this wonderful book. Check it out by clicking on the link.

Mike Hancock is a former wilderness guide and commercial fisherman, having spent seven years working in the mountains of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and New Mexico. Prior to that, he spent two seasons as a deckhand on board a factory trawler in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Now living in South Padre Island, Texas, he is an Adjunct Professor of English and freelance writer. He holds a B.A. in English Literature, and a M.F.A. in Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. Fallen has been edited by noted fiction and non-fiction writers Richard Adams Carey, Diane Les Becquets, Merle Drown, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes.

Susan Kennedy editor of two books released this week.

In Susan’s words: On Tuesday, July 22, my client Bishop O'Connell's debut novel, titled The Stolen, was released in ebook format by Harper Voyager Impulse. It is an urban fantasy that dares to wonder would happen if an ordinary person were thrown into a world of magic that she thought existed only in children's stories. That person is single mother Caitlin Brady, and she's thrown into that world by the kidnapping of her young daughter by dark faeries. She finds that determination alone is not enough to rescue her daughter and must accept help from three unlikely allies: a Fian warrior, a mysterious elf, and her closest friend--who is actually a novice wizard, but that is something he has never told her. Through the suburbs of Manchester, New Hampshire, and down the busy streets of Boston, Massachusetts, to the fabled land of Tir na nOg, the quartet race against time to unravel the faeries' plans and rescue Caitlin's daughter.

You can also learn more about Bishop at his blog, A Quiet Pint:

The Stolen will be available in paperback on August 5th. It is the first book in the An American Faerie Tale Series. The second book, titled The Forgotten, will be published in 2015.

Mike Hancock (Fallen) and I were classmates at Southern New Hampshire University's MFA Program (class of 2008, the MFA's inaugural class) and he was my first freelance client.

I'm thrilled that both of these books have been published. They're both great stories, compelling in their individual ways, and it was a privilege to work with both Mike and Bishop. I know they both have bright literary careers ahead of them.

Susan has worked as the Editorial Assistant of NH Writer at New Hampshire Writers' Project, Membership and Publications Coordinator at New Hampshire Writers' Project and a Graduate Assistant at Southern New Hampshire University


Tony Dungy … I don’t think anybody has anything bad to say about Mr. Dungy. I doubt his comments about the Michael Sam situation bore any malicious intent (to his mind). They were a bit offensive, as one person (a woman) wrote on a twitter to ESPN (I don’t have the quote exactly), but paraphrasing it here, it’s a pretty good knockdown. Dungy said he wouldn’t have drafted Sam because of the distractions it would cause (at some point) during a football season. As a coach, he represents the owners and all the owners (the vast majority, at least) want is to win. It’s a business based comment with the heightened awareness that NFL players come from mostly homophobic environments. Like I said, Dungy wasn’t being malicious (to his mind). What the woman wrote to ESPN went something like this: “And what about the rapists, murderers, wife-beaters, drug addicts, DWI’s? Aren’t they distractions, or is the NFL happy to look the other way because the players involved in such criminal behavior are superstars?”

I’m not sure she added that last line, but her point was well-made.

To the woman who tweeted: Women beating must not be a distraction in the NFL.

Maybe it’s his faith based world view that prompted Dungy’s comments. Maybe it was just what he considered the business of winning in the NFL. The bottom line is the woman made a much more valid point than did Dungy. Does that make him a bad person? I don’t think so, but I don’t like the implications of his comments one way or the other (i.e., his opinion isn’t digesting well). It’s a shame Michael Sam has to be scrutinized the way he is because of his sexual orientation, but this is an America that for many the teachings of their Jesus’ (or whatever other God they worship) are ignored for the most part. Look to the border situation and these days and listen to some of the protesters … and then look at these Bible passages:

Leviticus 19:33-34 … “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

Matthew 25:35 … “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me …”

Exodus 22:21 … “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”

Then there’s our own Knucks and his quote of the day: “Every single non-Native American in this country is here without an open invitation. Get over it border protesters and do the right thing.”

Eloquent, SOB, that Knucks fella, huh?

The above six are available right now for $.99 ... oy vey, what a deal! 

A Jesus debate … it’s a short one … the guy was explaining to me how we were all intended to be eternal (i.e., in God’s image) and I asked: “Then what was/is the point of life? If God is all knowing, omnipotent, and so on, why didn’t he just make us eternal? Why the big test? Why see if we’re subservient enough during a lifetime? Isn’t that a bit cruel? I mean, it’s like we’re taking this high school test for something that God already knows some of us won’t pass.” And the Jesus freak said, “God didn’t go to no stupid human high school.”

And I say: “Okay, but does He at least like pastrami?”


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Book Review (Obedience) … Series Review: The Killing … Diet Review (Moi) …


Obedience, by Jacqueline Yallop … an interesting tale that is slowly revealed around the tortured life of Sister Bernard, a 93 year old nun when we first meet her. Her past, particularly when she was 30 years old and serving at a convent in occupied French territory during WWII, is what this novel deals with; her past and its influence on her and those around her. God speaks to her, mostly criticizing and often yelling at her; reminding her of her faults and what needs to be done to stay in his best stead, but she had an inconvenient truth called desire that superseded his will. Her sexual relationship with a German soldier during the occupation yields far more than she could have expected. The good nun fell in love and while in love she mentioned something about the resistance movement to her lover and, well … no spoilers here. I enjoyed the back and forth timeline throughout the novel and was intrigued with each new twist to the story. This is a recommended read for everyone except those who cannot permit themselves to read anything outside of the fiction in the Bible, which they take as fact (oy friggin’ vey).

So, it’s a highly recommended read.

Get it here:

The Killing … Oh, Snap, I have a new favorite … and I’m even willing to ignore the sanctified politician (his very few flaws aren’t enough to be anywhere near what it takes to be what the majority of politicians are or become—soul selling scumbags) … even the stretching of plot and pretty much anything else one could criticize this series with doesn’t bother me because I (and the Principessa) absolutely loved the actors/characters/writing and directing. We were hooked instantly watching it on Netflix (Season 1/Episode 1) and binge-watched the first 3 seasons over four days and then wanted more (which comes as a Netflix production (so cursing/real dialogue will be permitted) starting August 1st.

Mireille Enos (Linden) was so good, I went so far as to watch her extremely limited role in that horrendous piece of shit movie with Brad Smith (World War Z), but quickly re-watched Season 1 of The Killing to remind myself how good an actress she really is (she wasn’t bad at all in the dopey zombie movie, but she wasn’t in it very much and the movie was just too stupid to acknowledge—it also took me 4 days to watch, but for very different reasons).

That said, Joel Kinnaman (Holder) was the character I enjoyed most throughout the series. Whoever wrote his lines, or if he adlibbed, they/he were/was great. “Oh, Snap, Linden rocked the booty call. 1-900 Linden.”

The entire cast was terrific, but special kudos to Brent Sexton, Jamie Anne Allman and Michelle Forbes … actually everybody was terrific in this … and August 1st can’t get here fast enough.

Reading Life after Life, by Kate Atkinson, this week. What’s with all the female authors, Knucks?

I don’t know, but I’m sure enjoying them.

Next two reads (in whichever order they arrive):

The Execution of Willie Francis, by Pulitzer Prize winning author of Devil in the Grove, Gilbert King

Naked Me, by Christian Winn

The Diet Review ... (what I forgot in the original post) ... 358 on March 5, 2014 ... 285 this morning (7-21-14) ... 27 pounds to 1 bill. Listen to me: I'm running a marathon next year ... even if it's to a pizza parlor where I can eat myself back to a Phat Dad.


Jefferson Airplane … Volunteers

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Book Reviews: A Small Sacrifice and All the Young Warriors … Two Fine Documentaries … A Terrific Movie … and Lebron who?


A Small Sacrifice … by Dana King … the JonBenét Ramsey story, Chicago Outfit style … Nick Forte has a sharp tongue, a very sharp tongue … but he’s also clever and full of righteousness … when he’s asked to take on a case to improve the public relations of the father of the murdered child (in this case, to prove a negative), he quickly finds himself the target of Chicago mobsters (the outfit) … hard guys who avoid the flash that brought down New York, but are every bit as ruthless. The narrative is crisp and full of sarcasm, the dialogue loaded with smart wisecracking, and the story moves quickly. It’s a first person noir delight with a couple of well-timed punches to the gut. King is one of the best around these days, so don’t miss out on this Shamus nominated thriller. Highly Recommended.

Get it here:

All the Young Warriors … by Anthony Neil Smith … a tight and compelling read that starts in the harsh cold of Minnesota, where two cops are slaughtered, and ends under the burning hot sun in Somalia. Things happen fast in this one. You’ll be hooked early on as one of the two cops murdered after a routine roadside stop is pregnant. Her lover (Bleeker) is also a cop, but he’s not on the scene. The killer, Jibrill, is a young Somali raised in the states but devoted to the Islamic fundamentalists seeking to transform the world by way of Sharia law. Alongside the killer is his best friend, Adem, whose father is a former radical Islamist who changed his ways for the sake of his son. Mustafa (Adem’s Dad) foresaw the direction all the young warriors were headed and decided to steer his blood away from the extremism. Adem is curious and wants to learn what it’s all about to be a Somali, not just one of those who’ve wound up in Minneapolis-St. Paul, but what it’s like back in the mother country. Then there’s Bleeker, hell bent on avenging his lover and child’s death. He wants the killer bad enough to chase him across the globe.

When the action turns to Somalia, it’s bloody and scary and well-research material. At first I wasn’t thrilled about the trip there, but I was quickly anxious to remain under the burning hot sun after reading just a few passages. Thomas Hobbes wasn’t kidding about the state of nature being nasty, brutish and short (and Somalia probably gets as close to a state of nature as is possible). One would think Hobbes ventured into the future to spend some time amongst all the young warriors.

This novel becomes more intriguing with each new scene, making it difficult to stop reading. I did so today on the way to the Dentist, while in the office (only stopping while I was being tortured), and then again on the way home (I read and walk all the time), and then finishing the epilogue at home before sitting down to write this review. In fact, I purposely put off posting the blog Friday (our usual posting date) because I wanted to finish All the Young Warriors after starting it earlier in the week (it was scheduled for review next week).

I say buy it and enjoy the adventure. It’s a compelling read you won’t want to put down. Anthony Neil Smith turns out yet another winner. This one is a current events, as well as a history lesson. It will hook you early and keep you entertained through to the finish. A compelling and exciting read, start to finish. Highly Recommended.

Get it here:

Hendrix … who knew he was a paratrooper? I didn’t. Who knew a guy that talented could be so shy? Who knew his first love was the blues? I didn’t. Who knew how often he carried a guitar around with him 24/7? A fine documentary available on Netflix. I was never a huge Hendrix fan because of some of the loud stuff (although I really enjoyed watching his drummer, Mitch Mitchell). Some of Hendrix music remains classic for me (Hey, Joe), but I always thought (and continue to think) that nobody played the guitar as well as Stevie Ray Vaughan. Hendrix certainly wasn’t any slouch. I just wished he would’ve had more time to explore what he apparently loved, the blues. Recommended.

Bettie Page … I’ve seen a movie about her, read some, too, but this one really goes into the background, especially late in life, about America’s favorite pin-up. The ultimate pioneer against the hypocrisy of censorship in the 50’s, she was also a strong-willed woman who didn’t take much shit from men. She was also fiercely loyal to friends. Unfortunately, she was affected (or infected) by the religious bug at a crucial point in her life and she suffered some mental issues, but she came back swinging and remains a fascinating woman to this day (six years after her passing). Highly recommended and also available on Netflix.

Two Lives … a movie about the double-dealing life of a spy in post-WWII East Germany and Norway … there’s nothing else to say without ruining this one with a spoiler, but it is an intriguing and wonderful (and heartbreaking) movie. EXTREMELY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Liv Ullmann stars …

LeBron who?

Well, actually, I’m really very happy that LeBron James is returning to the team he abandoned for the sake of buying champion rings. Although it didn’t turn out quite the way he wanted, only winning 2 out of 4 chances, this is probably the ONLY way he gets to challenge the all-time throne still owned by Michael Jordan. If he can win in Cleveland without amassing another big 3, he’ll gain some ground. Even a single championship in Cleveland will go a long way to restoring some of his glitter, but until then, his Airness continues to be #1 all time for us here at TK.

Now, anybody realize how close it is to hockey season again?

Stay thirsty, my friends …


Think these two are in love? Well, they’re married … the singers, I mean. Wonderful stuff … and two of the lines from the duet are inside our wedding rings, me and my bella, the Principessa Ann Marie.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Book Review (Unexploded) … Charlie Mantle at The Long Island Film Expo … Rangers no more (Callahan and Company) …


Unexploded … Alison MacLeod’s wonderful novel about a Brighton couple’s marital deterioration during World War II. The disaster that was Dunkirk has recently occurred. All of England is on alert for an invasion by Hitler’s Wehrmacht. German propaganda broadcasts warn the Brits daily, heightening the tension of those in Brighton. Evelyn and Geoffrey are a solid couple with a single son, Philip. Geoffrey is loyal to his banking job, but has also been assigned as head of an internment camp. Evelyn longs to do something other than wait for what everyone suspect is the worse. In the course of their trying times, Evelyn learns things about her husband she never knew before; his anti-Semitism for one thing; his willingness to abandon his family for the sake of his bank for another. She was from money with similar prejudices, except she hasn’t any, and had been anxious to marry Geoffrey just to get away from such nonsense.

Geoffrey has hid two cyanide capsules in a tin with money for his wife and child should the German’s invade and he’s already gone … but of course Evelyn finds them and their marriage deteriorates at great speed as

Upset at Geoffrey’s decision to save the bank and not his family leads Evelyn to discover the cyanide pills and their marriage begins a tailspin. She is forced to rethink everything … including some memories she once thought harmless. When she begins to read to patients at the camp for a sense of purpose, well, things change even more rapidly. She meets a German born artist, Otto, at the camp who has recently attempted to kill himself by swimming into the channel. Meantime, Geoffrey has developed an issue in the marital bed and he seeks comfort elsewhere.

There’s a wonderful subplot involving the 8 year old son, Philip and his friends, the anti-Semitism in the country and even Virginia Wolf makes an appearance and later disappears against the backdrop of the hell England suffered during the war.

The book is written in changing perspectives, which creates constant suspense for what comes next. Those two cyanide pills leave the reader dangling (and racing) to an ending that will surprise, yet fulfill expectations.

A wonderful read and VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Next books up are crime fiction … A small Sacrifice, by Dana King (review next week) and All the Young Warriors, by Anthony Neil Smith (review the week after) …

Long Island International Film Expo will be held at the Bellmore Movies from July 9 - 27, 2014 … a dear friend, Paul Vario, plays Detective Burns in a new Fred Carpenter film, called Charlie Mantle. It premieres July 12 in at the Bellmore film festival on Long Island. Armand Assante and Robert Funaro star. And for Howard Stern fans from the past, Jackie Martling is also in the film.

Check out the movie here:

and here ...

Read about the festival here.

Rangers no more …

Anton Stralman

Brian Boyle

Callahan and Company … the big hockey news this week had to do with July 1st Unrestricted Free Agency … and guess who’s coming to dinner in Tampa Bay? Defenseman, Anton Stralman (who was marvelous during his playoff performance this year) and one of my favorite Rangers, Brian Boyle … like Callahan, Boyle is a selfless player who throws himself in front of pucks and can hit with the best of them. This year in the finals, he tied for the Ranger lead in goals scored vs. the Kings with 2 in 5 games. Not too shabby. Tampa Bay gets two very seasoned veterans with playoffs experience who aren’t afraid to get down and dirty along the boards. The Bolts are making all the right moves … they have a wealth of young talent, a super-duper star in Stamkos, our main man, Callahan, and now three of the toughest and seasoned Rangers. 100 days to hockey season … I can’t wait!

Stralman on Clifford …

Boyle’s shorthanded magic …


The Doors Roadhouse Blues …

The Allman BrothersOne Way Out