Author Archives: ccmal

The House on Tradd Street

The House on Tradd Street 
Author: Karen White
Publisher: New American Library
Reviewed by:  Cheryl C. Malandrinos


Brilliant and engrossing, The House on Tradd Street by Karen White brings the reader through Charleston’s deep-rooted history and Confederate legends to uncover a story of passion, heartbreak, and murder.

Real estate agent Melanie Middleton visits with the elderly Nevin Vanderhorst just days before his unexpected death. Melanie isn’t much into historic homes–even though she sells them for a living. She much prefers new construction, free of the ghosts that she’s seen since childhood. When she inherits Vanderhorst’s historic Tradd Street home she is less than thrilled, but their meeting and Nevin’s letter about the mother he is sure would never have abandoned him encourage her to restore the house at 55 Tradd Street and try to unravel the mystery surrounding Louisa Vanderhorst’s sudden disappearance.

In walks stunningly gorgeous Jack Trenholm, a true-crime writer obsessed with unsolved mysteries. He believes that the diamonds from the missing Confederate Treasury are stashed inside the house. Using Louisa‘s story Jack is able to convince Melanie to let him help with the restoration of the house in exchange for allowing him to perform research for his next book.

Neither of them quite knows what they are getting into. An evil ghost also resides in the house on Tradd Street and it doesn’t want Melanie or Jack telling Louisa’s story. How far will this spirit go to keep a secret?

This book captured me from the very first sentence. Steeped in Charleston’s history and Civil War legends, The House on Tradd Street is a rare gem among paranormal mysteries. Exquisitely told, rich in descriptions, and filled with multi-faceted characters whose past lives are eloquently woven into each others, I was sad to read the last word of this moving novel.

White gets right to the heart of things by blending family secrets, love, legends, and the charm of the South, creating an emotional tale that will leave you begging for more. The cover art is strikingly handsome and truly completes one of the best novels I’ve read in my lifetime.

Lovers of southern fiction, paranormal mysteries, and moving stories that tug at the heartstrings will want to read The House on Tradd Street by Karen White.


Filed under Paranormal Romantic Suspense, Southern Fiction

Kindred Spirits

Kindred Spirits 
Author: Marilyn Meredith
Publisher: Mundania Press, LLC.
Reviewed by:  Cheryl C. Malandrinos



Murder, ghostly visions, and a quest for justice are woven together to create an engaging story in Kindred Spirits, the latest in Marilyn Meredith‘s Deputy Tempe Crabtree series.

A forest fire rushes through the mountains of Bear Creek as Tempe searches for local artist Vanessa Ainsworth. When Vanessa’s body turns up inside her burnt out studio with a bullet hole, Detectives Morrison and Richards seek Tempe’s help in finding out who could have behind what might have been a perfect murder.

Even though Tempe and Hutch’s marriage is on the rocks, Tempe takes a trip to Crescent City to visit with Vanessa’s family and friends to see if she can find any clues to who might have wanted Vanessa dead. Tempe’s involvement in the case puts her in danger, but she knows she’ll never be rid of the ghostly visions haunting her until she brings Vanessa’s killer to justice.

In this installment of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, Meredith brings back Tempe, Hutch, and members of the Bear Creek Sheriff’s Office and gives them a mission: to prove who killed local artist, Vanessa Ainsworth. While in Judgment Fire–the book before this one in the series that I reviewed here–Tempe and the gang had a full slate of suspects, in Kindred Spirits their efforts are combined to prove the one person who couldn’t possibly have committed the crime, did it. And even though I typically prefer a “who done it” kind of mystery, this novel had me on the edge of my seat as Tempe dodged threat after threat to bring Vanessa’s murderer to justice.

Again Meredith has woven Native American history, small town charm, and a quest for the truth to provide an entertaining read for mystery and crime fans. And while Tempe is still dealing with the prejudice of being the only woman in the Bear Creek Sheriff’s Office, she finds Detective Morrison an unexpected ally in this latest installment, perhaps forever changing their working relationship and making me eager to see what the next book will bring for Morrison and Tempe. True to form, Meredith has made the personal lives of her characters an integral part of the story and the reader is eager to see if Tempe and Hutch, her minister husband, can find their way back to each other. Involving Hutch in Tempe’s case makes for many tense moments as they each deal with concern for the other’s safety, even though they are worlds apart on issues that might have forever changed their marriage.

A great read that mystery and crime readers will certainly enjoy, Kindred Spirits proves why Marilyn Meredith‘s fans keep coming back for more!


Filed under Crime fiction, Mystery

Dear God Let Me Lose Fat Amen!

Dear God Let Me Lose Fat Amen?
Authors: J.R. Paine and Dr. S.N. Gupta, Ph.D.
Publisher: BookSurge, LLC
Reviewed by:  Cheryl C. Malandrinos



Are you seeking for a way to better understand the nutritional value of foods? Do you know the difference between nutritional calories, killer calories, and fat calories? Are you tired of the roller coaster of gaining weight, losing weight, gaining weight…?

If you said yes to any of the above, you’ll want to check out Dear God Let Me Lose Fat Amen! by J.R. Paine and Dr. S.N. Gupta. In this book the authors have managed to squeeze a monsterous amount of information into only 50 pages and those 50 pages could make all the difference in your eating habits.

Paine and Gupta discuss how obesity and being overweight are not beauty issues, but “life and limb” issues. They provide anatomical information on the stomach and show the reader what her body does with the food she eats. You’ll find out more about protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, “friendly” and “unfriendly” fats, water, salt, and sugar.

This book teaches you how to gain or lose a pound of fat a day, provides helpful weight control formulas and dieting information. The last several pages include motivational material that can be used to keep you from overeating and encourage you to exercise.

When this book came in the mail it’s small size made me think this might be one of those quick weight loss programs, but Dear God Let Me Lose Fat Amen! is a truly remarkable approach to weight loss because it not only provides you the information you need to make smart choices about your diet, it also provides the motivation to stick with your new lifestyle and it encourages the reader to speak with her doctor and nutrition professionals. And while I don’t see me posting all the pinups around my house, I know that the “Foods to Eat and Love” chart–which groups healthy goods into five categories–will be stuck to my refrigerator and encourage me to make healthier selections when putting together my grocery list.

My only disappointment is that the editing is sloppy. I found numerous typographical errors–four of them on the first page of the book.

Speaking as someone who struggles to maintain her weight, not to lose it, I see Dear God Let Me Lose Fat Amen! as being the answer to a lot of people’s prayers as society moves toward healthy living.

If you are at all interested in what you put into your body and how your body uses it, then buy this book!


Filed under Health and Fitness, Self-Help

Sam’s Quest for the Crimson Crystal

Sam’s Quest for the Crimson Crystal
Author: Ben Furman
Publisher: Black Hawk Press, Inc.
Reviewed by:  Cheryl C. Malandrinos

An entertaining and exciting read awaits young adult readers in Sam’s Quest for the Crimson Crystal by Ben Furman.

Samantha Mae Costas (Sam) is not your typical heroine. Her small size and thick glasses have made her the butt of many jokes and her asthma attacks are embarrassing and difficult to control.

When Prince Buznor pleads with her to come to Innerworld, Sam discovers she’s a legend. She must push aside self-doubt and fear to find the Crimson Crystal so she can save the Awokian people from elimination.

Sam’s Quest for the Crimson Crystal is a fun read. Young people will easily relate to Sam’s feelings of self-doubt and how she deals with her asthma separating her from her friends when she can no longer participate in soccer. And this is part of what makes Sam’s role in Innerworld so delightful. She is thrust into a battle that tests her limits and is forced to reconsider everything she believes about herself.

In addition to Prince Buznor (Buzz), Sam meets a host of interesting characters along the way: Captain Gorn, who has trained all the soldiers and who is a good friend of Buzz and his family; Kryton, the leader of the dragonflies who can communicate with Sam; and Raptor, a bird who also has reptilian features, along with an eclectic group of others. Many friendships are forged along the journey, and Patch, Sam’s trusted and faithful canine companion has such a strong personality that you would swear he was human.

With Sam’s Quest, Furman has created a fun new world for fantasy lovers to explore.

A terrific, satisfying, and entertaining story that will leave you begging for more. I eagerly anticipate the release of the next book in the Sam’s Quest trilogy.


Filed under Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Organic for Health

Organic for Health
Author: Sandy Powers
Publisher: iUniverse
Reviewed by: Cheryl Malandrinos

Are you concerned about what’s being added to the food you and your family eat? Are you confused about the nutritional value of certain fruits and vegetables? Are you looking for new recipes for cooking with organic food? Then pick up a copy of Organic for Health by Sandy Powers.

This short book gives you insight into the advantages of eating organic foods over non-organic foods and also provides a list of which fruits and vegetables are antioxidants, immune boosters, and/or phytonutrients. It also offers the interested reader a way to get started growing their own organic foods. I really liked that Powers provided resources for where readers can find organic products if they aren’t available in their local grocery stores. I would have preferred some footnotes to make fact checking easier and I found myself wanting to know more about organic gardening, but overall Powers made a persuasive argument for going organic.

I applaud the author’s efforts in providing a book that gives readers a reason to not only consider making organic foods a staple in their home, but also gives them the resources to make it happen. Powers is obviously passionate about the subject, a good trait for any author. There is much to be learned by reading Organic for Health.

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Filed under Non-Fiction, Women's Issues

Beneath a Buried House

Beneath a Buried House
Author: Bob Avey
Publisher: Deadly Niche Press
Reviewed by:  Cheryl Malandrinos

If you enjoy unusual mysteries with multiple twists and turns, then check out Bob Avey’s latest novel, Beneath a Buried House.

Tulsa Police Detective Kenny Elliot has a keen sense for the unusual. The death of a John Doe from an overdose seems like an easy case–to everyone except Elliot. He’s sure there is more to it than meets the eye. His mission to discover the truth finds him deceived at every turn and makes him the target of an unknown danger.

In this second book of Avey’s Detective Elliot series I found much to enjoy. The characters are well-developed and complex; the plot thickens as the list of potential suspects increases; and I never expected the ending.

I haven’t read the first book in this series, Twisted Perception, but now I’m more curious than ever to see where Elliot got his start and how he solved his first case.

This book started off a bit slow because it is told from several points of view. The reader is introduced to eight characters who play a significant role in the book within the first six chapters and there is also a reference to a person from Elliot’s past that plays a role in forming Elliot’s relationship with women. But at a certain point the story picks up as the clues come together and Beneath a Buried House becomes a real page-turner. I couldn’t put it down until I finished the last page.

My only disappointment is that Avey ignored an important event towards the end that intefered with how the rest of the story played out. No matter how I tried to get around it, I couldn’t, and it spoiled what could have been a perfect ending.

Beneath a Buried House is a thrilling, suspenseful mystery that will have you waiting to see what case Elliot has to solve next.



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Filed under Mystery

The River, By Moonlight

The+River+By+MoonlightThe River, By Moonlight
Author: Camille Marchetta
Publisher: Publishing, Inc. 

Reviewed by:  Cheryl Malandrinos 


There are times as a reviewer that I feel inadequate. That no matter how eloquently I string together words, they fail to convey all that I found within the pages of a book. Such is the case with The River, By Moonlight by Camille Marchetta.

On a rainy, gloomy night in April 1917, young artist Lily Canning falls to her death, drowning in New York City’s Hudson River. The vagrant who jumped in to try and save her tells police he doesn’t think it was an accident. As Lily’s family and friends try to come to terms with her death, they question why she would consider suicide at a time when her life was finally coming together. Having lived through the loss of her beloved father and a short, but horrific marriage, Lily’s first art show was coming up soon. It seems incomprehensible that she would choose to end it all now. But could she have done it? And what would this sudden loss mean to those who were left behind to go on living without her?

The River, By Moonlight is one of the finest pieces of literary work I have read in years. Told from the perspectives of family, friends, and the men who loved her–and there are many of those–the complex person who was Lily Canning unfolds like a blooming rose, starting off small, until it fully opens to reveal all its hidden treasures.

This story invokes strong emotions from the reader: the sense of loss felt by those left behind, the angst felt by the men who loved Lily–feelings she did not return, except once (and that ended terribly for both Lily and the man), the anger and confusion from those who suspected what Lily might have done, the constant torment Lily always dealt with until she was finally at peace, and the uncertainty of a country on the brink of entering World War I.

In an ingenious move, the last chapter is told from Lily’s perspective. Up to this point, the reader has only experienced Lily’s life secondhand. Now, they get to hear Lily’s story and understand the decisions she made and the mistakes she had come to live with.

What will make this story a winner with readers is the thorough development of the characters. Henrietta (Etta), Lily’s heartbroken mother, Edmund, the despised husband, Louis, the cousin secretly in love with Lily, Nuala, the servant girl and friend, and many others who allow the reader to experience the full gamut of emotions as Lily’s tale unfolds.

The River, By Moonlight is a powerful, gripping story. Exquisitely written, filled with diverse, well developed characters, and brimming with rich descriptions, Lily’s story is one that you will never forget.

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

35 Miles From Shore

35 Miles From Shore
Author: Emilio Corsetti III
Publisher: Odyssey Publishing, LLC
Reviewed by: Gary Mack

In a straight forward investigative style, Emilio Corsetti  III delivers a substantive and thorough examination of the “error-chain” that caused the ditching of ALM Flight 980 on May 2, 1970. Like so many other calamities that end tragically, Corsetti poignantly details how the mentality of corporate profits over the safety and well being of passengers sets off a horrific chain of events.


From the beginning chapters, Corsetti puts us in the minds and board rooms of those responsible for making the decisions that put ALM Flight 980 in Harms way. Though Corsetti is careful not to point out who the true villain is in his gripping tale, his early treatment of ONA CEO and President G. F.Steedman Hinckley clearly delivers a nod.


Hinckley’s driven ambition to create a route from New York to St. Maarten minus a third fuel tank for the sake of maintaining face, casts Hinckley into the dark shadows of aviation history.   


Corsetti delivers vivid scenes chapter after chapter. He takes you into the cockpit, into the rafts that carry the surviving passengers, onto the helicopters that dropped the slings and rescue seats as they hovered above the swells of the ocean. Corsetti’s riveting paragraphs are at their best when he immerses the reader into the ditching of the plane and the heroic rescue efforts of the crew and the Coast Guard.


Like Harry Evans, I must admit I suffered a little “cognitive narrowing” from the dizzying amount of characters Corsetti introduces paragraph after paragraph.  By the middle of the book, one is so overwhelmed with the constant bouncing from one character to another; it’s hard to concentrate on the task at hand. Corsetti would have been better served if he would have told the story from the perspective of a handful of people – like Balsey Dewitt, who palpably is the most interesting and courageous character in the human drama. Just like fiction, non-fiction must move along and keep the readers attention. I wanted more of Balsey, his life, his emotions, his thoughts and feelings as he humbly did his duty as a professional pilot. In the end, it was his efforts that allowed people the chance to survive.


Still, one cannot come away from this account unimpressed with Corsetti’s talent and his attention for detail. Because of his pen, the ditching and rescue of ALM Flight 980 comes to life, and heroes we never were aware of emerge.  



Filed under Non-Fiction

Emotionless Souls

Emotionless Souls
Author: David S. Grant
Publisher: Brown Paper Publishing
Reviewed by: Elaine Raterman





Emotionless Souls by David S. Grant is a wonderful collection of 20 vaguely surreal short stories, written in succinct, tight prose that perfectly sets the mood for each and every one.  The collection starts with the account of two couples spending New Year’s Eve in Dublin and ends with the account of one couple vacationing in Paris.  Between these two we encounter (among others) a poker game gone wrong, an office prankster who goes to extremes, a one-hit-wonder, a white-collar pickpocket, and an accountant who isn’t quite as boring as she first appears.  Unexpected plot twists abound and make each of the stories truly remarkable.

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Filed under Literary Fiction

Letter of Love from China

Letter of Love from China

Letter of Love from China
Author: Bonnie Cuzzolino
Publisher: Plum Blossom Books
Reviewed by:  Cheryl Malandrinos 

Letter of Love from China by Bonnie Cuzzolino has to be one of the most touching children’s stories I’ve read in a long time.

A birth mother from China writes a letter to her daughter who has been adopted by a family from another country. This mother describes why she was forced to give her child up for adoption, tells her child all about the village she was born in, the pain this mother felt at having to let her go, and of the day her adoptive family came to China to bring her home. Lastly, it reminds this child how much she is still loved by her birth family.

I could not get through this book without crying. As the mother of three children, I know I could never stand to be parted with one of my own. The courage and the strength of this unnamed mother shines through in every word she has tenderly written to her daughter.

The illustrations by Jax Bennett are as stunningly beautiful as the prose. My favorite illustration is the cover art, which also happens to appear on the last page of the book where this mother has told her daughter to “look to the light of the moon that sets over the world in the night sky” to see her face, which is reflected in the child’s beautiful face, if she ever starts wondering about her birth mother.

Letter of Love from China will touch the hearts of all adoptive families. This book is truly a must read!

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Filed under Children's Books