Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Diary of a Small Fish by Pete Morin

Published synopsis:

When Paul Forte is indicted by a federal grand jury, everyone suspects prosecutor Bernard (don’t call him “Bernie”) Kilroy has more on his mind than justice. Then the FBI agent in charge of Paul’s case gives him a clue to the mystery: Kilroy is bent on settling an old family score, and he’s not above breaking the law to do it.

Paul is already dealing with the death of his parents and divorce from a woman he still loves. Now, with the support of an alluring grand juror, Paul must expose the vindictive prosecutor’s own corruption before the jury renders a verdict on his Osso Buco.


It’s just a game of golf. A game of camaraderie that creates bonds that can last a lifetime. Right? Or is it really an evil tool used by some to bring about the destruction of our political system one hole at a time?

Paul Forte is an honest guy who served his time as a politician voting his conscience. So what was the harm in playing a few (read a hundred or so) games of golf with lobbyists who never asked him for anything? They didn’t affect his votes. Right? Looking at a prison sentence because of charges brought on by a vindictive enemy he didn’t even know he had a connection with, Paul has to figure out the answer to that question. Is his conscience truly as clean as he has convinced himself it is?

Whether it is considering his somewhat gray past, exposing grand scale misuse of federal funds or figuring out how to love someone new when his life is falling apart, Paul faces it all with courage and strength. He also shows an intense vulnerability that endears him to readers. You will find yourself wanting to be on his side regardless of what side of the green you fall on in regards to the issues of lobbyists and politicians. Paul knows how the games are played and he finds out who his friends really are as he searches for answers and support. He also learns that sometimes the love of a quirky and extremely honest woman can get you through some of the toughest times of your life.

Diary of a Small Fish exposes layers of corruption in the government that we all suspect are there. But do we really want to know if they are there or not? Do we just want to cheer the television screen when a ‘dirty politician’ is indicted, or do we want to have to think about the politics that may be behind it? Is that guy corrupt – or are the guys attacking him the corrupt ones? To put this in perspective in our daily lives consider the medical field and drug sales. Physicians are no longer supposed to receive gratuitous gifts from sales reps. That very expensive pen advertising a specific drug that your doctor is using, which was given to her by a sales rep, on some level makes you feel the drug it advertises is effective and recommended by her. Should she be indicted for using it if she prescribes that drug even if she feels it is the right one for you? What if she plays golf with the sales rep? What if she takes a vacation on the drug company’s dime? When does it become an indictable offense? The same goes for politics. Sometimes, a game of golf is just a game of golf. Just as the pen your doctor is using could simply have been the first one she pulled out of her desk that morning. While still acknowledging that there is indeed corruption in the world of politics, perhaps some of it does comes down to perception – how it looks to the masses and how that perception can be used to advance careers.

In this look at the behind the scenes world of politics, Pete Morin shows some of its ugly underbelly but there is an undertone in his writing that gives one hope that maybe there are a few good politicians out there. The more I got to know his characters, the more hope I felt. I thank the author for a review copy and I give the book five stars.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Doodling by Jonathan Gould

Published synopsis:

Neville Lansdowne fell off the world.

Actually, he did not so much fall off as let go. The world had been moving so quickly lately and Neville was finding it almost impossible to keep up.

Douglas Adams meets Lewis Carroll (with just a touch of Gulliver's Travels) as Neville wanders through an asteroid field, meeting a variety of eccentric characters and experiencing some most unexpected adventures.


When the world is going so fast you can no longer keep up with it, you sometimes have to simply let go. That’s what Neville did. He let go.

Floating out into space to an asteroid field, Neville finds others who for whatever reason had also let go or had fallen off. There he might find a place for himself. If he can just stop the impending destruction of it all.

Can the concept of religion be reduced to the worship of kitchen appliances? Can self-centered, oblivious people be led towards caring about the greater good? Can those who only want to float through life experiencing the happy moments and ignoring the bad be convinced to look at the bigger picture? According to Jonathan Gould, all of these things can happen.

In Doodlings, Jonathan Gould creates the story of a man who just wants to live a simple life. He wants to be able to enjoy the small joys and stop having to run all the time. People are so busy trying to keep up with the world that the little things in life are all but lost.

But as much as Neville wants this simple life, he has trouble finding his place amongst the asteroids. All that changes when the unthinkable is about to happen and he is driven to prevent it. He convinces those with differences in how they worship and who or what they worship to work together. He helps some of the characters see past themselves. Others, he must accept the fact that they are simply incapable of being helpful on their own and figure out how to make that work for the greater good. As for himself, he figures out there is more to him than he once thought. He may have not been born to lead, but he proves that when there is a need, he knows how to step up to the challenge and save the day.

In a Douglas Adams style where the absurd can happen and does, Doodlings is a short story about hope. Maybe there is hope that one day, despite our differences, we can slow the world down and work together to solve its problems. I would certainly like to see that happen. I thank the author for a review copy and I give the book 4 stars.

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

On How the Cockroach, After Having Died, and After a Short Conversations With Saint Peter, Entered the Gates of Heaven by V. Campudoni

Published synopsis:

Can a cockroach enter into Heaven? Will Saint Peter allow it? In the tradition of Psalms, Socrates, Solomon, and Seuss, "On how the Cockroach..." tackles the canons of our catechisms, the perceptions of our realities, the emblems around our necks, and, perhaps, the dark recesses of our prejudices. An illustrated dialogue.


Everyone is welcome in heaven, right? Or do we have to meet a physical standard? Or maybe prove that we have a soul? Or practice the right religion?

In his short story, On how the Cockroach, after having died, and after a short conversation with Saint Peter, entered the Gates of Heaven, V. Campudoni points out that there is a lot of hypocrisy in religious standards and who must abide by them and who doesn’t. Once upon a time, the rules were fairly simple. There were givens such as women who wore red were sinners and would not be allowed into heaven. Everyone knew that. Today, there are so many religions and sects that there are a myriad of reasons why people can, or cannot, enter heaven. The reasons even within one religion or sect can change over years or over the course of a conversation if the old reasons no longer apply or the argument is not working. So, in the end, if the cards are stacked against you, can you simply deceive your way in?

This cute and thought-provoking story definitely merits 5 stars. I thank the author for a review copy.

Purchase On How the Cockroach, After Having Died, and After a Short Conversations With Saint Peter, Entered the Gates of Heaven by V. Campudoni