Book Reviews

‘What Is Hip? The Life and Times of The Tragically Hip’

Reviewed By Kim Garrison 
" What Is Hip? The Life and Times of The Tragically Hip" 
On reading the book ,” What Is Hip? The Life and Times of The Tragically Hip” by Marc Shapiro, it occurred to me how little I knew about this band from Canada who were so popular in their native country and other parts of the world but who could never seem to make a splash here in the United States.
The book covers the band’s history from their beginnings  in Kingston, Ontario up to and including the diagnosis of their lead singer and frontman Gord Downie with brain cancer who died from the disease on October 17, 2017 at the age of 53.  It shares their start from playing clubs during their school and college years, the making of their 15 albums and the many shows and tours they have played during their more than three decades together.
It is a detailed read, packed with info regarding the recording of their albums and their experiences on their many tours as well as their personal lives.. It also touches on Gord Downie’s struggle living with his illness and the end of the band’s touring days although the hope was always there that Downie would recover and they could resume recording and touring. They are highly respected in their native Canada and their fans are many.
I’ve never had the chance to listen to their music but I would like to but I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who would like to know more about this talented and beloved group.

The Actor Uncovered, a life in acting’

Reviewed By Edna Snidebottom

The Actor Uncovered

‘The Actor Uncovered’ is an easy read.

‘The Actor Uncovered, a life in acting’ by Michael Howard is a book you will want to share with anyone who wants to understand what acting is all about. As someone who has taught acting, I have read a number of books on the subject to learn anything that could help me be a better teacher. One of those books was by Stella Adler, a person that Michael Howard also has a lot of admiration for. Truth in acting is paramount to him and is something I’ve always strived to encourage in my students.

‘The Actor Uncovered’ is an easy read.
This is not a book about choosing one technique over another, but more about the process and craft. What sets this book apart from the others are the wonderful examples and stories of fellow actors struggling to make a career in acting. He is generous with his own story, showing the triumphs and defeats that are all part of this calling.
On opening night of many shows, I would turn to a fellow actor and say, “What makes us put ourselves through this?” Howard explains to the audience what drives us to perform: “Listen, even if you came to the theater only to be entertained or to shed a sentimental tear, we want you to understand something. We want you to see yourself clearly. We want you, in spite of yourself, to be able to laugh at how foolish you are. To understand why it was so important for you to win, why you felt so rotten when you lost. We want you to recognize yourself in us. We want you to understand life, with all its hallelujahs and its hurts, as we hold the mirror up for you.”
He also shares why we develop such strong relationships with the fellow members in our cast: “In rehearsal, bonds of trust develop that in other life situations take months, even years to create. Now it must happen in days, weeks. As weeks go by, tempers are lost, animosities develop, tears are shed, private jokes that outsiders would never understand keep the company laughing, friendships are fixed in life-long cement. In the end, a family is created, and must now face the ultimate test of an audience.”
These are just a few of the gems you will uncover. I easily finished this well-written book in two days. It’s easy to understand why Mr. Howard’s students are so dedicated to him.
‘The Actor Uncovered’ is available at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.

The Girl At The Bar

Reviewed By Edna Snidebottom


Nicholas Nash begins this suspenseful tale with a chance meeting at a bar which turns into a one night stand and then so much more.
Ragnar Johnson, a recently fired stock broker, meets the beautiful Rebecca, a researcher looking for a cure for cancer. When Ragnar awakes and finds Rebecca gone, he assumes she didn’t want anything more than a chance meeting until he is contacted by the police.
Under suspicion for her possible murder, Ragnar starts to use the skills he acquired while working on Wall Street to unravel the mystery.
He will meet Rebecca’s mentor Dr. Steven Gupta, her boss Julia Fitzpatrick (who once was named James before becoming a woman), Nancy Mulligan, partner and once lover of James, Gustav Henrikson (the seemingly unemotional co-worker of Rebecca) and Christy Cassidy, the youngest member of the research team.
These suspects along with the head of a rival cancer research company Dr. Matheus Faust and Rebecca’s playboy fiancé Iain Thorpe give us plenty of red herrings but we also have Ragnar himself. Suffering from a bipolar condition, recently having lost his job under the suspicion of wrongdoing and showing signs of a quick temper, our hero even doubts himself.
But it is the pursuit of what happened to Rebecca that seems to give Ragnar purpose. He’s always one step ahead of the police and his persistence keeps this mystery moving along at a nice pace. Ragnar also discovers that a noble endeavor like finding a cure for cancer can be as competitive and ruthless as any other profession.
Even though I did guess the psychopath early on, there is a very nice twist at the end I hadn’t seen coming.
This is Nicholas Nash’s first mystery/thriller novel but I’m sure it won’t be his last. I hope his next offering will contain even more knowledge of the financial world in which he works.
‘The Girl At The Bar’ can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo, among other sites.

‘Of Sound Mind’

Reviewed by Edna Snidebottom

James Waltzer’s new novel invites us to discover if a crime has been committed or if the main character has been released too early from a mental institution.

Of Sound Mind’ is a suspense novel centered in Philadelphia.

Richard Keene is one of those imperfect heroes we love to root for. Keene learned at a very young age that being born with exceptional hearing can be more of a curse than a blessing. Unable to block out all the noise around him, Richard was a very lonely and awkward boy. Thankfully he had his good friend Cindy, a neighbor, who seemed to understand him.

At the age of eight, Richard’s special hearing allows him to witness a crime that he’s never gotten over and which contributes to his stay in a mental institution. He is approaching thirty when he is released, living in a high rise in Philadelphia and working as a audiometry technician. The guilt he still carries pushes him to action when he finds himself in a similar situation to the one he experienced as a young boy.

I have read quite a few mysteries and one thing I really enjoy is being taken by surprise and Waltzer supplies those moments and more. The characters are well-defined and interesting. I particularly liked Lieutenant Robert Oliver. Soon to be retired, a widower who lost his only daughter, he wonders if his life has purpose until Richard crosses his path. Oliver is a seasoned cop who doesn’t quite know how to handle the wild tale that Richard tells him.

The story takes place in Philadelphia and local readers will enjoy the references to different landmarks throughout the city. William Penn’s statue has a prominent place in this thriller but that’s all I’m going to give away.

I hope we have not heard the last of Richard Keene and Lieutenant Oliver. I’d like to see them get together again to help solve another crime.

‘Of Sound Mind,’ published by Medallion Press, can be purchased at amazon.com.

A former teacher and corporate personnel director, James Waltzer turned to writing in 1988 and has since written more than 700 features for regional magazines in the Northeast. He has authored six books including novels and non-fiction titles. Waltzer lives in Pennsylvania.