In accordance to the FTC guidelines, I must state that I make no monetary gains from my reviews or endorsements here on Confessions of a Literary Persuasion. All books I review are either borrowed, purchased by me, given as a gift, won, or received in exchange for my honest review of the book in question.

20 December, 2008

Book Review: Playing with Fire Whining and Dining on the Gold Coast by Thomas G. Schaudel

Read and Reviewed for armchair interviews
Have you ever gone to dinner and had a bad experience? Maybe your food wasn’t cooked right, or you found something that shouldn’t be there in your soup bowl. Perhaps you were witness to one of your fellow patrons being extremely rude and pushy. However, what do you do if you are the chef, and the customer’s complaint is just too off the wall for you to handle?

If you are Chef Tom Schaudel, you write a book about those customers. Tom writes in his introduction: “By my math, I have fed over two million Long Islanders in the last forty years. One million, nine hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and fifteen have been wonderful; eighty five have made this book.” Playing with fire introduces readers to these most memorable characters that Tom and the staff of his four restaurants have met over the last forty years of being in the business.

From the moment I saw the table of contents which is laid out to look like a menu and the illustrations beginning each chapter, I knew I was in for a treat with this book. Chef and author Tom Schaudel shares these humorous “horror” stories of some of his best worst behaved customers. From the woman who tried to walk out of the restraint with a Christmas tree attached to her pocket, a grandma who liked to flip the bird at everyone in the place when not helped fast enough, the awkward situations of the woman on a date who is so drunk she is passed out on the ladies bathroom floor, and the young married couple who tried to redeem a counterfeit gift certificate given them as a wedding gift, as well as many others. The stories are told in a light hearted way that make the reader see how sometimes the wait and kitchen staff just have to have a good sense of humor to survive the night. I appreciated the recipes scattered through the pages, and while I don’t cook a lot of seafood myself I did see one or two that I would like to try some night for dinner.

Playing with Fire is a lighthearted romp through the restaurant industry and those nightmare customers who frequent it, as seen by the man behind the scenes.

17 December, 2008

Book Review: Signature by Ron Sanders

Read & Reviewed for Front Street Reviews

On the celebratory night of New Years Eve, four colleagues- academics all – welcome in the new year of 1346. Their leader Titus Mack has invited them to his home in the observatory outside of the outskirts in unprotected land with an arm of the colony coming up from the depths nearby.

Titus, begins to show and tell the trio of academics about the information that he has researched with the help of his advanced computing program Solomon over the past year since any of them had seen him last. His revelations show them a past history that has been erased from the history books, that the actual date is 2509 rather than 1346. He starts to show them why their world is strongly atheist with little religion at all. During his lecture, the perimeter of the Observatory is breeched my members of the colony, and the men are abducted and taken down into the depths of the underground colony.

The men find themselves in a strange world where nothing is what they know. Religion leads these people. In the years that they have been shuttered underground it has evolved into a society ruled by rituals and rules like nothing the four men have encountered before. The men are taken to meet the judgment of Mama and the ‘Postle, and nothing they do will let them escape this fate that has been handed to them.

I had a little bit of a hard time getting into this book. I found the first twenty or so pages slow reading. However I am glad that I pushed past and kept reading. Signature is an intellectual thrill ride that makes you think. It explores topics like what would happen if religion was segregated from the everyday world, and what would the world be like if its history was erased and restarted. This book was short, but really made me think while I was reading it. While I can see it not being something that everyone would enjoy, I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I originally thought that I would.

I enjoyed this book so much that I have two paperback copies to pass along to readers.

Both are autographed by the author, one is slightly worn from being toted along in my bag on the bus to school and work.

Both have been registered at Bookcrossing.

Leave a comment with a way to contact you, and why you would like to read the book.

I'm leaving this open until the 31st of December, and will announce the winner on January 1 or 2nd.

Bookk Review: Resurrecting Randi by David P. Shephard

Read & Reviewed for Front Street Reviews

On the first day of the new semester, Professor Travis Harrison’s life is starting to look up. His first book has been published, and is jumping up the best sellers list, and he is engaged to be married to a wonderful and supportive woman. Life is no longer constantly reminding him of the tragic death of his daughter Randi in a car accident ten years ago.

Then he met Layla Sommers. The troubled nineteen year old, latches onto Travis, and soon he is fending off her unwanted advances (including an inappropriate sexually explicit e-mail). She seems to see Travis as someone who can save her from her chaotic life. After Travis responds to her phone call pleading for help, he seems to be her savior. He did keep her from committing suicide. Travis on the other hand, finds himself a temporary father figure as he agrees to sponsor Layla, and let her live in his home during the month of recovery time the hospital wants a suicide watch kept on her.

Already battered by Layla’s previous advances, Travis struggles with his feelings of attraction to this confused girl child. When he realizes how much Layla physically resembles his lost daughter Randi (and what she might look like at this age) Travis is hit with the submerged grief he has for his lost daughter. During the month that Layla is a part of Travis’s everyday life he sees his life change. His girlfriend leaves him, he struggles with feelings of attraction towards Layla as a young woman, and guilt because she reminds him of what his daughter might have grown to become had she not died at age nine. Travis and Layla’s relationship quickly deteriorates, eventually leading to his arrest as the murderer of Layla’s abusive ex-boyfriend.

Despite all the drama that Layla brings into Travis’s life: The upheaval of his re-emerging grief, the pushing away of his fiancĂ© that happens with Layla living in his home, and the eventual destruction of his career as a writer and as a professor after his arrest. Travis finds positives to Layla’s presence in his life. She brings moments of tenderness, compassion, and love into his life. She lets him feel like a father again. Layla helps Travis face the grief he feels over the tragic loss of his daughter’s life.

Resurrecting Randi is author David P. Shepherd’s debut novel. It is an extremely well written story with highly developed characters. I enjoyed the twists and turns the plot took and was completely surprised with the ending. This book takes its readers deep into the psyche of Travis and Layla, and is an extremely well written psychological drama. I enjoyed Resurrecting Randi very much and look forward to seeing what this author writes in the future.


I enjoyed this book so much that I have two hardcover copies to pass along to readers.

1 is autographed by the author
1 is not.
Both have been registered at Bookcrossing.

Leave a comment with a way to contact you, and why you would like to read the book.

I'm leaving this open until the 31st of December, and will announce the winner on January 1 or 2nd.

13 December, 2008

Book Review: The Gypsy Morph by Terry Brooks

Read & Reviewed for Front Street Reviews

The Gypsy Morph is the third book in the Genesis of Shannara trilogy.

With the United States fallen into ruin, the Knights of the Word, Logan Tom and Angel Perez face a challenge in facing the evil that is rampaging towards them.

Logan Tom has to keep the promise that he made to the boy Hawk and his band of survivors called the Ghosts. Hawk, a magical being called the Gypsy Morph, is leading the ghosts to meet with other survivors in the wilds of Oregon. He is charged with leading them to a place of eventual safety.

Angel Perez has risked her life to help the elves in their fight against the demons of the void. She has helped the young elf Kirisin Belloruus and his sister find the legendary Lodestone. Kirisin has been entrusted with the knowledge of an ancient magic. This magic will put his people and their home of Arborlon inside of the Lodestone. Kirisin is charged with taking the magical gem to safety with the help of a small band of elves. They must get past the demon army waiting to crush the elven city and find someplace safe.

Will the Knights of the Word guide their charges and keep them safe long enough to reach the gypsy morph, Hawk’s, safe haven? Or, will the demon army from the void sweep away the survivors, be they elven, human, or mutant, and bring about the destruction of the world?

I have been a fan of the Terry Brooks writing for a very long time. The first time I read my father’s copy of The Sword of Shannara I was transported to a world of magic and conflict that I fell in love with. Sadly though I’ve not kept up with reading the Shannara books over the years. The Genesis of Shannara trilogy gave me a chance to revisit the writing of a favorite author. In this trilogy, I found a story that shows us the readers the actual happenings of the appocolyptic past that was hinted at during various points in the original Shannara books that I read so many years ago.

I really enjoyed this final instalment to the trilogy. I enjoyed seeing the emergence of the elves into our world, and the destruction that caused life as we know it to fall apart and evolve into the less technically inclined world that the Shannara stories are set in. I loved seeing how author Terry Brooks brought two of his series that I enjoyed together with the Knights of the Word being involved in this part of the history of Shannara (The series being The Knight of the Word books and the Shannara books). Reading The Gypsy Morph made me realize how much I’ve missed reading this author’s writing, and I look forward to catching up with the books that I’ve missed over the years.