Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Review - The Art of Uncontrolled Flight: A Novel by Kim Ponders

Annie Shaw wanted to fly for as long as she could remember. Her father was a pilot in the Korean War, and when he was home she would eavesdrop on his late night conversations with his buddies while they traded combat stories. After a family tragedy that occurs when she is young, Annie assumes a focused, self-analytical perspective on her life that borders on unnatural. She is driven to fly. She wouldn’t know what to do if she were unable to have the freedom of flight.

As an adult, Air Force Captain Annie Shaw is married to a civilian. When Annie is deployed to the Gulf War, she must leave behind the man who knows her best. As an aviator, and as the only female in her unit, she must be focused on her job at all times. Annie must compartmentalize her feelings in order to manage the struggle between her two lives.

Ponders gives us a frank, poignant glimpse into the bared soul of a woman dealing with the reality that she must give up part of herself in order to pursue her passion. The first-person point of view is enthralling and easily leads us between the past and the present, as though we are in conversation with the main character. This novel is also gripping because of the Gulf War setting.

Even though this is a work of fiction, you can feel the pull of authentic details the author used from her own experience as one of the first US female pilots to fly in combat. The Art of Uncontrolled Flight, Ponders’s debut novel, is simply powerful.

Title: The Art of Uncontrolled Flight: A Novel
Author: Kim Ponders
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0060786083
Pages: 192
Price: $19.95

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Review - Personal Enemy by Sylvie Kurtz

As exciting as an award-winning action film, this novel opens with a child’s life being torn apart before her eyes and ends in an unexpected, satisfying way.

The protagonist, Adria Caskey, is a strong woman whose job it is to protect lives. Partners with her grandfather in the protection business until his recent death, Adria now has one final promise to fulfill to her grandfather before she officially closes the doors to the family business.

Her staff of security specialists is made up of strong, talented women who are like sisters. There is implicit trust among them that supersedes the need for them to speak to each other at times. No one is happy to have the business close. For some, it is the only thing they know and they do not know how to move on.

Adria’s final client, Peter Dragon, unknowingly has ties to Adria that span their lifetime. She and her staff of executive protectors must be at their best in order to see this case to a successful conclusion.

Sylvie Kurtz has an amazing ability to describe a scene so that you feel you are in the action and not simply reading words on a page. You can smell the aroma of fresh pasta sauce so strongly that your taste buds engage. When a character’s teeth chatter due to a recent douse of ice cold water, so do yours. And when Adria is completed exhausted from having been on the run, you feel her disorientation.

Personal Enemy is a gripping thrill ride that any fan of strong action, female leads, and good mysteries will enjoy. You will feel like you’re in the passenger seat during the high-speed chases, and you’ll find yourself ducking when the bullets start flying. This book is a thoroughly engaging read.

Title: Personal Enemy
Author: Sylvie Kurtz
Publisher: Silhouette Books
ISBN: 0-373-51343-7
Pages: 304
Price: $4.50

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Review - A Rose at Midnight by Sylvie Kurtz

A Rose at Midnight is filled with strong musical descriptions that enhance this romantic and mysterious tale. “A familiar symphony of sensations arose,” Kurtz writes, “cellos of longing, saxophones of sensuality, trumpets of warning.”

The opening words, “feelings were for fools,” set the stage for successful pianist Daniel Moreau and the woman who has been on his mind for nine years, Christiane Lawrence. Daniel has not played the fool for nine years and he is determined not to start now just because Christi has entered his life again. She is unaware of the power she has to easily destroy him, and that makes her the most dangerous person in his life.

The female protagonist is strong in her love for her daughter and her desire to learn about her family history. She has learned through bittersweet experience to follow her head and not her heart, yet is quite aware how quickly her heart can overtake rational thought.

The setting is Quebec City at the approach of Mardi Gras. The city is filled with life and fun and celebration. Christi is joyful at her vacation far from her Texas home, happy to discover her roots through an old family friend. This vacation is meant to help her recover from a recent tragic loss. She is grateful for the attentiveness of her host and oblivious to the darkness that cloaks her. As Daniel re-enters her life, Christi quickly discovers how strong, and deadly, family ties can be.

A Rose at Midnight is refreshing in its ability to pull readers into another time and place. Sylvie Kurtz piques our interest early and raises the intrigue slowly and gently until it peaks at crescendo. Then the story eases down to a soft pianissimo that leaves us feeling satisfied.

Title: A Rose at Midnight
Author: Sylvie Kurtz
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 0-373-22822-8
Pages: 256
Price: $4.99