Review – Suburban Souls

Suburban Souls

Author: Maria Espinosa

Tailwinds Press


ISBN #978-1-7328480-2-3

“Suburban Souls” presents itself well against a background of affluence in 1970’s San Francisco. The story is multi-generational, following a storyline of two German Jewish people that barely escaped the Holocaust, immigrated to the United States, grew up here, met and married. It is very clear in this story that family history, and family expectations play a large part in the choices that are made. Memories are constant shadows in their lives.

We see the father (Saul) focused on his work as a scientist, but not on his wife. He is close to his children, but wonders if he should have married his wife, or if he would have been better off with someone else. He becomes involved with New Age teacher Shivaya. The mother (Gerda) has the benefit of a nice home thanks to Saul, but she is stuck in that home with the children all day, every day. She yells at her husband, who refuses to connect with her. She both loves and resents her children. For her, alcohol is a solace.

Throughout the story we see the issue of mental breakdown being addressed, along with being institutionalized. (Gerda moves in and out of psychiatric care.) Several characters have a very difficult time relating to life, including Hannah, Gerda and Saul’s older daughter.   

This is a very accurate picture of the 70’s, and the environment these characters would have lived in. The holocaust and being German Jews are ever present in the background. It is sad to see the mother in this story spiraling downward in her life, choosing friends and making choices that do not always support who she is.

The storyline is held together with empathy and understanding. Each character has flaws, but they also have their good points. They are real people, with real problems.

© December 2020 Bonnie Cehovet

Reproduction prohibited without written consent from the authors.

Review – Starbrow

Starbrow –
A Spiritual Adventure

Author: Tim Ray
Findhorn Press
ISBN #1-84409=003-5

Starbrow cover
This is indeed a highly spiritual story, one that takes three young men in Copenhagen, Denmark, on a serious adventure through time and space. It starts out with a golden light on a dark night, a light surrounding a beautiful  woman who informs one of our heroes that his name is Starbrow, and that he has a mission. What does he do? He runs away! Well, who wouldn’t.

Our young hero, and two of his Dungeons and Dragons playing friends are about to go on the journey of their life. They will find out that 1500 years ago they were part of a failed mission to create peace and harmony on earth. Now earth has reached a critical stage, and the young men are mandated to finish their original mission … to create peace and harmony on earth. One problem … they have forgotten the Secret of the Force, and they have 48 hours to remember it!

Throughout this fast moving adventure are woven some serious metaphysical principles. They are presented in a manner so that they are easily recognized, and just as easily placed into the readers daily life. This is wisdom that we have heard before, but that is being presented again because now is a time when it is important.

Then there are the myths and archetypal references … Merlin, King Arthur, the Archangel Michael, Avalon, and more. Our three young heroes are also gifted with sight into the akashic records, where they find that this is not the first lifetime that they have been together. They each carry a specific skill within them, and are gifted with weapons that align with their skill.

Their mission? To ready a specific power spot so that at a given time it can be aligned with other power spots around the world, and create a giant Light grid that prevents an axis shift, and spreads the New Vision across the earth. Now our young heroes have 2-3 years to change the world, and prevent a new axis shift.

A fast paced adventure of epic proportions, it has many more levels to it. To recognize the people around us, to know that we have a purpose in life, and that all things are interconnected.

If you want a good read … this is it!

(c) 2000 – 2014 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.




Review – Sustainable Life: The New Success

Sustainable Life:
The New Success

Author: James Wanless, Ph.D.
The Living Future
ISBN #978-0-9833024-8-4

Sustainable Life Cover Small

“Sustainability is the new success, because it’s
a sustainable success, and it’s not a given. It’s an
ability – the “sustain-ability” – that needs to be learned
and exercised. In “Sustainable Life”, noted futurist James
Wanless, Ph.D.examines the principles of personal
sustainability as the means of living a healthy, whole
life – achieving a personal sustainability and contributing to
global sustainability through our personal choices.”
from the back of the book

We definitely have a road map for leading a good life in this incredible book. In his preface, Wanless notes that there is no particular way or form to follow, that it is the energy behind whatever we do that sustains us the most.

In Part One, Wanless presents us with a roadmap for sustainability. Part Two talks about “sustainabilities”, including adapting, growing, seeds of change, the fruits of growth, and breaking through a break point. Part Three addresses the sustainable you, including the creative mind, the heart of motivation, the renewable body, an inspired life of destiny, and synergy. Part Four addresses sustainable work – productive right livelihood. Part Five addresses sustainable love. Part Six addresses a sustainable world, including community and mother nature. Part Seven addresses sustainable future. Part Eight is the sustain-ability gym – an action journal for recording personal insights and progress.

“Sustainable Life” is illustrated throughout with full color images from Wanless’ “Sustain Yourself Cards”. They are a wonderful accompaniment to the “green wisdom” contained in this book. I love that throughout the book Wanless asks us to question ourselves, such as “What talents hae I unused, or underused? Where have I underperformed, and how have I undervalued myself?”

We are encouraged to build and maintain a healthy environment around us, to take care of ourself, and to become completely healthy. We are encouraged to balance our four essential faculties: thinking, feeling, sensing, and knowing.

The final chapter is after my own heart … a series of questions for the reader to answer, along with actions that they develop for themselves. Questions include: “Why do you want to be more sustain-able?”, “How are you not authentic?”, “How have you undervalued yourself?”, and “What outer resources are you developing?”.

Bottom line – we are to live our destiny.

(c) 2000 – 2014 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.


Review – Kant In Hong Kong

Kant In Hong Kong –
Walking, Thinking, And the City

Author: Gray Kochhar-Lindgren
Eyecorner Press
ISBN #978-87-92633-26-2

Kant In Hong Kong
Gray Kochhar-Lindgren is Associate Vice Chancellor For Undergraduate Learning, and Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences with the University of Washington, Bothel. In the summer of 2014 he will be taking a position as Professor and Director of the Common Core at the University of Hong Kong. It is through the lens of this perception that we can understand how this book came to be.

“Kant In Hong Kong” is a lovely web that is woven around Hong Kong, experiencing Hong Kong, and the philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant in his time was famous for his walks in his hometown of Konigsberg, so it is not a stretch to walk with him through the ultra-modern city of Hong Kong. The author moves up and down the travelator between Queen’s Road Central and the Mid-Levels, takes the bus to the beach at Shek-O, and visits the Temple of Tin Hau. As readers, we experience Kant and his thoughts in Kowloon, Hung Hom, Sheung Wan, and Admirality … with a few thoughts of Seattle and its lifestyle thrown in for good measure!

Opening this book took me through a time warp that allowed me to feel that I was actually walking along with Immanuel Kant, while at the same time I felt that I was walking the streets of modern-day Hong Kong. We start out at the Stanley Ho Sports Complex, and the question “What forms the whole?” We find Kant sitting at the swimming pool, dressed in his Prussian suit.

I loved the mention of Pacific Coffee Company … primarily because I love everything to do with coffee! It is a cafe on Wellington Street, surrounded by music and activity. Here we read about how the past infuses the present, and the palace of memory. Gentle words that will bring back memories for each and every reader.

Throughout this book we experience Hong Kong through all of our senses. We contemplate Kant and his philosophy, and how it applies to the here and now. Through this little walking tour (although we are not walking all of the time), we experience the past, the present, and the future in myriad ways.

Kochhar-Lindgren says it best, when he says:

“Reading Kant teaches us to do philosophy, to walk the streets of philosophy, a task that we never quite understand but that we nevertheless continue to take on as an act of faith – faith in reading, writing, the senses, thinking, and walking – that, occasionally, is punctuated with a quick pirouette of joy that comes upon us as if from nowhere and lifts us upon the toes of our scuffed shoes. Walking the streets also teaches us to read philosophy in a more fruitful manner, to test its abstractions against the rhythms of the MTR or of Nathan Road. It brings philosophy back into the city, where the whole peculiar story began.”

(c) 2000 – 2014 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without the written permission of the author.


Review – Escape From Smyrna

Escape From Smyrna

Author: Charles Gates
Top Hat Books
ISBN #978-1-78099-849-7

Escape From Smyrna cover

“Escape From Smyrna” is a historical mystery novel set in Turkey and Greece. The story turns on an ancient necklace, made up of four medieval reliquaries. Said to have healing powers, the necklace also incites greed, and in the wake of greed, violence. In a very powerful way the histories of three families (Anglo-American, Turkish, and Greek) are intertwined because of the necklace.

The story begins with four Swiss hippies on vacation. In the midst of their travels, they encounter an old chapel on a barren Greek island. They break into the chapel, and steal a gold locket that  they find there. They sell the locket in Istanbul’s Covered Bazaar, where Oran Crossmore, a 26 year old American, buys it. He has recognized it as part of a lost family heirloom. He is very happy to be taking it back to his grandfather in the states.

First, however, he shows it to Leyla Aslanoglu, a wealthy older woman who is a friend of his mother’s. To his shock, she claims that the locket is a treasure that belongs to her family. Oran sets out to find the truth, along with Leyla Aslanoglu’s great niece, Beril.

The shocking truth lies in a dramatic escape from Smyrna decades earlier, and the appearance of esteemed pianist Alexandra Stephanides in Greece after a lifetime of being away.

The plot is well thought out, and moves forward smoothly. While I felt that the beginning was a bit slow, the pace did pick up, and he story was quite enjoyable. The characters were well developed, and well presented. The reader understands them, and what makes them tick. The plot is brought together with the Swiss hippies having a part both in starting the journey of looking for the lockets, and ending the journey.

Attention is paid to detail- to the details of the characters lives, and to the details of the environment, including architecture and history. If you like mysteries, and looking at human nature, you will enjoy this book.

© 2000 – 2013 Bonnie Cehovet

Reproduction prohibitedin any venue  without the written permission of the author.

Chain Reaction

Chain Reaction

Author: Ross. E. Goldstein, Ph.D.



ISBN #978-1-452842284


“Chain Reaction” is what I would call an epic story. Goldstein, a competitive cyclist, journalist covering the cycling world, an sports psychologist writes about a 23 year old cyclist, Cal Scott, riding for a major team, T-Mobile, with apparently everything going for him, who abruptly leaves the cycling world to return home to live with his parents. He won’t tell them why he left a promising career as a cyclist, and makes no moves to pursue an alternate life. He becomes a barista – a top barista – but has no plans for a future.


When Cal is 25, his father Paul plans a trip to Italy, to do some “recreational” cycling. He invites Cal to come along to ride with him. Paul is a hardball defense attorney – Cal strongly suspects strings, and refuses to go. In the end, his father will not take no for an answer. Cal finds himself in Italy, meeting his father’s friend Gianni Di Salvo, and Gianni’s cyclist daughter Daniella.


Oh … the trip strangely coincides with Bassano del Grappa’s grueling race up the ferocious slopes of Monte Grappa. Di Salvo is the coach for his own Squadra Diavolo cycling team. Cal is offered a chance to ride with the team, where a winning race could mean re-entry into the cycling world. Along the way Cal faces his own shadows, his relationship with his father, a growing relationship with Daniella, and a highly competitive relationship with the team Squadra Diavolo leader, Rocco. Rocco will do anything to win, and he is Daniella’s ex-boyfriend.


Along the way we hear many familiar names, including that of iconic cyclist Lance Armstrong. We learn about blood doping, and performance enhancing drugs, such as EPO, CERA, We see the way a team functions, from the inside out. We see the competitive nature, the team members that give their all for their team leader, pushing themselves until they have to drop out.


The sport of cycling has a cut-throat side, but it has an equally strong heart – that of pushing ones-self beyond all limits to achieve the seemingly impossible.


Well written, fast paced … one does not want to put this book down!


© June 2011 Bonnie Cehovet



Excerpt From NaNoWriMo 2010

(This is an unedited version of the second chapter of my opus for NaNoWriMo 2010. It is in the mystery genre. Enjoy!)

Chapter 2

I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then live with that decision.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962)

The man standing in front of the window was quite distinguished looking – just over six feet tall, with dark gray hair and green eyes. He held a drink in his hand as he gazed out over the city. Had she recognized him? He thought that part of his life was over, that his footsteps had been thoroughly erased. It was all so long ago … a memory that had grown very hazy. He was a different person now, living a different life, and he very much wanted to keep it that way.

“James, are you alright?”

He turned to look at the elegant woman seated in the wing back chair. She wore a pale gray silk suit, with gray pumps. Her blond hair was brushed back from her face, falling softly to her shoulders. “Do you think that she recognized me?”

“Would it matter if she did? All that was a long time ago. There is no path leading from then to now.”

“Nickie, there are always paths. We might not see them, but they are there. Some of them are paths of no return.” James glanced at his watch. “Are you ready? We should be leaving soon, if we hope to get to the gallery on time.”

“Yes, I am ready. The limo should be here in about five minutes. At this time of day, we have plenty of time to get to the gallery.” Nickie stood up, and walked over to James, laying her hand softly on his arm. “We aren’t even sure that what we are looking for is going to be there. It could be just another wild goose chase.”

“I don’t think so. The details have been too specific, and we do know that experts were flown in from Asia, and from France. Heinz Reichman was seen in New York City, boarding a flight for San Francisco. With heavy hitters like that around, we need to act swiftly, but with great prudence.”

Nickie sighed to herself. She and James had been married for twenty years, and had worked together for five years before that. He was cultured and articulate, qualities that she appreciated. They had built up thriving art business, doing private consultations and mediating private and estate sales. Their base had been New York City for all of this time. Six months ago James had decided that it would be beneficial to divide their time between both coasts. It really didn’t matter to her – she had no living family, and they had no children – but she had a strange sense of foreboding, an inner sense that all was not as it seemed to be.

Picking up her black clutch purse she joined James, and they rode their private elevator down to the lobby, where their limo was waiting. Their driver, Jackson, was standing by the car, He opened the door as they approached. Nickie smiled at him as she slid into the car. James had a quiet word with Jackson, and then joined her.

The ride to the gallery was short, and silent. It was a companionable silence, one built on having lived together for many years. James always needed this time – the time before entering a gallery, or a party – to get his thoughts together. Once he stepped through the door, he was his suave, charming self. He was highly respected, both for his knowledge of the art field, and for the manner in which he carried himself.

James handed their invitations to the assistant that greeted them as they entered the gallery. Yolanda Garvey was a thirty-something with a quiet grace about her. She had been with the gallery for the past ten years – ever since she graduated from the University of ***** with an MFA and an MBA. Being able to address both sides of the art world gave her a very competitive edge with their clients. She smiled at James, nodded to Nickie, and mentioned that Heinz Reichman had already arrived. James thanked her, and moved forward with Nickie into the open gallery.

It was easy to tell who was there to see and be seen, and who were the serious collectors. Sometimes those lines were blurred. Directly ahead of them was Janine Mantee, the picture of elegance in a slim cream colored satin dress with sapphire earrings and a sapphire pendant. She was wearing cream colored **** heels, and carrying a cream colored **** clutch purse. Known primarily as a top designer of high-end women’s apparel, over the years she had unassumingly put together a premier collection of *********. Few people, other than close friends and fellow collectors, knew about her collection. She was a very private person outside of business, with residences in both San Francisco and New York.

James had a suspicion that she be branching out, that she was also here tonight to view the prize – a 13th century jade figurine that had recently, and very quietly, come on the market. Only a select few would be viewing the statue, and they would be doing so privately, in the gallery’s Jorge Engle room. Ostentatiously an elegant private viewing room, it was actually a state of the art vault, humidity controlled, with the latest state of the art security features. Knowledge of this room was limited, entrance into it even more so.
James nodded at the waiter, accepting glasses of Chardonnay for Nicki and himself. They walked around the gallery, sipping wine and viewing the collection being presented – dreamscapes from up and coming artist Asher Constance. Done in pastels, the work was haunting, filled with shadows of things not known, where form flowed into form. James and Nicki had been drawn to his work as soon as they saw it, and had several premier works in their private collection.

Yolanda Garvey appeared at James’ side, indicating that Pierre Michel, the gallery owner, was ready to see them. They walked to the back of the gallery, and entered the private corridor. Softly lit, with light blue silk covering on the walls and light gray carpet, there were two ornate oak doors on the left hand side, one of which opened into a well appointed conference room, with the other door opening into a viewing room with cream colored walls, a cream colored rung, a rose sofa and matching chairs. Recessed lighting focused on the seating area, with separate lighting on the wall across from it. There were end tables next to the chairs, and a coffee table in front of the sofa. The walls were plain – no artwork, no statues. There was a low table across from the door, with a simple flower arrangement on it.
The first door on the right-hand side of the corridor lead into Pierre Michel’s office. Yolanda opened the door, stepping back to allow James and Nicki to enter. The gallery owner rose from behind his teakwood desk, walking around and extending his hand to James.

“My friend, I am so happy that you were able to be here tonight! I know that you will not be disappointed. How are you adjusting to life in San Francisco?”

“Pierre, I would not miss this viewing for anything in the world! I could not believe it when we got word from you that you would be representing the figurine. We have heard whispers over the years, but there was never anything to prove its existence. If the province is there, this is a remarkable find.”

Pierre turned to Nicki, kissing her on both cheeks and holding her hand in his. “Nicki, you are just as lovely as ever! I was very happy to hear that you and James were buying a home here in San Francisco. You will make a wonderful addition to our little community.”
Pierre walked over to the bookcase and pushed an unseen button. The bookcase soundlessly moved to the left, revealing a steel door with a keypad to one side, and a camera slot above it. He stated his name, keyed in an access code, placed the fingertips of his right hand on the pad, and looked into the camera slot. The steel door slid open, and he walked into the room beyond, Nicki and James following him. An unseen camera filmed them coming into the room, and then continued filming them. Any guests in this room were aware of the camera, just as they were aware that there was no audio, so that their discussion were absolutely private.

The walls were walnut, with no artwork on them. As in the other viewing room, there was a table along one wall with a flower arrangement on it. The rug in this room was a pale cream. To one side of the room was a sofa, flanked by two deep chairs. There were end tables beside each chair, with a coffee table in front of the sofa. The wall facing the seating area was blank.

From a small table in the corner to the right of the door Pierre poured three glasses of ****** wine, taking two of them over to Nicki and James, who were seated on the sofa. He picked up an elegant plate of hor douevres from the small table, offered them to Nicki and James, then set the plate on the coffee table in front of them.

“What we are going to be looking at is a perfectly maintained example of jade from the 12th century Song dynasty in China. It is a figurine of a Buddha, measuring approximately five inches by three inches. The Song dynasty is famous for its jade figurines, and there are several notable examples in museums such as the ***** in *****, and the ***** in *****.

The figurine that I am showing you has a province that has been authenticated – it belonged to a private individual in China, and was brought by the family to the United States. It was retained in their family for many, many years. The last of the direct family members recently passed away, leaving instructions that the estate was to handle the figurine as it saw fit. Representatives from the estate made the decision to sell the figurine at private auction. They wish to remain anonymous.

Because I am fairly well known both in the art world, and the world of antiquities, I was asked to handle the sale. The first thing that I did was to authenticate the province of the figurine. This was done to my satisfaction. I have a copy of the paperwork here for you to take with you.”

Saying this, Pierre opened the leather folder at his side at took out a thin sheaf of papers, handing them to James. James nodded his head, folded the papers and placed them in his inner jacket pocket.

Pierre slid open a hidden panel in the end table next to him, and clicked a button that brought a wide screen TV down from the ceiling. He clicked another button, and a photograph of a jade Buddha appeared. Several more photographs followed, showing the figurine at different angles. It was a perfect specimen, with no observable flaws.

“Now it is time to see the real thing.” Pierre clicked to retract the TV screen, walked over to the wall and touched one of the panels lightly. It slid open, revealing a column with a climate controlled viewing chamber seated securely on top. In the middle of the chamber, resting on a black cloth, was the jade figurine. Soft light surrounded it from all sides, showing it off to perfection.

Nicki and James stood up from the sofa and walked over to join Pierre. Nicki held her breath – this was an incomparable find!
James turned to Pierre: “This is absolutely incredible! A once in a lifetime find! I take it that you will be doing private bidding on this, as usual?”

It was policy for Pierre to show the artwork that he was brokering privately to individuals that were interested. He then held a private sale, with the bids coming in either by phone or by computer. Both his phone lines and his computer were well safeguarded. To date, there had never been a problem.

“Yes, the bidding will be private. I will be holding it in three days, and will be sending registered letters with the code for the phone number and the link for the invitation only Internet site.”

The three of them shook hands warmly, and went back into Pierre’s office. As if by magic Yolanda appeared, and escorted them back into the main viewing room. They smiled, thanked her, and walked out of the door to their waiting limo. As they pulled out into the traffic, James addressed the driver: “Jackson, were you able to verify that information for me?”

“Yes, Mr. *****, I was able to do that. Hans Reichman arrived on United Airlines flight %%% from La Guardia at 3 pm this afternoon. He is staying at the ##### #####, His reservation is for a week. He was met at the airport by an Asian gentleman who drove him to his hotel.”

“Thank you, Jackson.”

“You’re welcome, Mr. *****” Jackson was used to these requests. His actual skill set was not as chauffer, although he could play the role well. He was a computer expert, well schooled in using the computer as a tool of inquiry. He could find out anything about anybody, in the blink of an eye. He was quick, and he was discrete. He had been with James and Nicki since they left the Company.

(c) December 2010 Bonnie Cehovet

Siegfried Follies

Siegfried Follies

Author: Richard Alther
Regent Press
ISBN #978-1587902048

“Siegfried Follies” is a take off on the well-known1920’s burlesque entitled “Ziegfield Follies”. It is the journey of two boys – blond, blue eyed Franz, and “J” -the dark haired, dark eyed boy that he rescues. Franz is a Hitler youth, orphaned, with only a memory of foster parents. He is working in a German birthing home in Munich, as the bombs are falling. “J” has no memories of family to sustain him – he does not even know his own name. The initial “J” is carved into his arm, and he was tossed out of a train along with an old violin.

Franz and “J” escape the birthing home during the bombing, and make a place for themselves in the bombed out city. Franz has the brains and the courage to gt them what they need to survive. “J” is the intellectual. As they both grow stronger, and better able to deal with life, they both fall prey to feelings of guilt. For Franz, it is the thought that he should have done more to help the Jews. For “J”, it is dealing with the feelings of being the only survivor in his family.

“J” is headed for college, funded by money that Franz has earned. But he makes a U-turn, and heads to a kibbutz in Israel, where he serves in the military, and then becomes part of a farming commune. He meets a woman that he wants to spend his life with, but she returns to a man that she was formerly engaged to. “J” heads off to the United States, to seek his fortune there as a Hebrew story-teller and puppeteer.

At the same time that “J” heads for Israel, Franz heads for the United States. He is determined to be the very best at what he does, and works his way up through the Holsum company hierarchy. He marries, has a family and a house in the suburbs.

Both men spend their lives trying to make sense of their history, of being orphaned, and of the bond that they have forged between them. It will be many years before they meet again, in the United States. Not so insignificantly, the “old violin” that was tossed out of the train with “J” turned out to be a Stradivarius – a very elite, expensive instrument. “J” has it auctioned off, and donates the proceeds. This is part of his past – a past that he remembers only in bits and pieces.

“Siegfried Follies” covers a thirty-year period in the lives of Franz and “J”. Neither man is perfect – both have shadows and fears that they need to face. Both deal with their lives in the way that they think is best at the time. The ending is a bit of a shocker – the men begin life as boys together, apart from others, dependent on each other. As the story closes, they are two men together, apart from others due to a very twisted fate.

Why is this book relevant today? We are seeing a reappearance of ethnic hatred in current times, through the skin-heads and neo-Nazis in Europe, the incidents of Islamic fears in the United States, and the trials Israel is facing. It is important to note that Alther was raised as a Lutheran of German-American heritage in a New York suburb that experienced significant anti-Semitic sentiment. It is, above all, our personal experiences that provide the material for our understanding of the world around us. Alther is also a painter that has exhibited his art in Montreal, London, Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas, Florida and throughout New England.

© October 2010 Bonnie Cehovet

Guest House

Guest House

Author: Barbara K. Richardson
Bay Tree Publishing
ISBN #978-0-9819577-1-5

“Guest House” centers around two main characters. Melba Burns is a middle aged single woman who witnesses a nightmare collision, after which she abandons her car, refuses to drive it again, quits her job as a highly successful Realtor, and retreats into her newly purchased old farmhouse. She carries with her the burdens of having had her family cut ties with her, of leaving a religion that was not supportive of her, and of a long ago ex-husband that was abusive. She is looking for personal peace, but hesitates to move outside of herself.

The second main character is Matt Garry, a shy ten year old with the weight of the world on his shoulders. His father is more attracted to alcohol than to fatherhood, and his mother’s major interest is herself. The saving grace for Matt is HeShe, his unseen companion.

Matt’s path crosses Melba’s when his mother, JoLee, moves in to share Melba’s house. JoLee is a beautiful woman with big dreams – far bigger than anything that Matt’s father (and her husband) Gene could ever provide.

Prior to this Matt’s father, Gene, found out that JoLee wanted to divorce him (he found the papers hidden in her bedroom). He immediately took his son and left town – ending up in another state, the owner of a run down bar.

Melba finds out that JoLee is still married, and that she has a son. After talking to Matt on the phone, Melba decides to invite him for Thanksgiving for a visit. The end result – Matt stays on with Melba and JoLee.

Throughout the trials and travails of Melba, Matt, JoLee, Gene, and JoLee’s new boyfriend Bill, we get a birds eye view of lives not so well lived, and the consequences of actions taken and not taken. In the end, Melba finds her sense of self, and sense of peace, through her interactions with young Matt. Melba’s interactions with her physical garden mirror her spiritual garden, with weeds being pulled and soil being turned over, with the help of Matt and JoLee.

This book gives a good sense of how we carry our emotional burdens not only within our hearts and minds, but within our physical selves. Richardson touches on friendship, and how it can be both supportive and nurturing, and a source for betrayal. Some of the finest moments are seen through the eyes of a young policeman that Melba encounters.

‘Guest House” is a wonderful portrayal of human nature – the good and the bad, and how we can heal ourselves.

© June 2010 Bonnie Cehovet

“The Winter Ghosts”

I just finished reading “The Winter Ghosts”, by Kate Mosse. What an extraordinary book! It talks about the things that haunt us, and how they can take over our lives. The story takes place in the France, in the areas of Toulouse and Nulle – areas that have seen tremendous bloodshed, and whole people’s obliterated.

The story revolves around “The Great War”, and Freddie Watson, an Englishman who lost his brother in the war. He doesn’t just lose his brother – he loses his sense of self,and his touchstone with reality.  It takes him six years to have a total breakdown – when he turns twenty-one, the same age that his brother was when he died.

Freddie never is able to maintain a normal life. He has lost any connection to anything other than his brother. It doesn’t help that he also has a total disconnect with his parents – and always has had.  He constantly teeters on the brink of losing his sanity, but still continues to look for a resolution to his brother’s death, as no body was returned. (His brother’s entire unit, with the exception of one man, was killed).

In the winter of 1928, Freddie finds himself travelling through southern France – again on the search for resolution to his brother’s death. I the stormy weather he ends up in an accident, and finds himself taking refuge in the isolated village of Nulle.

As Freddie regains consciousness, he begins to hear the whispering in the hills – “I am the last, the last, the last …” “The others have slipped away into darkness.” He wanders into the village, and books a room. That night he attends the village celebration for “la fete de Saint-Etienne”, and meets he lovely Fabrissa.

Freddie and Fabrissa spend the night sharing their stories with each other (both stories are of mourning – he for his brother, she for her people). In the morning, he finds that he may not have actually attended the fete. Or did he?

A haunted village, religious wars, individual courage, a mysterious note in an ancient tongue – all of these come together to make this book an incredible journey!


© November 2009 Bonnie Cehovet