Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Latino Challenge by Earl Ofari Hutchinson

I worked with Mr Hutchinson to promote The Latino Challenge in the fall of 2006. I live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and many of the situations mentioned in Mr Hutchinson's book aren't every day happenings in this area. Although, the Latino population is growing in nearby communities. While I lived in a local city that has a large number of turkey plants, I was much more aware of the growing Latino population and how that affected the residents.

As a single, white woman in her early 40's, I don't experience the problems mentioned in The Latino Challenge. But, I feel that the information can help anyone understand many of the stories in the news. Media reports often mention which ethnic groups are involved in skirmishes or problems, but they don't give listeners background. I really appreciated learning more about what has taken place between black and Latino residents in the US.

We have all heard of the problems in large cities - Los Angeles, New York and many other large cities. We hear the news reports of murder, gangs, school problems, racial tension and many other problems. The Latino Challenge gives historic details about what has caused these problems, what has magnified the problems. It also explains how these problems will change and grow as the Latino population has become the largest minority in the United States.

The problem isn't just an immigration problem - there are many other undercurrents that can and will affect everyone. If you have children in school, if you use public services, if you live in a city or town with a growing Latino population - there are issues in The Latino Challenge that will help you understand what is happening.

The Latino Challenge presents the idea that it is time for black Americans and Latino Americans need to have a serious conversation. The increased tensions and problems can hurt each of these ethnic groups.

I found the content in the book enlightening and educational. Don't think that the content isn't important if you aren't black or Latino - there is something to be learned for everyone in the US. As Mr Hutchinson mentioned to me, by reading the book before these situations are a big issue in my area, I'll be ahead of the learning curve as things change near my home. I'm the type of person who likes to be informed and to understand things happening in my area. I now have a much better understanding of news stories near my home.

I look forward to finishing Mr Hutchinson's latest book The Ethnic Presidency. I'll post a review about this very timely book soon.

Nikki Leigh - www.nikkileigh.com/promo.htm

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Baby Be Mine by Diane Fanning

I've been a fan of true crime books for many years and have several favorites that I read. However, in March of 2006, I met Diane Fanning when I moderated a panel she was on at the Festival of the Book. To prepare for our panel discussion, I read two of her books and I was hooked. She takes the true crime book to a new level that I appreciate.

She doesn't just give the well publicized facts of the case, but she digs deeper. In Baby Be Mine, she gave a lot of information which some may consider to be unnecessary and I was a little confused at first. However, as I continued to read, I realized she was giving us information about the collateral damage that was caused by this act of violence. The repercussions were felt by many people in many areas and not just the immediate family of the victim.

I found the information she wove into the book about similar crimes to be very enlightening and it gave more depth to the Bobbie Jo Stinnett murder. For this case, murder does not seem like a sufficient description of the crime perpetrated on her. I appreciated the additional information that was included in the book and feel it made the content even more compelling. I have two other books of Diane's in my to be read pile and hope to read them soon.

Review By Nikki Leigh - www.nikkileigh.com

Cape Cod by William Martin

This is a wonderful version of the settling of Cape Cod. The story begins before the boats arrive in the New World and follows a family's struggle through the present time. The history is interwoven with his fictional town. I read this after I visited Cape Cod for the first time and loaned my copy to a friend from the area. It didn't find its way home and I bought another copy. Highly recommended. The flashback chapters which are worked into the story and the present day chapters may be confusing, but stick with it, this is a great book. My novels are set just north of Cape Cod on the Cape Ann coast and I'd love to read his take on Cape Ann.

review by Nikki Leigh - www.nikkileigh.com

Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass

I read this book because I will moderate a panel discussion with Dr Bass and Mr. Jefferson at the Virginia Festival of the Book in March 2006. I real a lot of true crime, thrillers and mysteries and thoroughly enjoyed this book. The details are incredible and the descriptions make you feel like you are bumping along the road with the doc. I'm glad to say that I didn't know "who did it" before the end. The characters are vivid and blend well with the setting for the story. The personal touches to show the expert is human were a great touch. I would recommend this to anyone who likes a well written thriller. Can't wait to meet you both in March :)

UPDATE - I just met Dr Bass and Jon Jefferson and they were great. It was a joy to be there when they talked to potential readers about their books. Its also amazing the number of questions I knew the answer to, because I'd read Carved in Bone and Death's Acre. Looking forward to the next fiction and non fiction. My parents attended the programs with me and are now interested in forensics for the first time. Great job guys :)

Dr Barbara Holstein Shares "The Truth"

I recently got a chance to read Dr Barbara Holstein's book "THE TRUTH: I’m Ten, I’m Smart and I Know Everything!"

This book is centered around a ten year old girl who has some important information to share with you. Do you remember what you thought of life when you were ten? What did you expect to happen in your life? Now that you've grown up, did you reach the dreams that you had when you were ten? If not, why not?

Dr Barbara starts off in the Introduction and reminds us of how many woman are leading unfulfilling lives and who feel they have lost the feeling that they have any control over their lives. Many woman have forgotten how to laugh and are feeling depressed and discouraged with the way their life ended up.

Its never too late to take control and try to take back your life. Do you have creativity that is untapped? This could be the time to find a creative outlet. Let the young heroine of this book transport you back to the time when you were time. She will remind you of how innocent life was at that time and all the promise that was before you. It can be productive and therapeutic to go back in time to a simpler and more interesting time. Come along as our young friend tells you about her "first love", "balloons" in her father's nightstand, betrayal by her best friend and the feeling in the pit of her stomach every time her parents fight.

Dr Barbara's Contact Information
Visit her website at www.enchantedself.com/ or her blog at www.enchantedself.typepad.com/.

Review by Nikki Leigh - www.nikkileigh.com

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Past Imperfect by Nora Peterson

Nora Peterson introduces us to Casey McCloud. She is a thirty something woman who is on a mission. A young woman hired a private investigation office to find out some mysteries from her past. That sounds simple enough, but the young woman dies under questionable circumstances a couple of days later. Casey realizes that something is not as it seems and decides to solve the mystery, even though the client is dead. Her quest sends her to Boston a week before Christmas. The Boston atmosphere will make you dig out your gloves and hat as you make your way through the streets with Casey as she pieces together the clues to solve the mystery. Nora Peterson will also take you from the world of high society and into the world of the homeless as a harsh winter storm heads toward Boston. I love a good mystery and Past Imperfect kept my attention and even distracted me for an entire morning while I kept reading to find out "who done it".

Killraven by Arline Chase

Intrigue and Romance on the Chesapeake Bay in the 1890's,

I know Arline Chase and I think she's a wonderful woman and publisher. But, I'd never read any of her writing until we were in a chat together.

I love books set in places I know little about and set in the past, so Killraven was the perfect choice. It's set along the Chesapeake Bay in the late 1890's. I was hooked from the first pages and had a hard time putting it down.

From the beginning, I felt like I was walking along the docks and riding along the oyster shell roads with Hope and DeCoursey. These two couldn't be more different, but we all know that opposites attract. She had a strict religious upbringing and DeCoursey is a scoundrel. The question is whether he's as bad as the rumors the local gossips spread about him.

My favorite books make you feel that you're part of the story and that the characters are your friends. I had that feeling right away and I worried about Hope who had left her family and community. Even with the rumors about Coursey, I wanted him to find peace with his past and possibly to find love.

Arline Chase's book simply oozes with atmosphere and drew me in from the beginning. She weaves a variety of interesting and memorable characters into the story and gives us vivid details of their home, their community and their lives. Killraven had humor, dread, fear, suspense, murder, robbery, love, friendship and so much more. I would recommend this book and especially to people who enjoy a historic mystery with a bit of romance.

For more information, visit -

Saratoga Summer by Dorice Nelson

Dorice Nelson brings a dramatic time period vividly to life in her book, Saratoga Summer: 1863. The characters are vivid and colorful, whether it is an independent spirit or fiery red hair. We learn about New York during a very turbulent time in American history and the horse industry in beautiful Saratoga. Mrs. Nelson's love and knowledge of horses will jump off the pages and adds a wonderful dimension to the story. The tension and attraction between Sinead and Con are obvious and the reader feels their struggle. They were married on paper to save a young boy. Sinead is in New York and Con is in Ireland at the time. Once they meet in 1860's New York, the fireworks begin. The young "newlyweds" try to get to know one another while the Draft Riots erupt all around them. Fire, violence and destruction push in on all sides. At this point, the family head to horse country. Sinead must face her terrible fear of horses which was caused by a tragic accident when she was a child. Will these young people be able to make a life together? I could tell you, but I don't want to rob your chance to experience this wonderful story for yourself.