Forgiving Mariela Camacho: A Kurchenko & Gonzalves Mystery, Book 3 of a series
by A.J. Sidransky
Black Opal Books 2021
When a tenant reports a terrible odor coming from apartment 7-F, detectives Kurchenko and Gonzalves know it can only mean one thing: a dead body. But despite all of their training and experience dealing with crime on New York City’s streets, the detectives aren’t prepared for what they are about to encounter.
Sidranky’s first book in this three-part series, Forgiving Maximo Rothman, (reviewed by this writer on December 22, 2020), introduced us to Maximo: his harrowing escape out of Nazi Europe, life as a refugee in the Dominican Republic, and the horrific event that forces him to flee to New York City. In book two, Forgiving Stephen Redmond, (see my review of January 22, 2021), Stephen grapples with his feelings toward his father Maximo, his own dark past, and eventual self-discovery.
In this third and final book of the series, Forgiving Mariela Camacho, Kurchenko and Gonzalves take center stage as they discover how closely their Russian and Dominican lives intersect. Now, more than ever, their partnership will be tested and challenged. How well do they really know each other? How deep is their trust in the other? Solving the case and saving the lives of those they love will depend on how well they can answer these questions.
In Forgiving Mariela Camacho, the most powerful of the three novels, Sidransky weaves a tale of passionate once-in-a-life-time-love, deep-rooted hate, the self-debasement dire circumstances impose upon the most pure and, above all, how essential forgiveness is to the human heart.
The author expertly connects the lives of the seemingly disparate characters and safely carries us to a masterful and satisfying conclusion: the redeeming power of love.
As one of the characters states, “We each have our own destiny.” Sidransky’s novel will make you ask, “What is mine?”
Join us next month on March 22nd for an interview with A.J. Sidransky. You don’t want to miss it!
Forgiving Maximo Rothman: A Kurchenko & Gonzalves Mystery, Book 1 of a series
by A.J. Sidransky
Black Opal Books 2020
Tasked with solving the homicide of Maximo Rothman, an elderly man in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood, Detective Tolya Kurchenko is hard pressed to keep peace in the polarized community. The Jews, mourning the loss of one of their own, are demanding more protection. The arrest of Carlos, the young man who helped care for Maximo and now accused of his murder, elicits cries of protest from the Dominican residents.
Kurchenko’s gut tells him that Carlos is innocent. Who then had motive and opportunity?
The detective determines to learn everything he can about Max and the people in his life. For now, the possible suspects are a son, a daughter-in-law, a helpful neighbor, and Carlos.
Reading Max’s journal reveals his past. The bitter loss of his family. Escape from Nazi Europe. And life as a refugee in the Dominican Republic, until he runs afoul of the Dominican dictator Trujillo and is forced to flee to New York City. Moreover, Kurchenko gets a glimpse into Max’s heart: a man who has known danger, deep love, bitter loss, and anger at a God who does not help in times of anguish.
The search for the truth takes on a life of its own, and in the process, Kurchenko discovers a man … just like him. The experience forces him to confront his own past filled with loss, anger and fear. Kurchenko’s murder investigation simultaneously becomes a search for life as he attempts to reconcile with the past, revive the dead parts of his heart, and boldly reach out to lay hold of love.
Shortlisted by the National Jewish Book Awards for Outstanding Debut Fiction, Forgiving Maximo Rothman forges a compelling bond between past and present that transcends culture. For at every time and in every place one grapples with questions of identity, and responsibility for the lives and well-being of those around us and those in our care. Ultimately, in the words of Max, Sidransky’s novel reminds us that, “Life is too short to make enemies of those we love.”
See you next year, January 22, 2021!
Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine
Cantine Kilpatrick Publications, 2019
Relationships are delicate. They take time to cultivate and grow. And when it comes to matters of the heart, it can sometimes seem like navigating through a quagmire or minefield.
Enter Marguerite Quantaine, your guide and confidante.
Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know? is a collection of sad, funny, and warm stories. Based on events and moments from Marguerite’s own life, these relatable narratives reflect on the changing roles of relationships and offer insightful observations on society and how we live and love.
Marguerite writes about the variety of inter-relationships that come in all shapes and sizes, both good and bad, and the upstream battle when your life and love choices pit you against societal mores. Her writing style is engaging and her stories offer unique perspectives.
But the best that this book has to offer are the surprising and hidden gems that each story reveals. For example: The emotions of feeling, losing, and loving that are universal; the discovery that self-confidence and resiliency are the best defense against bullies; and her recipe for good communication: sincerity, levity, and good intentions.
Heart-tugging and thought-provoking, Marguerite’s stories cause us to examine how we grow through our exchanges with others, and to consider what things we place the most value on. The reader must ultimately answer whether life is calculated by what we let go of, or by what we hang onto with our hearts.
See you next time on February 22nd!
Drakenfall resort in the village of Tippingstock is the place to be for Christmas. Owned and operated by Lord Mark Shiley and his American wife Maisy Potter, gives credence to the belief that magical things happen at Drakenfall. How else could an American girl have become the wife and true love of a Baron?
As the resort prepares for the lavish annual Christmas Ball, hope and expectation fill the air. Employees and guests alike wonder if they too might find a little magic and love this Christmas. But different cultures, social stations, goals and confusion collide and threaten to derail everyone’s chance at happiness.
The house manager Glynis feels that love, like the years, have passed her by. Pippa the maid is convinced that she is not worthy of Kafi’s interest, much less his affection. And when Maisy’s parents arrive on the scene unexpectedly, she fears her secret will ruin her charmed marriage with Mark.
A Drakenfall Christmas is entertaining, sweet and fun. The characters are an assortment of holiday gumdrops: colorful, rich, spicy, sweet, and even a sour one or two.
Geralyn succeeds in making readers believe that Christmas is indeed a magical time. In the words of one of her characters, ‘We enjoy the people who are always with us. We take time to experience the best there is to have right in our very own lives.’
And love is alive and possible more than at any other time of year.
See you next time on December 22nd!
Veronic is on vacation this month, so we are rerunning one of her more popular posts. She’ll be back September 22, but in the meantime we hope you enjoy:
Most people are a combination of various cultures, though I think their ancestors tended to confine their marriages and unions to one continent. Mine didn’t. As a teenager, growing up in the 1960s, I was always asked, “What are you, black or white?” I’d usually answer, “Both,” or “Neither,” not because I was afraid or wanted to fit in, but because it was true: Nicaraguan and Dominican parents, Middle-Eastern and French grandparents, and Chinese and African great-grandparents. (Hope I didn’t miss anyone). And born in Brooklyn, New York. “How sweet it is!”
This ethnic mix probably explains my preferred genres; Kid-Lit, because I am always looking for someone like me in children’s books; and Historical Fiction, because like working on a jigsaw puzzle, I travel the globe, mostly through books, in search of all of the pieces of me that, once united, will make me whole.
This quest has made me an avid multicultural reader. In every reading exploration I discover something about myself. Everything I write contains a key to who I am that reveals an aspect of my essence. It’s an awesome journey.
And while I seem to connect with everyone, I don’t really fit in anywhere; yet I love the empathy toward others that these various cultures have generated in me because it leads to a deeper kind of listening and understanding, which in turn informs and directs my writing.
I’m always learning, and changing, and growing, and I often have so much to say that I don’t know where to begin, or how to put it all together…like now.
So, thank you ancestors, for being willing and unwilling globe-hoppers. I am wonderfully made and you have given me much to think of and write about.
She’s focused on organizing the best holiday event the youth center has ever seen, not on romance. But Ben…he’s got a game plan for them that includes both.More info →
Escape into holiday magic with SNOW IN LOVE's sweet romance holiday stories!More info →
We all keep secrets, especially from the ones we love.More info →