Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap – Paulette Mahurin

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PersecutionOfMildredDunlapMildred Dunlap has always been too tall, overweight and heavy featured, she has resigned herself to being an old maid. The daughter of the richest man in the area has set her up for ridicule and gossip. But Mildred’s spirit is indomitable. She remains kind and steadfast.

Edra is Midlred’s cousin and best friend. A traumatic even when she was a child, has left her frightened and vulnerable. Mildred helped her move beyond the trauma and the two fell in love.

Living in a small Western town, the two keep their relationship a secret. The arrest of Oscar Wilde in England, for gross indecency, makes them both afraid. What if they are found out? What will happen to them? Mildred comes up with a plan to cover their tracks by starting a relationship with the recently widowed Charley. She hopes a relationship with him will deflect notice from her relationship with Edra.

Charley is a kind, handsome, friendly man who nursed his wife as she died of cancer. Devastated by her death, he is very much in need of a friend. Mildred shows him kindness and friendship. He is a loving, kind man who cherishes his friends and family.

I have to admit, I completely fell in love with Charley. His sweet nature and warm, friendly spirit filled me with joy.

The persecution of Mildred Dunlap is a tender story of love, friendship, gossip and betrayal. Even in the adverse circumstances, the main characters remain steadfast.

Paulette Mahurin’s characters are well developed and defined. Each has a distinctive personality that conveys itself to the reader. No one character dominates the storyline – they all share the stage, presenting different sides of the issue.

Set in turn of the century Nevada, the author has beautifully laid the scene, capturing the spirit of the times and the small town dynamic. It is a fitting backdrop for the events which follow.

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap is a stunning book, appropriate for high school readers and older. In easy to digest terms, Paulette weaves a tapestry of Mildred’s life, laying her soul bare. She tenderly examines Mildred’s motivations as well as those of her enemy, town gossip – Josie.

I really enjoyed the Persecution of Mildred Dunlap. It was an excellent representation of true love.

 Five Golden Acorns © Dellani Oakes

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My Last Summer with you: no fanfare for a withered rose

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My Last Summer With You: No Fanfare for a Withered Rose: Fidelis O. MKPARU

 

Life can change in the flick of a moment or in this case when answering the phone. As one man now comparing himself to a withered rose, or flower reflects on his aging body a voice from the past will bring back memories that will flood into his present. What happens when one woman decides to leave you part of her own legacy in order to enrich your later years? When Joseph remembers Wendy and hears the voice of Francesca we go back 31 years to 1977 and enter the halls and dorm of a small town college in Chicago and learn more about this remarkable man.

 

As Joseph takes us back in time we learn a lot about his culture, his feelings and his discipline. Arriving at a new school and being a foreign student created certain obstacles when it came to registration and getting assigned to classes. Having to fill out certain required papers and completing them the rest seemed to flow with ease. Entering the registration room is where we meet Wendy. Wanting to get to know more about Joseph she invites him to lunch at the cafeteria but not before he buys his textbooks, takes his first class and makes it abundantly clear that his main focus are his studies. Bright, astute and definitely into what the professor is teaching, his questions are right on target, insightful and extremely well thought out.

 

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and sometimes can be considered quite superficial. But, when one young woman tries to sell the attributes of another to Joseph his disappointed is aired, his feelings expressed as he was hoping to have a private lunch with a new friend that turned in a different direction.

 

Cultivating his friendship with Wendy was paramount as she enveloped him in so many different worlds. Science, art, music, world politics and more learning about her family and background explaining to him that seeing and feeling what he learns in school would help in rise in the future. Her experiences are vast and her knowledge base wide as he went further into the areas of plant species and art.

 

Told in the voice of the young college student we hear his thoughts, understand his changing feelings and fears as he enters Wendy’s world, meets her family and becomes accustomed to her style. But, Joseph never loses sight of his goals and when the Chairman of the Department asks to see him he has no idea, feels uneasy but soon finds out that his future is in this department and with the help of this professor and a mentor he was considered for a job as a research assistant during the summer something unheard of for a freshman student. Imagine his excitement when given a tour of this man’s research lab first and assigned a student mentor. Complimenting him on his achievements but letting him know that he needed to live up to standard, Joseph wondered if she were his mentor or mother. So, when the visit was over Joseph learned he was directly working with the head of the department had to report his progress to his student mentor and could use the departmental library for his studies.

 

Like all men or some men Joseph was doing well academically but began to fell stifled in other ways. Having his career and his movements channeled and monitored by so many women was overwhelming at times and confining. As we learn more about his feelings about Wendy’s friends, their backgrounds, his take on them and the friction that he encountered at times. Meeting Lisa and her boyfriend Bruce brought to light for Joseph and the reader the definition of the words prejudice and bigot. But, this would not be the last time he endured racial slurs, rejection and the feeling that he did not belong. Getting to know Wendy created mixed signals and situations throughout his first year. Asked to join her at the family home and at her talent show he learned the extent to wish a father would go to prevent his friendship from Wendy from continuing. Although he was an A student, award winner and scholar the fact that they were of two different races should not have mattered when it came to their friendship. But, sometimes people read more into things that are there and Joseph as the reader will learn is quite perceptive, analyzes each situation and decides on a solution that is not always what is best for him but for the other person. Students that escaped from South Africa enlighten him even more, others in some of his classes realize the value of his friendship and help as experiments are done in class and he receives enough college credit to become a junior after one year.

 

But, Wendy is special to him and no matter how hard he tries the connection is there but will never be permanent. Respecting him, valuing his knowledge she alerts him to the fact that Francesca, the cheerleader, model and her very beautiful friend needs his help in physics and then things change for Joseph even more.

 

The author brings to light many important issues within this novel that were not only prevalent in 1977 and 1978 but in the present too. My Last Summer with You: No fanfare for a withered rose is a story that envelops the reader from the beginning. This story takes place over 30 years ago but the storyline could bring it into the present. Joseph could be any foreign exchange student, that at the age of 17 wants to find his own way without the distraction of a social life, girl friends and withstanding the disregard at times for who he is and the disrespect of some of the other students. But, as some would rebel and take action Joseph is centered and does not take the bait when called names or rejected by a close friend. You hear both Wendy and Joseph’s thoughts in their short yet intimate notes as the story continues.

 

Some are taught that inter-racial friendships are wrong and parents frown upon them. Joseph put is all into his studies and his belief in God. Wendy although at times the reader feels she is truly a good friend to him we can see deeper into her character and realize that she used his kind and caring ways to better herself. With parents that did not want her to continue her friendship, listening to their demands she still could not divorce herself completely from Joseph. His personality is quite compelling. Francesca becomes his friend but to whose advantage? With his limited funds he still soars and when Francesca has trouble paying for school he rallies to her aid. Francesca enlists Joseph’s help and he pays her way in more ways than one. But, when he is invited to meet her family we realize that cultural differences do matter, prejudice rears its ugly head and very few if any accept inter-racial relationships no less marriages. When things seem to get estranged Francesca leaves for a while and returns with a modeling contract in New York.  Almost tied to her apron strings and setting up the rules for their relationship to discounting it all in a heartbeat as if they are two blossoms that are slowly fading away. His life changes and his friends leave and now it is up to him to decide his future.

 

How this all ends you will have to read for yourself. Friendships that are strong often do not last. Life takes many unpleasant turns and then we have to recycle them in a more positive direction. An ending so raw and so heartfelt yet understandable that you have to decide for yourself what will happen next for Joseph. Friendships are valuable but when others play too strong a role then the end result will be: No Fanfare for a Withered Rose. This is one novel that college students, high school students and study groups can use to learn how young people often judge people by their color and not by what they are within or inside.

 

 

 

 

 

A GREAT BOOK ABOUT JAPAN AND HER HISTORY

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Keirestu: Richard Brawer

 

The Japanese are very conscious and concerned about image. Always hoping to take that number one spot as the primary world power over the United States and China they strive for excellence in business, commerce and of course increasing their wealth. Forming conglomeration of businesses linked together by cross-shareholdings which will create a huge corporate structure called a Keirestu, they hope to maintain dominance over the Japanese country and have for the greater half of the 20th century but unfortunately now their grip or hold is diminishing. With the member companies and there are many owning only small portions of the shares in the companies owned by so many, centered on a core bank, this system prevents takeover attempts, keeps them safe from stock market fluctuations and enables long-term planning in innovative projects. Keirestu by Richard Brawer brings to light what happens behind the scenes of these great conglomerates including the rationale, thinking and innermost thoughts of those in power and what happens when anyone tries to voice any descent.

 

What happens when one man rises to the top and the rest have to fall into line? What happens when a tsunami almost levels the plane? What would happen if China created nuclear weapons and missiles so powerful that it takes the number one spot away from the United States? What happens when a group of wealthy Japanese businessmen decide to take on not only China but the United States in an effort to take control, become the number one power and force in the world and create a nuclear arsenal that would overrun those in any country and possibly do more than destroy the world?

 

Toshio Nagoya is a smart man but he has many unseen flaws. One is that he guides himself by the gods, the dead and his superstitions. Creating many companies, starting from nothing he managed to build up his wealth in secretive and yet lucrative ways. When a huge tsunami hits Japan and many areas are destroyed he looks to this as a sign that things need to change, that Japan has to rise above adversity, and now is the time to take on China. As we meet his nephew Roger at the start of the novel we learn about a serious accident that caused the death of four of his family members leaving one child quite rich, but an orphan. Next, we learn more about his father and his goals for him but there are secrets that he has yet to learn and to share with Roger. John Nagoya, is the cousin to Toshio and working closely with him they have bought many companies, hidden their ownership and created a web of deceit and lies that goes way up the ranks of many who are spending time in our American prisons. Clever, smart and cunning no one really knows what he has done, nor do they know the true nature of United Industries of America. Keirestu enlightens readers into the mindset of the Japanese, their feelings towards America and their determination to win back what they have lost. What happens when the CEO’s of these Keirestus decide to take action on their won, build nuclear weapons to counteract the threat of China and her new military power? Listening to the words of Toshio explaining his rationale behind using our own Supreme Court ruling that corporations can provide funding for political campaigns as long as the company is American owned. So hiding the fact that the Japanese were the ones about to fund one powerful Senator’s run for reelection would take planning, creativity and definitely deceit. So, these men, who as you meet them during a closed and locked door meeting, appear to agree with their leader, but in reality you can feel the tension and fear within each one of them. When one man voices his concerns his fears are set aside but not in the usual way? Without having to say anything one man, one samurai named Sato says it all with his expressions and movements. All of the companies that these men now own are within our United States congressional districts. But, no one realizes what is happening as yet and hoping that as a result of their generosity the Senator will more than agree with their actions, polices and hopefully just agree to whatever they want. Pressure can be a fatal thing in more ways than one. So, can Nagoya lead his country back to becoming an economic and military force? Is his mindset about the United States right: Are we becoming less powerful as a world power? Will we leave Japan and allow them to invade China? Will the administration demand as they did with Korea and Iran that Japan stop creating and making nuclear weapons?

 

As you meet the rest of the players we learn more about Morrison’s his wife Sandy who seems more concerned about his political career than cultivating their marriage. Discussion about the Japanese and Chinese became rather heated when on vacation with their friends and we learn exactly what legislation he has planned, his views on political funds being funneled for reelection campaigns, the harsh line he’s taking towards the Japanese and his hopes to run for President. But, there is much more behind what Morrison has planned and we learn about his investigation into

Kyoto Motors, what will happen if they do not buy from their American suppliers and the end result if things go downhill? Added in we learn more about the “accident that caused the death of four people at the start of the book” and another accident that our Senator seems to wreak of foul play.
Then we get to know more about the two cousins, how they met, the reasons behind their alliance and why John holds an heirloom that Toshio would do anything to get. Added in we are about to learn more about Roger, John’s son how he uncovers information about his father’s business dealings. The author allows the reader to understand the basis behind their businesses, the hedge funds, which owns the companies, how the money is funneled and how they manage to hide their ownership from the Americans.

 

Ripped from the headlines with extensive research, articles, and essays related to Japan/China and their military and economic struggles author Richard Brawer leaves no stone unturned when relating the events of this novel. As Roger decides to find out just what his father was hiding behind locked file cabinets, why he was being kept in the dark about his brother-in-law’s company and why was his job related to United Industries to write contracts of purchase, get them signed and deliver the check? Now, what he wanted to know and would hope to find out is where the money was going and how did his brother in law, Danny acquire so many companies and what is the truth about United Industries of America?

The author then through Roger and his visit to a professor explains the history behind the Shinto Religion, how it impacts the way of life of the Japanese people, plus the history of Confucianism, Zen and Buddhism adding in information about the how the Japanese people view those not born there. Understanding the meaning of the word Kami and why these people are considered the most prejudice in the world. As you read Chapter 22 you learn about class distinctions, dress, roles of the people and why the people resent the shogun and Roger’s father’s role in all of this. Added in you learn more about Ogato from his conversation with Roger and the feeling that he had something to do with the murders of the two union workers. Kyoto Motors are under investigation and Roger aims to find out more about his cousin’s business, his father’s involvement and the hedge fund bonds that are paying for it.

But Toshio wife has her own secret that keeps her feeling alive and special as does he with his allegiance to the gods and his lack of respect for women as we learn when he too has his own place to release his tensions. But, there is so much more the author shares about the Japanese mindset and how they view themselves. Everyone belongs to groups the smallest the family, then the company and the keiretsu and finally the largest group of all is the country. But, what is really interesting is how their religion evolved, their feudalistic way of dealing with others and the fact that they considered themselves superior to everyone because the gods created them, as you will learn when you read Chapter 23 in depth. The Japanese are more concerned about how they are viewed by the world then by how they perceive it. ? Just how strong is China’s military and how will this all play out in the end? So, who is running Japan? Who is this most powerful shogun? What will happen when they go after Morrison to stop his legislation? Why do they think Americans are lazy and do not take their work or businesses seriously?

 

Truths have a way of coming and sometimes the end result will not be what you expect. As the senator tries to warn his son about the real ownership of his companies, where the funds come from and what would happen if the hedge funds call their bonds will he listen? What happens at the end will surprise readers as one man tries to stop what you might say would be more than just a tsunami or earthquake from happening if things continued in the same way. Lies, betrayals, greed, deceit, prejudice, hate and murder to eliminate anyone in their way just how powerful are the Kieretsus and who remains able to take the last bow in the end? Read this outstanding novel and find out  Toshio is able to set forth his plan to create his own arsenal of nuclear weapons? Just what happens and he comes out as the true superior or in this case they might say Shogun? A final showdown that is right out of a Samurai Movie and the end result will more than surprise the reader. Author Richard Brawer’s characters stay true to their culture, tradition and values from start to finish as some struggle to stay afloat, others to prevent disgrace on their families and some just to remember who they are. Kierestus: just how powerful are they? You decide!

Fran Lewis: reviewer