Confessions of a Neighbor

Confessions of a Neighbor ISBN: 9780998012902, Plum Tree Press, an e-book by Heather Nadine Lenz.

Plot: A prologue describes Ella struggling to survive in freezing water while attempting to save her very young daughter from drowning. The actual tale then begins with a lovely seventeen-year-old who was struggling with a massive load of problems: 1) the recent loss of her only family, her mother and most loving grandmother. 2) the three had moved constantly to different cities/countries because her mother was ‘fleeing the Russian Mafia’; 3) she is struggling to attempt to succeed in ballet, like her mother who was a featured ballerina in several ballet companies. 4) she had no idea of her father’s identity; 5) money was scarce, necessitating her working as a waitress while attempting to maintain her ballet training schedule; 6) she was attempting to deal not only with the overriding depressing effects of losing the two most important people in her life, but also had absolutely no supportive friends; 7) she mistakenly becomes involved in a relationship with a neighbor that gradually develops into a devastating nightmare; 8) the fact that she ultimately discovers that her mother suffered from a delusional problem which adds still another dimension to her distress The story gradually unfolds describing the manner in which each of the problems eventually is met and dealt with and provision of further detail would be a great disservice to the prospective reader.

Discussion: The author has produced a volume that provides an intriguingly convoluted plot that certainly would have been highly placed on Oprah Winfrey’s recommended reading list. It has all of the elements of a suspenseful thriller with abundant elements for sustained emotional stress being suffered by an unsophisticated young woman.

5* for devotees of suspenseful emotional thrillers involving an appealing, naive young woman.

The Meandering Orb Trail of Avery Adludian Stein


The Meandering Orb Trail of Avery Adludian Stein, an e-book by Karen Costakes.

Plot: a Prologue describes a seemingly depressed Robert shuffling toward his rather dilapidated truck from another yard sale with a musty box of gatherings labeled “Free Junk”. While opening the car door, it suddenly disengages from its rusty hinges and falls making him drop the box, widely scattering the buttons, yarn and other material. Now greatly chagrinned and about to pull a childish tantrum, two words come to mind – “For Sam” – and his disgruntled state turns into one of resolve. He believes she will look at the world with ‘rose-colored glasses’ instead of from his more jaundiced approach. Then, while recovering the last of the scattered objects, he encounters a dapper man who questions his success at the sale. Robert answers that it was not particularly successful, but there always was the next one that could be. Liking his optimism, the man hands him a small parcel and suggests he take this and “Maybe it will lead you to something of more value.” Robert returns to his home whose state resembles that of his truck, and stops to listen to his wife reading to their soon-to-be-delivered daughter: “You are going to be brilliant and beautiful. You are going to have adventures galore. You may go through tough times but you are a fighter.” The story then opens with a nearly thirty-year-old Sam living at home helping with her father’s EBay business that barely is eking out a living for the family. While going through junk in the barely surviving attic, she discovers a pair of somewhat unique glasses. Descending to the main floor and exiting to the back porch, she dons the glasses and is shocked to see a strange red orb developing from a red spot in the carpet. Even more disquieting is the fact that the orb has multiplied and seems to provide an extended path. She rushes to confirm her sanity with her unusual neighbor Matty, who offers assurance and the two set off on a journey that provides the substance of story.

Discussion: Quite frankly and regrettably, this is one of the very few books I ever have read that I found extremely difficult to finish. For this reason I indulged in a procedure I always avoid – I read the reviews that already had been posted. Here among others, it has been described as “unique and whimsical”, which it is; as “clean, happy, fun, hilarious, and sensitive” which for many no doubt it will be; “If you are a junkie for a good book to take you out of the ordinary, this is it!”

These analyses require me to simply apologize for totally disagreeing with the seeming ‘flow of positive reviews’ and to offer, perhaps somewhat apologetically, the following: 1) I may have ‘missed’ something; 2) my many years as an investigative scientist may have pushed me too far toward pragmatism even though I thoroughly enjoy many books in the fantasy, occult, sci-fi and similar genres; or 3) I simply prefer a book that provides a plot that is somewhat more structured, i.e., ‘seems to be going somewhere’; characters with some, even slightly, more definition to provide some empathy or even a desire for the protagonist to accomplish his/her goals.

Conclusion: I understand that the author’s former endeavors have included Peace Corps volunteer, professional dog walking, kindergarten substitute, nanny and a struggling EBay business. The latter forms a knowledgeable base for the story’s initiation and the various other endeavors provide an insightful basis for the thrust and management of her story. Her optimism is impressive and the story has a most commendable underlying belief set forth in her statement: “God gave no greater gift than creative thought.” Thus, many readers no doubt will concur with the other reviewers. Most regrettably, it just is too unstructured for this reviewer.

3* Commendable endeavor regrettably not for this reviewer. Mea Culpa?