45. Under the Eye of God

15816744Blog Tour:  Under the Eye of God by Jerome Charyn for Tribute Books

Under the Eye of God Book Summary

After decades of madness in the Bronx, Isaac Sidel visits the craziest state in the country.

 Isaac Sidel is too popular to be America’s vice president. Once the New York Police Department commissioner, he became the most beloved mayor in the city’s history—famous for his refusal to surrender his Glock, and for his habit of disappearing for months at a time to fight crime at street level. So when baseball czar J. Michael Storm asks Sidel to join him on the election’s Democratic ticket, the two wild men romp to an unprecedented landslide. But as the president-elect’s mandate goes off the rails—threatened by corruption, sex, and God knows what else—he tires of being overshadowed by Sidel, and dispatches him to a place from which tough politicians seldom return: Texas.

In the Lone Star state, Sidel confronts rogue astrologers, accusations of pedophilia, and a dimwitted assassin who doesn’t know when to take an easy shot. If this Bronx bomber doesn’t watch his step, he risks making vice-presidential history by getting killed on the job.

I began reading Under the Eye of God not really knowing what to expect other than another detective novel, which I don’t usually read.  What did I get?  I’m not so sure how to describe it.  I guess you could say it was a mix of various things.  This being the first novel by Charyn that I’ve read, it was in no way an easy read for me.

The story holds a plethora of characters that appear throughout the novel, making it very difficult to keep straight who is who.  Not to mention, the plot itself is highly complex and tenebrous and quite frankly difficult to get into.  It was dark and violent, but that didn’t bother me surprisingly enough.  While trying so desperately to grasp this storyline, it wasn’t until I was midway through that I realized the story was mainly turning around its main character, Isaac Sidel.  In my opinion, the plot line just became secondary and I’m not sure if it’s because I hadn’t read any other books from this series or because the unfolding character development of Isaac Sidel is so strong.  Under the Eye of God is an in-depth character analysis of him, as I suspect the other books in this series are too.  Isaac Sidel is a man who could be described as violent, strong, judgmental, revengeful, successful, and determined.  His traits portray him to be just as good as he is bad.  He’s flawed and that’s what makes the story.

Reading and learning more of the thoughts of Isaac Sidel, while following all the other complex characters, I started to enjoy the book more because of the crazy, organized underworld, along with the historical references to American history.  If you’re looking for sex scandals, accusations of pedophilia, a surprising presidential election, lots of swearing, violence,  and loads of shady characters, this is the book for you.  The writing style can take some getting used to but it’s precise, direct, and clear.  The overall plot line is the only thing which is not necessarily clear and not particularly interesting.  However, it’s the recounting of memories, incidents, and the distinct characters that make Under the Eye of God highly readable.  In essence, being introduced to Charyn’s writing has sparked my interest in checking out the first in the Isaac Sidel series called Blue Eyes.  I’m sure it will give more of a framework and understanding of the Isaac Sidel series.  I gave this book three stars on Goodreads, although I don’t think this book is for everyone.  Click the link below to follow the Tribute Books blog tour for more reviews and interviews of Jerome Charyn on Under the Eye of God.

The blog tour’s official site is:


Jerome Charyn’s Bio:

Jerome Charyn (b. 1937) is the critically acclaimed author of nearly fifty books. Born in the Bronx, he attended Columbia College, where he fell in love with the works of William Faulkner and James Joyce. After graduating, he took a job as a playground director and wrote in his spare time, producing his first novel, a Lower East Side fairytale called Once Upon a Droshky, in 1964.

In 1974 Charyn published Blue Eyes, his first Isaac Sidel mystery. Begun as a distraction while trying to finish a different book, this first in a series of Sidel novels introduced the eccentric, near-mythic detective and his bizarre cast of sidekicks. Charyn followed the character through Citizen Sidel (1999), which ends with his anti-hero making a run at the White House. Charyn, who divides his time between New York and Paris, is also accomplished at table tennis, and once ranked amongst France’s top Amazon10 percent of ping-pong players.

Jerome Charyn’s web site:



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Under the Eye of God blog tour site:



Price: $14.99

Release: October 30, 2012

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I love being a writer.  What I can’t stand is the paperwork.

                                                    —— Peter DE VRIES

44. This Is Where I Leave You

Ah  family!  You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them, even though some of us would sure like to try.  Since the holiday season is here and family will most likely be a big part of the festivities, you should all take a look at This Is Where I Leave You.  This will definitely bring things into perspective.  Who knows?  You might even wind up thinking your family isn’t so bad after all.

Judd Foxman on the other hand has just found out his wife has been cheating on him with his boss the “radio-shock-jock” and everybody knows about it.  Judd’s father has died and he has to be reunited with his mother and siblings to observe shiva for seven days under the same roof.  That’s going to be a feat in itself for a non-practicing Jewish family.  Not to mention, they haven’t seen each other in a very long time, so Judd anxiously anticipates the friction to come.

This Is Where I Leave You is a really good read about a dysfunctional family.  You’re probably thinking I’m on some kind of a kick at the moment since my last post was on a book with the same theme.  Trust me.  This one is a lot better.  Have you ever wondered at times what your husband, boyfriend, or any other male in your life was thinking?  Reading This is Where I Leave You should give you a pretty good idea.  Judd Foxman is a very likeable character despite all of his flaws and his lack of decision-making and backbone.  He is genuinely nice and is simultaneously mourning his father’s death and his failed marriage .  The story takes a profound look at  the relationships between siblings and the ones between parents and their children through some humoristic and sad situations.  A look at the past also helps to develop the theme of what parenting was for Judd’s parents as opposed to what is present day parenting for Wendy, Judd’s sister.  As the children begin recounting stories of their father, Judd contemplates how much he has forgotten and what he remembers of him.  It takes Judd, his mother, and siblings the full seven needed days of shiva, while stirring up old memories, to come to grips with their present situations but most of all their past difficulties.

This is a book for the guys, although the girls should read it to understand men a little better.  The descriptions of women, old girlfriends, incidents with children and friends, tiffs with siblings, spouses, and Mom, but most of all hurt pride and feelings tend to be as bad as physical pain at times.  Jonathan Tropper has written some larger than life descriptive scenes, especially the one mentioned in the clip below.  This scene surprised me too because I had noted that it was a two page description and found that intriguing manly.

Jonathan Tropper has written four other successful books:  Plan B, The Book of Joe, Everything Changes, How to Talk to a Widower, and the most recently published in 2012 called One Last Thing Before I Go.  Some people might make a comparison and say that Jonathan Tropper is the American version of Nick Hornby, but I say he is better.  “Often side-splitting, mostly heartbreaking…(Tropper’s) a more sincere, insightful version of Nick Hornby, that other master of male psyche.” –USA Today was written on the back of This Is Where I Leave You.  Somehow Tropper has a way of making a lot of the characters likeable because of the situations he puts them in, even the ones you dislike.  You can’t help thinking at times I would have done that or said that or at least thought that.  Three of Tropper’s books are being adapted into films, including This is Where I Leave You in the summer of 2013.  He is also working on Banshee a television series being filmed in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is due to premier in 2013.  I gave this book 4 bright stars out of five on Goodreads.  Check out the clip below where Tropper is asked about the famous two page scene.  Happy reading…..

43. I’m Down

I remember wandering around Borders a couple of years ago, on summer holiday in the States, looking for something different to read.  I ran my eyes along the shelves combing for a good book to read and I happened upon I’m Down.  The book is pitched as:  “Mishna Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black.  “He strutted around with a short perm, a Cosby-esque

sweater, gold chains, and a Kangol—telling jokes like Redd Foxx and giving advice like Jesse Jackson.  You couldn’t tell my father he was white.  Believe me, I tried,” writes Wolff.  And so from early childhood on, her father began his crusade to make his daughter down.”

“Unfortunately, Mishna didn’t quite fit in with the neighborhood kids:  she couldn’t dance, she couldn’t sing,  she couldn’t double Dutch, and she was the worst player on her all-black basketball team…..”

Reading this book infuriated me and made me feel extremely uncomfortable.  Her description of poor black people was stereotypical and put accent on the worst traits of this community.  I don’t think that all poor black people fight,insult each other, and neglect their children and I certainly don’t think it’s a howling laugh.  Unfortunately, those traits are accentuated through a good part of the book.  She makes it sound as if it’s the main reason for her problems.  Her real problem was her dysfunctional family.

In essence, her problem wasn’t fitting into the black community, it was her not having an identity of her own.  Her problem was with her father.  She just happened to be living in a poor black neighborhood.  Moreover, I’m almost sure that if a black person would have written this book, no publisher would have wanted to sign it on.  The attraction was mainly that she was white and living in this poor black neighborhood recounting so-called funny episodes of her life interacting with black children at school.

Wolff attempts to write about her life in a comical fashion, but I didn’t really find it funny at all.  If you decide to read this book, it’s basically a memoir about a dysfunctional poor, white family living in a poor black neighborhood.  White people may find this funny or interesting to read but as a black woman I find it slightly offensive.  It reminded me of modern-day blackface without the make-up.  For example at one point in the book, Mishna learns to “cap” (=insulting someone in a playful way) at camp and then she starts capping her father.  Her father was annoyed by it so he said, “I’m not about to take it from my daughter in my own home…..I take it from the Man everyday.” (I’m Down p. 33)  Really?  Ugghhhh!  There were a lot of other phrases and incidents in the book like that.  Another thing I didn’t like is the way she recounts the story as she’s nine but it sounds too much like an adult, although it’s quite clear early on she seems to be clueless about lots of things.  I rate this book a one star.  If you’re interested shes apparently planning to write a second part to I’m Down, which will begin where I’m Down left off.  I’m not sure about the release date.

If you’re interested in more information about Mishna Wolff and her story, watch the You Tube clip below where she’s speaking at a university in Florida about her book and life.  I found it a little painful to watch because she seems so awkward and strange.  Happy reading……

NaNoWriMo Tag

I was tagged by naturalpoppy on You Tube the other day to do a Why I love NaNoWriMo tag.  So since I don’t do You Tube videos, I decided to do it here for her and you instead.

The main reason I love NaoWriMo is because it got me to sit down and write.  I’ve been saying forever and ever. I want to write a book and other people have told me you should write a book.  Now I’m actually doing it.  It may not be great stuff but I’m getting the words down everyday and more than the minimum daily count.

This is my first participation in NaNoWriMo and I started scared out of my mind.  I just couldn’t perceive myself writing a minimum of 1,667 words a day.  I thought it would take me all day to get it done.  In fact day one went really well I wrote 1,753 words in two hours.  God only knows where it all came from.  I continued the rest of the days hoping they would be the same.  Honestly, some of the days have been remarkable 3,000/4,000 words.  It’s really been unbelievable and an enjoyment!

The weekend before NaNoWriMo started I had a general idea of what I wanted to write about but absolutely no specific ideas.  Needless to say I procrastinated the entire weekend.  Finally, on Monday night my husband (my muse) started questioning me to see where I was on my planning.  Sigh!  Nowhere.  He then started to ask me about characters and setting and some other things and suddenly I realized I knew a lot more than I was aware.  As a matter of fact, I was pretty adamant about setting, characters, and time period.  In my opinion, Day 1 was the most important day for me.  It was like opening a vault and then wanting to take the time to discover the treasure from within.  I’m enjoying it tremendously and have connected with a group of great writing buddies that are keeping me motivated and I them.  If you’re not participating this year and you would like to write a book one day, I strongly urge you to sign up next year.  It’s the experience that’ll give you that swift kick up the butt that you need to begin writing, but most of all to continue even beyond the 50,000 words demanded.  I wish all the participants who might be reading this Good luck, don’t give up no matter what and especially Happy writing……

Favorite sentence that I wrote this week:

He sunk into the sofa and attempted to envisage his lonely future.

Describe a character in my book that I’m fond of:

I’m fond of Zachary at the moment.  He’s hard-working, good-looking and a good dad sort of.  He’s a lousy husband and has a bit on the side.

How many words have I written so far?


When and where have I been doing most of my writing?

Every morning, I write near a well-lit window in my living room in an extremely comfortable chair.  My legs are propped up on a pillow on another chair and my Macbook on my lap.  If I start by 9am, I’m usually finished by noon and sometimes even before, unless I feel like writing more.

Have I had to sacrifice anything in the past week in order to devote myself to writing?

No not really.  I can’t move around a lot because of my torn Achilles tendon which is healing slowly, but surely.  In essence, I’ve got plenty of time to write at the moment.

Be obscure clearly.

                 ——E.B. White

NaNoWriMo snippet

Today is Day 9 of NaNoWriMo and I haven’t yet started to write, but ideas are brewing up top.  I’ll be doing some night writing to see if that agrees with me.  I decided to share a little snippet of my story.  What do you think comes after It was 3am…?

She woke suddenly in the middle of the night.  She looked over at her husband rolled up in a deep narcotic sleep.  She felt her side of the bed as she got up.  There was a large damp circle of wetness that had seeped into her nightgown.  She went to the toilet to urinate and reflected on what to do next.  As she pulled down her underwear she noticed the little beads of water running continuously but slowly down her leg.  It was if the faucet had a drip that wouldn’t stop.  It was 3am…..

massdistraction / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sharynmorrow/3363758/”>massdistraction</a&gt; / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-ND</a>

42. Velveteen

Velveteen is a snarky, intelligent, tenacious teenager who has been kidnapped and murdered by a serial killer called Bonesaw.  Velveteen winds up in purgatory where she isn’t in heaven and definitely is not in hell.  It’s one of the grayest places you could imagine and it’s parallel to the living world.  Velveteen plots on how to go about getting revenge on Bonesaw, even if secretly crossing from the dead world to the living world is risky for everyone.  She’ll do anything to make Bonesaw’s life a living hell.

Velveteen is being marketed as a young adult horror, fantasy novel.  It’s not scary and there isn’t much horror.  It doesn’t focus primarily on Velveteen taking revenge on her murderer as is pitched on the back of the book, which was a little disappointing for me.  In spite of that, you’ll fall in love immediately with Velveteen.  She’s great!  She’s kick-ass!  She’s the kind of friend you’d like to have.  The salvage team that she’s a member of is great to read about too.  The world of the dead is composed of some extremely creative descriptions and characters – good and bad.

What I disliked was that the action was sometimes difficult to follow.  I found myself rereading some parts because I felt there were things I was forgetting or just didn’t understand well.  The thing I adored was that it didn’t read like a typical YA novel.  I read it in three days.  I could have read it quicker, but NaNoWriMo started on the first of November.  The writing was exceptional!  The progression of events was engaging and the vocabulary was elevated!  I could hear the author’s voice the entire time – very humoristic.  Great teenage dialogue!  If you don’t know Daniel “Danny” Marks, he has a successful You Tube channel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vp1moxN_FY&feature=plcphas and contributes to another channel called YA Rebels http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q69R7oAdo4. Velveteen is Marks’ first YA horror fantasy novel and I hope it won’t be his last.  He’s had various jobs like being psychotherapists for children and adolescents, a cafeteria janitor, and a Halloween store manager(I could see him doing that).  I’m sure all these jobs have contributed to Dannny Marks’ captivating writing style and ingenious ideas.  I rated Velveteen three and a half stars on Goodreads, which is right between I liked it and I really liked it.  I docked a half of a star for the lack of Bonesaw.  Check out the video below which is Danny Marks being interviewed by Bunny Cates on You Tube.  Thanks for the interview Bunny and Danny!

I have made this letter longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.

                                                                                                ——Blaise PASCAL