In this fifth book in the Connor Burke martial arts thriller series, John Donohue breaks some new ground. Throughout Burke’s newest adventure, Donohue weaves the story of Burke’s sensei, Yamashita, as a young man. He looks at issues of loyalty, obedience and impetuousness while telling an edge-of-your-seat story involving kidnapping and the Korean mafia. As always Donohue gives us a meaty story that can be read as a darn good thriller, or as a study in human nature, or as a commentary on the traditions and inner workings of the martial art. Pick it up on Friday night when you don’t have to be at work Saturday morning. If you’re like me, you’ll be up half the night reading “just one more chapter.”
• Prices on the ebook editions (Smashwords, Amazon, Sony, Kobo) are now $2.99.
• Order from Kobo, enter the code thankyou2012 and get another 35% off.
• Purchase the print edition directly from the printer,* enter the code KL75LT35, and you will get $6 off the cover price.
Do you know someone who loves historical fiction? Someone whose family came over from Ireland? Someone who enjoys journey tales? Give them a copy of Clare for Christmas. Smashwords has a give a gift link that makes giving Clare as a gift as easy as purchasing it for yourself.
*Clare is printed by CreateSpace, a division of Amazon.com, so buying Clare from the printer gives you the same quality and security that you get from Amazon.
Alcuin Digital Classics (one of the imprints of my publishing company) has just released a Kindle version of F. J. Norman’s classic “The Fighting Man of Japan.” It details Norman’s experience with Kendo, Jujutsu, Sumo and the Japanese navy in late-nineteenth-century Japan. The photos are amazing and are now optimized for viewing on an Kindle.
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother requires a certain flexibility of thought. The premise involves contrasting “American parents” and “Chinese parents” using experiences from Chua’s life bringing up her two daughters. But the narrative opens a hornet’s nest of questions: What is the purpose of childhood? Can what is deemed cruel in one culture be kind in another? If you had to choose between enjoying your life and doing something special with your life, is one choice more moral than the other? What if the choice was not for your own life but for your child’s?
If Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was an easy book for you to read and process, you probably missed most of the nuance. The characters’ lives are filled with mindless simplification: sweeping generalizations, unwarranted dramatics, blind ambition, and false dichotomies. Chua does not appear to be a very reflective subtle person until you realize that in writing the book she is being very subtle and reflective about her lack of subtlety. Then you realize that your own response is not a simple response to a narrative but also a knee-jerk reaction to your own life as both a parent and a child.
Read it with your fiance, with your teenaged child, with your mother after you are grown and out on your own. Then talk. It asks for reflection and conversation, not just a gut response (though you will probably have one of those, too).
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I’m now offering electronic autographs for Clare and Western Herbs via Kindlegraph. So far these autographs are available on the Kindle, but I have to admit the technology is pretty cool. Check it out.
The cover of the book compares Below Stairs to “Downton Abbey” and “Upstairs, Downstairs.” In fact, the image of Daisy, the kitchen maid in “Downton Abbey” kept floating through my mind as I read. But what this book has that the two series don’t is a closely wrought picture of the life and heart of a kitchen maid. We see images of young Margaret, new to service, polishing the front door brass until her hands swell with chillblains, only to be dragged in front of the mistress of the house for a dressing down regarding the bits she missed. In Margaret Powell’s stories, we see not only how tough the work was, but the toughness of mind and the emotional calluses that she needed to form to do that work. She tells the story in simple, straightforward, almost childlike prose, but the detailed pictures she painted drew me in and made me ask the question of whether I could have survived the work and the indignities as well as she did.
Susan Lynn Peterson
author of Clare: A Novel
a story of Irish immigration in the early 20th century
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Not many people can write both fiction and nonfiction well. Loren Christensen can. I’ve been reading his nonfiction for some time now, and have always found it straight-forward and informative. His new novel, Dukkha, has a similar no-nonsense feel to it. His fight scenes are hard and realistic, and so is his look at the inner world of his protagonist, a cop suffering after having to shoot someone in the line of duty. I don’t normally read thrillers, but I picked this one up because of my interest in martial arts. I have to admit I lost a couple hours of sleep to it. I had that much trouble putting it down. It’s a nicely done debut novel.
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When I was a beginning student sometimes high ranking black belts would come to the dojo to visit, teach, or train. I discovered that if you hung around after class and asked a few leading questions, sometimes the visiting black belt would open a new world to you: stories about his teachers or about masters now gone, techniques for strengthening a particular part of the body, martial philosophy and psychology, new ways of looking at old techniques, or challenges to think about and test yourself against. Shin Gi Tai: Karate Training for Body, Mind, and Spirit is like having Michael Clarke visit the dojo and drop all these things and more in your lap. It is an eclectic book containing everything from training techniques to history, background on why karate-ka do what they do to commentary on modern trends in the martial arts. Mostly it is a chance to hang out with a senior martial artist and to listen to him talk about the many-facets world of karate. I will be mulling over his insights for months to come.