Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Soon, all of us will feel the heat

 Swept by his excitement, Mrs. Komarov gets to her feet and hurries out the door to join the others, leaving me behind. On her way out she says, over her shoulder, “You, stay put. I need you to come up with a solution. Work on it like your life depends on it.”

I do. First—as soon as she turns her back to me—a quick change of clothes. I take off Linda’s shoes because by now my feet are killing me and remove the black skirt because it’s a bit tight. I look good in my spandex leggings, if I say so myself. 

Then I smooth down the side of the skirt, sliding my hand into the pocket and grabbing the matchbook. Nearly all of its matches are gone. Only a single one is left. I’ll have to make it count. 

With trembling fingers, I tear it out of the matchbook and strike it against the rough narrow strip. It doesn’t ignite. I strike again, approach the wastebasket, which is set in the corner behind the toilet, and throw it there, burning. 

The flame is flimsy, at first. 

For a while, I believe it has been extinguished. The match has sunk out of sight and disappeared under the dirty tissues. Then, a subtle glow appears. A little tongue of fire starts licking, touching a corner of a tissue here, an edge there, slithering across the mess, consuming it hungrily. 

Once the fire starts blazing through the wastebasket itself, I carry the flaming thing, set it under the desk, heap in handfuls of the oldest billing complaints, and hurry out the door. I close it shut behind me and, with a little cheer, join the others in their impromptu celebration. 

Soon, all of us will feel the heat.



(Volume IV of Ash Suspense Thrillers with a Dash of Romance)

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The complexity of the plot, the deceptions Ash must deal with are all wonderfully written and the author’s mastery of keeping it easy to follow is not lost on this reader. There is always another twist or turn you never see coming. 

~Colleen Mooney, Author and Audible listener

Saturday, September 25, 2021

When I go under the knife, the one holding it should be a real professional

 The death of his wife is something I can investigate later, on my own. No need to talk about it with him. Instead, I ask, “Have you ever pretended to be a doctor?”

He seems to stall. “You mean, as a child?”

“No,” I say. “As an adult.”

“I’ve heard of others who have.”

“Really?” 

“Really.”

I raise an eyebrow. “I thought it would be impossible to get away with such a dangerous form of bluffing.”

“You’d hope so, wouldn’t you,” he says. “Frankly, I met so many qualified doctors with perfect credentials who are dangerous.”

Is he avoiding the topic by trying to distract me with a slightly different one? 

“Perfect credentials can fool you,” he says. “I know that from experience.”

“Tell me about it.”

“You sure? I don’t want to bore you—” 

“Oh, you won’t.”

“Well,” he says, slowly drawing out the word till it turns into a sigh. “Take for example the case of someone I used to know—no names, you understand—who removed a healthy kidney during what was supposed to be colon surgery. He had to give up his medical license in North Carolina, only to continue practicing in another state.”

“Really? Can he do that?”

“Really. Then in Michigan, he removed his patient’s fallopian tube. According to the medical board records, he mistook it to be her appendix. More surgeries on the woman followed, including one in which he allegedly left her intestine unconnected. Facing state sanctions, he surrendered his license there, too, and has moved to Ohio, where his medical license is still in effect.”

I shake my head, utterly in dismay. “Someone should have reported him.”

Dr. Patel takes a long gulp of water. Then he picks up his dinner napkin, wipes his lips, and dabs the corners of his mouth over and again. Finally, he admits, “I made the mistake of doing just that.”

“Really? You did?”

“I was a senior resident back then, he—the attending surgeon. Knowing I was right, I didn’t hesitate to defy authority. In hind sight, that was a mistake.”

“Oh, I’m impressed!”

“Don’t be,” he says, curtly. “The administration of the hospital fired me at once, because by calling the State Medical Board I went outside the departmental Quality Assurance process. They had been looking for an excuse to get rid of me, and this was their chance. Citing behavioral problems, they slammed the door in my face.”

“Oh no, Dr. Patel!”

“Please,” he says. “Call me Neil.” 

“Neil,” I say, this time in a warmer tone. “Somehow or other, you managed to come around and establish a highly successful career.”

He chortles behind his hand, a bit too heartily. Maybe he’s trying to hide the reddening of his face. “I learned the hard way that whistleblowing is frowned upon. Don’t tell anyone I was guilty of it.”

“I won’t.” 

We laugh, which gives me the courage to go back to my first question. “So? Have you ever pretended to be a doctor?”

He casts an evasive look at me, or maybe it just seems that way, because of the candlelight flickering in his pupils. 

And even though we haven’t eaten our meal yet, even though it’s still in the process of being cooked, he skips ahead to ask, out of order, “So? What would you like for dessert?”

“An answer.”

He wipes his mouth again and at once, the smile is gone. “What I can give you is this: I find a delicious irony in the idea that an impostor can be better than the real thing.”

“The idea of a pretending to be a healer may sound tantalizing,” I say. “But when I go under the knife, the one holding it should be a real professional.”

“You mean, someone who is not pretending.”

“Exactly. Someone who pledged to do no harm.” 



 Love Suspense? Prepare to be thrilled 

Overdose

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Ash Suspense Thrillers Trilogy Audiobook


Months after recovering from coma, Ash discovers that the man who performed her brain surgery has a questionable medical experience and a dark past. Should she expose him, at the risk of becoming vulnerable to his revenge?


This is a fantastic medical mystery! So mysterious. I stayed up all night listening! I couldn't sleep until it was over. The narrator WAS the voice of Ash! Her narration was spot on. I felt her fear. Her doubt. Her questions. Her frustration. Her humor. Her pain.

~Becky, Audible Listener

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Moving my pinky toe is far from enough. I must do more. I must learn to kick.

 My time alone with Michael is about to come to an end. 

No doubt, Michael knows it, too. In a blink, he brushes his lips over mine, ever so lightly. It is then that something wondrous begins to happen. I don’t mean the memory of our first kiss, although that moment—framed with autumn leaves aflame all around us—is a great marvel, too.

The wondrous thing is something else entirely. It’s this sensation—oh, how do I describe it? A tingle, an itch?—down there, in my left foot. To be more precise, it’s in my pinky toe. 

Oh wow! I can move it!

“Goodbye,” says Michael in his softest voice, backing away.

Oh no, don’t go! Not now, I beg him in my heart. With renewed urgency, I move my pinky toe again, praying I could leap over somehow and stop him in his tracks. With him gone, how will I ever learn what he meant by taking responsibility for the crime?

Meanwhile, with a sigh of relief, Ma takes his place by my side. She strokes my hand, which I can’t move, and kisses my brow right over my eyes, which I can’t open to save my life. 

“Dear,” she begs, just as before, “give me some signal, will you?”

How can I tell her where to look, where to find my response, when she focuses on the wrong end? 

Moving my pinky toe is far from enough. I must do more. I must learn to kick.



Coma Confidential

(Volume I of Ash Suspense Thrillers with a Dash of Romance)

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Ash finds herself in the ER diagnosed with coma. She has no memory of what has happened to her, but what she can do--despite what everyone around her might think--is listen to the conversations of her visitors. Will she survive the power outage in the hospital and then, being kidnapped out of it?

Thursday, September 16, 2021

I looked at the corner of the flap, searching for an opening, no matter how small. But no, there was none. The envelope was completely sealed.



A week after my arrival at Camp Lejeune, the heat and humidity were such that I longed for the good old days, I mean, the days of perspiration and exhaustion back in Cape Upton’s mess hall. 

It was on Christmas day that I got a letter, which had been mailed there and redirected to reach me here. At first glance I thought it must have been a mistake, which irked me to the point of discarding it, almost. No one but my father had ever written to me—but the penmanship could not have been his. My name was drawn in an unfamiliar, flowing calligraphic style. The envelope looked quite different from the ones he would send, and so did the stamps. 

Dad would pay extra money to get the word INSURED printed prominently on the envelope in bold, capital letters. Invariably he would use stamps that featured famous Americans, each of whom was centered, rather formally, in a fancy, decorative portrait frame. I came to expect the usual lineup: a 2 cents stamp of Whistler, the artist, followed by a 2 cents stamp of Hopkins, an educator, a 2 cents stamp of Long, a scientist, a 2 cents stamp of Whittier, a poet, a 2 cent stamp of Cooper, an author, and a 2 cents stamp of Morse, an inventor. Forming a row at the top of the envelope, each one of these high and mighty characters seemed to have my father’s eyes, which gave me a sense of trepidation, of fear to find myself a failure. 

In a blink they might look down their noses at me and shake their heads ever so slightly, as if to say, “See? He’s chosen us as for a reason, setting us as a model before you. Think, Lenny! Think what you’re going to become! Plan your future! Do it now!”

But on this envelope, the postage was different. I used to collect stamps, and was surprised to see two identical, large, square ones that I had long wanted to get. Valued at 5 cents, they were posted one under the other, featuring the same image: a romantic drawing of a woman named Virginia Dare, whose life, according to popular folklore, was a mystery. 

Having read about her I knew that her grandfather had returned to England in 1587 to seek fresh supplies and upon his return three years later, she had vanished without a trace. She was drawn holding a small bundle, which on second inspection looked like a baby. In the background was the pitched roof of a home. The image was lovely, but had no personal meaning, I thought, none at all. If not for the rarity of these stamps, I would have assumed that they must have been chosen completely at random. Even so, my curiosity awakened.

I flipped the envelope to its other side and thought I caught a whiff of perfume. I could not believe who the letter was from not only at first glance but also at the second and third, and had to rub my eyes to make sure I was not dreaming, not misreading the sender’s name. Written in meticulous handwriting, there it was, her name and no other: Natasha Horowitz.

This, I thought, must have been someone’s idea of a practical joke, but on the unlikely chance that it wasn’t I decided to open the envelope with the utmost care. Hoping to insert some tool and rock it gently up and down till the glue gave way, I looked at the corner of the flap, searching for an opening, no matter how small. But no, there was none. The envelope was completely sealed. 



 Love reading? Treat yourself to a love story 

The Music of Us

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"Framed by the departure of his son for Italy and an appointment for his ailing wife's medical tests, a man remembers back to happier days when he first met and fell in love. Beautifully told. Natasha is beautiful, innocent and, even as a 16 year old, a melancholy soul, beautifully crafted by the author's loving touch. Lenny is brash, and funny and eternally hopeful, and the America they are set in, early in WWII is a world that is portrayed with a lyrical language that is at once beautiful and dream like - a world that can only exist in that "still life" the title refuses to."
Aurora Dawn, Audible Reviewer

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Most intriguing

 Love this review for A Favorite Son:

Reviewed in the United States on September 12, 2021

Definitely not a read I am use to…even so, I am far from being disappointed. A read that is a picture of all our pasts in some form, as well as our present & without doubt our future. How we all want more of what we have or don’t. How we allow that yearning to make us into someone we are not, and to what outcome? Do we actually gain or just add more loss with the acquiring of something different? Have we loss the riches we already had in the greed of more? I may be off on what the meaning truly is, but it was thought provoking & enjoyable. My first read of this author’s work but not my last.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Sometimes I wonder: after such a long time together, how little do we know each other?

 At no other time do I realize how far gone she is as when she plays the piano. 

As a concert pianist, the sound she used to bring out of it was simply magic. It would soothe the soul, take you soaring to heaven. Now, pounding full force at the keys, she stammers. Her music—if you can still call it that—is wild. Its one melodious stretch is disintegrating, somehow, into an unwieldy thump, thump, thump. 

She grits her teeth. She pleats her brow. She strokes the keys, then slaps them, hard. A strand of red hair interlaced with silver falls over her eye. With effort, she staggers through a few musical phrases that rise up, without warning, into a scream. 

Then her notes stumble again. Again they turn into despair. 

In the small Santa Monica apartment where we have lived for decades, the reverberation shakes the walls. It shocks me, in a heartbeat, into feeling helpless.

Sometimes I wonder: after such a long time together, how little do we know each other?

Who is this woman, with whom I have built a family? Behind this frightened gaze, is this really Natasha, my love, my inspiration? Can I stop her from becoming even more damaged? Can I save her? Is she still present?

And if this is no longer Natasha as I know her, Perhaps this is Rochelle? Perhaps she is just fooling me—and not only me but everyone else too, including the doctors—because... Because to win a victory against a dangerous foe, sometimes you must work your way through deception, through secrets and lies.

Is she just pretending—for reasons known only to her—to be a new person, different from the one I thought she was? 

Oh, how I would like to believe that!



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"I have always adored Ms. Poznansky's evocative writing, but this time she whisked me into the era of WWII French Resistance Fighters in 1944. And what an adventure it was! I trembled in my virtual boots beside Lenny when he was captured by Nazi soldiers, “this close” to being executed." 

~Aaron P. Lazar, Audible listener

Friday, September 10, 2021

As forceful as I thought I was, I can do little to stand in her way

 I could hear the bedsprings moan under the weight of her Mama. Perhaps now she was sitting up, pulling the bedspread all the way up to her three chins, and adjusting the glasses over her nose so she can glare at me over their frame, even though I was all the way across the ocean. 

I imagined seeing her cheeks through those lenses, with a detailed, dilated view of the crinkles under the droopy eyelids. 
“I’m sure that waking us up makes no difference to you,” she said.
To which I said, “Why would you think that, Mrs. Horowitz?”
“Because,” she said, “you must think that we here in the Big Apple are up and about around the clock, and besides, we can’t wait to get a call from an important persona such as yourself at any time whatsoever, day or night!”
Utterly dumfounded I could not bring myself to say another word, which made it all the more difficult to put together a whole sentence, to beg her to wake up her daughter.
So I was just about to say goodbye and so sorry, my mistake, this will never happen again, I promise, when all of a sudden Mrs. Horowitz said, “Natasha isn’t here.”
“What?” I cried. 
“You deaf? I said, she isn’t here!”
“Where, then, is she?”
“Why should I tell you?”
“You’re her Mama! Aren’t you supposed to know?”
“It’s all your fault,” she said.
To which I said, “Naturally.”
She had always been known for being overbearing, but even for her, this relentless attack on me seemed a bit much, which made me realize, suddenly, that this was her way of dealing with something else, something that made her feel powerless.
And indeed, a heartbeat later she started crying. “I’m very, very worried about Natasha,” she sniveled. “And because of this I wasn’t able to fall sleep all night!”
I hesitated to point out that according to her own words, Mrs. Horowitz had just been rudely arisen from a snooze. 
Instead I asked, “Did Natasha say where she was going?”
“She did,” said her Mama, in a teary voice.
“And—”
“And you’re not going to believe it. I heard it with my own ears and I still can’t believe it.”
“Please,” I pleaded. “Tell me!”
“Natasha,” she said, “is a delicate girl.”
“She’s a princess.” 
“Exactly! And until you showed up in her life, she was in a slumber, so to speak. She lived in a world of dreams, smiling at a rainbow, crying for a lost star, and giving herself to nothing else but her music, all of which made it easy for me to manage her career. Well, perhaps ‘easy’ is not the right word, ‘possible’ is. But no, not anymore! Now, unfortunately, my daughter knows what she wants and has an opinion of her own about every little thing, which of course has to be the exact opposite of mine, and the worst thing is, she takes bold action about it, which is quite clearly a mistake, and she does it with half-witted haste, which means that as forceful as I thought I was, I can do little to stand in her way. Oh my, she is out of control!”
“So sorry to hear it,” I said. “But—”
“You should be, because without me by her side, guiding her, she’s going to find herself in trouble in a big hurry.”
“Will you tell me already?” I said. “Where is she?”


Dancing with Air

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Audiobook included in Apart from War 



"The writing of this intense story of love and heartbreak is what makes it a classic. You'll go through the wringer with this one, but you'll never forget it."

 ~J.A. Schneider, author

Thursday, September 9, 2021

The book grabbed my attention with the first sentence, then tightened its grip until the last page where she writes: The End

 Just found this in-depth review of Overdose:

Reviewed in the United States on August 31, 2021

Overdose by Uvi Poznansky solidified my opinion of this author. It is the second book I have read by the novelist and she is now one of my favorite thriller writers. This time the book grabbed my attention with the first sentence, then tightened its grip until the last page where she writes: The End.

The story centers around a psychotic neurosurgeon, Doctor Patel, whose questionable medical expertise will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Within the story, we find out the doctor has planted a tracking device under Ash’s ear during a medical procedure he performed on her. With the help of her boyfriend, Michael, they remove the device, and Patel's reaction is part of the fun of this medical thriller. No spoilers. You’ll have to read it to find out what happens.

I am generally not a fan of first-person narratives. But Ms. Poznanski’s writing style is helping me change my mind. Her first-person perspective of our heroine is well written and gives us insight into Ash’s thoughts and fears.

Monday, September 6, 2021

A beautifully painted still life!

 LISTENER

EReader


 A beautifully painted still life! 

Overall  
    
5 out of 5 stars
Performance  
    
5 out of 5 stars
Story  
    
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-06-21

"The White Piano-- Still Life with Memories” is a poignant study of love, longing, and desire, painted with the masterful verbal brush of artist Uvi Poznansky. Through a series of memory sketches, the story’s narrator, Ben, recounts returning home after a ten-year absence to care for an ailing father. During the first night in his old bedroom, he recalls his mother’s exquisite playing of her treasured white grand piano, playing that symbolized the familial harmony he believed existed before an unexpected divorce drove his mother away.  

Ben arises the next morning to a very different reality. The grand piano is still in the old family living room but is marred and left untuned. His mother, Natasha, has been replaced by a younger look-alike named Anita who can’t carry a tune, but has an earthy, seductive appeal that clashes with Ben’s memories of his demure and sophisticated mother. 

As his cantankerous father and alluring step-mother intrude into Ben’s memories, we learn that Ben’s idealized still life hasn’t been an accurate one at all – that disharmony was growing long before Ben left home, but for reasons he couldn’t have imagined. Characters who are only crudely drawn in Ben’s initial memory sketches develop much greater depth as they are colored with Poznansky’s skillful literary palette. As Ben discovers what truly separated his parents, he is aided by the uncultivated sensitivity of his mother’s replacement who serves to help bridge the deep divide that has grown between Ben and his father. In a final still life, the white piano returns to Natasha. But it is another simpler tune that begins to restore harmony to Ben’s final memory portrait. 

This is the fourth or fifth of Poznansky’s novels I have read. "The White Piano" maintains the literary standard of excellence I have come to expect from this talented artist. David Kudler’s strong and sensitive narration adds even greater color to this beautifully crafted study of a family’s longing to reconnect. I highly recommend the ‘Still life with Memories.’ 

His story sounds nostalgic, at first—but I know it is a prelude for a kill


 “So, are you ready to spend your last moments with me? I promise not to disappoint.” Vlad leans over me from behind, his left arm tightening around my waist, his right elbow resting over the tip of my shoulder so as to steady his wrist, his control of the knife. 

I try to swing my arm back and hit him, which only serves to make his grip more painful.

“What is the point of resisting me? Give it up, will you? I’m going to tell you a little story.” Vlad gives me one rough shake after another, which brings me to the verge of fainting. 

When I come to, he presses on. “Long ago, when I was a child, my mother used to be a seamstress. I would watch her pluck pins out of the pincushion and mark the design on the fabric.” 

His story sounds nostalgic, at first—but I know it is a prelude for a kill.

Next to my ear, he’s grinding his teeth. “Oh, how I hated her customers for nudging her to hurry! How I hated her for bowing down before them like a common servant! All for a few meager rubles. I was embarrassed by it. Infuriated.”

I say not a word, as I recall him sharing a childhood memory with Linda before slitting her throat.

“By the way my darling Mamushka averted her eyes from me, she probably knew how I felt,” he says, his voice cracking. “But she never acknowledged my hurt; never shared her own. Instead, she focused only on the stitch, on executing it with absolute precision. In a barely audible hiss, she would quote this Russian proverb, which has guided my hand ever since. ‘Measure seven times, cut once.’”

I can’t see his smile—but feel it, somehow, at my back, leaching into my flesh, sinking into my bones. He lets the blade hover over the base of my neck, barely coming into contact, barely imparting its cold touch. 

“For you,” says Vlad, “I am willing to take things real slow, real gentle—not like I did with Linda.”

With effort, I find my voice. “Let me go.”

“Later.” He scores my skin, ever so lightly. “This is going to be real easy. Like slicing through butter.” 

Hoping someone out there would hear me, I scream at the top of my lungs. 

Vlad draws in a deep breath, which tells me how aroused he is, preparing for the slash. Just then, a sudden noise outside catches our attention. My body trembles; his shakes. 

“What the hell was that?” he asks.

And now, here is that sound again, only louder. A second rock hits the window, this one busting it wide open, shards of glass sent spinning across the floor, one of them catching a dim ray of light. 

Caught by surprise, Vlad inadvertently loosens his hold on me for a second, which is time enough for me to slip out of it, fall to my knees, and grasp the sharp fragment from the floor—at long last, a weapon!—which I slam, with all the power I can muster, right into his foot.

Yowling, he folds over. He tries to take a step, but the shard pins him in place. Tearing his foot away would free him—at the cost of cutting open the wound and causing even more damage. In torment, Vlad seems to have no courage for that.

Just in case he manages to muster it, I crawl away as fast as I can. Hands bleeding, I gather more glass splinters from the floor so if he comes after me, I can use them to fight him off. 



Overdue

(Volume IV of Ash Suspense Thrillers with a Dash of Romance)

 Paperback Hardcover

Audiobook


"Overdue, by Uvi Poznansky, is a thrilling ride through pandemic-ridden Los Angeles with a fiery heroine, the nastiest of villains, and plenty of heart-pounding action." 
~Aaron P. Lazar, Audible reviewer