True Review
Current Issue Number 79 Vol. 22 January 2012


THE GIFT, by Cecelia Ahern. William Morrow (, 2011, 302 pp., $11.99. ISBN 978-0-06-178209-1

This book truly was “a gift.” I didn’t request it and I had never heard of the author.

As you can see, the cover features a snow scene with pink-gloved hands gently holding a miniature snowman. Well, a holiday book cover will get me every time, so I snuggled down and opened the first page, expecting sleigh bells to start ring-ting-tingling.

Not so fast.

Ahern starts building a fairytale holiday scene and quickly does an about-turn when an unnamed but obviously angry character throws a frozen turkey through a front window of a home – no doubt slightly altering the inhabitant’s holiday plans. The momentum starts building and you’re expecting the theme music to “Twilight Zone” anytime.

There’s nothing like a good fiction story, but considering I’m pretty reality-based, things were not looking good for a review at this point. Closing the book and moving on crossed my mind. But I decided to “keep at it.”

The next chapter moves quickly to Howth Police Station. Sgt. Raphael O’ Reilly, weary from some unnamed situation the previous night, tries to figure out what to do with the street-smart child formerly wielding the turkey. Partially for his own therapy and partially to perhaps knock some sense into the turkey kid, “Raphie,” as O’Reilly is better known, settles in on Christmas Day to tell a story – the story of Lou Suffern.

Suffering Lou Suffern is a guy going nowhere in reality. He thinks he’s moving up the corporate latter with all the perks that go with the job. Lou’s chance (or not) meeting with a homeless man named Gabe rocks Lou’s world. The story has the feeling of a modern-day “A Christmas Carol.” No rattling chains, but lots of rattled nerves (Lou’s and us readers!) as Gabe infiltrates Lou’s life – and conscience.

On the surface, things appear bright for Lou. But deep down, you can’t help but think even Lou isn’t buying his own hype. He cheats “sort of” on his wife, who just appears tired of having to do it all and cover for Lou when he lets his family and everyone else around him down. Especially her.

You sort of expect a happy ending and this book doesn’t deliver in that aspect. But it sure makes you think.

This story didn’t go where I thought it would – it went one better. After getting past the “unusual” first chapter, I found myself clamoring for more. I’m glad I hung in. A gift indeed!

THE GIFT features well-defined, believable characters and an engaging story line that looped and twisted and made it near impossible to put the book down. It seems the true test of a good book is if you can “see” the characters in your mind. That’s not to say you see them clearly, but you have a sense of what they would look like. That you can close your eyes and “be” in the situation and feel right at home. I could see and feel that and more – like a movie. Why not? Her first book, “P.S. I Love You,” became one!

Was the intent to have a moral to the story? I don’t know, but for me the book drove home several things:

  • Always read more than one chapter. Because genius isn’t always apparent at first glance
  • Think big picture – how will your decisions today affect you tomorrow or years from now?
  • Don’t be a jerk
  • There’s more to life than work and climbing the ladder
  • Family matters
  • And finally, live like you only have one more day.

Dickens has met his match. Thanks for THE GIFT!

Debra-Jackson Andrews


In This Issue

SUPERVOLCANO ERUPTION FLASHBACK Click on book cover for review. The Astounding, The Amazing, By Malmont FUTURE MEDIA

Urban Fantasy Blood and Other Cravings The Haunting of 20th Century America Ghosts by Gaslight A Pleasure to Burn

The Gift A Dublin Student Doctor   The Price of Civilization The Deception at Lyme

Next Time In True Review
Realms of Fantasy - Aug. 2011


REALMS OF FANTASY, August 2011. Damnation Books (, $5.99.

There’s a great essay in here about “Women in Fantasy: The Images, the Artists” with illustrations of some of the best. The essay looks into the “urban fantasy babe” and her predecessor, the “woman warrior.” A sexist image? Some of the best illustrators are included, with Virginia Lee and Stephanie Pui-Mun Law.

Andrew M. Andrews
Realms of Fantasy - Oct. 2011


REALMS OF FANTASY, October 2011. Damnation Books (, $5.99.

Another great illustrator interview with (and profusely illustrated by) Ruth Sanderson, conducted by Karen Haber. Check this out!

Andrew M. Andrews
Deed To Death - cover


SAINTS ASTRAY, by Jacqueline Carey. Grand Central Publishing (, 2011, 356 pp., $14.99. ISBN 978-0-446-57142-5

Loup and girlfriend Pilar escape from military custody to be high-priced bodyguards for a British rock band. But they can’t leave their past behind – including their chance to stay in Outpost 12, a Texas border town, and bring out those they have abandoned.

Andrew M. Andrews
No Rest for The Dead - cover


THE PENGUIN BOOK OF VICTORIAN WOMEN IN CRIME, ed. by Michael Sims. Penguin (, 2011, 340 pp., $16.00. ISBN 978-0-14-310621-0

Michael Sims, editor of the PENGUIN BOOK OF GASLIGHT CRIME, brings together a wealth of authors to showcase the work of some great crime-fighters that could compete with Holmes and other classic sleuths.

Andrew M. Andrews
Promises To Keep - cover


MIRROR MAZE, by Michaele Jordan. Pyr/Prometheus (, 2011, 368 pp., $16.00. ISBN 978-1-61614-529-3

Jacob Aldridge is the victim of a curse, beginning with the death of his fiancée, encountering her doppelganger, all the while a demon stalks him, and draws others close to him into the dangers that await.

Andrew M. Andrews
Eyes to See


EYES TO SEE, by Joseph Nassise. Tor (, 2011, 319 pp., $22.99. ISBN 978-0-7653-2718-5

The story of a classics professor who, desperate to find out why his young daughter disappears, performs an arcane ritual that robs him of his eyesight in order to “see that which is unseen.” His new powers allow him to do some great things for people but also send him up against a terrible force that could cost him his own life, as well as that of others.

Andrew M. Andrews
Thomas World


THOMAS WORLD, by Richard Cox. Night Shade Books (, 2011, 396 pp., $14.99. ISBN 978-1-59780-308-3

Almost Philip K. Dick-like, the protagonist in this book, Thomas, sees his life spinning out of control. He believes that his life has been scripted, perhaps by his own doppelganger-like soul, watching him . . . why?

Andrew M. Andrews

Next Time In True Review

THE MAGNIFICIENT MEDILLS, by Megan McKinney. HarperCollins (, 2011, 456 pp., $27.99. ISBN 978-0-06-178223-7

2011, 716 pp., $37.50.

KAFKAESQUE, Stories Inspired by Franz Kafka, ed. by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly. Tachyon (, 2011, 284 pp., $15.95.
ISBN 978-1-61696-049-0