Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, July 13, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page 14



 Mountain Views News Saturday, July 13, 2013 



Book Reviews by Jasmine Kelsey Williams 


by: Sean Kayden

Chicago based garage-glam band Smith Westerns return with their third 
record, “Soft Will.” This time around, the young men weave down the road of 
nostalgia and most of themes that usually goes hand in hand with reflecting 
back on good times and bad. This album, unlike the previous two, has a more 
mature sound. Perhaps that’s a sign that the boys are growing up even if the transition isn’t entirely 
the smoothest. While their previous records, “Smith Westerns” and “Dye It Blonde” boasted a vintage 
power-pop sound, their latest endeavor takes a more relaxed approach. The passion of their earlier 
material may appear to be missing, but don’t be alarmed. In replace of the fervor is the attempt at 
becoming better songwriters by creating more pop-oriented songs. Their earnest attempt actually 
pays off in a bigger way than I first imagined. Devoted followers of the group may be turned off as the 
abundance in enthusiasm greatly found on their first two albums seems to be absent. However, if you 
can respect the band for trying something new then “Soft Will” may surprise you for what it both is 
and isn’t. 

“Soft Will” is a very subtle experience. I never became 
entirely enamored with the ten tracks. I did, however, find 
small things I enjoyed while traveling down this road. In 
the forty minutes of music that Smith Westerns will guide 
you on, the songs, like previous ones, still have big hooks. 
However, the material is a lot calmer while basking in the 
mid-tempo range. The lo-fi garage pop that occupied the 
first two albums has been substituted for shimmering, dreamy-guitar laden riffs that make up a more 
expansive sound than ever before. A number of the tracks including “Fool Proof” and “White Oath” 
have guitar solos in them. Both are solid tracks off the record that are more structured than anything 
on “Dye It Blonde.” Smith Westerns definitely went for a more traditional way of approaching their 
new record and the result is more or less a winning one. 

 The track that really slows things down in not such a good way is the completely instrumental 
tune, “XXIII.” It probably would have benefited more with lyrics in the forefront alas leaving the 
listener without much to grasp onto otherwise. “Cheer Up” reminds me of 50s bubble gum pop played 
at a high school dance. It’s the only track less than three minutes long, but never less satisfying. 
“Varsity” closes the album with a nostalgic vibe as it opens up with dreamy guitars. The closer 
includes a wordless chorus, which a few other songs seem to do as well here. One of the best tracks 
is the slow-burning pop track, “Best Friend.” It’s a beautifully constructed and utterly romantic track. 
Additionally, it benefits from terrific, memorable guitar solo. Clearly Smith Westerns have a knack 
for creating indelible pop songs. At first listen, I wasn’t exactly sure how I felt about “Soft Will.” After 
repeatedly listens, the record definitely grows on you in such a way that’s difficult to shake loose. “Soft 
Will” may not be completely captivating as a whole, but with a number of terrific tracks, an altered 
approach to their trademark sound, and a resonance that can be listened in any season of the year, the 
album almost touches greatness. Strangely enough I seem to find the listening experience becoming 
more and more memorable with each and every listen. For the time being, Smith Westerns is the 
unexpected sound carrying me through the summer. 

Grade: 7.5 out of 10

Key Tracks: “Idol,” “Fool Proof,” “Best Friend,” “Varsity” 


By Julie Klam

 As you continue with your summer reading, you will 
sometimes come across selections that will pique your 
interest as well present another opportunity to learn a 
valuable lesson, and this choice by Julie Klam should do 
just that. “Friendkeeping: A Field Guide to the People You 
Love, Hate, and Can’t Live Without” is a mouthful, but one 
that will definitely provide insight when take a closer look 
at its contents. Julie Klam presents and explains not just the 
defining root of friendships, but how friendship can define 
ourselves and affect others around us, but also how the course 
of friendships start and change from various places in our 
lives (such as work, school, attending college, etc.). 

 Recalling her own experiences with warmth, humor, and a 
hint of fun, Klam recounts various tales of friendship, from the early childhood to modern 
day, and even explaining why real life friendship could be considered much more critical and 
necessary than say, having hundreds of Facebook friends. From any walk of life, Julie Klam 
lays out the detail in “Friendkeeping” of every facet of friendship; keeping and letting go, 
how to find support with friends in tough circumstances, and even the aspects of giving and 
taking. Although I have reviewed previous books that cover the topic of friendships and social 
interaction, each author who has done so always provides a unique twist and new information 
that explains different details of friendships that one may not have initially picked up on. With 
Julie Klam’s lovely words, “Friendkeeping” is provided not just as a good read, but also as a sort 
of guide to building and lasting friendships that stand strong. 


Copyrighted in 2012, and receiving praise from The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, 
People, and Kirkus reviews, “Friendkeeping” will provide you with another great read that will 
not just warm your heart, but maybe might remind you to keep a little TLC for your friends 
as well. 




by La Quetta M. Shamblee

With almost 40 positive reviews on for her first 
published novel, “Luke’s Tale,” Authors Tour USA member Carol 
McKibben has reason to be excited with an average 4.8 rating 
out of a possible 5. A recent five-day promotion to download 
a free Kindle version resulted in almost 9,000 downloads. 
She credits her daughter Stephanie with the marketing and 
promotional know-how that propelled the Kindle version into 
the coveted #1 Ranking spot with the world’s largest book seller 
in two categories, Love & Romance, as well as Family. The book 
ascended to capture the 49th position in the very crowded print 
category as well.

A former school teacher, Carol made an unexpected transition into a new career after taking a 
summer job in Westwood at a publishing house know as “The 8th largest west of the Mississippi.” 
Her journalism degree and love for writing was put to good use as she gained hands on experience 
with many facets of the publishing industry. Carol’s next step was to take the entrepreneurial leap and 
launch her own writing and editing company to work with authors to complete their books, including 
ghostwriting. She casts a wide net with her copywriting talents, able to handle virtually any writing 
need for a client. This Savannah, GA native has kept pace with changes in the publishing industry, 
mastering everything from blogs to social media.

Self-published in 2012, Luke’s Tale is Carol’s third time at this rodeo. Her first book, The Dictionary of 
Event Management, was co written with Dr. Joe Goldblatt and published by Van Nostrand Rienhold 
in 1996. Self-published in 2007, book number two, Riding Through It, is a memoir in which she 
shares her life’s journey from victim to victor as she found redemption and conditional love enroute 
to taking control of her life. This liberating exercise paved the way for an exciting wave of new 
projects by this author.

Luke’s Tale is her first published fictional novel. The story is about the search for unconditional love 
between a young couple, as told through the eyes of a blind dog, Luke. This loveable canine has the 
uncanny ability to understand human conversations and actions. A review posted on July 8th speaks 
to the positive impact of this story, with one reader sharing, “This book gave me more insight than 
15 years of therapy.” 

When asked what inspires her as an author, Carol says, “I really love to write fiction.” It is no surprise 
that book number four is underway and it’s fiction – an intriguing concept entitled, The Snow Blood 
Series. McKibben says, “It’s a story about vampires, demons and all kinds of goodies, told through the 
eyes of a dog.” She describes this book as an episodic series that will initially be released online, one 
episode per week. The ultimate plan is to publish the entire series in book form.

If Luke’s Tale is any indication, get ready for another great read through the eyes of a dog, from a 
masterful writer.

Meet Carol McKibben at her next book signing for Luke’s Tale on Tuesday, July 16th from 7:00 pm 
to 8:30 pm at Webster’s Fine Stationers at 2450 N. Lake Avenue in Altadena, CA 91001. Learn more 
about Carol McKibben at