Friday, December 20, 2013

Emotional Memoirs & Short Stories by Lani Hall Alpert


Pearls

 
A singer/songwriter/author discovered by watching Tavis Smiley on PBS. Not only had I never heard of Lani Hall Alpert, I was unaware she was Herb Albert’s wife. Growing up I enjoyed listening to Herb Alpert’s Jazz.

When I watched Lani Hall Alpert respond to Smiley’s interview questions about her memoir, my interest piqued. I appreciated her honesty, sharing personal events and complicated issues in her life, but her words of wisdom dealing with adversity is what impressed me.

As Lani explained the stories, written in Emotional Memoirs & Short Stories, I looked forward to the written word. In her book, she described in depth her life in Chicago, including her love of Jazz.

Discovered as a singer in Chicago, Lani moved to Los Angeles, became a lead singer, and met Herb Alpert. Throughout her emotional stories, Lani’s life experiences are captivating. Her expectations remained practical, as she doesn’t live in la-la land. Her pragmatic reasoning was refreshing.

Delighted Lani’s book matched her live interview; I took away a sense of hope for my own life after reading Lani Hall Alpert’s, Emotional Memoirs & Short Stories.

Dark Flame Rising (The Keegan Crowe Chronicles, Book One) by J. A. Pedersen


Magic, Science, and History

 

Dark Flame Rising is a young adult fantasy novel about a fourteen year old girl, Keegan, a computer geek with a curious mind. Living with her grandmother after her parents’ death, moving from place to place without explanations, Keegan ends up solving the mystery in the small, desert town of Turtle Springs.

During Keegan’s quest for answers, she learns magic is real. The results from her pursuit open up unimaginable dangerous places, and facts she never knew about her parents. Keegan plays a major part in bringing together four magical objects from a society that practiced magic, to restore the balance of earth, water, wind, and fire to the world.

J. A. Pedersen adds a copious amount of historical notes after each chapter, which was a favorite part of the book.

Readers of all ages who like captivating fantasy will enjoy Dark Flame Rising, packed with magical adventure, science, and history.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Scotties Learn About Respect by Stephanie Robinson. Illustrations by Wendy Hope


Children learn the lesson of respect through a cute story about three Scottish Terriers: Archie, Flea, and Bonnie. After Archie destroys Mom’s garden, Flea scolds him about his lack of respect for Mom. Archie doesn’t know what respect means, so Flea explains it.

Archie trots over to Mom and apologizes. Mom understands Archie is sorry and forgives him. The next day, he helps Mom replant the tomatoes he destroyed, and all is well.

Exemplary illustrations demonstrate the possibility of the lesson learned without words.
Young readers will enjoy this tale following the dogs from page to page.

VISITS Four Times by Ginger H. Edwards


Extraordinary writing from Ginger Edwards in her four short stories about aliens from outer space, called Visits, Four Times.

Lighthearted and witty describe the ‘visits’ best. Take a few minutes to escape into Ginger’s storytelling brilliance.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Crimson Path of Honor by M.B. Tosi


A captivating story about a wealthy young woman in the 1860’s who ran away from her stable Boston life to avoid an arranged marriage. Planning to use her skills as a teacher changed when during her escape she ended up captured by a band of Lakota Sioux. Luci Garling became Morning Star, named by her captor, Golden Eagle.

The story encompassed three long years as Morning Star assimilated into the Lakota culture. She developed into a better fighter alongside the braves than a squaw among the women. Her new life demanded courage and bravery as she fought to survive.

M.B. Tosi kept me engaged with rich Lakota Sioux history as Morning Star struggled in dangerous situations. Forced to decide unexpected choices maintained my interest throughout the book.

Along with history and adventure, a complicated romance between Morning Star and her captor, Golden Eagle, influenced both their lives. Trust and friendship prevailed over extraordinary situations revealing morals and values of the characters.

I recommend The Crimson Path of Honor by M.B. Tosi to readers of all ages, especially those who enjoy historical fiction. An ideal approach to experience the Lakota Sioux Nation is by appreciating this significant novel.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Vampires IV Stories by Ginger Edwards


A captivating read from a vampire’s unique point of view describe Ginger Edwards impeccable skill of short story writing.  The author displays her true passion for the genre in each of the four engaging stories.

Pick up a copy of Vampires IV Stories, and become enchanted with the violin master, Philippe de Montpellier.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Spunk by Helen O’Reilly


In a post-apocalyptic world, can women live without men? Hell yeah, according to the tale told by Helen O’Reilly. Women can provide all the necessities of life living in the forest that used to be New York City.

Men do serve a purpose, however. The women trap and hunt the species to immortalize their community. Once the deed is done, their mantra is, waste not, want not.

I recommend Spunk by Helen O’Reilly for readers who enjoy a good fable sprinkled with humor.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bridge of Fire by Thomasina Burke


Sequel to ‘Magic Fire’.

 

Bridgette Decker lives an interesting life filled with adversity. A brave woman, Bridgette returns to Honduras where she changes an orphaned girl’s life.  

Back home in Arizona, we witness Bridgette’s skills as a volunteer firefighter and nurse as she assists with The Gladiator Fire in Crown King.  During the battle, she ends up an accident victim flown to Phoenix for emergency care. Does the accident result in suffering for a lifetime?

We share Bridgette’s unexpected love experience after losing her husband in Magic Fire.

The outstanding scenery descriptions of Roatan and Phoenix remain a bonus throughout the story.

I recommend Bridge of Fire by Thomasina Burke for anyone who enjoys adventure and stories about true friendship.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Treasure of La Dura by Robert Cawley

A Deadly Appetite

 
La Dura possessed the treasure to save the protagonist, Maria Ropero, from ruin. She was the last of a proud Spanish family and the sole owner of a giant cattle empire along the Arizona/Mexican border. About to lose everything, she contacted a group of unsavory men to cross the border with her, into Mexico, in search of the treasure of La Dura.

Aware the dangers of the mission were life threatening, didn’t keep Maria from seeking the riches to make her the wealthiest woman in the world. As Maria begged for her life, she cried, ‘You stupid fool. I am Maria Ropero. I own La Dura.’

The story is violent, as expected on such a quest. The men hired to find the gold are the worst of the worst, and their disgusting behavior proved it during the hunt for treasure. There is one exception, Flynn O’Neil, a hero from the Iraq/Afghanistan War. He and Maria fell in love, which I found unnecessary in the midst of the story, with awkward love making scenes.

Treasure of La Dura by Robert Cawley, is an action adventure, with an unpredictable ending sure to surprise readers.

 

 

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Flower Who Wanted A Name by Christina Louise


Less is More

A story about how little flower finally received a name. The key word - ‘finally.’ In his quest for a name, little flower asked for help from all the flowers he met on his path through the garden. He was so eager; the other flowers wasted no time directing him to King Dandy Lion, the king of the garden.

Once he found the king, he received a name suited just for him. To find out the name the king of the garden granted to little flower, you will have to read the book.

Christina Louise’s clever approach to illustrate each flower to match the specific name was brilliant. The Flower Who Wanted A Name is short and sweet, a perfect story for young children.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Want to Be a Writer? Then Do It Properly by Albert Jack


Want to be a Writer? Then Do It Properly by Albert Jack
 
Better Late Than Never
 
Discovering Albert Jack’s book of advice for new writers came too late for my first book, but perfectly timed for my second. Packed with information and guidance, I took copious amounts of notes before concluding I needed the book in print, so I ordered a paperback.
 
I found the most appreciated recommendation about writing narrative: to get the plot and ideas down first, and then add dialogue. This relieves my current struggle of interrupting the flow of ideas while trying to write dialogue, the simple fact to write first and add dialogue later, works. I’ll try a chapter at a time, but the way my mind works, I’m confident in success.
 
Unaware all submissions should be presented with 1.5 line spacing surprised me, I thought 2.0, double spacing.
 
Consider reading, Want to be a Writer? Then Do It Properly by Albert Jack, because it includes easy and significant approaches for writers to develop their skill.
 
 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Vandalism of Words by Derek Haines


I can’t praise this book enough. It is hysterical. After purchasing a copy, I thought it looked like the perfect read while waiting in the doctor’s office. Not only was I laughing out loud, but I ended up sharing the title and author with the person next to me, my doctor, and his nurse.

Vandalism of Words is a compilation of blogs written by Haines. There’s no common sense or thread of reasonableness, which makes reading the entries mindlessly hilarious. However, there’s a surprise if you read between the lines, because it will leave you with food for thought.  

A great combination of entertainment and hidden messages, what more could a reader want?

On Self Publishing by Derek Haines


A seasoned writer and early publisher of his own books, Haines gathers his thoughts to share his experiences in the publishing world. Writers will find invaluable advice on self-publishing, writing, and book promotion, delivered in the unique style owned by Haines.

Explanations are in depth regarding the advantages of blogging, creating websites, and the principles of social media. Sprinkling his words of wisdom with humor makes learning about the world of self-publishing a pleasurable read.

I recommend On Self Publishing by Derek Haines, for passionate writers who are searching for sensible advice and useful suggestions about writing and self-publishing.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Loss, Limbo, Life and Love: A Poetic Journal by Derek Haines


Deciding which is more powerful, the Forward, or the verses of the journal, is subjective. The poems expose the deepest of inner pain suffered by the author over a specific period. The Forward is preparation for the emotional ride.

Relating to ninety percent of Derek’s personal hell may be the reason his words hit home.  The poems are moving and evocative. After reading each one, and choosing a favorite, I would change my mind as I read the next entry.

‘The Clown’ is an outstanding piece of writing. A poem that will linger in your heart, as it will forever in mine. I have substituted the word ‘woman’ for ‘man’ and the matching pronouns for personalization. Including the poem in this review, I urge you to do the same to appreciate.  After reading ‘The Clown’, there’s no doubt you will crave Loss, Limbo, Life and Love: A Poetic Journal by Derek Haines.

The Clown

Everybody’s happy, I’m everybody’s clown,

 I always wear my smiling face, even when I’m feeling down.

 No one sees the tears I shed, every single day,

 “Make me smile, I’m feeling sad”, all the world does say.

 

And so I make them laugh, and warm them from within,

 They all think they love the clown, but I let no one in.

 My grease paint smile, always there, for that is all they see,

 Everybody loves the clown, but no one will love me.

 

It’s not because some haven’t tried, but they have tried in vain.

 I am so unsure that I can love, without causing pain.

 The gift of love is the power to hurt, and so hurt, I must be,

 That now I flinch in fear almost, when love approaches me

 

I crave the warmth a woman brings, as any man would do,

 But lying deep within me, is the fear I will hurt you.

 So if you want the man that lies beneath the wide smile charm,

 Be prepared to bring with you, a very soothing balm.

 

For it will take a woman, with patience, warmth and care,

 To wipe away the grease paint smile, and find me under there.

 And when she finds the man I am, and sees the wounds I bear,

 Will she have the courage, to take me in her care?

 

And will I have the strength I need, and trueness to the core?

 To return her love and care, and make her all I’ll live for.

 I live in hope that just maybe, this special woman lives,

 And we can share the happiness, that true love always gives.

 

Alas, I fear I’ll never find the happiness I seek,

I lick my wounds but always find a reason to be weak.

So anytime I hear the words, “Oh My Clown, I love you.”

I cringe and find my hiding place, then run to somewhere new.

 

Written by Derek Haines

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Francis: Man of Prayer by Mario Escobar


A brief history of the papal office is the content of Francis: Man of Prayer. While the information was educational, it lacked the personal component expected.

Written in haste, a sequel seems appropriate by Escobar. Allowing sufficient time to pass would help gather the personal neglected material needed to compliment the business of being pope, in Francis: Man of Prayer.

The Catholic Church is at a crucial time in history. Catholics, and non-Catholics alike, are hungry for guidance and change. Pope Francis seems to provide hope and optimism.

The most powerful man on earth, Pope Francis uses social media to communicate. Escobar includes the pope’s first tweet and ten quotes by him, which reveal what he believes. Here is Pope Francis’s first tweet: ‘Dear friends, I thank you from my heart and I ask you to continue to pray for me. Pope Francis.’

Here are a couple of quotes:

‘Prayer is a mixture of ‘courage, humility, and worship.’

‘Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives.’

Escobar is most likely looking forward to expounding his knowledge on this influential man, and write a sequel to Francis: Man of Prayer.

CINCO DE MAYO by Phillip Lee Edwards


In CINCO DE MAYO, Edwards provides his readers with a mini history lesson about the victory at the first battle of Puebla, by the Mexican Army. Emilio Escobar, of the Army of Mexico, tells the dire war stories through his own eyes.

President Juarez promotes Emilio from Captain to Major, because of his success driving back the French invaders. He considers Emilio a hero.

Studying to become a lawyer, Emilio befriends a Lieutenant Xavier Carrillo, who shares the same goal. Their friendship continues with the decision to leave the Army and become partners in their own law firm.

 Readers who enjoy historical novels will enjoy Edwards fifty-two page mini story, CINCO DE MAYO.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Glothic Tales . . . of primates of apes, dates and fates, need and greed, evolution and revolution . . . and ends to ends. A trilogy of totally tall tales by Derek Haines


Over time, I’ve had the great pleasure of reading separately, the three Glothic tales by Derek Haines. The tales included, February The Fifth, The Adventures of Hal, and Septimity and the Blood Brotherhood.  Derek Haines currently provides his readers with these three entertaining stories, bound together in a select paperback titled, The Glothic Tales.

 After reading each book, I had written a timely review. The following are excerpts from each review:

 February The Fifth is the first book I have read by Derek Haines. It was an easy read with slight touches of science fiction and comedy throughout. There was no shortage of characters, some of whom the reader would most definitely relate to, thereby making the book more enjoyable.

 It’s a mad world on Gloth, as experienced through the eyes of Halbert Hoop - Hal to the reader. Hal is a well-developed character who gets himself into unusual and kooky situations. It’s great fun for the reader to share Hal’s strategies in unraveling and solving these situations.

 Ending my review of Septimity, I wrote - After reading Derek Haines books, I think I have come to realize he expresses his own personal views on life through his apropos vocabulary in his characters, and excellent writing skills. Reading between the lines and having a good laugh is a treat.

Owning a print version of The Glothic Tales is a welcoming edition to my bookshelf. E-books are convenient, but there’s nothing like reading a good book in print from your own personal library.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Relic (The Dean Curse Chronicles) by Steven Whibley


The secret Society began more than a thousand years ago, during a time when kings took war seriously, while disregarding human life. The Society evolved out of necessity to preserve life.

Dean Curse continues to be the youngest member of the secret Society, being only fourteen. He wonders why he was never given the chance to accept or reject membership. In Relic, he learns why everyone in the world isn’t a member - People are different, and some would use the gift for their own benefit, others would go insane having to deal with the visions and possible failures resulting in death.

Accepting his life’s fate as a member in the Society, Dean’s visions of people in danger of losing their life, is all-consuming. He shares his visions with a few of his best friends, which certainly helps Dean deal with his vision to vision occurrences, especially since he only has twenty-four stressful hours to save a life.

Relic is about Dean’s vision of a museum robbery, where he believes a monk will be killed. Brainstorming strategies, he and his friends involve breaking the law and the police.

I recommend Relic, because it is packed full of adventure for kids, and may spark an interest to put down the video games and start a fun secret society of their own. Family and friendship values are sprinkled throughout the book, which is a secret bonus in itself.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Planet Willie by Josh Shoemake


A Heavenly Detective

 
Being dead and hanging out in heaven isn’t Willie Lee’s cup of tea. After being murdered as a mortal, his ‘future’ becomes rather boring, until he is given a task to change from his angelic state to incarnate and become a detective back on earth.

 
Sporting a no-holds-barred attitude, Willie provides plenty of humor (at times, off-color) throughout the story. He wastes no time enjoying a politically incorrect life, which includes plenty of booze and women.

 
This is not your typical book; the characters are exaggerated and a bit outrageous. Watching Willie balance his angelic thoughts and actions with earth’s many temptations, is amusing.

 
Trying to complete his original task, Willie would also like to solve his own murder mystery.  Is he a successful detective?  Find out by reading Planet Willie by Josh Shoemake. It’s an unusual story, demonstrating a change of pace to be entertaining.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Magic Bridge by Thomasina Burke


A trip around the world!

 
Browsing for a good novel, I was fortunate to locate this treasure, Magic Bridge. The pitch for the book described the setting in Arizona, and having lived in Phoenix, I was excited to take the trip. It was nostalgic visiting Phoenix and other memorable places in the great state of Arizona.

 
There’s more to the story than beautiful landscape, however. We share the lives of Bridgette and Matt, who meet in Crown King, Arizona. Not only do they fall in love and marry, but they travel the world, and as lucky readers, we get to hike right alongside the couple.

 
As with any relationship, there are ups and downs, and Bridgette and Matt live through adversities most relationships hope to escape. Promises are made and Bridgette is put to the test in keeping her word.

 
What balances the heartbreak of the story is being able to travel the world with two characters that relish life, and are intelligent, interesting, and very real. The true meaning of friendship is a major theme in Magic Bridge, and Bridgette and Matt’s friends are the cream of the crop.

 
Booklovers, who appreciate history, and stories about genuine relationships, will be captivated taking a trip around the world with Bridgette and Matt.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Daughters by Florence Osmund


Captivating me immediately, I anticipated a story filled with rich history and conflict of the 1940’s and 50’s. My expectations weren’t met after reading the first couple of chapters.

The story was about a young woman, Marie, who lived her first twenty-something years as a white woman, only to discover the father she never met, was a Negro. Conflicted with being biracial was the heart of the story. But Marie’s conflict involved excessive commentary lacking an equal amount of struggle.

While it was a noble story, with a link to history, I felt so much more could have been expounded to add historical depth. It mentioned a few events, adding language, music, and culture, but I longed for more.

My favorite character was Richard, Marie’s ex-husband. He sprinkled conflict into the story and I looked forward to his unexpected visits.

Daughters, by Florence Osmund, is a feel good story about relationships that will leave you thinking about your own believes and prejudices. Simply touching on historical accounts of the era, it may serve as a motivator for research.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Stop the Whistleblower by Charles Deemer


Reading the novella, Stop the Whistleblower, is compelling.  The book is written like a screenplay and I’m fascinated by the no fluff writing style of Charles Deemer.

As the title suggests, the book is about a whistleblower. Ray is a white man who works for BeautiLine. VitaTan is a new suntan pill the company manufactures and according to Ray, the pill is not safe and he can prove it, and we all know what happens to whistleblowers.

Drastic measures are taken to keep Ray quiet – an overdose of VitaTan – and Ray is now a black man. Trying to convince everyone he is Ray, the white man, is where the story becomes full of suspense and humor. That’s right, I found it to be quite comical at times, which makes it an entertaining read.

Experiencing life as a black man is eye-opening for Ray, his situations range from not being able to hail a cab, to sleeping with a black woman, to being arrested. This all happens while he tries to deal with a jealous half-brother and revenge plans for BeautiLine.

No spoilers here, you’ll have to read, Stop the Whistleblower, by Charles Deemer, to see if Ray lives his life as a free white man or an incarcerated black man.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Tegen Cave by Inge-Lise Goss


A Spider’s Web of Crime and Corruption


Escaping from her boyfriend, Conner, and his mafia-style life of organized crime, Sara Jones becomes a silent hero in this tangled web of mystery and suspense.

Spiders remain busy spinning a murderous web when they are signaled by a unique sound heard only by spiders. Possessing poisonous venom, the spiders complete their mission consistently.

Sara learns she is immune to the poison, and this is where the story begins to build up suspense on every page.

Caught in a web of deceit, Sara isn’t sure who to trust, Conner, the gorgeous hunk of a boyfriend who entangled her into his life of crime, or the other gorgeous hunk of a boyfriend, Brett, who replaces Conner. Yes, there’s plenty of sex interweaved with horror and violence in The Tegen Cave.

Keeping up with Sara’s libido as she tries to spin a web of moral survival is incredibly entertaining. All the characters become real in this particular world of spiders and creative fiction by Inge-Lise Goss.

Appreciating extraordinary writing was a pleasure. I was engaged throughout the story as there was never a predictable event. I’m hoping for a sequel to The Tegan Cave, by Inge-Lise Goss.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Dream You Make by Christine Nolfi


Complex relationships

Annie McDaniel is in her thirties – owns and manages Green Interiors, a greenhouse – acting like a teenager at times, in other respects, an intelligent business woman. Michael Rowe is in his thirties - owns and manages Rowe Marketing, a successful marketing firm – acting like a brute at times, in other respects, a caring and generous boss. When the two meet, during Annie’s interview to work at Rowe’s Marketing Firm, there is an immediate attraction.

Annie tries to keep her personal life from her boss, Michael Rowe. Any relationship would jeopardize her chances of gaining custody of her nephew. The secrecy drives Michael crazy, and his way of handling bad situations is to pack up and leave.

While Annie reciprocates Michael’s love, she must put her nephew first, which creates feelings of angst in the relationship.

During most of the story, I couldn’t stand Michael, but I grew to understand and love the guy. The same could be said for Annie, at times, her behavior drove me nuts. Their relationship was complex and is thought provoking – do I judge people too quickly, too harsh – do I give people a chance?

The Dream You Make is all about second and even third chances. Both Annie and Michael forgave each other many times for a chance of happiness.

While I enjoyed the story, I agreed with a remark made by Michael, during a usual work day, “Damn it! I’m sick and tired of the theatrics!” 

Understanding the first section of chapter one served as an introduction, the information was more enjoyable when it was integrated afterward and into the first chapters.

The Dream You Make by Christine Nolfi gives hope to all relationships.

Monday, June 10, 2013

What the Hell is Going On in My Life?: Using the "NEW" Astrology to Find Serious Answers by Larry Schwimmer


Filled with entertaining stories about how the “new” astrology played a part in decision making in people’s lives, What the Hell is Going On in My Life?: Using the "NEW" Astrology to Find Serious Answers, was a fun and interesting read.

Appreciative it was a book of advice written in a sensitive manner vs. an ‘in your face’ style of self-help book was refreshing. One could take away useful information and choose to apply it to their life, or not, without feeling the book was read in vain.

Larry Schwimmer offered a free transit calculator to assist his readers in understanding how they could use the new astrology to improve when, where, and how to make more productive decisions.

As a new fan of the “new” astrology, I’ll be updating my transit calculator when needed and taking advantage of the advice.

See a Heart Share a Heart by Eric Telchin


Reminded of the saying, ‘stop and smell the roses’, See a Heart Share a Heart, is a beautiful comparison to this sentiment.

Each page has captured a heart that is found in a folded leaf, paint drips, a butterfly’s shadow, and a shell on a beach, just to name several.

Captions attached to each heart are thought provoking and the illustrations are striking.

Eric Telchin’s message throughout his inspirational book is: Hearts bring love.

Readers will enjoy taking a moment to stop and See a Heart Share a Heart.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sherlock Holmes and the Needle's Eye: The World's Greatest Detective Tackles the Bible's Ultimate Mysteries by Len Bailey


More effective as a Bible study.

An unusual idea for readers to enjoy Holmes, but I wasn’t impressed. The book began with the Needle’s Eye, the means to Holmes and Watson’s ability to time travel, but I was left confused.

It continued with ten Biblical mysteries to be investigated. Holmes and Watson took the time traveling trips where they witnessed scenes and discussed clues. Holmes recited Scriptures from memory and the two connected the dots. I found it odd that Holmes memorized Scriptures when he doesn’t share the faith, and Watson was his typical annoying self.

Reading the book as a novel, my thoughts turned to thinking maybe it was more effective as a Bible study. The reader would answer questions provided in the back of the book, which included specific scriptures to follow.

Desiring to finish the book with a pearl or two, as much as I was confused and frustrated, I decided to read the investigative questions provided. They were thought provoking enough for pondering - always a good thing.

To be fair: the book was presented with two suggestions on how to read it, as a Bible study or as a novel/collection of individual mysteries.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Tulsa Tempest (Tulsa Series) by Norma Jean Lutz


The year was 1921; the place was Tulsa, Oklahoma during the Tulsa race riots. The story centered on a nineteen year old woman, Tessa, who fled to Tulsa to avoid marrying one of her father’s drunken buddies.

Tessa is not at all prejudice and she proves it time and again. Her strong beliefs rub off on a man she comes to love.

While I enjoyed the story and the history, I felt there wasn’t enough action and conflict for such a violent and tumultuous time in history. I also found it difficult to establish and maintain Tessa as a nineteen year old, as she was repeatedly described and perceived as much younger throughout the story.

A Christian tone was sprinkled throughout Tulsa Tempest, but not in a preachy way. Tulsa Tempest is an approachable way to be introduced to the Tulsa riots of 1921.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

LOVE THUG (a.k.a. Can't I Do Anything Wrong?) By Daniel Berenson


Just be yourself.

Love Thug is a fun story for pre-teens about a first love. Billy wanted to impress Veronica so much he tried to imitate the boy that had already caught her attention. After many failed attempts he realized he just can’t do it.

Berenson wrote for a pre-teen audience, (I don’t see this as a book for older than fourth graders) that is sure to enjoy Billy’s outrageous strategies to ‘get the girl’. A lesson for young kids to be yourself and the right girl will come your way.

I would have liked a challenging vocabulary sprinkled throughout the story. Nevertheless, it was a short, entertaining read that kids will enjoy.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Do Monsters Wear Undies? - A Rhyming Children's Picture Book by Mark Smith


Keeping with Smith’s theme of monsters, this is a silly one asking the question, do monsters wear undies? The rhymes are a great way for children to enjoy a quick, silly book, and Smith masters his poetry.

My Kindle doesn’t provide justice for the illustrations, I realize that, but using my imagination of adding color, I’m sure kids will love the pictures. If sent as a PDF, I could download it on my iPad to appreciate the illustrations.
I wasn’t too thrilled with this particular story; it was okay, but nothing outstanding.

The Book of My Lives by Aleksandar Hemon


Looking for an answer. [ Read below for the answer I received today from the author himself ]

I enjoyed reading the compilation of essays of Hemon’s two lives, one in Sarajevo before war broke out in the 1990’s, the other in Chicago. His style of writing kept me engaged throughout the stories.

This was my first book read by Hemon. I usually do not read other reviews until I finish a book, however, I glanced at the ten reviews posted on Amazon to see if I had read the paragraph written on page 21 correctly. No one has mentioned it, so it looks like I’m alone. Am I reading it incorrectly, or does Hemon say Obama is our president by way of a falsified birth certificate?

I emailed the publisher and the editor and asked this question, but no reply as of yet. The internet provided additional information on Hemon, such as his becoming a U.S. citizen, but I’m hoping a comment will be written by a reviewer, a reader on my blogs, or Hemon himself answering my question.

[ Aleksandar Hemon says:
It was ironic. Read it again. There are people in this country who can only imagine Obama as the other, and thus perpetually suspect. ]

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Flying Soup by Bobby Adair


Who said religion and politics don’t mix?

 Throw a can of soup at an antichrist underachiever who shares the left-wing view with his best friends - a gay cutting edge electrical engineer and a mid-level programmer, and you have a plot for a fascinating story.

To appreciate Flying Soup you must possess a sense of humor because Adair masters satire. There’s more truth than not in the characters and situations and I found both written in an entertaining style.

Stumbling upon Flying Soup was a much appreciated change of pace. I haven’t enjoyed a book this much in a while, reading it straight through. It was an intelligent, amusing, and fast paced read.

I appreciated Blair mastering the mix of taboo subjects and creating believable characters to write a really fun book.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Eyes That Could Kill by Derek Haines


A reader may choose Eyes That Could Kill because they enjoy reading mysteries about ancient Greek and its mythology, maybe even Latin mythology, but even if that isn’t the case, Chapter One will hook any reader immediately. It is one of the most intriguing first chapters I’ve ever read.

The main character, Langley Garret, is viewed as a regular run of the mill guy at one point, then becomes a complicated part of a political scheme when he is kidnapped.

Readers have no idea what is going on because poor Langley doesn’t have a clue either. In Derek Haines true form developing his characters, his phenomenal writing style keeps his readers questioning the same things Langley is confused about.

In Eyes That Could Kill, Langley becomes our best friend. We route for him to figure out his predicament, that is while we are internalizing (pun intended) why he thinks in terms of his internal organs, especially during some of his less friendly kidnapping ordeals.

Derek Haines showcases his expertise in letting his readers decide for themselves what his characters are all about. He is at his best writing Eyes That Could Kill because it has the most unpredictable ending for Langley Garret.

Mystery lovers will appreciate reading Eyes That Could Kill by Derek Haines, especially if they want to know if Langley Garret is successful unraveling his kidnapping.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Golden Grave by David Lawlor


An entertaining way to learn history.

 

A post WW1 impressive historical novel and the sequel to ‘Tan’, The Golden Grave picks up with Liam Mannion in search of gold. A train cargo packed with enough bullion bars to persuade Liam and his war buddy to return to the horrific battlefields of France once again.

Gold wasn’t the only lure; there is a gold seeking, conniving bitch named Sabine, a former lover of Liam, who has recruited a group of servicemen to carry out her dirty work.

Lawlor takes his readers back in time by reliving the horrors during battles. Buried bodies, active explosives, and weapons all come alive in their search for gold. The stench and sight of war being thrown in their faces make the men sick and twisted with greed. Everyone has a plan, there are secrets and lies, and this is what kept me engaged from page one.

What differentiates a good book from a great book is unpredictability. The Golden Grave is packed with surprises throughout the story, none of which takes away from the historical details.

Who ends up with the gold, if anyone? Was it worth the return to hell?

I recommend The Golden Grave to readers who enjoy a great historical novel; it’s an entertaining way to learn history.

Monday, May 6, 2013

the Philadelphia Chromosome by Jessica Wapner


Renewed Appreciation
Reading the Philadelphia Chromosome transformed me into a mini scientist majoring in CML, Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. I was diagnosed with CML in November of 2003, which required keeping up-to-date on news relating to CML. When I heard about the Philadelphia Chromosome by Jessica Wapner, I was anxious to add it to my shelf of resources.
Reading the book with pencil in hand to highlight new facts as well as valuable previous knowledge, I found myself marking information on every page.
When I was diagnosed my oncologist informed me that if there was ever a good time to get CML, it was now. At that precise moment, I had no idea what he was talking about. He may have elaborated, but in that moment of shock, I didn’t hear much. Wapner’s book has renewed my appreciation of that conversation every time I swallow my oral chemotherapy pill, Gleevec.
I have an entire file cabinet filled with lab results since 2003. My oncologist reviews the findings with me twice a year, but after reading the Philadelphia Chromosome, my understanding of the labs has improved. I have registered for a couple of CML conferences and am confident I will easily grasp new information presented after reading this book.
Years ago I started writing a book about living with CML. I found it too depressing to continue, however, not abandoning the therapeutic effect; I turned it into a blog, which I update once a month.  marycrocco.wordpress.com   Being helpful to a few readers who have stopped by makes it worthwhile.
Wapner shared a story of a patient who cherished her Gleevec and defended it with her life. I do the same thing, always insisting to sign for it and checking the delivery time is set for the morning. I don’t want my miracle pill losing its potency in the heat of a UPS truck.
Thank you, Jessica Wapner, for taking the time to write this incredible book, the Philadelphia Chromosome. I appreciate the effort required in your research to share with others who suffer with CML, or readers who have an interest in cancer treatments.
Bringing to life the names of medical doctors and institutions involved in the creation of Gleevec was important. I owe my life to Dr. Druker, and others, who dedicated a large portion of their lives creating a targeted medicine to fight chromosome abnormality in cancer cells.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Embrace Loneliness - There's Nothing Wrong With You by Gail Billing


While I read nothing new in Embrace Loneliness - There's Nothing Wrong With You, Gail Billing wrote her book with an objective of helping others. The information is good and for readers who have not read similar books on loneliness, then this book will offer sound advice.

Gail Billing wants readers to feel good after finishing her book. She stresses that loneliness is a way of life for some and if it is currently a source of pain, she offers tools to cope and maybe even enjoy being alone.

Embrace Loneliness - There's Nothing Wrong With You is written in a comfortable, non-threatening style, which is sure to benefit readers as they absorb each chapter filled with expertise from Gail Billing.

Odyssey through HELL Exit, Push here: X Reengineering strategies for business, personal and spirit; an autobiographical... by M. Yero Morris


Odyssey is an autobiography of M.Yero Morris that reads like a TV drama on cable or HBO.  Weaved into the story line, the author being the protagonist in his own drama, strives to help readers as a way of accepting his personal challenges dealing with business and personal life.

Included in Odyssey through HELL Exit, Push here: X Reengineering strategies for business, personal and spirit are apropos historical quotes full of wisdom I found to be quite engaging.

Beat Your Brain at its Own Game: 12 Essential Skills for Overcoming Depression by Andrew Wiseman


If someone is suffering from depression and browsing for self-help to find answers, Andrew Wiseman’s 12 Essential Skills may offer a different approach for solutions. It’s written in a non-preachy, personal style, which is taken from his experience. Anyone searching for help will appreciate his sharing of first hand wisdom.

The skills are practical and the book would be helpful to the person suffering and/or family and friends to help a loved one.

Glimpse by Steven Whibley


An adventure filled with mystery for kids as well as adults. Glimpse includes all the elements of a great story a young person can relate to; family life, friendship, school, and teachers.

A Russian secret society created the mystery for the main character, fourteen year old Dean Curse. His life was suddenly changed and turned upside down on his way to school one day.

Readers will enjoy reading Glimpse and deciding whether Dean had been cursed or given a gift.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dog Aliens 1: Raffle's Name by Cherise Kelley



Dog adventures and space aliens create fun topics for stories - so what could be more fun than dog aliens from space.

Children in families with dogs will enjoy reading about the double life of the dogs in Dog Aliens 1: Raffle’s Name. And children without dogs will be sure to beg their parents to bring them to the nearest animal shelter to adopt a dog.

The story is packed with plenty of humor for a 4th grader to appreciate. And the chapters are perfect in length to keep the young reader engaged.

The dialogue among the dogs at the pound may spark the interest of children for a desire to become involved in their neighborhood pound. They can have fun imagining if dogs everywhere think and talk like they do in Dog Aliens 1: Raffle’s Name.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Few: The Sequel to The Sons of Cleito by Derek Haines


A non-negotiable destiny: damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

A message was delivered by Langley Garret’s father that he will deliver The Sons of Cleito to safety, preservation and deliverance from harm, from The Few. The caveat - if he doesn’t accept his destiny, his father will not think twice about killing him.

Realizing his kidnapping from months ago was deliberate; his mangled hand, broken nose, and dead wife serving as a daily reminder, Langley learned his unfortunate place in his new family from his partner in crime, Chara. She managed to convince him to come to terms with his destiny. Having no time to waste, Langley stepped up to the plate and became engrossed in the unspeakable and vile world of politics.  

The Few is a captivating and entertaining read by Derek Haines. Once again he transports his readers to a place and time where we empathize with his main character, Langley Garret. His new family position placed him in an incredible situation of power and danger.

Does Langley succeed in his quest to protect The Sons of Cleito? Is he left unscathed to live another day and maintain his power?

I recommend The Few by Derek Haines as an outstanding book to add to your library.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Productivity: BIG Ideas from The Top 10 Books by Oran Kangas


It’s always helpful having valuable information from a variety of knowledgeable sources condensed in one book for readers to consume. After all, that makes us productive, which is the objective here.

While I found the book to be beneficial for readers, I would have preferred Kangas to restrain what I viewed as an elitist attitude. For example: Saying most people who don’t need a creativity toolkit are either flipping burgers for a living or are dead, wasn’t only unnecessary but untrue.

The techniques and action plans shared by ‘The Masters’ are worthwhile and can be appreciated by all who desire to improve their productivity.

 

Secrets of Professional Organizers Volume 1: Leading Experts Talk about Chronic Disorganization & Hoarding by Donna Smallin Kuper


A compilation of seven experts in the organizing field share their expertise.

With strategies, hints, and tips for those who feel overwhelmed with clutter and need a helping hand, these secrets from the pros might be just what the doctor ordered.

Volume 1 includes the practical while adding the psychological viewpoints for those who see a real problem in themselves while reading this self-help book.

No matter what the range, there are suggestions for readers of all ages.

The Death by Money Report: The Cause of Money Stress And How a $10 Solution Can Save Your Financial Life by Tracy Piercy CFP with Lisa Maxwell (Author)


This less than fifty page book can be summed up using the following advice offered – ‘how can I fund this?’ rather than immediately declaring, ‘I can’t afford it’.

Ten dollars is the beginning of the authors’ strategies to obtain ones financial independence.

Piercy and Maxwell promote their website throughout the book. It may be here where readers may receive additional help with their cause of money stresses.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

When Monsters Come Out to Play by Samantha Foster


A cute little bedtime story meant to ease children’s fears of monsters.

Samantha Foster’s first book, When Monsters Come Out to Play, is a short story rich with kid friendly rhymes and outstanding illustrations.

There’s a variety of monsters sure to befriend any child’s imagination.

By the end of the story, children will not only be fearless but will have chosen a favorite monster!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cloud Dancer by P.A. Bechko


The Spaniards are coming, the Spaniards are coming!

The year is 1598 and the Kere tribe of the Acoma Pueblo were about to be annihilated from their peaceful home in New Mexico.

Being a Kere Native American woman required domesticity, certainly not a hunter and warrior, but Cloud Dancer was having none of that. She couldn’t hide in her teepee any longer when the Spaniards came to take whatever food and supplies they wanted. She knew she had to stand up for her people.

In this battle, she lost. The Acoma Pueblo were wiped out. A handful managed to escape, seeking a new home with nearby tribes, but as a whole, the Acoma Pueblo were wiped out.

Cloud Dancer’s life was saved by a young Spanish warrior, who knew his people were wrong. He risked everything saving her. It was from her new friend she learned to ride a horse and shoot “the stick that thunders.”

Missing her family, friends, and previous lover - Apache warrior and medicine man, White Hawk - Cloud Dancer finds she is alone. As with other survivors from the Acoma Pueblo, she decides to live with an Apache tribe. Their ways are very different from the Kere ways, but she doesn’t want to be alone, wanting to be a warrior and hunter for the Apaches. Her goal is to fight the Spaniards when they attack again.

The story of Cloud Dancer is a brilliant historical novel filled with Native American events and details for the passionate historical fiction reader. The romance added to the story, without lessening the historical significance.

I stumbled upon Cloud Dancer in my search for historical fiction and was so glad I did. I appreciated the research P.A. Bechko devoted to her book and I aspire to write my own historical novel with as much skill and expertise.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Winston & Me by Mark Woodburn


Winston & Me is a book that supports my love of historical fiction. The research Mark Woodburn undertook is appreciated by readers eager to learn a part of history missed in their education. I am embarrassed to admit I knew little about Winston Churchill, but Winston & Me became my private tutor in the most enjoyable way.

The fictitious character, James Melville, was a fifteen year old Scottish young man, who told the story of his relationship with Winston that developed throughout WW1 in Britain, Edinburgh, and France.

I have always felt the best way to learn history is by reading a well written, captivating, historical novel. Mark Woodburn knocked it out of the park!

As with all war stories, events are not always pretty. The reader will experience the horrors of war, yet at the same time, the public and private life of Winston Churchill.

I recommend Winston & Me for the history buff along with readers of all ages wanting to expand their knowledge of WW1 and Winston Churchill.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Book 1 Learn the Numbers (Pre-K Learning Series) by Sandra L. Portman, Illustrated by Kopralzz


Schools today are pleading for more parental involvement and this Pre-K Learning Series is perfect for the parent to get started.

There are four levels and chapters (for age 0-4) in Book 1 where the preschooler learns numbers from 1-10. From imitating sounds of words and numbers, to identifying pictures and answering questions, to pretending to read, to counting from 1-10, the child enjoys appropriate and clear images of numbers, fish, cars, and teddy bears.

Outstanding lessons for the child written with the parent in mind for ease and a sense of accomplishment for both.

Santorini, Greece Travel Guide 2013: Attractions, Restaurants, and More... (One Day In A City) by Gina Douglas Tarnacki


The travel guide begins with an abridged but captivating history of the beautiful island of Santorini, Greece by Gina Douglas Tarnacki. It continues by informing readers how to travel to Santorini, by ferry or cruise, if by air one must travel to Athens.

Tarnacki highlights her suggestions for the wine tasting travelers, the 4- wheeler adventurers, and the beach lovers.

Restaurants, foods, night clubs, hotel accommodations, museums and monuments for the history buffs are described to enhance the best one day experience in Santorini.

Pertinent information is included, such as, pickpocket precautions, holiday and off-season tips, currency, costs, operation times, and more.

Santorini, Greece Travel Guide 2013: Attractions, Restaurants, and More... (One Day In A City) by Gina Douglas Tarnacki also includes photos to entice the one day traveler to get the most out of their day in Santorini.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Rome, Italy City Travel Guide 2012: Attractions, Restaurants, and More... (One Day In A City) by Gina Douglas Tarnacki


An abridged travel guide that includes everything.
The travel guide begins with an abridged history of Rome, short and brief, yet includes all the city’s highlights for the traveler to get the most out of one day in Rome.

Means of travel include - ship, train, plane and car, to experience the top ten sites of Rome in a day. It includes a photo of each site with pertinent comments appropriate for the one day visit.

The guide is all about not wasting time, yet not missing anything of importance. It includes time saving tips, such as, times the sites are open and less crowded, inexpensive and quick ways to get from one place to another, nearby restaurants, telephone numbers, hotel accommodations, phrases translated from English to Italian and even pickpocket precautions.
This is the perfect travel guide as it contains everything the traveler needs to enjoy one day in Rome. It can easily fit in one’s pocket for quick and easy access.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Renaissance (Byland Crescent Book Two) by William Gordon


Renaissance is the story of two families, the Cowgill’s and the Fisher’s. WW1 ended and the families needed to persevere after suffering heart-rending personal losses. From England to Australia they became familiarized with innovative ways of life. They also faced the challenges of forgiveness within their families.
Reading Renaissance, I enjoyed following the Cowgill and Fisher families from Requiem, Byland Crescent Book One. The characters remained interesting as they lived through dramatic life events at such trying times.

I especially enjoyed the historical aspect of Renaissance, as it’s my favorite genre.
The Byland Crescent Series has five volumes, and I’m currently looking forward to reading Book Three.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Paintings & Poems by Evelyn and Lyndon Pugh


Paintings & Poems describes life, nature, and history through twenty-two beautiful works of art and twenty-one thought provoking poems that reflect the images.
Evelyn uses watercolors to paint nature, woodlands, flowers, water, and sunsets - just to name a few. Lyndon’s poems are written to reflect the beautiful Welsh culture.

What is interesting about Paintings & Poems is the inclusion of history which is explained briefly. It offers just enough to entice the reader to want to research more on their own. For example, Evelyn’s painting of Pentre Ifan in West Wales looks like England's Stonehenge. There’s a mystery to explore and compare.

There seems to be a personal side to this lovely little book – about childhood and life’s situations. As in life, not always pretty.
My favorite is ‘Night Fears’. The watercolor is a black and purple open window with an ominous view, and the poem describes the title.

Whether or not one is a painter or a poet, Paintings & Poems can be enjoyed by everyone.

I Pledge Allegiance . . . Stories of Valor, Heroism and Patriotism. Written by the Wednesday Warrior Writers.


A Las Vegas based writing group, the Wednesday Warriors, became inspired from a member’s personal story of her grandson’s death serving in Iraq. It made such an impact that they decided to compile a book of stories to celebrate American valor, heroism and patriotism.

The stories in I Pledge Allegiance are written by Merle Savage (the grandmother who inspired the book), Charles McKee, Jack Miller, Marshal Taylor, Rena Winters, Robert Fregeau, Robert Cawley, Keith Bettinger, Dennis Griffin, Rob Corbin and Michael MacQuarrie.

Each story is unique and thought provoking. Besides absorbing the stories shared, well known clich├ęs are reinforced, such as:

-        True heroes are silent, and sadly the ones who don’t return.

-        Don’t judge a book by its cover.

-        People aren’t always what they portray on the outside.

 
I learned the history of the “Dog Tags”, some interesting facts about the GI Bill, Adolf Hitler, and torture, to name a few.

 
The stories included in I Pledge Allegiance are not only from war heroes, but from law enforcement, firefighters, and everyday citizens. The term heroes and patriotism are used often and reflection is imminent.

 
The proceeds from I Pledge Allegiance will go to the USO Las Vegas. The USO provides respite and services to U.S. service members that travel through McCarran Airport.

 
The Wednesday Warrior Writers are proud American patriots.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Unglued Devotional by Lysa Terkeurst


A spiritual self-help book filled with Scripture readings, devotions, thoughts for the day, and closing prayers. Lysa Terkeurst’s main goal is to guide her readers through 60 days of learning how to turn emotions that unglue us into positive experiences.

Unglued Devotional is a short, easy read that may help those who struggle with everyday situations. It is 60 days of imperfect progress, with practical advice offered in a down to earth style.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Incredible Animal Moms: Fun, Facts & Incredible Photos (Exploring Our Incredible World Series) by Mark Smith


A mini encyclopedia of twenty animal moms describes Incredible Animal Moms.  Children are aware of how their mom takes care of them, and Mark Smith provides a non-fiction book bursting with information for children to learn how animal moms take care of their children.

Once again, Mark Smith does not disappoint his readers with superb writing and remarkable pictures. He offers his young readers just the right amount of interesting facts to build a knowledge base. For example, a Cichlid is such a good mom because she keeps her little fish fry in her mouth to protect them from creatures waiting to eat them up.

Incredible Animal Moms: Fun, Facts & Incredible Photos (Exploring Our Incredible World Series) is sure to spark a child’s interest in the animal kingdom while expanding reading and listening skills.

Mark Smith does not include where the animals live, which encourages the parents and children to research further for information.  Ideal motivation!

Spark - A Bedtime Rhyming Picture Book by Mark Smith


Night lights rule for every child who reads Spark. A requirement of childhood is having a night light to keep away monsters, creepers, snakes, and spiders - as Spark stays up all night doing.

The rhymes are kid friendly; the illustrations creative, which combined makes Spark a perfect story for the young reader.

If your child is night light deprived, he or she will be asking for Spark at the end of Spark - A Bedtime Rhyming Picture Book by Mark Smith.

ABC Animals - An Alphabetical Rhyming Picture Book by Mark Smith


F is for Ferret whose cousin is the Skunk, is an example of Mark Smith’s expertise into the minds of children.

Each animal has a page of its own and includes a speech bubble that displays clever text, such as, M is for Manatee who swims all day, and the manatee asks - Want to go for a swim?

The pictures are magnificent, perfect for the young reader to enjoy. In no time at all children will take over reading ABC Animals on their own. The rhyming pattern is written emphasizing a set of two letters, which encourages children to recognize and remember the last rhyming words of each sentence. For example, O is for Octopus who has eight creepy legs. P is for Parrot who sits on its eggs. The ultimate result is children reading the entire sentences without effort.

Educating children in a fun, subtle way, is what Mark Smith has mastered in ABC Animals - An Alphabetical Rhyming Picture Book.

The End page is a picture of a dog without a speech bubble. I would have liked a culmination end page of all the animals with a speech bubble.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Spirit Horses by Alan S. Evans



While searching for a book that was not on my ‘read and review’ list requested by authors, I came across Spirit Horses, and the title alone captured my attention.  The description stated it was about the Shoshone culture on a reservation in Wyoming and it included wild mustangs. I was hooked and couldn’t put the book down. The novel is absolutely captivating on every page.

The writing is outstanding, describing the beautiful scenes in Wyoming and the intense characters throughout the book. The main character, Shane, is a horse trainer, one of the best in the circuit. I felt like I was sitting in the saddle with Shane while he trained these beautiful animals.

Spirit Horses is a combination of genres: fiction, adventure, romance, suspense, and a great western. To say more about the story would be an injustice to the reader. Feel confident if you enjoy the genres I’ve listed, and love horses, reading about the Shoshone culture, and wild mustangs in Wyoming, you will love Spirit Horses as much as I did. I have not cried reading a story in a very long time.

A perfect way to end a great book is with an unpredictable ending. Alan S. Evans nailed it in Spirit Horses.