Archive for July, 2012

Jack Wrimo and the Ori of Flames by Brad Shreffler

July 29, 2012

Good vs. Evil

Jack Wrimo and the Ori of Flames is a book written for middle school students who enjoy reading adventures about someone their own age. Jack Wrimo is a fifteen year old teenager who is like most middle school students – just average.

Brad Shreffler is well aware in order to excite teenagers to read his book, he has to create situations so Jack would not be just average anymore. That’s exactly what he does when Jack goes to “Flea Market Saturday” with his parents and two sisters.

On this particular Saturday Jack wants to buy a pair of bookends. As he shops on his own – for the first time – he buys a pocketknife which he is not allowed to own. When his mother finds out about this, quite by accident, the consequence is being grounded for three weeks.

What about the bookends? Does Jack end up finding a pair for his room? Oh yes, he sure does. And it’s these bookends that bring the story to life! They take Jack on quite an adventure and it changes his and his family’s lives forever.

Jack has to step up from being just average and handle a lot of different challenges. He shares the good with Pharia, the Ori of Flame, in the good vs. evil. Bucan is the evil ‘being’ that is hard to figure out why he is so evil. There is a very dark and evil part in the book that is unpredictable. I won’t say any more about it so I don’t spoil it for readers.

Jack Wrimo and the Ori of Flames is science fiction and Brad Shreffler includes all the genre’s story elements which are favorites of young teenagers. Jack’s challenges will keep teenagers engaged in the story as they route for him to fight evil.

Although the book is short, I think it lags a bit after the middle of the story. I think a chapter or two could be condensed and still be a good read. As a former middle school teacher, I know we don’t want teenagers to have any reason to stop reading!

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Navigating Life’s Roadways: Stories of Insight from My Odyssey and Inspiration for Your Journey by Deborah L. Parker

July 25, 2012

Predictable

Navigating Life’s Roadways is an account of Deborah L. Parker’s life. She begins her story after her mother’s death as this was an extremely emotional time for her.

I could never take away someone else’s memories or life’s lessons learned, however, to me this was just another book of relatively similar memories and life lessons communicated.

While acknowledging Deborah’s beautiful style of writing, using quotes, proverbs, and metaphors, it has been done many times over. I was hoping to read some original enlightening words and/or phrases. Sadly, this wasn’t the case.

Each time I choose a book to read I expect to learn something new. I am also a cancer survivor and I struggled to find new inspirations to augment my knowledge. I’m not saying I knew every quote, proverb, or metaphor in the book, just that the messages were stale.

For readers who may not have previously read an inspirational memoir, Navigating Life’s Roadways: Stories of Insight from My Odyssey and Inspiration for Your Journey would be an insightful revelation.

Wrong Place Wrong Time by David P Perlmutter

July 24, 2012

The Walk from Hell

Such a harrowing experience, it took David P Perlmutter twenty years to be able to put pen to paper and tell his true story, or nightmare may be a better word. We all make foolish mistakes, but David’s mistake turned his life upside down.

After a night out drinking in London, David got behind the wheel. If that wasn’t stupid enough, he made a nuisance of himself by driving like an idiot and neighbors justifiably called the police. He was thrown in jail overnight, and the next day he was fired. David had a great career as a realtor making great money. He not only lived in a luxury apartment but drove a BMW to boot.

Soon after being fired he appeared in court and his license was suspended for a year and he was ordered to pay a considerable fine. This resulted in having to move back with mom and dad giving up his life of luxury.

When all this really hit David, it hit him hard. He became depressed, reclusive, and a couch potato. He knew he couldn’t continue on this path so he decided to escape to some fun in the sun, Marbella, Spain.

David is the first to admit he blew it. He spent money he didn’t have and partied way too much. Eventually this took its toll. He did get a job of sorts, but that ended up badly with a busted up face. Of course a beautiful woman was involved, one usually is. So David was jobless again.

Having just a few bucks left and a bruised face David tries to find an out of the way bar to have a drink. Here he meets a couple, Peter and Rosa, who befriends him and he gets drunk with them. The guy is a loser, but the woman, Rosa, is a knock out. She flirts with David and again he gets himself in trouble. When he leaves the bar it’s with Rosa. She takes him to her place and they have an incredible night of steamy hot sex. Of course David gets to eat and is back to feeling human again. They say their good-byes.

Again David loses his living quarters, an inexpensive hostel he was renting still owing back rent. Back to being penniless and jobless David spends his days and nights at the beach. He meets a crazy guy and they smoke weed together. He knows he’s got to pull himself together. But how when all you own are the clothes you are wearing and look like hell?

Starving, stoned, filthy, and tired David finds himself in a nice hotel waiting room and falls asleep on the couch. When he is found, he is physically thrown out in the street. Guess who he runs into? The gorgeous Rosa. She takes him under her wings and after shower, sex, and clean clothes, they go to a party where David can eat free. Guess who they run into at the party? Peter. David doesn’t want yet another bar scene, so he excuses himself politely and takes a walk. This is David’s walk from hell.

So far you’ve seen David be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But this walk from hell takes his life to a whole new level. I’ve been spoon feeding you leading up to the core of the story. This is where the nightmare really begins. Now just try to remember, David really is a nice guy. He was young and foolish, yes, but didn’t deserve what happened to him while taking this walk.

I’m going to leave out a lot of details because you really have to read David P Perlmutter’s account yourself to get the gist of what happened. You have to read David’s words to feel what he experienced.

On his walk he sees a building on fire. Let’s remember David is once again drunk, he’s out of shape from doing nothing and he’s suffering from malnutrition. He can’t believe the intensity of the fire. As he stares at the fire trucks arriving he hears a woman screaming for help.

This is why you must read David’s account. He writes what happened with such intensity. All I will say is he saved two lives on this day. Did he get recognized? Oh yeah, but not in a good way. David made another foolish mistake and stole two credit cards while looking for other victims in the building.

His dad had told him Spain’s police were the worst. David experiences this in the worst possible way. He is arrested and treated like a true foreigner and a piece of garbage.

A journalist with his own personal agenda takes David under his wing. Understandably, David is too vulnerable at this time to realize he’s getting screwed. Does he get out of the pig sty of a jail? Does he go to court and have a trial? Is he found guilty or innocent? Does he spend the rest of his life in Spain in prison?

Wrong Place Wrong Time is a must read. It’s hard to believe it’s a true story. How is David today? Where does he live? One can only imagine the nightmares he must still endure. He shares with his readers what he goes through on a daily basis even twenty three years later. It took David three years to complete his book.

David P Perlmutter claims he is not an author. This is his first piece of writing. He was encouraged to get it out of his system by those who love him. This should give you a clue as to the intensity of the story.

I disagree with David’s perception of himself as a writer. Wrong Place Wrong Time is written beautifully. It is a heartfelt and amazing story of courage and stamina. I’m not sure how many people would be able to live through this and then write about it.

Thank you for sharing your story David. I wish you the best.

Freedom First, Peace Later by Jeanette Hewitt

July 23, 2012

War Changes Lives

Jeanette Hewitt writes her poignant novel about the IRA (Irish Republican Army) by developing six characters that reside in Crossmaglen, a village in Northern Ireland.

Stu is an inexperienced British soldier, Barry is an undercover (double) agent, Bronwyn is Barry’s fraternal twin and she is a brave, outspoken bartender, Rosina is Bronwyn’s best friend, and is the complete opposite of Bronwyn. Danny is 100% IRA, and Connor was the secret boyfriend of Rosina, but ends up marrying Bronwyn.

These six characters and their families try to survive the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that fought a guerrilla war against British rule in Ireland. The war went on for over twenty years.

We see what war does to individuals and families. War changes people. Living with racism, bombs, and death everyday takes its toll.

There was hatred between the Catholics and Protestants, so much so that just walking on the wrong side of town was taking your life in your hands. The violent rituals were common, men were beaten to a pulp, kneecapped and crippled, and women were beaten and raped.

Stu, Barry, Bronwyn, Rosina, Danny, Connor, and their families live through hell and are subjected to all the violence at one time or another. Lives are lost. Lives are changed. Families are split up, some abandoned their own family members, and the drama is intense.

Everyone had to make life changing decisions to survive. Did everyone make it? You will have to read Freedom First, Peace Later, to find out who survived.

Jeanette Hewitt describes the setting vividly. Her characters are very different yet well developed. Freedom First, Peace Later has such a great flow that when I started the story I finished it and never noticed how long it took. I never put the book down.

As far as format, I would have preferred a table of contents.

I recommend Freedom First, Peace Later by Jeanette Hewitt to readers who enjoy learning history through a good novel.

Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight by Daniel Fife

July 22, 2012

Dragons and Shadows!

Did a popular card game of middle school students come to life? The game was called ‘Knights.’ The middle school students who played the game were Danny, Doug, Matt, Alonso, and Chris. Of course when they played the game of Knights it was just a perfectly innocent card game. Until one day . . .

The boys started playing Knights over the summer. It was a game based on using fantasy creatures and knights of legend to ultimately defeat opposing players. The basis of the game was to confront the forces of neutral, good, and evil against one another. The three groups were Light, Gray, and Dark.

When the summer was over, Danny and all his best buddies were looking forward to their last year of middle school. Everything was the same until, yup, you guessed it, a really hot girl! Her name was Sabrina. And yup, you guessed it, much to Danny’s surprise, she knew about the card game, Knights. So Danny had the biggest crush on her for her beauty and the fact she played the game, Knights.

This is where the story, Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight, really began with the fantasy adventures. When Danny was confronted by the school bully, he took him down, but can’t figure out how he did it. Of course later he finds out it was Sabrina who helped him. But how? How can a little tiny girl break the nose of a big bully without being seen? Here was the story’s first fantasy adventure. And oh, there were many more to come if you read this wonderful book by Daniel Fife.

Sabrina had a nice family. I didn’t say normal, but I did say nice. What exactly do I mean? Is Sabrina a real person? Is she a dragon? Is she a shadow? Are her parent’s real people? Danny finds out when he meets Sabrina after school one day. He saw a fight between two creatures, a dragon and a shadow. Sabrina became one of these creatures, but which one? Normal humans don’t have the ability to see these creatures, but Danny did! So Sabrina explained why to Danny.

Being shocked for a few days was in order, wouldn’t you say? However, because Danny possessed this rare ability, he decided he wanted to fight the forces of darkness with Sabrina, and her parents. He wanted to become a Knight of the Light.

Come to find out all his buddies possessed the same rare ability. So they all joined Danny to fight the forces of darkness. They attended a summer school in Florida called the White Rock Academy of Illumination. Of course none of the parents knew what this school was really about. They thought it was just an innocent fun summer school adventure.

Here there was magic on a magical ship. With danger lurking a wizard named Navi helped navigate, so they arrived safely and began their training to become knights. They learned how to fight along with learning the history of the Shadows.

Not all the teachers were on the up and up. Danny thought some in the Order of Light were betrayers. He felt he had a strong ability to become the Mageknight, so Danny used all his new knowledge he was trained for to see if he was right. Was he? Does he become the Mageknight?

This was a great fantasy adventure story all ages will enjoy. We see Danny and his friends, including Sabrina; grow up from immature middle school students to mature thinking students ready for high school.

If you want any of the questions answered here in my review, you must read the beautifully written book, Light & Dark: The Awakening of the Mageknight by Daniel Fife. You won’t be disappointed!

Nimpentoad by Henry Herz

July 19, 2012

Subtle lessons beautifully taught!

Nimpentoad is a beautifully written and illustrated fantasy adventure book for children. It is a subtle way to teach lessons about friendship, trust, courage, and thinking through situations. Herz also includes manners and trying new vegetables! I bet children actually eat vegetables after reading this story.

Nimpentoad is a Nibling and he lives in Grunwald Forest. There are many other creatures that live in the forest, some are nice and some are not. Niblings are very small and because of this they are picked on a lot every day in the forest.

Finally, Nimpentoad has had enough bullying. He comes up with a plan to travel with all the other Niblings to live with Goofus the Giant. His plan is to help the Giant do all the things he can’t because he is too big. So children also learn being small has advantages, especially after seeing the Nibling’s being bullied for so long because they were small.

It’s a hard journey traveling through the forest and meeting up with all the other creatures who bully them. It took them five days, traveling a mile a day. This is where they all have to trust Nimpentoad and work together through the unexpected problems that come up.

I recommend Nimpentoad for ages five and up. Even adults will appreciate the humor.

It was written by Henry Herz and his two sons, Josh and Harrison, who are in elementary school. I think this is worthy of sharing with the children who read Nimpentoad.

Conditioned Response (Phoenician Series #2) by Marjorie F. Baldwin

July 19, 2012

Phoenicians co-existing with humans

The relationship between the Phoenicians and humans for 400 years is the story behind Conditioned Response. The Phoenicians, or humanoids, obtained power to store and project energy and used that to control life on their planet. When humans left Earth and lived on the Phoenicians planet, it wasn’t the best of circumstances to say the least.

The main character, Shayla, is a Phoenician who lived against her will with humans for thirteen years. She and fellow members of a Council wanted to start a revolution and overthrow the society. Which society would that have been for Shayla, the Phoenicians or the humans?

It is difficult to form an opinion about the Phoenicians and the humans. They both have a caste system where certain people are treated like garbage and both planets are equally politically corrupt.

As the characters are developed, we learned some reasons for their bad behaviors, which helped sway an opinion to like or dislike a character. It helped to understand their background. There are numerous characters, and I would have liked previous knowledge earlier in the book that described them more in depth. I thought a list and a one or two sentence description in the beginning would have been a good idea.

There were many situations with Shayla and her bodyguard, Raif. It involved plenty of sexual tension between the two. This is a must for every good story.

I don’t claim to be a sci-fi fan; however, my review may shed light on that very fact. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Conditioned Response, but as a story in general, I would have liked an introduction. A set up would have been a helpful aid to the newly sci-fi reader.

The setting seemed like one or two little rooms. There were two planets involved, but never any mention or description to any traveling that took place.

The story did have lots of twists and turns, mysteries, unusual experiences, and sexual innuendo. It is also a story you can think about and I imagine it could be a discussion starter for how we treat society today.

Byland Crescent Book One by Bill Kitson writing as William Gordon

July 12, 2012

The year was 1878. The place was Byland Crescent, located in a town called Scarborough, on the North Sea coast of North Yorkshire, England.

The story is about the Cowgill family that grew up in poverty. Albert was the son determined to free the family from impoverishment. He decided to learn the wool business early on and as a result he managed to become a respected, wealthy, business partner of a global wool merchant business. He was only twenty-three years old.

Albert did extremely well, being promoted often. The business grew and prospered because of his innovative ideas. The three partners were living well; married, children, maids, butlers, servants for their every need. Albert brought in family members to his firm to share the wealth.

Meetings were held involving deals and decisions were made for the thriving wool merchant business. There was honesty, integrity, and loyalty, however, the intrigue in Byland Crescent was the conspiracies, manipulations, and deceptions. This perfect mixture is what made Byland Crescent such an impressive book.

Partners came and went, employees were promoted and demoted, family members were disowned, and people were murdered. The author left nothing out of his remarkably chronicled family saga.

All this drama took place before the start of WWI. Then in the midst of the war, family life changed dramatically. Hence to say, maids, butlers, and servants for their every need were not part of daily life anymore. Everyone had to pitch in to help with the war. Tragedy affected every family. Some members came home wounded; others never made it home.

The family problems in Byland Crescent were not just business and war related. Health issues of the early 1900’s took many lives. Family problems concerned children who were disowned for being gay and others who married beneath parent’s expectations.

I thought Byland Crescent was a literary masterpiece which possessed each trait determined for a master work. For example, there were many characters and places yet there was never a time I was lost or confused. The author had an effective, subtle way in his style of writing to add a reminder just when it was needed.

This was my first book read by Bill Kitson, Writing as William Gordon, and it was a pleasure to start with Byland Crescent. This was Book One of the Byland Crescent series. At the end of Byland Crescent it states Book Two, is coming soon.

I recommend Byland Crescent for readers of all ages as it’s also an enjoyable way to learn history. I’m anticipating another great read when Book Two is released.

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin

July 9, 2012

We are left to evaluate our own beliefs

The year is 1895; the place is a small town in Nevada. Mildred Dunlap is a lesbian and she lives with her partner, Edra.

Mahurin introduces her story using Oscar Wilde as the example as he was persecuted for being a homosexual in 1895. It is Wilde’s conviction that gets this small town to vocalize their ignorance. We get to experience the townspeople’s intolerance; prejudice, hatred, and bigotry. Mildred must endure this hell whenever she goes into town.

Mahurin is a genius developing her characters. Mildred should be a bitter, hateful woman but she is the opposite. She is a compassionate, tolerant, and loving human being. Even with her community hating her for her physical looks and her wealth, she still helps out the needy including the ones who hate her most.

Her partner, Edra, is a perfect companion and lover for Mildred. It makes the reader cringe to see how they had to live in this town full of hate.

The townspeople characters consist of nosy, stuck-up, ignorant, busy bodies that make up stories and gossip about Mildred’s life. The husbands don’t condone their behavior, they just ignore it.

Mildred does make a friend, a male friend, and Edra finally embraces the friendship. The story ends well enough, but the town has a long way to go, as do many towns today. I think this may have been the reason for writing the book.
As readers of The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, we are
left to evaluate our own beliefs. We need to think about changing the opinions of 1895 and be more tolerant in 2012.

I recommend this beautifully written book for readers of all ages.

Let the Willows Weep by Sherry Parnell

July 8, 2012

A story of family drama

Let the Willows Weep is about a dysfunctional family, the Harlin family. The mother carries with her a secret from a previous life which is supposed to explain her abusive behavior toward her family, especially her daughter. This is revealed in the last pages of the book. Depending on the reader, we can feel sympathetic or angry towards the mother. Did this secret justify putting her family through hell?

The father worked hard and always spoke highly of his wife to be respectful and a good role model. He made excuses for her behavior. Again, was this an admirable trait, or was he a coward?

The children, two boys and a girl had completely different relationships with each parent. There was favoritism and a lack of or too much discipline.

Let the Willows Weep tells the story of how each of these characters handles the dysfunction of their family. How does one child handle the love of one parent, but the neglect of the other? How does one child handle being the favorite? Lastly, how does one child handle being completely overlooked?

The story covers the usual dysfunctional family occurrences from day to day, such as abuse, neglect, jealousy, and anger. Major, even tragic events, take place, such as, love/hate relationships, prejudices, devastation, and death. We get to see how each character deals with these problems in their individual ways.

Sherry Parnell makes the story enjoyable with her beautiful writing style and being unpredictable. We get to know the characters well enough to predict their choices, but are surprised with a twist we never see coming. I think the best stories are unpredictable.

There are other characters in Let the Willows Weep that Sherry Parnell introduces who share in the Harlin family drama. They are as vivid as the Harlin family characters themselves.

Does the family survive the dysfunctional drama? Do any of the Harlin family members learn from the choices they made in their life?

I recommend the book; Let the Willows Weep for readers who enjoy stories about family hardships.


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