Michael lives and works with his grandparents.  Granddaddy’s favorite response to him is “Patience son, patience.”  They grow vegetables, fish and cut wood together.  One day, not a Sunday, Grandma gives Granddaddy his newly pressed suit.  He hugs her, puts on the suit and a camera strapped around his neck.  With Michael in tow he is off to vote for the first time, the happiest day in his life.  After he picks up the ballot Michael takes his photograph.  As he is ready to turn it in, a registrar throws down a book and tells Granddaddy to read it.  He cannot and the registrar tears up the ballot.  Though angry, he only turns and leaves.  He dies without ever having voted.  But Michael takes the photograph of Granddaddy with him when HE votes.

Come on!  Ransome illustrations?  Heart-rending family story?  What is not to love about this well-crafted picture book that shares a dark time in African American history and yet gives the reader hope for justice at the ballot box.  A must read, imho.

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles

Posted: January 17, 2017 in General Fiction

Quiney and Biddy have graduated from their high school special education program.  Neither can believe that they are placed to live with each other in the upstairs apartment of an elderly woman whom they are to assist.  Quiney works an outside job also.  She is so angry at the world, and especially at the guy who made her “special.’ Biddy is afraid of everything as she learned that her trusting nature could not trust  Chapters alternate between the two girls sharing their take on their lives.  Little do they realize that this placement and what they experience next will show fortitude never imagined.

Giles writes convincingly about the challenges of growing up special, and the added persecution and manipulation and abuse because of it.  Excellent for anyone to consider a different point of view and for point of view studies.

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A companion book to “Flirting in Italian,” the overseas school experiences of Violet and her new girlfriends at the exclusive school moves to the next level. Her visceral attraction to Luca di Verperi is extinguished, reluctantly, due to the family secrets held by his parents and hers. In the meantime Kendra has fallen for their teacher and the discovery of their rendezvous forces extreme actions by the school administrator.  In a climatic revelation, Violet and Luca learn their fate.

There is no eye-popping literary appeal to this girly beach novel, but just enjoyable escape. And happy endings.  It was a fun, relaxing read.  The book will qualify for lovers of teen romance, while showing teens the importance of accepting the results of their actions.

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What Light by Jay Asher

Posted: January 3, 2017 in General Fiction

“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks”? Instant attraction, worried parents, rivals, high possibility of personal tragedy…. What Light has it all, with a different ending.
Jay admirably builds the tension of the central love theme, while interlacing conflict with friends, parents, and one’s pass. Intrinsic to the novel is the philosophical question “Can a person improve his life or will he always stay the same?” Is a person equivalent to a leopard? Not only can a person turn from past destructive behavior, but the story illustrates how a person becomes his better self. Jay also illustrates that restoration can be made, that light from candles within a chapel on Christmas Eve or lights strung from trees on a hill can illuminate the world for good and replace the darkness; that a person’s actions can erase pass errors. This is a powerful book cloaked in an alluring young adult love story.

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Firebug by Lish McBride

Posted: September 8, 2016 in General Fiction

Ava can start fires with her mind, and the magical mafia, Coterie, employs her as their top hit human.  Ava and her friends go on the lam when Coterie’s godmother, Venus, requires her to kill a family friend.  McBride once again introduces the reader to a story, truer than true, in a fantastical setting.  Verbal repartee between characters illicits snorts or guffaws.  This author introduces a blatently impossible plot and sucks the reader into the reality of the improbability.

Fantasy readers who enjoy clever wordsmithing will enjoy this along with the sequel, Pyromantic.
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Allen Say, Portland, Oregon author, reflects on moving to California from Japan only eight years after World War II.  A cold father dumped Allen into a youth military camp where he endured persecution, finally being thrown out.  His alter ego, a cartoon based on himself by his Sensie,  Noro Shinpie, was his only companion.  But opportune guardians helped him with  kindnesses along the way:  Willard who taught him to drive, the train engineer, Mr. Price who called him son, and Mrs. Swope, the art teacher who set him on the path to his eventual career.  He gives homage to them while not minimizing the trials.  Artfully done!

I am a fan.  Rather “Grandfather’s Journey,” or “The Boy of the Three-Year Nap” (Caldecott winner), Say has a way of harvesting a human experience from the reader’s heart by sharing his own.

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Determined to help her father with his political career, Jocelyn sets aside dreams of love. When she meets the handsome and mysterious Grant Amesbury, her dreams of true love reawaken. But his secrets put her family in peril.

Grant goes undercover to capture conspirators avowed to murder the prime minister, but his only suspect is the father of a courageous lady who is growing increasingly hard to ignore. He can’t allow Jocelyn to distract him from the case, nor will he taint her with his war-darkened soul. She seems to see past the barriers surrounding his heart, which makes her all the more dangerous to his vow of remaining forever alone.



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Donna Hatch is the award-winning author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series.” She discovered her writing passion at the tender age of 8 and has been listening to those voices ever since. A sought-after workshop presenter, she juggles freelance editing, multiple volunteer positions, her six children (seven, counting her husband), and still makes time to write. Yes, writing IS an obsession. A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.





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The Suspect’s Daughter by Donna Hatch
Review By Joan Enders of Bevy of Books Blog

I must concede that I am a young adult book reviewer. But interestingly, my forays into reviews of adult literature have wandered smack into some form of historical fiction. Now, here I am, strolling into the realm of Regency romance novels. For my usual YA readers, you do not need to puzzle about the conventions of a Regency romance novel. Just think Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice but written now. There you go; you are ready for The Suspect’s Daughter by Donna Hatch.

And one more confession: I have not read any other books in the “Rogue Hearts” series with its interrelated characters. That will be corrected. The Suspect’s Daughter is the fourth in the series. Now, on to the review…

Jocelyn Fairley (The Suspect’s Daughter) critiques her father’s London home in her last minute walk-through ensuring all is ready for the ball that will catapult her father into the office of Prime Minister of England. As she inspects, a light in the study alarms her and she cat-paws into the room only to have her mouth clamped by a large hand, “an unyielding force push[es] her back against the wall,” and another hand at her throat….coarse coat and voice, contrasting hint of mint and bergamot, a threat, and jump from a window. Jocelyn is left alone in the study with nothing taken, not even her pearl necklace at her throat. Showing her pluck, she walks to the window to lock it, tidies herself, and marches to the drawing room to host her father’s ball, determined that this is his season to govern and to wed again. Jocelyn’s prospects are nil. In fact the man who attacked her with his big hands, broad chest and low voice is the closest she had been to man in a year.

Grant Amesbury landed outside the Fairley house, disgusted. Despite how he feels about women, he has never threatened any woman. Tonight he sunk to a new low. His mission is foiled. Nonetheless, that night he would find himself back in the same home with a vastly different mission.

And so, the game begins between Grant Amesbury, Napoleonic Wars veteran and aristocrat, and Jocelyn Fairley, the privileged and guileless daughter. In true Regency form, conversations between protagonists entertain the reader. Practices of “the ton” (The higher classes of England) juxtapose the depravity of street life. The manners of the times clash with true feelings.

Grant is the gallant but bitter war hero who is plagued by “vent du boulet” (PTSS) and scars from a personal treason. Despite his heritage, he chooses to live alone in London assisting a local magistrate, and tries to save a young local prostitute from the profession. He vents incessantly over the betrayal of women, he never smiles, he rejects his family, and he is ferociously loyal to his friend and his cause. And yes, he needs to be tempted to dance.

Jocelyn is a capable young woman, runs a peer’s household in two locations, cares for tenants, improves people’s situations without permission or blessing, shows bravery and nerve, and berates herself for not having an amazing waif-like figure like most women of the time.

Well, this is a Regency romance so there is no doubt about the building action of this plot. The joy in reading is the delicate dance to arrive at the climax of this relationship story. Luckily, there are still questions to answer at the conclusion of the novel to be tickled in another novel.

I enjoy the immersion into the society of London, and the allusions to practices of the peers. I appreciate that the chalking of ball floors, seasons, squabs, runners, wastrel, chit, light-skirts, whist, faro, vingt-et-un, loo, and other lingo of the day lightly skip as stones on a pond rather than sink in the detail of definitions on-page. Also, Regency romances prove that love off-page can be as powerful as on-page.

On the suggestions side, I grew tired of Grant’s endless venting about women. There were three prepositional typos that a spellcheck would not catch, but the story was not compromised. In chapter seven Fairley was once written as Fairly.

The runners of Bow Street intrigue me. I did a little research discovering that the runners of London preceded the peelers of London. Sir Robert Peel’s peelers started around 1829, just a few years after this novel. If you want to travel forward in time and enjoy an quirky fantasy novel with peelers, the reader might want to follow up The Suspect’s Daughter with Dodger by Sir Terry Pratchett.

I was requested to post an honest review based on my reading of the ebook.

 

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April returns home to find her apartment ransacked.

Her spirit could not get much lower as the probable love of her life died just a week before.  Interestingly her mail was not disturbed by the vandals, but it was just as disturbing as Peter’s death.  In the pile was a manila envelop from him, postmarked the day before his death.  Inside was the mysterious ring of Remaliha, with a note urging her to trust no one, not even authorities.  With the state of her apartment: note that.

Both Egyptologists, she and Peter shared love and respect for antiquities which had grown into love for each other.  As teaching summer school drew to a close at Columbia, April was approached by a suave Nathan Hayes to accompany him on an assignment to Luxor to pursue the ring with anachronistic hieroglyphs on the band…her ring!  Despite her better judgment and harassing phone calls, she decided to go on the adventure, all funded by Hayes’ client.  In a series of desperate situations, April doggedly pursues the mystery of the ring.  As the chase comes to a conclusion, roles twist and turn, and the ring rollicks through the desert with all the characters in tow.  If you are looking for a tense mystery read, this is it!  It is a page-turner, easy to imagine on the big screen.  http://melaniemasonauthor.com

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WP_20150911_16_40_33_Pro 1Michael Morphurgo doesn’t fool around. His stories aim for the heart and hit every time. In Half a Man Michael recounts his slow-growing relationship with his grandfather who was terribly disfigured and scarred while in the merchant navy during World War II. When Michael was little, his mother invited her father to family dinners and for holidays, after many years of being separated from him after her mother left.  She told Michael to never look at grandfather’s face! But he did. As Michael grew older he spent summers on the Isles of Scilly off Cornwall with his grandfather. As their easy relationship grew from reading in silence to fishing, his grandfather finally shared the attack on his ship, the hospitalization, the healing, and the separation of the family. Michael said that he was closer to his grandfather than anyone in his life. After his death, Michael read a note left by his grandfather, “Thanks for looking at me like you did.” If Michael had not, his grandfather’s story would have died with him. No one else was told. Ever. Makes you want to buy a ticket to go talk with your grandparents, doesn’t it? Buy it. Give it. Cry over it.

Michael’s WebsiteWar Horse by Michael Murpurgo

once alphabet“A is for …” has died. Oliver Jeffers has created a entertaining style of wacky alphabet books that honors the humor and intelligence of children! Twenty-six stories are inspired by letters rather than being soundly beaten into submission by them. My interest level rating shows my enjoyment level and desire to share with my grandchildren who have amazingly raucous senses of humor. Consider the story of Edmund the Astronaut who wishes to meet aliens during his adventure. There is only one little problem: Edmund is afraid of heights. Cup was sick of living in a cupboard and wanted to live by the window where there was a clear view. He went for it, forgetting that the cupboard was very high and concrete very hard. Out in the ocean octopus and owl search for problems to solve, responding to cries for help on other alphabet pages. Edmund needs help. Why didn’t they help him? A particular parsnip is rather daft, sure that he is a potato and even ids a peanut as a parsnip. And if that is not bad enough, question has disappeared. Read it. Enjoy it. Buy it. Give it.  Rated all the stars that shine on the sea.oliverjeffers

Jeffers Website