Thursday, August 27, 2009

Childrens - The Great Mrs. Claus

The Great Mrs. Claus by Chris A. Shoemaker
Hard at work on a sled for his nephew Rassle to use in the annual Glitterlit Mountain Downhill sled races, Sparky put everything on hold when Rassle and Klee-Klee came in to say goodnight to their favorite Uncle. When they informed Uncle Sparky that since they were now 9 and 12 years old, they no longer needed bedtime kisses, not even from Uncle Sparky. Fearing they were growing up quicker than he expected, he decided it was time to tell a tale that might change there minds about that goodnight kiss. The telling of this story would be easy, since Sparky had been one of Santa Claus’s closest and most trusted elves for such a long time. Reaching back into his memory, he started the tale of the first trip that Santa made to deliver his toys. Back then Santa was a young, single man and when trouble struck he turned to Sparky for the help he needed to make it through one of the worst storms anyone had ever seen.

I enjoyed the playfulness of the children with their Uncle. The sneezing bit adds even more fun for the kids, even though at first it kind of seemed like that was why they didn’t want to give him a hug and kiss goodnight. The story about Santa fist meeting Miss Suzie McEase, the soon to be Mrs. Claus was in the format of a poem. With the rhyming cadence of the story it’s pattern was easily formed, and then broken when the kids started getting restless (as kids tend to do sometimes). The rhythm was easily picked up again as the story got back on track. The story did the trick and thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Claus, both Rassle and Klee-Klee willingly gave Uncle Sparky a goodnight kiss. With the addition of the wonderful illustrations, that are by Cesar De Castro, the beautiful poem and the cute story to match, this is a good read-aloud story that kids will enjoy for many Christmas times to come. I read this to my 8 and 10 year olds (even though it is not Christmas time yet) and they enjoyed the way the pictures so accurately depicted the story, they laughed at Uncle Sparky’s sneezes and at Santa falling down. They thought that Mrs. Claus was sweet, and so was Klee-Klee. They would like to hear this story again, whether it is Christmas time or not. They also really enjoyed the two seek-and-find pages, double wide with a plastic magnifying window on a super long ribbon. One, a day time view of Santa’s North Pole, the other a night time view of the North Pole, including a seek-and-find question and answer combination - what fun. (****)

August 27, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Book - Turtle Dolphin Dreams

Turtle Dolphin Dreams by Marian K. Volkman
The concept of being able to communicate with other species on our planet has long intrigued and baffled the human race. None verbal communication with our own kind is almost unheard of. If a species was able to psychically connect with it’s own parents, siblings and mates, would they ever be able to connect to another species? How would that connection begin? How would different species be able to understand each other? Would there be a way for a creature of the ocean (like a dolphin) to ‘talk’ to a creature of the land (like a turtle)? Can a human ever dream of being a part of all that? The information that could be shared and passed along to each participating group could be beneficial to that species and to the world. If only someone was able to ’talk’ to the animals. What can a hibernating turtle named Turtledove tell us about the life of a dolphin? What would we say?

This book caught my attention because of the possibilities. The desire to be connected to others of our own species as well as others. It has been labeled as: Fiction, New Age, Visionary & Metaphysical, that says to me that it is suppose to be a story that describe imaginary people and events, originating not in the physical world, a study of nature and the nature of beings. That being said, this book reads like a memoir of the dolphin as translated and dictated by the turtle to the intended recipient, the human. At times it sounds like a ‘how-to’ in the ways of connecting with other species, while at other times it shows the differences in the way each of them lives their lives. The concept of the ability to connect to others is to me fresh and new, exciting and beautiful. For some people, the way this book is written will be considered quick, easy and straight forward, but for others (like myself) it lacks a personal connection to each of the contributors of the story. It is cut and dry, an exchange of information on an impersonal level. It is fiction with a non-fiction feel (I am not a big non-fiction reader). Still it is a quick and easy read with a beautiful concept. (***)

August 24, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Young Adult - Ginger High

Ginger High by Melissa Burmester
As a freshman in High school, Daisy Fisher was surprised to be paired with a senior during in-school detention. Befriending Fredrick Ramsey changed her life, first she witnessed his part in the school burning down, then she finds that he would be attending the same school as her. Mixed feelings and thoughts about him and many of her new friends at Ginger High are compounded with the new understanding that everyone at this new school has special powers. When several deaths occur shortly after her arrival at school, a healer (Amanta) from the parallel universe of Animist arrives, between him and his best friend (Matthias) they are determined to help find the person responsible. The answers may not be as easy as they would like with Amanta in a weakened state and Matthias keeping secrets. Is anything what it appears to be?

I understand this was written by a 14 year-old, keeping that in mind, I really enjoyed the concept of the story. The parallel universe, the special powers that each of them possess has a bit of an original twist in it. The introduction of a similar situation from 1901 seemed a good way to start, even though some of it was unnecessary. There was a lot of familial characters and that did make it a little easier to follow. I would have liked to get to know the important characters a bit better. Daisy accepted thing way to easy and without question, Fredrick did things just because and seemingly without a second thought. While the little bit of back story for Amanta and Matthias was helpful in understanding these characters, there was still huge holes in the characters. I like to get attached to the characters and had trouble getting attached to any of these. There was also holes in the story, the conclusion only answered one of the dozen or so questions that came to my mind. There is several parts that I wondered how exactly they got to that position and would have liked more definition, action, conversation, description, history - something, just more of it. Decent first attempt at a novel - concept, story premise, even characters are great, the work needs to be done in the presentation of the story, the ‘painting of the picture’ and getting the story to flow so that it comes through with fewer holes and dropped sub-plots. (***)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Book - The Immortal Realm

The Immortal Realm by Frewin Jones
As the festivities of Princess Cordelia and Bryn’s marriage ceremony continued, few took notice of the sick child. Being in the Realm of the Faeries, no one had been sick or died of natural causes in a thousand years, and for it to start so soon after the final victory over the Sorcerer King made the death of the first child even more pronounced. All were stunned to find out that this was only the first to fall ill. Some fingers pointed to the half-Faerie, half-Mortal Princess Tania and her mortal parents, leaving King Oberon little choice but to banish Mr. and Mrs. Palmer back to London with the hopes that the infection they supposedly brought to the Realm would quickly subside with them gone. There could always be another reason for the illness, but not knowing where to look for answers Princess Tania, along with her sister Princess Rathina takes the ‘side step’ between worlds looking for help from a mortal doctor, who could make things better or worse in the end.

Book 4 ….. Think, figure and try to determine the best coarse of action - that is what Tania had to do in this book. Being guided by a dream, relying on faith, making and breaking promises to her Faerie father (King Oberon). A very clear plan of action, but nothing ever goes as it was planned. The emotional tug of war with Edric in this one is another story all it’s own, sometimes I felt his pain more than I felt anything for Tania, but other times her confusion over how to fix or deal with the situation over rode all other story lines. This is such a complex series, just as you think it is about to be over, they have already walked right into another adventure (now you have to wait to read it). The way Frewin Jones can leave you (or at least me) screaming for more is a credit to him in the creation of these simple yet intriguing characters. I anxiously await the release of Book 5 - The Enchanted Quest (which is not suppose to be released till Jan 26, 2010) *sigh* - and the wait begins. (****)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Book - Did I Expect Angels?

Did I Expect Angels? by Kathryn Maughan
There was a plan in place for Jennifer Huffaker, after more than a year of trying to cope and move on, Jennifer had finally decided what she needed to do to give her daughter a better chance at a happy life. - Henry had lived his life, he’d been handed ups and downs, gone from poverty in Costa Rica to having a good life in New York. Now in his retirement, Henry has taken a job as a greeter at the local discount store. When he sees Jennifer come in late one night, looking more down than normal, he is determined to tell her about all the blessings he has had and still has in his life with the hope of helping her to realize that she too has her own blessing to count and that count on her.

This style of story telling is very unique to me, having Henry tell Jennifer about his life, while she remembers her own, at first it was hard to get into, but after a while the flow is easier to follow. Henry’s life story seems unrelated to Jennifer in the beginning, but soon it does becomes clear why he is taking the time to tell her. As Jennifer remembers her life and her reasons for that nights errand, it builds her as a character that becomes easy to relate to. Everyone who has had a loss goes through some aspect of the grief that Jennifer feels. While her story was easy to relate to, Henry’s story was a more of a chronological accounting of his life and a lot of it seemed unnecessary. Henry’s story was also made a little more difficult to follow because of the use of Spanish words (I know a little, but not enough to allow this part of the story to flow easily). Nearly all the parts of the story pertaining to his time in Costa Rica, while interesting, seemed unrelated to the main plot of saving Jennifer from herself and it took a long time to get to it, then it was over quickly and I felt as if the ending was rushed. The concept that - everyone can be some ones Angel if you care enough to try - is a great one and this is a touching story to help portray that message.

Aug 7, 2009

Book - KnockOut

KnockOut (FBI Thriller) by Catherine Coulter
For experienced FBI Special Agent Dillon Savich to find himself on the floor of a bank during a bank robbery was a bit of luck, good and bad. He was able to alert his partner and wife Special Agent Lacey Sherlock of the robbery in progress as well as be there to help take down the bad guys and girls. While the sole survivor of the gang was in the hospital, she was able to escape with the help of the get-a-way driver. While trying to figure out their next move, Dillon received a message from a seven year old girl named Autumn. This little girl seemed to be in his head, able to talk to him from far away. The whole town of Titusville, Virginia was out looking for the missing girl all day, when Sherriff Ethan Merriweather came home and found she had been playing with his animals, he had no idea the trouble that would follow. Running away from her relatives who knew she had the special gift of telepathy, the whole family seemed to be able to do extraordinary thing like control other with one look, her and her mother (Joanna Backman) just wanted to find help from someone they could trust. With information coming from Savich and Sherlock, Ethan and Joanna were able to figure out a way to avoid her husbands family, for a while.

Book 13.…. Another adventure of Savich and Sherlock, this one had so much action in it, it was non stop from the first words, taking on two ’situations’ at one time. There was very, very little romance in this one at all, it was all adventure and suspense (that is good sometimes). I really enjoyed it. I would have liked a little more of Autumn, Joanna and Ethan, so much togetherness in a short amount of time causes for an interesting set of conditions for getting to know each other. This book is part of the series, as usual with Catherine Coulter’s FBI Thrillers, the character creation and the continuing story of previously met characters are great. There is a mention of another ‘psychic’ event from Dillon’s past, while this type of thing has happened a couple of times before, it was fun to see it again. I would say that if you don’t mind the references to other stories, this could be read as a stand alone, but to really get the whole feel of who Savich and Sherlock are, I find reading a series in order is the best, this one included - even though it is 13 books now.

Jul 29, 2009