I loved this book! Once you start it, you will find it difficult to put down as you are drawn into the world of the silvertails– magicians, evil hunters, bewitched bird, fairies, and a brave boy and young silvertail who risk everything for the ones they love.
It is beautifully written and layered, and offers a compelling read for both adults and children. You will fall in love with Kywah and his companions. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series. *****
Beem Weeks is a master storyteller who has both an ability to see into the heart of the matter, and the ability to write lyrical and poetic prose. I loved being surprised by the stories, by the twists that are believable, and in the end, the only way the story could have resolved.
Even if you are not usually a short-story fan, you will be happy you took a ride on Weeks’ Strange Hwy. *****
“I heard someone crying. It sounded like an animal in pain. It reminded me of the way I cried, back when I still could.”
I once heard a discussion about why some abused children overcome their past while others are destroyed by it. They said the difference was that the children who survived were resilient, that they accepted challenges as something to be overcome. Most resilient children have had some nurturing. Either at least one person in the world loved them, or they had a strong belief in something outside themselves.
Stacey (as she calls herself) had neither of those things, but what she did have was a strong belief in herself and a will to overcome all the hardships inflicted on her. This book should have been unbearable to read, but Stacey’s voice and spirit lifted the narrative above being a tale of a child who had been horribly abused — beyond what most of us could ever imagine — and made it an anthem to her will and strength and intelligence. Most of all, I admired her integrity and her ability to be grateful for the people who helped her, however slightly or inadvertently. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself. She is curious and intelligent and resourceful. I can’t imagine a girl of eleven with almost no experience of the outside world, living on the street with all its dangers, going to the library to try to find out where Vietnam was. Stacey is remarkable.
Read this book. You will be humbled by what a child survived, and maybe it will keep you from looking away the next time you see a child who clearly needs help but not the help the “system” provides. *****
I am in love with Beem Weeks’ writing style and his amazing use of metaphor, dialect, and dialogue. He takes the reader to another place and time, one that is meticulously researched and recreated. I don’t know — maybe don’t want to know — how he conjures the diverse characters who threaten and hurt Baby Teegarden, even those who profess to love her. The world she lives in is not kind, particularly to a young teenager who, in her own misguided way, is looking for love as much as she is looking for stardom. Maybe not stardom as much as the freedom to sing and be who she is. When she sings she is transported to another reality, and at least for the length of a song, she transcends being an impoverished orphan surrounded by people who exploit her,
Weeks is a talented, gifted writer who has created a remarkable novel–one of the best I have read in a long time. If there is a sequel, and I hope there is, may it be one where Baby finally finds herself loved and protected. *****
Bernard Foong holds nothing back, it appears, in telling of his early life and his initiation into a secret erotic society. I found the young Bernard completely engaging and could imagine how attractive he must have been to those around him.
Initiation is a thought-provoking book. Some people reading this will legitimately believe that he was too young to consent to the life offered him by the secret society at his exclusive boarding school. Perhaps. But Bernard portrays himself convincingly as a boy who understands his own sexuality and willingly participates in the society. Was he seduced by the attention and affection shown him by the older men? I don’t know. He struck me as a boy who always knew what he wanted and had such a zest for life and adventure, that the life he chose suited him more than a conventional life would have done.
I loved the author’s attention to detail and enjoyed his delight when, as a fashion advisor to the sheiks’ wives and daughters, he was able to visit couture workshops in Paris. According to his author bio, he eventually achieved his dream of becoming a fashion designer. The book could have been more tightly edited, but that did not detract from my enjoyment of it. I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about a world that is hidden from most people. ****
SHADOW OF THE DRILL
The author takes us on a journey to a dark place where love means having to stitch up a friend’s wounds on your kitchen table.
The protagonists, Decker and Rudy, are bound by a dark tragedy — one that has shaped their lives — prompting the reader to wonder who they might have become without that event. They live in a world foreign to most of us, a world of sleaze and violence and cruelty, and as much as they are a part of it, the love and loyalty that binds them to each other elevates them to a higher plane and makes the reader care about them more than I thought possible. Like Reacher, they adhere to a code that is beautifully shown when Rudy tries to defend himself without hurting his attackers to the extent he could have. We also see how he has equipped his surroundings, like a warrior, to provide him weapons when he needs them.
One of the author’s greatest strengths — in addition to her ability to create detailed, realistic fight scenes — is her deft delineation of character. There is the self-deluded bar dancer who thinks only of herself, who sees other people’s difficulties only in the way they relate to her, and who is able to rationalize every selfish act as one that was necessary. And there is the woman in love with Decker who has no illusions about him and her feelings for him, but knows what she must do to protect herself.
We see the young man who wants to be Decker. He realizes after a skirmish that he could never measure up to him, but as details of the skirmish fade, he convinces himself that he really could be Decker. Each of us has probably experienced something similar: the ability to persist in beliefs in the face of a contrary reality.
Each character is swiftly made real to the reader because the author is so skilled in showing the layers and contradictions that make them who they are. And she makes us like characters who do terrible things, but only to people who deserve them.
There is a darkness and yet an uplifting quality to the story that is rare. I found myself thinking about Decker and Rudy and the women in their lives, and wondering what was happening to them, long after I finished the book. I hope they return. This a beautifully written and compelling story. *****
LETTING GO INTO PERFECT LOVE
A friend recommended Gwen Plano’s Letting Go Into Perfect Love. I don’t read memoirs, but she told me this one was ‘different’ and that I would be glad I read it.
She was right. I became engrossed in Gwen’s story. It is beautifully written and the tone is perfect. While the author does tell us about the physical abuse she experienced in her marriage, the book is not about that. It is about grace, and honesty, and discovering that no matter how isolated and lonely we might feel at times in our lives, we are not alone. It takes courage to examine one’s life, to accept responsibility, and to give up the suffering we unwittingly cherish. The author does not ask us to be sorry for her, but to take heart and rejoice in the peace she found when she allowed her true self to guide her. She has written her story and shown us what is possible. She speaks often of angels. Some of us might call them something else – intuition or the universe speaking. Whatever they are, whatever you believe, Gwen Plano herself, by writing this book, has given us an angelic gift. *****
A HEAVEN FOR TOASTERS
The title drew me to this book and I am happy it did! It was a delightful read with well-drawn characters, including the “toaster.” I am amazed at the author’s creativity in inventing the technology of the future: hololenses, metasuits, the power to send thoughts and cloak oneself with armor or invisibility. The story moves quickly and is engrossing both as a light romance and as a crime story. I hope Mika and Leo will have further adventures!!
Ms Burke combines an extraordinary understanding of people from all walks of life and exceptional writing skills to produce a collection of short stories that ring so true. While reading them, I found myself fascinated, touched, horrified, and amused. The author is a brilliant writer. I look forward to reading more of her work. *****
FINDING BILLY BATTLES
I grew up with radio and television shows that glamorized the old West. The good guys wore white hats– except maybe for Paladin — and they always bested the bad guys. Ronald Yates’ wonderful novel, Finding Billy Battles: An Account of Peril, Transgression, and Redemption, recreates the real old West with its powerful animal smells, unwashed cowboys, and threats to the law-abiding from cruel and greedy outlaws who often fled to the west because they were wanted by the law elsewhere. Happily for the reader, his characters wear grey hats: those of good character are still flawed, and many, with reputations as hard men willing to kill, display loyalty and courage and a willingness to sacrifice themselves to help their friends and to right some rather horrible wrongs.
The author takes the reader on a journey from frontier Kansas to Chicago and the 1893 Columbian Exposition, and we see how many of Billy’s frontier friends adapt to the changing times and carve out new lives for themselves. I truly appreciate the author’s deep research and attention to detail, from descriptions of the interior of railway carriages to the technical reasons a bullet lacked the power to kill.
I cared about Billy Battles, his friends, and his family, and at times I pushed through the book in that “what happens next” intensity. I particularly found the scene of reckoning compelling, not only for the action, but because the author allowed the highly diverse characters to drive the plot in keeping with their own experience and skills. (I don’t want to say too much about that and give something away.)
The book is a masterpiece, totally seamless, and filled with great writing, great characterization, great themes, and wonderful details. Billy makes a choice at the book’s end that is totally in keeping with his character. I wish he had chosen differently, but if he had, we would not have the next two books in the trilogy to look forward to. *****
between heaven and earth
What an unusual and intriguing book The Contract is. The forces of good are joined to stop the world from destruction. But instead of substituting a beneficial (in our eyes) governmental power for an evil power, our heroes must rebalance the emotional thrust of the earth and restore “love as life’s ultimate purpose.” Plano and Howell succeed in a collaboration that had to have been made in heaven. They use their respective strengths as writers to weave a complex tale of emotional and physical challenges that propels the reader through this fast-paced thriller. It is in keeping with their intention that the final climax of the book is not the exciting earthly duel that averts catastrophe, but is the soul-warming celestial conclusion . I highly recommend it to people who enjoy intelligent thrillers with heart. *****
LEGEND OF THE WALKING DEAD
I enjoyed the masterful way this book was written. The story simply flowed in keeping with what would have been an oral tradition. I didn’t feel as if I were “reading” a book, but more as if I were “hearing” the voice of an accomplished storyteller who was passing on the legends of a people. The story of Gloria and her son and the way they overcame the predicament they were in was fascinating. It is interesting that in Gloria’s culture, as in many others, death is portrayed as a portal into a spirit world of great beauty where more is gained than lost and is not to be feared as an ending but embraced as a beginning. The last section of the story was not as interesting to me as the rest was, but it did not detract from my enjoyment of this wonderful book. I would love to visit the world the author created another time and hope she will give us more stories about Gloria and her assignments. *****
ACE CARROWAY AND THE GREAT WAR
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. The idea of a teenager with Ace’s capabilities is rather unusual, but I was willing to believe in her and her band of prisoners. The rapport of the men and their joking conversations ring true as does their admiration of Ace. I don’t know whether the technical information is correct, but I really didn’t care. I suspect male young adults will, so I trust that it is. Guy Worthey is a splendid writer who combines comedy with just enough real menace and heroic exploits with just enough real emotion to have created an engaging story with heart. I look forward to reading more of Ace’s adventures. *****
I thoroughly enjoyed this well-told love story. Ms. Ingalls recreates the highs and lows of the long-lasting love affair of a famous sculptor and his beloved model who was forced to remain in the background of his life, even when statues for which she had modeled were introduced to the public. Her touchstone, in a life that was frequently sad, was to follow her heart.
I also enjoyed the scenes where Davida went into the forest where she believed Swedish fairies came to her and helped guide her on her path. I would like to have known her. *****
THE FAMILY CAREGIVER’S GUIDE
Harriet Hodgson’s The Family Caregiver’s Guide is an extraordinary book. The language is clear and simple, the subject well-researched, and the advice practical and illustrated with examples of how to implement it. I wish I had had this book when I was caring for my elderly aunt and mother-in-law, and I feel fortunate to have it now.
My family taught me some of the things in the book: to advocate for the patient, to treat them gently and with love, and to respect their wishes as much as possible. What they did not teach me was to make sure I took care of myself, too. This Guide helps one understand that taking care of oneself is part of taking care of the other.
The Guide has a summary in bullet points at the end of each chapter and other resources within the chapters for those who want to read more about a particular topic. It is thorough and detailed.
As an aside, or perhaps not, I was moved to tears by the relationship between the author and her husband. How fortunate they have been to have found each other. This book was a gift, but I have also purchased copies for people I know who are caretakers, and I will make sure my children have a copy. I thank the author for an exceptional, badly needed book. *****
WHOBEDA’S GUIDE TO BASIC ASTROLOGY
I loved Marcha Fox’s voice and humor. This book is filled with information about astrology. I can’t imagine anything is missing. It is a wonderful book to keep as a reference and delve into as your interest in astrology grows.
I was impressed by the depth of knowledge and the way Ms. Fox kept the tone light and did not let the tremendous amount of information overwhelm the reader. *****
Although I usually don’t enjoy books written in the present tense, John Cannon’s wry humor and engaging voice drew me into this exciting story. Howell’s particular strength is his ability to take the reader through completely unfamiliar territory and make it come alive. The scenes on the boat were engrossing and exciting. Howell ratchets up the tension until it seems impossible for his protagonist to survive, and yet the resolution was believable and thrilling. I look forward to reading the rest of this series. *****
THINGS MY FATHER TAUGHT ME
The stories in this book reminded me of “yesteryear” when we listened to “The Lone Ranger” on the radio while doing the dinner dishes. It was a time of aunts and uncles and grandparents who, if we were lucky, told us stories about people they had known and things they had done and allowed us younger ones to take from them what we wanted. I learned a lot about the way good people live their lives. Verwayne Greehoe has honored his father by his honesty and has given us a lovely book that keeps us asking the question, “And then what?” ****