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Archive for the ‘general fiction’ Category

Forever in Her Dreams

by Tika Newman

Thistlewood Publishing 2009

Website: http://www.thistlewoodpublishing.com

Buy Link: http://shop.thistlewoodpublishing.com/Forever-in-Her-Dreams-102.htm

ISBN 978-0-9821507-1-9

 Forever in Her Dreams by Tika Newman picks right up where The Eyes of Innocence left off. Book one in the series ended with readers wondering where Toniya came from. Who would give a stranger a horse? How did the horse from Lina’s dreams appear in her yard? Readers quickly get reacquainted with the characters they enjoyed in the first book and soon get some answers. As the story continues, readers journey along with Kalina as she makes a place for her new horse in her life. She doesn’t know it at first, but the horse will lead her down a path to her past. She will gain information about her heritage and her unique abilities. Readers pick up on her special way with animals as they read of her gentle nature and various healings. She is not limited to helping animals. When needed she also uses her healing powers to help people. Although Lina’s power is not typical and the events surrounding the healings are out of the ordinary, the author’s vivid descriptions and interesting presentations make them believable. Many authors focus on the negative stereotypes when presenting a minor culture. Whether true or fictional this author presents traditions and healing power in a way that doesn’t degrade the Gypsy culture. While the characters are described as very poor and old fashioned, it is refreshing to see this people group portrayed as peaceful, helpful and out to do good.

Kalina is a special girl trying to live a typical teenage life. She longs to fill her life with animals, friends, school and family activities. At times the pull to help is too strong to resist. She and her family know what it’s like to uproot and move just when they are settling into a new community. They are often forced to relocate when the secret is in danger of being revealed. Lina tries to think and act like other teens, but her love for animals leads her to make some interesting decisions. She tries to be cautious when it comes to strangers but her strong desire to help others leads her to risk it all in times of greatest need.

Cory, the older and charming neighbor boy, Marnie, her best friend, Aunt Jessie, Uncle Jeff, a host of pets and many schoolmates return in book two. New characters also appear in this sequel. The most interesting are Kalina’s grandparents, Stela and Todor,. As Lina learns who they are and how they have helped her at various times in her life, she also learns more truth about Aunt Jessie and how she came to be with her adoptive family. She learns how Toniya came to her. The more she learns of her past, the more she wonders how it will fit with her present. Will Aunt Jessie and Uncle Jeff accept her heritage? Will they believe her grandparents are who they say they are? Will they stick by Kalina even when she goes against their advice? Will her best friend Marnie think she is crazy if she reveals her heritage? Will her neighbor Cory get scared away as he starts to piece together what she can do with her powers? So many questions and once again they will not all be answered by the time readers turn the last page of book two.

Pearl believes the author is developing as a writer as she works on this series. This book is just as innocent and wholesome as book one, but it contains deeper insight into the characters, clearer scene descriptions and more realistic dialogue. This novel is a great follow-up to The Eyes of Innocence. The day-to-day life of an animal loving teenager is woven among the threads of mystery and magic that surround the main character. Kalina will continue to intrigue readers with her secret powers. This book is unusual in nature, but easy to follow. It answers many of the questions left when The Eyes of Innocence ended. Reader’s still don’t know the whole story though. The saga will continue when the third book Window to Her Soul is released later this year.

–Pearl

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Angel of Promise

By Sam Oliver

Fideli Publishing: 2010

Author Site: http://www.pathintohealing.com/ 

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Promise-Sam-Oliver/dp/160414209X

When I decided to read and review Sam Oliver’s Angel of Promise, I had no idea what to expect. I opened it up, read a few pages and was immersed in the story before I knew what was happening. At around a hundred and thirty pages, I read it straight through in about an hour. Then I went back and re-read most of it. Since then I’ve read certain passages several times. I found the premise both captivating and thought provoking. The bulk of the story takes place in The Garden of The Gods. I visited there a few years ago and can’t think of a better setting for a story like this.

Lee, a hard working man is feeling very much the loser. He’s lost his job, his faith in himself and is on the verge of losing his home and his family. His wife had planned a trip with their daughters to visit her sister in Florida. When their peaceful night is shattered by a break in, the police suggest she leave right away to decrease traumatizing the little girls anymore. Rose agrees and she and her daughters leave early the next morning.

Alone in the quiet house without his family, Lee becomes despondent and finds himself hating the world and no longer knows his place in it. Emotionally drained, he falls into a restless sleep and dreams of an Angel named Promise. The Angel tells him he’s there to remind Lee of who he is to help him remember the promises he made to the Angel the moment he was born. Lee finds this both interesting and confusing.

A couple of days later he finds being alone in the house unbearable and leaves to visit his family in Kentucky. After spending a couple of days visiting his parents, he leaves to visit his grandfather’s old cabin located in The Garden The Gods. Here we join Lee as he becomes intimately acquainted with the Promise Angel, and takes a journey to self-discovery and restoration—a rekindling of faith in himself and the world. 

As the back blurb states, this is a fictional novel and can be read by anyone of any religious background without having to filter it through your own beliefs. Angel of Promise is charming, inspirational, and captivating. A story both encouraging and motivating, I recommend it to all.

–Willow

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Becoming: A Chronicle of Metamorphosis

By Mark Lichterman

Metropolis Ink (June 15, 2008)  

Amazon Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Mark-Lichterman/dp/0646492160

“Do you remember your radio and “Captain Midnight,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Junior Miss” and “Let’s Pretend”? The first time you inhaled a cigarette? Your first swallow of hard liquor? The thrill of the first exploration of the body of your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife… your own body? Your first orgasm? Remember when as a people we loved America, and showed it? Then you might be ready for a nostalgic, funny, romantic, sexually frustrating novel. A novel that may remind many of us of ourselves, “way back then,” when God’s most mysterious creation was the opposite sex. A novel about life and the often funny, sometimes sad, day-to-day things that stir the memories of our lives…”

The above is a quote from the blurb for Mark Lichterman’s Becoming and I put it there because it so aptly describes the novel. When I decided to review this book, I was worried because number one, I rarely have time to sit down and read a book as long as this one and two, because I stupidly felt I’d never be able to connect with anything in it. I’m female, Christian, grew up in the country, and the time period was before my time. I was wrong, wrong, wrong! The subject matter is timeless, the characters so genuine they jump from the pages and into your heart, and being the mother of boys—I could even relate to the male point of view.

The story begins in 1939 on Chicago’s eastside and follows five-year-old Mitchie for the next seventeen years of his life. A true coming of age story told in graphic detail. And the humor—did I mention the humor? I found myself laughing out loud many times. I especially loved when the humor came at a time when it was totally unexpected, the way it is in ‘real life’. I can’t say all I’d like to say about the book because it needs to be experienced first hand and I don’t want to spoil that experience for the reader by saying too much.

Mr. Lichterman is a talented storyteller with a beautifully unique writing style and strong voice. His characters are delightfully flawed, giving them an unsurpassed charm and authentic quality. Becoming transcends all gender, ethnic, and geographical backgrounds, so no matter where you’re coming from, if you love truly great coming of age stories, give this one a try.

My one complaint is I felt the book ended too soon. Yes, even at 736 pages, I was sad when reading that last page and know these characters will be with me for a long time.

–Willow

       

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Social Lives

By Wendy Walker

St. Martin’s Press – September 2009

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Social-Lives-Wendy-Walker/dp/0312378165

 

When Wendy Walker’s Social Lives, a story about the trials and tribulations of three families in an exclusive Connecticut suburb, came my way for review, a part of me was prepared not to like it. Call it good, old-fashioned jealousy; I have a tough time feeling sorry for the ultra-rich. But despite my misgivings, with each turn of the page I found myself more deeply immersed in the lives and troubles of these characters.

Rosalyn Barlow has the most coveted social position in Wilshire. With her handsome billionaire husband and her multimillion-dollar estate, Rosalyn has made it her life’s work to know the right people, chair the best committees, and throw the perfect parties. In Rosalyn’s world appearances are everything. Little do the people of Wilshire know of the threads of turmoil that run through the Barlow family tapestry, threatening at any moment to unravel.

Jacqueline Halstead is one of Rosalyn’s closest friends. But when her husband’s bad investment decisions threaten to destroy the home she has created for her children, the ghosts of her dysfunctional childhood arise, throwing “Jacks” into survival mode. She devises a plan to save her family at all costs– even if it means bringing the Barlow family down.

The newest and youngest member of Rosalyn’s circle of friends, Sara Livingston just can’t seem to get anything right. From her clothes to her bright red mini van, every decision she makes seems to blow up in her face. With a house caught in restoration hell, a nanny who threatens to usurp Sara’s role as mother to her small daughter, and the strain of the devastating secret she keeps from her husband, Sara’s battered nerves cause her to look for friendship in all the wrong places.

I found the cast of characters in this novel to be absolutely delightful, with the secondary characters every bit as well drawn as the primary. From the Barlow’s angst filled and rebellious daughter, Caitlin, to Kelly, Jacks’ older and wiser sister, to Rosalyn, who lives in the lap of luxury and still manages to live in misery, Ms. Walker has nailed the complexities of human nature to a tee. Taking as its theme a collection of wealthy women in American suburbia, one might be tempted to think Social Lives is just another “love it and leave it” contemporary story. Not so. The author takes on some tough and important issues like teen sexuality, a friend’s betrayal, and marital infidelity. Kudos to Wendy Walker for handling them so powerfully and eloquently.

Reading this book, I found myself smiling one minute and wanting to cry the next. The story paints a brilliant picture of the lifestyles of the rich and famous, and yet it shows clearly that wealth does not necessarily equate to happiness. Indeed, money can bring with it its own unique set of problems. But mostly, the story proves that women are women, sharing the same fears, joys, struggles and concerns no matter what their socioeconomic background.  I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys stories of women and their relationships.

— Honeybee

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bunco-babes-tell-allBunco Babes Tell All

Maria Geraci

Penguin/Berkley – May 2009

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Bunco-Babes-Tell-Maria-Geraci/dp/0425227588/

Author Site: http://www.MariaGeraci.com

 

Okay, I have to confess to never having heard of Bunco until I received Maria Geraci’s Bunco Babes Tell All for review. What fun! You don’t have to know the game to enjoy this delightful story filled with humor, warmth, hot romance, and the loyalty of long time friendships.The Babes of Whispering Bay, Florida have set aside every Thursday night for Bunco. A night when they can gather to roll the dice, eat great food, drink signature drinks, and share secrets—a night to let it all hang out and totally de-stress. Because ‘what happens at Bunco, stays at Bunco’.

Real estate broker Kitty Burke is living in her grandmother’s vintage home with the intention of making repairs before putting it on the market, as her mother wants. But Kitty’s secret wish is to buy the home for herself. Unfortunately, although the most successful broker in the area, Kitty has never managed her spending and the repairs are straining her financial resources. Add that to the slow market and she fears she’ll never have the money to make the down payment.

Of the twelve babes, only Kitty is still unmarried and at thirty-five she feels it’s time to let go of her idea of the perfect man. Eighteen years earlier Kitty fell in love with Kevin Costner’s character from Bull Durham, and she’s never met a man in reality who can measure up to that image. Then she meets Steve and that first meeting is anything but perfect. No woman wants to meet what may be the sexiest man ever while her panties are around her ankles and she’s squatting in the bushes to relieve herself. Once Kitty has overcome her embarrassment at being caught in such humiliating circumstances, she decides to do something totally out of character. She goes after substitute plumber, Steve, for a one-night stand.

With three failed marriages behind him and between jobs, Steve isn’t exactly great husband material, but then Kitty isn’t planning a wedding, she only wants great sex. But there’s a lot more to Steve than Kitty ever planned on. Will she be able to let go of her preconceived notions of the perfect man and grab hold of true love?

Ms. Geraci paints a fascinating portrait of small town life and its inhabitants in Bunco Babes Tell All. The characters are well drawn. Kitty’s best friends, Pilar and Shea, are everything you’d ever want your friends to be, even if they are a little too honest and drive you crazy at times. There’s enough intrigue surrounding our hero, Steve, to keep you turning the pages. The town of Whispering Bay is in an uproar over new beachfront condominium plans from an out of town developer and stuck in the middle is Kitty. Lovely, charming and real, I loved her from page one. This story is at time hilarious and at others, heartwarming and tender. The love scenes are just hot enough and tastefully done by the author.

Bunco Babes Tell All is a fast, lighthearted, feel good read perfect for busy readers. I truly enjoyed my time with the Babes and heartily recommend it to all. As a bonus, in the back of the book are tips for playing Bunco, setting up Bunco clubs, recipes, and an excerpt from Maria Geraci’s Bunco Babes Gone Wild. Enjoy!

 –Willow

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the-climbing-boyThe Climbing Boy

By Mark Lichterman

Metropolis Ink (c) 2003

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Climbing-Boy-Mark-Lichterman/dp/0958054363

 

After reading the synopsis for Mark Lichterman’s THE CLIMBING BOY, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I felt pretty certain the story would educate me on the dreadful working conditions of young orphan children sold into apprenticeship in the 1800s, but what I didn’t know was the depth of feelings this enchanting little story would evoke in me. At just 180 pages, THE CLIMBING BOY is a short novel that is anything but short on plot.

Orphaned at the age of four, Zachariah is sold into apprenticeship to a chimney sweep for the cost of back rent owed on his late mother’s flat: a sum of one pound. Thus begins his life as a climbing boy. The life of a climbing boy is grueling and perilous, not only in the immediate dangers of being suspended by a rope harness and lifted down into zigzagging, sometimes stories-high chimneys, but also in the long term ill effects of breathing in soot and chimney dust on a daily basis. Add to that Zachariah’s master’s cruelty and you will find a boy’s life that is much more an existence than a childhood. Even so, eight-going-on-nine-year-old Zachariah maintains a positive outlook on life and a sweet disposition that makes him a favorite with many of his customers.

Set in London, England in 1843, the bulk of the story takes place in the span of just one day — December 24, the day before Christmas. The tale begins with Zachariah awakening from a beautiful dream of his deceased mother’s love to enter into the reality of his now bleak and loveless existence. Throughout the day, the reader follows Zachariah and his master, Johnson, as they go about their work. Turning the pages, the reader feels a full spectrum of emotions (the terror of being suspended in a chimney that sways precariously in the wind, the heartbreak of a child being denied a gift he really wanted, and the joy of a stranger’s kindness to name but a few) as the story builds to a delightful, fairy tale ending.

I found myself drawn deeper and deeper into the life and heart of this wonderful character until he truly felt like someone I knew and loved. The cruel Johnson is equally well drawn, and though I hated him at times, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him in the end. That’s how talented a storyteller Mark Lichterman is. His poignant fictional details blend with the hard truths of what, sadly, was reality for many children of that era, to create a beautiful story that, while being educational, is also sweeping and unforgettable. I highly recommend this heartwarming tale to anyone who enjoys seeing the good guy win. I know I certainly did.

–Honeybee

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sentence-of-marriageSentence of Marriage

By Shayne Parkinson

Genre: Historical Fiction

Original Publication Date: 2006

Book I in the three-volume saga, Promises to Keep

Buy Link: http://www.lulu.com/content/472164

I’m a very lucky girl in regards to the books I’ve been getting for review. They just keep getting better and better. Sentence of Marriage by Shayne Parkinson is no exception. It’s book one in a three-volume set titled Promises to Keep and one of the best historical novels I’ve had the pleasure to read in years.

New Zealand farm life in the 1880’s is hard and twelve-year-old Amy dreams of a life beyond the boundaries of her small community. Although snug in the warmth of her family’s love, Amy wants to be a teacher and experience the excitement of living in a city far from the isolated valley she calls home.

When losing her mother shortly after her birth, Amy and her older brothers are raised by an adoring father and strict, but loving Granny. Six months after Granny’s death, Amy is adjusting well to managing their home alone. When her father returns from a business trip with a new wife in tow, Amy and her brothers are shocked, but determined to make the best of it. Unfortunately Susannah finds farm life less than appealing and generally makes life miserable for all, especially Amy. Two and a half years later, Susannah’s younger brother comes to stay for the summer and Amy makes a choice that will change her life forever.

Although some of the plot is predictable in Sentence of Marriage, this in no way diminished the impact the story had on me because of the fresh way it was presented. The characters come alive on the page and with the breathtaking imagery drawn by Parkinson, the cinematic effect is undeniable. I felt as though I were watching the events unfold on a large movie screen. The author has a special gift for using specific words and phrases to bring the period and location into reality without it being overdone. The fact that I sat up reading until three-thirty in the morning, knowing I had to get up before six, speaks for how riveting the story is. I found it impossible to put down.

Not many people are totally good or totally evil and the author offers a superb mix of both good and evil characters with both good and bad traits existing in both. I was fascinated by Amy’s father, Jack, and enjoyed watching as different facets of his personality emerge. But one of the best characterizations I’ve ever seen is in Ms. Parkinson’s portrayal of Susannah—a selfish, conniving, self absorbed woman who seems, at times, to be on the verge of madness. Yet the author wisely gives the reader small glimpses of Susannah’s humanity, making her even more frighteningly real.

Negatives?? I screamed when I realized I’d read the last page. I wanted more, more, more, and I wanted it very badly. That’ s not a true negative though, is it? I have a feeling the story is about to take a decidedly even darker path, but I’m not worried about that. Sentence of Marriage has a darker storyline, but the warmth, humor, love and affection emanating from the characters make it both appealing and captivating. I’ll be buying a download of Book II in the Promises to Keep saga later this week and I heartily recommend this series to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and even those who don’t usually.

–Willow

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