Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Tragedy of Fidel Castro: Satire or Veiled Truth?

Satire is an interesting genre. For those of us who love it, we truly love it. For those who don't, they tend to hate it. Most satire requires the reader to know another story or work to get the full benefit of the book, movie, song, or painting. There was once, decades ago, a bank slogan that touted the personal banker relationship. The billboard asked in big letters, "What is the name of your banker?" Someone had written 'Shylock'. If one was not familiar with the play by  Shakespeare, one would never understand the satire in the graffiti. Some satire is funny, even without the benefit of knowing the whole story. "Young Frankenstein" by Mel Brooks, for example, had lots of humor even if you had not read the story by Shelley. I found the movie 'Galaxy Quest' so funny that I have seen it 7 or 8 times but I found it so funny because I was completely familiar with Star Trek and the interplay of the actors on and off the screen.  Today's story, "The Tragedy of Fidel Castro", served up to us by Joao Cerqueira, is a delicious satire which I believe will be more enticing the more you know about the story of Fidel, his obsessions, his passions, and his dealing with the United States of America, particularly John Kennedy.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Littlest Big Kid Grows Up: A Coming of Age Trilogy

The Littlest Big Kid
The Jitterbug Girl
Head Over Heels
by Donna Van Straten-Remmert
Littlest Big Kid (Kindle edition) at Amazon  (Feb. 1999)
Jitterbug Girl (Kindle edition) at Amazon   (Jan. 2011)
Head Over Heels (Kindle edition) at Amazon ( Jan. 2012)
Publisher: RemArt

Reviewer: Eva Kosinski

One of the things I look for in the books I read is, for lack of a better phrase, "reader immersion."  Does the author take the reader into the book, into the mind of the characters, into the situation and let them ride along with the characters as they live their lives in the book?  This is a somewhat rare thing, because in order for it to work well, the author needs to understand enough about human nature to stay within the familiar (not familiar surroundings or situations, but familiar humanity).  If the responses of the characters are wildly different

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?

I resolved, some time ago, to try to include the title of the book I am reviewing into the title of this blog. I decided this mainly because I find it too hard to search for an old review without it.  If I can't find an old review, how can you find one? I like to make the title an interesting twist, if possible; a grab your nose and pull you in title. Today's book, Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa, needed no treatment.  The title alone is a showstopper, an in your face question mark, a what was that all about attraction. Great Capes? Are we talking about places on the earth and some environmental disaster? And what is this Heropa? It sounds like one of the moons of Jupiter. Is this some science fiction about the environmental damage to some other planet? (Awww... the way my mind jumps!) So I found the title a bit tantalizing.  What is this book by Andrez Bergen?

Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa
By Andrez Bergen
Published by Perfect Edge
ISBN - 10: 1782792352X
ISBN - 13: 978-1782792352
Length: 473 pages

About the Book:
     Jack, fifteen, lives in a ruined Melbourne, alone after his parents are disappeared by the state for sedition. On one of his forages out into the bowels of the city, someone hands him a flyer giving him an address. He follows the trail from one place to another where at each spot he must answer a question to get the next address. Finally he lands at the last stop only to be turned away until he accidentally says the password.
     Jack's next stop finds him on the streets of a clean city with a mismash of architectural styled  buildings unlike anything he had seen before. Here, he discovers he is Southern Cross, a superhero, also known as a Cape, and he is part of a group of Superheroes know as The Equalizers.  The city is populated by people the Capes call Blandos (because they are so bland) and other Capes who belong to The League of Unmitigated Rotters.
     There are rules to this new place - no cussing (though some words are okay), no drinking, no smoking, and no killing (other than Blandos), except someone is killing. And that is the mystery of the place.  Who is killing the Capes, why are they killing the Capes, and how are they killing the Capes?
      Jack, together with Equalizers Brick and Pretty Amazonia, sets out to find out what is really happening in this fair city. Along the way he picks up a petty reporter, a sharp detective, and a girlfriend. It is the girlfriend that has Jack sidetracked from his task of finding the killer or killers.

My Take:
  This book is a huge tribute to comic books, with blatant, not so blatant, and obscure references to the comic book heroes of the last century. I read these stories back in the day, my favorite being Spiderman and Daredevil, though I was familiar with others.  Most of the references in this work went over my head but it never, ever distracted from the story or the humor and there is plenty of both. Quite the opposite, in fact. And I enjoyed all the references I picked up on and learned a lot from others.
     I was taken back when the jump from Melbourne to Heropa took place but soon sussed this is a story much like Tron or The Thirteenth Floor though with much more humor. As with all such stories, you die in Heropa, you die. The concept that everything is extremely real -  food tastes, odors smell, pain hurts, and love is a deep emotion - keeps the reader vested in what is happening within Heropa. When our hero Jack faces death, it keeps us on the edge of our seat, just as his falling in love melts our hearts because we know for Jack it is all too real.
   The mystery plot was well done and the why of it properly hidden. Like all life, the pathway through the plot is never direct since, like many, Jack gets taken in by a beautiful woman. The love interest keeps the mystery from overpowering the humor and lightness of this tale.
    Bergen does his characters a powerful service by making them so real and simple to connect with throughout the story. It is too easy, when writing a light touch story to give a light brush to the characters. Not only did I connect with the main characters, I fell for the minor characters, too, being completely vested in their lives.
  This is a quality tale with exceptional writing, dialect and all, and something I do hope you pick up.  I have only one question for the writer. Who is Melbourne paying and why???

My Recommendation:
   I loved, loved this book. I believe anyone who loves comic books and their heroes will love this book. Those who are not familiar will still find this edgy tale a keeper. There is a bit of sex, more than a bit of cussing (though clean by many standards) and some violence similar to comic books.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saving Faith Is it Possible?

Available at Amazon
Have you ever read a book and wondered if you were reading two stories? There is the story the book is about and then there is the story in the background. The book might be about a boy and girl becoming friends but in the background one of them is learning to deal with the death of their mother. Or the story might be about a boy's summer with his old uncles but the background story is about dealing with loss. Sometime the background story is the real story but it can just as easily be a story that grownups see while the younger reader only sees the main or obvious story.  There are writers that take on more levels than just two. I can not imagine how hard it would be to write several different stories at once, keeping all the threads there and interwoven into a coherent tale.  Life is like that, though, with stories upon stories all happening at once.

Today's choice, Saving Faith, by Patrick M Garry, not only tells several tales, even the name of the book doubles as the title of both the under story and the main story.  Did Garry mean to do this? I believe so. His choice of Faith as a woman's name which can also be faith, as in belief, seems too perfect.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Breeders - A Dystopian Future

The Breeders
Matthew J. Beier
November 17, 2013

What ifs are often the business of science fiction. What if there were faster than light travel? What if mutant bugs took over the world? What if we really could control our genetics? Science fiction helps us to look out at the world with a more objective view, so we can see our flaws as others would see them, and hopefully get a clue. When the landscape is not some far out planet, or far future vastly different from our own, however, the lessons are harder to see.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Twilight Swimmer Friend, Foe, or Alien?

      I have been, for the last several weeks, moving my office things from room to room, as I get the new furniture I bought last month. Hopefully, by the middle of next week, I will have an office set up again. In the meantime, books seem to get swallowed by other books - picture the old animation of the little fish being swallowed by a fish that is being swallowed by a bigger fish being swallowed by a yet bigger fish (does anyone but me even remember that?) and you will have an idea of what seems to be happening in my house. I do need to send some of my books away since I don't have time for the new, let alone the old. And as a friend said to me recently, "Books are meant to be READ." I did part with over 600 books last May. I swear I only kept the 1,000 or so books I thought I would use (dictionary, Spanish language) or read again (Ender's Game, Heinlein's work) or read for the first time(Some Clancy, King). The thing is, with this blog and all the wonderful new writers out there, I haven't had time for all the new. How can I ever hope to get to back to the old? Still, I see light at the end of the office moving tunnel, and hope for all the authors who are standing in line for my promised reviews.
    The fish analogy is appropriate since the first book in this queue is The Twilight Swimmer by A. C. Kavich. This is not a romance, not a paranormal tale, not a mystery, yet it has all three of those elements. An easy, uncomplicated read, with less depth than the first pages might lead the reader to believe but far more complicated than a tale of high school love.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Life Under the Jaguar Sun

How this little book, Jaguar Sun by Martha Bourke, slipped under the bottom of my reading pile (especially since I use a Kindle) I will never know.  But I found it there, calling my name, weakly since I had ignored it for so long! I couldn't let it lie there a moment longer. Now I have read both this book and a book by Dark Moon by Maggie Tideswell and it is time to do some sharing!  We will start with Jaguar Sun and in the next few days I will add Dark Moon.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Perfect Man (a Halloween tale)

Jill strolled down the street breathing in the fragrant autumn air. Her long, blond hair danced in the light breeze and she pulled it aside to stare up. The sky is never as blue as it is in October. She had heard it had something to do with  the distance of the earth from the sun during this time of the year. She didn’t care why; she simply soaked up the sight of brilliant red and golden leaves backed by the clear, dark blue sky.

Vampires, ghosts, super heroes, and fairy princesses swept down the street, announcing the end of afternoon classes. Children eager to start the Halloween tradition of begging for treats, raced home to an early dinner. Jill smiled at the billowing capes and fancy dresses that were such a contrast to her trim, dark red and black pantsuit. She wouldn’t be dressing up in costume tonight. She hadn’t had a date in over a year. Still, nothing could dim the joy she felt this perfect day.

A noise in a nearby alleyway caught her attention. “Stop, please stop! Let it go,” a small voice pleaded. Jill hurried the five steps to the corner and looked in as she heard an evil laugh. “Please, please,” begged the small boy dressed as a little leprechaun.  Two older boys laughed at him, the shorter of them pulling on the cute leprechaun’s pot of gold. Jill cleared her throat loudly while grabbing the shorter bully by the back of his neck. The larger boy looked up at her. His eyes widened and he fled the alley leaving his friend in Jill’s grip.  “I think you should drop the child’s pot right now.”  She squeezed her red tipped fingernails into his neck a tad harder and he dropped the pot while struggling to see his assailant.  Pushing him away by the scruff of his neck, she stepped toward the young boy.  “Are you all right?”  The bully stumbled then turned to accost the woman who had pushed him. She glared at him. His eyes doubled in size and he fled.

Jill picked up the filled pot topped with gold foil covered chocolates. “My this is heavy. Do you need help carrying it home?”

“No! My father wants me to learn to carry it myself.  I’m a big boy. I am a leprechaun.”

“Yes, you look just like one!”

“I am one! I can grant you a wish for what you did! I can! Tell me what you want”

Jill smiled wryly. “Maybe I should let you do that. Do you think you could find me a man?”

“Sure! I’m a leprechaun.  I can get you anything! What kind of guy do you like?”

Jill shrugged. “Hmmm. Tall, dark, and handsome with a voice deep and thick like honey.  Eyes as blue as mine are green. Not too fat not too lean. Not too sweet, not too mean. Oh, and no ties so he can give me his all.” She laughed lightly.

“I can do it, I can!”

An hour later, Jill dropped onions into her shopping cart at the local market.

“I’m sorry. I was wondering if you could tell me where they keep the spices? I’m new here and can’t seem to find a thing.” The deep, honey-thick voice behind Jill startled her. She turned to face a pair of captivating blue eyes looking down at her.

“Yes, I can take you there.”

A beautiful smile lightened the already handsome face. “And, do they have Cornish hen here? “

“They do, but I picked up the last two.” Jill watched the man’s face fall a bit.  “However, I can share. My name is Jill.”

Pleasant laughter erupted in the man. “I’m Jack. Nice to meet you, Jill. Tell you what. I will cook these for us tonight if you would like. My cooking skills are pretty sharp.”

Resisting this temptation was not easy and Jill’s temptation resisting skills were not well honed. “At your place? Do you have someone you were going to cook for?”

“Sadly, no. I moved here last week. Haven’t met anyone here. “

Jill turned her cart in the direction of the spice aisle. “No job, either? Surely you have friends from work?’

“Nope! Besides, I don’t work. I don’t need to. I am the last heir to a family trust, which will keep me for a lifetime.  I do write, though.”

Temptation was blossoming into a full-blown bouquet.  “Sure, I’ll let you cook the hens for us, at my house.”

Later, after the costumed children ceased knocking on the door, after the last of the butchered meat was stowed in the freezer, and the last of the lights turned down; Jill relaxed in her favorite chair.  Maybe the child was a leprechaun. Tall, handsome, blue eyes, and a gorgeous smile was exactly what she ordered. She smiled. “And he had been not too fat and not too lean,” Jill thought as she picked the last of Jack from between her teeth.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ransom is available!

Don't forget to enter the Raffle for the last book in the Healing Crystal Trilogy by Michele Poague. Check out RANSOM!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Small Footsteps in the Land of the Dragon

Small Footsteps in the Land of the Dragon: 
Growing Up in China
by Barbara Brooks Wallace
Publisher:  Pangea Publications

  • ISBN-10: 0989406547
  • ISBN-13: 978-0989406543

How many Americans can say that they were born in China? Today China is viewed as a powerhouse, world player, financier and new entry in to the world corporate scene, but in this short autobiography, "Small Footsteps in the Land of the Dragon," it is the China of the "little people" -- the children -- that we see. Looking at the "normal" world around her, the author describes, in her childhood voice, the impressions of her childhood, especially the day to day activities that she had no idea were different from what other children experienced. Beggars in the streets, bandits, getting lost in hostile countryside fields, gunfire in the city, were all part of "normal" everyday events.

While large social and political upheavals were growing and becoming more and more violent, everyday life went on. In Barbara's childhood, the older Chinese sensibility ruled.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ransom Raffle!

Doesn't it get hard to wait for the next book in a series or trilogy?  I mean, you read the first one or two, get hooked, then, well then nothing.  The author hasn't written or at least hasn't published the next book - think of the 'A Song of Fire and Ice' (Game of Thrones) by Martin, or the 'Saving Mars' series by Swanson. I've been there often, so often that I prefer not to start a trilogy or series unless all the books are written. Of course, I get caught out now and again, witness 'Saving Mars'. So if you're like me and  like your trilogy all done before you start, Michele Poague has you covered. Her last book in the Healing Crystal series 'Ransom' is out! This is a smashing series, complete with intrigue, mystery, romance, full-bodied characters, and in-depth study of human interactions.

Young Kairma is keeper of the Healing Crystal and heir to the leadership of her colony. However, she doesn't feel capable and her sister, Kinter, doesn't think Kairma is either.  Little did Kairma know, as she wished away her responsibilities, the old religious myths were true; around her neck hung the fate of the world.

Just that little bit got me hooked, making me want to read the trilogy immediately. I mean, what myths? What fate? What is the Crystal? Why is it around her neck? But there is more, much more. More questions and more answers than I ever expected.

Don't forget to check out the raffle! You could win!

In Book One, Heir toPower, we meet Kairma, heir to the Healing Crystal and destined to become the leader of Survin, a reclusive colony hidden in the mountains for more than four hundred years. Kairma and her closest friends discover a tomb containing artifacts from the Ancient Ones, leading them all on a quest to find the true purpose of the Crystal.

In Book Two, Fall of Eden, we find ourselves asking, "What is the Healing Crystal and who is the rightful heir? Is it a religious object or a powerful weapon? Does it belong to a fallen line of kings or to the colonists of Survin? Should its fate be left in the hands of the young and inexperienced Kairma or to Narvin, the last descendent of a line of kings?"
Kairma holds the Crystal and believes she will become the next leader of Survin, while her younger sister Kinter, believes she, not Kairma, is the rightful heir. Narvin believes the Healing Crystal is the Star of Genesis, a powerful relic his ancestors have been seeking for centuries.

Determined to possess the object that will return him to his glory, Narvin is unwavering in his quest to possess it, and Kairma is caught in a fierce race across barren deserts and rugged mountains to a shattering finish where the winner must decide the fate of the world.

In the exciting conclusion of The Healing CrystalTrilogy, Karima, bearing the weight of the most powerful object known to mankind, must choose between returning to Survin and blissful ignorance or trusting powerful strangers to create a new future. Will she make the right decision?


If you haven't read the first two books, I'm warning you there may be some spoilers in my review. If you want to find out about the trilogy without the spoilers,  I have included a couple of links to Heir to Power and Fall of Eden here:

The Write Path: Book Review- Heir to Power by Michele Poague
Heir to Power by Michele Poague - Desert Bookshelf News
Blog Tour Review of, Fall of Eden, by Michele Poague » LDS Women's Book Review

My Take

Ransom is a very satisfying conclusion to this epic science fiction story. The love quadrangle, a tight, tense subplot of this tale, becomes settled yet Kairma still has the problem of her blood.  Will it keep her from ever mating? This new nuance keeps this romance alive in 'Ransom' but there are new romances in Ransom as we meet a whole new group of people.

As Ransom opens, we are introduced to a whole new society full of interesting people, ideologies, and goals. Never fear; Poague wraps the new story around pieces from the continuing story of Kairma, Kinter, Collin, and Naturi, in such a way that readers don't lose their way. Much like Ender's Shadow, in 'Ransom'  Poague retells the end of 'Fall of Eden' from different eyes with additional facts. Here the true science fiction aspect of the trilogy bursts open without destroying the slight fantasy, mythical feel of the original story. Once the new story and the continuing story meet the end of book two, the two intertwine to finish the legend of the Healing Crystal. An amazing story from the fertile imagination of this gifted story teller.

Poague has an excellent handle on not only dialog, characters, and philosophies but also on plot and story telling. Each character is complete with motivations that shine through brilliantly. Being a character reader, I was captivated by this trilogy. 

There are many subplots to this trilogy and though not as involved as Lord of the Rings, Poague manages to introduce three different societies with different philosophies and balance the subplots in a way that makes it all feel absolutely real. 

Descriptions are woven into the tale so seamlessly but clearly that the reader never breaks stride with the story and yet can 'see' everything. It takes a special talent to tell a reader things without telling. It is something I demand of the books I read and something Poague  glowingly delivers.

My Recommendation

I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves a good tale, a light romance, a light science fiction, or a good character driven novel.

Don't Forget to Enter the Raffle! And remember to visit others in the RANSOM BLOG TOUR!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to visit other blogs in the blog tour for more chances to win!

October 21       A Book A Day Reviews         http://abookadayreviews.blogspot.com/
October 25       Tickets to the Rabbit Hole     http://ticketstotherabbithole.com/
October 28        Chapter Break                        http://chapterbreak.net/
October 30        Beth’s Book Reviews            http://www.bethsbookreviews.com/
November 1      Cynthia Shepp                       http://cynthiashepp.wordpress.com/
November  4     Broicuan Bookworms           http://boricuanbookworms.wordpress.com/
November 5      LifeandArtandStuff                http://www.lifeandartandstuff.me/
November 7      Ryans’ Retake                       http://ryansretake.blogspot.com/
November 11    The Library Canary              http://thelibrarycanary.blogspot.com/
November 13    Book Fr3ak                            http://bookfr3ak.wordpress.com/
November 14    A Daily Dose of R&R           http://adailydoseofrandr.com/  

For more information and to connect with Michele Poague please visit any or all of the following sites and networks:

http://www. michelepoague.com




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goodreads: michelepoague

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Anger Women Suite Sweeps in Memories

      For some time now I've been searching out other blogs, particularly book review blogs.  Some are quite humorous with brilliant prose, some are humorous with poignant prose and themes, and others just short, sharp, get in and out.  One thing I noticed is the blogs I like best have only the writer's words. To that end, I have decided not to include book descriptions from Amazon, B&N, or other sources.  After all, the links are there if the reader cares to look.
     The other thing I noticed is how the words flow together - which brings us to how the words in books are put together,  particularly in descriptions or the use of similes.  Some authors tend toward images that sew seamlessly into the story.  Others jackhammer images into your brain with huge earphones, pounding head splitting, abrasive music blow by blow until you lose the line of the story trying to sort out the image (if you see what I mean) and it can ruin a good story.
     Lee Fullbright's "The Angry Woman Suite", has images that settle on the reader like a soft, silk scarf. The reader hardly notices them but they add tremendous style and beauty. Many of those images stay long after the book is finished. There exists a gentle flow in good writing. "The Angry Woman Suite" has it while many 'good stories', even ones I love, do not, making it exceptional. This eloquent tale has received multiple awards and rightly so.

The Angry Woman Suite
  • ISBN-13: 9781937698539
  • Publisher: Lee Fullbright, an imprint of Telemachus Press
  • Publication date: 3/13/2012
  • Pages: 382


About the Book:

     Francis Grayson spent his childhood in a rundown mansion near a small town in Pennsylvania, living with his mother, grandmother, two aunts and older brother. From the beginning of his life, he was a marked child, a reminder of sin and loss, making him the target of the women in his household.  He grows up with a bitterness tempered by his desire to fix whatever is wrong with these women. This bitterness and desire clings to him even as he marries and works to raise two girls.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Forgive My Fins

     The other day I was invited to see a movie. My companion thought it strange that I wanted to see "Prisoners", but not that day.  I was just not into that much intensity at that moment in time.  Do the rest of you feel that way too? Or is a movie, a TV show, or a book the same as any other movie, TV show, or book? My mood often dictates what I am going to watch or read on any given day. Does yours? And most of the time it is the heavy stuff, the stuff with lots of violence or sex or both that get put by the wayside.  I fear I am always ready for a good laugh and usually ready for a sweet little story.
     Tera Lynn Childs' book, Forgive My Fins, is just such a story.  Gentle and sweet but with all the angst of high school romance. Completely chaste, this is a great read for the younger people on your gift list.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lifeboats: Tales from the Evacuation

 What would it be like if you had to abandon your home in only a few hours? Many people lately have had to do just that because of flooding and forest fires. What would you do if you had to abandon your country in only a few days?  What would you take with you especially if, as in the case of people in Syria, you were limited to what you could carry? Now think about the earth. What would you do if you knew the earth had less than 100 years left to sustain life as we know it? Would you go to the stars? Would you make plans so your children or grandchildren could go to the stars? Would you not have children at all? The newest novel, Lifeboats: Tales of the Evacuation, by John K Berntson explores how the people of Earth might react to the news that earth will no longer be habitable. With only 40 to 50 years to go, will the governments move only a few people or will someone decide to move all the people?
What would you do?

Lifeboats: Tales from the Evacuation
By John K Berntson
File size 319 KB
Length 233 pages

From Smashwords:
    The Earth has fifty years to live. Maybe a hundred. Where will we go and what will we do? How will we build a future, if there even is one? From presidents to prisoners to the package delivery man, heroes can be found in the oddest places.

About the Book:    
     This tale opens with the newscast of the US president's speech. The Earth will be gone in less than 100 years; the composition of the sun has been misunderstood and it will become a red giant consuming Earth billions of years earlier than previous thought. The president has been informed that maybe 1 or 2 million people can be saved but he asks for more. He wishes to save the whole population of 7 billion people.