Showing posts with label Books Reviewed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books Reviewed. Show all posts

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Book Review: The Virgin of the Wind Rose: A Christopher Columbus Mystery-Thriller

If you like mystery thrillers and are looking for a good read, then I would recommend The Virgin of the Wind Rose: A Christopher Columbus Mystery Thriller by Glen Craney!

Not too long a book, but it definitely keeps you interested from the beginning right to the end.  If you liked Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, or Dan Brown's, DaVinci Code, you will find this story interesting too.  Thank goodness this story isn't as detailed in its gory moments, but they are there too.



While a work of fiction, you can see that a lot of  study went into the backgrounds and historical parts of the work.  Some facts may be exaggerated or skewed, for the sake of the story, but there is always something to learn that you didn't know before.  Recently there has been  much talk about Christopher Columbus and his character or lack thereof, and he (Columbus) plays into this story as well.  Will we ever know the whole truth?  I doubt it, but having some fictional additions certainly makes you stop and wonder a little more.

We have all heard about the different conspiracy theories and who is controlling whom.  The Virgin of the Wind Rose adds another whole dimension to those theories.  These theories span decades of history at a time when the world as we know it today, did not exist.  The world consisted of Portugal, Spain and most of the European areas and the Middle East. While parts of  Africa were known, much of it still needed to be discovered. Seafarers were still looking for the way around Africa to India.  Beyond all that,  was still a dream for most seafarers.  Many who boarded ships were certain that they would never be heard from again.  The two camps were still arguing about whether the earth was in fact flat and that they were  tempting fate to go further.  North America hadn't even really been given any thought.  Seafarers were thinking that the earth was much smaller and that India would be on the other side, not another whole continent.

I like the way that Mr. Craney was able to bring both the  1400's and present day together. The stars in the heavens, are the same stars that were there centuries ago.  They have not changed, but our world certainly has.   I was as interested in what was going on in history, as I was in keeping on top of the present times too. Portugal and Spain's changing powers in the world of exploration, explorers who had their own power struggles and who were vying for who would be the first and best seafarer all play into the historical figures.  While today, characters in Government departments who had vested interests in what was going on in the middle east, helped to keep the conspiracy theories alive and vibrant.

History, archeology, genealogy, geography,  and fiction are all dished up in large heaping portions, sprinkled with truth for extra seasoning.  At times you have to remind yourself that this is fiction. There are moments when you can see and apply what is happening in the story to our current times. The fight between Christians, Jews, Muslims and everyone else is still going strong, even more so today.  Who knows where it will all end?

History, prophecy, secrets societies, anagrams, cryptograms, symbols and the stars all come together to send you searching for the truth.  Will the truth ever be known or is it still buried, along with the dead from centuries ago?  What is our truth today?  Will we ever know that?  This book is wonderful in that when you are finished, you are still asking yourself all kinds of questions.....it isn't over, until it's over.

Thank you Glen Craney for this book, it is a great story and one I enjoyed thoroughly.






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Friday, January 22, 2016

Animalese ~ Book Review

http://reviewthispersonalreviews.blogspot.com/

If Only We Could Hear or Speak Animalese!

I recently read "Animalese" by Ram Ramakrishnan and I found it quite engaging!

Have you ever wondered why the little bird is singing or why the squirrel in chattering? How about when your dog is barking and you don't see anything, and you say "what is it, boy" only to have the pup turn to you with a quizzical look that conveys, "Why don't you understand?" 

Wouldn't it be wonderful to know with certainty what animals are saying when they speak to us in Animalese?

Ramakrishnan has taken this idea and has written an enchanting fantasy that will tweak your imagination and have you looking across the room at your kitty and wondering what is she really thinking about your new sweater.


Prescription for Book Perfection 

A good book is entertaining, 
A great fiction injects reality, 
Add a bit of fantasy,  
Perfection!

 

 

From the Cover of Animalese

Deep within a remote forest in Central India, a village finds itself in disorder. As the humans and animals experience its ill effects, debris from a passing comet falls into the village lake, infusing its waters with a mysterious power that enables those who drink from it to communicate with other life forms.

Deciding to exploit this ability to set matters right within the village, the animals, along with the assistance of a village girl named Vennela, focus their efforts on the principal architect of their woes: local abattoir owner Ganju Hindolba.

Can Vennela and the animals possibly win against the like of a shady business owner?



My Review and Recommendations 

I am always searching for books that can be recommended to any age.  It is imperative that we educate our children to read.  Many years ago, when our own children started reading, I got in the habit of reading a book before they read it.  That served two purposes.  First, I was able to make sure that the book did not have content that I, as their parent, would not approve.  Second, since I also read the book, we were able to discuss the story, the value, the characters and our overall opinions with each other.  

While this book, "Animalese", certainly appeals to older readers like myself, it is also an excellent choice for the younger generation.

I thought this was a great book!  Thoroughly entertaining and enchanting.  Anytime I can identify with or empathize with a character, I know I have found a book that will either challenge or substantiate my own beliefs.  While reading Animalese, I found myself laughing with the animals, crying with the animals, cheering for the animals and I mentally joined their mission for fair treatment, just as I would literally do in reality.



A Must Read!  My highest recommendation for any age!



Ram Ramakrishnan

About the Author, Ram Ramakrishnan aka Wordwinder on Hubpages

You may already be familiar with the writing of Ram Ramakrishnan.  He has authored several beautifully written and illustrated articles on Hubpages.

His style is poetic and reveals the heart of a real artist. 


  
Animalese Book Review by:
House of Sylvestermouse





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Treasury of the World's Greatest Fairy Tales Vintage Book Review

A Treasury of the World's Greatest Fairy Tales Vintage Book Review
Adapted by Helen Hyman, A Treasury of the World's Greatest Fairy Tales and A Second Treasury of the World's Greatest Fairy Tales are both beautiful hardcover books filled with some of the best fairy tales. Both the text and the pictures were created by three brothers and their publishing company in Italy under the name of Fratelli Fabbri Editori.

The stories are closer to the original story lines than they are the Disney versions. If you want to expose your children to fairy tales that are not defined by Disney, these books are worth considering.

Possibly more important to some individuals than the actual stories in this case are the detailed pictures. The images were so important to people who grew up with them that these books defined the way those fairy tales look in their minds. One reviewer says that for her they defined exactly what fairy tale princes, princesses, dwarves, ogres, and even some animals looked like.  Another says that the pictures in the book are more like paintings than they are pen-and-ink cartoons. 

Both of these treasuries are suitable for both girls and boys. They are not just princess stories but also include stories where the young male character is the hero.

Published in the 1970s and held dear by many adults who owned them when they were young, these treasuries are now out of print and in demand as people search for copies to share with their own families and with which to replace worn out volumes that they own. Unfortunately, the fact that they are vintage and out-of-print makes them slightly more expensive than the average new, modern fairy tale book.

A Second Treasury of the World's Greatest Fairy Tales Vintage Book ReviewThe following fairy tales are included in the first volume of the World's Greatest Fairy Tales treasury:
  • The Ugly Duckling
  • Puss-in-Boots
  • Hansel and Gretel
  • The Wild Swans
  • Seven in One Blow
  • Snow White and Rose Red
  • The Frog Prince
  • The Three Little Pigs
  • Rapunzel
  • Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves
  • The Three Dwarfs in the Wood
  • Prince Kamar and Princess Budur
  • Hans in Luck
  • The Three Musicians
The stories included in the second book, A Second Treasury of the World's Greatest Fairy Tales, are:
  • Cinderella
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • Aladdin and the Magic Lamp
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Little Red Riding hood
  • The Lion and the Carpenter
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • The Seven Ravens
  • The Little Goldfish
  • The Little Tin Soldier
  • The Emperor's Nightingale
  • Thumbelina
  • The Three Hairs of the Ogre
  • The Pied Piper

A Few Closing Thoughts from Readers


One fond reader says that the stories in these books are full of food for you and your child's imagination and that the words will stretch it farther. Another reader says that this was one of two things that he really loved when he was growing up. 

The Poisoned Martini says these books "have got to be the best illustrated collection of fairy tales." 

If you are searching for a copy of one or both of these books, you will find both of them on eBay by clicking right here.

Do you have a children's book that you remember fondly? Perhaps one that defined forever how a character looks in your mind?

Happy Reading!
Brenda


Quick Links:

New, used and vintage children's books in my eBay store.
The Pink Dress by Anne Alexander.
Controversial Anne of Green Gables book cover.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Reviewing Into The Wild Book One in a Cat Series

A Series For Cat Lovers

I just finished reading the book Into The Wild which is book number 1 in the Warriors: The Prophecies Begin series of books. These books are actually written for 8 to 12 year olds but I have to tell you they are just as enjoyable for us old adults to read, too; especially if you happen to love cats.

I plan to read through the rest of the series and then the additional series that were written after this one began in 2009. Erin Hunter intrigued me with her descriptions of cat behavior throughout this book. She made me giggle, saw "Ahhh" and become attached to several of the cats in the story.

The story begins with Rusty a pet cat in an undetermined neighborhood. Rusty is dreaming of catching a mouse in the woods and then is disappointed when he awakes to find that he is still in the home of his owners and is forced to eat the dry kibble and drink the bitter tasting water in his food and water bowl. He much prefers the taste of the water found outdoors in the puddles and has never caught a mouse in his young life.

Rusty goes through the cat door and visits with the neighbor cat, Smudge. They sit on the fence and look toward the woods and wonder what life would be like out there. Smudge has no desire to go to those woods because he has heard there are wild cats out there that would just as soon beat you up as to look at you. Rusty is yearning for adventure, though. He jumps from the fence and walks toward the woods and there is where the adventure begins.

He sees something moving in the darkness and begins to stalk it. He knows it is too big for a mouse and it has a red tail. As he goes further into the forest, he gets attacked by a very large and very strong cat. Rusty holds his own in the fight and finally the fight stops. He discovers that he is surrounded by a group of wild cats. One voices his distaste for the stench of "kittypet" he is throwing off while another makes fun of his small size. The cat who fought with him tells Rusty that he should be proud of his fighting skills, although they are still undeveloped he did have some interesting moves. In the course of the conversation, Rusty is invited to come join the ThunderClan of wild cats and has until the next day at noon to give his answer.

As you might have already guessed from the title, Rusty decides to leave his comfortable home with the Twolegs (what the wild cats call humans) and live with the forest cats and become a warrior.

This is a book that I would recommend for a child to read along with my adult friends who love to read. What I love about it is that there are such wonderful messages given to children about courage and social skills. Just as with humans, the cats have a system of authority which is sometimes not respected very well. There are bullies and there are heroes. There is even one part where the message is that we should respect the wisdom of our elders and that just because one is old does not mean that they can't offer valuable assistance to the group. The messages are disguised in the adventures of the cats but they are there just the same.

I love how Erin Hunter describes the body language of the cats in such perfect detail. She has obviously lived with more than one cat in her lifetime!

This was a sweet book, an exciting read and an enjoyable way to spend a few days of my time. I think that any child would love to have it read to them or to read it themselves. It is a book that I would have loved to read to my daughters at our nightly reading ritual when they were small. It is a book that I will most certainly give to my oldest grandchild and will enjoy reading to my youngest. 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Reviewing the Bill Hodges Trilogy by Stephen King

A Detective Tale

If you have read any of my earlier posts here on Review This, you know that I am both an avid reader and a fan of  the author Stephen King. He has published 2 out of 3 books in a series known as the Bill Hodges trilogy and that is what I want to review for you today. This series of three books is King's first hard-boiled detective story but I hope it is not his last because I am truly captivated with his ability to take us through a mysterious plot of an evil villain. 

The first book in the series or trilogy is Mr. Mercedes where we meet some of the characters that will be in all three books along with a pretty evil and twisted villain. Bill Hodges is our main protagonist. We first meet him after he has retired as a detective of a midwestern city's police force. He had worked on a case a few years ago where an unknown person drove a car into a crowd of people who were in line waiting for a job fair to open. The police began calling the perpetrator Mr. Mercedes because he was driving a Mercedes when he plowed into the crowd, killing 8 and injuring another 15 more people. Not solving the case, haunts Bill.

Jerome Robinson is another main character in the books. He starts out in the story as Bill Hodges' hired help for mowing the lawn. We see the two become friends as Jerome helps Hodges with some computer knowledge and later with the investigation. Jerome is in the first two books and I would assume will be in the unpublished third book.

The other part of the detective team is Holly Gibney. She is the niece to Olivia Trelawney (Mr. Mercedes stole her car to run the people down). I love Holly's character! She suffers from Asperger's Syndrome and seems lacking in social skills but not at all in deducing what is going on around her. Holly is also in the first two books and I would assume she will be in the third.

In this first book, we learn about the real Mr. Mercedes. In fact, we as readers know his identity before Bill, Jerome and Holly do. We learn all sorts of twisted things about this psycho. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, just suffice it to say Mr. King sure knows how to twist things around so that you can't seem to make yourself put the book down.

Finders Keepers

I just finished reading the second book of the trilogy a few days ago and I thought it was even better than the first one. We have a new villain and a new crime for Bill, Jerome and Holly to become involved with. Our psychotic perpetrator in this story is an obsessed fan of a famous author who doesn't like how he developed a character in one of his books. What this sick man does is almost inconceivable but believable in the way Mr. King tells the tale. What happens over the course of the next thirty years is yet another tale I couldn't put down until the end! Oh, and just so you know the story does keep the original crime of Mr. Mercedes very much in play throughout the second story. 

Right now the working title of the last book in the trilogy is End of Watch. It is scheduled to be released in June of 2016 and I can hardly wait to find out how Stephen King ends this story line. I am assuming that Bill, Jerome and Holly will be involved and maybe even Peter from the second book but I can't be sure. I can see where Mr. Mercedes story will probably continue, also. 

Pretty much at this stage, I am sitting here thinking, "Well done, Stephen King, well done!" Yet again he has taken me into an adventure that I can't stop thinking about. 

You can read both of the first books in hardcover, paperback or digitally by going to Amazon.com with link above or you can choose to shop at Barnes & Noble for the books. If you love a good detective story along with a thriller of a tale, you will really like this new set of books by Stephen King. 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Cookies Bite-Size Holiday Lessons Children's Book Review

SIMPLE CHRISTMAS LESSONS FOR YOUNG CHILDREN


Beautifully put together, Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons was written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jane Dyer. It is the perfect addition to your holiday library and will allow you to introduce your young children to vocabulary words like 'tradition' and 'celebrate' and provide a basic guide to good manners in certain social situations. Savor the wisdom along with the illustrations that will have you and your children dreaming of sugarplums!

This book includes twenty-two simple lessons that are appropriate for all ages...

TRADITION means each year at the same time we make the same cookies and wear our special matching aprons. GRACIOUS means putting out a plate for our special guest.

CELEBRATE means time to get out the sprinkles!

While appropriate for all, this book is really aimed at children in preschool up to Grade 2.

Each page or two-page spread is illustrated with children demonstrating the word and/or lesson and each page features added characters for an extra touch of whimsy. I love the mice that the book opens with, the bunnies at the kitchen table, the lion in the dining room and the elves lending a helping hand. I have no doubt that you and your children will also love this book, too.

Amazon reviewer Cherry Ames says:

"If you have ever grappled with explaining an abstract concept to children, like tradition, disappointed or the all-important sharing, then Amy Rosenthal and Jane Dyer's cookie books are for you. Through the simple analogies of baking and eating cookies, which is something children can easily relate to, Rosenthal explains those sometimes difficult-to-understand ideas/values like gratitude, appreciative, gracious, and many more."

"Jane Dyer's soft, expressive child/animal illustrations complement and illustrate the concepts. The 'Christmas Cookies' book includes holiday-related words like joy, believe, celebrate and peace. Both of these titles are excellent choices for a child 3-6 years of age."

WHO IS AMY KROUSE ROSENTHAL?


Amy Krouse Rosenthal is perhaps most well known for her memoir called Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life which was very well received everywhere because of its unusual format and its wit with regard to the ordinary stuff of daily life. It was one of Amazon's top 10 memoirs in 2005. She has also published 11 children's books with plans for many more.

What Christmas lessons will you share with your children this year? Or what were the important lessons you taught your children when they were young? Do you think this book would be helpful?

See you
in the book aisle!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Order your copy of Christmas Cookies from Amazon.
See all of Amy Krouse Rosenthal's books here.

More Christmas Reading:

Rose Levy's Christmas Cookies Cookbook.
The Farm Chicks Book Reviews (in the Kitchen and Christmas).
A Very Brady Christmas Movie Review.






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Sunday, December 20, 2015

How to Make Changes in Life - A Famous Quote that Gives Us the Answer

Available on Amazon
A Famous and Wise Quote about How to Create Change in Life
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality; to change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” by R. Buckminster Fuller
Despite the fact that Richard Buckminster Fuller isn't from our time, his wise words still resonate deeply. Also known as 'Bucky' he was born in 1895 and passed away in 1983 at the age of 87. His extensive resume includes American Architect, Systems Theorist, Author, Designer and Inventor.

In Today's World of Challenges, Buckminster's Quote Applies More Than Ever Doesn't It?

In situations that seem hopeless or all consuming, there’s really only one way out:
'to create a new situation that makes the existing situation obsolete'
This logical approach applies to every area of life:
  • Relationships - We aren't getting along? Stop fighting the situation and person, and build a new road
  • Work - We have problems, have gotten laid off, or the Boss is on our case; instead of going into fight mode, we build a new road
  • World Conflicts - Solve the problems by developing new ideas that make the existing problems obsolete
Best of all, while we're creating that new model, we're also creating a new focus and purpose.

Instead of thinking of a way to change the current situation, Fuller's suggestion is to take the focus off the problem. If it's possible to forget it, forget it, and begin anew by building that new plan, that new approach.

Imagine what we could accomplish if we put down those spinning wheels and simply decide to build a new path.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Childrens Classics ~ Book Reviews

Grandson Jacob reading a storybook

The dictionary defines 'classic' as something of enduring significance.  In literature, a classic work is generally considered to be of the highest excellence ~ a work recognized as definitive in its field.

In the field of children's books, there are dozens of stories whose origins go back many years and are still considered favorites today.  


  • If you were to go back to ancient times, probably the most well-known is 'Aesop's Fables'.  
  • In the early 1700s, the most famous stories today remain 'Gulliver's Travels, Robinson Crusoe, and the Tales of Mother Goose.   
  • Nineteenth century writers brought us more than four dozen stories considered 'classics' to this day, such as The Swiss Family Robinson, Treasure Island, Black Beauty, Heidi and Little Women.

Here's a few modern children's classics from 20th century authors that are most special to me... and some fascinating facts about the authors.



Winnie-the-Pooh... and Friends!


A.A. Milne's beloved Winnie-the-Pooh character has been delighting children since 1926. The author's son, Christopher, was the inspiration for Pooh Bear's buddy, Christopher Robin.  I loved these stories so much that I even named my first-born son Christopher.

The author began his Pooh Bear stories initially just to entertain his son ... and they became 'words of wisdom' and expressions of love & affection for generations of children. 



Anniversary Edition on Amazon

Winnie the Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood delighted our generation and that of our parents. Now our children can snuggle under the covers and listen to the timeless adventures of Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore and Christopher Robin!


For nearly 90 years, Winnie the Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood have delighted each generation of children... and, of course, the grown ups who get to read the stories to little ones...


Winnie the Pooh quotes have become famous.... the one below says it all ~



“Friendship," said Christopher Robin, "is a very comforting thing to have."
                                                   ~A.A. Milne


Dr. Seuss' Favorite Cat! 

 

It's the "Cat in the Hat" of course!




The Cat in the Hat changed the way our children learn how to read with fun rhyming words. 


How the 'Cat-in-the-Hat' Came About


Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) wrote 'The Cat in the Hat' in 1957 at the request of the educational division of Houghton Mifflin publishers who were looking for a more entertaining primer for early childhood literacy because the current ones (such as the Dick and Jane series) were ineffective.


Geisel tells the story of being frustrated with the word list from which he could choose words to write his story, so he decided to scan the list and create a story based on the first two words he found that rhymed. The words he found were cat and hat.

 

Bambi


Of all the classic stories made famous by Disney, Bambi is the best. I watched the Bambi movie as a child, then took my children to see it. Now my children take my grandchildren. Both the storybook and the movie are truly classics.

Bambi Book on Amazon


Since 1942, Bambi and his friends Thumper the Rabbit and Flower the Skunk have been animation favorites, one of the 10 best animation classics of all time.

The story was originally adapted for film from the book "Bambi, a Life in the Woods" written by Felix Salten in 1923. 





The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams – 1922

 

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you.'

     ― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit   

 

Amazon Editions Available in Hardback, Paperback and Kindle
This is the story of a stuffed rabbit and his desire to become real through the love of his owner.  I think it's one of the sweetest fairy tales ever written.

This is a special 75th Anniversary edition of the original story and artwork of a classic tale first told in 1922.

According to an online poll taken in 2007, this book is one of the National Education Association's  "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children. 





Curious George by H.A. Rey and Margret Rey

 

=================================================


"This is George. He lived in Africa. 
 He was a good little monkey, and always very curious."


=================================================

With these words, the tales of a curious monkey named George began.....
 
Available on Amazon

Curious George was brought from his home in Africa by "The Man with The Yellow Hat" to live with him in a big city. The first book in the series (Cecily G and the Nine Monkeys) was published in France in 1939.


The story was written by Margret Rey and illustrated by H.A. Rey.  As wartime approached France, the couple fled Paris in June 1940, on self-made bicycles, carrying the Curious George manuscript with them.

The Curious George series of books have been adapted into several television series and films and each book has been in continuous print since first published.



Classic Children's' Tales




Grandsons Tyler & David - reading!
These classic stories of a honey bear, a special rabbit, a curious monkey, a sweet deer fawn and a funny cat are instantly recognized by children today and have become 'classics' in the world of children's literature. 

Whether reading a classic tale or any favorite story, children everywhere love books.  My two youngest grandchildren, David (6) and Tyler (18 months) enjoy reading every day. 


For more reviews of children's books, check out 




(c) Published 11/28/15. By Wednesday Elf




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Review of The Replacement Wife by Eileen Goudge



The Replacement Wife, by Eileen Goudge, attempts to answer the question, “How would it work out practically if a wife with a terminal illness tried to select the one her husband should remarry after her death?

Camille is a professional and very successful matchmaker. She has been to the weddings of many happy clients. So when she learned her cancer, which had been in remission, had returned and even spread, she began to lose hope that she would live to see her two children grow up. Her doctor gave her a 3% chance to live, and that was only if she submitted to another stem cell replacement transplant. She was not sure she wanted to go through that kind of fight again with so little chance of winning.

She is so upset by the prognosis, that she stops off at a bar on the way home. Her physician husband Edward has left a message saying he has to work late again, and she knows the children are home alone, with her fourteen-year-old daughter in charge of her nine-year-old brother, Zach.

Her memories flash back to her own childhood. Her mother had died when Camille was only fourteen, the same age as her daughter Kyra. Camille's father was a traveling man, gone three weeks of every month. Only their live-in housekeeper Rosa, who could barely speak English, was there for her and her eleven-year-old sister Holly. Her grandmother Agnes lived on the other side of the country. Agnes called often, suspicious that her son never seemed to be there. Camille had manufactured an imaginary friend of her mother's so she could give Agnes a name when she demanded to know who besides Rosa was looking after them. She was afraid of having herself and Holly reported as being left on their own and placed in foster care. She found herself taking charge of the household the way her mother had, making sure her father remembered birthdays, meetings with teachers, etc. She never wanted Kyra to have to go through what she did.

Camille's husband Edward had been a rock to her during her illness. But that illness had also disrupted their relationship to the point where he no longer looked forward to going home. Camille's illness had been in remission so long he now felt things were finally able to go back to normal. While Camille had been getting her bad news, he'd been visiting a travel agent, getting information on places they might vacation to celebrate their approaching 20th anniversary. He felt that could be a new beginning for them.

When Edward and Camille were finally alone after the children went to bed that night, Edward was devastated by Camille's news and he urged Camille to fight for her life. Camille was reluctant since there were no new experimental drugs she qualified to try. She had another plan. She decided she would use her professional skills as a matchmaker to find her replacement as Edward's wife and as a mother for her children.

Edward was not receptive to this idea. He insisted he only wanted Camille. He was not eager to remarry. She insisted the children needed a stable life and someone there for them when they came home. She envisioned them coming home to an empty house as their dad continued to work late almost every night. She didn't want Kyra to have a childhood like hers. She insisted Edward come to the next “meet and greet” she threw for her single clients so that he might find someone. It all seemed very logical to her.

What she hadn't counted on was the human element. People like making their own decisions. She also hadn't counted on getting into a new drug trial that put her cancer back in remission. You will have to read the book to find out what happened to all concerned.

The plot intrigued me. What married woman with children would not wonder what would become of her family if she died? But I also wondered how trying to play God with relationships in this situation would work? It's one thing to know and even hope your husband would remarry. It's quite another to try to find another woman to marry him shortly after you are gone, and have her spending time getting to know your husband and children while you are still alive and watching everything -- even to have her along on family vacations.


I would recommend this book to anyone who is intrigued with human drama, how relationships, marriages and families work, and what cancer patients experience not just physically, but emotionally. I believe the author took a question – How would it work if a wife picked her own replacement? – and turned it into a well-thought-through novel. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, though I might have wished for a different ending.  



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Reviewing Knitting Handbooks

Learning To Knit: Will I master the needles?

I have been looking at Knitting Handbooks lately, because I have decided that 2016 will be the "year of the needles" for me. I want to learn to knit or at least become better with what little (very little) skills I have in this hobby. I can do the basic knit stitch and the basic purl stitch but I'm very slow and awkward with the needles and yarn. So, I plan to ask my family for a couple of books that can help me in this journey.

I know from my many years of crocheting that you need to practice, practice, practice in order become proficient in the craft. I am in no way a master in crochet but can hook my way around just about any pattern. In order to get started, I am working on a scarf using the knitting needles and some blue yarn. If it turns out looking good, it will be a Christmas present for my husband; if it turns out looking like a 5 year old did it I can always use it as a dusting cloth. I figure that I won't learn unless I just dive in and work on something. A scarf seems like a good project to start with and I liked this pretty simple waffle stitch since it will give me practice with both the knitting stitch and the purl stitch, counting and working with the needles and yarn. It won't be much different than crocheting a scarf in that you follow the pattern and remember when to do the knit stitch and when to do the purl stitch. I am finding it is a little harder to determine which row you are on unlike crochet where it seems more obvious but that may be a matter of training my eyes to look for certain stitches so that I will know. 

What books should I start with?

I am thinking that the best place to start is with a book or two that covers the basics along with moving on to more advanced knitting techniques. Sure, I could just ask for a book with patterns but until I understand the basics, I know I will just get frustrated. In my search for the right book, this one caught my eye. I liked the title but then I think the book would be very helpful, too.


Not only does the author cover the basics but she goes further in explaining more advanced knitting techniques and she does it with humor which I think I would enjoy. She also tells the reader how to fix mistakes (I'm sure I will make many) and that will be really helpful for my beginner skill level. I think I may be able to join the "chicks with sticks" (knitting needles) in the quest to make some fun and funky along with some traditional knitted items following Debbie Stoller's instructions.

I know when I was first learning to crochet, the terminology sometimes confused the daylights out of me. I might see something like FPDC and think what the devil does that mean? Well, now I know it means to do a front post double crochet stitch and I also know how to do that with my yarn and hook. I am guessing that knitting will be no different. There are going to be directions in a pattern that will at first glance make no sense to me at all. So, this book looks like a wise choice for a beginning knitter like myself.


What I like about this knitting handbook is that it promises to teach in plain English and not in terms that I am going to have to go to a glossary to figure out. I like that idea! Learning the way to use my needles and yarn to make something neat without having a thesaurus next to me to determine just what she is telling me to do. The basics in basic terminology, that sounds pretty darned helpful.

It remains to be seen if I will learn to knit with the same confidence that I have for crocheting. I am determined, though. In the past the using of two needles instead of one hook just seemed to be beyond my capabilities but that was a mental block, I think. So, maybe I have passed the first hurdle...I CAN do this. It will take persistence and practice and I am willing to put in the hours to really learn to knit.

I have some time left before Christmas morning to find out if my family paid attention and got me at least one of these books. So, in the meantime I am working on my little scarf that may be under the tree for my hubby or it might be in the rag drawer, only time will tell. By the way, the color I chose will look good on my husband and it is the team color for the Indianapolis Colts which is his favorite football team. I figure he might actually wear it, at least on game day, if it doesn't look too amateurish. Here is what I have so far. It is working up very slowly but I don't mind being the turtle in the race, after all that rabbit never wins anyway! I will continue to work with the yarn and needles and keep a piece of paper next to me to mark down which one of the rows I am doing in the repeat of the pattern to make the waffle look and hopefully it will turn out to be something my husband will be proud to wear.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Day Before 911: A Review

September 11, 2011 (911) Changed the Lives of All Americans


The Day Before 911 reflects on how 911 changed a DOD teacher overseas and the students he served and their families. It begins in 2011, ten years after the terrorists took out the World Trade Center. At that time Elliot was teaching in Germany. He hadn't expected to be back in the classroom. He had cleaned it out at the end of the previous year when he retired to become a writer. But life happened, and he returned to teaching after all. Although he had been teaching high school students in the previous year, he is now facing sixth graders because that's the grade that needed a teacher.

Ground Zero, Public Domain  Courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/ground-zero-world-trade-center-63035/
Ground Zero, Image License CCO, Public Domain

As he enters the class, he sees he needs a way to build rapport with these new students. He decides to use the school’s coming commemoration of the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 as an excuse tell them a story about a hero named Tony who loved baseball and stood a very good chance of being drafted into the big leagues. Then terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York and brought down the Twin Towers, killing over 3,000 people,  Tony quit baseball and joined the Marines. He was blown up eleven times, but still kept going back to fight.
Elliot’s students found this hard to believe, but he explained that the qualities that made Tony good at baseball were the same qualities that made him a good Marine. He had learned teamwork in baseball and would have done anything for his teammates. Elliot told his students that Tony had “loved baseball and his teammates so much that he joined another team and put on a different uniform just so he could protect the way of life that he was giving up."
As Elliot was beginning his story, one of the girls raised her had to say that her birthday was (September 11.) It hit Elliot that she had never been able to celebrate her birthday on the actual day she was born. The terrorist attacks had happened on her very first birthday. After that, they always celebrated her birthday on September 10, the day before 9/11. It struck Elliot that since he’d taught high school before, this was the first history class he’d taught that had not remembered 9/11. 
Sources: All quotes used here are from The Day Before 9/11 by Tucker Elliot. I noticed after writing this that Amazon also featured some of these quotes readers, including me, had highlighted, on its Kindle edition page.

9/11 - The Filmmakers' Commemorative Edition


See What Happened on that Horrible Day in American History


This documentary film was shot as a result of videographers being at the right place at the right time. They were there to record the training of a firefighter at a firehouse a short distance from the World Trade Center when the first tower was struck.




Child Abuse in the Military

One of he undercurrents in The Day Before 9/11 was child abuse in the military. Elliot blamed himself for the death of two sisters, Angel and her little sister Grace. Angel had many absences from school he should have investigated in person. He also didn't read an email Grace sent not long before her death that might have motivated him to intervene.
He was at a family gathering after burying his grandmother. He was to fly out the next day to speak at a conference. His mother had ordered take-out pizza and he was supposed to pick it up. While waiting to go, he was scanning his email and saw the header of an email sent a few hours earlier by Angel. By this time his nephew was screaming loudly for him to go get the pizza. He deleted the email, not realizing its importance, and had gone to pick up the pizza.

Screen Shot of Email Interface on my Computer

The deaths haunt Elliot through the rest of the book and he fights his guilt and his loss of faith because he believed God hadn't answered his prayers for his students. He knew his students were dealing with the issues these videos discuss. He especially saw the effect on the children of not only absent parents, but the fear of the children whenever a parent left to go to a new post.

These are some of the same issues faced by children Tucker Elliot taught.


The video above explains the unique problems children of military families face. 

Two Special Girls - Sami and Angel

Although this book will show you a lot about living as an expat civilian on a military base during wartime, you will learn much more about what it means to be a teacher and a human being. As Tucker Elliot looks at how his life and the life of his students changed after 9/11, he is filled with shame and guilt. Four girls entered his life -- Sami in Korea and the others, Angel, Grace, and the Birthday Girl, in Germany. Two of them died, and he believes if he'd followed his better instincts instead of withdrawing he might have saved those two who died.
The first special student was Sami. She walked into his life the year he was teaching in Korea. She loved soccer, and he was the athletic director. He used soccer to reach her and help her be strong in the face of change. When the school had to close for ten days after 9/11 for security reasons, Sami had missed Tucker. When she returned after the school reopened, her parents came with her. Sami hugged Tucker tightly and buried her face in his chest as she said she'd missed him. She introduced her parents. He was impressed with both. Her father was high on the chain of command, and Tucker could tell he was as good a father as he could be while gone so much. Tucker thinks:
I knew right then, my worst fear was going to come true.
Not letting the terrorists win means sometimes the good guys are going to die.
I thought, God no. Not this family.
When the classroom was empty, Tucker would go from desk to desk and pray for each student.
Marine looking at wall of Vietnam Memorial  Source: Wikipedia, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/
Marine looking at wall of Vietnam Memorial 
He himself came from a military family. His dad and uncle had fought in Vietnam. His uncle never came home. His grandmother said she had 'received a flag for a son.' Tucker had visited the Vietnam Memorial in the company of his dad, but he couldn't get his dad to talk about his war experiences. Then at the memorial, his dad's actions changed. As he walked along the wall he ran his fingers over several names and prayed. When he came to his brother's name, he fell to his knees, rolled himself into a fetal position and cried.
Tucker had been named after his uncle and felt the burden of needing to be heroic himself and live out the kind of life his uncle never had the chance to live. He saw it as a heavy burden and says he resented carrying that burden because he could never be as good as his uncle.
There is too much pain and wisdom in the book to share it all here. But I will try to share some of it.
He says:
Teaching isn’t rocket science. It’s about being engaged, listening, paying attention. Despite conventional wisdom, you don’t need to talk a lot to teach well. You do need to care, though. Not so much about what people think of you or whether or not they like you, but about the kids and doing what’s best for them.
Sami's family was transferred to another part of the world. She emailed Tucker, but he never opened her emails. When he got to Germany the next year, he met Angel.
It turns out Sami had been Angel's best friend, and was delighted to have Tucker as her teacher. By the time Tucker met Angel, her mother, whom he'd not yet met, was already suffering from depression. Tucker had visited Ground Zero by then, and he reflects, "So many lives had been lost on that day, but ... I'd come to understand that military children continued to be victimized by these attacks." They were constantly losing their parents to deployment, not knowing if they would ever see them again. He couldn't deal with seeing that pain. He had transferred to Germany so he could teach in a larger school and be more anonymous.
It didn't work, though. Angel found him and told him Sami was upset because he didn't answer her emails. Angel had brought a brand new mousepad. She put it down beside where Tucker's computer would go and wrote her name on it in big letters. When he asked what she was doing, she said, 'You forgot Sami. I don't want you to forget me, too.'
Tucker still hesitated to be involved outside of class hours and usually went home at the end of the school day. Compared to the way he had interacted with his students in Korea, in Germany he was almost aloof as he tried to maintain emotional distance.

Autumn and Winter, and Sami Again

Five months later Sami entered his life again. Angel missed three days of school just after Sami came back. He thought of checking on her, but Sami was draining his energy.
Autumn Leaves, © B. Radisavljevic
Autumn Leaves, © B. Radisavljevic
Tucker tells us autumn and the first part of winter seemed to move along with no visible problems, but then all hell broke loose. Sami's dad got called back to Qatar and Angel's dad was sent to Kuwait. Neither family was ever the same again, nor was Tucker. By this time he strongly suspected something was wrong in Angel's family, but Sami wouldn't betray Angel's confidence to tell him what she knew. Angel herself said she wasn't supposed to talk about "family stuff."
Sami kept nagging Tucker to go visit Angel's home to see why Angel was missing so much school. Instead of going, Tucker told Sami to send her mother over to check on Angel's family. When Angel's family was leaving for their new location, Tucker gave Angel his email address and encouraged her to get in touch with him if she needed help. He told her talk and email were two different things.
I got the feeling that Tucker had not opened his emails from Sami because he could see how dependent she was on their relationship and it drained him emotionally. It's obvious, though that he cared about her. He also cared about Angel. Angel finally did send him an email after she left, but he didn't see it until several hours later, and then circumstances discouraged him from opening it. I never could understand why he ignored the girls' emails. I wanted to yell at him to read the emails. His deleting an email from Angel (under pressure from his nephew) may have sealed her doom. (See introduction to video module above.)
It's tough to review memoirs sometimes. Novelists create the ending they want. One can't always control how one's own life or the lives of others will turn out. I don't want to spoil this narrative by telling you all of it. I have hinted at what changed Tucker Elliot. He carried the footprints of Sami, Angel and Grace in his heart. I believe they will always be there. Perhaps he will also discover who he really is and I hope he finds his peace with the God he seems to have lost faith in.
At the end of the book he is on his way to the place where his uncle died, wondering what he will think and feel when he arrives. He wonders if he will find God and forgiveness at the end of his journey. He wonders if he will be strong enough to be good. He ends he book with these words:
...pain is the harbinger of hope. You have to be alive to feel pain. If you are alive, then you have purpose. If you have purpose, then you have hope....God I want to tell Sami that....I want to tell Sami I'm sorry.


The Day Before 9/11


Don't miss this teacher's heartbreaking account of his emotional journey after September 11, 2001. We may have seen the photo of the jets hitting the Twin Towers in New York, but much of the damage done that day is not visible to outside observers. It damaged the spirits of many like Tucker and the families of the children he taught. It destroyed the lives of many who were not even in the United States that day. It just took more time.



See more of my  reviews of books for adults at Bookworm Buffet, the blog I started for that purpose. At Books to Remember, I review some of the best children's books and educational resources for teachers created before Common Core Standards existed. The books  I review there will supplement any honest curriculum and may not be politically correct, even if the companies that published  them now are.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Hunger Games Trilogy ~ A Review of a Very Romantic Book Series

The Hunger Games Book Series from a Romantic Viewpoint 

The Hunger Games Book Series
I would be the first to admit, that I never expected "The Hunger Games Trilogy" would end up being on my list of most romantic books of all time.  I had heard mixed reviews about the books and I wanted to see for myself what all of the fuss was about.

It turns out, The Hunger Games Trilogy is not only action filled, a bit of a thriller and almost seems prophetic at times, it really is a fabulous love story right up to the very last words, in the very last book of the series.

I don't think I have ever cried as much over a book, or felt so close to the characters that I thought of them as personal friends.

The very best part about this book, is that I would feel comfortable recommending it to any age or gender.  I don't recall any profanity in the book and absolutely nothing crude or immoral, including the love scenes.  Yet, every scene was vivid and consuming.

The only thing that I would caution readers about, is obvious.  It is a book where people are killed.  Those descriptions are detailed, but I wouldn't categorize them as gory.  If you can say a book "tastefully" kills someone brutally, than that would be my description of those scenes.


Background for The Hunger Games Trilogy

Review Written by Cynthia Sylvestermouse



The Hunger Games Card Set
The main characters of "The Hunger Games Trilogy" are children, who are thrown into adult situations such as battle and survival.  As a parent, I wanted to protect these kids. I think that played a large part in the amount of tears I shed while reading these books.

While some of them are experienced hunters, they are not murderers and have to find a way to survive when they are cast into a vast arena for days, in some cases, weeks, without any supplies and most of them without any real training.

For the fans of the actual Hunger Games, they believe these games are set-up for sport, for the purpose of entertainment, reminiscent of the coliseum games in Ancient Rome.  In fact, they are much worse.

They are established for the purpose of reminding the districts, which are comparable to the states of the United States, of the ultimate power and control the government has over whether they eat, work, live or die.  That the government literally holds their lives, and their children's lives, in their hands and they can do anything they want to, any time, to you and all that you love.

How corrupt and evil to hold parents under governmental thumbs by killing, or threatening to kill their children while the whole world is watching for sport and entertainment.


The Romantic Side of The Hunger Games Trilogy


The Hunger Games: Official Illustrated Movie Companion
But, once you look past all of the political aspects, you see there is a beautiful love story intertwined throughout the pages.

Now remember, these are children, well teenagers actually, but from a parents perspective, they are children.  Had these children not been thrown into "The Hunger Games", I doubt they would have discovered or revealed their love for one another at such a young age, but they were placed in situations that forced them to grow up faster and that created an everlasting bound of dependence, trust, devotion and love.

My heart broke for Peeta, who knew he loved Katniss long before they were the chosen participates in the 74th annual Hunger Games.  Upon first declaration of love, the reader thinks perhaps Peeta is playing a game himself for the purpose of winning support and favoritism with the fans, especially when it looks like he has teamed with an alliance to kill Katniss.  But, we find out rather quickly that he is actually trying to infiltrate the enemy with the intent of saving her life.

The Hunger Games are designed to insure there will only be one participate that survives. There can only be one Hunger Games winner each year!

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." — The Bible ~ John 15:13

 

The Hunger Games Trilogy - Easy Reads

I Read All 3 Books in 2 Days


The books are fast and easy reads and the story-line is gripping enough that you simply cannot put the books down!

You will want to have all 3 books on hand when you start the first book, because you will want to keep reading.

 
Okay, that's it!  That's as much as I am going to tell you!

You simply must read the books for yourself!  No review, no excerpt could possible delve deep enough into the layers of this story to do it justice.

It is a love story I doubt you will ever forget.  I know I won't!


The Hunger Games Trilogy Books ~ Romantic Book Review 
House of Sylvestermouse



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:
Review This Reviews Quick View Home Page

The Review This Contributors



Cynthia SylvestermouseCynthia SylvestermouseDawn Rae BDawn Rae BMary Beth - mbgphotoMary Beth - mbgphotoBrite-IdeasBrite-IdeasWednesday ElfWednesday ElfOlivia MorrisOlivia MorrisRenaissanceWoman2010RenaissanceWomanLou16Lou16The Savvy AgeThe Savvy AgeMargaret SchindelMargaret SchindelRaintree AnnieRaintree AnnieTreasures by BrendaTreasures by BrendaSam MonacoSam MonacoBarbRadBarbRadBev OwensBev OwensBuckHawkBuckHawkDecoratingforEventsDecoratingforEventsHeather426Heather426Coletta TeskeColetta TeskeMissMerFaeryMissMerFaeryMickie_GMickie_G



Review This is Dedicated to the
Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner


We may be apart, but
You Are Not Forgotten





“As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from purchases.” Disclosure Statement

X