Posts from the ‘coming of age’ Category

Teen Troubles

The Rise of the Olympians Book One

Written by Belle Ward

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First book in a middle grade short story series. Lilah is about to celebrate her thirteenth birthday. Her father surprises her with her favorite breakfast of pancakes and bacon. As she departs for school with her older brother, Jay, Lilah looks forward to her first class in which she is studying about Ancient Greece. Mr. Fisher is discussing the Olympians. For some reason, Lilah can’t stop thinking about the lesson.

When Lilah gets home she is surprised by the gift of an angel-winged necklace from her dad. But when she prepares for bed, strange things begin to happen. The necklace heats up, her rainbow colored extensions suddenly become attached to her head, and she experiences a strange dream. The next day, Lilah is invited to join a special dream club. She is astonished to learn that the other members are Apollo and Hades. They think she is the goddess who will help them find the Father of the Monsters. A sudden crash, and all must run for their lives…..Will Lilah cast her fate with these strangers? Will she wake up from this nightmare?

This short story is a good length for reluctant readers. The characters are believable and interesting enough. What some readers may not like is that the tale ends in a cliffhanger. Readers will be left disappointed unless they immediately get a hold of Book Two.

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TORN BETWEEN TWO SIDES

Fields of the Fatherless

Written by Elaine Marie Cooper

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Short novel of Christian historical fiction based on a true historical account of the 1775 conflict in the village of Mentonomy, Massachusetts. Betsy Russell is an eighteen year old girl living in a Patriot family near colonial Boston. Her village is busy preparing a militia for the inevitable battle looming on the horizon with the British. Betsy feels slighted that her younger brother Noah is taught how to fire a musket, while she is expected to stay home and play a support role. When Betsy confides her feelings to the blacksmith, he gives her a small knife to defend herself and protect her family. Betsy could never imagine what role that knife would play in her future.

The battle brings both joy and tragedy to the Russell family. Betsy will grapple with grief, struggle with her Christian faith, assume heavy family responsibilities, become a nurse, and find out about love in many unexpected ways. This novel is based on actual historical events; the fictional characterizations and quotes from the Bible add a humanistic element to the narrative. Some of the battle details are a bit graphic, which is the reason I would suggest the target audience to be age thirteen and older.

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CELEBRATE THE SEASON!

Wishing my family, friends and followers a MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HANUKKAH AND JOYFUL KWANZAA

Victor and I began celebrating by going back to our roots in NYC to see the tree in Rockefeller Center and watch the holiday show at Radio City Music Hall. Wherever you are and whatever you do, I hope that the season brings you joy and happiness and that the New Year will fulfill your fondest dreams.xmas2016

And now to today’s book review…….

MIDDLE SCHOOL MANIA

Adventures in the Northwoods: Under the School Book 1

Written by Jehoshaphat Shalom

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Tommy is about to embark on his first day as a sixth grader in Bemmington Middle School. His brother has filled him with dread about the terrors that await Tommy as soon as he gets off the bus. So he and his friends decide to force Tommy to smuggle candy into the school inside Tommy’s backpack. Before leaving the bus, Tommy spies a pretty eighth grader named Marcy standing at the edge of the woods and wonders what is going on with her. Almost immediately after Tommy opens the school doors and goes through screening, he is caught smuggling. To make matters worse, the most evil teacher in the school tricks him into getting caught in a phony cheating scam. Tommy lands in the principal’s office and is issued a yellow slip; he surely will be suspended on the first day of school.

There are three separate story lines in this middle grade/young adult zany adventure. The first one deals with Donnolay, a frustrated principal who is bored with his job, but pretends to love his students. Donnolay is determined to find out who has stolen the school projector. He and a seventh grade student are involved in an adventure under the school that will surprise and thrill readers. Second plot involves Marcy, a new student named Eddison, and a former now famous Bemmington alumni. Our third plot takes us on Tommy’s crazy first day at school, and his adventures with Slippery, the school prankster.

The humor is contagious, it is outlandish but hilarious and will sit well with the targeted audience. While readers of any age will enjoy this book, I particularly recommend it for the ten to fourteen year age group. Book Two continuing the fun has already been released.

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OF CHRISTMASES PAST AND PRESENT

Christmas Healing (Healing the Regime Book 1)

Written by Morris Fenris and Jasmine Bowen

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A bittersweet holiday novella that combines elements of paranormal, horror and romance within a holiday setting. Eighteen year old Annalise led a carefree life as a pretty, popular teen until she was diagnosed with leukemia. Unable to pay her mounting medical bills, she assumes the unusual post of teaching modern technology and cultural customs to a family of vampires. Dr. Hever, the head of the Hever clan becomes her physician. Her life is turned upside down once more when she is summoned by the King of the Vampires to teach his brother Arthur, who has just awakened from a 1000 year sleep. Annalise is terrified. She slowly falls in love with Arthur, but her illness proceeds rapidly to Stage IV cancer. When she is whisked away to the hospital, both she and Arthur are devastated.

The plot sounds far fetched, but the authors succeed in making it palatable, for the most part. Reader’s emotions rise and fall as the conflict tears the two families apart. Annalise thought she was in love with Tony Hever; her fleeting life has been turned upside down by her deep feelings for Arthur. The ending is a surprise. Wonder what will happen in the second book of the series.

Recommended for young adult and adult audiences looking for an unusual but entertaining short holiday read.

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ARABIAN ADVENTURES

Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask

Written by Darlene Foster

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Amanda is a twelve year old Canadian student who dreams of travel and adventure. Shortly after she blows out her birthday candles, Amanda’s wish comes true when she is invited to spend a month with her Aunt Ella and Uncle Ben in the United Arab Emirates. Soon Amanda immerses herself in the local culture by visiting a market where a local merchant sells her a mysterious perfume flask that purportedly once belonged to a princess. Amanda meets another young English girl living in her aunt’s building. They explore the seashore and a deserted Bedouin village where Amanda meets Princess Shamza who claims to have sold the perfume flask and her camel to get money to survive. Shamza has run away from her parents to avoid an arranged marriage to a wealthy old man. Lots of adventures ensue: camel races, sandstorms, kidnappings, and meeting Princess Shamza’s true love, a boy named Mohammed. How will Amanda’s journey end? Will she remain friends with Leah? Do the princess and Mohammed find happiness?

This is book one of Amanda’s travels. Lots of action and interesting characters, mixed with tidbits of culture and local customs. Middle grade readers become immersed in the action while learning a lot about multicultural characters and customs. Looking forward to seeing where Amanda will land next. I have a feeling that her love of adventure and generous spirit will lead her readers to be eager to join her again in the future.

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#READ KIDS CLASSICS – FRIENDS OR FOES

Flip and the Cows

Written and Illustrated by Wesley Dennis

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This book was originally copyrighted in 1942. The copyright was renewed in 1970 and reprinted by Scholastic Books in paperback format.

Flip is a young, energetic, black colt with a taste of adventure. When he views the sharp horns of the cows standing beyond the fence, Flip is afraid. Flip does not understand the basis for the fear, yet it is strong. Once day he starts to back up to get away, when he finds himself colliding with his mother. She nips him and Flip runs away. Little does he realize he is rushing headlong into a herd of cows. How will they react to Flip? Are his fears unfounded?

This book with black and white illustrations is soft and sweet. Dennis illustrated more than 150 children’s books. His most famous works are Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty and John Steinbeck’s The Red Pony. Dennis combined his artistic talents with author Marguerite Henry on fifteen children’s books featuring horses. Born in 1903, Dennis began his career as a newspaper illustrator later working as a children’s book illustrator until his death in 1966.

I purchased this book for my children in the 1970’s. They spent summers in an area peppered by farms containing cows and horses so this was a favorite read. Recommended as a bedtime story vintage classic or as an easy beginning reader. Check your library. A few used copies are available on Amazon.

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A JOLT FROM MEMORY LANE

Saving Chocolate Thunder

Written by Erin Slavin

Illustrated by Drew Rose

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Cory is an eleven year old fifth grader with a vivid imagination. He loves his three year old brother David who likes to pretend he is a superhero. One day Cory decides to help David fly by taping him with duct tape to the door knob and kicking the chair out from beneath him. His parents don’t think he is funny and ground Corey in his room for one week. What really bothers Corey is that his workaholic father never seems to have time for him anymore. Corey schemes to hide his father’s phone. That gets him grounded again. While in his room, reading Goosebumps, Corey suddenly finds himself in the book. He meets a conch shell, a talking horse, and a purple jelly-like character named Mother Imagination. Nicknamed M.I., Mother Imagination seems to know all about Corey and his family. M. I. reveals a boy in a video who wears a strange costume, sings, and identifies himself as Chocolate Thunder. M.I. informs Corey that this boy is an imaginary friend from his father’s past. With the assistance of his friend Leo and his grandma, Corey conspires to imitate the character in the hopes of jogging his father’s memories, but not before a series of mishaps and adventures ensue. Will Corey embarrass himself or will he succeed in reconnecting with his dad and strengthening their relationship?

This approximately eighty page chapter book with cute black and white illustrations sports a creative plot and is filled with humor and realistic family scenarios. Recommended especially for readers in the seven to ten year age bracket, but it will be enjoyed by younger and slightly older readers as well. Could be an interesting ongoing series.

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