Posts from the ‘novella’ Category

FOSTERING A SENSE OF WORTH

Snow Pup: Holiday Heartwarmers Book2)

Written by Mimi Barbour

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This is the second book in Barbour’s holiday series. Well-written plot with realistic characters that has no real connection to the Christmas holiday other than the setting. Deputy Shawna Mallory is a thirty-one year old single cop who lives in the rather sleepy town of Carlton Grove. She has a deep commitment to her job, and moves quickly when she hears an amber alert on the radio for a missing eleven year old boy. Mallory hears a dog barking; she finds the boy under a snow drift being guarded by the pup. The sheriff agrees to take the boy in while he awaits a new foster care family.

Complications arise when the boy’s real father arrives back on the scene from an overseas assignment in Chile. John Reid McCrae appears to have a poor parenting track record, but Shawna’s friend Alice knew him many years ago and offers a different opinion. In the meantime Shawna grows attached to Billy, who is about to be given to a new foster family. Billy runs away once again, but even more puzzling is the strange affect Billy’s dad has upon Shawna. What outcome ensues for Billy, John, and the Deputy Sheriff whose lives have become entangled.

A heartwarming story revolving around coming of age, domestic violence, foster care, romance, pets and peer relationships that will tear at the heart strings of young adult and adult readers. Actually, the book could be a middle grade read if one is willing to look past a few curse words and one or two light romantic scenes. Snow Pup is the kind of story that will put the reader in the mood for the holiday season.

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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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DISOBEDIENCE IS A SLIPPERY SLOPE….

Wasted Wood

Written by Brock Eastman

wASTEDWOOD

I struggled to decide what rating to give this middle grade novella; I decided to go with four stars because the writing is appropriate for its intended audience. The dialogue is on point for thirteen year old Hudson and his friends. Lots of adjectives and onomatopoeia to keep the story interesting as well as those illustrations of the tree troll.

Hudson is a typical teen; he loves to play video games and test the limits with his parents’ rules. Hudson gets grounded when he comes home late because he took a short cut and trespassed on Mr. Gilbert’s property nearly falling off the bridge in the process. Of course that wasn’t the whole story, Mr. Gilbert had called his parents catching Hudson in a lie. Hudson doesn’t take long to decide to sneak out and join his friends for their camp out.

Orin, the neighborhood bully and his friends, come across Hudson with his friends in the woods. They dare them to trespass on Mr. Gilbert’s property to prove that they are not afraid of the legend that a Tree Troll exists. When they take the dare; the real adventure begins. Soon the Dark Demon appears. Is the legend real? All the teens including the bullies must struggle to survive. What will happen to the boys? Will their parents and Mr. Gilbert find out?

Lots of adventure, danger, paranormal and coming of age issues combine to make the novella appealing to the middle grade audience. Despite the fact that there is lots of passive voice and the writing style could be sharper, this is a tale well worth reading for the eight to twelve year old target audience. The author has developed a set of discussion questions for each chapter, which makes the book a good choice for a classroom read aloud and discussion.

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HAUNTED BY HISTORY

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 The History Major: A Novella
Written by Michael Phillip Cash

HistoryMajor,picI received a copy of this book in return for an honest non-biased review.

Hung over college student Amanda Greene wakes up in her dorm to an unsettling situation. She vaguely remembers a fight the night before with her boyfriend, Patrick, and partying with her two best girlfriends who don’t like him. But her room is at once familiar and strangely different; her roommate is someone she has never met. Finding her classroom schedule on the bed, Amanda is distressed to see a history class on it; Amanda hates history. She rushes to the Registrar building to drop the class, but the administrators tell her she must take the course. Amanda walks through the campus, which seems oddly different. Buildings appear and disappear, and she has the feeling of being stalked.

Resigned to her fate, Amanda is drawn to the history lecture, where she meets Nick and her professor who is dressed like Aristotle. His lecture is even stranger. He drolls on about Joan of Arc, Pope Alexander VI, Lucretia Borgia and other historical characters, but as he does so Amanda is drawn back into history interacting with and sometimes being attacked by them. Nick tells her, “They all hear what they have to hear.” Amanda’s thoughts drift back and forth between the past and her own reality. She has flashbacks of her grandmother, mother, and abusive stepbrother, Wayne. How can there be a connection? Amanda hears the words, “People are trapped in history, and history is trapped in them.”

What is real, what is fantasy, and how will Amanda deal with integrating both within her present life?

Elements of a thriller, paranormal, history and a psychological study combine to make this novella a compelling read. The first couple of chapters confused me, and I definitely disliked Amanda. As I got into the plot, I could not stop reading. Lots of interesting dialogue and colorful language engage the reader. Plenty of twists and turns keep the reader on edge; the ending caught me off guard. Recommended for teen and adult audiences as a thought provoking afternoon read.

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PhillipCashBlogTour

PhillipCash About the Book
After a vicious fight with her boyfriend followed by a night of heavy partying, college freshman Amanda Greene wakes up in her dorm room to find things are not the same as they were yesterday. She can’t quite put her finger on it. She’s sharing her room with a peculiar stranger. Amanda discovers she’s registered for classes she would never choose with people that are oddly familiar. An ominous shadow is stalking her. Uncomfortable memories are bubbling dangerously close to her fracturing world, propelling her to an inevitable collision between fantasy and reality. Is this the mother of all hangovers or is something bigger happening?

Praise
“Cash intermingles beauty and violence …It’s smartly ambiguous and open
to interpretation, and some may delight in a second (or third) read.” – Kirkus Reviews

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#kidsreadclassics TOUCHING THE STARS

The Little Prince

Written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Translated by Katherine Woods

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I first read this book as a college student in the original French, Le Petit Prince. Widely translated into 250 languages, the book has traveled around the globe like its protagonist. You might ask why this is my favorite’s children’s book as I did not read it as a child. My answer is that I love the wonder in the prince’s eyes and the wisdom that comes from his mouth. I read the book in the original 1943 edition, which unfortunately is no longer widely available. Woods’ translation is smooth and the watercolors beautifully done. Some critics are not as happy with recent editions.

The plot is at once complicated and simple. A pilot who has crash landed in the Sahara desert meets a young prince who has fallen to Earth from an asteroid. The little prince muses about his wanderings throughout the galaxy and his philosophy on the universe. On a deeper level, the novella is an allegory pondering the human condition. Our little prince expresses his dismay about grown-ups. “Grown-ups never seem to understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.” Out of the mouths of babes, one might say.

The author first flew an airplane at the age of twelve. Born at the turn of the century in 1900, Antoine actually did crash into the Sahara desert in 1935, while attempting to break an aviation speed record flying from Paris to Saigon. He fled to the United States during World War II, but went back to join the Free French Air Force. He disappeared while flying a mission over the Mediterranean on July 31, 1944. Antoine became a national French hero, highly respected as an aviator and writer.

I would recommend this book to children and their parents. It can be enjoyed on so many age levels, and the embedded layers of meaning enrich young and old minds regardless of age. Fantastic as a read aloud and group discussion. This is one book that cannot be read too many times.

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Antoine,pic

HUNTED OR HAUNTED?

Malaika

Written by Van Heerling

Malaika,pic

Interesting novella for teen and adult audiences. The author’s intention is to provoke discussion, and to that end, he provides discussion questions at the end of the almost one hundred page story.

The protagonist is an American who has left his wife and children to live a simple life in Kenya, just outside the jungle. He tutors Absko, the son of Abasi, for fresh tobacco and necessities. One day he is visited by a lioness. He names her Malaika, which means Angel in Swahili. They soon develop a strange friendship. Malaika’s pride do not seem to approve, nor do they attack. Abasi warns him that no good can come of this alliance; if the lioness comes near the village she will be killed. Will she be accepted by her pride and can the human feline relationship endure?

The story also illustrates the tender relationship of the American with Abasi, and his promise to help him achieve his dream of journeying to America with his wife and child. This tale probes the heart and soul of each of the characters and the fate of each as their roles play out.

Very well written with nicely developed characters and imagery. Paints an interesting portrait of African life along with a psychological study of the novella’s characters. Thoughtful and provoking; highly recommended as a classroom discussion topic or book club discussion group study. Recommended for ages twelve and older.

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ON THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS: MAKING A DIFFICULT JOURNEY

The Boy Who Became Father Christmas: The Story of Santa Claus

Written by James Wilmot

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The Prologue gives a hint as to how the story line will evolve. In this short story, the reader learns that Niklas was born at the foot of a mountain range. He lived in town with the wealthy and prosperous settlers. Once a year the mountain folk came down to trade with them Their meat, cheese, animal skins and wool were exchanged for the coal, wax, grain and oil the mountain people needed to survive.

Shortly after Niklas turned twelve, tragedy struck. Both his parents were killed in a house fire. Niklas discovers a grandfather he never knew existed; now Niklas’ life would be turned upside down. He must leave town and go live up in the mountain with his grandfather. After a rough period of adjustment, Niklas becomes skilled in woodworking and learns the ways of the mountain people. He becomes acquainted with the “wee folk” legends and the animals of the forest. The teen develops a strong friendship with a girl named Rose. Niklas discovers the joys of the Christmas season and ventures forth to embrace it. As the boy grows, he experiences love and loss while meeting the challenges of mountain living and surviving a test with the King of the Mountain.

Wilmot selects many of the Christmas legends and weaves them into a novella featuring characters that embody familiar traditions. A heartwarming and uplifting short story that can be enjoyed by middle grade, young adult and adult readers. Perfect read for sitting in front of the fire for a couple of hours.

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