Back on Track

New reviews coming soon! I'll be importing my work from the past two years, but in the meantime,
I'm reclaiming my small place on the web.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Children's Book Review

The Scepters of Time: The Adventures of Captain Stormbold
by Hugh Mannfield
ISBN-10: 1410777456
Review by Heather Froeschl

An adventure is about to begin. Jonathan Stormbold thought he was born to be a man of the sea...a merchant ship captain with destinies dealing in monstrous waves and perhaps a pirate or two. What the fates have in store for him are far greater adventures and far more dangerous perils.

In the year 1822, Stormbold is not quite the man in charge of the Cassiopeia, but when death threatens the captain he must take command of the ship. It is his birthright and in truth it is the path that was chosen for him. Sailing out of a dense fog Jonathan soon comes to realize that the world has changed. History is not as he knows it to be. With guidance from a mysterious man who appeared in the fog and a letter from his grandfather, Stormbold's true destiny is revealed, little by little.

In a hidden temple, high in the mountains of India, are the secrets that will guide Jonathan on his life's quest. He will learn the secrets of the temple, of his family and of the world as we know it. The wheels of time have gone off center and it is up to Jonathan to set them straight.

Hugh Mannfield shares a story that will leave you in wonder and appreciation for his work. I have not read a more thought provoking, intellectual, all the while entertaining and delightful book in a very long time. I delight in the ideas presented in this book and only wish that such a place, as the hidden temple and its mission were in fact a reality.

The author's use of technical descriptions aboard the ship provide an authenticity that adds much to the story. The plot is full of adventure and intrigue, enticing the reader to turn to the next page well into the night. "The Scepters of Time" will leave you wondering if perhaps it is possible and give you a new appreciation for moments of de'ja vu'. Written for the young adult audience the book is easily a recommended option for all readers ages 11 to 111. With a traditional theme of good vs. evil, this story is a fresh new classic that should be on every best seller list.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Fiction Review

by Wells Earl Draughon
ISBN-10: 0595240143
Review by Heather Froeschl

What would you do for the one that you love? How far would you go to ensure their safety? Would you risk your own life to save theirs? Would you build a 12-foot high wall topped with iron spikes to keep them safe? And what if the danger came from within yourself? Wells Earl Draughon explores these questions in his unforgettable book, "Always."

Ben first saw her when he was 10 years old. He scaled the security wall just to talk to her and together they climbed it to run free in the forest that surrounded them. Fate led him to her and he knew even then that she was something different, something very special. Eight years later he returns to find her still waiting, still in need of a hero. And he discovers that she is truly one of a kind. She knows nothing of the world and she holds no reservations when it comes to her body and soul. With him, she is free. With her, he is in grave danger.

The mansion in which Donella lives is a fortress, a prison. The rich old man who holds her there is a twisted individual whose mind is frayed; his actions lunatic. He is lost in an obsession and Donella is the key. When Ben helps her to escape the madness the old man seeks revenge and to reclaim his prize. Nothing will stand in his way.

Draughon has created a tortuous world of soulmate love, mortal danger, twisted mystery and sweet suspense. He has captured the exuberance of youth and the essence of intense and desperate love. The plot is full of twists and turns, like a torrid river carrying the reader to a waterfall crescendo. The characters are so full of life they will make you wonder who controlled the writing of the book - the author or them.

I couldn't put this one down and fully enjoyed the ride. If you have the desire to be fully immersed in fiction, "Always" is the book you seek.

Saturday, October 9, 2004

Poetry/Photography book Review

Learning to Dance With the Dragonfly: Healing Lessons of Nature
by Holly N. Fordyce
ISBN-10: 0972701346
Review by Heather Froeschl

Through nature walks and self-reflection, Holly N. Fordyce is learning to overcome the shadow of being a survivor of breast cancer. Through poetry and photography, she expresses what she learns while observing nature. In a journal-like book that explores all of these creative outputs, Holly is surely helping others learn that living in the moment is an enlightening experience.

A year in the life of the author is filled with wonderfully endless observations of the natural world around her. Daily walks with her dog around a cranberry bog and surrounding forest and fields are full of encounters, which many might overlook. It is clear that Holly's attention has been fine tuned to take in every detail of life around her. Through the year she will become a grandmother for the first time, take a safari-like trip that would set anyone's heart soaring, and come to understand herself and her soul's journey a bit more than before.

The writing is friendly and endearing, the photography exquisite and the poetry heart touching. This is a gorgeous book that will be cherished by everyone who reads it. A thoughtful gift for anyone who has lived through a life changing experience, but also a must read for anyone who needs a reminder to take a look around you every moment that you can. The message here is clear...make a connection with life and you will find happiness.

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Children's Book Review

Aunt Puff and Missing Minerva
by David Whitewolf
ISBN-10: 0595666736
Review by Heather Froeschl

Alexandra is visiting her Aunt Puff when things start to get weird. Aunt Puff's friend Minerva stops by but soon vanishes through an open window. Does this have anything to do with the secrets of the Elcarim Foundation of which Aunt Puff and Minerva both belong? Why won't anyone tell Alexandra exactly what is going on?

Aunt Puff, Alexandra, the Great Dane Ludwig and Minerva's cockatoo Ciber all rush to save Minerva, but it just might take a miracle. It's a good thing that miracles run in the family. There are some others who need saving as well, and it looks like it is up to Alexandra to make the rescue.

The story is quite fantastical and full of twists and turns. The plot is somewhat like a dream in which anything, and I mean ANYTHING, can happen, and usually does. It may be a little too "out there" for some readers but most kids age 12 and up will enjoy the book immensely. Alexandra is easy to care for and readers will find themselves rooting for her. The book sends positive messages that are universal, dream world and real world alike.

David Whitewolf offers a well-written fantasy full of fairies, dragons, bubble gum and very helpful dogs.

Monday, October 4, 2004

Fiction Review

Lion of the Balkans
by Vladimir Chernozemsky
ISBN-10: 1932656014
Review by Heather Froeschl

How does a war begin? Is it possible to really get down to the very beginning of World War I? How does such conflict come to be? Vladimir Chernozemsky shows us in his Historical Fiction, "Lion of the Balkans."

The Ottoman Turks had occupied the Balkans for five hundred years, until finally, Bulgaria - the lion of the Balkans, and its neighbors pulled together and drove the Turks out. Triumph and peace at last...that did not last. Trouble broke out again when it came to deciding who got what of the territories they'd defended. Hence, the end of the Balkan War became the very beginning of WWI. Through it all though, people lived their lives. People overcame differences and developed friendships. People fell in love.

This epic novel tells of the lives behind the war...from the highest Bulgarian royalty to the simple houseboy. Chernozemsky is the real life grandson of the novel's hero. He has taken from family letters and diaries and the tales that his grandmother told him of the story, and created a fictionalized accounting that you will not soon forget.

Included in the book are several maps and a long list of characters and how they relate to one another. This is necessary as the book is quite involved. The beginning of the book may prove a struggle to some as there are so many people to get to know and numerous plots to follow, however, it is all worth it in the end. The dialogues flow naturally and the author's descriptiveness enchants the tale to life.

For a bit of understanding of our world's war history and perhaps some insight into today's conflicts as well, and a story that exudes the realities of living, "Lion of the Balkans" should be on your "to-read" list.

Friday, October 1, 2004

Art Review

Action Reaction
by Adrian Lee
ISBN-10: 0972857818
Review by Heather Froeschl

Newton's Third Law states that, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." I don't wholly agree with that as concept as I feel that acts of war bring on reactive acts of war. So a better quote might be: For every action there is an equal reaction. One can't be certain that this is what Adrian Lee had in mind when creating his work "Action Reaction," but this is what came to my mind when viewing it.

"Action Reaction" is an artistic expression in the form of a 20-foot accordion book. The life size work took up an entire gallery, but in book form it just takes up your entire mind for a while. The work is captivating and raw in the sense that it is bold and truthful. What you see in it is up to you. What I see in it is a reaction to the world as it stands today. In the aftermath of 9-11, in the shadows of war in Iraq, in the depths of the Bush presidency and in the grasp of capitalism, we stand, and Adrian Lee has held a mirror up for us to see the world around us. It isn't pretty.

The artist's stated objective for "Action Reaction" is thus: "Assemble the incalculable bombardment of information that composes an infinite web of trip wires within the brain. Take these paranoid synapses and construct a visual panorama. Highlighting the obvious that is constantly subverted by corporate and governmental (same) interests. A visual display/panorama, the sum of which is fully intended to expose the underbelly of the beast."

The book comes in a box set, accompanied by an assortment of stickers and a patch sporting the logo of skull and crossbones, along with a DVD documentary of the artistic endeavor, two gallery receptions and a time lapsed viewing of the actual painting of the work. All in all it is quite an eyeful...a mind full.

Thought provoking doesn't quite grasp the power of the work. This is more of a call for reaction. In any event, you won't soon forget your experience with this book, nor the name of Adrian Lee. This is a powerful glimpse into one person's political views and his expression of the same in art form.