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.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Business/Memoir Review

Some Day Never Comes
by Kerry LePage
ISBN-13: 978-1424328550
Review by Heather Froeschl

Do you have a family treasure in the form of an ancestor’s diary? What wisdom will you be passing on to your future generations? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all write down the lessons we’ve learned in hopes that whoever reads them will avoid the mistakes we’ve made? This seems to be the goal behind Kerry LePage’s book, “Some Day Never Comes.”

The first chapters of the book deal with every day types of life’s adventures that the author presents with humor, dry wit, and some reflective thought. From moments of getting more with positive reinforcement than words of war, to enlightening check out tellers of their obligatory duties, LePage has advice. From working with a veterinarian over his dog’s discomfort, to dealing with a neighbor’s dog killing his very expensive lawn, the author offers words of wisdom. Moments in between, regarding topics of a person’s lack of desire to take just any old job, another person’s lack of interest in living this particular life, and how tastes are acquired, all contain bits of comedy, absurdity, and even a bit of brash opinionated thought. The second half of the book, offered in four parts, deals with sales and marketing. This section goes into detail of how LePage made some mistakes in business, how he took some knocks, and how he got back up and brushed himself off to start over again. This feels like a separate book in a way, as if LePage intended to write this section and then realized he had more to say in regards to other aspects of life, so added the first section of the work. The Sales and Marketing portion still offers the same wit, the same humor, and the same style of writing. It connects well to the rest, though is more focused on the reader who is in need of a business pep talk.

The book is an interesting conglomerate of essays. LePage shares himself freely, well, for the cost of the book, and can honestly say that he’s left his mark on the world for future generations to explore. How many of us can say that? “Some Day Never Comes” is an enjoyable read with a slightly different tone…you just might learn something here.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Children's Book Review

Chips: A Hometown Hero
by Nancy M. West
ISBN-10: 0974365912
Review by Heather Froeschl

I imagine it must be difficult to bring history to life for school children. What better way to introduce an important time in our nation’s past than to capture a child’s attention with a unique, but mostly true story? In Nancy West’s book, “CHIPS a Hometown Hero,” readers will come to adore a rambunctious and lovable pup, and cheer him on as he becomes the most highly decorated K9 hero of World War II.

Chips meets his family and begins his puppyhood getting into all sorts of trouble. He has a nose for investigations and he follows it everywhere. During his time with Nan, Gail, baby John, mother and father, Chips shreds his share of line drying laundry, chews on father’s shoes, saves the baby from drowning, and grows to be a very large dog. He is a husky/collie/shepherd mix and he pays tribute to each breed in his actions. When World War II enters every American home with the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the family wants to help in whatever way they can. It becomes clear that Chips is in need of a mission and he becomes one of the first enlisted canines in the Dogs for Defense program. Thinking he would be staying in the states, patrolling and providing whatever service he can, his family willingly sends him off to K9 training camp. His actions at camp lead to him being one of the first dogs sent overseas. His actions on the front prove to be heroic. Chips and his handler save lives and truly make a difference. He even gets to meet President Eisenhower…although that doesn’t go quite so well.

This book is based on the real life story of Chips the World War II K9 hero, from Pleasantville, NY. It is a tale that captures the young reader’s attention, making the war something that can begin to be understood. Seeing the story from Chips’ perspective adds to the innocent feel of learning this information for the first time. Throughout the book certain words are italicized and these can easily be looked up in the glossary at the back of the book. Unfamiliar terms like Axis Powers, and Allied Forces, civilian, mascot, and medic become things the reader can understand. Certainly this book should be used in classrooms but for any child aged nine and up who has an interest in dogs, the military, our nation’s wars, or history, Nancy West’s “Chips a Hometown Hero” is a must have.
An exciting, interesting (and fact based!) story that will delight all dog lovers as a special canine tale, I highly recommend this book!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Romance Review

Pima Road
by Virginia Nosky
ISBN-10: 1932695435
Review by Heather Froeschl

Falling in love when you’re struggling to discover who you truly are can be a not-so-glorious thing. It should be a time of mental abandon and pure bliss, but there are times when this isn’t possible, or rather, there are some people who just can’t let go of that control. In Virginia Nosky’s novel “Pima Rd,” readers will enjoy the romance as much as they possibly can but will also struggle along with the characters as they make discoveries and face the world from two different perspectives.

Sarah Livingstone was raised in New England, graduated from Yale and became a lawyer. Jameson Zah grew up on the Pima Reservation, became a talented artist, and calls Phoenix home. The two meet during Sarah’s training for the New York marathon, a common goal, and through a common interest in dogs. Sarah’s little Shih Tzu, having a small dog complex, attacks Zah’s much larger dog, Joe. A bit panicked, Sarah says some things she shouldn’t have, and a bit put off, Jameson goes on the defensive, informing her that she is running on reservation land. Their next run in is slightly more friendly, if not more hectic when Jameson rescues both Sarah and her dog from a flooded canal. Both are drawn to each other and decide to train together for the race. The romantic tension builds but so does Jameson’s wariness that Sarah is just seeking the thrill of having an Indian lover. While he is afraid of being heartbroken, Sarah is fending off the unwanted romantic overtures of her supervisor at the law firm. Tensions grow as swiftly as their love affair and only get worse when Sarah’s mother shares her feelings over their interracial relationship, and when someone threatens Jameson’s mother, steals a large sculpture he’d done, and intimidates the possibility of the reservation making plans with a developer.

The book is not your typical romance, but a story that delves into the connotations of racial differences, as well as the human heart connection. The added conflicts of work related sexual harassment, and the theft of the sculpture mystery, bring a feeling of suspense to the tale. The characters are likeable, in relatable situations, making the book a laid back and interesting read. Examining the differing cultures through the eyes of Sarah and Jameson was a delight. I enjoyed it very much and hope to see more from Virginia Nosky in the future.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Poetry Review

Intrinsic Desires
by Brandon Gene Petit
ISBN-10: 1420891995

Poetic works that pull you in, enticing you to explore the written word, and leaving you momentarily lost in a jungle of metered beats are the sort that are perfection to me. Leave your greeting card verse at the store. A book of poetry worth sinking your mind into is “Intrinsic Desires,” by Brandon Gene Petit.

In a tone that reflects an intricate mind, Brandon offers moments in time, scenes of life, and instances of fundamental feeling. His work is rich with imagery, from twilight skies to lantern lit walls, cobblestone streets and naked, wet trees, all vividly painted before your eyes. His words express fluidly a mixed bag of emotions, from sadness and longing to heartbreaking yearning, despair and desire, pride, self contentment, and love. The poems work magic on the reader, enticing to pause and go deeply into each setting, taking the time to truly understand what is being said. Brandon invites you to go Beyond Summer, breathing the freshly decaying scent of the air, hearing the rustle of leaves, and feeling the glow of warmly lit windows from the outside looking in. He dares you to examine A Dying Breed, where you can witness the tormented soul of a vampire, enduring death, tormented by ingrained desires, a man with no master, and content in his ways. With a nod to the last page, Petit shares this, “We pass the torch to our better halves and sell our souls to a nobler craft.” A poet, Brandon is a gifted artist at this nobler craft.

It is a different sort of poetry book; one that quietly offers to hold your attention and that will remain in your mind until it has you completely. Intelligently offering viewpoints you might not otherwise have come across, the work is darkly compelling and decidedly fresh. Take an unforgettable, neo-gothic journey, and expand your poetic horizons.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Self Help Book / Spiritual Book Review

A Journey Into the Self: The multi-dimensional nature of being human
by George E. Lockett
ISBN-10: 1419628925

You may remember being a child and asking why the sky is blue. You may still be asking this question, but you might also wonder why your aura is blue, or what an aura is, or what a chakra is, or why meditation seems to be a positive thing to practice. George E. Lockett’s book, “A Journey Into the Self” might help to answer some of these questions for you, although I’m pretty sure he doesn’t explain why the sky is blue.

George is a Spiritual Healer. His book is an offering of understandings; some of which you may have already heard about or thought about, or have just already known about. Our beings are wonderful things that seek out knowledge such as this. It isn’t a study guide for there will be no test. It isn’t a course in personal journey. It is a contribution to the signposts many of us hope to see along our spiritual paths. George first explains how he came to be where he is today in his life, and how he realized that synchronicity had led him to be a healer. Eighty short articles later, readers are left with a bit of understanding of many topics, from focused breathing to meditation, chakras to the use of crystals, telepathy to the purpose of death. Each article addresses a question, many of which most people have had at one time or another, and offers something to think about, a truth to examine, a possible goal to achieve. The purpose here is to share the information and let the reader do with it what they will. The higher purpose though, is to help make a positive change in the world. I don’t see how it cannot.

The book is a gracious thing of strength, for it holds answers to many, hope for others, and an “ah ha” moment of validation to others still. Seeing what you personally have thought about in moments of epiphany, reading what you hold true in black and white, is a powerful thing. The book is not meant to be read in one sitting but rather in many moments of quiet thought and questioning. It is a joyful tome to return to again and again.

George’s words are calm and collected. The book is an apropos blend of common and higher thinking – for whoever is reading it will have varying degrees of questions. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will surely return to it often.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Fiction Review

Wish I May, Wish I Might. . .
by Barbara Elliott Carpenter
ISBN-10: 1420860100

Finding yourself is the greatest endeavor in life. Sometimes it takes great challenges or tragedies to help us to look within. Sometimes we get there through laughter and love. Mostly, it takes a lot of everything, ups and downs, to understand ourselves. In Barbara Elliott Carpenter’s novel, “Wish I May, Wish I Might…” readers witness one girl’s journey to inner self.

In 1954, Sissy Bannister moves from the place she knew as home in Illinois, to West Virginia. At 14, she isn’t happy about leaving behind her world, but she soon finds a brand new one waiting to be explored. Making new friends is just the beginning. Sissy experiences differences in beliefs and attitudes in the people around her and begins to learn what she believes in herself. Desegregation, varying religious beliefs, and class relationships are all part of her lesson plan. Dealing with family trials and tribulations isn’t easy either and Sissy learns how important family bonds are, many times over. A schizophrenic uncle, an almost missing sister, and the stories of her parents’ lives are woven into her soul’s fibers. Her friendships, with other teens and with other adults bring more chances to learn about life, and herself. As the years pass, Sissy grows into a young woman she can be proud of, holding on to her fiery youth but also embracing the heart-touching moments of her life.

Barbara Elliott Carpenter leads readers on a journey of small town America, coal mines, colorful characters, romance and fun, heartbreak and tragedy. “Wish I May, Wish I Might” evokes varying emotions, reaching out through vignettes of life that have a homey familiarity. Sissy is so real she leaps off the pages and into your heart. Watching her come into her own was a pleasure. Carpenter offers a memorable and enjoyable read. I laughed, and I cried, and I loved every minute of it. Well done!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Fantasy Fiction Review

The Crystal Chalice
By Debora ElizaBeth Hill and Sandra Brandenburg
ISBN-10: 1929374445

What if our myths and legends were based on certain souls in another dimension? What if Lucifer was just a lonely, heart hungry king? What if Puck was just a randy, misunderstood spirit in search of compassion? In “The Crystal Chalice,” by Debora ElizaBeth Hill and Sandra Brandenburg, readers are led to believe that just about anything we believe could be a twisted truth.

In this second volume of the Lost Myths Saga, we find our favorite characters searching for answers as well as searching for themselves. Lily is torn between chasing her college diploma and keeping a hold on her rock star lover, Marshall. Marshall doesn’t seem very torn up about his infidelity even though he loves Lily with all of his heart. Evan is anxious for his love Valaura to commit to him, while Valaura is sensing just a bit of something missing, not knowing exactly what it could be. Evan decides it is time for a break with reality, at least this version of it, and finds a way for the foursome to be transported back to the lands of unreality…the World of Lost Myths.

There, King Lucifer still vies for Valaura’s hand, Marshall once again falls under the spell of lust, and Lily and Evan are unsure what to do. Twenty years have gone by in Lucifer’s world while only one has passed in Evan’s life. The kingdoms face some troubling times when one of their own is attacked by a clan of warrior women, anxious to steal a few good men to fertilize the troops, and another group is found to be taking over the lands of the Princess Ariel’s family. Fantastical creatures abound with flying horses, horse-sized cat-steeds, crystal beings, winged young princes, and hooved kings. Will our four heroes find the answer to the questions they seek? Will they find a way to help their beloved friends in the Lost Myths World? Will they discover the path that leads back home?

Debora Hill and Sandra Brandenburg have written a saga of success and readers can be assured that the magic will continue. Examining the possibility that our myths have rather mundane roots is genius. Creating a tale full of the legendary, the romantic, the adventurous and the heart tugging is a formula for a fun read. I look forward to enjoying more from these two.

Children's/YA Fantasy Fiction Review

Fablehaven Rise of the Evening Star
by Brandon Mull
ISBN-10: 1590387643

When the world needs protection, and magical beings are at risk, the power of youth is called into action. In Brandon Mull’s newest book “Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star,” readers will be swept up in the fantastical realm of the unusual and unexpected.

Kendra is fourteen years old and her brother Seth is twelve. Their youth and energy will see them through some amazing adventures as the school year ends and summer begins. The magic won’t wait for the two to enter their grandparents’ home in Fablehaven, a refuge for magical creatures. Something lurks the school halls, and someone tricks Seth into letting loose a goblin. A phone call from Grandpa Sorenson warns of danger and explains the need for the siblings to help protect the sanctuary. An ancient artifact is hidden somewhere on Fablehaven and with the help of some of their grandparents’ companions, Kendra and Seth have to find it before the Society of the Evening Star discovers it. The safety of the world depends on this quest, and the future of magical creatures everywhere hinges on the outcome.

Kendra finds that she has some amazing, fairy gifted, abilities, like seeing in the dark and understanding different languages. Seth finds that he is braver than he ever dreamed possible, but smart enough to know when a little fright and caution is a good thing. Together, the two will uncover mysteries, make their way through Brownie tunnels, and face terrors of high proportions. Will they figure out who has infiltrated Fablehaven? Can they get to the artifact before it is too late? Do you know who to trust?

Brandon Mull has done it again. His works are an absolute escape into fantasy but with a grounded foundation in reality that makes it all the easier to fall under his trance. This stand alone book, the second in the series, is much anticipated, but it will also leave readers frantic for more. The implications of future storylines are highly enticing and promise great enjoyment. Mull has a way of drawing in even the most reluctant of readers. His characters are teeming with strengths and abilities, weaknesses and faults. The imagination is set free, all the while inspiring readers to discover their own inner selves. With a social message or two, Brandon Mull has penned another masterpiece. In the traditions of Tolkien and Rowland, but with a wonderful style that is all his own, this author is one to watch and eagerly anticipate future works from.