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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fiction Review

By John Reyer Afamasaga
ISBN: 978-0-9803486-1-3
Review by Heather Froeschl

We know how computer virus’ can enter our lives, sucking our information into cyberspace. What if that could happen literally? Pulling our very minds and personalities into a platform? This scary topic is the basis for John Reyer Afamasaga’s book, “WIPE.”

Two people are responsible for a video game that creates itself by drawing the ideas and inclinations through the controller the players hold in their hands. New levels are formed and the game grows as more people play. More people become part of the diversion. The largest gaming corporations are anxious to discover who has created this monster and the world looks on in anxiety and awe.

Meanwhile, a seven year old orphan girl in Russia dreams of a life full of love and devotion. Polina has a friend in Alexvale Rokov III, her penpal who lives in London. What do these two have to do with the game? Apparently a great deal more than anyone would suspect. One player, John Page, is given clues to how the online game works. Will he be the sole winner? Will he be the answer to young Polina’s prayers?

This novel is not for the easy reading set. It is challenging, sometimes confusing, if not downright chaotic. Perhaps the author did this on purpose, in the frenetic feel of online gaming and the scattered thoughts of young children in hectic circumstance. The characters become real, as if pulled from reality as in the plot. It is a wild ride based on a fantastical idea. Interesting and entertaining, stimulating, to say the least.

WIPE eBook download:
WIPE eBook review:

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Children's Book Review

The Day I Hit a Home Run at Great American Ball Park
by Paul Mullen
ISBN-10: 1933197293
Review by Heather Froeschl

The smack of the bat hitting the ball is a sound little leaguers and parents alike adore. Watching my boy play ball is one of my favorite things; seeing him reading is another. Paul Mullen’s “The Day I Hit a Home Run at Great American Ball Park” is a pretty pitch to aim for in both ballparks.

Michael “Fuji” Powers is coming into his own through a summer of baseball, the love of family, and the adventures of childhood. Getting his chance to prove himself on the field is what every ball player deserves and Michael gets his chance to shine. Neighborhood games and a first love, night fishing and selling candy bars are all part of the deal in what turns out to be a well rounded book that middle readers and adults will enjoy.

Michael endures the bully of the team, runs many laps to make amends for errors, and gets his shot at fame when the team’s second baseman gets drafted to another team. Playing at Great American Park was the dream; playing well becomes the goal.

This endearing tale of America’s favorite pastime, the importance of friends and family, and growing up just a little, is a great read. The plot runs smoothly and the story is fantastic. There was a bit of confusion in what year the tale takes place, only in reference to popular icons and the manner of speech of the characters. It is as if the author were capturing his own youth in print but putting it into a story of today. Overall, Paul Mullen has done an excellent job of offering an enticing read.

Non-Fiction Inspirational Review

All the Good in Sports
by Mike Sandrolini
ISBN-10: 0830744746
Review by Heather Froeschl

Sports personalities are so often revered for their physical accomplishments or else shunned for their moral faults. The world puts these people on a pedestal and expects them not to be human. Mike Sandrolini takes a closer look and finds something spectacular to cheer about in his offering, “All the Good in Sports: True Stories That go Beyond the Headlines.”

With twenty contemporary sports personalities, sportswriter Sandrolini goes behind the top scores and record breaking events to get personal with the special purpose of each of these stars. They are all quite human and reveal their humbling efforts to share their faith. Christian Hosoi, of skateboarding fame, shares his story of finding God in his jail cell. Mariano Rivera, Yankees’ 1999 World Series MVP, explains how he is grateful to God and how he enjoys gathering with young minor leaguers for Bible study. Mary Lou Retton, the famed gold medal winning gymnast, is now a motivational speaker and author and openly shares her dedication to being a Christian. Matt Hasselbeck, Ruth Riley, Payne Stewart, and Dave Downing, among others, also reveal their faith.

Clearly demonstrating that it’s not all about the multi millions, Wheaties boxes, and adoring fans, the athletes exhibited here are so much more. Author Mike Sandrolini presents a higher purpose than winning the game in his stories. Well presented and interesting to read, the collection is based on sports and faith. To any Christian sports enthusiast, this book is sure to be a huge inspiration.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Fiction Review

With A Gentleman's Heart
by Phillip J. Archer
ISBN-10: 1425962254
Review by Heather Froeschl

Does adult life begin at the turning of the clock on the twenty first birthday? We all know that it doesn’t…it could happen much before, or much later. In Phillip Archer’s novel, “With a Gentleman’s Heart” readers are given a glimpse into the making of a man and what I think is an atypical twenty year old.

Damon is a dedicated hard worker. He has two jobs to keep him busy and he has two roommates, one of which is a fun loving drinking buddy and the other is an ex-girlfriend close companion who there may still be feelings with. The lives of these friends revolve around work, college, and exploring the possibilities. When Damon’s twenty first birthday approaches he is against the typical celebratory plans and chooses to take a road trip by himself instead. Where he ends up and with whom, could possibly change his life. Was it the birthday that did it or the circumstances, or was he already a gentleman at heart? The past is brought into the present and it all comes crashing in together on the beach of South Carolina.

The novel is rich with life and displays a strong character in Damon. The style is a little formal for me, demanding a bit more attention than I am used to giving to reading fiction, but one does become used to it. The plot builds slowly, creating the atmosphere of young adulthood. Phillip Archer’s work here is interesting!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Fiction Review

Stingy Jack
by R. Scott Taylor
ISBN-10: 1601452691
Review by Heather Froeschl

Give the devil his due; he is a temptation. Luring souls into sin is his game, the prize being the souls to claim. In “Stingy Jack” by R. Scott Taylor, two souls may be about to escape the clutches of Old Scratch. One has been roaming the earth for centuries, the other may be about to do the same.

Adam is a thief. Quitting school and entering the college of hard knocks and real life, he began pilfering, swiping, stealing and surviving. He was tutored by Nicky, a greater thief and more sophisticated gentleman, who may be more than it would seem. There is a last big escapade in the works, one which could retire the pair if they aren’t too greedy. Plans are being made and this job might bring in millions. Adam becomes distracted though, first by a beautiful woman and then by a lurking shadow. It may be that the shadow is trying to make amends for his own sinful past, and he introduces himself as Jack.

Jack tells tales of Celtic lore, but really they are his own life story. He tricked the devil once or twice and bears the weight of his burdens. Adam listens intently, sharing hours and drinks at bars around Boston. Jack’s life was not an easy one but he made it worse by being a thief. He pilfered, swiped, stole, and survived for quite a while. He stole the heart of young Colleen and left her on her own. His dealings with the devil haunt him still. Will he be of assistance to Adam or is he just a lonely soul in search of spirits? Will Adam find his heart and then leave her to her own life as Jack had done? When making deals with Satan it might be hard to think straight.

This novel is a fast and fun read. There seems to be a fascination with people who cheat the system and the devil himself. Readers will get hooked by Adam and then again by Jack. The plot flows well, visiting Vegas, Boston, and old Ireland. Jack’s tales are my favorite, with the twisting in of mythology. An interesting novel; I enjoyed it.