Book Review: “Where There’s A Will” by Judy Penz Sheluk

My first Sheluk book won’t be my last

While I’ve been following Judy Penz Sheluk for some time, Where There’s a Will is the first book by her that I’ve read. My reason: limited reading time and the mound of books waiting for me to read.

Where There’s a Will is the third book in A Glass Dolphin Mystery, but it can be easily read as a stand-alone book, which I’ve done. I don’t feel I’ve missed a huge part of the story though I’m certain the story would have been more fulfilling if I had met the characters and witnessed their earlier struggles in books one and two.

Unlike the previous two books, which contained murder for the mystery, this one is an estate mystery. No murder, or at least no concrete murder is under investigation. To avoid spoilers, I’ll stick to a general review of the book.

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Book Review: “Graves for Drifters and Thieves” by Sophia Minetos

Disclaimer

I’ve been part of Sophia Minetos’ launch team over the past few months, and I received a free copy of Graves for Drifters and Thieves to review.

Confession #1

Halston Harney is my favourite character. Nowadays, for whatever reason, when I read books written by others, I often don’t have a favourite character. It’s odd. Years ago, within a few chapters, I always found a favourite character. I’m not sure why I don’t anymore. I was pleasantly surprised when I found one in this book.

Confession #2

Westerns are one of my favourite genres. I grew up reading the old western novels my oldest brother had bought. I also read western comics, such as Jonah Hex, and watched western television shows (Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger, Dr. Quinn) and movies (Young Guns and every John Wayne and Clint Eastwood western). I’m also writing two western novels.

This made it easy to slip into Graves for Drifters and Thieves.

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Book Review: “Emma” by F. W. Kenyon

Emma F. W. Kenyon 1955

I picked up Emma by F. W. Kenyon at a yard sale back in July. It’s the hard cover 1955 version. Right away, I was surprised at the willingness and ease Emma, the main character only 17 years old in 1780, living in England, gave herself to Captain John Willet-Payne who offered to free her 14-year-old cousin from the Navy, having been forced into it by a press gang. ‘Gave herself’ as in a sexual favour exchanged for a personal favour. Oddly, it seems this wasn’t Emma’s first sexual experience.

No surprise, her stint at Uppark at South Harting in Sussex under Sir Henry Fetherstonhaugh’s protection ended within a year, Emma having become impregnated and showing. Offered protection by Charles Grevill, she eventually falls in love with him as he tutors her into being a refined lady.

In this novel, a man offering protection was not merely him putting a roof over her head and protecting her innocence; it was more often the woman doing the chores and offering her bed whenever her protector needed satisfying.

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Sometimes You Really Can’t Go Back

This was supposed to be a review of Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, but I can’t do it. Back in the mid-80s, reading this novel as an impressionable young teen who loved the fantasy world and wanted to be a writer, I devoured it. Loved it. But times change. Minds grow, develop and adapt to their surroundings. What had enthralled me then, doesn’t today. Let me explain.

A Yard Sale Find

Wanting to relive that feeling I initially felt, when I saw the July 12, 1983 Mass Market version of The Sword of Shannara at a yard sale for 50 cents, I snatched it up. My hardcopy had been out of sight and mind for almost 17 years, when my youngest moved into my office and my office was packed away in boxes and stored in various closets.

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Book Review: Storm of Divine Light by Ernesto San Giacomo

Revisiting the past is a deadly game of false mentors and betrayed apprentices.

Storm of Divine LightHis Mage-Sense had reached out to him like a psychic serpent coiling around his mind and slithering into his subconscious.

I had not gone but a few lines and this sentence coiled its way into my mind. It gave me pause for thought and I wondered, what path have I set my feet upon? More than 300 pages later, I found the path to be one of adventure, mystery and magic; all trails I enjoy.

In Storm of Divine Light, book 1 in The Tales of Tyrennia series, Ernesto San Giacomo weaves a story around a man with a past, a dark past, a past he’d sooner forget. Yet, perhaps Blackmond Moonshadow – oops! I mean Dagorat inwardly wants to find closure for this past life so he can imagine a future, possibly one with a family. While the depth’s of Dagorat’s powers are not fully explored in book one, I feel we will see more of them in the coming books.

His companion, Cyril the Wise, provides guidance and, at times, entertainment with his wisdom and crush on the finest cook in Mentiria, a Halfling named Lilly, who works at Sword and Anvil Tavern.

Together Dagorat and Cyril are called upon to solve a great theft, one that might destroy their world if the stolen goods fall into the wrong hands—and you know, it falls into the wrong hands. They set out to capture the thieves and along the way, Dagorat discovers much more than he bargained for and is forced to confront his dark past or return to it.

Unlike many fantasy stories, I didn’t have to struggle with strange names that make me roll my eyes, wishing the writer would have chosen Bill or George, anything but Sueelliea. While hard-to-pronounce, obviously-made-up-names were popular in the 80s, writers have since realised readers hate them.

Presentation: I bought the paperback. It was well-constructed and well-designed. The text was excellent for these tired, old eyes. Hats off to the designer who chose the layout, line spacing and font size. I loved it.

To learn more about Ernesto and his books, visit his San Giacomo’s Corner – A Place to Connect with Readers.

Storm of Divine Light is available in eBook or paperback at Amazon.

Enjoy.

 

Book Review: Cammie Takes Flight by Laura Best

The full moon reaches its fingers through the tree branches and grabs at the furniture in my bedroom.

Cammie Takes Flight by Laura BestIn my opinion, this is the best line written by Laura Best in Cammie Takes Flight. There are many good lines in the book, but this one instantly created an image that made me pause.

We were introduced to young Cammie Deveau of Tanner, Nova Scotia, in Flying with a Broken Wing. She was living with her Aunt Millie then and at the end of that story, we learn her world was about to expand greatly.

The opening of Cammie Takes Flight puts us in the Halifax School for the Blind, where Cammie is adjusting to life in the big city, making new friends and trying to make sense of the actions of her father, Ed, and her Aunt Millie. Her ultimate goal turns out to be finding her mother, who had abandoned her at birth and who supposedly lives in Halifax.

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Book Review: Passing it on Before Passing On by H. L. Foster, M.Ed.

Passing it on Before Passing On

by H. L. Foster, M.Ed.

Rating: 4 Stars

Before I Begin

Let me tell you where I stand before I review this book. I come from a family with a long history of alcoholism. I grew up with a father who couldn’t control his drinking, and I’ve seen aunts, uncles and siblings go down that hard road. I am not an alcoholic; I see things from the other perspective. While I’m not addicted to alcohol, I feel I have developed characteristics stemming from being conceived under the influence and living within the shadow of an alcoholic.

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Book Review: The Girl at the Top of the Tree by Barry Corbin

The Girl at the Top of the Tree

by Barry Corbin

Published: 2018

ISBN: 978-1775327905

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 380

I enjoy local stories that take place in rural settings, so when I read The Girl at the Top of the Tree, it struct a nerve. The story takes place in rural Nova Scotia, the Annapolis Valley to be exact, or as locals call it, The Valley. It starts several generations into the past, but quickly transports readers to the 1960s.

The brief family history tugs at my genealogical nerve, and I’m wondering about the surname and if I can find it on a census record. Details about the First and Second World Wars also pique my interest. I’ve done a lot of research on both because of family members, including my father, who served in them.

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Book Review: Running Wild with Bossy Boy by Hui Zhou

Running Wild with Bossy Boy

by Hui Zhou

Photographs by Hui Zhou

Rating: 4 Stars

A Wonderful Way to Introduce Children to Chickens

Have you ever dreamt about raising chickens in your backyard? Do you want to learn more about the distinguishing characteristics of chickens? Running Wild with Bossy Boy introduces readers to a lucky flock of chickens that express their traits as they run wild as chickens are supposed to do.

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Sunday Review: The Way (movie)

The Way

Rating: 4 out of 5

For those who seek more from life than society dictates for them.

Spoiler Alert: I’m going to describe only the basis of the story without too many details. I won’t go into the characters’ motives or their individual stories, and I won’t share the ending. You’ll be able to watch after reading this review and still not have scenes spoilt. The trailer gives more away than this review. I’m going to talk about the spiritual side of the story. Don’t mistake this for the religious side because I’m not religious even though travelling el Camino de Santiago is a traditional Catholic pilgrimage (not really, before this it was the traditional Celtic and Pagan pilgrimage to the end of the earth, but that’s another tale.).

The story begins with the main character Dr. Thomas Avery (Martin Sheen) learning his free-spirited son, Daniel (Emilio Estevez), has died during a storm while walking El Camino in the Pyrenees, France. He goes there to collect the remains and decides to walk El Camino for his son.

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Sunday Review: 1964 by James Farner

1964

by James Farner

Rating: 2 stars

A good effort that fell short

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t read the book, this review contains pieces of the story that may hamper your enjoyment if you decide to read it.

I had high hopes for the story for two reasons: 1) For some odd reason titles that use only a year intrigue me; 2) It was set in a small community in the UK. However, the lack of polish and editing of the story slowed the pace and, in some instances, confused me. Many sentences were unnecessarily wordy.

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Sunday Review: Messy Jessy Gets Active by Jayne Peters

Messy Jessy Gets Active

by Jayne Peters

Illustrated by Diane Lucas

Rating: 4 star

A Delightful Read for Children

Studies reveal unorganized play is vital to kids’ mental and physical development. Kids just need to be kids and to be allowed to explore their many interests without a rigid schedule. That’s What Messy Jessy Gets Active is all about.

Jessy was introduced to young readers in her first book, Messy Jessy. The fun-loving girl has a broad interest in activities, everything from hockey to yoga, and she explains to her parents that she loves them all; it’s impossible to choose only one.

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Sunday Review: When the Stars are Right by William Meikle

When the Stars are Right

by William Meikle

Rating: 3 stars

A short story in email format

When I began reading, I was worried I’d have to remember the times and dates for each entry because they were important to the plot. Once I realised they weren’t, I skimmed over them, which left me to concentrate on the story.

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Sunday Review: Have Bags, Will Travel by D. G. Kaye

Have Bags, Will Travel

by D. G. Kaye

Quick, Light Read of Travel Memories

The opening sections had me nodding my head and smiling. Germs. While I’m not as obsessive about them as D. G. Kaye, I am a faithful hand-washer. Years ago, I began using my shirt, jacket or the paper towel I dried my hands with to open public washroom doors. I thought I was the only one who did this until I read Johnny Depp also did. And now I read Kaye does the same.

Kaye explains how air travel has changed over the years with new regulations, restrictions and lack of comfort. It’s not for the better but if you’re like Kaye, you keep travelling and apply humour to the wounds.

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Sunday Review: Wren in the Mist by Beth Hammond

Wren in the Mist: An Orphan, a Thief, Magic, and a Search for Home

by Beth Hammond

Rating: 3 stars

A short story, not a novel.

The first three scenes of the story were a little disjointed for me. The short opening scene is one far into the future. The next scene delivered me to a time when the main character, Thomas, was twelve. Tragedy strikes. After that short scene, we are thrust into the future again, but not as far as the first scene. Since the time-shift is not made obvious, I read as if Thomas was still 12. Once I realised it was in the future, I had to rethink the first few paragraphs.

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