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

Rating: 4 stars

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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WITHOUT MACHINE GUN TO CAMBRAI

Book Review: A Fool In France, by Christina Keith. Part One: The Daintiest of Tan Suede Shoes.

A publisher told me once: books come in two categories; those for men and those for women. Men buy books about Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill and war; women buy novels. Apart from books about cookery and cats, that’s the English market. Writers of men’s books saw the 2014 centenary of the Great War approaching well in time but, so far, few of their books have captured the public imagination, perhaps because too many of them hit the market in one go and too many of them look the same. Most publishers are not mavericks in the herd. Instead of giving us interesting new stories they prefer re-garnishing the old ones. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend every time. Lions led by donkeys; mud, blood and self-sacrifice; in Flanders fields the poppies grow, in industrially homogenised formats.

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My Library of Books for Writing Fantasy

5x5 fantasy bookA short time ago, Ernesto San Giacomo posted his 2015 Reading List. In the list was Writing About Magic by Rayne Hall.

I commented, saying I had several books about magic, herbs and stones to help me with writing my fantasy stories, but I hadn’t read that one. A list was requested, but I hadn’t gotten around to making it until tonight.

Some of these books are one-time reads, but others I keep on the shelf as references. I can’t remember all the properties of stones and herbs, and I can’t recall all the spells (though I make up a lot myself), so these are keepers for me.

Natural Magic – Spells, Enchantments & Self-development by Pamela J. Ball: This book provides insight to magic and how a sorceress might work her spells. Not every magic-user is the same, so you can take a little of this and a little of that to create a character. This book was okay, worth buying, but not my favourite.

The back cover states: Before there was formal religion there was magic, and to this day there are people who purport to perform ‘miracles’ with the aid of magical powers derived from nature or the spirit realm. These powers are still out there to be tapped into by us. All you need is the knowledge and know-how contained in Natural Magic.

This book reveals: How to become a natural magician, using knowledge gathered over thousands of years by magician and mystic alike. Techniques employing plants, trees, crystals and incense along with meditation, ritual, chanting and dreams. The tools to give expression to your creativity and beliefs. A wide range of methods to bring about positive changes in your life.

The Druid Magic Handbook – Ritual Magic Rooted in the Living Earth by John Michael Greer: This book speaks of Life Force, the alphabet of magic, the elements, enchantment and Ogham writing. It gives a great history on the druids, which I thoroughly enjoyed and ‘connected’ with. I discovered many potential story lines by reading it.

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Review: Flying with a Broken Wing by Laura Best

Book ReviewFlying with a Broken Wing by Laura Best

Nimbus Publishing; September 2013

Paperback; 216 pages; 7.75 x 5.25 inches

ISBN: 9781771080385

When I first read the title—Flying with a Broken Wing—I instantly thought of the robin my friends and I had found when we were kids. It couldn’t fly, and we thought its wing was broken. For days we kept it in our tent and brought it food and water. One day when we opened the flap of the tent, it flew out. We watched it fly around the yard then disappear in the distance, heading for the forests that surrounded our community.

I recall the joy of watching something as wild as a robin fly away, knowing I had helped it to regain its ability to live. I thought Laura Best’s story might hold the same joyous feeling. In a way, I wasn’t disappointed.

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Book Review: MACLEAN by Allan Donaldson

Maclean - Allan DonaldsonMACLEAN by Allan Donaldson

Publisher: Vagrant Press (imprint of Nimbus Publishing, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada)

Published: 2005

ISBN: 1-55109-550-5

Price: $14.99 (paperback; 162 pages)

Genre: Historical Fiction

About the Author: Donaldson was born in Taber, Alberta, and at a young age, moved to Woodstock, New Brunswick where his mother’s Irish family had lived for generations. His published work includes a short story collection titled Paradise Siding (1984) and two novels, MACLEAN and The Case About Owen Williams. He currently lives in Fredericton, NB.

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Book Review: 1892 by Paul Butler

1892 by Paul Butler1892 by Paul Butler

Pennywell Books (imprint of Flanker Press, St. John’s, NL, Canada)

Published: June 2008

ISBN: 978-1-897317-28-0

Price: $16.95 (paperback; 165 pages)

Genre: Historical Fiction (romance)

About the Author: Paul Butler is the author of several novels including Cupids, Hero, NaGeira, Easton’s Gold, Easton and Stoker’s Shadow. Born in the UK, he currently lives in St. John’s, NL.

Author’s Website: http://www.paulbutlernovelist.com

THE REVIEW

Cover (4/5): The cover suited the book. It grabbed my attention while at the bookstore hunting for a Christmas gift for my mother. I specifically targeted books about Newfoundland because she’s from there. I found the cover uncluttered, and I could easily read the title and the author’s name.

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