Thursday, October 29, 2015

Two great new children's books about nature and new adventures

Today, I have two new great children’s books to review.

First, The Great Carp Escape by Irish Beth Maddock, illustrated by Lucent Ourano, is a story about taking care of all God’s creatures, even the ugly ones. Beth and Paul live by a lake. They often on the shore and swim. Paul likes to dig for clams while Beth likes to snorkel and lie so still that minnows swim up to her nose. One day, they discover that the carp have been trapped in a pond under a weeping willow. Together with their dad and neighbors, Beth and Paul dig a trench from the pond to the lake and guide the carp down the new creek. My daughter and I enjoyed reading this story as we followed Beth and Paul as they learn that even ugly fish like the carp need help. The illustrations are beautiful and vivid which helps add even more life to a beautiful story. I highly recommend this book for any school, library and family.

Second, A New Life Begins: The Adventures of Zealy and Whubba Book 1 Series 1 is the story of Zealy, a beautiful seal, who is newly born and lives with her mommy and daddy. She soon meets a baby orca whale named Whubba. Whubba watches over his new friend day and night. They become best of friends ready for new adventures together. When this book arrived, my daughter eagerly wanted to read it. It was beautifully illustrated and a wonderful and simple story that children will enjoy.

The Great Carp Escape
is available on Amazon
for Kindle $6.99
in paperback $12.99
And Barnes and Noble for $12.99
Also available for fundraising opportunities
For more information:

A New Life Begins:
The Adventures of Zealy and Whubba Book 1 Series 1
is available on Amazon
for Kindle $3.49, free with Kindle Unlimited
in hardcover for $19.95 and in paperback for $16.95
Also at Barnes and Noble
In hardcover $17.95
paperback $15.95

Nook $7.99

Monday, October 26, 2015

Vacationland: a story of sabotage and revenge

Vacationland by Nat Goodale is a story of a way of life and the changes which can threaten a town and an industry. Located on the coast of Maine, a small town is faced with influx on newcomers who want to change their town. Some see the benefits while others will fight tooth and nail to keep things as they are.

Donny Coombs is a lobsterman like generations of men before him. He lives simply but comfortably. That is until new neighbors build a house next to his property. Delano Nelson and his wife, Eliza are a well-to-do couple who want to make the area for rich vacationers. Donny and his neighbors immediately began to butt heads about state of his property. Donny soon meets the beautiful Shelly Peterson, the daughter of one of the people trying to change the town. They soon have a whirlwind romance as her father doesn’t approve and Shelly doesn’t care. Soon, Donny notices that someone is messing with his lobster traps, his dog gets poisoned and sugar in his gas tank. Who is trying to sabotage his livelihood and hurt him? Is it his new neighbors or it is someone else lurking in the background?

I enjoyed Vacationland and recommended it to all. Donny is a gruff, rough around edges guy who wants to trap his lobsters in peace. He doesn’t want to be bothered and won’t bother others. When the Nelsons try to pretty him up, he fights back and fights back hard. No one messes with Donny. I also enjoyed how the book shows the ugly side of when an area is changed to benefit the luxury of others rather than the livelihoods of the locals. There is one scene when Delano Nelson complains that the congestion at the docks, the town council has the foresight to remind him that the lobster boats have priority on the docks because the lobster they bring in funds the town. This book is filled with romance, mystery and suspense as Donny must discover who is trying to sabotage him.
Vacationland is available
On the Kindle for $4.99

And in paperback for $14.99

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Lonesome Cowboy: a story of following your dreams against all odds

Lonesome Cowboy by Frank Lowe is a story about a young man who must reinvent himself in order to chase his dreams.

The story opens with Red, a singing cowboy, getting ready to sing in a town he swore he’d never return to. He only returned because his son, Kyle, urged him too. But Red has seen a very painful life, a life that his son knew very little of. Kyle will soon learn the painful secret his father has been hiding. Once Red, whose real name is David, confronts his past, it opens a world of opportunity for his son. Kyle soon meets Miranda Romero-Durante, a beautiful Mexican woman who works at her family’s restaurant. After a sudden tragedy, the family is forced to return to Mexico, leaving Kyle behind to figure out a way for his future with Miranda. He is faced with a great challenge as he is not Mexican and Miranda’s family will look to her to carry on the family name with a Mexican man. Will Kyle be able to find a way to build a life with Miranda?

I enjoyed this book. I thought it would be about a struggling singer who finally makes it big but it was better than that. I loved a line which David speaks to Kyle, “Never only means not yet,” meaning don’t give up. I also loved the final confrontation with Miranda’s scheming aunt. It was a great “HA! In your face!” moment. I highly recommend Lonesome Cowboy as a story of inspiration and following your dreams.
Lonesome Cowboy
is available on


Friday, October 9, 2015

Black inked pearl: A girl's quest

When I received the email invite to read Black-inked pearl: A girl’s quest by Ruth Finnegan, I was intrigued by the description: “An epic romance about the naive Irish girl Kate and her mysterious lover, whom she rejects in panic and then spends her life seeking.” A story about a lost love and a lifetime spent searching for it again. The opening chapter was breathtaking and I loved the imagery of the search, turning back to find your love has gone. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish it.

I’m sad when a book gets a place on my “Did Not Finish” list. It’s a list that no author wants their book to be on. I read 11 chapters, 75 pages and I was lost. Hopelessly lost. According to the book’s Goodreads page, the story is the interlacing of between this world and another. The story did flow like a dream with ambiguity and odd occurrences that often happen in dreams. The publisher, Garn Press, regard the book as a “rare work of genius, a novel that is unparalleled in modern times on dream, dementia, and truth.”  The classic themes of passion, troubles, torment and grief in the novel are reminiscent of Homer, Soranzo’s Adamo and Milton’s Paradise Lost, Shakespeare’s sonnets and James Joyce. Maybe this is why I was unable to finish because despite reading Shakespeare’s sonnets in high school and I have never read these classic works.

I’m sorry, Ms. Finnegan, you captured me with the opening chapter. I loved the line “But his figure lost in the mist, her footmarks, the way, lost in the water.” It sent chills through me. Sadly, I couldn’t follow the story. I wanted to so bad because the language was so beautiful. I couldn’t. If you are a fan of or even familiar with the classic works mentioned above, you may enjoy this. I might look in to these classic works myself and give this book another go. For now, it has to be shelved. A sad day for a bookworm.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Miss Fortune: a memoir of one's journey to better her life

Miss Fortune by Albina Hume is a memoir of one woman’s journey from poverty in the Ukraine to animal activism in Africa. It is a life which many of us can hardly imagine but a classic story of picking yourself up from the dust and creating a great life in any way possible.

The story opens with a prologue, Albina is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her wedding invitations which features a butterfly as a representation of the beginning of new life. She lives on a ranch in Africa with her fiance, John, who works to save the white rhinos from extinction. The short, then, flashes back to childhood and life in the Ukraine. She struggled with the pronunciation of the letter “R” and was horribly teased because of it. She would spend her life trying to avoid all words with Rs, which would be proved hard in a language with strong R pronunciations like Russian. She would be educated in boarding schools and when she has her diploma in hand, she would try to find a job. Only the doors to steady work would be closed to her as employers discovered she was a villager. She soon gets into deep debt, trying to make a living and turns to exotic dancing in order to pay those off. She would soon find herself in Greece, where she would fall in and out of love as she is used and betrayed by men who lied. She would eventually turn to a marriage agency which leads her to John and his ranch in Africa.

I received a PDF copy of this book which was hard to read at first, mainly because I have never read a book in this format before. But once I figured it out, the book was a fast read because it kept me intrigued. Her story seems only like it was written for a movie. Her story was all the more heart wrenching because she lived it. As I read her descriptions of her journey, her disappointments, her struggles, I found myself horrified that this was her journey but I rejoiced with her as she found love and a new purpose in her life. I recommend Miss Fortune as a life story which will inspire and encourage other to take their life circumstances and change them for the better.  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Today in history: 1849, Edgar Allan Poe is found delirious in the street of Baltimore

Today in history, in 1849, Edgar Allan Poe is discovered in a gutter in Baltimore, Maryland. Under very mysterious circumstances, he was found delirious. It would be the last time he would be seen in public. Poe is considered a part of the American Romantic and Gothic Movements and nicknamed the Father of the Detective Story. Though he was never a financial success in his life, Poe has become of one America’s most enduring writers whose poems and stories have captured by the imagination and interest of generations of readers from around the world. His life and death would be clouded with mystery seemingly mirroring his stories.

Poe’s most famous poem is, of course, The Raven. Published in 1845, it portrays a supernatural atmosphere in which a talking raven mysteriously visits a distraught man, lamenting about the loss of his love, Lenore. The poem traces the man’s descent into madness. Sitting on a bust of Pallas (also known as Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom), the raven further the man’s distress with the constant repeating of “Nevermore.” My favorite rendition of The Raven was portrayed by The Simpson’s Halloween special The Treehouse of Horror (October 25, 1990). Another of Poe’s poem would be his last, Annabel Lee (1849), tells of one man’s love for the beautiful Annabel Lee even after her death. The story of the two fell in love in a kingdom by the sea with a love so strong that it made the angels envious. A love so strong that it extends beyond the grace with their souls forever entwined. He dreams of her every night as he lies by her side, at her tomb by the sea. These two poems are my favorite of Poe’s poems. Imagines of what overwhelming grief can do to someone’s mental health.

While many people are more familiar with The Raven, Poe was wrote many detective stories featuring C. Auguste Dupin. Dupin is considered the first fictional detective who displays many traits as other famous fictional detectives as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes (first appearance in 1887) and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot (first appearance in 1920). The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) is recognized as the first modern detective story which Poe referred to as one of his “tales of ratiocination” (French for reasoning). In this story, Dupin must solve the murders of two women which witnesses heard but didn’t recognize the language and a hair which doesn’t appear to be human. The Mystery of Marie Roget (1842) is the first story to be based on the details of a real crime. The murder of Mary Cecilia Rogers was the inspiration, who was found in the Hudson River in July 1841 after a mysterious disappearance. A third story, The Purloined Letter (1844), was the last to feature Dupin and a case about a stolen letter from inside a locked office.

Everyone is familiar with Poe’s horror stories. One of the most famous, The Tell Tale Heart (1843) tells the story of a man who commits a premeditated murder, dismembers the body and hides it under the floorboards. His guilt is manifested by the auditory hallucinations of the dead man’s beating heart. The Cask of Amontillado (1846) is a story that I read in middle school about a man who seeks revenge on a friend, who he believes has insulted him. He seals his friend inside a catacomb underneath an Italian city. The Masque of the Red Death (1842) is a story of a prince’s desperate attempts to avoid a dangerous plague that he and other nobles hide in his abbey. The story takes place during a masquerade ball in which a mysterious figure dressed as a Red Death victim enter and makes his way among them.

After the death of his wife, Virginia in 1847, Poe began to suffer poor health and struggled financially. His final days are a mystery. He left Richmond, Virginia on September 27, 1849, supposedly on his way to Philadelphia. He would turn up in Baltimore on October 3rd.  He was taken to Washington College Hospital where he would die on October 7th with his last words, “Lord, help my poor soul.” There are many theories about the cause of death: “congestion of the brain,” alcoholism, rabies, epilepsy, and carbon monoxide poisoning. The mystery of his death only adds to the mystery and haunting themes of his poems and stories. If you are not familiar with Edgar Allan Poe’s poems and short stories, I highly recommend reading them, especially during the spookiness of Halloween.