Monday, May 20, 2019

"The Bullybuster" by Clay Cormany

It began with Trevor Newsome being pushed down a stairwell at school. He was a notorious bully and had been terrorizing others at the school for quite some time. Then Colt Miller, another bully, was attacked and his nose broken in the boys bathroom. Each of them claimed to have been attacked by a robot, though their descriptions of their attackers didn’t match. Nor was any robot found anywhere nearby, so where was this mysterious device? And despite a thorough search of the school, how was no such robot found? And most importantly… who had built it and who was using it to attack the school bullies?

This was a very interesting young adult tale that dealt with high school bullying in a very realistic manner. It was also an entertaining mystery as the main character Owen needs to help his aunt, the school’s new principal, find the robot and those responsible for using it to attack other students before anyone else is hurt or possibly killed in a future attack.

This tale showed how often bullying goes unreported by both the victims as well as witnesses for many reasons. It also shows what can happen when those being bullied have had to deal with more than anyone should have to deal with on a daily basis. The results can cause devastating issues that the victims must often face every day for the rest of their lives.

What happens when the victims of extreme or repeated bullying stand up to or seek revenge against their tormentors? This book shows one very real possibility of what could happen. Given how quickly robotics are becoming a part of our everyday lives, I could easily see high school students, and possibly even middle school students, being capable of building a “bullybuster” to help solve their problems with school bullies.

I found this a well-written story, though the book did have a few issues of extra spaces appearing in the middle of words here & there. It caught and held my interest throughout the book. I would definitely recommend reading this story to anyone. So many kids in school are bullied every day and whether the reader was or wasn’t a victim or a bully in school, I believe they will still find it worth their time to read. Recommended.

Monday, May 13, 2019

"Of Wolves and Sheep" by S.E. Meyer

In the future, it is very important for people to get their “treatments” every week to avoid dying of Fleishman’s Disease, something that had been affecting more and more people each year. Those who couldn’t afford the highly expensive treatments for the disease would soon die from it, though more than likely they would be banished before then to live beyond the wall with the others who had been previously banished for one reason or another.

Montana (Anna) has lived her whole life inside the wall, following the rules and working her way up to become a Homicide Detective just as her mother had done. But now she is learning more about her mother’s murder as well as many other things. Can she, along with the one known as the Lone Wolf, solve the mystery of who had killed her mother and why before Anna winds up in the same position herself?

I really enjoyed this novella. It was well written and well edited. This book begins a fascinating series that drew me in & held my interest throughout the entire story. While only a fictional tale, it contains enough realistic behaviors and reactions to various stimuli that it is easy to see how what happens in the story could very easily begin to happen in today’s world. The ending of this book though is what truly makes me look forward to reading the sequel once it is released. (I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I’ve already pre-ordered my copy!)

If you enjoy dystopian fiction that contains enough of a parallel to things happening in today’s world, then I strongly recommend reading this book.

Monday, May 6, 2019

"A Queen's Spy" by Sam Burnell

Young King Edward of England lay dying, and with his death Lord Northumberland was about to lose the power over the country that he had obtained through his manipulation of the young monarch. In an effort to retain his control over the crown, Northumberland attempted to have Edward change the succession.

Instead of the having the crown passing from Edward to Henry VIII’s eldest daughter Mary (a devout Catholic) and should she not bear any children then to her sister Elizabeth (a protestant), through the altered succession, the crown would first pass instead to Lady Jane Grey and any children she should bear. Let’s just say that in the end, things didn’t quite turn out as Northumberland had hoped they would.

This was a stressful time for everyone involved. Religion was very important to the direction the country would take, and which religion that would be depended on who sat on the throne. Quite often, attempts to control which Queen would be the one ruling the country ended poorly for those attempting to influence the outcome.

This book seems to center mainly on the Fitzwarrens and their attempts to help influence the outcome of who will ultimately control England’s future. Richard Fitzwarren appears be willing to support whichever side will offer him the biggest reward for his help and support. Yet at the same time, his friendship to Elizabeth seems to compel him to seek to protect her. Which side he is truly supporting (Mary’s, Elizabeth’s, or merely his own), remains to be seen.

While I did enjoy reading this book, I do need to warn the reader that it is a very long book (778 pages to be exact.) It could have used a bit more editing/proofreading in spots. Parts of the story seemed to move more quickly than others, but the intertwining stories of the main characters and how they related to each other throughout was interesting enough to keep me reading. Though I will admit that at times I did feel the book continued for longer than I might have prefered, I’m not really sure where the author could have attempted to break this into two separate books. It may not realistically have been possible as ultimately it was truly one story.

Would I continue on and read the next book in the series? Most likely. Despite this one being a very long book, the characters and their interactions were quite interesting and did hold my attention enough to make me want to know more. And the ending of this book also held my interest and left me wanting to know more about the Fitzwarrens, as well as their relationships with Mary, and Elizabeth.

So ultimately, yes I did enjoy this book. If you don’t mind long historical fiction novels, chances are you will too. But if, on the other hand, you prefer shorter novels then very likely this one might not be your cup of tea.

Monday, April 29, 2019

"The Christmas Carousel" by Annabel Allen

When they were 16, Eric, Ashley, and Mark were among the best of friends. But when Mark’s grandfather passed away, everything changed. Mark’s grandfather had left his entire estate to his grandson in a trust. Mark’s guardians had been hoping to sell the property, but upon learning that they couldn’t, they still refused to allow Mark to remain living in the town. Instead, they insisted that he should attend an expensive school elsewhere. It would be 10 years before he would return to what had once been his childhood home.

When he did return, it was with the intent to sell the estate that had long ago held so much joy both for him and the rest of the town. When his grandfather had still lived, the town had held holiday celebrations at the estate. With his passing, the estate was closed down and the property became an overgrown, abandoned mess.

Ashley couldn’t understand why he was selling and leaving her behind once again. She remembered the fun they had all had before his family had moved. And even after the passage of all that time, she was still very much in love with Mark. Yet he seemed to vary between wanting to be around her and desperately trying to run away from her. The question was, why?

This tale was sweet and romantic. I enjoyed reading it. It carries with it the unspoken warning that sometimes you can risk your own happy ending by trying to always put others’ desires ahead of your own. What in many circumstances might seem to be the right thing to do can just as easily have the wrong outcome.

Monday, April 22, 2019

"The Mail Order Bride
and her Barren Shame"
by Florence Linnington

Ruth has had a rough life. In her youth, she lost the ability to have children of her own, then the factory where she was working was destroyed in a fire. After that, she decided to start her life over and accepted a marriage proposal from a man in California. She journeyed with a wagon train to meet him. Unwilling to wait any longer than necessary for her to reach him, Harrison decided to meet the wagons on their way to town. He was quite eager to reach his bride and start his family life with her and their future children.

But what Ruth found herself unable to tell him was that she would never be able to give him the children he craved. It was a secret that gnawed at her and one she knew that she needed to tell him about before it was too late, yet with each passing moment, it became more and more difficult to tell him the truth. She had already fallen in love with him and feared losing him the moment he learned that she could never give him a son.

There were many other things she could help him with, and many other ways in which she could help to make their life together better and stronger, yet knowing the one thing she could never offer him was what he desired most in the world, would he still want her or would it destroy any chance of lasting happiness between them?

I enjoyed reading this story. Ruth was a strong woman in her own right, though her fear of losing Harrison was very real and quite understandable. At this point in history, much of a woman’s perceived worth depended on her ability to give a man a family. When one does not share the impossibility of future children with the man she is about to marry, what is the chance that the man she loves will still consider her worth marrying? The two of these characters went through some rough times in their early relationship and I enjoyed watching them try to work through their problems to find their way together.

I did run across a few typos as I read, but they were generally small. And really, what book these days doesn’t seem to have at least a few typos that make it through the editing process? The story was interesting and took place in a new setting with different characters than I have run into in the previous books that I have read from this author. If this is the start of a new series by her, I look forward to seeing more of these books in the future.

Monday, April 15, 2019

"Conspiracy of Lies" by Kathryn Gauci

Sarah’s mother Claire, suffers her second heart attack after apparently reading a newspaper clipping about the death of an elderly German man that someone had sent to her from France. Sarah wasn’t familiar with the Frenchman who had sent her mother the notice, nor the man who had passed away. She was certain though, that this was what had triggered her mother’s most recent heart attack.

After recovering and being released from the hospital, Claire decides that she would like to visit France and would like her daughter to accompany her on the trip. Surprisingly, it is not the usual places that most tourists wish to see, but rather she wishes to visit somewhere she hasn’t even spoken of in her daughter’s memory. And once there, Claire begins to tell her daughter the tale of her life during WWII, a story that she has never even mentioned before.

Claire’s tale is one of love and heartbreak. Claire had been in France before the war had truly started, and had spent a number of years working various other jobs before finding herself in a unique position and being recruited to work with the Resistance as an undercover agent against the Germans. It was something Sarah hadn’t been aware of as well as the start of an amazing tale of her mother’s strength and bravery during a time of great hardship and loss.

I enjoyed reading this story. There was enough detail and expressions in the various languages used in the area at that time to bring the readers truly into the story and make them feel almost a part of what was happening. There were a few small typos that I ran into here & there, but not enough to really disrupt the flow of the action.

The story told by Claire to her daughter draws both Sarah and the reader of the book in and makes them want to know what happened and how it will all end. It has the reader both wanting Claire to get the happy ending, while at the same praying for her to succeed in completing the mission she has been assigned. And all the while, it seems to be fairly clear that the two possible outcomes are likely to be completely at odds with one another.

I am glad that I had the opportunity to read this book and will definitely be looking forward to the chance to read other stories by Ms. Gauci. She tells a very entertaining historical fiction tale in this book, and I hope to read more of her books in the future.

Monday, April 8, 2019

"Ghostly Paws" by Leighann Dobbs

When the town librarian is killed early one morning, everyone in town is left stunned. No one could understand why anyone would want to kill sweet, harmless Livinia. And when Lavinia’s ghost starts appearing inside the bookstore to tell Willa that she needs her to find the murderer, what else can Willa do? No one else seems to be able to see or hear any of the ghosts in the town, and Willa just can’t say no.

Fortunately, Willa has the help of her cat Pandora, though having not had Pandora in her care for long, Willa is as yet unaware of just how much help Pandora can be in these ghostly matters. There is magic and mystery afoot in Mystic Notch, and with it comes the age old battle of good versus evil.

I enjoyed this story. It was a fun and interesting little mystery that I found very entertaining. And as a “cat mom” myself, I loved the interactions between the house cats, the feral cat colony and the people who think they are caring for the animals (though as is often the case when one is partnered with a cat, it is usually the cat that is truly in charge.)

I think anyone taking the time to read this tale will find it as fun and amusing as I did. It is a very quick read and quite entertaining. I will be looking up more books in this series to continue reading about Willa, Pandora, and the other residents of Mystic Notch again soon. You can count on that!

"The Bullybuster" by Clay Cormany

It began with Trevor Newsome being pushed down a stairwell at school. He was a notorious bully and had been terrorizing others at the s...