Book Reviews

Book of the Month – “Rebecca Steele: Chasing a Dream”

Every month, I will do my best to read and review one book (non-fiction, fiction, poetry, etc.) from an up-and-coming author. These authors are often times my friends and fellow bloggers. They “gift” me their books and in return I offer up 100% honest and genuine reviews. If you would like for me to feature your book, please see my original post on the matter here: Now Offering: Book Reviews.

Book of September: Rebecca Steele: Chasing a Dream

Author: Joanne Patterson

Chasing a Dream

Brief Summary (*SPOILER ALERT*)

The story is set in the 1970s when main protagonist Rebecca “Becky” Steele, an airplane stewardess, is introduced to the men behind the United States Silver Eagle airshows. Becky, who is recently divorced from her husband after he disappeared one day and left her to move in with his girlfriend, is struggling. When she meets Johnny, one of the Silver Eagles, she is quickly infatuated. Led on by his advances, Becky fancies herself and Johnny to be in love. Due to her seniority, she is able to move around her work shifts and constantly schedules herself around the airshows so that she can continue to meet with Johnny and fall into his bed. She moves from the rank of “hammer” to “hole card” as she quickly becomes Johnny’s go-to-gal. That is, until she learns he has another “hole card” and that is the one he plans on marrying, not her.

Devastated by the turn of events, Becky returns home and starts to seriously pursue music. Although it takes nearly twenty years, she works hard and gets signed with a record label. It is during this time of “stardom” that Becky is reintroduced to characters like Johnny and his best mate, Mike, who has played around on the sidelines of Becky’s life. Twenty years later and Becky must decide where her heart truly lies and what love really is.

Review & Star Rating

3-star2

I will be honest. I struggled hard with the beginning of this book, not because it was poorly written but because I simply did not like the main character, Becky. What you have to understand is this, the plot is written during the “free love” of the 70s and there is a lot of sex (and women) being passed around between characters. While the author is never explicit and handles those scenes really well (hats off to Joanne Patterson for never feeling like you needed to be graphic), there were still way too many for my taste. Men used women and women used men, but women were used more. Also, Becky kept saying how “in love” she was with Johnny when really, all there seemed to be was infatuation and lust. For another reader, that might not bother you! Indeed, many readers have loved this book, so I say to each their own. For those reasons, I struggled with the first half of the book.

It is in the last third of the book where Becky has disentangled herself from the Silver Eagles that I felt like I could finally be on her side. Although she maintained some of her delusions about Johnny, you could definitely feel the maturity that she had gained. Again, I want to point out that my rating is really based on my personal taste. In general, the ending is what made the book for me. I wish that the author had hinted more about Becky’s musical talents and aspirations earlier on in the book so that they did not come out of left field in the end, but I really enjoyed that subplot.

Recommendations

For anyone who is not bothered by the “free love” of the 70s, I recommend this book. The ending really only had two options: one that would make me throw the book in frustration and one that would redeem the first half in my eyes. What was really great is this: you did not know which way it would go until the very last second. A great twist.

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© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Reviews

Book of the Month – “The Dragonfly Whisper”

Every month, I will do my best to read and review one book (non-fiction, fiction, poetry, etc.) from an up-and-coming author. These authors are often times my friends and fellow bloggers. They “gift” me their books and in return I offer up 100% honest and genuine reviews. If you would like for me to feature your book, please see my original post on the matter here: Now Offering: Book Reviews.

Book of August: The Dragonfly Whisper

Author: Sandra Godfrey

 

Brief Summary

The Dragonfly Whisper is Sandra Godfrey’s debut novel which is currently in the process of being published by Taylor and Seale Publishing. Therefore, this review as more of an ARC review as I was gifted with a pre-published version. The Dragonfly Whisper is a novella directed at middle school readers.

Main character, Flynn Flanders, is a young boy in fifth grade who is easily distracted and often thinks about his mom who is missing from the family unit. The morning that his science project topic is due, Flynn happens to find and catch a talking dragonfly named Dash who also recently lost his best friend. Together, the odd pair head off to school where teachers warn Flynn about his failing grades and Dash unintentionally causes more trouble. Together Flynn and Dash work together to learn more about dragonflies in an attempt to win the Science Fair and hopefully reunite Flynn’s broken family.

 

Review & Star Rating

4-star2

The first sentence really sets the scene for the entire book: “Mom’s been gone one hundred days.” Immediately, my mind asks, “Gone? Gone like she left? Gone like she’s dead?” It’s a fantastic opening line that automatically forces readers to continue reading. While we learn that Flynn’s mom is not dead, simply working out of state, we do realize that Flynn’s family unit is broken. The theme of family pops up throughout the story with Flynn, Flynn’s friend Brittany, and even Dash the dragonfly. As a children’s story, Godfrey skirts around this subject from a child’s point of view, revealing its complexities while also leaving some things unsolved (as children do not always get the answers).

Godfrey’s children’s story also deals with the hot topic of children learning disabilities. This was the only reason why I rated this book 4 out of 5 instead of 5 out of 5. Throughout the story, Flynn has an “imaginary” friend named Dash, but is he imaginary? His parents sure think so, as do his friends and his doctors. No one can hear Dash except for Flynn. Additionally, Flynn tends to see fantastical things that other children do not. The evidence would seem to support that Flynn is imagining things for the majority of the story. However, there are other elements (such as what happens at the Science Fair) that makes it seem that Dash is a sentient, talking being. Is Flynn struggling with a disability and imaging the whole thing or is it all a real fantasy? A reader could make a case for either scenario.

Godfrey’s children story is sure to entertain middle school readers. Her writing at times includes advanced words intended to benefit young learners. At the back of her book, Godfrey includes several pages of education activities intended for teachers to use with their students. The book, both fantastical and whimsical, is sure to not only captivate young audiences but to illuminate their understanding of the natural predator of the sky: dragonflies.

 

Recommendations

I highly recommend this book for young readers. While it features some tough content such as family dysfunction, it is a suitable choice for middle school readers.

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© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Reviews, Reviews

Book of the Month – “Poems and Haikus”

Every month, I will do my best to read and review one book (non-fiction, fiction, poetry, etc.) from an up-and-coming author. These authors are often times my friends and fellow bloggers. If you would like for me to feature your book, please see my original post on the matter here: Now Offering: Book Reviews.

Book of July: Poems and Haikus

Author: BGC

 

Brief Summary

In the Author’s Note, BGC introduces her work as “personal thoughts, experiences or proses . . . [works that] reflect the human emotions by transforming words into feelings.” Following this train of thought, it is no surprise that BGC’s first poem is titled “A child’s life.” However, do not let the flower imagery at the beginning fool you. This first poem is filled with darkness, despair, and a desperate sense of wonder.

This book contains over 75 poems which topics range from: childhood memories, whimsical fiction, melancholy scenery, evolution, God,  language, Christmas and more. The length of each poem differs from one another, while some are three lines and others are the length of an entire page. BGC also ranges from using free verse or rhymed stanzas.

Review & Star Rating

2-star2

I would give this book of poetry two stars. Overall, it is a compilation of poems that do not necessarily work well together. Often times, my favorites poetry books are those that have a theme. While the poems should be different, a successful poetry book, in my opinion, should circle around a theme or idea. The separate pieces should form a whole. Additionally, there were multiple grammar and formatting issues that proved distracting from the poems.

Regardless of my above issues, BGC does have some good poems woven throughout the book. In particular, I enjoyed “Thoughts” and “United.” In the poem “Thoughts,” BGC illuminates the process through which thoughts transform into works of literature. “White sheets of paper / Filled with ink / Staining the journal / drop after drop.” Now, those are some great lines! I loved the imagery!

Other poems such as “A rat & a cat” and “A fur” were whimsical to the extreme and stuck out apart from the rest of the book in an odd way. All in all, my greatest wish is that the author had separated these many poems into certain themes or even sections within one book so as to highlight the unity of a singular idea.

 

Recommendations

For anyone who loves poetry, leaning more toward free-verse and train-of-thought, I am sure you could find enjoyment in various of BGC’s poems although you may have to sort through the different themes.

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© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Reviews

Book of the Month – “At the Other Side of the Sea” by J. M. Galindo

Every month, I will do my best to read and review one book (non-fiction, fiction, poetry, etc.) from an up-and-coming author. These authors are often times my friends and fellow bloggers. If you would like for me to feature your book, please see my original post on the matter here: Now Offering: Book Reviews.

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Book of June: At the Other Side of the Sea

Author: J. M. Galindo

Brief Summary

In his short book, At the Other Side of the Sea written in 2004, J. M. Galindo welcomes readers into his world of poetry and dedicates his work to readers who really want to express their emotions. In the prologue, Galindo introduces, or perhaps re-familiarizes, readers with the term “free verse” as it is through this strategy that he structures his nine poems: “Driving Backwards,” “Dreaming,” “The Other Side of the Sea,” “Doubt left a Hole in My Notebook,” “The Flight,” “Loosing Today Means Winning Tomorrow,” “Welcome to Politics,” “It’s the Way People See Life,” and “Nothing But a Lie.”

Review & Star Rating

3-star2

Poetry, in my opinion, is one of the hardest areas of writing to judge because a lot of it is subjective based on the reader’s personal understanding, likes, dislikes, and insights. For me, I would rate this small collection of poems at 3 stars out of 5 due to personal preferences. By the way, my three stars mean like I like it!

Throughout the book, Galindo incorporates the first person narrative, effectively allowing the reader a window into his heart. There, readers are transported into a world that encourages reflection and endurance. The poem “At the Other Side of the Sea,” for which this book of poetry is named, holds the true essence of the speaker: a wistful hopefulness and a desire to remember and preserve the positive moments and memories of life regardless of the internal or external trials one may face.

Galindo often uses repetitious phrases or stanzas to highlight certain points within his poems. Although there were a couple grammatical errors and the poems at times seemed overly wordy, the book was an intriguing and entertaining read. One of my favorite lines comes from “It’s the Way People See It” in which the speaker writes, “Some will listen, some will not . . . You can’t force a goat to become a sheep.”

Recommendations

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys first-person narrative poetry.

At The Other Side of the Sea: Free verses for a live soul by [Galindo, J. M.]

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© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Book Reviews

Book of the Month – “His Personal Reich” by L. Salt

Every month, I will do my best to read and review one book (non-fiction, fiction, poetry, etc.) from an up-and-coming author. These authors are often times my friends and fellow bloggers. If you would like for me to feature your book, please see my original post on the matter here: Now Offering: Book Reviews.

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Book of May: His Personal Reich

Author: L. Salt

Brief Summary

Andrea Zissman is a simple woman alone in the world. After her mother’s death, Andrea is given instructions to empty a safety deposit box. There she discovers a marriage license (proving that her mother did indeed marry her father although her grandmother told her differently) and half a picture containing not only her father but a brother she has never known. What begins as a journey to find her family turns into an adventure that dates back to World War II and Hitler’s reign of terror. Teaming up with Leon Callais, an eccentric journalist who is also searching for Andrea’s father, the two travel to Iceland.

There the dream of family turns into a nightmare filled with Neo-Nazis and the construction of a machine called “Nothung” which can prove detrimental to the fate of the world as we know it.

Review & Star Rating

3-star2

I was so very conflicted on how to rate this novella. As an action/thriller it does not disappoint. There is non-stop action from the very beginning as the first page pulls readers in with mystery and intrigue. Between the threats of Nazis and an erupting volcano, there is a feeling that Andrea and Leon may be killed at any minute. The plot line is there with its exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. The story itself, or I should say the idea of the story, is fantastic!

Where it falls short is within its brevity. At 22,000 words and a little over 50 pages, there is simply not enough. The story reads more like a movie script in which relationships must be formed quickly and epiphanies must be made within 120 minutes. The relationships and conflicts between characters are filled with potential that demand at least double the page length. Due to the brevity, some moments feel forced, especially Andrea’s forgiveness at the end of the story. Additionally, while all the “key” elements are there, I wish Salt had included the in-between stuff, the sub-plots that really develop characters (showing not telling).

As far as criticism goes however, it is not the worst to hear that your readers were disappointed by the brevity and wanted more of the story.

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I will also note that there is sexually mature content in this book that is not suitable for all readers.

Recommendations

I do recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a fun, quick read. It took me only a couple of hours to finish the book from start to finish. The plot line was intriguing, but perhaps you, like me, will wish that there had been more downtime to allow the characters to breathe.

His Personal Reich

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.