Thursday, 8 March 2018

Eternal Victim - Dexter Morgenstern

Imagine waking up to the sound of incessant beeping and, in the distance, a horrible tune being whistled. You don’t know who you are and everywhere you look you see nothing but shadows. Worse yet, when you look in the mirror, you don’t see a reflection. This is the opening of Dexter Morgenstern’s creepily addictive book, Eternal Victim. It starts with an edge-of-your-seat style of writing that carries throughout the entire book until a satisfying ending that, for me, was unpredictable.
                Eternal Victim is a unique story for the reason that the reader doesn’t find out who the main character is until the very end. She is only known as the Witness and although I had my suspicions throughout about her true identity, I was not entirely sure until the end and I saw how all of the various characters were tied together and in what way. Most of the characters are ghosts (or maybe all of them are!) which also made this a strangely interesting read. It’s difficult to say much about the main character, the narrator, because the reader doesn’t really learn a lot about her other than that she has a lot of perseverance for not giving up after repeatedly witnessing horrific deaths over and over. For reasons unknown to her, she must witness these deaths at the hands of sadistic serial killers through time and in different places in the world. She’s also pursued by decaying ghosts, the victims of the killers, called preta, who want to pull her down into their murky depths. She knows she must solve a puzzle each time in order to escape that particular horror but to what end, she doesn’t know. Each time, escaping becomes harder and harder.
                It would have been quite easy for this book to become tedious and unenjoyable but in this case, the pace was fast and the book was kept short so that there was no need for the reader to become bored and give up on the twisting story. It’s eerie in a way that a good horror story should be and I enjoyed every page.

                I read this in digital format and other than a few minor editing errors, it was presented well. Normally, I wouldn’t have liked this type of cover but in this case it worked well. 

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Megan The Pet Whisperer - Pamela Foland

Megan, the Pet Whisperer is the latest installment in the Megan’s World series written by Pamela Foland. I haven’t read any of the previous two books but I’m always on the lookout for interesting reads that will help pave the way for developing a love of reading in youngsters, so I decided to try this book out. Written for children from grades 4-6, this is a nice little book that is the perfect length for children moving on to chapter books. At only one hundred and twenty pages, it has a good interest level and chapter length to ensure that a child doesn’t become frustrated and they will have a sense of success and completion upon finishing the entire book.
                The story is about Megan, a little girl with a keen love of animals and a desire to nurse them back to health. In previous books, she rescued and is currently raising four kittens and this story continues here, with the “munchkins” needing more of Megan’s time as she tries to start a pet sitting business. She also starts looking after a monkey in the vet’s office and must try to manage all of these things while still doing the things that a young lady wants to do. It’s these sorts of struggles that make Megan a believable and realistic character. They aren’t life and death decisions but at Megan’s age, it certainly seems so to her. She is also discovering which direction she may want to take in her future, career wise. She has a definite knack for calming down upset pets and her quiet and gentle demeanor seems to work not only on the animals but also on their owners. I loved the character of Megan and her positive attitude sets a good example for those reading the story. It was also nice to read a story where the adults surrounding Megan were supportive of her goals.
                This is a book that I would feel very comfortable giving to a ten-year-old to read and know that not only will they learn from the level of reading but from the story itself. I would recommend Megan, the Pet Whisperer to any blooming young reader.
                I read this in digital format on my ereader and it translated perfectly. The cover portrays the story well and would draw the attention of the intended age group.


The Bruja - Michael Molisani

The first thing that made me want to take a look at this book was the rather creepy cover. It definitely exudes and aura of horror which is exactly what I was in the mood to read. Bruja is the Spanish word for witch and Maggi is a battlewitch nearing the end of her life. Before she passes on, she wants to make sure her beloved son is as safe as possible now and in the future. To ensure his safety, she will need to kill the entities who have been chasing her since before the collapse of mankind which has turned America into a land of desecration and where everyone has to fight for their survival. The story alternates between the present-day apocalypse and Maggi’s past life before she realized exactly who or what she was. Both story lines are equally entertaining, and the author uses this style of story telling to not only introduce characters from Maggi’s past but also to develop the main character from a young street hood to a formidable battlewitch. Often, when an author alternates storylines, one will be really good and the other will be a bit “blah”. In The Bruja, however, it really works and both stories are really well written.
                I found the character of Maggi to be a strong and realistic woman who has to adapt to the changing times without losing her humanity. She struggles with it, but I found her to be much more human than she sees herself to be. I actually liked her and I’m not usually a fan of this type of character. The author has given her a softness that she tries to hide in a world where weakness means death. The other characters are interesting but not particularly developed and, honestly, they don’t need to be in this particular book. I would have liked to have seen more of a couple of them but I hope that will be the case in future books in the series. Maggi’s foster daughter, Mayy, is an interesting individual who, as I found out by the end of the story, will play a huge part in the second book of the series so I hope to see her become a lot more developed. The settings in the book, both past and present, are well detailed and the world of war and destruction in the future is created uniquely in a time when apocalypse books are a dime a dozen.
                I really didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did and I think it was due in great part to my enjoyment of the character of Maggi. It is definitely a great read for anyone who enjoys a bit of magic and a lot of the apocalypse.

                I read this in digital format and it worked perfectly. 

Monday, 12 February 2018

The Bitches Guide to New York City - Stacy Conis, Brittany St. Wells

The title of this book says it all and, as the authors write at the beginning of the book in a section titled “A Special Message”, it shouldn’t be taken completely seriously. In fact, if you’re looking for a tour guide of New York City that tells of all the places that a tourist should visit then this is not the book for you. Also, if you are someone who is going to clutch your pearls at the thought of one-night stands and hook-ups then you should just pass right over this little gem. I am not someone interested in these things or even in drinking copious amounts of alcohol but when I saw the title of the book I had to read it and found it more humorous than anything else. I’m also sure that if this is your type of lifestyle then you will find this book very useful.
                The two ladies who researched and wrote The Bitches Guide to New York City have within these pages provided a look at the best places to drink, eat, find men and shop. They live in the city so they know all of the secret places to go and they provide throughout the book little tips that an outsider may not be aware of. For example, if an empty subway car comes along, make sure to check and see if a homeless person has taken up residence in it and avoid it if possible if this has happened. I would have never thought of this as being something possible. They also mention a nifty little secret door in a phonebooth that is in a restaurant that leads to a speakeasy-like establishment with a strictly enforced no kissing policy. It’s these sorts of little nuggets that make this not only an interesting little guide book but also an amusing look into the behind the scenes night life that most tourists will never see.
                At only ninety-four pages, this is a quick and amusing read. As for being a guide book, it seems like a great one for party girls/guys who care more about their shoes (yes, they mention the famous Louboutin shoe store) than about world issues but that’s what makes this fun to read. I’m probably never going to New York City but I loved reading about these two ladies’ adventures while researching for this book. In fact, maybe they should write a book about just that subject.
                I read this in digital form and it worked well. I like the party vibe of the cover which matches the subject material perfectly.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure - Kaye Newton

These days it seems like getting kids to read anything that doesn’t involve a screen and various silly emoticons is all but impossible. Even though the sale of young adult books is at an all time high, over fifty percent of those sales are not to young adults, rather it’s to those of us who enjoy the genre. In this short but very informative book, Kaye Newton explores a variety of ways to entice your child to read something other than a text message. If you’re a parent or even an educator who wants to encourage a love of reading, then this is the book that is perfect to have on hand. Ms. Newton has a wonderful style of writing that flows along easily and manages to provide an incredible amount of information without crossing over to the generally boring expert babble. She provides a very honest and realistic view of reasons why your child isn’t reading and how to get them to cross over into the land of book lovers. In this book, Ms. Newton also devotes a chapter to helping children with learning disabilities discover books that are age appropriate yet ones that they can still comfortably read at their level. Throughout, numerous websites are provided that will give still more information about how to assess your child’s reading level and also give ideas of books that will match that reading level.
                There are many things I enjoyed about Ms. Newton’s book but the biggest one is the way she peppers her own experiences with her children throughout the book. She doesn’t profess to be perfect and readily admits that each of her children have different levels of a love for reading. She explains how she gets them to read a little more (bribery with a little extra screen time is a good beginner strategy) and she also gives ideas of what they like to read. It makes her seem, to me, more believable in her ideas regarding this subject and not somebody who has no experience in the matter. I also loved the numerous book suggestions throughout and I will be sure to explore them in the future.

                This is a book that every parent should check out as I’m sure they’ll find it very useful. I read this in digital format and it translated well. The cover is not particularly eye-catching and it may be something to think about tweaking in the future. 

Friday, 26 January 2018

Messages from Beyond the Veil - Reginald H. Gray

                I was really looking forward to reading Messages from Beyond the Veil because I like to read about spirituality and spirit messages that supposedly provide information about what God is and the concept of Heaven. This book sounded like something I would enjoy. However, it is not easy to read and this is not because of the content but because of the style of writing. I can’t quite put my finger on why I found the flow of the text to be a bit stilted but, for me, it made sticking with the book a bit difficult. The information is quite in-depth and spiritual but the style of writing made finishing the book that much harder. This isn’t to say that I didn’t find Messages from Beyond the Veil interesting because if you enjoy this sort of book then it has a lot of interesting concepts and thoughts.
                The idea behind this book is that a group of men and women who, in the 1930s, met regularly to discuss spirituality, one day discovered that they were being contacted by entities known as Messengers who over the next few years told them about what happens after death, what our lives are really meant to be, who or what God is, and many other ideas. Throughout the book, actual writings from the individuals in the group, as told to them by the Messengers, appear in italics. Explanations from the authors of this book are interspersed in between these messages. There are a lot of interesting concepts, such as one that says life on Earth is merely an illusion and what is beyond life is our real existence. Also, evil is not a result of the devil but comes from poor life choices. There is a lot of emphasis put on free will and our being in control of our own fate. A couple of sections that I really enjoyed were the role of Jesus and another that talked about various things in our everyday life and how best we should live in order to achieve the highest enlightenment we can from life on Earth. The author also added, in a chapter about death, a beautiful sermon regarding the end of life that was said for King Edward VII at his funeral.
                This is a great book for those who enjoy exploring spirituality and aren’t strictly bible followers, whom it may offend. It is a bit difficult to read but worth the effort.
                I read the book on my ereader and it formatted well. The cover had a mysterious feel which fit the content of the book perfectly.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Hombo the Tortoise: Going to School with Loud Animals - Godwin Temisa

When I look for a children’s book that would interest my nieces and nephew, I look for three things that I feel are important for all children’s books to have. Hombo the Tortoise: Going to School with Loud Animals has all of these three things as well as some other factors that make it exactly the type of book that a little one would enjoy.
                First, there has to be pictures of good quality. Hombo the Tortoise is full of lovely, cartoon-like pictures that are bright and colourful which will help hold a child’s attention. As well, because they have a cartoon-like quality and resemble something that a child may see on their favourite television show, the pictures help the child comprehend the story a little easier because they are used to this type of illustration.
                Second, the story itself must be on a child’s level. Hombo the Tortoise is about a group of small animals who try to build a school because they find the larger animals too noisy in the current school. There are lessons for the child to learn in the story about feelings getting hurt and helping each other which made the book a great learning tool for my six year old niece. The characters are a lot of fun and it would be nice to see all of them used in other books so as to keep the series going. Although some of the vocabulary may be a bit advanced, older children will be able to read the book with help or even on their own.
                Finally, the writing style has to be one that flows well. Anybody who has read a book to a child knows that children love there to be a rhythm as you read. Hombo has a great rhythm with a story that allows you to emphasize the dialogue and actions of all of the characters.

                Hombo the Tortoise is really a fun little book and both of my nieces and my nephew thoroughly enjoyed my reading of it. In fact, it has been read a few times since I bought it and each time was as enjoyable as the previous one. Usually, I say that a children’s book is better read in print format but in this case, it downloaded really well onto my tablet and the pictures are as bright and colourful as they would be in print. The cover is as delightful as the pictures inside the book. This is a great book for kids!