Where books are chronicled from beginning to end, and never stop being read.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Khantara by Michelle Franklin
The beauty of a song, a poem, a story...

Khantara evokes the feelings that quite often lie dormant in the reader's heart.

The country of Haanta invades Thellis. It is an act of reprisal by an old enemy looking to make a direct statement of intent.

The rank of Khantara is an honor only given to the greatest warrior and tactition. The current Khantara, with all of his imposing stature, excellent credentials, and incredible aptitude for domination is the ideal candidate to represent Haanta and occupy Thellis. Ironically enough, Khantara did not like war; instead, preferring peaceful and non-violent methods.

"It could not be denied that war was something Khantara did rather well, though he had little taste for battle. Overshadowing and overpowering others was an easy office for him to fulfill, and he often preferred allowing his opponents to escape rather than using the extent of his immense strength to subdue them."

As Khantara and his imposing fleet of Haanta warriors invade Thellis, there is surprisingly very little resistance from the local populous. The sheer size of the Khantara was enough to quell any oppugnancy.

 "He could not but observe their wide eyes and their trembling forms as he approached to address them. He bowed to them, assured them that they were not here to harm them, but they would not attend; they were too fixed on the giant’s gargantuan form and immense army to hear his explanation."

Thus begins the occupation.

Enter Anelta. A slave whose owner and "husband" barely provides for her, leaving Anelta to starve and live in her impoverished state. She is categorized as one of the Marked, and is regarded as a sub-species to the Thellisians.

"He had heard of Thellis’ self-oppression but had never conceived of its going this far. For a nation to refuse education to their own was to diminish the value of its people... To keep one so eager as ignorant, regardless of situation and consequence in society, was an attestation of Thellis’ unbidden 

From Khantara's own sensitivities, stems a sense of compassion for the impoverished Anelta. She is not only at the very bottom of society's ladder but her inhumane treatment draws Khantara closer to her; the great warlord finds himself in a difficult predicament.

Michelle Franklin has created a touching story of love and war. Her writing flows in a poetic composition that wraps around the reader like a warm blanket, it is captivating and persuasive.

I was at a loss upon first view of the cartoon-ish cover. It reverted back to some type of Japanese comic book. But upon reading the story, I found a book well-written, detailed and flowing with calm sense of prose.

This was my first experience reading a Michelle Franklin book, but it will most certainly not be the last.

Khantara by Michelle Franklin, 2011 ebook

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Coming Through The Fog

Coming Through the Fog by Tami A. Goldstein
Unless one is in direct conflict with such issues, no one can realize the heartache and worry a parent goes through when a daughter or son is diagnosed with any sort of disorder.

Coming Through The Fog is a triumphant memoir of Tami Goldstein's personal journey as a parent whose daughter was eventually diagnosed with High-Functioning Austism, Asperger's Syndrome. Heather, along with her daughter Tami, must take on a slow-moving medical institution with various diagnoses to weed out questionable "professional" opinions and useless medications.

"...Asperger's is a developmental disorder so I wanted to know if he had even looked at that possiblilty. Why wouldn't he look at that? His response was to dismiss us as patients and tell us to seek help elsewhere... At this point, we had three diagnoses... and none of the prescribed medications were working. I don't want to speak for this doctor but I think he was surprised when he saw Heather's decline."

The pain, anger and frustration in Tami's writing comes through loud and clear. Though she gives valuable advice as she continues to walk the reader through the tumultuous path of a decidedly set institution, it's absolutely astounding that the system continued to fail Heather.

"During these ten minutes, she didn't ask me a single question. She didn't look at or ask Heather a single question. This woman told me that I was a bad mother who was using Heather like a specimen and that she didn't have AS... I asked her if she had read the medical records which I had delivered from the Waisman Center. She informed me that she didn't have to read them... I received a letter from the Therapist/Social Worker terminating therapy 'due to the medical complexity of the case'."

This book is a glimpse at a deeply tangled and nightmarish process. Heather's education was also an uphill battle. Not being diagnosed properly, and having had very little supplemental data and progress, the school system was apt to grade Heather on a contradiction of information. Eventually, after being diagnosed properly and even given the proper paperwork and diagnosis, the administration refused to acknowledge Heather's issues; instead, opting to find loopholes in a medical professional's usage of certain terminology.

"Here's the semantics game: In the medical domain, a doctor writes a recommendation or a protocol to follow. The educational domain does not recognize these words as required for education... We could not have this undermined by a group of teachers unqualified in Autism and Sensory Processing Disorders... I had to protect the people who were helping us and still function through this crazy school system."

There is a sense of frantic scrambling as Tami and her husband try to find a way to navigate their way through an incredibly daunting learning curve.

I was amazed at the entire account of Tami's persistence and never-say-die attitude. No parent should feel that they are alone. There is a helpful list of tips and resources in the book for readers who must approach Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder in their own lives.

To be completely fair, the book cover looks like a mother-daughter photograph from the mantel. Even the font of the title would not have been my first choice. There were a few spelling errors throughout the book. But those things aside, it was a compelling and engrossing read.

Tami Goldstein's writing is straight-forward and informative. She is State and Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, Certified in CranioSacral Therapy, and continues to advocate for children and families.

Coming Through the Fog by Tami A. Goldstein, 2013 ISBN 978-1-4787-1413-2

Monday, April 22, 2013

Killer Honeymoon

Killer Honeymoon by G.A. McKevett
Killer Honeymoon is a continuation of the Savannah Reid mysteries by G.A. McKevett.

The book begins with detective Savannah Reid, of the Moonlight Detective Agency, newly married and on her honeymoon in Santa Tesla with Dirk Coulter, a police detective and her ex-partner. It doesn't take long for the blissful couple to encounter a murder in progress. When the actions of the local police induce an obvious cover-up, Savannah and Dirk decide to get involved. 

Calling on her resources from the fellow members of the Moonlight Detective Agency, Savannah decides to pursue the investigation regardless of the blatant lack of communication and disregard from the local Chief of Police.

As the story unfolds, the crime proves to be the tip of the iceberg. An intricate web of deceit is unearthed and ends on a shocking note. 

Having never read any of its predecessors, I was worried that I would not be able to connect the dots in terms of past character development.

I'm happy to state that I was wrong. 

There was no moment that I felt out of touch with the characters or confused about any past references. Killer Honeymoon stands well on its own merits as a humorous and romantic murder-mystery. A thoroughly entertaining novel. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Skinny Sexy Bride

Skinny Sexy Bride by Jason Fox
I will be the first to admit, I am definitely not a stranger to fad diets, countless body improving books, dvds, or numerous workout crazes. Even so, it's difficult to stick to diets or crazy exercise regiments for any length of time. The biggest problem being, they are too extreme.

Skinny Sexy Bride is a quick read rooted in fact. There is no holy grail here; but even so, the guidelines and exercise routines are simplified and sensible. You don't have to cut out every single piece of fat or sugar from your diet. You're not expected to cut out all carbs or calorie count down to the last ounce of food consumed.

"In this book, I will educate you about food, and I'll show you how to incorporate wonderful, even decadent, food into a healthy diet plan that will also torch fat."

It's not just posturing. The author is true to his words. You will never feel deprived of food. It was even surprising to find a list of recommended foods from certain fast food restaurants at the end of the book that would aid in the fat burning process. 

And no, they're not salads.

The reader will get a crash course in nutrition. There is also a deep emphasis on fat burning myths that are a detriment to looking and feeling healthy. 

This book is amusing, enlightening, and inspiring. I would recommend it for future brides or any individual looking to change their dieting habits, body image, or just have a sensible lifestyle change in general. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Weighing Anchors

Weighing Anchors by Mervin Block
Mervin Block has written a tell-all, scathingly honest account of what goes on behind the scenes in a newsroom. After having been a newswriter for high-profile anchors at various networks, he yanks the band-aid off the deep chasm of network blunders and discrepancies.

Weighing Anchors delivers an honest scrutiny that is both hilarious and deeply concerning. It has most certainly called into question most of the news reporting that the general public has been exposed to.

From delivering bad journalism to deliberately misunderstanding situations that rub off onto public perception, each newscaster is taken to task and critiqued.

This book brings some questions to mind. Does it become an abuse of the system when networks and journalists are more concerned with ratings than the truth at hand? Why is it more necessary to create a sensational story out of nothing, than delivering actual facts?

It occurs to me that the issues within this book are only one part of a vicious cycle. We, as a society, allow this kind of deception to occur. When the populous would rather have entertainment than true facts, doesn't it stand to reason that larger entities (such as news networks) exploit it to the farthest degree?

I highly commend Mervin Block for taking the time to increase awareness in shockingly inept and falsely hyped media stories.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pinned: A Kentucky True Crime

Pinned: A Kentucky True Crime by Charles W. Massie
This is a bleak and dismal story of a man named Mark Casey.

Mark, who is from New York, meets a woman named Roxie on the internet. As time progresses, they continue chatting, he finds that Roxie shares many of the same interests and has the ideal outlook on life; they are even similar in age.

Since Mark doesn't have the usual work obligations tying him down to one place, he and Roxie decide to test the waters at Roxie's home in Kentucky. A whirlwind romance ensues. They travel the local sites together, have rabid sex and fall in love. Everything seems to come together as the happy couple decide to live in Roxie's beautiful home.

Of course, nothing stays the same. After relocating his life to Kentucky, and their relationship declining into an abysmal failure, Mark is accused of a major crime.

Everything that could go wrong, does.

Though I understand, perhaps, the thought process behind creating such a story, the execution fell a bit short; encompassing unnecessary moments of banality. That said, the author did succeed in transferring the feelings of desperation and hopeless anger that the main character rightfully exuded.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Travels Of Ching

The Travels Of Ching by Robert Bright
This story is ever-so charming!

Ching is a carefully woven doll whose inadvertent adventures lead him to the best place of all. As he starts off in China, one would hardly imagine the great journey that follows the well-made doll.

It's hard to find stories composed this well. As with most things, the style, direction and tone of writing is different for various time periods; the same can be said about The Travels of Ching. Published in 1943, it still entertains the young minds of 2013.

There is nothing high-tech or even risque about Ching. But the idea is what grasps a small mind with an immense imagination. The illustrations are simple, with inked lines offering predominantly black and white pages; with the exception of Ching, who remains red. He's easy to follow and track throughout the story.

I honestly did not know what my son would think of this book. But needless to say, he didn't speak until I read the entire book from beginning to end.

The first words out of his mouth were, "Ching went everywhere!"

My son was amazed at the small doll who encountered certain adversity and traveled so far.

Robert Bright's stories have been entertaining young minds for many generations; and I am most certain that his stories will continue in that tradition for many more.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Night Horses

The Night Horses by Anaka Jones
A cute, ridiculous and completely entertaining story by Anaka Jones.

As human beings go to bed late into the night, the Night Horses come out and play. Who could have imagined such a scene? From getting manicures, to setting up comedy clubs, or creating an all-out disco groove, the reader is given a different perspective to after-hours horse life.

The Night Horses is a refreshing way to tell a tale about different characteristics and potential personalities of animals in general and horses in specific. Through an interesting twist, human attributes were given to the horses as they enjoyed the night life, it also clues young readers into questioning the intelligence of such magnificent animals.

My son and I truly enjoyed this story. As we delved into it without knowing much more than what was on the cover, we were delightfully surprised.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you have small children in the house.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Stuck In The Doldrums

Stuck In The Doldrums: A Lesson In Sharing by Carole P. Roman
This is the third Captain No Beard Story in the highly imaginative series by Carole P. Roman. The first story was Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life. The second one was Pepper Parrot's Problem With Patience.

Each book revolves around a difficult and well learned lesson by the pirate crew. In Stuck In The Doldrums, Captain No Beard has a problem with sharing. He forgets that his crew member's feelings and resorts to selfish behavior. First Mate Hallie, Mongo the Monkey, Linus the Lion, Polly the Parrot and Fribbet the Frog, decide to go off and play without him.

As the story progresses, Captain No Beard is placed in a very scary predicament and is forced to rely on the help of the very individuals that he alienated.

It is an entirely engrossing tale of friendship, loyalty and forgiveness. My son, who is my greatest point of reference with children's books, was spellbound. He loved talking about each character and going over the confrontation and what resulted from selfish behavior and bullying.

Carole P. Roman has an incredible grasp of a child's perception. She is able to create an entertaining story, full of swashbuckling adventure, while still teaching a life lesson.