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Monday, August 28, 2017

Book Review #39: THE LAURAS by SARA TAYLOR (For "Blogging For Books")


TITLE: THE LAURAS
Author: SARA TAYLOR
Publisher: HOGARTH PRESS
Release Date: 1 August 2017
Genres: COMING OF AGE/ LITERARY FICTION

A Cross-Country Trip to Escape Marriage, Revisit Old Friends, and To Experience Life

          This was a coming-of-age story about the remarkable and meaningful cross country trip that the gender-ambiguous Alex and her mother, whom she calls Ma, took to escape marriage life to revisit Ma’s past and to experience independence and discover themselves along the way.  It starts off with Alex’s parents having a fight in the middle of the night at their home in Virginia (it is mentioned in the book that they had been fighting for quite some time up to the moment when Ma comes for Alex’s bedroom and steal her away in the early hours of the morning to go on their three-year cross-country journey from the East Coast to the West).  Alex herself is just thirteen and she is described as lean and young still without a bra, who is the narrator of this first person point of view tale.  They make frequent stops during their trip either to eat, to shower and change clothes, or for Ma to look for employment to finance their odyssey and for Alex to get the education she needs by enrolling at local schools located near their motels they would spend their time at.
           
            The story is steady and it shows life on the road where these two characters struggle to survive while they revisit friends or people related to friends of Ma’s.  There is also the concept of all of Ma’s significant friends all named Laura because according to Ma, her first ever best friend was a Laura and she made a huge impact in her life that for the rest of her life she was drawn to girls and women who coincidentally had that name.  That is the main theme of this book and why it is called The Lauras.  But in actuality, Ma’s friends are not all called Laura though.  This book explores Ma’s past life as a foster kid, a rowdy teenager, and a college student.  That is the impetus for the stops she makes along the trip where she discovers that an old guy friend had died and that his girlfriend/wife who had been a friend of Ma’s also killed herself because of her own troubles with motherhood.  And Ma had to do something for these friends of hers because she promised them to do it at a point in her life.  There are other friends and places and secrets Ma shows Alex during their journey but there are also Alex’s stories of her own that this book explores.

            Alex is a teenager who is just beginning to feel changes in her body and sexual arousal from looking at older teenagers and through magazines and reference books she reads that are a part of her homeschooling education.  Alex also has her own identity issues that make this book a transgender-themed read.  She is bullied and gets into fights at school because of this and her mother stands up for her which I found very admirable because some parents just would automatically disown their transgendered or gay children and chase them out to be on their own.  That and other reasons are what I like about Ma.  Even though she is the type of woman that sleeps around and takes up employment at bars and other questioning places, she never fails to instill in Alex healthy habits and a good raising.  Even though Ma herself had a tumultuous childhood and yeah, a promiscuous life, she does not want the same for Alex as she stresses the importance of finishing school and cleanliness upon Alex.  Ma is also protective of Alex and would shield her from dangerous situations she herself would get into.

            The book is very much satisfying over its course and although there was an incident that caused me to raise my eyebrows and shake my head in disapproval, I know it is life and it happens and if I was in the same situation I would do it as well in order to survive because life in America is hard and cruel.  The good thing about Alex also is that she makes an effort, yes, a huge effort to always keep in touch with her father that she and Ma left behind.  I recommend this book to all those bookworms who are looking for a solid, eventful, and adolescent read to delve into.  It’s got hardships, it’s got guts, it’s got drama, it’s got triumph, and it’s got lessons and issues to ponder on.  This is a tale of survival and struggle that everyone who loves challenges would devour.  I had a great time reading it and am positive that you will feel the same.  I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Book Review #38: A LOVE STORY...HOW GOD PURSUED ME AND FOUND ME...AN IMPOSSIBLY TRUE STORY by SAMANTHA CHANDLER


TITLE: A LOVE STORY...HOW GOD PURSUED ME AND FOUND ME: AN IMPOSSIBLY TRUE STORY
Author: SAMANTHA CHANDLER
SELF-PUBLISHED
Release Date: 26 NOVEMBER 2015
Genres: MEMOIR/ SPIRITUAL & RELIGIOUS
Available from AMAZON or BARNES AND NOBLE

One Woman’s Ultimate Friendship with God

This memoir was so moving and so spiritual that it warmed my heart while I was reading it for this review.  Samantha Chandler was the daughter of a “former altar-boy-in-the-Catholic-religion father and a pagan mother whom she referred to as wicked and abusive.  Samantha claims she has been visited by three angels throughout her years on earth and has looked satan in the eye.  She writes her story with passages from the Holy Bible, quoting them and providing explanations on how they relate to the events that occurred in her life.  She has dined with U.S. presidents and has gotten married to rich men as well.  Samantha’s walk with God officially began when she was twenty-one years old.  She surrendered her life to Christ in a small Methodist church where a pastor asked random people of his congregation to come forward and make a public confession of their sins and fully give their lives to the Lord.  And years later when she was on a trip to the Holy Land, she got baptized by a church friend in the River Jordan where Jesus was baptized by his cousin John the Baptist.  Samantha would also mention that she is a cofounder of a children’s ministry formerly called Children’s Cross Connection which is now called Childspring International dedicated to bringing extraordinarily sick or devastatingly disfigured children from around the world to the USA for donated surgeries.

While reading this book, I could not help but relate to it in my own way.  I, too have a special relationship with the Lord where I always keep Him on the forefront because I believe in His leading and compassionate ways.  Samantha has that vibe and I felt at peace with her story here which is a story of triumph and victory.  She makes me feel proud of her and her devotedness to the Lord because her story is a positive one and should be shared across the world.  I do find courage and renewed faith in her words and wish her all the best with wherever she is at at this moment.  This book gives me inspiration to write the same on my own experiences in my own journey in life at some point later when I am fully experienced and knowledgeable of the decisions I have made and the wins and losses I have felt with making them.

I recommend this book to all who have a special relationship with the Lord or to those who are looking for something comforting for their own troubled lives in that there is help and faith and love when you have the Lord God in your life.  That He listens and never abandons those who seek refuge in His arms.  That God, through his Son Jesus Christ, is always merciful and attentive to us and that He is the only one to defeat the wicked snares of the devil.  I tell you, when I finished this book last night, I sighed softly to myself and blessed Ms. Chandler in my heart for lending her experiences with the Lord for us to get inspired by.  What a blessed story this was.  I urge you to buy it for your kindle’s ebook collection because it’s a great victorious book to keep in case you go through trials and tribulations and you need advice and inspiration on how to defeat them.  All in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Book Review #37: A NEW LIFE: THE CHRONICLES OF THE REVERIE, NOVELLA 1 by NATOMI KARKAEL


TITLE: A NEW LIFE: THE CHRONICLES OF THE REVERIE, NOVELLA 1
Author: NATOMI KARKAEL
Publisher: NK BOOKS
Release Date: 17 SEPTEMBER 2016
Genres: SCI-FI/ ROMANCE
Available from AMAZON or BARNES AND NOBLE

A Rural Couple’s Introduction to the City and Suburbs

            Blorzen and Anastafari Skylynn had just got married and were naturally accustomed to the very rural Sorsani where they had been raised since birth.  They are just teenagers with little knowledge of the outside world and what it contains.  From the beginning of the book, they ready themselves for the trip of a lifetime as they are set to leave Sorsani and explore the sectors beyond its borders.  They at first sleep in trees as they are experts at but soon became so cold in the nights that they sought out barns, farms, and hotels as places for resting as they advance more and more out into the outlying places outside Sorsani.  They reminded me of hillbillies who do not know what elevators are, what cars are, and what phones are towards the end of this steady-paced book.

What got me turning the pages of this story was how innocent and naïve this couple was.  I felt like some of it was familiar to my own experiences as a guy from the suburbs of Lakewood, Washington state when I first moved over here to the Washington, DC metropolitan area only in my case it was the metro train and the behavior of city people that I was completely unfamiliar with.  Haha.  I felt like the story moved smoothly and I wished that the author Natomi could have made it longer into a thicker novel because to me it felt like a saga, a family saga.  I am glad that this is the first part and that hopefully Natomi will release the next book sometime soon as I am eager to find out more about this humble couple (Blorzen and Anastafari) and how their lives will fare like will there be tragedies or what.  I will not reveal what happens near the end of the book as I don’t want to spoil it for you but let me assure you that this is indeed a heartwarming tale and kind of reminds me of the Biblical couple Joseph and Mary and their search for a comfortable place to rest.  (This is one of the likable aspects of this book for me…)

I recommend this book to readers looking for a sci-fi/romance/family tale because I  forgot to mention earlier in this review that this book does not take place on earth but rather in an alternate universe but still with the same elements as we have here in our actual world.  That the rural Sorsani reminds me of the countryside and that the more advanced places the Skylynns visited like Cuflin and Kepca resembled our cities and suburbs.  Get this book today as it only costs a buck and that it will make you sigh and think of the younger days when you and your spouse just got married and were looking for a way to make ends meet.  Natomi’s storytelling skills are fresh and forthcoming.  She writes in a sincere way that will warm your heart and keep you reading on for continuous comfort and peace.  Buy her book today!   


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Book Review #36: OFF THE GRID: THE CATALYST by BRIAN COURTNEY


TITLE: OFF THE GRID: THE CATALYST
Author: BRIAN COURTNEY
SELF-PUBLISHED
Release Date: 24 MARCH 2015
Genres: DYSTOPIAN/ SCI-FI/ LITERARY FICTION
Available from AMAZON or BARNES AND NOBLE

One Man against the “Institution”

            Pan A. McCandless is an independent-thinking soul.  First of all, his real name is not really Pan.  It was earned because of his personal story’s resemblance to the mythological creature consisting of women and mischief.  He was tutored by his mother right from his childhood on working hard and achieving the “American dream.”  Pan also had a fair share of getting in trouble with the police right from his teenage years where he went to juvenile jail and got into a scuffle with racist white teenage prison mates who had wanted him to join them and their “white supremacy” agenda.  Pan had a soft spot for minorities and was totally against the police stating that they did not live up to their “serve and protect” policy but used their job privileges and duties dangerously.  Aside from these troubles, Pan sleeps with two women: one was a waitress who lived above a bar he frequented and one was a bank employee who he met when he went to her workplace to deposit a load of money he acquired through drug dealing means. 

            This book drew my curiosity when it introduced Pan as similar to the mythological being with the same name.  I am a fan of such and I also was lured in by Pan’s solo, daring behavior as well as the mention of the “Institution” because this is the first time I have heard of this subject.  What this book means by the “Institution” is the government itself and how everyone’s data is kept by it from the day we enter the world at birth so that everyone of us are easily tracked by the government at all times.  Here’s the book’s complete description of what the “Institution” means:

“According to Pan, The Institution was everyone and everything all the way down to the streets on which we drive.  The Institution is the government and the infrastructure.  It is the schools and clergies.  It is where we live and where we shop.  It is where we work and where we come together for fun and it is all around us at all times.  Everyplace we go and everything we do has a feeling of autonomy, a sense that there isn’t any connection.  This seeming disconnect, this feeling of separation is how The Institution retains its power.”

This book contains violence and sex but not graphically so it was readable and likable.  It was exciting right from the beginning and aligns with current events involving the law and illegal immigrants and their connections to cartels, drugs, and murder.  I thought the author knew quite a lot about this world or must have done extensive research or was talking from personal experience.  Pan is pretty much your stereotypical masculine character as he loves his women and booze very much.  I recommend him and this book to those who love stories having to do with the law and the whole issue of drugs and the life of a lawbreaking citizen who sees the government as an unfair entity abusing its power and privileges.  It’s a very interesting read and I guess I enjoyed reading about Pan and his very individualistic views…

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Book Review #35: TALON 5, ENCOUNTER by GIGI SEDLMAYER


TITLE: TALON 5, ENCOUNTER
Author: GIGI SEDLMAYER
Publisher: AURORA HOUSE
Release Date: 23 NOVEMBER 2015
Genre: CHILDREN'S LITERATURE
Available from AMAZON or BARNES AND NOBLE

Is this the Final Showdown between Talon and the Poachers?

            Talon #5: Encounter here is yet another score-bigger as it continues from the last book in this award-winning series about the disabled sandy-blonde Matica and her condor friends: Tamo (father), Tima (mother), and Talon (son).  In this installment, the three birds and their human friends battle the ultimate enemy: the poachers Pete and Zed who are dead serious on shooting Talon down with their rifles and pistols.  But thankfully, the birds know how to dodge their bullets and fight back with the help of Matica, her family, and the rest of the Peruvians of Pucara, Peru, the village they are staying at for doing God’s mission.  I guess that is the reason for the title, Encounter: where Matica and her condor friends encounter the murderous but clumsy poachers. 

            I forgot to mention in my reviews throughout the books for this series that Tamo, Tima, and Talon communicate in a way that Matica is able to understand and read which helps them a lot because they need each other for survival.  Matica has a problem with her growth (height-wise) and this enables her to fly on Talon’s back and prevent the poachers from hurting Talon.  This book is action-packed and a bit more serious than the other books because it involves a bit of gun violence and there is actually blood and poo (bird excrement).  I would inform those who are against violence of any kind to consider this before getting to read this book.  The good thing about it is that there are no murdered victims throughout the story.  I do have to tell you enthusiastically that this book keeps you turning its pages due to the showdown that occurs in it and so I was hooked from the beginning until the end.

            If you have been following Matica and Talon’s story in this series, this book will not disappoint you.  You will love the teamwork between the good guys of the story, you will appreciate the smartness of the condors, but if you are anti-violence and a G-rated reader, then you might want to read this book with caution and the least I can tell you is that there are no deaths so yeah.  Again, the themes of Christianity and family are included so my recommendations in my reviews for the other four books in this series remain.  All in all, this was an eventful and exciting read for this past week for me.  Go ahead, add it to your ebook collection, you will thank me for saying so!  Have a great weekend!