Category Archives: fiction

Non-stop adventure with a Worlds Traveler 

When the title said “Worlds Traveler” I immediately concluded that this would be about someone traveling the this world, the one we call earth. Boy, was I wrong! In the context of this book, a world traveler is someone traveling to different worlds! And what an adventure it is to travel with someone who can take you to different worlds!

The book begins with good friends, Philip and Natalie, exploring a dark mysterious cemetery. Seriously?! What are young teens doing at a cemetery in the middle of the night? Where are their parents and what are they trying to accomplish? 

This is where readers learn that Philip and Natalie are not your normal teens. In fact they have special gifts. Philip can look at a paper and be taken to different locations and time travel using his gift. Natalie can take on someone else’s gifts and make it stronger, she can talk to others telepathically, and she’s serves at Philip’s conscience as he often makes impulsive decisions. 

  
A sequel to the Magicians Doll, Worlds Traveler takes you in an adventure with the help of an adult who also has a gift, the gift to travel to other worlds. These different worlds include a place where everyone is in the shape of clouds and move around through stretching and floating, personifying the clouds you see above you every day. The various emotions results in the different types of cloud coverage that we see. 

Another world is a dark place, a kind of waiting area before heading to the afterlife. There’s also a forest, where you must be invited to enter its secret center. It’s a place where history is written, vegetation is lush and welcoming. 

Needless to say, the details in Worlds Traveler made me feel like I was right there with the characters looking in. I personally enjoy books that place me right there in the middle of everything. I also love books that expects me to use my imagination. There’s nothing better than the words coming to life in my head!

Worlds Traveler by M.L.Roble was provided complimentary for an honest review through both NetGalley and Bostic Communications. 

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It’s “Not by Happenstance”

Being born and raised in the state of Hawaii is what first pulled me to read “Not by Happenstance”. It takes place in Hāna, Maui, a place that takes a long curvy, not-so-motion-sickness friendly, yet gorgeous path to get to. I’ve been to Hāna, so reading a book placed there was intriguing as I’ve never read a fiction story about my home state before.There is a lot of what we call pidgin in this book, something mentioned in the book called Hawaiian Creole. It is used by the locals a whole lot more than my friends and family ever do. But, I live in a more urban area and it is likely that pidgin could still be popularly spoken by those in the Hāna area. It’s been a long time since I’ve been anywhere near there.

I also sensed slight animosity between the locals and visitors, even though this story is set at a bed and breakfast and the main character is not a local, but actually from California. This may be true in some areas, but I like how the story warms up to the visitors when they show they really care. 

The main character is Lokelani (Lani to her friends), she helps her grandmother (who’s real name is Cora, but Lani calls her Puna) take care of the bed and breakfast. Other characters include the interesting Pearl, who is a Chinese visitor who shares the right wisdom at all the right moments; Ahe, Lani’s local friend who doesn’t quite care for haoles (visitors); the college students who wrecked their place; a few others not mentioned much, and most importantly the mysterious, handsome, and flirtatious haole, Easton Allard, who is staying at the bed and breakfast for three whole months. 

Constantly attempting to do things and be close to Lani, Easton talks his way into doing things with her with the encouragement of Puna and Pearl. Frustrated, Lani goes anyway and Easton happily tags along, even though Lani made it clear that she is engaged to Derek. But, Easton makes it clear that Lani isn’t wearing an engagement ring, so technically she’s not engaged to anyone. 

Their adventures go from a potluck at Ahe’s with Lani’s local friends to fishing, hiking, and cleaning the place the college students trashed. Easton is always there to create memories with Lani, which she doesn’t like at first. It’s always sad when an engagement is broken, but when the love isn’t the same for both people, can it really work? Will being single be an open door for Easton or more frustration for Lani?

It is not often that I stay up all night to finish a book, but this is one of them. Enjoyable and adventurous, flirtatious and cautious, “Not by Happenstance” by Rachel Anderson is a book that will make you go through smiles, tears, blushes, and anger all in its 252 pages. 

   

A captivating short story questions morals of dishonesty

Donald recently got out of the military and is on his way home to Savannah, Georgia. He gets mugged and all his money and identification is stolen from him while he is in the nation’s Capitol, Washington, D.C. How will he ever get home when everything he owns is stolen?

  
A stranger offers to help Donald out, feeds him, gives him spending money, and let’s him stay with him at his penthouse home in this short story, The Lost Tourist Franchise by CLR Dougherty. Under his circumstances, Donald accepts this hospitality from this stranger, who soon shares his franchise business and invites Donald to join the business. 

The Lost Touist Franchise business is where people wearing Luthers shirts pretend they’re working as tour guides, they find lost tourists and gently lead them in the direction of what they’re looking for. Even if they are led in the wrong direction, they’ll find someone else wearing the same shirt and be redirected again. This leads to hundreds in tips every day. 

However, on his first day on his own, Donald is approached by someone who claims he’s an agent who will fine Luther because Donald doesn’t have a license. This agent turns out to be a fraud and took $50 from Donald. Then Donald begins to realize that he’s doing the same thing to these tourists, misguiding them. 

What will be more important to Donald, the money he can make being a part of this franchise? Or just returning home to Savannah? 

This short story was sent via email as a result of subscribing to the author’s updates. 

Once Upon a Time…a House enjoyed its company

There’s a house sitting alone. It misses its previous occupants and doesn’t quite enjoy the quiet. The house missed the colorful flowers and goldfish in the pond among other things that were going on. Now it’s silent and still, making the house full of sadness. Then one day, a visitor came by. Who could it be? What do they want?

  
This house slowly gets new visitors, beginning with a spider and eventually many creatures are living amongst each other in harmony. Inside the house as well as outside the house there were creatures doing their own things. Eventually the house was happy again with all these critters filling it with life. Even the flowers began blooming again and other vegetation. 

Until one day, a man and his dog arrived. This man did not like many of the critters and chased them away, killing the vegetation and flowers in the process. While the critters the man didn’t like left the house, so did the ones he wanted to stay. The man was sad that he had no food to eat because all the critters left, so he sent his dog to look for certain critters. 

Will the dog be able to round up all the critters that were chased away from the place they all lived in harmony? Will the critters trust the dog or the man to return to the house? 

This is a story my son loved hearing. Although he did comment that he wished there were more pictures, he enjoyed the story. It started off so peaceful and fun to know all these creatures and critters could live in harmony. And all it took was one person to ruin the whole thing. My son was sad that the critters were chased away from their peaceful house. 

A complimentary electronic copy of Once Upon a Time… a House by Dulce Rodrigues was provided for an honest review. Although it is a little too difficult a read for my first grader, he definitely found it entertaining! I recommend this fantastic book to be read to children and adults alike.

Reviewing: Strike at Charles’ Farm & Are You Eating My Lunch?

Two adorable bilingual children’s books, written by Canadian Dr Nicole Audet, Strike at Charls’ Farm and Are You Eating My Lunch? Simple and entertaining for young children, these books are sure to keep those children guessing!

Bilingual books are not very common here in the States. I found it fascinating to have both French and English on the same pages. This would be especially useful for bilingual readers, who can share the stories in both languages. French is not language I know how to read, so I would be difficult for me to share appropriately.


Strike at Charles’ Farm is a simple story about going around a farm with each animal not doing what they are supposed to be doing. The animals are very honest sharing their complaint about the farm. The farmer, Charles, simply offers them to ask the zoo to fulfill their requests, they might get the treatment they want. Will the animals return to doing their job? Or will they prefer to live at the zoo?


Are You Eating My Lunch? takes the reader through a zoo. Again, the talking animals are cute and welcoming. A boy is asking each animal if they’re eating his lunch. The animals each tell, him they’re eating their own favorite food. But, where is his lunch? Is anyone eating it?

Both books are brief and enjoyable to a preschooler, or maybe a kindergartener. My son, who is now in first grade, thought he’s too big for these stories, even though it captured his attention. The versions I received complimentary for an honest review had both English and French language on the pages. Having my son attempt to read it on his own may have been confusing for him, but once I explain to him where to look for the English words, he would be fine.

In both books, the animals are colorful and adorable. There’s little distraction of backgrounds and the focus simply on the character the page is about. This makes learning to read the words on a child’s own a bit easier to accomplish as it is common for them to use the images to develop an idea of the story.

Personally, I enjoyed these cute and adorable stories. It would be great for a bilingual preschool class, or a class that was teaching a second language.

Fall 2015 Debut Fiction Sampler gives a taste of a mix of emotions

There’s those appetizer sampler platters at restaurants, then there’s a book of samples from various books. I just finished a book, Fall 2015 Debut Fiction Sampler, that has a couple chapters of nine different books. These books took me through a variety of emotions and scenarios. Let me share a little of each, hopefully enough to entice you to check out one or two, or more.


The Dressmaker’s War: A Novel by Mary Chamberlain

Ada Vaughan is a young dressmaker disguising herself as a mannequin for Mr Stanislaus von Lieben, originally from Germany. This story takes place in the 1930s when Ada is a young woman, from a poor family with a big family in a small space. She works very hard to get to where she is as a dressmaker. A fast learner, Ada adapts quickly and soaks in all the information she can learn about various fabrics and takes in the new French and German language that gets thrown her way. Her parents worry about her getting into mischief with Mr von Leiben, but she doesn’t worry one bit and carries on with caution. Descriptions of the naïveté of Ada and her innocence is explicitly shared and it makes me as the reader wonder what type of trouble she could possibly get herself into.

Is Stanislaus von Lieben hiding something? What is his motive? What steps will he take to get to his end goal and once he’s there, what’s next?

This a very intriguing sample and I am encouraged to read the full story someday.

The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry

Little Jinhua, about 7, is the daughter of a concubine, who died during childbirth. Her father, Baba, loves to tell stories with Jinhua and is often required to leave their home by orders of the Emporer. One day, Baba suffers from the sharp blade that beheads him. Baba’s First Wife, Timu, is aware of this event and does not want to care for Jinhua, instead plans to sell her. Jinhua is unaware of what will happen next and her entire world is changed in a matter of moments.

I am immediately drawn into this story with the vast detail. It is comforting that a father would spend such precious time with his daughter. I’m curious what will happen to Jinhua. What is she feeling? What will she endure? How will these events affect her future?

The death of a parent is not easy to cope with, especially one as sudden as Baba’s. My heart aches for Jinhua.

The Survivors by Robert Palmer

Three brothers, Ron, Alan, and Davie along with a neighbor boy, Scottie, are playing upstairs of their home. It’s windy and there’s a bang that the boys assume is the sound of the door slamming. While playing Hide & Seek, Davie sees his mother, who’s outside and she shoots herself in the head. Fast forward a few decades and Davie is a psychologist. Scottie uses a different name and goes to Davie’s office.

Why did Scottie seek out Davie? What was in his heavy backpack? And why did he run off?What happened to Ron and Alan?

At first the story doesn’t seem like something I would normally read, yet I was drawn into it with curiosity. I want to continue reading just to learn more about what Scottie’s motives are.

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

“Improbability of Love” is the title of a painting that was once worth millions and many gathered to an auction to purchase it. Part of the story is told from the perspective of the painting itself. New owner, Annie lived much less lavishly than the painting has ever witnessed. It expresses her movements while cooking for the man she was dating. The man never shows and she cries all night

I wonder where else this painting has been? What will happen to Annie now that she’s been stood up? Will she ever learn the history of this painting?

If I were to read this book in its entirety, it would be to learn the history of this once sought for painting. What has it been through and how did it end up in a shop collecting dust?

Unspeakable Things by Kathleen Spivack

Secret messages in various languages between Herbert and a dear friend, Anna “The Rat”, who was little, hunch backed and had whiskers coming from a mole near her nose. They loved playing chess and even did so through letters with coordinated positions. One day when they are older, Anna finds Herbert and he keeps her safe. The story goes back in time to a time when Herbert arranged for his family to immigrate to New York from Austria during WWII, it cost him everything he owned, including his young son.

Not a typical story I would read even with the captivating descriptions which make the reader feel a part of the story. But it’s still not likely something I would read or enjoy reading. However, it could be a genre someone else might enjoy thoroughly.

Another Woman’s Daughter by Fiona Sussman

Celia is apparently a slave to the Steiner family, who lives in the south, possibly Florida area. She has a 6 year old daughter, Miriam. The Steiners ask to adopt Miriam and they are relocating to England, where Miriam can go to school an have more opportunity.

It hurts my heart to think a mother would allow a child to make such an adult choice. As the mother of a 6 year old boy, I would never allow anyone to take him from me as what happens to the child when living with someone else in a faraway country I could never get to? How would I know he’s safe and loved and cared for?

This type of story is too harsh and real for my heart. It adds a burden to my soul, especially knowing it could have happened to any mother and young child in that day. As it might be enjoyed by other readers, it is just not for me.

The Visitors by Simon Sylvester

Flora is a teenager living in an area where many have deserted for bigger and better things. She’s been dating an older boy, who’s leaving the area as well for college. The two spot a father and daughter who are moving into Dog Cottage, which has been abandoned as long as they can remember. Flora lives with her Mum, her new husband Ronny, their young son James, and have many visitors.

This is a genre I would likely read. I am curious who these new residents of Dog Cottage are and where they came from, what’s their story.

Whatever happened to the men who have gone missing? What Flo make friends with the new residents? Will she ever get her chance to leave the area?

The Longest Night by Andrea Williams

Paul in Idaho Falls 1961 works in the military, stationed to live among civilians and work at a reactor. Married with two little girls, Paul finds sirens rushing towards the reactor before he realizes it’s where they were headed. Rewind two years, the family took a road trip to arrive in Idaho. His wife, Nat, is an adventurous risk-taker type. Something opposite of Paul’s personality & upbringing. Paul’s parents were both uncontrollable drunks, causing Paul to desire people who can control their thoughts and actions, but soon realize that people are just as dysfunctional as his parents. Interesting personalities in this main character, Paul, creates curiosity to read this story.

What happens when Paul gets home after his Master Sargeant leaves him stranded at the reactor 50 miles from home? How does he explain this delay in getting home to his wife and kids? What happened with the sirens?

This book seems like something I might enjoy, yet at the same time, I am unsure. If it falls on my list of books to review in the future I may consider it.

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

Charlotte recently lost her little boy Keegen. He had a brain aneurism and she didn’t make it to see him before he passed away. Keegen’s father had an affair a couple years before his passing. Charlotte spends time with her grandmother, who lives a few blocks away. Charlottes friend Rae comes by to help make life easier for Charlotte, and she has a little girl Zoe, who is in a recital and breaks her ankle. Charlotte has dreams that come true, this starts off to be a strange realization for her. She dreams about a little girl, Hannah, who has been missing since school let out. She sees Hannah in her dream and studies the environment.

What does Charlotte do when she awakes from her dream about Hannah? Where are these dreams coming from? What’s causing it? Did she have one of these dreams before Keegen’s passing?

With the death of her child, it places me at a defense. Reading only the couple chapters from the sampler, it made it difficult to sleep that night and caused me to spend more time loving my child. Typically I shy away from books that start off like this. But, being able to see the strength in character that Charlotte has gives me hope that she will get through this a lot better than I would. I would consider reading this one.

In summary, this is a long review, but I wanted to give you an idea about each book that is sampled. This Fall 2015 Debut Fiction Sampler was provided complimentary for an honest review by NetGalley.com.

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Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St Amant

He left town because of the mistakes he made in his young adult love life. He started over. He found another love. He was about to get married. Then his fiancée died in an accident. He returns to his hometown, back to his family and to the root of the history of romance entanglement he originally left town to avoid. Living with his cousin, Chase finds himself a contracting job in attempt to restore the local theater, Cameo.

Stella is drowning in her sorrows after her one year anniversary of her divorce caused by her husband cheating on her and leaving her. She is a former beauty queen and trying to be her own person without the glitz and glamour. She is an interior designer by trade and her protective mother sets her up for a job as the interior designer for the restoration project at the Cameo. 

The first day of the project, Chase and Stella realize they need to work together. Chase is the boy who dated her sister and cheated on her with her own sister, Stella. The two know each other well, but have a history that may not be so easily reconciled. Can they fix the Cameo with all this history and drama in their backgrounds? 

When I started reading Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St Amant, my Kindle told me it would take me over six hours to read it. I was in total shock and wondered how long the book really was! After getting about halfway into the story, it suddenly changed the length of time to one and a half hours. I was much relieved. I still don’t know what was wrong with my Kindle, but it seems all is well now that I’ve completed the book. Ha!

  
Anyway, I became very attached to the characters in this story as I could find a piece of myself in many characters. Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St Amant is very nicely written and wonderfully ties in the importance of serving the homeless into the deep crevices of the story. I love how this story shares that everyone has a story. A phrase I hear often at church and at work:

“Everyone has a story you know nothing about.”

It is a helpful reminder that just like in Love Arrives in Pieces, people are broken. We all are. And we all need to put our prices together in our own way. Everyone’s story leads to something miraculous. Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St Amant is a Christian fiction book published by Zondervan.

Book review: My Heart Stood Still by Lori Copeland

My Heart Stood Still is a fictional story about one of the Sisters of Mercy Flats, which is actually another book written by Lori Copeland, a best selling author. In their many excursions and plans to gain money for a mission in Mercy Flats, the Mcdougal sisters seem obligated to help the mission they grew up in.

Set during the Civil War, the book starts off with the three sisters being carried off in different directions after an attack to their being transported to jail after selling stolen cows for money to give the mission in Mercy Flats. One sister, Anne-Marie, is taken by what seems to be an Indian man who she thought at first spoke no English.

Things turn sour when both of them land in jail and the Indian, Creed Walker, has a friend, John Quincy Adams (who claims his mother named him after the late President), who breaks them out of jail. Soon Anne-Marie learns Creed speaks English and the three now take off stealing stolen gold. What? Yes, gold coins were stolen and these three steal it!

With a handful of unfortunate events, it seems Anne-Marie is full of bad luck. But it turns out, she is what they need to get them and the gold to where they need to be.

Learn more about their adventure and read this wonderfully-written adventurous story about Anne-Marie, Creed, and Quincy in My Heart Stood Still by Lori Copeland.

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Book review: The Emperor, His Bride and the Dragon Robe by Lisa Sankar-Zhu

NetGalley has books of various genres available by request from many different publishers. Usually, I prefer books of the genre of Christian, Christian fiction, historical fiction, and children’s books. One children’s book that caught my attention was The Emperor, His Bride and the Dragon Robe by Lisa Sankar-Zhu. The cover is full of color and has an Asian feel. The title on the cover seems to be glowing, even on my computer screen.

At first, I read this book from my Kindle Paperwhite, but I was sure there were beautiful, colorful artwork that I was viewing in black and white, and various shades of gray. The storyline is about an emperor who gave a dragon robe for his son while the emperor was on his deathbed.

The story goes on that the emperor is good to his people and is respected. He decided as he gets older that he should choose an empress. So he tells his people that he wants his empress to be beautiful, caring, and trustworthy. Two beautiful young women are brought to the palace, but each have very different personalities.

While one woman is kind and caring, the other is selfish and greedy. The selfishness includes summoning a wizard to change the looks of the kind woman. As several events transpires in the quest to become the empress, the emperor sees through all this and is confused. He tests the women to learn the truth before deciding who he will marry.

This story has great morals that cheaters and selfishness gets you nowhere and being kind and caring is an inner beauty that can never be changed even though outer features are different; it really is the inside that counts. The Emperor, His Bride and the Dragon Robe by Lisa Sankar-Zhu is a book I suggest for preteen and young girls, but it’s a great story for boys, too.

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Library resource day at kindergarten, again

Normally, I do not post more than once a day, don’t worry this one will be short, I promise!

Today my son came home from school with s book in his bag. This means they visited the library. Hmmm, why does he always borrow a Pokemon book? He loves so many things, but what is it about these Pokemon that he’s constantly bringing these books home?

I suppose if he’s doing the reading, then at least he’s reading. But when I have to read it to him because there’s too many words he doesn’t know? I think we need to discuss this a little further. Could we read this one this time and next time look for something different?

Why not something karate like My Grandma’s a Ninja? Or something about the sport he plays, soccer? What’s with these Pokemon?