“Teach Us All” – You Should Watch It.

I’m pretty sure that most of us in the US have heard at least something about the segregation issues we have with our public school systems. I remember my step-father telling me about it when I was a kid. My mother in law was in school in Pine Bluff, Arkansas when they desegregated. She told me of the outright violence those poor kids suffered. She told me of her silence and of the silence of her friends. I remember feeling pretty damn superior to her at that moment because I just knew in my heart of hearts that I would not of been silent. Oh to be young, stupid and naive. I would love to think that I would of stood up for those kids. I would love to think that today things are different and my generation is getting it right. Truth is, while I would now stand up and support their right to an equal education….I don’t know if that would be true of myself as a child. I’m almost thirty years old and while I believe that millennials are doing better….we haven’t got it fixed. Our public school systems are as broke as ever and I applaud shows like this for bringing attention to an issue that desperately needs repaired. Our kids really are the future and we need to be innovative in our education efforts. “Teach Us All” goes deep into education inequality and should be a required watch for politicians and parents alike. I encourage you to watch it and raise your voice for change.

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Kids Book Review “The Nest” Kenneth Oppel

Steve just wants to save his baby brother—but what will he lose in the bargain? Kenneth Oppel’s (Silverwing, The Boundless) haunting gothic tale for fans of Coraline, is one of the most acclaimed books of the year, receiving six starred reviews. Illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen.

For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered.

All he has to do is say “Yes.” But “yes” is a powerful word. It is also a dangerous one. And once it is uttered, can it be taken back?

Celebrated author Kenneth Oppel creates an eerie masterpiece in this compelling story that explores disability and diversity, fears and dreams, and what ultimately makes a family. Includes illustrations from celebrated artist Jon Klassen.

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“The Nest” is written for kids over 10 but as an adult I was riveted. Oppel’s story is part Suspense, part Sci-Fi and part Horror. I promise you will never look at another wasp the same way. Part of you will always wonder whats really inside that paper nest.

Oppel hits some pretty heavy topics in “The Nest”. Steve’s (main character) parents have just had a baby who sadly has many health issues. This of course throws the family into a tail spin and Steve (who has already been suffering from OCD like tendencies and high anxiety) falls back into some of his rituals and nightmares. Nightmares that feel more than just dreams.

Steve’s little sister Nicole talks to Mr Nobody on her toy phone almost everyday. Steve and Nicole adjust different to the babies poor health and their newly very distracted and distraught parents.

It’s a bad summer for wasps but even with Steve’s issues plaguing him he rises as the hero and saves the day. I loved how Oppel showed that we are all broken in some way but that won’t stop us from rising above and being the hero. Hero’s come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes what we perceive as a weakness actually turns out to be an asset. Oppel wove this lesson into his story expertly and he is definitly moving to the top of my favorite author list.

I was hooked from page one and read the entire book in one day. I rate this book at the full five stars and highly recommend it for anyone over age 10.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: The Nest | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Kenneth Oppel  |Publisher: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc / Publication Date: 10-6-2015 |Pages: 272 (Print) |ISBN/ASIN: B00TBKYJ8Y |Genre(s): Middle Grade / Horror / Suspense |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 9-20-2017 |Source: Copy from library.

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For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered.

“The Liar” Nora Roberts

Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions…
 
The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.
 
Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning…

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“The Liar” took me by surprise with how hard it grabbed me right from the first page. Nora Roberts has always been one of my favorite authors. Due to this, I’m a bit picky with reviewing her books. I guess it’s because she’s a seasoned author with 50+ books published. I expect a lot from her and “The Liar” delivered!

The book opens with Shelby’s abrupt drop into widowhood and the realization that her now dead husband deceived her in almost everything.  Crushed by millions of dollars worth of debt Shelby gets clever. She takes stock of the fancy home with it’s ugly expensive furniture and begins to sell it all off. This brings further realizations of her late husbands lying which is a reoccurring theme throughout the book. The guy really was a total douchebag.

The book has a desperate feel at first but that weight starts to drop when Shelby and her daughter go back to their roots. There is nothing like being surrounded by a large family who loves you.

Shelby gains independence and with her chin up faces all the hurt she left behind when she ran off to get married. This is the part I really fell in love with her as a character. Her daughter crawled into my heart from the beginning but when Shelby faces down her mistakes with poise, accountability and shamefaced honesty I found that while naive, she really was a good person. I was also pretty mad that she was the one to pay for her husbands irresponsibility. 

Griffen does right by Shelby in every way he can and I found him to be the perfect man for who Shelby had now come to be. He gives her a steadying hand to hold in the madness but never treats her like she is incapable. I loved how he helped build her up instead of take over. Relationships should be partnerships and theirs is just that. It was nice to see Roberts get that right in this book since I’ve criticized her in the past for romanticizing controlling abusive dynamics and presenting them as healthy.

I won’t ruin the climax for you but it’s a satisfying end. While the storyline was a bit predictable I’ll admit that it’s one of the reason’s I love Nora Roberts’ books. 

I enjoyed reading and will continue to buy and read her books. I’m rating this book at 5 stars.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: The Liar | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Nora Roberts  |Publisher: Penguin Group LLC / Publication Date: 4-14-2015 |Pages: 514 (Print) |ISBN/ASIN: B00O2BKKZS |Genre(s): Mystery / Romance / Suspense |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 9-13-2017 |Source: Copy from personal collection.

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The Liar Cover

Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions…
 The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.

 

“When Wolf Comes” John Pappas

Historical adventure, 1801. A survivor from an attack on a trade ship is sold as a slave to the Makah tribe of the Northwest Washington Coast. In a beautiful hostile land of people with strange spiritual ways he will become teacher and student, find friendship and even love, and realize escape comes in many guises, and survival is not always as simple as saving your own life.

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“When Wolf Comes” begins with Aiden doing what he does in much of the book….deliberating on his next move. Aiden has found himself far from home and does his best to be positive while also endeavoring to be useful. When the first ship comes Aiden’s spirits lift and life takes a new path. Like life can do, the path quickly shifts again and Aiden finds himself once more a slave. This time though, maybe being a slave is a step forward.

As Aiden finds his purpose within his masters tribe and culture his eye finds itself stuck on another slave. Neveah is a beautiful native woman who also turns out to be more than what she appears. Their relationship blooms slowly and it’s a real treat to see. 

Something that should be noted is how Pappas managed to embed a message of tolerance in his story. Aiden and the Makah are very different and those differences are stark at the beginning but as the story deepens those differences don’t seem so far apart and each culture melds together to find this new direction that I found fascinating. Aiden’s culture and knowledge was accepted (albeit with suspicion) and their culture became another piece of Aiden. This story has a message of oneness that resonates even now.

“When Wolf Comes” is well researched. Time and again I found myself lost in time and imagining the beauty of the northwest. The wonder of it’s people and their means of survival. I haven’t read much into this time period or the tribes that inhabited the northwest but Pappas leads the reader expertly through the complexities of both it’s cultural and natural wonders. Pappas has a real talent for cultivating a love in his readers that has at the very least encouraged me to learn more. I imagine that sentiment will spread through each new reader.

Squintanasis was a character that I really couldn’t get enough of. I would love to see him get his own book. I felt like there was more to tell and learn from this most stoic of men. He was mysterious and wise. He was shrewd but fair. I liked him immensely. He was a big part of what made this story bury itself so deep into my psych. 

Pappas depiction of battle is gory but not overly so. The horror is addressed but not dwelt upon. The significance is put more on how the community came together and their bond. I thought it was well written and well balanced.

I could go on for days about how much I enjoyed this story. I encourage you to hop in and lose yourself in the magic of the early 1800’s.

Absolute 5 star book.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: When Wolf Comes | Series: N/A |  Author(s): John Pappas  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 5-8-2016 |Pages: 264 (Print) | ISBN: B01FEC6YM6 |Genre(s): Historical Fiction  |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-29-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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“The images conjured up by the Northwest Coast tribes is one of fierce people what with their dramatic masks, nose bones and complex ceremonies. This story takes you to the people beneath that image. It highlights their sense of community as well as their recognition of the changes being brought by traders. It tells of how they treat their “slaves”, their capacity for compassion and their lack of tolerance for wrongdoing.” – Amazon Reviewer

“Emotive” Kevin Laymon

Emotive is a tale of life, love, compassion, and the pursuit of happiness as told through the eyes of the story’s narrator, Linus. Linus is a puppy living in a small city located in the rolling hillsides of upstate New York. When the abnormalities of his owner Sam are all he knows since birth, he gains a perspective of unyielding acceptance and love towards the man who feeds him, takes him to the park, and murders women in his basement.

I AM LOYAL. I AM TRUSTWORTHY. 

I AM POWERLESS

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When I read the summary of “Emotive” it immediately piqued my interest. I have a huge soft spot for books narrated by animals. Since I also love a good thriller, “Emotive” was a must-read for me and boy am I glad I did. I was glued to this book from the first sentence of the first page. I literally read this entire book in one sitting. Well, I read it in the bath but you get the idea.  I can’t believe I let it sit on my shelf so long unread. I feel like I’ve offended the book gods by letting such a story sit unattended. My apologies, please don’t smite me!

Fair warning, this book will rip your heart out. Don’t worry it’ll return it eventually but holy moly is it one hell of a ride. Of all the murders in this book, I have to admit the cow was the hardest. After all Linus had been through, I had tears streaming down my face as I read those pages. How alone he must of felt. How betrayed by humans. How completely hopeless he must of found it all.

Sam will boggle your mind. He’s a total psycho, of that I have no doubt, but he also has one glimpse of remorse for poor Linus. I had a bit of hope for our little K9 hero but that hope was quickly dashed when Sam fell deeper into his obsession and paranoia. It was hard to see Sam discard Linus from his affection. It was hard to see Linus’ basic needs not be met and realize how animals must feel when us humans don’t make them a priority. When we forget to feed them on time or their water bowl doesn’t get refilled or we make them wait hours and hours on end before we let them out to potty. It was eye opening to see how emotionally devastating it is to animal kind to be at the absolute mercy of someone else’s compassion……or lack there of.

It was incredibly hard to see humans fail this one dog over and over again. This is a sight of our kind that will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth and a brand new perspective. As I read, my own two dogs lay next to the tub and I caught myself looking at them multiple times wondering just what they were thinking and what they thought of me. I didn’t expect to be so affected. As a pet owner and human in general, this story will inspire some introspection and I was definitely not expecting that when I began to read.

The climax is cleverly crafted and brings everything full circle. Laymon has written a masterpiece. I strongly suggest you read it.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Emotive | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Kevin Laymon  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 4-5-2016 |Pages: 194 (Print) | ISBN: B019YT5UIY |Genre(s): Thriller / Novella / Serial Killers / Psychological  |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-20-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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“Emotive was a unique read full of interesting perspective. The storytelling through the eyes of a dog created deep emotions & connections with powerful characters. The writing was strong & visual.” – Amazon Customer

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“Naveed – Through My Eyes” John Heffernan

The explosion jolts him awake. He sits up, gasping for air, heart thumping.

Was the blast real? Perhaps it had only happened in his head, a bad dream. Demons of the dark, his father had called them. ‘Push them away. They’ll only poison your thoughts. Seek the light and they can’t hurt you.’

Naveed is sick of war – of the foreign powers and the Taliban, the warlords and the drug barons that together have torn Afghanistan apart. He’s had to grow up quickly to take care of his widowed mother and little sister, making what little money he can doing odd jobs and selling at the markets. When he adopts Nasera, a street dog with extraordinary abilities, he has a chance to help rebuild his country. But will a new friend’s betrayal crush his dreams of peace forever?

From the winter of war comes the spring of hope.

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     I found this book while browsing the kids chapter books at my local library. It was one of those books the librarians shelve cover out so it caught my eye rather quickly. I picked it up and after reading the summary decided it sounded like a book I should read and maybe later add to my kids homeschool reading list when they are the appropriate age. I often grab a chapter book along with the younger kids books and if they sound like something that would interest my four year old now, I read them to him. My four year old is much too young for this book but it’s absolutely a book I’ve added to our reading list for later years. 

“Naveed” offers two unique perspectives that, as an American, I don’t often get to see. An Australian solider and a young Afghan boy. Naveed may be a child but his struggles are anything but small. Naveed’s mother relies on him to provide for the family and Naveed works hard to do so. He also provides for his younger sister who, due to a bomb, has lost her legs. Naveed carries a heavy load of responsibilities but it’s clear that he carries them with love. Naveed’s love for his family is beautiful. He has known nothing but war and it’s touched every single piece of his young life.  

After a bomb took away his father and severely injured his sister, Naveed’s family lives in a hovel and their situation is precarious. The land lord is a bad man who has even worse friends and cares for no one but himself. He sets his eyes on Naveed’s mother and I held my breath with worry about Naveed’s family and how or if they would find a way out of that nasty man’s reach.

Naveed is adopted by Nasera (the dog) and his life takes on a whirlwind of change. By chance he meets Jake and opportunities open that he never thought possible. Naveed’s world is almost broken by a relative (whose really broken himself) and for a time, everything is thrown into chaos once again.

I want to talk about that chaos for just a minute. In the west, we are so quick to see a terrorist and dehumanize them. We don’t think of all the things that built up and turned this otherwise unassuming person into an extremist. Heffernan brings humanity back in this tale and gives us a look into what goes into the makings of a terrorist. It’s not harped upon but Heffernan gives us a window into a world I don’t think we discuss or even acknowledge nearly enough.

Kudo’s to John Heffernan for doing his part to put a very human face on a very ugly war. May his stories enrich our lives and encourage us to find peace with one another.

5 stars.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Naveed | Series: Through My Eyes |  Author(s): John Heffernan  |Publisher: Allen & Unwin / Publication Date: 9-1-2015 |Pages: 216 (Print) | ISBN: B00YVBQO8Q |Genre(s): Middle East / War / Historical Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-05-2017 |Source: Copy from library.

 

“Double Dealing In Dubuque” Dean Klinkenberg

     Writer Frank Dodge is feeling optimistic for a change. He just landed a plum assignment from a national magazine to write about the growth of boutique food in the Midwest. Dodge’s mood quickly turns sour, though, when his scheming rival Helen shows up–is she trying to steal another story from him? When a fire erupts at the food convention Dodge is scouting out, two people die and Dodge can’t shake the feeling that the fire was no accident.
 
Dodge’s search for the truth will take him from the specialty shops of Galena, Illinois, through the neighborhoods of Dubuque, Iowa, and to the murky backwaters of the Mississippi River, landing him in the middle of a volatile feud between ice cream queen Stella and chocolatier Ashley.
 
Can he keep Helen at bay as he investigates the fire? And how far will Stella and Ashley ultimately go to skewer each other? Double-Dealing in Dubuque is a compelling novel that delves into what can go wrong when feuds get out of hand.

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There is so much that I loved about this book! It was so good! Frank Dodge is witty and very clever. He may stick out like a sore thumb at times with his fancy hats but as different as he is….he’s also right at home along the river. His love and acceptance of others cultures was moving. He has a depth and realness to him that really made this book. He also has a way with people that I would think comes in handy in his profession. He has this down-home quality that inspires people to trust him….. which leads to confessions. Oh…the confessions!

 Klinkenberg has real talent with crafting characters. Each new person introduced as I read added another layer to this story. From a bartender to a backwoods bear of man, every single person adds authenticity to the river culture. The river is really it’s own character. Everyone’s lives revolve around it in some way and there’s no doubt it’s got a bit of a siren song. It calls to many and doesn’t let go of some. The Midwest really does have it’s own magic and allure that is too often overlooked. Thankfully, books like Klinkenberg’s come along and fix that. If after reading “Double Dealing In Dubuque” you don’t feel the call of the river……I don’t know if anything will call you….ever.

Want diversity in your reading? Well this book delivers in the best way. Not only is Frank a gay man but it’s not a defining part of his character! Do you get that? It’s as mundane as his hair color! Why? Because who Frank loves isn’t who he is, it’s a part of him…not one label but one of many. I loved how Klinkenberg handled Frank’s “relationships”. Our partner preference isn’t the whole of our identity and thanks a million to Klinkenberg for pioneering that logic into his writing! I don’t want to drop any spoilers but…..the end….I’ll admit it…I cried. It was beautiful and tragic and sad. Really, really sad.

By the way, don’t read this book on an empty stomach. Actually, wait…maybe you should. “Double Dealing In Dubuque” inspired me to try all kinds of new restaurants. The food in this story will inspire you to find a few pounds you weren’t previously sporting though but, you know what, YOLO. Ha ha, but really. Try the foods. Klinkenberg knows what he’s talking about. 

I loved everything about this story. It moves fast but not too fast and the story keeps you engaged with plenty of twists to make you wonder just “who dun it”. I enjoyed the story and I know you will to.

5 stars.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Double Dealing In Dubuque | Series: Frank Dodge Mysteries |  Author(s): Dean Klinkenberg  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 7-7-2017 |Pages: 298 (Print) | ISBN: B072TM35FR |Genre(s): Mystery |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 7-28-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

 

 

“That Book I Wrote About Me” by Sarah Buchanan

After three ex-husbands, two successful novels, and one disastrous book she’d rather forget ever having written, Fiona Fields has hit a wall. Days once filled with critics gushing over her latest masterpiece have given way to endless hours spent lying on her living room floor in Lakeview Valley, the tiny North Carolina mountain town of her youth, and staring at her ceiling. 

But after Fiona’s agent calls with an opportunity intended to drag her back into the land of the living, Fiona finds herself inspired by her ex-step-daughter, Karen, and she’s soon off and running with a brand new idea for a book and a brand new lease on life (sort of).

What Fiona doesn’t anticipate is long-buried family secrets revealing themselves and threatening to upend her newfound momentum. As she struggles to make sense of revelations about the life she thought she knew, Fiona will find that the past often shows up in the present in very unexpected ways, and that, try as she might, she’s not exempt from the 215-year-old Lakeview tradition of long-forgotten secrets coming to light in spectacular fashion.

that book i wrote about me Cover

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Sarah Buchanan’s debut novel “That Book I Wrote About Me” is bursting at the seams with classic small time charm, beautifully flawed characters and a story that will make you wish Fiona were your best friend.

Fiona has been through a lot but she always rises above. It may not be without some pushing and shoving but nothing keeps Fiona down long. She’s strong, but not so much in your face about it. She makes mistakes. Drunken, hilariously awkward mistakes…..but her oopsies make her all the more lovable since she really means no harm in her blunders. She’s real and honest and raw. Unlike her mother and the stereotypical small town woman, Fiona lets the world see who she really is. She doesn’t hide the proverbial crazy.

My favorite thing about Fiona is her golden heart. Those she loves, she loves hard. Ex-husbands, ex-step daughters….everyone. She genuinely gives a crap about their lives. Even when, by all rights she could walk away completely. She’s that ex that becomes the friend that made you fall in love with her to begin with.

There is a part of the book where Fiona tapes up a picture of her first ex that sticks in my mind. First loves are a whirlwind of emotion that lingers no matter how things end. Probably more so when there’s no real closure. Watching Fiona comb through her past and work through old hurts really resonated with me. We’ve all thought “What if”. We’ve all sifted through our past with plenty of cringes and a boat load of sighs. Experiencing those alongside Fiona was therapeutic in a way books like this usually aren’t. I think it was the authenticity of Fiona’s character. It was the authenticity of her resentment and bitterness. It was the healing and forgiving of everyone…..especially herself. It takes a lot of bravery to analyze yourself and admit that you messed up. Especially when your mistakes cause other people more pain than you initially thought it would and you find yourself face to face with the consequences others are facing from your blunder. Fiona faces this with as much grace as a hang over will allow but she means what she says and that right there is enough to make you love her. Apologies are just words unless you can really see that the person who messed up is filled with regret and remorse.

To see such strong work from a new author is exciting to say the least. What’s more exciting is “That Book I Wrote About Me” is the first novel in the “Lakeview Valley” series. Buchanan hooked me with this book and I am staying on the line to find out what’s next for our bumbling Fiona as well as the whole of Lakeview. I strongly recommend you hop on the hook and join me.

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: That Book I Wrote About Me | Series: Lakeview Valley |  Author(s): Sarah Buchanan  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 6-9-2017 |Pages: 234 (Print) | ISBN:  B071PBSMNP |Genre(s): Contemporary / Women’s Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 7-14-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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Book Review “Runs Good No Reverse” Mike Hershman

Mark Sills, 16, found the car on Craigslist –the ad read RUNS GOOD -NO REVERSE. He buys the car and, along with his pal Fred, decides to fix it up, but he doesn’t have much experience. Oh, Mark once oiled the chain on his bike and Fred added a quart of oil to his Dad’s car, but that was about it. A car with no reverse soon finds Mark in trouble with his girlfriend, her mom and his school’s Vice Principal. He finds some new friends too — an ex-Marine junkyard owner and an old lady named Agnes. The title describes the car, and also the boys –and a girl named Karen.

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Mark is a sweet if sometimes clueless young man. “Runs Good No Reverse” is the story of a boy, his friends and a car but also contains some great life lessons. I loved the simple way Hershman writes and his down home characters. These are regular kids with regular problems and what a breath of fresh air they are. 

Navigating the world of teen trends and materialistic snooty kids without outright denigrating anyone is something I have never seen in a story. I’m not saying these kids didn’t deserve the insult but Hershmans accepting tone makes for an interesting read. Yeah, Stacy isn’t the most genuine of people but she is genuinely being herself. Even if herself is a crap person. 

Mark is a great kid and I love how kind and thoughtful he is to others without having an ulterior motive for it. He simply sees something that needs done and does it. I like him immensely. 

Fred and Karen’s patience with Marks bumbling is a good lesson to all of us. Our friends are going to mess up. That’s life. It’s important that we remember that people are not perfect and we have to love them…mistakes and all.

I loved this story. I love the way everything evolved and all the new connections and friendships that came from just being kind. I love the world that Mark and his friends live in. I wish it was the same as I do.

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Runs Good No Reverse | Series: N/A |  Author(s): Mike Hershman  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 2-22-2017 |Pages: 128 (Print) | ISBN:  B06X43RFVL |Genre(s): Teen / Young Adult |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 4-6-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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Mike Hershman was born in 1944 and is a lifetime resident of Southern California. As a boy he loved surfing his balsa wood longboard with his pals. He is also a fisherman and has enjoyed catching everything from a small Perch at the Manhattan Beach Pier in 1954 to a large Marlin off Cabo San Lucas in 1981. He now has fun fly-fishing on his float tube on Lake Crowley. Mike retired in 2006 and decided to try writing books for boys. Over the next five years he wrote 11 books. He then became a Tour Guide on the Battleship IOWA. The famous World War II ship, which could fire shells weighing as much a VW bug 24 miles, is located near Mike’s home in Rancho Palos Verdes. In 2017, Mike decided to dust off his manuscripts and publish them on Amazon. The first five are his George Bailey Series and Runs Good No Reverse. He plans on adding the others over the next few months. They include Dear Sgt. Sherlock – a mystery set in World War ll. The story is told through letters written by a Marine in the South Pacific, his younger brother at home in California, and their friend – a Japanese boy at the Internment Camp at Manzanar. Another book is the story of a California boy living with his aunt and uncle in England during the Blitz. He and his cousin keep track of German bombers from their bedroom –also known as Trucksbury Bomber Command.

Review “Matt Jackson, Catcher” Jean Joachim

Matt Jackson, clutch hitter, fielder extraordinaire, and team captain, is dynamite on the baseball field, but a loser with women. Or is he? He makes a show of coming on to chicks in bars, but always strikes out. Convinced being dateless is safer, Matt keeps his distance from women. Is he simply an insensitive chauvinist, or a crafty man hiding a secret?
Everything he believes in is challenged the day he walks in on a beautiful woman in the locker room. Dusty, the sharp-tongued spitfire, cuts the all-star pro down to size. Unwilling to accept second-class status, she challenges everything he knows about women.
Does a solo life make living with emotional pain easier? Drawn to the stunning, talented woman, Matt has a long way to go to win her trust. Getting close to Dusty is dangerous. Can he risk his well-protected heart? Matt faces a difficult choice — will he make the right decision?

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“Matt Jackson, Catcher” is the second in the “Bottom of the Ninth” series. I recently reviewed “Dan Alexander, Pitcher” and was elated to continue the series. I actually included the first book in my list of favorite romances so I guess you could say I went into reading this one with some pretty high expectations. Fortunately, I was not disappointed. If anything, I was blown off my feet.

This book delves deeper into who the characters are than I felt the first book in the series did. The romance, while present, is more a component of the story than the whole story. Matt Jackson is a man whose life has been fraught with disaster and heartache. He’s well guarded and for good reason. I found myself increasingly intrigued the more I read. The mystery of Matt Jackson is it’s own seduction. He’s so real in my mind I have to continually remind myself he’s just a character from a really good book.

Normally, as a reader I have a bit of a disconnect from the story. With Matt, cracking open each new layer of his life broke that disconnect further and further until emotionally, I was fully vested in this story. 

While Dusty is an interesting character, it’s Matt who really steals the show. The summary leads one to think the story is more about Dusty than I felt it really was. After reading, I don’t feel like I know her as well as I should. I feel like this story is more a focus on Matt than her and would like to see her character fleshed out a bit more. I also felt like their relationship could use to be fleshed out a bit more too. I love that she was there for him but there were a few moments that I felt should of been more emotionally charged and didn’t come across that way. If there is anywhere in this story I would advise needs work, that would be it. I felt it for Matt but not so much for Dusty. It left a bad taste in my mouth for her.

I loved seeing this side of Joachim’s writing. I truly feel like Matt’s character is one I will not soon forget. There is a scene in the book where his worst fear is almost completely realized. I was there with him as the rain pelted his skin and the lights from the emergency vehicles painted his skin with red and blue. I felt his fear. I felt his dread.  I could feel the fear ball up in my chest as each word flew past my eyes and painted pictures in my mind. My heart raced with anticipation of what he would find. It was captivating. 

This is really two love stories in one. It’s Matt and Dusty, but it’s also Matt’s story of redemption and forgiveness. I would love to see more of Matt and Dusty. This series has caught me in it’s web and I will definitely be continuing with the next book!

What a ride!

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Matt Jackson, Catcher | Series: Bottom of the Ninth  |  Author(s): Jean C. Joachim  |Publisher: Moonlight Books  / Publication Date: 12-22-2016 |Pages: 232 (Print) | ISBN:  B01NBL34Q5 |Genre(s): Romance / Sports |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 2-28-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

Matt Jackson Catcher Cover