Remembering 9-11

 Years ago, when the Twin Towers were hit with those planes, I was still a kid sitting in my middle school French class. I remember the day with absolute clarity for many reasons. 

The first thing I remember is the computer teacher from across the hall running into our classroom and yelling that one of the twin towers had been hit by a plane in New York. My French teacher paled and dashed to the tiny TV in the corner of our classroom and turned it on. We sat captivated as we watched the smoke billow. My Teacher turned the volume all the way up on the TV. With our classroom door open we could hear other teachers doing the same. It was an echo of panicked reporters down the hallway. 

We watched as the second tower was hit. The classroom erupted in anger. Teachers and kids alike demanded retribution. Cries of war and revenge echoed down the hallways. I sat in the sea of angry faces and thought not of war but the costs of war. From reading, I had a decent idea of what happened in wartime. I was reading at a college level in middle school. I tore through every single book I could get my hands on. I sat in the midst of all that hate and thought of the people in those buildings. I thought of the people that were in those planes. I thought of how each person must feel while faced with their death. I thought of the horror of choosing to burn or jump. I watched as people did jump and I imagined the feel of their last seconds. The sight of the ground as they fell closer to it.  About the time people were jumping from the buildings my teacher turned off the TV. When she turned around I was the only one not yelling. I was the only one not balling my eyes out. I had silent tears down my face as she looked at me. She and I locked eyes. I could see the anger in hers. I could see that she agreed with the others that war was needed. I stared at her until she looked away. 

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A few hours later the school closed early and parents came to pick up their children. My father refused to leave work so I walked to my siblings elementary school and we all walked the 3 miles home. No one noticed that we didn’t leave with our parents. I think everyone was in shock.

That evening I got a call from one of the few friends I had at school. She was shouting about how we were going to blow them to smithereens. She told me how her dad (who was in the Army) was going to kill every single one of those sorry bastards and make them regret ever messing with the US. I listened to her for awhile and when there was a lull in her tirade I asked her if she thought killing all those people and destroying their homes would stop this from happening again. She said it would. She said people don’t attack what they fear. I asked her why she thought they attacked us. She said her father thought it was because we weren’t Muslim. I scoffed. I asked her if she thought in some way that our country was responsible for this attack. If others had had enough of our bombs and were taking a stand. She screamed at me that the USA is the best country in the world. That we give people freedom. I hung up. I lost one of my only friends because I dared to admit fault on both sides. I still lose friends over it. I have been advocating for peace my whole life in a sea of violent people.

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From reading, I’ve learned to see everything in ripples. Every action has a reaction and I think deeply on everything. My heart aches for the people who lost their lives that day. My heart aches for the people who lost everything and everyone to our bombs of retribution. You can’t bomb a populace into respecting you. Fear will never breed the loyalty you want it to.

America has a nasty habit of invading other countries and I know full well that we aren’t there to give them freedom. We don’t even have that ourselves. As much as it’s claimed, we don’t. 

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You want to know why ISIS and the rest of the extremist groups exist? Ignorance and desperation. If you steal a person’s ability to critical think they become violent and primitive. Without the ability to understand the world and it’s complexities humankind becomes tribal and small thinking. Religious fervor takes over as people attempt to find a greater meaning to their suffering.

Today, as we all remember the horror of watching those people burn alive or jump to their death I want everyone to remember that hate breeds hate. Division and anger solve nothing and create only more horror. We are all human. We all bleed red and might does not always equal right.

All human quote

I want you to open your eyes and see the division around us. The extremist groups we harbor right here in our very own US of A.  I want you to see the huge gap of opportunities for the poor and the desperation of a mother who must choose to pay an atrocious amount for rent or feed her children. I want you to think long and hard of the humiliation laid on those who seek government assistance to feed their kids. I want you to see people die of treatable illnesses because of our healthcare inequality. I want you to ask yourself if you think we really are the greatest nation in the world. Because, that’s one hell of a title to live up to and if you ask me, we are most definitely not living up to it in the slightest.

Love one another my friends. Care for those who are down no matter their skin color. No matter their differences. Let us learn and grow together to make a world that’s a great place for everyone. Let us be fair. Let us seek justice that is not unjust to those who have no say in their fate. 

It’s time we evolved beyond hate and violence. 

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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.

Naveed Cover

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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.

 

Books That Matter

As a parent, one of my main goals is to raise my kids to care. Not just care, but care deeply. I want my kids to see other’s suffering and genuinely want to change it. I am doing my best to contribute to a generation that has the skills (emotional, educational & physical) to face the trails headed their way. Trials like deep inequality, rampant homelessness, lack of adequate food, clothing, health care and sadly the repercussions of perpetual war. I want my kids to feel empowered to make changes. A good way to do that is to give them a deep understanding of each issue. Books are a great tool to achieve this.

Malala Yousafzai Quote

    When I was growing up war was just the way things were. No one took the time to explain to me that there were other ways to handle attacks from other countries. I remember sitting in my classroom in middle school as the Twin Towers were hit by those planes. We watched the people jumping from the buildings on our tiny bulbous screen hung in the top corner of our classroom. About the time my teacher realized that people were jumping to their death in front of a class of children she turned the TV off. 

Another teacher came into my class and the two of them angrily discussed blowing those terrorists to smithereens. My classmates heatedly discussed how America would kill them all. In middle school…the KIDS went straight to death. There was no talk of any other way to handle the attack. I remember sitting and looking at all that anger and hate and all I could feel was devastation at the choice those people jumping had been forced to make. My mind reeled with the horror I knew was coming to the country responsible. I knew in a round about kind of way what happens in wars. I knew because every chance I had I was reading story after story about anything and everything. I cared because from a very young age my brain was used to thinking from anothers perspective.

I want my kids to think diplomatically and find solutions other than to kill everyone. I want my kids to understand that a handful of people from a country do not represent an entire populace. I want my kids to find solutions to complicated issues.

Einstein Quote about peace

  One way to do that is to read them or have them read stories that illustrate the consequences of war and poverty. I recently stumbled upon the “Through My Eyes” series while browsing books in my local library. At 20 months and 4 years my kids are still too young to read these but you can bet I will introduce them later. I suggest you read through them and introduce them to your kids when appropriate. 

Naveed CoverThe 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?

Amina CoverAmina lives on the edges of Mogadishu. Her family’s house has been damaged in Somalia’s long civil war, but they continue to live there, reluctant to leave their home. Amina’s world is shattered when government forces come to arrest her father because his art has been officially censored, deemed too political. Then rebel forces kidnap Amina’s brother, forcing him to become a soldier in Somalia’s brutal ongoing war.

Although her mother and grandmother are still with her, Amina feels vulnerable and abandoned. Secretly, she begins to create her own artwork in the streets and the derelict buildings to give herself a sense of hope and to let out the burden of her heart. Her artwork explodes into Mogadishu’s underground world, providing a voice for people all over the city who hope for a better, more secure future.

 

Shahana Cover‘Open your eyes. We will not hurt you.’
The boy quietens; his eyes open.
‘Where are you from?’
The boy stares at them both; then says, ‘Who will you tell?’

Shahana lives alone with her young brother in the shadow of the Line of Control, the border patrolled by Pakistani and Indian soldiers that divides Kashmir in two. Life is hard, but Shahana ekes out a living with her beautiful embroidery. Then she finds a boy lying unconscious near the border. Zahid is from across the Line of Control, and Shahana takes a terrible risk by sheltering him. But how can she give Zahid up to the authorities when she knows he’ll be imprisoned – or worse?

An unforgettable novel about one young girl in war-torn Kashmir.

Emilio CoverFor high-school student Emilio Garcia Lopez, it’s an ordinary school day. But that evening the knock on the door announcing the arrival of his police officer cousin Juanita, flanked by a tall man in the uniform of the Federal Police, will turn his ordinary day into the beginning of a long nightmare. Emilio’s mother has been kidnapped in broad daylight from a hotel car park by unidentified criminals, who appear to know a great deal about her business and who have mistaken her for a wealthy businesswoman. An action-packed story set in a contemporary conflict zone.

 

 

Malini CoverMalini lives with her parents and young sister, Banni, in northern Sri Lanka. As the civil war heads towards its catastrophic end, Malini and her family are herded by Tamil Tiger troops towards the coast where they and thousands of other Tamil civilians will act as human shields. When Malini’s father pushes a phone into her hands and tells her to run off into the forest with Banni, Malini does as she is told. But then the shelling begins, and Malini has no way of finding her mother and father. With the role of parent thrust upon her, Malini has no choice but to travel to her grandfather’s village a long way inland. She and Banni will need to keep off the highways and stay alert for soldiers. But where will the next meal come from? Who can they trust? Where will they shelter? And will they ever be reunited with their parents again?

Zafir CoverZafir has a comfortable life in Homs, Syria, until his father, a doctor, is arrested for helping a protester who was campaigning for revolution. While his mother heads to Damascus to try to find out where his father is being held, Zafir stays with his grandmother – until her house is bombed. With his father in prison, his mother absent, his grandmother ill and not a friend left in the city, Zafir must stay with his Uncle Ghazi. But that too becomes dangerous as the city becomes more and more besieged. Will Zafir survive long enough to be reunited with his parents?

Book Review “Hands Across The Sky” Andrew John Schmitz

synopsis

From the first page, Hands Across The Sky draws the reader into an intoxicating tale of mystery and hope, beautifully told.

When Ezra Quinn, a San Francisco techie, gets a call one Saturday morning, he has no idea that his life is about to change beyond his wildest imaginings. Quinn is offered a lucrative position in the Middle East in his field of wearable tech. A week later, he’s on a flight to Dubai.

In Dubai, Quinn meets beautiful, cosmopolitan Leila, who orients him both to his work and to the political complexities in the region. Though the Middle East is on fire, Leila drops a hint that there is another way … the way of the Open Hand.

Leila accompanies Quinn to Cairo, where he meets Alif Zahir, the passionate, intelligent official at the center of the operation. As Quinn begins working on the project, he starts to become suspicious. Is Alif Zahir really who he says he is? And is the project truly aimed at peace? Soon events will spiral out of control, and Ezra Quinn will find himself caught up in a web of violence and treason from which there seems no escape.

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I would like to start this review by quoting some of my favorite passages.

“However, it was also difficult to imagine that a single ancient woman in a tiny apartment alone with her cat could possess the key to the power they needed”

‘Let the story enter you and create its meaning there. Do not try to force the meaning on the story.”

“Hands Across The Sky” is filled with such beautiful imagery that each word is like a brush painting the scenes inside your mind. As the imagery settles, the emotions and senses with each scene settle on you in such an intimate way that it could almost be a memory.

There is power in this story and a pile of moral decisions to be made by the main characters. The suspense is built beautifully page by page until it all comes together for a powerful ending.

I really enjoyed Schmitz’s writing style. It’s apparent lots of research went into the writing of this novel. The details are pretty intimate and I can’t help but wonder if Schmitz has been to Egypt.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the telling by a variety of characters old fables. This brought a real authenticity that not many books have. The “Open Hand” ideology was beautiful.

Schmitz developed his characters expertly. It’s really a wonder all its own with how much he put into such a small book. I will be reading more from him in the future.

“Hands Across The Sky” was a profound book that speaks to my generation and I think will continue to speak to others as well. It’s world is our world. It’s problems our problems.

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Hands Across The Sky | Series:  N/A  |  Author(s):  Andrew John Schmitz |Publisher: Deep Theory Press / Publication Date: 10-28-2015 |Pages: 276 (Print) | ISBN: 978-0996827904  |Genre(s): Literature & Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-26-2016 |Source: Copy from Author

Book Review “Private Lucky” Melissa Guzzetta

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This true story of survival, determination, and incredible luck will lift your spirits and inspire you to never give up on your dreams! Some people are born lucky. Others make their own luck. As a boy, Hank wanted nothing more than to fly like the fighter pilots he admires in the skies over Amsterdam. When the lives of Dutch citizens are turned upside down with the Nazi occupation of Holland, his dreams will have to wait as he witnesses the tragic unfolding of events affecting those around him before finding himself in a fight for his own life. He must go into hiding before his sixteenth birthday despite the fact that he is not Jewish. After the war, his life takes another unexpected turn when he is enlisted by his father in the American Army in Germany where his inability to speak English results in hilarious missteps at every turn. He can roll with the punches if the Army will teach him to fly, but when he learns that pilot training stopped with the end of the war, it seems he’ll never reach his goal. Undaunted, Private Hank evolves into a suave and popular soldier. He learns what it means to be American, arriving in America broke but determined to pursue his lofty goals in a manner only this quirky and very lucky Dutch-American would even think of trying, flying by the seat of his pants to some of the highest levels of aviation.

Private Lucky Cover

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First lines: Whap! Startled, I awoke to a stinging, wet slap to my left arm. Slap! What is this torture? Another two blows in rapid succession caused a body spasm, my defensive reflexes too slow to protect myself. I’m alive?

Private Lucky comes out of the gate establishing a fascinating, hilarious and determined tone that catches the readers eye and doesn’t let go. Immediately we find that Hank is a man whose life is filled with adventure. His story is certainly worth telling and I warn you now, you will have trouble putting this book down.

Knowing what is to come, I found reading the pre-war Holland section difficult. Since this is the true story of a very real man’s life, the usual detachment I have as a reader was stripped and I cringed at the tales of Hank’s boyhood adventures. If only his life could have continued to be full of pranks and mooning over airplanes.

I can not imagine the surreal experience of witnessing your country being attacked and invaded must of felt like.

A sentence from this section of the book moved me to tears.

“I shut my mouth and tried to understand why the music was not beautiful”. This hit me hard. Thinking of Hank as a child at the cusp of all the horror that is to hit his and so many lives, I empathized how it would feel for him. He was just a child watching a parade who couldn’t help but get caught up in the excitement. I think this section of the book fully embodies the sheer naivety of a child.

The book outlines pieces of the war and Hank’s experiences without focusing mainly on that time. The transitions throughout the book are well placed. I felt like Hank reminds the reader and maybe himself that some of those who suffered came out ahead and had more stories to tell. That one period of their lives doesn’t completely define them as a person.

As Hank ages we get to meet Hank of many hats. We have Hank the womanizer. Hank the soldier. Hank the pilot. With his transitional diploma his adventures take him far and wide.

Hank has lived and I believe most likely continues to lead a life to the fullest. Reading history through his eyes was a delightful, humorous and sometimes somber experience. I thank him for his honesty and I applaud Guzzetta for telling it.

My rating for this book is 5 stars.

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Private Lucky | Author(s): Melissa Guzzetta |Publisher: Good Luck Publishing / Publication Date: 09-23-2015 |Pages: 260 (Print) | ISBN:  978-0986403910 | Genre(s): Biographies & Memoirs  | Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 7-6-2016 |Source: Copy from author

 

 

Book Review “The Unknown Soldier” by Alan Robertshaw

From Goodreads:

Spring 1971. As the snows melt on the Tibetan Plateau, the last desperate chapters of a secret and forgotten war unfold. After twenty years of fighting, a few Khampa rebels, with ever dwindling CIA support, are now the only resistance to the Chinese, occupiers of Tibet for twenty years. Eager for adventure, an ex-British soldier known only as Smith is drawn into this alien and fast disappearing world. In constant danger, he and a small band of rebels range across the harsh Tibetan landscape, harrying the Chinese wherever they can. But as a web of intrigue stretching from London to New Delhi, Kathmandu and Lhasa begins to engulf him, Smith comes to realise that the Chinese are not his only enemy. If he is to survive, he must escape from the Land of the Snows. And a young nun is determined to make the journey with him so that her culture will survive in the West.


 

This book was a fresh look into a world I haven’t traveled before. I have never read anything based in Tibet or about Tibetan culture. It was fascinating. I found myself looking up customs and other various items from the book. What a vibrant culture!

The book is magnificent. Robertshaw is a true master at detail and he draws you in further and further as the book progresses. I found myself outraged at what the Chinese were doing to this ancient culture. Robertshaw has a way of making you care very much in a very subtle manner. It sneaks up on you. Before you know it you are hooked and turning pages so fast the book may go up in flames from the friction.

The setting details are wondrous. I found myself thinking of what it would be like to live among such history. 

Smith is an interesting guy. He is complex but simple. I thought of him as a rough and rugged but intelligent handsome fella with dirty hands and a complex mind.

Kinda like James Bond without the ego and fancy gadgets. 

I felt horrible for the nuns and the people of Tibet. I can’t imagine the horror of what they experienced. Robertshaw does a brilliant job of bringing these issues to light in a way that breeds emotion.

I think it was important for Robertshaw to include the gritty details of war. It’s imperative that these issues be shown as they are. In all their horrifying glory. We should never condone or allow such actions. Politicians rarely care about morals when a goal can be achieved.

I hated what happened at the end but it was one of the most real endings I have read in a fiction book in awhile. 

Robertshaw has impressed the crap out of me with this book. I hope there is a second.

I give this book the full 5 stars.

5 stars

This book has the AlliesOpinions official stamp of approval.

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To Purchase this book click the link:

 The Unknown Soldier: Fighting for Tibet


 

The Technical Data:

Title: The Unknown Soldier | Author(s): Alan Robertshaw |

Publisher: Ohm Books / Publication Date: 7-5-2014 | Pages: 294 (Paperback) |ISBN: 9780957502338 | Genre(s): Action and Adventure | Language:English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 12-31-2015 | Source: Copy From Author

Book Review for “Mercy’s Prince” by Katy Huth Jones

 

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As second son of the King of Levathia, seventeen-year-old Valerian desires the quiet life of a scholarly monk. But when he fails to save his older brother in battle, Valerian must instead become crown prince. While a traitorous knight schemes against him, Valerian meets Mercy, a pacifist Healer with whom he can speak mind-to-mind like the great dragons. Their bond emboldens Valerian to seek out the legendary dragons and ask for their help against the monsters who killed his brother. Can Valerian survive the traitor’s assassins long enough to find the dragons? And if he does, can he convince them to lay aside their hatred of humans and help him save the land from destruction?

mercys prince

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This is definitely my kind of book. It reminded me of the ” a song of fire and ice” series in some ways. Mainly the time period and the dragons.

I really enjoyed reading this book. The character development is well done. I felt like I really got to know the characters. 

From the beginning it’s nonstop action. The characters are into one situation after another. It really makes it hard to put down. I kept telling myself ….one more page…just one more page. I got lost in this world. The description is well done but not overly done. There is room to imagine. I really enjoy that. 

I like how the love story wasn’t an instant BOOM they are in love. I like how it developed and naturally came about. Instant love isn’t a deal breaker for me but, I enjoy watching the feeling form and bloom. It helps build a relationship with the characters. 

I did feel bad for Kieran. He liked Mercy ( Merry) from the beginning and for awhile I really thought it would be a match between her and him. Don’t get me wrong, the way it ends is great. I just feel bad that he got kinda brushed aside. Especially in the end of the story. You can tell he is really hurting. He’s such an interesting character. I would like to see him find someone too. That would round things off really nicely in that respect. 

Lets talk about the dragons! How freaking cool is it that Valerian can talk to dragons! I mean, wow. Can someone let me in on how to do that..and..also…you know..find me a dragon to be buddies with. Oh, and you know…one I can ride! 

I’m just saying…it really doesn’t get more awesome. That’s pretty much as cool as you can get. Riding in on a DRAGON to save the kingdom. Talk about a legacy. 

I loved the story. I am very much looking forward to reading more!

This is a no doubt five star book in my opinion. 

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Mercy’s Prince | Series: He Who Finds Mercy Series  |  Author(s):  Katy Huth Jones |Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing / Publication Date: 7-1-2015 |Pages: 430 (Print) | ISBN: 978-1514381670  |Genre(s): Fantasy |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 10-20-2015 |Source: Copy from author.

I would like to thank the author for giving me the opportunity to read and review her book. it has truly been a pleasure.

 

About The Author

Katy Jones

Katy Huth Jones grew up in a family where creative juices overflowed and made puddles to splash in. When not writing or sewing or drawing or taking photos, Katy plays piccolo and flute in The Symphony of the Hills. She lives with her husband Keith in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. Their two sons, whom she homeschooled, have flown the nest and live creative lives of their own. Best of all, she is a cancer survivor.

http://katyhuthjones.blogspot.com/