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The Legend of Ghost Dog Island

Title: Legend of Ghost Dog
Author: Rita Monette
Genre: YA
ISBN: 978-1-61937-443-0
Pages: 186
Format: Kindle

Behind every legend lies the truth

Ten-year-old Nikki Landry lives in the same home she was born in, but she has moved several times each and every year of her life. She lives with her mother, father, and younger brother on a houseboat, and her father relocates them frequently as he searches for the best crabbing spots. Nikki hates moving. She no sooner starts making friends when she is uprooted once again. The latest move to a really mysterious bayou takes her from her best friend, Lydia, and forces her to start over yet again in a new school. If that weren’t enough, Nikki thinks she is being watched by something on a nearby island.

Rita Monette has spun a wonderful mystery based on the life of the Cajun people in Louisiana during the mid-1950’s. The reader is immediately drawn into life along the Bayou. The characters are believable, and the hardships of life aboard an old houseboat, where the family is living in poverty and the father is doing his best to keep things together, is portrayed with sensitivity and compassion. Monette details clearly Nikki’s trials as she tries yet again to adjust to a new school, make friends, and avoid a bully. Nikki’s bond to her beagle, Snooper, is shown as a vital element in Nikki’s life, providing companionship and stability through all the family’s moves. So when Snooper goes missing and there is a legend of someone on the nearby island stealing dog’s souls, the reader is right there, following Nikki into danger as she hunts for Snooper and tries to solve the mystery of the island with the strange howling sounds.

I really enjoyed this book and I think Monette has done an excellent job of capturing a time and place now gone. The issue of language, for instance, is shown as Nikki wants to learn Cajun French after hearing her father and others speaking it. This novel is set during the time when it was illegal to speak French in public. The laws changed in 1961, but for Nikki, learning French was like a forbidden fruit.

Monette also describes in mouth-watering detail the food that was common for the Cajun community. She uses a number of words common to this part of Louisiana as well, and she provides a brief glossary at the beginning of the novel defining the terms. I found that this technique of using a glossary first, but then letting the words flow naturally in the novel, was most effective. Monette’s own drawings scattered throughout the novel are most effective in showing Nikki’s world. I really think that Monette’s readers will find it easy to learn about the Cajun people as they read a suspenseful story with plenty of action. The ending ties things up a bit too neatly, but it is satisfying to have everyone sorted satisfactorily.

I think that this novel would be a fun read for anyone from middle-school upwards. It is a very good story in its own right. In addition, I could really see this being used in a classroom with the possibilities for many teaching moments.

- Reviewed by Cyclamen

A Silly Rhyming Alphabet Book About Animals From A to Z

Title: A Silly Rhyming Alphabet Book about Animals from A to Z
Author: Simone Da Costa
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0987925510
Pages: 36
Format: Kindle/softcover

Author's Synopsis: Using the names of animals that start with letters in the alphabet in rhyme, making each story silly, and easy for children to remember the alphabet.

Da Costa's children's book, "A Silly Rhyming Alphabet Book about Animals from A to Z" is a delight for children and parents. In every sense, it is an instructional book but one which is cleverly disguised as a rhyming, animal book. While reading this book, children will unknowingly learn the alphabet, be introduced to animals new and known, and pick up the subtleties of rhyme.

The author presents short stories for every letter of the alphabet and the featured characters are animals. This makes the reading experience fun by giving parents the opportunity to sing, act out, and improvise, while encouraging children to do the same and thereby open their own creative channel. The creativity of this work is displayed in the unnatural environments the animals live in and in the actions the animals undertake. Animals driving cars, ironing, escaping the zoo...it is all way too much imaginative fun!

Supporting the stories are illustrations that quite literally make one smile. They are superb--colorful, detailed and diverse. I enjoyed them immensely.

And just in case parents want to "test" their little one's comprehension and listening skills, there's a quiz at the back of the book which can be used for such.

The pressure of teaching a child the alphabet is lessened with this beautifully crafted and designed story book for children...and parents.

Reviewed by Ann Fields
Author, "Fuller's Curse"

Fracture: The Secret Enemy Saga

After Philosophy

Title: Fracture: The Secret Enemy Saga  Author: Virginia M Mckevitt
Format: Paperback Pages: 334
ISBN-13: 978-1475051735

Fracture, this book has taken me away from reality in so many ways. I got to know Kristina and feel her close to me. A strong, independent young girl who has to face one of life worst situations and deal with it.

Then she finds out half her life hasn't been as honest as she'd grown up believing, there were things about herself that she didn't know. After that, she meets life, her past, her future, love, part of her family. She discovers she isn't just a small town girl with some dreams and a happy life. She needs to learn a lot, learn how to see, how to fight, how to survive.She needs to save the world.

The Dream - Bound to Tradition

After Philosophy

Title: Bound To Tradition: The Dream (Volume 1)
Author: A P Von K'Ory
Pages: 370
ISBN:  978-1481919630

The book is what I choose to call “a tale of three worlds”.

The first world depicted a typical African culture and tradition that would make a reader wonders if the writer told her real life story or invoked one of those rare creative and imaginative writing skills.

The second world is that of a modern European civilization with its sophistications.

The third world is where the first and second worlds meet and are bound to a common interest- the ultimate of which is love, a love that is not scared of any tradition and culture.

After Philosophy

After Philosophy

Title: After Philosohpy
Author: Saskia van Tetering
Publisher: Bojit Press 
ISBN 978-0-9878583-0-6
Pages: 79 

In this, her third published collection, Saskia van Tetering again demonstrates why she is one of the most significant little-known poets in the country.

Let me count the ways. Van Tetering is both intelligent and almost painfully self-aware; her poems come from deep within her own psyche, yet they often reflect universal human emotions. Each of them is a gem of observation or insight (and often both). They are dense with perfectly-drawn images, yet incisive and clear. They are profound, but unselfconsciously so. They are natural, honest and authentic; they are not -- as happens when the left brain interferes with art -- deliberately clever or pretentious. (There is one slip in that direction: the use of Latin for the chapter titles, possibly in recognition of the Graeco-Roman roots of both philosophy and poetry).

Pressure to Sing

Pressure To Sing

Title: Pressure to Sing
Author: Bradon Pitts
Genre: Poetry collection
ISBN:
Publisher: In Our Words Inc.
Pages: 80
Format: Softcover

Brandon Pitts is a contemporary poet whose unique work defies labels. Impressionist, abstract, emotional, existential, self-aware? -- yes, all of the above. Overall his poetry is personal and experiential and often confessional. Illustrating only a few of these descriptors, the first section of the book (on poets and poetry) opens with Writer:

“We sit here starving
because I’m a writer
and believe in myself
“She wants certainty
I want life
God, I’m hungry”

Revealing his inner self throughout, Pitts is by turns vulnerable, cynical, straightforward, ironic and humourous. He simply writes to his inspiration, and the resulting lines manifest the feeling, tone, and subject. This produces a deep and powerful authenticity (which is well worth the by-product, some inevitable flights of self-indulgence).  His creative vocabulary is expressive and original, and seldom pretentious; but the reader may be challenged by some of his many historical, mythical, and geographical allusions.

The Alchemist

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Originally published in 1988 in the author’s native Portugese, the Brazilian storyteller Paulo Coehlo tells the story of an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who has reoccurring dreams of treasures in the Egyptian desert. In search to find these treasures he travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian pyramids.

On his journey he meets many people, a Gypsy woman, a wise old man who calls himself Melchizedek, the king of Salem and an alchemist, all of whom gives him advice and points Santiago in the direction of his pursuing his dream.

 Mr. Coehlos fable is one we are all too familiar with: self-discovery, wisdom, virtue, life lessons and reinforces the importance of listening to our hearts.

Review by Simone Da Costa

The Witness

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Sixteen year old Elizabeth Fitch, daughter of a mother who controls her entire life. But all Elizabeth wants is to be like a normal teenager.  When her mother goes out of town, leaving Elizabeth alone…. She is free to do whatever she desires. She adopts a new name (Liz) dyes her hair, starts wearing makeup and jeans..

One night she decides to get let loose by going to a nightclub with a friend, having too much to drink she allows a stranger with a seductive Russian accent to lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. But, before the night is over she becomes a witness to two murders and has to go into hiding for ten years, leaving her old identity behind to begin with a new name, identity and a new life

Review by Simone Da Costa

Before I Go To Sleep

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Christian, a middle-age woman in her 40s, wakes up every morning beside her husband, Ben in their London home and cannot remember who she is or what she is doing there. Every morning her husband explains to her that she has amnesia cause by a car crash that happened two decades ago which has left her able to store memories for only 24 hours.

Christian is encouraged by her Doctor; Dr. Nasha a Neurologist who encourages Christine to keep a journal without her husband’s knowledge. The journal helps Christian discover things about herself she had forgotten. Like, she discovers that she is a writer and had published a novel that Ben did not tell her about.

Christine later learns that Ben has been keeping much from her about her past life. For example, their son Adam who died in the car crash leaving Christine determined to retrace her past life, hoping to remember.

Review by Simone Da Costa

I've Got Your Number

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Poppy, set to marry Magnus Tavis, the man of her dreams loses her engagement ring a, family heirloom in a hotel fire drill. The timing could not of been worse, as she is set to meet with Magnus and his parents in a few weeks. During the panic of the fire drill she also loses her cell phone. Frantically trying to find her ring she paces around the hotel lobby and soon finds a cell phone in a garbage bin and claims it as her own.  

Her plan is to give the hotel the cell phone number, so they can contact her if they find her ring. But, Poppy soon finds out that the phone belongs to a business man, Sam Roxton who wants his phone back and wants Poppy to stop meddling in his business by reading his messages.

Overall, Sophie’s book ensures for a good quirky and hilarious read.

Review by Simone Da Costa

Getting to Happy

getting-to-happy

The anticipated sequel of Waiting to Exhale is here, Getting to Happy. It has been fifteen years since we first fell in love with the four remarkable heroines from Phoenix. Although much has changed for these four friends, their main challenge is dealing with past hurts and pains and the power of forgiveness. In the end, it is their love for each other that helps them to heal.

Despite all their set-backs, disappointments and hurts over the years, they have a set mandate this time around to reclaim their lives and dreams which they are determined to do.

Review by Simone Da Costa

The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison’s first novel. Morrison tells the bold story of a young black eleven- year-old girl, Pecola Breedlove. She goes through the hardship of being poor, ridiculed for being ugly, spat upon, raped and ultimately impregnated by her father.

Becoming insecure of her physical features she begins to hate herself and the way she looks. Her skin, eyes and her hair, everything about her she wanted to desperately change. She prays everyday asking God to give her the blondest hair and the bluest eyes. All the features and physicalities of a white child so she can be as beautiful and beloved like all the blond, blue-eyed children in America.   Pecola believes that having the bluest eyes is the ultimate representation of beauty.

Review by Simone Da Costa