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January 11, 2017

Cole's Perfect Puppy: Perfect Puppies Book One by Frances M. Crossno

Cole's Perfect Puppy: Perfect Puppies Book OneCole's Perfect Puppy: Perfect Puppies Book One by Frances M. Crossno
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This children's book is as cute as the cover of the book showing that puppy dressed in a shirt! The target ages are 7-12 but everyone needs a reminder now and again and this book sure delivers it. This Christian book does refer to God, Jesus, and verses from the Bible in one part but it is not overwhelming the story by any means. It also shows traits we all need to learn and practice, including the following: caring, personal sacrifice, being responsible, and obeying your parents or other adult in charge. This is an animal story that is heartwarming as well as heartbreaking in parts that is narrated in the first person.

The main character is Cole and I don't recall his age being revealed however there are hints throughout the story about his age. He goes to school and is offered a job after school hours, he rides a bike but doesn't drive. He is to watch his younger brother when they are out and they can go to the mall alone. This leads me to believe Cole is a young teen.

The time period or year of the story isn't stated however reference is made to unrest in Egypt when Cole's and Caleb's parents had to leave and the fact that Rachel's dad was killed in Iraq which leads me to believe it could have taken place a few years ago or even yesterday. In reality, the 'time' really makes no difference to the story, just as the exact ages of characters or what town they live in makes no difference to the story.

Cole is determined to get a puppy he seen at the mall despite receiving a pot bellied pig as a pet for Christmas. He is willing to do what he has to in order to get that puppy which seems like a simple story but it is far from simple. Cole is faced with learning experiences, faith, friendship, compassion, and sacrifices. It is obvious through the story he grows in understanding that not all things are what they seem. Sometimes people are in situations that you would never expect and because of this, they may seem 'different' but once you get to know them, you realize how strong they really are.

Caleb is Cole's younger brother and also plays an important role in the story. I believe it is through Cole's actions and his explaining what is right and wrong that Caleb's character grows. At times Caleb even reminds Cole of important values and responsibilities.

Rachel is a classmate of Caleb's and she is essential to the story as well. Through Cole's and her friendship, her character teaches Cole many important lessons.

There are some minor characters which are all developed enough to fully understand what is happening and why. They move the story along in a very natural way, for example; Cole's and Caleb's parents, as well as Rachel's mother.

The story is very easy to understand and the lessons learned may not be that obvious at first since they are learned in such a natural way. Younger children may not even realize the significance of the events but to further their thinking and a discussion there are several questions at the end of the book to aid in this. Even if they don't understand these lessons and ignore the questions at the end, the book is still a very enjoyable story about a boy wanting a dog.

I highly recommend this story.

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The Alienation of Courtney HoffmanThe Alienation of Courtney Hoffman by Brady Stefani
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The cover of The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman: A Novel by Brady Stefani might seem a bit disturbing at first glance with a young woman standing there in what appears to be a hospital gown but this Young Adult book kept me, who enjoy super-natural and aliens, turning page after page.

The main character is Courtney Hoffman right before her fifteenth birthday. Courtney believes she may have the gene that her grandfather had that made him crazy. He had to be crazy or why else would he have tattooed her eight years ago and not only try to drown her but he himself drowned? Then of course there is always the aliens visiting and Astra, her imaginary friend, or was she?

The character of Courtney was very complicated and she was a bit of a crybaby as well as defiant. I guess many would say a typical teen with hormones producing her mood swings. Since she is in very unusual circumstances throughout the book it is hard to say if she is believable overall but I do recall the devastating situation with her mother when she learned her mother knew she wasn't crazy all along and how well she handled it in the book where I thought she should have had more of an altercation with her. She handled it so well, I had a hard time believing her as a character since I think anyone who found out that they'd been lied to their whole life and put in a hospital when nothing was wrong would have had a lot more to say even if it was to their mother. At times, I didn't even find her likable (especially at the beginning) but her character grows in many ways throughout the story and she becomes stronger as a person and much more confident.

Astra, who turns out to be a real person by the name of Agatha Kirlich seems to accept whatever is thrown at her and she deals with it. She doesn't seem to experience the mental turmoil that Courtney does when faced with some very unusual circumstances. Much of her life remains a mystery but she is a presence to be acknowledged.

There are several minor characters in the story which all aid in the development of the characters. Their development varies, if at all, but they all keep the story moving at a somewhat quick pace and are assets to the storyline.

The plot of the book might seem simple at the beginning but this book took me for some twists and turns that always kept me glued to the pages. It isn't a book just about aliens, it isn't a book just about ESP or other supernatural talents, it isn't a book about the end of the world, and it isn't a book about a crazy mixed up kid who is growing up, it is all of that and more. This is why I recommend it for young and old alike.

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The Secrets on Forest BendThe Secrets on Forest Bend by Susan C. Muller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Secrets on Forest Bend is a mystery with a supernatural presence and romance all rolled into one story. I was a bit curious how the author was going to pull this off and really wasn't expecting much but was pleasantly surprised. I am not a romance reader but what romance is in it seems natural and is not overpowering. The way it was written, the ghost was an essential character in the story and had a very 'deadly' side since she had a bad habit of leaving bodies behind even though most people, including those who were her victims, never saw her or knew of her presence. At the beginning of the story, only one person knew of her existence but even she didn't know of the extent this ghost went to in the past or is willing to go to, to get what she wants. She also didn't know how was she going to convince others of this ghosts existence.

The book opens with the Prologue of an event that took place 26 years ago involving two sisters that is essential to understanding the story while the book itself takes place in the present starting in April of 2015. The story does follow a natural timeline and refers to this event but stays in the present throughout. Although I am not sure how many months the story itself takes place in, it is not an issue since the story follows a natural time flow over the months with the setting being in the Montrose section of Houston, TX.

The main character of Jillian Whitmeyer is well developed throughout the story although the believability is what I question. Some of the things she does are completely 'off' to me but then again I don't know how I would act if my dead sister was haunting me all the time either. Since she had tried prior to the story taking place to tell others about the ghost of her sister only to find herself committed to a mental health facility, I assume that this is the reason for her 'odd' actions or reactions at times in the story.

Jillian's ghostly sister Heather is essential to the story so I would say she is also a main character. She is not developed as a person much since she was a child of 13 when she died, however she is developed enough for me to know just how pampered she was and how she always got her way. As a ghost her evil side shows without a doubt; how she still wants her way no matter who or what she destroys to get it.

Another main character is Detective Adam Campbell who is not developed as well as Jillian but still enough is known to make him a reasonably well-rounded character and for understanding why he feels or thinks the way he does. Although some of his actions seem questionable, since a ghost is involved then I guess anything is possible.

There are other minor characters in the story with various development. They strike me as characters any of us probably have in our own towns and are believable. My favorite one being the character of Snake-Eye who is a leader of a small motorcycle group and in desperate need of a shower.

The story itself is realistic, except for the ghost part. Detective Adam Campbell tries to trace a gun used in several murders which leads him to Jillian since she was the last owner of the gun. However, in finding Jillian, another problem is realized when she proves she had turned that gun into the police department a year ago to be destroyed. With Jillian's help, Detective Campbell tried to discover who at the department isn't doing their job which also puts both Detective Campbell and Jillian in contact with each other for a relationship to bloom. However, this also puts Jillian in the position of trying to convince Detective Campbell that her sister is a ghost who is responsible for the deaths of several people and he is likely to become her next target.

The story was well written with what I thought was the right blend of romance, ghostly encounters, and characters that kept me turning the pages. It was an easy read, always moving, and had some unexpected twists. I enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone who likes ghost stories and crime stories with a touch of romance.

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January 10, 2017

To Live the Future by Hayuta Katzenelson

To Live the FutureTo Live the Future by Hayuta Katzenelson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one powerful story about Rivka who was a spy gathering information for the Jewish underground. It is based on history starting in 1938, in Poland, and it spans time and country. It is a real eye opener to the sacrifices many had to make during that time. Although the book centers around a main character, Rivka, it is clear to see that there are many others who were faced with the same or similar circumstances of sacrifice and loss as her family.

Rivka is a well developed character and although I don’t agree with her actions all of the time. She is so strong in many ways yet so vulnerable in others. I can't help liking her and feeling a connection with her so intense that I feel the emotions she is feeling at the time. For example, when her family left for America (the promise land) and she had to stay behind. She was unable to tell her husband why she couldn't go with them and he told her how she was abandoning him and the children. I know this killed her inside and I wanted to cry with her. She was faced with so much tragedy and uncertainty, it was a wonder she was able to function as a human being at all.

The secondary character, Menachem, is more of a mystery although he is well rounded as a character, His feelings and thoughts are well known but I can't help but feel I don't really know him or his past; like he is hiding something. Then again, he also is a spy so there is that bit of secrecy and mystery just because of that. It may be that this was the intentions of the author to carry this feeling of mystery about him throughout the whole story and in either case, it doesn't take away from him as a character, it just makes me as the reader cautious in connecting with him.

There are many other characters in the story, from friends to family. They are all developed enough to understand their place and intent. Many of these are vital for understanding the story and events that took place while others help keep this story moving at its comfortable, consistent pace.

Although I would not say this is not a feel good story by any means, it is believable, and based on real historical events. I should mention that there are a couple of times when Rivka is having sex however it is not detailed or explicit and done in very good taste. There are some of the happy times but I use that term loosely. They were happy times as far as being positive in the character's life at a time when so much heartache and misery is taking place. Even with all these uncertainties about the character's future throughout the book, the twist toward the end really caught me by surprise.

I recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fictions.

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January 2, 2017

Lucifer and Eva: Part 1-3 by Eric Zeigler

Humanity: Lucifer and Eva part IIIHumanity: Lucifer and Eva part III by Eric Zeigler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lucifer and Eva by Eric Zeigler takes everything I know and believe about good and evil and gives it a twist. In this fast paced story, it had me questioning if the god Ehyeh is really good, is the demon Eva really bad, and if Lucifer really deserved his bad name and reputation. This wasn't written to be a new bible however it takes some of the elements of it and twists it into this story of what kept me so engrossed, I was turning page after page.

Lucifer and Michael are the sons of the god Ehyeh and are what I think of as a traditional angle with wings. Michael has white wings but Lucifer has black ones and because of this and his black hair, he is known as The Black Angel. Lucifer is a main character and is very likable even though he disobeys his father. It is too bad that his brother didn't share some of Lucifer's wisdom, knowledge, and sense. Lucifer is somewhat developed as a character throughout the story and even displays a sense of humor.

Eva is another main character and she is also likable. She is a demon but as the story progresses what Eva really is comes into question after she is healed by Lucifer. She displays humor and wit and is also developed somewhat throughout the story. The reason I say somewhat developed is because, just like the rest of the characters, the past is not known. The characters are in the 'here and now' with very little mentioned about their past years or when/or if, they were young children or babies.

There are many angles and demons, secondary characters, as well as creatures I have never heard of throughout the story. Some of these reside in Heaven, some in Hell and just like with the characters, they have me question who or what good and evil are. Even Heaven and Hell isn't what I thought it was.

This book is three parts of the same story, each flowing seamlessly into the next just as the chapters do. It is written with simple sentences and is easy to read although it is fast paced and action packed. The description of the settings and actions are vivid, as with the action scenes. There is no problem visualizing what is going on although the book does feel rushed. I wished the author developed a little more 'down time' where I got to know more about the background and/or creatures so the connection and understanding of the characters could be developed deeper. There was so much that went on between the pages that could have come to the forefront to nurture this, it almost feels like the story ended incomplete and me a bit unsatisfied.

So to sum it up, if you are looking for a bedtime story where you can connect with the characters and enjoy some romantic encounters then keep looking. If you are looking for an exciting, action packed story while having some familiarity with the characters (with a twist) then this is definitely worth reading and I recommend it.

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January 1, 2017

Happy New Year! Welcome 2017...

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy New Year!

You may have noticed a year is missing from my reading, it is not a mistake. I took the year off from reading and posting.