Monday, March 29, 2010

Chrysalis: Tribulations (Book 2, Chrysalis Series)

M.L. Lacy
AuthorHouse (2010)
ISBN 9781449014803
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (03/10)


Having read "Chrysalis: The Awakening," I was pleasantly surprised to find that "Chrysalis: Tribulations," which is the second book in the series, was even better than the first.  "Chrysalis: Tribulations" starts off where "Chrysalis: The Awakening" left off. Bree continues to work on strengthening her magic and accept her status of being one of "The Chosen."  As her powers strengthen, she also continues to have to protect herself and those close to her from her nemesis, Esmeralda.  Desperate to capture Bree and remove her heart, Esmeralda pulls out all stops to try to get Bree to surrender.  She doesn't care who she hurts or how much she hurts them.  Bree constantly has to struggle to outwit Esmeralda and her minions.

In addition to dealing with increasing her new powers, and the struggle with Esmeralda, Bree also has to deal with animosity within her own clan.  There are others who do not accept her as Alpha female and who wish to usurp her status.  Bree has to quickly figure out who she can trust, and she has to decide how to win over those that are against her.  She really has to rely on her special abilities to help her with this. She also has her soul mate Stephen on her mind.  Bree still has difficulties with the idea that she is also to be intimate with her male protectors.  She has to work on her human feelings in regards to this.  It becomes easier as time passes.   Meanwhile she continues on her path to fulfilling the prophecy set forth for her.

"Chrysalis: Tribulations" is a wonderful book to have the opportunity to read.  I love how Bree's character is metamorphosing into a powerful Magical being.  Her magical gifts such as mind reading and being able to view events that are happening elsewhere, adds to the excitement.  Dealing with her attraction to her protectors in her clan also creates an interesting dilemma. She has to step outside of her human values and step into the ones accepted by her clan.  I would say that this issue is definitely not the worst one in the world to deal with!  Bree's story definitely does not end here, and I look forward to seeing where her magical journey takes her in the next book in the series.

M. L. Lacy writes well and her character development is suburb.  She draws the reader into the plot, creating a place that makes you feel like you are part of the story in "Chrysalis: Tribulations."  I highly recommend both books in the Chrysalis series.

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Tales of the Seven Seas: The Escapades of Captain Dynamite Johnny O'Brien

Dennis M. Powers
Taylor Trade Publishing (2010)
ISBN 9781589794474
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

"Tales of the Seven Seas" describe the colorful career of Captain Johnny O'Brien and gives the reader new insights into the risks of full sail ships and twentieth century steamers of the later half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. Dennis M. Powers introduced Captain Dynamite Johnny O'Brien in his earlier book "Taking the Sea."  Powers became fascinated with the colorful accounts of a diverse group of men drawn together in a pursuit of peril, bonded together by their ability to survive the fury and vengeance of the sea. The idea for this book was born out of the myriad of research material used in preparation for the earlier work.

The "early years" picture Captain Johnny as young, impetuous, and as a man determined to pursue his dream of becoming a ship's officer. Although Captain Johnny had several arrests and run-ins with the law over the years he gained a reputation as a man of experience, common sense, intelligence, and honor, a man willing to take command regardless of the circumstances. As his career progressed he gained a genuine respect from his officers and crew.

Power's gives accounts of the many facets of Captain O'Brien's career which spanned a period of over sixty years. His sea-faring adventures include the challenges he met as an officer or Captain of the Edwin James, the Alice Dickerman, the Umatilla, the Alden Besse, the Premiere, the Charles W. Wetmore, the Utopia, the Dolphin, the Manauense, the Eureka, the Olympia, the Edith, the Seward, the Victoria and other ships for the Alaska Steamship company.

In contrast to the years of assignments on the waters of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, Johnny became Captain of the Aberdeen and sailed for Hawaii. He later sailed the Matson Steamship Lines on runs between San Francisco and Honolulu, only to return briefly to pilot ships in the Pacific Northwest. He then received an offer to take command of the Buford, a 5,040-gross-ton ship with a long history of uses. His assignment was to carry well-to-do passengers on a cruise in the South Seas.

The adventures of Captain Dynamite Johnny O'Brien read like a novel, and have inspired well-known fiction writers Jack London, Emerson Hough, and others, as well as the Hollywood movie, "The Navigator" starring Buster Keaton. His story is filled with his adventures on the open seas, telling of near death experiences, the romance of wooing his wife Emily, and stories of the Klondike gold rush, After reading three of Power's earlier books I am more than ever impressed with the ambitious undertaking involved in each project. I became engrossed with the Bibliography of "Tales of the Seven Seas" which includes sources going back to the year 1892. The voluminous amount of research and resource material, documents, articles, personal journals and memoirs of Captain O'Brien referred to are evidence of Powers' thorough research. Powers acknowledges the help he received from librarians, other researchers, maritime museum curators, and historical societies. Picture inserts from these same institutions add another dimension to the book, and help the reader visualize the amazing facts of the narrative.

Powers' unique creativity and story telling technique, his character development, meticulous attention to detail, and his definitive background research have established him as an authoritative connoisseur of maritime history and related adventure narratives.

"Tales of the Seven Seas" is another milestone in establishing Dennis M. Powers as an innovator in a unique genre of Maritime History and as an ingenious Biographer.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Checkered Fences

Alma Hudson
Eloquent Books (2008 & 2010 Kindle)
ISBN 9781606931912
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views


Diane Jones is a young African-American who is not afraid of honest work. In addition to being an honors student she has always held some kind of a job, and when an opportunity presents itself for a better paid and more pleasant job as a nanny to the Shaw's, a white family, she accepts it gladly. She quickly bonds with the three children, even the rather difficult eight-year old Chad. Chad is Mrs. Shaw's son from a previous marriage and he feels less loved than his siblings, so he often acts up. Diane manages to convince him that he is wrong, so unlike her predecessors she becomes a permanent and cherished part of the family. When Mr. Shaw's oldest son, David, visits his dad for the summer, he develops strong feelings for Diane. Although reluctant, knowing all too well that an interracial relationship is not an easy thing in the turbulent 70s, Diane finds herself attracted to David and they become lovers.

Will the young couple be able to face the adversity? Will their families accept partners of different colors or will their love fizzle out?

Alma Hudson's "Checkered Fences" addresses one of the biggest and unfortunately still very much present problems in our country – racism. While huge strides have been made since the time in which the story is set, namely the turbulent seventies, the scene of David and Diane's restaurant visit brought back many unpleasant memories of much more recent times. Being part of an interracial couple is still not the most fun in the world even as recently as in 2010, and my husband and I have encountered similar situations all too often in the past, therefore I could really relate to this part of the story. That's also the main reason for which I wanted to congratulate Ms. Hudson for writing a brave and outspoken book. Unfortunately, there were many factors distracting from the story itself, most notably extremely poor spelling and punctuation, as well as not very convincingly developed characters. There was a lot of telling and not enough showing, and some of the events described just did not sound believable to me. Let me cite just two examples: Diane professes to be a "good" girl and a "militant" - yet she ends up in David's bed without any real resistance and without any assurance that she is not just being exploited for a bit of fun. Also, Diane's father, who has extremely old-fashioned ideas, and whose temper is extraordinarily violent, accepts David without a slightest hesitation or argument.

I felt that Ms. Hudson was delivering a very worthy message in "Checkered Fences," but 87 pages seem to be slightly short for a novel trying to address such complex issues. Enlisting some professional help, such as an editor, would be greatly helpful for the overall quality and readability of any future works. I would like to encourage the author to write more, but also to pay more attention to detail.

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Luv-Pons!: A Fun Variety Love & Romance Guide for Couples

Doug & Jackie Christie
Infinite Love Publishing (2010)
ISBN 9780979482793
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views


"Luv-Pons!" is a high-energy, colorfully-written book that is designed to help you keep the romance alive in your relationship. Written by Doug and Jackie Christie who have dedicated over eighteen years of their lives to each other, this book gives you ideas from both the male and the female perspective.  Keeping in mind that a lot of relationships stall when the partners start taking each other for granted, "Luv-Pons!" is full of ideas on how to avoid this.  These ideas range from recipes, to wine recommendations, to poetry and finally to the Luv-Pons coupons.

While I would never turn down roses, (unless they were an apology for cheating of course), just the thought of having someone do something to show me how special I am by making simple gestures would mean so much to me.  That's what this book does. It offers simple ideas that are designed to bring happiness to both people in the relationship.  How nice it would be to receive a coupon for something that might be as easy as giving me a 5-minute scalp massage when I am having a rotten day. 

I think that "Luv-Pons!" would make an excellent engagement or wedding gift.  It would be nice if couples could start out with these considerate thoughts in mind.  It is also the perfect gift to give your significant other.  Let's face it, if a woman gives a man a book like, "How to Make Love for More than 5 Minutes," he might find it intimidating and emasculating.  This is especially true if the key points are highlighted (not that I ever did that to my ex). I can guarantee you that "Luv-Pons!" by Doug and Jackie Christie will not have this effect.  It is meant to be shared and enjoyed by both people in the relationship.  I highly recommend it!

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Kate, the Ghost Dog: Coping With the Death of a Pet

Wayne L. Wilson
Magination Press (2009)
ISBN 9781433805547
Reviewed by Sophia (age 7) and Madeline (age 8.5) McElroy for Reader Views Kids 



This is a story about a girl named Aleta. Aleta has a dog named Kate. When Aleta returns home from school with her friends she wants to take Kate for a walk. When Aleta walks into her room Kate isn't moving. Aleta cries "Here Kate!" "Here Kate!"  "Time for a walk!" But Kate doesn't move. Nina, one of Aleta's friends, says, "She's d-." Then Aleta shuts her up. Aleta thinks that Kate is not dead, so she gets her Mom and Dad for help. Her parents realized she was dead, Aleta doesn't believe them.

Aleta gets really sad and doesn't eat or talk to anyone; she just stays in her room. Her family holds a memorial and tries to make her feel better. She still wouldn't play with her friends and is sad. Her uncle has a long talk with her and she feels better. Her Mom helps her make a scrapbook for Kate.

I think if I lost a pet this book would help me because it shows the reader how to not be upset. It gives the reader lots of ideas of how to not be sad about losing something special in their life.


This is a sad story about a dog dying. Kate was Aleta's best friend. One day after school she finds her dead in her room. She started crying and even cried at school. Her Mom asked her if she wanted a new dog, but Aleta wasn't ready for a new dog yet. Her family tried to talk to her about it, but it didn't help. She tried feeling better by pretending that Kate was a ghost dog. She would play with her.

My favorite character is Kate, because I like dogs. My favorite part of the story is when Kate comes back to "life" as a ghost dog. They had fun together. I liked the pictures too.

We both really liked "Kate, the Ghost Dog" by Wayne L. Wilson.

AD/HD Success! Solutions for Boosting Self-Esteem: The Diary Method for Ages 7-17

Kerin Bellak-Adams
Loving Healing Press (2010)
ISBN 9781615990245
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

The author, Kerine Bellak-Adams has a vast range of experience in working with children who have AD/HD.  This includes being a one-on-one teacher of children with this disorder.  Children with AD/HD tend to have to deal with a variety of issues that can affect their self-esteem. Having worked with this population, she discovered the importance of making sure that their self-esteem issues were addressed so that they would be able to develop into strong, confident adults.  In doing so, they will be "less self-conscious and more secure and courageous." 

"AD/HD Success!" begins with a Home/School Daily Accountability Sheet to be filled out, by the teacher, for the parent about their child's progress in the classroom. This gives the parent an idea of what behaviors need to be addressed while at home. This also assists the parents and the teachers with being consistent in dealing the child's behaviors. This includes using positive reinforcement.

Section Two contains the diary pages for the child to complete.  It is broken up into age-appropriate sections, so that the child can focus on goals that are realistic for their level of development.  It encourages them to be self aware of their feelings and behaviors. Using this format also allows the child to focus on positive aspects of him or herself. 

Section Three is for the parents. It contains a parental self-evaluation tool which is meant to be copied so that parents can re-use it to check on their own progress of their parenting skills.  As I read through this, it occurred to me that it would also be useful for children of divorced parents, because the parents could use this tool to communicate to each other about their child.  In doing so, this would enable them to be more consistent with the goals for their child.  The fourth section tells about special children who have had success using this program. 

"AD/HD Success!" allows greater communication between the parent and the child. Using this method would provide great relief to both of them because it allows them to have some structure in dealing with this disorder.  It also promotes teamwork between the parent, child, teacher and school counselor.

As a college counselor for adults with disabilities, I have worked with so many young adults that I can see really would have benefited from using this book during their childhood.  I cannot imagine a greater gift than giving "AD/HD Success!" by Kerin Bellak-Adams to someone who either lives or works with children with this disorder.  Having a positive tool to help mold a child into a greater person because they will have a stronger self-esteem and be more self-aware is truly a wonderful thing.

Read interview with Kerin Bellak-Adams

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Book About Tony Chestnut (with CD)

Laurie Monopoli
Hug-A-Chug Books (2010)
ISBN 9780615311395
Reviewed by Cayden (age 5 ½) and Max (age 3 ½) Aures and Mom for Reader Views Kids


"The Book About Tony Chestnut" brings the children's song 'Tony Chestnut" by The Learning Station to life.  It is accompanied by a read-along CD.

Cayden:  "The Book About Tony Chestnut" is about a boy and his sister who have to go to a new school because they moved away from their old one.  His sister is sad because she misses her friends.  All of the other kids play at recess but Tony and his sister just sit on the bench and she cries.  He sings to make her happy and everyone looks at him.  He sings a funny song with his name in it and it has a dance with it too.  It goes "Toe Knee Chest Nut Nose Eye Love You" and then there are some other kid's names in the song too.  He puts his hands on all of the parts he says, and that is how he dances.  The CD with the book was really cool.  It reads the story three times and then the lady asks some questions to answer.  I liked listening to the CD.  It helped me learn some of the words in the book that I didn't know.  My favorite part of the book is when the boy is dancing and when we did the dance too!  It was cool how he made a song out of his name!  My favorite picture in the book was when they were playing on the playground."

Max:  "I liked dancing to the song with Cayden and listening to the CD.  I liked the skipping part.  My favorite picture was when all of the kids were on the jungle gym and one was hanging upside down!  I wish I could hang upside down but I am too little."

Parent's comments:

"The Book About Tony Chestnut" by Laurie Monopoli is a wonderful interactive reading experience!  Incorporating the names into the movements in the song is very clever and my children found it to be quite amusing.  Long after the book was put down they were still dancing around to the Tony Chestnut song!

Hey…Hey…Think Out Loud!

Jared Tinlin
Kid Adventure Pack Publishing (2009)
ISBN 9780984224715
Reviewed by Cayden Aures (age 5 ½) and Mom for Reader Views Kids


Cayden's comments:

I like the title of the book, "Hey…Hey...Think Out Loud!"  It is a funny title.  In the book there is a boy and he talks to different things and sometimes they talk back to him.  He asks the flower when it is going to grow and it asks him the same thing back.  He also asks a dog why he wags his tail and asks a cloud why it is so fluffy.  He always starts by saying the words "Hey, hey" and everything that he says rhymes.  I really like things that rhyme.

My favorite picture in the book is the one with the standup bass and the drum set because they have faces and because we have a drum set too except it is a little bit different.  I also like the sun picture because it is smiling and the cloud picture because it looks like cotton candy.  

I like that the book is written by a boy who is seven-years-old.  That is only two years older than I am.  Maybe I can write a book someday too!  This book was a fun book to read!

Parent's comments: 

We enjoyed the creativity expressed in the "Hey…Hey...Think Out Loud!" by Jared Tinlin.  The rhyming text was very catchy and fun.  After reading the book my son created rhyming verses of his own beginning with the words "Hey, hey."  It is always great to see books authored by children.  They prove to be very inspirational to other young, ambitious children like my son.

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