Monday, December 12, 2011

Fancie’s Followers

Jannet Ridener
iUniverse (2011)
ISBN 9781462008278
Reviewed by Marty Shaw for Reader Views


When I first heard of "Fancie's Followers," I thought it would be the perfect book for me to read. It's inspired by Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," which I have never read, and I'm really not much of a Shakespeare fan, either. In other words, if I liked the book, I knew there was a good chance that others who weren't devotees to the Bard would like it, too.

While I have never read the play that inspired the book, I do know enough about the original story to see the parallel between characters. If you have read "A Midsummer Night's Dream," then you'll be happy to know all the characters are still here, albeit in thinly-veiled contemporary disguises, and the storyline runs close to the source material.

The story revolves around a group of people that are each facing their own seemingly insurmountable dilemma. Sheriff James Weaver is suffering from a severe case of boredom mixed with a dose of midlife crisis. He's tied down by the constraints of life and doesn't even know it. Elaine just wants to be loved, and she'd prefer if that love came from her crush, Alex, who is too busy doting on his fiancée, Mia, to realize he doesn't actually love her. Emmett is Alex's new friend, and Elaine's new crush. Each of these individuals are living messed up lives but things become even more chaotic when they find themselves unwittingly involved in a battle of wills between Theron and Eugenia, the king and queen of the fairies.

The mention of Theron and Eugenia brings up one of my few complaints with the book. I wish the author had made allowances for readers that have no knowledge at all about "A Midsummer Night's Dream." The word 'fairy' is never used within the pages so it could be confusing for some to read about people who talk to trees and animals and look down on mortal affairs as minor inconveniences. Even the infamous Puck might not be recognized because he goes by the name Robin, with the more familiar name never being mentioned.

I also saw little reason for the moon-worshiping women. They seemed to have very little to do with either the affairs of the mortals or the battle of wills between the two fairies. Their presence doesn't really detract from the overall story, but it doesn't add anything, either.

"Fancie's Followers" would be a great read for anyone that thinks about reading Shakespeare but worries about getting lost within dry and dated language. The contemporary setting dusts off the classic tale and makes it something fun and lively that anyone can enjoy. If you're looking for a light and funny story that flows easily and won't take too much of a time commitment, "Fancie's Followers" is the book for you.

Spare Change

Bette Lee Crosby
Bent Pine Publishing (2011)
ISBN 9780983887911
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views


Bette Lee Crosby's "Spare Change" is a quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about important things in life, madcap adventures of a young boy and a late change of heart that made all the difference in the life of an unusually independent woman. More than anything, it is a heartwarming book, which is simultaneously intriguing and just plain fun.

Olivia Ann Westerly has always refused to conform. Instead of marrying and raising a family, as her father expected her to, she left home and found a job, rented a flat and had tons of fun. Oh, did I mention that she did that in 1923, when she was only 25-years-old? While today that would not have been anything extraordinary, she certainly was an exception back then. And then she decided not to marry and to continue her career, living in this manner quite happily all the way until 1956. It was then that she met Charlie Doyle and fell madly in love, agreeing to marry him without any hesitation when he asked her to. But then Charlie had to go and die while they were on their honeymoon, and Olivia seemed to have lost all her will to do anything. Until Ethan Allen Doyle, Charlie's grandson, showed up on her doorstep.  Olivia never wanted children, so why would she change her mind now? And to make matters worse, Ethan Allen was 11-years-old and number 11 has always been a bad omen for Olivia. To top everything else, it was clear that Ethan Allen was hiding something. Was there any chance of a happy ending here?

I truly enjoyed this imaginative and very entertaining story. Told from many different perspectives, it kept my interest from beginning to end. The voices of the characters were very distinct and the good ones were easy to like, just like the bad guys were easy to hate and fear. It does not happen very often that I truly like the more minor characters in any book, since most of them never get the chance to develop enough to be really interesting, but Clara was one of my favorites here - heart of gold and brassy manners, what more could one want in a friend? She was just one in the substantial line-up of supporting characters who kept Ethan Allen's presence in Olivia's building a secret, or at least they thought so. Every one of those characters was well defined and completely believable. I enjoyed the storyline and the lively dialogue, as well as the rapidly unraveling mystery of the secret Ethan Allen was trying to keep to himself. And I am going to do my best to keep the beginning of the story, as told by Olivia, in mind for the future. Here's what she had to say...

"I don't suppose there's a person walking the earth who doesn't now and again think if I had the chance to live my life over, I'd sure as hell do it differently. When you get to a certain age and realize how much time you've wasted on pure foolishness, you're bound to smack yourself in the head and ask, what in the world was I thinking? Everybody's got regrets; myself included.

Some people go to their grave without ever getting a chance to climb out of that ditch they've dug for themselves, others get lucky. Of course, the thing about luck is that you've got to recognize it, when it walks u' and says hello, the way Charlie Doyle did."

Those two paragraphs alone would be enough for me to like this book and recommend it, yet they were truly just the beginning. If you want to know more, you will simply have to read "Spare Change" yourself, and I am certain you will not regret that.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

How to Forgive: A Practical Guide

Lynda Bevan
Loving Healing Press (2011)
ISBN 9781615990306
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views

In the first chapter Lynda Bevan explains "this book will identify the many aspects and meanings of the word 'forgiveness' and will attempt to enable you to understand exactly how being able to forgive someone is a basic, essential, necessary process in your life."

Bevan further states "The focus of this book is 'forgiveness in adult relationships.'"  Indeed, it is a book for healing adult relationships. And, it certainly is one for those that have experienced various negative emotions/feelings and lived through the trauma/drama to get to the place of wanting self-awareness and healing the past. Any age group or relationship, whether it be young or old, married or divorced, same-gender or heterosexual, parent or child, or even platonic friendships, will find Bevan's simple method of much benefit to start the forgiveness process.

In the beginning of the book Bevan, in a gentle voice, helps the reader understand what forgiveness really is and why we need to forgive. She claims that we aren't able to "move on" if we don't practice and incorporate forgiveness into our lives.   Personally, I completely agree with her. Sometimes forgiveness is the only medicine that will heal emotional unrest.

Once the reader fully understands the necessity of forgiveness and is willing to start the healing journey Bevan gives a step-by-step process.  Her guidance is clear and direct.

I believe the most important chapter in this book is "Implementing Change."   The initial process may seem simple enough but the actual change can be a challenge.  Others may trigger negative emotions in us and it becomes easy to slip into the old patterns.

Bevan encourages addressing the feelings by providing a set of questions to ask ourselves. It's only when we become clear that we are able to truly forgive.  "How to Forgive: A Practical Guide" is an important tool for that clarity.


Emlyn Chand

Blue Crown Press (2011)
ISBN 9780983930808
Reviewed by Chandler Dixon (age 13) for Reader Views Kids

In Emlyn Chand's first novel in the "Farsighted" series, Alex Kosmitoras is a lonely high school sophomore, hoping to make friends.  When he meets Simmi he has hopes he won't be so lonely after all.  Simmi is new in town, having moved from India and it seems that she is the only person in school who is interested in becoming friends with Alex.   Soon Alex has someone to talk to other than the school bully, as Simmi proves to be a great friend.

Alex's mother runs a florist shop called Sweet Blossoms, and tells Alex about a new neighbor in the shop next door, a psychic from New Orleans named Miss Teak.  Alex is curious and goes to meet Miss Teak, and eventually also makes friends with both Miss Teak and her daughter, Shapri.
Soon Alex starts having visions of the future, hinting that Simmi is in grave danger.   When he has his visions, he sometimes thinks that they are happening in real time.  This leads to embarrassing outcomes, such as the time he is in the lunchroom at school and has a vision of Simmi choking.  Alex rushes to Simmi and tries to perform the Heimlich maneuver, and is embarrassed in front of everyone in the lunchroom, since she isn't really choking.  Eventually he learns to recognize when he is having a vision and can distinguish what is real from what is in his vision.

Alex's visions include nightmares, in which he watches Simmi being killed over and over again in every way you could imagine.   He's seeing visions of a man named Dax killing Simmi and other people.  Sometimes Alex sees himself helping Dax kill people.  In order to sleep, he takes to stealing sleeping pills from his dad.
In his effort to eliminate the threat to Simmi, Alex learns a lot about himself, his powers and how to develop and use them.  He also discovers important information about his father and grows closer to his newfound friends.
Author Emlyn Chand presents a believable storyline, with a very realistic setting and people.  The story moves smoothly, at a good pace, with lots of surprises that fit in well with the plot
This book is for teens who like books about magical powers, and the process of learning how to use them.  I enjoyed "Farsighted" very much and can't wait for "Open Heart," the next book in the series!

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