Month: March 2013

Review: “A Week With Fiona Wonder” by Kelly Huddleston

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16119001In A Week With Fiona Wonder, written by Kelly Huddleston, we find ourselves plunked plumb in the midst of the angst of teen Mercy Swimmer and the week before she gets to spend a week with movie star Fiona Wonder. Now, before you dismiss this as just another teen ‘coming of age’ story, I strongly advise that you read it. Mercy is doing her best – at least at times – to function in a dysfunctional environment, surrounded by dysfunctional people.

Huddleston paints an environment of economic adversity, where no one is exempt from pain. Not Mercy’s mother, an asthmatic who works two jobs as a waitress to support the two of them. We’re never really told where Mercy’s father got off to, and frankly, by the time we’re halfway through Mercy’s week, we no longer care. Mercy’s mom, though, is one of the most tragically flawed, yet sympathetic, figures in the book – aside from Mercy herself. Severely asthmatic, she foregoes buying a rescue inhaler so that she can buy a trinket for Mercy that wins her a chance to spend a week with Fiona Wonder, a movie star about whom we know little other than that she has a big head on screen, but seems to be beset with as many doubts as her adoring fans.

Then, there’s Valerie, Mercy’s overweight, over-indulged best friend. Valerie treats Mercy like an old shoe, yet Mercy keeps coming back for more. Likewise, there’s Nikki, her mom’s friend, who is also something of a narcissistic personality with relationship issues.

One more warning: while this is a book written about a teenager, it’s not really written for younger readers. It deals with very adult issues, in a blunt, uncompromising way – often even profane. It is also definitely not a coming of age novel; more a surviving from sunup to sundown story. You never know from page to page, really, whether you want to cheer Mercy on or slap her silly. However you feel, though, I predict you’ll keep reading to see what happens next.

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Signs of Spring

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Taking ‘Daisy,’ my daughter’s elderly dog which my wife and I have adopted to make room at her house for her second child, due in May, for a walk this morning, I noticed the first signs that the winter is almost over and spring is just around the corner.

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Daisy isn't really a sign of spring or any other season, but who could resist that mug?
Daisy isn’t really a sign of spring or any other season, but who could resist that mug?

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Review: “The Dimension Researcher” by Chris James

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"Geometry of Curves"In 2068, Lucas Hunter realized his lifelong dream. After years of training, he finally qualifies as a dimension researcher; one of an elite corps of time/dimension travelers who explore the many alternate realities that have diverged from their own, on behalf of the European Government’s Second Internet Café, the world’s most advanced scientific research facility.

Hunter’s dream quickly turns into a nightmare. Some nations, led by the Americans who destroyed the first Internet before he was born, are seeking to shut the Second Internet Café down, and seemingly will stop at nothing in order to achieve that aim. Worse, on his first ‘jump,’ Hunter encounters a mysterious ‘American’ who also seems to be a dimension jumper, but from another dimension, and the stage is set for the worst of all situations, a time paradox and the potential for a trans-dimensional war.

Hunter finds himself fighting not only the ‘aliens’ who seem to be following him from dimension to dimension, but the betrayals of his own superiors at the Second Internet Café, who are playing a game, the rules of which Hunter must understand if he is to survive.

In The Second Internet Café, Part 1: The Dimensional Researcher, author Chris James has described a future ‘reality’ with such astonishing detail, both technological and social, it is vividly authentic, and all too ‘real.’ There’s a tendency, when encountering a new writer with James’ skill, to compare him or her to some luminary of the past. Well, Chris James is no Heinlein, he’s no Asimov; he’s Chris James. The man has a style that is uniquely his, and someday, people will be saying of young writers, ‘they write in the style of Chris James.’

 

"Pip;s Revenge"
 

 

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Review: “Shades of Darkness: Redemption Series Book Two” by Melynda Price

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In Melynda Price’s Shades of Darkness, Redemption Series: Book Two, we pick up on the continuing saga of Olivia, a mortal with the ‘sight.’ Olivia has the rare ability to ‘see’ the dark angels, and thus expose them to mankind, and for this, they are determined to destroy her. She has been guarded since birth by Liam, a Ronnin warrior commissioned to be her guardian angel. Liam’s problem, though, is that he has fallen in love with her, thus threatening his very angelic status.

As Olivia, now a fully grown woman, is about to wed, Liam learns of yet another attempt by the Dark Court to kill her, and he again risks the displeasure of his own superiors in order to save her.

A fascinating blend of theology and mysticism, love and betrayal, Price takes us into the minds and hearts of the characters in a deft way. Although some of the prose and dialogue tends toward the stilted, the reader is nonetheless made to care, and care deeply, about the fate of the protagonists.

A surprise ending, though, lifts this tale above the mundane mortal meets angel story. Language and scenes of violence make it a book not for the squeamish.

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Celebrate National Grammar Day – March 4, 2013

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Celebrate National Grammar Day by focusing on improving the grammar in everything you write.
Celebrate National Grammar Day by focusing on improving the grammar in everything you write.

Sampan: Watercolor

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Sampan

Fresh Air: Cartoon

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"Let's go inside and get some fresh air."
“Let’s go inside and get some fresh air.”