Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This story left me breathless... FIVE stars indeed!!

K.C. Marshall

Publisher: Xlibris

Published: 2009

ISBN: 9781436325684

Pages: 192

This book displays the courage of three African-American women traveling along their journey through life. These women own similar characteristics that hinder success—self-destruction, self-hatred and substance abuse. These three characteristics cripple a soul forcing the negative self-image to prevail planting the seed in the cycle of poverty. This book left me breathless but refreshed on some level. The issues the author addresses are some that I feel personally affect the current status of African-Americans in our society today.

If one doesn’t own self-love they will not succeed. In order to become successful one must first believe that they are worthy of success. I found myself getting lost in each page holding my breath at times waiting for the outcome of each woman’s journey. I also became angry at how real each story was. We, in the African American community, hinder our success and the success of others by continually owning self-hatred. When we place value on the color of skin or hair texture rather than on character and integrity the results are disheartening resulting in violence, poverty, substance abuse, etc.

Each character faces racism in the larger society but also within their communities and families. However, they all become empowered and succeeded despite their circumstances. The author allows the reader a brief glimpse into life behind the walls at the Whittenhall. The characters and the baggage—stories--they come with are very real. Ms. Marshall paints a clear picture of how things are and what is expected behind the Whittenhall Wall. In our society, life for some begins and ends behind a wall similar to the Whittenhall as they feel they deserve nothing more. They don't acquire the necessary strength to tackle the walls placed in front of them. Whereas in other cases, people use all of their power—education, desire and will—to climb out of their situations creating a better life for themselves. These three women did just that.

The veil is a metaphor of the importance of knowing your true worth and value. When you believe that you come from greatness then you believe that you deserve the best that life has to offer. I highly recommend this book for all people, however, feel it will have its greatest influence on young women despite the color of their skin. When we teach young women to love and respect themselves they end up demanding it in their lives. This book is phenomenal and I hope the author gets the praise that she deserves for addressing serious issues in such a gripping way.

Five stars for this amazing, fast-paced thriller...

Charity Becker

Publisher: Blysster Press

Published: 2009

ISBN: 978082681800

Pages: 292

From the very first page the reader is thrust into the dark yet compelling world of the main character, Mina Jewel. While the reader is supposed to be scared the main issue in the story takes more of your attention--child abuse--lessening your fear. The story begins with Mina Jewel believing that she saw something that authorities have determined she didn't see. Within the depths of her soul she is convinced that she saw the boogeyman murder her abusive stepfather. After spending nine years in a psychiatric facility, her fear, anxiety and pain prevent her from even believing herself. Yet as a reflection of the resiliency children own, once released from the facility she becomes empowered through various experiences and near-death events. As each event occurs attacking the small amount of sanity that remains she becomes stronger.

I found myself cheering Mina on hoping that she would become empowered as she searched for herself amidst the pain she had become accustomed to feeling. Like many people who are abused, she felt that she didn't deserve better even when it made her feel safe and warm. Mina expected the worst as she had always been told she deserved. When the story ends, the reader may not look at the boogeyman as the "scary guy" as they witness his true self evolve throughout the story.

As you become aware of who you think each character really is the author reveals more information modifying your initial perception. Charity Becker is an amazing storyteller and created a vivid, riveting page turning thriller. She uses supernatural powers while focusing on such a human theme. Many children thrust in the throes of abuse secretly wish for power to excel from such madness. Through the life of Mina Jewel, they do. I highly recommend this book and encourage readers to let the hair down and get lost in this magnificent story about a little girl lost. Yes, she finds her way and this story will encourage others to do the same.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Four stars for children's book... For Those Who Stare at the Moon...

For Those Who Stare at the Moon
Tiffany A. Flowers
Golden Butterfly Publishing
ISBN: 9780578059495

This book is a children's picture book that I think is a great story. The book is about a little girl who uses her imagination to journey to the moon. Children will love the illustrations as the little girl's journey pops off of each page. The illustrations allow children to accompany the little girl when she goes to the moon because her journey is vividly reflected. I commend the author for creating such a fun filled story for children who do look beyond the stars and am inspired by the fact that a portion of the book proceeds goes to the New Orleans Public Library Foundation. I hope that encourages parents or schools to purchase the book because every child deserves to own a book and the children who were affected by Hurricane Katrina aren't any different.

I gave this book four stars instead of five. The book doesn't have any punctuation or page numbers which I think helps a book flow successfully. In addition, the author uses the word, "flaying," out of context. I wish this author great success with this book and hope that educators and parents add this book to their libraries, children will enjoy it!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thought-provoking poetry...

I must say that this collection of poetry, although the title of the book is deceiving, is more than a collection of verse. It is a book reflecting a journey where you feel as if you have taken part in that journey with the author. The poetry is vivid and filled with emotion with Ms. Earsman splashing history throughout. The author’s work stems directly from her heart into yours making it quite fulfilling. Ms. Earsman’s poetry is extremely thought provoking and edifying.

Two of my favorite poems are “Barry” and “Harbor.” They are as equally as vivid as the other poems but there are a few lines in each that provoked a lot of thought related to our society today. The final lines of “Barry” suggest that Barry’s behavior is making him miss out on a lot of things. My thoughts went directly to the behaviors of the children or youth in our society today. They are often encouraged to modify their negative behaviors so they could reap the rewards of positive behavior. I often wonder if “they” realize what they are missing out on in life while they are wasting time getting in trouble at school or in the community with violence and drugs.

In “Harbor,” Ms. Earsman clearly paints a picture of what you see and feel at the harbor. The final line of the poem makes reference to all people having to face a day of judgment despite what life we have led. I feel that that is a profound statement. It is something that is very real and in the end makes us all equal despite our social class or ethnic or racial background.

I haven’t read any of Ms. Earsman’s other poetry but this book has encouraged me to do just that. If you are a lover of poetry, history, and God, this book is for you.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Another great book...

I don't always give 5 stars. It has just been amazing that many of the books I've been reading warrant five stars...

Don’t Come Here, Julie!
P. Joy Webster
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781432740931
Pages: 62

Don’t Come Here, Julie!, is a science fiction story geared toward teenagers. The main character, Julie, is extremely similar to teenagers that exist in our real lives—independent know-it-alls! This fiction story focuses on, Julie, who is originally from Rinda but is a human unlike most of its other inhabitants. Her mother, Eva, recently became the Ambassador to Norandia. Julie attends boarding school on Earth and was directed to go to her aunt’s home in Rinda after attending a tiring year at school. Julie misses her mother and wants to go see her instead of going to her aunt’s house. Despite her wishes to go and see her mother, Julie gets on line to go to her aunt’s like her mother requested. At the last minute, Julie becomes her own boss. Julie feels she deserves an explanation for her mother’s request for her to stay away from Norandia and abruptly decides to change her plans.

Assuming that she knows what’s best for her, Julie changes her ticket and journeys to see her mother in Norandia. In her haste to modify her plans, Julie was unaware of the social problems occurring that her mother failed to mention. Her mother didn’t want her to worry so she never informed her of the chaos that was ensuing. It’s not until she arrives in Norandia that Julie realizes that she may have made a grave mistake but it was too late to turn around.

This book teaches the reader valuable lessons regarding parental guidance, diversity, respect and other social skills—trust, empathy. I highly recommend this book to preteens and teenagers. I think it would be a great addition to the summer reading list, classroom, school and home libraries as well as public libraries or agencies. This book is written in a tone easily understandable for the age group discussed and it is just long enough for them to get lost in Julie’s adventure on Norandia. It is a vivid story stealing the reader’s attention from start to finish. I look forward to sharing this book with the teens and educators in my life while hoping the author writes a sequel to this great story. Well done P. Joy Webster!!

Five stars for Self Convictions...

Self Convictions
R.J. Hamilton
Publisher: Bedside Books
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9781589825918
Pages: 220

From start to finish I was intrigued by the idea of telekinesis in R. J. Hamilton’s book, Self Convictions, as I’ve been in real life. However, the fast paced and sometimes violent journey of the main character, Brandon Hudson, went beyond what I could ever imagine. As his extraordinary powers emerge, one is thrust into a thrilling journey as his insanity comes to life through his experiences and the events that occur in the lives of those around him. This story was a page turner that I had to force myself to read at a slower pace. I was eager to finish it the first day because it snatches the reader’s attention from the Prelude holding onto it until the very last page.

Brandon is a character that one might envy, love and feel empathy for because of his powers. He appears at times to be a lost soul struggling with his real powers. Every time I thought one thing was going to happen, the author took the story in a different direction. As each event took place I felt a range of emotions—sadness, fear, anxiety, anger, nervousness and love. The author created an extremely vivid story making it hard to believe this is his first book. I highly recommend this fantasy book to readers looking to get lost in the mind of one with telekinesis. It might make you think twice about wanting the ability to read minds or seek revenge on someone using your mind rather than your hands.

The author challenges the reader to think about becoming at the very least a friend to the Hudson family, feel for them or wish to be with one of them. After reading this story I’ve decided to watch them from afar.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Inspiring poetry...

Angel's Destiny
Author/publisher: April Martin Chartrand
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9780615302515
Pages: 150

This book is a collection of poems, prose and illustrations. It is a clear reflection of the author’s journey through domestic violence. Ms. Chartrand suffered domestic violence but came out standing tall. She is not living her life as a victim and has told her story through poems to encourage others who may be experiencing painful events similar to hers.

The poems tell the story of someone in the midst of a struggle but it also shows one’s journey from extreme fear and darkness to freedom and self-love. When experiencing abuse, one struggles as they experience a range of emotions—fear, anger, self-hate, sadness. The poems delve deep into the inner soul as does the abuse. Domestic violence breaks down the individual and their soul, resulting sometimes in self-hate. In this book we see where the author’s journey begins as well as the moment self-love emerges as she pulls herself out of the torturous experience. The emergence of self-love allows her to break free from the violence and become an ambassador to those whose voices have become silenced from fear and abuse. She has become an inspiration to all.

The writer’s courage is witnessed throughout as each poem and picture emerges. Ms. Chartrand has turned her experiences into something positive and her voice without fear can be heard clearly. I highly recommend this book to anyone searching for their voice and strength. Ms. Chartrand’s art and poetry speak to the heart and it will provide the extra “push” readers may need to take the first step toward self-love and freedom.