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An Epic YA Fantasy of Powerful Relationships

A Throne for Sisters (Book One) (Volume 1) - Morgan Rice

A Throne for Sisters is Book One in a new young adult fantasy series that opens with two teens stuck in a terrible orphanage. Sophia and Kate long to escape, and though they have a mutual goal and the shared experience of being unwanted in the world, each harbors different dreams of how they will find love once they leave the confines of their prison. 

 

Neither anticipates that the actions each must take to survive will bring each further from their objectives: Sophia's romantic dream of entering a privileged world, falling in love with a noble, and living the life of a court lady; or Kate's fiery passion to become a warrior woman, battling dragons and injustice alike. 

 

In reality, what transpires places each at odds not only with her goal, but with the psychic link that joins their minds and enables them to feel connected to the only person in their lives who cares. 

 

What they find in the world isn't hope, but a plodding form of despair that permeates the lives of people as much as overt oppression once ruled their own.

 

Caught up in war, court drama, and separation, the sisters must learn their own lessons about this strange new world, which is trapped in its own turmoil and its own definition of oppression. Each must make decisions about the course of her life which would seem to run contrary to all their dreams. 

 

The story line is reminiscent of Joan Aiken's Wolves of Willoughby Chase, with its brooding world of pain and change and the plight faced by two orphans who challenge both the outer world and themselves; but A Throne for Sisters is less black and white in its presentations of who is the villain and who the victim under such circumstances. 

 

One very satisfying feel to the plot lies in how the sisters' relationship to each other changes upon separation; and how they form their own identities in response to the choices and circumstances they confront in the wider world. 

 

Another fine element is how Kate and Sophia evolve in response to perceived methods of reaching their goals. Kate refines her observations of persona, for example, and this is very clear and well-described.

 

Some other stories may sound similar; but in the end it's the evolutionary process of the characters and how they define and direct their positions in the world which makes the tale - and if A Throne for Sisters is any indication, this powerful opener to the series will produce a combination of feisty protagonists and challenging circumstances to thoroughly involve not just young adults, but adult fantasy fans who seek epic stories fueled by powerful friendships and adversaries. 

Poetic Snapshots of Legacies and Connections

Inklings - Don Gutteridge

The first striking thing to note about Inklings: Poems of the Point and Beyond is the depth of its images, which pull readers into each succinct poem like a snapshot captures the eye with colourful immediacy: "When the harnessed heads of the/Clydes shook, music/tingled the star-startled/night above, and whiskered/hooves sped along the back-/country roads like Pegasus/preparing for flight…"

 

Readers can see, feel, smell, and taste the scenes being observed, be it the "ear-curdling cry" of one Mrs. Bradley, who transmits her rage at being trapped in an elderly body to the entire village, or the photo of a beloved Gran who looks pensively into the distance on a Sunday morning, "while the Sunday jello cools on the veranda behind her", perhaps reflecting on how she came to be in this place and time, while a grandson looking at this portrait feels the transmission of all that is left unsaid: "I'm left/wondering what courage it took/to abandon your home and say/hello to a far country…".

 

As the collection evolves, it becomes clear that the "inklings" being described are the remnants of family and their physical and emotional legacies to the next generation and beyond. And what is an 'inkling'? Even this definition uses powerful poetic imagery: "An inkling is a tingle/in the brain, a sprout abruptly/unbudded, the beginning/of a word or more precisely/its first singing syllable…"

 

These are the moments that define our lives past, present, and future. Like Kodachrome, they are snapshots of what was, is, and could be. As the camera captures the image in its seconds of glory before it fades or transforms, so Inklings captures those connections in life and family before they evolve into something different, bringing free verse poetry readers along for a ride through metaphor and experience.

 

Succinct in presentation (every word counts) and compelling in its choice of images and life portraits, Inkling's strong voice and propensity for building striking analogy and metaphorical reflections makes it a top recommendation for any free verse reader who wants their poetry filled with astute observation tempered with the reflective powers of a superior attention to atmosphere and detail.

A Gritty Streetwise Story of Young Love and Life's Lies

A Few Streets More to Kensington - Alex Sheremet

Mature teens and new adult readers will relish a more contemporary backdrop to the traditional coming-of-age story in A Few Streets More to Kensington, which is set in New York City in the 1990s and focuses on the evolving life of Artem, whose newfound position as an artist opens up a wealth of memories on how he got to this uncertain point in his life.

 

Alex Sheremet's descriptions are poignant and pointed as we view the world through Artem's first-person thoughts and observations, which often wind past, present and future into their threads, adding an overlay of powerful imagery to cement impressions.

 

Artem's journeys between memories of the past and attempts to navigate the streets of New York to understand his world bring readers along for a stroll through memory lane and the rough face of present-day New York.

 

But there's more going on here than a walk through social situations and dangerous streets: an attention to introspective detail and dark, brooding encounters between prejudice, purpose, and people brings A Few Streets More to Kensington to life in an unusual manner powered by reflections that are thought-provoking and reveal Artem's evolutionary process.

 

By now, it should be evident that A Few Streets More to Kensington is as much a work of literature as fiction. Readers should anticipate crass language and conflicts, gritty street life, young love and life's lies, and Artem's urge to escape, change, grow, and even explore paths that are obviously dark and dangerous routes.

 

As Artem searches for elusive purpose to life, a better world, and connections, he discovers and forms a new life. In returning full circle to school, Artem finds his past, present and future coalesce as he organizes not just his room, but his mind.

 

Literature readers who relish coming-of-age sagas will find A Few Streets More to Kensington more than a cut above the typical new adult story, with entire worlds embedded into a tale of evolution and transformation that is as much about graduating as a person as it is about life's inevitable progression.

A Disney Treasure Trove About Lost Cartoons

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons (Disney Editions Deluxe (Film)) - David A. Bossert

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons presents a history of the origins of the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio and the hit they had in 1927 with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, whose history has, surprisingly, been 'lost' until now.

 

Basically, if it weren't for Oswald, Disney may not have evolved to become the powerhouse it is today - but that journey was anything but linear. It involved Oswald's initial rejection, his eventual acceptance, and how Disney lost the contract to their first major character; only regaining the twenty-six Walt Disney created Oswald cartoons (and returning Oswald to his proper place in Disney history) six decades later.

Oswald's happy-go-lucky demeanor and his clever ability to come out on top of any situation predated Mickey's evolution and reflected creator Walt Disney's approach to life itself.

So how did Walt's first major animated success result not only in losing the contract, but in Oswald's journey into animation obscurity for so many years? Disney fans will quickly come to realize this story isn't just about Oswald's evolutionary process, but about Walt Disney's own evolution as he furthered his animation efforts and created the foundations of what was to become his more famous Mickey Mouse character.

 

From legends and realities to common animation practices of the day and how cartoons are 'lost' over time, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit packs in visual embellishments, from animation frames to vintage photos, in its efforts to trace Oswald's history through copyright synopsis, surviving film documents, and episode reviews.

 

Packed with illustration as it is, readers almost don't need the rare vintage Oswald film in order to enjoy this recreation of historical record that offers such in-depth discussion about Oswald's adventures and evolution.

 

Recommended for Disney fans, prior Oswald enthusiasts, and animation history readers alike, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons fills in many blanks and offers specifics about animation processes, legalese, and the process of researching and recapturing lost cartoons, and is a 'must' for any collection strong in Disney characters and history.

A Powerful Middle-Grade Read About Africa, Intrigue, and Health Issues

Mosquitoes Don't Bite Me - Pendred Noyce

Mosquitoes Don't Bite Me presents an unusual protagonist in the form of half-Kenyan seventh-grader Nala, whose mother is in a wheelchair. Nala has an unusual condition: mosquitoes don't bite her - ever.

 

This, in and of itself, wouldn't seem to be a big deal; but her friend's father is head of a large drug company, and when he discovers the truth about her during a school project, she becomes involved in a mosquito research effort that brings her to her family homeland, Kenya, to consider mosquito reactions in her father's family.

 

A kidnapping, the plight of peoples affected by deadly mosquitoes that carry malaria, and the quest for a new insect repellant that holds the power to change lives contributes to a book that reaches far beyond the story of one girl's strange condition and into the social and political struggles of an African nation.

 

Mosquitoes Don't Bite Me may sound complicated for a middle-grade read, but its insights are perfectly tailored for ages 9-12; from its discussions of sickle cell anemia and other health challenges to circumstances of poverty, health, and a personal hunt for truth and identity.

 

It also excels in painting a vivid portrait of desperate people who will do anything to save the lives of loved ones, blending family encounters and issues with bigger questions of economics and problems which arise when business interests clash with social conditions.

Heady reading for kids? Yes; but when packaged in the form of an adventure and exploration, these issues come alive, making Mosquitoes Don't Bite Me an unusually thought-provoking read highly recommended for young fiction readers who will receive more than action alone.

1960s Saigon War and Culture

13 Months in Vietnam - Bill Kroger

The majority of Vietnam stories take place mid-war after the fighting has begun. Relatively few start in the early phases of the war, when soldiers were professional Army enlistees who viewed themselves differently, and whose experiences were substantially dissimilar from soldiers who followed in their footsteps. 13 Months in Vietnam reveals those early years as it follows a squadron who travels the country in 1963, before the major shooting begins.

 

The first thing to note is that because of this pre-war story, the action is quite different than the usual Vietnam-era saga. Although it is penned by an enlisted soldier who spent 13 months in Vietnam traveling from Saigon to near the North Vietnam border, and is thus based on true events, it also incorporates a sense of place, people, and social and political perspectives which are quite different from the typical in-country story line.

 

The soldiers who enter Vietnam in this story are teens on the cusp of adulthood: as such, they carouse, have ambitions and dreams about the wider world, and demonstrate a perspective that involves much more than their roles in Vietnam, which slowly unfolds as circumstances change.

 

In a way, 13 Months in Vietnam is more of a classic coming-of-age story than a tale of military experience: readers can see the protagonist and his buddies growing, learning, and changing before their eyes. Of course, Vietnam is their focal point, and there are battles and cultural conflicts; but there are also moments of comic interlude even in the heart of danger and plenty of descriptions of evolution amidst a tour of duty that grows ever more challenging to the close-knit group.

 

At first the boys respond to the action with excitement. It's almost like TV - immediate and interactive; yet seemingly distant. It takes a series of events turn the boys from a tight-knit group to a close-knit company where the reality of death sinks in, overcoming the thrill of seeing action. As they imbibe and relive experiences, there are plenty of moments of reflection and growth.

 

Are they really protecting liberties and American ideals? Or is something else happening?

 

More so than most novels about the Vietnam era, 13 Months in Vietnam offers an often-intimate, realistic perspective of how boys turn into men and the thought processes that careen from excitement to hard realizations about individual choices and their impact and life and death.

 

Readers who seek a gritty, first-person perspective that fully embraces the evolutionary growth of boys to men under battle conditions, and who want a better-rounded view of the culture and experiences of Vietnam than battle scenes alone, will find 13 Months in Vietnam more than fits the bill for a thought-provoking, extraordinary survey of responsibilities, worries, and the culture and social atmosphere of 1960s Saigon.

A 19th Century True Renaissance Woman

Portrait of Young Genius: The Mind and Art of Marie Bashkirtseff (Vernon Series on the History of Art) - Joel L Schiff

Marie Bashkirtseff was no ordinary 19th century woman. Her aristocratic Ukrainian family moved to Paris, where she was privately tutored and blossomed into a young woman who spoke many languages, played numerous musical instruments, and longed for a stage career, but turned her hand to painting. She soon began exhibiting her work at the notable annual Paris Salon, the premier venue for artists.

 

As if this weren't enough, she was also a philosopher and writer, and her journal of some 20,000 pages has been pared down here to supplement Joel L. Schiff's survey of her amazing artistic prowess in Portrait of a Young Genius: The Mind and Art of Marie Bashkirtseff.

 

With such a palette of genius to choose from as far as what to profile, it must have been a real challenge to adequately represent Marie Bashkirtseff's many abilities in the confines of a single book. How many others dream of founding an art school for women (just one limitation of her sex that she railed against) in the 1800s, for just one example?

 

One doesn't expect fierce rivalries to enter the portrait of a woman of these times, but this, too, reflects Marie's abilities, fiery personality, and determination, fueling a biography that traces more than her genius alone and placing it in historical, social, and psychological perspective.

 

Given these disparate facets, it would have been impossible to adequately represent Marie's world through standard biographical third-person exploration; which is why Schiff adopts an unusual mode of presentation: he begins with the usual biographical survey of her life, but then allows her own voice to speak in a second section which profiles a single journal excerpt (in English translation from the original French) on each left-hand page, juxtaposed with one of her art pieces on its facing page. (It should also be noted that vintage photos and illustrations pepper the rest of the survey, as well, adding visual emphasis to an outstanding woman's world.)

 

While Portrait of a Young Genius will undoubtedly find a place in artists’ collections, it would be a shame to see its audience limited to artists alone. Women's history holdings, especially those strong in biographical portraits of extraordinary individuals whose stories have largely been lost over time, will find Portrait of a Young Genius a 'must have' addition, not only capturing this young woman's life, but synthesizing its meaning with a sense of her times and the limitations imposed upon women. 

 

Portrait of a Young Genius is very, very highly recommended for its multi-faceted approach and wide-ranging discussions, designed to keep readers immersed to the end and involved in the life of a woman they likely have never heard of before, but will come to intimately know and deeply admire.

A Spicy Romance About Dreams and Realities

At the Heart of the Stone - Roxanne D. Howard

London fiancée Lark Braithwaite should be dreaming of her beloved and their new life together - not some sultry Irish stranger. But in reality, her betrothed, Charles, is already controlling and less desirable than the stranger in her erotic dreams: a fact that puts the damper on her marriage ideals.

 

At the Heart of the Stone traces the evolution of her mysterious dreams and how they juxtapose with the difficult realities in her life, bringing her to a slow, simmering reality that what she's experiencing with Charles is less than she might hope for.

 

As a busy businesswoman, Lark doesn't have time to make her dreams a priority until something changes, and suddenly she's called home to Oregon to attend her father's funeral; there to meet the elusive, passionate man in those dreams, handsome stranger Niall O’Hagan, in person.

 

Though it should be mentioned that At the Heart of the Stone is filled with graphic sexual scenes, these are part of a greater plot's appeal; not the heart of the story. Forced to confront family relationships and issues of the past, evidence of long-distance infidelity, and the rising need not only for a special, different kind of lover but the kind of lasting relationship that forces her to be more open and honest overall, Lark discovers that everything is changing in her life.

 

At the Heart of the Stone employs a combination of sexual power and emotional growth to fuel its special brand of intimacy and revelation, following Lark's progression and growth not only sexually and emotionally, but as a more engaged, active participant in life.

 

Opening her heart to Niall involves more than being exceptionally candid - it requires the kind of maturity Lark never experienced with Charles, and comes with a new set of decisions. Her journey brings readers along for a heady ride into these revised possibilities, creating a story that is high-powered on more than one level.

 

Sexually erotic, emotionally compelling, and spiced with evolving passion, At the Heart of the Stone is recommended reading for anyone who likes their romance stories steamy and powerful.

Vivid Native American History for All Ages!

Native American Action Stories - Alvin R. Brown

Native American Action Stories: Exciting Events in Nine Different Tribes appears in its third revised edition and broadly defines 'events' as moving beyond military confrontations and into areas of competition, hunting, village attacks and more. It also embraces and rewrites the history of tribes across North and Central America, which makes for a satisfyingly different contrast of tribes, history, and actions. This different approach features a fine re-definition of Native actions and life challenges and is especially user-friendly for its intended adolescent audience with its larger font style and an accessible, inviting format. 

 

This author's note highlights the unique approach of these stories: "Fight-to-the-death forest ambushes by Northeastern natives in the dense forests; athletic games--similar to lacrosse--so physically demanding that natives of the Southeast referred to these contests as "Little Brother of War"; Eskimos stalking large polar bears near the frigid Arctic Circle; Aztec sacrificial combat held in the capital of their kingdom--all of these actions were experienced by certain groups in different parts of the Americas."

 

All this said, readers who expect battle scenarios may be surprised to find the depth of history presented in these stories, which includes plenty of political background and discussions of intertribal relationships and how these were affected by the arrival of the white man.

 

These nonfiction reader notes accompany each story and add to the tales of tribal encounters and experiences, making this collection of interest far beyond its intended juvenile readership. 

 

Anyone who wants a lively, well-rounded survey of Native American history will find Native American Action Stories a fine pick that doesn't sacrifice historical fact for the sake of action, but combines both in a vivid, memorable series of tales highly recommended for all ages. 

An Intriguing New Medical Perspective for Type 2 Diabetics

Diabetes: The Real Cause and The Right Cure - John M Poothullil MD

Diabetes: The Real Cause and The Right Cure: 8 Steps to Reverse Your Diabetes in 8 Weeks states its main case right on the cover, clarifying the approach Dr. Poothullil takes in a book that maintains that diabetes is a curable condition: "Type 2 diabetes is not due to insulin resistance; it’s your diet. See how you can stop taking medication or injecting insulin." 

 

This perspective is especially intriguing for Type 2 diabetics because it focuses on a very different medical explanation for the cause and reversal of high blood sugar and diabetes than other diabetes books offer. It also places more control over the condition in the hands of readers who could change their lifestyle choices in order to eliminate the disease. The book is not for Type 1 diabetics, where the pancreas is actually damaged; but Type 2s will find it packed with specifics that contrast old theories about diabetes with the author's new perspective on its causes and why certain medicines only appear to work if insulin resistance isn't really the cause of the Type 2 diabetic's problem. The chapters make a strong case for eliminating grains from one's diet and taking better control of one’s eating choices. The 8 steps offer a relatively easy-to-implement program most will find easy to follow. 

 

Aware that such a simple program promoting a 'cure' could be seriously questioned, Dr. Poothullil addresses initial concerns right from the beginning ("If you think that diabetes is your destiny because one or both of your parents had it, you will learn that what you have inherited is only a potential. If you think Type 2 diabetes cannot be “cured,” this book will show a completely different picture."), advocating a self-help program that requires only a willingness to self-assess in order to prove successful: "To avoid Type 2 diabetes, your goal must be to take back control of your body and rediscover or reconnect with your authentic weight. You know when your weight is right for you because your brain knows when your fat cells are not full and your blood is not full of fatty acids and glucose." 

 

The book is a no-brainer must-read for any Type 2 diabetic who truly wants to change, and who is open to consider a new scientific equation for understanding their diabetes along with different approaches to not just control it, but eliminate it from one's life. All that's required is a willingness to change lifestyle choices. 

 

The Price of Peace

Price Of Eden: Aquarius Rising Book 3 (Volume 3) - Brian Burt

Price of Eden represents the final book in the Aquarius Rising trilogy; and because it's the culmination of events and tensions raised in prior volumes, it's recommended for followers of Brian Burt's series who will appreciate the smooth continuation of a story that revolves around a civil war that erupts in an underground kingdom after a series of carefully crafted plagues are let loose.

 

Ocypode, an Aquarian Atavism, has successfully foiled a deadly plot; but he's ultimately charged with bringing together two very different factions in a race against time and political alliances, and his perceived destiny as a mythic peacemaker may be an impossible role for him to accept.

 

Familiarity with the prior books in the series will lend to an appreciation of Ocypode's agony and conflicts as he strives to achieve the impossible in an underwater realm which may be the last enclave of a much-changed world.

 

From restless spirits with psychic harpoons to terrorism's barbaric but effective choices, high-stakes encounters between Humans and Aquarians, Guardian friends who watch over Ocypode and prevent him from making stupid mistakes, and the slaughter of innocent humans through competing bioweapons, Price of Eden provides a fast-paced romp through a world that holds different, competing options for survival, and considers both the sacrifices of war and the impossible circumstances of continued existence.

 

As moral and ethical questions about friendships and associations permeate a greater story of this war's impact on all involved, Price of Eden evolves beyond bloodlust and outrage to walk a delicate line between a survival story and a political sci-fi thriller. Descriptions of advanced technology used for warfare (nanomechs and viral mutagens) and the price to be paid for choices that result in dubious 'win' situations for only some contribute to a story line charged not just with action, but with thought-provoking dilemmas.

 

Fans of his prior books will appreciate the unexpected directions Brian Burt takes as he ultimately considers the real nature and definition of 'Eden' and the price all will pay to forge new paths towards peace. 

 

A Feisty Female in Trouble!

Pop-Out Girl - Irene Woodbury

Pop-Out Girl will appeal to fans of women's fiction who look for stories of feisty females in difficult situations and provides the realistic story of a couple challenged when an ex-boyfriend leaves prison and begins stalking them. Jealousy and its dangerous course is one of the primary themes of the story as Jen and Colton face a dangerous convict who still has the idea that Jen is his girlfriend, despite obvious indicators otherwise - and who has no intention of letting her go.

 

As violent encounters escalate and drag innocents into Zane's quest to regain his position in Jen's life, Jen faces difficult decisions that test her resolve, her future, and her inclination to view the world through the eyes of an optimistic romantic. 

 

Jen's career, also shelved, was serving as a 'pop-out girl': one who emerges from giant cakes to then sing, dance, and provide a stripper show for special events. This theme - of emergence, daring, and putting on a display - pops up through the story, which foregoes a slow build-up in favor of a vivid kidnapping scene and just keeps escalating from there.

 

Jen's perspective isn't the only focus to this story: Jen's mother Brandi, who is a cocktail waitress, faces the fact that her first love from long ago, Jen's father, has also inadvertently become part of Zane's dangerous spree, and her involvement and perspective are also developed as one of the strong threads connecting family and love.

From how Jen squeezed a romance with Colton into her busy career as a pop-up girl to the terrors of being stalked by a relentless ex with murderous intentions on his mind, Pop-Out Girl excels in interconnected subplots and in capturing a winning background filled with the glitz and glamour of its Vegas setting.

 

There were a few lapses in punctuation, for example, a period left off the end of a sentence ending with quotation marks. But these instances do not detract from the overall plot.

 

Women who look for realistic, powerful stories of love and survival, jealousy and confrontation, and change will find Pop-Out Girl a winning leisure choice that probes troubled relationships, alienation, and the long and rocky path to home.

New Facts About The Iconic 'Sweater Girl'!

Lana Turner: Hearts and Diamonds Take All (Blood Moon's Babylon Series) - Darwin Porter, Danforth Prince

Lana Turner: Hearts and Diamonds Take All belongs on the shelves of any collection strong in movie star biographies in general and Hollywood evolution in particular, and represents no lightweight production, appearing on the 20th anniversary of Lana Turner's death to provide a weighty survey packed with new information about her life.

 

One would think that just about everything to be known about The Sweater Girl would have already appeared in print, but it should be noted that Lana Turner: Hearts and Diamonds Take All offers many new revelations not just about Turner, but about the movie industry in the aftermath of World War II.

 

From Lana's introduction of a new brand of covert sexuality in women's movies to her scandalous romances among the stars, her extreme promiscuity, her search for love, and her notorious flings - even her involvement in murder - are all probed in a revealing account of glamour and movie industry relationships that bring Turner and her times to life.

 

Some of the greatest scandals in Hollywood history are intricately detailed on these pages, making this much more than another survey of her life and times, and a 'must have' pick for any collection strong in Hollywood history in general, gossip and scandals and the real stories behind them, and Lana Turner's tumultuous career, in particular.

A Thriller/Fantasy's Futuristic Challenge

Elthea's Realm (The Story of Elthea's Realm) (Volume 1) - John Murzycki

Elthea’s Realm is part thriller, part fantasy, and part futuristic sci-fi. Its plot revolves around five former college student friends whose almost-forgotten assignment for a course called The Utopia Project becomes of sudden interest for a force's deadly purposes.

 

Brought together after eight years, the members of the former utopia team have drifted into different careers and lives, but the force of perplexing text messages demands attention ("You have been warned once Philip Matherson. We will tolerate no further delay. Give us all information on the Utopia Project.").

 

While the story's opening salvo would seem to define it as a thriller, the events that follow rapidly move it into the realm of a fantasy as civilization is threatened, a benevolent force transports the friends to the enchanting world of Elthea's Realm, and they discover the devil in paradise in the form of Bots which they are tasked with confronting in order to save both Earth and their new home.


The desire to create a better society which evolves from the influence of Earth's circumstances, hard lessons learned when the young team first developed their vision of a utopian world, and issues ranging from the nature of evolution and being human to the benefits of failure all coalesce into a story that provides a haunting reflection on the challenges of perfection and the benefits of adversity.

 

In most fantasies, there are clear focuses on magic and processes that are counterpoints to reality. The result is that too many fantasy stories that involve magic or other worlds are disengaged from reality, which often translates into flat characters and one-dimensional, action-based plots.

 

The joy of Elthea’s Realm lies in its ability to combine both fantasy and thriller elements, using real-world Earth situations to bring social, psychological and political elements into a setting replete with magic and challenge.

 

What defines utopia? What happens when the instruments of humanity become its potential overlords?

 

Elthea’s Realm is an inviting recommendation for cross-genre fans who enjoy fantasy stories imbibed with thrilling action and heartfelt inspection. The plot is engaging and fast-paced, but the inclusion of a bigger picture translates to a thought-provoking read which lingers in the mind long after the story's final revelations about technology and humanity's interconnected futures.

 

Building A Child's Imagination!

Imagination Bigger Together - Casey Rislov, Stephen Adams

Imagination Bigger Together receives colorful, large-size drawings by Stephen Adams as it explores the limitless possibilities of a fertile imagination in a way young kids can easily understand.

 

Four animal friends get together to play a pirate game and discover that the sum of their collective imaginations far surpasses what any of them could accomplish alone.

 

As the four imagine the adventures they experience on the 'high seas' and the exciting places they will visit far beyond their wildest dreams, young picture book readers and their read-aloud parents will enjoy a fun survey that begins with a world cruise and leads to a rock hunt for hidden gems, exploring a secret garden, mud puddle romping, and more.

 

The emphasis on backyard play and how it can be enhanced by an active imagination makes for an engaging story that blends real-world observations and encounters with a spice of imaginative process encouraging kids to foster and accept their own playful fantasies. A backyard map offers visual emphasis about each of these adventures, which are created with a combination of a child's imaginative ideas and toys. Each point on the map holds a new spot for adventure, whether it be digging for treasure, taking a hot-air balloon ride, or encountering strange critters.

 

Parents will find this a fun way of reviewing various kinds of imaginative applications for daily life encounters, while kids will appreciate the bright, large drawings of animal friends who pair a lively and fun prance through the world with a healthy dose of creative thinking.

An Action-Packed Young Adult Fantasy

The Waterfall Traveler: Book 1 - S.J. Lem, Aaron S. Kaiserman

Book One of this young adult fantasy introduces its tale with a map showing an island off the shore of a land mass which includes such intriguing images as a castle at Sea Dragon's Point and a mountain range called Funeral Mountains. This provides a visual sense of the landscape and adds an element of intrigue right from the start. Enhancing the sense of adventure is a prologue that features a goddess, her brother Death, and her sister Fate, who together weave a new world. 

 

But this sense of magic and intrigue received an immediate, satisfying twist when protagonist Ri awakens to a dilemma which also forges a solid sense of place in just a few sentences.

 

Ri's adoptive father Samuel is ill. He suffers from incurable hallucinations, and she has to watch his every move while solidly rejecting the notion that he can't be healed. But she's stymied in her goal of helping him until she meets two strangers in the forest who have their own agendas, and faces a choice that could either cure Samuel or imprison her in another realm. 

 

The Waterfall Traveler combines an epic quest with a caring girl's coming of age and offers much to young adult fantasy readers. Perhaps its greatest strength lies in its ability to craft a tale with very realistic goals and concerns as Ri faces dangerous plots and counters many plans with her own.

 

It's always pleasing to see determination, grit, and personal struggle cementing an action-packed story, and The Waterfall Traveler provides these elements and more, never neglecting personal psychology in favor of adventure. Ri is continually challenged and meets these dangers head-on; but always with very real fears behind her bravado, and this is just one element that lends authenticity to the action.

 

As her relationships and choices drive the story, young adult (and many an adult) readers will find Ri's determination and rationales powerful driving forces to the story line, which lends it a flavor that makes it thoroughly engrossing and hard to put down. 

 

Can't wait for Book Two!