My First Bundle and My Fav Series Reads

I seldom read a series of books until it is complete. I often don’t remember the first book by the time the last one comes out. I started R. R. Martin’s books a while back and realized I would never remember all the characters and complex plots by the time he ended the series. Now, though, we have the TV series to help, although the plot has varied from the books.

I love getting a whole series at once and binge reading. So, I decided to provide a bundle of my Dawn’s End trilogy for like-minded readers. “A bundle of the three Dawn’s End fantasy/adventure/romance/apocalypse novels. Two generations of women are called upon to save a fantastical land but, in the end, they may need saving themselves.”

Buy Link – Dawn’s End Trilogy: Nightfall – Poisoned – Outworld Apocalypse

For those unfamiliar with the series, I have book trailers on youtube. Click on the covers to watch.

     

It’s a steal at the price and I hope to reach a new audience. It will be interesting to see how bundled sales compare to individual.

Some of my favorite binge sets are: (Click on the covers if you want more info.)

What are your favorites?

    

              

Are You Seeing Me? by Darren Groth. Book Review.

If you enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time or House Rules you will love this book. Told from the points of view of Perry and his sister and caretaker Justine, the book focuses on the strong bond between siblings whose mother abandoned them as children and whose father recently died. I don’t want to talk too much about the story. It is basically about relationships and how we assume things about the other person that may or may not be true.

Both the major characters are engaging, complex, and selfless. I read this book in one night as I could not put it down. I loved both Justine and Perry. Both have big hearts, protective natures, a sense of humor, and courage.

We are never exactly told that Perry has autism but Justine repeats a speech that sums up his challenging life in a single paragraph, “My brother has a brain condition that causes him to feel anxious or different places and circumstances. He has trouble with people – mixing with them and communicating with them – and it sometimes results in inappropriate behaviors. I appreciate your understanding and patience.” It sounds so simple, but it is incredibly complex. Perry struggles with all his strength to behave appropriately and to be a good brother in spite of his brain condition.

When Justine takes Perry all the way from Australia to Canada, her brother must cope with sensory overload, the vastly unfamiliar, and breaks in his routine. Her reason for doing this opens a whole new Pandora’s box.

This is a story about sibling love, a broken family, redemption, sacrifice, and devotion. This book was a well deserving Governor General Award Finalist. A beautiful book that will seize your emotions and tug at your heart. I highly recommend it for all ages.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

The Second Jezebel by Peter Mowsbray. Book Review.

 

 

It is interesting that I should receive this book for review just as one of my favorite television series, Reign, is ending. I was interested to know what would happen to Catherine de Medici later in life. The portrayal of Catherine, the second Jezebel, is much harsher in the novel than the television series. I suspect the book is more true to life as the research seems extensive and detailed.

The novel begins with the slaughter of the Huguenots and is quite difficult to read through. Be prepared for a lot of gore and savagery. We learn that Catherine is responsible for the massacre and that her motives questionable . She is of the strike first and worry about the consequences later mindset.

The book is a thorough recount of the actions of Catherine and her less than likable children. Their brutish, selfish ambition and thoughtless extravagance is stunning. Although hated by all of France, Catherine does seem to be the only one in her family who truly cares about the country. Not from a sense of patriotism or responsibility but for the preservation of her family and Royal position.

At times I had difficulty keeping the characters organized in my head and was grateful for the cast of characters listed in the front of the book. But even though I sometimes lost the thread of who was who, the story was fascinating and occasionally cringe worthy. The villains far out numbered the heroes.

Although I prefer a book with a protagonist I can admire, the story of Catherine de Medici and her repellent family was compelling in a different way. One wonders how any country survived at all with rulers like these. Admittedly, Catherine’s machinations were brilliant and she had a much better understanding of diplomacy than those in power.

Peter Mowbray writes with authority and sensory detail. He gets into the head of a severely dysfunctional woman and somehow manages to make us feel sympathy, if not empathy, for her. Aside from the occasional punctuation error, the book is flawless and professional. If you like historical fiction written with power and accuracy, you will enjoy this book.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Click on any book cover for more information or to buy the book.

Don’t Go Out in the Dark by Philip Cox. Book Review.

If you like suspenseful murder mysteries with a mixture of suspects and an interesting protagonist, you’ll enjoy this book. The plot has a variety of branches that crisscross and intertwine and finally lead to a satisfying conclusion. I don’t like to post spoilers which makes reviewing a suspense pretty tricky.

Jack’s ex-girlfriend has been killed while driving his car. Is it an accident? Is it murder? Was she the target or was he? Jack is investigating this without much support while trying to adjust to a divorce and weekend fathering.

The story involves a possible miracle cure, a broken relationship, a newspaper investigation, a murdered friend who may have been the wrong target, a sex offender, a Russian Mafia’s son with a grudge, a mysterious hitman for hire, missing files, and more. Cox keeps the mystery fresh with every chapter.

The book is easy to read and also shares some interesting information about cancer research. The character is likable and the violence isn’t over the top. The only question I have is, why that title? “Don’t Go Out in the Dark” sounds like a teenage horror book and not a classic intriguing murder story. The picture on the cover seems to be of a fire which I guess represents the crashed car but I think it doesn’t do this terrific book justice.

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Click on the cover to buy the book.

Interview with the author.

A copy of this book was generously donated by the author to my Little Free Library.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Inferno by Dan Brown. Book review.

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Click here to buy Inferno (Robert Langdon)

In order to enjoy Inferno, you need to have an interest in history, architecture, and art as a good third of the book is focused on one or more of these. Fortunately, I do enjoy reading about these subjects although I felt at times less would have been better. Most of it is essential to the plot and intricately woven into the mystery.

There were moments where I felt the plot stumbled. In chapter 9 or 10, I laughed out loud because it was so unbelievable. Sienna went next door to find clothes for Langdon. While looking around, Langdon accidentally spilled a pile of newspaper articles about Sienna that basically told her entire life story. Later on in the novel, this is explained. However, Langdon is intelligent enough that he should have wondered why this “here is her life file” was sitting there. In the same scene, he googled himself to see if there was any news about his disappearance. Since google was available, the pile of life story clippings wasn’t necessary. It would’ve been much more believable if he had googled the doctor’s name instead of finding the clippings.

Three times, by chapter 9, we are told of Langdon’s visions/hallucination about the gray-haired lady surrounded by dying and dead bloody bodies. “Seek and you shall find” is repeatedly told. Instead of building suspense, I started to feel bored by the repetition. Unfortunately, it was even repeated a few more times after that. As well, the description of the underground lagoon where the virus was located became less and less suspenseful and more and more irritating as the novel progressed.

In chapter 16, when Sienna decides that Langdon is being pursued by his government with orders to kill him, she continues to help him. Why? He has done nothing to show her he is innocent of crime. He has no memory. However, why would she even believe it was the government after him since her friend, the doctor, was callously and unnecessarily gunned down in the hospital. Neither of these things made sense to me. This too is explained later on. However, Langdon should have been suspicious about this odd behavior.

In chapter 22, when discussing death masks, Brown mentions Shakespeare’s. This threw me because this is hotly contested. It has not been widely accepted that the death mask found in Germany in the 1800s is authentic. This made me wonder about all the other facts shared by the author. It would have been better to leave out something so controversial.

Other than these little jolts, the plot progressed well. It was suspenseful and interesting. While the biological solution to overpopulation was not original, it suited the story and gave more dimension to both characters and plot. It is, in fact, a logical and humane solution to what is an unavoidable crash of the human population overcrowding and destroying the planet and all life forms on it.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Miss Bee and the Do Bees: An Urban Teacher Romance by Cleo A. Lampos. Book Review.

Click on the cover for more information or to buy the book.

This is a contemporary romance that will warm your heart and make you feel positive about your fellow man. I was interested in this book because it was about a teacher who worked with a special education class in a tough urban school.

Veronica Bagedonas works with 9 to 11-year-old Children, most with behavior disorders. She has the students call her Miss Bee and she calls her class the Do Bees. The year begins with her in tears upon receiving her class list which includes the two most infamous students. Fortunately, she is given some extra assistance in the form of a southern belle named Sunny who turns out to be far more competent with the class than Veronica expected. I was very pleasantly surprised that with only five students, she is assigned a full-time classroom assistant.

The class consists of a boy named Khalil who cannot stand to be touched and Juan who hides under his hoodie. Peter is an autistic boy who must have everything in his environment in balance and will only listen to only factual information, no stories. Clarissa, a bolter, likes to stir things up when she isn’t hiding behind her hair. Lastly, is Angelica a child who has experienced brain damage and whose mother expects miracles in the classroom.

It soon becomes apparent that Veronica, Roni, is lonely and somewhat envious of Sunny’s relationship with her Marine husband who is on deployment. Roni has legs like tree trunks and believes no man will ever find her desirous. In spite of this, she finds herself falling for firemen/paramedic Joe Milanovich who, unknown to her, is suffering from PTSD. Lampos writes with insight and realism about war vets trying to get their lives back together. There is a fair bit of reliance on Christianity but there are also other strategies for recovery.

Veronica is a highly skilled teacher and a compassionate person. We want, more that anything, for her to be appreciated and loved. I don’t want to tell you the whole story, but there are struggles, disappointments, sorrows, achievements, moments of terror and joy, and a realistic, satisfying ending. This is a lovely, gentle romance filled with wisdom and hope.

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The author will be interviewed on this blog on March 1, 2017.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

Inspiring Courage, Love, and Determination – Making Manna by Eric Lotke. Book Review.

Click here to buy Making Manna This is now the correct link. The price is $15.00 paperback.

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I thought I would read a chapter of Making Manna before sleeping but thirteen chapters later I was reluctant to close the book. It was only my aching eyes that made me stop. Eric Lotke is a master writer of character and situation. Not only do you care for these people, but you cringe and curse and cheer as they struggle through overwhelming events. This book is based on Lotke’s own experiences with the justice system and people struggling to survive in a cold, unfair, and prejudiced environment.

Making Manna opens with the story of Libby, a 14-year-old victim of sexual abuse by her father. It begins with the birth of her incestuously conceived baby. This is not the first time in the novel you will feel angry and frustrated at contemptuous behavior. But, equally throughout the book, you will be amazed and gladdened at the extreme kindness of strangers and mere acquaintances. Libby is but a child when she is forced out into the world with a newborn in her hands. We may not make the same choices as this fresh from the farm teenager but we cannot help but be in awe of her motherly love and determination. The story of her son, Angel, is bittersweet as well.

No one is an island, and so Libby finds support and love with another single mother, Sheila, and her daughter, Monet. However, things become frightening when the police virtually destroy their apartment in search of drugs. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the good guys from the bad guys, just like in real life. The bonds these friends form are unbreakable and through this loyalty, hope survives.

Lotke writes in such a fashion that the reader loses herself in the story. She is no longer engaging with print on paper but living alongside real, admirable, and compelling characters. This is a page turner in a different sense. Yes there is enormous suspense as to how these people are going to survive in the face of such cruel and unwarranted adversity. But more than that, we want them to succeed. We want them to be happy. We want Angel to get the girl.

I cannot recommend this amazing story strongly enough.

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Eric Lotke will be interviewed on this blog April 12, 2017.

A copy of this book was generously donated by the author to my Little Free Library.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

The Second My Life Changed Forever…Stories of Life Changing Moments. By Eileen Doyon. Book Review.

 Click on the cover to buy the book.

This book is part of the Unforgettable Faces and Stories Series. In this series, Eileen Doyon collects true stories under a specific theme. This book is about incidents such as deaths, births, beginning a new business venture, meeting someone who will play a significant part in your life, etc. They are told in the person’s own words and usually consist of one and a half to five pages. If you enjoy the structure of Chicken Soup for the Soul books, this series will probably appeal to you.

There were approximately 45 stories in this 189 page book which contains about a third pictures and the occasional completely blank page. That leaves an average of about 2 1/2 pages per story. If you like these little snippets, then you’re probably going to enjoy this. I’m not a Chicken Soup fan because I like depth to my reading. However, I found the stories in the Chicken Soup series more stirring than this one, perhaps because they were rewritten by professional authors.

 

I felt the stories in Doyon’s book were lacking something. I wanted to get to know the people more, to get into their shoes. Some were so short it felt like I was reading a news account. I wish there had been about 10 stories with greater detail and more emotion. There were few that struck a chord. I’m the kind of woman who cries during long-distance telephone commercials, on Christmas morning, and kindergarten graduations, so it should have been easy to invoke an emotional response. But on the whole, I had to keep forcing myself to keep reading.

The writing skill definitely varied since these were told in the people’s own words. I think it is very difficult to dig deep and use vocabulary that conveys your most intense emotion in personal and life-changing moments, as anyone who has tried to write a memoir knows. As a result, I often did not feel I was sharing or living the moment with the authors. Writers would call this problem “show, don’t tell.”

I think it is admirable that Eileen Doyon has given a venue to people who want to share personal and important stories. I know she has touched many lives, readers and writers alike. I hope she continues her series but, perhaps, she might consider that sometimes less is more.

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A copy of this book was generously donated by the author to my Little Free Library.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Top Three Adult Books I Reviewed in 2016

#1 Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Sena Jeter Naslund.

Naslund writes in great detail of the sensual world Marie Antoinette experiences and interprets. The listener feels pulled into both time and place.

In spite of her Habsburg lineage, Marie Antoinette is a woman ruled by her husband and country and therefore at the mercy of others. There is little mercy during the French Revolution.

 Click the cover to buy the book.

#2 Animal Expressions by Judith Hamilton.

The author/photographer, Judith Hamilton, took photos at some of the 550 sites around the world where Wildlife Conservation Society works to save wildlife and habitats.

Hamilton has combined words of wisdom with intimate and arresting photographs of animals.

 Click the cover to buy the book.

#3 Alien Infection by Darrell Bain.

The book is an enjoyable and suspenseful read. From the title, you can ascertain that aliens are involved but they are quite likely not what you expect.
Click the cover to buy the book.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Fantasy Sci-Fi Network Holiday Sale – Come Chat with Me

The Fantasy Sci-Fi Network will host it’s annual Fantasy and Scifi e-book holiday sale this 2016. On December 17 to December 31, 2016, we’ll be hosting an e-book extravaganza with free books, 99 cent deals, and deep discounts on fantasy and science fiction books from award-winning and bestselling authors!

I will be cohosting an hour on facebook from 6pm to 7pm on Sunday, December 18. Drop by and say hello.

If you are in Thunder Bay on Sunday, December 11, come by the Da Vinci. I will be selling my books there as part of this.

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