Inferno by Dan Brown. Book review.

17212231

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.

smilesmilesmilesmile

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.

smilesmilesmilesmilesmile

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.

MakingManna1000CVR

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.

thumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tiny

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.

smilesmilesmile

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.

15267775_10154575895335049_430259812419041598_n

 

Light Romance -The Vaudeville Star by Nicola Italia. Book Review.

 

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

I don’t usually read romance but I love historical fiction so I put my name in for a chance to win this book from Goodreads. It is definitely an adult book. There are three rather explicit sex scenes, one at the beginning, middle, and end.

It was fairly light on the historical part. Although I was hoping for more insight into vaudeville, Nicola Italia did adequately frame the story in place and time. It begins on the Mississippi plantation, leads to a boarding school in Connecticut, then to New York, and finally to London, England. I wanted more detail on these places as I love feeling as though I’m there.

The story is about Ruby Mae Sutton, a determined and gutsy girl, but also very naïve and far too trusting. Since Ruby wants to marry Ford herself, she commits a shameful act at her sister’s engagement party. This results in the end of the engagement and Ruby being sent to boarding school. She is 15 years old and takes advantage of the environment to develop her singing voice. Her new goal becomes singing in vaudeville.

When she arrives alone in New York, everything falls into place without the least effort. She finds friends, a boarding house, and even a vaudeville group ready to embrace her. This is where I found the story frustrating and somewhat boring. No matter what risks Ruby took, nothing bad ever happened to her. After a while, the reader realizes, nothing ever will.

William Parker, a rich and influential man, decides to back her vaudeville show and tells her they will marry and she will quit her job. Ruby wants none of this and her reconnection with Ford makes her rejection of Parker even firmer. She soon realizes that Ford is a violent drunk who gets whatever he wants using any method no matter the consequences. Unfortunately, just when it seemed Ruby’s safety was at risk, the problem was solved easily and quickly.

If you’re looking for a simple, sweet romance with a plucky girl who gets her man, you’ll enjoy this. If you’re looking for something with the least bit of suspense, this will let you down. It’s the kind of book you read when you want a complete break from work or the kids or the election.. It is an entertaining, light, simple and sweet romance.

smilesmilesmilesmile

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

White Otter Castle Exists in the Deep Northern Woods

Interested in what Terror at White Otter Castle is based on?

My Blurb:

Laurel, Aster, and Beth have been best friends since grade one when they created the “triangle of power”. In September, as high school graduates, they will head off in different directions. Because Laurel fears it will be the end of their friendship, she convinces the others to join her on an end of summer trip – a nine-day canoe expedition to White Otter Castle, deep in the Northern Canadian forest. Unknown to her, the hundred-year-old log castle has a dark secret. The “triangle of power” faces the ultimate test when the dark forest holds a terror they never imagined.

This campy little novella is sure to give you a shiver and a smile.

Reality:

White Otter Castle and the legends around it actually exist. I didn’t have to dig very far into reality to find the germ of my novella.

Although the amazing structure did fall into ruin for a time, The Friends of White Otter Castle raised enough money to save the log building from collapse. It has become a regular site for canoeists, snowmobilers, and hikers to visit.

 

Image result

Click on the picture above for information on the town of Atikokan, Ontario and the surrounding area.

* * *

Easter Seals Ontario along with the Atikokan SnoHo and Kiwanis Club of Atikokan are kicking off the 2016 Snowarama season by hosting the 38th annual Atikokan Snowarama for Easter Seals Kids event on Saturday, January 30, 2016.

We invite you to be part of this year’s event, filled with a variety of fun, family-friendly activities throughout the day and night. This year’s festivities include a 100km sled ride north to White Otter Castle, a hearty lunch at Browns’ Clearwater West, dinner at the Royal Canadian Legion, awards, auction and evening entertainment. Click the picture above for more information.

* * *

Snowmobile to the White Otter Castle in the winter

Click on the picture above to go to: White Otter Castle – The Story of Hope and Dreams: THE REMARKABLE STORY OF JIMMY MCOUAT by By Erin Rody Staff Writer for Sunset Country

 * * *

White Otter

Click here to buy the novella in Canada.

Click here to buy the novella in the United States.

Click here to buy the novella in the U.K..

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Powerful Images: Animal Expressions by Judith Hamilton. Book Review.

91zgdt2kwol

Click here to buy Animal Expressions

I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway and feel fortunate to have done so. I probably wouldn’t have bought this book but now I would definitely buy it as a gift. Studying this lovely little book is a beautiful way to spend an hour.

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. Generously, half the proceeds from this book are donated to WCS to help them with their work. Hamilton is a photographer of some renown. Her photographs have been featured at Google world headquarters for six months and a permanent exhibit hangs at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

Hamilton has combined words of wisdom with intimate and arresting photographs of animals. There is a quote on the left page and a photo that inspired it on the right. For example, the book begins with a quote from Victor Hugo. “The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved.” On the right we see beautiful eagles in their nest, a young eaglet resting his beak on the adult and gazing with loving eyes.

Some are humorous. “All for one and one for all. United we stand in divided we fall.” Alexander Dumas. The photograph is three turtles, each leaning on the one in front as they struggle over a log above a muddy river.

Some are inspiring. “On matters of style, swim with the current. On matters of principle, stand like a rock.” Thomas Jefferson. This quote is inspired by a magnificent tiger haunch deep in water.

Some are endearing. “What does she want him for when she has me?” Baboons (I apologize if that’s the wrong species) cluster together. A mother holds a tiny infant on her lap while an older sibling anxiously looks on.

What hits you when you look at these photographs is the immense difference in the lives of animals compared to ours. What also hits you is how similar they are in emotion, need, relationships, and vulnerability.

The photographs make you pause in wonderment examining each feather, spot, and hair. Hamilton has captured animals in the most amazing situations, sleeping, nursing their young, fighting, dancing, playing, and stalking. Her courage, in the face of some rather powerful predators, is laudable.

This is not just a book wherein one dwells on the beauty and struggle of wild creatures. The combination of quote and picture provide a connection that gives one pause. Some quotes are attributed to Plato, Mark Twain, Patti Smith and Confucius. Some are not identified and these, I assume are Hamilton’s thoughts. All are worthy of consideration.

thumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tiny

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Pencils and Crayons and Markers Too

1crayon2

I remember, as a child, the thrill of opening a new crayon box. I would run my fingers over their sharpened tips and inhale the waxy smell. I was especially thrilled when my parents splurged on a twenty-four color set. With pink! However, envy reared its ugly head when I went to a friend’s house and she open her crayon box with 64 colors! There was even gold and silver.

What is your most vivid memory about crayons?

Children today would be less than impressed. They have markers that produce brilliant colors with an easy stroke. Markers with glitter. Write over markers that create a third color. There are markers that are washable, twin, dry erase, colour changing, scented and metallic. They can use them on bathtubs, fabric, and windows. Permanent markers can write on anything. There are stamper markers and wonder markers [I have no idea what they do]. Markers come with broad lines and fine lines. mini and telescoping. Markers are made for toddlers, adults, and professional artists. So no one is left out, they also come with easy grip.

Is there any place left for crayons?

Always.

Don’t be fooled into thinking crayons are just for kids. There is some amazing professional artwork done entirely with crayon. See Don Marco’s incredible portraits http://www.themastercrayonartist.biz/ and Kristina Nelson’s amazingly vibrant work http://www.art-is-fun.com/crayon-art/. If you’re interested in trying it for yourself, check out this site. http://www.artistsnetwork.com/medium/how-to-draw-with-crayons

crayon for blog
Click here to buy No More Red

I thought I’d see how many picture books I could find about pencils and crayons, and those brazen markers as well. It turns out there are quite a few. How many can you think of?

My first thought was a classic, Harold and the Purple Crayon. My son and I loved the television show as well. There were quite a few others. It seems the lowly crayon hasn’t been forgotten. And now it comes in 152 head-spinning colours!

The most well-known book I uncovered about markers was by Robert Munsch. Perhaps we have to wait until more children raised on anything-you-can-imagine markers reach adulthood for books about markers to outnumber those about the simple but elegant crayon.

But, don’t feel bad for crayons because look what they have now!

Click on pictures to buy

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages