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Book Review: “Taste” by Kate Evangelista

Taste

Goodreads summary of this novel:

At Barinkoff Academy, there’s only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans. When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.

Was I interested in a paranormal romance?  It was certainly outside the realm of my usual book interests.  My instinct said “no” when Kate Evangelista asked me to review her book “Taste”.  I did not think I could give it a fair evaluation – seeing as paranormal was outside my range.  But happily I agreed to complete a fair review.

Much to my surprise I was pleasantly taken by this beautiful novel.  Evangelista’s descriptions, style, and personality, were all strong and alive. I was totally captured by the story line! I soon forgot I was reading a paranormal novel and became charmed by the enchanting tale.  The characters caught and held my interest from cover to cover. The worlds of Barinkoff Academy were, to say the least, intensely real. I would suggest you do yourself a favour, pick up a copy of “Taste” by Kate Evangelista, at your favourite bookseller.

I always like to find some JOY in every book I read and review. The joy in “Taste” came in my surprise of my total enjoyment of this paranormal romance.  The “Joy of the Written Word” was definitely alive!   

 

 

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Book Review: “The Biblical Story” as retold by Stefan Andres, Translated from the German by Sarah Dyck

 

Are you familiar with children’s story books of the bible?  You know, where the bible stories are told in such a way that they attract children’s imaginations.  Have you ever wondered why there are no adult bible storybooks?  Well, now there is one:  “The Biblical Story” as retold by Stefan Andres and translated from German to English by Sarah Dyck (1924 – 2017).

Stefan Andres has taken various bible narratives and retold them in a story format, that is understandable by the everyday reader of German.  There are over 150 such stories, including both the Old and the New Testament. Sarah Dyck then translated Andres’ German book into English.

I believe this format, rather German or English allows the reader to grasp a good understanding of these narratives.  If the reader then wants a deeper understanding of the biblical story, they can then turn to their favourite translation of the bible.

As an English reader and writer, I highly recommend this book, should you be searching for a unique view of the Bible.

And where is the joy of this book’s written word?  It can be found throughout the pages of this English translation.

 

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Book Review: “Legacy of the Highlands” by: Harriet Schultz

We all say the words “where did time go” at on time or another. I have been saying it a lot lately.  In 2012 I took a break from blogging. This is my first time back!  Five years!!

The first book I would like to review, as I begin again, is the book I was working on when life interrupted:  “Legacy of the Highlands” by Harriet Schultz.

Legacy - Schultz

This is a fabulous novel.  It is a jam packed plot, as to rival all good mystery writers.  I am inclined to say, including your favourite authors.  The beginning lulls the reader into a false sense of security in that the beginning is not what it appears – not all pleasure and romance.  The characters are multi-dimensional, soon to be among the reader’s favourite.

Goodreads summary of this novel is as follows:

Young, good-looking, successful and wealthy. Will and Alexandra Cameron had it all until the night he went out to buy ice cream after an evening of passionate sex and never returned. When his body is discovered in a nearby Boston alley, the only clue to his murder is a Scottish sgian dubh dagger left beside it. Will’s grieving widow finds refuge in the Miami villa of his best friend Diego Navarro, who has the means, power and temperament to solve the puzzle and to avenge his friend’s murder. The sinfully handsome and charming womanizer’s feelings for Alexandra run deep, and he becomes equally determined to win the devastated widow’s heart. The attraction between them grows as they follow leads from Miami to Buenos Aires and Scotland, unraveling the Cameron family’s centuries-old secrets.

Do yourself a favour, pick up a copy of Harriet Schultz’s “Legacy of the Highlands”, and you will find joy in the written word.

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Book Review: “Beatrice Munson” by Lorena Bathey

In Vista Heights, the women of the neighborhood have started to look like their homes, varying shades of beige.  Lost in this world of suburbia, Marissa Lyons learns her high school nemesis has bought the house right across the street from her. Afraid that her arch enemy, Beatrice Munson, will move in with Marissa’s high school crush as her husband and cause Marissa to relive the insecurity of high school in her forties, she decides to face the music and heads to Beatrice’s house with warm cupcakes. But what Marissa finds is something she never expected.  How will Marissa and the rest of the women of San Martino deal with someone like Beatrice Munson, whose defining moment in her life was to get a boob job or go on a trip to Egypt. This story is about friendship, love, learning to look at things differently, and great parties. Step into the world of Vista Heights where you might recognize the women, or you might be one of them. (from Goodreads) 

 

When Lorena Bathey was looking for reviewers, for her book “Beatrice Munson”, I jumped at the opportunity.  Many months ago, as I was cruising around on Goodreads, I came across “Beatrice Munson”, and immediately fell in love with the cover!  I think the cover is beautiful, and enticing, and is among my favourite book covers. Lorena Bathey generously mailed the book to me, in exchange for an honest review.  I could not wait for the book to arrive!!  And when the book did arrive, just holding the book in my hand brought a smile to my face.  Then I started to read about Beatrice, and all the ladies in the community of San Martino, a suburb of San Francisco. 

Lorena Bathey’s narrator, Marissa Lyons, is a character who captured my heart in the very first paragraph, (truly, she did!).  I identified with part of her story, of her high school experiences, and her challenge to find her true place in life. 

The character of Beatrice Munson moved into a house across the street from Marissa Lyons.  Once Beatrice settled into her home, decorated in her own personal style, Marissa came for a visit.  The vision of Beatrice’s house was described through Marissa’s voice.  I say vision, because that is the word that came to mind, as I read Lorena Bathey’s beautiful description of Beatrice’s house.  It was a house that I wanted to be in, a living room that I wanted to settle into a chair, with a cup of coffee, and a really good book.  Lorena’s talent with words drew me into the San Martino community, made me feel welcomed. 

Lorena Bathey

The action in this novel moved smoothly and quickly.  The only reason I did not finish the book in one sitting, was because family commitments called me away.  But I did finish the book in my second sitting – reading into the wee hours of the morning!  I could not go to sleep without knowing how everyone’s life turned out! 

In following the characters’ daily lives, the reader sees how each character develops. The enjoyable thing was that Lorena Bathey showed this development through conversation and action, rather than pages of description.  The humour in “Beatrice Munson” is at times elegantly displayed, in beautiful phrases that bring the reader further into the world of all the San Martino ladies.  Sentences like this:   

“….Graydon was like the high dive in the male dating pool, and on the female scale I was about halfway down to the deep end with floaties on my arms.” 

San Francisco – Lorena Bathey Facebook Page

I laughed out loud, and re-read the line a few times before moving on!  Lorena Bathey also brings humour and memories together: 

“Her hair was teased up to the level of a Jiffy Pop popcorn container,….” 

Ah, yes, Jiffy Pop foil container just about ready to burst, before Mom removed it from the stove, cut the foil, and we dived in – nice memories, and an excellent description of a hair style! The book description on the back cover, also part of the Goodreads summary, reads:  “Step into the world of Vista Heights where you might recognize the women, or you might be one of them.”   And that happened to me as I read through the book.  A couple of times I found myself thinking, “hmmm, that sounds like (insert name)” and “oh, my goodness, that’s me!”  Such is the gentle, yet powerful, word pictures created by this author.  Talent, pure talent. In my book reviews, I do not like to give books a ‘number rating’, or a ‘star rating’, rather I stay with word recommendations, (or not!).  And fiction is so personal; each person experiences the story through their own life experiences.  But with all that said, if I was to give “Beatrice Munson” a number rating, it would definitely be 5 out of 5, in my mind, without question, a 5 star rating.  So, my recommendation to my readers is to definitely read “Beatrice Munson” by Lorena Bathey, and enjoy!! 

photo – Gavin Hellier

Where is the Joy of the Written Word in this book?  The answer is: from cover to cover, from beginning to end. 

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Choose Joy!  

Patricia

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Book Review: ““A Marked Heart”” by David George Ball

David George Ball (portrait taken 2006, copied from the author’s Facebook page)

The son of a missionary and a Baptist minister, seventeen-year-old immigrant David George Ball was following his destiny to become a pastor. He had always dreamed of making a difference in people’s lives. But when he met the then relatively unknown Martin Luther King Jr., the course of Ball’s life changed forever. In this memoir, “A Marked Heart”, Ball narrates his journey: beginning with growing up in wartime England; immigrating to the United States in 1954 to take the pastor’s course at Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute; attending Yale University as a scholarship student; and, most importantly, meeting King. Later, he worked on Wall Street as a lawyer, started a family, championed the 401(k) plan, and served as assistant secretary of labor. “A Marked Heart” describes how Ball’s encounter with King inspired the rest of his life’s work, and it provides a multifaceted look at his immigration, education, family relationships, career, and his commitment to public service. Though Ball never became a minister, his story communicates how his commitment to God and prayer guided his life. (from Goodreads) 

This book was a total surprise!  It really was!  I was deceived by the book cover; or rather I caught myself pre-judging this book, based on the three colour book cover.  Isn’t there an old saying:  “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? 

Well, when I received this book from Bostick Communications, (in exchange for an impartial review), I had second thoughts about whether or not I would enjoy reading it.  And I will admit to putting it to the side of my TBR book stack.  It just looked to be more of a reference book, than a story book.  

I could not have been more wrong. 

A short time ago, while checking my TBR books, “A Marked Heart”, caught my attention.  And after some review of the front and back covers, and recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. pictured on the front cover with the author, I decided I would begin this read. 

Unexpectedly, “A Marked Heart” by David George Ball, was soon to display so much more than its simple cover implied.  By the end of the first chapter, it was not a question of being caught up in the story; it was a matter of needing to know everything I could about the author and those around him.  David George Ball.  I would hazard a guess that most of us have never heard the name, let alone know what his life was all about.  And part of that I would suggest, was by plan – David George Ball’s plan.  In “A Marked Heart”, David George comes through the pages as a humble man, a quiet man, definitely a family man, a very intelligent man, a man filled with compassion for family and friends, and a man filled with pride of his birth country, England, and his country of residence, the United States. 

(photo credit Heather Fraser)

The author speaks of his growing up years with fond memories, and some not so fond. He brings us through his university years, as he earns multiple degrees.  David Ball’s style of storytelling is one that engages the reader, to a desire to learn more.  Ball’s meeting with Martin Luther King Jr., is a turning point in his career, and his personal creed for life.  I found it fascinating to read of M.L. King before his rise within the culture of the day, and his impact on the world.   Although King was a great influence on David Ball, this book is not about King.  We simply see how King affected individuals who became part of his life, and vice versa.  

“A Marked Heart” reaches all parts of the life of David George Ball.  We are with him through his marital happiness and struggles, his desire to serve God, the love he is given by his family, and at times the hard life he was forced to live.  I found myself on life’s journey with the author, through his highs and lows, through his two marriages, and the lives of his children, as they grew and started families of their own.   

(photo credit Heather Fraser)

To be truthful, I do not think that my words do justice to Ball’s life, to his great mind, and kind heart.   I would suggest this book be added to your library, as part of history.  Although not given real credit for this, Ball was the originator of the 401K plan, designed to secure quality of life for individuals, once they retire.  I am not an American, so do not pretend to understand the 401K plan, but in Canada we have Registered Retirement Plans, which would be comparable.  So, I do understand the need to plan for the future.  And I was quite impressed with Ball’s quiet, yet powerful, contribution to American lifestyle.  And the telling of this story was not a mundane presentation, but a story that I felt part of, a story that held joy.  Such is the style of Ball’s writing. I encourage readers of this blog to seek out this book,  “A Marked Heart”,  add it to your library,  and set aside time to read and learn, about events that impact your life, through the life of David George Ball. 

“The Joy of the Written Word” – where do we find joy in the words of my review or in the words of “A Marked Heart”?  Where I see Joy through “A Marked Heart”, is David George Ball’s unending faith in his God, his faith in knowing that, no matter what, God was with him.  He chose Joy!

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Choose Joy!  

Patricia

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