The Guardians of Erum publishing permitted by UAE’s National Media Council. Permit # MC-01-01-9623856. Book age group: +17 copyright ISBN: 97899483445, and written by “Self-Publisher” A. Ali Hasan, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Sub-titled, ‘and The Calamitous Child of Socotra’, the story’s setting is one of “Arabia’s pre-Islamic history, traditions, religious beliefs, and local culture and folklore” with abundant activity by jinn. Most locations exist in modern-day Oman or Yemen, but Wadi Erum, in which Part One is centered, is a magnificent city which now is believed to be buried under the sand dunes of Rub’ Al Khali Desert. The story line follows a young farmer and his wife who have a male child born under a particular star which indicated he would ruin Wadi Erum and bring other disastrous results to the world. This all set forth by “Behas the saher, deceiver of all weak minds, master of all sorcery. Necromancer and conjurer, alchemist, and lord of the jinnic realm, and widely known as the worst of mankind.” This jinn Master, or master sorcerer, was at one time acclaimed as a hero by saving Wadi Erum, but has fallen into a less credible position with the gigantic rulers of the city and country itself. Thus, his word still is believed by many and he entreats one of his jinn to kill the baby. The jinn is interrupted and killed by a member of another of an opposing group but cannot stop the baby from being kidnapped. The story continues as a desperate concerted effort is initiated by the baby’s father aided by the rulers and guardians of Erum plus others supporting the powerful Gray Mountain Queen who also wants to find the child for her own reasons. Fundamentally, the story becomes a chase provided in three parts. The first covers the area of Wadi Erum and its surroundings. The second moves the action to the coastal area of Salalah. The third continues onto the island of Socotura where a huge battle takes place, and gradually returns to the Wadi Erum area with a finalization of this section of the tale.
Discussion: This is an interesting historical fantasy involving a chase by the father to regain his son kidnapped by a jinn Master who is fundamentally wicked, but controversially considered good by many for an earlier deed that saved the city. There are numerous characters important to the story and they diligently maintain their parts. All maters considered, a book of fantasy, full of the occult that should greatly appeal to the younger members of the YA group. The author’s fascination with the historic folklore of pre-Islamic Arabia is evident and a thread to which he strongly adheres. From this reader’s perspective a cautionary note must be entered, however. With the level of sophistication existent in today’s youth, at least within the United States, it would seem that the level of 17 + or – suggested as the best reading level may be lowered a little for greatest reader enjoyment.
5* For lower level YA readers with suggested caveat reason set forth.
Brothers in War, Richter Publishing acknowledged for aid, copyright and written by Ginger Rodeghero.
Brett Chance, the protagonist is a soccer star in his senior year at his local Allendale High School. His sister to whom he has been closely attached had been murdered recently while providing ‘hands-on’ educational opportunities to girls in Afghanistan. Because of her great desire to engage in these endeavors, he had been helpful in convincing their parents to allow her to go. Now remorseful and full of self-blame, he is experiencing an extremely difficult period. He found concentration on his studies difficult and social relations with class mates nearly impossible. His 2-year relationship with Madison even was suffering considerably but was surviving with talks with her while grooming her Arabian at the stables in close-by Pittsford, N.Y. As the Allendale H.S. soccer star he gets some solace from the concentration required by this activity, especially when his goal is to obtain a scholarship from Syracuse University’ prominent program. His problem suddenly exacerbates when a new student joins the school. The new student, Rasheed, has moved here from, the now for him hated, country of Afghanistan. He also is an extremely accomplished soccer player who can affect Brett’s position of prominence. The plot develops as Brett discovers that Rasheed is haunted from experiencing brutal personal attacks magnified by a most recent family tragedy. The evolution and progression of these activities slowly evolve to provide the substance of the tale where with remembrance of discussions with his grandfather, mentoring by his understanding and very wise coach, and gradual mental maturation, Brett begins to adjust to his life as it evolves.
Discussion: In a brief Introduction, the author explains that she has written this book because she hopes that in some small manner her passion with respect to Human Rights and elimination of violations of individual rights that still exist today will aid this cause and “inspire you to make changes in this world around you with the truth about your human rights.” The ensuing story is an interesting, credible, plot based coming-of-age tale that can initiate worthwhile thoughts in young minds. To strengthen her position, the author includes at the end of the book a statement from the General Assembly of the United Nations. This Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with attendant Articles 1 through 30 is followed by a brief note from “About the Author’ that ends with “I write to communicate to the next generation in a way that they will hopefully strive to make our world a better place.”
Summary: Nicely presented tale that should be efficacious in advancing the author’s agenda.
5* Interesting, well-told coming-of-age tale advancing author’s agenda.
Forlorn, a dark story of suspense ISBN: 9781978440180 Vinspire Publishing, an e-book copyright 2017 and written by Gina Detwiler.
A prologue describes the situation that results in Grace Fortune being pulled by her Guardian Angel when she is 6 years old from the flaming wreck of her family’s automobile that consumes her parents. The story begins as Grace, now sixteen and being raised by her aunt and uncle, is a student at the Buffalo Arts Academy, where although suffering from a degree of Attention Deficit Disorder, possesses a lovely voice and ability to play the piano. With her are her somewhat misfit friends that include scientifically inclined and quite pragmatic Ethan Ellerman who is there on full scholarship as a designer of video games, artistically inclined Brianna (Bree) Reynolds who at the moment points out a newcomer to the school who is every girl’s dream man, Jared Lorn with muscular build, almost white hair and strikingly blue penetrating eyes and his seeming attraction to Grace. Ethan points out that Jaren is a felon and was transferred here because he had stabbed another student with a fork at a different school. He heard that he moved from “Ohio or Oregon, something with an O anyway”. However he was said to play the guitar amazingly well. Only shortly thereafter Derick Holder, the boy with whom Jared had fought appeared at the lunch room and opened fire with an automatic weapon. Ethan is struck in the stomach and falls into Grace’s lap bleeding profusely. She calls out “Derick! Please stop! Stop shooting.” Her guardian cries out to Grace to sing a special song which he sings to her in the night when she has bad dreams from the Dark Ones seeking a way in. Her singing causes Derrick to hesitate and suddenly Jared moves as a blurred figure knocking the gun from his hand and literally throwing him against a large plate glass window with sufficient force to shatter the glass killing Derick. From this moment the tale becomes one of war between forces of good and evil including different levels of both with guardians, archangels, appearance of ‘the Risen One”, demons, fallen angels, the Nephilim, the importance of faith and the power of prayer per se and through music.
Discussion: The author has presented a most unusual fantasy that may well appeal to readers, especially YA who enjoy conflicts between good and evil forces as they vie for dominance in the living world. The trials and tribulations of the two protagonists are suspenseful as they engage in a series of activities that take them on remarkable journeys. Regrettably, from this reader’s perspective, the tale contains numerous hiccups that are difficult to accept and therefore may require a SPOILER ALERT. If, however a reader enjoys unusual suspenseful fantasy stories pitting the forces of good versus those of the ethereal dark side, obtain the book, enjoy and do NOT read further.
Two of the most difficult discrepancies for this reader to reconcile are: Much is made of the fact that Grace’s parents were completely destroyed by the fiery crash. Yet her mother suddenly appears with an entirely different scenario? Neither Grace nor her friends know much about Jared and seemingly nothing about Derrick yet Grace speaks to him by name and is uncertain when he left school when he is massacring the students?
Conclusion: A fascinating fantasy that should be of particular interest to younger readers and most especially to those of religious inclination. Regrettably and although having enjoyed many tales in the fantasy genre, this reviewer apologetically cannot reconcile the plot discrepancies mentioned.
3* 5* Fascinating fantasy for many; -2* for reasons described.
SLOWER, an e-book for young adults, assumed to have been published, copyright and written by Ted Shepherd.*
The story opens with 9th grader Emit Friend sitting completely bored in science teacher Ms. Beans’ class. He cannot understand how the other students, except for his cousin Ellen, are not also going out of their minds. He has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and sleeps very poorly every night. Thus he falls asleep and is rudely awaked by Ms. Beans shouting his name. He awakens immediately and is told to report to the Principal’s Office. This is a rather routine matter for him, and besides the principal is a very old family friend whom he knows as “Uncle Dimitri” Zachs. Ms. Beans follows his arrival and accuses him of pulling a prank on her. He does remember dreaming of such activity but cannot believe that he was able to perform it. From talking with Zachs he suddenly realizes that he had done it and the tale evolves into a fast moving plot that follows his activities, some of which could turn him into somewhat of a new superhero. It is a story that includes a bit of physical science, cyber science, stock market manipulation, and history that involves Uncle Dimitri, his cousin Ellen, his Grandfather and others. Fundamentally however, it presents a seriously thought-producing for young, as well a older minds to contemplate
Summary: This should be thoroughly enjoyed, as well as providing serious thought paths by young readers.
*Amazon lists as: Ted Shepherd SLOWER
5* Young readers should thoroughly enjoy, while contemplating serious thought paths.
The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election ISBN: 9781732511705 Moot Point Productions, copyright and written by Michael R. French.
The author has presented an ‘on-the-surface appearing’ simple story that follows a very intelligent young high school student with strong moral principles but totally naïveté with respect to politics as she challenges the charismatic favorite young man for election to the student body presidency. This seemingly impossible task appears even less attainable when she, with a team of only a few friends, actually realizes that her opponent’s team is a very successful, well-oiled machine that has been successful for some time. She has one other person to whom she listens intently and absorbs his lectures – the school’s rather revered history teacher who for several generations has been providing sensible advice along with his presentation of the importance of history as it repeats and is interpreted by one generation after another. Through his teachings and advice, complete understanding and approval by her parents, most intelligent decisions, AND unexpected information provided by an unknown cyber expert, she discovers that the success of her main opponent may not be simply because of he and his team’s abilities. Instead, he and his group are supported and secretly funded and advised by an organization that ostensibly has been established to aid struggling educational programs, but has another agenda in mind. When she ultimately makes great advances in her campaign, the organization approaches her with offers extremely difficult for her to turn down and the story continues to an interesting finale.
Discussion: The author has an excellent understanding of politics, its deceit, betrayal, treachery, intrigues, lying and often present, exhibition of blatant but more usually hidden, personal greed and other less worthy aspects of human thought patterns. Additionally his understanding of teen age children and their need to adjust to individual physical and mental changes while simultaneously attempting to deal with their peers in an environment that frequently can be surprisingly cruel, is quite admirable. He has set forth a story that provides an honest look at politics while stressing the importance of history, a much ignored important feature of today’s education, and coincidentally has provided a protagonist who projects strong moral courage and tenacity of purpose to overcome purportedly unbeatable odds and ‘make a difference’.
Summary: This is a fast moving, well-written story that those in their teens should thoroughly enjoy. Coincidentally, this book could be of interest to adults for the parallel it describes with respect to the horribly broken political system presently extant within the U.S. and perhaps could serve as a tool to be employed by teachers of young, and near adult, students.
5* A book young adults should enjoy and adults read – see discussion.
We Are Voulhire A new Arrival under Great Skies is an e-book assumed published, copyright and written by Matthew Tysz.
This is the first of two books that follow the fortunes of Galen, a young man who has escaped from a war torn society/country through help provided by a solicitor who was paid handsomely by his dying grandfather to accomplish this rather dangerous feat. He is totally naïve in the sophisticated ways of this new environment and gradually begins to learn in this first instalment. The country itself is wealthy but lacking in any cohesive identity. It embraces various levels of culture and a wide range of technologies but also various levels and types of magical performance that seem pervasive and often dominant as well. Numerous powerful individuals, several of whom are viciously destructive, appear to be rising into the more powerful positions as this episode ends and the reader must wait to discover whether the seemingly portended hope for the future the young Galen represents actually evolves.
Discussion/Conclusion: The author has set forth a fantasy containing all of the elements that should appeal to younger readers. It is a well-conceived fantasy set in ancient times of the restricted world knowledge of the day. It has a nicely conceived plot with thought-provoking philosophical features, nicely done descriptions and characters with whom some degree of empathy may be developed. Unfortunately however, from this reader’s perspective, there may be a few problems most of us reviewers overlook. We all are somewhat beyond an age group for which we are attempting to provide a meaningful review and we often forget to really observe the developing members of society for whom we cavalierly express our views of what they will or will not enjoy. This story opens slowly, even a little confusingly with new characters being rapidly introduced and the basic theme of good vs. evil actually does not become evident until pretty well into the book. It must be remembered that younger people are more inclined toward a faster mode of life with regrettably most often lesser involved in philosophical thoughts. One simply must observe their choices with respect to music, movies, games, conversation and their activities in general. An amusing aside perhaps is the fact that recent studies have shown that the average attention span level now resides at a mere eight seconds. Thus, long passages of description, even well-done avenues of thought, may present some cause for hesitation. The evolving generations also seem less likely to enjoy reading something for which the final note is designed to arrive sometime in the future. Most appear to prefer the ‘now’. In summation, this is a well-conceived fantasy that provides the usual philosophical thoughts so prevalent in stories in this genre and can appeal to the usual reviewer. However, one must occasionally indulge seriously in a little introspective activity to ascertain whether we are actually reviewing a book from our perspective rather than that of a member of today’s seemingly somewhat differently developing type of individual.
3* 4* Interesting well-written Fantasy; 3(?)* Apropos discussion.