One If

ONE IF, A Virago Fantasy. Metropolitan Publishing copyright and written by Carol B. Allen.

The story: A young teen-age Parker Kittredge is fascinated by a hummingbird that seemingly tries to get her attention through the window of her high-rise apartment. She opens the door onto the balcony where she slips and falls over the railing. She blanks out only to regain consciousness in a strange place in the sky where she meets Stefanos, a huge Eagle who is the Sky King, speaks perfect English and is introduced to the fact that she now is in Spyridon, a land like earth, in the same galaxy but on a different time line and unseen by planet earth. The inhabitants are like humans but because their planet is disintegrating they have had gradually to transform to this bird-like form to survive. She has been kidnapped because the country’s ruling body believed Earth children might be able to help them to survive. The children, after providing the help would be returned actually with no time lapse between leaving and returning because of the time difference. More children arrive but refuse to stay and help and are returned immediately except for Henley, a rather obnoxious girl about her own age and Edison, a dark skinned boy of similar age who seems attached to Henley. These three first are given a tour of the country by riding on the backs of severe-looking Falcons. First stop is Katamoor, the largest and last remaining real land mass on the continent on Spyridon and the most sacred place on their planet where the abundant and mangrove-like Virago trees house the ancestral spirits of these inhabitants of ‘the Upperworld’.

Next stop, the Citadel which is the Sky King’s Castle. Here Belliza, their kindly little hummingbird usual guide tells them they are to be introduced to the Great Onez, azzaviorz (apparently all s’s are z’s in her speech) of the planet. The celebration is the expected beginning of no shortage of clean water, food, etc. but rather a bright future because of arrival of the three children who would be able to solve why their water supply was turning bad and other problems.

At the celebration there is a big explosion with the deaths of a large number of the huge group of inhabitants that have gathered for the celebration. It is here the reader learns of the Underworld, a second part of the kingdom which lies beneath the Spyridon Sea. The underworld leaders are Empress Diadora and her brother Commanding General Pantione. They had fought a vicious war twenty years ago which the Upperworld had won, but supposedly both worlds wanted to keep the status quo. Though they had thought their water toxicity was just the environment, on testing they discovered traces of poison so they are suffering at the hands of a very clever and careful evil person. Stefanos depends upon his cousin, an old falcon named Vibius, who suspects the Underworld is beginning another war. The Earth children also meet

Great Cole, a young man who can live in both worlds (as can other earth people before they become adults). He came from earth as a child, is Parker’s age, blond, handsome and covered with soft golden feathers like a soft down and has wings that fit closely into his back. He tells Stefanos he doesn’t think the Underworld wants war but will discover the truth. The story continues with fast action portraying dystrophic results that can be avoided if there is a continuation of similar activities on Earth as a lesson that can be instilled in young minds. The climax is fascinating and could present many possibilities for future volumes.

Discussion: An interestingly written fantasy that should provide appealing thoughts for young minds developing in this period of extensive discussion on earth’s problems and the manner in which its inhabitants have, and are continuing to treat it.

5* Thoughtful lessons delivered for teens in a very enjoyable fantasy.

The Guardians of Erum

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

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

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.

Ted Shepherd SLOWER

 

 

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

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.