JAKE, Lucid Dreamer ISBN: 9788494754882, Kwill Books, an e-book by David J. Naiman.
The story is centered on Jake, a young boy now starting middle school four years after losing his beloved mother after an extended life battle that included chemotherapy, gradually extended hospitalization with attendant degenerative changes until her demise. Even four years later he is so devastated that he is unable to realize that his father and younger sister also have been, and still are greatly affected, although each in his/her own way have been able to make adjustments of which he becomes aware only later. Thus, he can only partially and intermittently reciprocate the mutual love that exists within the remaining family. His underlying smoldering anger at the enormity of his loss also reflects in all of his dealings with acquaintances and his entry into this middle school area peopled by individuals described as pimply and awkward with gangling limbs, orthodontic braces, sour attitudes and beginning hormone acceleration. Added to these physical problems provided by this group lying between the more or less friendly elementary school level and the highly competitive ‘almost adult’ high school, are the rising levels of social awareness of boy/girl relationships and the constantly growing ‘bully’ activities. For Jake, nightly dreams offer just one more addition to this huge burden as does the fact that he is of interracial origin (his mother was Chinese). His lengthy journey and steps taken to find an eventual answer to his tortured mind is the subject of the tale.
Discussion: The most prominent feature of this story is how the author has so adroitly handled the number of extremely difficult interrelated subjects – parental loss, a sister seemingly a little slow developmentally either physically or for attention-seeking purposes (adding annoyance to Jake’s already ‘full plate’ regardless of cause), the abundance of ‘middle school’ childhood problems, his interracial origin and his ‘lucid’ dreams. The author further has managed to very creditably depict the problems facing such a student in a manner that individuals of this age can understand so the lessons easily can be assimilated and absorbed by them.
Summary: A very well and thoughtfully written story of a devastatingly heart-breaking, situation set forth in a most movingly heart-warming and thoughtful presentation. Highly recommended.
5* Heartwarmingly told poignant tale for young readers, but thought provoking for anyone.
Closer to Paradise, an e-book published, copyright and written by H. Stinington.
This dancing romance novel is the first volume in a proposed series that follows eighteen-year-old Isabella Anderson and two-year-older partner Daniel Prentiss as they attempt to make their way in the small and highly competitive field of professional dance. They are individually attractive, very talented, perform and look extremely well when performing as a couple. They have just won a title and wish to be selected as the lead couple to represent Daniel’s Canada in a contest to be held in the near future on the international level. Unfortunately her citizenship papers of transfer from the U. S. is taking time and adding just one more layer of tension to the huge number already facing persons entering this totally visible, tightly gathered group activity. And above all else, the couple find themselves stranded by airplane problems that the limited hotel arrangements available lead them to stray across the line of sexual intimacy. Regrettably, although they find they now are fully and joyously happy in all ways, such a relationship is a long-considered taboo in the group supposedly leading to disastrous results. Thus, any witnessed display of the relationship immediately will be noticed and open to discussion by this tightly knit bunch so inundated with interpersonal intrigue, innuendo, canards and hearsay. Some couples have successfully dealt with the situation but unfortunately apparently others have not. So, a state of affairs exists that sadly and somewhat amusingly perhaps best may be described by a Mark Twain quotation: “The less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.” Regardless, facing this strong group-accepted belief, the young couple is forced to decide whether their careers or their happiness is most important. The remainder of the story recounts their attempts to decide and how best to deal with their decision when made.
Discussion: The dilematous matter is presented in a readable manner; similarly, sexual activity is nicely restrained; these young people exhibit remarkably maturity in their thought patterns; and generally the story presents a certain level of interesting credibility. In this viewer’s opinion, a little expansion of the inner operational aspects of this very visible and beautiful, but often somewhat small audience generating activity, would have offered a fascinating addition. However, the story as provided is one that should have great appeal to younger readers and most especially to devotees of the romance genre.
4* Delightful short tale especially for young romance devotees.
MORT in CHINA, Comic Series, Issue 1 by Vali T. C. Morrison (Author), Sun Xing (Translator), Charlie Tian (Author) and Skyla Bai (Editor)
The authors have initiated a series that has all of the indications of becoming a charmingly amusing, yet very informative string of stories. Admittedly the opening couple of pages provide some momentary initial questions with respect to the anticipated series, but the reaction quickly dissipates as Mort begins to develop. We discover him to be a mild mannered agent for Final Destination which is an ‘afterlife soul collection agency’ that unfortunately after 500 years of work, still is considered to be only ‘2nd best’. To rectify the situation, they decide to ‘shake things up a little’ and Mort’s boss sends him to root out and correct the efficiency issues in their China branch office. Upon arrival, he quickly realises that he is totally unqualified to deal with the nuances and pitfalls of Chinese culture and his personal nightmare begins.
The Mort in China project has been initiated by ALBA, a small indie-comic studio based in Beijing and is the brain child of Vali Morrison, a much travelled English/ American war veteran and Macedonian born Katerina Morrison, both of whom are fluent in Mandarin. For this reader who still enjoys the Sunday newspaper ‘Comics’, the proposed series offers not only an amusing cartoon possibility, but a huge number of possibilities for learning more about China as well. As such, it could well prove to be immensely informative at this crucial time in our country’s history with the growing intensity of our interrelationship with this country especially with respect to the Korean situation. It projects the possibility of a most interesting and worthwhile development as we learn more about this sprawling nation and its people in a laid back manner as we follow Mort’s adventures and misadventures as he attempts to adjust.
5* For anticipated series development.
The Maker ISBN: 9780991800346, Underdog Books, written and copyright by D. F. Anderson.
Nate Smith is a young teen whose mother and father recently separated ostensibly because of his dad’s frequent absences from home. Ted, a man who is not particularly enamored of Nate’s artistic ability which consists of drawing rather weird figures, has replaced him in the mother’s affections. Unfortunately, Ted does not share the father’s appreciation for Nate’s drawing and says he can no longer do so until certain goals are reached. That night the boy is kidnapped by aliens who whisk him away to another planet. Here on Meer his drawing abilities are put to a test and he is discovered to be one of a rare breed of individuals who can make tangible objects merely by picturing and drawing them. This is a desperately needed accomplishment for the planet, because most of the planet’s objects have been designed/made by the ‘Makers’ and all but four of them have been kidnapped, brainwashed and put to work by another alien group, the Gratches and their leader, Vichous who are devising a diabolical machine. This ‘Worm’ can bore into the very core of Meer, destroying it. They already have destroyed the planet Vot, Meer is next and will be followed by Earth. Nate discovers that his father has been one of Meer’s very prominent Makers, which explains his frequent absences, and is one of those captured by the Gratches and therefore one of the most prominent in devising the Worm. The Aliens strike before they are totally prepared and they have merely an hour or two to stop the Worm from drilling into their core and devastating their planet. He, along with the Grand Scientist of Meer and the other Makers, begin desperate action to save Meer and then to follow with a very dangerous attack devised by Nate. Even further, Nate actually demonstrates an ability to actually communicate individually with the Mica, the molecular sized living elements that actually are the builders of the objects Makers draw and render useable. This is a feat previously unheard of by the inhabitants of Meer and through Nate’s incredible ability, they are able to accomplish the required task and the story continues until a conclusion is reached that provides plenty of room for additional adventures.
This is a most unusual tale written by a person with an enormous imagination. It gathers aspects of nature, science, good and bad aliens and elements of sci-fi and fancifully mixes them together. The result is an enchantingly written, delightful, action-packed amalgamation with charming characters that should have great appeal for all of its targeted teenage audience.
5* Delightful action-packed fantasy/sci-fi for targeted teenage audience.
Kelfor, The Orthomancers ISBN: 0788469756539, a sci-fi fantasy e-book written, copyright and published by Gillian Andrews.
The story’s protagonist is Remeny, a 13-year-old girl who is a member of the planet’s original inhabitants, the Inmuri. She must work along with her mother daily at a menial and very dangerous task of cleaning the supports of the huge specially constructed dome structures that cover the cities on this planet. The structures are necessary because the planet’s invaders, the Rath, could not abide its intense heat generated by its two suns. Some of the Inmuri, the Scoriates, have been genetically altered by the rulers so as to be completely at their service and are used as brutal guards of the workers in the Domes, highly productive mines, or in the fields. Remeny and her mother formerly were in much better circumstances because her father, although of the conquered race, had a particular ability highly prized by the Rath and lost his position and his life when he acted to save co-workers and caused the Rath a huge loss. The Raths do not care how many Inmuri are sacrificed even though the supply is dwindling fast and Remeny’s mother speaks with the last of the Imuri’s leaders and decide it is time to attempt to find the long lost Kelfor which is the place from which the Imuri can launch a new life. The following day her mother slips to her death from high in the dome. Remeny, now as a girl without any family, is imprisoned to be used to produce more Scoriates. She is rescued and the story unfolds as she discovers she is the last of the all-powerful orthomancers who is the only one who can save the colony providing they can find Kelfor and of their journey to attempt to discover this place so she can provide her service of saving the race. The journey is long and treacherous moving through huge flooding at Albalors Rift, the barren Plains of Teygar, the Great Chasm, Karstik Pass and Karstik Desert which is even drier and hotter than the Plains, the Rift of the Timeworn and other lesser obstructions before reaching Kelfor. And here at Kelfor is an even greater surprise with respect to the Inmuri race itself and throughout the journey, the fleeing group are followed, and occasionally caught by the Scoriate soldiers and constantly under the threat of a monster created mistakenly by the Raths.
The author has provided a well-written fantasy sci-fi thriller with enough action and suspense to adequately appeal to the younger level of YA readers.
4* Suspenseful fantasy sci-fi thriller no doubt of interest to younger level YA readers.
The Labyrinth Wall ISBN: 9780991531219, Obsidian Series – Book 1, Luminous Word Press, a fantasy e-book by Emilyann Girdner.
The protagonist is Ariana, a product of the ‘creators’ who bring seemingly large numbers of individuals to life. They are brought forth, given a basic supply of food and water and their choice of weapons and released into a surrounding labyrinthine area where they toil to collect obsidian for which they are paid with minimal supplies when brought to the collector/guards. Their compensation always is inadequate, so most kill each other in fighting literally to survive. The reigning powers could not care less, for they just create more. Ariana was created two years ago but with the development of an older teen and has been able to avoid killing because of adroit management and a seemingly well-developed ability to attain the necessities and avoid confrontations. The story progresses as she encounters one who frequently has killed along with others who are part of a group formed to work collectively so as to lessen/eliminate the need and this strange collection of individuals attempt to find a way out of their all-encompassing maze after encountering a stranger from ‘outside’. The tale presents closure to the action but also most appropriately provides entré to the next book.
The author has set forth a young adult fantasy that would appear to be more suitable for the younger portion of this scale for several reasons; most sentences are short, the verbalization seems more appropriate to this level, the characters are inconsistent in thought and action patterns and the activity level is sufficient to overcome the uneven pattern of presentation. A plus is that a glossary is provided at the end which a prospective reader would find helpful to peruse before starting the story.
3* 4* Interestingly devised plot; 3* flawed presentation as described.