Category: Book Review

Book Review – The Eclipse Dancer

Book Review – The Eclipse Dancer

The Eclipse Dancer
Laura Koerber
Who Chains You Books (2018)
ISBN 9781946044402
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (1/19)

Soul-stirring and bewitching. “The Eclipse Dancer” by Laura Koerber is an enchanting story that carried me away to another world for just a few days but will linger in my thoughts for some time to come.

Summary

While people flock to Allenburg to catch the total eclipse of the sun, Andy is content to watch from her old family home, a single-wide trailer just outside of town. As the sky blackens to complete darkness Andy abandons her cares and loses herself in dance. Just one night of respite taken to escape her current circumstances. Home tending to her dying mother, memories of her prior life in Allenburg ignite, bringing Andy face-to-face with the moments that shaped her forever.

My thoughts.

To begin, this is one of the most captivating stories I have read recently. The author has an extraordinary talent transporting readers directly into her story. Her voice is distinct and rich with tones both inviting and unsettling at the same time. The reader floats along with Andy as she dances under the eclipse and falls quickly back to earth with her reflections of days gone by. Are the recollections are real or the wild imagination of a young girl?

It is through the recall of these memories and events, readers learn about Andy and her turbulent upbringing with an alcoholic mother, who informs Andy early on that her father was a nobody, a one-night stand. Andy finds out the truth about her father and her own heritage through her new friend Kenshi and the old lady that lives down the road, who turns out to be a relative.

The story.

The storyline is simple in that it is easy to follow. Yet, intricate as layers unwind with a seamless, melodic flow.  And, while the author excels at getting inside the heart and soul of her readers, the connection garnered by what remains unsaid is remarkable. The writing is descriptive and artistic, without being flowery or overdone. She leaves just enough room to incorporate snippets of one’s own imagination. Some things are just not taught and Koerber’s writing is one of those things–she has a gift.

The characters.

The characters are well-developed and authentic to both the fairy and human worlds. The most affecting relationship is between Andy and her mother Cindy, because it shows a strained relationship at best. Koerber clearly exhibits that volatile mother-daughter connection. Body language, facial expressions and declarations that can never be taken back. As a result, I actually had a flashback of a confrontation with my own mother many years ago–talk about haunting!

Conclusion

Overall, combining elements of fantasy with hard-core human issues relevant in today’s world, Koerber takes the reader on a magical journey as down-to-earth as it is out-of-this-world.  I highly recommend “The Eclipse Dancer” by Laura Koerber to fantasy fans and anyone wanting to lose themselves in an amazing, unforgettable story.

Picture Book Review – We Forgot Brock!

Picture Book Review – We Forgot Brock!

We Forgot Brock!
Author: Carter Goodrich
ISBN: 978-1442480902
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (August 25, 2015)
Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 3

Amazon Synopsis

The importance of imaginary friends is very real in We Forgot Brock! a picture book adventure from the author of Say Hello to Zorro! and lead character designer for Despicable MeFinding Nemo, and Monsters, Inc.

Phillip and Brock are best friends. Everyone can see Phillip, but only Phillip can see Brock. A night at the Big Fair is all fun and games until Phillip gets sleepy, heads home, and forgets Brock!

Brock misses Phillip. And Phillip misses Brock. Will they reunite? With the help of another pair of pals, they just might. Because even imaginary friends get lost sometimes. Finding them is part of the adventure.

My review

What a fun book! The narrator tells a heartwarming story of unconditional friendship and the unique bond of imaginary friends. It’s so fun to get lost in a good story. Especially one that impresses upon kids without preaching or moralizing them to death.  The “lesson” in We Forgot Brock applies to both parents and children, doing two things:  a.) stresses upon parents the significance of imaginary friends and, b.) provides an entertaining adventure for kids that also promotes acceptance – that “imaginary friends” are okay.

Best friends

Throughout the story we see Phillip and his imaginary friend Brock, doing all the things best friends do together – playing outside, riding their bikes, or just being silly, laughing and joking with each other in the living room.  In Brock, Phillip has a confidant – someone who is there for him no matter what. And, when the unthinkable happens, the strength of their friendship is realized ten-fold.

Phillip’s parents can’t see Brock, of course, but I love how they support their son, going along with Phillip and his interactions with Brock, as an example in the picture below:

“At dinner, Phillip might say something like, ‘Brock would like some more, please!’ But his mom only pretends to give Brock seconds.”

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91N7VXej4FL.jpg

The pictures could tell the story without any words – they are PERFECT!  The drawing of Phillip ROFL when Brock does something funny is absolutely hilarious and made me laugh out loud.

When Phillip realizes Brock got left behind at the fair, the drawings portray the real-life, gut-wrenching agony he goes through. You remember that moment in your life when you lost a best friend or some other significant horrible event, right?

All of the pictures are spot-on.  I especially loved how the author drew the imaginary friends, Brock in black-and-white and Princess Sparkle Dust in purple-and-white, while everything else is in color, separating the “real” world from the “make-believe.” Princess Sparkle Dust is the imaginary friend of Anne, a little girl Phillip meets while searching for Brock. I’m not gonna tell you how the story ends!

For a heartwarming story with just enough suspense and drama for your little adventurers, We Forgot Brock by Carter Goodrich is an excellent choice for books about the bond, the importance and the comfort of unconditional friendship.

The author leaves us with a little treat at the end – on the page opposite the back flap, Phillip’s mom is vacuuming and finds Brock’s hat.  As she’s looking at it you can almost hear her asking herself, “Could he be real?”  I highly recommend “We Forgot Brock” – Love it!

About the Author

Carter Goodrich has illustrated eighteen New Yorker covers and was the lead character designer for Brave, Ratatouille (for which he won the International Animated Film Society’s Annie Award for character design), and Despicable Me.  He has designed characters for many other beloved animated films, including Finding Nemo; Monsters, Inc.; and Open Season. Of the films he has worked on, four have gone on to win Academy Awards.  A Rhode Island School of Design graduate, he has twice been awarded the gold medal from the Society of Illustrators in New York.  His other picture books include Say Hello to Zorro!, Zorro Gets an Outfit, Mister Bud Wears the Cone, A Creature Was Stirring, and The Hermit Crab. Carter Lives in Los Angeles, California.

Further reading on the topic of imaginary friends

For more information about the role of imaginary friends, check out this article on The Conversation: How imaginary friends could boost children’s development – Dec. 12, 2018

Review copy

I obtained a copy of this book for review from my local library.

Book Review – How to be the REAL You

Book Review – How to be the REAL You

HOW TO BE THE REAL YOU
Darity Wesley
Lotus Wisdom Publishing (2018)
ISBN 9780999542521
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (1/19)
This article first posted on ReaderViews.Com.

“How To Be the REAL You” is the second book in the ‘Modern Day Oracle Wisdom Teaching Series’ by Darity Wesley. A meaningful, significant guide – the book provides genuine and heartfelt wisdom to use on your journey, be it the path to self-discovery, personal empowerment, a deeper spiritual connection, emotional growth, or all of the above.

Wait! What??? Aren’t I Already ME?

I knew this would be the perfect book for me after reading the title of the first chapter: “Wait! What??? Aren’t I Already ME?” because that is the EXACT question I asked when I picked up the book! Darity answers yes, of course you are you.  But then she goes on to ask what if the person you think you are isn’t the REAL you – the genuine you – the authentic you?  This book expertly leads you through the process of discovering that authentic self, using the steps called ‘The Five Keys to Unlocking the REAL You’.

The Five Keys

‘The Five Keys’ involve accepting yourself, losing the past, allowing yourself to be vulnerable, stop caring what others think and being open and honest.  Familiar with personal discovery work, this text feels relatable and fresh. But, more importantly, it is inviting and encouraging.  What I love most about the narrative is that Darity writes like she is talking to you directly.  Her warm and engaging tone floats off the pages. I often felt like she was in the room with me, having a cup of tea and chatting – my own personal life coach!

There are so many ‘aha’ moments in this book, and each one of ‘The Five Keys’ hits home in ways inspiring me and giving me courage to look beyond my surface.  One area I find a most meaningful connection with personally is in the final key – Be Open and Honest.

This key IS key in creating an authentic connection with oneself, and I spent a lot of time on this chapter.  I consider myself an honest person. In fact, my facial expressions, the way I carry myself, my whole being transforms if I even consider telling a story.  Let’s just say I’m not very good at poker. That’s a good thing on some levels, right? What do I excel at, however, is deceiving myself and there is a story included in this chapter that hits home a little too closely! 

Self-Discovery Prompts

The final section of the book is a self-discovery journal with prompts on each page to help you along.  This is a great place to get started on your own journey, as you read through each chapter or after you finish reading the book.

In Summary

Overall, I highly recommend “How To Be the REAL You” by Darity Wesley. There is also a companion guide for those wanting to dig deeper called, “How To Be the REAL You Go Deeper Workbook.” Clearly written, easy to understand and full of valuable information, it’s a book I will refer to often. Good stuff!

Picture Book Review – I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug!

Picture Book Review – I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug!

I'm Going to Give You a Bear Hug! cover

I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug!
Author: Caroline B. Cooney
Illustrator: Tim Warnes
ISBN: 9780310754732
Publisher: Zonderkidz; 1st Edition edition (December 27, 2016)
Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 3

Amazon Synopsis : I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug!, written by bestselling author Caroline B. Cooney, is a playful and comforting bedtime book that imagines all the wonderful ways a child might give and receive a hug.

Whether it’s a big bear, gasp for air, knock over a chair hug or a wet and drippy, slimy, slippy fish hug, children will giggle their way through all the imaginative examples. Cooney’s sweet and simple rhymes encourage playful interaction between parent and child and ultimately help them wind down before they snuggle into bed and drift off to sleep.

My thoughts

I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug! is a delightful read – a perfect reason to snuggle up on the couch for a little quality time with your child or grandchild. Written in rhyme, the melodic tone shines throughout the pages as the little boy (with no name) hugs various types of animals such as a bear, a cat, a dog – even a horse and a fish. Little Boy’s excitement as he gives hugs to all of these animals is contagious and kids will easily want to act out the story right along with him. It might be a good idea to put the cat or dog (or horse or fish) in a different room!

The writing in “I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug! is phenomenal – the rhyming is on tempo, the wording clever, concise and entertaining! As shown in the picture below:

” I’m going to give you a dog hug.
A knock over chairs,
Chase up the stairs,
And sleep like a log hug.”

I'm Going to Give You a Bear Hug!

The pictures are the perfect compliment to the story, telling their own story, as pictures do – with bright colors, endearing animals and a whimsical, care-free little boy whose playful disposition exudes love, happiness and tenderness. In every picture his actions seem to say, “I love you.”

I give 5 stars to I’m Going to Give you a Bear Hug! by Caroline B. Cooney.

About Caroline B. Cooney

Caroline B. Cooney is the bestselling author of teen suspense, mystery, and romance novels that have sold over 15,000,000 copies and are published in several languages. Of all her books, she is best known for the young adult novel The Face on the Milk Carton that has sold over 3,000,000 copies and was made into a television movie.  — (Bio from her Amazon Author page).

Review Copy

I obtained a copy of this book to review from my local library. Want a picture book review? See my review policy.