Deus volt; Deus mittit me.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Our Shooting Star

Someone greased the hourglass. Seriously. Everybody's growing up and getting all gorgeous and stuff. Except me. I still head off to that alternate universe where I'm a twenty year old ballerina. Yeah. Pay no mind to the old bat at the controls.

So hey, I'm going to take a break from book reviews and tout a fantastically gifted young lady.
Sophie Kleinman is my niece. She and her sisters are the coolest kids. In fact I like all my nieces and nephews.

But this one stands out in a crowd.

Not only is she a pretty stellar student, but she also plays in her school band as well as classical guitar and the piano among other lovely talents.

Then there's this:
On a dewy autumn morning, just as the sun is topping the horizon, a young girl wades through the grass to a good spot. She stops, pulls an arrow from her quiver, nocks it, pulls it smoothly back to her cheek, and lets fly. The arrow finds it's way unerringly to the absolute center of the bull's eye. Every time.

She calls to her dad, who comes to join her. "Let's have a contest," he says. She grins and nocks an arrow. In the flicker of an eye she has shorn him of all delusions. "Okay, let's do another." Sorry, Dad. It won't help.

It's not Katniss Everdeen this time. Sophie is a real world class archer. She took first in the USA nationals in NASP archery and was only a point off the boy's score. In the recent NASP World Archery tournament in Nashville Tennessee, Sophie's group of four took first in the world. She is sixth in the world for eighth grade girls and thirty second in the world for all school-aged kids. That includes high school students. And it includes boys. Sophie is in eighth grade.

Just recently Kentucky started back into its archery tourney year with the Kentucky state games. Sophie soared to first place over all comers, including her father, who won first place for adults.

I'm so proud of her I could just bust. But what makes me even prouder is the kind of girl she is. Sophie knows who she is and basically where she wants to go. She loves Christ and wants to serve Him. She has a beautiful light about her, which radiates outward to all who meet her, shining through clear blue eyes.

I don't get to see Sophie and her wonderful sisters often enough. Maybe they could teach me a thing or two about actually hitting what I'm aiming for, in more ways than one.

Sophie, You GO, Girl!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ripple Effect Novellas--IMMERSED Review

The last Ripple Effect Novella is IMMERSED by Jennifer Griffith.

Konichiwa! It's graduation day for Lisette Pannebaker. She knows several languages and parts of many others and has developed a language immersion company. She has it all planned out, along with marrying her college sweetheart. Only he actually has used her all along and dumps her right after the commencement ceremony.

All she can do is shove off into uncharted waters, offering her services as a language immersion specialist. Unfortunately, due to Lisette's gorgeous looks, her clients misread her services, expecting escort services she has no wish to offer. Dating clients is a no-no in her book. It's either dump her company and go back to work for her father's company answering phones, or get uglier.

She takes her Aunt Corky's advice and gets a make under. It's bad teeth, disgusting wigs and moles--all of which ensure that she can safely go back to work unmolested.Eh bien.

Then she meets Erik Gunnarson, a businessman from Iceland. He needs her to put a shine on his English. The more time Lisette spends with Erik, the more she finds out how kind and sweet and brainy he is. He doesn't seem to notice how ugly she is. In fact, as time goes on, she's tempted to do away with more and more of her disguise.

Erik asks her to accompany him to an awards banquet. There she finds out he's been hiding a secret of his own--one that could decide the course of their relationship.

This book is all about appearances and learning to look beneath them to spot the sweet, caring, intelligent individual. I give this book four umlauts out of five because, like the other Ripple Effect novellas, I think it should be a full length book. Otherwise it was a sweet read. Zero bad language, zero sex. Some nice kisses. Danke, Jennifer.

Totally get IMMERSED by Jennifer Griffith here.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ripple Effect Novellas--SECOND CHANCES 101 Review

The fifth book in the Ripple Effect Novellas is SECOND CHANCES 101 by Donna K. Weaver, a favorite author of mine.

Francie Davis spent years catering to an abusive husband. She feels like she's been trodden under foot by him and by life. But now he has died and she finds life opening up in ways she never expected. Her son gets accepted to Harvard and goes off to school, leaving her to pick up the fragments of her life.

For one thing, she has to get a job to support herself while she goes back to school. She's so broke that she has to grow and can her own food. She also goes to work at the university as an assistant for several professors, one of whom yells at her on her very first day. The other hits on her.

Alex is dealing with a crazy ex who wants to move to France with her boyfriend and their Gothic-loving daughter, Sam. That's the last thing their daughter needs. She's starving herself into stick figuredom in a bid for attention.

Unbeknownst to Alex or Francie, Sam meets Francie under an assumed name. The two hit it off and soon Francie is teaching Sam how to cook and can and Sam is helping her garden. Both are helping each other come back to life.

I really loved this book. I liked the idea of Francie finally getting a chance to shine. I'm glad she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and made something of herself instead of sitting back and moaning about her insurmountable problems. I think she's a good role model. I also loved how she finds a way to help Sam bloom into a well grounded young lady in spite of the damage her own mother has inflicted. I think a good motto for parents is the same one as the medical motto: First, do no ill.

The book is well written, poignant, and timely. I loved the characters and plot. The only thing that keeps it from being 5 radishes is it's too short. I know it's a novella, but this potato needs to be a full book. I give it 4 and a half jars of pickles out of five.

If you'd like to purchase SECOND CHANCES 101, you can do so here.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Ripple Effect--LOST AND FOUND Review

Ripple Effect book number 4 is LOST AND FOUND by Karey White next.
Workaholic Blake is on a mission from his dead grandfather: he has to retrieve a box from a girl his grandfather once dated and lost. Unfortunately he couldn't find the woman and is heading home to go back to work.

Lydia Sutton has been on a mission of her own: to have an adventure--the first one of her quiet life. Unfortunately her entire summer has gone by without one smidgeon of excitement. She's boarding the plane for the flight home when she meets her adventure in the form of a movie star look-alike.

Their flight is delayed and Blake and Lydia take a step into the unknown. She suggests that they work together to find the box and he agrees. The two sleuths hunt down Grandfather's old flame, only to find that she has passed away. They're stopped at every turn. The box works its magic for all involved.

I enjoyed this book greatly. It, like Lydia's leap of faith, paid off in hours of enjoyable reading.

You can find this book here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ripple Effect Novella--RIGHTING A WRONG Review

Number three Ripple Effect book is RIGHTING A WRONG by Rachael Anderson.

As soon as Jace kisses Cambri, his best friend, she bolts for parts unknown, never to return for years on end. While she's gone, she gets her degree in landscape design and builds a successful business.

Jace can never replace her, however. He tries with other girls, but it never works. He can't forget the girl who kissed and bailed.

Cambri's curmudgeonly father develops health problems and she temporarily returns to Bridger to take care of him. He refuses to be grateful for anything she does, which includes re-designing his whole yard. He stubbornly undermines everything she wants to do.

Her secondary goal is to avoid Jace Sutton, out of shear embarrassment because she never called or wrote after her headlong race to get away. His goal is to avoid her and to keep his family hardware business afloat.

But Bridger is a tiny town. You're bound to meet even the people you want most to stay away from.

Jace just can't seem to stay away, even though she has crushed his heart. He's  there to do everything she needs, just like the great best friend he was before. Finally she starts to realize just what she's lost, but fears it's too late to begin again.

I enjoyed this second chance book. It's a sweet thought to be able to go back and fix the mistakes you made with your first love. I would have liked a little more spice, but was glad not to have to deal with sex or bad language. I give this sweet romance four out of five shrubberies.

You can buy RIGHTING A WRONG here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ripple Effects--SILVER LININGS Review

The second Ripple Effect romance is SILVER LININGS by Kaylee Baldwin.

Eden Torresi has major stuck-in-the-mud karma. Because of her mother's cancer bills, she finds she has to drop out of college, sell her house, and get a job at Silver Linings, an old folks home. Her life seems to be caught in a holding pattern like the old folks at work.

Drew Westfall has family problems. They want to control everything about him. He takes off, getting rid of his trust fund to a charity. He makes his way to Bridger, Colorado, arriving in a snowstorm. The nearest place to find a haven is with Silver Linings and its cute young caregiver.

The wonderful old people of Silver Linings have nothing other to do than matchmake, and no one to do that for than Drew and Eden, who never stood a chance.

I found this story charming, full of heart and...well...silver linings. The writing was fresh and the characters likeable. I give it four out of five happy faces. I'd have loved to hear more about that sizzling kiss. I'd also have liked to have the whole story fleshed out a bit more. I'd like to have known the old people's stories a little better. Clearly, though, it's a novella, which means it's exactly right for its size. Can you fault me for wanting more? Thank you, Kaylee. I loved your book.

You can purchase SILVER LININGS here.

Sunday, September 6, 2015


My back log of reviews is staggering. I guess I'll chop into it today along with writing another less mysterious ending for SUMMERHOUSE.

My review today is for GALDONI by Cheree Alsop.

Kale is a Galdoni, genetically engineered by the government as one of its multi-species gladiators forced to fight to the death in an arena while massive amounts of betting cash change hands. It's enough money to keep the Academy pumping out warriors forever. The problem is that the Galdoni have no freedom, no ability ever to leave the Arena alive. Fighters are bred to viciously attack, without mercy, and ask for none in return. They are told it's a matter of honor.

 Kale, however, escapes when the Arena is temporarily closed (a slight plot hole I wish had been better explained). He is beaten and scarred and near death when friends find and hide him, nursing him back to health. He hides his massive wings and, for the first time, gets to go to school and learn something other than killing tactics.

We find that Kale isn't as much of an animal as some of his classmates, even. His choices ennoble him. He begins to let himself bask in the life-giving affection of his new friends--especially of Brie, while still asking the question, "Do I really have a soul?"

His time in the sun is short, however, because Galdoni are "vicious animals" to be rounded up and systematically slaughtered or returned to the Academy and their old non-lives. He knows he's going to have to go back in, if only to break the system. Kale and his friends devise the best plan they can think of. You'll have to read the book to see if they were successful.

I really "got" this story. For decades I fought in armour with sword and shield in a re-creative setting. I fought through the pain of massive welts, bruises, and sometimes cuts, feeling the life course through me as I plunged through the line of men, whacking as many as I could. The main difference being that I didn't kill anyone permanently. That would have ended the game for me. I also wasn't forced to fight. I did it for the camaraderie and fun of it. There was a certain rush in knowing you'd bested a man several inches taller and pounds heavier. It gave me a confidence I hadn't had as a child.

I give it one out of five daggers for violence (it's not a Disney movie, but it's also not going to wake me up screaming at night). I'll call it a one alarm fire in the romance section, mainly because the love sprang up seemingly from almost nowhere, but it's sweet--mostly giving Kale something to live for. I give Kale major kudos for having morals and standards despite being raised without any.

My reservations are these:

1. How did Kale learn early on to have compassion if he'd never seen any?
2. Why didn't they always target the guy's wings? That would grounded the fighter, making it easier to kill him.
3. Why didn't the unlucky Galdoni, after they banded together, overpower their guards and escape? They could have done it without even killing the losers.
4. What other animal characteristics did their makers use?
5. Armour weighs a ton--especially chain-mail. Plate, which is what these guys were wearing, weighs only slightly less. It's why castles had moats--because it sank straight to the bottom. Armour is difficult to run and fight all day in, let alone fly in. How did they get off the ground?
6. I wish there had been a little more initial fear when Brie met this hulking bird monster who had been trained to kill from infancy. He's more like a demon than loveable boyfriend material. That would have made it all the sweeter when she finally fell for him.

This book was well-written, interesting, and engaging. I liked the characters. I wept for David and worried over Kale, a little like Brie did.

GALDONI by Cheree Alsop is a great book to curl up with your husband or boyfriend with. He won't gag over it because of the fighting, and you won't because of the sweet sense of hope they weave together.