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review 2018-02-23 12:43
Duck for President
Duck for President - Doreen Cronin,Betsy Lewin

This book does an excellent job at educating readers on the process of nominating and electing a person in office. It also gives a little background on the responsibility of the President. I think using animals instead of people will grab the attention of younger students better. It's much more fun that way. I like that the duck starts out at a position of no power and slowly climbs the political ladder all the way to presidency. I would use this book to introduce the election process and have a mock election, rather it be during the presidential election or a classroom election.  

  

Lexile Measure: AD680L

 

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review 2018-01-23 20:12
Bud, Not Buddy
Bud, Not Buddy - Christopher Paul Curtis

This is a heart-warming story about a child that lost his mother and unknowingly mistaken about who his father is. He has lived in an orphanage and has been in and out of several foster homes. He runs away with a small case of the only few possessions he has in a search to find the man that he believes to be his father. I would use this book to work on making inferences and discuss how sometimes if there are not enough clues or facts those inferences can turn out to be something completely different then what we thought.

 

Accelerated Reader Level: 5.0

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review 2017-06-26 11:01
Multi-award winner historical fiction in pre-revolution New York with a fabulous narrator and an intriguing main character
Golden Hill: A Novel of Old New York - Francis Spufford

Thanks to Net Galley and to Faber & Faber for offering me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

I had an interesting experience with this novel. In the last few weeks, every time I reviewed a novel that was nominated for an award and checked out what novel had won it, it was Golden Hill (among them, the Costa First Novel Award, The Desmond Elliott Prize, the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2017…) and I thought I had to read it and find out what the fuss what about.

It is not difficult to see why people are fascinated by this novel. It is a historical fiction novel by an author who has written non-fiction extensively and has chosen a very interesting narrative style. (I must confess to being very intrigued by his book called The Child that Books Built. A Life in Reading, especially in view of a recent discussion we had on my blog about books on reading). The story is set in the New York of the late 1740s and is narrated by an anonymous narrator (or so it seems as we read) who tells the story of a man, Richard Smith, who arrives in the New World with a money order for 1000 pounds and acts quite mysteriously. The story is told in the third person, but the narrator breaks the third wall barrier often, at times to despair at being unable to describe a card game, or a fight, at others to decide where we can or cannot enter. Although the book’s language and style are word-perfect (and will enchant those who love accuracy), it appears more sensitive to certain aspects of the society of the time than perhaps a novel of the period would have been (slavery, gender, and race issues…) but the narrating style reminds us of Henry and Sarah Fielding, and in a nod to metafiction, in the book itself there are discussions of novels that include Joseph Andrews or David Simple. I have talked often about my fascination for narrators and this is one of those novels that will keep it alive for a long time.

The book transports the reader to the New York of 1747, a provincial and small place, with only a few streets and a mixture of inhabitants mostly from Dutch and English origins, with a jumble of different coins and bank notes in circulation, what appear to be the equivalent of small-town politics and an interesting judicial system, and dependent on ships from London for news and entertainment. Although I have read historical tracts and fiction from the era, I don’t think any of them managed to give me as good an understanding and a feel for what colonial New York was like.

The story itself is built around the mystery of Smith’s character. Who is he? Is the money order real, or is he a con-man? Is he a magician, an actor, a seducer, a trouble-maker, all of the above? Everybody wants him, or better, his money, for their own goals (political, financial…) and he allows himself to be courted by all, although he is only really interested in the daughter of one of the Dutch businessmen who is holding his money order until they receive confirmation of its true value, Tabitha. Tabitha is my favourite character, a shrew, sharp and witty, and somebody I wouldn’t mind learning much more about.

Smith is a good stand-in for the reader because although he is from the era, he is naïve as to the colonies and the different social mores, politics, and customs there, and keeps getting into trouble. Although his adventures are interesting, and the mystery that surrounds him seemingly propels the story (although half-way through the novel we get a clue as to what might be behind the intrigue), I found it difficult to fully empathise with him, perhaps because of the style of narration (although the story is told by a narrator, and in the third person, at times we get a clear look at what Smith is thinking, but, for me, the hidden information somehow hindered my full investment in the character). There are many other interesting characters, although we do not get to know any of them in a lot of detail. For a great insight into the book and all that it contains, I recommend you read the About the author note I have included above. The man can write, for sure.

The ending… Well, there is an ending to the story and then there is a final twist. If you picked up the clues, the ending will not be such a big surprise. The twist… Yes, it makes one look at the book in a completely different way, although it makes perfect sense.

I highlighted many fragments that I particularly liked, but on checking them again I was worried they might, either give too much away or confuse somebody who is not following the story. So I’d advise you to check the book sample available on your favourite online bookstore and see if you enjoy the style. If you do, it only gets better.

I recommend this book to anybody curious about its reputation, to lovers of historical fiction, in particular, those set up in the colonies prior to the revolution, and to readers and writers who enjoy narrators and look for something a bit different.

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photo 2016-07-16 16:19
An Interview with Award Winning Author, Ica Iova

An Interview with Award Winning Author, Ica Iova
http://jdswritersblog.blogspot.com/2016/07/an-interview-with-award-winning-author.html

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review 2015-07-17 15:24
An enjoyable, entertaining, action-dram award winning tale!
In-Sight - Gerard D. Webster

 

The award winning action-drama novel, In-Sight, written by author Gerard D. Webster, stands out among other Catholic books in this genre.

 

The book begins with Carrie Hope's dad's last words to her before dying in the hospital: ''I love you as my own.'' Carrie's parents were killed by a drunk driver when she was a freshman at Florida State University (FSU). This event leaves Carrie alone and with no known relatives. When she turns 21, opportunity comes knocking at her door- she lands a Summer internship job in TV journalism in England. She needs to apply for a passport and is unable to find a copy of her birth certificate. She contacts Mr.Tom Eddington, the family lawyer, and asks for his assistance. Her meeting with Mr. Eddington reveals some shocking family secrets that find Carrie ill-prepared and send her in a life of busyness and internal turmoil.

 

Meanwhile, syndicated column writer, Ward McNulty, is enjoying the fame and the power of his political commentary column, Inside Story. His credibility and insight change the lives of those people he writes about. Ward has been very outspoken and supportive of State Senator Chet Garner in his column. This relationship, however, will proof itself shallow and manipulative as the story unfolds.

 

Carrie Hope buries her past and continues working on TV journalism. Her hard work earned her the position of co-host at the news program, Channel Five at Five. She and Ward McNulty meet at the studio as she interviews him for the news series,'Local People Makes Good.' Some time after this interview, Carrie and Ward start dating and end up with Carrie's moving in with Ward. At first, their relationship is full of lust and passion, but these slowly disappear as they get more and more involve in their careers.

 

Democrat State Senator Chet Garner will stop at nothing to gain the necessary votes to the US Congress, including, but not limited, to defamation of his competitor and all of those who stand on his way. He has been supportive of the ''North Beach'' development project to take place in Timuqua Island because he sees it is beneficial for Florida and also for the residents of the island.

 

Some of the residents are suspicious about the ''North Beach Project'' and they decide to hire real state lawyer, Bob Rohrback, to represent them in court. When Bob starts requesting papers from the City Council and taking some legal actions, this sets the wheel on as a set of unfortunate events starts affecting those obstructing and delaying the project. One of those victims is Ward McNulty, who refuses to use his column to defame former defense lawyer, Bob Rohrback. Ward suffers a car accident that leaves him blind for some time. Soon after his sight is restored, he discovered he has an in-sight into people's souls. This so discovered ''gift'' terrifies him and he doesn't know how to deal with it. But with the help of his dad, he learns to use his gift to better himself and help others in need.

 

The rest of the book goes back and forth between those in favor and those opposed to the project. Ward McNulty and Carrie Hope find themselves caught in the middle of the struggle and fighting in opposite sides. Lives will be turned up side down and others will be destroyed, while a handful of brave ones will find justice as the truth sets them free.

 

This is a tale of betrayal, faith, power, recovery, redemption, trust, and justice for all. I enjoyed the way the author weaved into the story the benefits of a regular confession, the AA Program for alcohol addiction, family relationship, and law. All these elements are tastefully discussed through the story without making the readers uncomfortable with some of these sensitive topics. The word of Jesus: ''Let your eyes be opened'' will take a whole new meaning after the reader finishes reading this book.

 

I recommend this book to those readers looking for a Catholic action drama fiction story with a cutting edge that doesn't jeopardize their beliefs and convictions. This book was awarded 2nd place in the 2009 Creative Arts Council Book Awards.

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