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review 2017-11-14 15:59
The Zombunny: an illustrated easy reader chapter book - Dan Alatorre

Wish You Were Mine by Tara Sivec
Book starts out with a letter from Aiden to Everett... he needs Everett to go to Cameron and help her out.
This is a story of a camp that was once a cotton plantation in the Civil War, 40 acres of land near Charleston, SC. The camp is now a safe haven for kids who are going through problems due to their parents who are/have served in the military and some ddn't return home or came back damaged.
The three kids: Cameron, Aiden and Everett all attended the camp during the summer months as her relatives ran the camp back then. It's now her project but after Aiden has left it's on her shoulders and this year the person in charge of doling out money has new requirements.
Everett has his own past that led him overseas to help others in need to return after the letter and drank himself til his brother stepped in and got him in rehab.
She needs help and hopes he will come to her aide. It's all for a good cause...
Story is told with alternating chapters between them and at times it goes back in time and other times it's the present. Took me a while to get the hang of that although I've read many books in this same format.
What I like about this book is the location, the planned activities for the kids, help the counselors can give the children and parents alike and how those involved all come together to make it happen, hopefully for more years down the road.
The stories are hard to hear about, struggles they endure, heartaches and death. Some truths you just don't even hear about til it comes out at the end.
Adult sexual scenes. Wow surprise ending, didn't see it coming.
Received this review copy from Forever (Grand Central Publishing) via Net Galley and this is my honest review.

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review 2017-11-10 07:59
In my Top Ten list of History books
Africa: A Biography of the Continent - John Reader

This is a wonderful and highly readable book, but do not misunderstand what it is about. The subtitle is completely honest: this is not a book (entirely) about human history in Africa; this is a book about the African continent.  As such, it is divided into three approximately equal sections:

 

1) Natural History: 

This describes the formation of the African continent during the cooling phase of the Earth's crust. Africa is unusual among continents for being composed of just three giant cratons. A large portion is dedicated to the formation of the Bushveld Igneous Complex- the single largest and richest concentration of mineral wealth on the planet, and almost the sole accessible source of some strategic materials like chromium. 

 

This part progresses to the emergence of life, and the considerable evidence that humans find their origin in Africa, with our present form emerging somewhere between 2 and 4 million years ago, depending on what criteria you apply, and how you interpret the available evidence.

 

2) Anthropology:

Development of human civilization in Africa, and importantly- the co-evolution of other organisms with the human species in their land of origin.  This is a big deal, because all the evidence suggests that humans only left their mother continent about 120,000 years ago. We are an invading foreign species everywhere else on the globe, and like most introduced species, we had fewer natural predators and parasites outside of Africa. Malaria is the best example of an organism which co-developed in evolution, in Africa, alongside humans. Humans even adapted with rearrangements of hemoglobin, which can be beneficial in the hybrid SC form, but deadly in the SS homozygous form (i.e. Sickle Cell Anemia).  This, and other similar examples account for the comparatively slower growth rate of human communities within Africa, compared to without, and some of these issues continue to plague Africa today. 

 

"Expatriot" groups returning to Africa about 15,000 years ago transformed human development on the continent by introducing foreign species which had been domesticated in Asia. Most important of these were cattle. Skeletal remains have shown two different pathways that Africans took with this new resource:

a) cattle raising for meat (in which skeletal remains show an equal number of males and females in the herd). and

b) cattle raising for milk: (in which skeletal remains show most males in the herd were slaughtered) 

 

The two patterns have different land-use and social development implications, which were fascinating to read.

 

There is an entire section dedicated to exploring how conditions, particularly around present-day Nigeria, led to the development of acephalous social structures... some of the largest and most sophisticated examples of completely decentralized human communities with essentially no leaders. It was a development which fit the local environment well, at the time it developed, but made Africa in general extremely vulnerable to foreign attackers with heirarchical social systems concentrating,  commanding, and directing resources against them. This began in earnest with contact with Arab slavers on the East coast of the continent, beginning about 800 years ago, and really picked up pace with European contact in the 1500's.

 

...Which brings us to the subject of slavery. It is an indigenous African practice, which evolved from traditions of adoption and extended family (mutual) obligations. Going back to what I said about malaria and Africa's slow population growth... this created a demand for labor which was sometimes answered with warfare and enslavement of the vanquished, or with peaceful indentured servitude agreements (some coerced, some not; some for a lifetime, some for more limited terms).  The upshot of all this is that a well-established social acceptance of slavery, and a well-developed economic system of slave acquisition and trade was in place by the time Arab slavers arrived in the 1200's or so.  Later, beginning with the Portuguese, Europeans fed this system, and in a sense "addicted" the economies in present-day Congo and Angola to the slave trade. Outright slavery continued in Africa into the 20th century, and many of the proto-slavery practices (i.e. adoption of orphaned relatives, in exchange for limited periods of enforced servitude) continue today.  One interesting observation:  plantations in North America tried on several well-documented occasions to force Native Americans into slavery, but the enslaved never cooperated. They simply refused to work, even on pain of death. The reason is that slavery was a foreign concept to them. Slavery is not a useful institution to hunter-gatherer societies, which don't cultivate or hoard large amounts of food (or any other possessions). It is only in pastoral or agricultural civilizations that large amounts of manpower are needed to work the land.  Africans brought to North America as slaves were mainly from agricultural areas of Western Africa which unfortunately understood well the concept of slavery, and culturally accepted it sufficiently to participate in it, in a way that Native Americans did not.

 

3) Human History:

This is the names and dates History that I had expected the entire book to be. There is little well-documented history before Arab contact.. the Great Zimbabwe, the Egyptian pharaoh dynasties, and the Biblical-era Ethiopians being the standout exceptions. Once Arabs entered the continent, with their written systems of recording, History as we think of it really takes off.  The book is necessarily superficial, covering an entire continent for about 800 years. As expected, there is a lot about colonialism, particularly the Dutch and British in South Africa, the Germans in Tanzania, and the British in Kenya and Egypt. The book follows through to the many independence movements in the 1950's and 60's, and ends ominously with the Rwandan genocide and the probable CIA assassination of Patrice Lumumba- first elected Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

Overall this is a definite Five Star book, and on my personal Top Ten History Books list.

 

Highly recommended!

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2017-11-07 16:03
And yes, it was another awesome Dragon story!!!
Shadowspire - Jaye McKenna

So me and my dragon cyber child have continued on with this incredibly good series...

 

'Shadowspire' is the third book in this series and it's Jaire's story. We met Jaire in the first book. He's the younger brother of Wytch King Jaire and his wytch power is that he's an empath. As a powerful empath Jaire senses feelings even those of some one who's been trapped in the mythe for centuries. As Jaire begins to learn about his 'mystery ghost' he learns that his new friend is in fact Prince Vayne a member of the royal family that was destroyed by the Wytch Council and supposedly wiped out and more importantly he holds secrets from the past that have the potential to change the future for an entire kingdom.

 

I loved Jaire and Vayne. Jaire was so sweet and naive. He's never had a relationship and this came through in their relationship as these two became closer. There were some incredibly sweet and dorky moments...like when Jaire wanted to show Vayne 'one of his books'...yeah, damn straight that was a euphemism. It totally worked for these two and had me giggling like a 12 year old...it was awesome.

 

In between these sweet dorky moments though there was an awesome story fraught with danger and intrigue as the tension between the Wytch Council and the Wytch King Gerrick and his allies builds...there's a war brewing as the Wytch Kings prepare to defy the iron grip of the council and with the arrival of Prince Vayne the tide has changed and when the battle comes the council may be in for a surprise but what remains to be seen is if it will be enough to ensure the Wytch Kings are successful in their bid for freedom and trust me...I am so there. Me and my awesome cyber child will be continuing on with this amazing  series not just for the coming battle but until the war is won...so bring on the dragons...all the dragons!

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review 2017-10-27 21:08
Sometimes it takes more than 1 + 1 to make 2...
Improper Fraction - V.L. Locey

O’Malley is a math geek and Garrison’s a jock. They’re neighbors and have grown up living next door to each other. O’Malley’s gay, Garrison’s straight…sorta’, kinda’…almost? Except he’s not. Turns out Garrison’s bi or he thinks he might be gay…he’s not sure. This was honestly one of the best parts of this story. There was no ‘oh you’re bi, you can’t commit, I don’t date bi men’…nope, no bi-shaming here. In fact, this was where I really came to like O’Malley because he was supportive of the fact that it was Garrison’s decision whether he was gay or bi. For me, O’Malley totally rocked this one.

 

O’Malley knows that his dreams of him and Garrison as a couple are just that…dreams. So, when Garrison kisses him during a family celebration the night before they’re heading off to college. But it’s not the kisses that break O’Malley’s heart it’s the promises to stay in touch, to come back to O’Malley…the promise that there will be a them and as the weeks and months slip by and Garrison not only doesn’t stay in touch but it in fact starts to feel like he’s avoiding O’Malley that leaves O’Malley hurt, angry and heartbroken.

 

Four years pass before the former friends find themselves within proximity of each other again.

 

‘Improper Fraction’ is about coming of age, second chances, coming out, seeking forgiveness, forgiving, falling in love, falling out of love and back in love and ultimately, it’s about finding out that home’s not a place it’s a person…the person who completes you and makes you want to be more, better than who and what you are.

 

The first part of this story gives us a lot of background around O’Malley and Garrison and their family and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The friendship that O’Malley, Garrison and their families shared was sweet and heartwarming. O’Malley lost his mom at a fairly early age and Garrison’s family just absorbed O’Malley and his father into their family. These two families were close and I really loved the friendship and supportive relationship that they all enjoyed.

 

Unfortunately, it was the middle part of this story that I struggled with for me it dragged a bit at times, but it was also the part of the story where we get to see O’Malley and Garrison begin to find their way back together. First as friends and then slowly as lovers. It was also during this part of the story that we get to see a more of Garrison’s sister, Emily. I very much enjoyed this character…almost as much as O’Malley. I must admit I struggled a bit with the character of Garrison. Mostly because I was disappointed with his behavior at first, but it was actually the ending of this story that made me step back and take a second look at Garrison’s actions from the earlier part of this story and realize that ‘sure I was disappointed in Garrison’s behavior but he was young and hurting O’Malley was never his intent. Garrison needed to come to terms with things about himself before he would really be able to enter into a relationship with anyone much less the man he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

 

There was a secondary plot in this story and at times it may have seemed random and unnecessary but honestly, I was good with it felt like what it was one of those random events that happen in our lives without rhyme or reason as to why. I liked that while this event played out for the most part in the background it also had a definite impact on the ending and overall for me it worked.

 

While ‘Improper Fraction’ was not my first experience with this author as she is one of the authors of ‘The Harrisburg Railers’ series that I have also been enjoying. This was my first experience with V. L. Locey as a solo author, but it definitely won’t be my last, this author can definitely hold her own and I now have a backlist of books to get caught up on.

 

*************************

 

A copy of ‘Imperfect Fractions’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-10-27 15:16
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