“12 Random Words/12 Palabras al Azar” by Fabiana Elisa Martinez


Fabiana Elisa Martinez
Talk-Active, LLC (2016)
ISBN 9780997149708
Reviewed by Juliana Leal For Reader Views (02/17)

In “12 Random Words/12 Palabras al Azar” by Fabiana Elisa Martinez, you will find a beautiful collection of very short stories in which the author describes every character and every place in a unique way.

It is very easy to get immersed in such an excellent way of writing. Your imagination will fly and will transport you to the place she is describing and you will feel what she wants the reader to perceive.

Each story is full of so many feelings, wanting to continue knowing more about the characters. I enjoyed every story but especially Door/Puerta, in which she writes:

“He’ll be here soon. Breathe. Smile. Relax. You will never live this waiting again. Steal this moment. Feel a window opening your chest, much bigger and wider than the three sad windows that only look at a gray wall. Listen! That is the elevator. Those are his steps. Lay your head on the pillow, close your eyes. The key is clicking easily and the hinges are singing. He is opening the door. He is in.”

And the story, Highs/Alturas:

“The sun of her hair and the sea of her eyes are the posthumous presents from my friend to me. My heart leaps high inside my chest, and I know that I am not dead and will not be for a long time to come.”

I love how she describes every moment with so much detail. So human, with a beautiful touch and surprising endings.

“12 Random Words/12 Palabras al Azar” by Fabiana Elisa Martinez is truly a piece of art that you will enjoy as well as the contrast in reading in two languages. Where it can be a great instrument of learning on how to write and read in English and in Spanish.

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“Wicked Prayers” by S.D. Moore

wickedprayersWICKED PRAYERS

S.D. Moore
AuthorHouse (2016)
ISBN 9781524616649
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (03/17)

“Wicked Prayers” by S.D. Moore is a whirlwind tale of devilish horror that will keep readers’ hearts racing as fast as they are turning the pages. Suspense, humor, drama and unsettling terror–this book has it all–but, fair warning – it’s not for the faint of heart!

On orders from her doctor to help induce labor, Elizabeth Holly recruits her teen-aged daughter Julia to accompany her on a walk. When they reach the home of crazy Old Man Wilson, Elizabeth suddenly starts vomiting, grabbing her stomach, and screaming with excruciating pain. Julia runs back home to get help, but when her and her father return, there is no sign of Elizabeth. Old Man Wilson kidnapped Elizabeth, calling her “his angel,” but John and Julia Holly soon wrest her free. During this time, Elizabeth has given birth to Waed (pronounced Wade) who grows into the Beast, an evil entity set on ruling Hell from Earth. Autumntown is soon infested with the foul creatures created by Waed, and no one is safe.

“Wicked Prayers” certainly isn’t the type of book you will be able to put down once you start reading, so be mindful of the time of day. I like to read at night before settling down and found I definitely had to change my habits with this book. Reading too close to bedtime, I found I was unable dispel certain pictures from my mind enough to relax and unwind! Now that’s scary!

I love the author’s writing style–clear, direct, and with purpose, every word enticing the reader to read on. I was lured in from the very first pages and remained hooked throughout the entire story. Well-written with vivid imagery, fast-paced action, and non-stop suspense, I was transported easily into the plot and setting. There are a lot of characters in this book and I’d advise readers not to get too bogged down in trying to remember them all. The main characters stand out significantly, with intricate personalities, and full of depth.

Greatly entertaining, terrifying, and captivating, “Wicked Prayers” by S.D. Moore is a 5-Star must read horror story that I highly recommend to satisfy even the most discriminating fans of the genre.

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“The Origins of Benjamin Hackett” by Gerald M. O’Connor


Gerald M. O’Connor
Down & Out Books (2017)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (03/17)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘The Origins of Benjamin Hackett’ by Gerald M. O’Connor on Blogcritics.

“The Origins of Benjamin Hackett,” by Gerald M. O’Connor is a hilarious coming of age tale that takes place in Cork, Ireland, and is quite unlike any coming of age story I’ve ever read.

When Benjamin Hackett turned eighteen years old, his parents rather unceremoniously blurt out that he is adopted. Such begins Benjamin’s search for his real parents, if for no other reason than to punch them in the noses! The journey starts with a visit to Father Brogan, who directs Benjamin to the Barnamire Convent for answers. Benjamin enlists the aid of his best friend, JJ – one, because he has a car, and two, because he’s just an all-around good guy who can’t turn down a friend in need.

The duo soon find themselves up to their necks in trouble, averting one disaster after another in their quest for the truth. From the dealings of a dangerous gangster with no sense of humor, to the trials of a cranky Mother Superior, the guys have to overcome numerous, and sometimes near fatal, obstacles in their path. At the end of the hunt, what will Benjamin make of all that’s transpired?

What an engaging, entertaining read! The words flow effortlessly across the pages, yet with dynamic presence. Not one single word is unnecessary or excessive – each one adds to the brilliance of the story. I love sharp, witty writing, and this story is full of crafty dialogue between the characters. The banter is so off-the-charts funny, I often found myself laughing aloud, and getting the strangest looks from my husband, to which I replied, “you just need to read it to appreciate it.” Honestly, I struggled with wanting to stop and memorize some of the humorous phrases for later use, and staying in the story – of course, I stayed glued to the pages – I just couldn’t help myself! Besides, some of this stuff you just can’t pull off with an American accent!

While the writing is brilliant, the characters are the shining stars, elevating this already phenomenal story to even greater heights. So relatable and genuine, it was easy to feel connected with all of the characters, from the ill-fated protagonists, to the bit-part characters. Don’t assume to know how this story will play out – the twists and turns will keep readers continually guessing as to how Benjamin will fare in the end. I love that the story includes a bit of everything – drama, love, loss, suspense, and competition, all while enveloping readers deep into the settings along the coast and the countryside of Ireland.

It’s hard to believe “The Origins of Benjamin Hackett” is Gerald O’Connor’s first novel. With the exceptional writing, the well-developed characters, and fantastic storyline, it seems this author has a natural gift, and I look forward to reading more of his work. Well done!

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“A Magic Door & A Lost Kingdom of Peace” by H.D. Hunter


H. D. Hunter
H.D. Hunter (2016)
Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (02/17)

When I picked up “A Magic Door & A Lost Kingdom of Peace” by H. D. Hunter, I thought I was getting a collection of short fantasy stories–I was wrong.  It is a collection of short stories, but they are not just stories. The book is within the Sci-Fi & fantasy realm, but these stories contain reality disguised as fantasy and Sci-Fi. Each story also has a colorful illustration, which I found helpful to the reader to place them in the right setting and time. This collection takes the reader through a timeless trip into human consciousness.  Yes, while reading, the audience will believe they are getting away from their reality. They might even believe they are being entertained, and that only their imagination is being stimulated. It is after the book is put down–each time deep, heartfelt thoughts will pop up in their minds. It is then the reader will relate to what they read and apply fantasy to their real life. It is then when they will find that this little collection of short stories is a jewel to be kept and re-visited time after time.

H. D. Hunter is a young writer with an old soul. His first book reflects not only amazing skill, but thoughts deep as the ocean and wise as the oldest man alive. If I must mention favorites I will choose ‘Southern District,’ ‘Hatari Forest,’ And ‘Gridlock,’ not because I think the other ones are any less, but because these brought backan oldaspect of myself that was long lost and buried within. When a young writer can do this to a well-read, traveled, older lady from a totally different background, and who happens to be an author and editor, you know this young writer has immeasurable skill, intellect, and heart.

“A Magic Door & A Lost Kingdom of Peace” by H. D. Hunter is an impeccable written collection of stories–all different, but somehow with the same effect. All fantasy, but somehow real. A Five-Star must read by a Five-Star must-follow author. Well done!

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“The Thirteenth Disciple” by Peter Canova


Peter Canova
Trimountaine Publishing (2016)
ISBN 9780982181386
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (02/17)

In “The Thirteenth Disciple,” author Peter Canova provides an excellent detailed fictional account of Mary Magdalene and lost mystical teachings with a modern twist. Mary Magdalene’s story talks of how individuals, no matter what their belief, have forgotten the true teachings of God and entered life with greed, anger and condemnations of those who did not think the way they did. Each reader will develop his or her own perception of the views presented in this book. The information provided is based on historical accounts of the Bible, along with information the author uses to fill in the gaps.

In A.D.12, Mary of Magdala was a young, out-spoken child about her beliefs on God and the hypocrisy of others. Many thought she had premonitions and was a witch. When she could handle no more of this behavior by them and her father, she ran away toward Jerusalem.

Through the course of her journey in search of truth and the real meaning of God, Mary was violated by a Roman soldier and sold in Babylon to a whoremaster. During the same time, many others could see the negative events occurring due to their own actions. It was thought that due to the shift of people’s attitudes toward, freed, ignorance and false belief, the world they knew would be no more. The Grand Council of the Mystery Schools met and decided that, based on a scroll that pointed to a woman as the focus, they would fight the negatives with truth.

Canova vividly describes events that occurred over the years that pitted friend against friend, religions against religions, and the crucifixion’s impact on all who roamed the earth. He throws in a modern twist to history which will have readers question history and what they grew up believing. The ending will surprise everyone.

At 490 pages, my initial thought was, “How would I ever get through this?” Once I started reading, however, I couldn’t put it down. “The Thirteenth Disciple” is very well written, easy to read, and very thought provoking. Peter Canova captures the attention the reader from the first page and keeps their attention throughout with different thoughts and events.

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“Theo and a Horse Named Rocket” by N.H. Raymond


N.H. Raymond
Archway Publishing (2016)
ISBN 9781480825482
Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (02/17)

I love books about the human and horse relationship, and this is why I picked up “Theo and a Horse Named Rocket” by W.H. Raymond. However, I found this story to be so much more. It’s a boy’s coming of age, his relationship with his grandfather, his relationship with school, his resilience with life’s tragedies, and about finding his own dreams and passions.

The story begins focusing on Theo, a young boy who enjoys going on adventures with his best friend, Winston. Sometimes these adventures can get dangerous thanks to his friend’s love for a thrill, but he is lucky to have Theo’s voice of reason on the first one the reader encounters. Theo’s best times are with his grandfather, as he loves the conversations he has with him during their travels around the countryside of Illinois, and other places within the Chicago area, where Theo lives. His favorite road trip is to a ranch not too far from home in the Illinois countryside where he visits with a Palomino horse named Rocket, who becomes his other best friend. Theo doesn’t seem very interested in school, and is having trouble adapting to his new teacher, Ms. Speedster, but overall he has a wonderful life–until something unexpectedly happens that changes his life forever.

N.H. Raymond’s writing speaks to the young crowd as her easy to read style allows the story to flow perfectly from chapter to chapter. Yet, I found the story line will also attract older crowds as they will relate with characters and situations and enjoy it as well for its heartwarming, fun, and full of life story. The only thing that I found would have taken this beautiful book to a five-star read is a little bit more of showing instead of telling. Although the narrator’s voice was spot on, it just told the story in its entirety. Had it had shown more through sensory description and dialogue, it would have made the reader feel more.

“Theo and a Horse Named Rocket” by W.H. Raymond is captivating and heartwarming, much more than a boy-horse friendship story! I will definitely recommend it to young and old as a four-star beautiful read!

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“Schooled on Fat” by Nicole Taylor


Nicole Taylor
Routledge (2016)
ISBN 9781138924215
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (03/17)

“Schooled on Fat: What Teens Tell Us About Gender, Body Image, and Obesity,” by Nicole Taylor is an in-depth look at body image and obesity in adolescent girls and boys, and how current attitudes and behaviors around these issues affect their daily lives.

In an age where most Americans are overweight or obese, it’s become an almost sad acceptance with teens and adults alike. Are teens and young adults more accepting of being overweight themselves? And of their friends? What part does social media play, and how does it influence our teen’s relationships with food and physical activity?

Based on nine months of fieldwork at a high school near Tucson Arizona, Nicole Taylor sets out to find some answers. Her extensive research began with the recruitment of fifty high school freshman. She conducted individual interviews and group interviews. She also observed behaviors on a daily basis on the high school campus, with the full backing of the high school principal. I should note, as stated in her bio that, “Nicole Taylor is an anthropologist who explores contemporary social issues related to education and health through the analytic lens of language practices.”

Wow. Reading this book was such an intense experience. While body-shaming, low self-esteem, and all the insecurities that come with the denial of self-love or self-appreciation is nothing new, we live in a different world, dominated by social media with stories of how we “should” look, feel, think, act, etc., in our faces 24/7.

The straightforward reporting, and dialogue with the study participants, really brought up some difficult emotions while I was reading. On one hand, I felt that I was comprehending the information through the eyes of a parent, achingly wanting to help these students realize their own worth, and the unrealistic standards they set for themselves and each other. On the other hand, the candid discussions brought back memories of a time long ago, where only the names were changed. Suddenly I was reliving my own experiences in high school and reflecting on how those experiences shaped a lifetime of dieting, exercise, and social issues for me personally.

The writing is brilliant, it’s obvious much time, and effort was spent on the study. Well-written and thoroughly researched, “Schooled on Fat” by Nicole Taylor should be required reading for every high school teacher AND student. It contains a wealth of quality information crucial to the understanding and development of our children.

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