Saturday, March 17, 2018

Heart Fever

Heart Fever
by Bob Van Laerhoven 
Paperback, 114 pages
Published January 5th 2018
Edition Language


After his much-acclaimed short story collection Dangerous Obsessions, which had war as a common background, Belgian/Flemish author Van Laerhoven surprises again with five stories that shed a piercing light on our most self-destructive impulses. A steroid-spiked Syrian mercenary of Bashar-al-Assad is determined to become a “martyr,” after the loss of his right arm by “friendly fire.” A retired London tube-driver becomes obsessed by his desire to revenge the vicious killing of his parents in Croatia on his half-nephew. A Belgian travel-writer gets entangled in the madness of the Kosovo-war during the nineties and witnesses its dramatic consequences many years later in New York. A jaded art brut painter in Brussels betrays his best friend, a Rwandese art forger, to the Mafia, opening the door to guilt, lust, and murder. A born liar with the nickname Johnny di Machio seeks in the seventies, in Poona, India, salvation in Bhagwan’s ashram for his sexual problems, but gets trapped in a maze of long hidden violence.

My Thoughts

In January, I received word I'd received an early reviewers copy of the book Heart Fever from Librarything. A few weeks ago I took time to read it. 

I was not familiar with this author but I like details so it is typical for me to review and author bio/profile before I choose to make a move to their work.

I learned this author made his debut back in 1985 and his stories are published in English, French, German, Spanish and Slovenian. I rather like his eclectic style of doing a history of articles,  biographies, columns, letters, non-fiction, novels, theatre pieces, travel stories and decided to check out this collection of 5 short stories.

Early on, I was perplexed by its rather directionally degrading tone and for a time I read it out loud in a frenetic cadence. At times, my perplexion was replaced by irritation. In this read I am taken to places I really don't want to be. I am frustrated,  irritated, saddened and angered and I went back and forth like that for awhile. But I think a good writer often makes us think outside our norm.

Yes, it is an emotional read. And in all honesty, this author has had experiences I would never hope to. But I feel a read should be more about the story the author, or their subject matter, has to tell. 

So, soon after I started the first story my initial shock transcended to astonishment. 
These short stories seems to be a darkly symbolic lesson of our perception of spatial representations. Like a series of sub-maps of observational learning.  And, thinking along those lines, it seems aptly titled Heart Fever as the center of the person's thoughts and emotions are perceived to be mared by a disturbed state of mind.

Of note: The collection, which had war as a common background, made me think about how 'Dickens' wrote... we should realize the lessons life teaches us in controlling the shadow of our own growing tree. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace
by Isabel Sanchez Vegara
Quarto Publishing Group - Frances Lincoln Children's
Frances Lincoln Childrens
Children's Nonfiction
Pub Date 01 Mar 2018 
FTC: Reviewed for Net Galley


Discover the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. 

Meet Ada Lovelace, the British mathematician and daughter of poet Lord Byron. From her early love of logic, to her plans for the world's first computer program, learn about Ada's life in this mini biography for readers as young as four years. This inspiring story of her life features a facts and photos section at the back.

My Thoughts

This book, which is an account of Ada Lovelace's life for young readers, is my first introduction to the Little People, Big Dreams series. 

This series of books tell short stories about artists, designers and scientists who achieved  extraordinary things and each began with a childhood dream. 

I love that a biographical lesson in history is teamed with wonderfully drawn illustrations to catch the attention of a child. 

Reading Styles and Views

Many of us know that reading styles are often divided into three categories 
  1. EMOTIONALLY through feelings
  2. VERBALLY through the intellect and words 
  3. VISUALLY through mental pictures.
I always thought I was an emotional reader. But lately I've decided that maybe I am a verbal reader that is emotional when things become visual - or something like that. 

I love WORDS. But, based on my movements when reading one would think I am an emotional reader. And I visualize a lot of what I read. 

Many years ago the evergreens shown at top of page were planted for erosion control. These evergreens that surround me now, in this photo, are not as dense as when I first began hiking here some 30 years ago.  Some of the evergreens have lived out their life and have been felled and will not be replaced. But I will enjoy this view, while it is here. Case in point: I feel it, see it and have mixed feelings about it.

The thing I am sure of is I like having a book review blog because it allows me contact with a community of readers and writers. With that being said, some of you have emailed me and asked about my audience listing. So, below is the updated audience stats and most popular posts . 

 My stats change frequently based on what you all are viewing. 
Currently, the top 10 countries viewership is from; United States, Russia, Germany, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Thailand, Israel, Brazil, Netherlands, Canada. 

Five Most Popular Posts March 2018: Survivors Club, Purrfection,  The Road to Vermilion Lake, Sibley Birds of Land and Sea, The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables. 

I do have viewers contact me through email and they typically find  their way to me through Goodreads and Librarything. On both those sites my  review on the book The Tunnels gets  a lot of response. 

Most Popular Posts All Time: Seeing what the majority of the audience is drawn to is interesting too.  Last fall, I wrote and told you the monthly reviews seemed to be getting the most action. 

But here lately that's been changing. 
I have romance books, motorbooks and nature books getting more views. 

Thank you all for stopping by to view this blog.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Ghost, The Owl

The Ghost, The Owl

by Franco

Illustrated by Sara Richard

Diamond Book Distributors

Action Lab Entertainment

Children's Fiction , Comics & Graphic Novels 

FTC: Reviewed ARC  for Net Galley


On a cool evening on the swamp, a figure appears dancing across the water. A human figure, but far from a human form. A Ghost, a young girl spirit that seems to have lost its way. A good Samaritan owl decides to help against the wishes of his animal brethren. What mysteries does the ghost girl hold the secrets to and what will happen when she and the owl unlock them together? Will they find out what happened to her? Will she find her way to where she needs to be? What will happen to the animals in the swamp and surrounding forest? An adventure with the most unlikely of pairs, The Ghost, the Owl.

My Thoughts

This is a breathtaking graphic novel. The mysterious artwork seems fitting of the spiritual power of  the natural world, with lush colors depicting a combination of myth and whimsy. And, if you are familiar with Sara Richard's work you'll know she has created an illustrated owlery beyond compare.

 Teaming her work with the courageous and enchanting story written by Franco  is clever.

 I love how friendship and not going along with the crowd ( forest animals)  is the overwhelming theme. 


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Kat's RATS: The Declassified History of World War II

Kat's RATS: The Declassified History of World War II (The Adventures of Kat’s COMMANDOS Book 2)
by Michael Beals


This is the untold adventure and best kept secret of how Kat and her Commandos paved the way for one of the most successful and greatest battles of World War II... "OPERATION TORCH."

This is book 2 in the series of "The Adventures of Kat's Commandos."


Operation Torch, the first grand foray of the combat-virgin US Army into North Africa, is just weeks away and already on the rocks. Only Kat and her team from the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare are in a position to stave off the impending disaster, but who will listen to a bunch of off-the-books assassins? With their only contact to the outside world lost and their cover blown, Kat and the gang join up with an unlikely rebel group to give the Germans a sneak peak at the worst circles of hell. Slashing, bombing and scalping Nazi's from Libya to Casablanca, they methodically prep the invasion beachheads to give Patton and his war dogs a chance.

All in a day's work, until the vicious mouse and tiger game with Oberf├╝hrer Pernass takes an off-the-rails turn.

For once, even Kat is helpless in the face of the Gestapo's most insane Wunderwaffen yet.

My Thoughts

This action adventure of a woman in a special warfare group was quick and easy read. It contains pictures from public domain of the Imperial War Museum (UK) and Bundesarchiv (Germany ) and a helpful listing of Acronyms and Slang/Terminology is located in the back.

This fictional tale starts off with Kat and Sargent Dore dodging patrols. In truth, it was a good idea to save energy because frankly they needed more ammo and they needed more troops.  

What's the commotion all about? 

As shrapnel rains down around Kat's Rats.They move westward. Now, most of us would think this makes perfect sense but it all seems very complex as one is often questioning if there is any hard intel. 

The enemy has a full regiment which pushes Kat to skillfully and miraculously survive. 

As dust clouds form and carpet bombs drop Kat's Rats continue to maneuver. And against the odds, we find, they dig in their heels and become more determined to succeed against the Gestapo's superweapons.

After all, Kat's a firm believer and has been taught to never outsmart your common sense because some things worth dying for are worth living for. 

I won a free advance copy of this book to read on Librarything Giveaways

The Life Harley-Davidson


FTC Reviewed for Net Galley
If you've felt the unabashed freedom that comes with a motorcycle, then you know the Harley lifestyle. The Life Harley-Davidson takes a deep look at all aspect of the life that comes with these bikes.

From the moment we first saw riders experiencing the joy and the freedom that can only be found riding a powerful motorcycle down an open road, many of us have been hooked on the life Harley-Davidson. The Life: Harley-Davidson celebrates that freedom.

The Life Harley-Davidson covers all aspects of the Harley lifestyle, profiling celebrity Harley fans like Elvis PresleyHunter S. ThompsonPeter Fonda, and Arnold Schwartzenegger. All the iconic machines are here, too, like the SporsterElectra Glide, and Fat Boy. The book also explores all the major types ofcustom Harleys, like Bobbers, Choppers, and Cafe racers.

This is about more than just motorcycles, though. It’s about communitygear, and tattoos. It’s about B movies, like The Wild OneThe Wild Angels, and Wild Hogs. And, of course, television’s Sons of Anarchy, a program that ignited interest in the life Harley-Davidson among a younger generation of rebels. Chapters cover the one percenter outlaw club scene, focusing oninternational clubs like the Hells Angels, Outlaws, Pagans, and Dragons.

My Thoughts

Lori's friends Harley-photo of  chrome damage

It seems a large portion of this book is dedicated to The Life Harley-Davidson in popular culture.

I admit I picked up this book to learn more about the early years of Harley-Davidson and I appreciate the section on 'War Booty' which seems rather fitting as Elvis Presley is on the cover and my favorite movie of his was GI Blues. And when one thinks in the terms, 'Leader of the Pack", Elvis did stand out.

But more than the pop -culture movies, such as, The Wild One, Easy Rider, Judgement Day, The Wild Angels or Wild Hogs, this book is truly geared to anyone that enjoys the beauty of the machine or the freedom it provides.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Road to Vermilion Lake

The Road to Vermilion Lake
by Vic Cavalli
New York: Harvard Square Editions, 2017. 


The Road to Vermilion Lake is set in the sublime interior mountains of British Columbia. 

There a young blaster’s helper and industrial first-aid attendant (Thomas Neal Tems) meets an incredibly beautiful self-declared medieval woman (Johnny Nostal) and their electric love literally rocks the entire ecosystem.

Layering medieval, pioneer, and contemporary settings and fusing them within the context of depth psychology and the enduring submerged legacies of trauma, the novel affirms healing and the strength of love while also exploring the comic and yet potentially tragic relationship between the Canadian wilderness and the human desire to impose technological design and structure upon the few remaining pockets of untouched nature we have left.

My Thoughts

When I first started reading The Road to Vermilion Lake, the title made me smile and what lured me to this read was the ambiance. 

I simply could not put this book down and read it in one setting.

In truth, we all have more in common than we realize. Back in the day, many of us, myself included, owned an 8 track quadraphonic that played 4 channels. And to this day, I will happily loop "The Rain Song" by Led Zeppelin, as I head off to Vermilion in my blue Mustang.  But that is enough about me. 

This novel is shaped internally and reads like an extended lyrical composition.

I truly appreciate that the author writes with a quality of beauty and intensity so that it heightens my senses and I feel I've shared in the experiences. 

There are many things that speak to me. Among them are, attachments to land, mentions of feet buried in wet sand, camp stove smells, utopian landscapes, and the soothing arrangements of Gregorian chants. 

There is destruction, rebuilding, personal growth and a look at relationship dynamics that transcends more than just moans of pleasure and teaches us not only that hope is highly influential but that we can choose to be reverently dedicated to one another. 

So, with this in mind, I believe it is a symbol of promise when his character states "my soul immediately returns to you".

I received this wonderful novel through the generosity of the author for an honest review.