“2021 Books That Changed Me: Summer Edition” @startrailsIV @harmony_kent @Virgilante @CynthiaSReyes #ASMSG #WritingCommunity #MustReads #BooksThatChangedMe

Summer has already arrived with the hot temperatures and the grandkids running through the sprinklers to cool off! It’s the longest day of the year to enjoy the sunny weather, but there’s still time to treasure the stars when the sun finally sets.

This was a time of year when I read more as a child, and I still look forward to it as an adult even though I’m not on vacation all summer. In the heat of the day, sometimes, the best thing to do is pick up a book and find a nice cool spot by the water to enjoy reading it! With summer arriving, it also the time for my “Books That Changed Me: Summer Edition.”

Happy Summer, and Summer Solstice!

The books are listed in no particular order. I’m still offering the book’s blurbs over my reviews because this is about the books, not my reviews—although I do add some of my thoughts!

***

The Vanished Boy took on not only a mother’s fear of a son gone missing but the realization that she didn’t know her son as she thought. This was a perfectly paced story that held on to my emotions and kept me guessing until the reveal. This is a book—and a mother—I’ll never forget.

THE VANISHED BOY

by Harmony Kent

It’s so remote out here. Anything could happen …

A missed phone call in the night is all it takes.

When Carole’s 18-year-old son goes missing, she breaks into Jayden’s laptop to try to understand his life.

All too soon, Carole discovers just how little she knew her boy.

And when one lead after another dead-ends, the distraught mother has to face the unthinkable.

Sucked into a sticky web of deceit and lies, nothing is as it seems.

When your life turns inside out and upside down, who would you trust? 

***

The Curse of the Dead Horse Canyon was a book that I couldn’t read fast enough, yet I didn’t want it to end either. I loved that the story was co-authored.  It made for a perfectly blended mystery, setting, well-rounded characters, history, and learning about the Cheyenne Culture. It’s a journey I’m eager to continue.

THE CURSE OF DEAD HORSE CANYON: CHEYENNE SPIRITS (DEAD HORSE CANYON #1)

by Marcha A. Fox and Pete Risingsun

In 1878 a drunken hoard of silver miners raided a Cheyenne village while the tribe’s warriors hunted buffalo. A small band of young braves, not yet old enough to join the hunt, escaped and rode for help. Their efforts failed when they were discovered by the raiders, who ran them over a cliff along with all the tribe’s horses that had been left behind.

When the warriors returned and found the devastation, the tribe’s medicine man, Black Cloud, placed a curse on the site.

A century and a half later, a scandalous Top Secret project is under construction in the same Colorado wilderness. Bryan Reynolds discovers that its roots lie in the same greed, corruption, and exploitation of the Earth that precipitated the curse.

But before he can expose what he’s found, he’s killed in a suspicious accident that his wife, Sara, miraculously survives. Her memory of where they were or what they’d discovered, however, is gone.

Neither Sara nor Bryan’s life-long Cheyenne friend, Charlie Littlewolf, will rest until they find out what Bryan discovered that resulted in his death.

Charlie is acutely aware that the only way to solve the mystery is through connecting with the grandfather spirits. To do so he must return to his roots and the teachings of his medicine man grandfather. His journey back to the Cheyenne way includes ancient rituals and ceremonies that guide him and Sara to the answers they seek.

As a descendant of Black Cloud, his destiny is deeply embedded in the fulfillment of the original curse, which was triggered by the scandalous government project Bryan discovered. Charlie’s quest has only just begun.

A government conspiracy lies at the core of the story, though this first volume of the trilogy concentrates on Sara and Charlie discovering what Bryan knew that got him killed.

Modern man’s disregard for the environment, which conflicts with Native American philosophies of animism and of honoring the Earth, plays an important part. Past pollution caused by 19th century mining is inherent to the story as well as contemporary activities such as fracking.

Various paranormal and supernatural elements including detailed descriptions of Cheyenne rituals and ceremonies such as the sacred red pipe, ceremonial fasting, and the sweat lodge are included. The Cheyenne’s name for the Great Spirit is Maheo, who is referred to throughout. There are numerous other-worldly situations included, based on the experiences of the story’s Cheyenne co-author. While the story is fictitious, these depictions are authentic.

Modern technology plays a significant role in juxtaposition to traditional Native American elements. Astronomy as well as the ancient art and science of western astrology play roles as well in helping direct Sara and Charlie to the answers they need.

In essence this saga’s theme includes the collision of two disparate cultures and their respective attitudes toward the Earth, one of which is honor, the other exploitation.

These complexities are what expanded this story into a trilogy. Native American history is touched upon, but will be covered in greater detail in subsequent volumes.

***

Grinders is set in the future in one of my favorite cities, and where I spent a lot of time growing up, San Francisco. There were so many things to like, including amazing characters, the storyline felt possible, and there was the always present and appreciated humor. But what really stood out was the setting. Living in an apartment underwater with an octopus on the porch, a glowing forest that generated power, or having an AI running the house, were all things I could easily picture and want to be a part of it.

GRINDERS

by C.S. Boyack

Jimi Cabot made one mistake as a starving college student. When she went to work for the San Francisco Police Department, it nearly cost her the job. The union stepped in and they had to reinstate her. They did so by assigning her to the duty nobody wants, Grinder Squad.

Grinders are people who use back room surgeries to enhance their bodies with computer chips, and various kinds of hardware. Jimi is sure that if she can just bust one grind shop, it will be her ticket back.

Paired with veteran cop, she soon learns that Grinder Squad is a cash-cow for the department. They are nothing more than glorified patrol cops, and generally get the worst assignments.

Matchless is the most wanted grinder of all time. He disappeared years ago, leaving only the evidence of those he enhanced during his career. With these pieces, Jimi picks up the cold trail to try working her way back to more respectable duty.

Grinders is a cyberpunk story set in a world where global warming has eroded coastlines, and society has solved many of our current problems by replacing them with new ones. There are cyber shut-ins, cyber-currency skimming schemes, and more in this futuristic tale.

This book also takes the opportunity to poke a stick at current issues that seem to have lasted into the future. Entitled people, helicopter moms, overzealous homeowner associations, and lack of decent jobs are all present. Never preachy, these issues make up the day to day work of a patrol officer.

I hope you enjoy Grinders as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.

***

A charmingly illustrated children’s book that has an important lesson accept yourself and others for who they are, whether your shell is purple or green. This made a magnificent gift for my grandkids, and it’s gotten lots of use — and readings.

Myrtle the Purple Turtle

by Cynthia Reyes

Myrtle is a lovely Turtle. Not an ordinary Turtle. She is Purple and different from other turtles. After being bullied by another turtle, Myrtle tries to become someone else. In the end, Myrtle and her friends help children learn to not be afraid of being different. Myrtle the Purple Turtle is a thoroughly engaging story that stresses the importance of self-acceptance and friendship.

Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers of human or furry children!

Note: The Tree Fairy Blog finishes up this week. I’ll post where they are visiting!

If you are subscribed to the newsletter, it goes out tomorrow:) Check your emails.

I had a wonderful vacation. I will share a bit about it next week.

Embrace your inner child by reading a good book! Happy Summer 🙂 D. L. Finn

 

 

April Book Reviews @mhurdle112 @julieholmes2k13 @JennySundstedt @aprilataylor @startrailsIV @Jinlobify @JacqBiggar @Nicholas_Rossis

I read several short stories over the last few weeks, so there are more book reviews than normal:

A Heaven For Toasters: A Sci-Fi Crime Romance set on the Greek Islands

by Nicholas C. Rossis

I admit the quirky book title drew me in, but it’s the story that quickly made this a page-turner. Mika is a detective in the future and on a date in the Greek Islands. She runs into her new partner a handsome “AI” named Leo at an art exhibit. After a fight with her date, he leaves, and things go downhill quickly from there. I loved Leo “the Toaster” and his developing relationship with Mika. Not only is there action and a mystery to solve, but there are also questions brought up about what defines existence and life. I highly recommend this thought-provoking sci-fi romantic thriller.


Skating on Thin Ice (The Men of Warhawks #1)

by Jacquie Biggar

I’m a huge fan of hockey, mystery, and romance–“Skating on Thin Ice” had it all. I loved the little details weaved into the story about hockey, but it was the characters and story that held my interest. The storyline drew me right in, and I ended up finishing it in one sitting.  Mac took a hit during a game right before the playoffs and Samantha was assigned to help him recover. I loved the sparks between Mac and Sam and the danger that surrounded them. A quick paced story with a few surprises I wasn’t expecting. I thoroughly enjoyed this and toss my (Sharks) hat to the author. I will be reading the next book in the series.


VAGARIES OF LIFE AND: GIRLS’ TALK

by Joy Lo-Bamijoko

“Vagaries of Life and: Girls’ Talk” is an entertaining collection of short stories. I enjoyed the strong female characters that provided wonderful examples of bravery and faith. Some of the stories were set in Nigeria, which pulled me in. There were many different subjects including murder, kidnapping, mystery, faith, robbery, and relationships. Each story had a lesson weaved into it. “You Will Die if you Scream” left a chill behind because it could very well happen. This book was uniquely written, and I was invested in the outcome of each story. If you like learning about new cultures, resilient women, and inspirational themes, this is for you.

 


The Sapphiran Agenda (Star Trails Tetralogy)

by Marcha A. Fox

I loved “The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51.” So, I was excited to read this short prequel to the story with Thyron the intelligent, mobile plant with telepathic abilities and a quick wit. Thyron is a favorite character of mine. In this well-written short story, he’s stuck on the planet Sapphira with a race of pygmies that worships his kind as gods. He gets a chance to leave or to rescue a human trapped on another planet, so he takes it. There are a few twists and turns in this story that kept me deeply engaged. “Beyond the Hidden Sky” is next on my list to read from this amazing author. I highly recommend this short prequel that can be enjoyed as a standalone.


Death Song of the Sea (Midnight Myths and Fairy Tales #2)

by April A. Taylor

This is a well-written short story set on the Ireland coast. Aileen only has her father after having lost the rest of her family to the ocean. She finally learns her father’s secret and embraces it. She still yearns for her true love to find her. A shipwreck brings her this love, but it comes with a price. I enjoyed the magic, ocean, and love in this tale. I highly recommend this story of love and the consequences of doing anything for it.


Vasilisa the Terrible: A Baba Yaga Story (Midnight Myths and Fairy Tales #1)

by April A. Taylor

I loved this well-written short story.  Vasilisa was beautiful and beloved by everyone, while Yaga was old and disliked. The twist in this tale was who the good person was between the two women. It’s a cautionary tale of looking beneath the surface and what’s inside. I enjoyed how it ended. This is a new author to me, and I will be reading more from Ms. Taylor!


When The Wolf Comes

By JENNY SUNDSTEDT

 Dana is a popular nurse in the ER. A woman she went to school with was admitted after an attack that Dana helped treat. Questions arise about who did it. The husband acts oddly, and the homeless man tells Dana strange things. Dana wisely avoids the area where the attack occurred. During this, she is questioning her relationship and her next step in life. I loved the setting and Dana’s interactions. It was well written, and I was pulled into the story quickly. Yet, there was no resolution at the end, because the story continues into a book. I will have to read the book now to find out what happens.


Songs of Heartstrings

by Miriam Hurdle

This is a collection of poems, photographs, and drawings that tell stories from Ms. Hurdle’s life. They include sitting in nature, giving birth, death, illness, and loss. Faith and being a survivor are strong themes throughout “Songs of Heartstring.” My favorite part was when the poetry connected to nature, but all the poems were heartfelt and lyrical. The tribute to the author’s parents was touching, along with the loss of a friend. The glimpse into dealing with cancer was inspiring. Although this was a quick read, it’s full of depth and can be enjoyed more than once. This is a book that poetry lovers will enjoy.


Murder in Plane Sight

by Julie Holmes

I’ve been waiting for Ms. Holmes debut novel and wasn’t disappointed! I love a good mystery, but along with that, there was romance and a strong female character. Sierra being an airline mechanic was fascinating and I enjoyed learning some of the details of what goes into keeping a plane flying. Those elements really brought Sierra to life for me, along with the burdens she carried from her past. The detective, Quinn, who was investigating the murder, was flawed from a past relationship. His determination to find the truth, even with his attraction to Sierra, made for an interesting internal conflict. I liked the chemistry between Sierra and Quinn, but I kept hoping they would take better care of themselves–sleep more. To find out what would happen next, I’d stay up way past my bedtime and end up being just as tired as the characters. I look forward to the next book in this series and recommend this new author.


Watch for a special edition blog this week!

Embrace your inner child by reading a good book! D.L. Finn