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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lisa Howorth: IMG So Many Books, So Many Writers

I'm not a bookseller, but I'm married to one, and Square Books is a family. And we all know about families and how hard it is to disassociate... Continue »


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Sheila Deeth has commented on (214) products.

The Delphi Deception by Chris Everheart
The Delphi Deception

Sheila Deeth, July 16, 2014

Second in the Delphi Trilogy, Chris Everheart’s The Delphi Deception starts where book one left off, but includes just enough nicely woven backstory to make it perfectly readable on its own. Of course, the ending’s a serious cliff-hanger, but enough questions are answered and mysteries solved to make the story satisfying on its own. And book III is coming soon---I hope!
The story’s told in a convincing teen voice as Zach struggles against the system, eager to save the girl he accidentally led into trouble, and reluctant to trust anyone. His mistrust is not unfounded. Ashley’s growing sicker in the hospital. Her treacherous sister’s growing more ambitious. And the mysterious Larry remains an enigmatic mix of helpful and weird.
A boy seeking purpose, a girl speaking in riddles, hidden identity, and the historical oracles of Delphi all combine in a tale that blends modern science with ancient myth and leaves a seventeen-year-old to understand the poetry of a prophet.
The Delphi Deception is a fast exciting tale with great characters, fascinating plot, and a beautifully imagined small-town, large-world location. Book one starts the story with a perfect sense of intrigue. This book continues it, bringing Zach closer to finding his purpose in life. And I can’t wait for book three.

Disclosure: I was offered a free copy and I offer my honest review.
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The League of Delphi by Chris Everheart
The League of Delphi

Sheila Deeth, July 16, 2014

Seventeen-year-old Zach is not desperate to find a girlfriend, does not want to sleep with the prettiest girl in school (or even spend the night chastely in her bedroom), and isn’t even in school anymore since he completed his education in France. So this is not your average teen thriller. It has a realistic (male) teen protagonist, who keeps his heart and his history hidden, his head down, and his home private. It introduces a slightly creepy town, that grows progressively more so. And it offers a pleasing supporting cast of characters, teen and adult, plus a truly intriguing central mystery.

The writing is smooth, the characterization convincing, and the story progression is filled with twists and turns. History and mythology feel as real as technology and politics. And this small town’s secrets will keep readers both guessing and looking for more�"what more could you ask of book one of a trilogy.

Okay, the story ends on a cliff-hanger, but enough has been learned for the reader to feel a certain sense of completion. This promises to be a really great trilogy---the thinking teen’s answer to a world of look-alike romantic thrillers. I’m eager to read more.

Disclosure: I was given a free copy and I offer my honest review.
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The Fire Chronicle (Books of Beginning) by John Stephens
The Fire Chronicle (Books of Beginning)

Sheila Deeth, July 16, 2014

Second in the Books of Beginnings series, John Stephens’ The Fire Chronicle takes young readers into two fascinating worlds of ragged orphans and terrifying dragons, tying them both together through “two magical books” and “three lost siblings.”

The middle sibling comes to the fore in this story, and his gradual transformation from bookish follower to confident leader is very appealing. On the way he acquires the title “rabbit,” resists falling in love, and loses both his sisters to different disasters. Meanwhile older sibling Kate isn’t sure if she’s saving her friends or losing them, after losing herself and her book in New York City’s ragged streets of a hundred years ago.

The humor is playful, modern and pleasant, for adults as well as children. The dialog is convincing and sharp. And change, even when it involves loss, isn’t always bad. “[T]he point of life isn’t to avoid pain,” says one character, counseling Michael as loss and defeat bring him down. It’s wise advice, in a book with wise lessons, exciting adventure, intriguingly different mythology, and enticing mystery. Now I’m eagerly awaiting the third in the series.

Disclosure: I read the first and couldn’t resist going out to buy the second.
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Growing Up Catholic: An Infinitely Funny Guide for the Faithful, the Fallen, and Everyone In-Between; The Commemorative Catholic Jubilee Ed by Mary Jane Cavalina
Growing Up Catholic: An Infinitely Funny Guide for the Faithful, the Fallen, and Everyone In-Between; The Commemorative Catholic Jubilee Ed

Sheila Deeth, July 16, 2014

I grew up Catholic in England, and the subtitle to this book---An infinitely funny guide for the faithful, the fallen, and everyone in-between---made me eager to read. Was the Catholic experience in America the same? Is American humor the same? And how much would the authors say the church had changed and grown?

Actually, it seems the experience of growing up Catholic in England is different from in America. There were many images I could relate to---nuns casting their wimples and wearing blacks and blues, the sharply wielded ruler (though it was a rare event, evoking horror and amazement in my world), kneeling down to prove my skirt was long enough, and, of course, the uneasy question of “What’s a mortal sin?” But lots of things felt alien to me too. I’d never heard of the Baltimore Catechism, measuring years of indulgences made me think of the middle ages, and a lot of cultural references (to movies and books) belonged (not surprisingly) to a different world.

I liked the gentle humor of this book---not infinitely funny after all, but honest, with a self-deprecating sense of chatting among friends. I liked the illustrations, quirky questions (how near is a near occasion for sin?), questionnaires (match these martyrs to their martyrdoms), and the gentle parodies of church vacations or church magazines. But I wished the book had been truly updated, rather than just updated to the Millennium. Of course, it’s called “The Commemorative Catholic Jubilee Edition” so I should have known. But so much has happened recently to make chapters on recent Popes or canonization procedures feel oddly out of date.

My favorite piece is a nun’s recollection of how she made a difficult class obey her. My parents were teachers. Her story rang pleasingly true. And my conclusion is it’s a good fun book, eminently ripe for its next update.

Disclosure: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.
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Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People by Dennis Cardiff

Sheila Deeth, July 16, 2014

Dennis Cardiff’s Gotta Find a Home doesn’t just put a human face on street people; it invites non-street people like me to wear a human face too. Short chapters grouped into months offer a diary of life walking the streets, as the author travels to and from work, helps in a food kitchen, and takes time to chat. Sometimes a gentle poem will lighten the mood---“I want to see your smile each day/A memory - it just won’t do.” Sometimes he offers the background story of one of the people he’s met. And sometimes readers are simply asked to listen to voices of strangers not so different from the rest of us; people who live in apartments, struggle with rent, read books, sometimes drink too much, may have suffered abuse in the home or in jail, may have children, grandchildren even, and might like a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast today.

Joy isn’t always joyful, but the author’s writing shares his delight when she is. The dog might bite. The law’s long arm might threaten. Tempers can flare. And yes, this friend might drink too much, that one take drugs, another make foolish financial r social choices. But these people are friends with loyalties and an oddly different sort of hope. Cold in winter, it angers them if someone freezes to death. It should anger us too.

“I’ve been sober for two days now.” Sounds good. “I’m on the second floor of the Salvation Army.” But even shelter life isn’t easy, and fear of crowds might keep a friend away. Meanwhile the author doesn’t judge; he just joins in, like an outsider gaining entry to the family. He finds a willing ear to listen to his worries, as he listens to theirs. Then worlds that might seem far apart grow closer than we think. And I read his blog to learn who’s still alive and who is gone.

Gotta Find a Home is a must-read memoir of real people, real needs, real streets, and a real world we too easily ignore. So go read it!

Disclosure: I was hooked on the blog, signed up for a giveaway, and was given a copy of this book. Thank you Dennis, and I offer my honest review.
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