Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review – In Search of McDoogal by Mae Clair

My Book Review – In Search of McDoogal by Mae Clair.

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I downloaded In Search of McDoogal three weeks ago and was delighted to read it over the weekend.

Mae Clair

In Search of McDoogal by [Mae Clair]

My Review

In Search of McDoogal by Mae Clair is a fast-read short story. The main characters and the problem were established in the story’s onset. Brady and Declan were best friends from high school. Brad showed up before dawn to ask Declan’s help. The way they communicated with each other was nothing less than that in such a friendship.

It horrified Brady when he sold his girlfriend Vanessa’s cherished painting while watching her shop. He had one day to retrieve it before her return from a trip. The all-day tracking of the painting and the incredible chain of actions bolted me to the seat. The dialogue was hilarious and kept me laughing from the beginning to the end. It felt like these two guys were chasing their hundred-dollar bill got blown away, every time they almost touched it to grab it, another wind swooped it up.

The characters are believable. The mistake Brady made could have happened to anyone. The panicking, the willingness to go all the way in remediation, and the bargaining in saving a situation are so real in life. Yet the story put humor in such seemingly desperate circumstance. I look forward to more short stories from this author and this cast. Highly recommended.

Amazon and Goodreads Ratings

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Mae Clair

About the Author

A member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers, Mae Clair is also a founding member and contributor to the award-winning writing blog, Story Empire. She has achieved bestseller status on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, with several of her novels chosen as book club selections.

Mae writes primarily in the mystery/suspense genre, flavoring her plots with elements of urban legend and folklore. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail, and cats.

Please contact the author at the links below:

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Book Review – The Sister Pact: Home Is Where the Heart Is by Jacquie Biggar

My Book Review – The Sister Pact: Home Is Where the Heart Is by Jacquie Biggar

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Jacquie Biggar

 

The Sister Pact: Home is Where The Heart is by [Jacquie Biggar]

My Review

The Sister Pact is a story about two sisters, Holly Tremaine and Susan, the twin brothers Steven and Levi. Holly was away from home for eight years to pursue her dream and became a violinist in New York. Her Lyme disease drove her home before Christmas holiday. Holly and her sister had grown apart for many unspoken issues. Holly was jealous of her sister marrying Steven who was once her boyfriend, and that her sister now had a husband with successful business as a Family Law Accredited Mediator, and their two lovely children. Whereas Susan was jealous of Holly being able to make her dream come true while she became a housewife and a mother but was short of pursuing her dream as a dancer with her own studio.

Steven invited his twin brother Levi to come from Vancouver to spend the holiday and get reacquainted with Holly. Holly had a one-night relationship with Levi when she was drunk after her sister’s wedding. Upon Holly’s arriving home, she was at odd with the tension between her and Susan. She also didn’t expect to see Levi coming to the family dinner. At the dinner table, the familiar scene of the parents arguing repeated.

After a hiking trip on the hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Holly and Levi found themselves in each other’s arms and secretly yearned for more. By talking to her father, Holly found out he and her mother were seeking separation. To her surprise, Susan left Steven and came to the parents’ house with her two children. She broke the news of seeing Steven with a woman.

Holly and Susan tried to talk to their parents to bring them back together. At the same time, Levi tried to talk to Susan while Holly tried to talk to Steven to fix their marriage.

In The Sister Pact: Home is Where the Heart Is, Jacquie Biggar skillfully packed the story with family conflicts, jealousy, and unresolved anger. She also painted a beautiful picture of caring, love, and forgiveness, home is always a home where we belong. Highly recommended.

Amazon and Goodreads Ratings

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Jacquie Biggar

About the Author

Jacquie Biggar is a USA Today bestselling author of romance who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!

In her own words: “My name is Jacquie Biggar. When I’m not acting like a total klutz, I am a wife, mother of one, grandmother, and a butler to my calico cat. My guilty pleasure is reality tv shows like Amazing Race and The Voice. I can be found every Monday night in my armchair plastered to the television laughing at Blake and Adam’s shenanigans. I love to hang at the beach with DH (darling hubby) taking pictures or reading romance novels (what else?). I have a slight Tim Hortons obsession, enjoy gardening, everything pink and talking to my friends.”

 

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Book Review: Mr. Sagittarius: Poetry and Prose by M J Mallon

My book review of Mr. Sagittarius: Poetry and Prose by M J Mallon.

 

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Marje Mallon

 

Mr. Sagittarius: Poetry and Prose by [M J Mallon, Alex Marlowe]

My Review

In Mr. Sagittarius, M J Mallon told the story of the twin brothers, Harold, and William, and their sister Annette. The brothers shared the magic of the little creatures and the natural beauty in the botanical garden.

Harold and William loved sitting on a bench under a golden weeping willow tree. After Harold passed away, William sat on the bench grieving for his loss. A dragonfly came to visit him, and he felt as if he had a conversation with the dragonfly. He went back to his flat unhappy toward Annette, his sister who cared for him. Annette confronted him that the twins only cared for each other and neglected her. William apologized, and they hugged each other. Before the night was over, Annette knitted a rainbow hat for William which he would love for a Christmas gift. When he visited the bench again, he felt the hat flew up and landed on top of a tree next to a ginger-color tomcat. The dragonfly, the cat, and the hat became a magical tale at Christmas.

Annette had her share of the magical moment when she received a gift of bubble bath from her late husband. When she poured the entire bottle into the bathtub, the bubble seemed to be with no end.

This is a lovely story told in a charming way. In between the episodes of the aging siblings’ lives were the beautiful poetry and photos from the author.

Amazon and Goodreads Ratings

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About the Author

I am a diverse author who blogs at https://mjmallon.com. My interests include writing, poetry, photography, and alternative therapies. My favorite genres to write are: Fantasy YA, Paranormal, Ghost and Horror Stories and I love writing various forms of poetry and micro poetry – haiku and Tanka and flash fiction.

I am proud to be included in the best selling horror anthology Nightmareland which received best-seller status with best-selling author Dan Alatorre at the helm.

It is one of my greatest pleasures to read and I have written over 100 reviews: https://mjmallon.com/2015/09/28/a-z-of-my-book-reviews/

I write collaborative articles celebrating the spiritual realm and love of nature and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious.

My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheroes! I was born on the 17th of November in Lion City: Singapore, (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac, sign a lucky rabbit,) second child and only daughter to m parents Paula and Ronald. I grew up in a mountainous court in the Peak District in Hong Kong with my elder brother Donald.

As a teenager, I traveled to many far-flung destinations. It’s rumored that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six-foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and my two enchanted daughters.

When I’m not writing, I eat exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surf to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out, I practice Tai Chi. If the mood takes me I snorkel with mermaids or sign up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.

I am a member of two professional writing bodies: the Society of Children’s Writers and Book Illustrators – SCBWI and Cambridge Writers.

 

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Book Review – They Call Me Mom: Making a Difference as an Elementary School Teacher by Pete Springer

My Book Review – They Call Me Mom: Making a Difference as an Elementary School Teacher by Pete Springer.

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Pete Springer

 

They Call Me Mom: Making a Difference as an Elementary School Teacher by [Pete  Springer]

My Review

In his book, They Call Me Mom, Pete Springer recalled having many “odd jobs” before he chose to teach as his career. Those jobs didn’t turn out to be in his favor. As he looked back, there were many role models to shape his decision.

Springer reflected on his teaching years and included topics of introduction to teaching, setting classroom, working with students, parents, colleagues, and administrators, disciplines to memorable students, funny moments, and frustrations. He acknowledged the importance of getting to know the students’ academic portfolios before the first day of school. Throughout the year, he created a positive learning environment and promoted student success by helping them to gain self-confidence. He stressed the significance of communication with the parents often resulted in students’ improvement in academics and behaviors.

He discussed ways to work with colleagues by meeting at grade levels to do planning together and to team teaching. For some years he taught P.E. for his colleagues and she taught Social Studies for his class. Once a month, he and his colleague offered special activities to the students and allowed students to choose which one to attend. For getting to know more about the colleagues, he recommended having occasionally after school gathering, BBQ, or a movie.

He appreciated a couple of great principals he worked with for years. Administrators may not have the same philosophy as the teachers, mutual respect is important. He pointed out good communication with the principals is pertinent. When a parent is angry and goes to the principal, teachers are advised to inform the principal of the situation ahead of time.

Springer included some funny moments at school such as teaching sex education with unexpected questions from the students, the writing class with funny grammatical or spelling errors, and the five funny excuses students had when not turning their homework.

Pete took a little while to choose teaching as his career. The passion and enthusiasm showed in this book, I think he is natural to be a teacher. This book is full of advice for new teachers and has many good insights for experienced teachers. Highly recommended.

Amazon and Goodreads Ratings

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About the Author

“I’m a retired elementary teacher (31 years) who will always be a strong advocate for children, education, and teachers. My favorite thing to do as a teacher was to read to my students, and now I’m following my heart and writing children’s books for middle grades.”

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Book Review – Academic Curveball by James J. Cudney

My Book Review – Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries #1) by James J. Cudney.

James

 

Academic Curveball by James J. Cudney

My Review

Academic Curveball, by James J. Cudney, is the first of six Braxton Campus Mysteries.  I have both the eBook and audiobook. I listened to the audiobook.

The story is told in first person from Kellan Avrwick’s Point of View. Kellan works in Hollywood for the TV show Dark Reality. He returns home for his father’s retirement as the president from Braxton College. He expects to meet with a professor, Abby Monroe, who did some research for the next season of Dark Reality. Toward the end of the retirement party, through Lorraine Candito, his father’s assistant, he finds Abby’s body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Upon the initial examination of the crime scene, Sheriff April Montague declared that Abby was hit in the head before falling down the stairwell.

After Abby’s death, his father asks him to take over Abby’s class. He accepts the invitation to stay longer to do his own investigation. By checking out the grade book in Abby’s office, he discovers a grade change in one student. Over the course of two weeks, he meets with people such as his sister, his nana D, a former Braxton friend Connor Hawkins and other people who give him hints on the suspect. He also runs into Lorraine’s brother, who is Abby’s husband in getting a divorce with Abby, and some male and female students who might be suspect. One evidence even puts his father among the category. Kellan has a way to get people talking and give him information he was seeking.

He reports to his boss Derek and Sheriff Montague on every hint he discovers. In between teaching classes, meeting with people and going to the gym, he visits nana D for delicious desserts.

The story is full of fast-paced twist and turn throughout the chapters. I love mystery, especially murder mystery. I follow every hint and make my guess of the murderer. Even though there are many characters, the author makes every character distinctive so the reader can easily keep track of them and their relationships to other characters. Each character’s action is revealed in a seamless and engaging dialogue. In the end, Kellan cleverly assists the arrest of the least expected murderer. This is a lighthearted read. I highly recommend this book.

Amazon and Goodreads rating

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James J. Cudney

About the Author

James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I began working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I wanted to re-focus on my passions: telling stories and connecting people through words. In 2017, I published my debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor, and romance. From there, I wrote another family drama novel, Father Figure, and created the Braxton Campus Mysteries, a light investigation series about a humorous guy dealing with murders and the drama of a small town. Many of my books are available in print, electronic, and audiobook formats, and we are beginning to release foreign language translations. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com.

Outside of writing, I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 1,000 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I share several fun features, including the Book Bucket List, Tips & Advice, Author Spotlights & Book Alerts, and the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. You’ll find tons of humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers… where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have segments where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

A bit of humor: Everything doubles as something else when you live in NYC. For me, it’s the dining room, my favorite space in the apartment, where more than just my cooking is on display! As I look out the windows onto a 12th floor terrace, various parts of nature (trees, bushes, flowers, bugs & animals) inspire me to write. Baxter, a two-year-old shiba inu, constantly tries to stop me from writing so I can play with him and keep him amused. How else can you pen the best story possible without these things by your side?

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Book Reviews – Just Her Poetry by D.L. Finn and While the Bombs Fell by Robbie Cheadle

My two book reviews – “Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul” by D.L. Finn and “While the Bombs Fell” by Robbie Cheadle

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Denise and book

While the Bombs Fell x

Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul by D.L. Finn

Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul by D.L. Finn is a collection of poetic paintings of nature through the seasons. The vivid imagery creates a virtual reality for the readers to share the author’s experience. Sitting on her deck bathed in the warm sun, surrounded by sky-reaching cedar, redwood, and Douglas fir trees, Finn observed the colorful flowers, bees, birds, and quietly watched the animals while accompanied by her pets. As a nature lover, it’s a privilege to be in the company with the author to appreciate the beauty of nature. This poetry is also an honest outpour of the author’s deep emotions through her states and stages of life. It reflects the anguish, pain, fear, anger, dilemma, love, acceptance, strength and hope. Poetry lovers will enjoy the refreshing songs of nature and the heart.

My favorite lines from Spring and Summer:

The gentle breeze…
Blows away the remnants of winter.
The blue skies showcase the beauty…
In an abstract painting of an untamed scene.

My favorite lines from Fall and Winter:

My soul sways like the trees,
Both rooted firmly in the ground.
Water pours out of the sky.
The winds pound furiously.
Trees bending, but not breaking.
They ride the storm out.
Then, in the silence, the snow.
A temporary frozen situation.
That soon disappears back into fall.

My favorite poem from Emotions

PIECES
You are always safe here I try to reassure.
Your eyes flicker with hope for a brief moment,
But suspicion quickly replaces that hope
I know your trust is hard to come by.
Yours has been shattered into many pieces.
I cannot find all those pieces—yet.
I won’t give up though until I return them to you.
I’ll find a way to relight the hope in your youthful eyes.
Bit by bit I will search with as much help as I can find.
It’s not going to be easy, but that doesn’t stop me.
Others may give up—I won’t.
Because I know once you are safe and loved
Some day…some day…the light will shine again.
All your pieces will be put back together.
And all of you can be whole once again.

Amazon and Goodread Rating

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About the Author

D.L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, and adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventures with an open invitation for her readers to join her.

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While the Bombs Fell by [Cheadle, Robbie, Eaton, Elsie Hancy]

My Review

“While the Bombs Fell” by Bobbie Cheadle and Elsie Hancy Eaton is a story based on Eaton’s true experience. While it is not a history book of WWII, it contains many details of the hardships, rations, and simple joy of the family lived through the unpredictable bombing.

Elsie recounted her wartime memories as a four-year-old girl living in the town Bungay, East Anglia, England in 1942. Germany bombed England, and the air raid sirens were part of her “normal” life. When sirens came on, the family rushed to the bomb shelter.

The family lived on the farm with cows and vegetables to help to supplement their rations. Items such as bananas, oranges, and lemons were unknown fruits to Elsie. Families those days kept the books of coupons used to purchase rationed items such as clothing and meat. Despite the freezing cold, Elsie’s family only had enough energy to light the fire in the living room. At nightfall, all the rooms were dark except the living room. The young children took baths, but the adults and older children used the bowl in the scullery to wash themselves. They used the same bowl to mix batters and dough and wash the dishes.

Regardless of the bombing, children continued to attend school. Elsie started school in 1942 and enjoyed simple learning and fun, such as playing with modeling clay and singing.

Elsie remembered going to the movie and saw Back from the Front. She got some wool and knitting needles for her birthday present. Her first knitting had many holes from skipped stitches. Elsie kept it as a memento.

Robbie Cheadle is known for her children’s books and recipes. In this book, she included two recipes during WWII, the Lord Woolton Pie, and the Potato Pastry.

The book is a well-told story. It reminds me of my parents’ experience during WWII. They retreated from the city to live in a village where they had a farm to grow pigs, chicken, and vegetables. My older sister’s job was to feed a 500-pound pig. The farm sustained them until the war was over.

Amazon and Goodreads Rating

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2a.Robbie

About the Author

Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalized biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  • Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre under Robbie Cheadle;
  • Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley under Robbie Cheadle;
  • Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre under Robbie Cheadle; and
  • Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth under Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Robbie Cheadle

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Book Reviews: My Maine: Haiku through the Seasons by Bette Stevens and A Soldier’s Children by Jan Sikes

My Two book reviews –  My Maine: Haiku through the Seasons by Stevens and A Soldier’s Children by Jan Sikes.

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My Maine

A Soldier's Children

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My Maine: Haiku through the Seasons by [Stevens, Bette]

My Review

In her poetry book My Maine: Haiku through the Seasons, Stevens showed the nature she experienced in the Pine State of Maine. The presentation of the book reminded me of attending a concert to watch the performance of the Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi’s violin concerti “The Four Seasons.” In each season, Stevens opened the curtain and presented the sights and sounds in the nature. For the taste, a lobster dinner was in order. The performance of each season retreated toward the end and invited the next season to come in; and the audience gave a standing ovation.

“Spring Awakening” began with the ice slowly melted, rivers and streams sang, to the birds, animals blossoms awakened, and ended with:

Standing ovation
Awaiting next performance
Tulip petals bow

“Summer Songs” began with a bright sun high in the sky, the energy of prancing creatures, dancing flowers, flapping birds, to delicious lobster dinners and ended with:

Restless autumn leaves
Sit, swaying in the background
To summer’s last song

“Autumn Leaves” began with the radiant rustling leaves, flocks went on the southbound journey, folks heaped up firewood, to harvest time, family gathering, and ended with:

Radiant leaves—now
Memories in our scrapbooks
Seasons travel on

“Winter Tales” begins with the frozen polar winds, Christmas time for family and friends, children enjoyed the holidays, to neighbors helped each other shovel the snow and ended with:

Tale of winter’s end
Written in morning shadows
Crocus petals rise

It was a great pleasure to be in the audience of Stevens’ well composed concerti. I still can see the seasonal colors and hear the joyful sounds. The author included her own beautiful photography, the interesting facts and symbols of Maine. Readers will enjoy this poetry collection.

Amazon and Goodreads Rating

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Bette A. Stevens

About the Author

Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of eight. Stevens lives in central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies (milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat). The author is currently (2019) working on two poetry collections. MY MAINE: Haiku through the Seasons (Poetry & Photography Collection (2019).

Stevens’s children’s book, THE TANGRAM ZOO and WORD PUZZLES TOO! was first published in 1997 by Windswept House Publishing, Mt. Desert, ME; a second edition was self-published by the author in 2012. AMAZING MATILDA, Stevens’s second children’s book, self-published in 2012 won a 2013 Purple Dragonfly Book Award (Honorable Mention for Excellence in Children’s Literature – Ages 6 and older category) and also placed #9 on The 2013 Gittle List for Self-published Children’s Picture Books. Stevens has written articles for ECHOES, The Northern Maine Journal of Rural Culture based in Caribou, Maine. In 2013, the author published her first book for the YA/Adult audience: PURE TRASH, a short story of a boy growing up in rural New England in a family whose poverty and alcoholism mark him as a target for bullying by young and old alike. This short story is a prequel to Stevens’s début novel DOG BONE SOUP (KCT International Literary Award Top Finalist 2017). Stevens is currently working on two poetry collections. MY MAINE, Haiku through the Seasons (Poetry & Photography Collection/JUNE 2019).

Contact the Author

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A Soldier's Children by [Sikes, Jan]

My Review

The short story of A Soldier’s Children is a delightful and quick read. Jan Sikes depicted a fourteen-year-old Jenny who was assumed responsibility to run the household and care for her seven-year-old sister. Their mother abandoned them for more than six months. Their father was missing at war. Jenny worked part-time at an amusement park and took her little sister Emily along. Emily went missing and scared Jenny. The amusement park owner Mr. Park helped to locate Emily. Jenny learned to be careful making sure the safety of her little sister. After the summer, Jenny and Emily started school again. As Jenny watched other high school girls holding hands walking on campus, she wished to have lived a carefree life like those girls. The story came to a surprising ending.

I find this story and the characters believable. There are many children assumed responsibilities as adults due to the dysfunctional home with alcoholic or drug-addicted parents, or divorced parents. These children would be fortunate if they could beat the social system to keep their heads above the water or make a life of their own. This story is well written. Highly recommended.

Amazon  and Goodreads Rating

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Jan Sikes

About the Author

Multi-Award winning author, Jan Sikes, has been called a wordsmith by her peers.

She published four biographical fiction books about the journey of two people moving through adversity in order to grow and learn to become better humans. She believes with all her heart there is something worthy of sharing in these stories. Bits and pieces of wisdom, hard-learned lessons and above and beyond all, love…True love that you read about in fiction stories and yet this is truth. The old saying that truth is stranger than fiction fits these stories.

She also releases a music CD of original songs along with each book that fits the time period of the story. Why? Because the stories revolve and evolve around a passion for music.

She has published a book of poetry and art and nine short stories.

She is widowed, lives in North Texas, volunteers at music festivals, has five incredible grandchildren and serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas Authors Institute of History, and the Executive Council at Rave Writers’ Int’l Society of Authors. She is also a member of the Writer’s League of Texas and Authors Marketing Guild.


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