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‘Better late than never!’ Well...that’s what this amazing book reminds me of, as well as any other person who went to grade school and high school and really didn’t want to get up on time to attend. (Yup, that’s just about everybody.)
Frank is one of those boys who is just a tad bit late for things. He’s not being mean, of course; he’s simply busy. And his imagination is a true barrel of fun. This is not only a boy who gives excuse – this is a boy who makes sure to think up the most amazing stories possible so that everyone knows how hard he works...even if he’s not ‘working’ where he’s supposed to be working at the time.
His teacher rolls her eyes, of course, upset that he’s always late. But, you see, Frank is a hero. This is a young one who loves to help the world. Everyday people who surround him are cranky; they are always worrying or yelling about something. But Frank keeps the smile on his face and always remembers that helping others is far more important than being angry or rude all the time.
When school begins, Frank has a rough first day. Unfortunately, he doesn’t actually show up until everyone else has gone home. But as the story progresses, Frank gets better and better – closer and closer to being on time. You can’t fault him, though. Frank saves kittens, stops bullies...and even faces down a massive, giant zombie lizard king. (Not a lot of kids can say they did THAT!)
Allowing for the light to shine in and let go of the constant worry, nervousness, etc., that everything from jobs to paying the bills brings on, is something everyone can learn from Frank. Life is far too short, and being able to enjoy the good stuff is something we all should take advantage of.
The author of this story is a young boy, himself. He is an illustrator as well as a writer of stories, with one already out there that people absolutely love. And, hopefully, since his stories are absolutely charming, his illustrations are darling, and his humor is most definitely needed in this world – this young writer will continue for a long time to come.
Quill says: Fun with a capital ‘UN.’ Frank most definitely helps everyone understand that imagination is necessary; especially when it’s time to stop and smell the roses!
A Sudden Light
By: Garth Stein
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: October 20, 2014
New York Times Bestselling Author Garth Stein has mastered a winning formula. With one part closeted skeletons and two parts beauty and grandeur of the Pacific Northwest, Stein has blended these delicious ingredients and created a beautifully baked story in his latest novel, A Sudden Light.
Jones Riddell is at a crossroads with his future. The stability of his marriage is questionable at best given the recent decision his wife has made to leave their Connecticut home and return to her native England (without him and their son). The recent turn of events solidifies Jones’ decision to return to his childhood home, the legendary Riddell House mansion located in the gorgeous timberlands of Seattle’s Puget Sound. Jones isn’t traveling alone, however. Alongside him is his fourteen-year-old son Trevor.
It’s not easy returning to a place Jones vowed he would never see again. The memory of his father, Samuel, shipping him off to boarding school after his mother’s passing over twenty years ago, is one that is still quite real. His sister Serena has grown into an eccentric young woman. Perhaps her quirkiness stems from caring for a father who is on the brink of full-blown dementia. Trevor stands before the magnificent mansion at his father’s side. Once the family reunion is behind the weary travelers, it doesn’t take long for young Trevor to discover there is more to Riddle House than age and historical grandeur. It seems he has become the conduit to the bevy of ghosts that have chosen to communicate their messages. Their insistence on making things right once and for all soon becomes Trevor’s burden to share...
Garth Stein is the real deal when it comes to placing words to paper. The life he breathes into his characters is tangible. The main character, Jones Riddle, is a man who carries the burden and complexities of facing the turmoil of a life he could have done differently had the pain of childhood memories and loss of a mother he deeply loved not shadowed his adult years. Stein creates passage upon passage of heartfelt prose that usurps the reader’s emotions and leaves the reader deeply connected with his richly developed fictitious people. His set up of the story is brilliant. He takes the reader back to a time when the complexities of emerging technology and daily doses of scandalous politics were not the governing rule. Rather, he places the reader front and center to listen to (now grown character) Trevor’s retelling of the story of legendary Riddell House. I have not had the pleasure of reading Mr. Stein’s infamous The Art of Racing in the Rain, but after reading A Sudden Light I cannot wait to do so. Stein is the quintessential master of prose and a truly gifted writer. He clearly deserves a vast audience that is undoubtedly awaiting his next great novel. Thank you Mr. Stein for this incredibly beautiful story you have written and titled: A Sudden Light.
Quill says: A Sudden Light shines like a beacon and will undoubtedly; pierce the very depths of emotions in anyone who reads it.
To Have and To Hold
By: Trae Stratton
Publishing Date: April 2014
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: October 9, 2014
Talk about a breath of fresh air to all the readers out there. Instead of zombies, gore, grim fairytales, or murder and mayhem, this author has put together a truly inspiring, emotional, humorous, and perfect story that people can relate to.
A middle-class family living in the suburbs of New York City, the MacLann’s, are all about living life and loving each other. The crew includes Mom and Dad and their brood of five children, who are living the good, bad, and sometimes difficult life, along with their dog, Storm; a Husky with two different colored eyes.
As the story begins, Colin MacLann is about to take the big step into matrimony. Colin is a smart boy who has enjoyed a good upbringing and was very close to his brother, Matthew. He was one of those charmers who had numerous girlfriends over the years and the five girls he wooed over time liked him in all different ways. Some of them even broke his heart for a while...but not for long.
Colin has made his choice to settle down, and a narrative begins that goes back in time, remembering each and every niche of the MacLann’s early days, delving into both the great times and the sad that transformed the family dynamic in different ways over the decades. Centering the narrative on the soon-to-be groom, the love story between Colin and his bride-to-be comes to life. Now, they are suffering from pre-wedding jitters, yet remembering the family, and the fun had in the MacLann home, brings relaxation to the scary moment.
Flashbacks galore, as Colin strives to keep his nerves in check. From the days leading up to the wedding to the family members adding in their own thoughts, like Mom and Dad viewing the years of their children’s lives as they grew into adults and began lives of their own. There are trials and tribulations that must be taken on, learning how to succeed and how to brush yourself off and stand back up again, when circumstances weigh you down. And remembering Mom’s ‘look’ that could come from nowhere, and was like a laser shot directed at the member of the family who had just made a bit of a mistake by angering her. Even the smallest family tidbit is told.
As the wedding day unfolds, readers will finally realize who the bride actually is, chosen from the bevy of beauties that made up Colin’s past loves, and as the time ticks off to the moment where aisle-walking is imminent, the MacLann family makes everyone realize and remember how wonderful and necessary a strong, loving family unit can be.
Quill says: Funny, enlightened, kind, nurturing and real, this is a thoughtful book about a family anyone would want to be a part of.
For more information on To Have and To Hold, please visit the author's website at: www.traestratton.com