Monday, December 2, 2013

The Four Seasons of Patrick by Susan Hughes

It's the start of winter, and nine-year-old Patrick is beginning to feel crowded out of his own family.  His father's friend, Linda, and her seven-year-old daughter, Claire, are here for dinner again.  Then spring comes.  Not only is Patrick's father planning to marry Linda, but she and Claire will be coming to live with them at the summer's end.  That just won't do.

So Patrick comes up with a big idea.  He'll build a tree house where he can stretch out his arms and breathe.  But wait.  Will his father allow it?  Where will he find the perfect tree?  Who will give him a hand with the construction?  And, most importantly, will his own tree house really be the hideaway he hopes for, especially from the irritating Claire?  (taken from the back of the book)

Even without the important message behind it, this is such a cute story!  It follows a year in Patrick's life and the characters are just as charming as can be.  I had a blast reading it.  It only took me a few moments, but for a 6-9 year old, this is about the right length. 

Patrick is still dealing with the loss of his mom, and then his dad has to go and change the family dynamic again.  That's a lot of change for a kid to deal with.  Patrick shares with us his innermost thoughts on the subject but we also get to see him acting out. Basically, he's a normal kid that's dealing with a lot in the best way he knows how.  Soon, Patrick learns to look past his own feelings and see that others are having a difficult transition as well.

Given the staggering amount of 'broken' families, this is really a great book for kids.  It deals with the loss of a parent as well as learning to accept a new one.  It covers most family paradigm changes.  Kids will enjoy the frolicking and play and sympathize with Patrick. 

Savior of the Child by Dr. Don N. Bacchus

I was really excited to review this book.  Being a mom, I'm always looking for good advice and new ways to handle situations. I've learned that hard way that each child is an individual and needs to be dealt with accordingly.  I was hoping to find some great new ways and perhaps some inspiration for my motherhood journey.

Instead, I found myself being yelled at.  While I agree that there are some great principles in this book and that I don't know everything, I do also know, without a doubt, that some of the things Dr. Bacchus states are quite controversial.  For example, breastfeeding and medication.  I did not breast feed.  I have my reasons.  That does not make me a bad parent.  My child is on medication.  That does not make me a bad parent. It does not make me a bad mother. It means my child has issues and needs and I'm making sure that they're met, even if that means medication every day.  I do agree that some children are over medicated.  Some children are given medication when it's not really  necessary and there are other avenues that could be explored.  However, this does not mean that every child that is on a behavioral medication has a bad parent!  I apologize, but this one really struck me.

I do, however, agree with Dr. Bacchus' main premise. Prevention.  As mothers (and fathers...sorry, Dr. Bacchus but this doesn't just fall to the women here) it's our job to let our children know they're loved and train them how to deal with life instead of just giving them digital babysitters.  If we decide we're going to have children, it's our job to give it one hundred percent  and teach them to be loving adults who can cope with life. 

I think most parents can find some valuable information in here.  In order to do that, however, it's tricky.  You have to be able to look past the strong opinions posted that have judgment attached in order to find what you believe to be important. 

Here's the most important part of the book.  It actually started as a letter to his grandsons.  Basically, a 'how to raise your children'.  Interestingly enough, it's written for mothers but written for his grandsons. The point is, if you can detach yourself and read it just from that point of view, it could be a good read.  If you can take the part of uninterested party and just look at the fact that this grandfather wrote a letter of instruction for his grandsons, you might actually enjoy yourself.  Dr. Bacchus' voice comes across loud and clear.

On a side note:  I must have read this book differently than most people.  It's being touted as a five star review and a necessity for every parent. Keep in mind, the review posted here is my opinion only. 

Upload by Mark McClelland

His criminal past catching up with him, a troubled young man seeks escape into digital utopia by uploading his consciousness into a computer-just as first love casts his life in a new light. (taken from the back of the book)

This book is really tricky to review.  It's separated into two portions.  The first portion I found dry and dull.  I had to force myself to continue reading it for two full weeks before I finished it.  I wasn't interested in any of the characters or what was going on with them.  I'll admit a little fascination with the technical part of the world and the projects they're working on. It's easy to see their world and imagine we'll be there in a matter of years. 

But, here's the tricky part.  Once I reached the second portion of the book, I couldn't stop reading!  I am amazed at Mark's work here. Not only has he created a digital Utopia and figured out how to move people to it, but he's created this intense character study. If you have a person's life and change one tiny aspect, how much does it change the person?  What if we could all just reboot ourselves from a save point?  I think this second portion of the book is one of the best science fiction stories I've read.  It's in depth and unreal while at the same time with a huge portion of plausibility.

I gave it an immense amount of thought.  The first portion of the book is mostly stage setting, but it really is necessary for the second part of the book.  As I was reading, I found my mind jumping back to section one and thinking, 'Oohh!  That's why that mattered and I had to suffer through it!'  It's sort of an 'eat your vegetables so you can have dessert' thing. Even though I didn't enjoy the first part of the book, it was basic and necessary to the second part, which I loved!

Both parts working together end up to be a great read that will stick with you and have you thinking long after you've finished it.  I'll admit it's pretty rough getting through the first part, but it's definitely worth it. 

Daughters of Twilight by Collette Jackson-Fink

A quiet little city in the Midwest town of Waterloo, Iowa is about to come to life...with angels!  When an earthquake measuring seven hits Waterloo, a huge black pyramid shaped tower pushes it's way up through a corn field in Blackhawk County spinning the city into the national spot light.  It's thought that the "Black Tower" is dormant, but when special tactical teams are sent inside to investigate, special team member Dane Coles is confronted by the impossible...a beautiful creature that has been cursed and cast down into oblivion within the Garden of Eden, using the 'Black Tower' as a doorway to the surface.  (taken from the back of the book)

Ok, first, if you see this book sitting on the shelf in the store, you're going to pass it by.  You see a few choppers and military, but what really hits you is the picture of a girl in the top left corner.  She has this dreamy look about her that makes you automatically think 'oh.  sappy romance.'  Don't let this fool you.  Yeah, there's definitely some romance.  Not just romance, but the type you find in really good supernatural books where it's strong, deep and lasting.  It's more than most human types of romance love.

For me, this book was about the action.  I had so much fun reading it!  Imagine your favorite end of the world or action movie.  You know that part where you've sat through the first part of the movie and you're finally getting into the nitty gritty good part of the movie?  Yeah...well this book starts there and keeps you there until the end.  It starts with thrilling action and keeps pounding it, but not in a way that tires you out.  It's exciting and fascinating.  I have to admit, I wasn't overjoyed at the angel angle, but Collette did a great job of adding some new twists. 

If action and supernatural is your thing, this a must read.  My only complaint is that the book has been left in such a state that a developing series isn't a possibility.  Not unless she really pushes some time jumping. This is one of those books that's well worth the money and you'll want to share with friends and family.

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