Friday, December 27, 2013

Innocence: A Novel (And the Short Story: Wilderness) by Dean Koontz

Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

Innocence by Dean Koontz. This cover
image is the Kindle Edition from Amazon.
com; price: $10.49. The title is also
available from for $18.12
or 1 Club Membership credit.
     Dean Koontz is widely known for penning novels in the genre's of suspense thrillers, horror novels and mysteries; often these stories include science fiction, or supernatural and mystical elements.

     Many fans cheer the inclusion of dogs as an element into many of his popular novels; the dogs are invariably a positive element of the story, influencing the outcome for the featured characters.

     Innocence is a newly released novel, coming to us readers on December 10, 2013, just two short weeks ago. I loved getting my copy and getting to read it over my Christmas holiday.

     A young man, Addison, living alone beneath the city, afraid to be seen by anyone because of his monstrous appearance, meets a young woman, Gwyneth, in a library in the late hours of the night. She runs from those who would harm her. Gwyneth also wants to bring to justice her father's murderer. As events unfold, Addison and Gwyneth are caught up in a chain of events that may change their world...but maybe, it just might change everyone's world, as well. Will Addison and Gwyneth find a way to overcome their personal limitations and work together? Are the ghostly apparitions good or evil? Will the whole world be doomed?
Fabio gained popularity when he 
took off his shirt and became the
quintessential "man without a shirt"
on many romance book covers.
Innocence, by Dean Koontz is
really antithetical to this kind of 
romantic physical beauty.
     Putting Innocence into a particular genre is difficult when you consider the various elements of the book. I've even seen it classified as a "romance novel." I think probably Nora Roberts, Lisa Kleypas or Julie Garwood might disagree with that assessment...besides, as you can see, no shirtless man graces the cover of the Dean Koontz book.

     Even if you consider less titillating romance novels like Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, or Wuthering Heights, I'm still not sure Innocence fits the romance category. Yes, in the latter parts of the book some small amount of romance is there, but "romance" just isn't the driving force of the story.
Addison Goodheart,
hiding in the shadows...

     That having been said, what kind of book is Innocence? We know that the protagonist, Addison Goodheart, calls himself a "monster," several times, a "troll," a "...miscreation, freak, [and an] abomination" (p.302). He tells us that men and women recoil from him and to conceal himself from everyone, he wears black shoes and clothing and goes out after midnight, returning before dawn. In making such excursions, he wears a ski mask and hoodie, and hides when others approach. Even to those few who actually know him, he requires of them no physical contact to his person, nor can they look directly into his face.
Gwyneth's hair was black and spiky,
her make up was dark and heavy
and her face had piercings and
jewelry--her goal  was to make
people afraid to look directly
at her and stay away.

    The young woman in the story might be likened to Beauty, while Addison Goodheart might be likened to the Beast. Just one teensy, weensy little problem with that...Gwyneth, wore her hair spiked, wore heavy black mascara and makeup, wore facial jewelry, sunglasses, and fake tattoos on the back of her hands--dressing as a "Goth chick."
Beauty and the Beast.

     Gwyneth also fights off and tricks an attacker, letting all of us know she isn't some wilting flower waiting to be plucked. She is tough and nobody's fool--and, she is determined to find her father's murderer. No, she's not "Beauty," and she even says so herself. Just after meeting Addison, Gwyneth tells him, "I've no illusions about romance...Beauty and the Beast is a nice fairy tale, but fairy tales are for books. You're no beast, and I'm no beauty" (p. 59). Oh, yes. And Gwyneth has a "social phobia," to go along with her Goth look (p. 84). The rules for their interactions? Gwyneth doesn't look at Addison, and Addison doesn't touch Gwyneth (p. 88).

Addison's lucky coin story.
[Addison tells us:] ON AN APRIL NIGHT WHEN I WAS TWELVE, SHORTLY after I finished reading a novel about a lucky coin, [I found a penny and] showed it to Father, [and] declared that I had found my own lucky coin....he told me that there was no such thing as luck. To believe in luck, you must believe that the universe is a roulette wheel and that instead of paying out to us what we have earned, it pays out only what it wishes (269). He said that the penny would not bring us luck, that even if it had been a million dollars, it would not of itself bring us luck and change our lives, that what happened to us was of our election--and therefore allowed us more hope than luck could ever provide....When Father took luck away from me, I was not downcast but exhilarated. The penny didn't mean anything, but what I did with the penny mattered. I put the coin down on the...floor, where I had found it, in the hope that whoever discovered it next led to the revelation to which I had been led (271).

     I love Addison's story about how he learned what real hope was, as something you keep in your heart and mind, not in your pocket in the form of a "lucky penny." Addison's father, teaching him about choices being more important than abandoning yourself to the whims of "luck," is moving and illustrative of the kind of life Addison and his father lead. Addison loves, as well. He returns the penny to the ground so another may find the treasure he found . . .hope.

The title of the short story prequel
Wilderness. It costs $ .99 as an
e-book download from Amazon.
     Before we get to what I think about the book, I want to tell you--briefly--about the short-story prequel. The short story is approximately thirty (30) pages, so it is truly a short story, not a novella. The subject is Addison before he gets to the big city. It sets the stage for Innocence and we get to see Addison with his mother and him as a child. Of course, Dean Koontz throws in a little zinger--a serial killer! How exciting is that? I loved this short story and urge you to read it before the book. You'll get to see more of Addison (and his mother) and have a better understanding of the novel, Innocence, in general. It is only $.99, and for me, it was well worth the price.

     We do have elements of horror, some supernatural entities grace the pages, Gwyneth is on a quest to bring her father's murderer to justice, some spirituality, oh yes, and Dean Koontz does get some dogs into the book. So...fantasy, horror, thriller, mystery, crime, romance (and dare I say it? "apocalyptic themes") all rolled up into one. Without a doubt, Dean Koontz has been a writer who has attracted legions of readers to his books. And, without a doubt, Dean Koontz has crafted a wonderful novel, utilizing his excellence in writing and storytelling. Well done, Dean Koontz. I am loathe to say much more because I don't want to give the major plot away. Suffice to say that the end is not quite what you might expect.

About the Author: Dean Koontz is
shown here with his dog, Trixie.
Dean loves to include dogs in
many of his novels (no, not all
his novels). Dean Koontz wrote a
wonderful book, entitled, A Big Little
Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog
Named Trixie
. Check it out at by following the
link. For the prequel to the book,
Innocence, "Wilderness," follow
the link, to that--also to be found
on For other books
by Dean Koontz in which you may be
interested, see Amazon's Dean
Koontz Page

4.5 Stars out of 5.

     I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves Dean Koontz's work, who enjoys thrillers and horror, who enjoys supernatural elements and, of course, dogs for all the dog lovers. I rate this very interesting book at 4.5 stars out of 5 for all the reasons I listed above.

Pages: 352
Publisher: Bantam (December 10, 2013)
Sold by: Random House LLC
Language: English

     I hope you have enjoyed reading my post today about Dean Koontz's new book, Innocence. Please join me next week for another new book review.

Until next time . . .

White Rose.
. . . many happy pages of reading.



________________________________________________________ - Innocence by Dean Koontz on Amazon; -Fabio; - Hiding in the shadows; - Gwyneth's hair; - Beauty and the Beast; - Wilderness - 4.5 Stars out of 5; - A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog Named Trixie by Dean Koontz; - Wilderness by Dean Koontz, a prequel to Innocence - Amazon's Dean Koontz Page; - White Rose.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Seventh Son (the movie) and The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney--The Book-to-Movie Comes to Theaters 02-06-15!

The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch
by Joseph Delaney. Currently available in
hardback, paperback, Audio (,
and in Kindle (e-book) editions. (Unabridged)[1]
Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

      I obtained my copy of this e-book (for my Kindle read- er) on December 14, 2011 from Amazon. It was being offered to the general public as one of their free book downloads. I knew at that time the book series was geared for young people, grades five through eight or, roughly, ages ten through fourteen. Nonetheless, I seized the opportunity and grabbed this book because the series looked tantalizing, and besides, I just couldn't turn down a free book.

     I didn't read the book for quite a while and it sat on my e-book shelf gathering e-dust. When I finally did get to read the book, I found I had a few surprises coming to me. 

Thomas Ward becomes the Last
Apprentice in Revenge of the Witch,
by Joseph Delaney. [2]
     Tom Ward (our protagonist) comes from a family of farmers, and with seven boys, not all can inherit the land. So, the family places all but the oldest boy as apprentices in the community. Tom was the seventh son of a man who was, himself, a seventh son. Tom assumes it was his mother's money that purchased his family's farm, for how else could the seventh son of a man have afforded it? As a seventh son, Tom had precious few options. So, when he was thirteen, a "Spook" was called out to the farm, and Tom was given to him to be his apprentice. 

     A "Spook," according to Tom, was akin to a roving policeman who went throughout various communities, "...dealing with ghouls, boggarts, and all manner of wicked beasties...." It was the "Spook" who protected the little communities and farms from all manner of "...things that go bump in the night" (p. 3). Apparently, Tom will be the Spook's last chance to train an apprentice. Shouldn't Tom and his parents have asked what happened to the previous 29 apprentices? Since the Spook is aging and will not have time to train another, it doesn't look like good odds for Tom to survive or for the Spook to train a replacement.

Hangman's Hill: the trees had
"ghasts" hanging in them.[3]
 The next morning, in the company of the Spook as they leave the farm, Tom gets an object lesson in overcoming fear. Going up "Hangman's Hill," a hundred "ghasts" hanging in the trees seem to glare at Tom as he passes. The Spook, makes Tom look at one of the soldier "ghasts" and describe him. Tom closely examines the young soldier and soon is feeling sad for the soldier instead of feeling fear for himself. 

The witch (with
pointy shoes)
that Tom Ward
meets in the
village. The Last
Apprentice: Revenge
of the Witch
Joseph Delaney.[4]
     The Spook explains that being the "...seventh sons of seventh sons,...we have the gift of seeing things that others can't...If we're afraid, sometimes there are things that can feed on that fear. Fear makes it worse for us. The trick is to concentrate on what you can see and stop thinking about yourself. It works every time..." (p. 27). So begins Tom Ward's adventures into the life of an apprentice with a Spook, in the book, The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch.  

     This is the opening salvo into the book, and I don't really want to give away the whole plot. After all, the title of Book 1, is Revenge of the Witch, and so far, I've really given very little away regarding the major plot with the witch. What we have learned is the manner of Tom Ward's becoming apprenticed to the Spook, his first lesson in dealing with "ghasts," and in learning how to confront his own fears.

     The balance of the book involves more lessons for Tom and, of course, the major plot with the witch (or more appropriately, witches). Tom has some hard lessons ahead, and even some that involve family. What we do see by the end of the book is that Tom has made the psychological change from farm boy, morphing into an apprentice to a Spook.

'Do you know how I overcame my fear?' he asked. 'No sir.' [Tom replied. Then the Spook said:] 'One night I was so terrified that I screamed out before I could stop myself. I woke everybody up, and in a rage my father lifted me up by the scruff of my neck and carried me down the steps into this cellar. Then he got a hammer and nailed the door shut behind me. I wasn't very old. Probably seven at the most. I climbed back up the steps and, screaming fit to burst, scratched and banged at the door. But my father was a hard man, and he left me all alone in the dark...[a]fter a bit, I calmed down,...I walked down the steps and sat there in this cellar in the darkness. Then I took three deep breaths, and I faced my fear. I faced the darkness itself, which is the most terrifying thing of all' (p. 61).
Dark cellar where the Spook spent
the night in total darkness and
having to face his fear. The dark-
ness was the most terrifying
thing of all.[5]
 I chose this quote because, again, the Spook is teaching Tom about how to overcome fear. In doing so, it seems an object lesson for all of us. Facing fear makes the darkness retreat, concentrating on what you actually see takes you out of yourself and your fear and into rational thought. I don't know about Joseph Delaney's childhood, but it seems to me, he certainly can empathize with being a young man faced with the dark and noises that go bump in the night. Perhaps, as a boy, Joseph Delaney learned to face his own fear by facing the dark. In any event, not giving into over-emotionalism and staying rational is a great way to beat back the fear. I love his advice for all of us!

     First, this book has themes that are suppose to be scary, and yes the target reading audience is age ten through fourteen (or grades five through eight). If your child is sensitive to scary themes, then this book may not be appropriate. However, when I looked over the reviews that children made of this book, the children loved it and seemed to relish the nature of the story. If you are a parent who strictly regulates your child's reading topics, again, this book may not be appropriate--especially, if you restrict your child from reading about witches, monsters, or other scary topics.

I love this little cartoon because it just goes to show how we can
have a starting point in discussing how books impact us and
what we find in them that moves us. Sharing our viewpoints with
others and listening to other people's viewpoints is a wonderful
way to appreciate just how differently a book can be viewed! It can
also open us up to looking at things entirely differently than
we did before we shared our reading experiences.
Yeah! for book clubs! [6]
     At (as of the date of this posting), there are 157 reviews of this book, only 5 of those reviews are from children. The logical conclusion is that the rest of the reviewers are adults who have read the book. I, obviously, fit into this category. So, a lot of adults are reading this book though the target audience is much younger. One of the surprising things about the book is how enjoyable it was for me as an adult.   

     The author didn't seem to talk down to kids. And, while the writing style is simple, not being overly complex or utilizing big words or obscure words with unknown definitions, it was powerful in its presentation. The plot moved the story along, and while the characters were classical constructs of other characters we have seen in other literature, the story felt fresh. 
Seventh Son comes to theaters on
February 6, 2015. This poster of the movie
features Jeff Bridges as the "Spook."[7]
   I think, perhaps, it is because we are seeing through the eyes of Tom Ward, as he experiences things first hand, for the first time. We get to share with him his lessons learned and share a compassionate understanding for his mistakes. Somehow the themes in the book are universal and we just seem to understand and connect with them and with Tom.

     This wonderful book has been made into a movie, to be released February 6, 2015 (a year from now). You still have plenty of time to get the book and read it. To tantalize you just a bit, let's take a look at the trailer of the movie. The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch has been retitled as, Seventh Son.

     Jeff Bridges will star as the "Spook," Ben Barnes as Tom Ward, Julianne Moore as Mother Malkin, Antje Traue as Bony Lizzy, Alicia Vikander as Alice, and Primo Allon as Simon Ward. The Director is Sergey Bodrov, and the writers are Joseph Delaney (book), writers: Matt Geenberg, Charles Leavitt, Steven Knight and Max Borenstein; music is by Marco Beltrami and cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel. I hope you enjoy this little teaser trailer [8]:


    I always want to give books a good rating when I can--especially when I have really enjoyed the read. I did enjoy this book and because of it, I am looking forward to seeing the movie that the book is based upon. The name of that movie is: Seventh Son; not surprising since so much is made in the book of Tom's dad, the Spook, and Tom all being a "seventh son."

     My recommendations as to reading appropriateness, I actually have already given you at the top of the review. The only thing I have to add to that is that parents generally know the temperament and personality of their own children and can go from there. Parents can also discuss the book and themes with their child before giving the book to their child to read. Many children actually clamor for books to read like this one, and I think some valuable lessons are included in the book, especially the theme of dealing with fear.

4.5 stars out of 5--a good rating![9]
About the Author: Joseph Delaney.
Delaney knows about being an appren-
tice since he was an apprentice
engineer after leaving school. He was
educator for a while, and began
writing under the pseudonym of
J.K. Haderack. He stopped teaching
and began writing full time under his
real name. In the book, The Last
, "The County" is based on
Lancashire (England); Priestown is
"loosly based" on Preston where Delaney
was born; Blackpool is "Black Pool," and
Chipping is Chipenden. [10]
     Based on everything I've said above, I give this book a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. The book has a lot going for it, and, truthfully, I cannot wait to jump into the rest of the books of this series. Unfortunately, they must be deferred at least a little while since I am currently beginning Dean Koontz' new book, Innocence (just released December 10, 2013).

Pages: 384
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (December 13, 2011)
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
Language: English
ASIN: B00570S19U

     I hope you have enjoyed this week's posting of The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney. Join me again next week for another posting about books (and how much I really love them!). God bless you all. I hope you're Christmas is wonderful, joyous, safe, and loving. Tell everyone you love just how much you care for them; and take some time to appreciate all the good in your life--including you!

Until next time....   
Merry Christmas to everyone! [11]

...many happy pages of reading!



[1] Revenge of the Witch: The Last Apprentice,Book 1.” [by Joseph Delaney] Retrieved 12-19-13.
[2] "Last Apprentice Book Report." [tiff.wilson376] Retrieved 12-19-13.
[3] "Chapter One." [hangman's hill] Retrieved 12-19-13.
[4] "The Witch." [original source unknown] Retrieved 12-19-13.
[5] "Dark Cellar no bar." Retrieved 12-19-13.
[6] "COPE Training AOSW 2010." [cartoon] Retrieved 12-19-13.
[7] "Seventh Son Movie Poster Gallery." [poster of Seventh Son.] Retrieved 12-19-13.
[8] "Seventh Son Trailer." Retrieved 12-19-13.
[9] "Review for Darkness Shows the Stars." [4.5 stars graphic] Retrieved 12-19-13.
[10] "About the Author." Retrieved 12-19-13.
[11] "Christmas Candles." [Foto allikas:] Retrieved 12-19-13.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell [and Contributor: Patrick Robinson] Now Available on Blu-ray/DVD/Instant Video!

Lone available in Hardcover, Audio
CD; Paperback, and as an e-book (Kindle Edition).
Amazon Prices for Hardcover (Illustrated) is $18.54;
Paperback: $12.33; Mass Market Paperback: $8.10;
Audio, CD, Abridged, Audiobook: $12.80; Audible
Edition (unabridged): $10.49 or 1 credit. For those
who look for bargains in printed books, a used
book may be purchased for $ .95 (+$3.99 Sh/h).
Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

     The author of this intriguing and newsworthy book is Marcus Luttrell (with Patrick Robinson as a contributor). This book is the result of Marcus Luttrell's desire to memorialize the harrowing events of 2005 when Seal team 10 undertook an assignment to capture or kill a Taliban leader in Afghanistan. That mission failed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marcus Luttrell grew up on his family's farm in Texas with an unflagging desire to become a Navy Seal. Mr. Luttrell relates, in his book, anecdotes about his brothers, father, mother, and neighbors. We get a first-hand glimpse of what it was like to grow up in Texas with his single-minded and all-consuming desire to prepare himself to become a Navy Seal.

Marcus and team. Left to Right: Matthew Axelson, Daniel R. Healey,
James Suh, Marcus Luttrell, Eric S. Patton, and Michael P. Murphy. Of the
four-man Operation Redwing Team, only Danny Dietz is not in this photo.
     We also get to see pride in his family, his coun- try, and his desire to be so good that he could be count- ed among the best in the world--to be a Navy Seal. Early on in the book, Marcus Luttrell describes each of his teammates and their character- istics. He is not stingy in his praise of those team- mates and friends.

SEAL TEAM 10: In describing SGT2 Matthew Gene Axelson, nicknamed "Axe," he not only shares that Axe was his brother Morgan's best friend, but that he was a "supreme athlete" who was "swift," and "violent [and] brutal if necessary" [p.16]. Axe was married to Cindy and devoted to family.

     Marcus Luttrell's best friend, Lieutenant Michael Patrick Murphy, (leader of the four man team, Operation Redwing) is described by Luttrell as an honors graduate from Penn State, and that Murphy had been an "inveterate reader." Murphy, he explains, had a vast amount of experience in the Middle East ("having served in Jordan, Qatar, and Djibouti in Africa) (p.17).

   Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Danny Phillip Dietz, Jr. of Littleton, Colorado was poshumously awarded the United States' second hightest citation for valor, the Navy Cross, on September 13, 2006. Danny was married to Maria and lived in Virginia Beach. Luttrell says of Danny that he was a "sweet-natured person," but you shouldn't upset him because he was really like a "caged tiger and a great Navy Seal" (p. 182).


Robinson resides in Cape Cod during the summer and in
England the rest of the year.
     Contributing to the book is Patrick Robinson. As the picture indicates, he is at his home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where he assisted Marcus Luttrell in writing the book, Lone Survivor. Robinson's Cape Cod home is where he lives in the summer; Robinson resides in England the rest of the time. Best known for his United States Navy-based novels, he has also penned an international bestseller, One Hundred Days, the autobiog- raphy of Admiral Sir Sandy Woodward.

     Looking at the book cover (above) we can tell a lot about the subject of today's book review. The title, Lone Survivor, clearly indicates tragedy and loss of life. Marcus Luttrell chronicles the events and the loss of each of the members of Seal Team 10. Luttrell not only graphically portrays the loss of his fellow team members, but clearly tells of their courage and how each lived and died by the Seal code of "Honor, Courage, [and] Commitment" (p. 78).

Marcus Luttrell: (Out of uniform, and in)
During the four days he struggled to survive,
he received not only shrapnel wounds, and a
gunshot wound, but several fractures. He also broke
his back after two Taliban RPGs nearly killed him.
He crawled miles to get to help.
     Marcus Luttrell saw each of his friends and teammates die a hero's death. Marcus was, himself, plagued with injuries--it would have been easy to just lie down and quit. Instead, Marcus recalled Axe's dying request, "You stay alive, Marcus. And tell Cindy I love her." Luttrell reasoned that if he were killed, "who then would ever know what my buddies had done? And how hard and bravely they had fought? No. It was all up to me. I had to get out and tell our story" (p. 264).

     At that point, Marcus reassessed his situation and considered that SEALS fight in teams, "only in teams," and "backing up" each other, but there where he was, being hunted down, he was "all alone--this was entirely another game." Luttrell decided that he "...needed to learn to fight all over again, not like a Navy SEAL, but like a secretive Afghan mountain man...stealthily, staying out of sight, making no sound, causing no disturbance" (p. 275).
U.S. Navy Seals Trident emblem.

     What follows is a harrowing flight from Taliban soldiers tracking his every move through the mountains, and a monumental struggle to survive dehydration, pain, and blood loss.

WHAT I THINK ABOUT THE BOOK:  First, as far back as I know of in my family, men and women have joined and been part of military service...including my husband as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy. Many of my family members have died serving our country including my uncle, brother and son. Other members of our family who served in horrific wars (e.g. WWII.) and battles (Battle of the Bulge) came home changed and were never the same young men they had once been. I have a profound love and respect for the young men and women who serve our country in military service.

     The young men comprising the Navy Seals, as a group, are considered to be the among the best, most elite of fighting units in the world. It was a SEAL team (SEAL Team 6) who took out Osama bin Laden. On almost any list you look at (of the top fighting forces in the world), the U.S. Navy SEALS will, invariably, be in the top ten list. THE TOP TEN MOST POWERFUL FORCES IN THE WORLD lists the U.S. Navy Seal unit in the number one spot.

     The book contains an amazing story about how Marcus Luttrell became a SEAL. It chronicles his determination and grit in getting through the SEAL training. Following on the heels of the training is a monumental story of courage, sacrifice and love of friends, country, and family. . . and an amazing set of circumstances for Marcus Luttrell to have survived!

A scene from the movie, Lone Survivor, starring Mark Wahlberg as
Marcus Luttrell, and Ali Suliman as Gulab (in the center). Gulab
was one of the Pashtun people. The village offered "lokhay" to Marcus
Luttrell, hospitality that put the village on the line.
     The one negative critique I have of the book is the early-on writing (up to say...about at 40% of the book). For example, in Chapter two the topics jump wildly from wrestling alligators for fun to Pope John Paul would have been a good SEAL, to snakes, to his mom's horse training abilities, to the Texas oil industry, the crash of 1986, to losing the farm, to his Dad's qualities, being a bouncer at a redneck bar, his dad teaching him to shoot straight, swimming, General Douglas MacArthur, training with Billy (in preparation for becoming a SEAL), etc. I realize he's reminiscing, but I got whiplash in Chapter Two.

     Also, Luttrell makes no apologies for being outspoken in his criticism of certain government policies and also of the press. If those topics offend you as a person, then this book is not for will feel angry and agitated. If, however, your brand of patriotism is akin to that of the Texan's views, then you will loudly cheer Marcus's all in your vantage point.

THE MOVIE:  The movie, Lone Survivor, is slated for release to theaters on January 10, 2014. No matter your political views, Marcus Luttrell's story is nothing short of amazing. I loved it! I look forward to seeing the movie starring Mark Wahlburg as Marcus Luttrell; Taylor Kitsch will portray Michael Murphy, Emile Hirsch, Danny Dietz, Ben Foster will play Axe (Axelson), Yousuf Azami will play the Shah, Erik Kristensen will be played by Eric Bana, and Ali Suliman will play "Gulab," the man who saves Luttrell. Peter Berg is the writer and Director. Please enjoy the trailer:

To an American, especially one in such terrible shape as I was, the concept of helping out a dying man is pretty routine. You do what you can. For these guys, the concept carried many onerous responsibilities. Lokhay means not only providing care and shelter, it means an unbreakable commitment to defend that wounded man to the death. And not just the death of the principal tribesman or family who made the original commitment for the giving of a pot. It means the whole damned village. Lokhay means the population of that village will fight to the last man, honor-bound to protect the individual they have invited in to share their hospitality...nonnegotiable. (p. 285)

Afghan hero, Gulab, the Pashtun
tribesman who rescued Luttrell.
  Later, after having finished the book, I learned that Gulab was forced to leave his home and possessions, and truck, and that his lumber business was burned to the ground by the Taliban, and that he and his family continue to receive death threats. Because of his assisting Luttrell, Gulab became exiled from his home and it is unlikely he will ever see it again. Eventually, Gulab moved his family to California where he is trying to get his life started after having lost everything. In spite of all this, Gulab says that he had no regrets "...for what my family, my fellow villagers and I have done....We knew what the Taliban's reaction would be from the day we carried him in our door." (From, The Afghan Village That Saved Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, by Sami Yousafzai, Ron Moreau, 11-08-13.)

MY RATING AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THIS BOOK: I wanted to give this book a 5 star rating simply because of the subject matter and because it is written by a national hero. Also, as I said above, because I love our service men and women, am proud of them, and give them utter respect and admiration. However much I feel that way, the book was a little too full of political slant and a bit too much jumping back and forth in topics--in the first 40% of the book. The parts about the training of Navy SEALS were very interesting, and without a doubt, the latter half of the book was exciting and quite a page turner. For these reasons, I give the book a very good rating of 4.0 stars out of 5. I look forward to seeing the movie, as well.

Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell.
"Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell was raised on
his parents' horse ranch in Texas. He joined
the United States Navy in March 1999, was
awarded his Trident as a combat-trained
Navy SEAL in January 2002, and joined
SEAL Team 5 in Baghdad in April 2003. In
the spring of 2005 he was deployed to
Afghanistan. He was awarded the Navy
Cross for combat heroism in 2003 by
President Bush" (Kindle Location 5353.).
Four Stars out of Five.

      I hope you have enjoyed the book review, this week, of Marcus Luttrell's book, Lone Survivor. Join me next week for a new book review.

Until next time...
White Roses.

...many happy pages of reading.

Pages: 390
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
__________________________________________ - Book cover image; - Marcus and team; - Patrick Robinson, Author; - Marcus Luttrell (in and out of uniform); - Navy Seal Trident emblem; - Gulab; - The Afghan Village That Saved Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell;,29569,2069886,00.html - SEAL Team 6 and Osama bin Laden; - Top Ten List; - Gulab; - About the Author: Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell; - 4 stars out of 5; - White Roses.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Books: Twelve Quick Picks for Your Busy Holiday Season...And, Sharon's Advice for the Holidays!

Christmas Books: Quick Picks for your
busy holiday season.
Twelve Christmas Books: 
Quick Picks for a Busy Season!

Book Review by
Sharon Powers.

     Welcome to this week's posting of Sharon's Love of Books. The books selected this week are a true potpourri. Some of the books I selected because they looked interesting, some I got for free from various e-book sources, some are classics, some are brand new stories. I give you these books in the hope that you take a few minutes for yourself during the holiday season to treat yourself. The books, for the most part, are short and you can easily devour them before Christmas. A few are good enough to be given as gifts to someone special. Let's take a look at the wide range of selections I've picked for your perusal and enjoyment.

You can purchase The
Christmas Bus by Melody
 Carlson from Amazon by
clicking on this link.
BOOK: The Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson. This little novella centers around Edith Ryan. Her adult children are not coming home for Christmas, so she opens her B&B (AKA, The Shepherd's Inn) up for Christmas reservations. The available rooms fill up and when a very pregnant Amy and her husband Collin show up there's no room left in the Inn. The couple's "Christmas Bus" breaks down outside the B&B and Edith and her other boarders take things in hand...what they didn't count on was trouble-making Myrtle (one of the boarders). The story is a sweet and modern re-telling of the birth of the Christ child and the joys and tribulations of Christmas. 

I give this first book a thumbs up and rate it at 4.5 stars (out of 5). Currently it costs $3.99 (e-book), $6.00 (hardcover), and $1.55 (used); I got this book as a free Amazon download in October 2009. Amazon reviewers rated this 176 page novella 4.3 stars out of 5 (150 Reviewers). I found this story very enjoyable and if you only get one Christmas book this year, you couldn't do better than to select this one.

The Night Before
 by Clement
Clark Moore.
ISBN: 1-40372-947-6
BOOK: The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore. This widely-known and loved story about Father Christmas is a poem that was first published in 1823. It is the story about Santa Claus visiting a family with his pack of toys, going down the chimney and filling the children's stockings. As Santa and his eight reindeer leave, Santa wishes everyone a "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night." This lovely story has been beautifully presented in this book with Christmas fun facts (for example, about Christmas cards, trees, mistletoe, Virginia's Letter to the Editor of the New York Sun, and Santa sightings by "NORAD"), a "Naughty & Nice List," Christmas crafts, a cookie recipe, a passport, and the last page has a beautiful pop-up of Santa. Of course, the poem is included and is beautifully presented. This book is high in quality and would make a wonderful gift to any child as a Christmas keepsake...or, I might add, for the child inside us adults, too. My daughter gave me my copy and I have treasured it for many years!

I rate this book 5.0 stars out of 5. Many different versions of The Night Before Christmas exist. I recommend this verson--just click on the link to go to the Amazon website. Also, the Amazon Kindle Edition is free, but I recommend the hardcover edition for $8.00.

The Bite Before Christmas
by Jeaniene Frost
BOOK: The Bite Before Christmas by Lynsay Sands and Jeaniene Frost. This paranormal romance anthology showcases two popular series: Lynsay Sands, The Argeneau Family Series and Jeaniene Frost's, Night Huntress Series. The first novella, "The Gift," features a charming story about Teddy Brunswick, Police Chief of Port Henry. Teddy gets his own story after having been a supporting character in other Lynsay Sands novels. When Teddy's cabin gets snowed-in he meets a young, beautiful and neighbor whom he immediately feels attracted to. Will he be able to get past the fact that he is so much older than her...or is he really older than her?

"Home for the Holidays," the Jeaniene Frost's story, takes place after One Grave at a Time. Cat invites friends over to help celebrate Bones birthday and, of course, stay to be part of an old fashioned Christmas. Complications arise--and what would be a Night Huntress story without lots of violence?

I rate this book 4.0 stars out of 5. On Amazon, it is also rated 4.0 stars by 109 Reviewers. Currently, it costs $5.69 (e-book), $8.00 (hardcover), and $.73 (used mass market paperback). This book would be attractive to fans of the authors or series; this book is for readers of paranormal romance, with of course, the twist added: vampires at Christmas.

Christmas at Pebble Creek
by Vannetta Chapman
THE BOOK: Christmas at Pebble Creek by Vannetta Chapman. Christmas at Pebble Creek is a story about an Amish community and a young woman who must learn that God knows our needs even before we do and that we must trust that He will provide for those needs. Grace Miller, a teacher, goes through changes in her life, loss as well as joy before she finds her way.

This free, short e-romance (G-rated) also includes a few homey recipes for readers (like chicken and dumplings). I rate this book 3.0 stars out of 5. Amazon readers rate this book 4.2 out of 5 stars (79 Reviewers). While the story is sweet and centers on the Christmas season, characters are not fully developed and the story is really too short to get any kind of emotional involvement with the people in the book. If you like stories by Vannetta Chapmann or about the Amish, you will enjoy this sweet and simple story.

A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens.
BOOK: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This story by Charles Dickens is the quintessential Christmas story. The story is about a cold, stingy, humbug of a man who is visited by three ghosts (the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet To Come) who in the end change Scrooge's mind and heart about life and Christmas. The e-book edition is free for download from Amazon. Other versions of the story, in paperback may also be purchased ($5.85 for paperback at Amazon). 

This heart-warming story is loved by many...why not grab this 112 page bargain book and read it yourself before Christmas? You have is a short and easy read, and most of all you'll feel good after having read the delightful story. I rate this book 4.5 stars out of 5. Amazon readers rate this book 4.7 stars out of 5 (444 Reviewers).

Wolfsbane and Mistletoe
by Various Authors
(An Anthology).
BOOK: Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (An Anthology) by Various Authors. The themes of Christmas and werewolves are central to this popular anthology. At Amazon it receives a 4 star rating (out of 5), 71 customer reviews. I, too, rated this book at 4 stars out of 5. I was really surprised by this book, because, generally, I don't care for anthologies. This book was fairly well written and very enjoyable. I picked it up for a little light holiday reading in 2010, but think it is worth a look for anyone who likes werewolf stories. A number of very famous authors have contributed stories to this anthology. 

The stories and authors included are as follows: Gift Wrap by Charlaine Harris; The Haire of the Beast by Donna Andrews; Lucy, at Christmastime by Simon R. Green; The Night Things Changed by Dana Cameron; The Werewolf Before Christmas by Kat Richardson; Fresh Meat by Alan Gordon; Il Est Ne by Carrie Vaughn; The Perfect Gift by Dana Stabenow; Christmas Past by Keri Arthur; SA by Joe Konrath; The Star of David by Patricia Briggs; You'd Better Not Pyout by Nancy Pickard; Rogue Elements by Karen Chance; Milk and Cookies by Rob Thurman; and, Keeping Watch Over His Flock by Toni L.P. Kelner.

The Gift of the Magi
by O. Henry.
BOOK: The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. I have read this classic Christmas story quite a number of times, first reading it when I was in high school; I reread it again in preparation for doing this blog post. I have to tell you up front, I simply love this wonderful little Christmas story by O. Henry. The Magi were wise men who brought gifts to the Christ Child at his birth. The Magi in this story are the two characters on which the story focuses. If you haven't read this lovely story, do not wait. Run to your favorite book vendor, get it and devour it. I won't give away the punch line, but you will be touched by the married couple who struggle through difficult times and face Christmas with all the love in their hearts. The spirit of Christmas will fill your heart after you read this lovely little story. I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

You can buy the story in paperback for about $3.50, and hard cover for about $12.29, but why do that? If you have an e-reader (i.e. a Kindle), you can get this lovely story for FREE! at Amazon (just follow the link under the book cover image). How about that? Get yourself something for free and use the money you save to buy a present for someone else, or even better...make a donation to a wonderful charity of your choice!

The Santa Society
by Kristine McCord.
BOOK: The Santa Society by Kristine McCord. This Christmas story is all about Christmas, but not as you know it. A secret society exists, its ranks filled by families belonging to the society. Santa is a . . .? Realtor? When the Realtor helps Erin to list her home for sale, he starts falling for her in a big way. It isn't long and Erin is immersed into the clandestine society and the Realtor's chaotic life. Along the way, Erin discovers secrets about her own family; who her father and grandfather were, and why violating the society's laws may spell the end to Christmas.

Oh, what a lovely, surprising story. Did I say it is a surprising story? Utterly, utterly charming and wonderful. I purchased this book for this Christmas season because I liked the title--I paid the grand total of $ . 99 for the book on Amazon. If you want something a little different for your Christmas reading, this book will fill the bill and leave you smiling at the end. I rate this book at 4.5 stars, Amazon readers rate it at 4.7 stars out of 5 (36 Reviewers).

The Christmas Lamp
by Lori Copeland.
BOOK: The Christmas Lamp by Lori Copeland. This Christmas quick pick is short and sweet, so you can read this little story post haste. Nativity, Missouri faces financial difficulties and is about to go under. A consultant is called in and immediately cancels all the town's Christmas celebrations angering everyone for his ending of the traditional events. Roni falls for Jake Brisco (consultant) and soon everyone is making the best of things and finding the true spirit of Christmas.

A good effort by the author, and I do love the cover art, but the abrupt love relationship between Roni and Jake was less than convincing. And, while it is always good to find the true meaning of Christmas, this story was just not as good as the others in this blog post. I rate this story 3.5 stars out of 5, Amazon readers rate it 3.7 out of 5 (20 Reviewers). I got this story for free from Amazon in 2009, but currently, the Kindle Ed. is listed for $7.99, the hardcover at $6.00 and audio edition at $13.95 from

The Christmas Contract
by Jan Romes.
BOOK: The Christmas Contract by Jan Romes. I purchased this Christmas book a couple weeks ago for this Christmas season. The premise surrounds a wealthy philanthropist who makes a contract with his granddaughters. He wants the young women to be married by Christmas (and no premarital sex). In turn, the triplets (Joy, Christi, and Noelle) will get the money they need to buy the restaurant they have been trying to buy. Three fabulous men fall for the beautiful trio, but just who are these hunky guys? Is there something else here that lies below the surface of the contract? 

I am always looking for a bargain in books, and I got one here. I paid $.99 for the Kindle (e-book) version and loved that I saved dollars on the purchase. Something I loved even more was how surprised I was that the book was so good and the story so enjoyable. This is a quick read at only 146 pages...just long enough to enjoy without a huge time commitment.

Dark Hunter: An Insider's
 by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
BOOK: Dark Hunter: An Insider's Guide by Sherrilyn Kenyon: The focus story is Dark Hunter Christmas. Only one of the stories in this book is Christmas related, but I list it here, because I really LOVED the little story. The stand alone story is about Gallagher who has been suffering because of the loss of his family. He is morose and finds the holiday season sad and lonely. He leaves the party and wanders the streets, but soon Simi catches up with him and teaches him about the true meaning of love and family. I love the Simi.

My favorite quote from the book is as follows: [Simi tells Gallagher] "We have three kinds of family. Those we are born to, those who are born to us and those we let into our hearts. I have let you into my heart so the Simi is your family and she won't give you up. If you are sad right now then I'm thinking your family is still in your heart too and they are taking up so much room that you haven't any room for anyone else....[Then, Gallagher said,] 'I can't give them up.' [Simi replied,] 'And you shouldn't. Ever. No one should ever forget those they love. But your heart is an amazing thing. It can always expand to take in as many people as you need it to. The people who live there, they don't go away. It's kind of like a house. You just make room for one more person and then another and another and another....Somehow there's always space for more.'" [Kindle location 402 of 1074, Kindle Ed.]

Christmas on Main Street
by Multiple Authors
BOOK: Christmas on Main Street by Various Authors. An anthology of romance for those who can't spend a lot of time reading. You can chunk your reading, picking up one story at a time; of course, the other good thing is that the stories are all related to Christmas...who doesn't enjoy a little romance and love at Christmas time? I bought this Kindle e-book (with 11 stories) for $.99 before Thanksgiving in order to start my Christmas reading. Again, it is a bargain book, but who doesn't like saving money at Christmas time and still treating yourself at the same time?

The stories included are as follows: (1) The Christmas Wish by Tori Scott; (2) Her Christmas Cruise by Mona Risk; (3) A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming by E. Ayers; (4) The Christmas Con by Jill James; (5) Small Town Glamour Girl Christmas by Stephanie Queen; (6) The Christmas Gift by Pepper Phillips; (7) A Potters Wood Christmas by Leigh Morgan; (8) A Baby for Christmas by Susan R. Hughes; (9) A Light in the Christmas Cafe by Kristy Tate; (10) What if...this Christmas by Kelly Rae; (11) A Smoky Mountain Christmas by Carol De Vaney.

I rated this book 4.0 stars out of 5; Amazon readers rated the book 4.4 stars out of 5 (14 Reviewers). This book was published on November 15, 2013, so this book has only been out a little while.


Commitment to do one thing today.
1. Drive safely and courteously;

2. When you are out shopping, be patient and smile;

3. Give a donation of money or time to your favorite charity;

4. Exercise a bit every day, and don't over eat--you'll feel better for it (take care of yourself);

5. When asked what you want for Christmas, tell them you would like a donation in your name given to your favorite charity; and don't forget to keep your expectations for the holiday in check, you will be happier;

6. Forgive someone you've been harboring resentment towards--this, by the way, includes forgiving yourself for mistakes you've made;
7. Say a prayer or two for those less fortunate than you and think about and appreciate the good in your own life;
8. Take a little time for yourself and relax a bit--you'll be less likely to feel unappreciated or resentful;
9. Tell the people in your life that you love them, give them lots of hugs and tell them you appreciate them;
10. When you want to correct or criticize someone, DON'T (this may be hard, but is often the best thing you can do);
11. Give everyone you meet a little compliment--this little gift costs nothing and makes everyone feel better;
12. Don't forget to read a little something every day...your heart will be happier if you pick something inspiring.

Not everyone is happy at Christmas. Don't criticize, and
don't be patient and kind.
One last thing: Not everyone is happy at Christmas time or through the holidays. I know people who are ill and others who have lost family, if someone looks glum, or doesn't respond to your smiles and holiday wishes, be kind and try to be understanding--don't be judgmental. You never know what another person is going through in their personal life; they may be suffering inside. Don't be offended if someone doesn't return your smiles and cheer, and don't say something you could regret later. Be as kind and patient as you can.

OK. It is time to wind this up. I hope you have enjoyed today's post about the twelve Christmas book quick picks; please join me next time for another book review. May your whole holiday season be joyous and filled with the true meaning of Christmas. I send you all the love my heart holds. I hope you find a little love for yourself down in your heart and remember that you are precious.

Until next time...
White Rose.
...many happy pages of reading!


_________________________________________________________ - Christmas Quick Picks; - The Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson; - The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore; - The Bite Before Christmas by Jeaniene Frost; - Christmas at Pebble Creek by Vannetta Chapman (Amazon); - A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens; - Wolfbane and Mistletoe by Various Authors; - The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry; - The Santa Society by Kristine McCord; - The Christmas Contract by Jan Romes; - The Christmas Lamp by Lori Copeland; - Dark Hunter: An Insider's Guide [Dark Hunter Christmas: Gallagher's Story] by Sherrilyn Kenyon; - Christmas on Main Street by Multiple Authors; - One Snowy Night Before Christmas by Pamela Fryer;