Wednesday, January 31, 2018

NEANDERTHAL OPENS THE DOOR TO THE UNIVERSE by Preston Norton   
June 5, 2018
Disney Hyperion


Cliff Hubbard is a huge loser. Literally. His nickname at Happy Valley High School is Neanderthal because he's so enormous-6'6" and 250 pounds to be exact. He has no one at school and life in his trailer park home has gone from bad to worse ever since his older brother's suicide.

There's no one Cliff hates more than the nauseatingly cool quarterback, Aaron Zimmerman. Then Aaron returns to school after a near-death experience with a bizarre claim: while he was unconscious he saw God, who gave him a list of things to do to make Happy Valley High suck less. And God said there's only one person who can help: Neanderthal.

To his own surprise, Cliff says he's in. As he and Aaron make their way through the List, which involves a vindictive English teacher, a mysterious computer hacker, a decidedly unchristian cult of Jesus Teens, the local drug dealers, and the meanest bully at HVHS--Cliff feels like he's part of something for the first time since losing his brother. But fixing a broken school isn't as simple as it seems, and just when Cliff thinks they've completed the List, he realizes their mission hits closer to home than he ever imagined. 


NEANDERTHAL OPENS THE DOOR TO THE UNIVERSE covers plenty of components prevailing high school dramas nowadays. It will pull you in different directions. But high school is not high school without its dramas. And I love how Preston Norton held it all together and accomplished a profound deliberation. He drew all the right punches and they all connected. There are plenty of raw emotions, and I truly believe many will benefit from reading this, whether they believe in God, or not.

Cliff is such a remarkable character. Neanderthal. Everything about him is huge, including his compassionate heart and quick-witted brain. There is balance in him (Luke Skywalker would be so proud) not many people notice. But there is also pain and guilt in him. Many times I wanted to hug this giant and tell him that his heart is in the right place.

This book is amazingly moving and funny. I may have snuffled and snickered in some places, both at the same time. I spent highlighting several passages; I cannot get enough of Norton’s wit. He assembled an array of curious characters and addressed vital issues, BIAS foremost among them. A big issue comprised of many things, making life unbearable for most people, especially for our youth.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. For the sensitive folks, be advised that there is plenty of swearing. But also know that life isn’t real without them.

We're all gonna die. And we only have so many fucks we can give in a lifetime. 
So give a fuck about the things that matter most.



Book details:
Author:  PrestonNorton
Publication:  Disney Hyperion; June 5, 2018
Genre:  Young Adult
Rating:  ★★★★★


*Thank you Disney Hyperion and Netgalley for the galley, in exchange for this unbiased review.
*Contains quote from an uncorrected galley proof.




NEANDERTHAL OPENS THE DOOR TO THE UNIVERSE by Preston Norton

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


About the Book:

If you were sent a thousand years into the past, would you survive?

With the accidental development of the Transporter, university researchers determine that the device sends any subject one thousand years into the past.

Or is it to a possible past?

The enigmatic Transporter soon becomes known as a Time Machine, but with limitations.
An audacious research project is devised to use the Transporter to investigate Medieval Saxon England, when a crack international team of Special Services soldiers undergo intensive training for their role as historical researchers.

The special researchers, called Travellers, are to be sent into what is a very dangerous period in England's turbulent past. 

From the beaches of Australia to the forests of Saxon England, Traveller - Inceptio reveals how Travellers soon learn that they need more than combat skills and modern technology to survive the trails of early 11th Century life.

Get your copy here.


About the Author:

When I was a kid I used to be embarrassed about my surname.  I suppose being called ‘Shackleshit’ by school friends didn’t help. It is an unusual name so, why bother with it in this web site?

I have a fascination for history, especially as it applies to my family. My father is an ardent genealogist and has some amazing research successes that predated the modern fascination with genealogy and sites such as Ancestry.com. Through his diligence and hard work, Dad has documented our heritage back to the 1400’s when a few knights and Lords do make an appearance.

Poor Mum, a McGillycuddy,  hasn’t even been able to go any farther than three generations due to the destruction of records in Ireland.

So what do we know about the name Shackleford?

What is surprising is that much sounds like speculation.

Perhaps we were named after a ford at a river or creek.

or

We are simply named after the charming village of Shackleford in Surrey – England

or

We are named after the heroic knight Jacques leFort who joined the invader, William the Conqueror, in the Battle of Hastings in 1066 that heralded in the Norman rule of old Aengland.

Truth be told I always suspect the more fantastic story to be the imagination of a genealogist who wanted his client to think he had a glorious ancestry, but I welcome any proof in regard to any of these explanations and more.

I do know that my father is about 2 generations from proving an ancestral link to most of the Shacklefords in the USA as it seems the name is from one family line. Our family line comes from the same small area as the US family line, so who knows?

I have always been more interested in the historical aspects of our family rather than the almost biblical ‘so-and-so begat so-and-so’ and hope that, in a small way, this also explains my interest in the historical nature of some of my books.

Rob


Find Rob Shackleford here.


Wednesday Spotlight | Traveller Inceptio by Rob Shackleford

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


About the Book:

The Helper is the story of John Sloan, a Marine Corps veteran with a life-long secret that is haunting him. He is a conduit to a healing light that draws him to people on the brink of emotional disintegration, people who are then healed and Helped by this light. His blue-collar world is shattered when he finds that his connection to this anonymous portal has vanished. He is alone, seemingly beyond aid, and in desperate need of a Helping himself.

The book tracks the intersecting lives of John and two other Helpers. His lifelong friend Dusty Hakalla is a mixed-blood Ojibwe, with a secret of his own. His power to help is remarkable, but was once destructively misused. A career Marine, his scarred childhood and momentary abuse of power have left him jaded and bereft. Deena Morrison, also a Helper, is John’s girlfriend. Adopted as an infant, she flees John to find her birth-mother, while carrying within herself her own secret. Another character shadows their lives as narrator, Nan’b’oozoo, the trickster god of Ojibwe legend—at times sarcastic and petulant, at others insightful and humorous.


Get your copy here.


About the Author:

The author’s bio includes years as a public radio host and anchor, primarily in the south Florida market, but also for Wisconsin Public Radio. M. N. has had various short stories published, and is also a published cartoonist, a former contributing writer for Reader Weekly  (Duluth, MN), and a former Marine Corps NCO. After spending some years at home, in the Twin Ports of Duluth, MN/Superior, WI, writing the book, the author is currently back living in Key West, FL.



Wednesday Spotlight | The Helper by M.N. SNow

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Happy 2018, dear readers!

Last year was really busy for me. The move from the Philippines was extra challenging -been to places, made some new friends, and tackled some pretty weighty obstacles. I labored to realign some priorities and that helped me grow these past months, since I came here in Canada. I took a couple of online courses from University of Toronto and earned my certifications last November 2017. I had an odd job to gain a Canadian experience, which was not all that bad, since I gained some good friends and connections through it.

    My Year in BooksI managed to squeeze in a few readings, here and there. And here's what Goodreads has to say about it... (click photo)

I'm not a mathematical genius, but I'm pretty sure I counted only 37 books in there. Anyways, here are my best books for 2017 (in no particular order):


BEST BOOKS of 2017
  1. The Awakening by Amanda Stevens -I love how this series ended. It showed how Amelia evolved immensely and exacted due retribution in the process.
  2. A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman - Ove’s an unlikely hero with an exceptional story.
  3. Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone by Phaedra Patrick - It tackles family and communal issues, childlessness, and one's sense of self-efficacy with a good sense of honesty and depth.
  4. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce - I still cannot talk about this book. It was so painfully keen, and yet, I can't recommend it highly enough.
  5. Where the Dead Lie by C.S. Harris - A favorite historical fiction series. There's no book in this series that I don't like. Every single one of them went through thorough research.
  6. Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino - This is my 2nd Higashino, it doesn't disappoint at all. If you want a good mystery, you have one here.
  7. The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce - Another RJ book, yes. The reader has to listen to this book intently, don't just read it.
  8. A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin - the ending of this installment got me in knots for sometime. I wish there was a way to finish this series.
  9. Being Perfect by Anna Quindlen - A short read, but dense in many ways.
  10. And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman - My second FB book. I cried without tears with this one, I don't know how else to express how heartbreaking it was.

The notable ones are:
  1. I Murdered My Library by Linda Grant
  2. See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
  3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  4. Nutshell by Ian McEwan
  5. Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin 
  6. Autumn by Ali Smith
  7. Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carl Rifka Brunt
  8. The Way Through Doors by Jesse Ball

Wow, that's half of what I read last year. But that's exactly what I promised myself, that I'll aspire reading really satisfying books. Hopefully, 2018 will be filled with them, as well.


Let us be optimistic that my blogging will improve, too. I'll still be posting ARC reviews, some pre-Blogger reviews, Wednesday Spotlights, and maybe some Author Interviews. We'll see. Stay in touch.


Oh, by the way, it's The Page Walker's 5th Bloggy Birthday. Thank you for staying with me.



Here's To New Beginnings

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Many times, I've read this book alluded as Calvino-esque, which I find really wrong, foremost, because I cannot stress enough how much I disliked how the stories in Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler were put together. Meanwhile, the stories in The Way Through Doors conjunct intriguingly well. And this, this is an absolute pleasure to read.
Let us make a pact, she said. To madness at every juncture!
It is fortuity that our enigmatic protagonist, Selah Morse, is a pamphleteer, since, in this winding novel, he must tell stories all night to an equally enigmatic young lady suffering from a (assumingly) temporary memory loss. He began by explaining his work as a municipal inspector (doing many things, yet seemingly nothing), in a surreptitious office inside a surreptitious building, with a badge that can open many doors. His stories bled into stories that bled some more, exactly like two dogs chasing each other in circles. There is nothing linear about this book except for Mora Klein having drawn an image with precise angles. His peculiar characters, including a lover, a guess artist, and a gambler, evaporate only to apparate again in another story.

My favorite story -well it is not the story itself, but how the words were knitted together nicely- is Entering Rooms, a Grammar and Method.
Sometimes one must be more careful of being seen in happiness than in grief or anger. A great deal may be told from the expression of a happy man or woman. In any case, one must be prepared for the worst, and ready. Therefore, pause a moment before passing through a door, unless, of course, one is being watched on the outside, or one’s approach to the door is being timed, as in a situation when one is buzzed through an exterior door. In that case, one does not have the leisure to pause, for that pause would in its turn be noted and interpreted in a variety of ways, some of which would be harmful. Therefore, perhaps we should say, make the pause a mental pause, a sort of inner unveiling of precaution. It should last barely a second, and immediately preface the entering of the room in question.
A very curious story, too, because of our protagonist’s name, Selah, which if translated literally is “Pause”. Now thinking about it, most of the names here are curious.

THE WAY THROUGH DOORS is a very interesting read, with its iced tea that could taste better in a Cabernet bottle, the dead-letter office that housed a couple and their dog, and the secret of  Lincoln’s Folly.  


Question:  Is Selah Morse as cute as Jesse Ball?
I don't know. It didn't say.


Book details:
Title:  The Way Through Doors
Author:  Jesse Ball
Publication:  February 10, 2009; Vintage
Genre:   Metafiction
Rating:  





THE WAY THROUGH DOORS by Jesse Ball

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Shanna, the Ice Queen, refuses to be forced into marriage, unless it is for true love.  But her father, Lord Orlan Trahern, will not simply bend to her wishes.  Lord Trahern wants his lineage to continue.  He need heirs… soon.  It will take a great scheme to outwit her father.  A scheme that Shanna never knew will catch her heart off-guard.
“I think I’ve loved you forever,” Shanna confessed in wonder. “When the scales of blindness were lifted from my eyes, I saw you not as a dragon, but as the one I would have chosen.”

A prisoner condemned to death, Ruark, crossed the seas to the Caribbean and accepted a life of bondage to collect a bargain not fully met.  He vowed to win his heart’s desire with everything he has.

   “You did choose me, remember?” Ruark grinned.

This is a beautiful story of how fates are intertwined; and how true love can be found in very odd circumstances.  I know… the usual stuff, right?  What makes this different is the mystery and action attached to the whole plot.  I never get tired reading and rereading this story since I was 15.  SHANNA taught me how to be fierce and fight for what I want, not just for love, but for everything I believe in. This book started me into collecting Kathleen E. Woodiwiss works.  She’s a genius.  Her romance and language were never cheap.  She will always be the Queen of Historical Romance for me.

BTW, there'd be pirates.



Book Details:
Title:  SHANNA
Author:  Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
ISBN:  00380385880
Publication: Avon Books, 1977
Pages: 666
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Purchased copy
Review Rating: ★★★★★/ ♥ 


*Originally posted here.

SHANNA by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Monday, November 6, 2017

AUTUMN begins in a dream-like state. Daniel Gluck is dead. He supposed he is in heaven, because he looks young again and naked. It is as if rebirth took place by the seashore and he is the only one who survived. The truth is, time has finally caught up with Daniel. He is reliving some old memories, and escape is inevitable at this state.
Is there never any escaping the junkshop of the self?
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Demand is experiencing the hard reality of the bureaucratic world. Her passport application was rejected: “Your face is the wrong size… The correct size in the photograph submitted, the man say, is between 29 millimetres and 34 millimetres. Yours falls short by 5 millimetres.” Apparently, there are correct stipulations in life, measurements that we have to abide, like sizes, dates, and time. Very unlike in death.

This is my first Ali Smith, and I find myself in a difficulty here, describing how her writing works, or how this book worked for me. To call her wonderful seems underrated. To pronounce her difficult, on the other hand, seems obtuse. And yet, I find her both wonderful and difficult.

I find her words fluid, yet I don’t know where it will lead me. They seem to make no sense, until it gets me where it needs me to be, where it is profound and unblinking. Smith can move from poetic, to conversational, and matter-of-factly funny. At one point, the book tells about the Brexit and the chaos it brought to the English nation. Still, in a succession of recollections, it tells about life in its minute form. Autumn is the paradoxical view of death and birth, of letting go and seeding. It tells us that time is not really our enemy, but not exactly our friend either.

Autumn is the first book in the Seasonal Quartet, followed by Winter.



About my copy:
Title:  Autumn
Author:  Ali Smith
Publications: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Pantheon, 07 Feb 2017
Genre: Literary Fiction / Women's Fiction
Rating:  ★★★★


*Thank you, Pantheon and Netgalley for the review copy.





Book Review | Autumn by Ali Smith

Friday, October 13, 2017


     
August 29 2017
Penguin Random House
Sincerely sharp!

I won a copy through Goodreads giveaways. I was so excited, because having read the Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, I knew Ms. Zevin will pull off another unconventional structure.

I am getting ahead of myself again, let’s return to the beginning…

Aviva Grossman is on her first internship -had an affair with a politician (very much married), blogged about it, and the netizens made sure that she is never forgotten. A second chance is so bleak. Her relationship with her parents was affected, her studies and career was affected, and even her sex life was affected. Until, she decided to reinvent herself.
“They didn’t put a scarlet letter on her chest, but they didn’t need to. That’s what the Internet is for.”
The book is divided into five parts, told by women from different generations, in honest-to-God details. Women whose resilience was highlighted through their flaws. Their voices have varying levels that strongly speak of distinctiveness and worth. Ms. Zevin made her every character undeniably timely and relevant.

The plot discloses effortlessly, using an unusual book structure. It was refreshing, absorbing the reader from start to finish. It amazes me how the various approaches helped highlight the noteworthy parts further.
"Life unspools more inevitably."
Do not let the book cover deceive you into thinking that this is just another light read. It is funny and entertaining, yes, but it is also thought-provoking, hitting each nail in the head. YOUNG JANE YOUNG is a story of women empowerment, survival, and the biased sexist degradation that still plagues women today.



Author:  Gabrielle Zevin
Publication:  August 29, 2017; Penguin Random House
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  ★★★★


*Thank you, Penguin Random House Canada and Goodreads, for providing me with a copy of this book, in exchange for an unbiased review.



Book Review | YOUNG JANE YOUNG by Gabrielle Zevin