Crossroads my review


              Crossroads

 

Author: Mary Ting

 

Reviewed by Fran Lewis

 

Emotions overtake you as your thoughts drift away from the present and you seem to be somewhere distant. Michael stares at the image of Claudia somehow unaware of his presence yet somehow there’s a connection. Claudia seemed lost and disconnected from her surroundings. Staring straight at him hoping she would see him but did not Michael was transfixed with her presence. Half human and half angel and seeing him in her dreams was as if they were experiencing things together. Just where he came from and why will be revealed.

 

Lying in her bed Claudia Emerson leaves the real world she lives in and journeys to a place between Heaven and Earth called Crossroads. Her body floating in the air as if she is being levitated above the world she loses control of her direction and finds herself running on a road filled with pebbles. But, another image comes in front of her. A girl so elegant and beautiful and described as a “Greek Goddess.” Claudia watches herself floating and moving towards a bright light unsure of her fate as a voice speaks out warning her to return and leave before it is too late. Jolted back into the present she hears the harsh ring of her cell phone as the caller relates the events of a tragedy that would impact her life.

 

Imagine dreaming someone’s impending death as if it were your own. Claudia Emerson viewed her friend’s death before her friend even died. As Claudia awakens and receives the news of her friend’s death, she learns that the girl whose first and last name is exactly like hers died in a tragic car accident. Patty, her best friend relates the events as Claudia freezes. Coming home from a special event, the Homecoming Dance a drunk driver collided with her car killing her. Claudia and Claudia were best friends and looked identical in many ways. Thoughts echoes in her mind as she sat and listened to the mass that would celebrate her friend’s life as guilt entered her heart and mind that maybe she could have done someone to prevent what happened. Claudia is emotionless.

 

Visions during the funeral, the brilliance of the light illuminating down with many colors of the spectrum mirrored the thoughts Michael projected when envisioning Claudia and the light she experienced in her dreams. Replaying in her mind the last moments she saw her friend a harsh realization comes to light and her emotions flood. Losing someone close is never easy or painless. Watching Claudia’s parents during the funeral heart wrenching, devastating and frightening to Claudia. Understanding Claudia’s grief while watching her friend lowered into the ground claustrophobic. Speculating the what if’s made it more painful. Seeing butterflies fluttering and the momentary sunlight shining down startling as Michael saw her with a butterfly in her dream. I have always attributed the butterfly as something special since my sister passed last year. Whenever I see one it is like she is there watching over us and smiling down.

 

Life stood still for Claudia and her motions robotic. Another dream and another connection to her friend would enlighten her as she reenters the world above and learns just who lives there, where and why Halo City was created and who Michael really is. There are many questions that would not be answered just yet but with the support of her mother, friends and her Gamma she hoped to regain some of her strength and her energy to move on without her friend and to understand her dreams.

 

Author Mary Ting takes the reader inside Claudia’s heart, mind and dreams in every chapter sharing her inner most conflicts, thoughts and hopes with the reader. As she winds up back in Crossroads she meet Davin the gatekeeper and learns more about the many others that live there and why. Told to never return she does not and will not stop until she gets some answers and that is when we meet Phillip and the rest and learn about the Royal Council These people are Alkins: half human and half angels but with no wings. Michael, although he seems resistant to the assignment is her guardian angel and the rest are there to serve the Royal Council. But, when Claudia returns home and beings her new job in a fashion store in the mall with her best friend Patty what happens when she is closing would not only return her to Halo City but will prove that she is in danger and not from those on earth. Attacked by an unknown entity and poisoned she returns to the world above to be treated and cared for where she learns more about the role of the angels and what they are allowed and not allowed to do. Angels cannot intervene with lives on earth on Earth Angels can. They are there to help humans, guide them and protect them but cannot remain down there. Angels such as Michael and all the others live in Crossroads which in between Heaven and Earth. As Michael reenters she hopes Claudia will forgive him for what she encounters. As the story continues Claudia comes face to face with her feelings for Michael as a short and surprise note and gift lets her know he will always be there for and her protecting her. With her friend Patty she embarks on a camping trip even though she hates bugs and creatures. But something happens that most would think nothing of but others would as one young man turns up and changes her perspective on things. Austin a waiter that took care of her on her birthday is on this camping trip and teaches her something about stars. Could he be here for a different reason? When someone dies their souls become stars and the stars guide humans on earth to lead on the right path so they will become stars too.

As the story goes on she falls asleep to be awakened by the voice she thinks is her friend Claudia but in reality she is in danger once again as those called the fallen lead by a man named Aden want her for their own. As Michael and the Alkins show up and safe her once again questions and allegiances are strained and she learns more about him in order to understand his life. Michael reveals more to her that will surprise the reader and you too might decide that an Alkin is someone you just might want on your side too.

 

Alkins cannot live freely with humans and this is where Aden differs from the rest as he lost his soul, his powers diminished but his revenge high. The scenery is amazing the view panoramic and the feelings intense as Michael and Claudia embark on a special journey of more than just friendship. Then tragedy strikes and reality sets in as Gamma is taken critically ill and she might be going home. But, what if you learned the truth about your birth and who you are? What if your real father was one of God’s angels and you were sent here for a different reason? What if your Gamma was sent here to protect you from the fallen and knew that you visited Crossroads?

 

There are many truths that unfold and the life of one young girl is held in the balance as Michael and his friends decide to take matters into their own hands Claudia learns that she has the Holy Spirit inside of her and that Aden wants it in order to regain his lost powers. Just what will happen you won’t believe as one birthday party for a friend is invaded by the fallen and demons. One half human and half angel named Michael has to choose the path that he wants for his own and for Claudia. One book that will makes you wonder whether demons, fallens and angels will ever live together and who will win out.

 

Author Mary Ting takes the reader to the other side of heaven and allows you to see what many angels do Crossroads. What happens at the end you decide? Just what part does Austin play you won’t believe and why are Michael and Claudia so drawn to each other? Read Crossroads and find out what happens when you live in a world that is meant just for alkins and angels cannot live freely with humans but some disagree. Friendship, loyalty and trust and many other lessons are learned in this outstanding novel. But, this is just the beginning there is much more to come.

 

This book gets FIVE GOLD BUTTERFLIES

Fran Lewis: reviewer 

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RIver Bones reviewed by fran lewis


River Bones

Author Mary Deal

 

Serial killers can stalk a victim without their knowledge. Many fall prey to these people because their victims do not follow a specific profile or age group. Sara Mason returns to the Sacramento River Delta area and moves into a house that she is warned has a history attached to it. Owners Orson and Esmerelda Talbot were the second owners of this home but he disappeared leading this to be not a great omen that she bought the house. As Sara stares at the face of her younger sister who died, Sara misses her blonde hair, her smiling face and her statuesque figure. Her sister drowned and haunted her mind. The entire area in which she lived was consumed with finding this killer but no one knows where to start. All alone, she begins to feel vulnerable as she calls someone to comfort her to feel safe. Finding her way home in the fog the next day proved frightening as someone came out of now where and scared her but with the help of some great teens she found her way. Next, she decided to join in the fun and go to the Asian Festival and sample all sorts of food and join in the musical fun. With her friend Daphine she seemed to be getting into more things and learning more about where she lives. Next the two friends decide to learn more from Esmerelda herself. Let’s not forget the scar marks found outside of her window leading the reader to believe that someone does not like that she is there, or did the killer bury someone there?

Meeting Esmerelda was definitely interesting to say the least. After leaving the Hospice Daphine and Sara take a tour of the town and she visits her gallery hoping to see some of her work.

 

The author describes one painting in question that Fredrik, a resident, seems fixed on having. When Sara views the painting she sees the pain in the person’s face from the lower left hand corner to the right hand corner and as the bright light transcends to the middle the person is at peace. You definitely get an eerie feeling when he is around and some of the others that live at the hospice. Added into the mix is the strange caretaker, Tripp, who keeps everything in pristine order except himself and from the description by our talented author the chills just thinking about him. So, why are people dying and what is the fascination with the dogs that Esmeralda has and soon Sara? But, we learn more about Esmerelda as Sara uncovers information about her missing daughter who never came back from Vietnam and the murders are brought to light as a news article describes the gruesome sight one ecologist found counting birds.

 

 

Imagine a skull sticking up at you and then the remains of a person found. Each murder having one thing in common: the person’s neck is broken and they are buried with the remains of an animal. So, could Ike the cat killer be the one doing this? Could it be Fredrik who is fixated with death and sits by the bedside of terminally ill patients about to die? Could it be the person peeping in her windows or is this all connected to something or someone else?

 

Sara never let on that she created computer games and a business that made her millions. Leaving the Delta and returning, she wanted to repay close friends for all they did for her in the past but would not hear of it. Linette and Buck Alden were her closest friends and supposedly distant cousins. Linette opened a store called the Book Nook and to pay her for all of her kindnesses Sara furnished the store with computers so more students would come there and have access to the net.

 

A high school reunion brought back memories from the past, old friends that both Sara and Daphine had not seen for years. Sara surprises all the guests with a copy of one of her Sci Fi computer games which made her millions after selling the copyrights. Reconnecting with an old friend should have proved as something positive but when she and Pierce have dinner together and she creates her seven juice special drink that someone drugged, it sends Sara to the hospital and Pierce in a coma.  Added to the mix is when she finally awakens and realizes he is seriously ill and in a coma, they look for the dogs and find them digging up the remains of another victim of the killer right in her own backyard. The police insist that she vacate the house and she moves in with Linette and Buck. Finding another young girl’s bones that have been missing for 20 years, plus telling the police about another hand that she saw leads the investigation into full swing. Moving to the Delta really changed things not just for her but for the town too. A resident dies at the hospice and the family is investigating why? Fredrik spent the entire night with the person could he have done something? Reminding Pierce before being drugged about his near death experience is bone chilling. Imagine waking up in the morgue and everyone thinking you are dead. Finding human remains along the riverbank and then more showing up is more than unsettling for her and those living there.

 

As the pieces start to fit together there are many suspects that come to light: Ike the cat killer, Fredrik who is obsessed with death and Daphine who seems to be Sara’s friend but is she? Author Mary Deal created a plot so filled with surprises, twists and turns she keeps the reader guessing and hopefully not able to figure out who the killer is and who has been burying bodies with all of their possessions and the remains of an animal for more than 20 years. Making the book unique are the descriptions of the Delta area, the history behind the area and the many festivals and places that makes this area so special.

 

Each time Sara seems to be getting ahead and finally might be able to move back to Talbot House, someone finds a way to deter her with more remains being found, a dead cat found, holes dug up in the back of her house and Orson’s remains found when Sara decides to tear down his workshop. Someone does not want Sara to live in that house and someone does not want her around. As Sara decides to buy another house and offer it to Pierce, someone else comes into her life, but is that for the good? As Daphine and Fredrik get closer and his family comes to the Hospice what else will happen?

 

Relationships rekindled and then tragedy strikes and Sara has to make a decision about the new man in her life. When Huxley comes back into her life will it be for the right reasons? Why does she run when things get too close and just how close to the killer does she get? Will the police get there in time or will Sara be the next victim? Her goal to create the Orson Talbot Foundation; will it ever get done and what will the end result be for so many who have lost so much? As the body count rises and the victims are starting to be identified, just who the killer turns out to be will definitely surprise and shock for the reader and sometimes killers hide in plain sight. Just who it is and why I cannot reveal as only author Mary Deal has the answers to these questions and more and you will too when you read River Bones. Talbot House: Would you want to live there? Is Orson still haunting it or will he finally rest in peace? You decide when you open the pages of the book, read it and decide for youself: Do you want to stay? Let’s hope the author brings Sara back again because not only is she great at helping so many but solving murders: Could she be the next Jessica Fletcher or Agatha Christie?

 

Fran Lewis: Reviewer  

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                         

 

 

 

TAKE A BOW


Take A Bow

Author: Elizabeth Eulberg

Standing on stage: can you hear the applause? The loud cheers of the audience drown out the band as they start playing your encore number and the audience finally gets quiet. The lights dim then a spotlight is on your face and the song beings bringing the audience to its feet shouting they want more. Stardom! You can feel it! The electricity soaring through your body but first open your eyes and come back down to earth and realize: it’s just the beginning and you have many hurdles to overcome before you get that final curtain call and take that coveted bow.

Carter, Emme, Sophie and Ethan each want the same thing and have the same dream: that Emmy, Oscar or Tony that certifies and signifies the fame they all so desire. Each one talented in their own way and each wanting to stand out above the rest as Carter takes center stage in this novel first. Child actor wanting to please his stage mom, he takes roles that please her more than him. His true passion is to go to High School, meet other young actors and improve his skills. Emme is sweet, talented and can write songs even for the stars that are quite famous today. But, Emme is stuck in the world of another girl named Sophie. She seems lost in her shadow and feels that she is not good enough to get anywhere even though without her Sophie would not be singing songs that would showcase her voice. Sophie Jenkins is self -assured, self- absorbed and totally in control of her own destiny and that of others. Sophie’s voice will mesmerize the listener and take the audience on a journey along with Sophie as she sings the words and lyrics written by Emme. Her goal is to take charge and be on top at all costs. Ethan whose talent is more instrumental has other issues that come to light as the voices in his head conflict with those in the present and often create conflicts within him. So, how does author Elizabeth Eulberg bring them all together: The High School of Creative Performing Arts where the competition is stiff and only the best survive readmission each year. As Carter and Sophie seem to be linked together the others form their own alliance. Ethan, Emme and two others Ben and Jack meet on the first day of school at lunch and later on in the present during senior year forming their own teen band and what leads up to it is quite funny and unique as Ben foretells their future and what just might become of them as rock band stars. Open the door and enter the school and meet the students, teachers and most of all our four hopefuls whose secrets are hidden from the reader right now but read on and you will learn what Emme and Ethan have yet to reveal as my review for Take A Bow continues.

Emme has created a song about the future for Sophie dealing with where you are already or now.          But, instead of working with Emme she chooses someone else and although her friends and Carter alert her to the fact that it is wrong she justifies what her friend does and chooses to ignore it for now. The author then gives the back- story about Carter and how he deals with his first negative article and getting blindsided by a reporter with Sophie as his major support at his side. The person she is not the person she is now as Carter relates that her only goal is to top the competition no matter how. Spots for the Senior Showcase spots are definitely coveted and the first one sets the tone for the rest. Sophie is speaking and expressing her feelings and Carter continuing with his. As Carter relates his feelings about the competition, a role in a play by Shakespeare we learn more about him and his feelings towards his only competition Zachary. Explaining that he is a better actor and that he, Carter usually wins out because of his past and fame.

Carter does not really want to pursue his career in acting he enjoys art and would rather pursue one in that field and when he expresses his feelings to his mother the response is quite starling and seems supportive. As the date draws near for auditions for the Senior Showcase Emme needs to realize what Sophie did in order to face the fact that she might not be such a good friend. As she is announced her song is attributed to someone else instead of her and when her band members and Carter enlighten her reaction is truly different from what you would expect and Sophie is more concerned with her position in the auditions then the fact her friend might be hurt. Even when she covers and says we should practice together for the next audition Sophie skirts the issue. Carter is beginning to see the light with her and goes to the band’s concert and enjoys being treated as just Carter. Next, comes Ethan’s voice as he tries to tell Emme she needs to speak up for herself and the band discusses their futures and we learn from a conversation during the show about Ethan’s drinking problem and much more. But, Ethan has another secret he has yet to share with Emme and just how that will play out remains to be seen.

Carter drops out of school and decides on an art career and what happens that finally awakens Emme will definitely surprise you. Sophie is a user and when Emme reads text between her and her friend Amanda a harsh reality sets in or shall I say they might want to play the song True Colors with different words to tell Sophie hers are truly shining through. Emme receives the last spot along with the band in the Senior Showcase and one outburst from Sophie sets the school straight and many others as to her true personality. Emme is so kind she cannot take what she did but might finally realize it is her turn to be in the spotlight.

The big day is here and the nerves are tighter than that of tightrope or a rubber band stretched out to its limit. Energies are high, Emme is unsure of herself and the band and her friends are there for support. The ending is quiet dramatic as the unexpected might surprise you and the harsh realizations that some get might not change that they are but others. Emme learns to have faith in herself. Carter steps up as a friend and decides his own future. With a mother who supports him how can he not succeed?  Sophie needs to reassess herself and take a long look in the mirror before taking more bows and the rest you need to read for yourself. Read their final entries and learn what happens to them and where they plan to go. Learn that some never learn and others move on. Confidence, self respect, believing in yourself, loyalty, friendship and much more need to be learned before you get up and Take that Bow. It would be great if the author brought these four back after they graduate college to see where they are and where life has taken them. Characters that endear you to them and four students that learn many life lessons along the way.

This is outstanding novel is great for music students, aspiring actors and for all YA’s and young teens to learn the true meaning of hard work, dedication and learning to be who you are and not what others what you to be.

This book gets five songs written by Emme and Ethan