Review of Brother’s Keeper, A Short Story, by Jan Sikes

Rain! We finally have rain up here in the Great Dry North. It’s been awhile and I’m getting a bit tired of watering the plants. I do, however, like the fact that I’ve hadn’t had to mow the lawn in a few weeks.

Anyways, I’m not here to bore you with our weather issues, nope, today is another book review. A short thirty-four pager, written by Jan Sikes.

What Amazon Says:

Quentin Marks’ mother can only love one son, and from the day Rowdy was born, she makes Quentin, his little brother’s keeper. She demands that Quentin fix every problem for Rowdy and that he also protect him. The truth is, after a deadly snakebite, Quentin owes his very life to his little brother, a debt that will never be paid in full. Only now a man is dead, and once again, their mother calls on Quentin to make the problem go away and save Rowdy from prison. When is enough enough, and how much of his own life will Quentin Marks have to sacrifice?

My Turn

A poignant tale of favoritism that left me feeling frustrated with, yet sympathetic for, the MC, Quentin Marks. The poor fellow is called upon to make unfathomable sacrifices for his delinquent brother and unloving mother.

There was a sense of Quentin being served up as the Biblical, ‘sacrificial lamb.’ I was incapable of avoiding emotional investment in the story.

More than once, I found myself asking, “Why Quentin?”

He could have simply walked away, but Quentin is a true man of his word and possesses an inner strength that most will never attain.

In my opinion, any story that conjures up such strong emotions, and a cheering on of the limping protagonist, is a tale worth reading. Brother’s Keeper, certainly fits the bill.

A compact story with a great punch!

FOUR STARS!

Meet Jan Sikes:

Jan Sikes is an award-winning Texas author who has been called a wordsmith by her peers. She openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author. But she had a story to tell. Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation. You simply can’t make this stuff up. It all happened. She chose to create fictitious characters to tell the story through, and they bring the intricately woven tale to life in an entertaining way. She released a series of music CDs to accompany the four biographical fiction books and then published a book of poetry and art to complete the story circle.

And now that the story is told, this author can’t find a way to put down the pen. She continues to write fiction and has published many short stories with a series of novels waiting in the wings. She is a member of the Authors Marketing Guild, The Writer’s League of Texas, Romance Writers of America, and the Paranormal Romance Guild.

Connect with Jan, and purchase your copy

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Amazon.com

 

 

 

In my opinion, any story that can conjure strong emotions and a cheering for the limping protagonist, is one that’s worth reading. Brother’s Keeper, certainly fits the bill.

 As I’ve mentioned, it’s a quick read with a great punch.

Four Stars!

Review of Virtually Gone, by Jacquie Biggar

First, I just want to wish my neighbors south of the border a Happy Memorial Day Weekend. I hope you are able to get out and enjoy the holiday, now that things are getting a bit more back to normal.

Today, I’m reviewing Virtually Gone, A Mended Souls Novel, by Jacquie Biggar.  This is number 6 in a series of 8 books written by various U.S.A. Today Best Selling Authors.

What Amazon Says:

From USA Today Bestselling Author, Jacquie Biggar, comes a gripping techno-thriller, part of a multi-author series tied together by an interlocking cast of characters, all centered around the fantastic new promise of high technology and the endless possibilities for crime that technology offers, in a world where getting away with murder can be not only plausible, but easy…if you just know how.

Investigative reporter Julie Crenshaw stumbles upon the case of a lifetime–one that could cost her everything.

When Julie is called on to investigate a string of sexual abuse cases, she doesn’t expect to land in the crosshairs of a serial rapist. Soon she’s in a race to find the facts before a killer makes her the headline.

Detective Matthew Roy is frustrated with his inability to track a rapist terrorizing his city. Added to that, his partner’s reporter girlfriend is dogging his every step and won’t heed his warnings. Time is ticking with the perpetrator escalating his crime to murder. Matt needs to find the killer soon, or chance losing someone he cares for- the question is, how?

My Turn:

The game is afoot in this mountain road twisty, twenty-first century style whodunnit. 

The plot is chock full of red herrings and dead leads that will keep the reader guessing. The technical information is included, but skillfully woven into the plot as to avoid impeding the flow.

Descriptions are equally finessed into the word building with just enough to conjure up the image.

I found Detective Matthew Roy to fit a bit snugly into the chalk outline of “the lone wolf, with a traumatic past and a chip on his shoulder,” however, it works for this story.

Overall, I highly recommend this book.

Four Stars ! 

Meet Jacquie:

Jacquie Biggar is a USA Today bestselling author of romance who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!
In her own words:
“My name is Jacquie Biggar. When I’m not acting like a total klutz I am a wife, mother of one, grandmother, and a butler to my calico cat.
My guilty pleasures are reality tv shows like Amazing Race and The Voice. I can be found every Monday night in my armchair plastered to the television laughing at Blake’s shenanigans.
I love to hang at the beach with DH (darling hubby) taking pictures or reading romance novels (what else?).
I have a slight Tim Hortons obsession, enjoy gardening, everything pink and talking to my friends.”

Connect with Jacqui and buy your copy:

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Review of Revenge, by Bill Ward @Billward10Bill

Well, sunshine for the 2nd day in a row here, and I’ve just received my 1st COVID vaccination shot, yesterday. Aside from a bit of muscle ache, nothing (yet) to report. I guess we can call that a good day.

Speaking of good, I just finished reading Bill Ward’s book, Revenge.

What Amazon Says:

There is no greater motivator for evil than a huge sense of injustice!

Tom Ashdown, an unlikely hero, owns a betting shop in Brighton and gambles with his life when he stumbles across an attempted kidnapping, which leaves him entangled in a dangerous chain of events involving the IRA, a sister seeking revenge for the death of her brother and an informer in MI5 with a secret in his past.

Revenge is a fast paced thriller, with twists and turns at every step.

In a thrilling and violent climax everyone is intent on some form of revenge.

My Turn:

I really enjoyed this action-packed thriller with the plot of a twisty straw. The mundane meets the larger-than-life in an unusual crisis, and an underdog finds a great new home.

Revenge has the essential ingredient of character development and a maturing of the main characters. I finished this book quickly, as it kept me flipping those pages.

Aside from some punctuation issues and the occasional point of view shift, that had me rereading, it was a fantastic read. I’m giving this one, FOUR STARS.

Meet Bill Ward:

Bill’s love of reading commenced at a very young age. He credits his Gran for encouraging his interest by regularly taking him to the local library after primary school. At boarding school, when the lights went out in his dormitory, he was often encouraged by the other boys to tell stories. English Literature was always his favourite school subject.

A long and successful career in IT saw him live and travel all over the world. With hindsight it was the start of his writing fiction but they were called business proposals in those days!

Having always enjoyed different cultures, the one life lesson Bill has learned is “wherever you go you will find good and bad people. This is not determined by colour, race, religion or country.”

Recently retired from the corporate world, Bill has finally fulfilled his lifelong ambition to become an author and has now written nine thrillers, with the expectation of many more to follow.

Bill lives in Nottingham, UK with his German wife and has seven daughters, a son, a stepson, three horses, a dog, two cats and two rabbits! When he’s not writing he’s probably watching his football team West Brom, who he has now been watching for over fifty years!

Connect with Bill, and purchase your copy:

Amazon.com

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Review of Hanging Stars on Big Willow Creek, by Sarah Hill

Spring has sprung, the robins are hopping about our yard in search of food and nesting materials and the lawn is beginning to green and grow. That means I’ll soon have to pull the lawn mower from winter hibernation. I love this time of year, a time of new beginnings.

Speaking of which, as of late, I’ve been delving into the genre of romance, something I’ve never done before.

Today, I present my review of Hanging Stars on Big Willow Creek, by Sarah Hill.

Here’s what Amazon says:

Rylie Johnson is living her dream as a best-selling author in New York with her husband, Spencer and their imaginative little boy, Alex. As she prepares for the release of her newest book and upcoming book tour, her world is turned upside down when she receives a phone call from home. She must return to Idaho, the place she left twenty years ago and help care for the woman who raised her. Rylie comes face to face with the past she worked so hard to forget and learns things aren’t always as they seem.

My Turn:

The story speaks volumes about the human condition. How we perceive our world, based on childhood experiences.

Sarah does an excellent job of creating characters that are realistically human and are easy to become emotionally invested in. There are no true villains in this book, but that makes them all the more relatable.

Rylie grows up in a home that is both materially and emotionally impoverished. The object of ridicule and bullying, she understandably grows defensive and cynical of those she deems to be, ‘one of them.’

This story speaks to anyone who’s ever felt isolated, unworthy, and unloved. It reminds the reader that there are still good and caring souls out there and that everyone has potential, despite their circumstance.

A gently rolling plot, with a down home feeling, that will appeal to those who enjoy a good heart tugging read.

I give this, FOUR STARS!

Meet Sarah:

SARAH HILL, lives in Idaho with her husband, 3 dogs and cat. When she isn’t feeding, playing or doctoring one of her fur babies, you can find her watching a chick flick or favorite Hallmark movie, hanging with family and friends, reading or taking pictures (because photos are important!) Some of her favorite things include the world of Harry Potter, Mexican food, camping, playing pranks, laughing and kissing her husband.

Sarah is also the author of Call of the Blue Heron, her debut novel, which was published in November of 2019. She continues to listen to the characters who find her and whisper their stories in her ear and plans to get their stories out to the world.

Connect with her and purchase a copy:

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Review of Born In A Treacherous Time (Book 1 Of 3), by Jacqui Murray

Well, it’s Valentines’ Day weekend, and also one of the coldest months of the year up here, in Canada. It’s as though Mother Nature is either thumbing her nose, enacting vengeance for a serious jilting, or attempting to fire the flames of romance by freezing the body.

If you ask two, ten, a dozen, or hundreds of Canucks, you’ll get as many opinions, or maybe a shrug, followed by, “Dunno,’ sorry.”    

The story for todays’ review takes place where breath doesn’t freeze scarves rigid, nor are toques a staple, even in winter. We’re traveling to pre-historic Africa.

What Amazon says:

Born in the harsh world of East Africa 1.8 million years ago, where hunger, death, and predation are a normal part of daily life, Lucy and her band of early humans struggle to survive. It is a time in history when they are relentlessly annihilated by predators, nature, their own people, and the next iteration of man. To make it worse, Lucy’s band hates her. She is their leader’s new mate and they don’t understand her odd actions, don’t like her strange looks, and don’t trust her past. To survive, she cobbles together an unusual alliance with an orphaned child, a beleaguered protodog who’s lost his pack, and a man who was supposed to be dead.

My Turn:

Jacqui does a great job of instilling a vivid picture of what most certainly was the red in tooth and claw existence, quite literally, of early humans.

The first in a trilogy, a solid foundation is built for the next two books in this series. There is plenty of action, yet I found there were parts that grew too repetitive, and perhaps could have been left out.

I must be honest about the fact some of my personal beliefs about the ‘coming into existence’ of humanity are in conflict with certain views expressed. I’ll not argue them here, nor anywhere, as they are mine. No amount of debate will sway me, nor will I convince those who disagree. I think it’s best to agree to disagree and leave it at that.

Overall, the information presented in this book has been well-researched and conforms to the mainstream view. The main characters are well constructed and there is growth based on experience.

 I believe this novel achieves what it sets out to do. As part of a trilogy, the entire series will need to be taken into account. As of this moment, I’ll give it Four Stars.  

Meet Jacqui:

Bio

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years both in a traditional classroom and online. She is the editor of a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and author of over a hundred books to integrate technology into education. She is adjunct professor on tech ed topics for the University of California San Diego, Colorado State University, and others. She is a Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics.  She is the author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days as well as the prehistoric fiction, Man vs. Nature.

She’s best known as Ask a Tech Teacher, curator of the popular blog used by teachers, administrators and homeschoolers around the world. It is the go-to resource for advice, pedagogy, tips and tricks, freebies, help, reviews, and classroom materials in tech ed. She has been quoted in national newspapers such as the Washington Post and appeared in local education-oriented radio programs such as BAM Radio and CoolCat Teacher. Her blog has received many awards from organizations such as Common Sense Media and Ed Anywhere.

Jacqui is the voice behind Structured Learning webinars, providing training to teachers and administrators on tech ed topics like flipped classrooms, digital citizenship, Common Core Standards and tech, how to organize the classroom for tech, and age-appropriate tech to support curriculum and standards.

Her teaching philosophy can be summed up in two words: critical thinking. Start with organic conversations. Make technology authentic and encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning. Instruction is self-paced, differentiated and responsive to student needs. Lessons include Essential Questions, Big Ideas and self-reflection.

Jacqui works with teachers and school districts to integrate technology into their school curriculum and standards, running seminars on using tech tools in the classroom, introducing educators to popular ideas like the flipped classroom, differentiation, setting up the digital classroom, using tech in Common Core and more. She also writes articles and white papers for Districts to be shared on blogs, newsletters, and parent information guides.

Jacqui Murray has a BA in Economics, a BA in Russian, an MBA, and a California teaching credential. Before teaching, she worked in the business world for twenty years. She has a daughter who attended the United States Naval Academy and now serves as an Officer in the Navy doing cybersecurity, and a son who attended UC Irvine and serves as an Army SGT in the Signal Corps. She also has a brilliant Labrador Retriever named Casey—what a character. She spends most of her time teaching, reading, geeking, and writing.

Connect with her and purchase your copy:

My Amazon author page

My Goodreads author page

My LinkedIn profile

My Ask a Tech Teacher Twitter page

My Writer Twitter Page

askatechteacher@gmail.com