Thursday, April 23, 2015

For My People: Awacha Nay (Volume 1) --by Heidi Ennis

 Fiction / Historical / Native American  

 422 pages / also electronic
4 Stars

I was asked to read and review this book by the author, and furnished a book in exchange for an honest review.

It is obvious Ms. Ennis did a tremendous amount of research, and she is a great teller of stories. I enjoyed this book from the first chapter to the end, and was sorry it had to end. Why, then, you ask, do I only give her 4 stars?

This story takes place in the Northwest, along the Columbia River, before the Europeans arrived. It is well written and absolutely fascinating, especially the 'vision' scenes where Asku, the hero of the book, sees his ancestor and learns from and about him. Unfortunately, for me, there were too many Indian words where standard English could have been used. Perhaps it is just me, but I found the use of so many Indian words off-putting. Since we read with our ears, and hear the story in our head, I didn't know how to pronounce them, and because they were so unfamiliar, I wasn't sure I kept them straight. She does have a glossary of terms in the back of the book, but I read an electronic version. My personal preference would have been to use the standard names for the tribes and locations, and Native names for the people.

I found this book to be a page-turner, and had trouble putting it down. Although it isn't what I would call an action book (or an adrenalin gusher), I became very involved with the characters, and had to turn the page to find out what they did next, how they extricated themselves from the situations they got into. The hero and his cohorts, are young, mid teens, and while this book is more than suitable for the Young Adult readers (if they aren't afraid of 422 pages), it is not a YA book. It is just a well executed book for readers of any age.

Asku comes of age in this book. The son of the Chief, he is in love with a young maid of his tribe, and learns he must sacrifice his hoped for marriage to her, and marry a maid from one of the Sea Tribes—a woman he's never met—but alliances must be formed and or maintained. He reacts in a reasonable manner for a boy in love with someone else, but learns what he must. When his father is mortally wounded, his anger takes over, and he and his friends track the killer, leaving the village and the people without a leader, without a Chief's strength and wisdom. His future as Chief hangs on the line.

Asku and the characters in this book act and react as one would expect them to, not as all-knowing adults, but as boys and girls who, by the end of the book, become men and women.

There are maps in the back of the book; I would have preferred them in the front, and perhaps on white instead of what looked like old skin. I recognized them, but could not read them. Again, I read an electronic version.

If you are at all interested in the history, or in this case, pre-history, of the Northwest and the people who lived here, I think you will enjoy this book tremendously. I know I am excited that this is Book 1, which tells me that there will be a Book 2, and I can hardly wait to read it!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Women Who Loved Elvis All Their Lives --by Fleda Brown


72 pages
5 Stars

Somehow, I missed a lot of the Elvis hysteria when I was a kid—probably because my best friend was so freaky over him, I felt honor bound to go the other way.

It wasn't until I was in the military, and stationed in Germany, and met his old Sergeant (Elvis was a civilian again by that time) and learned some tales about him that made me, belated as it was, an Elvis fan. (Did you know he put his military pay, all $78.50 of it, in a mayonnaise jar he brought from the mess hall and kept on his wall locker. He told the guys in his barracks if they needed some, take it, and pay it back as they could. He never counted it, and when he was discharged, he took the jar down to the First Sergeant and told him to use the money for the guys. On holidays, he would volunteer for guard duty or KP duty, to let one of the married guys spend the time with their family.)

My sister read this book, and raved about it, so I had to try it. I'm so glad I did. The poetry flows, from one to the next. I strongly suggest you read it straight through, as it becomes a narrative. Though I never kissed his poster (I never had one), I can remember my girl friend swooning and practicing her fainting onto her bed, every time the radio played one of his songs.

I remember Sputnik, and when his mama died, and the old-time rock and roll songs and singers. There was much in this book, in these poems I could, and did, relate too. Rod Stewart and "Maggie Mae" is here, the Big Bopper and his line, "baby, you know what I like." And, of course, Elvis and the women who love him—still and forever.

This is a fun book, delightful poem, accessible to all, even those who don't normally read poetry.

Get it Right --by Maureen Milliken

Get it ^ Write: A cranky editor's no-frill, easy to understand tips for usage, style and
punctuation —by Maureen Milliken

Nonfiction / Grammar
64 pages
5 Stars

With great glee, I found an error. And, no, I'm not telling. With that out of the way, the only thing about this book I did not like were the narrow margins (I love writing in margins) and the too narrow gutters.

I have several books on grammar and how to write, I even own the Chicago Manuel of Style (which I do read now and then), but this book is the one that will be within arms reach on my desk versus on a bookshelf.

This book is short, sweet, and simple, and chockablock full of marvelous tips. I recommend it to all writers, and think every classroom where a teacher expects students to write, should have enough copies for each student to have her own.

I learned a lot reading this book, and chuckled often as I learned it. I loved her broken pencils of shame. And I very much appreciated her explaining the difference between the AP Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style and which manual should be read and used by which type of writer.

Need a handy reference guide? Need a gift for a budding writer? Search no more — it is here. Buy this book. Read this book. Review this book. Please.