Friday, October 30, 2009

"The Guilt Gene" by Diana M. Raab

"The Guilt Gene" by Diana M. Raab is an unusual collection of poems. It is about the poet's youth, mistakes, middle-age life, aging, love, and ordinary occurrences. The poems range in length, with some paragraphs thrown in. Most are written in free verse. The odd scenarios that the poem writes of makes the reader wonder if the poet is truly "something else" or if various events were made up for literary purposes. Also, one would think the publication of this book would cause angst between the poet and close family / friends when the poet discusses problems in her marriage as well as embarrassing childhood events. The tone of most of the poems is quite satirical and mostly cynical. Readers may be depressed with this book, while others may take it as daringly whimsical. Either way, this book of poetry is highly existential for lack of a nicer euphemism.

Monday, October 26, 2009

"The Tallest of Smalls" by Max Lucado and Illustrated by Maria Monescillo

"The Tallest of Smalls" by Max Lucado and Illustrated by Maria Monescillo is a marvel of a children's book. It takes place in its own little town that--albeit unusual--is not too far off for little ones to grasp. In Smallsville, the townspeople are tiny and await a time each day when they get the opportunity to be called to walk on stilts. A little boy named Ollie is short and imperfect. Those around him tend to look down upon him--both literally and physically. Then, one day, his name is called to walk on stilts. Everything feels stupendous as he perches upon those sticks and is tall for a bit. However, birds perch on him and make him lose his balance. When he falls, no one but Jesus helps him up or even seems to care. At the conclusion, Ollie realizes that he is fine as he is and that no status or elevation matters at all when compared to the everlasting love of God. The pictures aren't bad, either. ;)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"The Great Grammar Book" by Marsha Sramek

"The Great Grammar Book: Mastering Grammar usage and the Essentials of Composition " by Marsha Sramek is a fine reference book. It starts off with a lengthily diagnostic test on grammar, followed by subsequent chapters on grammar skills. Everything from verbs to spelling to pronouns to capitalization to syntax to punctuation and more is covered. The structure of each chapter is relatively the same. Examples of the key skill are marked off in boxes. These are followed by prompts for the reader to complete. This cumulates with a review. This book is ideal for students, teachers, or even professionals looking to improve their own grammar (after all, having a comma splice on a resume may be the reason why one does not get hired). This book is quite long, so it is better as a reference book to look things up. However, if readers are audacious enough to go through the whole book, they will be quite rhetorically astute upon completion.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Jack's Dreams Come to Life" by Sara Jackson

"Jack's Dreams Come to Life" by Sara Jackson is a copacetic book for little ones. The adventures of furry Jack are chronically most adorably. Children's attention is grabbed in the beginning as Jack plays around outside and encounters other animals most amusingly. Later, he falls asleep and has a dream. It is quite scary, or at least little ones will think so. Jack's squeaky toys come to life and chase him. Plus, a giant squirrel attacks him. In the end, Jack wakes up to find that he is all right and that none of his squeaky toys are plotting his demise. With fun pictures and cute drawings, children will learn that even the most scary of dreams are nothing to fret over.

Jack’s Dreams Come to Life can be purchased on Her book can also be found at Copperfield’s Books in Napa and at the Bookshelf in Southampton, Benicia. For each book sold, Sara will donate $1 to the Benicia/Vallejo Humane Society.

About the author:
Professional author Sara Jackson is a graduate of Vallejo High School. She also earned a Bachelors degree in screenwriting from the Academy Of Art University in San Francisco. After graduating, she became a freelance writer for The American Canyon Eagle. Ms. Jackson is a regular contributor of Gorezone Magazine, Animal Wellness and Fangoria. Sara has written numerous book and movie reviews for†Scars Magazine. She has also written opinion articles for the Times Herald, most of which address the issue of animal rights and politics. In January 2007, she won first prize in the Soul Making Literary Contest with her nonfiction piece, "Necessary Procedures." She is working on a horror script for director Rob Schmidt, has another children’s book at a publisher’s and is in the process of writing a collection of short horror stories.

Sara Jackson,

"The Laceyville Monkeys" by Harriett Ruderman and illustrated by Beverly Luria

"The Laceyville Monkeys: Say the Right Words" by Harriett Ruderman and illustrated by Beverly Luria is a fun book for children, especially those enamored with monkeys. It is about three monkeys who have special talents. One can sing, one can act, and one can dance. Their teacher / mentor enrolls them in a local competition where they can showcase their abilities. When a human grandmother--possibly estranged--discovers this, she tries to exploit the monkeys. However, the monkeys do not work in her favor because she treats them poorly. Only when the teacher says kind and encouraging words do the monkeys perform at their best. The main theme of the book is that a kind word can go a long way, and that impetuous anathemas do nothing but harm. The pictures are fun, and children will be amused at the superfluous images of other animals putting on shows. There are some subtle undertones against the elderly in the book, but most children will not pick up on this.

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Three Feet From Gold" by Sharon L. Lechter & Greg S. Reid

"Three Feet From Gold: Turn Your Obstacles into Opportunities" by Sharon L. Lechter & Greg S. Reid is a philosophical book of sorts. It is about improving one's current situation and becoming great. With the words "Think and Grow Rich" sprawled across the cover, readers think they are picking up a fiscal manual. However, the true essence of this book relies first on success, not fortune. The fortune is supposed to come with success, not the other way around. The authors of this book did their research on Napoleon Hill's original manuscript. That man was a reporter who interviewed Carnegie and other powerful people in that time era. The chapters cover several topics from passion to perseverance, and each begins with a quote from Hill himself. The chapters themselves have both fictitious and real anecdotes that illustrate points. Inspirational sayings are thrown in every now and then in boldface. Readers of this book may never grow rich, but if they start thinking the way the authors suggest, they will accomplish more and quit less.