Make a Wish!
Review by G G Collins Copyright 2022
High school still sucks in this well-written, fast-paced YA by Mark Scott Piper. You Wish is a book for anyone, even if graduation day exists only in your rearview mirror.
Jake Parker contemplates his lot in life, “A freakin’ nobody.” So it would seem. He sits in a “pile of rejects” while waiting his turn at bat on the baseball field. It’s the same with the girls at his school. They don’t know he’s alive. And why would they? Jake still rides a bike. With nearly two years to go before he can drive, he and best friend Lester make do in Santa Necia. And to end on a high note, his parents are now divorced.
Lester and Jake have a tree house that once passed as their secret pirate ship but having outgrown their yo-ho-ho days, the two renamed it The Snark in honor of the boat built by Jack London. They sometimes play out seafaring fantasies but guard against one of their classmates catching them fearing total humiliation.
One day while exploring the Old Addison Place, a once beautiful Victorian house now in ruins and about to be demolished, Jake finds an old ship’s lantern. His life is about to change, but will it for the better? While polishing the lamp, Jake wishes he had a pizza and abracadabra one appears on his bed.
This plunges Jake into a moral dilemma about how to best use the remaining two wishes. The boys consider the possibilities from making them all rich to world peace. Just when Jake needs it, a new friend appears on the scene. Ben Ackyack, who may be in line to inherit the Addison Place, has parked his dilapidated trailer on the estate property and befriended Jake. Little does Jake know what an important part he will play.
Ben throws a wrench in the plans for the Addison property. So much so, the police begin checking him out. Trouble is, he appears to be devoid of a past. As Ben is arrested, Jake pulls out the lantern and makes his second wish. I won’t ruin it for you, but it’s something that’s caught on video. Reporters and the FBI swoop down on Santa Necia, infiltrating every aspect of Jake’s family life. The FBI even presents Jake with a demand from the President of the U.S. regarding the third wish.
Looking for advice, Jake turns to Ben. He counsels Jake telling him he will recognize when the time is right for the third wish, “It’ll be whatever you really want. Don’t worry, you’ll know.” And when the time comes, and it is a desperate moment, he makes the right wish.
The Definition of Family Can be Loving or Twisted
With foreword by Mike X. Welch
Writing Bloc Project Manager of Books
by GG Collins Copyright 2022
How do you define family? Is it the one you were born into or the one you chose? This inspired collection of stories expands by leaps and bounds the familial definition. An international effort – some intergalactic – each narrative takes the reader on a journey of discovery. We are surprised by what we find and encouraged to go further.
Could you change the course of your life in 30 minutes? That’s what Charlotte does in “Thirty Minutes to Life.” A stained wedding dress has led her to a dry cleaner. The bride-to-be contemplates what she wants. Wise words from a kind stranger influence Charlotte’s decision between a predictable and conformist life or one where she controls her own future. Bank or dry cleaner? A young woman realizes she can choose.
Iris plans an escape with her younger sister Lily when their mother’s boyfriend becomes abusive. She knows that the house at “l989 Redwood Lane” is considered to be haunted. That’s her planned destination. They should be safe there because everyone avoids the place. Iris packs their things along with food and they run away from home. The house on Redwood Lane holds some ghostly revelations for the girls.
The Sister of the Moon collects souls and delivers them to the Dark Goddess. Although she doesn’t normally interfere with the condemned, today Sister is offering a new family if this lass desires. The judged and damned stands on the gallows ready to drop. In “Pearls and Swine” a young woman can choose to accept her fate or serve the Dark Goddess who will demand much. Should she allow the executioner to continue or remove the noose from her neck?
If you’ve read the classic science fiction book “Logan’s Run” by William F. Nolan, “Olds” will be a special treat. Set in the future, people get 60 years on Earth and then have six months to say their goodbyes and enter the Ascension. Each person is assigned a job after being tested by the Olds. Eryn was assigned to Child-Rearing. Olds declared her partner a perfect genetic match for her and joined them in a ceremony. Eryn isn’t happy. She’s not sure her feelings matter.
Family: A Writing Bloc Anthology provides a cohesive exploration of what the family unit is complete with drama, humor and horror. These families are not all conventional, but wherever and whoever they are, the stories resonate.
Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3rCWJu3
Note: Some stories include adult content.
By G G Collins (Copyright 2022)
At first you might think that The Ghosts of Manor Ren is just another ghost story, but there is more to it than that. Loren is a newlywed in 1945, but it is an arranged marriage and her husband Claude is inattentive at best. While he spends his time at the estate next door, Loren gets to know Manor Ren.
The lonely new wife is captivated by the sprawling three-story main house and its expansive gardens. But it is inside the mansion that claims her utmost attention. Fireplaces are being lit, furniture moved and she feels a presence. It is that presence who comforts her as she sleeps alone in the big creepy house.
It becomes more apparent that the house is alive with the past actively playing a role. Her newly hired maid senses it too. As the two women become involved with the “ghosts” in the manor, they discover all is not what it seems.
The Ghosts of Manor Ren is a delightful adult fairy tale written with romantic whimsy and a bit of truth.
Note: Adult Content
A Journey Through Time, Space and Emotions
By G G Collins Copyright 2020
Quantum Singularity: A Poetic Voyage Through Time and Space is unlike any book of poetry I’ve read. Each section or phase is summed up with a physics term. From accretion to event horizon, there are nuggets of truth, disappointment, everywoman knowledge and a sprinkling of felines.
In “Treasure Hunt,” Croft talks about “the luxury of sorrow” using colors that “cast no shadows.” Appropriate for the season is “A Letter to My Something More.” In it, she discusses how the media models our expected behavior, “’Tis the season to be thankful even if it’s artificial.” But, is that what the verse is really about? You decide.
Much as in life, there is pain and revulsion. “Evolution” is a powerful piece: “… the thousand hands/grabbing my ass/a pretty dress worn why?” Most women have experienced this trauma and wondered why they even bothered to be pretty. What was the point? “Wish List” expands on disappointment, “Draw me a map to a better life … Because dreams and hopes are not enough.”
See if you recognize your life in these pages. Like all good writers, Croft takes us places we haven’t been and brings meaning where we didn’t expect it.
To purchase, click on the book cover or: https://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Singularity-Poetic-Voyage-Through-ebook/dp/B073S8PXN5/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Quantum+Singularity+Willow+Croft&qid=1605300148&s=books&sr=1-1
New Review of YA novel “Without Notice”
“G.G. Collins grabbed that young voice and ran with it for an impressive, winning read, perfect for any age!”
Review by Dianne of Tome Tender.
***** At thirteen, Courtney has faced the death of her mother, moving across the country with her father and sisters and now a true reality kick in the heart, her father has a girlfriend, who may be more than just a friend. Out of sorts, out of her element and wanting to be able to talk to her mother, she is caught up in a tsunami of guilt, fear, insecurity and betrayal. How could her father find someone to replace her mother so soon, if ever? Determined NOT to like Silky, Courtney will discover that when she needs a mother figure the most, an unlikely ally comes to her rescue like a mama bear protecting her cubs.
WITHOUT NOTICE by G.G. Collins was a most fabulous surprise! She takes us into the heart and mind of a teen in pain and clearly not equipped to deal with everything life has been throwing at her. The emotional maturity of a young teen is so fragile, caught between being declared an adult and not quite allowed to be a child, and G.G. Collins grabbed that young voice and ran with it for an impressive, winning read, perfect for any age!
Highly recommended for teens, who will understand and adults who forget what it was like to be so young and vulnerable!
Publisher: Chamisa Canyon Publishing (April 15, 2018)
Publication Date: April 15, 2018
Genre: YA Fiction | Coming of Age
Print Length: 87 pages
Available from: Amazon
For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com
My thanks to Dianne for her review.
Not What We’ve Come to Expect
By G G Collins (Copyright 2016)
If you’re expecting a real spiritual journey like MacLaine’s exceptional books Out on a Limb or The Camino; Above the Line: My Wild Oats Adventure will be a disappointment. But if you’re interested in the behind the scenes on a film set, it might be appealing. Sadly, the back-biting, broken promises and how special actors are wasn’t what I was interested in.
I bought it with the promise of insight into Atlantis and an exploration of the Canary Islands. Neither really happened. In fairness, MacLaine is in her 80s and probably isn’t the fearless explorer she once was. No shame in that. We’re all lucky if we make it to the Third Age. Had this book been represented honestly by the publisher as a memoir from a movie set—I would have passed.
What I really wanted was more connection to Atlantis on the Canary Islands. Some believe that Atlantis existed where the Greek island of Santorini is now, so perhaps it was just the wrong location for the wisdom I was looking for.
If only the last portion about her injury and subsequent treatment had been left out: Thud! What did it have to do with the movie shoot? It’s a whole other story. And memories of life on Atlantis are suddenly pouring forth? I would have enjoyed reading these intermixed with revelations on the Canary Islands.
MacLaine has a lot to offer and I hope her next book is more astute and less aggrandizing.
Atria Books, 2016
It Ain’t the Heat, it’s the Humidity
Reviewed by G G Collins (Copyright 2015)
***** Stuart Woods, bestselling author of Santa Fe Rules and Foreign Affairs, proves once again he’s a great storyteller in Heat. Definitely a one-sitting read.
Jesse Warden is a convicted criminal biding his days in solitary confinement in the Atlanta Federal Prison. He is recruited by his former employer (DEA) to ferret out information in a small Idaho town. Two agents have already been killed in an attempt to infiltrate a dangerous cult called Aryan Universe. In exchange for this good deed—if he lives through it—he will receive a presidential pardon for a crime he didn’t commit.
With a new identity, Jesse drives to Idaho in a pickup truck equipped with hidden cellular phone and some hard cash. St. Clair, appears to be the perfect Disneyesque idea of small-town America. Every house is new paint clean with meticulous lawns and flower beds permanently held in a much earlier era. All is not right in this flawless community. Mysterious disappearances have occurred, but crime is rare due to swift and deadly punishment. The local police station is a high-tech marvel with all the bells and whistles money can buy.
The community’s children are taught at the First Church School where they are indoctrinated to hate people of other ethic groups. There are no excuses for absences and children are encouraged to tell on their parents if they speak against the teachings of the First Church.
Jesse is sent to the widow Jenny Weatherby who rents out one of her bedrooms. Jenny is far from the elderly widow-woman Jesse expected. He falls for her fast.
Another referral results in Jesse’s employment at Wood Products—the only business in town not owned by the cult. His ascent is swift at the plant and soon the sect invites him into their midst persuading him to give them financial information about the business so they can take control.
As Jesse passes one test after another he makes his way into the hierarchy of the treacherous Aryan Universe. On once such occasion he is brought into a vast underground armament. The bunker is extensive and fully stocked with food and water, huge amounts of ammunition and explosives, infirmaries and the latest equipment.
Jack Gene Coldwater, the Aryan Universe cult leader, fought until he ran out of wars and then proceeded to stockpile arms at a staggering rate preparing for his own hostilities which he teaches is inevitable. He dispenses death to his followers without blinking, tightening the ever shorter rope on those who remain.
Jesse doesn’t trust the DEA—a fellow agent set him up resulting in his incarceration. He fears for Jenny, her daughter, and his own daughter who was adopted after his conviction. In an interesting subplot Jesse obtains fraudulent passports as plan B, but the First Church foils his attempt at flight.
The climatic scene has all the explosive features of an action movie providing for a fun read. Woods reaches out and grabs one by the throat hauling the reader into a riveting adventure with an all too familiar and frightening theme.
Yearning to Breathe Free
Reviewed by G G Collins (Copyright 2015)
***** Reports of ghostly sounds by the night Park Ranger on Ellis Island has Anna searching the historic landmark’s creepy abandoned buildings. But what has brought her to New York City is her sister’s illness. It’s a heart-wrenching time for Anna in what is one of Barr’s best stories.
In Liberty Falling Barr reached a comfortable place writing Anna, the park ranger who grapples with murder in every park she works. The nice thing about this series is that Anna is such an authentic person, er, character. We like her because she screws up. She battles alcoholism, she struggles to express her feelings and she knows who we are because she is us. It’s the perfect combination of human weakness quelled by the strength we all somehow muster in challenging times.
In this remarkable chapter in Anna’s life, she has come to New York because her sister, Molly, is gravely ill. Molly is a very important person in Anna’s life: part sister, part mother. The problem is that Molly, too, needs a confidant. While she is a successful therapist, she does everything wrong as far as her own health is concerned: smokes, drinks, no exercise. It has finally caught up with her and she lies in ICU at Columbia-Presbyterian where she underwent bypass surgery complicated by pneumonia.
Anna’s former lover Frederick Stanton is also standing vigil and as steadfast readers know, he is now smitten with Anna’s sister. His obvious love for her sister as he reads to the unconscious woman causes conflicted emotions for Anna, and the romantically inclined attentions of Molly’s doctor further confuse her. No longer on the wagon, Anna sips the deadly brew to fortify her sagging soul.
To be close to Molly, Anna’s staying at a friend’s house on Liberty Island. When a fourteen-year-old girl takes the express route down the Statue of Liberty—usually 354 claustrophobic steps and a hot two-hour climb—Anna’s attention is diverted from her sister. A visitor to the statue claims that a park employee pushed the dead girl. Anna likes the accused, in spite of knowing Hatch for only a short while, and can’t help doing a little investigating on her own even though she has no legal authority. When Hatch is found dead at the base of Lady Liberty some herald it as a guilt-induced suicide but Anna thinks it may be murder.
Missing the open spaces in her home park of Mesa Verde, Colorado, Anna goes exploring Ellis Island, part of Liberty State Park. One building has been painstakingly restored to its lavish 1920s design but the others remain sad ruins of another era. During its day, 10,000 of the masses passed through Ellis Island each day hoping for a new beginning. The building consisted of a huge immigration center and state-of-the-art (at the time) hospital including operating theaters and autopsy facility. Today, the same numbers visit the compound and wonder what it must have been like. You will too because Barr describes it well and you almost feel lost in time.
What she finds leads to a conspiracy of death and destruction if Anna can’t uncover who is behind it. In the final spellbinding pages Anna attempts to thwart a pernicious plot at Liberty’s feet in Barr’s shining homage to the best and worst of humankind.
Liberty Falling does not fall short of expectations and instills in the reader a new appreciation for those who came before—yearning to breathe free.
Liberty Falling (Anna Pigeon Mysteries Book 7)
Berkley, Penguin Group ● 352 pp ● March 1999 ● Now available on Kindle
To read the full poem written by Emma Lazarus and learn about Liberty State Park go to http://www.libertystatepark.com/emma.htm. Lazarus died four years after writing the poem at age 38. It is unclear if she ever saw Liberty standing.
The Truth is Out There
Reviewed by G G Collins (Copyright 2015)
***** Willa Jansson was all set for a three-week no-brainer holiday when she made the mistake of answering the telephone. In a few moments, visions of idyllic beaches and languid hours vanished. Psychiatrist Fred Hershey called in a favor and Willa is hard-pressed to say no in this delightful romp through the strange.
For the past year Willa has been coasting along as a multimedia attorney—mostly because she thought it sounded cool and she’d been unemployed when the opportunity came along. Hershey wants her to defend a client accused of manslaughter in a hit and run accident with bizarre extenuating circumstances.
In this case of tabloid proportions, the accused, mushroom authority Allan Miller, maintains he can’t remember the accident happening. Under hypnosis he confessed to being kidnapped by aliens where he underwent gross experiments. Even he would rather he be guilty of the crime than admit to what his subconscious maintains happened during a period of missing time. (Cue eerie music.)
As Willa reluctantly investigates the earthly possibility that her client committed this crime, the other world of UFOs and alleged abductions comes to the forefront. A crop circle is found in a field by a local citizen who attracts believers to Santa Cruz from all over. Shades of Roswell! Even Willa experiences missing time and struggles with trying to explain it to herself.
It appears the provincial law has not done a compelling job of examining the evidence. Certainly tire tracks were not found in the Brussels sprout field. The car in question had to sail off the cliff adjacent the growing cruciferous veggies in order to land atop the car below. Willa is determined to look for terrestrial evidence to clear her client.
To offer a balanced defense she requests the least kooky UFO specialists she can find. Unfortunately they can’t agree among themselves just how to explain, let alone prove, UFO abductions.
Other witnesses are afraid to testify due to the financial and social ramifications. Willa is fired when the firm catches on to the shenanigans going on in Space People’s Court.
Further complications arise because of a well-known columnist who has been sitting in on the testimony. He exposes Miller’s long ago doctoral thesis which posed the theory that mushrooms may be an alien life-form, opening the prospect of Spore Wars. Well, you get the idea.
Willa’s fruitcake mother shows up ready to organize a demonstration. She has a long ago connection to one of the UFOlogists, but to avoid upsetting the trial her daughter scuttles her back home before she can cause anymore hullabaloo.
Matera doesn’t draw any conclusions regarding the legitimacy of UFO reports or abductions, but getting there is a hoot. As we all know, the truth is out there.
Star Witness (A Willa Jansson Mystery, Book #6)
Simon & Schuster ♦ 255 pp ● June 1997 ♦ Now available on Kindle