Sunday, May 12, 2013

Return to Finkleton by K.C. Hilton-4.5 stars

Hilton, K.C., Return to FInkleton. CreateSpace, 2012. Pgs. 210.
Living with their Great Uncle Harry and helping in his shop, Robert, Lizzy, and Jack has discovered some magical secrets. In the first book Magic of Finkleton, the trio was able to stop their nemesis, Mr. Lowsley’s dastardly plot to try and force people into selling their house to him by fixing the lever under the counter of their uncle’s shop. That lever controlled the rain in Finkleton. Now, a new lever has appeared. When Robert discovers a secret room under his uncle’s study, he also discovers a lever that creates lightning in Finkleton. When he pulls the lever, he finds out that Miss Caroline, a friend of the family’s, house has burned down. To make matters worse, the hourglasses in the shop, that somehow help to control the weather, malfunction and Robert accidentally blurts the problem out to his uncle in front of Mr. Lowsley. Now Mr. Lowsley is threatening Robert and his family if Robert doesn’t tell the magical secret of Finkleton. Thinking that he can get past all of the bad things and prevent himself from betraying his family, Robert messes with a clock in his uncle’s study that’s supposed to go forward or backward. Unfortunately, he not only winds the clock forward, but manages to break just as he gets 25 years into the future. Can Robert figure out a way to fix the clock, save Finkleton from Mr. Lowsley, and fix the problem he created?
A delightful, time travel fantasy. The characters are likable and realistic. The plot is well-developed, well-paced, and entertaining. Readers who have read the first book in the series will have an easier time following this book, but it can be read without having read the first one. Fans of fantasy, adventure, time travel, and magic will enjoying reading this book.

Grades 4 to 7, 4.5 stars

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mogadishu Diaries 1992-1993: Bloodlines by Eddie Clay Thompkins III-4.5 stars

Thompkins, III, Eddie Clay, Mogadishu 1992-1993: Bloodlines. Eddie Thompkins, 2012. pgs. 149.

Eddie Clay III’s Mogadishu Diaries 1992-1993:Bloodlines is a well-done example of military fiction. This book will be a treat to any fans of television shows like MASH or who like to read military fiction.  When a request for augmentees (members sent to another unit to provide support) to deploy with an MAF unit to Somalia, Gunnery Sergeant “Gunny T” Thompson and his friend, Corporal Ramirez volunteer. Constantly butting heads with the commander, Captain Shaffner, who sees augmentees as thorns in his side.  Gunny T tries to get his friend Corporal Ramirez noticed.  If he can get his friend noticed or granted awards for service, the corporal will get promoted. Unfortunately, things aren’t starting to look in their favor. To make matters worse, things are getting more violent and dangerous in Somalia and Shaffner’s opinion of the two augmentees seems to be affecting the man’s judgment. Can the duo survive Somalia and get the recognition they deserve or will Shaffner ruin their careers?
One great aspect of Clay’s novel is the camaraderie the main character and his friend have with not only the natives, but the other staff members as well. Their likable, flawed, personalities only increases the book’s natural way of grabbing the reader’s interest. The mix of seriousness and humor is masterfully done and adds fun, entertainment value to the story while still keeping true to the events that occur in the book. I also enjoyed the inclusion of real photos from the author’s time in Somalia and appreciated the appropriate tribute to the fallen in the book.

The one problem with this novel is it would have been nice to get to see more of the conflict going on in Somalia. Although the reader was shown glimpses of through some of the natives’ point of views , the only war conflict we saw was at the end of his deployment.  This probably was true to the author’s memoirs and may have disrupted the integrity of the story if it was included. Regardless, I was engrossed in the story from page one and can’t wait to read more about the author’s experiences. I would definitely recommend this book for someone who wants a military memoir or novel that is funny and serious that is accurate in its portrayal of historical events.
4.5 stars, HS and Adult