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Smashwords book reviews by Reginald George
- Henrietta of Valley View Farm
on May 09, 2010
I can't stop thinking about Henrietta. As a parent I want my children to read books about her because she's very entertaining and still manages to express the values I grew up with. The values I would want any child to have. My friend's 10 year old daughter loved it. Henrietta evokes that gentle feeling of peace and beauty in the tradition of books like all things bright and beautiful or Dr. Doolittle where animals are real and their hopes and dreams actually matter. Henrietta stays fresh and original by not trying to be trendy or full of gimmicks. The story could have been written any time in the last hundred years, and that's what makes it special. Give the chicken a try. I'm looking forward to her next adventure, and I'm not even a child.
- Christmas on Valley View Farm
on Dec. 09, 2010
Warm Rural Themed Christmas Adventure Feels Just Right
This is the third book in a series about Valley View farm and the animals that live there, but the books all stand alone. This book is for children or adults 8 and older. At it's most basic it's about Daniel who needs to recover his mysteriously stolen cat Midnight, but there's a ghost train, animals that can communicate with Daniel and each other, loving families and teachers and friends, lessons learned, consequences, forgiveness, persistence, and resurrection. This could have been a lot to pack into a children's book, but it was so fun to read! The flights of fancy here are only taken to make the story feel that much more real.
For adults it will bring back a sense of life in America 50 or more years ago when things were much simpler. Like a great story told to friends next to a crackling fire over several nights, this book will stay with you long after you finish it. Many of the colloquialisms used by older people in the story will make kids laugh. There's so much atmosphere, and a lot of subtle humor. I found myself smiling a lot! The ending is wonderful. I would have never found this author if not for Smashwords. Give it a chance.
- Apart from You
on Dec. 28, 2010
Read it for the Journey
This is a literary novel in the truest sense. Even now, a month after I read it, I find myself thinking about the characters and wondering about their possible future lives. The author is great at developing even the incidental people in her story, making all of them very real. What's unusual is that she gives at least two perspectives to each scene, so we learn how differently two people can experience exactly the same events, how they see them based on who they are.
Through situations and thoughts, the author tells the story of two people in a long distance relationship who are forced by their long-term goals to be apart with very little contact for 15 months. It's a classic love triangle, or would be if the two men would ever get the chance to meet, but they don't. There's very little question about the eventual outcome. Elizabeth is in college with all the attendant pressures that someone with ambition would experience. Even though the story is set in the 1960s, it could be in any time period, as everything is just as valid today. We still fall in love, cram for exams, and lie to ourselves, after all.
Dvorkin puts the relationship between Elizabeth, her lover Brian, and her boyfriend Alan under a discerning microscope to show what can happen when good people with the best intentions are pushed too far. I think anyone can relate to what the pressure cooker of loneliness and need can do to a passionate person. The story is bittersweet and memorable. There's some earth-moving sex and a great claw-foot bathtub. There is a wonderful scene in a jewelry store which shows the author's love for and knowledge of gems and minerals, and one in a laundromat that's downright creepy!
Former partners in the dance of life appear just in time to raise the tension even higher. I found myself alternately sympathizing, then completely frustrated with Brian, her naive yet sensitive and caring lover.
By the end of this entertaining and thought-provoking story, the main character, Elizabeth, has had to strip herself emotionally naked and is unapologetic about her choices. Her story forced me to do the same.
For myself, a good book is one that makes me think and feel long after I turn the last page. Dvorkin's book does that. Here, hopes and dreams meet stark reality, and everyone must grow and move on and deal with the consequences. I highly recommend this book.