Point, July 2013
Ah, the quintessential love story. This is the Hershey’s chocolate bar. It is the song that makes you grin, pump up the volume and dance. It is, in a word, awesome.
Ripped from her home in sultry South Carolina to start a new life in an ancient Scottish castle, Ivy exhibits courage and strength as she grimly strives to accept her fate. This reader couldn’t help but fall in love with this spunky, violin-wielding character. She is pretty much everything I wanted to be as a teen-aged girl. Her admirable qualities include confidence, a remarkably open mind and a quiet, but unmistakable, resolve as she is forced to face unknown adversaries. Who doesn’t want to be a tough, cool chick with a huge (hidden) romantic streak?
Speaking of romance, enter Logan Munro. From the author’s amazing descriptions, I know he is no less than dreamy. With his rugged good looks, charming Scottish brogue and fierce loyalty and protectiveness towards Ivy, I fell for him immediately. Of course, life is never so simple. Despite the obvious attraction and compatibility, Logan and Ivy know that they can never be together, in a conventional sense. Ivy is alive and well and Logan is…………not. Being young, they don’t fight their feelings, they simply strive to accept the companionship that they can have…..at least for as long as Logan’s soul is lingering in limbo.
This unique relationship is not the biggest problem Ivy faces. The malevolent force that seemed determine to destroy her has shifted its focus to her beloved mother. Ivy must stop the evil quickly or she will lose her mom forever. Figuring out how to end the black madness is one thing; knowing that her success may cost her Logan is quite another.
With her enchanting words, Ms. Miles paints a gorgeous picture of Scotland and its magnificent architecture. Feeling emerged in the scenes, the story seemed to wrap around me….almost like falling into a dream. This is the only book that I can recall that warmed my heart as is simultaneously chilled me to the bone.
**Sidebar regarding Labeling: I appreciate that this book falls into the Middle Grade genre, as it is most certainly appropriate for that age group; however, I fear that this limits the potential audience. I have celebrated my 40th birthday (and then some) and I often dig into very serious and heavy non-fiction, “adult-themed” books. This does not preclude me from enjoying a great story that is told amazingly well. Forevermore is such a story. Please, put the label aside and enjoy.**
Reviewed by jv poore, August 2013.
Summer of the Woods
Steven K. Smith
MyBoys3 Press, May 2013
If Mr. Smith’s first book is an indication of things to come, he will quickly become one of my son’s favourite authors. Mine too, actually. Although The Boy, an 8-year old 3rd grader, loves to read on his own, he still indulges my Mommy Moments and allows me to occasionally read a book with him. To me, Summer of the Woods is the ideal book for this, because it has something for adults, as well as for children.
As if by magic, Mr. Smith presents the perfect combination of nostalgia and modern day. This exemplifies the summers I remember. Freely roaming all around, turning over rocks in creeks, exploring woods and caves while our imaginations provided limitless adventures. Kids being kids. Good times, good stuff.
On the other hand, there are some pretty cool tools that we, as parents, have today, that I bet my folks would have welcomed. Google. Oh, how I love Google, as a mom. Kids will always be curious, and the “new” advantage of quickly answering their questions with information and pictures at your fingertips allows their little minds to just keep going and going. Which is why they are so darn smart, as brilliantly demonstrated in this story.
Two young boys move to Richmond, Virginia; into a large, old house, backed by woods and a winding creek. So, yes, I am a bit biased, but only because Mr. Smith captures the essence of my home so accurately and vividly. In no time at all, young Sam finds an old wheat penny, which leads them to the discovery of the legendary mystery. Supposedly, a valuable and rare coin collection was stolen from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts many, many years ago and was never recovered. As all good boys would do, the brothers make it their mission to solve the crime and recover the treasure. What follows is a classic adventure that you simply must experience.
I admit that I went into this book with high expectations. Not only was I not disappointed, but I was quite surprised to find so many things that I love about this book. The dialogue and teasing among the family is spot-on. The mystery was fun, interesting, and authentic. The boys’ emotions and actions are more than credible—these are typical 8 and 10 year old boys. The story flowed so smoothly that I actually read this in one sitting, although that wasn’t my plan when I picked it up.
**Sidebar: For the 3rd consecutive year, all of the students in my son’s elementary school (K-5) will be reading the same book, at the same time, with their families. The first year was E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan and last year was George Selden’s The Cricket in Times Square. Both books were fine, but not necessarily captivating. Neither The Boy nor I had any desire to quickly seek out more books by these authors (because I had already read Charlotte’s Web about 100 times). Summer of the Woods is this year’s book. Yes, I cheated. I read ahead, and on my own. I am not even sorry. But, there is one issue that I foresee. With the other two books it was very easy to read one chapter each day and then put the book down. I don’t see that being the case with this page-turner; but, as a reader, I honestly can’t see that as a bad thing.
I can’t wait to see what the kids think of this story, and I’m already very excited about Mr. Smith’s next book: Mystery on Church Hill. **
Reviewed by jv poore, October 2013.