Book Review: Camp Lenape by Timothy R. Baldwin @timothyrbaldwin @IndiesUnitedPub @AnAudiobookworm

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Author: Timothy R. Baldwin

Narrators: Brittany Goodwin, James David West

Length: 3 hours and 3 minutes

Series: A Kahale and Claude Mystery Series, Book 1

Publisher: Indies United Publishing House, LLC

Released: May 28, 2020

Genre: Mystery; YA

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It’s supposed to be a fun summer…then a girl goes missing.

When a girl goes missing, and none of the adults can give a straight answer, a childhood game suddenly turns into a real, secret mission.

Phone lines are down. Strange men roam the campgrounds. Financial documents indicate something’s amiss. And hidden security cameras point to a mysterious cottage in the woods.

With heightened suspicions, junior camp counselors Marcus and Alissa recruit their friends to help find the missing girl. In their search, the teens will learn to rely on each other, especially when they encounter a terrible and dangerous secret.

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Buy Links

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Tim grew up in Syracuse, New York. He currently resides in Maryland where he teaches English, Creative Writing, Film, and Theatre on the middle school level. At the insistence of his own students, he began writing seriously in 2014. He credits his love for story to his mother, who spent countless hours reading to him and his siblings when they were growing up. Growing up, he devoured the literary works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Piers Anthony, and many others. Mysteries, thrillers, and fantasies are among the genres he most frequently reads. When he’s not writing, he’s reading, teaching, camping, or at a live music concert.

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Narrator Bio

Brittany Goodwin is a Nashville-based director, screenwriter and actor know for her faith-based films “Secrets in the Snow”, “Secrets in the Fall”, “Be Still & Know” and “If You’re Gone”, a feature film based on Goodwin’s best-selling novel of the same name. Acting credits include the 2019 theatrical release “The Perfect Race”, as well as her ongoing work as a motion capture actor for Epic Games, and dozens of voiceover and narration credits.

Website

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Narrator Bio

James David West is an actor and producer, known for “Teraphobia” (2020), “The Reflections Project: Subsequent Rumination” (2018) and “God Country”.

Website

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Ahh, summer camp, days and nights full of sun, fun, learning new stuff, making new friends and catching up with old pals, arts & crafts, lots of water activities, squabbling over the top bunks, fighting off a gazillion bugs, sitting around the campfire singing songs and telling stories, coping with homesickness, getting a great tan, hiking through the woods, taking on chores…all in all, a terrific experience except for the obligatory moments of angst. One thing that generally is not part of summer camp is missing campers.

When junior counselor Alissa learns that one of her charges, Bri, has disappeared in the night, she and her co-counselor Marcus (Bri’s older brother) start looking for her and soon discover that the adults don’t seem to be taking this seriously. In fact, the teens believe that lies are being told and they draft a couple of friends, Nate and Janice, to help figure out what’s really going on. Before long, they’re faced with an ugly situation and some really bad guys but, most painful of all, betrayal of their trust.

These teens are dedicated to finding the missing child and, along the way, they learn much about themselves and their hidden strengths. Bringing their stories to life are narrators Brittany Goodwin and James David West whose characterizations are spot on. They also have a good sense of pacing and ramp up the tension when the tale calls for it. They and author Timothy R. Baldwin have crafted a reading/listening experience to be savored by middle graders on up.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2020.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Timothy R. Baldwin. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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Book Review: No Good Deed by Goldy Moldavsky

No Good Deed
Goldy Moldavsky
Point, May 2017
ISBN: 978-0-545-86751-1
Hardcover

Imagine Carl Hiaasen collaborating with Alan Sherman and you’d be on your way to understanding this book. Gregor Maravilla met his idol, Robert Drill, at a book signing when he was fourteen. The tech guru and philanthropist’s words inspired him to come up with a way to save the world. He settled on feeding all the hungry kids. He’s also read Drill’s autobiography nine times. Sandwiched between a nerdy and really rude older brother who plays Minecraft constantly and is raking in bucks from ads accompanying videos of him doing so online and a younger sister who’s a perfect speller, Gregor’s desperate to find his own niche

When he learned that Robert Drill is sponsoring a summer camp for humanitarian teen activists, he applies, expecting to be turned down because the competition is intense. Surprise! He’s selected and even the humiliation heaped upon him by his brother, sister, parents and grandfather on the ride to camp in upstate New York can’t completely dampen his enthusiasm.

His growing awareness that all is not as it seems, begins when he starts meeting the other campers and starts him not only down a road of introspection, but one of gradual cynicism about his plans for saving the world. Everyone there has a cause, including teen movie star Ashley Woodstone (imagine Luna Lovegood channeling some of the ditzier heroines in 1980s Rom-Coms), whose thing is convincing everyone to eat dirt. Add in a men’s rights activist, a boycott camp activist, a teen artist who can’t speak a word of English, an anti Styrofoam activist and dozens more who are equally oddball and you have the recipe for a perfect storm of sniping, backstabbing and cutthroat competition.

While the party line is that everyone’s there to promote a better world, the realization that there are various types of competitions to earn points toward an internship to be awarded to the camper with the highest total, turns any hope of cooperation into a free for all. Gregor’s constant insecurity and self-doubt put him in the fish out of water category, so much so that every time he opens his mouth, he’s nibbling his own toes.

Despite his attempts to avoid Ashley, they seem to be thrown together at every turn and as the summer insanity progresses, their conversations become the sanest part of his day. It takes a virtual war between the guys and gals at the final competition, a frightening experience involving Ashley and some hard looking in the mirror for Gregor to realize what’s truly important, not only in terms of saving the world, but in terms of how he sees others.

This is a funny and wacky story, but make no mistake, under all the goofiness beats a very strong heart.

Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, July 2017.

Book Review: One S’More Summer by Beth Merlin

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Title: One S’more Summer
Series: The Campfire Series #1

Author: Beth Merlin
Publisher: Ink Monster LLC
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction

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Purchase Links:

Electronic

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon

Paperback
Coming June 27th

Barnes & Noble // Indiebound // Amazon

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One S’more Summer
The Campfire Series #1
Beth Merlin
Ink Monster LLC, May 2017
ISBN 9781943858200
Ebook

From the publisher—

For twenty long years, Gigi Goldstein has been pining away for her best friend’s guy. She knows it’s wrong and it has to stop, but she hasn’t been able to let go ever since they all met on the bus to summer camp back when they were 7 years old. The same week that her best friends finally announce their wedding date, Gigi loses her high-profile design job. With all of her dreams unravelling, she runs to the last place she remembers being happy.

Taking the Head Counselor position at Camp Chinooka, Gigi hopes to reclaim the joy she felt as a camper, but the job isn’t all campfire songs and toasting marshmallows. Gigi’s girls are determined to make her look bad in front of the boys’ Head Counselor—the sexy but infuriating Perry—and every scrap of the campground is laced with memories.

When Gigi finally realizes she can’t escape the present by returning to her past, she’s forced to reexamine her life and find the true meaning of love. But will she be able to mend fences and forgive herself before she loses her one real shot at happiness?

I admit it, my head was turned by a book cover. When I saw this, I couldn’t help flashing back to all the years my family went tent camping, not to mention my Girl Scout years and all the summers I went to one camp or another. I didn’t need any other incentive to read this.

(I also have a strange compulsion to watch movies set at camps.  Hmm….)

Gigi’s first day as head counselor really brought back memories of the camp I went to as a thirteen-year-old except for one thing: Gigi makes it sound like getting rid of head counselors was every campers dream, every year. I never experienced anything like that; rather, all the hostilities and machinations were directed at other campers. Oh, well, this is chick-lit at it’s core so I just ignored the things that didn’t really matter to the central story.

Gigi is frustrated with her life and that made her a little frustrating to me because she is a bit of a whiner but I totally understood her. When you get right down to it, Gigi is running away and hopes to find solace in the place that was the beginning of her friendships with two very important people. Jordana and Jamie are memorable characters (in a good way) but the developing relationship between Gigi and Perry is what it’s all about and Perry is a delight. It was fun to see these two work their way through their pasts so they can maybe find the future.

I love the way Beth Merlin never quite tells it all so I kept wondering when I would find out more. That’s a great way to hold my attention and adds a touch of chick-lit style suspense. You could almost call this a mystery. Nah, not really, but…. I also appreciated that romance is certainly present but it isn’t the be-all end-all. Instead, Gigi coming to terms with herself and her life is what’s really important. Overall, I enjoyed this book quite a lot.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2017.

About the Author

Beth Merlin has a BA from The George Washington University where she minored in Creative Writing and a JD from New York Law School. She’s a native New Yorker who loves anything Broadway, rom-coms, her daughter Hadley, and a good maxi dress. She was introduced to her husband through a friend she met at sleepaway camp and considers the eight summers she spent there to be some of the most formative of her life. One S’more Summer is Beth’s debut novel.

Author links:

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Book Review: The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini

The Other NormalsThe Other Normals
Ned Vizzini
Balzer + Bray, September 2012
ISBN 978-0-06-207990-9
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Given the chance, fifteen-year-old Peregrine “Perry” Eckert would dedicate every waking moment to Creatures & Caverns, an epic role-playing game rich with magical creatures, spell casting, and deadly weapons. The world of C&C is where he feels most comfortable in his own skin. But that isn’t happening—not if his parents have anything to do with it. Concerned their son lacks social skills, they ship him off to summer camp to become a man. They want him to be outdoors playing with kids his own age and meeting girls—rather than indoors alone, with only his gaming alter ego for company. Perry knows he’s in for the worst summer of his life.

Everything changes, however, when Perry gets to camp and stumbles into the World of the Other Normals. There he meets Mortin Enaw, one of the creators of C&C, and other mythical creatures from the game, including the alluring Ada Ember, whom Perry finds more beautiful than any human girl he’s ever met. Perry’s new otherworldly friends need his help to save their princess and prevent mass violence. As they embark on their quest, Perry realizes that his nerdy childhood has uniquely prepared him to be a great warrior in this world, and maybe even a hero. But to save the princess, Perry will have to learn how to make real connections in the human world as well.

Ah, summer camp, that place where some kids can’t wait to go and others dread the experience as if it were prison, a punishment for unidentified misdeeds and social ineptitude. Such is the fate awaiting poor 15-year-old Perry Eckart when his parents drop him off at Camp Washiska Lake. It’s more than just his parents, though—his mom’s and dad’s significant others, divorce lawyers Horace and Kimberley, are actively involved in orchestrating what Perry is sure will be the worst summer of his life and his older brother, Jake, is enjoying his dismay immensely.

Sure enough, that’s the way things start out, with autocratic counselors and bullying older campers, the kind that would maybe be better suited to a juvenile detention facility. To add to his woes, who can he play his beloved role-playing game with? Playing Creatures & Caverns is when he’s most comfortable but Sam, his RPG buddy who has also been dumped at camp, is acting like he doesn’t want anything to do with Perry.

But wait, maybe there’s more to this camp than Perry expected! One minute he’s looking out a window and the next, he’s chasing a very odd and elusive creature into the woods and his life changes forever—or, at least, until he saves a princess who’s been kidnapped by a monster named Ophisa and brings order back to the World of the Other Normals with the help of his new friends, Mortin Enaw and Ada Ember.

I love this book, yes, love it. Never having been a teenaged boy—and having raised only girls—I can’t say with knowledge that this is a faithful rendition of a teenaged nerdy boy but, oh my goodness, it certainly seems so. The angst and goofiness abound and Perry is a completely dorky delight. Add to that an imaginative cast of characters, Normals and Other Normals, and a story that takes wings and you’ve got a few hours of wonderful entertainment.

Some of my favorite lines—

“God, life is too boring for me to live anymore, so can I please wake up in the morning in a more exciting place? Not that I want to be a whiner.”

“our transgressions are wholly childish and so we hide them as if they’re sexual”

“Listen. When you were growing up, we always told you that you could do whatever you wanted with your life. It’s time to drop that lie.”

“I don’t like being naked. I haven’t really had the Growth Spurt yet, you know what I mean?”

“The younger boys surround us like horrible reminders of what we used to be.”

Perry’s adventures and what he learns about himself along the way are nothing but fun—rush right out and get this book!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2012.