~~~The Book Elf~~~


For the first 5 years of her life, Your Book Elf was either Hopalong Cassidy (pictured) or Tarzan (thankfully NOT pictured). Learning to read at three, thanks to a very smart Mama, we traveled to more planets, met more dinosaurs, wept buckets over lost and found dogs, galloped over plains and down arroyos on steeds of power and might, and read every horse book the library contained. At six, we snuck away from our sleeping parents in the middle of the night and roamed over an adjacent golf course, climbing trees, gazing at stars, and thinking of places we'd go; our folks never knew until years later when we 'fessed up'. Now at 73, our tree-climbing days are pretty much done but the intensity of wanting to learn more, play more, and see more remain thankfully intact. Reading, both print and audible, keeps us young, alive, and mentally strong. It is our music.


Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon

Reviewed 11.8.19

As an unabashed audiophile with thousands of listening hours in the bag, we have listened to books that were fun, books that were endearing, books that were scary, books that resonated, books that made us weep, and books that we just plain ole enjoyed. And then, there were the very few books that BROUGHT US TO OUR KNEES with depth, artistry, and the sheer power of the author’s ability to spin a magical story. Couple that with a narrator able to make the story-teller’s words come to life and you have an experience that does not let you go...for a long, long time. As a totally visceral reviewer, we have no choice but to respond to how we literally feel the book via all our senses. Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon is one of those rare finds.

We were totally not prepared for our reaction to Boy’s Life...it was an instantaneous deep breath that sustained itself for the entirety of the book. Seriously...as a child of the same time/age, living in a small southern town...the connection was immediate. The racial divide, the joy of a good bicycle, actually playing outside...hell, we had stick horse that we’d have sworn was real. Not understanding math but checking out 7 books a week from the local ‘liberry’.  AND, that damn movie where aliens carved an X on the back of people’s necks!! Scariest movie we’d ever seen. Cory Mackenson and Your Book Elf have eversomuch in common.


Boy's Life is now a book we will read so we can physically highlight passages of intensity and power, which may turn out to be nearly the entire book. Only one other book has reached that level of emotional sovereignty where every. word. is. important. Where a murder leads to not only a need to solve such a vicious death but also offers the seamless infiltration of some improbable events and intriguing people. While wondering about how one writer’s, uh, story-teller’s mind can invent people like Moonman, The Lady, and, our personal favorite, Nemo…it becomes very clear that these people were not formed from a vacuum, they were as real as could be. As was life of a boy named Cory, his family, his town, the people who lived there, and the events time handed them.


The narration of George Newbern was so compelling, we felt like we were watching a movie. He nailed the characters, the accents, the intonation and the emotion in a flawless performance. For a book of this length and magnitude, nobody got lost. You are indeed magnificent.


So, thank you Mr. McCammon for this most excellent book with a prologue and epilogue borne of the love of telling a story. And the story in between is indeed a splendid tale. Your Book Elf can’t wait now to read it.


Daily Ponderances:

Words of hope, humility and sage advice in 140 haracters or less

In a world fraught daily with so many levels of human emotions...anger, fear, hatred, despair, and intolerance, it is quite refreshing to find a book that offers solace and hope. Daily Ponderances by Ken Slay is just such a book. It is a daily meditative guide to one seeking level ground in an uneven topography. Written for his daughter, Mae, for her 21st birthday, Mr. Slay has delivered not only a beautiful gift to her but also to us as well. Driven by brief scriptural reference (which prompts even the most reluctant Bible reader such as me to actually read the verses), Mr. Slay then offers what he calls ‘ponderances’ or things to roll around in your mind and consider; to make sense of in a senseless day or to offer hope when desperation is overwhelming. And what is delicious in these verses and 140 character ponderances is the likelihood that no two people would arrive at the same conclusion, feeling, or understanding...thankfully so. As Mr. Slay says in his thoughtful preface, “Never underestimate the power of words” and this daily provocation is a premier example of that. Consider this ‘ponderance’ as an example of how many turns this can take through your mind; “‘Tis a wondrous world God has built, considering he’s colorblind”. As one who reviews from a visceral plane...if you want a daily challenge to your soul, give it some Daily Ponderances.


The Mississippi Writer's Guild is having their annual meeting July 26-27 in Cleveland, MS at the FABULOUS Grammy Museum. A stellar lineup of workshops and speakers is being offered. Earlier this year, your Book Elf did the following video review of The Fighter, by Michael Farris Smith as part of a challenge to identify 10 books of personal importance. Mr. Smith just happens to be a keynoter and workshop presenter and we are thrilled.  This is a most magnificent book; we in Mississippi are fortunate to be such a fertile ground for writers and Mr. Smith is certainly a worthy talent. Hope to see you on Saturday, July 26! Here is where  you can find additional  information about the Annual Meeting!! http://www.mississippiwritersguild.com/2019-mwg-conference.html 

Enjoy the review!

Welcome to The Book Elf...here we do reviews of books we've both read and/or heard via audio. We love both! These books have entertained, taken us to places we'd never get to go, made us laugh, made us cry, taught us something, or downright took our breath away. As your BE's (Book Elf) former creative writing teacher say, "It ain't all seri-ass literature". Hopefully, you'll find something fun here and enjoy an author you might not have read or listened to before.

We start with our favorite book of all time; the book that opened the door to a life of passion for books...The Black Stallion by Walter Farley. Go figure!