A Review of Meredith’s Wolf, by Judith Barban


Review—Meredith’s Wolf by Judith Barban, Thomas Max Publishing, 2014, 164 pages.

 One morning, while her mother and stepfather were away, Meredith Marsten, sixteen years old, climbed into a small airplane and flew into the Canadian wilderness in search of Wolfie. Meredith had adopted Wolfie as a pet when he was a small, helpless pup. As he grew to maturity, she and her stepfather realized he needed to be with his own kind and released him into the wild.

 From the opening lines to the final words, this short coming-of-age young adult novel holds the reader’s attention with excitement and suspense. The setting for the novel—the Canadian wilderness—sounded incredibly beautiful but seemed to be chockfull with many dangers as well.

 My favorite characters were Meredith; Wolfie, also called Maengun; and Mark, the Ojibwe. I admired Meredith for her gutsiness and bravery in both raising a wolf pup to adulthood and then going after him. The sections of the novel told from Wolfie’s point of view are particularly poignant and educational. The introduction of Mark was a delightful surprise.

 I don’t want to spoil the plotline or the ending, but I will say there are plenty of twists and turns, and lots of unexpected characters.

 This book is a wonderful, exciting, suspenseful adventure, love story. I highly recommend it.





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Summer Reading Program–2015

My local library sponsored a summer reading program–mostly for children, but it also included an adult summer reading goal. The goal was to read three (3) books during June and July.

I’ve kept a record of books I’ve read for the last year–so keeping up with what I read during those two months was not a problem. Imagine my surprise when I looked at my list and discovered I’d actually read fourteen (14) books!

And, yes, I did win one of the weekly prizes–a $10 gift card for TCBY, a card both my five-year-old granddaughter and I enjoyed using.

My granddaughter also participated in the summer reading program by listening to either her parents or me read books to her. She completed eight (8) hours of listening, a little short of the goal of ten (10) hours for her age group. Thanks, Mommy and Daddy, for reading and counting the stickers!

What did I read? My number one choice for pleasure reading is mystery and detective fiction.

An old favorite was Victoria Holt, an author I discovered when I was eleven (11) years old. Mistress of Mellyn was just as exciting this summer! A new author who thrilled me just as much was Sandra Byrd, with Mist of Midnight. If you haven’t read it, find it and see what you think.

A new/old author I discovered by watching “Inspector Morse” on PBS was Colin Dexter. I read four (4) in that series.

Linda Castillo, author of Pray for Silence, was one author I re-discovered, and read two (2) in her Kate Burkholder series.

Re-reading Sue Henry’s The Serpent’s Trail was a special treat.

The remaining five (5) titles would be found in the Christian fiction section of your local book store: City of the Dead, by T. L. Higley; Face of Betrayal, by Lis Wiehl; Under a Turquoise Sky, by Lisa Carter; The Priest, by Francine Rivers; and Writer to Writer, by Thoene and Thoene.

Trying to decide which was my favorite book or series was extremely difficult but top honors go to Lisa Carter, Linda Castillo, and Sandra Byrd.

Which authors would make your list?


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First Book to Carry Me Away

What was the first book that you transported you to another world? Was there a book you never wanted to put down?

When I was a teen-ager or maybe a little younger, I picked up a magazine, Ladies Home Journal I think, and found a story. As I began to read, my mind traveled to another time and place–eighteenth century England. I could picture the huge house, the servants, the poor young lady hired to be a governess to a wild child. I couldn’t pronounce all the names, but that didn’t stop me from reading. I was so into the story, I couldn’t believe it when I came to the end, but instead of “The End”, the words said, “To Be Continued”. I had to wait another month to read the next part of the story!

I could hardly wait for the next installment. I did find the next issue and read the ending–or it might have been spread over three issues.

Later I found the book in the library. Mistress of Mellyn, by Victoria Holt. An incredible novel for a young girl to read. Once I discovered the author’s name, I read every book she wrote, as the library purchased them. I was hooked forever on reading gothic novels and romantic suspense.

What was the first book to carry you away?

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Kimberlyn Blum-Hyclak: In the Garden of Life and Death

What a treat it was to hold the slim volume entitled In the Garden of Life and Death: A Mother and Daughter Walk, Poems by Kimberlyn Blum-Hyclak, published by Main Street Rag, Charlotte, NC.


I would pick up the book, read one poem, savor it, and then put the book down. I soon found the Lays potato chip commercial to be true: “No one can eat just one.”

I took the book with me wherever I went, instead of a mystery or suspense thriller, dipping into it whenever I had a moment to read. I wore sunglasses in case someone sitting in the car parked beside me should notice tears on my cheeks.

I have known Kimberlyn Blum-Hyclak “Kim” for a number of years. I have always found Kim’s poetry to be wonderful, chockfull with images that are clear and yet form connections in unique and original ways. Her experiences touch the emotions in a healthy way. With a touch of humor and a lot of faith, she describes what it is like for a family to work through difficult and trying times.

For any mother, for any daughter, for anyone who has watched a loved one battle cancer, this book, In the Garden of Life and Death, is a must-read.


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Readings at Gallery 102

What a beautiful place to read poetry! Gallery 102 in Lancaster, SC, has many paintings and other types of art work by local artists on display. Carla Bryant and Kevin Lilly, owners of Gallery 102, have graciously opened their space to poets, fiction writers, and other writers to share their written words.


On January 11, 2015, a group of about fifteen people gathered for an afternoon of “Poetry and Prose”. Featured readers were Ed R. Green, author of Hope: The Sapphire Prison, Book One; and Donna Wylie, a poet with numerous published poems.


During Open Mic, the readers included Judith Barban, author of two novels and a book of poetry; Barbara Lunow, author of Are We There Yet?; Julie Cook, poet with two collections of published poetry; Rosemary Gray, poet and illustrator; Joy Colter, poet; and Martha T. Robinson, who read a non-fiction story, “Pass Christian, Mississippi Mission Trip”.

It was a wonderful afternoon filled with beautiful passages from some very talented local poets and authors!

The next reading will be on Sunday, February 8th. You won’t want to miss it! Craig Faris, author of The Spectrum Conspiracy and Barbara Lunow will be our Featured Readers.

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Marjory Wentworth – SC Poet Laureate

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To say I am distracted is an understatement. I can describe what I’ve done: pour coffee in the cat’s water bowl, tuck the milk in the pantry next to the Rice Chex, and then squeeze Colgate Multi-whitening onto my hairbrush, and you have an idea of my morning.

Now the level has risen to major irritation. And I suppose that’s what the governor of the great state of South Carolina feels on her second inaugural morning. Major irritation. If you haven’t heard, the governor cut our state’s poet laureate duties – Marjory Wentworth caused an uproar with her writing – because she wrote a poem about the not-so-smiling history of this state. Read her inaugural poem without the inaugural audience at WRVO’s site…

Whew, I feel better just sharing this with more people! Exactly what I need to do. And so do you. Regardless of your political, poetic or other…

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Out with the Old–In with the New

During 2014 I found myself writing more, nearly every day. I wrote new stuff and polished old stuff. I mailed things out, submitting poems and stories to contests. I even attempted writing a novel, accepting the NaNoWriMo challenge, and completed a 50,000 word novel during November 2014. Nothing has been accepted for publication. No contests have listed my name as a winner.

Was all my hard work wasted effort? Absolutely not! The only way to improve in writing is to keep writing.

My new Year’s resolution: I resolve to write every day. During NaNoWriMo I set a specific time to write. Early morning is best for me. I found I could reach my daily goal in an hour or two. What would happen if I set a higher goal, say 2000 words per day? Or 10 pages per day? Just writing, without editing. What could I accomplish?

I was very proud that I was able to complete the NaNoWriMo novel.

Another thing I was proud of is I had to expand my poetry notebook. My poems were arranged in a 1 1/2 inch binder, but it was crammed so full, a 2 inch binder was needed. What a thrill it was to make that change. Now my poems have room to breathe. Who knows? Maybe they will beget new ones!

Happy writing to all in the New Year 2015!

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