Molly's Reviews

Through Katrina's EyesThrough Katrina’s Eyes
Poems from an animal Rescuer’s Soul
Ed Kostro

Captivating Read ... Highly Recommended ... 5 stars

Writer/animal activist says ‘This Book of Remembrance Is dedicated to every Katrina victim, both human and nonhuman, both living and deceased, who endured a hellish nightmare that most of us can only imagine; and to the many compassionate souls who rushed to assist them, in whatever way they could.’

„Through Katrina’s Eyes“ is compilation of poetic works beginning with Immanuel Kant’s haunting words ‘Our eyes, are the windows to our soul.’ Poet Kostro’s first offering is „Through Katrina’s Eyes“ in which he brings the reader face to face with the horror, terror, death of hope and sheer and total disheartenment for so many of those four legged beings ravaged by Katrina. Critters were left behind at times by those who thought they would soon return, others were left behind and by so called human rescuers who insisted animals could not accompany those who had carried them with them from homes to supposed safety.

The Old Man and His Dog, and The Woman and Her Daughter are filled with the poignant hope we humans retain, and to which our critters respond to so well. Other offerings include Katrina’s Highway. Pet Rescue Camp, Message in a Bottle, and Mangy Dog. A sweet loving dog is showcased in the words of One Eyed Jack, and a grimly determined cat is brought to mind as we read The Old Traveler. The joy of reunion is offered in A Vet and His Pet, while the heartache of being wrenched from his loving master’s arms by a heartless ‘rescuer’ before he too is returned to his beloved owners is showcased in Heavenly Touch, happiness renewed by adoption is found in the words of Get Shorty. Poet Kostro’s own adoption record is brought to bear in Autumn in St. Louis, Eddie, Tater, and A Flower Blooms in Winter. The plight of the lucky – saved, ‘left behinds’ is showcased in Help and Paradise Lost in which writer Kostro brings the reader face to face with the urgency of so many now rescued but living in pens and needing homes critters. Kostro’s poetry closes with the poignant wish ‘we rescuers pray that our government has now grown a lot wiser. We pray owners will never again be forced to leave them behind.’

Writer Kostro’s poetry and love of animals is well known to this reviewer. Kostro includes not only his own poetic works, but also some background and ‘color’ information regarding his volunteer capacity in the rescue effort made after pet owners were forced to evacuate and leave behind the companions with whom they shared their lives. Kostro also includes quotes from a number of well known figures from history and modern day regarding critters and the role they share in our lives.

„Through Katrina’s Eyes“ is a compelling read, brings the reader into both the despair and optimism of the rescuers and the confused, anxious ones who were left behind. The Poems are not always easy to read as we find the discouragement and hopelessness depicted in stark realism. The joy of reunion or adoption restore the reader’s ability to deal better with the despair grimly portrayed.

Excellent poetry, excellent message. A book for everyone. Those who love critters will need no encouragement to buy, read, and read again. Those for whom critters are only something over which we humans have ‘dominion’ may find themselves beginning to understand better the early writers who actually said critters are here toward which we smug ‘intelligent’ beings shall exhibit compassionate care.

Excellent addition to the personal reading shelf, the school library, therapist shelf and reader learning. A Portion of the proceeds will go to animal rescue efforts.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Gold River CanyonGold River Canyon
Edward Kostro

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Entertaining Read Recommended ... 5 stars

The chronicle begins at the Territorial Prison, Yuma, Arizona. The year is 1878 and ex-marshal Jake Golden is planning retirement in California with his wife Cecelia. Demented butcher Bart Zachary, a near seven foot giant has just escaped from the prison and is bent on vengeance against Jake and anyone else close to the old lawman, or who had a hand in Zachary’s incarceration. A hoped for fishing trip, am alarming premonition, a vexing card game and a drink with an old friend all reckon in the yarn. The ordeal begins with a peculiar man shouting and driving a wagon up and down the canyon. Sage Brush has arrived to reveal that Bart Zachary broke out of prison over two weeks ago. When Jake finds Sage brutally annihilated a short time later Jake is over come with anguish. Before long his grief become total fury. A posse, Apache on the move and a missing child propel the recital along. The abandoned Santa Anna Copper Mine appears to hold the key to the mystery surrounding how to stop the maniacal murderer.

‘Gold River Canyon’ is an extraordinary and riveting glimpse at the old West. Novelist Kostro has constructed a white knuckle page turner of a tale filled with complicity, historical milieu, and well developed characters. That Kostro has done his preparation for writing is manifest. Kostro’s depiction of 1870s Arizona, the Apache people and their legends, and chronicled actuality is irreproachable.

Once again writer Kostra has created a thrilling melee filled work in his ‘Gold River Canyon’. Characters are boisterous, plausible, and satisfactory. Piquant, creditable colloquy is occupied with stimulating jocularity, prickle filled with an unquestionable ‘folks talking to one another’ attribute. The ribbing badinage carried out between Cecelia and her tired, aging husband is comparable to that taking place regularly between spouses/companions/friends far and wide. And that common folksiness is much of what makes this work so refreshing. The reader is caught up immediately both in the narrative and in the lives of the characters themselves. Reader interest is held fast from the opening lines right down to the last paragraphs. Prickly dialogue, perilous story line and paradoxical players generously illustrated, this describes ‘Gold River Canyon’ completely.

‘Gold River Canyon’ has a place on the pleasure reading shelf in the home and school library. While written for the grown-up reader ‘Gold River Canyon’ will likewise be relished by competent readers from upper middle grades into high school.

‘Gold River Canyon’ is a great book for lazing away a warm summer day spent in the swing reading on the porch. This is NOT the book to read on a drear and stormy night when you are home alone. Happy to recommend.

I do not keep all the books I receive for review, Ed Kostro’s ‘Gold River Canyon’ is an edition I will be keeping.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Mystery of Madera CanyonMystery of Madera Canyon
Edward Kostro

My name is Bonafacio Martinez. My classmates call me ‘Bony.’ So begins the narrative "Mystery of Madera Canyon". Young Martinez is an Arizona treasure hunter who enjoys going into the desert or mountains to hunt for treasure and until just lately he has had little luck in finding much other than a few old Apache arrowheads and a lot of animal bones. Even though twelve year old Bony has not yet traveled much of the world his hero is Indiana Jones. In fact Bony intends to be a famous archeologist.

After locating his first real treasure Bony decides to keep a journal. The journal provides the grist for the narrative. Bony and his part wolf/dog Lobo have lots of adventures. For his twelfth birthday Bony’s dad agrees to take him out to Madera Canyon where legend says a ghostly figure of an Apache Woman, is to be found during a full moon. Bony not only likes digging up bones, he also likes bird watching. When Bony’s dad drops Bony, Lobo and Bony’s new birthday binoculars and bird book off at the canyon parking lot; Bony has little notion what escapades awaits. Forest Ranger Lou Thieman helps Bony choose The Vault Mine hiking trail, myriad humming birds, Snickers bars, nacho chips, Milk Bones for Lobo and before long Bony recognizes more time has passed than he realized. A Boy Scout Memorial to scouts who got lost on the trails and died during a snow storm cause Bony a moment of sadness.

When Lobo takes off down the Super Trail Bony has no choice but to follow, and, that is when the problems begin. A chance meeting with two coatis ends without incident. Racing after an elusive Elegant Trogon proves a big mistake. Bony leaves the trail and soon finds himself … lost and without his compass. It is late afternoon and Bony has a definite problem. With night fast approaching; Bony is a tad spooked to locate the el Diablo hummingbird sitting and shrieking nearby.

Elf owls, trying to sleep on the cold hard ground, darkness and an active imagination all begin to take their toll on Bonafacio’s thinking. A voice speaking in Spanish sounds in the darkness, Bony and Lobo are attacked by Screech Owls, and a concealed book in a hidden cavern add to the mystery. After the night he has had; Bony has quite a story to tell when he finally reunites with his father and Ranger Thieman. Moreover, he has found a real honest to goodness treasure.

On the pages of "Mystery of Madera Canyon" Writer Kostro has produced an excellent fast paced narrative sure to please middle grades boys in particular. I will be using the book with my fourth grade for our ‘after lunch, reading to kids time.’ I particularly like the use of Spanish words, descriptions of various birds and animals to be found in the Arizona locale, and non preachy or threatening manner of showing youngsters how easy it is to get off the known trail and lost when out in areas such as are described in the narrative.

Kids in the target audience of 8 – 12 often think they are larger than life and indestructible. Bony and his dog Lobo allow youngsters the comfort in knowing that it is okay to be afraid, okay to feel sadness at the deaths of others and okay to be faced with situations for which there may be no real explanation. Bony kept his cool and made it to safety … a good lesson taught. "Mystery of Madera Canyon" provides discussion starters for talking about what to do if lost and alone in the darkness.

"Mystery of Madera Canyon" is a superior choice for home library pleasure reading, the school book shelf and the home school reading program. I was sent a paperback copy of the book for review. Don’t read it on a dark and stormy night!!

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Curious CreaturesCurious Creatures - Wondrous Waifs
Edward Kostro
Publish America

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Interesting Read ... Highly Recommended ... 5 stars

Not a story book per se, "Curious Creatures – Wondrous Waifs" recounts writer Kostro’s life long love affair with critters. Written in 42 chapters "Curious Creatures – Wondrous Waifs" opens with ‘A Snake, a Rat, and Two Alley Cats’, moves on to give the reader a peek into other animals who have enriched author Kostro’s life and ends with ‘Memories Will Have to Do.’ In addition to the many critters Kostro has known he weaves a bit of his own family history into the work as he outlines his childhood home and the grandparents, parents and others who peopled his world. We are introduced to Kostro’s childhood companion, Tiger, a brown Shepherd – Collie mix, maybe in Chapter 2. Kostro’s obvious love for the dog and the dogs adoration of his family is clear to the reader. Tiger is reintroduced in Chapter 8 and we weep with Kostro while reading chapter 9 as we face the loss of this wonderful animal to old age and death. Another dog, Pepper, death of grandparents, a kamikaze bee, life with Buddy, marriage, lost love and divorce and the Christmas cat are subjects for other chapters.

On the pages of "Curious Creatures – Wondrous Waifs" writer Kostro has crafted a lovely read for all lovers of animals large and small. Kostro skillfully weaves several threads into the varying accounts of pets and other critters he has known. Family relationships, death, dissolution and hope and love reborn, a little boy growing up in simpler times and today facing a life far different than that he had known as a child, critters, critters, critters, are all addressed with skill and grace.

Readers will grab for a tissue when reading about Tiger’s demise, and will laugh as Kostro recounts his mischievous childhood adventures. Pepper, a Schnauzer/Doxie mix is presented as a most wonderful pet.

This is not a story book, but a book of chapters to be read and then re read in bits and pieces and smidgens and gulps as the mood dictates. Kostro’s command of language is excellent. His writing is straight forward and easily read. Each chapter follows on another, but each will stand alone for a brief read as we wait for the train to pass by, or grab a quick break at our desk for a mini read and cup of coffee.

"Curious Creatures – Wondrous Waifs" is an excellent book for the home, school and personal library. Junior High Schoolers will enjoy hearing the chapters read aloud as much as they enjoy reading them for themselves or to younger siblings and while mentoring middle or primary grade youngsters. Little folks will enjoy hearing the chapters paraphrased-read to them. Home schoolers will find the work valuable for tweaking interest in both boys and girls of middle grades to high school.

Thoroughly enjoyed the read. I do not keep all books I receive for review. As a pet lover myself, and having truly enjoyed the read; "Curious Creatures – Wondrous Waifs" IS one book I will be keeping for my own library. Happy to recommend.

Cemetery IslandCemetery Island
Edward Kostro

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Exciting Read ... Highly Recommended ... 5 stars

Margaret Hawkins was beginning to think she might like this vacation cooked up by her adventuresome husband Tom. Then, all hell broke loose. Marge, Tom and their small toothless Chihuahua, Big Mack set forth in a small houseboat on Kabetagonia Lake up on the Minnesota Canadian border region of Voyageur National Park. The first six days of their vacation were gone, and the family settled in for their last night aboard the houseboat when word of a terrifying storm came over the radio. Soon they were buffeted by unbelievable wind blasts, lightning cracked and rain came in torrents. When the houseboat tore loose from its moorings and Tom fell unconscious from a blow from flying debris Marge was prepared for the worst. Morning brought the Hawkins' to an unscathed shoreline, Ojibwa Indians who were expecting their arrival and an angry cubless Grizzly.

Ed Kostra has produced a galvanizing tumult filled work in his “Cemetery Island”. Characters are robust, believable, and acceptable. Peppy, credible dialogue is filled with piquant humor, tingle and a genuine 'people talking' quality. The interplay between school teacher Marge and her adventure seeking lawyer husband is the type of situation played out daily between spouses/companions the nationwide. And that is much of what makes this work so enjoyable. The reader is caught up both in the tale and in the lives of the characters themselves. What wife/partner has not at one time or another accompanied a husband on a venture HE views with bright-eyed, 'not able to hear her lack of' enthusiasm and she views as one step below a root canal?

The excitement and mystery of “Cemetery Island” is complimented with historical fact offered as conversation between Tom and Marge as they trek northward. Those who like to be treated to a bit of knowledge in their otherwise fictional accounts will be pleased to note write Kostra has done his homework. The complex, intricate, interwoven tale travels easily from past to present and present to past on the pages of “Cemetery Island”.

The work closes with Marge planning the Hawkins' next vacation and Big Mack dreaming of a small boy and a woolly mammoth. Marge is reserving rooms for them aboard a luxury cruise ship to Alaska. The next book in this easily read Time Travel series is surely on the way, and what good news that is.

Snappy colloquy, treacherous scenario and enigmatic abundantly portrayed, this is “Cemetery Island”.

“Cemetery Island” has a place in the home and school library. Written for the adult reader, “Cemetery Island” will also be devoured by strong readers among youngsters from upper middle grades into high school.

Great book for a long dreary winter day spent reading, sipping hot chocolate and sitting in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace or lazing away a warm summer day spent in the swing reading on the porch. Happy to recommend..




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© 2006 by Molly Martin