Thursday, November 27, 2008

Conor and The Crossworlds: Book One Breaking the Barrier

Conor and The Crossworlds Book One: Breaking The Barrier
Kevin Gerard
Review by Mary Aycock courtesy of Front Street Reviews

The author, Kevin Gerard lives in San Diego, CA, with his wife and four sons. A native Californian and a dedicated professor of sociology and statistics for California State University, San Marcos, Kevin spends as much time as possible writing for publication. The Crossworlds series provided the main impetus for his decision to pursue a professional writing career.

Our main character, Conor Jameson, an innocent and unsuspecting boy of 10, loses his favourite Uncle from a heart attack and is trying to deal with the loss and confusion this brings to his young life. The night of the funeral, wrapped in grief, he dozes, thinking of “a special place” his Uncle mentioned. He awakes to find that he has somehow summoned Purugama the winged cougar, defender of the Crossworlds to his side.
At first, Conor has misgivings about this giant Cougar that is almost as large as an elephant. He realizes that it could easily have him for breakfast, but the Cougar puts him at ease by showing him that he is actually an intellectual being that means him no harm.
In an effort to help Conor work his way though his deep grief and to eventual understanding of his Uncle’s untimely death, Purugama asks Conor to come along on an adventure with him.
We have ringside seats as Conor travels from adventure to adventure with Purugama, as he travels through situations, decisions and emotions which parallel events in Conor’s Uncle Jake’s life. Purugama first takes Conor soaring through deep desert canyons and we catch a glimpse of what it would feel like to soar like an eagle and we are eventually led to a village high up on a cliff. Thus comes Conor’s first lesson of a similar crossroads in his Uncle’s life. We learn that sometimes fear paralyzes us and keeps us from helping a friend in a time of great need. We also learn that after your friend has forgiven you, it is equally important for you to forgive yourself and to give up the fear and self-loathing that sometimes comes with extreme feelings of failure.
It must be said here, in the story, we jump back and forth, from Conor’s recollections of his adventures with Purugama, to an ongoing battle, high on a Mesa, between between this Great Winged Cougar, Defender of the Crossworlds and a horrid creature named Drazian, half human and half lizard, who is both big and ugly. Did I mention mean and nasty, too? Drazian is an old foe of Purugama, who has mysteriously escaped his captivity in the Crossworlds and is determined to battle his old Cougar foe to the death, with Conor becoming the prize for the victor!
As the battle rages, we are carried back in Conor’s memory to the second stop in the series of adventures, a dim, dark and odorous room in a nondescript city. Purugama has magically aged Conor to a twenty-something age and tossed him into a filthy, smelly room filled with men and women of this same age. At first, Conor is disgusted by what he sees and smells and by the lack of ambition on the part of the other young people. He is passed a cigarette and expected to take a puff and pass it on, but he lets the cigarette (and several of it’s brother and sister cigarettes) make several rounds of the room without so much as taking a single puff. He also notices that they are inhaling what he takes to be “salt” that they have lined up in neat little rows. Eventually a “contact high” seems to overcome Conor, as he notices how happy everyone is and how he begins to feel a deep kinship with them. He is considering taking a deep puff the next time the cigarette or one of it’s siblings makes the rounds, but at this point, Purugama steps in and creates a tornado in the room, which blows all of the (shall I say it?) drugs out of the windows. At this point, Conor discovers that the happy crowd is no longer happy when they find out that their reason for being together has disappeared. When they become combatant and want to do battle with Conor, Purugama feels that the lesson has been learned and he sweeps Conor away to safety. Again, there is the hint that this is also an event that was somewhat paralleled by Conor’s Uncle Jake, during his lifetime.
The next adventure is the one that makes me HOPE that there will eventually be a series of movies made from Conor and the Crossworlds, because I LOVED the scenes of Purugama and adventure at the swimming pool. You will have to read the book to find out more, because when it comes to this adventure, my lips are sealed!
We are bounced again and again to the battle and we continue to cheer for Purugama, yet dread that things are not going well in that regard, so it is with relief that we are bounced into another adventure. This particular adventure sent echoes through my head, reminding me of something Conor told us of in the beginning of the book. He said Uncle Jake used to “let him sit in his lap and steer his car whenever they drove somewhere together.” When I read these lines in the beginning of the story, they made me smile, thinking of how many people do this with their children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren…but when I read this next adventure, it sent chills down my spine, just thinking of what could have been! Again, we and Conor got to walk through Uncle Jakes adventures, even though the names and places might have been changed to protect the innocent, we still get to experience them with all the warts and bad breath in evidence!
The next adventure takes us to a most unusual place and I can still feel the wind blowing the hair out of my eyes as I search for MY group among the people in the story. I know which group I would select and we also learn which group Uncle Jake chose. This was one of the most cruel parts of the story, for Conor to have to lose his Uncle once more, but with it came another lesson that must be learned. A choice must be made and it stuck me how YOUNG the people in the story were when they made the choices they had to live with for the remainder of their lives. This series is full of wonderful life lessons, disguised as adventures, but with deep thoughts to ponder at the close of each one.
Which brings us one last time to the Mesa where the Great Battle is being fought. I won’t tell you the ending of the story, but I will tell you that Conor learned his lessons well and good and became the Hero we knew he would become.
My only complaint in Book One was that it was way too short, so it is a good thing that it is a Series! Now it is up to you to go find a copy of the FIRST book in a Great Series…Conor and the Crossworlds. Remember that name, because once you actually meet the characters, they are not soon forgotten!

For more information about Kevin Gerard and his virtual tour, check the schedule at

Amazon Link for Conor and the Crossworlds

For more information on Kevin Gerard, visit his website

Donna Sundblad

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