Monday, March 28, 2016

The Dream Shelf - Jeff Russell (Book Review)

23654044The Dream Shelf by
Genres: Fiction, Mystery
Publication date: May 3, 2014
Publisher:  California Times Publishing, Los Angeles
Format: ebook, 192 pages
How I got it: From Jeff Russell, Thank you for letting me read this book!

Buy it: Amazon Barnes & Noble
My rating: 4/5

The Dream Shelf follows Sam Archer on a journey of hope, frustration, elation and shame as he struggles to uncover the secret of his father’s hidden past. Along the way it examines the basis of human  motivation, asks whether doing the wrong thing can sometimes be the right thing to do and highlights lessons in sacrifice and integrity that one generation must pass on to the next.

No pictures, no past and yet his dreams were left on the shelf. A book, a toy, a framed quote and a plaster bust symbolized the places Sam’s father wanted to see and things he wanted to do. But that was all that remained of the man who sacrificed everything for his son. The rest of Robert Archer’s life was a mystery, deleted from the pages of time, and when he died unexpectedly Sam was left with the bitter regret of not having done more to learn the truth.

Things change with the discovery of a hidden yearbook, a list of names and a government document. Sam’s interest in his father’s life becomes a surreptitious tale that ignites a passion to know what happened to him and why his secret could not be shared. He embarks on a quest for ‘his story’, one with the promise of closure but also the threat of learning more than he should know. The trail leads to Gus, a WWII veteran whose cryptic ramblings suggest a horrific plan to end the war in Europe, and to his daughter Karen, who is torn between helping Sam and protecting her father. Together they learn the dark secret behind the Dream Shelf, the high cost of integrity and the lessons a father left behind for his son.


My thoughts:

This book has everything in it I could want, a mysterious father and the beginning of a love story.  Sam's father passes away unexpectedly and he is left with never really understanding much about his father's childhood/early adulthood.  Sam is a history teacher and prides himself on the past, so this is a big deal to Sam not knowing this about his father's past.  He begins to research what happened after he finds a yearbook and note from his father with a list of names.  The story begins to unfold from these tiny clues.

I am not a history buff, I can place events in the past, but sometimes I only know the overall picture of what happened in the end.  I think the details given regarding the Civil War and WWII are perfect in the story.  The author does a great job elaborating on these events so the reader doesn't really need to know everything about these wars.  The author makes these events easy to follow for the reader with just enough information to keep the story moving, but not boring someone who is not really a history buff.

I loved how the story unfold and the clues that lead Sam throughout the book.  The clues unfolded at a steady pace to keep the reader intrigued while still allowing the writer to expand upon what we were learning.   We got to learn about Sam's dad as he learned about him.  There was small foreshadowing, but everything was pieced together in the end of the book.  I also loved how The Dream Shelf became the mystery the title is perfect for this book.

Another aspect of the book that I loved was the side story that was written in.  Sam was working on writing a book about how one decision can change the course of history based on a diary he found from the civil war.  I loved how this story paralleled the story of Sam's father and he didn't even know it at the time.   It really makes you think as a reader that one decision can completely change the history of the world. 

Other aspects of the book that I loved was Karen whose entire job was to protect her father.  Karen's character was very well written we got to see parts of the story told through her eyes, which helped me as a reader see who Karen really was and what she valued.  Karen was willing to open up to the right person she just hadn't found them yet.  Karen also really loves her father and wants to protect him at all costs.  It is great to see a strong father/daughter relationship. 

I would suggest this is a nighttime read, it is easy to pick up and put down without losing your place.  It is easy to follow story and gives you a lot to think about.  The mystery is easy to piece together in the end.
I was received this book from the author Jeff Russell for the purpose of providing an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


About the Author

Jeff  RussellI am a tale-spinner. My childhood heroes were Jules Verne and Victor Appleton II, architects of fantastic adventures. Hemingway stepped in when I discovered that the trials and triumphs of real people – those with limited physical and financial resources – were even more intriguing than science fiction. Today I try to follow that example with my own characters. They are the ‘you and me’ of the world, ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances, beaten down perhaps and yet determined to succeed. Invariably they find adventure, romance and self-fulfillment, as should we all.

When not absorbed in the pages of some new author or hammering away at my latest manuscript I can be found living and running in Wilton, CT. Visit my website at and feel free to drop me a line at
Happy reading!

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  1. Sounds like a good read! I like a mystery and this one looks like it was quick too - which is a plus in my book :) Greta review!

    1. Yes it is definitely a quick read! Thank you!


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