Manifest Destiny: By Any Means Necessary

Manifest Destiny: By Any Means Necessary is the thrilling second entry in the Manifest Destiny series by author Jaiden Baynes. Many centuries have passed since the events in An Unholy Alliance, and the universe has somehow stabilized into a futuristic dystopia, which is rife with issues such as slavery, poverty, mass incarceration, and cannibalism as the lowest tier of survival. 

Readers will enjoy how things in this book also parallel happenings in the first book, although the book takes it to a dramatic and entertaining level. Unlike the first book, which featured a select few characters that the story revolves around, it is hard to find a single character to focus on in this sequel. There is a variety of exciting and fun-to-follow characters. Each character gives readers a unique view of this vast and detailed world. They come from all kinds of backgrounds, and they have all kinds of occupations and different levels of freedom. I enjoyed the diversity in the cast and felt it gave the story an ensemble feel.

The world-building in this book is still spectacular. The author has made some improvements since the first book in the series. The dialogue is amusing and fun and helps to move the story along. This book has a handful of battles, and every encounter drives forward an agenda and provides some social commentary. This book focuses much more on developing this universe’s politics and philosophy, and the dialogue supports that the best it can. 

Manifest Destiny: By Any Means Necessary is a riveting space opera filled with complex world-building and memorable characters. I would highly recommend it to readers of the first book or anyone looking for a fun science fiction story in an expanding and alluring universe.

Pages: 501 | ASIN : B0BPCS6M24

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The Mole Vol II

The Mole Vol II by Ron Raye is a book of poetry that takes an in depth look at both the perpetrators and victims of slavery and the lasting impacts of that institution. Raye doesn’t pull any punches as he dives into the sensitive topic, following the journey taken by many slaves and exploring both their individual stories and their collective pain. From the woman who is raped and beaten, to the returning character of Willem, who appears to “[serve] as one of the architects of slavery,” Raye manages to use a variety of characters and stories to convey the depth and breadth of the history he is dramatizing, and he does so without romanticizing, dehumanizing, or trivializing.

Some pieces seemed to end but not and vice versa, so readers will need to read closely. There is a repetition to some of the pieces and I can see the reason for that repetition being an illustration of the continued suffering of the characters and others whose stories are not told. However the sheer power of these pieces and the stories being told is captivating.

Raye does a fantastic job of bringing characters to life in a way that feels raw and real; these aren’t just caricatures of villains and victims, but engaging people and stories that connect readers to real struggles. His language is incredibly evocative, painting a picture that is so vivid and at times uncomfortable that Raye succeeds in not just making you hear what he has to say, but feel what he means you to feel.

Pages: 307 | ASIN: B0BBJVZGMX

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From Peacock Lane

Book Review

From Peacock Lane: the Poetry and Prose of Emily Evans Volume 1 is a collection of evocative poetry and prose written by Victoria Winifred’s late mother, Emily Evans. It’s a unique and personal glimpse into the 1930s, featuring nostalgic moments in time, from fabric textures and living on a farm to more impactful experiences that can be unexpected and, at times, conjure a sense of fear of the unknown or sadness.

Evans does an exceptional job of creating a vivid atmosphere so that the reader is immediately transported to a cornfield with chirping crickets, to the scent of brewing coffee, city scenes, and the rugged countryside. Each poem brings a slice of the past to life, with just a few, vibrant words that ignite the imagination, painting a clear picture in the reader’s mind. I found the book easy to follow, with groups of poetry and prose divided into themed chapters, which flow smoothly from beginning to end.

Evans masterfully evokes a strong emotional response with a few, strong words and phrases in each poem. I enjoyed her work’s simplicity and the natural flow of one piece to the next for seamless reading. It’s a great book that deserves to be read in one setting, over a weekend at a cottage, or in a quiet location, where you can absorb the author’s scenery, tone, and message. It’s an easy book to re-read and reflect on the author’s experiences, feelings, and the historical setting, which I found intriguing, and kept me turning one page after another.

From Peacock Lane: the Poetry and Prose of Emily Evans Volume 1 is a wonderful collection and a very promising start to a series of poems and prose. It’s a fantastic book with a refreshingly simple but engaging style. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more from the author.

The String

A young boy was having a normal ordinary day when he discovered a ball of string. There is nothing magical or special about this string. However, when he ties the string to his finger, he remembers to do his chores, wear his helmet, do his homework, and brush his teeth. Then the boy uses the string to do fun things like walk the dog and fly a kite. It isn’t long before he imagines all the fun and exciting adventures he can go on with his string. What started as a simple ordinary string became an extraordinary source of imagination and inspiration for many great adventures.

The String, written and illustrated by T.C. Bartlett, is a whimsical picture book about a boy and how he discovers all the fun he can have using his imagination and a piece of string. The illustrations are humorous and engaging, taking young readers on a journey with the boy to discover all the uses for his newly found string. I loved the creative uses for such a simple object. No magic or mystery was involved, just one active imagination and willingness to see what could happen. This is an important lesson for kids, a chance to grow their minds with simple things in a world where electronics seem to rule the entertainment industry. Yet, this incredible story shows that something so simple and common can provide hours of enjoyment and use.

The String is a beautifully written children’s book that teaches children to look for wonder in simple everyday objects. It teaches them to use their imagination to find things to explore their world. This is a beautiful book for preschool and kindergarten children to read and open up discussions of exploring their environment to make the most of what is around them each day.

Pages: 48 | ISBN : 1733908676

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Beautifully Blemished

Book Review

Beautifully Blemished: Learning and Celebrating Skin Differences is a heartwarming picture book that teaches children that their unique skin is not something to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. Instead, children learn about various skin conditions that are all normal and make the person with them special. Things like birthmarks, moles, and freckles to Vitiligo, Rosacea, and Psoriasis are all covered in this fantastic book.

Author Leanne Stuckey and illustrator Traci Allison have combined their skills to bring children a meaningful and important story. Each child featured in this moving book shares how they are unique and special, from the stars in the sky to the bright colors of fall. Each skin condition offers children a chance to see something in themselves that is positive and encouraging. The illustrations show each child positively and respectfully, giving those with unique skin a voice.

Beautifully Blemished will help children learn about positive self-image, self-esteem, and compassion for those that look different from themselves. This eloquent story will help children appreciate all the differences in people around them and themselves. It is an excellent tool for teaching diversity and acceptance. Learning about different skin conditions will help children understand that physical appearances are not what matters, and just because someone looks different than them, it is not a bad thing or strange. This superb picture book will educate children and encourage them to be themselves and be proud of who they are inside and out.

Pages: 36

If I Knew You

If I Knew You is a stirring poem about parenthood, growing up, and family that is paired with beautiful watercolor artwork to create an emotional picture book that will be impactful to both kids and adults.

Although the book is short, it conveys the emotions and thoughts expectant parents usually have. I thought at first the poem would be about a mother wondering about the first few years of their child’s life, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the poem goes much further than that and explores the many different phases of life, and parenthood. The last few pages certainly touched my heart as I reflected on the same times I had with my children, and those times that are yet to come.

The poem is easy to follow, and lyrical, which will make it perfect for beginning readers. Young children will be glued to the pages as their parents read this wonderful poem to them as the mix of watercolor and graphic art makes for a vibrant picture book that is eye-catching. There are both boys and girls, men and women, all throughout the story so the book will speak to anyone, no matter their age.

If I Knew You is a memorable and evocative picture book that is a perfect gift for expecting parents, or as a book to read to children as it will inspire them to think about their life ahead.

Pages: 41 | ASIN: B0BQNZM7V6

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FastFlight 540: Stuart Bump

Fast Flight 540: Stuart Bump (Book 2) by M. M. Mesldorf is an exhilarating fantasy book that continues the story in book 1. Filled with surprising twists and turns, this lively fantasy story is sure to satiate any young reader’s appetite for adventure. Mesldorf’s writing style is simple but keeps the reader engaged throughout. The illustrations that accompany the story inspire the imagination and invite curiosity into the characters’ lives. The story begins with a brief overview of past happenings. I found the prologue to be a great refresher of book 1 and it helped to connect the events of past and present conditions. This will also help any readers who didn’t read book 1 first.

Stuart’s character tries to find a way to stand out from everyone when in reality he is a curious child who seems misunderstood by the people around him. As the story progressed I started to understand Stuart’s character better and he grew on me. The mother, Anslie, is an enchanting character and I enjoyed reading about her as well. In all, readers will find each character unique and intriguing in their own way.

The story seemed episodic, with chapters that connect the events and actions that take place. This fun adventurous tale is perfect for young readers as it is filled with action, fun mischief, and tricks that will keep you hooked until the very end. The story takes place in two fascinating worlds, the world of dreams and reality. I felt that the book had a slow start but the ending of the book made up for it all. The build-up, when connected, created a beautiful climax in the story.

FastFlight 540 (Book 2) takes readers on a spirited adventure that will make them fall in love with the characters all over again. I recommend this book to young readers and teen readers as they will surely enjoy the inherent adventure and wild turn of events faced by the characters in the story.

Pages: 337 | ASIN: B0BQ9JB4NC

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The Spell 

The Spell by C.V. Shaw is an endearing tale set in 16th-century England, which takes place not long after King Maurice’s war against France. The king’s five-year-old daughter Isabella gets shot by an archer, who appears to be a mysterious figure. While the stubborn king searches the dark forest for this archer, his queen Lilac worries about the cursed arrow. The royal family of Fleurham becomes entangled in a web of magic, adventure, and deception. When the king returns home after years in captivity, his family struggles to regain the love and harmony that once bound them together. They must learn to see beyond the spell, incorporate their fragile roots, and become strong again.

The author’s writing will hold your attention from cover to cover, with an articulate style and vivid descriptions that will transport the reader to the lush countryside of Fleurham. The plot is intriguing and spellbinding. Throughout the story, you’ll learn of the unique backstories, from the witches who helped raise Isabella to the housekeeper’s family, the king’s horse, and other distinct events that create a fantastic page-turner.

Shaw’s book is not only enthralling in the sense of historical fantasy but also contains meaningful lessons. The family often blames their poor choices on a curse. However, it’s interesting to see how their lives unfold and to discover whether or not a curse, misfortunate, or other reasons are the root cause of their tragedy within the family and the kingdom.

The Spell by C.V. Shaw is an immensely detailed and thrilling story that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys fantasy, romance, and historical fiction. I recommend this stellar book for its gripping storyline and unique emphasis on accountability and how one event, one decision, can result in a powerful outcome.

Pages 222 | ASIN: B0894W34VR

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