Category Archives: Book Reviews

Love and Sabotage

Love and Sabotage by [Martha Tolles]

Love and Sabotage follows Marty Gregg, a new graduate beginning her first job. She is a female journalist in what is still a man’s world. To further complicate Marty’s life, her fiancé is away at war, stationed in the pacific during WWII.

This is a story that is easy follow, which is certainly a benefit in a mystery novel as riveting as this one. The novel is narrated by our captivating young protagonist Marty, and we follow the trials and tribulations she faces working in a male dominated industry whilst constantly awaiting word from her fiancé. As she follows a breaking story readers are treated to glimpses of the quaint town she lives in, and the complex relationships she has. There are delightful descriptions of the town, including many descriptions of the houses and buildings, as well as the gardens and trees. Author Martha Tolles cleverly integrates several community features such as the library that makes the setting feel realistic and like a character on its own. Set during World War Two, most of the references to technology, clothing and speech are consistent with this time period, which allows the reader to be immersed in the story.

I enjoyed the main characters in this story and felt that they were well developed. Marty, the young female journalist pinning for her fiancé Eddy who is away at war, feels like a trope but its given much more dimension with Marty’s unique personality. She is clearly dedicated to her job, this is shown by her thoughts, her conversations with others, and actions. However, it is clear that being a young female journalist during the war can be difficult in what is still essentially a man’s industry. We see her hesitation in dealing with her employer’s sexual overtones, as well as other men who are not accustomed to working with women. Understandably, her fiancé Eddy is never far from her mind, however we never really learn much about him. Another complex relationship is the relationship between Marty and her friend Grace. Their relationship encompasses both a personal friendship and a working relationship. We see Grace authentically try to support her friend from her employer’s advances, whilst still maintaining her own professional relationship with him. It’s a relationship that I thought was intriguing and wanted to see more of.

Love and Sabotage is a mystery novel that is easy to read and, because of that, is easy to get wrapped up in. The setting descriptions allow the reader to immerse themselves both in the town of Rye and the circumstances for civilians living in WWII. Fans of historical fiction will find plenty to enjoy in this compelling novel?

Pages: 182 | ASIN: B07MHQXKJT

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Rose’s Thorn: A Joe Erickson Mystery

Rose's Thorn: A Joe Erickson Mystery by [Lynn-Steven Johanson]

Rose’s Thorn is a wonderfully suspenseful and creative murder mystery. The plot centers around everyone’s worst nightmare: a seemingly quiet town turned into a hunting ground for a dangerous predator. Someone is violently abducting, raping, and killing the town’s young women, but there are so many clues that are missing. Not even the town’s police force is exempt from suspicion. Joe Erickson and Destiny Alexander must work together to create a profile of this vicious killer and put him away. But they have some chemistry of their own to spice up the plot.

Rose’s Thorn is fantastically woven with twists and turns that keep the reader guessing and on the edge of their seat. Each character is introduced in an artful and believable manner that gives the reader a sense of who they are right away. Even if that character does not stay in the story for very long. The action scenes as well are very compelling; it comes quickly and with heart-pounding intensity. There is also an element of dramatic irony that will make the reader want to shout at the characters and tell them what is going on! The characters are realistic and most are likable and relatable which makes the story that much more enjoyable.

It is a funny coincidence that a lot of these characters have names beginning with “J”. Joe himself is a unique take on the hardened cop in that he is not overly so. The audience is able to relate to Joe and see how he is affected by events and emotions unlike the common version of the trope, but we still get the sense that he is a tough guy who will get the job done. Even the minor characters who make small appearances are unique and realistic which draws the reader into the book even further as it appears to be completely plausible.

Rose’s Thorn is a riveting crime fiction that lures you in with a seemingly simple yet complex murder mystery and delivers an absorbing investigation for those that love police procedurals. I loved the plot, the characters (especially the strong female co-lead, Destiny), and the twists and turns. Author Lynn-Steven Johanson has written an thriller that anyone, teenage and up, could enjoy at any time. Just be sure to lock the door!

Pages: 271 | ASIN: B085SX5WNN

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Dispatches from the Swinging Door Saloon

Dispatches from the Swinging Door Saloon: Poems from my 10-year bender inside heaven's dive bar (Bar Poems) by [Randall McNair]

With a name like Dispatches from the Swinging Door Saloon you expect a certain level or drunken late night epiphanies and high jinx associated with your local dive bar. What readers are treated to instead is a whole new level of thought provoking prose that turns any preconceived notions, or personal experiences, on their head. Randall McNair captures a world so many fail to explore, detailing what the reader can only imagine to be his life on the barstool at the corner of a dark room filled with regulars. The sort of place you just don’t pop in to try, but have a long established history with.

Each poem provides glimpses into the human psyche. One might think, from an outside glance, these are just ramblings. They are not. They are so much more. From the banker lamenting his lot in life to approaching wildfires threatening to burn the Swinging Door down, the thought that is put into every line makes this piece of literature provocative and absorbing.

McNair just might be a genius, having used his time nestled into the bar wisely. He evokes images of crazy, deep thought, and sheer brilliance sprinkled throughout for good measure. I found a world within his words that could easily be translated to a fully fleshed out manuscript. He has clearly studied the art, as admitted in the beginning of the book as he sat on his favorite stool reading countless other books on poetry.

Oh sure, there is lighthearted whimsy here, and more than a few poems that left me wondering. But overall this was an enjoyable collection of poetry from a man who has seen much, experienced more, and was kind enough to jot it all down for the rest of us to read.

Pages: 130 | ASIN: B0895697Q3

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Lost in the Circle, Found on the Line


Lost in the Circle, Found on the Line: A Collaborative Journal Experience is divided into 10 parts, titled Decades, which focus on various topics that touch on everyday life. Maria Wheeler neatly arranged the chapters and gave light and insightful discussions on each. The poems are beautifully written and refreshing. Maria Wheeler makes the reader question self, and reflect on their personal life. She asks questions like, who are we? And helps the reader answer the questions by discussing life and the purpose every individual has on earth. There are several decades in the book that I enjoyed reading.

The first decade; To Be Honest, was among those that stood out for me. In this decade, the author writes why it is important for people to be genuine and intentional in their actions. A little hope also does not kill. Other decades that I enjoyed reading include decades 3, 4, 7 and 9. After reading these decades I realized that hard work pays and being grateful for whatever one has is important.

Wheeler’s words stick with you after every decade as she uses distinct and memorable words. The book contains a lesson, funny lines, and unique words in each poem making it a pleasurable read. The author’s work is different from many as the book is short but has a profound message. This book is one of those short reads that you can complete in one seating and repeat the whole book without losing interest. The author knows how to capture the reader’s interest not just with moving words, but also using casual topics packaged in a premium manner.

The poems in Lost in the Circle are so simple yet so satisfying to read. Another exciting thing about the poems in the book was getting the context after reading each of them. Both the outer meaning and deeper meaning of the poem were necessary. Both avid and casual readers will enjoy this book and that is the beauty of author Maria C Wheeler’s modest writing. The author has a way with words that one never feels like stopping once they start reading her work. This is an exceptional book for people that enjoy light reads, intriguing poetry, and positive vibes.

Pages: 84 | ISBN: 1952521475

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The Moreva of Astoreth

The Moreva of Astoreth (The Peris Archives Book 1) by [Roxanne Bland]

For a beautiful mix of romance and science fiction, look no further than Roxanne Bland’s The Moreva of Asteroth. It follows the tale of Moreva Tehi, the granddaughter of Devi goddess Asteroth. Told through her own perspective, this story tells us of Tehi’s bigotry and open disdain for those she perceives to be of a lesser race. However, as we read from chapter to chapter, we see a change in her disposition. Things especially start to change when she is banished and forced to live in a far-away land among the common laborers she so despises; the hakoi. In the process, she finds love; an unexpected twist in the storyline.

While this book has a lot of details about Tehi’s supernatural powers and scientific exploits, it doesn’t overwhelm us with information. The author has a unique way of bringing to life Tehi’s experiences, making it seem like we are living through her, discovering things with her, one step at a time. Moreover, we get a front-row seat into her complicated love life; her constant struggle between her growing romantic desires and trying to keep her vow of loyalty to Astoreth. But as much as love is a major theme in this story, there are also other themes running concurrently. For one, there is a major emphasis on the need for belonging, especially in the main character’s life. Throughout the narrative, she feels like she doesn’t quite fit anywhere and is constantly plagued by a feeling of loneliness. Fortunately, this is resolved with the onset of genuine love. Another major theme is obviously prejudice and bias. Over and over again, we see how Tehi looks down on the hakoi and how some of the hakoi are biased against her. Ultimately, it becomes clear that a lot of the rules and assigned ways of life of the people of Asteroth are based purely on prejudice.

But if there is one thing that I really love about this book, it has to be the fact that its prose is light and very easy to read. Additionally, its plot is solid and its dialogue gripping. If you’re looking for something with witty comebacks and strong-willed characters, this is it. I also have to applaud the author’s creativity in creating an alternate world that’s imaginative and has its own languages. The Moreva of Astoreth possess an emotional depth that few science fiction adventure stories do, and this is why I highly recommend this book.

Pages: 455 | ASIN:  B08D1XKTLC

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The Essential Revolution

In his latest book, The Essential Revolution, Michael McGinnis gives us an inspiring story that reveals the possibility of human awakening. In a world filled with hatred, violence and hurt, The Essential Revolution is here to invite anyone who reads it to learn how to live life with love, compassion and peace.

Marcus Ogabi is a black American cop going through a divorce and financial problems. In a tragic event that will change his life forever he meets Dimitri Tanomeo, a young adult that despite growing up in some terrible circumstances seems to have a secret knowledge, one that he wants to share with the entire world so humans can finally evolve and reach a new reality, one filled with truth and love. Through what Marcus experiences throughout the novel, the reader is shown the teachings of Dimitri. The same teachings that change the characters’ lives for the better are available to each reader to change their lives as well.

Most of the story develops inside of a prison. It is there that Dimitri Tanomeo will start his spiritual revolution as he tries to change the perspective and attitude of each of the inmates, an act that will be recognized to be the greatest rehabilitation experiment ever. Human awakening is possible, and in this book you have the chance to learn how to achieve it.

I truly enjoyed the way the author shared all of the problems that humans around the world are currently having, showing, at the same time, what are the steps that the collective need to make to finally get rid of them once and for all and find healing. Spirituality and its importance in everyday human life are explored, giving us, the readers, the chance to learn more about what we need to do to live more spiritual lives and why we should do it.

The characters that McGinnis created are endearing and easy to connect with from the very beginning. They portray struggles that we all have to deal with as humans regardless of our different circumstances and upbringing. The story is gripping, feels very real and will probably resonate with a lot of people. Prepare to be challenged to change your life for the better and to question everything. Leave fear behind and learn to do what is right with this book, change is in your hands.

As fiction meets reality, I was able to learn more about myself through this story, and will surely apply many of its teachings in my life. The Essential Revolution is a story that showcases the importance of love, compassion and forgiveness, and encourages everyone to live authentically. This is your invitation for awakening, so get ready to be the change you want to see in the world.

Pages: 484 | ASIN: B08MYBCN8R

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Zero-Day Rising

Zero-Day Rising (The BetterWorld Trilogy Book 3) by [T.C. Weber]

Zero Day Rising is the third book in author T.C. Weber’s BetterWorld series. It is a futuristic cyber thriller that tackles the issues of data privacy, an increasingly controlling government, and the role of digital giants in our daily lives; all issues that are relevant today. It tells the story of sisters Kiyoko and Waylee who are caught up in a fight against an insidious and ever-growing media conglomerate and a corrupt government.

Kiyoko and her team are an intriguing and likable bunch. It’s set up such that it’s basically them versus a pretty depressing world, but somehow it’s easy to have faith in their ability to pull through. I have recently become interested in cybersecurity and the role it plays in today’s world, so the hacking scenes were my favorite parts. I thought that the technology and jargon used in the book felt authentic, and I enjoyed reading about the psychological element that goes on behind the scenes.

Some of the explanations of the devices, like the ‘polyflex neal interface’ or the multiple mentions of the ‘peer-to-peer network’, were a bit on the technical side but were so interesting, and placed in context, that they’re easy to roll with. Overall, there’s a great balance the author achieves by making the action convincing yet immensely readable.

I particularly enjoyed the relevance of the plot in today’s world. The idea of the media in cahoots with the government, working to control people via information, no longer seems like a science fiction story. I can easily think of many global political scandals that involved the unfair use of data by social media giants and other media networks. It is interesting that this has started reflecting in fiction novels as well, as it makes reading T.C. Weber’s novel an engaging yet scary experience. Either way, I appreciated the way the author managed to create what could easily be an “alternate-universe” version of our planet. Even more, I loved the fact that the protagonist was a girl who was equipped with technical skills that rivaled most hackers’.

Overall, Zero Day Rising is a gritty technothriller that i would recommend to anyone who is interested in examining the dangerous ways information can be used against humanity. Or even for anyone just looking for a thrilling cyber-adventure.

Pages: 353 | ASIN: B08PZBCZMT

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Captain Fantastic and the Chocolate Planet

Captain Fantastic and the Chocolate Planet by Tommy Balaam is an imaginative and educational children’s adventure story of a spaceship captain and his dog Winston. When Winston is hungry and they find that there’s no food in their fridge, Captain Fantastic gets an idea. They travel to a Chocolate Planet full of sweets and treats for them to devour. They roam around, eating nearly everything in sight. When they return to their ship they’re so stuffed that they can’t fit through the door and don’t feel well. How will they ever get home?

Tommy Balaam’s has fun story full of vivid imagery, and it’s use of onomatopoeia and rhymes just makes the book much more engaging an interesting. The art in the book reminds me of a comic book style, with bright colors, clear pictures with some depth to them along with floating text boxes. The detailed artwork is visually appealing and will easily capture any child’s attention. This book does a fantastic job of delivering a message on health, eating, and exercise. It is certainly one of the more creative ways that I’ve seen to educate children on these topics. 

I am giving Captain Fantastic and the Chocolate Planet, by Tommy Balaam 5 out of 5 stars. Filled with incredible artwork, a sweet story, and fantastic characters, this a perfect gift for young readers. 

Pages: 32 | ASIN: B08PJPWJ18

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