Category Archives: Book Reviews

Environmental Trap

Al Wynn is determined to provide a good life for his family. However, he finds himself in situations that threaten that resolve. He’s only human and makes bad decisions like everyone else, but Al has qualities that help him every time. He’s determined, nothing can keep him down and he endeavors to be a better person. But can Al survive the numerous beat downs life has handed him? Will Nella come back home? What will become of his contracting gig?

Al Wynn tells a tale of a young man who overcomes all sorts of odds. The story flows seamlessly and takes the reader through every wave. The writer pulls the reader in with simple language and a relatable story of a young-mans life as a minority. This book provides an accurate account of what it is to be black in America. However, there is always an underlying tone of hope through redemption. That one does not have to follow down the wrong path. The trick is to get up stronger and wiser every time life beats you down.

Sometimes, you have to take what you want. What I’m saying young man is sometimes you have to make things happen, that you want to happen in life.

This is a piece of advice given to Al when he gets out of jail and sums up Al’s life from that point on. He makes it through life by using his head and simply taking whatever job he wants. His family is cared for because Al has kept these words with him throughout. This is great advice and is applicable in so many areas of life. It is also one of the many things the reader will learn from this book. The writer is over 70 years old and his wisdom shines through. It is not just the story of Al, it is a bundle of simple maxims to live by.

The book, while well written and structured well, could use some trimming. I thought that there was some unnecessary dialogue which was confusing. However, it is an enjoyable and enlightening read. The grammar and syntax are excellent and tone is just right for this book.

An environmental trap is the perception that a future can be determined by the surroundings in which one resides. This book is a sort of guide to getting out of that trap. The Environmental Trap is a tale of the trials of human life. Most of the things that happen to Al can happen to anyone. The lessons in the book can be applicable to anyone regardless of race.

Pages: 536 | ISBN-10: 1466938595

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Escape Your Fallen Nature

Escape Your Fallen Nature by [Piper, David R.]

As human beings we know what is right and what is wrong. We’ve read scripture and can discern what God requires from us. However, despite this knowledge sometimes we walk into temptations. As if we cannot control our selves. This is called the fallen nature. This book is about how to defeat that fallen nature and challenge oneself to be stronger against this nature no matter how deeply embedded. Only then can we know the true power of God. Only then can we, as human beings, discover true spirituality.

David Piper has provided enough scripture to back up the material in this book. This way the idea of the fallen nature is not just speculation. Providing scripture also provides some sort of direction for the person to begin taking stock. For a person to begin making that change in their own selves. Scripture is the guiding light in this endeavor.

The book has a firm tone, but there is also an understanding that at times one may feel like the fallen nature is more powerful than they are. To this, the author offers understanding and scripture to help one get through it.  His writing is coloured with passion and dedication to his cause.

This book takes the reader through a step by step process that makes it an easy read. The reader is led towards understanding of the fallen nature first. Then they are led towards understanding of the new nature. Through these two steps, one cannot help but audit themselves. They cannot help but see their lives for what it is now and what it could be. David’s enthusiasm for discovering the new nature is almost infectious. Then he takes a detour to backsliding and God’s power to restore. These are two very important points to pass by before really embarking on the journey towards a new nature.

The book is filled with personal reflections and stories about David’s life. This makes the book come alive. It provides the reader with a companion with whom to take the journey and share troubles.

The book is informative, enlightening and evocative. This book would make a great read for someone who has been feeling frustrated in their ability to stay true in their spirituality. For anyone who finds themselves constantly backsliding. For anyone who simply wants to see if their life is headed in the right direction or if they have given their fallen nature too much power.

pages: 284 | ASIN: B07QDPKYM3

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Worship: From Praise Him to Praise Hymn

Worship: from Praise Him to Praise Hymn by [Osterman, Eurydice V.]

Eurydice Osterman discusses the evolution of worship and shines a light on the process of change and the reason for said change. He has a keen eye for important markers in the history of worship like the element of the Gregorian Chant, for example. The discussion about the growth of music annotation and conflicts over alternative worship is very enlightening. The author mentions the difference between religious music and sacred music, which most people would not guess exists. The book also talks about the rise of a religion without responsibility as one of the whys of change. Eurydice urges on the importance to distinguish between enthusiasm brought forth by the Holy Spirit and man made excitement in the context of worship.

The author has an obvious passion for the subject of worship as well as a deep desire to ensure it is done exactly as God requires. He has conducted extensive research into the subject as the book heavily references the Bible. This gives the book quite a bit of authority and gravity. The author also provides a resource at the back to help worship leaders and other church authorities pick the most appropriate songs.

I really appreciated the direct delivery of the material and found it’s ability to easily communicate ideas to be quite brilliant. The subject is relevant and well supported by scripture.

Pages: 95 | ASIN: B0794SVDRK

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Max Happiness

MAX HAPPINESS

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects thoughts, emotions and even behavior. It’s severity is achieved gradually with symptoms that include hallucinations, altered reality and even disorganized thinking among others. Often when it is believed that the patient will be a danger to his or herself and others, they are institutionalized so the condition can be stabilized.

Max Happiness, written in first person narrative, is a series of thoughts as they run through the character’s mind. This character is schizophrenic and therefore presents many different ideas in quick succession. This presentation of thought provides insight into how people with this condition think and feel if they are misunderstood. As a person looking in from the outside, one would be compelled to quickly dispel any fantasies or notions that do not conform to reality. However, from this text it is clear that the approach used to do this matters quite a bit. The person in this book talks about how his ‘abilities’ albeit imagined have had him committed.

This book by Ali Ismail is enlightening, but not in an informational booklet kind of way. It is enlightening in that it gives the reader first hand experience of a schizophrenic’s train of thought. This is meant as an advocacy exercise for people with this condition. To raise awareness and shine a light on their plight. They really do believe the things they utter so there is need for some sensitivity when interacting with them. From the way the thoughts are structured, it is clear that this character is an otherwise sober individual.

The author has done well to introduce the character first before introducing the condition they suffer from. I think this gives the reader time to endear themselves to the character before they can start to sympathize. The author has also done a good job of making the prose so confusing and discombobulating that one feels like they are reading an anagram. The spontaneity of speech and thought is quite complicated. This provides a truly accurate picture of the patient’s thought process.

This book is a good effort towards advocacy for schizophrenia. However, it does require a bit of an edit. For example, use the right ‘there/their’ and so on. For such a short book, these little mistakes really do stand out.

Otherwise, this is worth taking the twenty minutes or so that you would need to read the contents. It is also worth the one minute it will take to recommend it to someone. It would be nice to expand it a little more to provide a more wholesome picture of the life of the character. This is just one day in the life.

Pages: 6 | ASIN: B07N2RHTW5

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Lion – Escape from Russia

Lion - Escape from Russia by [Misquita, Douglas]

Thrilling from the first page to the last, I was instantly drawn into Lion’s vivid tale of unwavering action and adventure. Lion follows five individuals, brought together through intricate and overlapping incidents to pull off a prison break like no other.

The first scene unfolds with Aslan Terzi locked away and at death’s door when a timely turn of events has him reunited with the outside world. New and old acquaintances gravitate to combat and once again Aslan is thrown into the thick of the conflict, he so desperately tried to run from.

Misquita’s novel was an absolute thrill to read. His research is top notch and the flawless detailing shows for it. When I started the book, I did a double take just to make sure it was fiction! From the get-go we are thrown into the action; bloody, gut-wrenching, fist beating, action. And the pace does not let up. The character’s point of view switches frequently and subtly. You have to keep your eyes glued to the page to catch those quick changes. This is probably my only complaint, I got lost a few times because the narrative changed from one person to the next with little to no warning. However, I was impressed with Misquita’s smooth transitions and by the second half of the book, I got used to the speedy change of perspective.

The well-defined characters of Lion and descriptive action scenes are undoubtedly my favorite features. Each character begins with a defined personality that aids in the development throughout the book. The romantic, family and friendship relations among the characters appear as authentic and never fall into stereotypical roles. For such a short book all the characters portrayed a well-rounded arc. There were, of course, some individuals with a stronger narrative but I never felt there was a character lacking in explanation.

For a book of carnage and war as a backdrop, Misquita does not censor his readers from the gruesome battle scenes. Lion doesn’t pull its punches, with every fight scene emoting the overwhelming desire from the fighters to survive. As a reader, every do-or-die situation expressed the same sentiment as the real things; I had no idea what the outcome would be. The rich detail and graphic storytelling illustrate a gripping and awesome tale that Misquita beautifully crafted for his readers to enjoy, and enjoy it I did. This is my first book of Misquita’s but not my last.

Pages: 304 | ASIN: B07RTZ9JXX

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Doves & Crows

Doves & Crows by [Heathcote, MJC]

MJC Heathcote delivers a story that combines mystery and family history in a chilling way that has you wondering about the dark forces embedded within a seemingly average object. Although Doves and Crows starts slowly, it quickly ramps up and once it captured my attention it rarely let it go. Heathcote does a fantastic job at slowly building up the mystery and drama, drawing you in and making the resolution all the more satisfying. There are moments when the story slows, but the unique writing style and the clear storytelling keeps this book engaging throughout.

Doves and Crows is an intriguing supernatural horror story that reads more like a crime thriller when people start to meet their untimely death, and more like Paranormal Activity when strange things start happening. The the mystery surrounding the necklace, although intriguing, left me wanting more details. Richard is an easy character to follow and is easy to empathize with, but I would have liked more background on his character.

With any mystery novel that relies on subtlety it’s easy to be too subtle and lose the reader along the way, but Heathcote’s writing is exceptionally fluid and effortlessly delivers some odd twists and dramatic scenes in dark an eerie settings. What I really liked about this book was how it combines many different genres to create a thought provoking story about paranormal forces wreaking havoc on one boys life and his ultimate struggle to rid himself of the dark forces his grandparents unknowingly brought into his life.

Pages: 434 | ASIN: B07L5RS1SD

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The Korpes Agenda

The Korpes Agenda (The Korpes File Series Book 2) by [Rogers, J. I.]

5 Stars

Nash Korpes has seen easier days. He’s overworked, in a constant state of recovery from one incident or another, and those he wants desperately to be able to trust just might be the real enemies. As a Master Tech, Nash poses a certain amount of danger. The true question is: Is he a danger to those he seeks to destroy or a danger to himself. Something is hanging over Nash like a black cloud, and the “friends” he has made can’t seem to pinpoint his problem. Like a loose cannon, Nash goes about his job always leery of his companions.

Rogers’s second in a series, The Korpes Agenda shows the vulnerable side of the main character, Nash Korpes. From the first two chapters, readers are given a clear picture of a man who is broken emotionally and in a constant state of high-alert–always second guessing those around him. A man who is outwardly gruff and speaks his mind, Nash is quite emotionally crippled, sheltering himself by keeping his true feelings hidden deep within. Rogers’s main character is pleasantly complicated and one who is indeed worth following from book to book.

The setting of Rogers’s series is unique, and there is something about the ways in which the author chooses to describe the setting that appeals to me. Set nearly 500 years in the future, one would think the terminology would be difficult to discern and the overall setting unrelatable. Rogers, however, does not disappoint and somehow remedies this and succeeds in providing readers with a surprisingly relatable backdrop for her characters.

Unlike many books of this genre, The Korpes Agenda focuses as much on the characters’ weaknesses and personal struggles as it does the technical aspects of their world. I appreciated this aspect very much as I am a reader who becomes invested in characters no matter the setting.

Nash Korpes is a true study in character development. Without giving too much away, I will say that the self-talk that happens with Nash is highly engaging. I was caught up in his moments of self-doubt from the first chapter of the book. He is a man who is being taken over by his own thoughts, but the way in which Rogers has chosen to show this is truly something to behold. I found myself revisiting sections of text in awe over the method the author chose to use to show Nash’s inner battle.

This being the second in a series, the author does an amazing job summarizing each character and pulling in quick but thorough elements from the first book in order to bring readers up to speed.

Science fiction fans will appreciate the technical aspects of Rogers’s work, and readers who seek a main character who provides the opportunity for psychological study will immediately be drawn to Nash Korpes.

Pages: 468 | ASIN: B07PH4FFWB

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FRANK PAÍS

José Álvarez (Cuba, 1940) nos presenta en FRANK PAÍS una extensa biografía del “revolucionario” cubano del mismo nombre. Hace un repaso de su corta vida (1934-1957) y de la importancia que sus actos tuvieron en la Revolución Cubana. Cómo después de su muerte el pueblo cubano sigue recordándolo.

Los primeros datos los obtenemos de mano del único hermano País que sigue vivo, Agustín País, quien ha residido en los EEUU desde la muerte de sus hermanos. En esta entrevista personal José Álvarez y Agustín País, nos hacen una introducción de los fechas más importantes en la vida de Frank. Relatan como la muerte de su padre les afectó y alaban la figura de su madre. Le sirve al lector para situarse en aquella época y descubrir los incios de Frank en la vida política.

A partir de aquí, José Álvarez se centra en la relevancia que tuvo Frank País en la Revolución Cubana. Nos adentra en su ideología y nos explica cómo se va “creando”, iniciando, ese sentimiento en el pueblo Cubano. Dicha Revolución (1953-1959) provocó la caída del régimen de Batista y la llegada al poder del líder del Ejército Guerrillero, Fidel Castro, con todo lo que eso supuso a nivel nacional e internacional. No quita importancia a todos aquellos que rodearon a Frank en este gran cambio.

Después de exponer todos los datos relevantes sobre la vida de Frank País: infancia, educación, familia, amigos… y la importancia que éste tuvo en este gran cambio histórico, José Álvarez incluye en el Libro II los escritos selectos de Frank País y sus cartas a Fidel Castro, documentos oficiales… Todo este tipo de escritos le sirven al lector para comprobar de primera mano la relación entre ambos, y porque después de su muerte, hace tantos años, la figura de Frank País sigue viva.

En el Libro III, José Álvarez ofrece una visión más intimista de Frank País. Incluye sus escritos más personales, sus poesías. Vemos el lado más personal y a lo mejor menos político del protagonista,  a pesar de sus ideas por liberar al pueblo cubano.

Considero que es un libro recomendable para todos aquellos que estén interesados en conocer más en profundidad la importancia de Frank País en el proceso de cambio cubano. Ofrece esta información desde todos los puntos de vista posibles, de un modo neutral y utilizando todas las fuentes biográficas que están al alcance de su mano, destacando principalmente la información proporcionada por Agustín País.

Pages: 622 | ISBN: 1090437552

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Danloria: The Secret Forest of Germania

Danloria: The Secret Forest of Germania by [Gonsalves, Gloria D.]

The magical forests of Germania beckon! When five-year-old Stan is invited to a party by a talking Fern, he eagerly enters a lush, verdant world of discovery. When Stan falls ill, his forest friends find a cure. When he gets lost, they guide him home. The forest’s generosity truly knows no bounds.

Danloria: The Secret Forest of Germania reveals the protective and healing powers of the forest and its vegetation. Author Gloria Gonsalves cleverly teaches children the names and characteristics of plants, and their ability to heal or harm. Her enchanting fable reveals the countless ways the Earth protects and provides. The true magic of this book is in the illustrations that were created by children. Each drawing is engaging and gives the story an added layer of meaning through the imaginations of young artists. It is a heart-warming story that speaks to the giving nature of the Earth.

Pages: 61 | ASIN: B07926X9S4

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The Confessional: A Peerless Short Story

The Confessional: A Peerless Short Story by [Kuykendall, A.K.]

Reinhold Commons Webster likes being in church. His family hopes he will follow the priesthood path, and his only desire is to be an altar boy. However, he is thrust into an abyss of sadistic abuse. He watched his friend penetrated with impunity until he could no longer hold on to life. The same end awaited him. Therefore Reinhold makes a deal that provides him with a little reprieve. With no one else willing to help him or the others, this deal is his only hope. The deal does nothing to erase what has already happened but what comes next will have to be enough.

This story, albeit short, is aggressively evocative. Written in such detail, the candor of it is well justified by the desire to shine a light on this abomination. The author also puts a spotlight on the role of parents and other authority figures in all of this. Their adverse reactions to the damaging situations the victims are plunged into. Figures who choose to ridicule these children rather than save them from their plight.

This is a very purposeful book. It might seem a bit crass, but the painful detail in this story is very necessary and intentional. It works to ingrain an image that would potentially start a movement for the rescue of actual victims. The end is quite alarming and should serve as a warning to perpetrators.

The confessional is a place where people go to seek solace and relief from the burden of sin. However, in this instance the title serves as a reminder that these places represent personal hells for some people. As a reader, one cannot help but weep for the poor boys. One cannot help but advocate for the punishment of the perpetrator. This is the extent of the writer’s to appeal to the reader’s soul by use of words and language.

This story should be used as a rallying call against child abuse everywhere and especially of the sexual sort. It should stand as a war cry for abused children everywhere to appeal to their parents for help. It is evocative and stern in no uncertain terms. The author’s passion for this cause is obvious and this story is engaging and thought provoking.

Pages: 49 | ASIN: B07PGTS8LC

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