Category Archives: Book Reviews

White Knuckle

A collection of poetry that unearths the heartache and tragedies of child abuse. Steven Bruce has written a book about his experiences as a child afflicted by parental abuse and the abuse of the foster system. This collection of poems goes over several hard-hitting topics like addiction and substance abuse, domestic violence, verbal abuse and growing up homeless. White Knuckle is a heart-wrenching read for those who don’t see this pain every day and, hopefully, a comfort to those who are fighting similar demons; know that you’re not alone.

Bruce’s poems are very direct and leave little to the imagination. They are eloquently written. So, as someone who has had a happy childhood, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could be so inhumane to a child. I will confess I choked up several times reading about the abuse and pain Bruce went through. Some of the poems had me wondering if they relate to any myths or legends like Black Dog. There are folklore stories about demonic black dogs wandering cemeteries in search of lost souls to eat or guide to the afterlife/drag to hell. There is another story I found while looking up the myths about black dogs –newly created cemeteries would replace the first resident with a deceased black dog to save the person’s soul from going to hell. I’m not sure I see the reason for the last one, but Bruce’s poems, like this one, give a person pause to reflect on a deeper meaning.

There is no wrong way to write a poem as long as it has meaning to the poet. Readers will be pondering the meaning of some of the poems, like Sand and Moonlight, Street Gum and Avocado. There is a deeper meaning to these poems that is elusive yet potent.

White Knuckle is an intense and gritty collection of rousing poetry. I personally try to avoid these extremely emotional and heart-wrenching topics based solely on the fact I try to avoid crying but this is one book that I would definitely read again.

Pages: 102 | ASIN: B08HY35T2W

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No Pistol Tastes the Same

Sgt. Grimm (J.P) opts to serve his country. Away from his family, he takes solace in the camaraderie of his fellow Marines, including Joey, his best friend. But it all goes wrong when Grimm loses his friend and other men he could have saved if he had acted faster. The patriotic soldier later returns from the war into the arms of his wife, son, and grandparents. But burdened by guilt and haunted by the bombs, blood, and deaths from the war, Grimm is not the same man he was when he left home. And his new demons threaten to tear apart everything and everyone he calls home. The question is, will he let them?

Although its curious title doesn’t give this away, No Pistol Tastes The Same is a gripping novel on post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans. It peels away the layers of unfamiliarity and reveals the deeply disturbing and lingering effects war has on the minds and lives of those who fight in it.

This story reminds me of why storytelling is a powerful tool to evoke empathy. Author Jacob Paul Patchen’s writing successfully transports readers into his main character’s reality, making an unfamiliar situation seem like a shared reality. Patchen is also great with imagery as he improves the reading experience with evocative descriptions of settings.

The story is delivered with the elegance and precision of a true wordsmith. Make no mistake, there aren’t flowery words or unclear metaphors. Instead, readers feel the total weight of a narrative cobbled with tools whose sophistication is in their cultured simplicity. The writing is so good that it strikes the heart where it matters in many places, ensuring that you feel the raw emotions being communicated. Altogether, the story is free-flowing, mainly punctuated by the moments of reflection and concern it triggers.

No Pistol Tastes the Same is a captivating war novel dealing with life after returning from war. The plot is pretty straightforward but excellently executed. The characters are relatable and make readers care about this remarkable story.

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The Tree House Night

Emma and Oliver are best friends that live next door to each other. They decide they are going to build a treehouse in the backyard between their homes. Oliver is apprehensive, but Emma encourages him to help her make it. At one point, Oliver decides he is uncomfortable with the treehouse and refuses to climb up and leaves Emma to finish the job herself. Once it is finished, she proudly shows her work off to her parents and tells them she wants to spend the night up in the tree. They tell her no, it is not safe. Later, Oliver climbs up the tree to talk to her and tells her he heard what she said and wants to support her plan. That night when Emma sneaks out to stay in the treehouse, Oliver watches over her from his bedroom window.

The Tree House Night, written by Tuula Pere, is another fantastic work by this author. This excellent picture book focuses on friendship. Two friends who do not always agree still find a way to remain friends and focus on what matters, supporting each other in their dreams and goals. Even though Oliver disagrees with Emma’s plan, he supports her in the only way he can, shining light and watching over her as she sleeps in the treehouse. Knowing her best friend is watching over her gives Emma the strength to overcome her fears of the dark and the noises she hears.

So many children’s books on friendship focus on the good times children have. I like that this book showed that friends do not have to always agree on the same things or have the same goals. Even with these differences, they can still support one another and help each other make their dreams come true. This is the beauty of people. They don’t all have to be the same or have the same ideas and goals to be kind and be friends. This excellent picture book shows children they can be friends with people different from themselves and support one another.

The artwork done by Catty Flores is genuinely superb. The characters have so much personality children who can’t read will still be able to feel Oliver’s mood as he is concerned about things happening. But, equally, Emma’s excitement and confidence radiate off the pages as she builds her dream treehouse. The bond they share shines through the pages, and children will relate to the images presented in this captivating story.

The Tree House Night is a beautifully written picture book with an inspirational message about friendship and supporting those you care for. Children, teachers, and parents will all enjoy reading this remarkable story and will be able to relate to the message that the author has presented.

Pages: 32 | ASIN : B09K6MNF52

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Valley Fliers

Valley Fliers brings readers into Jay Smalley’s high-flying world. He is a teenager who is determined to get into a prominent aeronautics university and has a passionate hobby flying model airplanes. It may have initially started as a hobby, but Jay is dead set on making it a career and claims that this is his best chance to fly the real thing. As good as he was at his craft, Jay’s mother always cautioned him, and rightly so. Jay is certain that his plan is fool-proof and has already made up his mind. Jay had a good thing going but his flow got disrupted by the arrival of Oren, a mysterious new face in their community of fliers. Is Oren more than he seems? Jay must find out, before someone gets hurt.

If you’re a fan of coming-of-age novels with well-crafted plots, then the Valley Fliers by David Boito is right up your alley. The author brilliantly puts us in the point of view of a strong-willed teen named Jay. Boito succinctly conveys the essential features of the protagonist’s mindset, which helps readers understand him if not relate to him, and his reactions to events always felt authentic.

The author’s knowledge of model airplane navigation is impressive and is used throughout the book to ensure readers are fully immersed in the model airplane world. The lingo is used throughout the book but is never overwhelming, and even if you don’t know the first thing about flying model airplanes you’ll still be able to understand the story.

The plot continually thickens as the protagonist, along with his friends, notice odd things about Oren. The most obvious one being that Oren’s little aircraft has the same build and model to a drone involved in an alleged assassination and terrorist attack. But it couldn’t possibly be Oren, right? This mystery sends Jay and his friends, and readers, spiraling into a rabbit hole of conspiracy and investigations that could potentially put all of them, and their loved ones, in grave danger.

Valley Fliers uses a unique setup to tell a compelling crime fiction story that explores themes of loyalty with charming characters and a budding teen romance to spice things up. This is an entertaining story for anyone looking for a lite crime drama.

Pages: 240 | ASIN: B09J1LP1CT

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Rosebud: A Poetry Collection

Rosebud: A Poetry Collection by Nick Jameson is a book of poems that is characterized by its beauty and accurate representation of what it’s like to be alive. The poems presented are varied and highly relatable to the human experience, to something deep that lives inside of every one of us. Life, love, spirit and pain are some of the many subjects covered through the different poems, each of them painted in a beautiful manner that will resonate with the readers.

The moment I started reading this book I realized how special it was going to be. From the beginning it addressed relevant philosophical topics in a delicate and simple way. These themes came alive through every new poem, weaving a thread for the reader to follow and inspect within themselves the meaning and beauty of life. The narrative voice that Jameson uses is very comforting and soothes the soul. Even those poems that dealt with the pain and suffering of being alive illustrated their ideas in such a lovely way that the main feeling that one got from them was of being seen and understood, a reassuring and warm sentiment. By the end, Jameson had recreated through his poems a feeling and idea that is so profound to the human soul yet abstract and hard to describe. It is the feeling of being alive, of loving and of finding one’s way in this strange world that’s been given to us.

Through every page, each new poem speaks to the readers’ soul as an ancient friend would. It guides them and consoles them, painting a captivating picture filled with life and inspiration. The fervor to love and to live a spiritual life is felt along many of the poems, letting the readers reconnect with something important that lives inside of us. Here lay the utmost important ideas that have been forgotten in this modern world and are needed to live a fulfilled life. Expect to recur to the words written in these poems in times of worry and self-doubt.

The themes covered in this poetry collection are varied yet all intertwine in one way or another. There are many narrative styles used that help in conveying the ideas presented in an imaginative way. The result is a fantastic masterpiece that will resonate with the hearts of many. There are so many lines worth highlighting in this small poetry collection that will remind you of the magic contained in every moment, in nature, and the potential of living life with love and passion.

Pages: 152 | ASIN: B09YHD7BQT

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GOD OF NOTHING

Author Shane Scott’s God of Nothing is a thrilling fantasy book about Titans, Demons, Angels, Vampires, and Bool. It has an interesting take on God, creation, and all associated with it. If you understand traditional Abrahamic faiths, this book will particularly challenge your perspective. Generally, it follows the story of Satan and God’s daughter, Aja Ashe, and her descendants – Sel and Jaxx. Because of the time difference that exists between its protagonists’ adult years, the story hops from the present to the past, sometimes even going back to the beginning of creation. Ultimately, this book covers the birth of Aja Ashe, her discovery of her immortality, her love life, her son’s life, and the love life of her grandson.

As we read from page to page, we understand who Aje Ashe is, her capabilities, and her values. We also get to see how her life choices have affected those close to her. If there’s one thing that the author does well, though, it highlights the duality of the book’s different characters. Only a handful of characters are just pure good or pure evil. Most are layered, complex, and nuanced, like real-life people. This makes the book realistic even though it’s a fantasy one.

While the story is narrated by Miranda, God of Knowledge, to Jaxx (Aje’s grandson) and his fiancé Olivia, it is mainly in the third person, allowing the reader to fully immerse themselves in the different life stories of the characters. What’s more? The author uses short sentences and paragraphs, keeping everything light and easy to read.

Beyond that, the author uses a lot of descriptive languages that helps readers understand even the most complex of concepts. This is particularly important because the book goes deep into the intricacies of how the various creatures of the world were made. It’s also great that the book includes snippets of wisdom at the beginning of each chapter, allegedly from the God of Wisdom. Each snippet furnishes us with new information that is integral to our understanding of the chapter. Moreover, the book is well-edited and formatted – there are no grammatical errors.

God of Nothing is a riveting epic fantasy that is hard to put down. This coming-of-age novel will appeal to readers looking for something different with a dark edge and LGBTQ themes. Filled with conflict and well-developed plot fantasy readers will not be disappointed.

Pages: 426 | ASIN : B08W3KCRRP

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The Land, The Land

The Land, The Land by Robin Hawdon is about Roger Oldfield, a farmer that enjoys being one and doesn’t see himself doing anything else. He loves every inch of his land and would do anything to protect it. Things have been going decently for Roger, his lovely wife Annie, can’t-be-tamed daughter, Lily, and autistic son, Danny.

It’s not long before Roger finds two strangers on his land. He questions who they are and why are they there. He finds out soon enough they were sent there by a Mr. Collins. It turns out this businessman is interested in talking to Roger about his land. These discussions set the stage for the drama that unfolds in this story, the fight for Roger’s precious land.

As you read the story, it becomes apparent how much Roger loves his beautiful, majestic land. Roger is someone you don’t meet every day. He’s old school because he’s not interested in worldly things. He enjoys spending time with his family and days working on the farm. Those are the things that matter to him most. He also possesses a dark streak that comes out as the story progresses. His willingness to do whatever it takes to keep his families land knows no bounds. Passion for family, traditions and his land are what drive Roger.

Roger loves his wife, and he never forgets what she gave up for him. Readers will find his children lovable and relatable. Tough Lily and sweet Danny are given strong characteristics that make them stand out and become memorable. Danny especially, you come to know more about through his diary entries which can be read at the entrance of each chapter.

The fight for Roger’s land attracts the media’s attention and a group of activists. This adds additional drama to the story as it becomes a public interest, family farms vs. big corporations. As the battle continues to play out, readers will be left wondering what will happen next.

The Land, The Land is an emotionally charged psychological thriller that combines family and political drama. The characters are fresh and original, the setting lush and the story is wonderfully written. The story is beautiful, heart-warming, and shows if you are strong and determined enough, you can achieve great things.

Pages: 229 | ASIN : B09WKTC7RC

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Peace in the Midst of the Storm

Author Kaleb Thompson’s Peace in the Midst of the Storm is a poetry collection that aims to inspire others, offering sanctuary to readers going through life’s crises. This collection is based on religious beliefs and seeks to glorify God and exalt the human spirit. The writer captures the universal experiences of despair, stress, and not knowing where to turn while offering religious-based solutions to navigating these dark times in life.

These poems contain powerful and evocative images; the opening poem describes a peaceful place “my life will soon leap into.” I feel, at times, these poems would benefit from being simplified. Some lines are so long that the rhyme scheme is partially lost or muddled. Nonetheless, there is a promise of healing within these poems through moments of original phrasing and Thompson’s positive, supportive messaging. One message that stood out to me is that we are not who we were in the past, our future can be different, and we have the power to change our lives.

The poem “Blame” really struck me. The lines “A mature young man in the midst of grown adults who don’t know how / and when to grow up is not only surprising, it’s disturbing.” I see this attitude almost every day, at work, in stores, and even at children’s sports games. How can children learn to live in a Godly way when the example set before them is the exact behavior they are told to correct?

This collection is for those passionate about their religious beliefs and who have a strong faith background. The poetry is religious; there are explicit calls to prayer, alongside a sense of owing life’s successes to God. Through God, readers will find a path to overcoming anxiety, fear, a broken and troubled spirit, and an uplifting message of hope. The uplifting energy of this collection and Thompson’s attempt to reach out to the downtrodden are admirable.

Peace in the Midst of the Storm is a collection of poetry that will help guide readers into the light from the darkness that has built up inside them. This inspirational anthology will give readers hope and encouragement to find the best inside of themselves with the help of God.

Pages: 88 | ASIN : B09PSTJPH8

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